Hometown Girl After All
Hometown Series Book 2
by Kirsten Fullmer Genre: Contemporary Romance
Julia lost everything while she was ill. Self-conscious and alone, she’s moved to Smithville, determined to hide away in her rundown Victorian house. Little does she know, she can’t hide anything in a small town, including her interest in the deliveryman.
Resolved to keep his life simple, Chad has his hands full running his delivery business and supporting his adopted family. So why can’t he get that withdrawn city girl, Julia, off his mind?
Will the eccentric but well-meaning Smithville folk push Julia and Chad to open up, or will the emotional toll drive them both back into seclusion?
At the diner, Chad stepped behind Julia and pushed open the door for her, his hand warm on her back to lead her through. Bells chimed, announcing their arrival, and Marge glanced up from behind the counter. Her customary greeting froze on her lips as she did a double take, her conversation with a bald man seated in front of her forgotten.
The song on the jukebox ended and all the diners turned in the suddenly silent room to watch Julia and Chad walk to a table.
As Chad pulled out Julia’s red vinyl and chrome chair, the jukebox clicked and clattered, changing records. The first few words of the song P.S. I LoveYou, drifted across the room, as Julia did the butt-lift and scoot maneuver so Chad could scoot up her chair. The other diners slowly returned their attention back to their plates and conversations.
“It’s the Beatles,” Chad commented distractedly, shifting his chair up to the table, his eyes darting nervously between Julia and the other customers.
She nodded, engrossed in digging through her purse for something. Giving up in frustration, completely for- getting what she’d been looking for, she turned to hang her purse on the back of the chair, inadvertently catching the eye of a man and woman at the next table who sat staring, with their forks still hovering in mid-air.
Chad cleared his throat and lifted two menus from behind the salt and peppershakers. “So, what do you want to eat?” he asked, his voice a bit too loud.
Jumping in her seat, Julia’s gaze flew from the staring couple, back to Chad. “I—I’m not sure. What’s good here?”
Pretending to glance over the menu, Chad berated himself for bringing Julia to the diner. Why hadn’t her taken her to Uniontown where they could have cuddled in the corner booth of a crowded restaurant where no one would notice them? Feeling the back of his neck burn, he glanced over to see Marge’s pink tennis shoes on the floor next to the table.
He sighed inwardly and followed the pink uniform up to Marge’s face, which clearly but silently said, “I knew it!”
“Well,” Marge stated, her tone speculative, a wide grin on her face. “What can I get for you two this fine evening?”
Chad glanced at Julia, noting the misery written across her face, and he flinched. “I’d like a Coke. Julia?”
“Water please,” she muttered, not making eye contact with Marge.
Pretending to scribble on her pad, Marge sized up the couple over her reading glasses. “You got it,” she finally replied, turning on her heel.
Julia adjusted the salt and peppershakers into a row with the container of sugar packets and the ketchup, then turned her attention back to her menu.
“I like the meatloaf,” Chad said, glancing up. “Hmm,” she mumbled, turning the page. “And the tuna melt.” Julia nodded.
“Sometimes I get the—”
Marge plopped two large red plastic tumblers on the table, and scooted the one full of water toward Julia. The aging waitress then tugged two paper-wrapped straws from her apron, tossed them on the table, and collected her pad and pencil. With one hip cocked and her glasses balanced on the end of her nose, she glanced between Chad and Julia.
Chad watched as Julia’s neck turned red, the color flooding up over her chin, then her cheeks. “Give us a minute please,” he said, his eyes never leaving Julia, angry at himself for being such a dunce.
Wishing she were invisible, Julia suffered the curious stares of the other diners. Shoving down her discomfort and battling to muster even a dab of confidence, she glanced up at Chad.
He took a long drink of soda, then set down his glass. “Sorry, we should have gone to Uniontown...” he muttered.
Julia straightened in her chair. “No, I’m fine, really.” She lifted her glass. “Have you had time to think about the flower—”The tumbler in her hand shifted in her grip, then fell to the table top, the water and ice pouring across the gleaming white table and directly onto Chad’s lap.
His chair screeched back as he bound to his feet. Wiping at his pants and shaking his hands, Chad danced backward in an effort to miss the torrent, barely managing not to fall into the lap of the woman seated behind him. When he looked up, all he could see was Julia’s stricken expression.
“I’m so sorry,” she gasped, then hurried around the table. Plucking a handful of napkins from the dispenser, she frantically wiped at Chad’s crotch.
“Julia—” he stuttered, still in shock, his hands and shirt drip- ping into the growing puddle.
She continued to press the napkin into his jeans, desperate to help.
“Julia!” he said louder, grasping her wrist in his fist.
