Lauraine Henderson began writing as a child, poems and journaling, until babies, building houses, and bookkeeping jobs usurped her world.
Now, well established in Oregon and with the children grown, she devotes her time to writing her favorite genre: clean romance. Years of life experience translate into plots, calamities, and happily-ever-afters as she writes her inspirational and romantic stories about fictional people who seem so real, you’ll want to know what happens after the book ends!
Elliott Palmer’s brilliant impulse to propose a fake engagement to his sister’s teacher in order to get rid of a stalker may be the biggest mistake of his life. Or it could be the best thing to happen since his cookie empire went national.
Charlotte Bloomberg feels like she’s walking a tightrope at work after the scandal last year that almost cost her teaching job. Yet…Elliott’s proposal could be the answer to her saving face with not only her co-workers, but her family, too.
As the two work through school calamities, nosy family members, and a stalker getting closer all the time, the lines between real and fake start to blur when hearts get involved. But what happens when the police insist a wedding date will bring the stalker out in the open, and Elliott suspects Charlotte of being a crook?
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If Elliott Palmer could fall through the trap door of the stage and magically erase the last five minutes of memory for everyone in the auditorium, including that of the increasingly shameful Krista Fellman, he would be happy to oblige. This was not the way he saw his day going. Krista’s announcement of their impending marriage while he discussed business with his kiosk managers disrupted the conversation and embarrassed him. News of the debacle spread fast and by the time he returned to his office, every manager and shift lead was clamoring for more information about his supposed engagement.
Once he was free to leave the bakery, he rushed to pick up his sister, Kelly, before she heard about it from someone else. Running from the bakery, his head full of what the crazy Krista would do next had instigated his unmitigated leap into the ridiculous. He’d forgotten about the rehearsal until he walked in on the scene and allowed Ms. Bloomberg to bump into him. The rest was pure improvisation, although he wouldn’t mind rehearsing that kiss a few more times.
“Kelly, don’t get all weird on me.” He looked around at the silently chewing faces of the students and the flush across Ms. Bloomberg’s face.
Elliott paused. “Well,” he rubbed his hands over the back of his neck, “I asked her to marry me and she said yes.”
Ms. Bloomberg picked up a clipboard from the floor and held it securely against her chest, but he didn’t miss the wide eyes, the fake smile, and the weakened voice as she herded the kids back to the stage to pick up the scene again.
Elliott picked up the bag of leftover cookies and took a step toward the door Krista had just exited. He planned to sneak out and head back to the bakery until the practice was over.
“Don’t even think about it.” Ms. Bloomberg’s teacher voice was back, firmly in place as she stared him down. He stopped in his tracks. On second thought, disappearing right now probably wouldn’t look too good.
Taking a seat at the back of the auditorium, Elliott spent the next hour watching the rehearsal and learning why Kelly couldn’t stop talking about her English and musical theater teacher. The woman was amazing and, if Elliott hadn’t known better, he would have thought she’d been teaching theater for years, not just starting the program. Kelly had given him a rundown on Ms. Bloomberg, whose first name he still needed to learn, and all her many talents since his baby sister began her junior year. Unfortunately, he’d missed the first parent-teacher conference, a fact he now regretted.
Ms. Bloomberg finished the rehearsal with a reminder to the students to bring their personal props the next day and their plans to spend Saturday with her shopping at the local donation center for costumes. He saw Kelly giggling with her friend Megan. He could only imagine what the two sixteen-year-olds were laughing about. Once they were dismissed, the entire cast scattered like ants on a mission and the proverbial bell tolled Elliott’s name. Practicing his speech during her rehearsal still hadn’t prepared him for what he would say to the pretty teacher, who’s life he had inadvertently turned upside-down this afternoon.
As Kelly scooped up her backpack from the front row, she helped Ms. Bloomberg gather her bag and purse and they slowly paraded up the aisle, whispering. Elliott immediately stood and geared himself for the tongue-lashing he knew would come. But, before Ms. Bloomberg could begin her redress, he offered her one of the last cookies and said, “Would you allow me and my sister to buy you dinner so I can explain?”
Charlotte took a small bite of the cookie and stared at her pseudo-fiancé. “These are really good cookies.”
“I’m glad you like them.”
“They’re like the best I’ve ever had.”
Elliott felt his chest puff out a little. “I try my best.”
“You made them?”
“They’re my recipe. I don’t do a lot of the baking myself anymore. I have a staff of bakers.”
Did she sound disappointed? “But, for you,” he said, almost with an urgency, “I’d bake your favorite cookie everyday with my own two hands.”
Kelly grunted, stifling a laugh.
Ms. Bloomberg’s slight smile eased the tension somewhat and a quick glance at Kelly kept his discomfort choked back. She needed an explanation, too.
“So, dinner?” he asked.