Storybook Romance (Love Inspired Series) [NOOK Book]

Overview


Boy Meets Girl…Again

It's been more than ten years, but Allison True has never forgotten her high school crush, Sam Franklin. Back in Bygones, her only focus is keeping her new bookstore afloat—yet the single dad of twin toddlers is testing her resolve to be career minded. Getting involved with a man who vowed never to love again is a recipe for disaster in Allison's book. But life with Sam and his twins could give her the happily ever after ...

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Storybook Romance (Love Inspired Series)

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Overview


Boy Meets Girl…Again

It's been more than ten years, but Allison True has never forgotten her high school crush, Sam Franklin. Back in Bygones, her only focus is keeping her new bookstore afloat—yet the single dad of twin toddlers is testing her resolve to be career minded. Getting involved with a man who vowed never to love again is a recipe for disaster in Allison's book. But life with Sam and his twins could give her the happily ever after she's always dreamed of.

The Heart of Main Street: They're rebuilding the town one step—and heart—at a time

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460320433
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Series: Heart of Main Street
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 58,747
  • File size: 292 KB

Meet the Author


Lissa Manley decided she wanted to be a published author at the ripe old age of twelve. . She feels blessed to be able to write what she loves, and intends to be writing until her fingers quit working, or she runs out of heartwarming stories to tell. Lissa lives in the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon with her husband, grown daughter and college-aged son. She loves hearing from her readers and can be reached through her website lissamanley.com, or through Harlequin Love Inspired.

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Read an Excerpt

"Thanks for coming in, Mr. Fibley." Allison True handed the dapper older gentleman his purchase. "I'd be glad to order more books on philately." Which was better known as stamp collecting, but Mr. Fibley, a retired pharmacist, was serious about his stamp studies and seemed to like it when Allison used the technical term for his hobby.

Thanks to the town of Bygones's Save Our Street Committee having faith in her entrepreneurial abilities, her life's dream had now come true. She was now the official owner of Happy Endings Bookstore, and she wanted to do everything possible to find, draw in and keep customers. The survival of Bygones depended on her success.

And so did her own happiness and self-respect.

Mr. Fibley's thin mouth curled into a smile. "Thank you, Miss True. I'm a dedicated philatelist, and as such, am hoping to increase my library of books on the subject." He tucked the package under his arm. "Like most of the other people in Bygones, I've been quite skeptical of the SOS Committee's plan to revitalize the town by awarding new businesses to newcomers. But I have to say, I do enjoy having a new, well-stocked bookstore here as a resource for my philately studies."

Allison returned his smile, thrilled that Mr. Fibley had changed his tune about the committee's plan. She only hoped the rest of the townspeople followed suit. Now that Randall Manufacturing had closed down, many Bygonians had been left without jobs, and many town services, such as the police force and the schools, had been put at risk. The new businesses' success was essential.

She planned on working night and day to make sure Happy Endings stayed out of the red. After four jobs in the ten years since she'd left Bygones, she was determined not to flit away. Never mind she'd have to pay back the matching funds she'd been given to start Happy Endings if the store wasn't in the black after two years. It was do or die, and she was going to be a doer or die trying.

"Thank you, Mr. Fibley, I appreciate your support." She picked up a few of the calendar bookmarks Vivian Duncan, her one employee, had whipped up on the computer and handed them to him. "Perhaps you could hand these out to some of your friends in town and spread the word about this store, and the bakery, florist, pet store, hardware store and cafe, which I've listed on the back." They all had to survive to make the SOS plan work.

Bygones was hanging by a thread, and she was part of an effort to revitalize the town by starting new businesses here on Main Street while also infusing new blood into the town. Of course, she wasn't exactly a newcomer, but had been deemed eligible for one of the start-up, matching-fund grants provided by an anonymous benefactor because she'd been gone from town for so long. She'd be forever grateful to her sister Amy for letting her know about the SOS Committee's plans. Allison had worked all night long to get her application in on time and, thankfully, had been awarded one of the businesses.

Mr. Fibley turned his blue eyes down and perused both sides of the bookmark. "Hmm. Very clever, making this useful advertising." He drew his reading glasses out of his coat pocket and put them on, and then paused, obviously reading the text. He looked up. "Yes, I'll hand them out. In fact, my grandniece will be planning a wedding soon. I'll have her look into Sweet Dreams Bakery and Love in Bloom florist." Another small smile—just the slightest upward curve. "Definitely."

Allison glowed under his praise and was happy for his cooperation. If he could be convinced to support the newly renovated stores on Main Street, she had hope for the rest of the town. The SOS Committee had faith in her; it was good to see some of the townspeople follow suit.

Now she just needed to have faith in herself. Failing wasn't an option. Not this time.

