Series sell. Readers get invested, and that can mean the world to an author. Personally, I prefer to write standalones. Maybe because for now, I prefer reading them, too. But I recognize the value in writing a series, and after writing three stand alones, I planned out a four-book series consisting of full-length novels.
I’m going to write them, edit them, format them, design the covers and drop them all at once. Risky, perhaps. But there are authors who swear by rapid release, and for consistency reasons, I would finish them all before publishing them, anyway.
Because I said I would update you as I write them, here is the first couple scenes of the first book. This was originally the second book in the series, but I felt it was a stronger start. The second book will need a bit of fluffing up, but nothing too terrible, and I’m looking forward to adding to the plot as I learn more and more about my characters.
Book One is about Callie Carter and Mitch Sinclair. Mitch has been in a horrific accident that has left him scarred, both physically and mentally. Callie has been under her father’s thumb for many years and accepted an offer to be a bridesmaid for a chance to breathe and figure out her life. Little did Mitch and Callie know that Marnie Zimmerman and James Fox’s nuptials would be the catalyst for such significant change.
Enjoy this small, kind of edited, excerpt from the first book of the Wedding Party Quartet. It doesn’t have a title yet, but that’s just one more thing I’m working on as I write. 🙂
Callie Carter tugged her suitcase into the Rocky Point Resort’s lobby as Marnie Zimmerman’s shriek zinged across the room.
“I told you I would be, but my dad didn’t make it easy,” Callie said, easing her case to a stop in front of the registration desk.
Marnie frowned. “You deserve the break.”
Callie set her purse on the counter next to a display of resort brochures. “No one knows that more than me. I had the time, and there wasn’t anything he could do about it.”
Her father didn’t believe in taking a break. Horace “Ace” Carter didn’t believe in down time. Rest. Taking care of her emotional health, her physical health. He believed in getting the job done. And for the past ten years, she had. But rubber bands, stretched too tightly, eventually snap, and Callie was almost there.
“I’ll make sure you have fun . . .” Marnie said, linking her arm through hers while the agent ran her card and handed her a small stack of papers.
“Here’s your key, Miss Carter,” the desk agent—her nametag read Sophia—said, handing her an honest-to-goodness key attached to a maroon keychain with the gold Rocky Point Resort logo stamped into the plastic. “You’re in room two-thirty-one, next door to Marnie and James.”
“. . . Starting tonight.”
Callie pulled her suitcase behind her. She’d left a few dresses hanging in her car, and she’d have go to back for those later. “What’s tonight?”
“I planned a get-to-know-you dinner. Jared is picking up Leah in Marengo, and she’ll be here this afternoon. I can’t wait for you to meet her. Hell, I can’t wait to meet her!”
“You are positively giddy,” Callie said, laughing. She stopped at the base of the short set of stairs that would take them to second floor. Purse hanging from the crook of her elbow, she hugged Marnie. “I’m happy for you.”
Marnie hugged her back so hard her spine cracked. “I am happy, and I’m happy you could be here.”
“I wouldn’t have missed it.”
She’d been honored when Marnie asked her to be a bridesmaid, and hadn’t thought for a second about saying no.
Standing outside Callie’s door, Marnie said, “I know you want time for yourself after that long drive. Take a bath, order a bottle of champagne, whatever you want. We’re meeting downstairs for dinner, and you’ll meet everyone then. I’m so excited!”
Marnie’s platinum blonde hair shimmered in the fluorescent lights, her pin curls, thick red lipstick, and clear skin giving her a Marilyn Monroe glow. She even had the curves to go with it, and Callie had always envied Marnie her softness.
Callie worked out seven days a week, three-hundred and sixty-five days a year. She had to. It was part of her job. Speaking of . . . she might be on vacation, but she still needed to workout. “You said the resort has a workout facility?”
“Yep,” Marnie said. “It’s downstairs by the pool. It’s not as big as the set up in your basement, but it will work.”
“Thanks. I’ll see you tonight, then.”
Callie didn’t feel the need for a bath, but a light nap sounded divine.
She let herself into her room and tucked her suitcase into the closet. The room smelled like any hotel room she’d ever stayed in: air freshener and the scent of recycled air.
A huge gift basket sat on a table tucked under the window that overlooked a thick swatch of trees. A brochure said there were woods to the west, the lake to the north, ski slopes on the east side of the building, and the town of Rocky Point on the south side. The resort offered quite a few amenities, Callie noticed, skimming the resort’s brochure. Maybe she would try her hand at skiing while she stayed there.
Callie washed her face in the sink and dried her skin with the bleached white hand towel. She hung it on the bar over the toilet and frowned at the water pooling at bottom of the bowl. “That’s great,” she muttered.
She needed a working sink. If all the pipes were connected, the bathtub might be affected, too, and she wanted to be able to shower in the morning. Or tonight after dinner.
“I need maintenance,” Callie said, using the landline phone on the nightstand to call the front desk. It wasn’t that late in the day, and she hoped someone would be able to come by her room soon. “My sink is plugged and won’t drain.”
She recognized Sophia’s voice. “We’ll have Mitch up there right away.”
Callie should have asked to be transferred to room service but she didn’t want to call back. She could save her appetite for dinner, and even though she was on vacation, she shouldn’t give in to wanting to drink too much. Her father told her she needed to be in control at all times. What if someone needed her? He always had an example at the ready of a time when he’d been able to help someone.
Service was a calling.
Ace Carter spoke of their occupation as if they were ministers or missionaries.
And he expected her to behave as such.
But why did being responsible mean she couldn’t have fun?
Someone knocked on her door, and she pushed the thoughts away. This was supposed to be vacation. A break. She’d fought hard for it and won.
