Book in the Collection: One October Night
Tell us about your characters in this story:
Jacob Mosby is no hero. He’s a hardworking, hard-playing man determined to make his small-town contracting business a success. He’s also been bewitched by a one-night stand he had a year ago with Clara Wakefield. Although she left his bed without saying goodbye, and has barely spoken to him since, he’s decided to make her his wife before she runs away again. Unfortunately, for his plan to work, he must convince Clara to run the town’s annual Haunted House Charity Event…in his family’s abandoned Victorian mansion.
Clara Wakefield, a widow, mother, and successful event planner is filled with regrets. She married the wrong man and, after his death, slept with the right man. The right man who has other women on the side. Terrified of suffering another broken heart, and desperate to protect her teenage daughter from making the same mistakes, Clara takes one last job in her tiny town of Kingsmill, VA before moving to a large city. If her Halloween Haunted House succeeds, she’ll secure her future.
Yet, when the Headless Horseman skit breaks down, the vampires are caught vaping in the woods, and the Pumpkin King is accused of sabotage, Clara must rely on Jacob to make her event a success. Even if it means losing her heart to the man she’s always loved… again.
What made you decide to join this set? I fell in love with the cover. Then, after I discovered it wasn’t a Halloween paranormal set, but a collection of fall-themed contemporary romance stories, I decided to join. I’d already started a new contemporary romance series, and my Halloween-based story of Clara Wakefield and Jacob Mosby became the first in my new Kingsmill Courtships series.
What is your favorite thing about Halloween? I have always loved Halloween because I love that, for one night, we can all pretend to be something else without judgment or complaint.
What can readers expect from this collection? This contemporary romance collection follows our heroines as they struggle with major life choices, broken hearts, and second chances during my favorite month of October. Think naughty costumes, deliciously devious “snacks,” and spooky twists. And, of course, sexy heroes and HEAs! This collection includes a mix or suspense, comedy, and sweet/steamy romance, all without a smidge of magic. If you’re ready for an anthology that will keep you up all night, and delivers all the tricks-and-treats your pumpkin-spice loving heart craves, open the door on the first knock. We promise you that Mister October will give you the best Halloween you’ve ever had.
Excerpt: (From the first chapter)
Clara popped the rest of her muffin into her mouth and put on her coat and scarf. “Georgie can only use the excuse of her broken arm so many times before school marks her tardy.”
“Don't be so hard on the girl,” Nana Ruthie said. “She's had a rough time.”
“Riding an ATV in the mountains, during a rainstorm, with a boy she barely knows”—a boy Clara disapproved of—“and breaking her arm as they rolled over a cliff does not constitute a rough time. It's a consequence of poor judgment.” A consequence Clara hoped Georgie had learned from.
“Luckily for Georgie,” Uncle Harry said, “Jacob Mosby found her and took her to the ER in Milltown.”
“That was awfully nice of Jacob,” Nana Ruthie said in an overly sweet voice. “Clara, I hope you thanked him.”
“I was very appreciative.” Clara slipped her handbag over her shoulder, grabbed Georgie's drink and muffin, and headed for the door.
She didn't want to talk anymore about the very handsome, very sexy Jacob Mosby, Kingsmill’s most eligible bachelor.
“Maybe you could plan Jacob’s wedding.” Louise's comment reeked of condescension. “Jacob and Paula Burkett have gotten close lately.”
“Good for Jacob.” Clara opened the door just as Georgie entered the café.
Today her daughter wore ripped jeans, a black T-shirt, and her gray Kingsmill hoodie with the right sleeve cut off at the elbow, exposing the white cast covered in signatures. She'd slung her backpack over her left shoulder and had tied her long black hair into a high ponytail.
“Here.” Clara handed her daughter the cup and bagged muffin. “You're late.”
Georgie, in typical teenage form, shrugged. “Thanks, Uncle Harry.”
Harry waved. “You're welcome. Come see me after school, and I'll have hot chocolate.”
“I will!” Georgie smiled at Harry, nodded at Nana Ruthie and her friends, and left the café without a single word for Clara.
Clara followed her daughter out and stopped her on the sidewalk, in between the café and The Ren, where at least six motorcycles were already lined up out front. With so many closed stores, the street was almost empty. She hated admitting she missed the annoying tourists seeking apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and fall-colored leaves. As every day of autumn progressed, the town felt eerier and eerier. Almost like a ghost town.
