Daring Brides

By: Ava Miles


“Meredith, your husband cheated on you, and then blamed it on you-and Nora's books. You've been through an emotional wringer. Give yourself a break. I keep telling Jemma that too.”

Jill's best friend had just been dumped by her childhood sweetheart. “You're pretty good at giving advice.”

“Practice. Jemma's devastated.”

“Yeah, I get that.” Her eyes burned, and she pinched the bridge of her nose. “I can't stand another night in my apartment. I miss my Tribeca place and eating out in restaurants and visiting gallery openings. I don't miss Rick-the-Dick, but I do miss being part of that jam-packed world.”

“You have the Power Couple Blues, Mere. Maybe coming home to help the paper will give you a new perspective. You don't have any family there. Most of your friends changed when you got divorced.”

True, she had become intimately familiar with the term “fair weather friend” over the past year. “I miss you guys.” But going home? She'd been in New York since starting at Colombia. “Let me grab a coffee.”

“I wish I was there to make your favorite. Then I'd give you a ginormous hug and tell you about Paige Lorton snorting whipped cream up her nose and old man Perkins giving her the Heimlich.”

Her laughter popped out like the final popcorn kernels in the microwave. “Oh, Jillie, I love you.”

“I love you too. You're my big sis. I miss you, Mere.”

Holding the phone away from her face for a moment, she walked up to the counter and gave her coffee order-a tall, no foam latte-before shuffling back to her chair. She slumped against the metal back, returning the phone to her ear. “Let me think about coming home.”

“Surely Karen knows how hard you've worked after joining her paper. You've been there for a year now. Plus, it's Rick-the-Dick's rival paper. That's gotta be extra bonus points.”

Her coffee magically appeared in front of her. She looked up to see a petite barista with flat-ironed hair. “You look like you needed me to bring it over.”

Kindness didn't happen often in New York. In her hometown of Dare Valley, Colorado, it happened more times than she could count. “Thank you.” A wave of homesickness hit her. “Maybe you're right, Jill. It would be nice to be around people who know me.”

“Good! So think about it. Talk to Karen. Now, drink your latte, and then we'll talk you into the romance section. Nora Roberts Land awaits.”

A smile tugged at Meredith's lips. “I forgot how mom always used to call Nora's books that. She'd point her finger at dad and say she was taking a few hours to visit Nora Roberts Land, and then she'd seal herself off in the bedroom. Like it was an adult version of Disneyland. Dad never got it.”

“Yeah, but at least he didn't blame divorce on Nora's books. Rick-the-Dick's the kind of man who can't take responsibility for his cheating, so he blamed it on you-and fiction. Isn't that the most pathetic thing ever? It's like blaming teen suicide on Romeo and Juliet. It's asinine.”

“Actually, I think that's been done.” She took the last drink of her latte and stood. Tested her balance. “Okay, I'm ready.”

“So strut your stuff over to the romance section.”

Enjoy NORA ROBERTS LAND now.





FRENCH ROAST



Jill realized she'd do pretty much anything for this man. Hike the Continental Divide in the snow. Darn holes in socks. Cripes, she needed to get a clue. Or a life.

“No…I thought I'd drop by and see if you wanted to come to dinner tonight. I'll cook.”

Her head darted back. They'd been spending time together over the past few months, but cooking…from scratch. This was new.

“Like a real date?” she asked. Dammit, maybe the whole fire truck ride had infused her with life-and-death energy, but she wanted to be clear.

“Ah, sure. If you want to call it that.” He jiggled change in his pocket, ducking his head, hitching his shoulder up like he did when he was nervous. “I want to cook for you.”

He did? Her heart warmed like she was holding a puppy. “That'd be awesome! I'd love that. I mean…” Overdone, she realized. “Great, simply great.” Shut up, Jill.

“Why don't you pop by at seven?”

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