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Midnight in Legend, TN
SERIES: The McClains of Legend, Tennessee, Book 1
GENRE: Second Chance/Divorced/Widows, Small Town
ENDING: HEA (They’re a couple and live Happily Ever After)
WORD COUNT: 20,000 to 34,999 (small novella)
HERO’S AGE: 40-49
HEROINE’S AGE: 40-49
HEAT LEVEL: Chaste (Hold my hand)
GRAPHIC LANGUAGE: None (as in zero, or no more than 1)
She needs a new life, he’s determined to maintain the status quo. If they don’t compromise, the whole town loses.
Midnight Shelby is starting over. A real estate agent’s virtual tour of a large two-story brick building on the main street of the small town of Legend, Tennessee caught her eye and she’s leaving her smarmy ex-husband, the big city, and corporate life behind. The town is struggling but Midnight has ideas that will give it new life as well.
Martin McClain was born and raised in the Legend area. His family has lived there for generations, and he feels a duty to preserve the past. The website his son Daniel created has been good for business, but although Martin is a real estate agent by trade, he’s wary of newcomers’ motivations.
Especially Midnight Shelby, who seems bent on changing everything…even him.
READ AN EXCERPT
“Mayberry at last.”
Midnight Shelby pulled into a parking place on Main Street in front of the big brick building whose drooping, faded sign still halfheartedly proclaimed Jim Bob’s Saloon. It was hers now—the first building of any sort she’d ever owned. A sign for her own business would be one of the first changes to make.
She climbed out of her Jaguar convertible and stretched. It had been a long drive from New York City to this little town. Long in the literal sense, but also the figurative one. She looked around at the picturesque one-hundred-year-old buildings that anchored the main street of Legend, Tennessee. This was her new world, reached by several hours’ drive and the shedding of a painful past.
According to her realtor’s office, Legend had a population of about six thousand. She noticed a few people walking along the sidewalk or from car to store, well-worn vehicles heading north and south on the unimaginatively named Main Street. In her two days of driving, she’d seen a lot of small towns, some county seats complete with courthouse squares, and some with a single main thoroughfare, very much like this one. Before this excursion, small towns only existed for her on television. Mayberry was her favorite from all those years ago when she watched The Andy Griffith Show as a child. It had seemed an idyllic place to live. That’s why when Midnight Shelby’s life fell apart, she decided to move from big city-big corporate life to the real world—Mayberry—or rather, Legend, Tennessee. She found her version of paradise via the internet. Otherwise, she never would have known it existed. Even with a good magnifying glass, Legend was barely visible on a map.
The air around her was cool and crisp and smelled of evergreen. Delightful. She inhaled deeply and relaxed a bit. Relaxing had to be a conscious effort for her; it didn’t come naturally.
Midnight lightly ran her fingers along the gleaming silver hood of her car as she stepped onto the sidewalk. Along with the new scenery, the car also represented a new start for her. No more boring, black, safe sedan; no more familiar city. In every possible way, Midnight had left her comfort zone miles behind her.
After twenty years of marriage, her life had changed suddenly when she returned from a business trip and found a scribbled note from her husband on the kitchen table. Their marriage had been in trouble for a while, but she’d still been stunned.
Midnight. Sorry to let you know this way….
The divorce process had been hellish—emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Always a private person comfortable in her own company, Midnight had felt lonely for the first time in her life. Being alone by intention was light years away from being alone due to loss.
When all the divorce paperwork was finalized, her attorney, Rebecca Mayfield, took Midnight out for dinner and encouraged her to look to the future with a positive attitude. After all, the property settlement turned out rather well for Midnight. With the sale of the property, she had everything she needed to start a new life. She could find another elegant apartment—one without memories of Jeff—and set it up with the lovely furniture and collectible items that were now hers alone. She’d continue with the work she loved, make new friends….
Midnight reached back into her car and picked up the little voodoo doll she purchased at a roadside stand. She had been surprised to learn one could find some very interesting things at small trading posts in the mountains of Tennessee. She hadn’t been able to pass up the place with the purple sign that flashed out: MEN ARE SCUM! in hot pink letters. Fifteen dollars was a bargain for the foot tall, cotton-stuffed voodoo doll and complimentary three-inch straight pin with “pearl” tip. The dolls came in red, yellow, black, and white and one could purchase markers to individualize them. She chose a plain white one and left it faceless.
