Here’s a little about the book.
Mallory Johansen has nearly given up on thinking she’ll get her act together – the one where she plays the part of an adult – by the time she hits thirty. As it is she’s desperate and depressed. Her only friend is leaving town, she’s paired to work with a man who can’t stand her, and she finds herself homeless. Definitely hasn’t mastered being a grown-up yet.
Otis Bell wants nothing more than to play his guitar, book acoustic bands to perform at his upcoming music venue, and be in charge of his own life. Instead, he’s working full time in his family’s auto shop. He only owns half the supposed music venue, which stands as an abandoned church and needs more than a little work. When his best friend moves away, he’s paired with an aloof girl he’s never liked as partner, and stretches himself thin working too many hours.
The Chapel is the little music venue that could. Full of potential. Full of ugly carpet, peeling paint, and exhausting work. Mallie and Otis navigate their way through a fledgling partnership, trying their darnedest to get the place up and running, while trying pretty hard not to fall in love in the process.
Jess B. Moore has shared an extract with us today so grab the drink of your choice, that chair and enjoy.
(Warning – strong language.)
***** beginning of extract*****
This scene from The Chapel is taken from the first chapter, introducing Mallie, her cousin Tyler, and setting up the story which will unfold. The book starts with Tyler dropping a bomb on Mallie and throwing her life into a tailspin!
The thing about being in your late twenties is that you’re supposed to have it all figured out. The career, the house, the long term relationship, the life plans sprawling out before you. You’re expected to have your shit together.
I don’t have a career. Not really. I’m still figuring out what I want to do with my life. I take photos and I’m good at it, but I don’t enjoy wedding photography or infant photography or running wild toddler photography. I haven’t found a way to make money doing nature or still life or anything else with my camera. I help at my Aunt Violet’s vintage shop that barely brings in enough revenue to keep me on the payroll.
No house. Not one that’s mine. Not one I want to live in for any length of time. The place I rent is small, smells bad, and the landlord is suspect. The neighbors are loud and disrespectful of my desire to sleep during the nighttime hours.
I have never had a long term relationship. I can’t imagine one will crop up before I hit my thirties. The guys I’ve dated have been few and far between and never serious.
My life plans are vague at best. Dismal and depressing at worst.
The highlight of my week is meeting Tyler for a late lunch at our favorite Japanese place. It’s a tiny closet of a building, where the heat from the kitchen permeates the four tables out front. I feel a bead of sweat roll down my back and hope I don’t have noticeably wet pits.
“Why are you so nervous?” I can’t help but ask.
Tyler is tapping his toe – a fairly normal habit of his – but he does it in overdrive and makes me suspicious. His eyes have darted around the place and to the door too many times.
“I’m not.” He shakes his head at me, and it seems to put something in place. “I mean, I am. I have to tell you something.”
That is never good. Never. The we need to talk and the I have to tell you something is always followed by news that you do not under any circumstances want to hear. Even from Tyler Covington, my cousin and best friend, I feel the rock-in-the-gut dread that accompanies those words.
“I’m heading out of town, Mallie Jo.” His face is tight and etched with worry. Tyler watches me for cues as to what to say next. No, he watches to see if I’ll cry or scream. “Frank found a spot for me on a few albums, and I can’t turn down the opportunity.”
Frank lives in Nashville. He’s worked as a session musician for years. An older guy with a real name around the town. He’s been Tyler’s mentor for practically his whole life; the one that taught him to play guitar.
My mind tries to map the distance between us in Fox River, North Carolina, and where Tyler will go to Nashville, Tennessee. We’ve made the trip before, on road trips, and to visit his favorite guitar shop, and memory tells me it’s about a five and half hour drive.
“Oh, wow, that’s really … great.”
It’s so not great! Panic eats a hole in my mind and my heart.
No, no, it is great for Tyler – just not great for me. Focus on Tyler.
I smile and the muscles in my cheeks strain at the effort. They forget how to smile, how to pull my lips into place. It’s not a rock in the gut, it’s a punch in the gut.
I cannot survive without Ty. I moved in with him and Aunt Violet and Uncle Andy when I was four. I don’t remember a life before them – a family that wasn’t them. They took me in and have taken care of me ever since. Tyler and I became best friends and have remained close through the years. He’s two years older than me – thirty to my twenty-eight – and he’s my closest everything.
“I’ll meet a lot of great people. I’ll get to play with a lot of great people.” He emphasizes the word great each time he says it.
“When do you go?” My throat is closing up.
He shifts in his chair and looks down at his plate. His thin stainless steel fork scraps across the thinner ceramic of the plate. I know that whatever blow comes next, it will be worse. My fingernails bite into my palm, as I ready myself.
“I’m driving over on Friday.” He shifts again in his chair, but he looks up at me. He has this sad puppy-dog face as he waits. Waits for me to break down. Which is why I can’t. “That way I’ll have the weekend to get settled. I start on Monday.”
“Friday is in two days.” Two. As in barely more than one.
“You’re leaving.” The words scratch on their way out, leaving wounds in my throat.
“Yeah.” Tyler’s face morphs into pleading. Not so worried and not so sad. Something worse. “Look, it will be fine. You will be fine without me.”
“Ha.” I can’t help the sound that comes from me. The bitter scoff of a laugh. “When have I ever been fine without you?”
As pathetic as it sounds, Tyler has been my rock. My whole life, he’s been the one to hold my hand, to have my back, to take care of me. I can’t fathom a life that doesn’t include him. What do I have without him? A pathetic job. A shitty rental house. No friends. No prospects.
“Mallie, you are a strong, smart, beautiful woman.” He means it. He’s always thought the best of me. “The best parts of your life are still to come.”
“I sure hope so.”
***** end of extract*****
Jess B. Moore is a writer of love stories. When she’s not writing, she’s busy mothering her accomplished and headstrong children, reading obscene numbers of books, and knitting scarves she’ll likely never finish.
Jess lives in small town North Carolina with her bluegrass obsessed family. She takes too many pictures of her cats, thinking the Internet loves them as much as she does. She is a firm believer of swapping stories over coffee or wine, and that there should always be dark chocolate involved.
The Fox River Romance novels combine her interests in family, music, and small towns into a thoughtful tales of growing up and falling in love. These books can be read as stand-alone, or as a series starting with The Guilt of a Sparrow.
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