Monday, February 4, 2013
Falling For Gracie by Susan Mallery
I read this book for the Monthly Key Word Challenge. The Key Word is Grace.
I don't read romance books often. But this one by Susan Mallery, had a good story. 14 year old Gracie had a HUGE crush on 18 year old Riley. It was so bad that she stalked him. He was engaged to be married to Pam. Her mother sent her away so they could get married in peace. Gracie lived with her grandmother for awhile. Then she was sent to live with her aunt and uncle and never returned to her home.
14 years later her younger sister is getting married and Gracie returned to Los Lobos to help with the wedding and make the cake. Riley has also moved back to town....will their paths cross???
"Gracie? Gracie Landon, is that you?"
Trapped, standing in the middle of her mother's front lawn, a newspaper in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other, Gracie Landon glanced longingly toward the escape that was the front door.
In theory, she could bolt for freedom, but that would mean being rude to Eunice Baxter, neighbor and octogenarian. And Gracie had been raised better than that.
She pushed her sleep-smashed hair out of her face and shuffled in her younger sister's Tweetie Bird slippers over to the low wood fence that separated the Landon property from Eunice Baxter's.
"Morning, Mrs. Baxter," she said, hoping she sounded cheerful instead of trapped. "Yes, it's me. Gracie."
"My stars, so it is. I haven't seen you in forever, but I swear, I would have recognized you anywhere. How long has it been?"
"Fourteen years." Half her life. She'd been so hopeful that people would forget her.
"Well, I'll be. You sure look pretty. When you left, and I mean this in the kindest way possible, you were a dreadfully ugly child. Even your poor mother used to worry that you wouldn't grow into your looks, but you did. You're as bright and shiny as a magazine cover model."
Gracie didn't exactly want to reminisce about her homely period—the one that had lasted for nearly six years. "Thank you," she said, inching toward the porch.
Eunice poofed her shellacked helmet of curls, then tapped her chin. "You know, I was just talking about you to my friend Wilma. We were saying that young folks today don't know how to fall in love. Not like they used to in the movies, or like you did with Riley Whitefield."
Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God. Not Riley. Anything but that. After all this time, couldn't her reputation as a young, crazed teenaged stalker be put to rest?
"I didn't exactly love him," Gracie said, wondering why she'd agreed to come home after all this time. Oh, yeah, right. Her baby sister's wedding.
"You were a testament to true love," Eunice told her. "You should be proud. You loved that boy with all your heart and you weren't afraid to show it. That takes a special kind of courage."
Or insanity, she thought as she smiled weakly. Poor Riley. She'd made his life a living hell.
"And that reporter fellow wrote about you in the town newspaper so everyone knew your story," Eunice added. "You were famous."
"More like infamous," Gracie muttered, remembering the humiliation of reading about her crush on Riley over breakfast.
"Wilma's favorite is the time you nailed his girlfriend's doors and windows shut so she couldn't get out for their date. That's a good one, but my favorite is the time you laid down right in front of his car right there." Eunice pointed to the bit of road in front of her house.
"I saw the whole thing. You told him you loved him too much to let him marry Pam and if he was going to go ahead with the engagement, he should just run you over and put you out of your misery."
Gracie held in a groan. "Yeah, that was a good one."
Why was the rest of the world allowed to live down their childhood humiliations but everyone wanted to talk about hers?
"I guess I sort of owe Riley an apology."
"He's back in town," Eunice said brightly. "Did you know?"
As pretty much everyone she'd run into in the past couple of days had made it a point to tell her, yes. "Really?"
The old woman winked. "He's single again. What about you, Gracie? Anyone special in your life?"
"No, but I'm very busy with my work right now and…"
Eunice nodded knowingly. "It's fate. That's what it is. You two have been brought together to be given a second chance."
Gracie knew she would rather be staked out naked on a fire ant hill than ever have anything to do with Riley Whitefield again. She didn't need any more humiliation where he was concerned. And who knew what tortures he would be willing to endure to avoid the likes of her?
"That's really nice, but I don't think I—"
"Could be he's still sweet on you," Eunice said.
Gracie laughed. "Mrs. Baxter, he was terrified of me. If he saw me now, he'd run screaming in the opposite direction." Honestly, who could blame him?
"Sometimes a man needs a little push." "Sometimes a man needs to be left alone." Which was exactly what she intended to do. No more running after Riley. In fact, she planned to avoid any functions where he might be. And if they did happen to bump into each other, she would be cool, polite and distant. Maybe she wouldn't even recognize him. Whatever feelings she'd once had for Riley were gone. Dead and buried. She was way over him.
Read More here.