I certainly took my time writing my latest chick-lit love story, but things are really moving along now. The edits are all finished, and MOLLY UNPLANNED is set for a release date of August 04, 2020.
So, what’s it about? The short description: hot farmer. The longer version…
Molly Unplanned by Nicki Elson
Molly had a plan. Had being the operative word. When her almost-fiance opts for a surprise Plan B, she’s left with no boyfriend, no money, and nowhere to live. Accepting an offer for freebie rent on a sleepy Wisconsin farm feels like a giant step back from all her ambitions…until a captivating cowboy turns out to be more than just a fun distraction, spinning Molly’s life in a direction utterly (udderly?) unplanned.
If you’re looking for a lighthearted love story with a healthy dose of Chick Lit, this book is for you. The characters in MOLLY UNPLANNED face some tough real-life issues, but the overall tone of the book is playful and upbeat. Told from the first-person perspective of Molly, a twenty-six-year-old elementary school teacher who finds her world turned inside out.
Please note, intimate scenes do NOT fade to black, so this book contains some mild explicit detail.
Chapter 1—Molly Unplanned
Copyright Nicki Elson 2020
Please tell me he’s with you.
My eyebrows pinch together as I stare at the text. By he, Zoe means Glen, my boyfriend—and soon-to-be roomie.
I type back:
He’ll be here any second. He’s picking up the cashier’s check for the closing.
Glen’s twenty minutes late. That’s not like him, especially for something as important as handing over our savings for a down payment on a small house. My savings, technically. Glen’s assets are tied up, but he’ll cash them out and move his half of the money into my account before my first semester of grad school tuition is due. We have it all figured out—a sound, solid plan. I love that about Glen—he’s sound, solid. Dependable…and now twenty-one minutes late.
I glance up at the attorney and closing agent, giving them an awkward smile. It’s just the three of us in this sunny, whitewashed conference room. Ironic that my dreams of owning a cozy home that I’ll drench in color will come to fruition in this starkness. The agent taps her pen on the long, shiny table.
“I’ll try calling again.” I press Glen’s number and listen to his phone ring and ring and ring. “He must be on his way.”
After sharing that hopeful statement, I’m lost for anything else to say. If Glen were here, he’d carry the conversation. He’s more comfortable with strangers than I am. Then again, if he were here, we’d be busy signing papers and there wouldn’t be a need for meaningless chit-chat.
Where in the hell is he? If he’s stuck in traffic or had a last-minute client emergency, how hard would it be to send me a quick text? My pen seesaws up and down, blurring until it looks like a nervous moth caught between my fidgety finger and thumb. When Glen finally gets here, I’m not sure if I’ll use it to sign the papers or jab it straight into his eyeballs. Where is he?
My phone buzzes with a response from Zoe, distracting me from my violent thoughts.
Tell me you’re sitting down.
The smoldering knot in my gut sprouts flames. Why would I need to be sitting? The worst possible scenario jumps into my brain. Two second ago, I’d had—hypothetical—thoughts of—hypothetically—hurting Glen. If something bad has happened to him and those were my last thoughts…
With shaky fingertips, I type back.
Sitting. What’s wrong?
A picture snaps onto my phone along with Zoe’s new message.
This posted ten minutes ago.
The image is a screenshot of Kimmy Clark from a social feed. She’s a teacher Zoe and I work with at Carter Elementary. A whippersnapper straight out of undergrad—only three years younger than me but a decade more immature. Regardless of how I feel about Kimmy, I’m happy to see her rather than a picture of Glen’s intestines splattered across the highway. She’s flipping the bird at the camera with her puffy pink lips scrunched together in an obnoxious pucker. The caption reads, “Later, bitches.”
I’m not in a mood for e-stalking or gossip. I direct my irritation over Glen’s tardiness toward Zoe.
Recognize the shirt?
I haven’t memorized her wardrobe.
I mean the guy’s.
I squint, now noticing a man next to Kimmy, off to the side of the frame and half hidden by her fabulous glossy hair. One of his hands has its fingers splayed, reaching toward the phone that took the picture. His other hand holds a small pillow in front of his face—it looks like one of those little airline pillows. I do, in fact, recognize his green striped polo and type back furiously.
I bought it for him at Kohl’s. Literally 8 gajillion other men have the exact same shirt.
I calm after re-reading my supremely logical words. Except the shirt isn’t the only thing that’s familiar. The guy’s arms are hairy—like Glen’s. But lots of men have hairy arms. Like Glen’s.
