“They’re going to take the house, baby.” Her mother’s voice rang over the line with urgency.
Maybe some women would be alarmed over this grim news, but Darcy Miller calmly took her fingers off the keyboard and said with deep suspicion, “Is this another ploy to get me home?”
Tammy had tried to get Darcy to come home since the day she’d walked out the door at eighteen, but lately her attempts had escalated. Ever since her mom’s daytime soaps—or “stories” as she called them—had been canceled, her schemes had become increasingly elaborate.
Darcy barely paid attention anymore.
“No!” Her mom’s voice cracked, turning hoarse and tragic. “I swear on the Good Book. I got an official letter in the mail saying the house is condemned and they are going to seize the property January first.” She started to cry. “What kind of New Year is that?”
Okay, maybe this was serious after all. Darcy turned away from her computer screen where she’d been entrenched in writing her latest article—a how-to on tackling premature ejaculation—to stare out the window of her tiny studio apartment.
It was the size of a postage stamp, but the view of the Manhattan skyline was worth the small space and astronomical rent.
She frowned. January first was a month away. Why was this the first Darcy was hearing about this? She narrowed her eyes. “Is this the first letter you got?”
There was a long silence. Darcy’s stomach dropped with a familiar dread as she waited for the bombshell.
Her mom squeaked out in her little-girl voice, “No, this is the fifth.”
Darcy screeched. “The fifth! And this is the first you’re mentioning it?”
Her mom sniffed. “I didn’t want to worry you.”
Stay calm. This was her mother’s way. Darcy was an old pro, all she needed to do was stay calm. “But now it’s too late to do anything. Did you talk to an attorney?”
“I can’t afford that.” Her mom’s tone was stressed, and Darcy could see her sitting at their powder blue, ancient linoleum kitchen table, worrying her hands.
Darcy took a deep breath and counted to ten before she spoke. “Okay, let’s think this through. Can you make a copy of the letter and e-mail it to me?”
“Sure, baby.” There was a pause. “How do I do that?”
Darcy rubbed at her temples. “With the printer and scanner I sent you.”
“Oh, okay. Can you wait while I get it out of the box?” Tammy asked.
God help her. Darcy loved her mother, really she did, but the woman was simply going to drive her right out of her mind. Through clenched teeth she said, “Just read me the letter.”
In a shaky voice, Tammy read, but it didn’t give a lot of information. Just that the city of Revival, Illinois, was taking possession of the house. The house had been condemned and the land sat in the middle of a city project that would significantly and positively impact the community. It proceeded to cite a bunch of legal cases, and some more jargon her mom couldn’t pronounce.
The most concerning and notable was a ruling by the Supreme Court, which apparently allowed city governments to seize property, at fair market value, as long as it’s for the greater public good.
Total bullshit, but unfortunately, sounded very legal.
She jotted down the case references to research them on Google later as her mom finished the letter. When she was done, Darcy blew out a long breath. “Mom, did they offer to buy the house?”
“Well yes, but I said no.”
“Why?” Darcy asked, the agitation clear in her tone.
Her childhood home was barely more than a shack. She shuddered. She’d hated growing up in that house. The creaking floors. The crappy plumbing. The water that was never quite hot enough. Her small bedroom, barely big enough to fit a twin-size bed. Growing up, it had been just the two of them, and Darcy’s only dream was escape. Darcy had taken off the second she’d turned eighteen, vowing never to return.
Twelve years later she’d kept her promise. She hadn’t stepped foot in Revival and didn’t intend to.
Stupid, conservative small town.
Tammy gasped. “This is my home. Where am I supposed to go?”
“You could come live here with me.”
“I don’t want to live in New York. This, Revival, is my home.” She started to weep again. “Please, baby, you have to help me.”
Darcy stared helplessly at the Parisian art print hanging on her wall. “I’ll call a couple lawyers and see what I can do.”
“No, you have to come home.”
No! God, no. She couldn’t go home. She’d shrugged off that town and its limitations years ago. She wasn’t ever going to go back. “Momma, there’s nothing I can do.”
“Yes, you can. I know it. I feel it in my bones,” her mom said with dramatic flair. “At my last reading Autumn told me you’re the only one who can help.”
Of course she did. Tammy was on a first-name basis with her psychic and took her word as gospel. Darcy shook her head. “What do you think I can possibly do? I’m not a lawyer.”
There was a long pause over the line. When her mom cleared her throat, Darcy’s stomach did a little flip. “Griffin Strong is the mayor.”
“The mayor!?” Darcy screamed the words before she could even process them.
“Yes, the mayor.”
Darcy closed her eyes. “And you never thought to tell me that little detail?”
