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A Magnolia Wedding

A Magnolia Wedding

The Red Stiletto Bookclub Series, Book 5

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All I wanted from Jackson was a job, but I got something more. I just hope that I'm enough of a reason for him to stay.


  • Grumpy/Sunshine
  • Boss
  • He Falls First
  • Bookclub/ Friendship
  • Small Town
  • Starting Over



My life is falling apart. With my job on the line, I'm forced to return to the one place I swore I would never go back to: Magnolia.

Now faced with my crumbling relationship with my daughter, it's up to me to attempt to rebuild what I broke so long ago. Wedding plans would be perfect for us to reconnect over--except they're not. Especially when I feel as if I am more of a nuisance than a help.

That only feeds into my fears that my daughter will never want me in her life.

My heart wants me to stay, but my head tells me to leave.


I'm waiting for my court date to come around. In the meantime, I'm determined to find a job to help out my mother's struggling coffee shop. As luck would have it, Maggie knows of a recluse on the far end of the island who is looking for a housekeeper slash chef.

Even though I'm not the greatest homemaker, I decide to give it a shot.

Until I meet Jackson.He's dark. He's broody. And he has a secret that I can't quite figure out.As much as I want to walk away from him, I soon discover that there is more to him than meets the eye.

He may want me to leave, but I'm determined to stay.

If you love reading about a mother and daughter who find healing and a brooding hero who is more than he appears on the surface, you will loveA Magnolia Wedding.

Grab your copy today!

Chapter One Look Inside


I loved the smell of new books. The feel of the crisp cover
against my fingertips and the inky smell that wafted up from it as I turned the
book around in my hand would never get old. I’d been in this business for
twenty years, and every time a new shipment of books got delivered to my
office, I shut the door, opened the box, and breathed it in.

Today was no different. Jackson Richards’ brand-new psychological
thriller was a month away from release day, and the box of advanced reader
copies had just been delivered to me. I took a sort of pride in the fact that
Sampson and Scotts Publishing House always made sure to get my stamp of
approval on everything.

I guess when you are named Editor of the Year for ten years
running, people learn to sit up and take notice.

“How do they look?”

I glanced up to see Harper peek her head around my office door. My
quiet moment was interrupted—never to come back—so I waved her inside. “They
look beautiful. Tisha really outdid herself with the cover this time.” I ran my
fingers along the binding, and a surge of pride pulsed through my veins.

Every book was like my child. I worked so closely with the authors
that, by the time the book was ready to release, I felt as if a part of myself
was on its way out into the world right alongside the author. And then to see
that book excel—priceless.

“I’m so glad to hear that.”

I glanced up to see Harper still standing next to me. She had a
strange smile, and I could cut the tension in the room with a knife. Something
was happening; I just wasn’t sure what.

I knew hiring a girl as young and spunky as Harper was a mistake.
But I was desperate to appear hip in the eyes of the owners—there was talk of
replacing me for someone younger—so I’d made a rash decision and hired her.

I just hadn’t realized how hard she’d be gunning for my job.

I’d contemplated firing her. After all, keeping her around felt
like keeping an assassin in the spare bedroom. But the publishing world was
small, and I had already created a reputation as a hard-nosed witch, which I
was desperate to fix.

Firing your assistant never went over well.

So I kept her close. After all, you should keep your friends close
and your enemies closer. And I had no friends. I was the typical,
career-obsessed woman. I didn’t have time for friends or family.

Not wanting to drag this conversation out any longer than needed,
I took in a deep breath, grabbed my glasses from my desk, and forced a smile.
“What’s up? You look like you need to say something.”

Her expression remained stoic even though I could tell that she
was celebrating inside. Whatever she was about to tell me, she could barely
hold it in. “Mr. Sampson wants to speak to you upstairs.”

And there it was. The owners wanted to talk to me.

I refused to show fear as I glanced in the direction she’d waved
and then nodded. I grabbed a few books and tucked them under my arms as I
headed toward my door. “Ah, they probably want to see the new Jackson Richards
book.” I stepped through my doorway and then called over my shoulder. “It’s
going to be a hit!”

I clenched my shaking hand as I waited at the elevator. Every part
of my body was quaking. It wasn’t normal for Burt or Kyle to call me to their
offices. They normally left me alone to work with the high-rolling authors and
do my thing.

Lately, however, things had changed. From my twitching fingers, I
had a feeling that this summons wasn’t a change I was going to like. Even if my
mind demanded that I stay calm, my intuition was firing on all eight cylinders.
Deep down, I knew I wasn’t going to like whatever they had to say.

The elevator’s ding rattled around in my mind like a ping-pong
ball. Harper had returned to her desk and was typing on her keyboard. I never
realized how loud or jarring that sound was until it was only a few feet away.

Pushing away my annoyance toward her—and, let’s face it, my life
in general—I stepped onto the elevator. I kept my focus trained on the button
I’d pressed as I waited for the doors to close. As soon as I was alone, I
collapsed against the far wall.

