Clarissa Jean, Homecoming Queen By author – Jessica Goodwin Genre – Chick Lit/Romance
When Claire Bradshaw decides to end her dead-end relationship of several years, she only has one place to go – back home to the tiny town of Palmetto Park. Claire keeps bumping into people from her past as she struggles to shake her “better than everybody” reputation, make peace with her enemies, and even attempts to rekindle an old flame. Claire gets to know her old friends all over again and gets to know more about herself as she starts over – right back where it all started.
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“…girl, we’ve got company coming.”
“Oh?” Claire asked. “Who?” Aunt Nancy gave Claire a look that said it all and tilted her head toward the front door. “Steve?” Claire groaned.
Nancy nodded. “That was your mother on the phone. I guess he went by your folks’ house and then the store looking for you. He’s on his way here.”
“Great,” Claire said. She marched out onto the front porch and stood with her hands on her hips, squinting. The sun had come out and the fog had mostly burned off. She looked up and down the street for Steve’s Escalade, which seemed so out of place in this neck of the woods. Sure enough, after a minute or two, she watched the vehicle make the turn off of Main Street and come creeping slowly down the street. She could see Steve looking out the window for house numbers, and then he spotted her Jeep parked in front of the house. He parked behind her and got out of the car.
“What are you still doing here?” Claire asked.
Steve sheepishly stuck his hands in his pockets. “I spent the night in a hotel outside of town. I just wanted to talk. I wanted to try to explain.”
“I don’t really need an explanation for something that I saw with my own two eyes.”
“Look, Claire, you know things haven’t been great with us. You had to have felt it, too. I felt like you and I were just … roommates. Not soul mates.”
Claire rolled her eyes. Soul mates? She’d been with Steve for almost a decade and had never heard him talk like that. “So you and that other woman are soul mates?”
“Madison and I are in love,” he said. “Something you and I haven’t been for a long time.” Claire flinched and Steve caught her reaction. “You know it’s true.”
“So that’s how you take care of the situation?” Claire asked, feeling her lower lip tremble. She folded her arms across her chest and raised her chin, hoping to stay strong. “You just cheated on me, instead of talking to me about it?”
“You could’ve talked to me, too.” Steve said, folding his arms across his chest and mimicking Claire’s defensive posture.
“So somehow this is my fault?”
“It’s nobody’s fault, Claire. It just happened. It’s like I met Madison and my whole world changed,” Steve began.
Claire held up a hand to stop him. “You think I want to hear this?” she said, her voice cracking and a tear threatening to spill from the corner of her right eye.
“I just wanted you to know the truth. You’re a great person, Claire…” Steve trailed off as the wail of a siren came closer and closer. They both turned to look toward Main Street as the sound got louder. A police vehicle sped their way and screeched to a halt in the middle of the street in front of Nancy’s house. The officer cut the siren but kept the lights flashing. Aunt Nancy came out on the porch and placed her hand on Claire’s shoulder.
Claire gawked as Cooper got out of the car, took off his sunglasses, and tucked them into his shirt. He strode up the sidewalk and stood next to Steve but looked up to Claire on the porch. “What seems to be the problem, Clarissa Jean?” he asked.
Unable to speak, Claire quickly swiped at her eyes to wipe away any tears.
“There’s no problem, officer,” Steve said.
“I received a call that there was,” Cooper said sternly. “Is he bothering you, Clarissa Jean?”
Nancy squeezed Claire’s shoulder just the slightest bit and the corners of Claire’s mouth twitched up into a smile. “Well, yeah, kinda. I don’t know why he’s still here when I’ve told him that I don’t want anything to do with him anymore.”
“That true?” Cooper asked, turning to Steve.
“Officer, I just came to talk!” Steve protested.
“Well, have you said what you needed to say?” Cooper asked. As soon as Steve nodded, he continued. “Then I think you best get out of here. The lady’s already told you she doesn’t want to have anything to do with you.”
“Claire, tell this guy we were just talking!”
“We’re done talking, Steve. Goodbye,” Claire said. “Good luck with your new girlfriend.”
Cooper looked at Steve expectantly. When he didn’t move, Cooper said, “Time for you to hit the road.” Steve looked helplessly up at Claire for a minute. She waved goodbye. Without a word, Steve turned around, returned to his car, and sped off without another glance.
When he was gone, Claire finally exhaled. “Thanks, Cooper.”
Nancy jingled the key ring and climbed down the steps, patting Cooper on the arm as she passed him. “Thank you, Deputy Cooper,” she said. “I’ll be checking out the cottages, Clarissa Jean.”
“No problem, Ms. Bradshaw,” Cooper said, sliding his sunglasses back onto his nose and smiling. He leaned on the railing and grinned up at Claire. “Now, Clarissa Jean, I can’t always come to your rescue from the big bad ex-boyfriend.”
Claire giggled. “He crashed dinner at my parents’ house yesterday, went back there today, and then showed up at the store looking for me. I’m guessing that my mother told him I was here just to keep him from being a pain at the store.”
Cooper nodded. “And then your aunt called in the cavalry. Hopefully he doesn’t bother you anymore.”
“I don’t think he will. I think we’re done.”
“That a good thing?”
“Yes, it’s a good thing.”
“Because when I walked up here, it didn’t look that good,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was going to have to hurt the guy for making you cry, or what.”
She looked at Cooper and knew that he was being serious, so there was no sense in pretending that she hadn’t been near tears. “He was just saying some things that were … true. That’s all.”
“But you’re okay?”
“I’m fine,” Claire said. “Thank you again.”
“You’re welcome. I need to get back to work. See you around sometime?” He phrased it like a question.
Claire nodded. “See you around.”
About the Author
Jessica Goodwin lives in northern Virginia near Washington, DC with her husband, son, and their two cats. She likes cookies, coffee, and anything that sparkles. If she could have any animal for a pet, it would be a T-Rex. She loves experimenting in the kitchen, going wine tasting, singing in the shower, and taking pictures of the baby.
Two of Goodwin’s books, ‘Here We Go’ and ‘The One Who Got Away’ have been on the Amazon bestseller list. In March 2012, her third book, ‘One of the Guys,’ received an Honorable Mention in Sapphire Star Publishing’s Month of Romance contest. These titles were originally published on Amazon under her former name, Jessica Strassner, but have been rereleased under the name Jessica Goodwin.
Goodwin is also a mom blogger with work appearing on Scary Mommy, Baby Gaga, and Mommy Effect. She hopes to someday write a humorous parenting memoir.
Visit www.jessica-goodwin.com for more information.
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