Yay! My second book is out September 16th, and I’m very excited to share Retta and Duncan’s story with you (FYI: it’s not a sequel to Along for the Ride).
Once again, thank you to Leni Kauffman for designing and illustrating this beautiful cover.
What’s Make a Scene about?
Retta Majors is having a bad day. But that’s to be expected when your ex gets engaged to your cousin. Instead of (totally) freaking out, Retta decides to attend the wedding with her amazing, faithful, and handsome boyfriend.
He doesn’t exist.
Duncan Gilmore is living his dream. His boxing gym is open for business, and he’s focused on success. The last thing on his mind is a relationship. That is until the beautiful baker next door makes him an offer so bizarre, he can’t refuse. One weekend of pretending to be Retta’s boyfriend should be easy.
However, shared kisses and some flirting start to blur the lines in their fake relationship. When their performance draws to a close, will they go their separate ways or return for an encore?
This novel is a standalone
Content Notes: A pregnant secondary character | heat level= “hot” according to ATK’s guide
Excerpt from chapter 1 of Make a Scene, by Mimi Grace
There were only two things Retta Majors truly hated: 1. low-rise jeans 2. people who smugly corrected anyone who misidentified Frankenstein as the monster. But today she could add a third thing to her list.
“We’re getting married!”
Retta stared unblinking at her cousin, Irene, and her now fiancé, Chris, as they stood in the middle of the living room with coordinated outfits and grins. At least, Retta thought Chris was also smiling, but it was hard to tell with the beard that reached his chest.
“In two months,” Irene added, thrusting her left hand in front of her to showcase the enormous rock on her finger.
An eruption of joyous babble and congratulations followed as family and friends converged on the couple.
Retta had only been at the gathering, pitched to her as a casual birthday party for her Aunt Tina, for thirty minutes before the announcement dropped.
While on the couch, sandwiched between two of the oldest people in her family and with a Pomeranian on her lap, Retta examined the feasibility of army-crawling out of the house.
“She’s going to make such a beautiful bride,” one of Retta’s relatives said to no one in particular as she admired Irene in a pretty dress with bracelet-length sleeves.
“Can you believe it? Less than a year and he seals the deal,” another said.
Retta placed the dog onto the carpet and unfolded her tall frame from the plastic covered sofa, forcing a smile.
Where was Mrs.Whitfield with the wine?
The warmth sweeping through the room was evidence there were too many people packed into her aunt’s modest sized house. She sidestepped the children in attendance who were taking advantage of the adults’ excitement by performing an overly complicated dance. Retta managed to get to the adjoining kitchen without being stopped, but she found her aunt and uncle with a family friend chatting about the hot topic of the evening.
“What does he do?” the family friend who wore a headwrap and a bright purple lipstick asked.
They didn’t notice her entrance, and Retta ignored them in turn for the open wine bottle nestled between abandoned plates and empty serving dishes on the counter. Now for the impossible task of finding a clean glass or cup in the cluttered kitchen.
“You know what? I don’t know,” her aunt replied. “Leroy, do you know?”
Her uncle stood with a glass half filled with brown liquor, his slightly round stomach pressing against his dress shirt. His eyes remained glued to the living-room television playing the PGA Championship as he shook his head.
After (barely) rejecting a muffin pan as a viable drinking vessel, Retta said, “He’s an engineer with a utility company.”
She regretted her insertion into the conversation when the two women turned to her and oohed in unison.
“I remember when you girls were young and jumping rope in the driveway. Now look,” the family friend said, gesturing toward Irene who’d applied every poise training she received as a pageant girl to hold court.
Retta nodded, retrieving a measuring cup from the drawer she’d opened.
After several seconds her aunt said, “You must be so happy for her.”
Retta looked at her over the brim of the cup. After swallowing a mouthful of wine and straightening her glasses, she said, “Mhmm. Very.”
Actually, she felt like she’d woken up in a world where a hookah-smoking caterpillar existed, and she was trying not to freak-out.
Her aunt must’ve interpreted the edge in Retta’s voice as longing because she said, “And of course, your time will come, baby.”
