Introducing…Three Girls and a New Beginning

The new Three Girls book is so close to being ready! I have my edits back and I’m working with the amazing Scarlett Rugers once again on a beautiful cover. I’m so excited to publish this book, you guys! There are two things I’m particularly geeked about when it comes to A New Beginning. First, unlike the other books in the series, this one will shift perspective between all three of the girls. That means we’ll get to see things happen from Ginny’s perspective AND Jen’s AND Annie’s. The second thing that I love about this book is the flashbacks–there are so many moments in the history of their friendship that I had imagined but was never able to show. Like the first time Annie and Ginny met Jen. Or the girls celebrating Jen’s bachelorette party. Now you’ll get to see those memories as well as see what’s in store for the girls now that they’ve all found their “happy ever after.”

I’m planning to have it published to all the major outlets (Kindle, Nook, iTunes, kobo) on Tuesday, January 28th (this is an edit! Sorry for any confusion!). That’s two weeks away! I thought it would be nice to give you a little taste of what to expect while we’re waiting. Enjoy the first chapter!


Three Girls and a New Beginning

Chapter One

Ginny

“Are you ready to go yet?” 

I looked up to see my husband, Josh, standing in the doorway to our bedroom. I made a face at him. “I’m having shoe issues.”

I could tell that he was doing his best not to roll his eyes. “What is the nature of your shoe issue?”

“I can’t figure out which ones look better with my dress.”

“What dress are you planning on wearing?”

“I’m not sure yet.”

He did roll his eyes then. “Come on, Ginny. The sitter will be here in, like, five minutes. I would like to maximize our child-free time as much as possible. That means getting out of this house.”

“I know, I know.” Josh had a good point of course. We didn’t get child-free nights all that often. It was tough to get a sitter for two kids on our budget. When it did happen, I was with him in the wanting to enjoy every minute of it department.

Not that I didn’t love spending time with my kids. I loved being a mom more than anything else in the world. But with two under six, our life could certainly be exhausting at times. And the prospect of going to an actual movie premiere—a movie in which my best friend was the star—was far more exciting than sticking around at home and watching Cars for the hundredth time.

“I think you should wear the red,” Josh said, coming to stand behind me. He slipped his arms around my waist and I leaned back into him, the movement as natural as breathing. “I love you in red.”

“The red’s a little short,” I told him. “Might not be the most appropriate dress for an old fogey mother of two.”

He snorted. “No one in the world would ever imagine that you’ve had two children. You’ll be the most gorgeous woman in the room, Gin. No matter what you wear.”

I smiled. I had to admit that I was pretty lucky—Josh and I had been together for years, but I still knew he really meant it when he said stuff like that to me. I kissed his cheek. “The red it is then.”

“Wear the highest heels you have,” he said, his voice low in my ear. It sent shivers up and down my arms. “I love you in heels.”

“When am I ever not in heels?”

“Good point.” He swatted my bottom playfully. “Hurry up, okay?”

I finished getting dressed while he headed out to the living room to make sure Danny and Maggie hadn’t destroyed the place in the last five minutes. As I was slipping into the heels Josh had requested, my phone rang on the vanity.

“Hello?”

“Ginny, where are you?” Jen’s voice was frantic. It was my turn to roll my eyes.

“I told you we would be there at seven thirty, Jen,” I reminded my best friend. “It’s only seven.”

“Sorry,” she said, still sounding frazzled. “I guess I’m just freaking out a little bit.”

“You?” I asked in mock-shock. “No way.”

“Shut up. This is a big deal, you know. It’s not every day your best friend stars in a hit movie. And it’s definitely not every day I’m asked to coordinate the Detroit premiere of that movie.”

“We don’t know if it will be a hit,” I pointed out. “It isn’t even out yet.”

“It will be a hit,” she said, her voice so decided and firm I was sure even the harshest Hollywood critic would be loathe to contradict her. “Annie is in it—it has to be good.”

“True,” I agreed. Annie was our other best friend, and just happened to be the star of the movie in question—First Comes Love. After struggling as an actress for years, she was finally on the cusp of her big break, a fact that we were celebrating at the Detroit premiere of the movie. Jen, who owned her own party planning company, had mastermind the entire event. “I’m sure it’s going to be fantastic,” I assured her. “The movie and the party.”