Zoe takes longer to reply this time. She’s probably giving me time to absorb. But absorb what? This is absurd. She can’t honestly believe Glen’s on a plane with Kappa Kappa Kimmy when he’s supposed to be here with me…and a cashier’s check…drawn from money I transferred to his account. Finally, Zoe responds.
Has he shown up yet?
The attorney and the closing agent murmur to each other across the table. The attorney is on my side, two chairs away from me. They’re probably discussing the weather, or the Brewers, or the pathetic frizzy-haired girl whose boyfriend has possibly stolen her money and run off with the town trollop. I dial Glen’s number again. No answer.
Despite the blazing sun beaming onto the back of my neck through the wall of windows behind me, a sudden chill makes me shiver. I want to untie my hair and let the dark mess of curls fall to cover my neck, my face, hiding me from my awful thoughts. He’ll be here any second and then I’ll feel ridiculous for having them. Ridiculous would be a welcome replacement for the dread that’s overtaken me.
The closing agent gives me a soft, apologetic smile. “I have another appointment in half an hour. If he doesn’t arrive within the next few minutes, I’m afraid we’ll have to reschedule.”
I nod, trying to shake my nerves into balance. “I’ll try his office. Maybe he got the days mixed up.” I rifle through my wallet to pull out his business card and then dial the main number of the insurance office where he works. I let out a grateful whimper when someone answers on the second ring—it’s good to know there are still living, breathing, phone-answering humans out there. “May I speak with Glen Jansen, please?”
“I’m sorry, Glen Jansen is no longer with this office. Angela Hartstrom is now handling his accounts. I’ll transfer you to her.”
I’d tell her not to bother, but I can’t breathe. My body’s forgotten how. A voice says hello, and I drop the phone to my lap, gulping for air that my throat can’t remember how to swallow.
“Miss Peters?” The lawyer asks. “Are you okay?”
“I’ll get some water.” The closing agent dashes out of the room.
The lawyer moves toward me and places a hand on my back. For the life of me, I can’t remember his name. “You need to breathe,” he says.
I’d like to, buddy. I’d really like to. My chest stings, and tears leak out the sides of my eyes. I wish the picture had been of Glen’s intestines.
A hand clamps around my jaw and twists my face sideways. I lock wide eyes onto the attorney. “Blow out,” he says, followed by a gust of his minty-fresh breath in my face to demonstrate.
I doubt I have enough air in me to muster a breath, but what do you know—his nose crinkles as I blow a huge, not-so-fresh breath onto him. Eau de red onions.
“Here you go.” The closing agent returns and plops a Styrofoam cup filled with water onto the table. I gaze into the tiny pool, knowing it measures only a fraction of the tears I’m doomed to spill during the coming weeks.
He’s on that plane with Kimmy.
I gave him my entire savings.
How could I have been so stupid?
Excerpt from Chapter 6 of Molly Unplanned
Copyright Nicki Elson 2020
The tailgate dips as Cal lifts himself to sit next to me. “Sorry, I should’ve let you change. Want my coat?”
“No, the blanket’s good. And it’s going to rain soon, so we won’t be out here long, right?” I’m really hoping that last part’s true because not eating dinner has caught up with me. The first pang of hunger strikes.
“Take a nip of this; it’ll warm you up.” He slides a flask out of a pocket inside his denim jacket.
“What is it?”
“Go with the flow, city slicker.”
“Suburb slicker,” I correct.
The flirty glint in his dark eyes gives me the same goosebumps incited by his “cute brainiac” comment. We’re plunged into blackness when his headlights click off. Here and there, a haze of moonlight bleeds through thin cracks between clouds, but all I can see of anything is the barest of outlines. Cal is a big, shadowy silhouette.
I take a teensy sip. Apple whiskey. Then I take a bigger gulp, and the tasty liquid burns a trail down my throat, quieting my empty stomach. “So…what are we doing here?” I ask, handing the flask back to Cal.
“Shh,” he responds in a murmur. “Listen.”
I pull the blanket tighter around me and stare downward, focusing on the sounds around me. With sight taken from me, my hearing is more sensitive, and I realize how noisy it is out here. Chatter buzzes everywhere. After a few moments of intense listening, the sounds separate from one another. Shrill, warbling calls pierce the night before fading and giving way to twittering and low, persistent chirping. Every once in a while, a deep vibration cuts through it all.
“Do you know what all the critters are?” I whisper.
