Email Me

You can reach me at KatieAshleyRomance at gmail dot com

About Me

My photo
Atlanta, GA, United States
I am the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best Selling author of The Proposition, Proposal, Music of the Heart, and Nets and Lies. I am represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel and Goderich for all books except for Proposition and Proposal.
Powered by Blogger.

The Proposition

The Proposition



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Last Teaser Tuesday from Search Me

Happy Tuesday all! I'm in the process of the last minute touches/copyediting on Search Me, which will release on July 2nd. I had originally said July 30th, but I'll be enroute home from Book Bash in Orlando.

In this scene, Lane is in the backwoods working for Maudie at her orchard and brewery. She's about to get to meet up with the blast-from-her-past who broke her heart.

So here's Maddox...

Here's Lane

And here's Maudie

Maudie linked her arm through mine. “Now speaking of romance, do I have a surprise for you!”
            I wrinkled my nose as we strolled down an aisle. “You know I hate surprises.”
            “Fine then. Guess what hunky blast from your past just finished his tour in the Army and is back home?”                       
            I froze right in front of a display of Miss Maudie’s Apple Crisps. An overwhelming wave of nausea crashed over me. Oh no. Please tell me no. This couldn’t be happening. The glaring mistake from my past couldn’t be coming front and center in my life again.  
            Maudie grabbed my hand in hers. “Lane, you look positively green. Don’t tell me you’re not happy at the thought of seeing Maddox again?”
Oh God, she had said his name. My past had come back to haunt me in the worst possible way—trapped for the summer with the guy I hated most in the world. I guess hated really wasn’t a strong enough word—loathed and despised probably came closer to how I truly felt about Maddox Diaz.
I’d known him since I was seven, and he was ten. His dad had gotten killed in some Special Ops mission in the Army, sending his already fragile mom into full alcoholism. It wasn’t long before she lost custody of him and his older sister. With all of Maddox’s father’s family in Puerto Rico and his mother’s family unwilling to take them, they pinged around to several different foster homes until Maudie took them in, just like she had my dad. But since Maddox was ten and his sister, Neely, was twelve, they were never adopted. Instead, they just stayed with Maudie. Although she and her husband would have formally adopted them, Maddox’s mother had been institutionalized and labeled incapable of being of sound mind for signing legal documents like adoption papers.
We played together during the summers and holidays, but he always managed to do something mean that had me in tears almost everyday. But just before I would go running to my parents or Maudie to tattle on him, he’d wrap me in a big bear hug and give me the sweetest, most charming apology anyone could ever hope for. I’d totally forget I’d ever been mad at him—until the next time he upset me.
By the time we were teenagers, he’d mastered that charm to woo all the girls within a hundred mile radius….except for me. Well, I guess that’s not entirely fair since he had more than charmed me.
“Lane, are you all right?” Maudie questioned, bringing me out of my daze.
 “Oh, sorry. I guess I just zoned out a minute.”
She gave me a sympathetic smile. “I know how upsetting what happened to Maddox is. Why, when I think of the lousy care he got in that Army hospital and how it led to that horrible Staph infection, I get so bitter and sad. It’s just not fair how he ended up being medically discharged from service when he had all those dreams of rising up the ranks and traveling the world.” She was then interrupted by the voice of her secretary screeching over the intercom. “Maudie, you’re needed in receiving. That’s Maudie to receiving.”
She huffed in exasperation. “I do so hate interruptions!” Before she turned to go, she said, “Don’t move a muscle. I’ll be right back.”
I nodded. As I watched her retreating form, my mind frantically spun with excuses to get out of working at Maudie’s this summer. I could probably still teach a class at my dance studio’s summer camp. Of course, anything from picking up trash on the highway to scrubbing toilets would be better than having to be around Maddox for any length of time.
The stress of the news sent my stomach rumbling into overdrive. Ignoring Maudie’s request for me to stay put, I started toward Eula and the fried pies. I knew nothing would get my mind off of Maddox quite like an apple pie. As I power walked down an aisle, I smiled and spoke to a few regular customers. But then an all too familiar voice sent me screeching to a halt.
I ducked behind a towering display of Peach Fuzz tea. When I was satisfied he wasn’t any closer, I craned my neck around the bottles. My heart rattled a little at the sight of him. It had been three years since I’d seen him last. Now he was twenty-two—a real man. If it was even possible, he was even more good-looking than I remembered. Maybe, he was more built than I last remembered. His biceps strained against the Miss Maudie’s Homebrew t-shirt he wore, not to mention you couldn’t miss the outline of his chiseled six pack abs. He had inherited his jet-black hair and naturally tan skin from his Puerto Rican father, and his crystal blue eyes from his mom. Of course, his dark hair was still buzzed short from his recent Army days.
The sound of footsteps caused me to jump out of my skin. I whirled around to find Drew staring at me over his glasses. With his furrowed brows and pinched lips, I guess it wasn’t everyday he caught someone hiding out behind processed peach juice.
“Oh, um, hi,” I said, ducking my head.

