Stepping up to Love
By Katie O'Boyle
Date Published: 8/7/2013
Soul Mate Publishing, Inc., NY
A lakeside porch in the Finger Lakes is the perfect spot for a quiet moment or a heart-to-heart with your special someone. Joel and Manda’s first heart-to-heart on the breakfast porch at the Manse Inn and Spa is anything but romantic. Joel the owner of the Manse is furious with his junior accountant for using one of the spa showers. If Manda didn’t have a desperate story and a spectacular body, Joel might not be feeding her breakfast and falling in love. Can Manda get sober, clean up her act, and open her heart to her rich, hunky boss?
Halfway through the shampoo, she heard him tap on the frosted glass door and slip some clothes onto the hook in the dressing area. “I owe you, Remy,” she said over the noise of the shower.
“Shhh!” he commanded. “I know nothing!” he declared and hummed his way back through the locker room.
The bubble of laughter that rose in Manda turned into a flood of tears. She let them flow and mix with the hundred-degree simulated rainwater pouring from the ceiling.
Finally warm, and thoroughly clean, shampooed, conditioned, citrus-scented, and far less achy than she’d been, Manda turned off the water and drew back the linen curtain dividing the shower stall from the dressing area, and screamed. Standing at the glass door was the big boss. Remy’s boss. Her boss's boss. She wasn’t sure, but Joel Cushman was probably everybody’s boss.
“Geez, Joel, I thought you were a pervert!” she yelled at him. I can’t believe I just called Mr. Cushman “Joel.” I am in so much trouble here.
“Manda? What—?” His voice cracked like an adolescent.
Manda stifled a laugh. His eyes were drinking in her body as though he couldn’t believe what she’d been hiding under her baggy clothes. Drink your fill now, Joel, because I am off men for life.
“I thought you were a criminal. What are you doing in the shower at seven fifteen in the morning? And stop batting that curtain around.”
Manda tried desperately to grab hold of the linen shower curtain, flapping this way and that in the current created by the open door. “Do you mind?” she scolded him.
Giving up on the curtain, she crossed her arms and turned her back on him. He probably likes that view, too. “Could you hand me a towel, please, or get out of here?” Why am I yelling at the boss? Seriously dumb, Manda.
He was silent now, which was worse. What is he doing, standing there, looking at me? Panic overtook anger, and she turned back to look at him.
He had dropped the admiring once-over, and she saw he was taking a second look at her purpling bruises. Silently, he handed her a towel from the top of the stack and looked her in the eye.
Manda wondered if he could read the shame and fear clouding her vision.
Joel cleared his throat and ordered, “In my office. Five minutes. Dressed.” His jaw was hard as he turned on his heel.
Once upon a time, Katie O’Boyle was a stellar student and closet substance abuser at a picture-perfect small college. She credits loving friends, 12-step spirituality, and plenty of hard work for her transformation into tech-savvy college professor and passionate author of warm-hearted romance. Fall in love with her characters on the lakeside porches of the beautiful Finger Lakes in upstate New York. Lakeside Porches, Book One: Stepping Up To Love (Joel and Manda’s story); Book Two: Coming Home to Love (Justin and Gianessa’s story).