"Wonderful. And I'm also starting creative-writing classes for teens, and have already had Story Time for the little ones several times." She glanced at her watch. "In fact, the next Story Time starts in about twenty minutes."

Mr. Fibley inclined his head. "Excellent. I'll tell my granddaughter about the Story Time program so she can bring her children."

"Thank you, Mr. Fibley, I appreciate your help, really I do." One customer at a time. Allison was determined to make this business a spectacular success. She'd given up a decent job as the manager of the Book Barn in Kansas City to come back to Bygones. And while she'd been disheartened by the big-box store's emphasis on toys and electronics, she had still walked away from her only source of income. She had invested all her savings in the funds she'd had to match to be chosen as one of the new store owners here in Bygones. Her future—everything, really—depended on making this store work.

Though it wasn't a large store by any means, it was hers, and she'd put her own stamp on the place with walls painted in soothing shades of blue, green and tan. There were comfy upholstered chairs for reading and bookshelves Allison had built herself at one of the Workshop for Women classes Gracie Wilson held at the Fixer-Upper hardware store right here on Main Street.

She still had a few bookshelves in the back room to install over in the nonfiction area, and she and Viv planned on painting some fun murals on the walls, featuring literary characters. Allison also planned on setting up a desk and computer in one corner of the store so her customers would have a place to search online for titles. In fact, the equipment was due to be delivered any day. She hoped she could figure out how to install it herself, but if not, Josh Smith, who owned the Cozy Cup Cafe down the street and was good with computers, would certainly help her out free. She had plenty to do and wondered how she'd get it all done. By working day and night if she had to.

Something clunked from the back of the store, drawing Allison's ever-vigilant attention. Her ears perking up, she rounded the end of the front counter and gave Mr. Fibley a wave. "Excuse me while I go see what's going on back there. Thanks again for coming in!" She glanced over and saw Viv nearby, sorting some books from a delivery that had come earlier today. Good.

Mr. Fibley waved back, a quick flick of his skinny hand in the air, and then turned to go. "I'll be back when I decide which other books I want to order."

"I'll look forward to it, Mr. Fibley," she replied as he headed out the door. "Soon you'll be able to search for titles yourself."

"Excellent," he said with another stiff wave.

Another clunk sounded, and then another. Allison decided the noise was coming from the Kids' Korner, so she picked up the pace and veered toward the back-right part of the store, creasing her brow.

She arrived in the area set up for kids, pride filling her as she noted the colorful rug and small table and chairs set up for young readers. Her gaze zeroed in on a dark-haired toddler dressed in jeans and a red shirt slowly yet methodically yanking books off a shelf, one after another. Each book fell to the floor with a heavy clunk, and in between each sound, the little guy laughed, clearly enjoying the sound of his relatively harmless yet messy play.

Allison rushed over, noting there was no adult in sight. "Hey, there, bud," she said, keeping her voice soft and non-confrontational. "Whatcha doing?"

He turned big brown eyes fringed with long, dark eyelashes toward her. He looked vaguely familiar, even though she was certain she'd never met this little boy. Odd.

"Fun!" A chubby hand sent another book crashing to the floor. He giggled and stomped his feet on the floor in a little happy dance, clearly thrilled with his own antics.

"See?"

Carefully she reached out and stilled his marauding hands. "Whoa, there, little guy." She gently pulled him away. "The books are supposed to stay on the shelf." Holding on to him, she cast her gaze about the enclosed area, but her view was limited by the tall bookshelves lined up from the edge of the Kids' Korner to the front of the store. "Are you here with your mommy or daddy?" She hadn't seen this little guy come in, but then again, she had been busy with Mr. Fibley back in the nonfiction area.

The boy tugged. "Daddy!" he squealed.

"Nicky!" a deep masculine voice replied behind her. "Oh, man. Looks like you've been making a mess."

A nebulous sense of familiarity swept through her at the sound of that voice. Not breathing, still holding the boy's hand, Allison slowly turned around. Her whole body froze and her heart gave a little spasm, then fell to her toes as she looked into deep brown eyes that matched Nicky's.

Sam Franklin. The only man Allison had ever loved.

* * *

Sam tightened his hold on Rosalie and stared at the slender, pretty brunette holding Nicky's hand. She stared back at him, her gorgeous blue eyes wide, her glossy pink lips slack. Something about her rang a distant bell, but. .why?

Rosalie squawked and squirmed in his arms, yanking his thoughts away from the attractive young woman obviously trying to keep control of Nicky. "Daddy! Put me down!" Rosie commanded.

"I've got this one," the blue-eyed gal said.

"Thanks." Sam's parenting persona clicked into action. "What's the special word, Rosie?"

"Pleeeze?" Rosie squeaked, still squirming.

"All right, here you go," he said, setting her on the floor, straightening the pink-and-white-striped top she wore. Pink was her favorite color, followed a close second by purple. Or poiple, as Rosie said.