“Maudie asked me to tell you she’s gotten tied up but to go ahead and keep working on that jams and jellies display.”
“Sure, of course,” I replied to Drew’s feet.
He cleared his throat. “She just told me to tell you that. It’s not like I’m trying to be your boss or anything.”
I jerked my head up. “Oh no, it’s fine. Really.”
Drew gave a dreamy, dimply smile before shouting past me. “Hey Maddox!” I cringed as I waited for his response.
            “Grab those green boxes inside the storeroom and bring them over to Aisle Three for Lane."
“Will do!”
Drew nodded. “Okay, well, I guess I’ll see you later.”
“Bye,” I said, giving him a brief wave as he hurried off.
I started the sad pilgrimage over to Aisle Three, sickened with the realization that there was no escaping Maddox now. Heaving a sigh, I dug back into the box and started shoving multicolored bottles of jam on the shelf.
The sound of his footsteps behind me caused my breath to hitch. I was still holding it when Maddox placed a box bulging with jam at my feet. I turned around, and our eyes locked. The corners of his lips twitched, and I didn’t know if he was trying to grin or was fighting the urge to say something deeply profound about our reunion. Of course, there was the giant pink elephant loping about the room, and that was our past. I’m sure he was trying to gauge whether I was going to go psycho bitch and maim him, or let it slide. I decide to take the higher road rather than bringing him to his knees with a swift kick to the balls.
 “Welcome home.”
Any hesitation quickly faded, and he plastered his signature cocky grin on his face. “Thanks, squirt!”
Inwardly, I groaned at him using my nickname of a vertically challenged kid. Any thoughts I had of trying to tolerate his arrogant and egotistical presence with poise and dignity quickly evaporated. I narrowed my eyes at him. “You know I hate when you call me that.”
“Sorry.” After his eyes roamed over me, he bobbed his head in appreciation. “Damn, Lane, I’d barely recognize you. You’ve gone and grown up on me.”
I clenched my fists at my sides. After everything that had happened between us, he had the audacity to focus on my appearance. He was so infuriating! With him being so arrogant, there was no way in hell I’d admit the nights I’d lay awake worrying about him while he away in Basic or when he was wounded and away in the hospital.
Instead of arguing that I’d been the same height, if not same barely B cup size the last time he saw me, I continued stacking jam. When I remained unresponsive, he cocked his head at me.  “So this is all you’ve got for your old buddy and esteemed serviceman?”
            “I told you welcome home, didn’t I?” I winced at the harshness of my words. Was I really being this cruel to him after all he had been through? After I shoved a jar of Apricot jam on the shelf, I turned back to him. “Did you really get shot in the buttocks like Forest Gump?”
            He chuckled. “No, that was just something I told Maudie so she wouldn’t worry so much.” He jerked the hem of his shirt up to show a scar just above the waistband of his jeans. “It came awfully close to nicking my kidney.”
            For a moment, our past was forgotten, and my heart swelled with sympathy for him. “I’m sorry you had to go through all that. I really am,” I murmured. Then my gaze focused on the way his jeans sat low on his hips, giving me a side view of his washboard abs. A shudder ripped through me as I remembered what those abs felt like against my hands…against my body. I shook my head free of my ridiculous thoughts and started shoving jars of jam on the shelf.
            We stood in awkward silence for a few seconds. Conversation had never been this strained between us—even when we were kids and were mad at each other about something. Maddox rubbed the stubble along his chin. “So…after all this time and everything that has passed, I’d hoped you weren’t going to hold a grudge.”
A jar of Muskedine jam slipped through my fingers and then smashed onto the ground. “A grudge? I was trying to be gracious and polite by trying to ignore what you did to me. I mean, what happened between us wasn’t like the time you ‘accidentally’ burned my hair as a kid!” As his serious expression turned to amusement, I changed courses as well and snapped, “I had to have four inches cut off! I barely could get it up into a bun for my recital!”
            “What can I say? I was a punk through and through. And you,” he leaned in closer to me, “were such a little princess.”
            I shoved him back. “I was not!”
            “Yes you were!” He grinned at me. “You never wanted to play outside and get dirty, go fishing, or do any of the things I wanted to do.”
            “Oh, is that why you’d put worms down my shirt and shove me into mud piles so you could get me to do what you wanted?”
            “Nah, that was just me being a prick,” he replied.
            “Your main character trait.” I started to bend over to clean up the broken jar when Maddox took my hand in his.
He gave me a sincerely apologetic smile. “Look, I really am sorry for what happened before.” His jaw clenched and unclenched. “I want more than anything in the world for us to have fun working together, like we did a few years ago. Do you think we can put the past between us and move on?”
I gazed down to where his fingers wrapped around my arm. Maddox touching me again made my skin crawl. But most of all, it was the fact he thought he could just brush what he had done under the rug so easily. I jerked my arm away and announced, “I’m taking my break.”
            “What about this mess?” Maddox asked, motioning to the broken jam.
            “You clean it up.” I then narrowed my eyes at him. “After the way you treated me a couple of years ago, I think you owe me a favor or two!”
            As he made a strangled noise, I whirled around and started for the refrigerated section. After I grabbed a bottle of my favorite Miss Maudie’s Apple Core cider, I slipped out the door and onto the back porch. Luckily, there were no customers eating outside with the heat, so I popped open my drink and eased down in one of the rocking chairs that overlooked a small stream. As the sweet flavor coated my throat, thoughts of that infamous 4th of July crept into my mind, and for a moment, my stomach tightened so hard I thought I might throw up.