Sultry Summer Reads Blog Hop and An Excerpt from You Belong To Me #safariheat
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Here is an excerpt from my book, You Belong To Me, a romantic suspense available on Amazon.
Colin stepped inside the open door of the gallery and inwardly groaned. He didn’t intend to stay too long. It was crowded already so he snaked his way through the crowd to the bar. With drink in hand, he leaned back against the bar and eyed the layout of the building.
The gallery was long and narrow, painted a soft white. The presence of deep crown moldings and intricate woodwork gave it an elegant feel. Tables for refreshments had been set up between two large columns and channeled the traffic flow around the room. Recessed lighting and tiny halogen spotlights dotted the ceiling, highlighting the artwork.
Colin swept his gaze through the crowd looking for Kyle Ridley and found him standing in the far corner of the gallery so he headed that way.
Kyle looked over at him as he approached and said, “I wasn’t sure you’d come.”
“I’m only here because I love to watch Marilyn drag you around by that ring in your nose.”
Kyle smiled and shrugged. “You were married, you know how it is.”
“That was years ago. I was young and foolish.”
“You were young and foolish once? I don’t remember that,” Kyle said, a wry grin on his face.
Colin remembered all too well how foolish he’d been…
Colin heard Marilyn’s voice behind him. “Hi, Colin.” She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek and he slung his arm around her shoulder.
“Marilyn, what are you doing with this guy? I have to question your standards.”
“I question them all the time,” she said and laughed. “We haven’t seen much of you lately.” He and Kyle used to get together more often, even after Marilyn had come into Kyle’s life. But he sometimes felt like a third wheel, even when he was invited to hang out at their house, watch a ball game and share a pizza.
“I’ve been giving the newlyweds a chance to be alone.” He waggled his eyebrows at her. Marilyn laughed and punched him gently on the shoulder.
“You’ve done a nice job here,” Colin said.
“It’s not me. Erin is the one with the artistic eye. I’m just the grunt that helps her lift things into place,” she said. “She’s in the office with a customer, but I’ll introduce you later. And don’t make yourself a stranger at the house,” she said and then threaded her way back through the crowd.
When she was out of earshot Colin turned to Kyle. “She’s really something. You’re very lucky, you know?”
Kyle smiled as he watched Marilyn walk away. “Yeah, I know.” Turning back to Colin he said, “What do you really think of the gallery?”
“I like it. I like the mood of the place. It’s classy without being pretentious.”
“Would you be interested in investing in it?”
That surprised him. “I might be. Tell me more.” Colin was always looking for ways to invest in something other than the stock market. He was over-invested there as it was and wanted to diversify. An art gallery piqued his interest.
“Erin has a mortgage on this building. She lives upstairs in the second floor apartment and there is another on the third floor. The woman who used to live on the third floor owned the building and financed the deal, but she died and her son wants to change the terms of the mortgage. The higher monthly payments will be tough to meet. It would probably set her back another year, at least.”
“Why doesn’t she refinance through a bank?”
“This is the tough part…”
“And the risk, I suspect?”
“No, not really. She’s doing okay, turning a small profit and holding her own at her current interest rate. But the banks won’t finance her because her ex-husband borrowed against their house and then left her holding the bag. He put everything in Erin’s name. She couldn’t keep up the payments by herself and there were debts all over the place that she didn’t even know about. She lost the house, and is still paying off the credit cards. The banks look at her as a serious risk.”
Colin pictured some flaky new-age bimbo, too dumb to read the papers her husband must have put in front of her to sign. “Sounds messy,” Colin said looking out over the crowd. “How much does she need?”
“Only four-hundred thousand to pay off the loan to the former landlady’s son. She’s making all the payments and will be able to collect rent on the upstairs apartment once the son clears out his mother’s things.”
It sounded too much like a soap opera for Colin’s taste. He didn’t like his business dealings to be complicated by someone’s personal problems. The complications in his own past were enough to last a lifetime.
“I’m not sure I’m interested, yet, but I do like the idea of investing in a gallery. It’s appealing to me for reasons other than the investment. I’d feel like my money was doing something besides funding oil rigs.”
Kyle laughed. “You always were an art buff so I thought you might be interested. Erin would probably love to see your collection, and she might be a great contact for you as well.”
“Are you suggesting I invite Erin to see my etchings?” Colin said, laughing.
Kyle cocked an eyebrow at him.
“Seriously, Marilyn says Erin’s been working day and night to figure out how to come up with the money. But she doesn’t know I’m even asking you this. We might have to finesse her into it – she’s very independent.”
“All right, but don’t tell her anything yet. Maybe later you can just introduce us and let me check her out.”
“I’ll do that,” Kyle said. “I’ll catch up with you in a little while.”
Kyle headed toward the front of the gallery while Colin headed toward the bar. He was driving so he switched to cola and then wandered through the gallery, noting several paintings that interested him.
Near the back of the gallery a woman caught his eye. He didn’t know who she was, but he was certainly going to find out. Slipping into the crowd he moved slowly toward her.
With her long auburn hair, creamy white skin and the greenest eyes he had ever seen, she could be the poster girl for “Welcome to Ireland.” She wore a pale linen suit, the skirt short enough to show off her slender legs – not so short as to cheapen the look – and a silk blouse. He had half a hard-on just looking at her across the room and he didn’t even know her name. But he was going to.
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