Date Published: May 30, 2017
The lake town of Maisonville was better known as Renaissance Lake and most who moved there were looking to begin again.
Sydney Bell was no exception. Recovering from a divorce she needed to pick up the pieces of her life and start over.
Unfortunately, in her new town the handsome Ryan Gentry next door and Sydney are already butting heads.
When the real reason she moved to the lake is revealed, she’s reminded that a small town can heal your soul, sparring with an arrogant neighbor can build self-esteem, and true friendship has the ability to make you a better person.
Purchase Link: Amazon
Free with Kindle Unlimited
THE DELUGE OF RAIN WAITED until the moving truck was scheduled to arrive and then drowned any hope Sydney had of a smooth move in day.
She’d paid a little extra for them to arrive that morning; that way she’d be finished by the time Ryan returned home next door.
He was the jerk who had helped change her tire the first day she came to town and the owner who reluctantly sold her the house. She wasn’t certain how Will talked him into it, but Will said he was a family friend and that must have mattered to Ryan. Of course, he could have simply been motivated by the cash offer. It took the money she had from the sale of her father’s large home and the sale of her Mercedes wagon for her to afford the beautiful cottage. It was more than she should have spent but way less than the place was worth.
Ryan shook his head during the closing, avoiding looking at her the entire time. Will said he was perpetually grouchy, but she knew he was unhappy about selling to her specifically. She acted sweet and told him how much she loved the house and promised to be a quiet neighbor. However, during the hour-long meeting, Ryan didn’t say more than a few words to her, but he managed to slip the word “genius” into the conversation at least five times.
She couldn’t help it, sometimes words popped out of her mouth before she could stop them. She’d wished she hadn’t been snarky and called Ryan a genius that day on the roadside, especially after he changed her tire, but she couldn’t take it back.
It didn’t matter. He didn’t have to like her. She would prove she could be a good neighbor and ignore him back.
As the moving truck turned onto her twisted street, she realized the truck was much bigger than she remembered. Most of her belongings had been from her father’s estate and picked up from a large storage building where there was plenty of room to maneuver. There was a lot less room on her new street that had large oak trees that had taken up residence a hundred years before the houses were built.
Ryan had made sure these incredible trees, along with the one that partially divided their driveways, weren’t disturbed during the remodeling of their houses. Instead, they were showcased in the landscape with up lighting.
As the rain pummeled down, Sydney ran to motion the truck in front of her house, hoping she could keep them from driving on Ryan’s perfect grass. More importantly, she had to protect the tree limbs that dipped down to the ground before twisting back up to the sky.
She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt but thankfully thought to throw on her green rain boots and matching raincoat before she ran out there, waving her arms. She shook her head as she considered how mad Ryan had acted toward her already, and she’d just gotten here. She had to protect that tree.
The truck barely made the turn around the tree in the middle of the street and then ran partially into Ryan’s yard before making the sharp left into hers. Sydney suddenly realized they didn’t see her and she was narrowly missed by the truck as she ran up the stairs onto her porch.
Screeching the brakes as they hit the wooden steps, Sydney braced herself as the entire porch groaned and shook. The driver then reversed a few feet before throwing the truck into park and sliding out of the driver’s side door to look at her.
The rain slowed down but didn’t stop. Sydney cut her eyes at the driver when she realized his truck not only blocked her driveway but was stretched precariously across the street and Ryan’s drive, too. The driver had completely trapped her in and the rest of the world out.
“Who put those steps there?” The driver laughed and then lowered his eyes at her, daring her to say anything.
Sydney didn’t care how he looked at her. She wasn’t going to accept his behavior. “Look at my steps! Look at my porch! No one would take that turn at forty miles an hour in clear weather. What were you thinking?” she yelled.
The scruffy man’s eyes turned to slits. “Look, lady, I have three deliveries today. Either you want your furniture, or you don’t. Let’s get on with it, or I’m going to take care of my other customers, and you can get your stuff tomorrow.”
He thought he’d made a good point. After all, what could she do? He had her stuff, and she needed help to unload it. She was alone, and he could make things easier or harder for her. He gave her his most arrogant grin and watched her walk to the truck door and climb partially inside the cab before she jumped back out. She then walked past him, and he watched her curiously as she strutted up the steps to the porch and into her house, slamming the door.
The other man in the truck stuck his head out. “Chuck? Um, she took the keys.”
“She what?” Chuck asked.
“Keys to the truck. She took ‘em.”
Chuck made a sound like an animal snarling. “Why the hell didn’t ya stop her, Alan?”
“Why didn’t you stop her?” Alan mumbled, as he sat back down to keep dry and slammed the door shut.
Sydney returned holding her cell phone. “Are you going to call Mr. O’Malley or am I?” she asked, ignoring the growling sounds he made and his red face.
She clearly had no regard for her own safety. Chuck marched right up to her and glared into her eyes. “Now why the hell would I call my dad?”
Sydney was on her tiptoes trying to appear bigger as she argued with the driver.
“You know why, and –.”
They were interrupted by a loud pickup truck horn blaring on the other side of the moving truck.
“No,” Sydney muttered. It was Ryan. What was he doing home?
The driver turned to look as Ryan walked around the front of the truck and toward Sydney’s porch. Ryan gave a short wave to Alan and then slowly walked over to the steps where Sydney and Chuck looked like they were about to brawl.
“Ms. Bell,” he said, and nodded his head her way. “What have you done this time?”
“I haven’t done anything, and this is none of your business,” she said defensively.
The driver grinned. “We were having a little chat, and she took the keys out of my truck.”
Ryan looked at the bowed porch and crooked steps and nodded his head. The driver added, “I may have bumped her steps when I made the turn, but it was raining like hell.”
Ryan looked closely at the steps and then walked up on the porch. “No reason to cry over spilled milk. I can patch that up in no time.” Ryan smiled at the driver. “Need some help with that furniture?”
“No. I, uh, wait, Ryan. I need to call his boss.” Sydney stammered as Ryan stepped in to take over.
“No need to call Mr. O. Right, men?” Ryan asked the movers as they opened up the back of the truck and got ready to hand down furniture.
“But–.” Sydney wanted to disagree, but the look Ryan gave her made her stop.
“You direct traffic, and we’ll haul things inside,” Ryan said and nodded his head until Sydney gave up and nodded back.
It didn’t take long for them to unload her furniture and boxes. Then Ryan thanked them and walked them out of the house to their truck. Sydney’s anger had calmed down through the rain, sweat, and tears of moving her belongings into the house. It was clear she no longer had a family and certainly no kids by looking at her things. She sat down on the couch, thinking about her boys.
Before she could get misty eyed over them, Ryan walked back in the front door without knocking.
Sydney stood up and looked at him. “Thank you,” she said, but as she barely got the words out of her mouth, Ryan was in her space.
“What the hell were you thinking?” he scolded her.
She wanted to yell back at him, but she was exhausted and more than a little shocked at his behavior. She avoided his eyes as she whispered, “What?”
“I drive up and, of course, there is a moving truck blocking the entire street and my driveway. You’re standing there in your little girl rain boots and coat, about to start World War III with two ex-cons! Are you looking for trouble?”
Before she could answer, he threw his hands up in the air. Continue reading