Trouble When You Walked InBy: Kieran Kramer
As always, I can’t say enough good things about Jennifer Enderlin and the extended family that is St. Martin’s Press. You’ve been so good to me—all of you—and I’ll always be grateful for your support, your good humor, your patience, and your friendship.
I must also give a huge shout-out to my readers, both old and new. My books aren’t complete until they get into your hands and you work your own sort of magic on them. You bring good will, vivid imaginations, and your hearts to the pages of my stories. You make them so much more than what they were when they existed as mere words on my laptop. Thank you for your kindness and generosity—you give me so much more than I can possibly give you.
I’d also like to thank my family and friends, who’ve stuck with me through ten novels! I should have bought stock in DiGiorno pizza back in 2010, when I started this incredible journey. You’ve all been wonderful, loving, my biggest cheerleaders, especially Chuck, Steven, Margaret, and Jack.
Here’s to the next ten novels, and here’s to you—every single person who’s ever wished this author well.
If a ridiculously handsome man talks too loudly in a library and no one’s there to hear but a repressed librarian, an old lady with a hearing aid, and a plastic pageant queen, does he still make a sound?
Cissie Rogers—who bristled at all stereotypes, even if they might ring true—decided then and there that a librarian doesn’t entertain such questions. A librarian shushes people, no matter how hot they are. It’s her job, even if the man is Boone Braddock, local mayor, football coach, and town stud.
She was back in large-print fiction with Mrs. Hattlebury when the front door of the Kettle Knob library opened and a woman’s laughter filled the air—a woman’s fake laughter, which trailed off with an artificial sigh.
Cissie’s skin prickled. There was only one person in western North Carolina who laughed like that: Janelle Montgomery.
“Boone Braddock,” Cissie heard Janelle say, “stop it. Stop it right this instant.”
What did Janelle want Boone to stop? Kissing her? Being too sexy for his own good?
“Where’s the librarian?” he asked in his whiskey-and-gravel voice.
Boone Braddock had never been in the library. Ever. And he was looking for Cissie.
She stopped breathing. Her palms instantly dampened. And her lower belly—contrary to her wishes—began a slow tingling burn of awareness.
She prepared to round the corner with her finger to her lips, but Mrs. Hattlebury grabbed her arm. “Rumor has it those two were caught doing it like rabbits up near Frazier Lake in broad daylight last week,” the old woman whispered loudly in Cissie’s ear. “But Chief Scotty let ’em off the hook. He has to, don’t you know.”
“I hate mayors,” Cissie whispered back. Sexual frustration made her ornery. “They think the rules don’t apply to them.”
She wished she could have sex by Frazier Lake—but not with Boone, not if he couldn’t even remember her name. With Mr. Darcy. Too bad he wasn’t real. Maybe if she dressed up Boone like Darcy—
No. They were nothing alike.
“All politicians are that way,” Mrs. Hattlebury reminded her in her strong Smoky Mountains drawl.
“Especially mayors.” Cissie’s words were soaked in Southern inflections, too, like warm bourbon cake. But Mother was from Vermont, so Cissie sounded a little less local than her Kettle Knob neighbors.
As for her declaration, she knew she was making no sense, but she didn’t care. When it came to Boone and Janelle, she was a mass of petty insecurities, and she indulged them freely, the way she couldn’t stop herself from eating freshly popped popcorn, no matter how full she was.
“You don’t really hate all mayors, do you, dear?” Mrs. Hattlebury asked too politely, which meant she thought Cissie might be a tad touched, as they said around here—like Cissie’s grandmother Nana Rogers, who actually wasn’t touched at all. She managed the local community theater, but you know theater people … they’re crazy, in the best way.
“No.” Cissie made a comic face and tried to chuckle. “Of course not. I didn’t hate his grandfather. He threw good candy at the Christmas parade. No wonder we elected Boone. He brought the tradition back.”
“Yes, the Christmas-candy angle,” Mrs. Hattlebury said faintly. “That must be the reason a Braddock has been mayor of Kettle Knob for almost sixty years—except for that brief era we had a no-name mayor who threw stale, cracked peppermints at the holiday parade.” She paused. “Are you sure you’re okay, dear?”