Announcing my newest release: High Noon: A Sweet Romance (Red Canyon Series – Book 3)
If there’s one thing Lynn hates, it’s dressing up, which suits her just fine working on the set crew of an old west theme park. Wearing jeans and a T-shirt while making set pieces in an old saloon makes her feel right at home. And meeting Luke, one of the actors playing a dashing sheriff, doesn’t hurt either.
But when her boss pulls her into his office and says she’ll be one of those actors, she’s faced with her fear, while also wondering if it’ll position her closer to Luke. Back when she was on the set crew, he barely gave her a second look. Now that she works closer with him, sparks are starting to fly.
When Lynn accidentally gets Luke’s friend fired, everything changes. It’s up to her to find a wild west solution to this modern-day problem and hopefully bag the sheriff at the same time.
If you enjoy sweet romance stories with happily ever afters, no cliffhangers, and a southwestern twist, then you’ll love this third installment in Laura Westbrook’s heartwarming series.
You can find it here:
(and all other Amazon websites)
Here’s a sample portion of the story:
High Noon: A Sweet Romance
Lynn wiped her brow. Although it was barely into summer, the weather was already starting to warm up, and these buildings didn’t exactly have air conditioning. Maybe things hadn’t changed all that much in a hundred years. At least she didn’t have all those crazy layers like they did back then. The set crew could wear T-shirts and shorts, exactly what she wore that day.
It worked out perfectly for her. She preferred jeans and shirts over dresses and heels any day—probably what helped her fit in so well with the set crew, as the rest of it was made up by men. She’d lost count of how many times one of them had made a crude joke and sheepishly glanced her way.
She didn’t mind as long as they kept up. She had the work ethic of any two guys on the crew, even if she didn’t quite have the experience they did. She’d used power tools plenty, but a lot of them were either carpenters or construction site laborers. One of them had even worked for a theater for their set design, and everyone defaulted to his experience quite a bit.
With a long exhale, she stood up slowly. She’d been crouching for the good part of a half hour, checking the floorboards and making sure everything was anchored improperly. One of the guys had already done that a few days ago, but she always liked to be sure. Officially, her job that day was to set up some decorations, but she’d already finished that. It was one of those “measure twice, cut once” philosophies that her dad had always instilled in her.
Looking up the staircase filled her with pride. She’d been the one to anchor the banister in place, and it looked majestic. It was overkill for an Old West saloon, but she couldn’t help herself when she’d suggested it to the crew. Eventually, the crew head had agreed, but that was only after many tries. She’d eventually won him over by pointing out how it was a performance piece. There would be audience members in the building, after all.
She walked up the half spiral staircase with all the confidence in the world. She’d known they would build it right. Besides, actors would eventually be running, possibly even jumping, down the stairs, so the weight of her wouldn’t do a thing compared to that. The thought of maneuvering the long hem of a dress down those stairs made her grimace. She’d keep her frayed, gray T-shirt with a beer label across the front, thank you very much. An ex-boyfriend back in college had accidentally left it with her, and it had been her favorite ever since.
Just as she reached the top, she heard a voice behind her.
“This place is looking good.”
Lynn whirled around with fingers on both hands pulled out in the form of pistols. “You see, if I were a real cowgirl, you’d be visiting the local doctor. Or hacksaw amputator. Whatever they called them back then.”
Vanessa laughed, her voice echoing in the room below. “I’m pretty sure they just called him the town doctor.”
“Okay, that guy then. You’d be visiting him.”
Vanessa put up her hands. “Okay, you got me. Fastest draw in the West.”
Lynn glanced around. “So, what do you think?” She knew she was fishing a bit, but she couldn’t help herself.
“It looks like it came right out of a movie set. You all did a great job with it. Did you help with the bar?”
“A little bit toward the end.”
Vanessa took a few steps along it, running her fingers against the polished wood. “I can just see a whole line of cowboys and drifters sitting here, drinking the dust off their boots. I can’t imagine living back then.”
“That’s probably why we’re behind the scenes and not in front of customers,” Lynn said.
Vanessa nodded. “Yeah, no kidding. I’m happy with where I’m at. I get to spend all day dressing people.”
“Knock it all you want, but at least I’m in an air-conditioned room while I work.”
“It’s not so bad once you get used to it. Plus I get to work alone half the time.”
Vanessa pointed. “Did the crew build the rooms on that second floor too? Or are they false doors?”
“They’re all false doors except for the one at the end, but it’s only big enough to hold one person. It’s pretty much a closet.”
“Why bother at all then?”
Lynn leaned against the railing. Her thumb brushed up against a coarse spot that needed sanding. She’d have to remember to come back and take care of that. “I’m not exactly sure. I think Samuel wanted a working space where one of the actors can jump out during performances.”
