In the second installment of the Hollyton Romance Series, Lila is on top of the world. She and Matt are madly in love. She’s in love with his twins. (and they’re pretty crazy about her too). And things are heating up so quickly, she’s starting to think Matt might ask the question.
And then everything starts to collapse.
An unusual work involving someone who’d like to see Matt’s good fortune collapse.
The return of an old flame.
Lila tries to keep things together but it becomes clear things are going to fall apart! Will Lila collapse under the pressure or innovate as she goes along? Lila’s her typical lovable, clutzy self and her personality shines through as she haphazardly attacks problem after problem. She’ll do anything to hold on to the guy she’s fallen for.
Here’s a bit of a peek into how the book starts off…
The door flew open. Lila tripped over the doorstop and caught herself on the doorknob.
“Whoops,” Lila said out loud while stifling a giggle. She pulled herself up and tossed the shopping bag on the chair and kicked off her heels, shoving them under the chair. She turned on the music and cranked it full blast.
“I’m walking on sunshine, yea, yea,” Lila belted out, as she moved toward the kitchen. She pushed the swinging door open with her hip and kept singing. The previous condo owner had installed the hall door to block noise and light coming from the kitchen to the bedroom down the hall. It wasn’t very functional, but nothing in the condo was.
Two months ago, every oddity about the condo drove her up the wall.
Now she could care less.
She pulled out the chicken from the refrigerator and turned on the oven. She placed the boneless, skinless chicken in the oven, still covered in foil. It had been marinating in her infamous spices and oil mix all day. A few minutes in the oven and it would be perfect to go into the chicken tortilla soup she was making.
The phone rang. Lila was buried in the bottom cabinet, searching for the lid to her large soup pot.
“Gotcha,” she sang out. She got back on her feet, rubbing her right knee as she got up. “I’ve got to get out of this skirt.” She pulled her hair back into a short ponytail and tucked the too-short ends behind her ears. She washed her hands, added a few tablespoons of oil into the pot and pulled out an onion and the chopping board.
The phone rang again.
“Coming,” she yelled to no one. The room was empty save for the birds singing outside her window. One of the birds tilted its brown head and watched Lila walk by. She picked up her phone, let out a squeal and hit ‘call back’ on the phone.
“Hey beautiful, are you out of work?”
Lila swallowed another squeal. Her smile went from ear to ear. “I’m at my place, just getting the soup going.”
“You should make it over here. That way we can talk.”
“It will just take a few minutes to get it together. I’ll bring it over to your place and let it cook for a few hours. That way we can talk uninterrupted. Hey, what about that surprise you said you had for me?” Lila’s smile spread from ear to ear as she cradled the phone next to her ear. Matt had promised a surprise for the weekend and she’d been dying to know what it was.
“I’m not telling.” There was a playful tone to his voice.
“Oh, come on.” Lila pulled out a few spices from the cabinet: cumin, chili powder and red pepper flakes. “You’re killing me.”
“Come over and I’ll tell you,” Matt said with a laugh. “I want to see your face when I tell you. You’re going to love it. And bring the soup. I love watching you cook.”
“I love cooking for you.” Tingles swept through her chest. She let out a girlish giggle. “Okay, let me get off the phone. The sooner I’m done here, the sooner I’ll be over.”
She hung up the phone, but the smile didn’t leave her face. She couldn’t wait to hear what Matt’s surprise was. Their two-month romance had been nothing but up, up, up. But he’d never done anything mysterious. It just wasn’t in Matt’s disposition. Her mind raced with the possibilities of what the surprise could be. It was too early for a marriage proposal. Her hand stopped over the partially chopped onion. Or was it? What if he… She shook her head. Lila, don’t go there. But what if it was? Another giggle escaped from her throat. You’ve been watching too many mushy Lifetime shows, she chided herself.
She kept smiling until she was about halfway through chopping the onion. Then as the fragrance of the onion hit her nose, she started to cry.
She reached for a tissue and wiped her eyes, then her nose. The tissue was covered with her mascara. “This is why I didn’t want to chop onions at Matt’s house,” she said. “I’m a wreck.”
