- The Con Man's Daughter
When Anna Holcomb returns to her hometown in Redbird Creek, Texas she has a secret. She’s not the spoiled little rich girl she once was. She’s broke, looking for a job, and trying to start a new life. Caleb Armstrong thinks he knows her type from the years he spent with her in high school, but everything about Anna has changed, except for one little secret she dares not tell. Take a gamble on this wholesome romance and discover who’s really being conned.
“Excuthe me,” Gladys sniffled, her s coming out as a th sound. “Is my interview next?”
“Oh, yes. Gladys.” Alan addressed Gladys as if an afterthought. Something most people did with her. “I’ve just hired Miss Holman as our new event planner. If you’re still interested in a job, we can use you as Miss Holman’s assistant. A failsafe for the club until I get her references validated. Although you were a cordial cashier, checking people out in the grocery isn’t even close to event planning.”
Gladys gazed at him, then, like watching a tennis match, she looked at Anna then switched to Caleb. She bobbed her eyebrows up and smiled, only to change gears as she stifled an unexpected sneeze. From behind a tissue she muttered, “I’ll take it.”
Alan’s lip curled as Gladys blew a honk loud enough to quiet the lobby for a second. “Wise girl. We’re walking to the office you’ll share with Anna. Come along.”READ MORE
Caleb fell in step with Anna as she limped along and placed a hand under her elbow to help steady her uneven walk. Anna was thankful for the help, if not a little unnerved by his closeness.
Gladys took up the cause on the other side. “I had a pair of Walmart shoes break. Sometimes cheap is too cheap.”
“You think?” At first, she wanted to snarl, the response she previously gave Gladys in the old days, but somehow she didn’t. She hadn’t meant to sound so mean, but somehow, this place brought the mean girl out in her. She needed to remind herself she wasn’t that girl anymore. She quickly backtracked. “Sorry.”
“No problem,” Gladys snorted. “Having your shoe break in a job interview is pretty tough sledding. I’m pretty graceful, so it’s never happened to me, but you know what I mean.”
Anna eyed Caleb, who was quietly listening. From his amused look, Anna guessed he appreciated Gladys’s view on the world.
“I’m surprised you work here as a…” Anna struggled for words. He was basically a laborer. Blue collar. One of those men in the kitchen she ignored every day she’d been at this club.
Caleb’s grin spread slowly. “Kitchen help? Yeah. I guess I never amounted to much.”
“I’m sure you tried.” The words shot out before she had the chance to take them back. She was like an alcoholic visiting a favorite bar. It would be hard not to drink or, in her case, let her mean girl flag fly. “What I mean is, there’s no shame in hard work. I’m sure you do a splendid job.”
“Thank you, your highness,” Caleb whispered under his breath. His change in demeanor demonstrated he didn’t appreciate her evaluation of him or his life.
After a trip down a dark hallway Anna didn’t know existed, they came to a plain white door next to the ladies’ room. It looked more like a supply closet than an office. Her new boss opened the door and flipped on the light.
“Here we are.” Alan pointed to a desk in a corner sharing space with boxes of tennis balls and several tall flags with the words Redbird Creek Country Club printed on them. He pointed to a lone tan metal filing cabinet. “You’ll find files on other events in there going all the way back to the sixties.” There was a mixture of relief and gratefulness on Alan’s face. It was obvious he intended to dump his biggest problem on Anna and move on. “I’ll leave you to it.”
Once Alan was down the hall, Anna kicked off her shoes and set her purse and portfolio down. She attempted to lift a box of copy paper off the desk, but Caleb was suddenly behind her.
“Let me.” He stepped in and lifted it for her. Gladys cleared a counter next to the copy machine.
Caleb set the box on the floor and, crossing his arms, glanced back at Anna. “Welcome to the staff.”
“Kind of a surprise hiring, but I’ll take it.” Anna took a breath. This was all happening so fast.
“Shoo.” Gladys drew a hand across her forehead as if she’d just finished a grueling 5k. “Me either. I guess Alan has a good eye for talent. Strike while the iron is hot. All that stuff.”
Caleb leaned against the counter, also known as Gladys’s new desk. There was a note of curiosity in his voice. “So, Anna Holman, what brings you back here? I thought you were off in New York making it big. Living the high life.”
Anna sat down, the chair squeaking loud enough to rouse a sleeping bear. “Not quite living the high life. I don’t know. Maybe I got homesick.”
Gladys, as though wanting to copy everything Anna did, pulled out a folding chair and pushed it under the copy machine counter. Her chair didn’t squeak, but there was a peculiar air-passing sound as her bottom settled into the seat cushion.
Once the hissing stopped, Gladys looked at Anna. “I thought you were a part of the idle rich. You know, people who only work because you’re bored.”
There it was. How long was it going to take for the people in this town to not picture her as someone who took afternoon swims in her money vault? Should she come clean or try to focus them on the new Anna? She settled on the latter. “Well, there’s only so much idleness one can take before it turns into boredom. I did a lot of event planning for my father and it naturally turned into a career.”COLLAPSE
The Con Man's Daughter is NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER! Book launch day is October 8, 2021.