As some of you know, I recently announced a new series called Farm Country where the first book in the series will be my expanded short story Kissing Katie. There’s been some plot changes to make the story work in a longer manuscript, but overall Katie is still the same adorable bad luck magnet from the original story.
Here is an excerpt from the first chapter. The book is to be released next week on Amazon.
Katie Sutton really wanted to swear.
Normally she wasn’t a swearing person. She couldn’t afford to be when she worked at the local daycare in a small town where everyone knew everyone’s business, sometimes before the person knew it themselves. She also didn’t enjoy cussing. She’d grown up in a community that frowned on it. Her parents hadn’t liked swearing either, so Katie generally didn’t use such vocabulary. However, in this moment, she was frustrated and angry to the point of swearing or crying.
She was not going to cry.
In a couple of weeks, she might even share the story at the local canteen at the ballpark with friends and laugh about it. Right now, she sat on the corner of the dumpster and looked hopefully again for her set of keys which were lost among the mess.
“What are you doing?” a male voice drawled.
Katie closed her eyes for a moment. It just had to be Jackson Davis who found her like this. Trent Davis had been one of her best friends growing up. She’d been raised on the neighboring farm to the Davis’ and had made their home pretty much her home away from home until she went to college. Jackson was Trent’s older brother.
Trent’s sexy, tall, handsome older brother that she’d been crushing on since she discovered that boys were different than girls. Her cheeks flushed a little and she opened her eyes, desperate to find her keys.
“I lost my keys,” Katie tried for an even tone. She was marginally successful in disguising her distress.
“In the dumpster?” Jackson asked, looking up at Trent’s best friend. She was an athletic brunette tomboy who had kept his brother on his toes for much of their childhood. Not because Katie would lead anyone into trouble. No, trouble had a habit of finding Katie on a regular basis. “How does that happen?”
Katie sighed. “One of the bags carrying my groceries ripped. You know how cheap and thin those things are. The jar of pickles broke all over the pavement. When I picked up what was left of my groceries, my purse strap kept falling off my shoulder…”
“And?” Jackson prompted as Katie’s voice trailed away. He put his bags beside her bags on the ground then hefted himself onto the edge of the dumpster, swinging a leg over.
“Careful!” Katie cried out. “Don’t move anything yet. I’m hoping to just spot them rather than having to dig through everything.”
He carefully settled himself on a corner and looked at the pile of smelly garbage bags and loose items. “How did the keys end up in here?”
Katie rubbed her temple. “I may have been angry and used a little too much force to swing the purse strap onto my shoulder. The keys kind of flew off my finger and fell in here.”
“Are you sure? They didn’t land on the outside or behind the dumpster?” Jackson shifted a bag carefully with the toe of his boot.
“No, I checked all around the outside,” Katie responded. Giving up on just spotting the keys, she slowly lowered herself in, feeling the garbage squish down beneath her. It was so gross.
“Do you have a spare set?” Jackson did the same and one of the bags broke open. A distinctively unpleasant odor filled the air. He made a face. “Old Chinese food. Nice.”
Katie scrunched her nose against the rotting egg roll smell. “This is the spare set. Earlier this week the kids at the daycare flushed my first set down the toilet.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Jackson carefully moved some garbage with his hands, sifting through the mess, trying to stick to the dry bits of garbage.
“You know, my life is not always a disaster,” Katie retorted a little defensively. It might be a lie but she felt the need to defend herself. It was true that she tended to have more bad luck than anyone else she knew.
“Maybe you could get a set of keys from the dealership,” Jackson suggested hopefully. Then they wouldn’t have to sort through all this garbage.
“The car is thirty years old. It’s a rust bucket hatchback that drinks a quart of oil every week. I don’t think they’re going to have keys for it,” Katie sighed and began sorting through the garbage in earnest.
After a half hour of digging and sorting they both had stains on their clothes from who knew what and smelled like something dragged out from a rotting fetid swamp.
“Maybe I could hotwire it for you?” Jackson offered, wiping his forehead and leaving a yellow smear behind.
Even so, he was still sexy in his faded jeans and plaid shirt. Katie tamped down the thought. Digging in a dumpster wasn’t exactly a romantic event. “Thanks, but no. Someone might steal it.”
“Anyone who steals that car is doing you a favor,” he muttered and stooped to sort through another round of garbage.