Eat a stick of butter or return to her hometown? School teacher, Kinsley Bailey, would rather risk the caloric overload. Staunton, Virginia is laced in bad memories of a mentally ill mother, an estranged father, and the first boy who broke her heart. Yet the news of her father’s death has forced her return to the nightmare. Now in the heat of the summer, Kinsley’s left unraveling the mysteries surrounding a house, an antique gun collection, a flabby basset hound, and a safety deposit box that no one in the family wants to discuss.
After a series of tough breaks, army soldier, Bastian Harris, desires the serenity of small town life in Staunton. Even with women signing up for his shooting courses and emphasizing their desires for a different kind of target practice, he keeps his nose down and his gun in his holster. Yet when a certain auburn-haired blast from the past comes blazing into his shop to sell her dead father’s antique gun collection, he might have to reconsider the tranquil life and take up arms for the one woman he never could forget.
Read an Excerpt
All I Ever Wanted
Summer Love Novels: Book 1
By Katrina Mills
City Owl PressCopyright © 2016 Katrina Mills
All rights reserved.
Kinsley was sick and tired of dealing with the rats of the ocean harassing her for her picnic lunch. She was also getting pretty fed up with the group of twenty-somethings sitting ten feet away and laughing it up every time she got dive bombed. Trying to handle the situation with a modicum of grace, she determined that ignoring their riotous laughter was the best way to deal with it. However, being the headliner of their beach comedy act was getting old pretty quick, and she was two minutes away from marching over there and kicking sand into their cooler of Michelob Ultras. Of course those skinny bitches would drink low carb beer.
If one more of those seagulls dives down for my Doritos, I am gonna get the Alka-Seltzer out of my purse and have a late Fourth of July Celebration.
She placed her giant straw hat on her head to make her invisible to anymore aerial attacks. How did her easy-going, independent day trip to the beach turn into getting dive-bombed by birds and a group of hecklers modeled after the cast of Jersey Shore? Kinsley folded up her bag of chips and put them in her giant turquoise bag. After reapplying another slathering of SPF 45, she grabbed her newest Janet Evanovich book and found her marker.
That was one thing Kinsley adored about summer vacations; she got to catch up on all her leisure reading. During the school year, she was either grading papers or reading whatever "Do This Method to Be a More Effective Teacher" piece of crap her principal was making them read in a book club. She had no time to enjoy the adventures and romances of popular authors from September to June. So even though she had an audience of assholes that were taking bets on when she would get crapped on by a bird, this book was her silver lining.
Kinsley glanced out of the corner of her eye at the posse of punks next to her. The girls took great care in lathering themselves up with baby oil, you'll regret that one in about fifteen years, and the boys were more than happy to help with the additional coatings. Kinsley glanced down at her sunned legs poking out of her black Vera Wang one-piece and shrugged. She could probably get away with wearing a bikini. Never having any kids, decent eating habits, and Pilates four times a week kept her body surprisingly svelte for a women getting ready to turn thirty-four. Yet a little cellulite and sagging could be expected in almost any woman after the age of thirty-three — unless you were Cher. Since tan fat was better than pasty fat, and she was only slightly bronzed, she'd just as soon keep her mid-drift covered.
She was beginning to read a particularly steamy scene between Stephanie Plum and Ranger, when she heard Ann Wilson of Heart pelting out the song "Alone", code for her cell was ringing. Digging through her bag, she found her phone tucked into one of her flip flops. "Hey there, Delilah. You better not be calling to cancel our dinner again tonight. Monica and Diane already confirmed they're down for Plaza Del Torro."
Delilah, Monica, and Diane were Kinsley's team teachers at Rodney Edwards Middle School. Kinsley taught science, Delilah had math, Monica for history, and Diane covered English. They spent quite a bit of time together outside of school and sometimes argued like stepsisters.
"Ugh, karaoke again?" Delilah whined. "Can't we try going to McGilligan's Pub one more time? Diane has to face her fears at some point!"
Diane's refusal to patron McGilligan's Pub on Friday evenings was a result of an unfortunate incident between her ex-husband, Ross the Rat-bastard, and his secretary, Janis. During an unannounced visit to his work three years ago, Diane discovered his secretary taking shorthand in the buff. Her first sight upon entry into his office was Janis' nipples on two perky breasts. McGilligan's pub featured a twofer on buttery nipples every Friday night which knocked its possibility as a watering hole out of the running.
"Last time we tried to make her go, she got so upset seeing the rubber nipples they stick on top of the shot glasses that she sat in the corner the whole night crying into her White Zinfandel," Kinsley argued. "I'm not talking her off the ledge again. So get your vocalizer ready."
