Clean Sweep Sneak Peek

CHAPTER ONE
Leslie

 

Something fuzzy lived in the dish at the bottom of my fridge and it had been there for over a week now. 

The old ceramic dish had a glass top so I could peer inside. At best, the contents appeared mushy and gray, with a slight green tint around the edges. Mold, for certain. Never mind that my divorce had been final for over a year now, Mrs. Cortez still brought dinners for me and my son like we actively mourned my first marriage. No, that thing needed to die. In fact, that marriage had died long before the divorce drove a stake in its heart.

Not for the first time, I regarded the moldy dish, shuddered, and closed the door. 

“Not right now,” I whispered, then crept away, like it would grow across the floor after me.

 Coffee almost sloshed out of my mug as I set it on the table and called out, “Blake! You have five minutes before you have to leave. If you’re tardy, you’ll get detention and I am not saving you again.”

An unintelligible, teenage grunt followed. I fought not to roll my eyes, but at least the thudding music quieted a little. I passed by a load of teenage clothes that Blake still hadn’t taken upstairs even though I’d graciously folded them in piles on the table. Most of the time these days, he dressed himself from the dining room. 

Beneath the table lay carpet that needed a good vacuum a few weeks ago, floorboards that weren’t gray but appeared to be from dust, and a wall with cobwebs at the seam. My dishwasher let out a groan as it attempted to clean an overly-full load I’d forgotten to start last night.

“Hello, Monday in the middle of November,” I sighed.

My phone chimed with a text from my oldest of four sons, Landon. At twenty-five and just about to start medical school a few states away, he currently finished up his last semester of his undergrad in Jackson City. It was a bigger—but still not big—city forty-five minutes up the mountain canyon from here in Pineville. He’d saved up all his online classes for his last two semesters so he could move closer to home, work, get a hold of debt, and still graduate on time. 

Sensible, this kid.

Landon soothed my Mama nerves every time I saw his name. Easy going. Hard working, but wasn’t obnoxious about it. His latest girlfriend of four weeks showed real promise this time. 

Not like all the others, anyway.

 

Landon: Can I come home Saturday for some food?

Leslie: Sure. Your favorites? 

Landon: You’re the best. We’ll be there at noon. 

 

I paused. Although he’d been idly mentioning a woman named Starla every now and then, there had never been a we attached to anything. In fact, he’d almost disappeared since they started to officially date. Not only had I not met Starla yet, but I knew nothing else about her except her name and a vague mention of a super awesome first date, Mom. Tell you about it later.

 

Leslie: We?

Landon: Yeah, I’m bringing Starla. I proposed to her last night, thought you’d want to meet her.

 

I blinked. 

Wait, what?

 

Leslie: I’m sorry, you said what?

Landon: It’s a conversation better to have in person, but didn’t want to spring too much on you at once. 

Leslie: Is this a joke?

Landon: No. It’s, long story. Could we have BBQ instead of pasta?

 

“No,” I murmured. “This . . . that has to be a lie.”

Landon is not the son that would casually mention a proposal or break life-changing news to me over a text message without any contextual basis at all. This was something Max would do, because he fell in and out of love every twenty seconds. 

Not Landon. 

Furious, I tapped the phone icon and listened to the phone ring in my ear. He denied the call, then texted back. 

 

Landon: Can’t talk now. In class. Later.

 

“You did not just decline me,” I muttered.

Blake descended the stairs, thudding like he stomped out cockroaches on his way down. He zoomed by, a mere blur that managed to snatch his car keys before disappearing out the kitchen door with a, “Bye, Mom!” tossed over his shoulder. I sent a vague wave in response.

With all my control, I stopped myself from calling again and settled on the most threatening I-brought-you-into-this-life-I-can-take-you-out-of-it message I could conjure with so little brain capacity left. 

 

Leslie: We WILL talk later, young man. 

Landon: Thanks, Mom. 

 

Sensing that he must be nervous about this—or he would have told me about it already—I schooled all my inner Mama Bear and gave a calm reply. 

 

Leslie: We’ll eat at six. See you then.

 

Then I screamed like a wild banshee

 

I hope you're as excited as I am for Leslie and Tanner's story. Their saucy little relationship might not be what you expect—but so much more. Click right here to get your copy today!

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