Excerpt from NOBODY’S FOOL:
Two hours later, she and Court were facing each other across a Formica tabletop in a cozy booth at Mel’s Diner.
“So Adam Stadler’s gay,” she said, as she looked over Mel’s menu. Nothing on it had changed in ten years, except the prices.
“It would appear so.”
She glanced up in time to see a sexy smile tug at the corners of Court’s mouth. She abandoned all pretense of disinterest in her former schoolmates.
“He was holding hands with his—his—”
“I know it’s not a big deal in San Francisco, but it’s a pretty bold move for anyone inside the Oak Ridge city limits.”
“True. Small Midwestern towns tend to come with their own rigid value systems, and a certain amount of intolerance.”
“Did you know?”
“Before tonight?” Court nodded.
“I knew in high school.”
“Adam and I were friends. He was struggling with it. He needed someone to talk to.”
“You never said a word.”
Court frowned at her. Jolie sensed she’d just insulted him. Or Adam. Maybe both.
“I can’t believe Rob Walters showed up. He was practically bragging about being in prison for drug trafficking.”
“Surely that didn’t shock you. You know what he was like.”
“He was a hood, that’s what I remember. Dumped Doreen Phillips after she got pregnant. He was always trouble.”
“Doreen survived, though,” Court said as he closed his menu. “She moved to Chicago and met someone. I hear they own several hair salons.”
Jolie closed her menu and looked at Court. “How do you know so much about everyone?”
Court shrugged. “I keep in touch. Oak Ridge isn’t that big a place. Most everyone’s parents still live here. It’s not that hard to find out what’s going on if you’re interested.”
Jolie’s gaze slid away. She hadn’t been interested, hadn’t cared. All she’d ever wanted to do was get away from Oak Ridge, away from the knowing eyes and too-big ears.
Now she saw not only the things she’d never had, but what she’d left behind. The sense of connection with her past, a history with the one person who knew her well. Court.
She hadn’t had the confidence to stand up for what she wanted then. She’d been too busy hiding her insecurity and manufactured fears beneath a false front. She’d buried herself so thoroughly for so long she’d had to dig deep these past couple of years to track down the real Jolie Kramer.
She was reminded of the old television game show To Tell The Truth. As a child she’d loved trying to guess which contestant was telling the truth and which were fabricating an identity.
She gazed at Court as the waitress approached to take their order. The locket dangled on its chain warming her heart.
Will the real Jolie Kramer please stand up?—she asked herself now.
She will, Jolie replied. If I can find her.
The romantic comedy Nobody’s Fool is available from Samhain Publishing
More sneak peeks coming soon.