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Authors: Kimberly Krey

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Rough Edges

BOOK: Rough Edges
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R
ough
E
dges

 

Allie’s Story

 

 

 

Second Chances; Volume One

 

A Companion to the Sweet Montana Bride Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KIMBERLY KREY

Rough Edges

Copyright © 2014 KIMBERLY KREY

All rights reserved.

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

Cover art by
KIMBERLY KREY © 2014

Formatting by Bob Houston eBook Formatting

ISBN: 1503195597

ISBN-13: 978-1503195592

Second Chances Series:

by
KIMBERLY KREY

 

 

R
ough
E
dges

Allie’s Story

 

 

M
ending
H
earts

Logan’s Story

 

 

F
resh
S
tarts

Bree’s Story

 

See your favorite ebook retailer for availability

DEDICATION

 

To my lovely London:

your tender spirit and caring heart help you love deeply, and I admire that about you!

Though you’ve had to say goodbye to some of your dear friends, I pray you will not hold back; may you always allow yourself to build deep & treasured friendships.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

First thanks goes to my man and kids  for always supporting me. I am so grateful to you, and appreciate your patience, love, & encouragement.

 

Another big thanks goes to Jamie, my critique partner, and my wonderful beta beauties, namely Katie & Chantele. I appreciate your feedback, enjoy your friendship, and cherish our writing adventures. I look forward to seeing what the upcoming year brings for each of you.

 

Kelli Ann Morgan, thank you for your generous guidance & advice. I’d have been lost without you.

To Krysti & all those @ Lavish Salon – thank you for sharing your space there, and your  amazing talent too!

 

And where would I be without Mom and Dad? Thank you both for your continued support. I am so very grateful to – and for – you both!

Deanne & Bob – that goes for you too!

 

Love you all!

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

Allie spun full-circle in front of the mirror, eyeing the pumps on her feet. Once her eyes traveled the length of her legs, she was dissatisfied with what she saw.

“What do you think?” she asked, glancing over one shoulder.

Jillian lay sprawled on the bed beside Phoebe, the cat’s gray fur clinging to her fingers as she pet her. Jilly leaned over, kissed Phoebe’s head, and set her eyes on Allie’s shoes. “Hmm… What’s this for again?”

“Job interview,” Allie said. “Tomorrow morning.”

Jillian reached into her back pocket as she spoke. “Try on the other ones again.”

With a slight nod, Allie slipped out of the modest-sized pumps and into the high heels once more. “Well?”

“Hmm?” Jillian’s eyes were pasted on the item she’d pulled from her pocket – her brand new driver’s license.

“Do you like these or the other ones?”

Jillian shifted her gaze back to Allie. “Those,” she said. “Definitely. They make your legs look longer.”

Her oldest daughter was right, yet Allie couldn’t help but think the combination of the heels and skirt made her look like she was trying too hard.

“Something about this picture makes me look too young,” Jillian said.

“You better get that in your wallet,” she told her.

“But don’t you think I look weird? If I looked at this I’d think I was more like Paige’s age.”

Allie had been prompted to look at the thing a million times. Each time she’d worked to appease Jillian’s latest concern – was her makeup too dark, her smile lop-sided, or did she see the strange mark that looked like a mole? It took some patience, and more mental effort than she wanted to exert, but Allie leaned down to scrutinize it once more. “You don’t look fourteen to me,” she said. “I’d totally think you were sixteen.”

“Paige isn’t fourteen yet. Plus you don’t count because you’re my mom. And of course you’d think I was sixteen because it’s a driver’s license and you have to be that old to get one.”

A deep sigh passed through Allie’s lips. “Then why are we having this conversation?”

A series of fast-paced footsteps gained Allie’s attention. She spun around in time to see Paige rush past the doorway. “Paige?” she hollered.

The footsteps stopped short. And then started back up once more, a slow beat that echoed down the length of the hall. Allie’s gaze drifted to the hardwood floor as Paige’s black combat boots came into view, one after the next until she stood in the doorway.

With the quick flick of her head, Paige tossed her black-dyed bangs from her face. “Yeah?”

“Did your friends go home?” Allie asked.

Paige rolled her eyes. “Yes. Is that all you wanted?”

