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A Magnolia Friendship

A Magnolia Friendship

The Red Stiletto Bookclub Series, Book 3

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I thought when Craig walked out on me, that was it. I was never going to find love again…

I was wrong.



I have discovered that being a single mom is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. With my job, strained relationship with Tag, and trying to keep my household from falling apart, I barely has time for myself, much less dating.

One night and out of an act of sheer stupidity, I allow Fiona, the new, young move-in, to convince the bookclub to go to a bar across the bridge.

I didn't expect to find a guy who is easy to talk to. I didn't expect that he would quickly become my friend.

And I didn't expect him to be the little brother of the town's know-it-all mayor.


I’ve lived my entire life portraying perfection. As the daughter of a senator and the mayor of Magnolia, everything I do has to be precise and calculated. I thought everything was going my way, until my campaign manager informs me that the city doesn't feel connected to me.

And suddenly, my re-election is on the line.

In order to turn the residents back into my favor, I have to fix the one thing I’ve never been able to conquer—my personality.

A Magnolia Friendship with capture you from page one. It’s a story full of unexpected friendships, laughter, tears, and swoon-worthy romance.Don’t pass up this wonderful story! Grab your copy TODAY!

Chapter One Look Inside

The package sitting on my dresser was hard to ignore. It was as if
a giant dragon had perched itself there and was staring at me, daring me to
pick it up. It looked innocent enough. The light-brown paper with the black
lettering shouldn’t be as intimidating as it felt. But in its plain appearance,
it mocked me. I knew exactly what it held inside.

My divorce papers.

I sighed as I finished buttoning up my shirt and pulled my hair
out of the ponytail it had been in all day. My soft brown hair swished at my
shoulders. In an effort to reinvent myself, I’d allowed Clementine to convince
me to visit Mia at Clip and Snip, the local stylist here in Magnolia.

She’d done a fabulous job trimming the dead and fraying ends that
I’d allowed to accumulate while I was going through the drama with Craig.
Getting it cut felt symbolic for what I’d done when I walked out on Craig the
night I discovered exactly why our marriage was failing.

When I’d discovered the other woman.

Freeing myself from the damage he caused helped me see the kind of
person I wanted to be, even though I wasn’t that person yet. Going from an
intact family to a broken one was never going to be simple—I knew that—but I
just hadn’t anticipated how soul-crushing it would be.

Seeing Bella tear up and Tag close down when I told them that
their dad was moving out and living across the bridge was enough for me to fear
that I’d made the wrong choice. It was almost enough for me to drag Craig’s
sorry butt back here and attempt to make it work.

But then the memory of living under the same roof as my cheating
husband washed over me, and I pushed those thoughts from my mind. Instead of
getting back together, I was going to figure out how to make my new normal work
for my family.

It wasn’t ideal. But I was going to make sure that my children
never wanted for anything. They were my world, and I was going to make sure
that they knew that. Every day.

After slipping on my sandals, I opened my door and made my way out
to the kitchen. The sound of Jake and Clementine’s laughter mixed with Bella’s
was like music to my ears. Tonight was a book club meeting, and Jake had
offered to watch the kids so that Clementine and I could have a night out.

It’d been three months since he’d moved back home. Once I’d
decided to leave Craig and Jake had decided that he couldn’t live without
Clementine, we’d spent most of the summer camping and fishing with the kids. It
had been nice having them around. They helped me feel less lonely and isolated.
They forced me out even if I didn’t want to go.

Clementine was consumed with getting her dance studio together,
and Jake was learning the ropes of the hardware store he was going to take over.
I was happy that they both had found a place to put down roots and a person to
love. They were happy, and if I were completely honest, I was jealous of that

Was I ever going to feel that way again?

“Uh oh.” Jake’s teasing smile popped up in front of me. I blinked
a few times as I brought my thoughts back to the present.

“What?” I asked as I whacked his arm.

Jake pulled back, pinching his lips and shaking his head.
“Nothing. Nothing,” he repeated.

I shot him a dirty look as I crossed the kitchen and pulled open
the fridge to grab out a bottle of orange juice. I was in the middle of pouring
when he made his way over to me. Just as I set my glass down, his arm wrapped
around my shoulders, and suddenly, I was being pulled into a side-crushing hug.

I wiggled, but when I realized there was no way I was going to be
able to escape his embrace, I relaxed and turned to glare at him. “Can I help
you?” I asked. Even though I enjoyed having him around, I didn’t enjoy the fact
that, every so often, he looked at me as if to ask “Everything okay?”

It only made me realize that, perhaps, I wasn’t okay. And then all
of my doubt, all of my worry, would creep up, causing butterflies to attack my
stomach and take over my nerves.

It was as if he were sawing at the very thin thread that was
holding my life together. Eventually I was going to snap—and I couldn’t afford
to snap.

