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Taking Chances


by Rose Marie Meuwissen

Taking Chances

As if losing her mother to cancer wasn’t bad enough, Shana Madden was unlucky enough to be laid off from her job only months later. Considering she had nothing else to lose, she stops at a local bar and after one too many drinks takes a chance on a one night stand with Kal Paxton only to end up with unexpected complications. During the next two years her life goes from bad to the worst years of her life, so she leaves Minneapolis to get a fresh start in sunny Phoenix. On the first day of her new job at Arizona Memorial Hospital, she realizes she will be working with Kal Paxton.

Kal Paxton’s one night stand with Shana weighed heavily on his mind, but when all attempts to contact her after that night were unsuccessful, the only choice was to give up and move on. After filling in at his friend’s clinic one fateful day, his life changes forever. Growing up in Minnesota was something he would always cherish, but the sunny days of Phoenix beckoned to him. After moving there, he assumed he would never see Shana again, but he was wrong.

What were the odds they would meet again? With both harboring life altering secrets from their past, only time would tell if they resist or succumb to the intense sexual chemistry between them. Ultimately, they must decide whether to reveal their secrets to each other so they can take a chance on a new future together and a love that can last a lifetime or walk away.


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Release Date: April 30, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance


Excerpt

Chapter One

 

Had she just really been laid off from her job? What else could possibly go wrong? Shana Madden kept asking herself that question.

She was completely alone. Her mother was gone now. Often, she wondered what she would feel like when it happened—when her mother died. She’d anticipated it would be difficult, but never realized it would make such a difference to her everyday life. Death was just so final. Every day she missed her. Missed talking to her on the phone. Hearing her soothing voice telling her everything would be okay.

Shana had been employed in her marketing position at Ultimate Promotions for almost ten years. Moving up the ladder of success, she’d finally landed her dream job. She loved it. Being somewhat of a workaholic, she lived and breathed her job—the ad campaigns and planning marketing events for her clients. So busy working all the time, she hadn’t realized how desperately she actually needed the extra money her latest promotion had added to her paycheck. Now the bills for all her mother’s extra care, towards the end of her life, began arriving in the mail. The funeral costs were considerably more than she’d ever anticipated. Who knew it cost nearly $10,000 for a funeral these days?

The intense shock she felt when she was called into her manager’s office earlier today was unimaginable. Roscoe Advertising recently bought out the company. Everyone was reassured there would not be any employment changes and no one needed to be concerned about their jobs.

They lied. Boy, did they lie!

After the takeover by the new owners, over half of the staff was laid off—including her.

Life certainly sucked. The day simply couldn’t get any worse. It was five o’clock and she only had a few more personal things to load into a box as she finished cleaning out her office cubicle. Sadly, ten years of her life fit neatly into one small empty printer-paper box. Unfortunately, that was the sad truth of her career. Did she actually have anything of value to show for the past ten years? Probably not. Only memories. The happy ones she would always remember, but that was about it. Just a few memories and one box to take with her.

She should probably be on the brink of tears at this point, but they didn’t seem to be coming. Only a couple of stray tears managed to slide down her cheek in the past hour. Her co-workers stopped by one by one to say how sorry they were and reassure her everything would be okay. She’d be able to start over with a different company and probably be paid a higher salary. Nonetheless, she could sense the relief in their voices that it hadn’t been them. They still had jobs, so of course they could say everything would be okay.

Truth of the matter was she wouldn’t be anywhere near okay unless she got a new job tomorrow. There were already way too many bills to pay. She barely earned enough money to pay them with a steady paycheck and there definitely wouldn’t be enough now. Any way you looked at it, she was now in deep financial trouble.

Mother was sick for over a year before her death, just three months ago, and Shana had agreed to pay the nursing home bills. What other choice did she have? After all, it was her mother, the only family she’d had left. She had no brothers or sisters to help and her dad died years ago. No, it was only her. She was responsible for taking care of her mother’s affairs so she promised to make payments. Eventually, it would get paid off. No matter how long it took, she would do it. Unfortunately, it really helped to have a job. Oh, she’d file for unemployment, but the checks would barely be enough to cover the essentials.

Shana picked up the box, her organizer bag and purse, then stopped and turned back for a second to stare at the cubicle she’d called home for the last ten years. Another tear slid down her cheek as she proceeded down the hall and headed for the door.

It really wasn’t very far to her car in the parking lot, although it seemed like the longest walk of her life. She got in and sat serenely in the driver’s seat, blankly staring out the windshield. Reaching into her purse, she pulled out her cell phone and started to call her mother. Then abruptly stopped. It was a habit to always call her mother on her drive home from work. She ended the call as her heart broke into a million pieces and tears rolled down her cheeks. She was so alone. The feeling of hopelessness was overwhelming.

