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Heart's Cove Hotties Standalone: Filthy Little Midlife Fling

Heart's Cove Hotties Standalone: Filthy Little Midlife Fling

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She's about to discover exactly what this hunky, small-town mechanic is hiding under the hood...

I’m having a bad week.
First, I get a call from my scumbag ex-husband asking for a favor. He wants to hire me to organize his new house.
The house he’s sharing with his new wife.
The one he cheated on me with.

But the worst part? I’m so broke I might have to take the job.

I’m busy pondering my little predicament when I crash my work van into my neighbor’s magnolia tree.

That’s when I discover my neighbor is the town’s hunky mechanic and doting single dad, Remy Campbell. My mortification knows no bounds.

Then Remy takes pity on me and offers me a trade: for every hour I work to organize his office, he’ll put an hour into fixing my van. As a broke lady on the verge of a breakdown, that’s an offer I can’t refuse.

But working in close proximity with the rugged, red-blooded mechanic reminds me I haven’t felt my motor rev in six long years.

Getting involved with my neighbor is a terrible idea.

But a steamy little fling with an agreed-upon end date?
Now that could make me forget all about my ex, my money problems, and my run-in with the magnolia tree…



  • 40+ year old characters
  • Small town
  • Tit for tat
  • Single dad
  • Neighbors to lovers
  • Blue collar hero with a heart of gold
  • "It's only temporary!"
  • Divorced characters
  • Comedy
  • Steamy/Spicy

Chapter 1 Look Inside

THE VAN CAREENS down a narrow residential street, far too fast for comfort. Slamming on the brakes has precisely zero effect on the speed of the vehicle, which is not good. The pedal feels spongy underfoot, even when I stomp my foot down as hard as I can. For some inexplicable reason, this sends a message to my brain to test whether the gas pedal is operational, so I lift my foot off the malfunctioning brake and try the other pedal, and—yep. That one’s still working as designed.

Which means I’m now going faster.

This is bad. So, so bad.

I’m in a company van—my company’s van—speeding down a residential street, moments away from disaster. Every one of the curtain twitchers in this town has only to look out the window and they’ll see an out-of-control Organizing Goddess about to crash into someone’s front living room. If I’m lucky, I’ll crash into my own.

That’s if I don’t run someone over first.

Hi! Thanks for welcoming me to the neighborhood. My apologies about the car wreck. Here’s my business card in case you need your pantry rearranged!

Yeah. That’ll go over well. I wonder how long it’ll take for a picture of my totaled van to make it onto social media. I’ll be a laughingstock.

All because of Terry.

No—I won’t think of him right now. I can’t think of him right now. I’m about to die, and I refuse to let my ex-husband be in my final thoughts.

Which reminds me: I’m about to die. I should try to…not do that.

My stomach jumps into my chest and does its best to crawl up into my throat. I push down on the brake pedal again. Again. Panic races through me like a lit fuse, and my vision narrows with every breath.

There’s a hill coming up, a long, steep slope that snakes all the way down to the coast. If I can’t stop this van, I’m going down. I’m in big trouble. Huge.

I slam the spongy pedal once more. Again, again, again, pumping the brakes so fast my thigh burns, which reminds me that I don’t go to the gym nearly as much as I should. And—really? That’s what I’m thinking right now, when I’m not thinking about my loser ex-husband? I’m about to die and I’m beating myself up about how many lunges I’ve skipped lately?

Which is actually not a surprise at all, because perfectionism is a disease without a cure, and I’ve been afflicted by it all my life. Well, there is a cure, actually: I can Thelma-and-Louise myself into the Pacific Ocean, except without the cavalcade of police surrounding me.

Sucking in a deep breath, I grip the steering wheel for leverage and slam my foot down on the pedal in one last, desperate attempt to get out of this alive.

Did the car slow down, or was it my imagination?

The hill looms like the dip of a roller coaster, except the loop-the-loop will be my van going ass over teakettle all the way over the sea wall and into the ocean. Splash. Gurgle. Goodbye.

