Announcing my newest release: All That Glitters: A Sweet Romance (Manhattan Lights Series – Book 1)
What happens when you fall for your boss even when you shouldn’t?
Stacey Moore just got laid off from her retail job and needs rent money or else she’ll be living on the streets of New York City. Desperate, she applies to work at a jewelry store which caters to wealthy clients even though she knows nothing about jewelry and hates snobby people.
Blake Tomlinson, the owner, gives her a break and hires her despite her wretched interview. He’s kind, smart, and handsome—everything Stacey ever wanted in a man. The only problem is the co-owner, Lori Tomlinson, who makes Cinderella’s step-mom look like a saint. Although he has no ring on his finger and the two owners don’t act married, she’s terrified of making assumptions and has nobody else to ask.
She has no idea whether she’s heading into a disaster or the worst misunderstanding ever. Or both.
If you enjoy sweet romance stories with happily ever afters, no cliffhangers, and a big city setting, then you’ll love this first installment in Laura Westbrook’s heartwarming series.
You can find it here (free if you have Kindle Unlimited):
(and all other Amazon websites)
Here’s a sample portion of the story:
All That Glitters: A Sweet Romance
The smell of fresh bread wafted out into the street as Stacey passed the quaint Peterson Bakery. The air felt crisp as she clicked her heels down the pavement toward her new job. It was an exciting day, her first as a sales associate at Tomlinson Jewelers, a popular jewelry store in the busiest district of Manhattan.
An eight a.m. start wasn’t too bad in the scheme of it all. She’d woken up earlier for her last job, even though she would’ve liked to have kept it. But when a company got sold, it was inevitable that a lot of people would lose their jobs, and unfortunately, she was one of them. No use crying over spilled milk, as her grandmother would always say. Onto the next one.
Stacey’s heart skipped a beat as she arrived at the store. She hadn’t been the new girl for a long time. It felt like the first day of school all over again as the nerves kicked in, making her stomach twist into knots. She tossed her finished macchiato paper cup into a nearby trash can and put on a smile as she walked into her new place of employment. The interview had been conducted over a video call with one of the owners, Lori Tomlinson, and then later the other owner had approved it.
Lori was an assertive woman in her early thirties with jet-black hair and an obvious alpha personality. She struck Stacey as the type of person who thought they were above everyone else because they owned or ran something. Her position in the company would serve to reinforce her attitude, so Stacey could only hope it wouldn’t create any problems on the job.
Stacey pushed the door open, and the bell rang as she did so. Her stomach was now in an unrelenting knot and seemed content to stay tied up.
Lori looked up and checked the clock. “You’re five minutes early. Good. That’s promising.”
“Hi, Lori,” Stacey said. “Where would you like me to place my things?”
Normally, she’d take Lori’s opening comment as a compliment, but the way Lori had said it made Stacey not so sure.
“Behind the curtain and to the right. There’s a locker and a key with your name on it. Make sure you keep it safe because you only get one copy. You’ll be charged for extras.”
“Yes, of course,” Stacey said, rushing to show that she could follow instructions.
She placed her red handbag into the open locker and carefully added the key to her pants pocket. She checked herself briefly in the nearby mirror of the staff room, but her braid had stayed in nicely. Her turquoise sweater fitted well and her black pants had been ironed with precision—it was a chore she oddly enjoyed.
She walked back in to watch as Lori continued repricing some garnet earrings. She stood and waited patiently for further instruction, but Lori ignored her until she’d completed the mundane task.
Then she turned and said, “We’re having a sale on this section. As you can see, there are eight sections. Where I’m standing is section one and it goes sequentially to the other side of the room. We usually only have a sale in one section at a time.”
Stacey nodded. “Oh, I see.”
“I want you to stand and watch what I’m doing here. Everything in this section is going to be marked down by thirty percent. It’s a thirty-percent-off sale.” She smiled, rather like a spider might to an incoming fly, and Stacey felt the knot begin to tighten again.
“Do you need a calculator, or can you figure it out as you go?” Lori asked, her tone getting thin.