“Won’t the audience be able to see behind the actor once the door is opened and realize it’s just a closet?”
Lynn shrugged. “Your guess is as good as mine. I don’t think about the performances much. I just build the stuff. Easier that way.”
“What are you still doing up there? Come on down. I brought you some lemonade.”
That sounded pretty good right then. Lynn’s mouth suddenly felt dry. She bounded down the stairs and spotted two red, plastic cups sitting on the bar.
“That’s nice of you,” Lynn said. “I’m not used to curbside service like this.”
“If it makes you feel any better, it was pretty easy. There’s a giant thermos thingy hanging a few blocks over. It was set up for the crew, but I figured you might not have spotted it this morning. And considering how it’s already a scorcher…”
Lynn wished she had a thermometer nearby. What Vanessa considered to be a scorching hot day was turning out to be in the upper seventies, only feeling hot to Lynn when she was away from her air conditioning.
“I appreciate that,” Lynn said. Even if it wasn’t a hot summer day, the chilled lemonade still tasted good.
“You’re welcome. Don’t worry, you’ll owe me one.”
“Lemonade’s nice, but a favor for one glass? Maybe after five glasses, then we’ll talk.”
“I was kind of hoping Craig would bring me some, but I’m still waiting,” Vanessa said.
Lynn leaned against the bar and rested the heel of her shoe against the back of it. Then she slowly lowered it. The actors will have plenty of time to dirty it up. I don’t need to add to it. “Which one is he again?”
Vanessa gestured above her head. “You know, six-foot-two, dark hair, plenty of yummy cowboy stubble… You can’t miss him.”
“Apparently, I already did. I’ve probably seen him around. Is he new?”
“No, he’s been here for a few months. I know them all pretty well because I see them every day I work, but you’re usually stuck out here in no man’s land.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Lynn said. “I can see the entrance of the park from here. People walk by all the time.”
“That’s just the secondary entrance. Hardly anyone goes in through there. Think about it. The locker rooms are on the other side of the park. The cafeteria’s on the other side. The food court. All that stuff.”
“I guess you’re right. I don’t mind working alone, though.”
“I guess not,” Vanessa said. “At least you have me to keep you company.”
“And the five cups of lemonade.”
“Very funny. Anyway, Craig can come by anytime he wants.”
Lynn wiped the condensation from her cup and set it down on the bar. “Doesn’t he? At the beginning and end of every shift?”
“Just to change in and out of his costume. Sometimes he brings things to the costume crew and I get to work on it, like a missing button or something like that. If he does, the others know to move aside and let me take it.”
Cowboys were always on Vanessa’s mind. It made sense since the park was full of them. That was the big attraction of the park, after all. It was the one thing that separated them from all the other themed parks, save for the main one at the OK corral. Or at least, what used to be the OK corral. They were only a few hours from it, and they still gave it a run for its money.
“Well, if I ever see him, I’ll point him your way,” Lynn said.
Vanessa glanced away. “Good. Only…don’t do it in a way that makes it too obvious. Casual. Be casual about it.”
Lynn rolled her eyes. “I’ll get right on that. Hopefully you’ll be able to focus enough on your job with Craig around.”
“Oh trust me, I get plenty done. You should see the new dresses we’re making. I could geek out about patterns for hours. Don’t even get me started.”
“Okay, I won’t,” Lynn said. Just in case Vanessa took that the wrong way, Lynn immediately followed it up with, “You see that painting hanging on the wall over there?”
Vanessa’s line of sight raked up the far wall. “You mean the one with the two mustaches over the guy’s eyes?”
“His eyebrows, you mean?”
“Sure. Yeah. What about it?”
Lynn grinned. “That was my idea.”
Vanessa seemed lost. “Okay. What do you mean? Like the placement of it or what?”
“I’ll show you.” Lynn made her way over to the painting, or as close as she could. She reached her fingers into a crevice along the wall and pulled out a string. To Vanessa’s eyes, it must look like it had come out of nowhere, but to hers, she knew exactly where to find it. She was the one who had put it there.
“Okay, now lift up your six-shooter and aim it at the top right corner,” Lynn said. “Count to three and pull the trigger.”
“Um. Nothing’s going to shoot back at me, is it?”
“No, nothing like that. I promise. Just count it off.”
Vanessa slowly raised her hand like she had earlier and aimed her two fingers at the painting. When she said three, she snapped her thumb forward, and at the same time, Lynn tugged on the string. The top right corner of the painting dropped, and the painting swung back and forth a few times before eventually stopping.
“That’s pretty cool.” Vanessa dropped her hand. “Is that supposed to be someone shooting that corner of the painting off its nail or something like that?”