My hometown has always been Heart’s Cove, this special, artsy town on the northern coast of California. It’s fitting that it’ll also be the place where I meet my tragic end.

No—not today. I refuse to let this beat-up company van be the cause of my death. I refuse to let my ex-husband rattle me so much I can’t fix this mistake and make it out alive.

Plus, if I decide to ignore the panic for a split second, I can admit it’s not really his fault. His phone call threw me, but it’s not the reason my brakes failed.

A feral yell makes it through my gritted teeth. Suddenly, the world is sharper. Colors are brighter. Time slows.

I will not die on this hill.

I need to slow this sucker down.

Maybe if I zigzag, I can coast to a stop in someone’s front yard. Swerving back and forth across the road, I put the heel of one palm on the horn to warn everyone in a three-block radius that the local organizer lady is doing something really stupid.

Why did I buy this piece of crap van? I knew that mechanic in Santa Rosa was full of it when he told me it was in good shape. I should have listened to my instincts, but he started running his mouth about carburetors and spark plugs, and I remembered I didn’t know anything about cars. My finger-wagging jerk of a brain took that moment to remind me that I’d never gotten around to learning about engines, which was obviously evidence that I was a failure and an idiot, and I took the mechanic at his word when he said I should buy this lemon of a van.

Mechanics. They’re all liars and thieves, as far as I’m concerned. Scum. I should have known.

That, and I thought I saw the seller slip the mechanic a couple of bills before he popped the hood. I wonder how much money it took for that mechanic to sell his integrity. How much money did it take to make a fool out of me?

Stupid. So stupid.

I beat myself up about it so much that I procrastinated when I was supposed to take the van for its yearly service appointment—because that’s the thing about perfectionism. Sometimes, I convince myself to delay tasks that I know I can’t do perfectly, and I end up not doing them at all. Logically, I know it makes no sense. I know there are good mechanics out there (somewhere). I know I could have brought the van in and paid for whatever repairs were needed without understanding every single detail.

But I didn’t. I told myself I’d learn about engines so I didn’t get swindled again, but that task was a mountain I didn’t know how to climb. As a result, I did nothing.

Now my brakes have failed, and I’ll fly down this hill and drown in the Pacific Ocean.

And who buys a house at the top of a steep hill? Who did I think I was?

I’m rapidly approaching my new home, going too fast to pull into the driveway. The van lurches as I make a tight turn, now fully perpendicular to the road. The front door of the house ahead of me opens, and an old man pokes his head out. He yells something at me, but I can’t hear him over the sound of my horn and the screech of the grim reaper in my ear.

I yank the steering wheel around and the van tips onto two wheels, crashing back down as I complete another arm of the zigzag that might possibly be my worst idea yet. I try to angle the van uphill to slow down but there’s a car parked on the road, so I have to lurch in the other direction, over the bushes that separate my house from the neighbor’s, and onto my next-door neighbor’s pristine front lawn.

And I shriek.

Because directly in front of me is a group of elderly ladies clustered near a colorful flower bed in front of my neighbor’s house. Their white heads are perfectly permed. Their wrinkled faces are masks of horror, painted lips open wide in silent screams. Their bejeweled hands are clutching canes and hearts and purses, like they’ll somehow plant their feet and win against five thousand pounds of steel and rubber and whatever else cars are made out of. Hell if I know. I’m not a mechanic.

Instinct kicks in, and I slam the brakes. Ha. They still don’t work.

Tossing instinct aside, I jerk the wheel away from the ladies and crash into a flowering tree in full bloom. My airbag explodes into my face. A car alarm starts to go off, or maybe that’s just the ringing in my ears. Outside my window, big white flowers fall onto the grass all around me. Faint thumps on the body of my van tell me the blossoms are dropping all over me like some kind of beautiful, fragrant rain.

Southern magnolias. They’re in bloom right now. The checkout lady at the grocery store told me all about it when she caught me reading a poster for the Heart’s Cove Garden Walking Tour.

As the airbag deflates, I stare at the beautiful white flowers all over and around the van, and I begin to laugh.

Then I pass out.


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