Not in Her Wildest DreamsBy: Dani Collins
To my husband and children, who put up with my writing this book and many others, for many (many, many) years before publishing became a reality for me.
Thank you for your unending patience and support. I love you.
This book is also dedicated to you, Dear Reader, for helping me title this and its companion novel, Only In His Sweetest Dreams.
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Back around the turn of the century, I wrote a manuscript called Hot Beds, Cold Feet. It was a murder mystery romance, not terrible, but not terrific. I had an agent at the time, she liked it, but it failed to find a home.
By the time I gave up on it, I had written a companion book about the heroine’s brother, tentatively titled Sweet Dreams. The second book didn’t have a mystery, murder or otherwise. It did have a cast of characters that included seniors and children. I adored all of them, but I knew both manuscripts needed a lot of work to make them work. I shelved both and concentrated on other stories.
It has long been my goal to revive that duet and I have finally had the time to rewrite them (extensively!) Hot Beds is no longer a murder mystery, although there are some mystery elements, and thanks to you, Dear Reader, it has a new title. I needed a pair of titles that would help readers recognize the books were linked and you have picked Not In Her Wildest Dreams and Only in His Sweetest Dreams.
I hope you enjoy both of them.
NOT IN HER WILDEST DREAMS
By Dani Collins
“—would have been so much easier, but the fucker just won’t die.”
Paige Fogarty heard the male voice, followed by snorts of laughter, as she came up the wide hospital corridor toward the lounge. The voice was vaguely familiar and the words so tasteless, she instinctively halted. Should she proceed into that nasty conversation or come back in a few minutes?
She hung back, out of sight, glancing around for a ladies’ room even though she didn’t have to go.
While another man said, “That’s Fogarty for you. Always screwing up or screwing you over.”
“Hell yes. Tries to hump himself to death and can’t even get that right.”
Okay, that gravely voice she definitely knew. It was her father’s partner, Walter. They were talking about her dad. Such a classy town.
Leaning forward enough to see into the lounge, which was an open alcove of chairs set against three walls, a coffee table, and a sofa back that formed the invisible fourth wall, she confirmed, yep, that was Walter. Holding a meeting of the Superiority Club with the rest of Liebe Falls’ pillars of the community: the Mayor, the bank manager, and the guy who owned the car lot.
She couldn’t remember all their names, but her father sarcastically called them friends. They weren’t looking at her, too absorbed in referring to Dad as a ‘lucky bastard’ for surviving his latest heart attack and snickering about what a great way it would be to go—on top of a woman young enough to be his daughter.
Paige debated turning on her heel and heading back to Seattle without saying goodbye. The four-hour drive had never looked better. It had already been a brutal three days, but he didn’t need surgery this time, which was a relief. She had to come back when he was released anyway, to help him get settled at home.
But she had promised Zack she would drop off this stupid game on her way, so he could play with Pops when he came by after school. Zack had left his hoodie in her car, too. She’d pulled it on to duck through the rain on the way in. It had his iPod in the pocket so he’d be pretty cheesed with his Auntie Paige if she skipped town with it.
“Did he accept your offer?”
“Said it was probably time, yeah,” Walter said, but his voice sounded tight, like he wasn’t pleased.
Wait. What? Paige stepped forward.
“What kind of offer?” she demanded.
Shoulders jerked, and the men turned to form a horseshoe. As they recognized her, they went from looking surprised to uncomfortable to arrogantly disdainful.
Regret hit her square in the chest. Being the center of attention made her feel awkward at the best of times. When she slipped into town to see her family every couple of weeks, she didn’t usually face these types—the lofty ones who owned Liebe Falls and hated Fogartys on principle.