California Can Wait
by Marci Boudreaux
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Reporter Andrea Davidson isn't running from her mistakes. There's no escaping the career-ending mess she fell into back home. But she is moving forward, and is halfway to a new life in California when someone breaks into her motel room. She's lost her computer and her dignity, but that's only the beginning of her newest problem: local news editor Graham Bradley.
Graham Bradley doesn't know a thing about the newspaper business. A widow with a promise to keep, he's got more than just his own personal welfare riding on this small-town paper. The last thing he needs is a pushy woman with a secret in her past and a vicious red pen throwing all his mistakes and insecurities front and center on his desk. Faced with an impossible choice, Graham hires Andi, but hopes she's not just the last-and maybe worst-in a long line of bad decisions. Saving the small-town Gazette is the second chance both Andi and Graham need.
But with bill collectors calling, Andi's past catching up fast, and the chemistry between them making work next to impossible, will Andi and Graham get the second chance they both desperately need? Or will their demise be the next big headline?
As a teen, Marci Boudreaux skipped over young adult books and jumped right into the world of romance novels. She’s never left. Marci lives with her husband, two kiddos, and their numerous pets. She is a freelance writer appearing monthly in a variety of local magazines as well as a content editor.
Romance is her preferred reading and writing genre because nothing feels better than falling in love with someone new and her husband doesn't like when she does that in real life.
She shoved the edited paper in his direction. “I’ve made some notes. You should read them.”
He puffed his chest up and narrowed his eyes at her. If she wanted a fight, he seemed more than willing to give it to her. The thought didn’t bother her much. In fact, the image of going toe-to-toe with him excited her in a strange way. She had plenty of pent up anger that needed to go somewhere, and if he was so freely dishing it out, she’d gladly serve it right back.
Standing up from his office chair, Graham crossed his arms over his broad chest. He looked intimidating as he met her hard stare with his own, but she didn’t back down.
Instead, she again shoved the paper in his direction. “Look at my edits.”
“I don’t have time for this. I have a paper to put together. As you can see”—he gestured around the empty building—“I don’t have a lot of help.”
“So maybe you should take the help that’s being offered.”
A slow, condescending smirk curved his lips. “Is that what this is? Help?”
“Actually, it’s me knocking your ego down a notch or two and proving that you’re the one who doesn’t know shit. Look at it.”
“Christ.” Graham snatched the paper from her hand. “I’ll read this and then you are leaving.” He moved around the wing of the desk. “Would you like a cup of coffee while I pacify you?”
Andi smiled sweetly. “No, thank you.”
“Have a seat,” he said with a sarcastic tone. “I’ll be right back.”
Once he was gone, she looked at his computer screen to see what had him so enthralled he couldn’t tear his eyes away. She recognized the layout of the next day’s edition and scoffed with disbelief. “This is the work of the guy who thinks that I don’t know anything?” she muttered as she moved around the desk.
Sitting in his chair without hesitation, she gripped the mouse and went to work fixing his mess. She cropped and adjusted the brightness on the photos and then started skimming over the lead story so she could write a better headline.
Suddenly a hand grasped hers, nearly crushing her fingers into the mouse she’d been using. She looked at Graham’s left hand for a moment, inexplicably staring at his naked ring finger, before she turned her face up to his.
He emphasized every word he spoke. “Don’t do that.”
“I mean it. Do not mess with that.”
“You have this laid out all wrong. The headline needs to cover the photo as well as the story. And, speaking of headlines, these are crap. This entire design is crap actually. Have you ever even seen a newspaper? You don’t design it like a blog or a newsletter. There are actual rules that you should follow.”
He clearly wanted to tell her she hadn’t a clue how to layout a newspaper but narrowed his eyes again. “Who the hell are you?”
She swatted his hand away. “Read my notes while I fix this.”
Ten minutes later, Graham had finished reading and re-reading the red scribbles she’d made, and Andi had his front page starting to look like a professional newspaper.
Graham skimmed the content on his monitor. “You didn’t answer me. Who are you?”
