Free Excerpt of Book 2 in Lines in the Sand by Lindsay Detwiler
Hi! I hope you’re having a great week. Scroll down for another free excerpt from Wild Hearts. This is one of my favorite scenes in the book because it just makes me laugh.
Will a chance and very uncomfortable run-in be the scene to finally bring Jodie and Levi together? Read on to find out why Jodie got to see a whole lot more of Levi’s gorgeous boy than she bargained for...
“Are you sure you should’ve let Gemma handle this? From what you’ve told me, she just isn’t the most trustworthy,” Avery says. We’re sitting at the kitchen island sipping coffees she brought. Avery’s forehead is dripping with sweat, and she’s trying to create airflow by pulling on the front of her shirt.
I’m wearing the skimpiest tank top and shortest shorts I could possibly find in my dresser this morning, but there’s still sweat beading on my forehead, too, and dripping down all sorts of places I don’t want to think about. I’m a hot mess, and I mean that quite literally.
It figures that on the hottest day of the year, our main air conditioner in the living room would break. Just figures.
Gemma’s out at the local Home Depot getting a new one—after swiping my half of the money for it, of course. Apparently, when she was at the bar last week, some hot guy was there who works at the Home Depot in town. I wouldn’t put her past breaking the unit on purpose for an excuse to go there.
Regardless, it’s quiet without her, and Avery doesn’t have to be at her new painting spot for a couple of hours. I’ve suggested we catch up on Teen Mom or The Bachelor. Avery has other ideas, insistent I lure the cowboy out of his apartment so she can get a look. I’ve shot the idea down. We’ve both considered having some real fun and letting Sebastian into Gemma’s room. I can just imagine the horror in Gemma’s perfectly lined eyes at the sight of the cat on his back right in the middle of her pillow.
“Hey,” Avery says after taking another sip. “Speaking of Sebastian, where is my buddy? I haven’t seen him, and come to think of it, he didn’t greet me.”
I freeze, looking at Avery before glancing around. I think back on the morning, realizing I haven’t seen Sebastian, not since I got up and noticed it was hotter than hell in here. I remember feeding him his canned cat food bright and early, but after that….
We both leap to our feet and investigate, checking Sebastian’s favorite napping spots. I find nothing but clumps of gray hair where Sebastian should be.
I start calling out his name, wondering where the big lug of a cat ended up. Avery dashes room to room.
And that’s when I see it. The window. The wide-open window, the screen that was there this morning gone.
“Dammit,” I yell, dashing toward the open window, hoping the fat cat didn’t get very far. But I don’t see him anywhere. Avery rushes to my side.
“Oh, shit,” she says.
We wordlessly dash outside, frantically peeking around the apartment lawn.
And it’s then I hear some wild parrot squawking above the country music blasting in Levi’s apartment—so much for heeding my neighborly request to keep it down.
That’s when I notice his window is, as usual, wide, wide open. He says real men believe in natural air conditioning.
“Is this the cowboy’s home?” Avery says, her eyes glimmering despite the situation.
“You know damn well it is,” I say. “But looks like he’s not home.”
I creep over to his window, peeping in to see Sebastian, all twenty pounds of him, climbing up Johnny Cash’s cage, his claws fiddling with the door, the parrot screaming. Apparently he didn’t get very far after his great escape. I can’t even begin to imagine how he got his fat body through Levi’s window and onto the parrot cage. Regardless, this is the predicament we’re in now, and I have no idea how to get us out of it.
“Oh shit,” I yell, waiting for Levi to come bolting to Johnny Cash’s rescue. But he does nothing of the sort. He truly must not be home, despite the music blaring.
Thus, I do what any sensible woman would do. I try the doorknob, find it locked, and pound furiously on the door. We wait a moment, but detect no Levi movement. I kick the door in frustration.
Avery yells at Sebastian, hands on her face. “Jo, he’s going to get the parrot. You need to get in there.”
