Outside the Lines by Beth Rhodes
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: December 8, 2015
For the first time in her life, good-girl Maria Rodriguez throws aside caution for an all-consuming desire. She wants freedom from rules and her family looking over her shoulder. She wants the love she’s only ever dreamed of. But then that love walks away. Jaded bachelor David March doesn't believe in love. His fling with the pretty Hispanic woman from California is as close to feeling as he wants to get. Now, he’s back home, burying himself in work and trying to forget.
Shortly after he leaves, Maria finds out she’s pregnant. Her first leap into freedom results in a life-changing consequence. She knows she has to find him. But what she finds is not what she expects. David is not the down-to-earth man he portrayed. And the love she remembers has been replaced by cold calculation and contracts. He lied to her once. Can she trust that a marriage agreement will bring back the love they once shared?
Maria watched the odometer for the miles as she rolled down the road. His turn-off should be another mile. Milton Trail, on the left. She turned. Point seven miles to the drive—according to Google, anyway. The fact that a residence had even popped up for the address had been a moment of victory in itself.
About fifty yards before the drive, the tree line broke. “Whoa.” She swallowed. “Okay. No problem.”
No problem! No problem!
The house was huge. Like an expensive, exclusive resort hotel, sitting on top of the snowy hill, like a castle from medieval times. It was stone and had wrought iron over the smaller windows. It had a humungous picture window across the north face. The double doors just to the left had to be at least eight feet tall.
There was one of those wreaths she’d seen in town on the left door.
“Holy…” She pulled into the drive, and for a moment debated turning around. She could leave town. He’d be none the wiser. What he didn’t know couldn’t hurt him. “Shit. He probably owns the town.”
And that one thought jarred the fright from her soul.
Anger balled within her gut. He’d lied.
The man who’d come to Red Bluff was about to learn the truth. He’d made no promises to her, but he’d loved her like no one else before. She couldn’t live with herself, keeping such a secret from him. It seemed unfair, cruel.
With one final nod, she pulled up the driveway.
It was now or never.
There was an eerie silence as she approached the front door. Maybe this was what it was like to be ultra-rich. Her family wasn’t poor, not by a long shot, but her home was always filled with noise. With so many siblings, it was no wonder.
She lifted the knocker and let go.
A tall woman in all black except for the white apron that circled her waist threw open the door. Black grandma shoes on her feet and black stockings. Her eyes flashed a warning that had Maria hesitating to speak.
“There you are! My god, where are they sending temps from now? Concord? Didn’t Jerry tell you to use the back door?” The woman frowned, grabbed Maria by the arm, and pulled her through the door.
Adrenaline rushed through Maria’s system, and she tugged her arm free. “Hey.” She stood back, putting distance between herself and the crazy lady.
“You’ll need to move your car before Mr. March gets home. Maybe you should do that now.” The woman worried her lip for a fraction of a second before making the decision. “Yes, better do it now.”
“Uh, look. I’m sorry—”
“And you should be.” The woman glanced at her watch. “You’re two hours late! Monday is a big day around here. I asked for someone to come early. I have the entire main floor to clean and get ready for the New Year Library Tea. I can’t very well get someone to clean on Sunday. Unless you want to drive all the way up here tomorrow morning. Hmm?” Her brow rose on the rhetorical question.
She thought Maria was a maid? “I’m not—”
“Of course you’re not. None of you people ever are—”
Temper blinded her for a mere moment. “Now, look here, lady—”
A door slammed open from down the long hall, cutting Maria off.
“Ree?” Shock rode the familiar voice of seduction.
Maria froze, surprise taking her breath away. But not surprise, exactly. He was the reason she was in this frozen tundra that was Vermont.
Twelve years ago, Beth Rhodes tried her hand at fanfiction. Trixie Belden, her favorite school girl sleuth, needed a chance at romance—doesn’t everyone? A romantic at heart, Beth believes everyone deserves a good dose of love. Earning her MRS in college, she married her own real-life hero. For her, love is the one language every human shares. She and her husband raise their six children in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains where she indulges in her addiction to caffeine and romance novels. Keep up with her crazy life by visiting her webpage http://www.authorbethrhodes.com.