"Fine, but if any preschoolers start making out again, I'm out," Delilah said.
Last time the four ladies went to Plaza on karaoke night, home of the four dollar mango margarita, the sorority of Delta Omega Kappa decided to take advantage of the cheap tequila too. The four teachers had the rare privilege of an evening filled with off-key Taylor Swift songs and a sister on sister lip lock.
"Don't worry. All the part-time lesbian pop stars went home for summer break, so I think we're safe. What's up?"
"Just checked my work email. Word on the street is we need to have an electronic presentation for this year's open house."
Kinsley rolled her eyes. "Yuck, not it!" Every September there was some additional component being placed on them for the beginning of the year dog and pony show. Regardless of how packed your presentation was, or if fifty future classmates were around, some parent always cornered you to talk about their child's bladder issues or need for creative outlet in the classroom.
"Me neither. We'll make Monica do it. She's the youngest; she's got the energy for it."
"Sounds logical to me." Kinsley relaxed into her lounger chair. She didn't want to talk about school yet. She had a couple more weeks before she had to return, and she was certain it was sacrilegious to talk about work when you were in front of the ocean, basking in the sun's rays. She could get used to living like this permanently. The only thing that yanked her out of this moment of contentment was the giant, wet, slimy pile of bird crap landing on her right thigh. "Ah, shit!" The crew of kids immediately started laughing and high-fiving. Apparently, the blond girl with a tramp stamp above her hot pink bikini bottoms won the bet because a couple of sons of bitches handed her five bucks.
"What?" Delilah asked concerned.
"I just got shit on by a seagull, sweetie. I gotta go. See you tonight." Kinsley hung up her phone and grabbed a spare towel out of her bag. She tried frantically to wipe off the bird poop, but it was a mucusy mess.
What the hell did this bird eat?
She took her beach towel down to the water and dampened it. After she had successfully wiped most of it off, she figured that was her cue to pack up and head home. Walking back up to her spot, she wrapped up the towel so the bird poop wasn't on the outside and folded her lounger chair.
Before heaving all her items across the sand to the parking lot, she peered over at where the scum-suckers had been sitting. When they saw her shoot up out of her seat to clean the bird crap, they had all taken off down to the water and dived in. She must have resembled a woman on the edge, but what they couldn't tell by her grossed out facial expression and flailing arms was that she was also very creative.
Kinsley got her Doritos bag and walked calmly over to where the fuckwads' things were lying on the sand. After opening the bag, she began sprinkling cheesy tortillas all over their towels, bags, and baby oil. Once the contents were thoroughly scattered and the flock of birds circling, she hurried back to her beach gear and sprinted towards her car. When she looked back, about fifty birds were dancing around on top of their towels devouring the chips. Her main goal was to get them to poop all over it, but if they just aggravated the living sin out of the crap-weasels then her mission would be a success.
Kinsley used her key fob to roll down the windows on her BMW so her face wouldn't melt off when she got in. Tossing her bag and beach chair in the trunk and sliding into her leather driver's seat set her thighs on fire. Her BMW M6 Coupe was not a typical car for a science teacher who wasn't married to a rich man or didn't have a sugar daddy, but prior to teaching she had worked as an engineer for a giant ship building corporation. She got to travel all over the world and made one hell of a salary, but she traded it all for a rewarding career — depending on which day you asked her — teaching middle school. Luckily, she had smartly invested most of her income so she didn't have the financial troubles that usually coexisted with a career in education.
She turned on the engine and cranked up the A/C. Pulling off her big floppy hat, she flipped down the visor to examine her face in the mirror. The sun hadn't bleached out her color job too badly. Kinsley had the unfortunate genetic disposition of her mother and started getting gray hairs around the age of thirty. Never having a conceited nature, she let the grays take over and kept her hair chopped up to her chin. However Monica, being a fashionista twenty-something, told her she couldn't stand her doubling as Edna Mode from The Incredibles anymore. Monica hauled her to a salon for a color job and an optometrist for Lasik eye surgery. Now her hair rested below her shoulders and eggplant colored tones masked her silver strands.
Despite the SPF applications, Kinsley had gotten some sun. She always tanned easily, even when using high-leveled sun block. She backed out of the parking spot and began to head down the main road that ran parallel to the beach. Luckily, she was just in time to see the Justin Bieber-Wanna-Be's trying to shoo away all the birds.
"Revenge is better than Christmas, assholes!" she yelled. It probably would have had more of an effect if she had rolled down the window so they could hear it. But it was still satisfying.
