I hear that it’s always a good idea to put out a little sample of a soon-to-be-published book. Since By Design is coming out pretty soon, like May 16 (have I mentioned that lately?), now might be the perfect time to post an excerpt.
So, without further ado, here’s Chapter 3. Drop a comment and let me know if it gives you a hankering to read the whole thing. (You don’t have to tell me if it has the opposite effect.😉 ) If you like it, mark it “to read” on Goodreads and say hey on Facebook (Jayne Denker Author) or Twitter (@JDenkerAuthor).
Emmie slouched across her desk at work, the heel of her hand mashed into her cheek to keep her head propped up. Her night on the sofa hadn’t been very restful. At all. Of course, she could have reclaimed her bed. She could have moved Kyle if she’d tried hard enough. She could have made him sleep on the couch. She even could have woken him up and sent him home, no matter what the time of night. But she hadn’t. Sometimes she wondered if she even knew how to make demands on other people. Maybe she could ask Trish to give her a few lessons in assertiveness.
Right now, however, her only goal was to stay awake without the assistance of caffeine. Wilma never let her make a pot of coffee unless there were clients in the office, and though he was out at the moment, she didn’t even think of disobeying. The most daring thing she could do was to allow herself to slouch like this—Wilma would have murdered her on the spot if he saw her looking so unprofessional. He was worse than a headmistress at a finishing school. Sit up straight, don’t chew your nails, smooth your hair out, be more polite, speak proper English, act like an adult . . .
Emmie’s eyelids drooped. She rolled her shoulders and tipped her head to the left, then to the right to keep herself awake. She wished Wilma didn’t insist on having classical music playing in the office—it wasn’t helping. She had to do something, get herself moving. Was there any pressing work to be done? Nothing that couldn’t wait, said her drowsy brain. Maybe if she just shut her eyes for a moment . . . just one teeny-tiny moment . . .
The clanging noise reverberated in Emmie’s head like a fire alarm. She lurched up and glanced around wildly. Had she actually let her head rest on the desktop, even for a split second? Then she realized the fire alarm hadn’t gone off—it was just the antique brass bell over the door of the shop, and it was far quieter than it had seemed through the haze of her impromptu nap. When Emmie first brought Wilma the bell, which she had found at a flea market one weekend, he had dismissed it as tacky, but she had convinced her boss that customers would like being greeted by its quaint, friendly jingle instead of an electronic sensor’s beep. Now, however, she hated the thing; she never thought it could scare her half to death like that.
She tried to calm her thumping heart as she rubbed her blurry eyes. Yes, someone had come in and was standing by the door. But there was no screaming. That meant it wasn’t Wilma. A man, but taller than Wilma. And definitely quieter, she noted.
“Can—can I help you?” she stammered.
“Er, I hope so, yes,” the man said, in a melodious baritone that woke Emmie up completely. She’d never had her nerve endings put on high alert by a mere voice before (unless she counted the negative physical reaction she had whenever Wilma spoke), but she felt a distinct tingling now. “I’m looking for . . . John, is it?”
The man came closer to her desk; Emmie did her best to smile. She suddenly realized the side of her face was wet, near the corner of her mouth. What . . .? Drool? Dear God. She’d have preferred it if someone had shot her and the dampness was blood instead. Blood was dramatic; drool was just pathetic. Read the rest of this entry