I hated feeling out of control, and right now, I had no idea what
was going to happen. I wanted to say that I was safe. That there was no way
they would replace me with a younger editor who was more “in tune with the
culture.” But
I knew better than to assume that I was safe.

No one was safe. Not in a world where image was just as important
as having hundreds of successful books under your belt.

If there was a woman who could sell books like I could but was
thirty years younger—they’d replace me in a heartbeat.

It was a dog-eat-dog world here, and I was no exception.

The doors opened on the thirtieth floor, and I stepped out into a
large foyer with a reception desk between the two offices. Camilla was sitting
there with the phone pressed between her ear and shoulder. She saw me, and I
swear her expression dropped.

I wished I could say it was out of fear—a response I’d worked hard
to cultivate—but I would be naive to think that was the only emotion in her
gaze. Mixed with the fear was…pity.

An emotion I detested.

Not wanting to stand there and be pitied by a receptionist, I
squared my shoulders and marched up to her—hoping that I didn’t look like an
idiot in the process. “The guys summoned me,” I said, offering her what I hoped
was a confident smile.

If there was one thing my mother had taught me, it was fake it
until you make it. I just hoped that was all it would take to dig me out of
this hole I seemed to have found myself in.

Camilla nodded. “They’re in Mr. Sampson’s office.” She pointed to
the left, and I tapped my fingers on her desk as I nodded.


I didn’t hesitate as I made my way over to the closed door. After
a few knocks, I heard a muffled, “Come in,” so I pushed open the door and

Burt was sitting at his desk, and Kyle was sitting in one of the
armchairs across from him. Kyle was laughing as he leaned over to pick up his
coffee mug. Both men turned their attention on me as I stepped closer.

“Penny, please come in and sit down.” Burt shifted in his chair as
he leaned toward his phone. “Coffee?” Before I could decline, he had his finger
on the intercom button. “Camilla, grab a coffee with”—he squinted at me—“two
sugars for Penny, please.”

I wanted to tell him that I only took cream in my coffee—an order
he’d made for me on many occasions—but decided to ignore it. My nerves were
already making me jittery, so a little extra sugar wasn’t going to matter.
Plus, I would hate for my correction of his coffee order to be the reason they
let me go. If I was on thin ice, there was no way I was going to test the

Camilla responded, “Right away.” And the room fell silent.

I stood a few feet off from the empty armchair, not quite sure
what to do. Was this a catch-up chat, or was this an in-depth conversation that
was going to require me to sit down?

Both men looked at ease, so I decided to relax. After all, what
could they say that would rattle me? I could take punches. I didn’t get to
where I was today by playing nice.

“Jackson has disappeared.”

I almost choked on my tongue. “I’m sorry, what?”

Burt leaned back in his chair, bouncing a few times as he pressed
his fingertips together. His elbows sat on his armrests, and he was tapping his
forefingers to his chin. “His sister called today. She said he won’t be making
any public appearances or attending any signings. He’s even contemplating
pulling the book altogether.”

My entire body felt like a lead weight. I glanced at both men to
gauge their reaction. “Where did he go?”

Kyle shrugged. “We’re not sure. Naomi wouldn’t tell us. She just
said he’s gone, and she doubts that he’ll come back.”

I blinked as I clutched the copies of Jackson’s latest book to my
chest like they were my life raft—which felt oddly poetic. They were the only
thing keeping me afloat as I watched my career crumble before me, and yet they
were also causing me to sink into the bleak abyss that was my life. If Sampson
and Scotts was looking for a reason to dump me, losing my star author would be
reason number one.

“That’s so strange. I spoke to him last week, and he seemed ready
for release.” I managed to speak with a small level of decorum. I was panicked,
but I needed Burt and Kyle not to know that.

Burt’s chair squeaked as he rocked back. The motion mixed with the
sound was like a siren in my mind. I needed a scotch and some Advil with the
way my head was pounding.

“Well, he’s gone. With a book releasing in less than a month…” He
clicked his tongue as if that was the only response he needed to give me. The
silence filled in his meaning. 

If I couldn’t get Jackson back here and on board with what he
needed to do, I was out. Gone. Fired.

My throat felt dry as Camilla snuck in and handed me the mug of
coffee. Not caring what the two sugars would do to my hips, I sipped the warm
liquid. I needed to calm down. The hurricane of emotions inside of me felt as
if it was going to swallow me whole.

With the moisture from the coffee mixed with my inability to fail,
I forced all of my strength to the surface and spoke with what dignity I had
left. “I’ll take care of it.”

Burt flicked his gaze over to Kyle before bringing it back to me.
He was silent for a moment before he nodded. “That’s what I like to hear. Fix
this little issue, and we’ll reevaluate.”

Not wanting to tuck my tail between my legs and run from his
office, I squared my shoulders and nodded. “It’ll be a blip on the radar.” I
was just going to sidestep his last comment and pretend that my career wasn’t
currently on the chopping block.

