All Rowena Sommers wants is a quiet life away from Hollywood gossip and her vicious Oscar-winning ex-boyfriend Brett Fontaine. Her career and reputation in a shambles, thanks to Brett, Rowena returns home to restore her ancestral home and soak up some familiar, hometown sympathy. But having won a twenty-million-dollar defamation suit against Brett hasn’t endeared her to the hometown fans, and the man she’s hired to restore the old home is none other than the ex-jock who used her cruelly in high school to win a bet. And now a paranormal investigator is telling her the place may be haunted.
Van Whitney is no stranger to gossip. He's been struggling to keep his family's restoration business afloat, and when he agrees to restore Rowena's home, he vows to keep their relationship professional. His childhood friend has become a beautiful, sexy woman, but she attracts gossip like flies to honey. When strange things start happening at the house, Van discovers secrets upon secrets, and a plot that may be other than it seems. But his attraction to Rowena might be more dangerous than anything from the past…
Had to share this with you. It's the latest from Carolyn Rosewood, whose previous work includes 'The Last Soul. Published yesterday, by Etopia Press, here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:
“What are you doing here?” she asked in a quiet voice.
“Is that any way to greet an old friend?” He took another step closer and she actually flinched. A whiff of perfume, musky and warm, floated past his face.
“Old friend?” She crossed her arms. “Van, the last time we had an actual conversation I was fifteen.”
“What are you talking about? We’ve known each other all our lives.” What the hell was wrong with her? Living in California certainly hadn’t done her attitude any favors. Probably thought she was too good for this place now.
Her gaze turned defiant. “Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten high school.”
Most of high school was a blur of occasional touchdowns and an endless string of willing cheerleaders. He’d only gone out with Rowena two times, and both dates had been nothing more than a ruse. “Rowena, it was a long time ago.”
She uncrossed her arms and her gaze softened, but only a little. “Not long enough for some of us.”
“What does that mean?”
Van became even more confused when she didn’t answer. What was her problem?
“Didn’t Mike tell you he called me?”
“No. He only told me a contractor would meet me here this morning.”
“That’s me. We’re the only game in town.”
“I can’t hire you, Van. This will never work.”
“Why not? We’ve been friends since childhood. Anyone else will charge you three times what I will.” He hated the begging quality his voice had taken on, but he needed this job. Mike had given him the impression this was a done deal. Just show up and give her a quote. Then again, Mike was an idiot.
“What you charge has nothing to do with it,” she said.
Must be nice to be so blasé about money. She’d turned into a rich bitch out there in California. “Then at least let me take a look inside and see what needs to be done. That way you won’t get ripped off by someone trying to pad the estimate.” And then he’d find Mike and strangle him.
She kicked at a loose pebble with the toe of her sandal, and he tried not to stare at her painted toenails, chocolate brown, to match that tank top. “Van, I’m having trouble picturing your business as stable.”
His palms started to sweat and he took a deep breath to slow his heart rate. The story of his uncle Mark embezzling company funds had made the papers outside of Creek Ridge, but he wasn’t sure how far outside. How much did she know?
“I guess Jake’s been keeping you up to date on things here.” Jake had moved to Chicago to attend college right out of high school and still lived there. But since he’d been closer to Rowena than to any of her other siblings, he imagined they still kept in touch. Then again, Mike could have told her the story of Uncle Mark.
She looked into his eyes, and a wave of guilt washed over him. The look on her face wasn’t Hollywood rich bitch. It was his childhood friend. It was the innocent high school freshman he’d asked out on a date merely to win a bet. He owed her an explanation about the business, at the very least.
He cleared his throat. “Rowena, the papers made a lot of unfounded accusations when all that stuff about my uncle came out. We’re struggling in this economy like everyone else, but the business is sound.”
“You don’t understand,” she said, frowning. “This is Aunt Loony’s house. I don’t want a bunch of your football ex-teammates getting drunk and screwing it up.”
“Why would you think that?” He’d assumed she was talking about the stuff in the papers. Didn’t sound like it.
She held his gaze. “It’s what you did. Hang out with the team, drink a few beers, and occasionally cause some minor vandalism for shits and giggles.”
He hadn’t realized he was holding his breath until a sigh escaped. “That’s all over now, Rowena. No drunkenness on the job, no vandalism, minor or otherwise. My crew works hard.”
“Leopards don’t change their spots.” Her voice sounded bitter, tight. Was she talking about him, or her Hollywood ex-boyfriend? If the tabloids were accurate, he’d trashed her reputation and her career because she’d had it out with him over his cheating. He couldn’t fault her for being hurt. And if the stories were true, Brett Fontaine had it coming to him. But that had nothing to do with this job, or with him.
“I’m a different person now, Rowena.”
“Not sure I can believe that.”
“I’m confused. Are you refusing to hire me because of what my uncle did, or because of the way I acted in high school?”
Her eyes cut to a spot behind his shoulder, and her tan couldn’t hide the sudden flush on her cheeks. He didn’t understand her reaction. She was a celebrity. Way out of his league. She could wallpaper several rooms of Aunt Loony’s house with all the magazine covers she’d graced.
“Jake told me they recovered all the money your uncle stole.”
“That’s right. And my father repaid the customers who were shorted because of it. Rowena, this house means a lot to me too. At least let me give you a quote. I hate the idea of you getting ripped off by a stranger.”
Now all you have to do is click on the link below and in a few minutes, 'Haunted Heart' will be yours!