Grace Trumbull’s after work drink with Bradley Hanover, a handsome younger colleague, on a warm summer night turns into an impulsive, intimate encounter. After a few weeks of exhilarating secret dates, Grace—forty-two and divorced—realizes she’s pregnant.
For Grace, whose estranged mother refers to her own teenage pregnancy as her biggest mistake, the prospect of parenthood is daunting. She’s just been made vice president of a media relations company and is childfree by choice. Still, something deeper than her fear makes her want to keep the baby. She knows she can be a better, more capable parent than her mother was to her.
As months pass and seasons change, Grace questions her decision to include Bradley in her plans. But they continue to navigate their complicated relationship, each struggling with what it means to make a commitment to someone. Most importantly, Grace begins trusting her instincts—maternal and otherwise—finding courage that will guide her through an uncertain future ripe with new possibilities . . .
Praise for the novels of Susan Kietzman
“Beautifully written and closely observed . . . captures the deep and complicated love of family. Reading this lovely novel, I felt the embrace of summer on the shoreline.”
—New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice on The Summer Cottage
“Readers will find themselves drawn into the tragedies and triumphs of this fictional family—distinct and yet utterly relatable.”
—Hartford Books Examiner on The Good Life
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
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Grace Trumbull waited a long moment to look up from her computer screen when she heard the knock on her office door. She was in the middle of something, yes, but she also wanted to reinforce the message that a closed door meant she did not want to be disturbed. And the summer intern and probable knocker had interrupted her twice already that morning with questions that could have been emailed. Grace had been attentive to him over the past few weeks, giving him time when her colleagues had not. But the crush he had developed as a result of Grace's kindness needed to be discouraged, she had decided, with increased unavailability.
But when she slowly shifted her eyes from the screen to the thick glass door, she was surprised and chagrined to see the president of the company, the man who had just last week promoted her to one of three vice president positions, standing patiently on the other side. She leapt up, hurried across the carpeting, and pulled the door open, saying, "Paul. Come in. I'm sorry to keep you waiting."
Paul Broadbent, immaculately groomed and dressed in a pressed khaki suit, got right to the point, as always. "We landed the Maritime Museum account," he said. "I want you to be the lead on this, and I'm going to ask Bradley Hanover to assist. This is top priority for you, so I'll need you to table anything that doesn't require your immediate attention and allocate everything else to Tina and Dan."
"That's good news," said Grace, nodding. "I'll meet with Bradley this afternoon."
"Good," said Paul, turning back toward the door. "You'll be reporting to me. So I'm your contact with questions or issues that arise. Since you were a part of the negotiations with the client, you're familiar with all the delicacies of the account. I'll have Jen make copies of the relevant documents for your file and send along the electronic versions." And he was gone.
Grace liked Paul. He was hardworking and ambitious, and direct, clear, and concise in his written and verbal communications, qualities Grace admired and practiced. Some of her colleagues preferred working with Dana Shapiro, the other partner in the media relations firm of Broadbent & Shapiro, because he was more human — warm, funny, inspiring. It was Dana who had pushed for Grace's recent promotion, and who had convinced Paul ten months ago to hire Grace instead of a better qualified (if Grace were to be truthful) guy from a reputable Manhattan agency. Their risk had paid off, with Grace bringing in even more business than she had optimistically promised. Dana had praised her efforts, but Paul still regarded Grace with skepticism; he was a tough judge.
And now he wanted Grace to work with Bradley Hanover, his unofficial protégé. Bradley was good at his job, and he was certainly well liked. Paul wasn't the only one who thought Bradley was brilliant and charismatic — the entire staff appeared to be smitten. He was outgoing and charming, and routinely invited his colleagues to lunch in an effort to get to know them better. Grace liked him, too, but hadn't yet been invited to lunch. Perhaps this was because she was so much older, or because she was a vice president. Was he intimidated by her?
They had all celebrated his thirtieth birthday a couple months back, and everyone agreed afterward that it was the best office birthday party ever given. Not only had he spiked the fruit punch with tequila, he had also insisted that everyone play pin the tail on the donkey, and had given out kazoos and whoopee cushions as party favors. She had laughed along with everyone else when he demonstrated — for those who had forgotten — their auditory virtues.