He keeps his voice low when he answers. “Not all of them.” He’s quiet for a moment. “Do you hear the sharp peeping?”
I nod. “Yes.”
“Yep. Spring Peepers.” A loud vibration sounds, almost like an old rusty lawnmower in need of a tune-up. “Those are bullfrogs.”
A fluttering call ripples through the darkness.
“What’s that?” I ask.
“Loons. There’s a lake not too far.” I can’t see him, but I hear the affection in his answers. These sounds have deeper meaning to him. He hands me the flask again, and I take a large sip.
“Who taught you all this—your dad?” I picture little Cal in his overalls, trekking out here with his pops.
“My mom.” The gravity in his tone makes me curious, but I resist the urge to dissect its meaning. I have no right to pry into the guy’s personal business. Instead, we sit silently, taking in the cacophony of night sounds and handing the flask back and forth.
After a while, he screws the cap back on and murmurs, “Uh oh.”
“What?” I tense at his tone and shift closer toward him.
He slides his arm around my back and cups a hand over my shoulder, enveloping me in his protection. “Hear that?”
I train my hearing outward, willing my sonar range to widen, and then I hear it. First, it’s a mewling, like a cat, then a high-pitched whine and a yelp, followed by barking and a continuous screech that wails like a siren.
I gasp and reach a hand out from under the blanket to clutch at Cal’s collar. Keeping an eye on the blackness of the open land in front of us, I hiss, “Coyotes!”
Cal chuckles. “Are you feeling like a Chihuahua now that we’re out here, exposed?”
“We’re bigger than sheep. They wouldn’t attack us…would they?”
“I doubt it, but I’d kinda like to keep you thinkin’ that they would.”
I become keenly aware of his hand curved around my bared calf. His warm thumb traces slowly back and forth. Still clutching at his collar, I now notice that I’ve turned my body into him and have lifted one knee onto his lap. The movement forced my skirt several inches up my thigh. Dang whiskey.
His arm drops from around my shoulders to the small of my back, and he pulls me against him. I can barely see his face right in front of mine, but his sweet, apple-scented breath tickles my lips.
“Just so you know, I’m not lookin’ to be anybody’s boyfriend.” The growl beneath his low voice vibrates all the way through me. His words are cold, but the heated way he says them is an invitation.
“I’m not looking for a boyfriend.” I hope I don’t sound as frightened and conflicted as I feel. My heart taps a painful rhythm against my ribcage as I stay plastered to him, still gripping his collar, keeping him close. But at the same time, I’m shouting at myself to push him away.
The thick clouds above us choose this very moment to let loose their first drops. One smacks onto the middle of my forehead, and my rigid body relaxes—this is more what I’m used to: a comedy sketch rather than a romance novel.
Certain that the rain has put an end to our flirtation, I loosen my grip on his collar. But he slides a hand over my jaw to the back of my neck, and before I can prepare for it or even predict it will happen, he plants his mouth on mine. Random drops of rain thump and ping off the bed of his truck. He keeps on kissing me, and I melt into him, letting his tongue slide over my lips and devour me.
Now I know what they mean by the term “thoroughly kissed.” There isn’t one inch of my body that’s not affected by the power of his mouth moving against mine. Glen never made me feel like this. Somehow, I’m moving with him, on instinct, as if caught in one of my daydreams. Clearly, I’m no longer operating within the conscious realm.
His hand is in my hair, tugging at the elastic holding my bun in place and ripping it free. He lifts his mouth from mine. Droplets run down my face as he combs his fingers through my hair, pulling it down around the sides of my face. His mouth tickles over my cheek, licking away the trails of moisture. I feel like a mermaid who’s just been hoisted onto a ship by a strong, handsome, libidinous sailor.
He tears the blanket from around me and drops it in a pile behind him. Next, he peels off my shoes and puts them under the blanket, to keep them dry, I suppose, and I’m grateful. His thick denim jacket joins them. I’d only expected this to go as far as a kiss, but when his mouth returns to trail down the side of my throat and his hand slides underneath my skirt, I see how naïve I was.
I know one word will stop him, but…I don’t want him to. The pace of the rain increases along with my shallow breathing, and I’m transported to another universe—one where I say to hell with all my careful planning and discipline. Where has it gotten me, anyway? I deserve to be reckless for once, to be a mermaid who lets herself be taken by a brave admiral in the king’s navy. Yeah, that’s right—he’s an admiral now.