“And how do you suppose I do that?” I scream, in panic mode.
Avery looks at me and then peeks at the window. “Here, I’ll give you a boost. You can just shimmy through there.”
“I can’t just climb through his window. Are you crazy?”
“You need to save the bird!” She is insistent, the take-charge Avery emerging in our time of crisis. I sigh and obey. She’s right. Levi might drive me crazy, but I can’t risk Sebastian hurting his bird—although if Johnny Cash bit the dust, it would be much quieter. Still, it wouldn’t be the neighborly thing or the humanly thing to do.
Avery awkwardly makes a step for me out of her hands. “Apparently neither of us were cheerleaders,” I say as we struggle and fumble on the front lawn. Finally, Avery practically tosses me to the ledge of the window, and I pull and strain to get myself through. The cat is hanging on the cage. At least he hasn’t burst it open yet.
I finally slide through the window, and Avery claps behind me, apparently proud we’ve pulled off this James Bond—hardly—move.
I yell at Sebastian, flapping my hands at him, as I cross the living room floor. I’m almost at the cage when a door flies open inside, and footsteps come running toward me, probably to see what the commotion is.
The real Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” is blaring as Sebastian meows at me, Johnny Cash the parrot screaming and flapping. Avery shrieks from the window, and says “Oh, my.” I turn slightly to see Levi staring back at me wide-eyed.
But it’s me who lets out the next scream, backing toward the window, because Levi is standing a few feet away from me, completely and utterly naked.
Like completely. Everything, everything, everything is hanging out for all to see.
And see it all we do.
It is only after a long, confusing moment he realizes what’s happening and covers himself with cupped hands, but it’s too late.
I’ve seen things I can’t unsee, and maybe don’t want to.
What did you think of Levi and Jodie’s awkward run-in? Hit Reply and let me know if this scene made you laugh. I’d love to hear from you.
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***Part I of Simply Love: Welcome to Maplewood is available HERE***
“Oh dear, Tyrion doesn’t like to have his belly scratched,” Gram says, pulling her floral robe a little tighter in the cool morning air that is filling the house.
My hand is already bleeding from the crazy cat’s wild scratching and biting, his growls only punctuating his frustration. “I’m getting the idea he might not like to be pet at all,” I say, finally wrangling my hand back and standing up, my black leggings covered in white cat hair just from rubbing against him. So much for my favorite color to wear being black.
“How did you sleep, dear?” Gram is shuffling her feet in her hot pink slippers, her walker grinding into the carpet as she moves toward the kitchen.
“Great,” I lie as I head over to the coffee machine. I struggle to remember how to even make coffee in this ancient coffeemaker, making a mental note to put a Keurig on my list of things to buy as I attempt to open the foreign contraption.
In truth, I barely slept a minute, or at least that’s what the bags under my eyes seem to suggest. The mattress in the guestroom is probably circa 1950, and the yellow floral wallpaper just sort of gives me the creeps, even in the darkness. Perhaps its Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” or an overactive imagination, but I just feel like it’s watching me.
Still, I know things are hard enough on Gram. Going to bed alone, missing Grandpa—I can’t even dream of complaining. She’s done all she can in her condition to make my move comfortable, opening her home to me as best as she can.
I struggle with the measuring and pouring of the coffee for a while, hoping the liquid that comes out of the appliance won't be too tar-like. Here's to hoping.
Despite the peeling wallpaper, the bed, and the lack of modern appliances, I sit at the wooden table in the kitchen thinking about how warm I feel inside. To be in this cozy kitchen, gram trudging to the table with her cane in her right hand—it feels right.
This is where I need to be.
“So, what do you have planned today?”
“Well, I don’t have a Skype call until Thursday with Whitney,” I say.
I smile, shaking my head as I sloppily put my hair into a ponytail. “A call with work. I don’t have to call them until Thursday.”
“I do worry about your career with this move. I’m so glad to have you here. But I hate to see your dreams on hold.”
