While I am still on vacation, sitting under an apple tree in Normandy, here is Guest blogger Charity West with her new YA book “Battered Not Broken” – check it out!
About the Book:
Battered and bruised, Wren has taken a lot from her father over the years, but when he throws her out of the house, she sees it as a blessing in disguise. She has no job, no home, and never finished high school, but what’s all that compared to a life without abuse? When she starts over in a new town, under a new identity, she makes it her goal to fly under the radar.
New town, new life. Only, there’s a corrupt deputy intent on stealing Deputy Gray Frampton’s family fortune, a slight case of aggravated identity fraud, and a night in the local jail. It’s enough to make any girl’s head spin. Wren Michaels has to find a way not to spend the next three years in jail, warn Gray that Deputy Pritchard is after him, and somehow hold onto the happily-ever-after that is finally within her grasp—assuming Gray wants a felon as his girlfriend. Who knew falling for a man in khaki could cause so much trouble?
I was blessed to have this job, and I vowed not to screw it up. With that thought circling my mind, I fell asleep and didn’t wake until my alarm started beeping. It took a moment for my sleep-fogged brain to realize what the noise was, but when my neighbor started pounding on the wall between our apartments, I startled awake a little more and shut off the alarm. I’d already showered for the day, but I needed to figure out something with my hair. Sleep had left it tangled, and I doubted they wanted my long hair hanging down where it could get in everyone’s food.
After brushing it thoroughly, I twisted it into a knot on top of my head and fastened it in place with an elastic band. I splashed some icy water on my face and studied my reflection. I looked pale and tired, not the kind of impression that would earn me good tips. I didn’t have much in the way of makeup, but I put on a little blush, some mascara, and a touch of lip gloss. It was an improvement.
I had just enough time to stop somewhere for lunch before I had to report to work. Knowing I would be eating diner food for dinner every night, I couldn’t stop myself from enjoying a slice of pizza at Tony’s just around the corner from my new job. I drew some attention in my uniform when I went inside, but I ignored everyone as I inhaled a slice of supreme and a soda. Not a bad deal considering the slice was as big as the plate and the entire meal only cost me five dollars.
Things were bustling at the diner when I got there, with several tables full and the waitresses buzzing to and from the kitchen. I went into the back, and Buck pointed out my locker and showed me where to clock in. Then he led me back to the front and introduced me to Rachel and Esme.
“You’ll be working section two, which covers the three booths along the window in the middle of the room, as well as the tables in that same vicinity. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask,” Esme said. “We don’t serve anything stronger than sweet tea or soda, so you won’t have to worry about drunks. And several of the deputies from the sheriff’s department tend to swing by for meals. If that happens, they get a ten percent discount.”
“Got it.” The thought of sheriff’s deputies coming in for meals made me a little nauseated, but I hoped they wouldn’t pay too much attention to me. Since Dad had thrown me out, I doubted there was a missing person’s bulletin for me, but the thought of someone realizing I wasn’t really Wendy Somers terrified me.
It took me about an hour to find my groove, after surviving an hour of training, and I nearly dropped someone’s lunch on my way to their table, but all in all I hadn’t had a bad start to my shift. The customers were friendly and had left decent tips. The next several hours passed quickly, and I enjoyed a good, hot meal during my half-hour break. One thing was for certain: if I ate the diner’s food every day, I was going to gain some weight. Not that it would be a bad thing. I’d been told more than once that I was too skinny.
My break came to an end, and I clocked back in and tied my apron around my waist again. I pulled out my pad and pen as I headed back into my section, pausing momentarily when I saw broad shoulders covered in khaki and knew one of the deputies was in my section. It seemed I was going to be baptized in fire tonight. Plastering a smile on my face, I approached the table. My jaw nearly dropped when I got a good look at the guy. I’d been expecting someone older, but he had to be around my age. As his green gaze clashed with mine, my breath caught in my throat.
His lips tipped up in a smile, and my heart gave a kick. I gave myself a mental slap and reminded myself that I needed to focus on my job and avoid the law, even if they came in tempting packages like this one. I licked my lips and tried to steady my hand as I gripped my pen.
“Are you ready to order?” I asked.
“Sweet tea with the special,” he answered. “I don’t believe we’ve met before. I’m Gray.”
I stared at the hand he held out before finally grasping it. He had a firm shake, and the callused feel of his palm against mine made shivers run down my spine. I had to admit, uniform aside, he was just the kind of guy I would normally go for. If it weren’t the fact that I was fairly certain I was breaking some sort of law, I might have been tempted to flirt a little. But the last thing I needed was a cop getting close to me. Cops asked questions, and I was pretty sure he wouldn’t like my answers.
“Wendy,” I said after realizing I never gave him my name.
“You must be new to the diner,” he said. “I come in here all the time, and I’ve never seen you before.”
“It’s my first day.”
He nodded. “I figured as much. I hope you decide to stick around.”
I opened and shut my mouth a few times. Was he flirting with me? “I, ah…”
Gray winked, and my knees nearly buckled. Hurrying away from his table, I turned in his order, glancing over my shoulder to find him still watching me. Something told me he was going to be trouble, but I wasn’t sure if it was the kind of trouble that would find me arrested or the kind that was going to arrest my heart. Either way, it was better to steer clear of him, if I could.
About the Author:
Charity West is a young adult/new adult romance author who has always had her head in the clouds. She had her first crush when she was four, and it lasted for six years. Then she quickly fell head over heels for another boy, until she had to move away and leave him behind. Jumping from one boy to another, she finally found a keeper when she was twenty, and she’s been married to him ever since.
By the time Charity was twelve, she was sneaking her mother’s Harlequin romances and reading them in secret when she was supposed to be asleep. Teased throughout middle school and high school for the bodice ripper covers on the books she openly read in class, she knew that one day she wanted to write her own happily-ever-afters.
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