I stepped forward and dropped the books on Burt’s desk. “Thought
you guys might like a copy of Jackson’s book. He really knocked it out of the
park on this one.” I tapped the cover. “It’ll be a best seller, mark my words.”

Burt leaned forward and pulled the books toward him. He picked one
up and riffled through the pages before setting it back down. I hated to see
how he manhandled the book. The reverence that I felt for the written word was
not reflected in his gaze. He saw the book as a money maker; I saw the book as
a living, breathing entity. The soul of an author portrayed for the world to
read and judge. It was no small feat.

Even though I was frustrated with what Jackson was doing to me, I
understood the soul-crushing fear that comes with writing.

Once I reamed him out for leaving me in the lurch like this, I’d
allow myself to pity him—but only then.

“I hope so,” Burt said. His tone didn’t invite more conversation,
and I knew that our meeting was over.

It was my job to find Jackson and return him. Burt’s meaning
wasn’t lost on me. I needed to bring him back and cultivate a best seller if I
wanted a chance at saving my career.

I wasn’t going to fail.

I left the minute I got back to my office. After setting my phone
to go straight to voicemail, I let Harper know that she could reach me on my
cell and headed down the elevator to the rideshare that was waiting for me.

Back in my apartment, I packed my suitcase as I tried Naomi. She
didn’t pick up, and after my twentieth call, I gave up. I located Jackson’s
address in the paperwork I had for him and headed to JFK, where I bought the
first ticket I could to North Carolina.

The sun was just starting to set when my taxi pulled into the
driveway of a small rambler. I paid and stepped out of the car. There were a
few lights on in the house, which helped me feel more confident that this
nightmare was almost over.

I’d find Jackson and drag him back to New York kicking and
screaming if I had to. There was no way I was going to take no for an answer.

With my suitcase dragging behind me, I made my way to the front
door and rang the doorbell.

The wait was excruciating. I hadn’t eaten anything since
breakfast, and I was exhausted. I wanted to get this problem solved so I could
focus on my rapidly disappearing career.

Even though it felt like I waited a lifetime for the door to open,
realistically it had only been a few seconds. The door swung open to reveal a
slender woman with blonde hair and glasses perched on her nose. Her eyebrows
rose as her gaze swept over me.

“Does Jackson Richards live here?” I asked.

The woman folded her arms as she studied me. “And you are?”

Taking that as a yes, I reached into my purse and pulled out my
business card. “I’m his editor, and I’m looking for him.”

The woman took the card. She studied it for a moment before she
slipped it onto the side table next to her and returned her attention to me. “This
is his home, but he isn’t here right now.”

My hope that this nightmare was over deflated like a balloon.
“Where is he?”

The woman studied me. Then she sighed. “I’m not sure. I have a few
places he could be, but when he gets like this, he just…disappears.”

I pressed the bridge of my nose between my fingertips. My headache
was raging now. The woman seemed to take in my state as she leaned forward and
grabbed the handle of my suitcase. Before I could stop her, she pushed open the
door and waved me inside.

“Why don’t you come in, and we’ll figure it out. I have some
spaghetti on the stove, and I made way too much for one person to eat.”

The smell of oregano and tomato sauce wafted out and made my mouth
water. My stomach growled. As much as I wanted to thank her for her kindness
and continue my search, I knew if I didn’t eat soon, I’d collapse. It had
happened on a few occasions when I’d worked for too long without eating.

If I was going to face Jackson and convince him of anything, I
needed a full belly.




She smiled as she shut the door behind me. Then she waved me
toward the kitchen and sat me down at the table as she bustled around, grabbing
me a glass of water and setting a plate in front of me. I thanked her as the
desire to get up to help her was overshadowed by my utter exhaustion.

Searching high and low for an author would take it out of anyone,
but the additional stress of my job being on the line made me feel as if I
would crumble.

Thankfully, a full stomach solved a lot. By the time I pushed my
empty plate away from me and dabbed my lips, the world felt a little less
crappy, and I felt a little more optimistic about my future.

Naomi seemed more relaxed as she brought her feet up onto the
chair next to her and studied me. Feeling as if I were under the microscope, I
shifted in my seat. I was a control freak, but in this moment, I felt anything
but in control.

“Why did he run?” I asked as I fiddled with my fork, which I’d
placed on my plate.

Naomi sighed. “That’s Jackson. Anytime he gets overwhelmed or
stressed, he just shuts down.” She massaged her temples. “It makes it hard to
be his sister.”

“But you think we can find him?” I needed some hope right now.

Naomi dropped her hands and then nodded. “He’ll turn up.”

Just as she said the words, her phone chimed. She straightened and
glanced down. I saw her eyes move as she read the message. I wanted to know if
it was about Jackson but didn’t want to overstep. So I settled on clutching the
napkin in my lap for dear life while I waited.

A moment later, Naomi looked up and gave me a smile. “I found

“Where is he?” I winced at how eager I sounded.

Naomi furrowed her brow. “A town called Magnolia.”


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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.