Any Way You Plan It, страница 19часть #1 серии Upper Crust Series Novel
Marissa was waiting outside when he arrived.
“Are we a little excited?”
She jumped into his arms and planted a slow, sexy kiss on him. “Maybe.”
“If that kiss was a maybe, I can’t wait to see a yes.”
He pulled a blindfold from his pocket. She bit her lip. “I’m not really into that, Mike.”
“It’s not for that.” He couldn’t help but smile. “Though I reserve the right to discuss that later. It’s so you won’t see where we are going.”
It was the sort of blindfold magicians used. More of a mask and he slid it over her head. No mean feat with all those curls. Then he guided her into the car’s passenger seat.
“This is kind of scary.”
“Nothing scary, I promise.” He turned left instead of right, went three times around the town’s only roundabout, and took the very long way to their destination.
“Are we going in circles?” she asked, her hand on his thigh, holding on for dear life.
“We’re going where we’re going.”
“Goodness, what a helpful response, honey.”
“We’ll be there soon.”
“Can I have some clues?”
He saw she was pouting under her mask. Her bottom lip dropped like a petulant child. He loved that mouth. He stopped the car and leaned over and gave her a slow kiss. “Just think about that while we drive.”
He turned off the main road and hoped that she wouldn’t guess where they were.
He stopped the car and cut the engine.
“Do not touch that mask, woman.”
“Okay, gee, you’re bossy today,” she said through a smile.
He came around, opened the door, and guided her out of the car, turning her to face their destination.
His heart was in his mouth. “Ready?”
“I don’t know. Am I ready?”
He didn’t answer; he just peeled the mask off.
She was staring at her parents’ house. The one that had been sold.
“Was the sex that great last time you wanted to come back?” She didn’t understand.
“It was but that isn’t why we’re here.”
He took her hand and led her up the steps. “I want you to meet the new owners. They’ll be inside.”
Marissa had no idea what sort of a surprise she had been expecting but this wasn’t exactly it. “I don’t know.”
She wanted to trust him. She couldn’t very well have a relationship with him otherwise, but she wasn’t quite sure she was ready to meet these interlopers. Okay, they had simply bought a house that was up for sale but that’s what they felt like to her, interlopers.
He turned the knob and they walked into the empty room. There was still furniture but no people.
“They must be upstairs,” she whispered.
“No, the new owners are right here.”
Was he mad? The only two people in the room where her and Mike.
“Mike, we’re the only ones here.”
“You’re talking in circles.” She spun around. “You and I are the only people here.”
“Yes, and we are the new owners.”
She stopped mid-spin. “What?”
“I wanted to show you that I was committed to us and our future, even if we’re kind of early days; well, we’re also not, are we? I mean, I know everything about you and I know that more than anything when you decide to start a family this is what you picture. Your family, your life, here in this house and I wanted to give that to you.”
Marissa was aware her mouth must have been hanging open unattractively. She didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t quite form words.
“You. We. House.”
“Yes. I mean, not right now. I don’t mean let’s pack our stuff and move in right now. I know I have a history of all or nothing behavior, but I wanted a way to show you that I am taking this seriously and that when we’re ready, this is the life I want for us, too.” He stepped in and took her hands. “I want you to have everything you want. I want to make all your dreams come true.”
“It is too much? Have I freaked you out? Is it a good surprise?”
“This, Mike Kowalski, is some serious wooing.” She slid her arms around his neck. “I’m blown away by this. Totally.”
“But in a good way?”
She kissed him like there was no tomorrow. Like this would be the last kiss they’d ever share. She pulled back breathless. “A very good way. I have a lot of questions . . .”
“That’s okay, we have a lot of time. Forever in fact.”
Today, I have a very special visitor in the booth here with me. Seen as the whole town has been sticking its nose into our relationship for quite some time, Marissa and I are both here to tell you I’ve bought her parents’ old farmhouse out on Pine Lane so that we can live there together a little bit down the road. Yes, we’re all in now, people. This is forever.
I especially want to thank my brother, Todd, and Vern Matthews, realtor, who helped me pull off this big surprise. Because Marissa really had no idea what was happening. And yes, ladies, there were happy tears.
Now don’t go pulling out your calendars and saving a wedding date, listeners. One thing at a time. We’re going to spend the next few months getting that house modernized and then when we do and decide to move in, you’ll all be invited for an open house.