“No,” Allie said, walking to the doorway. She put her arms out, wrapped them around her daughter’s neck before pulling her in for a one-sided bear hug. “I want to know how your day went. How school is going. And how things are with Jason…” She emphasized his name with a grin.

Paige groaned, squirming her way out of the embrace. She knocked the toe of her beat-up boot against the doorframe, her eyes pasted on the act. “My day sucked. School sucked. And Jason’s a total D-bag. Anything else?”

“What happened with Jason?” Jillian asked, beating Allie to the punch.

The expression on Paige’s heart-shape face hardened as she tightened her lips, shaking her head in silent response.

Allie sighed. She hesitated to ask the final thought in her head, but her desire to know the answer outweighed her doubt. “Did you get hold of your dad?”

Paige pulled away from her further and started walking down the hall. “Nope.” The single word, coated in hidden hurt, caused an ache to swell in Allie’s chest.

“Wait,” she hollered.

Paige’s irritated huff bounced off the walls of the bright hallway. “What?”

“Uh…” Allie glanced down and smoothed a hand over her skirt. “I wanted to know what you thought about this outfit. With the heels.”

Framed with a thick layer of black liner, Paige’s blue eyes narrowed as she looked her up and down.

Allie gulped, all too familiar with Paige’s newfound flair for honesty.

“The shoes look trashy,” she said. And just when Allie thought her daughter would walk away, she added to it. “Especially if you’re going to meet a guy.”

Allie’s face flushed with heat. “I’m not going to meet a guy. I’m going to a job interview.”

Paige folded her arms, leaned against the wall. “An interview with a woman?” The look in her eyes said she already knew the answer.

“No,” Allie said. “It’s the guy who owns the woodshop. He comes and talks to the students at your school sometimes?”

The expression on Paige’s face stayed blank.

“Anyway, he needs a secretary.”

“Yeah,” Paige said, sarcasm thick on her voice, “I heard all about this guy from Grandma. That he’s super handsome and super single and that he used to be friends with Dad.”

Allie gulped, hating that she felt an odd level of guilt. “So?”

“So why don’t you just do your jewelry business?”

“Because I can’t make as much as I did at The Diamond House. Not until I grow the business a little more. I still plan to do it, just…” Allie let the sentence die as Paige spun around. In seconds she was down the hall, in her room, and out of view. The door closed. Allie shook her head. Paige may have lived under the same roof, but the distance between them had never been greater.

With her eyes set on the floor, Allie strode back to her room, not wanting to look Jillian in the eye. She hated the way Paige threw the handsome guy thing in her face like she was committing some sort of crime. Allie hadn’t fully admitted – even to herself – that she was interested in Braden; to have Paige bring it up felt wrong on more levels than she could count. Forget about the fact that Terrance-the-cheat had moved on before he’d even left, Allie still felt as if her interest in someone besides the girls’ father was a betrayal to them.

“I think it’s great that you’re interested in this guy,” Jillian said.

“I’m not really interested in him.” Though it felt like a lie. “I just need the work. I don’t even have an interview. I just plan to walk in and ask about the position. Maybe see if I can fill out an application.” An image of Braden’s ruggedly handsome face came to mind – causing her heart to skip a beat.

Jillian picked up the cat, cradled her in her arms like a fluffy baby, and came to a stand. “Well I hope you get the job,” she said, freeing one arm to hug her. “So if you’re going to need the car tomorrow, I guess I won’t be able to drive after all.”

Allie pulled her in a bit tighter, surprised that – even in the heels – her once little Jilly was taller than she was. “Well, I could still let you drive. I’ll just have to go with you and take the car from there.”

Jillian backed away and flashed her a grin, her shoulders lifting as she spoke. “Okay. Thanks, Mom.”

“Sure. Oh and did you see that I printed your grades? I’ve got lists out there for both you and Paige to go over. Term’s almost up so you’ve really got to stay on top of things.”

Jillian tilted her head, giving her weary smile. “I don’t really think I need the list anymore, Mom. Can’t you just focus on Paige now?”

A beat of panic pulsed through her blood. What if Allie backed down and Jillian started missing assignments or forgot about a major test? “Are you sure?” she asked. “The stakes are pretty high now that you’re in high school.”

“I’m positive, Mom. I’ve got this. I’ve never gotten below a B in my life.”

