It's First BOOK Friday! For the next few months, we're going to highlight the first book from each of the Nine Naughties. Sometimes people find us further down our backlist, sometimes readers think they're picking up our first book when really it's number 3 or so, sometimes our first book was so long ago even we've forgotten! (just kidding... it's true that you never forget your first!). So we thought it would be fun to revisit the books that started it all for each of us!
This week we're featuring the first book by PG Forte, Scent of the Roses.
A note from PG:
This is one of my favorite scenes from Scent of the Roses, partially because I can still remember exactly where I was when I wrote it. I was seated at a table on the terrace at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco with a cup of coffee scribbling in a notebook while the rest of my family explored the tall ships at the marina across the street. Even now, years and years later, I’m still transported back there in my mind every time I read it.
There’s something magical about the tiny coast town of Oberon, California…
When a slumber party prank goes awry, magical forces are unleashed that will forever alter the lives of four teenage girls. Twenty years later, Scout Patterson is tired of running from the mistakes and mysteries in her past. So she’s coming home to Oberon, hoping to lay a few of her ghosts to rest.
For Nick Greco, his memories of the girl he’d loved and lost were all he had to see him through the empty years. When Scout’s homecoming is followed by a recurrence of deadly attacks, Nick must rush to solve an all-but-forgotten crime or risk losing her again—this time for good.
But magic, once raised, is not so easily dispersed. As the residents of Oberon are about to discover, some mistakes aren’t easy to mend and some mysteries can be murder.
Nick pushed his way into the house, almost colliding with Scout in the dimly lit kitchen. She gasped, and all but dropped the pizza box she was holding. They regarded each other in silence.
There it was again, he thought irritably. That same wary, frightened look he’d seen in her eyes earlier. Twenty years he’d been waiting for her. Was one lousy smile too much to expect? Couldn’t she even give him that much?
“Is- is something wrong?” She stammered breathlessly.
“Yeah. Why are you so damn jumpy?” Nick snapped at her, in reply.
Scout blinked. “I’m not . . . jumpy.” But he could see her hands clench more tightly on the box.
He grabbed it away from her and dropped it on the counter. She closed her eyes, briefly, involuntarily it seemed, almost as if she expected him to strike her. And that thought caused his temper to flame even higher. Dangerously so. Christ, what the hell did she take him for, anyway?
“Yeah, you are,” he insisted, taking a step closer. “You look like you’re scared to death of me right now. And you’re shivering.” His hands closed on her arms. “What’s going on here, Scout? Do you want me to leave?” His voice was low, hoarse, and he didn’t know what he would do if she said yes, since leaving now was out of the question.
“No,” she whispered.
That whisper was going to drive him mad. He let her go abruptly, backing away from her, his hands tensing into fists at his sides. His next words were out of his mouth almost before he thought them. “Are you seeing that jerk Glenn again?”
Her head snapped up at that. “Am I seeing— No! Why on earth would you ask that? I hadn’t seen him for twenty years.”
“But you saw him on Monday, remember? You had dinner with him? At least that’s what you said yesterday.”
She looked away. “Oh, that. When you said . . . look, the situation . . . it’s awkward, okay? When he showed up I just, well I couldn’t exactly tell him to get lost, now could I?”
“Why not? Because he’s your lawyer? