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Monday Puzzler > October 17: Meeting again in other circumstances...

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message 1: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1925 comments Mod
One of my favorite opening tropes is when the hero and heroine meet inauspiciously, then discover at a later time that they're stuck in the same place for a while. Thus begins this book in a beloved series that started a trend back in the day....(in Two Parts because the whole wouldn't fit...)


She moved from the back room toward her grandfather, who stood at the end of a produce bin talking to a man with his back to HEROINE. He wore a blue ski parka with black on the long sleeves. He held a half gallon of milk in one hand, and a box of granola was stuck under one arm. Messed brown hair brushed the collar of his coat, and he was taller than her grandfather’s six-two height. He tipped his head back and laughed at something her grandfather said, then he turned, and his laughter died. Across the too short distance, his deep green gaze met hers, even more brilliant in the light of day. His brows lowered, and within the perfect frame of his Fu Manchu, his lips parted. HEROINE’s footsteps faltered and stopped. Everything within her seemed to stop, too. Except for her blood, which drained from her head and made her ears buzz. Her chest got tight, and just like the first time she’d seen him, she wondered if thinking about the man had conjured him up. Only this time, there were no warm tingles. No urge to flip her hair. Just that funny feeling in her head like she might faint. At the moment, HEROINE wished she would just faint dead away and wake up somewhere, but she just wasn’t that lucky. And while she stood there wishing she could faint, she was sure he was recalling every detail of the night she’d propositioned him. The night he’d made his rejection of her look like the easiest thing he’d ever done.

“This is HERO . He owns the sporting goods store where the old pharmacy used to be. HERO, this is my only granddaughter, HEROINE. I don’t believe you’ve met.” That’s what her grandfather was saying, but over the buzz in HEROINE’s ears, and Tom Jones growling about the Honky Tonk Woman, she heard something else. Don’t take it personal, but I don’t fuck women I meet in bars, shot through her brain like a thousand pin pricks. The silence between them seemed to stretch forever as she waited for him to inform her grandfather that they had already met. To tell him his granddaughter was a drunk and a slut. The pricing gun fell from her hand and hit the floor with a thud.

He glanced across his shoulder at Stanley. “No. We haven’t met,”he said. When he returned his attention to HEROINE, the surprise she’d seen on his face was gone, replaced by a curious smile that turned up the corners of his mouth. “It’s nice to meet you, HEROINE-EY.”

“It’s HEROINE,”she managed past the constriction in her chest. “Only my grandfather calls me HEROINE-EY.”
He stepped toward her and bent to pick up the pricing gun. The overhead light filtered through the hair on the top of his head and picked out the gold. The rasp of his jacket sleeve filled the silence between them. “How long have you been in town?”he asked, his voice as deep and smooth as she remembered, only this time it didn’t pour through her like hot buttered rum.

He knew how long she’d been in town. What was he up to? “A couple of weeks.”

“Then we just missed each other. I’ve been on a ski trip with my buddies the last couple of weeks.”

She knew that, of course. And he knew that she knew it, too. But if he wanted to pretend they’d never met, that was more than fine with her. She looked down at his hand holding the sticker gun toward her. The brand name Arc’teryx was spelled out in white on the Velcro cuff that wrapped around his wrist.

“Thank you,”she said as she took the sticker gun from him. The tips of her fingers inadvertently brushed his and she took a step backward, dropping her hand to her side. Her gaze slipped up the zipper closing the front of his coat.

“It’s a real surprise to walk in here and see anyone but Stanley working,”he said.

She blinked and stared into his green gaze. Nothing. Not a hint of mockery or a flicker of recognition. At first he’d looked surprised. Now nothing, and she couldn’t tell if he was pretending or not. Was it possible that he didn’t recognize her? No, that was probably just wishful thinking on her part. She’d never been that lucky
“It’s about time he got some help.”

“Ah, yes,”she murmured, distracted by her thoughts. She’d been drunk. He’d probably been drunk too. Perhaps the surprise she’d seen on his face a few moments ago had been nothing more than surprise at seeing someone besides her grandfather working in the M&S. Lord knew the rest of the town had been shocked to see her.

“She’s come to help me out in the store.”Stanley moved to stand beside her and patted her shoulder. “She’s such a good girl.”

HERO glanced at her grandfather, then slowly he returned his gaze to her. She waited for him to laugh or at least crack a smile. He didn’t, and she relaxed a fraction. Maybe this HERO guy was a total boozer. Could she be that lucky? Some men beat their wives and shot up the house. When they woke up in jail, they didn’t have a clue why they were incarcerated. They sat with their head in their hands and didn’t remember a thing. Being a person who remembered everything, HEROINE had never believed in alcohol amnesia. Maybe she’d been wrong. Maybe the owner of the sporting goods store had it. Maybe he was a blind drunk.
Perhaps she should feel a bit irritated that she was so utterly forgettable. At the moment all she felt was a glimmer of hope that she’d lucked out and he was a raging alcoholic.

message 2: by Manda (last edited Oct 16, 2016 08:06PM) (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1925 comments Mod
Part 2: HERO

Good girl, my ass. With his free hand, HERO unzipped his coat and shifted his weight to his left foot. Good girls didn’t get wasted and pick up men in bars.

