Title: You Again
Author: Sherry Derr-Wille
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Book Heat Level: 1
Carole Martinson is excited to attend her granddaughter’s wedding cruise, until she finds out the groom’s grandfather is the man she married in college.
BLURB: You Again
While attending college at the University of Wisconsin in the 1960s, Carole Martinson fell in love and eloped with Phillip Vanderlin. When his parents realized she was a farmer’s daughter and below them socially, they insisted they divorce.
Fast forward to 2019 and Carole is invited to a wedding cruise financed by her granddaughter’s fiancé’s grandfather. With no knowledge about the groom’s family, Carole flies to Florida for the cruise she and her second husband never got to take. Upon her arrival, she immediately recognizes Phillip.
Phillip never forgot his first love. He is thrilled when he realizes the grandmother is the girl he was forced to leave behind so many years ago.
EXCERPT: You Again
Phillip was ready and anxious to meet Emily’s family. It was evident she made his grandson very happy.
Once again, Phillip remembered his first wedding to Carole Howard. It had been hard to watch his parents put Carole down, just because her father wasn’t as rich or socially acceptable as they were. To him, it never mattered if she was rich, or poor. He’d loved her, but was too young, and didn’t have the balls to stand up to his parents about who he’d chosen to marry.
Checking his watch, Philip realized he’d taken more time than he thought he would. It was time for him to go down to the bar and meet his family, to go to the restaurant.
He saw Mark and Jeremy sitting at the bar. Mark was looking at his watch, indicating they were ready to leave for the restaurant.
“It looks like I took a little too long getting dressed,” Phillip commented.
“Not to worry, Grandpa,” Jeremy said. “They have a bar at the restaurant, and you can get your first drink there.”
Phillip’s daughter, Nina, got off the bar stool and gave him a kiss on the cheek, while Mark paid the tab.
“I think you’re going to love this restaurant, Dad,” she said. “Mark and I ate there the last time we were in town. Thankfully, it’s close enough to the hotel that we can walk. We didn’t see a point in getting a cab when we’re so close. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Mind? Not me. I may be old, but I still walk at least a mile every day. Lead the way. I just hope you can keep up with me.”
His challenge was met with laughter from his family.
~ * ~
Carole was nervous about meeting the family of Emily’s fiancé. If his grandfather had enough money to finance a destination wedding on a cruise ship, she’d definitely look like a country bumpkin in comparison, most likely. She hoped she didn’t come off like that.
Thankfully, they’d arrived from the airport with only enough time for her to have a shower. Looking in the mirror, she again silently thanked Tyson for the shopping trip he’d treated her to when she was in California. She’d been able to spend the money wisely, and still look fashionable.
A light rap at the door indicated Robbie and Janice were ready to leave for the restaurant. She’d seen the restaurant’s sign when they pulled up to the hotel. Since it was close enough to walk, she was glad she no longer wore the high heels that seemed so mandatory when she was younger. She knew she would never have been able to walk the distance if she wore pumps rather than fashionable sandals.
“You look absolutely beautiful, Grandma,” Emily said, as soon as she opened the door.
“Thank you, dear.”
“I think that shopping trip you went on was well worth it,” Robbie added.
“I couldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been for Tyson. I was stunned when he gave me all that money to shop. Thank goodness Ellen knew where to go to make the most of it. The majority of these clothes are either knockoffs, or came from one of the high-end thrift shops she likes to go to.”
“I don’t care where they came from. They make you look like a million bucks,” Janice added.
It didn’t take long for them to walk the short distance to the restaurant. As soon as they entered the bar, Emily hurried over to give Jeremy a hug and a kiss.
Rather than focusing on her granddaughter and her soon to be new grandson, Carole looked at his parents and grandfather who were coming to meet her party. She felt herself becoming faint when she realized Jeremy’s grandfather was Phillip Vanderlin. She would have known him anywhere. Rather than the old man she expected, Phillip was as slim as he’d been in college. The only differences were that he now wore glasses and his dark hair had now turned to a beautiful silver white. While she expected to see the lines of aging on his face, they weren’t there. Of course, with the amount of money he supposedly had, he could have opted for any type of plastic surgery.
Thank goodness I’ve changed since college, Carole thought to herself.I’ve put on a few pounds and my hair is grey, not the beautiful white I always wanted it to be. Of course, my last name is Martinson, so there’s no way he could ever equate me with the Carole Howard he married in college. At least, I certainly hope he doesn’t recognize me. It would be awkward and perhaps spoil the wedding cruise Emily and Jeremy have been planning. I’ll just play it cool and hope no one guesses what’s going on in my mind.
“Ah, Mrs. Martinson. It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Phillip said, as he lifted her hand to his lips.
Always the gentleman,she thought.
She also enjoyed the French accent he carried. As she recalled, Emily did tell them they flew to Paris in order for her to meet Jeremy’s grandfather. She wondered why he was living in France when she knew his parents were from New York.
“The pleasure is all mine,” she replied.
“Can I get you a drink?”
She thought of her answer. It was tempting to ask for a Sex on the Beach, but instead she opted for a Long Island Iced Tea. She thought it sounded appropriate, considering Phillip’s background. When they were married, she had been too young to drink, even on the night of their wedding.
The bartender served her the drink, just before they were called into the dining room for dinner.
If she thought she would be the odd man out, she was mistaken. Phillip took her arm as they followed the other three couples out of the bar. Once they were seated at the table, she found herself sitting to Phillip’s left at the round table, set for eight.
“Do you mind if I order for you, Mrs. Martinson?” he asked. “I’m told they have some of the best seafood in Miami, here. I checked the menu on the internet before I left home, and I see they have a lobster-for-two-meal. I decided since we were going to be the oldest members of this little adventure, we might want to stick together.”
“Of course, I don’t mind. But please, call me Carole. Mrs. Martinson makes me sound like a retired school teacher.” Oh my God, how am I going to keep up this façade when Phillip wants us to stick together for the entire cruise? Just being close to him makes my heart beat faster than it has in years.
While Phillip laughed, Carole remembered their wedding night, when they’d stopped at a restaurant. She had thought it was way too overpriced, but they had paid over twenty dollars for their lobster-for-two dinner. Of course, she knew he wouldn’t remember such a trivial thing. Tonight, she would enjoy his company.
She was surprised how soon she became comfortable in his presence. He was just as charming as he had been, all those years ago.
The lobster he ordered was far superior to the meal they’d shared in Iowa on their wedding night. Over the years, she often thought about ordering lobster, but couldn’t bring herself to spend so much money. The closest she ever came to it was when she discovered deep fried lobster bits at The Stagecoach, a small dinner club just outside of town. It was one of her and Rod’s favorite places to go out to eat.
Rather than allowing their conversation to revolve around her, she asked questions about Phillip’s life. By the time they finished eating, she knew more about her first husband than she ever expected to know.
“I’m afraid I’ve monopolized our dinner conversation,” said Phillip. “I’ve told you a lot about my life, yet I know nothing of yours. Of course, we have a week long cruise to get to know you better.”
They all walked back to the hotel together, and everyone wanted to stop at the bar for a nightcap.
“You’ll have to count me out on this one,” Carole said. “It was a long flight, and if I want to be ready to leave on the cruise tomorrow, I need my beauty sleep.”
After he escorted her to the elevator, Phillip kissed Carole’s hand. “Until tomorrow, when our adventure begins.”
She watched him as the door closed, and the elevator took her away from the man she once loved, and back to the reality of her room.
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/you-again-sherry-derr-wille/1136602217?ean=2940162830542