Lynn tried to keep her response from sounding as sullen as she felt. She hoped it would be more self-explanatory than that. “Yeah. When the gunfight happens in the performance, one of the other characters in the scene can pull that on cue. Some low-tech special effects.”
“And here you said you didn’t think about the performances. That’s a great idea. I’m sure Samuel will love it.”
“I hope so,” Lynn said. “My evaluation’s tomorrow, and I could use a raise.”
“I wouldn’t go that far. I don’t think he’s given a raise to anyone in a long time. Maybe money problems or something like that.”
“I don’t see why. We’ve had a lot of customers come through lately.”
“I have no idea,” Vanessa said. “Not my problem.”
Lynn pulled out her cell phone and glanced at the screen. “Perfect timing. Looks like you filled up the last few minutes of my shift. Want to walk me back to the office?”
“Sure thing. I need to head back, anyway. Don’t you need to fix your painting first?”
“Oh yeah. Good call.” Lynn readjusted it and stuffed the string back into its spot. With everything being the same shade of brown, more or less, it blended in surprisingly well. She used her fingernail to run along the crack, just to make sure it was well-hidden. She tried not to pat herself on the back too hard.
A few park-goers dotted the street as they exited the building. Lynn made sure to reach down and tug the bolt that locked the door. It wasn’t a true lock, just a deterrent, but it usually was enough to keep out teenagers from wandering into buildings they shouldn’t, which was exactly what she’d do at that age. Back then, she’d sometimes explore abandoned industrial buildings, and a newly-built nineteenth century saloon would’ve been a far improvement.
She thought about the liquor bottles behind the bar. Sure, they were only filled with colored water, but she wouldn’t put it past someone to try to take a swig. There were some other buildings where she was sure they hadn’t been touched since the park opened, and decades-old water in brown bottles couldn’t be healthy.
“I’m going to murder some veggie burgers when I get home,” Vanessa said.
Lynn looked over. “Back on the wagon, huh?”
“What do you mean ‘back’? I’ve been on. Just with a short break.”
Vanessa’s version of being a vegetarian held much to be desired. She wouldn’t admit it, but Lynn suspected Vanessa got the idea from a celebrity interview. She latched onto consensus opinions and fads strongly. Nonetheless, she supported her friend.
“Just one break?” Lynn asked. At least, she supported her friend for the most part.
“Very funny. Yes, one break. One long break. But I’m back at it. I went to the store and bought these awesome looking veggie burgers in bulk. I bought less of everything else to force myself to eat them. It’s like when what’s-his-name burned the ships before a battle so his men couldn’t abandon the fight. Columbus maybe?”
“Cortés, I think. That takes me back to history class. I’m surprised I stayed awake long enough to learn that.”
Vanessa nodded. “Okay, like that guy, then.”
“Then I’m sure you’ll stick to it,” Lynn said. “But when I come over, I’m bringing beef.”
“Hell, no. You’ll suffer along with me.”
Lynn laughed. “I thought you said they were awesome looking.”
Vanessa kicked a small rock out of the street, which kicked up a swirl of dust that carried in the breeze behind them. At least it was dry. The compact dirt roads turned into mud pits whenever it rained. Thankfully for their shoes, it didn’t happen often in Arizona.
“For the first few dinners, they probably will be. Toward the end of the multi-pack, maybe not.”
They blended in well with the customers, as they both wore plain clothes, but a figure walked toward them wearing a pants suit without the jacket. Her button-up top had sleeves to her wrist, despite the heat. Carol rarely missed an opportunity to look professional. If someone told Lynn that Carol slept in her suit as pajamas, she wouldn’t be surprised.
Carol looked at her watch a second before opening her mouth to speak to them, even though she probably already knew what it read. “Lynn, you’re supposed to be back at the office by now. Your shift ended.”
“Vanessa and I are walking back. I’ll make sure to put the clock-out time when I stopped working.”
Carol didn’t look convinced. People were certainly staring now. With her clothes, she stuck out against the antique buildings, hitching posts, and dirt road. “Normally, that would be fine, but Samuel is waiting. Your employee evaluation started ten minutes ago.”
Lynn stopped in her tracks. There’s no way. “But it’s tomorrow.”
Carol shook her head. “It’s on the schedule book for today. I remember because I had to move another appointment for him to a different day. I guess he could’ve kept it since you’re late and all.”
Lynn took off for the office, retaining the last shred of her dignity by making it a jog rather than a full sprint, leaving Vanessa and Carol to walk back together. Lynn certainly wasn’t disappointed in losing out on the few minutes of conversation with Carol on the way back.
(end of sample)
Read the conclusion here (free if you have Kindle Unlimited):
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