🍑🍑 COMING MARCH
15 FROM JULIETTE POE 🍑🍑
Juliette Poe (Sawyer Bennett’s sweet
and sassy alter ego) is taking us back down to Whynot, NC with the release of
PRETTY AS A PEACH! Keep reading for a sneak peek into this charming and fun
enemies-to-lovers story, releasing March 15!
#preorder Pretty as a Peach (Sex &
Sweet Tea, Book #4):
I’m back at Farrington Farms. It’s a different day, slightly
I pull my truck up right in front of Darby’s house. I hadn’t
expected to be back here this Sunday morning, but after I hung up the phone
with Darby not too long ago, I decided to take matters into my own hands. This
morning when Darby called to regretfully inform me that she and Linnie could
not attend Sunday dinner with my family, it hit me like a wrecking ball that my
interest in Darby extends far beyond just mere intrigue into this fascinating
woman. I now fully admit I’ve come to like her.
I’ve never used the word “hate” in my life to describe my feelings
for someone, but before I ever met Darby, I intensely disliked her. It’s not
lost on me that within just a matter of moments of meeting and talking to her,
my entire perception changed. Darby really let herself get into trouble with me
when she made the bold move to pull her application for the expansion grant
from consideration. Yes, Darby is one of the most beautiful women I have ever
known, but she became infinitely more attractive when I realized she has a
heart of gold.
So here I am at her house, unbidden and possibly unwelcome, to
make it known I have an interest in her. And if I’m interested in her, it means
I have to be interested in Linnie.
After I hung up the phone with Darby, I had a new person I
Her husband, Mitch.
“I’m really sorry, Colt,” Darby had explained on the phone not but
half an hour ago. “But we’re not going to be able to come to supper today.”
“Why?” I asked quite simply.
She had no hesitation in admitting, “It’s Linnie. She’s just… in a
mood, I guess. She’s flat-out refusing to go. While I could certainly force her
and drag her to your house, it would not be a pleasant experience for any of
“What’s the reason for the mood?” I could sense by the tone of her
voice that something had happened to put Linnie in her funk.
Darby didn’t answer right away. I could read into her pause she
was trying to figure out whether she should share a burden with me. So I urged
her. “Talk to me, Darby. What’s going on?”
There was no hesitation after that. She let it all come out in a
rushing confession of frustration. “Her father called her this morning. I could
only hear her end of the conversation, but it was clear he was in full-out
attack mode on me. I could tell that whatever he was saying on his end, he was
trying to manipulate Linnie into putting pressure on me to come back to
I didn’t push her for the details. I can imagine some of the
things a parent might say to an impressionable seven-year-old to turn them
against the other parent. While I don’t have any firsthand experience with such
things, I’ve had plenty of friends and acquaintances over the years who have
gone through bitter divorces and custody struggles. I’m aware there are some
people in the world who will use their kid as a weapon.
Yeah, I don’t like this Mitch dude.
I assured Darby there would be other Sunday dinners they could
come to. I put her mind at ease by saying I completely understood what she was
going through, even though I don’t. The only thing I did understand is I had
made a new friend in Darby McCulhane. I thought she was a good woman. She’s
struggling right now to get situated into a new home and is very far away from
everything that provided her security.
She helped me out and by extension helped my family out when she
gave up the expansion grant.
I’m going to return the favor.
I turn my truck off and hop out with determination. After jogging
up the creaky porch steps, I give three solid raps with my knuckles on the wood
casing of the screen door. Within moments, Darby’s opening it and blinking at
me in surprise.
“Good morning,” I say cheerily.
Darby pushes open the screen door wider and steps back in silent
invitation. As I brush past her, she asks, “What are you doing here?”
“I’ve come to kidnap your daughter,” I tell her.
I did not expect this to alarm Darby, so it was not surprising to
see the corners of her mouth tip upward. “Kidnap my daughter? I just want to
make sure I heard that correctly.”
I grin and nod. “Cross my heart I won’t corrupt her or anything.”
Darby stares at me for a few moments and while she’s clearly
amused, I can see a little bit of distance in her eyes—not because she doesn’t
trust me, but because she doesn’t want to place her burdens on my doorstep.
I give her a reassuring smile. “I’m going to take her horseback
riding. You told me the other day when you came over to have lunch that she had
a horse and it was one of the things she really missed.”
It’s not hard to figure out that the rapid blinking of Darby’s
eyes means she’s trying to dispel some wet emotion my offer has caused. The
last thing I want to do is make a lady cry, so I also add on with a wink, “And
that way, you can have a few hours of relaxation all to yourself. Maybe go get
your nails done or your hair fixed up all pretty or something. Not that it
isn’t pretty as is, but you know… spend some time on Darby.”
She just stares at me in disbelief. That lasts for only about
three seconds before she snaps her head to the right and yells up the stairs,
“Linnie. Get down here.”
The footsteps overhead are far too heavy to belong to a
seven-year-old. The way she’s stomping through the house above us indicates she
is not a happy kid. She comes down the staircase with her shoulders hunched
forward. When she reaches the bottom landing, she glares at her mom and says,
It’s not quite belligerent, but it is rude.
As I was raised by a Marine Corps drill instructor father with no
patience for smart talk and a strong, southern woman who insists on manners, a
crappy attitude has never been something tolerated in our family. I want to
tell Linnie to have some respect for her mother, but that would put us off on
the wrong foot.
To my surprise, Darby makes it known she doesn’t find her
daughter’s attitude acceptable. She narrows her eyes slightly, and says in an
even but firm voice, “Remember what we said? You need to check your attitude at
your bedroom door. I don’t care if you want to stay up there and sulk but when
you’re in my presence, I expect you to be pleasant.”
Linnie doesn’t respond, but her cheeks turn pink.
Darby glances to me and inclines her head my way before telling
Linnie, “Colt is here to take you horseback riding if you would like to go.”
There’s no doubt in my mind I made the right decision in coming
here when Linnie’s entire face lights up with joy. Her head snaps my way so
fast her glasses slide down to the end of her nose. She just pushes them right
back up as she asks, “Really?”
I nod. “I’ve got a good buddy who has a few horses, and he’s got
two ready for you and me to saddle up for some trail riding.”
It’s also made clear to me that despite Linnie’s sullen attitude
toward her mom, she was actually raised with good manners. She immediately
turns to Darby. In a very sweet yet imploring voice, she asks, “Can I go, Mom?
Darby doesn’t hesitate or make her daughter suffer. She just
smiles at her and gestures toward the staircase. “Go get changed into some
Linnie doesn’t need to be told twice. She goes flying up the