Hot in Magnolia Book 4
Publication Date: April 30th, 2021
Categories: Sexy Romance
Hollywood actress Ginger Lynn Harding is broke, unemployed, and stuck in the glaring spotlight of a sex-tape scandal thanks to her lousy ex-boyfriend. Changing her coveted ginger-colored hair to brown, Ginger heads to small-town Magnolia, Texas, where she plans to hide out and wait tables at the Cupcake Diner and Dive.
As a Magnolia constable and possible candidate for mayor, Roland Karr prides himself on protecting the community. When he nabs a Lauren Bacall look-alike for speeding, Roland is surprised that he lets the sassy beauty off the hook, but he can’t help it. She looks like she could use a break.
As Ginger settles into life in Magnolia, she can’t stop thinking about the handsome and debonair cop, but can she risk losing her heart when she’s lost everything else?
Sneak Peek Excerpt
from HURRICANE KISSES
the Forthcoming 5th Book
In the Hot In Magnolia Series
By Minette Lauren
**LANGUAGE ADVISORY – THE FOLLOWING EXCERPT CONTAINS PROFANITY**
Cecilia Lockwood grunted as she shimmied backward with the tall parrot cage in her clenched fists. “Of all the good and bad luck in my life, I’m not sure if my inheritance is the best or the worst.”
“Shut up!” The blue and gold macaw screeched.
“That’s it, you fancy blue chicken, I’m making parrot soup tonight, with a side of cockatiel!”
The green Quaker parrot, who had been out of his cage and resisting capture all morning, stared at her from where he’d perched on top of her computer monitor. “Um—that’s good!”
Cecilia blew at a stray lock of hair that escaped her long ponytail. Years ago, she’d worn it at a fashionable length. That was before she’d lost her prestige with the Magnolia Blossoms Ladies League.
An IRS audit revealed some of her extra purchases with the non-profit money she’d earned, but she didn’t understand all the fuss. She was the one who raised the money for charity, so why couldn’t she enjoy a day at the spa or buy a new pair of shoes? At the time, she hadn’t thought she was cheating anyone out of anything, but according to the IRS and the whole flock of biddies in Magnolia, she’d done just that. After moving back to Dallas with her mother and father, Todd and Brenda Lockwood, she thought things would turn around. Celia felt she had better potential in a city like Dallas and was over her big-fish-in-a-little-pond syndrome. She could admit now that being the president of The Magnolia Blossoms wasn’t her destiny.
When her father put her in the accounting office of his oil company, she’d felt right at home. Taking up where she’d left off, Celia tallied columns of debits and credits, including a small account for herself to buy whatever she wanted. She worked hard for her father, so in her eyes, she was just rewarding herself with an extra bonus for all her effort. Unbeknownst to Celia, her father’s partner hired a spy. A very handsome co-worker named Steve, whom she’d taken out to lunch several times with her petty cash account, and had almost taken to bed once after a few too many martinis. Thank God, she hadn’t. It infuriated her that the ratfink ratted her out. She’d trusted him enough to share her secret, and he had sold her down the river for a promotion. When she was fired, Steve took her job and her dignity. She’d cried to her mother without much success.
Barbra Lockwood sipped her mimosa and petted Mimi, the family’s black teacup poodle. “Darling, why are you blubbering? You know your father. He loves you, and he wants you to learn important lessons in life, but I say go get your money the old-fashioned way. Find yourself a rich husband, like I did. Then you can visit with your friends and shop until your heart is content.”
As Celia pushed the cage into a corner, Chica, the blue and gold macaw, pinched her finger through the bars, letting out another ear-piercing screech.
Celia let out a howl of her own. “Ouch!”
Celia gave the sassy parrot a low growl. Macaws weren’t usually the big talkers of the parrot world, but this one wouldn’t shut up with the few words it knew. Since inheriting her grandfather’s exotic bird sanctuary, and it being the only source of income that she had, Cecilia had tried to catch up on understanding parrots and the necessary habitat they needed to survive. The sanctuary ran off regular donations, but it was barely enough to pay the utilities and have enough left over to buy birdseed. She needed more, and if she had to put up with a teenage macaw that hated her, so be it. When she started parrot adoptions, Chica would be the first to go, but before that, she needed to teach the saucy parrot some manners. Besides, repeating her name, hello, shut up and pretty girl were the only other words Chica knew.
Feathers floated in the air as Celia swept the floor. As she pushed the broom around the cages, she noticed Baby, the Quaker parrot, disappear into his cage. Just as Celia snuck close enough to shut the flap to the enclosure, a knock sounded on the door.
“Excuse me, Miss.” A man’s voice called out, startling her and Baby, who flew back out of his cage.
“Jesus H Christ!” Celia grabbed her chest and spun on her heel. Glancing at the man and then back at the cage, she scowled and then burst into tears. “Stupid asshole,” she sobbed.
She heard the door shut and the man’s boots on the hard tile as he approached. “Hey, sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. I closed the door so the bird won’t escape. I’ll help you catch him.” There was a pause as he put his hand on her shoulder.
She felt her body shudder as she tried to gain control of her tears. Celia didn’t even know why she was crying. She was tougher than this. A smarty-pants little bird would not, could not, best her.
His steady voice continued. “I promise. I’m not an asshole. I’ll make it up to you. Do you have a towel and a ladder?”
That made Celia’s tears turn to laughter. She was cursing the parrot who’d teased her all morning, not the man. As she finally looked up at her visitor, she was mesmerized by his clear blue eyes that were as light as Tiffany-blue glass. His features were symmetrical, and his sandy-blond hair was golden in the light pouring in from the window. He was the stuff of Greek God movie actors in those delicious romantic comedies. His smooth southern drawl sent tingles from the pit of her stomach to her toes. Even touching her shoulder, he was tender and stood his distance, careful not to invade her space. His smile was warm and showcased perfect white teeth.
Feathers still floated in the air around his head, giving him an ethereal look. Entranced, she reached out and touched the side of his face. “Are you real?”
He reached in his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief, offering it to her. Who carried a clean hanky in their pocket these days? As she dabbed at her eyes, it occurred to her that there was no guarantee that it was indeed clean, and she must look like a clown in her manic state. She quickly pressed the kerchief back into his palm. Celia stared at him and he seemed to look back at her with the same dazed look. Did he like what he saw as much as she liked looking at him? It was then that she remembered her messy hair that the cockatiel had perched in half of the morning, and the tired old gym clothes she’d been wearing to clean cages. She probably had bird poop in her hair or worse, and he was possibly contemplating how to tell her. Celia brushed at her shirt, as if it would suddenly turn into a beautiful ball gown, and he would sweep her up in his arms and carry her away from the cage she was living in. She snorted at the thought.
His hand shot out again, offering her the hanky.
Oh god. My life has got to get better than this!
Minette Lauren is an award-winning author who loves animals and writes humorous romance in a small Texas town.
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