This is my favorite time of year. I love the scent in the air, the cooler days and nights and many colors. Here in the Pacific Northwest the leaves turn shades of red, orange and yellow.
As part of my fall tradition, I have exciting news to share with you today. My annual Christmas book releases October 2nd. This year’s book is number three in my Melodies of Love series.
Here’s a sneak peak inside A Waltz for Amber.
“Good afternoon, Amber,” Gabby said. “Long time no see.” The thirty-something brunette beamed a smile that reached her brown eyes.
Amber offered a grin she hoped hid the fact expensive coffee didn’t often fit into her budget, but she liked to treat herself every now and then. “Hi there. Could I get a small coffee?”
“Sure thing.” She turned and pumped coffee into a paper cup. “I don’t think I’ve seen you in here since this past summer when you came in after rehearsals for the musical. How’ve you been?”
“Not bad. How about you?”
“Business has been steady. You look a little down. Is there anything I can do to help?”
Amber widened her eyes. How was it that Gabby could read people so well? “To be honest, I’m disappointed and frustrated.”
Gabby handed her the coffee. “I’m sorry to hear that. I was going to take a break. Let me grab my tea, and we can talk. Venting my frustrations usually makes me feel better.”
She didn’t know Gabby all that well, so the offer surprised her, but the woman had a reputation for being friendly.
“Sure. Talking about it might help.” She took her coffee to a corner as far away from everyone else as she could. Not because she was anti-social, but she didn’t want anyone to hear her complaining.
Gabby sat across from her with an expectant look on her face.
“One of my best students just told me she can’t be in the Christmas recital because her choir teacher won’t let her out of rehearsal for the school’s winter program.” She blinked back tears, surprised at her emotions. “I’m sorry. I know we’re talking about a dance recital, but this is so important to me. I put a lot of time and effort into choreographing a dance to feature her strengths.” No way would she admit her financial difficulties to Gabby.
Gabby sucked in a breath. “That’s too bad. I can understand why you’re disappointed. If I could dance, I’d offer to step in, but I have two left feet.” She made a sad face. “Can’t you work extra with one of the other girls and get her up to the same level?”
Amber shrugged. “I could try, but there’s not that much time.”
Her face lit. “Sure there is. It’s only the end of October. Christmas is two months away.”
“True, but the recital is the second weekend in December.”
“From what I hear, you’re an excellent instructor. I’m sure you could teach that dance to another student.” Her eyes gleamed. “Or better yet, you could do it yourself. Your students would love it.”
Amber bit her bottom lip and tilted her head to the side. “I don’t know. The recital is supposed to showcase the students, not me.”
“But you’re their teacher.”
“I’ll think about it.” The idea sent her pulse into overdrive. She hadn’t performed in a while. Her focus had been on choreography and teaching. She loved to dance, but she’d need to practice a lot to feel comfortable performing again.
The door to the shop opened, and a familiar-looking man entered. She couldn’t place him. Wait, he looked a lot like TJ from high school. What was he doing here? Tension knotted her stomach.
Gabby must have noticed her attention had shifted, because she turned and looked at the man, too. “Oh, that’s Chris. He started coming in here last month. I think he’s new to town.”
“Chris? I thought he was someone else. He could be this other guy’s twin.” Relief washed over her. TJ was not her favorite person, and she’d been happy when he’d left town. “He’s cute.” She’d thought the same of TJ once upon a time.
Gabby chuckled. “I suppose he is, but he’s much too young for me.”
“How old are you?” Amber pursed her lips after the words popped out. She really needed a stronger filter.
Surprise lit Gabby’s eyes. “Let’s just say I graduated about ten years before you.”
“No way. You look much younger than thirty-seven.”
“Thanks.” She stood. “Break’s over, so I need to get back to work. Don’t forget what I said. There’s no reason you can’t do that dance yourself.”
“I won’t forget.” Funny that Gabby was so strict about her break time since she owned the place. Then again, she probably wanted to hold herself to the same standard as her employees.
Amber studied Chris from behind. He’d been in town over a month, and her not seeing him before now was crazy. Then again, Oak Knoll had grown by several hundred people this past year due to the cost of housing in the surrounding areas. Thankfully, her hometown had managed to escape the housing crisis so many others faced. But if too many more people moved here, it would become a problem.
Chris walked to the other end of the counter and picked up his order. Was he a coffee or tea drinker? He suddenly turned and looked directly at her.
She gasped and looked down. Her face heated. He’d caught her staring. She pulled out her phone and pretended to text someone.
She looked up—Chris. “Hi.”
“The owner said I should come over and say hi.”
Amber shot a look toward Gabby. “Really? I wonder why.”
A confused expression settled on his handsome face, and he glanced over his shoulder at Gabby. “So you don’t need to talk to me?”
Amber shook her head. “But as long as you’re here, you’re welcome to join me. Unless you’re waiting for someone?” She’d never been shy, but Gabby’s boldness took things to a new level, to Amber’s way of thinking.
“I’m not.” He hesitated. “You look familiar. I almost feel I know you.”
“I had the same thought when you walked in.”
He pulled out the chair Gabby had vacated and sat. Chris was cuter up close than he had been at a distance. He had a boy-next-door look about him with his dark hair swept to the side of his forehead. “I grew up here, but it’s been several years since I’ve been around. Maybe that’s why we seem familiar to each other.”
She stilled. “You grew up here?”
He nodded then went on to tell her the year he graduated and about his family without giving her a chance to respond. “My dad was really into sports, so I played football and baseball.”
He’d graduated a year ahead of her, and he was a jock. Unease settled in her stomach. “Did you happen to go by the name TJ in high school?”
His face lit. “Yes. T for Tom and J for Junior. I don’t care for my first name, and I didn’t want to go by TJ as an adult. I go by my middle name now. So you remember me? I wish I could place you. How did we know each other?”
Her pulse galloped out of control. TJ Daniels. She took a calming breath, forcing herself to behave like an adult and not a hurt teenage girl.
Here’s the back cover summary.
Their passion for the arts divides them. Can they overcome their differences and find true harmony?
Amber, a struggling dance teacher, is desperate to make a success of her studio. The quickly approaching Christmas recital should help except for one problem—the high school music teacher scheduled the holiday program on the same night, causing a conflict for her students. Will she be able to sustain her business or will she lose everything in the pursuit of her dream?
Chris is thrilled to be back in his hometown. However, his past won’t stay in the past, and the pretty dance instructor is a constant reminder of his failings. He wants to make up for his youthful mistake directed at her, but how?
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak. What is your favorite thing about fall?