“It better be. This event is important to me, Gin. I really want her to know how much we’re rooting for her.”

Josh stuck his head in the doorway. When he saw that I was on the phone, he sighed loudly and pointed at his watch. I nodded and waved him away.

“She’ll know, Jen. I’m sure the party will be wonderful. When have you ever been associated with a dud?”

“True. I guess I’m just stressed. Jenner Collins will be there.”

I laughed. “You’ve met Jenner a dozen times. He’s a normal person.” Jenner Collins was a major movie star from the Detroit area. When he wasn’t making blockbuster action movies, he ran a small theater company in Detroit. Annie had won a coveted role in one of his plays a few years ago. Jenner was obviously taken by her talent—he’d hired her to work full time at the theater and when his production company began work on a small budget romantic comedy, he cast Annie as his lead despite her lack of experience in film.

“I know that,” Jen said, sounding a little sheepish. “But he is a major movie star. He was People’s Sexiest Man, for God’s sake. And you know he’ll have a bunch of industry people with him. What if the party doesn’t live up to his standards? It’s stressful!”

“I know, Jen. But I also know you did a great job with the party. In fact, I’d love to get there and help you finish up, but someone called while I was getting ready and now they won’t quit whining.”

“Sorry, sorry,” she said. “Go get beautiful then get your ass up here.”

“Yes, ma’am.” I was joking, but only barely. The truth was, Jen could be totally scary when she was in bossy mode.

“Ginny,” Josh called from the doorway, impatient.

“Gotta go, Jen,” I said quickly. “See you in a few.”

No sooner had I hung up did the phone ring again. Josh groaned and flopped onto the bed. “And that will be the other one.”

Sure enough, the screen lit up with Annie’s name. I made a face at my husband and answered. “Hey, movie star.”

“Shut up,” she moaned. “I’m so nervous I think I’m going to pee my pants.”

“Why are you nervous?” I asked. “The hard work is over. Tonight is when everyone makes a big deal about you and talks about how awesome you are.”

She whimpered. “Stop. What if you all hate it?”

“We will not hate it,” I assured her. “That’s just silly.”

“But what if you do? You have to promise me that you’ll be honest, okay? I know Nate and Jen are going to insist it’s good no matter what, but you have to be straight with me. Promise, Ginny.”

“I promise I will tell you if it sucks,” I assured her. “You have my word.”

She released a long breath. “Okay. What are you wearing?”

“My red Zac Posen,” I told her, walking to the bed to smack Josh’s arm when he sighed dramatically. “The one we got at that trunk show last month.”

“Good call,” she said. “I’m rethinking my dress.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You looked fantastic in that dress and you know it.” Josh was now miming a dramatic death scene on the bed. I shook my head. “My five-year-old husband is being ridiculous, Ann. I better go finish getting ready.”

“Tell him I said it’s not too late for me to get him uninvited.”

“Ooh, that would be awesome. Then he could stay home with the kids and I could stay out until morning.”

He grabbed me around the waist and pulled me close. “Sorry, Annie,” he called into the phone. “Please let me come to your fancy party with my hot wife.”

“Go get ready,” she told me, laughing. I was happy that she sounded much better than she had when I had first answered. “I’ll see you there.”

“Okay, babe. Good luck. Try to have fun with it.”

“I’ll try.”

I hung up and tossed the phone on the bed, looking down at Josh. “You’re asking for trouble, mister. This is a big night for my girlfriends, you know. I need to be supportive.”

“I know. You’re a very nice friend. But the sitter is here now and we’re free.” His eyes sparkled up at me. “Free. Come on, Gin. Let’s get the hell out of here while we have the chance.”

I laughed. “Fine. Let me just grab my purse and kiss the kids.”

He groaned but released me. “Do you really have to say goodbye? Couldn’t we just sneak out the back?”

“Yeah, that’s going to happen.”

I found my children sitting in the kitchen, their faces covered in spaghetti sauce. Maggie’s face lit up at the sight of me, in the way only a sweet baby face could. “Mama!”

“Hi, pumpkin!” I kissed the top of her head, narrowly avoiding her reaching, red-stained hands. “You’re all messy.”

She giggled and slapped her hands into her noodles.

“What’s up, little man?” Danny looked at me with a raised eyebrow and I stifled a sigh. He had learned that move from Annie, I was sure. It was pretty cute, but I had to admit that I was worried by the sarcastic streak she was developing in my five-year-old.

“Daddy said you were leaving us all night with her,” he said, jabbing his thumb over his shoulder to point at Beth, my co-worker from the bookstore I managed.

“I am leaving you with Beth,” I told him, going over to give her a quick hug in greeting.

“Ginny, dear, you look lovely,” she told me, patting my shoulder. “You’ll have to take lots of pictures for me, okay? I don’t think I’ve ever been to anything so glamorous as a movie premiere.”

“I don’t think I have either,” I said, laughing.

“Mom,” Danny called loudly. “Maggie is getting her spaghetti all over me!” Maggie squealed loudly, a sure-fire sign that her big brother had smacked her hand.

I turned to break up the fight but felt Josh’s hand come around my waist. “Leave it,” he murmured. “Beth can handle them.”

“Absolutely,” she told me, smiling. “Go on, both of you. Have a lovely night.”

Maggie was crying now, big loud sobs that I would bet money were fake.

“She’s fine,” Josh urged, pulling on me. “Let’s go.”

“Okay.” I felt that familiar tug in my chest; I wanted nothing more than to get out of the house for a night, spend some time with my husband, see my friends. Enjoy wearing my fun red dress and maybe have a few cocktails. But there was another part of me, the part I couldn’t control, that only wanted to swoop my crying, messy baby up in my arms and kiss her face, spaghetti covered and all.

I settled for kissing her head, instead. “Have so much fun with Aunt Beth.” I smoothed her brown curls. “She’s going to let you watch The Little Mermaid later.”

“Ariel?” Maggie cried, clapping her hands. I winced as a minuscule drop of sauce flung onto the skirt of my dress. Was it too much to ask that I had one night free of baby messes?

“That’s a girl movie,” Danny said, raising his eyebrow again.

“Well, if you’re a good little boy, maybe you’ll get to play with the Wii when Maggie goes to bed.”

Danny was far too cool to clap his hands, but he couldn’t hide the little grin on his face. I kissed him too, closing my eyes as he brought his hands up to pat my shoulders, all sign of cool down the drain at my leaving. “Be a good boy.”

Josh kissed both children as well, then wrapped an arm around me and pulled me to the kitchen door.

“Are you going to be gross and kissy all night?” Danny called from the table, his eyebrow raised once more.

“Absolutely,” Josh said. “And we’re going to dance together.”

“Yuck,” Danny cried, laughing.

I laughed too and let Josh pull me out into the cool spring air.

“Ahh,” he said. “Free at last.”

“Free indeed.” I looked down at my dress, the spaghetti splotch not visible in the darkening evening. “Minus the spaghetti on my dress.”

He opened the car door for me. “No one will notice.”

“I’ll notice. I’ll spend the entire night feeling like a messy mummy, instead of like a pretty starlet.” I slid into my seat.

“Please.” He looked down at me, his hand on the door frame. “I’m not even kidding about you looking better than the movie stars.”

He shut my door and walked around the front of the car, giving me the chance to admire him in his suit. Josh was tall and lanky with messy brown curls and green eyes behind his black rimmed glasses. He’d been the cutest guy I’d ever known ever since we were juniors in high school, and he looked particularly good in his black, slim-fitting suit. By the time he had joined me in the car, I was grinning.

“Speaking of better looking than a movie star,” I said, leaning across the console to kiss him. “You’re pretty hot in that suit there, Mr. Stanley.”

“Why thank you, Mrs. Stanley.” He brought a hand to my face, kissing me again. “I took extra time getting pretty in the hopes that I might get lucky tonight.”

I laughed. “I’ve heard your wife is a pretty sure bet.”

He was still grinning as he started the car. “I’m hoping, then, that she won’t mind that I’ve booked us a hotel downtown and arranged for the sitter to stay overnight.”