“You said you didn’t care about news in Revival,” her mom pointed out oh so helpfully.
How had Griffin become mayor of Revival? How was that even possible? He’d been the baddest of all the bad boys with his tall, lanky frame, mischievous brooding dark brown eyes, and dirty blond hair. He’d had cheekbones cut from granite, a strong jaw, and a mouth that promised all sorts of illicit acts. Even the good girls had wanted him, with his penetrating stare, but he’d only had eyes for Darcy. And she’d only had eyes for him.
Growing up in Revival where everyone knew everything, every girl knew to stay away from him, Darcy included. While she’d lived on the wrong side of town with him, she’d never had the pleasure of meeting him until their junior year when they’d both ditched study hall and ended up behind the school for a smoke.
She remembered it like it was yesterday. She’d turned the corner leading to the back of the school where they hid the transformers, and he’d been leaning up against the wall, cigarette dangling from his lips, smoke curling into the air.
He’d turned his head and looked at her, saying absolutely nothing, but to Darcy’s sixteen-year-old brain they’d had a whole conversation. When his gaze roamed over her body, with a directness she’d never seen a boy display before, she’d gone hot all over and fallen instantly in love.
He hadn’t even had to say a word.
That Friday night they’d parked deep in the woods and fooled around in the backseat of his car for hours. She’d kissed guys before him, but he’d been the first boy she’d ever kissed where she’d felt anything. So she’d let him go further than kissing, much further. With his fingers he’d made her come for the first time; she’d never felt anything so good. He’d been her first taste of anything bad and dangerous, and she’d been addicted to wild ever since.
They’d been inseparable, causing chaos in the small town of Revival, while they lived out their teenage rebellion fantasies. It had all been perfect until she’d wanted to leave and he refused to go.
“Darcy.” The whine of her mom’s voice ripped her out of the past.
“Sorry, I still don’t understand what you think I can do.” An image of Griffin, his mouth on hers, filled her mind and her stomach heated. She shoved the memory away.
“He was your boyfriend.”
“In high school.” How had Griffin, the boy who made mothers lock their doors when he walked down the street, become respectable? Become mayor of a town that used to loathe him?
“You can talk to him for me.”
“Darcy, please. You’re my only hope.” Her mom’s voice turned to pleading. “You’re the only one who can stop this.”
“That’s insane. I have no control over him. I haven’t seen him in twelve years.” And they’d ended so badly. She’d begged him to come with her, but he’d refused. His mom had been sick, and he had three younger brothers who needed looking after. He hadn’t wanted her to go.
She’d left because she couldn’t bear the thought of staying, even for him. She hadn’t spoken to him since. She bit her bottom lip and gave herself permission to ask one question about him. “Surely he’s married by now.”
“But he’s not,” Tammy said, her voice excited. “Please, all I ask is that you try. It’s the house I grew up in, Darcy, and besides you, it’s the only thing of value I have in this life. Come home for Christmas and help me save my house. Our house.”
Darcy’s heart started to pound. How could she say no without being the worst daughter in the world? Tammy was her mother, and she had no good excuse. She was a freelance writer. She wrote articles and ran her own blog. There was no office to go to. It was a month in Revival. To help her mom, who despite all her drama, never really asked Darcy for anything.
All she had to do was face Griffin. She could do that. She was a grown woman now, successful. Confident and empowered. Surely she could handle her high school boyfriend. “All right. I’ll come home and see what I can do.” Tammy sniffed. “Thank you, baby. You won’t be sorry.” Somehow, Darcy doubted that.
She's My Kind of Girl
Series: Something New #4.5
Published by Kensington
Release Date: September 27, 2016Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Kobo|iTunes|Google Play
In high school, they’d burned fast and hot. Now is their chance to find out if the sparks that linger will ignite a whole new flame.
The only thing Darcy Miller ever wanted more than gorgeous troublemaker Griffin Strong was to shake off the dust of small-town Revival, Illinois, and head to the big city—even if she had to leave him behind. Ten years later, Darcy is the ultimate New Yorker, writing a sex blog and living on designer cocktails and the pulse of urban life. That is, until she hears that Revival plans to seize her mother’s house right after the holidays, thanks to the new mayor—who is none other than Darcy’s ex…
Griffin couldn’t have asked for a more dangerous Christmas gift. Curvy, sassy Darcy is every bit as delectable as the wild child she was in high school—and just as determined to stir up problems. But Griffin learned long ago to straighten up and fly right in order to make changes in the town he loves. Keeping his reputation wholesome is a big part of that. If only Darcy didn’t make him want to take his place on the naughty list with her, right under the mistletoe…
I cannot wait for you to meet Griffin and Darcy.