All I Have managed to eek out a win against the ever worthy opponent, Sarah M. Anderson, and her equally amazing book Rodeo Dreams. It was such a fun battle, and it came right down to the wire. Thank you to everyone who voted! And, I hope you’re not busy from midnight-noon Sunday March 22nd, because we’ve got another round to fight!
But FIRST–the pay up. I said I’d share a never-before-shared scene from the upcoming extended Superromance version of All I Have, AND with permission from my publisher I can share the upcoming cover a little early.
I have loved all my Harlequin covers. I loved the original of All I Have, but–this this is just perfection. From them sitting on the couch together, to the adorable heart shirt, I am in absolute awe and love.
Now, for the scene. All I Have: extended Superromance edition, takes the original ALL I HAVE and adds about 20,000 words. It’s the same book in that it has the same sequence of events, but it also morphed into its own story. More build up to Mia and Del’s happily ever after and a deeper look into the family issues that drive both of them. I can’t wait for July.
Never-Before-Shared All I Have: Extended Superromance Version scene
Mia pulled her truck into the parking lot at Orscheln and tried not to be irritated by all Dad’s sighing and grumbling. She drove too fast, braked too hard. The one and only place Dad ever criticized her.
Which was why, for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out why he didn’t drive himself. Or stay home.
“If you hate coming to town so much, you don’t have to come. I could always get whatever you need.”
“Have to ask Rick about this new vaccine.”
“You could do that on the phone. I bet Rick even has email.”
Dad harrumphed and got out of the truck. Mia trudged after him. Mostly, she loved spending time with Dad. He’d always been her biggest supporter, and one of the few people she felt understood her.
But going to Orscheln with Dad meant people didn’t get used to her as Mia Pruitt, serious farmer. They still saw the girl who had cried when all the chickens had been sold, or accidentally let all the kittens up for adoption out of their cage because she’d been trying to pet them.
Daughter of the town hermit, the man who refused to talk to anyone except Rick when he came in. Should another employee approach him, he’d turn and walk away. If Rick was out sick, Dad would hop in his truck and go home.
Oh, whom was she kidding? Even when she came in without Dad she was a Pruitt, and there was a lot of baggage that went with that.
But she could pretend when she was alone. Pretend she was your average twenty-six-year-old vegetable farmer. Or something.
“I’m going to…look at some plants. You go ahead inside.” It was an excuse, a pathetic one at that, but maybe if she could pretend they hadn’t walked in together…
Mia stared gloomily at some pansies as Dad grunted and went inside. She was being kind of a crap daughter, and that made her feel guilty. Especially having been on the receiving end of the Go ahead inside, I’ll wait out here line more than once.
“Of all the gin joints in the world, she walked into mine.”
Mia closed her eyes. Apparently today was really going to make her feel as if she was sixteen again. She glanced over her shoulder at Dell. He had his beat-up Cardinals hat on, equally worn jeans and a black T-shirt that did unfair things to showcase the muscles of his arms.
If she was a cat, she’d hiss at him. Instead, she mustered her best fake smile. “You’re wearing a shirt. What a novelty.”
“No shirt, no shoes, no service.” He grinned and she hated that some part of her reacted to that grin. A weird flopping deep in her stomach, a floaty giddiness around her chest.
Yes, she was sixteen and still an idiot. “You got the quote all wrong, by the way.”
“It’s ‘Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.’ If you’re going to quote something, it should at least be the right something.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Figures,” she muttered, turning her attention back to the plants. She had no use for flowers. She lived in an apartment in town, and even if she lived at the farm, she’d certainly plant something she could sell the produce of.
Dell did not seem to take the hint, still standing uncomfortably behind her. Uncomfortably because…well. He made her uncomfortable. Because he was a butt, that’s why.
“Are you following me?” she asked, trying to sound bored. Succeeding, too, if she did say so herself.
“It’s a small town, sugar.”
She would not be irritated by the cocky way he drawled sugar. She would also not be…other things at the way his voice was all gravelly and sure of himself. Not hot. Not even cute.
“And yet, how many times have I run into you here before? I do these errands every Tuesday morning.”
“Well, if you see me again, then you’ll know I’m following you. For today, it’s just an unfortunate coincidence.”
Unfortunate. Yeah. She certainly got no secret thrill out of seeing him outside the market. Please. She hoped to never see him outside the market. She didn’t even want to see him at the market.
“But, while we’re here, together, on this beautiful day, why don’t you tell me what you’ve got up your sleeve so you don’t embarrass yourself at the market Saturday?”
She glanced at him again, giving him a condescending look she’d been practicing in the mirror. “First of all, we’re not together.”
“I’m standing here. You’re standing there right in touching distance. We’re talking. Together enough from where I’m at.”
“Why don’t you stand out of touching distance?” Because words like touching made her even more uncomfortable than she already was. How could she pretend to be calm and collected when she had to think about…touching?
She had the petty desire to give him a little push, but that would be silly and childish…and probably put her in contact with muscles she’d prefer to only fantasize about.
Except, no fantasizing.
“I don’t know why you have reason to be so antagonistic with me, Mia. Fair competition and all that. Jealousy isn’t an attractive quality.”
She rolled her eyes. “The day I worry about being attractive to you is the day I go brain-dead.” Jitters multiplied in her stomach. This was getting…weird. “Besides, if it’s fair competition, you don’t need to worry about what I’ve got up my sleeve.”
“I’m just trying to look out for you. You’ve built quite a new rep for yourself.”
She was not a violent person, but something about him made her visualize doing a lot of it. Unfortunately that also meant visualizing touching him. In a way that wasn’t all…violent. “The day Dell Wainwright is looking out for my well-being is the day I start taking my shirt off at the market.”
His eyes drifted to her chest, an almost considering look on his face. She crossed her arms over herself, the heat of embarrassment mixing with a different kind of heat.
“Go away, Dell. I am trying to do actual work here. I’m guessing you wouldn’t know what that’s like.”
There was a beat of silence, a moment of triumph that she’d shut him up, and then a twist of…something not so nice in her stomach.
“Naw, I just sit around my farm twiddling my thumbs.” He stepped away from her, a weird energy in the tense shoulders and the hard line of his mouth. “See you `round, Pruitt.”
Mia frowned after him. She had no idea why she felt…kind of guilty and like a jerk. She hadn’t said anything too terrible to him, certainly not any worse than him calling her Queen of the Geeks.
So, the weird twist in her stomach was out of place, and Dell was out of place for making her feel it. She was about to stomp into the store, but Dad’s voice sounded from behind her.
“That boy bothering you?”
Mia snorted, couldn’t help it. She turned to Dad, who’d obviously come out of the feed exit. It was nice Dad felt protective, but she did not need to be protected. Or comforted. Not anymore. “First of all, Dell Wainwright isn’t a boy any more than I’m a girl.”
“Second, I’m not… That stuff doesn’t bother me anymore.” Possibly because it wasn’t the same. Going toe-to-toe with Dell was less like being made fun of, being called names. It was more like battle. One she was more than equipped to fight.
It was weirdly invigorating. It made her feel capable and strong. If she could take on Mr. Prom King, she could take on anyone. If she could ignore the random bouts of misplaced guilt. Which she would.
She was going to take him on and win, and the more he poked at her, the more he’d find she didn’t roll over and hide anymore.
“Let’s go home.”
It was tempting. Tempting to put off what she’d come for so she wouldn’t have to run into Dell in the aisles, but not tempting enough to agree to.
“You can wait in the car if you want. But I have a few things that need picking up.” Because she was not a wimp. Not anymore.
Now for the Round TWO Bribes?