Unplanned Love: A Love In Spring novel, page 1
Table of Contents
Love In Spring Book 3
Other Books By Roberta
About the Author
Love In Spring Book 3
Other Books By Roberta
About the Author
a Love In Spring novel
by Roberta Capizzi
Copyright 2017 Roberta Capizzi
All rights reserved.
Edited by Serena Clarke - Free Bird Editing
Cover design by Najla Qamber Designs - All rights reserved.
To discover other titles by Roberta Capizzi, please visit her website or her author page on Amazon.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, institutions, organizations, places and incidents in this novel are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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To Joslyn, Julie, and Maria.
Never stop believing in your dreams.
“You. Lousy. Pig!”
The smartphone sailed past Donnie’s shoulder, narrowly missing his head as he ducked just in time. It smacked against the white lacquered door of the wardrobe and fell to the floor with a thud. Charlotte Wingate stomped into what should’ve been her new office and headed toward her boyfriend and their half-naked boss, who was currently busy buttoning up her blouse as she eased off Donnie’s lap. The image of her boyfriend with his pants down, his shirt unbuttoned, and their boss on top of him would remain branded in her mind forever. How could he do this to her?
“Is this why you didn’t give me the promotion I deserved? The promotion I worked so hard for?” Charli stared straight at Penelope, who was now back to her usual, self-assured self. If it weren’t for the blush on her cheeks and her slightly smudged lipstick, Charli wouldn’t have noticed anything different in her. “Because I lack an appendage?”
Penelope let out an annoyed huff, straightening her skirt. “Charli, stop it. This has nothing to do with the promotion. He deserved it. I knew he’d do a better job.”
“I worked like a slave for you, Pen. Don’t tell me he deserved the promotion. I brought him here.”
Penelope nodded. “Yes, and I’m grateful you did. Donnie will make a great partner in the company, and the fact that we’re attracted to each other doesn’t make a difference.”
“The hell it does!” Charli threw her hands in the air and glared at Donnie. “I can’t believe you’d be willing to prostitute yourself to get the job, my job.” She wished she had laser vision that could set him on fire. She’d love to watch him burn to ashes in the office he’d stolen from her.
“This was never your job, Charli.” Penelope stood tall next to Donnie, as if she wanted to protect him. It made sense she’d try to be a mother hen, after all. “I never said I’d make you a partner. Because this is my company, at the end of the day, so I’ve got the final say on who’s doing what.”
The way she emphasized the possessive pronoun made Charli’s blood boil. Pen had never really cared about her company—as long as she could take the merit for Charli’s successes and cash the checks that would allow her to keep up her high-end lifestyle, she was okay.
Charli had nearly worked herself to death to make sure all deadlines were met, all clients were satisfied, and all events went without a glitch. She had never had an unhappy customer in the nearly five years she’d worked at Golden Gate Events, and the money Pen had made had mostly been thanks to Charli. The other two junior planners weren’t half as good as she was, and Donnie definitely didn’t deserve a promotion that had always had Charli’s name in big, glittering letters.
“You know just as well as I do that he”—she made a point to try her laser vision just in case she’d magically gained it in the meantime—“doesn’t deserve this promotion. He hasn’t even been here a full year yet, and he’s never organized a single event without my supervision.” She crossed her arms on her chest and glared a bit more for good measure. “You have no idea how many times I’ve had to come up with last-minute solutions to save an event he’d nearly screwed. Why don’t you tell her, Donnie?”
He shrugged. “I think you’re exaggerating. Just because you’re upset things didn’t work out between us, you shouldn’t try to sully my reputation.”
“Just to make things clear,” she said, taking a step toward him and pointing her index finger at his face. “I’m not upset that things didn’t work out with you because, honestly, you were quite a let-down. Both in and out of bed.”
It wasn’t the scorned girlfriend talking now. It was the truth. Seeing her boyfriend fooling around with another woman—their boss, to make things worse—had somehow opened her eyes and made her realize what she’d been trying to hide for months. She’d never really loved Donnie. She had probably never been in love with him, either. They’d taken their relationship outside the office, but they hadn’t done much more than talk about their j
And well, she wasn’t exaggerating when she said he was a let-down in bed, either. Their intimate times had been few and far between, and those few times had been all about how fast he could get it over with for both of them so they could go back to talking about work.
