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Willow Park #2
Released August 25th, 2015
Kensington Books : Zebra
In Sarah Hegger's latest Willow Park Romance, long-held crushes and past frenemies reunite--and wonder if there's ever a second chance to make a good first impression. .
Holly Partridge had no plans to return to Willow Park, Illinois, until her troubled younger sister Portia fled her home and aimed herself straight at Holly's high school nemesis--too-gorgeous-to-be-true Josh Hunter. Riding a manic bipolar high, Portia's only a danger to herself, but Holly needs to find her before she crashes. That means asking Josh for help.
The ultimate love 'em and leave 'em lothario, Josh was never good for anything but a broken heart. But now he's lending a hand when Holly needs it most--and revealing surprising generosity and compassion. Has Josh shed his bad boy ways? Or is Holly suddenly grown up enough to acknowledge her own mistakes? Trusting Josh could be a disaster--or the first step in banishing the past to make way for a future happier than Holly ever imagined. .
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The sign above the glass door to the trendy single’s bar scrolled out “Scants” in hot pink neon, blinked twice, and repeated.
“Bugger.” Holly yanked her clinging sweatshirt away from her body. You should never ask how much worse a thing could get because Murphy’s Law went right ahead and showed you.
The door flew open, and the clamor from the bar roared out onto the sidewalk where she stood. A couple of girls brushed past her, giggling as they hurled themselves into the preening frenzy. On the other side of the window, a mass of beautiful bodies circled each other.
Holly was way, way out of her element. There was no choice, though. According to his doorman, she’d find Josh Hunter in there.
She squared her shoulders and braced for hell. Good thing she had her bloody passport with her.
Holly stepped over the threshold, and the manic melody of singles bars everywhere crashed over her; the clink, the chatter, the bass rumble of male voices juxtaposed against the higher pitches of women. The throb of amplifier and subwoofer underscored the babble and ground out an elemental jungle beat that quickened the blood.
Welcome to the mating ground of genus Homo sapiens. What a bunch of posers. Exactly where you would expect to find someone like Josh Hunter. Proof she and Joshua were an entirely different species. She’d suspected as much in high school. The evidence was now incontrovertible.
Her phone buzzed in her hand and Holly checked the screen.
Emma again. This made it the fifth call in the last hour. What a pity Emma hadn’t panicked four days ago, when Portia first went missing.
She stuck one finger in her ear to hear her sister. “Yes?”
“Did you find her?”
“I just arrived in Chicago.” Did Emma expect her to fly? Six hours and twenty-four minutes, according to Google Maps, and she’d shaved it to a shade under six.
“What have you been doing?” Emma wailed loud enough to rise above the storm of noise around her.
“Driving.” Holly clenched her hand into a fist by her side. Cool it, Holly. They were both worried about Portia’s disappearance.
Only this morning, she’d discovered Portia missing.
Emma, Portia’s twin, had broken down and confessed Portia had left four whole days ago for Chicago. Not only was their younger sister gone, she’d left London, Ontario, without her medication.
The sheer stupidity of it made Holly want to growl.
“Did you find Joshua Hunter?” Emma let fly with her persistent streak. “Portia spoke about him when she called.”
“Yes, you told me already.” Holly cursed her height as she levered to her toes to see over the heads in front of her. “I’m looking for him now.”
She might not recognize Josh Hunter anymore. A lot could’ve changed in the years since they’d gone to high school together. Maybe he’d grown another head, to admire the one he already had.
“She didn’t sound good.” Emma’s voice quivered. “You have to find her, Holly.”
“I know I do,” Holly almost snarled. Four days and Emma hadn’t said a word. Holly could barely get her head around it.
A phone call from Portia, flying perilously high and prattling about seeing Josh Hunter, had sent Emma scurrying for Holly and help.
“I have to go.” She hung up on Emma, still talking.
The name of her high-school nemesis had knocked Holly off balance for a moment. It was not a name she’d wanted to hear again. She shook it off. It couldn’t be helped. The most important thing was finding Portia, and she’d make a deal with the devil if she must.
In his school days, Josh had lived in Willow Park, and that seemed the most logical place for Holly to start. The Hunter house had been down the street from Holly’s, and she’d guessed it was where Portia had run into him.
She’d been hanging on to the secret hope of Portia standing on the sidewalk, gazing wistfully at the old family home. If you could call a house you’d only lived in for two years an old family home.
Holly dodged a weaving waitress and stopped.
The two women in front of her spotted each other and squealed like a pair of happy piglets.
Holly waited for the cheek kissing ritual to end.
Cheek kissing gave way to feverish chatter, and Holly finally pushed past. She was on a mission.
Why had Portia gone searching for Josh Hunter? Holly wobbled on her tiptoes and craned her neck past the mass of bobbing heads. It was one of the questions she’d ask her sister when she caught up with her. And catch up with Portia she would.
The house in Willow Park had changed. Dramatically. Holly had been standing outside earlier, wondering where to go next, when the door to the house opened and luck stepped out—trailing spangles and a cloud of perfume. God knows why, but the woman had been thrilled to see her. Holly didn’t recall her at all. Fortunately, she had remembered Holly and her sisters clearly.
The woman went on to say yes, she had seen Holly’s sister. Portia had been by a couple of days ago, looking for Josh. She confirmed Emma’s report that Josh and Portia had found each other and were briefly spotted together. And better yet, had been able to tell her the name of the upscale condo on the Gold Coast where Josh now lived.
Here the bedazzled woman had treated Holly to an abbreviated version of Josh’s infamy. Most of it went over her head, but the gist was women and more women, and when was he going to settle down?
Holly ran for cover between the woman’s pause and an invocation to God for Josh to stop breaking his mother’s heart and get married already.
So, same old Josh Hunter.
Holly had located the condo building easily enough, and a bit of creative truth bending with the doorman had her standing on the sidewalk outside Scants, exactly the sort of place she would rather chew her arm off than enter.
The crowd in front of her parted and, oh, sweet Mother of God, there he was.
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Mimicking her globe trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.She currently lives in Draper, Utah, with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.
She loves to hear from readers and you can find her at any of the places below.