She looked forward to working with Bradley, to getting to know him better — but she knew she would have to set boundaries. He seemed to consider himself exempt from the organizational flowchart, based on how he breezed in and out of Paul's and Dana's offices. He might very well think of himself as Grace's equal.
His confidence stemmed from more than his talents, as he was a shockingly good-looking young man, with dark brown hair worn long enough to brush the shoulders of his suit jacket, suntanned skin, eyes that were blue, or green, or hazel, depending on the light, and lashes that were thicker than most women's. Grace was careful not to look at him longer than was warranted, or to let him know that she found him as attractive as everybody else. Other women in the office, especially those closer to his age, seemed to feel no shame in openly staring at him, as a baby would a stranger's face. But Grace regulated her observation of Bradley. She looked at him only when they spoke to each other, which, in the ten months she had been part of the Broadbent & Shapiro team, had been rarely outside of their weekly team meetings. Now that she was going to be working closely with him, she would need to look into his eyes much more often.
Grace told herself that this wouldn't be a problem. She would be strictly businesslike in her interactions with Bradley. She would give him the attention justified by the assignment. In fact, she knew that the less attention she paid to him, the more attention he would want from her. This wasn't a game she intended to play; rather it was simply a way of staying on task, of staying focused on the project and her personal goals.
She'd been more cognizant of her goals in the eight years she had been divorced from Kenny Trumbull. When they were married, he had been one of the few people she trusted, as well as loved, but she had been too willing to do what he wanted, to adhere to his schedule. Her refusal to have his child was one of the rare instances that she hadn't gone along with his plan. And it was, ultimately, the reason for their split.
Since her divorce, Grace had dated a number of men, who were initially attracted by her good looks; she was a slim, fit, tall, nicely proportioned, forty-two-year-old woman. But after several dates, most of the guys had stopped calling her. One, when questioned in a text by Grace, told her he had been turned off by her aura of superiority, a chill, that he said was as off-putting as it was arrogant. He was wrong about her, but she didn't attempt to change his mind.
Maybe Bradley had similar ideas about her. Grace presented a confident, professional, and, some might say if asked, impenetrable persona to the world. And she had a very good reason for this portrayal. Underneath was a woman who could be loving and soft sometimes, but very few were allowed an encounter with Grace's soul. Yet, there was something behind Bradley's eyes when he looked at her in meetings that told her he already knew this.
Bradley emerged from Paul's office with a grin on his face. Finally, he would have a chance to work with Grace Trumbull, the newest VP, who was brilliant in his and Paul's estimation, and gorgeous by anyone's standards, with her light green eyes and cream-colored skin, her wavy black hair and shapely body and legs. Bradley, at thirty, was interested in more than appearance, but what a woman looked like was what first grabbed his attention. He didn't think this was a gender thing, that only men sought the company of attractive partners. Women were guilty, if that was the word, of the same thing. They swiped through images on Tinder just as swiftly and with just as much snap judgment as men.
He had already checked Grace out on Facebook. She didn't have an active presence, so he was able to discover very little about her. He knew she was divorced and forty-two years old, twelve years his senior. Bradley found this age difference intriguing, a refreshing alternative to spending time with women in their twenties. Women his age were searching for their place in the world, in addition to looking for life partners. In contrast, Grace had a sophistication and self-assurance that he found sexy as hell.
He wondered, as he walked down the hallway to his office, why he was thinking about Grace in romantic terms. Perhaps he had been attracted to her all along? Bradley pushed these thoughts aside, reminding himself that Paul Broadbent took a very dim view of office romance. And he had heard from others and observed in meetings that the best way to impress Grace Trumbull was with hard work. With her, it was always about the work. She was respected and, in general, liked, not because of her desire to commingle with her colleagues — no, Grace was admired because she got the job done and done right the first time. Everyone wanted to work with her.
Bradley walked past Grace's office on the way back to his cubicle. She didn't glance up from her computer screen, did not seem to register his presence at all. Perhaps this was because her door was closed. And everyone in the office knew that when Grace's door was closed, she wasn't looking for pop-in company.
