Excerpt 2: Out of Bounds

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The first excerpt I posted with Wes is the beginning of the book, but I thought you might like to meet the heroine, too. This is Posy's first scene.

POSY JONES SPENT one weekend, every other month, in her mother’s house in Kirkland, New York. Trish cared what the other women on the Kirkland mom-and-community circuit thought about her and while Posy was often frustrated by her mom, she loved her. So she showed up and did her time and her mom had stories to tell her friends to prove that her relationship with her daughter was just as nice and perfect as she wanted it to be.

Timing the visits also capped the amount of crazy she had to deal with. Her mom had a habit of stepping into trouble and expecting Posy to bail her out, and the problems tended to snowball if she was away from Kirkland too long.

She flicked the button on the steering wheel to turn off the radio, silencing the Kirkland morning show—the same deejay team that had woken Posy up every morning in junior high school. Before she got out of the car, she turned her phone on. Not a single missed call from her mom during the three-hour trip from Rochester. That never happened. She’d only spoken to her mom briefly the day before, too. When was the last time her mom had kept her on the phone longer than two minutes? Last week?

Main Street in downtown Kirkland was picturesque. As a location scout and quality control inspector for a national hotel chain, Posy was a professional at assessing the up- and downsides to communities. Kirkland was almost all upside—small, but thriving downtown full of locally owned businesses, excellent public schools, a pretty setting tucked on the shore of one of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. The downtown streets were lined with hanging baskets of flowers. Recycled plastic benches were spaced at friendly intervals to encourage visiting and lingering. A decent run of tourists came through in the summer for wine tours and lake camping. Another run in the fall for the foliage. Robinson University was a steady employer, and brought outlets for culture, a decent roster of small, research spin-off companies, as well as a solid but ever-changing population to fill rental units. And that bolstered the bottom line of countless Kirkland family budgets.

If she were assessing her hometown as a possible location for one of the Hotel Marie’s locations, she’d have to give Kirkland excellent marks. The year-round population was too small to support a large hotel those in her chain, but she wouldn’t be able to fault much else. That, however, was only the professional assessment. Personally? Posy gave Kirkland a lot more X marks than checks.

Posy’s parents separated when she was nine. Her dad moved to Rochester and her mom used every trick she could think of to drag the separation out and avoid divorce. When the divorce was finally official, Posy was fifteen and the family court judge allowed her to choose the custodial parent. She picked her dad, which 3 precipitated an immediate campaign of guilt tripping and pity parties from her mom. That campaign was still 4 going strong eleven years later.

As Trish never failed to mention, her dad hadn’t been willing or able to give Posy the kind of attention she’d been used to receiving from her mom. Which had been the point of Posy’s choice, but Trish would never accept that. It was a true story, but not a pretty one. And Trish would pick fantasy over harsh reality every time.

She found a parking place a few doors down from the Wonders of Christmas Shoppe, the store her mom owned on Main Street. Usually when she visited she did everything in her power to avoid Wonders, but her mom had insisted they meet there. She parked and locked her car, a habit she’d picked up when she moved to Rochester with her dad and that marked her as an outsider in Kirkland. Appropriate, because she’d never really fit in here in the first place.

The day was warm and there was a short line waiting for an outdoor table at the Lemon Drop Café. Wonders, on the other hand, had a closed sign on the front door and the white lights that twinkled around the window display year-round were off. The brass door handle didn’t turn when she tried it. Posy knocked on the glass. She saw movement in the back of the store and waited while her mom made her way from the office. Trish Jones turned the lock and pulled the door open with a jingle of brass bells. Posy was caught in a cinnamon-scented hug, gently patting her mom’s back while trying to ignore the familiar awkwardness she felt whenever they touched. Posy was six feet tall, more than ten inches taller than Trish. Her frame was built on a completely different scale, broad and sturdy, quick to add muscle versus will-o’-the-wisp insubstantial. It was a size difference that, when Posy shot up past her mom early in fifth grade, had only exacerbated their constant conflicts over what Trish termed Posy’s unwillingness to fit in. She’d somehow managed to believe that Posy had willed herself into being a freakishly tall girl in middle school. Because that was exactly the fate every eleven-year-old girl longed for.

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