Marissa cut him off and leaned in to take over the microphone.
Oh yes, and we’ll be looking for chickens and goats and maybe even some horses, so if you hear of any that need a good home . . . One more thing, for all those people out there who said I was wasting my time on Mike, I’m here to tell you he has been worth every minute of the wait.
And then Mike flicked a switch and the sound of a bad polka filled the radio station as he pulled Marissa down on his lap and kissed her right there in the booth as if the whole town wasn’t out there, ears to the speaker to see what would happen next.
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You might also like my other novels
Upper Crust Series
Any Way You Slice It, An Upper Crust Novella
Any Way You Dream It
Any Way You Fight It
Any Way You Plan It
Any Way You Want It, releasing May 2016
Any way You Build It, releasing July 2016
My stand-alone novels
Mr. Right and Other Mongrels
A Fair Exchange
I’ve included a sneak peek at Any Way You Want It, Moose and Chloe’s story after the acknowledgements . . . this one was one of the most fun to write. I know you’re going to love it.
When I decided to write Marissa and Mike’s story I thought it would be easy but these two fought me all the way. They resisted having their story told just like they resisted their attraction to each other. We got there in the end and I really enjoyed watching their relationship unfold and getting to know their friends and family in the town. (Todd gets his own story in Any Way You Build It—don’t worry).
First off, I owe a huge thank you to the lovely members of Writers’ Dozen who support my writing and keep me on track.
Without my wonderful writing friends, I know I could not continue and a special shout out to Annabel, Rae, and Terri for their feedback on this book.
Thanks to my beta readers for your ongoing help—especially to Renee, Betty, and Terri whose help I found invaluable.
Thanks to cover desig
Finally, a thank you to my regular readers who write reviews for my books, e-mail me and tweet me about my stories. Knowing you’re out there reading my stories and anticipating the next one gives me more joy than you can possibly imagine.
Any Way You Want It
Chloe stood behind the counter of the ice-cream parlor she ran in Ranger’s Hollow, New Hampshire. It was mid-afternoon in late January and she was questioning her sanity. Who wanted ice-cream in the dead of winter? No one. What made her think staying open was a good idea?
The truth was her uncle who had gifted her the business usually left for Florida after Christmas and returned around Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, Chloe had no resources and nowhere to go. She was stuck.
She wiped the bench down for the third time in an hour. A table in the middle of the room held two mothers and two toddlers, here for one of the children’s birthdays. They were her fourth set of customers all day. Before them, she’d made coffee for her friends Marissa and Mike who were recently engaged. Thank goodness they’d at least stayed to talk to her. A truck driver passing through town had stopped in for a hot chocolate and a woman whose child had just had his tonsil’s removed stopped by for a pint. That was it. She has to admit she was bored and frustrated.
Then again, how had she imagined life in rural New Hampshire would be? She’d come here for the peaceful life and she’d gotten it. She reminded herself how lucky she was that her uncle had decided to head south and left her with a home and a business. She was, after all, alone in the world with nothing more than a high school diploma and a series of bad choices behind her. Still, she liked to remind herself, considering the sheltered upbringing she’d had in a small religious community, she wasn’t exactly prepared for who or what the world had shown her.
Life in this town was a little dull right now but the three years before she’d come here had been more than exciting enough. She’d come here to get her head on straight, get some stability, and learn to spot bad men when she saw them coming.
The problem was, as her friend Marissa had pointed out recently, now she was rejecting the good men, too.
Her mind drifted to Moose. Thomas “Moose” Masters was six feet four, built like a linebacker, and seemed to have quite a soft spot for her. For the last month, he’d been stopping in every week or so just to have a chat and an ice-cream sundae. She liked the way he looked at her, like she was the cherry on top of the sundae. She liked the way he was quick to smile and hard to fluster. She couldn’t deny having him around was nice for her ego. Still, that’s all it was ever going to be, a flirtation.
Moose was smart, well educated, and loaded. Guys like Moose might say pretty things to girls like Chloe, they might wine and dine them and take them to bed, but they did not end up with them and she would be smart to remember that. She could almost hear her mother’s voice in her head reminding her. Last time she’d decided to go into a relationship blinkered, she’d been lucky to make it out alive. She was not making a mistake like that again.
