That Thing You Do (Whispering Bay #1)
by Maria Geraci
Allie Grant doesn’t believe in second chances. She does, however, believe in the power of a permanent paycheck. So when a tipster reports that the soon-to-be demolished senior center in her hometown is haunted, Allie hightails it to Whispering Bay to get the scoop that could secure her dream job at Florida! magazine. What she finds, though, is far scarier than any ghost. Cue her ex-boyfriend, sexy construction foreman Tom Donalan.
When Tom catches Allie poking around his construction site, he quickly realizes his former high school flame is just as feisty as ever. And, heaven help him, her irresistible, mile-high legs still take his breath away. But Tom isn’t about to delay the building’s demolition because of a silly ghost story.
With neither of the stubborn exes backing down from their opposing positions, sparks fly. And, underneath the surface, the fire of their old attraction burns as hot as ever. When strange things start happening with increasing frequency around town, even a tough skeptic like Tom is tested. The question is, can Allie and Tom stop fighting long enough to get to the bottom of Whispering Bay’s ghost problem—and the more important matter of mending their broken hearts?
A light shone directly in her face, temporarily blinding her. Enough was enough.
She found the flashlight clutched in her hand and aimed it in retaliation at the two-hundred-pound mass pinning her to the ground. “Hey, can you stop with the Dragnet treatment?”
It was almost worth being crushed to death to see the incredulous look on Tom Donalan’s face. “Allie? Allie Grant? What the hell are you doing here?”
“First things first. I’ll drop my flashlight if you drop yours. And if it’s not too much to ask, maybe you could get off me while you’re at it? You’re not exactly made of air, you know.”
He jumped off her like she was on fire.
After a few long and tortuous moments, he reluctantly extended his hand. Considering that she was flat on her ass, she should have taken it. But it would be a snowy day in Florida before she accepted help from Tom Donalan. She pushed herself up on her elbows and rose as gracefully as possible under the circumstances.
It had been twelve years and two months since she last saw, talked, or even thought about Tom Donalan. Not that Allie had been counting. Six hours ago he’d been nothing more than an unpleasant memory. Like a pimple on the chin on prom night, or a lost library book racking up fines. Okay, so maybe she had thought about him some.
The fact was she couldn’t cross over the Choctawhatchee Bay Bridge without thinking of him, and she couldn’t get to Whispering Bay without crossing that bridge. Hence, he was the first thought (regret) she had whenever she drove home for a visit. The last she’d heard of Tom Donalan he’d made it big in Atlanta. Some kind of hot shot in the construction business, recently divorced from his perfect hometown sweetheart.
Allie tried not to stare, but it was impossible. This certainly was not the Tom Donalan of her fantasies. The ones she had (only occasionally) after eating too much Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. In that world Tom Donalan had a beer belly, was bald, and missing a couple of front teeth. A lot of deterioration for only twelve years, but, hey, a girl could dream, right?
This Tom Donalan, on the other hand, had far superseded the promise made by his high school boyish good looks. Tall. Broad shouldered. With a full head of dark blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. He stood there staring at her with his arms crossed over his chest like he was Captain Friggin’ America in charge of the planet.
He looked angry, which didn’t make sense. She was the wronged party here! He’d practically attacked her, for Pete’s sake.
She took a deep breath and tried to act as if running into her ex was an everyday occurrence. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Tom Donalan. I see you still have all your teeth.”
He blinked and shook his head. “What?”
I see you still have all your teeth.
Of all the Tom Donalan scenarios she’d played in her head over all the years, this was not what she was supposed to say to him. She was supposed to be witty. Charming. He was supposed to be dumbstruck by her brilliance. He was at a loss for words, all right.
Allie pasted a smile to her face and tried again. “You need to be more specific. What, as in, what’s my favorite color, or what do I have programmed on my DVR for tomorrow night, or what—”
“What, as in, what are you doing inside this building?”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “I could ask you the exact same question. Where’d you come from anyway?”
“I was driving by and I saw a car in the parking lot. So I stopped to investigate. Now it’s your turn. What are you doing back in town? I thought you lived in Tampa.”
He knew where she lived? “I don’t need a reason to come back home. Certainly not one I need to run by you, anyway. And I thought you lived in Atlanta.”
“Things change,” he said.
“Right. Things change.”
“So are you going to answer me or not?”
The way he stared at her made Allie squirm. Instinctively, she went to run a hand through her hair, then remembered that she’d pulled it back in a ponytail. She didn’t need a mirror to know exactly what she looked like. Ratty shorts, skinned up knee, no makeup. Her When-I See-Tom-Donalan-Again-Revenge-Fantasy was officially zero-for-two now.
“I don’t have to explain myself to you,” she said.
He shrugged in a way that made her want to punch him. How could she have ever thought the two of them were kindred spirits?
“Suit yourself,” Tom said. “But you have about three minutes before the cops show up, and if you don’t want me to press charges you better have a damn good reason for breaking into my building.”
Maria Geraci writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction with a happy ending. The Portland Book Review called her novel, The Boyfriend of the Month Club, “immensely sexy, immensely satisfying and humorous.” Her fourth novel, A Girl Like You, was nominated for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA ® award. She lives in north Florida with her family, which includes a very needy chihuahua, an extremely needy dachshund and a not-so-needy cat (guess which one she likes best?). You can reach at her www.mariageraci.com.
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