“Yes, I understand,” Stacey said. Lori stood there, still waiting, so Stacey added, “I’d work out ten percent and times it by three. I then subtract that number from the current marked price to get the new value.”
Lori’s eyes squinted. Then she held up the necklace hanging around her neck. “What’s this made out of?”
“It looks like white gold,” Stacey said, hoping it wasn’t a trick question if the thing was actually made of silver or platinum.
“As a matter of fact, it is.” She sounded surprised. “I think you might actually be helpful around here. Your predecessor was as dumb as a post. She sold a diamond necklace for two hundred forty-nine dollars when it should’ve been ten times that. I fired her, obviously.”
Stacey swallowed and imagined how the poor employee must have been flustered by Lori, who was outspoken and slightly, no, obviously rude. She’d been lively and to the point during the interview process, but now her personality seemed about as interesting as wallpaper. Very prickly wallpaper.
Stacey tried not to be judgmental of others if she could help it. It was something her mother had taught her. Everyone had their own story, and judging them was not the mark of a wise or caring person, but with Lori, she found herself desperately wanting to try.
Lori continued with her sales stickers, then looked up and seemed annoyed that Stacey wasn’t helping her yet.
Lori sighed. “Would you like a formal invitation to join me?” she asked, even as she struggled to peel the stickers off with her long, red manicured nails.
Stacey laughed at the expression, thinking surely it was an attempt at humor, but Lori just gave her a stare. With a gulp, Stacey began changing prices next to her. Even though it was a bit alarming, she was also kind of intrigued with her new boss’s behavior, mostly because it was something she’d never encountered, outside of maybe a character from a movie. The word “narcissist” came to mind, and she made a mental note to look it up when she got home later that night. She’d seen the word used on social media, but she thought it might be nice to have an actual definition…just in case she had a working relationship with one.
Lori finished the sticker she was on. “Your coffee break is fifteen minutes, from ten to ten fifteen. Your lunch break is always from one to two, so please get back on time. You will finish at five. No overtime, unless we ask you specifically—me or Blake, that is. If you need to stay later, then that’s your problem, but the pay rate will be the same. You receive a two percent commission, which is paid monthly. The bathroom is in the back, and you must not use the store phone for private calls unless you have permission. Any questions?”
Stacey tried to think of anything she might have missed. “No, I think everything’s clear, so far. I don’t know how to use a cash register, though.”
“All in good time. Once we’ve tagged section one, we’ll get to that soon enough. I like my coffee black, hot, and strong with two sugars. I’ll have one now, thanks. No cream ever.”
Stacey finished her sticker and went out back to get Lori’s “order.” Despite Lori, the job seemed to be going fine so far and she hoped she’d make a good commission on top of her base wage. The store was well-presented and received a lot of traffic in its location. She had the potential to make some good cash, if she could just put up with her boss. She had a little in savings, but the bills certainly weren’t going to pay for themselves.
Plus, buying some nice things to fill up her sparse living space had been something she’d wanted for a very long time. A bigger couch, some wall hangings, and a new tea kettle would be welcome additions. She also wanted to get some indoor plants and a bookshelf for the books she liked. Reading had always been a favorite pastime, especially non-fiction topics like space and science. She even watched documentaries when she had the time, even if none of her friends understood it.
As the day flew by, Stacey found herself feeling more confident in her new role of retagging stickers and working out percentages. By break time, she was glad to sit in the back of the large store and have a coffee with her semi-fresh, home-baked muffin she’d brought with her. By that point, she’d managed to retag three-quarters of section one and was introduced to Jinese, who worked just a few days a week, part-time.
Stacey’s eyes scanned the staff area, which was cozy and modern. It had stainless-steel appliances and a comfortable sitting area with maroon and gold furnishings. She guessed that it had been Lori who gave it the eccentric feel. The other owner was Blake Tomlinson, and he was “pretty cool,” according to Jinese. In passing, Stacey wondered how Blake and Lori were related or connected to each other, having the same last name and all.