Ugh! How could she have been so stupid? How had she been so blind?
It was Ellie’s fault.
After her best friend left San Francisco to move to an uncivilized beach town in Oregon in July last year, Charli had been left alone. In the six months Ellie had been gone, Donnie and her job were all Charli had. With all of her family in Texas and her only friend in San Francisco, spending time with Donnie had become more force of habit than an actual pleasure. But she’d been okay with it. She didn’t care for settling down and starting a family—not now, not ever. She’d wanted to be a partner in Penelope’s company, and maybe one day even start her own company.
“Charli, I think it’s better if you go home now. Open a bottle of wine, calm down, and tomorrow we can talk about the changes in the company.” Penelope spoke calmly, as if she hadn’t just been caught straddling Charli’s boyfriend. The image made her sick.
“Calm down? Calm down, my foot!” She swiped her hand forcefully across Donnie’s desk—what should’ve been her desk—and a pile of papers, folders and a couple of notebooks crashed to the floor. “You’ve just given my promotion to my boyfriend only because you’re sleeping with him!” In a fit of rage, she stomped on the papers with her three-inch heels, then kicked them all around the floor. “And you know what hurts the most? Not the fact that you purposely did it even though you knew he was dating me, no.” She shook her head and gave another kick, sending more paper flying. “What hurts is that all this time you’ve exploited me, taken advantage of my dedication to this job, my abilities, my excitement for the job, and my goals, but when it was time to reward someone, you chose him because he had sex with you.” She shook her head again as the sting of tears told her it was time to go, before they thought she was crying because of him. “And you, lousy, cheating pig. You used me to get into the company, to steal the job you knew I was after. I saved your ass more than once, and this is how you thank me.”
“Shut up!” She stomped her foot, and he took a step back. She was probably acting like a crazy woman, but who cared anymore. “Pen, do you think I’d be okay working here, taking orders from him—from both of you, now?”
“Well, you’ve been an important asset to the company and—”
“You should’ve thought about that before you pulled my boyfriend’s pants down.” She took a step forward, toward them. Donnie took a step to the side, like the coward he was, and shielded himself behind the leather chair. Penelope stood her ground, fisting her hands on her hips as if to intimidate her. Charli wanted to laugh. Seriously? Was that the best she could do?
She crouched and picked up her phone from the floor. There was a small crack on the screen, but all in all it looked okay. Most of her contacts and her recent e-mails were on that phone. And she’d be dead before she let Donnie have them.
She plopped the phone into her purse, pulled the strap further up her shoulder and took a long, fortifying breath. “Oh, and by the way… I quit.”
The words felt as good as they felt scary.
“Charli, don’t make impulsive decisions you’ll regret.” Penelope stepped forward, reaching out her hands as if she wanted to hug her. If she only dared, Charli would bite her. Seriously.
“I’m worth more than this, and if you can’t see it, someone else will.” She lifted her chin and stared straight into Pen’s eyes. “And I’m not the one who’s making impulsive decisions here. He’s a great charmer, but he lacks skills in both the work and sex departments. But who am I to judge what you like, after all?”
Penelope let out a gasp as Charli spun around and strutted out of her office with a sway of her hips. Served her right. Not that Charli was an expert as far as guys and sex were concerned, but she could definitely say that Donnie had never made her feel like they do in the movies or in books. There had never been any toe-curling, heart-stopping moments, no screaming of names and asking for more. She wouldn’t include those few times they’d slept together in her list of the most amazing experiences of her life. Then again, maybe it was something to do with her; judging by the way Pen had been panting and moaning, perhaps it was Charli who hadn’t been able to appreciate his skills.
Yuck, the image of those two together made her shudder. She needed to pick up her stuff and get out of this place as soon as possible, before she threw up all over the polished tiled floor—or before she gave in to instinct and walked back to teach Donnie a lesson he wouldn’t forget. Her three older brothers had taught her a few useful techniques when she was a teenager, in case a guy made an unwelcome move on her and they weren’t around to help her; those would come in useful now.