The family friend nodded, threatening to undo her precariously knotted headwrap. “You need to try some of those dating apps. I’ve really come around to them since Janet—you know Janet—had success with the Bubbles one.”
“Keep dating and trying because mighty oaks from little acorns grow,” her aunt said.
Retta sighed and took another swing of wine before smiling big and saying, “Excuse me.”
With brisk steps, she made her way to the restroom. And only once she was safely locked inside, did she drop her smile. While leaning against the door, Retta pulled out her phone and dialed the most frequently used number.
“Hey, this is Kym. Please consider leaving a text rather than a message after the beep.”
“They’re getting married,” Retta said to the robot recording her. “I’m not bothered they’re doing it. I’m annoyed I didn’t see it coming.” She hiccupped and picked at her chipping nail polish. “I don’t know. I thought they’d eventually break up, and I wouldn’t have to see his face at every family event. Also, who announces their engagement at someone else’s—”
The click on the other side of the line told her she’d exceeded her recording limit, and before she could leave a follow-up message, a knock sounded at the door.
“One second,” Retta said as she pressed her phone between her chin and chest while she washed her hands.
She exited the bathroom, and the reintroduction to the racket in the house made her stop short of the living room area. A dish of potpourri lay upturned on the floor from someone pushing the sofa into the side table, no doubt in an attempt to get closer to the golden couple.
Retta had carpooled with a family member, but she decided she’d grab her purse, say her goodbyes, and get an Uber home.
But during the second step of her escape plan, a shrill whistle drew everyone’s attention back to the center of the living room.
Irene’s father, a big man with broad shoulders and dark skin, whose voice and appearance was similar to Retta’s own father’s, joined the couple to say a few words.
Seeing no other option, Retta turned to listen.
“It took you two a while to get together, but your souls were meant for each other. Look” —he gestured between the three of them and the variations of blue they wore— “you’re already dressing like part of the family.”
A smattering of laughter followed.
Retta tempered down the impulse to roll her eyes at the concept of “soul mates”. Irene and Chris had probably met at a function like this one, talking around a punch bowl about the music playing or maybe laughing at a joke the other said.
She’d once read most people end up with a partner who lives in walking or driving distance from them. That information made relationships less ethereal and more about proximity and convenience.
As the speech progressed, Retta felt the subtle looks people in the room gave her. She knew what they might be searching for: a slight twitch in her face, a stiff smile, or maybe pure, unmitigated misery.
Would this be how the wedding would unfold for Retta if she had a lapse in judgement and decided to attend? Everyone waiting for her to uncharacteristically collapse across a church pew or brood in shadowy corners of the reception hall like some soap opera villainess.
After the speech ended and a round of cheers was lifted, Retta made her move toward the front door. She found her nephew, niece, and two of her cousin’s children playing with a balloon in the entryway.
Walking to the coat closet she asked, “What game are we playing?”
They all shrugged and continued to play, but her six-year-old niece, her brother’s daughter, rushed up to her and wrapped her arms around Retta. “Do you think I can be a flower girl?”
“I don’t know, mama. You’ll have to ask Auntie Irene,” Retta said as she tucked a few braids with beads on the end of them behind the child’s ear.
“Are you going to the wedding?” her nephew asked as he stretched his body out to catch the falling balloon.
Retta hesitated. She didn’t really need to be grilled by an eight-year-old on why she wouldn’t be attending this particular celebration, so she said, “I like weddings. There’s cake, dancing—”
“Mommy says you won’t come,” her niece said.
“Yeah, she says you’d be too sad because you like Auntie Irene’s boyfriend,” her nephew added as he punted the balloon.
Retta tightly pressed her lips together. Obviously, the family news cycle had been slow, because she thought she’d stopped being the topic of gossip months ago. Maybe she could convince her cousin to get another face tattoo.
Poor Retta. Such a shame what happened.
The sentiment haunted her.
“I thought you were leaving?” her nephew asked as she chucked her coat back into the closet.
“Nope,” Retta said. “I’ve changed my mind. The party just started.”
Happy reading ❤