Don’t Wait Too Long
by Cate Masters
Tired of saying ‘yes’ when she should say ‘no’, Claire Sims is finally taking control of her life. Or working on it. At fifty, she’s alone after 20 years of marriage, but is ready to kick up her heels and dance. As a wife, she led a sheltered and lonely existence, but a year of being widowed taught her how to love getting out in the world by herself. She gave up hope of finding real love long ago, and for her, marriage was all work and no fun. Not ready to give up her freedom, she resists until a chance meeting with Kipling Baldwin. Easygoing, sweet, and intelligent, he tempts her in many ways, but can she let go of her fears to share her life with him?
Grief for his wife blurred three years of Kipling Baldwin’s life. Putting himself out there is a frightening concept, until he meets Claire. Her warmth and caring helps him remember the guy he once was instead of the stodgy middle-aged man he is now. He wants to become that guy again—for himself, and for Claire. Time’s precious when it begins running out, and moreso when Kip finds someone who makes life worth living again. But will Claire learn to trust him enough to let him in?
Don’t Wait Too Long
Contemporary romance novella (sweet heat level)
Publish Date: 5/23/2016
About 46,000 words
An insistence rises up within me. A growing buzz blocks out my thoughts except one: leaving. Everyone seems to be pushing me toward marrying the first man who asks, though it’s the last thing I want. Does anyone care what I want?
I care, dammit. I will not let anyone else control my life. Not ever again.
My temple throbs with a dull ache. I rub my eyes and for a moment, my vision blurs. The surroundings seem to stretch away from me in an arc. Within the center of the doorway, a figure appears and hesitates there.
Squinting, I strain to clear my vision and get a better look at the newcomer. Somehow, I lock gazes with the man. He crosses the dance floor as if aiming for me. Every detail about him pops out at me. His dark hair. Black-framed glasses. Six feet of lean muscle. Deep brown eyes that hold mine with a conspiratorial sparkle, as if he knows all my secrets and desires.
I nearly snort. Now that’s a fairy tale. Yet I can’t look away. It’s like a bad commercial for cologne, the handsome man approaching the beautiful woman in slow-mo. Except I’m middle-aged, not some barely-twenty model. And to think he could be interested in me is ridiculous.
Beside me, Ernest still talks, louder with each word. Like a bad dream that will not go away. “Miss. I asked your name.”
The handsome man has come within a few feet, and slows. This is the point in the commercial where he sweeps the girl onto his horse, or motorcycle, or into his Maserati, and they ride off into the sunset.
Then I see myself as from a distance: standing awkwardly near the refreshment table. Of course, he only wants a drink.
“I’m Claire Sims,” I answer Ernest with resigned disappointment.
“Claire.” The tall stranger’s sonorous baritone startles me as much as his use of my name.
I turn, and my alarm grows. He’s smiling. At me. “How did you—”
“Get here?” He glances at Ernest. “The repair shop finished my truck in time. I’ve been looking for you.”
“You have?” Had I accidentally clicked my heels three times and been transported over the singles rainbow? Or fallen asleep and into a wonderful dream? No, because then he’d have said he’s been looking for me all his life. And he wouldn’t be wearing the silver band on his wedding finger.