Hadley Foster has always been a planner. But, since the age of nineteen, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan… not at all. And the changes continue to mount when a trip to Europe with her best friend starts a domino effect in all aspects of her life. Suddenly, the future she had envisioned for herself seems unlikely to happen. It’s time to make a new plan… or accept the dominoes as they fall.
Jason Kelly has a great life. He’s a successful self-published writer who’s living his dreams. But, something is missing. Hadley Foster. Letting her slip through his fingers is one of his biggest regrets. Over time, he had to accept the idea of being without his first love as he watched her fall in love with someone else.
When circumstances bring Jason and Hadley back into one another’s lives, they’re forced to deal with their past, their present and the possibility of a future together.
**Note from the author: You do not need to read either Bouquet Toss or Champagne Toast to follow this story. It is a stand-alone book that connects to Champagne Toast. **
Melissa Brown is a hopeless romantic living in the Chicagoland area with her husband and their two children. Aside from writing, she enjoys reading and baking. She also has a slight obsession with actor Henry Cavill and the TV show New Girl. This is her third novel.
Madeline Kramer was a royal pain in my ass. No one else’s. Just mine.
She wouldn’t cooperate. She wouldn’t do the things I wanted her to do or say the things I wanted her to say. And she was driving me insane. She was a product of my imagination, and yet, I couldn’t control her.
I’d been stuck on Chapter 18 of this book for two weeks and it was driving me nuts. Madeline had been the one character I could count on with my writing. The one character who led the way and spoke to me, the one who guided my books towards a suspenseful plot and a satisfying ending. She was the one who made people want to read my work. In the three books I’d written, she’d never let me down.
It was the “Book Four Curse” my buddy and fellow writer, Cameron warned me about. I allowed him to psych me out. That little shit.
I’d been staring at my Mac screen for what felt like an hour, ever since saying goodbye to Hadley and her Sunnyside clients. The blinking cursor taunted me from the empty page. Glancing at my watch, I was shocked to see that only a few minutes had passed. Damn.
Maybe I needed to stretch my legs. Just as I was standing up, my cell rang. Usually I put it on vibrate when I work. Must have forgotten this morning.
It was my sister, Auden. Expert timing, as usual.
“Hey, sis,” I answered.
“Afternoon, how are ya?” I could tell she was smiling through the phone. The ever-so-chipper Auden. She could be a tour guide with her constant sunny, yet difficult, personality. Although sometimes, I had to admit, we were actually a lot alike.
Stretching my neck, I replied, “You know…better than some, not as good as others.”
“You always say that. How’s the writing?”
“Madeline won’t cooperate,” I huffed.
“She’s such a pain in the ass.” She laughed.
“Tell me about it. How are you today?”
I had to wonder if she’d spoken to Haddie. I couldn’t imagine Haddie called her after our chance meeting, but you never know.
“It’s a slow day. I met with a few doctors this morning, but none of them were really biting.”
Auden had just started her job in pharmaceutical sales and it was pretty cutthroat. With her personality, I knew she could pull it off. But, she didn’t seem that into it.
“Oh well, that’s life. And you? Just writing all day?”
“Actually, I just saw Hadley. She was here with some of her clients.”
“Seriously? Oh, yeah, it’s field trip day. Cool.”
“Yeah, it was good to see her.” I replied, trying to brush off my lingering thoughts of the gorgeous blond who still smelled like strawberries.
“I know you’ve always had a soft spot for Haddie,” she said. I could hear her smirking through the phone as she enunciated the nickname. Brat.
“She’s a nice girl,” I said, a little too defensively.
“Woman,” my sister corrected me. My brain knew that Hadley was grown up. But, to me she would always be my little sister’s best friend who had a pretty obvious crush on me.
She was the eight-year-old who used to blush when I entered the room. I didn’t notice, being only eleven myself, but my older sister, Maya always did. Hadley was the thirteen-year-old who made me mix tapes with her parents’ old stereo unit when I bought my first car. At first, I was bummed that I couldn’t afford to replace the old cassette unit with a CD player, but I listened to those tapes every single day. When my dad offered to install a CD player for my birthday that year, I turned him down. That was my only tape player and I couldn’t stop listening to her tapes. “Soft spot” didn’t even begin to tell the story of my feelings for Hadley. She always got under my skin in a way that I never really understood as a teenager. Now, I got it. But, I still had no idea what to do about it. She had a boyfriend, and from what Auden told me, they were pretty serious.
In many ways, I’d been waiting six years for that relationship to end. But, it still hadn’t. I wasn’t really waiting around for Hadley. I dated. I dated a lot, actually. And I’d had a few serious girlfriends. But, for some reason, things always came back to Hadley…my Haddie.
“Yes, woman,” I said, rolling my eyes and shaking my head at my sister as if she could actually see me through my cell.
“Whatever, Jase. Listen, I’ll let you get back to Madeline. Will I see you this weekend at Mom and Dad’s?”
“Yep, Sunday dinner. Wouldn’t miss it.”
“See you then,” she said before hanging up her phone. I pressed End on my phone and opened my awaiting laptop.
Damn you, Auden. For making me ponder things that I really didn’t want to think about. Things I’ve been happy to keep tucked away in my brain.
Somehow, two cappuccinos later, I was able to finish chapter 18. Glancing at my watch, I realized I needed to head into the city for dinner with my friends. I’d have to continue writing later.
I was kind of pissed at myself, though. I had to retype the name Madeline several times as my brain replaced it with Haddie. Why did I torture myself like that? She’d been with Tucker for six years and a chance encounter in a coffee shop wasn’t going to change that. I needed to get a grip.