“How long do you plan to stay in Gospel?”he asked. The last time he’d seen her, she’d had her hair down. Smooth and shiny, like liquid fire. He liked it better down.

Color returned to her pale cheeks, and she tilted her head to one side. He could practically read her mind. She was wondering if he remembered her.

“As long as my grandfather needs me.”

She turned her attention to Stanley. “I’m going to finish pricing the beets. If you need anything, holler.”

As if HERO could forget her offer to show him her bare butt. As she walked away, HERO’s gaze slid down the ponytail that hung below her shoulders, past the tight black shirt to her rounded behind in black pants. No, he hadn’t forgotten her. The image of her within the soft lighting of the Duchin Lounge had stayed with him long after he’d left the bar. That night he’d dreamed of soft auburn hair and eyes the color of rich earth. Of long legs and arms entwined with his. Of sex so intense, so real, that he’d just about climaxed in his sleep. That hadn’t happened to him in a long time. A man didn’t tend to forget a thing like that. At least not right away.

“I really don’t need her help,”Stanley said, “but it’s nice to have her around, just the same.”

HERO returned his gaze to the grocery store owner. He wasn’t certain, but he thought he detected a light in Stanley’s eyes when he spoke of his granddaughter. A little light that he’d never seen there before. He liked Stanley Caldwell, and he respected him, too.

“Is she living with you?”

“Yeah. She pampers me, but I try not to get too used to it. She can’t stay with me forever. She’ll have to get back to her own life one of these days.”

HERO grabbed an apple and moved toward the front counter. “Where’s home?”he asked. He’d been living in Gospel long enough to know it didn’t take much to get a person’s life story, whether you were interested in hearing it or not. And in this particular case, he was mildly curious.

“HEROINE’s from Las Vegas,” Stanley answered as he moved behind the counter and rang up the milk, granola, and apple.

As HERO dug out his wallet, he wondered if HEROINE was a dancer in one of the casinos. She was certainly tall enough. She had the breasts for those skimpy costumes, too. Back in his hell-raising days, she would have been just the sort of woman he would have gone for. Tall. Built. Easy.

“She’s a private investigator,” Stanley provided while he placed the box of granola in a plastic bag.

That announcement surprised HERO. Almost as much as when he’d turned around and seen her standing a few feet from him, looking as stunned as he’d felt.

He handed Stanley a ten. “She doesn’t look like any investigators I’ve ever met,”he said, and he’d known a few.

“That’s what makes her so good,”Stanley bragged. “Women talk to her because she’s one of them, and men talk to her because we just can’t resist a beautiful woman.”

HERO had been doing a pretty good job of resisting women for a while now. Beautiful or otherwise. It wasn’t easy, never that, but he’d thought he’d gotten over the worst of it. The constant craving—until a certain redhead had propositioned him. Walking away from HEROINE had been one of the hardest things he’d done in a very long time.

He put the bills in his wallet and shoved it in his back pocket.

“Here’s the key to your place,”Stanley said and shut the cash drawer. “A couple of boxes from UPS came while you were gone. And yesterday, I picked your mail up off the floor for ya.”

“You didn’t have to do that.”HERO took the key to his store and put it back on his key ring. Before he’d left for his ski trip, Stanley had offered to accept freight for him. “I appreciate it, though. I made you something for your trouble.”He unzipped the breast pocket on the inside of his jacket and pulled out a fishing fly. “This is a bead-head nymph I tied just before I left. Rainbows can’t resist these guys.”

Stanley took it and held it up to the light. The ends of his handlebar mustache lifted up. “It’s a beauty, but you know I don’t fly-fish.”

“Not yet,”he said and grabbed his bag of groceries. “But I’m planning your intervention.”He headed for the door. “See ya, Stanley.”

“See ya. Tell your mother I said hello.”

“Will do,”HERO said and walked from the store.

The midmorning sun bounced off snow banks and blinded him with white, stabbing rays. With his free hand, he dug around in the pocket of his heavy coat for his sunglasses. He shoved the Rēvos on the bridge of his nose, and instantly the deep blue polarized lenses eliminated the glare.

He’d parked his black HUMMER in the first slot, and he slid easily into the front seat. He didn’t care what anyone thought about his HUMMER. Not his mother and certainly not environmentalists. He liked the leg room and the shoulder room too. He didn’t feel so huge in the HUMMER. Cramped. Like he took up too much space. He liked the storage capacity and the fact that it plowed through snow and climbed over rocks with grit and spit and enough pure muscle to spare. And yeah, he liked the fact that he could climb over the top of the other cars on the road if he had to.

He fired up the vehicle and reached into the grocery bag to pull out the apple. He took a bite and put the SUV in reverse. From within the M&S , he caught a glimpse of red ponytail and black shirt.

