It seemed like an easy bet: All Washington lawyer Win Whittaker has to do is prove to his business partner that he can live the "simple life" in Magnolia Bluffs, Georgia, for one month. With no extra cash or credit cards, Win is forced to get a job. He might be a terrific lawyer, but his other skills are decidedly lacking. So he applies for the only job he can find--shampoo girl at Kenni McAllister's salon, Permanently Yours.
Kenni is cautious around her handsome new employee, but she can't help being attracted by his charm. The more time she spends with Win, the more she likes what she sees. Of course, Kenni doesn't know about Win's other life, his real life. But when a good friend of hers desperately needs a lawyer, Win's deception is revealed.
Do the country girl and the city guy have a shot at love? Win hopes so, because he's got a lot more than Georgia on his mind!
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August 06, 2007
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Excerpt from Georgia on His Mind by Ann DeFee
Ryan McKade, president of the New York City branch of McKade Import-Export, stood on the chipped concrete sidewalk in north central Queens and studied the 1950s brick-and-stone building that housed Parnell Brothers Rubbish Removal. As a five-year-old he might have dreamed of becoming a garbage man, but he was thirty-six years old, for God's sake--what had his grandfather been thinking?
The building reminded him of an old fire station. Anextra-wide automatic door, with windows along the top half, faced the street. Two sanitation trucks sat parked inside, Parnell Bros. Inc. 1952 painted in bold black lettering across the red brick above the doors. A smaller entrance to the right of the garage area had the word Office etched into the glass pane.
A dingy American flag sagged from a pole--a victim of air pollution. Ryan had noticed the difference in air quality the moment he'd stepped off the train. He was accustomed to cab exhaust across the East River in Manhattan. Here in the industrial Flushing area, a heavy metallic taste flavored the air. Faded plastic flowers filled a pot next to a dented garbage can chained to the downspout against the building. Ryan commiserated with the fake yellow daisies--looking as out of place as he felt.
The sky rumbled for the third time in as many minutes. Flushing was home to LaGuardia Airport. During the pre-9/11 years, Ryan had attended several Mets baseball games at Shea Stadium, which had been built in the flight path of the airport. It was a toss-up what annoyed the visiting team more--the rowdy fans or the deafening air traffic.
A quick check of his watch convinced him that if he ran the four blocks to the train station he could catch the M line and return to his Wall Street office in Lower Manhattan within the hour. Or hire a cab ride across the Queensboro Bridge and arrive there in forty-five minutes.
Grandfather's right. You are a coward.
Arguing with the ninety-one-year-old man had accomplished nothing. The family patriarch had embarked on a mission to teach each of his grandsons a life lesson before leaving the earth and he'd refused to allow Ryan to negotiate a way out of his. Not that Ryan had really tried. He owed his grandfather big-time.
Patrick McKade had raised him and his brothers, Nelson and Aaron, after their parents had perished in a private plane crash when Ryan was two. But more important, his grandfather had never left Ryan's hospital bedside while he'd recovered from injuries sustained the day terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. Not even Ryan's wife had had the fortitude to stick by him.
In truth, Ryan hadn't been upset with the old man's crazy scheme as much as he'd been devastated by the lesson he believed Ryan needed to learn--bravery. Evidently, rescuing a woman from the North Tower had failed to gain him hero status. Ryan believed it was no coincidence that his grandfather had arranged for him to begin the new job on September 11--six years post-9/11.
"Life goes on," his grandfather had argued. Maybe for people who'd watched the disaster unfold on television inside their homes. But for the unlucky ones, those who'd lived through the hellish hours of the attack, the memories never faded. They were always present...in the corners of his mind. In the eyes that stared back at him in the mirror. In the scars that hid beneath his clothes.
The old man's right. You've got a yellow streak the length of the Holland Tunnel running along your spine.
A cool September morning breeze threatened to turn the beads of sweat on Ryan's brow into flecks of frost. As much as he found the idea of hauling garbage for three months distasteful, the prospect of socializing with people made his stomach spasm. He preferred to work alone. Isolated from his staff. Isolated from the world.
"Can I help you?"
Startled, Ryan shifted his gaze from the plastic daisies to the head poking out the office door.
"You've been standing on the sidewalk for ten minutes." The woman smiled.
Only a perpetually cheerful person would beam brightly at 7:00 a.m. on a Monday morning.
Run or stay. What's it going to be?
Damn. "I believe I've found the right place."
Her head edged farther out the door, displaying a prominent nose no one would dare characterize as feminine. Ryan shifted his attention to her eyes. Deep blue pools, sparkling with humor.
"You must be the new hire." Shoving the door open wide, she waved him in.
He entered the office, then shook the hand she offered, noting her no-nonsense grip. "Ryan Jones." He skinny model types he'd dated in college. This lady had meat on her bones. Curves his former wife would have spent hours in the gym ridding herself of.