I gaped at him. “You did what?”

He backed down the drive, his eyes meeting mine as he checked over his shoulder. “Is that okay? I wanted it to be a surprise.”

“Of course it’s okay,” I said. “I mean…can we afford it?”

Josh and I weren’t exactly well off. My job as a manager of a bookstore was fulfilling and made me completely happy, but it didn’t exactly pay me enough for the high life. Josh was a writer for a local magazine. He brought in some extra money doing freelance work, but all together we still end up on a pretty tight budget. Particularly since we’d had our second child and started saving to buy a house.

“I sold an article,” he said, holding up a hand before I could speak. “And I know we said that all the extra money we bring in was supposed to go to the house fund, but I really think we need this. We haven’t had a break or vacation in how long?”

“Probably Jen’s wedding.”

“Exactly. Which was a year and a half ago.”

“Good point.” A thought occurred to me. “I didn’t bring a bag.”

“I packed for you.”

I snorted. “Oh, God, what’d you bring?”

He shrugged. “Lot of extra lingerie and your bathing suit.”

“Excellent. I’m going to have to leave the hotel in this dress, aren’t I? People will think I’m a prostitute.”

He laughed. “I brought you jeans and a shirt too, don’t worry.”

“Where are we staying?” I was starting to feel excited now.

“I got us a room in one of Kiki’s Dad’s hotels.”

I squealed and clapped my hands. Jen’s business partner, Kiki, was the daughter of one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the entire state. He owned multiple properties in the city and surrounding areas, all of them exceedingly luxurious.

He laughed. “You look like Maggie when you do that.”

“Aren’t Mr. Barker’s hotels really expensive though?” I asked, not wanting to put a damper on our excitement but still feeling bad that we were spending so much just on the two of us.

“I may have asked Kiki what she recommended for our budget,” he said, winking at me. I made a half-groaning, half-laughing noise. Asking Kiki a question like that was a surefire way to get us into the nicest room on the smallest budget possible. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she got us a totally comped suite. The girl was literally the most generous, sweet person I had ever encountered in my life. Nothing made her happier than making other people happy. I never liked to take advantage of her in any way, but the idea of staying in a suite on our budget…

“Was that evil of me?” he asked, shooting me a rueful smile. “I love Kiki, you know that. I just…I really wanted to stay in a nice room.”

I snorted. “It may have been a little evil, but I’m not complaining. Besides, you know if you hadn’t asked her and we ended up in a different, cheaper hotel she would have been offended.”

“That is very true. It’s nice to have a friend like Kiki.”

“Just so long as you don’t get used to this,” I warned. “We’re not going to take advantage of her.”

“The only person I plan to take advantage of tonight is you,” he said, waggling his eyebrows at me.

“You’re so smooth, Josh.” I took his hand, feeling happier than I had in a while. I loved my kids and I loved my job, but there was no denying the fact that taking care of both could be tedious. The idea of an entire night of hanging out with friends and my husband was making me feel giddy.

“So was Annie pretty nervous?” he asked, rubbing his fingers over my knuckles.

“She was. Which is a little silly, considering they already did a bigger premiere in New York.”

“But that was mostly strangers,” he pointed out. “Tonight she’ll be showing the movie to people she actually knows.”

“All of whom are rooting for her. She’s going to be fine.”

“What about Jen?”

I rolled my eyes. Jen was another matter. “She will always freak out about the events that mean the most to her. She was just as stressed out about Annie’s housewarming. And our wedding. And Kiki’s baby shower.”

“And they all turned out perfectly.”

“Exactly. Granted, she has been having a bit of a hard time lately with Kiki out on maternity leave.”

“I thought she was planning to take less clients during Kiki’s leave.”

“Yeah, right. She said that, but you know she’s still working her ass off. That girl isn’t happy unless she’s busy.”

“Well, I hope they can both relax and enjoy the evening,” he said. He waggled his eyebrows at me. “I certainly intend to.”

I grinned, feeling a flutter of excitement in my belly. “I do, too.”

***

So that’s chapter one. I’m so excited for you guys to read the rest of it! Only two weeks to go now!

Have a great week!

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