Stacey perused a few of the magazines sitting in neat piles on the coffee table. As she finished flicking through one, she made sure she put the pile back neatly, returning it to a stack that featured a watch which vaguely reminded her of her dad’s. It was practical but sophisticated, a bit like him.
He was constantly traveling with the tech company he worked for, and he loved his role within the sales department. It had been something to keep his mind occupied after he and Stacey’s mother had divorced. A few years into being single, he’d told Stacey that he’d never marry again. So far, he was right.
And she couldn’t blame him. She’d surprisingly felt relief when her mother and father split. They’d been pretending to get along for years, which had always seemed silly. Still, she loved each of them and their persistent and endearing ways, even if she couldn’t understand them. They both loved her and her brother very much, and she’d seen them both become happier after their split.
One thing she missed the most was the house she’d grown up in. That had been the saddest goodbye of them all. Luckily, both parents still lived in New York, so she got the best of both worlds, even if it was all a bit uprooted from ideas of home and family.
The clock ticked to thirteen minutes past ten. Stacey washed her cup and was glad to see a smiling Jinese. Jinese had short, blonde hair and laugh lines around her eyes, even though they were about the same age. Stacey had taken a liking to her immediately.
“Lori’s gone for the day, and I couldn’t be happier,” Jinese said.
Stacey tried not to laugh, but one slipped out. The store was free of customers at that point, so it was safe to let loose a little bit, she guessed.
“I don’t know if she likes me very much,” Stacey said. “She seemed…not overly friendly when I came in early.”
Jinese handed Stacey the glass cleaner and said, “You start on section eight and I’ll do section one. We’ll meet in the middle somewhere. She’s the most wicked woman I’ve ever met. It’s like she’s got a bitch gene in her DNA or something. She’s selfish and doesn’t even get along with Blake. He’ll be here with you tomorrow. He’s so nice compared to her, and he can roll his eyes at her sometimes. It’s funny when he does it.”
“He can probably get away with it. I just want to keep my job and be good at it.”
Jinese sprayed and wiped harder than she needed to. Apparently, even though the cat was gone, the mice still had to be ready, just in case she popped back in and looked over their shoulder. “You’ll do well. Just make sure you always key in the prices properly. Double-check the numbers before you total the sales. Poor Stella is out of a job because of it.”
“That’s too bad,” Stacey said. “It’s an easy mistake to make.”
The pair continued cleaning off the glass until a man walked in, and Jinese moved over to him with a welcoming smile. Stacey listened in to pick up any pointers she could.
“Good morning, sir. Can I help you with anything? I’m Jinese, your assistant.”
The man looked up with kind eyes. He had a gray beard that was neatly trimmed and a long, brown coat that made him look quite dashing for his age. He was probably in his early fifties.
“Yes, actually. It’s my anniversary next weekend. I want to get something for my wife. We’ve been married eighteen years.”
Jinese smiled. “Oh, well in that case, you must take a look at our estate jewelry. Everything over here is unique and one of a kind. Do you have a budget in mind?”
The man followed Jinese, and Stacey couldn’t help but admire the way she worked as she showed the potential customer first this display and then that. She managed to look both professional and sweet in her slimming, navy dress with a red, silk scarf that draped around her neck. Stacey went to the back shelves and cleaned the glass as she continued to eavesdrop.
Jinese worked her magic. He ended up spending an impressive amount on two items, and it all occurred in the space of a half hour.
“And that, my friend, is how you make a sale,” Jinese said afterward. “The next customer is all yours. We usually take turns to make it fair. If two customers walk in at the same time, you take the left and I take the right. That way, it’s kinda the luck of the draw. Next week, we can swap sides. We don’t want to scratch each other’s eyes out.” She laughed. “It might ruin our mascara.”
Stacey joined in. It was nice to know that, no matter how tough one of the bosses might be, she had a friend in her coworker. It left the co-owner Blake as the only unknown factor.
(end of sample)
Read the conclusion here (free if you have Kindle Unlimited):
(and all other Amazon websites)