All's fair in love and war, especially in the Deep South...
Savannah Hale never planned to come back to Maple Cove, Georgia. Her hometown has too many painful memories, especially of her high school sweetheart, who was killed during combat. And yet here she is...broken-hearted from her mother's death and left to deal with the Hale family legacy—Maple Cove's landmark bed and breakfast. In need of repairs and near foreclosure, she’s hanging on to the B&B by a thread.
And the man out to buy it is the man she's never been able to forgive...or forget.
Former soldier Logan Park is haunted by memories of his own. Some are of his best friend. Others are filled with longing for the girl he could never have. Now Savannah is back, and their attraction can’t be denied. But Logan has already sacrificed everything to atone for his sins, and there’s no way he’ll let himself fall for a girl who might never love again.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||1 MB|
About the Author
Melissa West writes young adult and new adult novels for Entangled Teen and Embrace and Penguin/Intermix. She lives outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband and two daughters and spends most of her time writing, reading, or fueling her coffee addiction.
She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies and a M.S. in Graphic Communication, both from Clemson University. Yeah, her blood runs orange.
Connect with Melissa at www.melissawestauthor.com or on Twitter @MB_West
Read an Excerpt
Your B&B or Mine?
A Maple Cove Novel
By Melissa West, Alycia Tornetta
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Melissa West
All rights reserved.
"Where you want me to drop you, Ms. Hale?"
Savannah focused straight ahead, ignoring the sad look from her cab driver. She had never planned to unload her situation on him, but then he asked her where she was heading and she said Maple Cove and suddenly there were no words, only tears. It took exactly ninety minutes to drive from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport to her small town in Georgia, and she had spent eighty-five of them spilling her guts. A part of her felt shame for showing her emotions so fully — the driver must have thought she was insane — but then, it wasn't every day that she lost her mama.
Savannah's eyes filled with fresh tears, and she blinked them away. She had spent the last five minutes touching up her makeup, sure that if she walked back into Maple Cove looking like a mess of a woman, she would only convince her town that she did nothing else but cry. She could almost hear the McLain sisters now. Leave crying and return crying, that's our Savannah Hale.
Sighing, she pointed to the four-way stop just ahead. "You can let me out there. Mayor Young prefers to keep cars off Main Street."
"Ms. Hale, I don't feel right leaving you to walk down the street with all your bags. Can't I just drive you to the bed-and-breakfast?"
Savannah stared down Main Street, a memory hitting her of her father beside her, standing in that very spot, a wide smile on his face. He had said that arriving at Maple Cove's most successful bed-and-breakfast was an experience, and it wasn't a full one unless you walked down Main Street to get there. Her mother agreed, but said patrons would want to park at the B and B, so as a compromise they had two parking lots — one on site, and one at the end of Main Street. Of course, during prime season, they enlisted the service of a horse and carriage company for older guests — or those wanting a leisurely ride.
"Thanks, but I think I'll walk," Savannah said, her heart heavy. It was hard losing her daddy five years ago to a heart attack, but it was nothing like this. Losing her mama made her feel like a little girl again — a lost little girl, with no one around to hold her hand and guide her through her life. She hadn't even gotten married yet, or had kids. Who would adjust her veil at her wedding? Who would she call in the middle of the night when her newborn baby refused to stop crying? The pain felt like it would break her in two.
Savannah shook herself from her thoughts. "Oh, I'm sorry, Martin." She forced herself to smile at the old cab driver, wishing he were a local. She could use someone around Maple who didn't speak in Southern sugar slap — a sweet smile on their face while they insulted you.
Martin stepped out of the cab and grabbed Savannah's carry-on suitcase and laptop bag from the trunk. "Are you sure I can't walk you in?"
Savannah laughed. "Trust me, that would only make it worse." She could only imagine what the town would say if she had someone carry her bags for her. They would accuse her of forgetting where she was from. Of being uppity. A Yankee. And while she knew she would eventually have to defend herself and her decisions to the people she'd once called friends, she wasn't prepared to do it today.
She grabbed the handle to her carry-on, slung her laptop case across her shoulder, and set off down Main Street, her spine pencil straight.
From this vantage point, the town looked so innocent, like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting — all cute awnings and wooden benches and rocking chairs. Dogs asleep outside their owners' stores. Wrought-iron lampposts that were as custom to the town as its people.
The memory hit so suddenly she didn't have time to brace herself, to shield her heart — swinging around a lamppost, laughing with her head flung back, her stomach full of butterflies for the boy beside her. It had been her and Will's first date, and even then, she knew she'd love him forever. Sadness crept through her heart at the memory, followed immediately by guilt. Forever wasn't a reality. Not for Savannah.
And not that she deserved it.
She had made it a third of the way down Main Street, to the official start of the shops, when the smell of Maple's Bakery hit her nose. Her stomach grumbled as she imagined the morning buns and apple turnovers and blueberry muffins, all still warm from the oven. She had been so desperate to make it home after receiving the call about her mama that she took the first flight out of Boston, ignoring her body's pleas for her to grab a cup of coffee — or six. She had been hopeful when she landed, but the line at Starbucks had been too long for her to wait.