Rosie ran over and held a finger up in front of her brother's face. "No, no, Nicky!"

Nicky scowled. "Don't boss me, Ro-ro!"

Sam shook his head, amused by the push-pull dynamic between the twins, though he was sure his amusement would fade by the time he wrestled them into bed tonight. He loved them more than anything, but they exhausted him. Being a single parent wasn't easy, although his ex-wife had certainly seemed to sail through handling the twins when she'd had them. Of course, her new fiance, Spense O'Laughlin, was there to help. That thought sent a dart of bitterness through Sam, which he did his best to ignore.

The brunette raised her brows. "Oh, she's quite the bossy one, isn't she?"

Sam stepped forward, noticing how the young woman's pink sweater set off her blue eyes just right, and gently took a hold of Rosie's rigid finger. "She was born bossy."

Nicky tried to dart away, but his pretty captor held him tight. "And he's the mischievous one, right?"

Sam plucked Nicky up with his free arm. "Right," he said, impressed by her kid-corralling skills. "Rosie here bosses, and he causes trouble."

"You've got your hands full, then," she said with a quirk of her lips, putting her hands into the front pockets of her well-fitting jeans.

He hiked Nicky up farther as the little boy squirmed. "You could say that. Twins are very challenging." Understatement. Never mind that he never felt he had a very good handle on the single-dad thing.

Big blue eyes regarded him for a long moment, and again that sense of familiarity misted through Sam. Where had he seen her before? Unease had him shifting from foot to foot.

Rosie pointed at Sam's rescuer and piped in with, "I want to see that necklace." The woman gave Rosie an indulgent smile and squatted until she was at Rosie's level. "See?" she said, holding out the chunky gold chain around her neck.

Rosie fingered it. "It's pretty!"

"Thank you," the woman said. Then after a few moments, she looked up and said, "You don't recognize me, do you, Sam?"

His face heated. Yeah. She obviously recognized him, but he had no idea who she was. Awkward. "Um…no, I don't," he answered honestly. "But you do look familiar."

She lifted the necklace over her head and handed it to Rosie.

Rosie crowed in delight.

The gal rose and stepped forward. "I'm Allison True, your sister Lori's best friend from growing up?" She held out her hand. "Long time, no see, Sammy."

Sammy? He blinked as shock rolled through him, and he froze for a second, staring at her. Suddenly, everything meshed and recognition clicked into place. "Oh, wow!" He took her small hand in his. Little sparks skidded along his arm as soon as they touched.

"Surprise!" Allison smiled, exposing straight white teeth devoid of the braces she'd worn in high school. "It's me."

He cleared his throat and reclaimed his hand. "I knew I knew you from somewhere, but I couldn't place you." He roamed his gaze over her face, noting her smooth, creamy complexion, with just a hint of freckles across her nose. She had a delicate jawline and cornflower-blue eyes, which he now recalled were called the True-blue eyes because everybody in the True family had them. "But, man, have you changed." Another understatement. He remembered her mostly as a nerdy bookworm who wore glasses and her hair in braids, though she had blossomed in high school and he'd actually wanted to ask her out.

She rolled her eyes playfully. "Good thing. I would hate to look like the gangly teenager I was the last time I saw you." She made a face. "Ugh."

He nodded. "Nope, you're definitely not a gangly teenager anymore." Far, far from it. In fact, she'd grown into a beautiful woman. Not that he was really noticing…. All right, he was, but only in a very observational kind of way. As in, hey, she'd changed a lot.

"Glad to hear it," she said with an impish smile that he found very appealing.

Nicky kicked his legs. "Put me down, Daddy!"

"Let's stay up here, dude," Sam replied. "We need to leave the bookstore standing."

"Nooo!" Nicky cried. "I want down!"

Allison stepped forward. "Hey, Nicky. What's your favorite thing in the whole world?"

"Cars," Nicky replied, pushing at Sam's shoulders. It was hard to contain this busy little boy for long. On the other hand, Rosie had plopped herself down on the floor to play with the necklace Allison had given her to look at. How could two siblings be so different?

"Cars?" Allison cocked her head to the side. "Well, I know where we can find some books about cars."

Nicky stilled and turned to Allison. "You do?"

"Sure," Allison said. "Would you like to see?"

"Yes!" Nicky replied.

"What's the special word?" Sam automatically asked as he put Nicky down.

"Please?" Nicky responded.

Sam looked at Allison. "You sure you don't mind?"

"Of course not. This is a bookstore, a place to look at books." She held out a hand to Nicky. "Right, Nicky?"

He took her hand. "Right!" he said, jumping in place.

"Well, right this way," Allison said with a tug on Nicky's hand.

"Can I come, too?" Rosie said.

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