He was able to see Grace in her office from his work space. He had to wheel his chair back away from his desk, which he did several times a day to reach his file cabinet or to work at the table pushed up against the wall opposite his desk. Whenever he looked down the hall at her office, at her, she appeared to be working diligently, either at her computer or at her desk. When she was on her cell phone, she stood behind her desk, looking out the side window. Occasionally she'd lean down to jot notes on one of her legal pads.
He had never once caught her looking at him. And why would she? He was thirty; she was forty-two. Did she consider him a child? If she did, this project would change that. He decided to write her an e-mail about their new partnership, about his enthusiasm.
"Shit!" he said, startled to find her standing next to him, wondering how she had arrived at his desk without his knowing, or if there was any way she could know what he had been thinking. "I'm sorry, Grace." He liked her name, the sound of her name coming out of his mouth. "I didn't see you standing there."
"Well," said Bradley, recovered and smiling now. "What can I do for you?"
"Do you have a minute to come into my office?"
"I sure do." Bradley sprang out of his chair. "I'm all yours."
He followed her down the hallway, past the line of cubicles. Bradley noticed that a few coworkers looked up at them as they walked by. Bradley could think of two reasons for this: One, Grace hardly ever left her office, except for team or client meetings or lunch. And two, she had never stopped by his cubicle before. Because she had left her office for him, Bradley had the urge to high-five the three guys watching them, to celebrate the fact that he was now on his way to the inner sanctum of the beautiful Grace Trumbull.
As soon as they were in her office, she shut the door behind them and indicated with her hand that Bradley should sit in one of the white leather barrel chairs facing her desk. She settled into her own chair behind it, but because the desktop was glass, Bradley could still see her lovely legs, her tanned feet in summer sandals, the toenails painted a light gray, and her pale pink skirt. He stopped himself, quickly and firmly, from picturing himself standing behind her and leaning over to see something she'd written on one of those legal pads, from being close enough to her to smell her hair and her skin.
"So, we're going to be working together," she said, reaching for a manila folder on the side of her desk and setting it down in front of her. She opened the file and kept her gaze fixed on it, as if she needed notes to question Bradley. "Are you familiar with the Maritime Museum?"
"I am," said Bradley.
"And what's your impression?" She lifted her light green eyes to look at his face.
Bradley hesitated a moment longer than was warranted, as he absorbed the intensity from her eyes, and then he shrugged. "It's a place you take people who are visiting from out of town if they are interested in maritime history. It's a place you need to visit just once with each guest. Frankly, there are a lot more interesting things to do."
"Very good," said Grace.
"Very good that people want to visit only once?"
"No," said Grace. "Your impromptu analysis was very good. It's very bad that people think the Maritime Museum is worthy of a single visit. That perception is our focus; it's what we're going to change. I'd like to meet with you every Monday and every Thursday to assign and review weekly tasks. We'll meet more often if needed. We have our first meeting with the client next Tuesday at two. I checked your schedule on Outlook, and it looks like this works for you."
Bradley took his phone out of his back pocket and checked his calendar. "Yes," he said. "I'm still free."
"Good," she said. "I'll send you the pertinent information, as well as the list of things I'd like you to accomplish by next Monday. I'll send you a meeting request for Monday afternoon, so we can make a plan for our session with the client the following day." Grace closed the file and set it aside.
Bradley looked at her. "Is that it?"
"Wear a suit."
"To the meeting," said Grace. "Wear a suit — and a blue tie. The president of the museum is not only nautical, but he's also a Democrat."
"Okay," said Bradley. "That sounds good."
Grace had already broken eye contact. She was looking at her computer screen, her right hand on the mouse. "I look forward to working with you."
Bradley stood. "Me too. I'll check my in-box for everything I need to prepare for the meeting."
"Yes," said Grace. "Let me know if you have questions."
Bradley walked back to his desk, eager to get started. He couldn't wait to impress Grace Trumbull.
When Grace and Bradley walked out the back door of the building the following Tuesday at one, they immediately felt the late June heat rising from the asphalt parking lot. Grace removed the cardigan sweater she kept at their overly air-conditioned office and draped it over her arm. She then reached into her handbag for her sunglasses. "Do you want to drive?"
"When I could be riding in your sky blue Cadillac?"
Grace looked at him through the green-tinted aviator lenses. "You know my car?"
"Grace, everyone in the office knows your car. It's the only cool car in the lot. Well, except for Paul's Tesla."