“The newspaper fairy,” she answered dryly.
She stared him down when he crossed his arms over his chest again and the muscles in his jaw flexed. She crossed her arms over her chest and gave him the same daring look he was giving her. He didn’t back down, nor did she.
Finally, he sighed. “Does my fairy have a name?”
“Does that matter?”
“Okay, Andi. Most of the corrections you made look good. But I knew there were errors,” he said when she grinned. “It’s really hard to edit your own work.”
“I agree. But that doesn’t excuse the layout.”
He opened his mouth to comment, but his objection seemed to fail as he glanced at the computer screen again. “I could use help.”
“Obviously,” she said.
“So. When can you start?”
She leaned closer to him, tilting her head as she looked up curiously, as if she didn’t understand him. “Excuse me?”
“I’m probably going to regret this, but I’m offering you a job.”
She laughed. “I didn’t come in here looking for a job.”
“No, you came in here hell-bent on telling me how to do mine.”
“Somebody had to,” she practically sang.
“I need someone who knows her ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to putting a paper together. I’ve been looking at that layout for almost an hour and still couldn’t get it right. It took you ten minutes.”
“The flag is too big.”
“You also graciously corrected my grammatical errors,” he said ignoring her criticism. “I need some backup, not just with editing and layout, but writing as well. I can’t run this paper alone, not to the standard that I want.”
“You don’t know that I can write.”
“If you can edit like this, you can write.”
She lifted her shoulder and let it fall casually. “I’m just passing through town.”
“How far are you going to get without that cash you had hidden in your suitcase?” He grinned when the defiant look on her face fell. “I was at the diner to interview you about the break-in.”
“Oh, so you don’t normally go around harassing defenseless women?”
“Defenseless?” He laughed. “Hardly. It seems you need the money as much as I need the help.”
The fun of the game faded, as did her smirk. “I’m just passing through, Mr. Bradley.”
Graham stared her down for a moment before he shrugged. “Right. That’s okay. You probably couldn’t handle the stress anyway.”
Andi creased her brow. “What?”
“The demands of publishing a daily paper are pretty intense. It takes someone who can work well under pressure.”
“And you don’t think I can?”
He was playing her with his feigned innocence, but damned if she didn’t feel herself falling for his manipulation when he said, “I’m just saying it takes a special breed to survive in journalism.”
“A special breed?”
“You know, long hours, lousy pay—”
“Constant scrutiny by inept editors,” she added.
Graham nodded. “There is that.”
“I think I can handle the job.”
“Great, so you can start right now by cleaning up the rest of the layout.”
“I didn’t say I was taking the job,” Andi clarified. “I said I can handle it.”
“Of course you can,” he said in a patronizing tone.
She guessed that the fire in her eyes was enough to burn him alive, but he simply smiled in a way that made her want to do nothing more than prove him wrong.
“And I’m sure that if you weren’t in such a hurry to get wherever you are going,” he continued, “you’d have me and this paper turned around in no time.”
“I’m quite confident.”
“But you have places to be. Where are you headed again?”
“I didn’t say.”
He nodded dramatically. “Right. Well, I’m sure you have some great life you need to get back to—”
“I do,” she said cutting him off. As she did, she wondered if he somehow knew she had nothing. Nowhere to go. No job waiting for her. No welcome party planned when she reached her destination. A destination that she hadn’t really figured out or planned for beyond California. She scoffed, more at her own situation than his words. “I’m sure you can find a preschooler with scissors and a bottle of glue who could use some candy money.”
He covered his heart with this hand. “Ouch.”
“Good luck, Mr. Bradley.”
“Good luck to you, Miss…Andi.”
He glanced through the window to where Donna was sitting at her desk before leveling his gaze at Andi. Even though the woman was on the other side of the building, he lowered his voice. “Are you in some kind of trouble?”
Andi forced a laugh, an obvious attempt to dismiss his question, but her fake giggle only made him more suspicious. “Of course not.”