“You’ll be okay. Get a grip girl.” Now she was even talking to herself. Only crazy people did that, didn’t they?

Shana knew she should go home, but couldn’t. She didn’t have any idea where to go but knew she needed to be around people. Driving without a destination definitely was not a good thing. She ended up in the parking lot of Bear Creek Pass, a local Minneapolis eating and drinking establishment catering to the career people after work. She couldn’t remember going through any intersections or even getting off the freeway. A very scary thought.

Having a drink seemed like the appropriate thing to do in this situation. The only problem was she didn’t drink. Maybe, one on rare occasions. Most people thought drinking solved all their problems, so this would be as good a time as any to try out the theory. For drinking to have any affect, more than one drink undoubtedly was needed, and one was usually her limit. It was worth trying it out tonight. The theory. She had no place else to go and didn’t have to go to work in the morning. What could it hurt?

She hated going to bars, especially alone. She walked in and sat down on a high stool at the bar. It wasn’t crowded yet, however probably would be soon. It was happy hour, so she ordered a frozen strawberry margarita, which unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you looked at it, meant she would get two, and a chicken fingers appetizer.

She’d been so busy working on her Dallas event for Holiday Travel; she never took the time to have lunch. She skipped lunch many times and worked straight through the day. She was dedicated to her job and her career. What a fool she’d been! It didn’t matter to her company. Not one bit. They completely managed to get the work of two people out of her for the price of one. They weren’t the fools in this one, she was. At her next job, she was going to take lunch every day, no matter what.

The strawberry margarita was cool and refreshing. The first one was gone along with half of the chicken and she was halfway finished with her second drink. Well, she hadn’t eaten all day after all. The bartender asked if she would like another drink. She looked up at him, trying to concentrate on what he was saying. It had gotten very loud. She looked around the bar and realized it was almost full except for the bar stool next to her. The bartender was still waiting for her answer. She nodded. What the Hell. It was only two drinks and she had eaten so she should be okay to have another one.

Music was now playing and the lights were lower. She noticed people were out dancing and having a good time. Must be nice.

“Would you like to dance?”

Her mind was clouded, but she thought someone was talking to her. Something about dancing? She looked up to see a breathtakingly handsome man waiting for her reply.

“It’s only a dance.”

“Uh, oh sure.” I don’t have anything to lose, do I? She got up off the stool and swayed slightly. Then walked to the dance floor with him following.

She danced and moved her body to the beat of the music, swinging her hips seductively and tossing her long blond hair from side to side. She looked up at him and smiled. He was just under six feet tall, trim and fit. His body glowed with a natural tan from the sun. He grinned down at her with appreciation as he watched her dance. She moved closer to him dancing even more seductively than before.

The dancing proved to be the right thing. It made her forget about her problems and allowed her body to relax, of course the alcohol probably helped, too. They danced to a couple of songs and then headed back to the barstools.

“Sorry, I didn’t introduce myself, I’m Kal,” he said extending his hand.

“Shana,” she said shaking his hand.

“Mind if I join you at the bar?” he asked.

“No, of course not.”

“I’d order you a drink but it looks like you’re set,” he said looking at two strawberry margaritas in front of her.

“Happy hour.” She always hated this part, trying to make conversation with a stranger. He certainly was good looking, unfortunately, that usually meant he either had a girlfriend or didn’t want one. You could tell he worked out by the muscles in his arms and his flat stomach. His hair was coal black, cut in a short business style, and his eyes were baby blue. Hell he probably had women falling at his feet to get dates with him. What was he doing talking to her? Probably was having an off night and wanted to score tonight for a one-night stand. Well, he just may be in luck. One-night stands were not her style, in fact, she’d never had one, nonetheless, tonight she just didn’t really care. If she ever needed to be close to someone, it was tonight. The thought of being held in his arms, even for a few hours was immensely appealing. She was jumping the gun though, because he hadn’t actually hinted towards sleeping with her at all, yet she sure as hell was thinking about it.

“So what do you do?” he asked.

“I’m in advertising,” she answered, not exactly lying yet not actually getting into the truth of the matter that as of today she didn’t have a job. “And you?” she countered to take the focus off her.

“I’m in the medical field,” he said not really offering more. “This is a good song. Would you like to dance again?”

“Sure,” she answered, getting up off the stool. It was a slow one. Usually she didn’t dance slow ones with strangers, however she didn’t want to talk about jobs and she wanted to feel his hard body pressed against hers.

 

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