Not right now.

So I jabbed him the ribs, causing him to flinch and pull back. I
took his moment of weakness as my signal to move and spun away. Just as I
stopped myself on the counter perpendicular to him, Clementine let out a cheer.
I glanced over at her to see her grinning in my direction.

“Perfect spin-out,” she said, motioning toward me.

I scoffed as I glanced around, but my cheeks heated from her
praise. There was no hiding the fact that I had two left feet when it came to
anything dancing related. So the fact that Clementine gave me a compliment—even
if I doubted her words—made me feel embarrassed.

As if she sensed my unease, Clementine cleared her throat and
smiled over at Jake. “Well, we should get going,” she said as she made her way
over and linked arms with me. She peeked over at me, and I nodded.

“Yeah, we don’t want to be late.” I eyed my brother. “Think you
can handle this?”

Jake laughed as he made his way over to Bella and picked her up,
slinging her over his shoulder. She squealed with excitement as her hand moved
to grip the back of his shirt. “I think we’ll be fine.” He bumped his shoulder,
causing Bella to bounce.

Her giggle turned into a shrill, and I attempted to shush her, but
that was like trying to stop a raging river with a stick. He was riling her up,
and I knew if I was going to enjoy my evening without worrying about my
children, I needed to leave.

With my stilettos in hand, I followed Clementine as she led the
way to the back door. Before I stepped outside, I turned to meet Jake’s gaze.
“Do something with the monster,” I mouthed as I nodded toward Tag’s room.

I thought things with Tag were hard when Craig was around, but I
had been kidding myself. They were ten times worse now that he was no longer
here. I didn’t know if Tag felt as if his father’s absence meant he didn’t need
to respect me or if I’d failed him completely as his mother—but things were

He was refusing to speak to me, and most of the time I couldn’t
get him out of his room. Hopefully with me gone, his beloved uncle Jake would
be able to talk some sense into the kid. And maybe convince him to take a
shower. The room was beginning to smell like a hazard area—I was going to have
to condemn it any day now.

Jake gave me a quick nod. I felt a tad relieved and hopeful that
he was going to get further than I’d been able to. I turned and headed out to
Clementine’s car. We piled in and took off toward the inn.

The group was smaller today. Besides me, Clementine, Maggie, and
Victoria, the only other person who joined us was Fiona. She was new to the
island and younger. I tried to talk to her a few times, but I ended up feeling
ancient. I wouldn’t mind being her friend—if I didn’t feel as if I could
somehow be her mother.

Which, when I broke it down, was impossible. I would have to have
been fifteen when I gave birth, but still. It was a possibility. A weird and
awkward possibility that I preferred not to think about.

With our heels on, we sat around Maggie’s kitchen island while we
drank margaritas and ate chips that Clementine had picked up from the local
Mexican restaurant. The books we’d brought were stacked on the counter next to
us, but it seemed as if no one was really interested in talking about them.

Which, if I were honest with myself, I was completely on board
with. A night out with the girls was exactly what I needed.

“How’s the studio going?” Maggie asked as she glanced over at
Clementine, who was mid-bite.

She quickly chewed and took a sip of her drink before she
responded. “Good. Just finishing up some final touches. We should be ready to
open middle of next month.”

We all nodded, and I made a mental note to ask her about classes
for Bella. But before anyone could speak, Clementine cleared her throat and her
cheeks hinted pink as she peered around at us.

I furrowed my brow, fully understanding what this look meant.
Clementine was about to do something devious.

“Actually, I wanted to talk to you ladies about a class I’m
thinking about bringing to the studio.”

I grabbed a chip and dipped it into the salsa. “Spill it, chica,”
I said.

Everyone had their gaze focused on Clementine as she took in a
deep breath and then parted her lips.

“I’m thinking about getting Archer to install some poles in the
back of the studio and starting a pole dancing class.”

Just as the last three words left her lips, I inhaled, causing a
bit of chip to fly to the back of my throat and lodge itself there. I started
hawking and pounding my chest. From the corner of my eye, I saw Maggie stand
and grab a bottle of water from the fridge. When I finally dislodged it, my
eyes were watering and my throat felt raw.

I glanced around to see that everyone was staring at me. I offered
them a weak smile through my watering eyes. They chuckled and turned back to
focus on Clementine.

“Pole dancing is amazing for your core,” Clementine continued. “I
just want to know if anyone would be interested before I have them installed.”
She glanced around to all of us. “What do you think?”

I widened my eyes as I watched Maggie and Fiona nod with fervent
glee. Victoria just sat there with her arms folded and her nose wrinkled as if
she’d just smelled something bad. Not wanting to be in the Victoria camp, I
smiled and nodded along with the other two. Even though when it came down to
it, I doubted I could get my post-babies hips up any pole.