Now, she contemplated what she would rather do — face the gossip brigade head on in order to grab a coffee and one of those Oh-my-God-this-should-be-illegal blueberry muffins, or starve in hopes that no one would see her.
She had just resigned herself to starve when, like an alarm had sounded announcing her arrival, familiar faces appeared one by one in the shop windows and then stepped outside their doors for a better look.
Pastor Parkins waved a cheerful hello, and then immediately went over to sit with the McLain twins outside Annie's floral shop. His head drew close to theirs, no doubt discussing all the rumors about Savannah. She tried to ignore their looks, the obvious distaste the McLain twins had for her now. No one left Maple Cove and returned without feeling the weight of the sisters' stares, their judgment. She wanted to shout that she knew their stories, too. Like when the twins switched places with their husbands for a week and the husbands were none the wiser. Or when Anna Beth got caught stealing a petit four from the bakery. Savannah knew their stories. All the stories. The difference was, they didn't seem to care who knew what about them.
Savannah cared. Her great-great grandfather was one of the founders of the town, and with that legacy came a wealth of expectations for how a Hale should behave. And Savannah had met those expectations all her life, except for one tiny infraction. One slip. Something no one truly knew, but most speculated about all the same. And maybe she should regret it. Maybe she should drop on her knees and ask God to forgive her. But the truth was she didn't regret it. She only regretted what happened after.
Oh well, at least now she could get coffee.
Pushing through the door of Maple's Bakery, she released a slow moan at the aromas. Cinnamon and spice and everything nice, her mama used to say. She bit her lip and tried to remind herself that crying wouldn't bring her back. Nothing would.
Inside, the bakery was painted canary yellow with pictures of desserts framed on the walls. Scattered here and there were mosaic-top bistro tables, each a different color — red, blue, green, orange, and on and on. To the right was the glass display case, showing everything Martha had made that day, and while there were always certain favorites, she liked to throw in a few surprises to keep her fans on their toes.
Savannah glanced quickly around the small bakery, hoping to avoid eye contact with any of the townspeople seated at the tables. She had naively prayed the bakery would be slower at this hour, but judging by the line at the register, it was still the only place in town you could get a fresh pastry and a decent cup of coffee.
Taking her place in the back of the line, she kept her head down in hopes that no one would approach her, but then a squeal came from her left. Oh no. She spun around in time to see arms thrown out and a black-haired person yanking her into a hug.
Savannah pulled away to find her baby sister standing before her, only her sister no longer looked at all like a baby. Or like a strawberry blonde.
"Oh my God, Leigh," Savannah said, reaching for her sister and pulling her into another hug. "You ... you don't even look like yourself. You're so ..."
"Grown up?" Leigh added with a small smile.
Leigh Hale was the youngest of the three Hale kids, and to Savannah she would always be sixteen and boy crazy. She had been an artist from the moment her chubby toddler fingers could hold a crayon, and to this day had spent every dollar she had trying to make a living at it.
Now she ran the local art museum, offering up unique exhibits and generally fixing her name in the Will-Never-Fit-In Maple Cove Hall of Fame. Her hair, which had once been the same strawberry blond color as Savannah's, was now as black as a summer storm, and her clear blue eyes were lined in thick purple liner. Savannah wondered how she could handle wearing so much makeup, especially now, when tears could fall any moment.
But then, maybe their mama's death hadn't impacted Leigh the way it had Savannah. After all, Leigh had been there with her. She was able to tell her she loved her and kiss her cheek. She'd had her day in and day out, unlike Savannah, who had left for Boston eight years ago and only returned once, when her father had died.
How had both her parents left this world before sixty-five? It was unfair to lose them so early, when many people lived into their eighties these days. She deserved to have those twenty years with them, needed those years, but her mama had been so crushed after her father's death, they all suspected she would die of a broken heart. Maybe that was why cancer sought her out — it knew she longed to be reunited with Daddy.
Whatever the reason or fairness, her parents were gone.
Savannah gripped her chest, wondering if she would ever feel normal again or if she would always be a breath away from tears. Sighing, she focused back on her sister. "Is Jack here yet?" she asked as she reached the front of the line and placed her order.
"No," Leigh said, "But I wanted to warn you about —"
Before she could finish, another squeal sounded from their left and Savannah remembered why she had packed her bottle of Advil. Everyone in Maple Cove spoke in one of two tones — excited squealing or angry screaming. This time the squealing came from the closest bistro table and the pack of platinum blondes circling its tiled top. Savannah glanced at each of them, lost to their names, and then recognition hit her. They were her old friends — Brenna, Hannah, and Dana — but they didn't look like she remembered. They used to laugh at how similar their names all sounded, but now the similarity did nothing more than add to Savannah's headache. Where was her coffee?
Forcing a smile, she tried to recall if the three women had always been quite this blond or if that was a new development — along with the size of their breasts.
