The third book in the Three Creeks, Montana series is set to launch this weekend. I thought I’d give you a little peek at what’s behind the cover…
Katie had tried on more than one occasion to convince Sarah to attend Ladies’ League. Tonight Sarah would accept her invitation.
While she crossed the parking lot, Sarah passed a pickup that could have been mistaken as Ryan’s. She almost stopped to check but talked herself out of the conclusion. Ryan was working somewhere in the countryside. Besides several people owned black, Chevy, one-ton pickups. She took an inventory of the vehicles in the lot. There were two other pickups that looked similar to it in the lot. Sarah took a mental picture to remind herself where she parked and headed inside to find her friend.
Just as she predicted, Katie was at the counter choosing shoes. She had her blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. The pocket of her pink flannel shirt was edged with lace. Sarah remembered the shopping excursion when they bought it. When Katie’s eyes connected with Sarah, she pressed her fingers to her lips. Her brows wrinkled into a singular line. Through a fake grin she usually used on men she wanted to brush away, Katie greeted Sarah, “What are you doing here?”
Thinking she may have misinterpreted Katie’s invitation Sarah backtracked. Her eagerness to be out with friends waned to awkward embarrassment. She pointed at the sign behind the counter. “It’s ladies’ league night.” She frowned. “Or does that mean it’s all female teams play tonight?”
“No, this is our night!” Vada answered. She gestured with her thumb. “Except for the one village idiot over there. It’s all women.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Sarah noticed that Katie flinched. The reaction compelled her to take a gander at the one man in a bowling alley full of women. His broad shoulders and narrow waist seemed familiar. Sarah dismissed the feeling that she knew the man. The only person she knew with that body structure was Ryan. It couldn’t be him because he was working overtime. She saw a couple women wearing red fedoras giving each other a high five. In the lane next to them, four women in matching pink bowling shirts danced along with the music playing on the overhead system. When her eyes returned to the last lane in the alley, Sarah blinked. Was that her Ryan patting Barbie on the backside right before she dropped the ball? The ball wobbled and landed in the gutter. Sarah’s world transitioned into a series of slow-motion movement reels. Barbie walked up to Ryan and slapped him on the arm. Ryan dodged the hit and made a grab for Barbie. He reached for her waist and pulled her into him. She laughed, then he laughed, and Sarah’s heart dropped. There was no way to misinterpret the situation.
Through the buzzing sensation that threatened to take over her head, she heard Katie’s voice. “I am so sorry.” Some other words followed, but they never made it through the rush of indignation that filled Sarah’s head.
As if he sensed her presence, Ryan turned his head to where Sarah stood. His eyes met Sarah’s across the room, and his mouth formed a perfect circle. From there the world returned to regular speed. Ryan stepped away from Barbie who followed his eyes. She waved with her fingers at Sarah. Sarah wanted to wave at both of them with one finger. She held up her hand to do it then remembered where she was and slapped it down.
Sarah wasn’t the type of person to cause a scene. Then again, she never contended with high concentrations of whatever hormone resulted from anger. She turned on her heel and marched out the door. The cool air hit her and siphoned the oxygen from her lungs. Sarah clutched her chest and gasped for air. This had to be a figment of her imagination or a bad dream. She took a couple more steps toward her car. The next thing she knew, she was in front of the pickup. Ryan’s pickup. It turned out it was his. The Montana shaped air freshener she bought him hung from the rear-view mirror.
Ryan called out to her, “Sarah! Wait a minute.”
She didn’t want to talk to him. If she saw him ever again, it would be too soon. Sarah tried to remember where she parked her car. The location eluded her, and she cursed under her breath. The chaos in her mind was almost too much. She took a breath, and the fog lifted. She took another breath and realized that she had been holding her breath since she left the building.
By this time, Ryan had caught up to her. His chest heaved with his exhalation. He did that when he was trying to get out of trouble with her. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Meaning to talk! You were at the restaurant today.”
Then she remembered Barbie was there. “Did you bring her to Keane’s?”
Ryan set his hands on his waist. “No, that was just a coincidence. Kaitlin wanted to bring me some lunch.”
“Kaitlin. Her name is Kaitlin.” Where were her words? Indignation for being treated like a fool mixed in with the sting of betrayal had her floundering.
“Sarah, you had to have sensed things weren’t going well between us.”
“No, Ryan. I couldn’t because you were working overtime.” A light bulb flashed in her mind. “Oh, you weren’t working overtime, were you?”
“It’s nothing personal. You’re nice. She’s just more suitable to my lifestyle.”
“Is everything okay out here?” Sarah looked toward the building that had bowling pins painted on the front wall. Katie, Vada and the two red hat ladies stood on the curb. The red hat ladies had their arms crossed in front of them as they shook their heads in a display of disgust.
“Yes, everything is okay,” Sarah said.
“Are you sure?” One lady said. “I am friends with Ryan’s mother. I can talk to her.”
If she wasn’t so angry, Sara would have thought the situation was funny. Her boyfriend of four years cheated on her, and someone offered to tell his mother on him.
“That’s okay, Mrs. Jenkins,” Ryan called out. “This is something we can handle like adults.”
“Like adults,” set off a trigger in Sarah. She pulled her leg back and kicked Ryan’s tire. The force of her foot connecting with the tire sent a ricochet of pain through her leg. “Doh!” She groaned in pain.
She heard an older woman’s voice call out, “You should have kicked Ryan, honey. He’s the one that deserves it.”
Katie rushed to Sarah’s side and reached for her arm. At this point in the conversation, other women joined the crowd forming at the door. Katie pulled on Sarah’s arm to guide her away from the conversation. “He isn’t worth it.”
Her friend’s words sank in. Sarah was already embarrassed. Ryan not only cheated on her; God only knew how many people in the town knew about it. Her erratic behavior would only add to the small-town talk. Sarah grit her teeth. “Your right.”
She marched to the convenience store across the street from the bowling alley. “Where are you going?” Katie called after her.
“To buy a bottle of wine.”
Katie called out to Vada. “I’ll go with her to make sure she’s okay.”
Calls of encouragement in the effect of “If you need someone to share that bottle with you, let us know,” followed Sarah to the store.
When Sarah’s nerves were rattled, her go to beverage was a soothing cup of tea. With the frequent zaps of misdirected energy, Sarah knew the situation called for something stronger. She chose a bottle that had flowers on the edge of the label. If it had flowers on it, it had to taste good, right? The cashier regarded Sarah with questioning eyes. “Is there anything else I can get for you?” A sign above the cashier’s head read Powerball $25,432,103. The countdown, from five to zero, in the middle-caught Sarah’s attention. She pointed at the sign and said, “What are the odds of that?”
The cashier’s face wrinkled. Sarah looked at the person’s name tag. It read Chance. He said, “The Powerball runs twice a week.”
It was just another instance of miscommunication in the joke that had become Sarah’s life. She said, “I’ll buy one. What’s the worst thing that can happen?”
Chance replied, “You could win.”
Here is where the excerpt ends. Honey, I’m Home is available for purchase at
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