Traffic on the bridges in Hampton Roads was always torture this time of year. People visiting for vacations, locals going to and coming from work, and nitwits that didn't know how to drive clogged everything up worse than a toilet at a frat house. Kinsley sat in traffic, clicking repeatedly on her radio presets when she heard Ann Wilson again. She grabbed her cell and saw a 540 area code. That was in Virginia, but she didn't recognize the number. She turned the volume down on the radio. "Hello?"
"Hello? Kinsley?" The voice belonged to an older female.
"Yes, speaking. Who is this?"
"Oh, Kinsley. Thank goodness. This is your Aunt Debbie." The caller waited a few moments and then clarified, "I'm the second wife of your dad's brother Jim that passed about seven years ago?" She ended her statement with a pitch that made it sound like more of a question. Kinsley didn't speak to her father's side of the family. After leaving her mother, he made the decision to divorce Kinsley too. When her mother died four years ago, he had the nerve to move back into her house because she never got around to taking his name off the deed. Her mother's mental illness was so overwhelming at times, she often didn't take care of what she needed to.
"Yes, Aunt Debbie. What can I do for you?" Kinsley couldn't think of anything she could do for that side of the family. She had written them off years ago, especially when they supported her father using a technicality to take over her mother's house.
"Sweetheart, I am calling to let you know that your father passed away yesterday." It didn't matter that she was in standstill traffic. Even if she had been doing ninety down the interstate, she wouldn't have needed to slow down or pull over. The only feeling she had regarding him, dead or alive, was indifference.
"Oh, that's a shame. How did he pass?" Stick with formalities.
"He had a heart attack mowing his lawn."
"Impossible. You have to have a heart to have a heart attack. Plus, don't you mean mowing my mother's lawn?" Her hands tightened on the steering wheel.
"Now listen here, Kinsley, I'm not calling to argue. I am calling to let you know he's not with us anymore, and the funeral will be in three days."
She sucked her teeth. "Oh, gee. That's too bad. I have to work." She didn't need to go to his funeral. He should have wanted her around when he was still alive. The only time she saw him after she turned eight was when he drove through town in his police cruiser.
"I thought you were a teacher now. Aren't you off for the summer?"
"Yeah, but I have a summer job. I'm doing scientific research on the effects of processed foods on the digestive tracks of seagulls. It's all very scientific and I can't get away. Sorry you had to waste your time calling." She pulled the phone away from her ear to hang up, but Debbie's high-pitched hollering on the other end made her stop.
"That isn't it missy! I was going through your father's papers in his house to find out what his last wishes for arrangements were. I'm the executor of his estate. You need to come home." How dare she sound so pushy with her! Maybe if she had used that tone with her father to encourage his involvement in his daughter's life, he wouldn't have earned the Worst Dad of the Year Award over twenty consecutive times!
"Why?" She didn't care if they stuck him in a pine box and covered him in horse manure. She wasn't going to that funeral.
"He left the house to you. You need to come to Staunton for the reading and to figure out what you want to do with the house," a deliberate pause from Aunt Debbie, and then she added, "after you attend the funeral of course."
Kinsley sat motionless as if a bee were about to sting her cheek. She couldn't have heard that correctly. Why would a man she hadn't spoken to in over two decades — except when she called him a heinous son of a bitch after he legally stole her mother's house — leave her that house in his will? He was a greedy bastard.
"Hello? You still there?"
"Yes, I'm here. Are you sure you have this right, Aunt Debbie? I haven't spoken to Mitch in years. I doubt he would leave me that house."
"Mitchell, your father, left it to you. I read it with my own two eyes. Now, you may not have been able to make peace with your old man because of what he done, but he sure as heck was apparently trying to make peace with you," she could almost see Aunt Debbie's finger wagging. "You find a way to get a couple days off from them birds you claim to be working with and get your kiester up here for the services and the reading. You can stay in your father's house on account of my guest room is being used by my god son, Henry."
"You mean I can stay in my mother's house," she corrected.
"Well, if you want to get all persnickety, it's your house. Key will be in the fake rock by the holly bush next to the garage door. I'll stop by on Sunday. That gives you two days to make sure your there and to give you Petunia."
"Petunias? He left me flowers?"
"No, Petunia is his dog. She was willed to you too. I don't care what your father done or didn't do. When a man passes, you show your respect whether you think he deserves it or not. Don't be an ingrate."
What the fuck? Seriously? He left her a dog? She couldn't take care of a dog! She barely kept the algae alive in the science tanks at school. "I don't want his dog and can't take care of one either. Can't anyone else in the family take her?"
"Since it isn't my dog to give away, I haven't asked anyone if they want her. The dog is legally yours. If you want to give her away or take her to a shelter, you're the one that needs to do it."