The Cadillac had been Kenny's mother's car. After she died, Kenny's dad, a weekend mechanic and car show enthusiast, restored the interior, exterior, and engine, and then parked it in his garage and threw a tarp over it. He drove it just once a year, in honor of his wife's birthday. He gave the car to Kenny and Grace as a wedding gift, and Kenny gave it to Grace in the divorce, because she had liked it much more than he had and because he still loved her, even though he was the one to suggest the dissolution of their four-year marriage. "What do you drive?" asked Grace.
"A Honda Civic." Bradley pointed to the silver car at the other end of the lot. "Reliable and manly."
"Manly is a reach," she said, smiling. "I'd describe it as practical and safe."
"That's what my parents said. They gave it to me when I totaled my bike."
Grace stopped and looked at him. "Oh, that doesn't sound good."
"It was five years ago," said Bradley. "I was hit by a car, and yes, I'm fine."
Grace rested her hand on his arm for just a moment. "Good," she said, then continued walking. When they reached her car, she opened the driver's side door and got in.
"You don't lock it?"
"I don't leave anything in here that anyone would want to steal."
"Except the car itself," said Bradley, settling into the passenger seat.
Grace put the armrest down between them, turned the key in the ignition, dropped the top, and then backed it out of the parking space. Five minutes later, she realized that she was showing off her driving skills to Bradley, zooming down the highway with one hand on the wheel, changing lanes as if she owned them both. She asked herself why she was acting this way. Shouldn't he be the one trying to impress her?
"Tell me about this car," Bradley shouted.
"It belonged to my former father-in-law, who gave it to my former husband, who gave it to me," said Grace. "Tell me more about your Honda Civic."
"It was a gift a month before my twenty-fifth birthday," said Bradley. "When they asked me what kind of car I wanted I definitely should have been more specific."
Grace nodded. "A Honda is a pretty tame car for a young bachelor."
"I'm not that young," said Bradley. Grace smiled at his remark. He was definitely young. Did he want to appear older because he was with her?
Excerpted from "It Started In June"
Copyright © 2018 Susan Kietzman.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Bradley, a Young Turk in the office is interested in one of the talented, older woman vp’s . After one late night at work, they go next door for drinks and the inevitable thing happens. And so you find a 30 year old man, in many ways still immature, asking his parents for advice. I hope I haven’t done this to my kids...
I thoroughly enjoyed this story of Grace and Bradley. Both working at the same company. After working late they find themselves at a bar and then a little fun in the back of the car. That one night of fun will change their lives. Grace is older the Bradley, divorced and childless by choice. Bradley is young, carefree and enjoying his life. Now they find out that they will be parents. The choices that need to be made. Grace was raised by her grandparents, not in a loving home. She was the product of a young unwed mother. Bradley was raised by two wonderful professional parents. Grace has decided that she wants to keep to the baby, and will do it on her own if necessary. I really enjoyed these characters and the growth that they take in their relationship, through out the book you don't know if the relationship will work out or not. Loved Grace's house on the beach. This is a light read that I recommend for summer reading.
It Started in June by Susan Kietzman Starts out with Grace and she's now divorced, 42 and just wants to concentrate on her new position that Paul had given her a new position with the company, a senior VP. She is used to hard work and gets it done right the first time. Also follows Bradley who has found Grace on the social media sites so he knows she's single. He will be under her command as they work on the latest assignment, the maritime museum campaign. At drinks after working late she relaxes and smiles to the things he's saying and they end up in the back seat of a car later.... the boss doesn't condone office romance nor does Grace.... She confides in her girl friend ...she's his supervisor and the condom had broken... We also learn of her birth and her mothers dating in high school... Grace knows she has to mend fences with her mother and with the soon to be mother in law she discussed the choices. Bradley discusses the plans with his parents and they feel they should have a say into what happens and they are both doctors: a pediatrician and a phycharist. I feel he's 30 he should be able to make up his own mind about the situation. They combine households as it'll be easier to take care of the baby together and give it a rial run before the event. Tiring parents and one makes a slight error and they part and you wonder if they will repair the damage done... Received this review copy from Kensington Books via Netgalley and this is my honest opinion. #ItStartedInJune #NetGalley