After a bumpy initial romance, she and Matt had been in a near-constant state of bliss. They spent every weekend together and Lila was over at his home most nights of the week. Matt’s twins, barely two years old, were quickly becoming the joy of her life too. She bought them clothes and toys and spent hours playing with them and carrying them around on her hips. She’d never known how fun it was to have chubby toddlers bouncing in your arms.
Everyone noticed the difference in her. Lila was always friendly, if not a tad bit reserved. Now she laughed all the time and people told her she ‘glowed.’ Curious questions from friends, family and colleagues had started: Was this the one? Were they planning to marry soon? Had she met the family? Would she adopt his children?
So many questions.
Lila admitted she had wondered too, but it all seemed too soon. It was nice to enjoy being in love. So lovely to be held in the evenings in his strong arms after they were done talking. So lovely to stare into the fire. So wonderful to have someone to spend the weekends with. So lovely to have someone to eat dinner with several nights a week. After thirty-six years of being mostly single—except for two steady boyfriends—it was wonderful to have someone in her life to be with.
“Ugh, this onion is trying to kill me.” It was always the goal to get through the entire onion before rinsing her hands and eyes, but the scent of this onion was overpowering her.
Lila set the knife down and turned around, seeking relief at the sink where she washed her hands and dabbed the tissue under her eyes. Then, she reached for the coffee pot and started filling it with water.
A cup of coffee would remove the fog from her brain after a day of endless emails and reading briefs of her clients’ concerns and stances. She dabbed under her eyes again. Yep, what mascara was left was smeared under her eyes like some sort of weird runway model’s fancy look. She made one last attempt to wipe the tears—and makeup—from under her eyes, tossing the tissue into the garbage that was out underneath the sink. Her eyes landed on the picture of Matt’s kids on her refrigerator.
Her hand paused on the faucet and a small, dreamy smile appeared. She let out a long sigh. Emilie and Noah were two-year-old twins and the sweetest things she’d ever laid eyes on. She’d fallen in love with them almost before falling in love with their rugged, albeit somewhat withdrawn father.
Matt had come out of his shell by leaps and bounds the past few weeks. He’d probably never be the expressive, charismatic, amazing dresser she thought she might marry, but perhaps a well-dressed guy with a fancy job wasn’t the key to happiness after all. Lila scorned her younger self who’d set her mind on things that seemed so trivial now.
The chime of the text of her phone interrupted her thoughts. She turned and glanced at the picture coming through. It was Emilie and Noah, both with sleepy eyes and grins on their faces, Noah with his arms outstretched toward the camera. She inhaled, hit start on the coffee pot, and turned to finish chopping the onion with renewed vigor.
The onion was dumped into the heating oil and soon began to sizzle as it sautéed. Green, red, and yellow pepper was added along with garlic. The whole kitchen filled up with the aroma of cooking vegetables. Soon the baked chicken added to the fragrance.
Twenty minutes later, the soup was simmering, Lila had cleaned up her makeup and her purse was over her shoulder. She turned off the soup, put the lid on, grabbed two hot pads and made her way to the front door of the condo. She swung open the door, set the soup down on the cement and turned to lock the door. A familiar scent wafted up from the stairs. She hesitated and looked around. The patio was empty. Her neighbors to the right and across the way appeared to be away. The porch lights were on, but the windows were dark.
Where do I know that scent from? Clean, oceany, tad-too-strong men’s cologne from… She shook her head, not wanting to complete the thought. Memories from last year filled her mind, the whirl of a swift romance with her colleague, Jason, that almost changed the course of her career and her life.
She inhaled deeply, sent up a silent prayer of thanks for Matt, picked up her soup and carefully made her way down two flights of stairs to where her car was parked. The air in the suburb was chilly. Her breath came out in white puffs. Miles away, the Mt. Bevere and all the smaller mountains stood rugged and majestic, covered in snow, welcoming skiers and snowboarders.
She walked down the stairs with caution, avoiding icy spots. She held her core in tight, being careful to hold the heavy pot of soup close to her. The warmth of the pot penetrated through her coat. When she got to the bottom, she relaxed her muscles.