Getting crapped on by a seagull and metaphorically crapped on by her dad's dead brother's wife all in one sitting was not part of her independent beach day plans. She didn't want to go to Staunton; it was like a time capsule of bad memories. The only instant she had been back home in the past thirteen years was when her mother passed away. She had wanted to be buried in Thornrose Cemetery next to her mother, so Kinsley felt obligated to hold the services there. Other than that, her mother had always come to Newport News to visit her. She even lived with Kinsley the last month of her life because there were better hospitals in Hampton Roads.
But if she didn't go now, she would have to deal with the legality of that house sooner or later, and now there was a damn dog she had to fiddle with too. School started up in a little less than a month. Putting it off wasn't an option. No matter what, she was going to have to deal with it. "Alright, I'll be there by Sunday."
Excerpted from All I Ever Wanted by Katrina Mills. Copyright © 2016 Katrina Mills. Excerpted by permission of City Owl Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Natasha Jackson for Readers' Favorite All I Ever Wanted is the story of school teacher Kinsley Bailey, called home due to the death of her estranged father, who took off when she was eight - never to return. On top of that there’s her childhood best friend, Sebastian, who also happens to be her first heartbreak. Now that they are both back in their hometown, just about anything can happen. In the years since they’ve seen each other, a lot of changes have taken place in their lives. Kinsley went from a high powered executive to a teacher and Sebastian joined the army, came home, and had a little girl. When they meet up again the sparks do fly! Despite the time that has passed in All I Ever Wanted, there is still a spark of something between them, but there are plenty of reasons they shouldn’t pursue it, and Kinsley was well aware of them all. Katrina Mills does a good job of weaving together an entertaining story of a second chance at something. I hesitate to call this a second chance romance because there wasn’t really a romance all those years ago, but more like a crush that never went anywhere. The story was solid with well rounded characters and there were moments that made me laugh out loud. What I liked most was that Katrina Mills sprinkled in a bit of mystery with the secrets and the safe deposit box because, as a child of divorce, Kinsley certainly didn’t have all the details. The only thing that niggled was the fact that Kinsley seemed so bothered by their lack of anything romantic when they were children. It seemed extreme, considering how much time had passed.
I LOVED this book! I came across it when a friend shared a photo of the book signing. For Katrina Mills' first book, it is phenomenal. There were times when I laughed out loud and could not put it down. The characters are well-developed and kept laughs coming (the TIC TAC PIE! You need to read this book so you can find out what it is!) It has a good amount of funny, drama, and a couple of steamy, detailed/descriptive sex scenes. I would recommend it to anyone older than 20. I can't wait for more of Mrs. Mills' stories.
Making Peace With the Past. Received the free book for an honest review. Man this book could resonate with someone who comes from a family of divorce and secrets. This book is not dark in nature but it mirrored life just a little bit. The main character Kinsley is a child of divorce and has harbored hard feelings about her father as a result. Her life has been a series of disappointments, struggle and academic achievement. She grew up and cared for a mother suffering from bipolar disorder and it shaped some of the choices she made in life. Kinsley now must return to the town where her world fell apart and lay to rest the past. On her first day in town she meets Bastian a childhood friend that she still has unanswered questions from when they were children. Will she be brave enough to seek the answers that have eluded her since she was twelve regarding him? I know really she could not get past it. She will receive answers to the questions regarding her parents that she least expected and will have to deal with the feelings that arise from this confession. This is the first book I have read by Katrina Mills and I was impressed with the fluidity of her writing. Remember the saying , “Don’t judge a book by its cover” holds true for this book. I looked at the cover and thought this book would not be an interesting read. So wrong with that thought that once I started this story I did not put it down until I finished the book. Not sure how to describe why I got so caught up in this book other than to say I needed to know what the secrets were. This book is not a gripping mystery or drama driven story but more of a story explaining the actions of the adults in this woman’s life when she was a child.
This book starts with Kinsley getting a card reading when she was thirteen years old. The psychic tells her that she will never date her current crush, Bastian, and that the week before her 34th birthday she will be murdered. Kinsley is a school teacher who has been summoned home after the death of her estranged father. She doesn't look forward to returning home to a town that holds a lot of bad memories. She hopes to be in and out after the will reading but of course nothing can be that easy. Bastian has returned home after years in the military and is running a gun shop with his cousin. He constantly pushes off advances from the women in his gun training class until Kinsley returns to town. I could not put this book down! There were so many emotions and an immediate connection with the characters in this story. I kept looking for references to the psychic and was hoping that she would be wrong about all parts of Kinsley's fortune. This book had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion and at the edge of seat for a few parts. I'm definitely looking forward to more books by this author! I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.