“Really? Because you had that same look when I gave you tax papers to fill out, which by the way, you still haven’t done. It was also the look you had when you said you didn’t want a byline. Now you’re scared of taking phone calls?”
Any amusement she’d pretended to have faded, and she stared him straight in the eye as if warning him to back off. “I’m not scared of taking phone calls. I just wasn’t expecting one, that’s all.”
“That’s all,” she stated firmly.
“Look, I don’t care what’s going on with you. I just need to know that you’re not bringing your problems to my doorstep.”
Reaching around her, he closed the door. “I don’t need any more complications getting this paper back on its feet than I have already.”
“I’m not here to complicate anything. I just don’t want to throw my name out there when I’m only passing through.”
“Passing through to where? Where are you going, Andi? Where did you come from? Why are you here?”
He sighed when she simply stared at him.
“You know what?” He shook his head, thinking of how intense the last few days had been. Not just the frustration they seemed to constantly spark in each other, but the undeniable attraction he felt for her that he suspected was not one-sided, as well as his fear of getting involved with someone who had just as much, if not more, baggage than he did. “This is a really bad idea. I mean, I don’t even know what kind of experience you have, and I’m taking your advice, letting you write for me, and make decisions for my paper.” He held up a hand to stop her when she started to speak. “I don’t even know if Andi is your real name because you have yet to give me any kind of proof of identity. You’ve got this whole secret life thing going on, and it’s starting to make me nervous. I think it’s time for you to tell me who you are and how you know what you know about running a newspaper.”
She stared him down, seemingly torn. “I obviously have experience. Isn’t that enough?”
He glanced through the window at Donna, not really needing to verify that she wasn’t eavesdropping. She rarely left her desk. He just needed to not look at the plea in Andi’s eyes.
“I realize I’m not that great at this newspaper thing yet, but I’ll get it. I’ve been going to conferences and doing research. I’ll figure it out. It would be easier if I had someone on staff to show me, but not if you can’t be honest with me.”
She scoffed and gave her head a hard shake. “So I have to tell you my life story to work for you?”
“No,” he snapped. “You have to tell me that letting you work here isn’t going to cost me everything I’ve worked for. What kind of mess are you in?”
“I’m not in any kind of mess, Graham.”
“Don’t lie to me, Andi.” He paused, giving her time to confess, but she simply stood there, silently imploring him with her sad eyes. Damn it, he didn’t want to fire her, but she was not leaving him any choice. “Be honest with me.” He hoped using a more gentle tone would persuade her. “Tell me what is going on with you. Tell me right now, Andi. Or leave.”
Marketing can be an author’s worst nightmare. We’re creative types which doesn’t always gel with strong business sense. One of my favorite ways to lure people into my web…I mean expand my reading audience, is offering free reads on my blog.
I’ve done short stories for Halloween in the past, and I’m currently posting a contemporary romance chapter by chapter.
In Dreams Collide, I’m having a little fun mixing romance and reality television.
Here’s the blurb:
Kendra Michaels has landed a much coveted spot on Music Star Dreams–the Reality TV show that has made past winners musical sensations. She never expected to make the cut, but now that she’s there, she’s trying to make the best of it. The last thing she needs is Jax, her team coach and country superstar, distracting her.
Jax Landry’s shining star was tarnished in his divorce and he’s just trying to get back what he lost. Somehow that doesn’t seem nearly as important when he realizes that Kendra has what it takes to make it big–if only she believed it. He doesn’t intend to pick favorites, but he can’t seem to stop himself.
When the producers and fans see the spark between them, any chance of playing it cool goes out the window.
I’d love for you to stop by and check it out. Not only do you get a free chapter each month, but you get to respond to the posts and offer feedback on what you’d like to see happen. When this wraps up, I’ll release the ebook for free online so readers can download the final product and know they had a part in its production. I think that’s a nice way to thank everyone for participating as well as saying, “hey…come see what I have to offer…”
But maybe in a slightly less creepy way.
You can find my “slightly less creepy” offer here: http://marciboudreaux.com/dreams-collide