Today's Reading



I arrive at Spark House an hour early on Monday morning. The hotel is an old converted house on a huge piece of land, allowing us to set up unique events and provide an intimate, eclectic space for guests. It is sort of like a cross between a bed-and-breakfast and a small boutique hotel. It's been in our family for three generations, and Avery, Harley, and I took it over when our grandmother decided to retire a couple of years ago.

While I love working with my sisters, some parts of this job aren't particularly easy for me, so I like giving myself extra time to prepare when no one else is here and I don't have an audience. Today I have to touch base with one of our prospective clients who asked for a call first thing this morning. They emailed late last night with a list of questions. I don't want to lose out on this opportunity, so I figured it would be a good idea to come in early and rehearse my answers. I have a million other things to do today, such as making prototypes for this weekend's centerpieces, but this is my first priority.

We could definitely use this particular client's business, especially since we're looking at expanding our kitchen facilities so we can host larger events. That kind of renovation comes with a pretty hefty price tag, though.

After the call, I can shift my focus to something a bit more enjoyable.

I drop my bag beside my desk and fire up my computer. I spend a few minutes drafting my responses and tweaking the language before I read it aloud. I fuss over word choice and inflection, going back and changing the wording a few times. My goal is to be able to sell them on hosting their event here.

"Why is this so freaking hard?" I grumble.

"Why is what so freaking hard?" Harley asks, startling me.

"Why are you here so early?" I feel my face turning red with embarrassment. Normally when I rehearse calls, I do it in private, and sometimes in front of a mirror.

"I'm not. It's almost nine. Avery and I just got here."

"Oh. Where's Avery?" I glance at the clock on my screen. It is indeed almost nine, which means I've been trying to compose a conversation for more than an hour, and I have less than twenty minutes left to prepare for this call.

"In the backyard, trying to decide where she wants to set up the outdoor component for this weekend's event." She tips her head to the side. "Is everything okay?"

"Yeah." I rub the back of my neck, feeling the tightness there. "I should have done this last night." I hit print on the file, so I have all of my responses in front of me. "Can you read this over and tell me if I'm missing anything?"

"Sure, of course." Harley grabs the sheets and drops into the chair across from me, scanning them. "What is this for?"

"The Kendalls. I had a call with them last week about a potential event in the fall. It's a really great initiative. They host a holiday-themed event for terminal kids. I have a follow-up call in a few minutes." I hate the nervous flutter in my stomach, like it's full of butterflies, and not the nice kind. I haven't eaten yet and won't until after I speak with them.

She stops reading for a second to glance at me, a slight furrow in her brow. "Is this why you came in early?"

"I wanted to get it out of the way, so I didn't have to worry about it all morning." Worrying is something I excel at, unlike preparing for a phone call.

"It looks good to me. I don't think you have anything to be anxious about." Her gaze shifts to my star jar as I toss another puffy one in with the rest. It was empty this morning, and now it's already half full.

"I just don't want to mess this up. If we get their event, and we do a good job, they might let us host it every year. And I think it's a really great cause."

"You've got this, London. You're going to be fine."

"Okay, thanks." I take a deep breath. "Can you hang out, though, until after the call, so I have backup in case I need it?"



I take a few deep breaths before I make the call to the Kendalls. I'm on edge at first, and I can hear the anxiety in my own voice.

Harley gives me the thumbs-up and then the calm down signal, mouthing, You've got this. It turns out all my worrying and fretting this morning was for nothing, because fifteen minutes later I'm cracking jokes and setting up a meeting for them to come in next week to sign paperwork and put down a deposit.

This excerpt ends on page 15 of the paperback edition.

Monday we begin the book The Lady Loves Danger by Anabelle Bryant.

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