The man’s fragrance filled the air again. Lila jerked her head to the right.
“Jason?” Her mouth dropped open in disbelief. “What are you doing here?”
She hadn’t seen her ex-boyfriend
since she’d broken up with him, right before Christmas. They hadn’t even
spoken. He had ignored her texts of apology. It had been her fault. She’d
fallen in love with Matt. So, what was he doing here now, especially when he
was supposed to be in Boston?
“I’m in town for a few days. I wanted to reconnect.” Jason reached out his arms. “Let me get that for you.”
Lila stood there, her mouth still open. She tried to talk, but no words came out.
Jason stepped toward her. “I realize this is a bit awkward.” He reached for the soup pot.
“A bit. I mean, I mean, yea, this is pretty awkward.” Her words tumbled out.
Jason took the pot of soup from her. He didn’t appear too unfazed with her irate reaction. “Lila, I—”
“No, Jason. Let me talk. Jason, I haven’t seen you since Christmas. And you didn’t really answer any of my texts.” Lila let go of the pot of soup, fumbling in her pocket for her keys. “Thanks,” she said, looking down at the ground. She unlocked the car and opened the door and extended her arms for the soup, still not looking at Jason.
She set the soup on the floor of the passenger seat and closed the door. Her mind raced. Was she supposed to meet him at the office? Was there a business thing she’d missed? She’d ignored all emails except for her clients for the past week. Sheesh. Maybe she should pay more attention to email.
“Aren’t you going to look at me?”
Lila looked up and smiled. “Of course. You just took me by surprise, and I was trying to figure out what in the world you’re doing here. I mean, I smelled you—”
“You smelled me?” Jason raised one brow.
“Your cologne. Up on my porch.” She pointed toward her condo. “Were you up there?”
He rubbed the side of his head. “Yea, I was. I was going to knock, but I got nervous.”
“You? Nervous? The famous trial lawyer who’s now heading up the prestigious law office in Boston?”
“I’m not always confident in everything I do.”
She looked at him. He was the most put together, suave, confident guy she’d ever met. He won all his cases. His clients loved him. The firm loved him. Most of the colleagues loved him. Even the ones who were jealous couldn’t help but like the guy. He had a winning personality. All the single women had crushes on him. When they’d dated last year, Lila thought she had struck the lottery in men.
She put one hand on her hip and glared at him. “Was I one of those things that made your confidence dip a bit?”
He shrugged. “I hate to admit it.”
Was he here to try to reconnect on a romantic level? He knew she was dating Matt. Knew she had turned down the big career opportunity—and him—to stay here and be with Matt. “What are you…”
“…doing here? Business actually.”
Thank goodness. “I figured that. But I don’t have any business connections—”
“You do actually. But I don’t want to talk about it here. We should talk over lunch at the office.”
“I’m curious. Can’t you tell me now? You’re known for putting things succinctly.”
“I’m going to let you hang in suspense. I’ll call you tomorrow?”
“I don’t know why you didn’t call me tonight. You didn’t even know I’d be home. And why did you come all the way over here if you weren’t even going to talk to me?”
“Well, I was driving by anyways. Then, I realized I could come up and say hi. Then I realized how weird that was…” His voice trailed off. “And I don’t want to upset you. Really.”
“You didn’t want to come off as a stalker.”
“Exactly. That creeper guy. Now that I know my cologne leaves a trail even when I’m not here, I’ll continue on my way and get a new cologne.” He smiled at her.
“It’s not that bad.” Lila rolled her eyes. “I’m just sensitive.”
Before she could stop him, Jason leaned toward her and kissed her right cheek, then her left. “Until tomorrow,” he whispered. He turned around before she could reply, got into his BMW, backed out and drove away.
Lila stood there for a second, blinking. “Did you start an office in Boston or in Paris? What’s with the double kiss thing?” She rubbed her cheek. Blech. She didn’t feel anything for Jason, but she was concerned he still felt something for her.
And that was going to be a problem.
Yikes! Jason is back! Can Lila keep him away from Matt? Will this tear apart Lila and Matt? The mischief is only beginning. Find out what happens. Purchase Lila’s Romantic Fiasco here.