Callie opened the door expecting an older man, balding, wearing a t-shirt and stained overalls carrying a red battered toolbox, and she blinked in surprise at the man a few years older than she standing in the hallway.
Her gaze traveled from his dark brown hair to his green yes. Slim, but strong, with the way he carried an enormous toolbox.
He shifted slightly, and asked, “Did you need maintenance?”
The right side of his face and neck made her hide a gasp behind her hand.
Through the crackling of heat in her ears, her mind whispered, fire.
Mitch was used to the wide-eyed stares, the stunned silences, the pity and the sneers. He’d become numb to it, and he ignored the shocked gasp the woman emitted when she saw the right side of his face and the scar that started at the top of his hairline and rippled down his temple and cheek, across his jaw, and into the neckline of his work t-shirt. It spread farther than that, but besides doctors and nurses, few had seen it, and Mitch intended to keep it that way.
“Maintenance?” he asked again.
She moved her hand away from her mouth. “Y-yes. The sink in the bathroom won’t drain.”
“I’ll take a look.”
When she didn’t move, he reached out a hand to nudge her from the door, but she flinched away.
So this was the way it was going to be. When he’d taken the job, the manager of the resort, Desiree Arnold, told him not to put himself into situations that could cause trouble for either party. If he felt the need to have someone with him while he did repairs, then that’s the way it would be. When she offered him the job, Desiree hadn’t brought up his scars at all, but Mitch didn’t need her to point out the obvious. He looked a hell of a lot scarier with his scars than he’d look without them.
“Would you like me to call Sophia and ask her to sit with you while I fix your sink? Or would you like to go to the bar and have a drink while you wait? It’d be on the house.” He carried vouchers in his toolbox to offer guests who didn’t want to be alone with him. A free drink to get them out their room so he could work in peace.
No one turned down free drinks, and her refusal took him aback.
“No, it’s fine. I’m sorry. You took me off-guard.”
“I usually do that to people,” he said mildly, stepping into her room. Before he shut the door, he asked, “Are you sure?”
And that question took him back to the last time he’d tried to make love to a woman. She’d been adamant she could handle the scars.
But it turned out she couldn’t, and he’d never tried again. With anyone.
She nodded. “I’m fine. I, ah, washed my face, and the water didn’t go down.”
“Sounds like an easy fix.” And it did. He’d spent the past seven years as the resort’s maintenance man, drawing on his own experiences fixing things around the house with his dad. Desiree, being in a jam when the current maintenance man quit unexpectedly due to a heart attack, had hired him on the spot, making it clear it was probationary. But there hadn’t been anything in the resort he couldn’t repair. His three month tryout ended with a pay raise and a small room with a twin-sized bed. Mitch didn’t need to stay there, but Desiree liked having on-site maintenance twenty-four/seven, and he didn’t have anything else to do.
The sink sat inside the spacious white-tiled room that held the bathtub, shower stall, and toilet.
Last month, Desiree had warned him that several of his old classmates would be trickling in for Marnie Zimmerman’s wedding and they would be filling the resort for two weeks. At the time he’d wondered why she’d bothered to say anything. It wasn’t like he’d never worked with a full resort before. The resort brought in tourist dollars for Rocky Point, and Desiree and her sales manager worked harder than anyone he knew to keep the rooms full all year round.
It was only after, while he thought about their conversation over a tuna sandwich, that he realized what she’d been getting at.
He didn’t recognize this one though. She hadn’t graduated from Rocky Point. He would have remembered.
Mitch hunkered down onto the floor with his toolbox and removed the extra toilet paper, box of Kleenex, and a hair dryer from under the vanity to reach the pipes.
He didn’t bring a bucket, and he shoved the wastebasket under the pipe to catch the water as he removed it.
The brunette disappeared, and he worked in silence.
The culprit of the clog was a wad of hair and dirt, and a small diamond ring.
Satisfied he’d fixed the problem, he cleaned up. Dirty water filled the wastebasket, forcing Mitch to take it with him. He couldn’t empty it into her bathtub or sink. Desiree hired only the best housekeepers and Sophia said this woman hadn’t been in her room long. Maybe if she would have gone to the bar he could have dumped the water and cleaned up after himself, but he wouldn’t try it now.
“I’ll have housekeeping bring you another wastebasket for the bathroom. I’m sorry I had to use this one.”
She lay on the kind-sized bed staring at the ceiling. “Did you find what was clogging the sink?”
“Yeah.” Free of dirt, the ring sparkled, a platinum setting hugging the modest diamond. “Did you lose a ring?”
“No. Can I see it?”
Mitch shrugged. He didn’t know why not. He’d only take it to the registration desk so they could research the history of the room and ask if anyone had lost a ring recently. If they couldn’t find anyone who had, the ring would sit in the safe as part of their lost and found.
She rolled off the bed and took the ring when he offered it to her.
“I would be freaked out if I lost something like this.”
“I wouldn’t buy something like this,” he said. He caught the bitterness in his tone and pursed his lips.
Startled, her gaze met his. “You don’t want to get married?”
Mitch took the ring from her fingers, his skin brushing hers.
The way she looked at him, like she didn’t see the scars, not once she moved past her initial reaction, made him think that one day maybe he could find a woman who could see through his injury.
Yeah, when pigs flew.
“I learned a long time ago women want Mr. Perfect, and I have never been, and never will be, that kind of man. Have a good afternoon, miss, and enjoy your stay.”
Mitch dropped his toolbox with a large clatter outside her room, and hugged the wastebasket stinking of dirty water close to his chest.
Closing his eyes, he tried to forget about hers.