“Gram, I can design anywhere. Nothing is on hold.”
She smiles, taking a seat beside me as she pats my hand. “I don’t ever want to come between you and your dreams.”
The look in her eyes says she means it. It makes my heart swell even more to know she cares about me. I didn’t realize in New York how much I missed that, the connection of family.
“Thanks, Gram. Love you.”
“So you still didn’t answer me. What are you doing today?”
“Well, I need to run a few errands maybe. Pick up a few things to settle in. Do you want to get lunch?”
“No, honey. You take some time to explore on your own. Look around, see what Maplewood has to offer. You need to check out the young crowd.”
I laugh at the way the last words fly off her tongue like a foreign phrase. “Well, then maybe I’ll get us some takeout for lunch? I wouldn’t mind catching up on some soap operas you know.”
Grandma is a sucker for soap operas, or the “stories” as she calls them. She’s got a thing for quite a few of the actors.
“Oh, yes. Lovely! Your grandpa always made fun of me for watching them. It’ll be so great to have someone to share them with. You know, there’s a new Ricky on the stories and let me tell you, he’s something to look at.” She winks, and I shake my head.
“Always scoping out the men, huh Gram?”
“Hey, I might be old, but I’m not blind. A girl’s gotta get her looks in while she still can. Speaking of which, don’t you worry, Cadence. There are plenty of lookers in town here.”
I sigh. “Gram, don’t get any ideas. I don’t need you trying to set me up with anyone.”
She puts her hands in the air. “I’m just saying. My beautician Belinda has a grandson, and he’s not bad on the eyes.”
“Well, I’ll keep that in mind as I explore the town today,” I say, mostly just to appease her. She smiles as if pleased with herself.
“It’s about time you find yourself a nice young man, Cadence. Someone to share life with.”
“We’ll see, Gram.” I don’t have the heart to tell her that at my age, a nice young man isn’t exactly on my list. Give me some hot one night stands, give me a few fun nights out, and I’m happy. I don’t need a ring to make me happy. In fact, on the contrary. I’m doing just fine on my own, my career keeping me busy.
I know Gram’s from a different generation, though. A generation of commitment and settling down, of love being the answer. I don’t have the heart to tell her that’s not what I have in mind. Plus, I don't exactly want to explain the concept of a one-night stand to dear old Gram. She watches enough soap operas to know, but still--there are some things grandmas just don't need to hear from their granddaugthers.
Not that I’m against love or marriage. Someday maybe I’ll take that step. It’s just right now, I’m not ready to settle down, to let love take over.
I break out of my introspection, heading over to grab a cup of coffee for each of us. We spend the next hour talking about everything from the storyline of the soap operas to the weather to my job. Gram, although still in mourning, seems happy. It makes me feel good.
After I change out of my leggings and touch-up my makeup, I decide to head out. Gram lets me borrow her car, an ancient station wagon. I make a mental note that procuring a car is also going to be on my ever growing list of to-dos.
Uprooting your life isn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be. Once I finally get the thing to clink to a start, I back down the driveway, carefully watching the rearview mirror. It’s been so long since I’ve driven, the taxis in New York City and the subway substituting for driving most days. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I’ve actually been behind the wheel.
It’s not as if I’m driving in New York City traffic, though. There’s not a single car in sight for miles. I guess if I need to get reacquainted with driving, this is the place to do it.
I ease my way back down the driveway, momentarily getting hung-up in the mirror on my wonky eyebrow. When was the last time I had those things waxed? I think to myself.
And then crash, crunch, boom. I’m no longer looking at my eyebrow but slamming on the break, hoping to stop the crunching metal feeling before it’s too late.
But it’s way too late. The damage has been done. I exhale loudly, wondering if this whole moving thing was such a good idea after all. Because right now, looking at the crunched mailbox underneath the tire of the equally crunched up station wagon, I wonder what the hell kind of message the universe could possibly be sending me.
***To be continued***