CHOOSE ME is a friends-to-lovers romance. I love those, don't you? Two people who have a history together, but not a romantic one. To see the relationship develop - sometimes against their wishes - is as fun to write as it is to read.
Eve Corcoran hates being a cliché, but after her husband leaves her for a younger woman, she’s surprised how much she enjoys being on her own. When the empty nester hires the contractor next door to renovate her new apartment, her surprising feelings for him threaten to turn her new life upside down.
After Rick Best lost his wife, he never expected to fall in love again, especially not with the mother of his daughter’s best friend. He’s gone on enough rescue calls with the volunteer fire department to know life can change forever in an instant, and he can’t understand why Eve resists grabbing a second chance at happiness.
His phone was ringing when he got out of the shower. He snagged a towel, dashed into the bedroom and grabbed the phone off the dresser.
His voice was breathless as he caught it in time. “Hello?”
“Rick? It’s Eve, did I catch you at a bad time?”
“No. Just got out of the shower and I’m dripping all over the floor.” His laugh cut off. Why did he tell her that? Did he want her to picture him naked? Did he want to think about her picturing him naked? Gah, he wished he’d never had that conversation with Heather.
“Sorry. Do you want to call me back when you’re…um…dry…um…dressed?” Thank goodness that was amusement he heard in Eve’s voice. Or was it embarrassment?
“No. Just give me a sec.” Rick dropped the phone to the mattress, dried off quickly and wrapped the towel around his waist. He shook his head at his actions. Like she could see him. What was wrong with him? “Okay, I’m back. What can I do for you?”
“You know my building on Main? Where my shop is?”
“Sure.” Two-story building with a brick facade. Good roof. Well-maintained from what he could see.
“I’d like to set up a time when you could come look at the apartment upstairs. It needs some work.”
“I heard your tenants took off.” Renters rarely treated property as well as homeowners did.
“Eloped,” she corrected. “Going to try their luck in L.A. but they didn’t do any damage. I just want to make a few changes before I move in. Some upgrades to the kitchen and bath. Not too much work, I hope.”
“Wait a minute.” He must have heard her wrong. “You’re moving in? To the apartment?”
“Yes. Selling the house. Tess is bringing over the sign today, but she says she already has a couple of potential buyers so it might happen quickly.”
She sounded excited, but something about not seeing Eve next door made his chest feel suddenly hollow. “Wow. You never mentioned that last night.” And that was a stupid thing to say. “Sorry. I know you don’t have to tell me anything. I’m just…surprised.”
“Well, I only decided after I left your house last night.”
“I chased you away, huh? Don’t want to live next door to me anymore?” He hoped his voice sounded lighter than he felt.
“Don’t be silly. But the house is way too much for just me. It needs a family, you know?”
Yeah, he knew. He’d thought the same thing a few times about this place, but he wasn’t ready to leave behind the house where he and Cathy lived, where they’d raised Heather. He knew it had to have been a hard decision for Eve.
“So could you look at it and give me an estimate, or are you guys booked up a year in advance or something?”
“I can look at it. Are you free tonight?”
“Tonight? Sure. I’m still here at the apartment now.”
His chest felt lighter, fuller. “I’ll get dressed and be right over. Give me fifteen.”
Eve couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that Rick had been naked while she’d been talking to him. Naked. Nude. Sans clothing. All that masculine skin with nothing covering it. She blew out a shaky breath.
She’d seen him in swim trunks often enough over the years. Both of their houses had pools, and since Amy and Heather had been joined at the hip for most of their lives, and Eve and Cathy had been friends, the two families had often been at one or the other’s houses.
But that was back when he’d been Cathy’s husband. When she’d been Don’s wife. Back then Eve had been able to appreciate a good looking man without coveting him or getting turned on. Those kinds of thoughts had never even crossed her mind.
But now…as she paced the scarred hardwood floor, Eve found herself getting all tingly at the thought of Rick having been naked while they shared words. And even more shivery knowing he was rushing over here as soon as he covered up that naked body.
What was wrong with her?
Crazy as it was, she dashed into the outdated bathroom to check her reflection in the mirror. Her hair was a mess. She shoved her fingers through the strands, trying to fluff them up a little. She’d left her purse, and the brush inside, down in her shop and she didn’t have time to run down and get it now. Her lipstick was down there too. She bit her lip. Her face looked so pale when she didn’t have lipstick on. At least she was still in the dress and heels she’d worn for work, so she felt as if she had at least some of her armor in place.
What was she getting so worked up about? This was Rick. She’d known him for years. He’d seen her hundreds of times. It wasn’t as if he was going to care what she looked like. He was coming to look at the apartment, not her. She should be getting her thoughts together on the work she’d like to have done, not primping in front of the mirror.
There was a knock at the door at the bottom of the stairs. “Eve?”
I hope you'll want to give Choose Me a try, and then stick around for more stories in the Silver Fox Romance series. I'd love to hear what readers think about the books, and there is a new Silver Fox Romance FB page if you'd like to join in.
Right now Choose Me is live at Amazon and iBooks. More venues will be coming soon!