If this thing had taught her a lesson, though, it was that men were just a useless distraction on her path to a successful career. She wouldn’t let anyone within arm’s reach until she was sitting on the top of the corporate ladder, either as a partner or as the owner of her own event company. And even then, she’d probably keep them all at a distance, just in case.
It was time to start a new life.
There weren’t many things Charli hated, but driving on solitary country roads with rain mixed with ice pellets pelting against the windshield was quickly escalating to the top of the chart with every mile that took her further away from civilization. She squinted through the windscreen of her VW Beetle, and nothing but fields and trees met her eyes. Could this day get any worse?
She’d been on the road for seven hours and thirty minutes, driving nearly non-stop all the four hundred miles from San Francisco to Spring Harbor, Oregon where her friend Ellie was getting married in a week. She felt as if she’d been driving for days, though, especially once she crossed the border and left California behind. Clouds had started coming in the moment she saw the green Welcome To Oregon sign on the side of the road. As if Mother Nature was having fun testing her resolution and resistance, the first lone drops started falling two hundred yards past the sign, and the sky turned darker, the rain turning into a mix of water and ice the farther she drove. Under other circumstances, she would’ve probably loved the scenic drive along the rugged coast. Today, though, she didn’t exactly feel like enjoying it, not after the weeks she’d had.
Sure, she could’ve booked a flight and asked her friend to pick her up from the airport, which was only approximately ninety miles away from her destination, but considering her friend now lived in the thick of the woods, Charli had reckoned her car would come handy. Especially now that she didn’t have a place to stay anymore and wouldn’t want to go back to San Francisco just to pick up her car after the wedding.
Two weeks after leaving her job, she’d come to the conclusion that her chances of finding another one without any references from her ex-boss were going to be pretty slim. And when she ran into Lousy Pig twice in a week, and one of those times he was playing lovebirds with Penelope at a café near the office, she realized she could no longer stay there. Besides, without a job she wouldn’t be able to afford the rent she’d been struggling to pay all on her own after Ellie left. She still had a couple of months left to finish paying off her student loan, and she had no intention of taking money from her family, or using the trust fund her grandmother had set up when Charli was just a kid and that had become available to her upon turning twenty-five. That money would stay right where it was until she was ready to star
So she’d called her landlord, packed up her life, put what little furniture she and Ellie had bought up for sale in a second-hand shop, and hopped into her car with all that she owned neatly packed into two big suitcases, a travel bag, and a carry-on. She’d told Ellie she’d show up a couple of days before the wedding, to deal with all the last-minute details she hadn’t been able to take care of from San Francisco, but she was sure her friend wouldn’t be suspicious if she came a week before instead. She’d already planned to tell Ellie she’d taken a few extra days off so she could personally take care of all the preparations on site. She wasn’t going to spoil Ellie’s big day with her sorry tale of a cheating boyfriend and missed promotion, at least not until her friend had a ring on her finger.
Now, as she drove on unfamiliar roads that seemed to belong in a horror movie, she couldn’t help questioning her sanity—as well as her friend’s. Seriously, who would want to live in the middle of nowhere?
The wind picked up, blowing through the tall trees and making them sway dangerously as it whistled around the car, against the windshield and the windows. A particularly strong gust shook the car, and a second later a branch fell off a tree, some two hundred feet ahead. She instinctively stomped on the brake, shrieking as the car skidded sideways with a three-sixty and stopped at the side of the road. She collapsed against the steering wheel, letting out a sigh of relief. Mother Nature had a sick sense of humor indeed. Well, at least she wasn’t dead, and her car was intact, it seemed.
Once her heart rate returned to normal, she turned the key in the ignition, wanting to reach her destination as soon as possible. The engine sputtered—and stopped. Her heart took a dive and her throat constricted.
She tried again, pressing down on the gas pedal as the car once again spluttered and coughed like a dying man taking his last breath.
Other author's books:
- Saved by an AngelUnplanned Love: A Love In Spring novelThe melody in our hearts
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