Because I’ve always helped you, Allie wanted to say, but resisted. Instead she gave her a reluctant nod. “We can try it, but if your grades start to slip…”

“I know,” Jillian said, and then took off down the hall.

Allie sighed, thoughts of Paige filling her head. She’d wanted to go over her grades with her as soon as her friends left, but now she was almost glad she hadn’t. As much as Paige needed help staying on top of her assignments, it seemed she was already having a hard enough day. A small part of her wanted to put it off forever, along with all parental duties that might cause Paige to dodge her any more than usual. Divorce was sure to be difficult no matter the circumstance, but Allie resented the way Terrance somehow came off as Mr. Wonderful in Paige’s eyes.

She flicked the light off, walking back to the mirror in the lamp’s glow. The shadows seemed to accent the curve of her legs in the heels, making her wonder if she really dared wear them. Beyond that – did she really dare to walk into Braden’s workshop? See him after all these years?  Yes, she assured herself. Her trip to Fox’s Custom Woodwork was loaded with potential, and tomorrow she’d find out just where it might lead.

CHAPTER TWO

 

 

The distant sound of a female voice woke Braden from his sleep. His eyes shot open, revealing his semi-lit bedroom. He lifted an ear off the pillow, tuning into the sound. His answering machine, he realized. Crud! Mrs. Carmichael.

The covers flew as he sat up, looking around the room for the receiver. Yet as his eyes landed on it, resting on the lounge chair in the corner, Braden decided he’d better listen to her message first. Mrs. Carmichael had sketched out the design she wanted on her custom hutch. A sketch he had stapled to the order form the day she came in. Somehow he’d lost track of that form along the way, which left him with an unfinished piece and a soon-to-be unhappy customer as well.

In the low morning light, he spotted his Levi’s on the chair. After tucking the phone beneath his chin, Braden stepped into his jeans and headed to the kitchen. The lack of sunlight outside made him wonder just how early the woman had called. After throwing two slices of bread in the toaster, he strode over to the window, peeking through a crack in the blinds. It was overcast.

A smile spread across his face as he pulled open the blinds and welcomed the view. A thick blanket of heavy clouds filled the horizon, their color ranging from light gray at the billowy tips, to a dark, smoky coal along the steely base. The smell told him they’d unleash at any moment, and that suited him just fine. Gunner seemed to like the weather too; the old horse running at full speed, giving Mare a run for her money. The pair had been celebrating the early show of spring for the last week.

He cracked open the rusty window and pulled in a deep breath of fresh air. Nothing was better than working in the woodshop while rain pelted the rooftops. The sounds, the smell. The way the cool light fused with the shop’s yellow bulbs. Now if only he could find Mrs. Carmichael’s rendering. He listened to her message as he buttered the toast, mumbling a curse under his breath. How had he lost that blasted form? Braden had known it was a bad idea to keep an original, but he hadn’t had much of a choice. No copy machine to speak of. The next best thing would have been a decent way of filing things, but he’d never been any good at that. All he had was a thoroughly flawed system that consisted of fridge magnets, masking tape, and pushpins on the kitchen pegboard.

Mrs. Carmichael intended to gift the custom hutch to her daughter, whose birthday was only three weeks away. It was crucial that he find that slip and salvage his good name with the woman who sung his praises all over town.

Dirty dishes, takeout sacks, and pizza boxes covered his counter top. In a frantic rush, Braden scooted things around, hoping to catch a glimpse of that pink order form. There was a reason he only used the pink ones – it was because they didn’t get lost. As easily. He muttered another curse under his breath, realizing he’d be forced to clean the entire kitchen if he wanted to find it.

He spun around to open the fridge, grabbed a carton of milk, and took a swig. A white bulb glowed bright from within, but it was the tiny sliver of pink he saw beneath the fridge that caught his eye.

He left the fridge door open as he dropped to his knees, peering into the dark, dusty space. The tips of his fingers barely grazed the page, pushing it further into hiding. With the roll of his eyes, Braden reached for the dishwasher and retrieved a butter knife. His face pressed against the travertine floor as he used the knife to snag the page. At last Braden snatched it in his hand, shouting an hallelujah cheer as he climbed to his feet. “Finally.”

He tossed the knife to the sink, wiped his hands on his jeans, and glanced down at the order form. Only then did he notice it wasn’t Mrs. Carmichael’s after all.

BOOK: Rough Edges
3.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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