The west wind blew, and Clara wrapped her arms around herself. The black cat, still sitting on the bench, stared at her. “Georgie, what's wrong?”
Georgie gave an exaggerated sigh. “When are we leaving this place?”
“As soon as I get a job and a new home, hopefully by the end of October. You know this.”
Georgie gave the sigh of the truly put-upon teenager and adjusted her backpack on her shoulder. “I'm counting the seconds until I get out of this tiny town with its teeny school.”
“The school isn't so small,” Clara said. “There are at least three hundred kids enrolled. That's more than when I graduated.”
“Mom,” Georgie moaned. “It’s K through twelve. A school with three hundred kids across thirteen grades isn't small. It’s so miniscule it doesn't even register on satellite maps.”
Clara tilted her head. “What's really going on?”
Georgie shrugged. “Nothing. Just drop it. Please.”
Clara wondered if Georgie was tired of living in a small space with only a portion of her things. After Peter’s death, Clara had sold their big historic house, banked the equity for a future home, stored most of their belongings, and moved into the apartment above Harry’s coffee shop.
It’d been a desperate change, but Clara couldn’t face staying in the home she’d shared with her cheating husband. While the upheaval had been necessary in order for Clara to survive the emotional fallout after the accident and discovering Peter’s many affairs, it may have been harder on Georgie than Clara realized.
The school had offered Georgie counseling, but she’d only met with the grief counselor a few times. Clara hadn’t argued with Georgie about dropping the sessions because they seemed to make her sadder. But maybe it was time to talk to the counselor again.
“All right.” Clara touched her daughter's cheek.
Georgie backed away. “Too much love, Mom.”
Clara lowered her arm. “I'm trying my hardest to get us away from all the hard memories and—”
“Not all the memories are bad.” And just like that, Georgie appeared to change her mind about the town she disparaged daily. “I wish my dad hadn’t died. And I hate that you never laugh anymore.”
Gusts of cold air whipped up dead leaves, and Clara focused on the white church, built before the Revolutionary War, at the south end of Main Street. Some days having a truth-telling teenager was harder than others. “I wish that too.”
“No, you don't. You're glad he's dead because he was screwing that girl from his office.”
Unfortunately, in such a small town, it'd been impossible to shield Georgie from the scandal that had spread after the accident. “That doesn't mean I wanted your father dead.”
“If that's the case, why did you sleep with Jacob Mosby only a few months after Dad's accident? On your birthday? After the Haunted House Tour last year?”
Clara took a step back and inhaled deeply. That night with Jacob had been the most desperate, passionate, and painful mistake she'd ever made. “How—”
“Small towns talk, Mom.” The church bells rang nine a.m., and Georgie said, “Shit. I'm late.”
“Don't cuss.” Clara's scarf felt too tight around her neck, and her voice sounded hoarse. “We need to talk. What happened between me and Jacob meant nothing.”
“Gotta go.” Georgie kissed Clara’s cheek and whispered, “I'm sorry.”
Before Clara could respond to Georgie's mood swing, her daughter ran in the school’s direction, near the church.
The black cat hissed as a black Labrador retriever appeared next to Clara.
Oh no. Clara turned and bumped into the couple behind her.
“Whoa.” A tall, handsome man grabbed Clara's arm so she wouldn't stumble. He released her almost immediately, but his dog jumped all over her.
“Hey, A.W.” She bent down to rub Anthony Wayne—named after the Revolutionary War general who’d spent one night in Kingsmill in 1779—and tried to hide the hot flush that rose from her neck to her cheeks. Jacob Mosby stood in front of her. And from the way his gaze narrowed, he'd heard her say their night together had been meaningless.
Something she wanted him to believe but knew, deep in her heart, wasn't even close to the truth.
Author Bio: Sharon, a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris, is now a bestselling author of romantic suspense and small town contemporary romance novels filled with suspense, adventure, and love.
Her Deadly Force romantic suspense series is set in a world with scary assassins who bow before killing, sexy Green Berets seeking redemption, and smart, sassy heroines who save them all. It’s also a world where, since Sharon is slow and clumsy, her chances of making it out alive would be slim.
She’s repped by Deidre Knight and Kristy Hunter of The Knight Agency.
Join Sharon on her website, where she blogs often, here: www.sharonwray.com