Happy Madeline’s Park Day
Do you like:
Then do I have the hot, new book for you!
Her heart’s looking for a forever home.
All her life, Madeline Prix’s loved Everett Berry, but she’d be a fool to think he’d ever notice her. She’s nothing more than a big Southern girl with frizzy red hair. No way would the sunshine and perfect Ev look twice at her. To her surprise, fifteen-years-later, he appears in her city while she’s in the middle of a kitten rescue. Madeline’s dreams are about to come true when Ev asks her on a date until his ex enters the no-longer-rosy picture.
Everett thought he could start his life anew after a messy divorce in a small Southern town. Maddy came into his world like a breath of fresh air, but he finds himself stumbling back into old patterns. Can he ever be good enough for someone as sweet as Madeline Prix?
Madeline must choose between the man she’s loved all her life who keeps breaking her heart and a man who’s only good on paper. Good thing she has her adorable cats and best friend to help her out, because her heart may not be able to survive.
• I wrote Madeline’s Park before Pride & Pancakes was published and always intended it to be the follow-up, but there were problems and I had to almost fully rewrite it.
• In the first draft, there was a greater emphasis on the musical including an entire scene WITH SONGS and Tristan attempting to act like a buffoon.
• I also invented a Count of Monte Cristo musical, which I’d want to see, but it would take ten hours to properly tell so maybe not.
• Everett is my second green-eyed hero. The first was a leprechaun.
• Maddy was never ever going to get a physical makeover. She wouldn’t change her hair or lose any weight. I wanted her to gain more confidence as she came to realize she deserved to go for her goals in life.
• I didn’t want to do the whole “hero suddenly realizes the heroine was there the whole time.” So I tried for “hero puts in the work to realize he’s good enough for a woman as amazing as Maddy.”
• When I worked at the vet taking care of dogs and cats, one day we had a gray cat who’d been in a fire come in. Luckily, Smokey (Yes, his name was Smokey) survived though he stank of smoke for days.
• Do you want to see the song lyrics from Pride & Prejudice: The Musical?
• No, no you do not. I should stop writing damn song lyrics.
This place has seen better days.
Everett’s house sat nestled between what looked like an old bodega converted to studio apartments and a warehouse. Skinny like a brownstone, the front was at most a single room wide, though that illusion could be due to how the front-step railing split from the concrete and swung out. Shutters dangled helplessly from the windows, one of which was papered over in old magazine ads. A sapling twisted out of the roof, providing shade to whatever small animals were nesting inside.
Sympathy washed through her with one look. He must have been in a bind to accept a home this unseen. Then again, if the rent wasn’t astronomical, maybe he came out the better.
She’d settled on the funeral skirt, the stretchy navy tunic with billowy sleeves and a small pair of heels. Madeline never wore anything above three inches out of fear of slipping and breaking an ankle. Taking one last glance to make certain she had the address right, Madeline walked up the crumbling stairs. The top one bowed like someone had taken a massive bite straight out the middle.
“It’s not a date. It’s friends,” she repeated while bouncing the former curls she’d straight-ironed down to waves. Madeline pressed a finger into the bell and the button sunk deep inside.
Oh no! The ringing continued through the house despite her taking her finger out of the hole she’d created. Scrambling, she tried to yank the fallen plastic out, her nails scraping down the tiny hole. “Come on, please! Stop making that…”
The door flew open, her heart stopping dead as she turned to face a no-doubt enraged Everett. When his eyes shifted to Madeline hunched over the broken doorbell, a smile fit for an angel slid across his lips. He’d brushed his hair to the side and slipped on a tan turtleneck that hugged his chest. A flour towel dangled from his waist, hiding away most of the front of his dark jeans. Ev looked dressed for rehearsal day in heaven’s choir, and it was she who wanted to sing.
You broke his doorbell, idiot.
“Sorry,” Madeline cried, shooting to her feet. Confusion crossed his brow, and she pointed to the now trapped doorbell.
After checking it out, Everett laughed. “Don’t worry.” He made a fist and banged once above the bell. In an instant, the button popped out and the unending ringing ceased. “Happens all the time. Please, come in.”
He stepped back, allowing Madeline to gaze around the construction zone. A tarp acted as a runner down the main staircase, ending at a pile of cement blocks piled up where the stairs had rotted away. Old wallpaper peeled in dangling strips from the edge of wainscoting that’d be beautiful if half of it wasn’t bowing from water damage. Dust coated almost every surface. Madeline prayed her asthma wouldn’t act up as she turned to the man showing it off.
“Your place is…lovely.”
Everett snickered. “Madeline Prix always says the nicest things. It’s a dump.”
A gasp of relief at the truth escaped from her before her brain played back the first half of his comment. Her cheeks lit up at the thought of him even noticing.
“Got this from my uncle. He used to buy decrepit real estate and fix it up to sell for a profit.”
“And he wants you to rebuild this place while working as a firefighter?” That sounded like an unending amount of work.
Ev smiled wider and brushed down the towel clinging to his thigh. “Nah. He moved upstate to some small farm with his husband. Couldn’t sell this so he said I could have it for a song. Just have to make it livable.”
“You can do it,” Madeline cheered. She’d never seen him swing a hammer, but she had full faith that Everett could do anything he set his mind to.
His gaze slid down her, ramping up her blush. Madeline twirled a finger through her hair, her eyes drifting to the hole in the drywall which revealed what had to be the parlor. When the twirl turned into a curl, she slapped her hand away from all that hard work she’d ruined in an instant.
Madeline’s Park is Out Today