Her name was HEROINE, and the night he’d walked out of the Duchin Lounge, he never thought he’d see her again. Not in a million years, but here she was, living in Gospel. Stanley Caldwell’s granddaughter was working right across the parking lot from HERO, pricing cans and looking better than he remembered—and what he’d remembered had been pretty damn good.

HERO shoved the HUMMER into gear and drove around to the back of his store. She hadn’t been pleased to see him. Not that he could blame her. He could have let her down easier that night. A lot easier, but being propositioned had pissed him off. It had reminded him of a time in his life when he would have taken her up on the offer. When he wouldn’t have even hesitated before he kissed her mouth and tangled his fingers in her hair. A time when he would have stared into her liquid brown eyes as he had sex with her all night long. A time in his life when women had been within easy reach and he’d never gone without.

Back then, his life had been fast and furious. Full tilt. Balls to the walls. Everything he’d ever expected and could ever want. Yeah, he’d been blindsided and slammed in the corners more times than he could count. He’d made mistakes. Done things he wasn’t proud of, but he’d loved his life. Every damn minute of it.

Right up to the second it had been blown all to hell.

message 3: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2102 comments Mod
Oh yeah, I know this one. Lands you might want to take hero's name out in tbe second part--you have it twice.
Good choice!

message 4: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1925 comments Mod
Thanks, Deb. Got 'em!

message 5: by Stacey (last edited Oct 16, 2016 09:16PM) (new)

Stacey (staceyissassy) | 1281 comments I thought it seemed familiar but as I went on further I realised I haven't read it. Can't wait to find out what it is. :-) ♥

message 6: by Charlene (new)

Charlene (charlenethestickler) | 320 comments This looks really interesting. No idea, though.

message 7: by Leigh-Ayn (new)

Leigh-Ayn | 1207 comments ooooohhhhh I am intrigued!

message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan (susaninaz) | 1044 comments Looks like another "bad-boy-meets-risk-taking-girl".
I'll have to wait to find out who they are.

message 9: by Janga (new)

Janga | 1070 comments Mod
I was pretty sure I knew it, but "Gospel" cinched it. :)

message 10: by Phoenix77 (new)

Phoenix77 | 346 comments I don't know but it sounds good.

message 11: by Irisheyes (new)

Irisheyes | 896 comments I know I haven't read it but I have a guess who the author is, just not sure what book.

message 12: by Marita (new)

Marita (bluestockingandproud) | 43 comments I know I've read this book and I'm pretty sure I know which one it is or at least the author and series but I'm a bit too lazy at the moment to confirm it :P I think it's the one with the (view spoiler)?

message 13: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (nikanne) | 222 comments No idea but I like the flow so far.

message 14: by Daniellegn (new)

Daniellegn | 267 comments Definitely haven't read it, sounds good

message 15: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1925 comments Mod
As some of you have guessed, its The Trouble With Valentine's Day by Rachel Gibson! Along with SEP'S Chicago Start, Gibson's Seattle Chinooks were some of my first sports romances. And Rob, despite his jerkiness at the beginning of this one, turned out to be a sweetheart!

message 16: by Janice (new)

Janice | 30 comments That's one of my favorite hero types!! I'm definitely reading this!!

message 17: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (nikanne) | 222 comments I just found out my library has this entire collection, yay! The ebook is out but I'm only a block from the library and the paper copy is in. Time to feed my book addiction!

message 18: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1925 comments Mod
Sweet, Nicole! I don't love all of her books equally but the ones I do, I REALLY do!

message 19: by Leigh-Ayn (new)

Leigh-Ayn | 1207 comments Manda wrote: "Sweet, Nicole! I don't love all of her books equally but the ones I do, I REALLY do!"

I had forgotten about this series! I've read a few in paperback what seems like years ago when they first came out!
what are your favourites Manda?

message 20: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2102 comments Mod
I really like Gibsons Any Man of Mine.

message 21: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (nikanne) | 222 comments Leigh-Ayn wrote: "Manda wrote: "Sweet, Nicole! I don't love all of her books equally but the ones I do, I REALLY do!"

I had forgotten about this series! I've read a few in paperback what seems like years ago when t..."

I was wondering that too. I started this one last night and am loving it!

message 22: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1925 comments Mod
See Jane Score was the first Rachel Gibson I read, so it has a special place in my heart. And I still remember Lucky Luc and his tattoo, though it's been years since I did a reread. And of course I also love The Trouble With Valentine's Day. I also liked Nothing But Trouble quite a bit but not as much as the other two. I actually haven't read Any Man of Mine which I need to remedy.

But really Gibson is a pro, so all of her books are well written. It's just a matter of some of them hitting all my "yay" buttons as opposed to just a few.

message 23: by Janga (new)

Janga | 1070 comments Mod
Manda wrote: "See Jane Score was the first Rachel Gibson I read, so it has a special place in my heart. And I still remember Lucky Luc and his tattoo, though it's been years since I did a reread. An..."

Manda, See Jane Score was not my first Gibson, but it remains my favorite and one of my all-time top 100. I also love Truly Madly Yours, even though it is not a Chinooks book.

Aly is so frigging bored | 857 comments Mod
I want to reread it now :))

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