Read More from Calle J. Brookes

Free Stories from Finley Creek and more…

I’ve been working away on the next books, and starting those that come after. NANO (writing 50,000 words in a month) has gone well. I’ve already ordered my winner’s t-shirt. Kiddo’s volleyball has ended (thank goodness, I was getting exhausted!) and she’d taking a break before we sign up for a winter rec basketball league. She’s never played basketball, so…I’m looking forward to the adventure. O.o

I still don’t know the actual release date for Shelby yet. I’m thinking it’s going to be the week before Christmas. Nikki and Hunter’s book will probably be the week before Valentine’s Day, but I’m not 100% certain. I also hope to have another novelette available for sale on my website, featuring Shelby’s bestie Daryn and that adorable TSP cop Mike Evers who was first introduced in Gabby’s book so long ago.

I did find one more deleted scene from Shelby that was a lot of fun to write!

Friends…

The evening was better than the afternoon. She got the information she needed from her private investigator, then let her friends convince her that a trip to Mamaw’s Place followed by drooling over Hunter Louis Clark for two hours would be totally worth it. And it was. The actor was absolutely gorgeous. 

And looked nothing like the bane of her existence except for the rich black hair.

Shelby tried not to think about Jake.

He’d wanted something. She was sure of it.

“You know, this place is awesome. I’d hate to see it go out of business if it doesn’t sell,” Charlotte said, quietly, while they were eating dinner—once again at the diner, since it was near the theater. “It reminds me of home.”

There was a sadness in her eyes. Shelby leaned closer. “You ok?”

“Yeah. Just…I was in that movie with Hunter Louis Clark that he filmed in Masterson. I played a fairy. I almost died epically in one of the final scenes. One of my best acting moments, I might add. Seeing him made me miss home, where my cousins are. This place…my grandmother runs a diner up there. Well, she did. Now she mostly just meddles in everyone else’s business while flirting around with a man ten years her junior. He’s seventy-three. I grew up waiting tables there. My cousins manage it now. I would be working a few nights a week there and at the inn—we own that, too—if I was home. I have seven cousins. We all grew up together, living at the inn, one big mess of Talley girls. I miss it so much sometimes. Down here…I have family here, but we definitely aren’t close. I don’t think we ever will be. But…there isn’t a whole lot of opportunity to do my job up there. And I love what I do, too. I’d have to live clear across the state from my family to work forensics up there, probably. Or give up forensics all together. I don’t want to do that.”

Powell leaned forward. “My brother has a thing for one of those cousins of hers, too. Brandt. She’s all he talks about. He’s buying property up there to be close to her.”

Charlotte perked up, green eyes widening. “Seriously? Which one? Marin? I can so see that. She’d be the type to captivate a beautiful Barratt man. She captivates every guy she meets. She works hard at it.”

“Nope. The youngest one that starts with an ‘M’.”

Meyra? No way. No way. That’s awesome.” Charlotte’s pleasure faded right before their eyes.  “But…she’s never leaving Masterson County, Powell. She never has. I’m not sure she ever could. I mean never. Masterson County—and the diner—is her home. She’s found where she belongs.”

There was a look in the other woman’s eyes that said Charlotte hadn’t yet. Well, Shelby understood that. She hadn’t even left her shell enough to begin the journey. Let alone find the finish line. 

To know where she belonged.

She looked around the diner. Then at her attorney. Who was also a property attorney and realtor and knew just about everything house and building related possible. “Well, h-h-how much would it cost to buy a place like this?”

Powell’s brow arched. She had a hefty portfolio of her own that she managed. Powell helped Shelby with her own. Shelby suspected it would continue to grow over her lifetime. “Let me think…” 

If Shelby went by Jake’s standards, the five of them shouldn’t have become friends at all. Powell and Shelby were of the wealthiest one percent. To some people that would seriously matter. 

To some horribly judgmental people, anyway.

To her, it didn’t. These people were her friends because they understood her. Cared about and accepted her just as she was. That was priceless. 

If all they ever did together was come to this little diner and spend a few hours talking, it was worth it to her. 

They were the first friends she’d had since that horrible night five years ago. Zoey and Daryn had been before—Charlotte and Madison and Powell were the first after. 

They were the first risk she had taken since a woman she’d thought was her friend years ago had led her into what had amounted to a trap, just because she was jealous of something Shelby had said or done years ago. 

Something Shelby still had no idea of. And never would. She hadn’t spoken to that woman since that night.

She trusted these women. And that mattered. “Let’s do it. I think we should. We can hire someone to run it. Keep the original staff, even, if they want. Why not? I have the money. It’s just sitting there, molding. Logan told me in his will to use it to have some actual fun. I want a diner of my own. Where I can spend time with my friends, the people who matter to me.”

Powell just blinked her blue eyes. Nothing ruffled Powell Barratt. “While I’m not sure random whim purchases were what he had in mind, at least a diner is better than a yacht or a racehorse or something. Ok, we can work out the details this week. I own a restaurant; I’ll get you a copy of my profit and loss and we can discuss it. See if it’s what you really want to do.”

“I’m going to do this.” Resolve filled her. Yes. She was going to do this.

This was the first impulsive thing she’d done with Logan’s money. Something just for her. No charity funds created, no paying people’s medical bills because they couldn’t come up with the money. No donating to various causes suggested by Mel. 

She did all of that, and would probably do that forever. But something special just for herself? She hadn’t done that yet at all.

No. Now she was going to buy something for her.

Even if she didn’t do anything more than step inside occasionally and pretend to just be a regular person again, it would be hers.

She rather did miss doing that.

Being normal.

She hadn’t felt normal in five years, after all…

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