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Entries in Kathleen Long (1)


Day 1: Special Edition Romance Previews featuring CHANGING LANES by Kathleen Long

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Excerpt 1

There are times in life when a woman thinks to herself, My plans are working beautifully.

I pulled into the gravel drive of my parents’ home, looked in the rearview mirror to the suitcase and boxes of personal belongings piled on the rear seat of my car, and sighed.

This was not one of those times.

“Pond-sucking bugs,” I muttered.

My plans for the day had included moving from my cookie-cutter condo in South Jersey to the fixer-upper Victorian my fiancé, Fred Newton, and I had purchased on Second Avenue in Paris, New Jersey.

They had not included being chased off by a swarm of termites and my exterminator’s warning about structural damage.

I may not be a builder, Abby, but I know termites.

There was only one thing to do with temporarily derailed plans. Fix them.

Step one was telling Fred we wouldn’t be meeting at our new house.

I glanced at the time on my cell phone. Fred had promised to be in Paris by four o’clock, and it was now four forty-five and I still hadn’t heard a word. Even though the lease on his Hoboken apartment wasn’t up for another month, we’d planned to use this weekend to celebrate the beginning of our new life together, starting with dinner tonight. I frowned.

Fred was never late. Never. His punctuality happened to be one of the things I loved about him.

I pulled up his number and waited patiently as his voice mail kicked in.

“Hey, honey,” I said, raising my voice over the sound of hammering coming from my parents’ roof. “I’m at Mom and Dad’s instead of our house. I’ll explain later. Call me back.”

I disconnected, tucked the phone in my pocket, and pushed open the driver’s-side door to step outside. I wrangled my suitcase out of the backseat and fought with the button to release the handle.

The afternoon had grown warm, one of those spring days that stuns you with its brightness, lightness, and fragrances—flowers in bloom, freshly cut grass—as if all was right with the world, when, in fact, it wasn’t.

The hammering noise came again, and I squinted up into the late-day sun to get a better look at the source. And there stood Mick O’Malley, the boy next door who hadn’t been the boy next door since partway through our senior year of high school.

“Mick?” I asked in disbelief. “What are you doing here?”

“Nice to see you, too,” he called out over the side of the roof. “Long time no see. You’re looking well. How’s your mother? Any of those more traditional greetings would do just fine, Halladay.”

My left eye twitched, and I pressed a finger against the offending lid while doing my best to pretend I was merely shielding my eyes from the sun.

Mick climbed down the ladder a man, a far cry from the eighteen-year-old boy he’d been when I’d last seen him. He’d been one of my closest friends back in school. Been being the key word in that sentence. “Seriously,” I asked, “what are you doing here?”

He stepped into my line of vision, and I stared at him, hoping my look would convey the fact that I’d forgotten nothing about the way he’d left Paris. The way he’d left me.

His features had aged even better than I’d imagined, and I found that more annoying than the fact I felt compelled to tell him everything about my day.

Old habits die hard.

“Your dad asked me to fix the roof.” Mick wiped a hand over his forehead and through his dark hair, leaving the strands in a state of utter disarray.

“So you came back to town for that?” I asked incredulously.

Mick looked like he wanted to laugh at me, but he didn’t. “No, Halladay. I’ve been back.”

“But…why didn’t he hire someone?”

Mick’s smile turned smug. “He did.”

“I thought you were some hotshot architect out west?”

I regretted the question the moment the impact of my words registered on Mick’s face. His grin faded. His features tightened. The light in his eyes vanished.

“No,” he said simply.

He’d never been one for explanation, and I knew better than to push.

“How about you?” His gaze shifted again, a small measure of light returning to his vivid blue eyes. “I hear you’ve been encouraging the world to be nice?”

I had been, until my editor’s early morning call had ended my eight-year stint as a syndicated advice columnist.

“You know me,” I lied, ignoring the pit in my stomach where my editor’s words echoed. Falling readership. Changing tastes. Sign of the times. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” I said with a forced smile.

Now visions of a rapidly disappearing savings account danced in my head.

Mortgage payments. Termite treatment. Unemployment.

Mick tipped his chin toward my suitcase. “You moving in?”

“Temporarily,” I answered. Very temporarily.

If I couldn’t move into the yellow Victorian in the morning, I’d stay with Fred at his apartment an hour north. After all, I wouldn’t be commuting to work anymore.

“Thought your new house was over on Second?”

As usual in Paris, everyone knew everything.

“Sadly, so are most of the termites in New Jersey,” I said.

Mick chuckled, and I ignored the warmth of familiarity the sound ignited in me.

He shook his head. “Only you, Halladay.”

“Good to see you’ve still got that whole empathy thing working for you.”

“Ouch.” He faked a shudder. “I always did bring out your bad side.”

No kidding. “You could bring out Tinker Bell’s bad side.”

Mick took a step toward me, and I held my ground, ignoring the urge to run inside. “Tinker Bell wouldn’t complain.” His voice had dropped low, dangerously low.

(excerpt continued on Tuesday)


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About CHASING LANES by Kathleen Long

Abby Halladay has the perfect life. Or, rather, she long as everything goes exactly according to plan. Abby never leaves anything to chance—not her job as a syndicated columnist, not her engagement to her fiancé, Fred, and certainly not her impending wedding in Paris (New Jersey, that is).

Unfortunately for Abby, even the best-laid plans often go awry—like when Fred runs away to Paris (France, that is), her column is canned, and her dream home is diagnosed with termites. Forced to move back in with her parents and drive her dad's cab, Abby's perfect life has now officially become the perfect disaster.

Then a funny thing happens. Slowly but surely, Abby begins letting go of her dreams of perfection. As she does, the messy, imperfect life she thought she never wanted starts to feel exactly like the one she needs.

Poignant and heartfelt, Changing Lanes celebrates the unexpected joys of everyday life—and the enduring promise of second chances.

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