“Well?” Gretchen said, perching on the edge of her chair and leaning toward me. “Well?”
“Well, what?” I smirked behind my glass of cold, sweet wine.
“Don’t play dumb with me, Elly. What did you think of Seth? Did you have a good time the other night? Isn’t he a hunk?”
I shrugged. “He’s okay.” To tell the truth, he was better than okay. Since Gretchen had a way of overselling things she favored, my hopes for the blind date hadn’t been high. Fortunately, he’d greatly exceeded my expectations.
A gust of wind caught my fine, light brown hair and swept it over my face. I straightened it out with my fingers as best I could.
Gretchen snorted inelegantly. “He’s certainly hotter than Dex. And nice. You can see that, right?”
She settled back in her Adirondack chair next to mine. I welcomed the side-by-side arrangement of the chairs because it suited my wish to avoid continuous eye contact with my very perceptive friend. Now, even more so since she’d brought up Dex.
We sat facing the lake on the deck of her parents’ second home, ten miles north of Brainerd, Minnesota. The comfortable dwelling was nestled in the middle of a forest with leaves in full autumn color. Pine in all shapes and sizes provided a lovely contrast. The air had that crisp, clean, fall smell that heightened all the senses.
I glanced at her, surprised by her intensity. “We’ve only had one date.” I paused. “It’s a little soon to start ordering wedding invitations.” I tried to make my voice light and teasing but I suspected she was having none of it.
“If he doesn’t help you get over Dex, I don’t know what will.” She brushed a hank of auburn hair behind one ear.
“What’s the rush? I’ve heard you say you should take your time after a breakup. Rebound relationships never last. Remember?"
“Rebound, hell." She half-choked on a swallow of wine. "Rebound is when you date someone within the first few months. How long has Dex been gone, anyway? A year?”
“No, not that long.” I paused, pretending to think. As if I didn’t know the exact number of months, days and hours since I’d last seen him. “Hmm. More like five or six months, I think. In the spring.” I sipped and the ice-cold wine hit my tongue with a hint of bubbles.
“Oh, yeah, that’s right. He stuck around to stiff you on a Christmas present. A little longer and he could have stiffed you on another birthday gift, too.”
I felt the stinging of tears but steeled myself. “Wow. You are my friend, right?”
“You know I am,” she said. That was Gretchen, no nonsense, on a mission and not about to sugar-coat anything. Taking a deep breath, she continued. “When boyfriends dump us, we’re supposed to be able to turn to our best friends.”
“Who said he dumped me?” The words popped out of my mouth unexpectedly. Damn. Shut up.
“Oh, sorry. I just assumed…” She leaned forward and set her glass on the floor beside her chair. Instead of leaning back, she twisted to look full in my face and squinted her steely-blue eyes to slits. “If he didn’t, why’re you so crushed?”
My brain raced as I fought rising panic. I thought I’d conditioned myself to stifle those spontaneous remarks. Well, so what if she believed that? What difference did it make? None. Right?
She continued to stare. I’d never kept anything from her and it was driving her crazy because I wasn’t sharing every gory, intimate detail of how our relationship had ended.
Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and just as many love stories. Love in the Land of Lakes brings you seventeen of these stories, from two childhood sweethearts connecting on the end of a dock on a warm summer's evening, to a city boy's chaotic weekend at his girlfriend's primitive cabin. We bring you the story of a savvy horse who leads her owner to love in post–Civil War farm country, and the haunting romance of an ageless gambler who inhabits a historic riverboat and charms the boat's new owner.
A kaleidoscope of sunshine, snowstorms, and thunderstorms grace our contemporary, mystery, historical, and paranormal stories as the authors of Midwest Fiction Writers spin lovely romances that will send you drifting into happily ever afters.
Click here to see where the authors are stopping to blog and chat with you the reader.
Bobbers 'N Bait - The evocative marketing gimmick at the new bait store in town has the fishing outfitter all hot and bothered.
A Cut Above the Rest - Rachel knew that a simple haircut had the power to change someone’s life. What she wasn’t counting on though, was how it would change hers.
Lira & Gavril - A dilapidated riverboat brings together a passionate historic preservationist and a man who called it home during the Victorian era.
Lake Dreams - Olivia had her life all planned out. All except for that one impulsive night with her childhood crush. Can he convince her the result is worth the risk?
Hook, Line and Stinker - An LA makeover artist comes home to Minnesota and must use all her skills to tame a wild man.
Snowbound - Caught in a snowstorm, the last person she expects to need her help is the man she loved but lost to someone else.
Rose Marie Meuwissen
Dancing in the Moonlight - Anna Thorstad never imagined reopening her parents' lake cabin would also open her heart to love again.
Hooked - An avid outdoorswoman takes her city born and raised boyfriend for a chaotic weekend at her family's primitive cabin on the lake.
Henrietta's Man - A savvy horse carries her Civil War-torn soldier north in search of healing and a future.
Coming Home - A young widow’s faith and courage are tested when she falls in love with her husband’s best friend.
Her Stranger - Each night a stranger comes to Rachel’s cabin door. What is it that makes her fall into his arms?
Lake Secrets - A weekend getaway at the scene of the crime has Elly struggling to keep a secret from her best friend.
Unwrapped - Movie star Sloan Leighton sells love; she doesn’t believe in it. Then one frozen midnight on the shores of Lake Superior, everything changes.
The Bouncing Bobber - Will a budding romance, sidetracked by youth and ambition, be what it takes to lure Jacob and Nate back into love’s net?
What's Up Dock? - Sophie’s handsome new neighbor is burying body bags in his garden. But he’s afraid of raccoons—how could he be a killer?
Wind from the Lake - Wishing on a star? Alien contact? When childhood friends Connie and Hank meet again, they don't need to believe in anything but each other.
Roadside Catch - She swore off relationships with doctors, until one finds her injured on the roadside and has her rethinking the possibilities.