She stopped, frozen in horror, finally noticing that everyone in the diner sat staring at her hand pressed to Chad’s crotch. She stood and her hand dropped from Chad’s grip, her face turning so pale he was afraid she would faint.
Kirsten grew up in the Western US and graduated from high school in 1984. She married soon there after and quickly built a family. With three young children and number four on the way, she returned to college in 1992. Her career as a draftsman included many settings ranging from a steel fabrication shops to prestigious engineering firms. Balancing family life with the workplace forced her to become the queen of multitasking. In 2001, bored with the cubical life, she moved on to teach drafting in technical college, then to opening her own consulting firm teaching 3D engineering software. Due to health problems, Kirsten retired in 2012 to travel with her husband for his job. She now works writing romance novels and enjoys spoiling her three grandchildren. Since 2017 Kirsten has lived and worked full time in a 40' travel trailer with her husband and her little dog Bingo.
I may live and work in a forty-foot trailer, referred to as an RV, but I don’t consider my home a recreational vehicle just because it’s self-contained, and has wheels. My home is spectacularly well thought out, cozy, and complete with everything we need. (washer/dryer, fireplace, even a dishwasher!) So what does my house have to do with my writing? Everything! When I conceptualized Smithville, the small-town setting for the Hometown Series, I didn’t realize that I was creating a hometown for myself.
My husband, Steve, and I, travel for his job with our little dog, Bingo. We usually live in one place for three to six months, then hitch back up and head to the next job. Even though Steve has a job waiting when we get there, the moves are sometimes stressful, but always interesting. I have to put aside my work, pack up all my do-dads, crafts projects, dishes, and plants. We maneuver our home through storms, narrow mountain roads, lost RV park reservations, and traffic. Steve has to start over with a new crew on a different site. Sometimes it seems that only Bingo truly enjoys all aspects of the journey. We do get to meet a lot of great traveling folks, as well as weekend campers, and we see loads of beautiful countryside. Sometimes we even manage to slip a stay on the beach into a move.
I do miss having my own yard and garden, friends nearby, and of course I wish my kids and grandkids were close enough to pop in for Sunday dinner. I miss knowing for sure which way is east. (Am I the only map loving person who is bothered that the GPS is upside down half the time?) To be honest, I even miss running into someone I know at Wal-Mart when I look a mess. But I love being with my husband, and I enjoy meeting new people and seeing new places, so it works out. I even wrote a stand alone novel based on my husband’s work and the lifestyle we lead!
I grew up in a small town, number six of eight children, and I’d describe myself as caring but opinionated, self-sufficient, and very attached to my husband. Maybe that’s because when we travel, we depend on each other. I’ve been writing full time for five years and I’m hooked. My stories take time and effort to mold and shape, but the characters are my companions, my traveling friends. If that means I’m wacko or quirky, all the better! I collect input for my books from my husband and grown kids. I discuss story lines with them, and ask them to read and reread my drafts, helping me create characters and situations that feel real, and that are entertaining. I couldn’t do it without them.
I had written three of the books in the Hometown Series before it occurred to me that, in Smithville, I had created a place for my heart to live. Smithville is filled with people going about their daily lives, dealing with their personal issues, irrational fears, and hard-won accomplishments. They can be silly, flustered, selfish and unaware, as well as resilient and clever, that’s what makes it feel real. It’s a place I’d like to call home.
In book one of the Hometown Series, Tara, who grew up in Smithville, is working to overcome childhood trauma. She learns to loosen up and overcome her control freak nature. (I may, or may not struggle with this, haha) Her loving grandmother, Winnie, is partly my own mother and bits of both of my grandmothers. In book two, Julia comes to Smithville expecting to hide away after a debilitating illness, but colorful characters like Becky and Bobby draw her out and build her confidence. This one was written from the heart after I spent a few rough years healing from my own illness. In book three Lizzie moves to Smithville to live out the dream of owning her own alpaca farm, as well as escape her overbearing mother. (I do love alpacas!) Through friendship, laughter, and Smithville craziness, Lizzie finds illumination where she least expects it. In book four (a Holiday romance) Gloria struggles to overcome her past reputation, one that small towns don’t easily forget, but her kindness hasn’t gone unnoticed. (If you’ve ever had everyone in town know your business, you understand!) And in book five, the one I’m currently writing, Katherine returns to Smithville, after years away, to open a vintage RV glamping park, and is forced to face her first love, as well as her lost naiveté. (I have no idea where the glamping idea came from!) Of course my leading ladies fall for an imperfectly delicious man along the way. I suppose that each of these women, their friendships, and their healing processes, are a part of me looking for resolution to my own upsets and disappointments, in a place surrounded by camaraderie and fun.
I hope you will join me in Smithville, and get to know and love the people there like I do. Bingo and I will be waiting for you in the fifth-wheel parked just outside of town.
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