That way it not only symbolized her ex-husband, but also the man who got her fired from the job she had—and loved—ever since college. After her divorce, a co-worker tried to “comfort” her in a very physical way. When she refused, he retaliated by pulling strings with upper management. Suddenly Midnight was drawing unemployment checks. By that time, she was so tired of fighting, she didn’t even try to get the job back.
The anonymous voodoo doll symbolized men in general to her right now. Men really were scum.
She jabbed the pin into the doll’s crotch a few times. Some of the stuffing dropped out. She’d worked on that particular area repeatedly since making the purchase a few hours ago.
Midnight tossed the doll onto the smoky-gray leather passenger seat and checked her watch. Exactly five o’clock. She was on time, of course. The person she was meeting, however, was late. She leaned against the passenger side door attempting to relax and release the frustration from this lack of punctuality.
Midnight noticed a tall, dark-haired man and a teenager—from his build and hair color, likely the man’s son—having a discussion in front of a building in the next block. The motion of the red and white barber pole out front indicated the shop was open.
It was obvious the boy didn’t want anything to do with a haircut. He could have been the poster child for Surly Teenager Syndrome. Finally, the shaggy-haired boy relented—she could see it as his shoulders sagged—and entered the building. The father turned fully in Midnight’s direction and she tried not to pay attention, but it was difficult. Even from this distance, she could make out broad shoulders and strong facial features that would have done a Greek statue proud, and…. Hmm. In spite of herself, she wondered about the rest of him. How would he stand up to the Greek statue test?
What a useless train of thought. It had been a very long time since she’d been with a man. How long? Too long to remember. But the first day in her new town wasn’t the right moment to suddenly become needy. She reached for the cotton figure again. She might need to make a return trip to the stand. Maybe buy another voodoo doll and pick up a plate for the front of her car as well. Twenty-five dollars to proclaim MENRSCUM everywhere she drove seemed like a good deal. Perhaps she needed the reminder.
As she squeezed the fetish in her hand, she noticed the tall, dark man walking toward her. She quickly stuffed the faceless cotton gewgaw under the passenger seat, jabbing her finger with the pin as she did so. The immediate stab of pain helped to focus her attention on reality instead of retribution.
Midnight squeezed a dark red drop of blood from the wound and quickly sucked it clean. She straightened and tucked a stray lock of silky black hair behind her ear. In the city, one didn’t meet strangers’ eyes. But this man looked directly at her, or rather, from her to the convertible and back to her. She could hardly avoid his eyes without seeming rude. Snooty. Citified. Not a good beginning in her new hometown.
Midnight pasted onto her face what she hoped was a friendly smile. Subliminally she willed the man to pass by. A small, bent, gray-haired couple came along from the other direction and they also checked out Midnight and her car. Midnight used her smile on them too. They smiled in return and spoke a word of greeting.
Okay, now Mr. Greek Statue. She turned the smile his way and watched as his brow furrowed a little. He walked over and stuck out his hand, expecting to shake hers.
“Miz Shelby, right? Martin McClain. I wondered if you might have a change of heart and not come.”
Oh, great. Her realtor was Mr. Greek Statue.
With an attitude.
She took a good look. Navy Dockers. Brown leather jacket covering a collarless, blue-knit shirt, Very dark brown hair, straight, and a little mullet-ish in the back. Deep chocolate eyes. Extremely handsome face. A neatly trimmed goatee. Lips…. Oh yeah, definite possibilities there. This man could be trouble.
Meet Magdalena Scott
USA Today Bestselling Author Magdalena Scott writes sweet romance and romantic women’s fiction. A lifelong resident of Small Town America, she invites readers into her world to find out what’s hidden just below the surface of those tiny dots barely visible on the map. Romance, mystery, and the journey to be one’s best self are all part of a day in her neighborhood. Readers have commented that they’d like to move to the imaginary towns Magdalena writes about, which she takes as high praise indeed.
Magdalena is a practicing minimalist, having downsized from a 3,000 square foot house to a studio apartment, where her Giant Closet continues to resist taming. When not writing at home or spending time with family and friends, she loves to travel–carry-on baggage only–and is always pleasantly surprised at the kindness of strangers.