Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂
Series: Fully Invested #1
Publication Date: September 25, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Add It: Goodreads
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Rose never expected to return to Wildlife Ridge after she graduated high school, but here she is, sixteen years later. She wants to spend some time focusing on her new life as an entrepreneur, away from the big city rat race, and her quiet hometown in the mountains seems like the perfect place to do that. She’s excited to spend some time with her parents and has barely given a passing thought to seeing Ethan again. Really. Hardly at all.
Ethan hasn’t seen Rose on her infrequent visits home. He’s never forgiven himself for cancelling out on taking her to prom at the last minute. His life hasn’t panned out the way he expected, but he loves his town, and he’s hopeful she’ll love it enough to stick around for awhile, give Wildlife Ridge a second chance. And maybe give him a chance to make it up to her after all this time.
Ethan paused at the entrance to apartment 212. The door was wide open, likely for the cool blast of late-winter air. Music played, loudly but not too loudly, and the charming voice singing along had him pausing before he knocked on the doorjamb.
He’d wondered if he’d feel anything when he saw Rose again. High school was a lifetime ago, and he’d started to think some serious thoughts about her back in the day. But they’d been children, really. And he’d disappointed her, let her down. Story of his life. She’d grown up, he saw now. In all the right ways.
She did a little wiggle as she unwrapped some kind of figurine and placed it on the shelves in front of her, and he tried not to watch her ass. But he didn’t try very hard. Even though her back was to him, he knew it was Rose. They’d known each other since kindergarten, after all. In a small town like Wildlife Ridge, it was impossible not to know someone your own age. They’d played together as children, but they’d never been especially close. Not until those last couple of months.
She was not sporting a California-girl tan, might even be paler than he remembered her. Apparently she hadn’t turned into a beach bum during her life out in LA. Her previously long hair had been cut and shaped into a wavy brown mass that bounced on her shoulders and invited him to tug. He wanted her to turn around so he could see it framing her face.
Another voice joined hers in song, and he watched a long-legged Black woman dance her way down the hall to join Rose. They grabbed hands and circled around the room for a moment before Rose’s eyes landed on him and she came to an abrupt halt.
He let his hand, knuckles still pointed towards the doorjamb, fall as she blinked at him from behind her glasses. That was another change. She’d almost always worn her contacts, once they got to junior high school.
“Hey,” he said, sounding lame to his own ears. “Sorry to interrupt. I just wanted to bring you this, and make sure you have everything you need.” He held up a spider plant. “Welcome to Salmon Springs apartment building.”
She dusted her hands along her thighs and came to him, reaching for the plant. “Wow, that’s so sweet, thanks. It’s good to see you, Ethan.”
“Rose. It’s been a long time.”
“This is one of my best friends, Naomi Washington. Naomi, Ethan Woodford.”
The woman who approached him was all city. At least, that’s what he chose to attribute the air of no-nonsense confidence to. He supposed she’d heard about him and was prepared to be unimpressed.
“Ma’am,” he said, as he offered his hand.
She blinked at him, apparently astonished. Then she looked to Rose. “Did he just insult me to my face?”
Rose’s lips twitched and she adjusted her glasses higher up her nose. “No. He was being sincerely polite.”
Naomi stared at her friend for a moment, then returned her attention to him. “It’s nice to meet you.”
He shook her hand, forcing back a grin. Yeah, she was all city.
“Naomi’s helping me move. She took a little vacation to drive out with me.”
“How was the drive?” he asked, leaning back against the doorjamb.
“We broke it up into two days, but with the big push yesterday. Spent the night just inside Colorado. It wasn’t too bad.”
He nodded. “Be sure and let me know if I can help out with anything. I’ve got my toolbox, in case you haven’t unpacked that yet.” He nearly shook his head at how stupid that sounded. Her parents owned a hardware store, for crying out loud, surely she’d have access to whatever she needed.
She raised her eyebrows. “Thanks, will do.”
He nodded, backed up. “You have my cell, just call or text if you need anything. It was nice to meet you, Naomi.”
They said their goodbyes and he retreated, shaking his head in disgust at himself as he walked down the hallway. It wasn’t like he didn’t interact with women all the time, but somehow seeing Rose had set him back about a decade and a half. No, that wasn’t true. When he was in high school, he hadn’t had any trouble talking to girls. As the quarterback, he’d been one of the most popular guys around.
A lifetime ago.
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