To say Nora Roberts is prolific is to understate the case by a degree of ten. Arguably the top romance writer in the world, Roberts has authored over 175 novels, of which there are nearly 300 million in print. Using her own name or writing as J.D. Robb, Roberts has produced 147 New York Times bestsellers. In 2007, the Lifetime network adapted four of her books at once into made-for-TV movies. As her legions of fans prove, Roberts has influenced the fantasy lives of millions, giving them a view of romance that is full of hope and humor. As the New York Times succinctly put it: “You can't bottle wish fulfillment, but Nora Roberts certainly knows how to put it on the page.” In what could come from the pages of one of her books, Roberts met her husband when she hired him to build her some bookshelves.
The Last Boyfriend
A fat winter moon poured light over the old stone and brick of the inn on The Square. In its beams, the new porches and pickets glowed, and the bright-penny copper of the roof glinted. The old and new merged there—the past and the now—in a strong and happy marriage. Its windows stayed dark on this December night, prizing its secrets in shadows. But in a matter of weeks they would shine like others along Boonsboro’s Main Street. As he sat in his truck at the light on The Square, Owen Montgomery looked up Main at the shops and apartments draped in their holiday cheer. Lights winked and danced. To his right, a pretty tree graced the big front window of the second-floor apartment. Their future innkeeper’s temporary residence reflected her style. Precise elegance. Next Christmas, he thought, they’d have Inn BoonsBoro covered with white lights and greenery. And Hope Beaumont would center her pretty little tree in the window of the innkeeper’s apartment on the third floor.
He glanced to his left where Avery MacTavish, owner of Vesta Pizzeria and Family Restaurant, had the restaurant’s front porch decked out in lights.
Her apartment above—formerly his brother Beckett’s—also showed a tree in the window. Otherwise the windows were as dark as the inn’s. She’d be working tonight, he thought, noting the movement in the restaurant. He shifted, but couldn’t see her behind the work counter.
When the light changed, he turned right onto St. Paul Street, then left into the parking lot behind the inn. Then sat in his truck a moment, considering. He could walk over to Vesta, he thought, have a slice and a beer, hang out until closing. Afterward he could do his walk-through of the inn.
He didn’t actually need to walk through, he reminded himself. But he hadn’t been on-site all day as he’d been busy with other meetings, other details on other Montgomery Family Contractors’ business. He didn’t want to wait until morning to see what his brothers and the crew had accomplished that day.
Besides, Vesta looked busy, and had barely thirty minutes till closing. Not that Avery would kick him out at closing—probably. More than likely, she’d sit down and have a beer with him.
Tempting, he thought, but he really should do that quick walkthrough and get home. He needed to be on-site, with his tools, by seven.
He climbed out of the truck and into the frigid air, already pulling out his keys. Tall like his brothers, with a build leaning toward rangy, he hunched in his jacket as he walked around the stone courtyard wall toward the doors of The Lobby.
His keys were color-coded, something his brothers called anal, and he deemed efficient. In seconds he was out of the cold and into the building. He hit the lights, then just stood there, grinning like a moron.
The decorative tile rug highlighted the span of the floor and added another note of charm to the softly painted walls with their custom, creamy wainscoting. Beckett had been right on target about leaving the side wall exposed brick. And their mother had been dead-on about the chandelier.
Not fancy, not traditional, but somehow organic with its bronzy branches and narrow, flowing globes centered over that tile rug. He glanced right, noted The Lobby restrooms with their fancy tiles and green-veined stone sinks had been painted.
Copyright (c) 2012 by Nora Robert
Savor The Moment
As the clock ticked down on her senior year in high school, Laurel McBane learned one indisputable fact.
Prom was hell.
For weeks all anyone wanted to talk about was who might ask who, who did ask who--and who asked some other who thereby inciting misery and hysteria.
Girls, to her mind, suffered an agony of suspense and an embarrassing passivity during prom season. The halls, classrooms and quad throbbed with emotion running the gamut from giddy euphoria because some guy asked them to some over-hyped dance, to bitter tears because some guy didn’t.
The entire cycle revolved around `some guy’, a condition she believed both stupid and demoralizing.
And after that, the hysteria continued, even escalated with the hunt for a dress, for shoes, the intense debate about up-dos versus down-dos. Limos, after-parties, hotel suites--the yes, no, maybe of sex.
She’d have skipped the whole thing if her friends, especially Parker Right-Of-Passage Brown, hadn’t ganged up on her.
Now her savings account--all those hard-earned dollars and cents from countless hours waiting tables--reeled in shock at the withdrawals for a dress she’d probably never wear again, the shoes, the bag and all the rest.
She could lay all that on her friends’ heads, too. She’d gotten caught up shopping with Parker, Emmaline and Mackensie, and spent more than she should have.
The idea, gently broached by Emma, of asking her parents to spring for the dress wasn’t an option, not to Laurel’s mind. A point of pride, maybe, but money in the McBane household had become a very sore subject since her father’s dicey investments fiasco and the little matter of the IRS audit.
No way she’d ask either of them. She earned her own, and had for several years now.
She told herself it didn’t matter. She didn’t have close to enough saved for the tuition for the Culinary Institute, or the living expenses in New York, despite the hours she’d put in after school and on weekends at the restaurant. The cost of looking great for one night didn’t change that one way or the other--and, and what the hell, she did look great.
She fixed on her earrings while across the room--Parker’s bedroom--Parker and Emma experimented with ways to prom-up the hair Mac had impulsively hacked off to what Laurel thought of as Julius Caesar takes the Rubicon. They tried various pins, sparkle dust and jeweled clips in what was left of Mac’s flame red hair while the three of them talked non-stop, and Aerosmith rocked out of the CD player.
She liked listening to them like this, when she was a little bit apart. Maybe especially now when she felt a little bit apart. They’d been friends all their lives, and now--rite of passage or not--things were changing. In the fall Parker and Emma would head off the college. Mac would be working, and squeezing in a few courses on photography.
And with the dream of The Culinary Institute poofed due to finances and her most recent parents’ marital implosion, she’d settle for community college part-time. Business courses, she supposed. She’d have to be practical. Realistic.
And she wasn’t going to think about it now. She might as well enjoy the moment, and this ritual Parker, in her Parker way, had arranged.
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