“Sounds fun,” I said as I offered Clementine an encouraging smile.
Her own smile deepened, and I could tell that my friend was excited about this.
And even though I didn’t want to, if taking a class would help her out, I was
willing to do it.

Clementine got a far-off look in her eyes as she leaned back in
her chair and folded her arms. “It’s going to be epic.”

We all laughed, and the conversation drifted away into silence. I
grabbed another chip just as Fiona perked up.

“Well, since we aren’t going to be talking about the book, how
about we do something else?” She tapped her fingers on the countertop in front
of her.

“Something else? Why would we do something else?” Victoria asked.

I could hear the annoyance in her voice as she shifted on her
seat. Growing up with her had taught me a lot about her personality. She liked
rules. She liked order. So the idea that we were going to throw that all out
the window had to be bothering her.

And it made me wonder why she was even here. After all, with her
reelection just around the corner, I would have figured she would be swamped
with campaigning and focusing on making her second run as Magnolia’s mayor a
success. She had never been the type to value a friendship over a goal.

At least, that was how she’d treated me when she ditched me in
high school. We’d been friends once, but not anymore.

We were anything but.

“What do you have in mind?” I asked as I turned to Fiona, not
being shy in ignoring Victoria’s comment. Fiona had a glint in her eye that
made me feel nervous and excited at the same time. Right now, I had more in
common with her in the relationship department than I did with pretty much
anyone else in the room.

Victoria didn’t count, and Maggie and Clementine had both found
their lifelong partners. With the package looming over me at home, I was on my
way to being single-Shari. And I didn’t know what that meant or how I was
supposed to act. At least with Fiona around, we could both be single moms

There was solidarity in finding someone in the same situation as

“There’s a new club opening up across the bridge,” she said,
perking up from my question.

I nearly choked, again, on the chip I’d just finished chewing. A
club? Was she serious? I may have gotten ahead of myself thinking we could have
anything in common.

“A club?” Clementine asked as if she could read my mind.

Fiona nodded. “I hear it’s super fun.” She dropped back against
the back of her chair. “Blake just got over a stomach bug, and I’m in need of a
break just to prove to myself that I’m a woman and not a throw-up rag.”

I stared at her. It was as if she was speaking to me. That was
exactly how I felt. How was I going to shift from mom to woman
when I wasn’t even sure how to be woman? I couldn’t help but think that,
perhaps, Fiona held the key to that door, and I was standing in front of it,
waiting for it to open.

“I don’t know…” Maggie said.

“I’m for it.” The words were out of my lips before I could stop
myself. I instantly regretted them when suddenly everyone was staring at
me—they looked a bit too surprised if I were honest. It was as if no one
thought that going to a club might be something I could enjoy. “What?” I asked,
shrugging off their looks with completely fabricated confidence.

“Nothing,” Clementine said as a smile emerged on her lips that was
little too gleeful. It was as if I’d surprised her—but in a good way.

“Great! Shari’s on board. Who else? Victoria?” Fiona asked.

Victoria looked at each of us and then sighed. “Fine. I can’t
believe that we are going to turn into that kind of book club.” She
flicked her red hair over her shoulder and sighed. “But I don’t want to go home
tonight, so let’s do this.”

Fiona cheered, clapping her hands as she motioned toward Maggie
and Clementine. “How about it, ladies? Up for some partying?” Fiona bent her
arms and began shifting her shoulders to a nonexistent beat.

Clementine laughed and stood. “If there’s dancing, I’m there. Let
me call Jake and tell him where we are going.”

Maggie looked a little pale, but she eventually gave a small nod
as she moved to stand. I stood up as well and helped Maggie clear the table.
Once the garbage was thrown away and the chip crumbs were wiped down, we
gathered on the porch as we waited for the rideshare car to come pick us up.

The air around us was filled with laughter as we listened to
Maggie recount a situation where a patron got so drunk, they passed out on the
stairs. Her imitation of Archer cursing and sweating as he tried to carry the
man up the stairs was hysterical.

It wasn’t until we were in the car and on the way across the
bridge that panic set in. This was not me. At all. I was never a partier even
when I was a rebel teenager, and the fact that I was attempting to do this at
my age made me feel like a foreigner in my own body.

As much as I wanted to actually be as brave as I was attempting to
be, I knew the truth. I wasn’t the kind of woman who partied. I wasn’t the kind
of woman who stayed out until all hours of the night surrounded by men.

I wasn’t the kind of woman who drank and danced with her friends.

And even though I knew I wasn’t that kind of woman, I couldn’t
help but wonder what it was like. I couldn’t help but wonder, what if I was?

And that kind of thinking made me feel frightened, sure, but
mostly it made me feel…free.


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The Red Stiletto Bookclub Series

A bookclub started out of desperation soon because exactly what the women of Magnolia needed...a sisterhood.