Moose sat in his truck and contemplated his next move. He was parked across the street from the ice-cream parlor. He could see Chloe through the window, and she looked as pretty as ever. He didn’t know what it was about her that had him driving hours out of his way to visit. Whatever it was it was a powerful force. Common sense flew out the window the day he first laid eyes on her and he couldn’t quite seem to make it fly back.
He had a present for her for heaven’s sake. He barely knew the woman and he’d driven all the way to Boston and back to buy a very expensive gift for a woman he didn’t know. He’d known he was crazy the whole time he’d been doing it, but that hadn’t stopped him.
He clunked his head on the steering wheel. “Goddammit.”
Then he picked up the phone and dialed his old friend Chase. This was his fault. Chase had introduced him to Marissa at his own engagement party, and while they hadn’t had any real chemistry, they’d become friends and that’s how Chloe had come in to his life.
“Hey, Moose,” Chase said, his voice happy down the phone.
“Hey. Can I ask you something?”
“It’s kind of dumb.”
“Are you okay?”
“Not really, I’m a freaking idiot.”
“No news there.” His old friend was having a good laugh at his expense.
“Ha. Ha.” He sighed. “What do you know about Chloe?”
“Chloe, at the ice-cream parlor where Lucy used to work?”
“Yeah Chloe.” As if there was another Chloe in existence. There wasn’t for Moose.
“Not much. She’s from Texas. Her uncle owned the business. He was a nice guy.”
“Everyone likes her. She’s given Lucy’s niece a part-time job. That’s it.”
“You’re no help.”
“I guess not. Why are you asking about Chloe?”
“I kind of like her.”
“Like her . . .” There was a pause while he processed it. “Oh, like that.”
“Yeah, like that, but I don’t think she’s interested.”
“Advice. You’re a whole lot of guy. Smart, wealthy, and educated with a big job. Don’t overwhelm her.”
“So I shouldn’t start giving her big fancy gifts?”
“You definitely should not.”
Moose hung up. He watched a guy get off a motor cycle just outside the parlor. He didn’t look like an ice-cream kind of a guy. The man seemed to be watching Chloe, too, something about the guy made Moose uncomfortable. He slid from the truck and headed toward his girl. His gift left firmly in the trunk.
Chloe turned and felt the blood drain from her face. A man she’d hoped never to see again was standing in the entrance to the ice-cream parlor. Fear pricked at the back of her neck.
“Nice place, kid,” he said.
“Thanks, it’s my uncle’s.”
The women and toddlers turned to look at him. His appearance was at odds with the venue. His hair was a shock of black, he wore tight jeans and a leather jacket, and a spider web tattoo wove up the left side of his neck. He looked tired, and he looked mean.
“So I heard.” His gravelly voice had an edge to it.
She wondered who had given up her location. If she had to pick, she would have to guess Trudy but it might have been Carrie. It didn’t matter. He must have threatened whoever it was, and he was a man known for following through on his threats.
The door opened again, and Moose walked in behind him. She couldn’t decide if this was good timing or bad.
“Hey, beautiful,” he said, sliding onto a stool at the counter, as if he didn’t notice the other man or the atmosphere.
“Hey, Moose.” His eyes met hers in a steady gaze that she hoped said, “I have your back.”
The other guy, Viper, slid into a booth in the corner. The women thanked her, gathered their children, and beat a hasty exit. It was like a scene from a bad western where the bad guy enters the saloon.
“Quiet again today, huh?” Moose observed.
“Yes, what brings you here?” she asked, pouring his coffee.
“I came to see my favorite girl. I missed you.” His smile was genuine, and he gave her hand a squeeze.
She released her hand from his and made her way over to Viper. “What can I get you?”
“I came to talk to you.”
“I have nothing to say to you.”
He grabbed her wrist hard. “Yeah, well, I have plenty to say to you.”
She felt Moose come up behind her and extend a hand to Viper. “We haven’t met; I’m Moose.”
Viper released her. “I’m Viper.”
“Really, we’re like our own little zoo. Moose, Viper, get it?” Moose teased.
Viper ignored Moose and his eyes met hers. “Who is this guy to you?”
“This is Moose; he’s my fiancé.”
Any Way You Want It will be out in May 2016.
Table of Contents
Any Way You Plan It
Copyright Monique McDonell
Monique McDonell, Any Way You Plan It