"Hi," she said, faking excitement, but then their expressions all changed to pity and she cringed as one by one they came over to hug her and offer their condolences.
"I'm so sorry about your mama," Hannah said. "We always loved her."
"We did," the others chimed in, which caused Leigh to roll her eyes. Leigh was never one for faux kindness and tended to judge anyone that smiled for too long.
Savannah nudged her with her elbow before she said anything overly Leigh-like and then motioned to the register, where the bakery owner, Vicky, stood grinning, fresh pastries and coffee in hand. "Well, it was good seeing you," Savannah said to the women.
"You, too!" They started back for their seats, when Brenna added, "First Logan, now Savannah. Who are we going to see next?"
Savannah skidded to a halt, nearly dropping her coffee. "Wait, what? Who did you say?"
Brenna smiled knowingly. "Logan Park. You remember him, don't you?" Her expression and the rise in her voice made Savannah's cheeks flame. She thought of the time she and Logan went to a movie together after he'd returned home from deployment, only to find Brenna there with her boyfriend of the week, beaming with delight at Savannah's apparent naughtiness. Because Logan wasn't just any guy. He was Will's best friend since third grade, which meant Savannah couldn't look at him without causing a few eyebrows to lift.
He and Will had been inseparable the moment they met. Where one went, the other followed. So it shouldn't have been a surprise that they entered the army together. Only it was a surprise — a devastating one.
Savannah still remembered the look on Will's face when he'd told her he had enlisted, how excited he had been while she fought back tears.
Half the town thought he'd propose before he left for Afghanistan, and a part of her worried he might. But then she looked into his eyes his last day in Maple Cove, kissed his cheek, and sensed the hesitation there. The same hesitation she felt. Because while she adored and respected Will, she refused to marry a man unless she was 100 percent his. Mind, body, heart, and soul.
And the problem was, another boy had confused Savannah's heart that year. A boy she thought had always hated her. A boy she forced herself to put out of her mind long before she and Will were ever a thing.
A boy named Logan Park.
Still, Savannah had loved Will, had belonged with Will. So they spent a year more apart than together, Will away in Afghanistan and Savannah in Maple, playing the part of his loyal girlfriend, just waiting for him to return home so they could fall in love with each other all over again.
But that wasn't her story.
Instead, Logan showed up at the old swing at Cross Creek Plantation that fateful Sunday ... without Will. Suddenly Savannah stopped caring what everyone thought and focused on her own survival. And God did she ever need Logan. He stepped in, catching her before she could fall, supporting her through the tears, the anger, the depression that refused to lift. He understood her pain because he felt it, too.
So when Logan asked her to go see the latest summer Marvel blockbuster, she went. She needed to feel normal again, she needed to lose herself in another world — she needed to feel the warmth of a boy beside her, one whom she had always cared for, nothing around them but darkness and silence. One outing became two, then once a week, then all the time.
And then everything changed.
Now, her eyes shifted away from the three blondes, unable to hold contact. "Sure. I remember him."
Brenna's smile stretched, and Savannah knew exactly what she was thinking without her having to say a word. The rumor. It started just after Logan left for his second deployment, and while no one had the guts to ask Savannah directly, they had all made up their own accounts of what had happened that day. As it was, no one knew the truth. No one except Savannah ... and Logan.
The thought of him being back, somewhere in town, possibly walking Main Street right this second, sent her mind racing and her heart into a frenzy. What did he look like now? What did he do for a living? Where had he ended up? And maybe the one question that plagued her the most — when he lay in bed at night, his day done, did he feel his life was complete or did he have regrets? Surely he had regrets ... at least one.
Savannah had no idea, but as her thoughts switched to memories, she found herself growing more and more angry. Who was Logan to come back here? And why now? Well, she'd just avoid him. That's what she would do — avoid him and pretend that none of it mattered. Because it didn't matter. Not then and certainly not now.
Blinking hard, Savannah held her head a touch higher, ignoring her former friends' gossipy stares. She wouldn't fall prey to those looks, not again. She wasn't some nineteen-year-old girl anymore. She was twenty-six, an adult.
So why did she feel so small?
Despite her success in Boston, and her ability to move up the ranks of the consulting firm where she worked, she still wanted to please the people of Maple. The desire to have them like and respect her ran deep.
Leigh looped her arm through Savannah's and pulled her close. "Well, we have things to do. You know, real things," she said with a condescending smirk. "You should try it." And then she grabbed the handle of Savannah's suitcase and directed her back out the bakery door and down the sidewalk, past the McLain twins and Pastor Parkins, who were still gossiping, to the familiar cobblestone road at the end of Main Street, which curved and bent its way back to Maple Cove Bed and Breakfast, the Hale family business and their childhood home.
They stared up the oak and dogwood tree-lined drive to the two-story blue Victorian home, its wide front porch empty except for the six rocking chairs that had always sat there, and the white porch swing where Savannah's mama used to read to the kids before bed during the summer.
Excerpted from Your B&B or Mine? by Melissa West, Alycia Tornetta. Copyright © 2015 Melissa West. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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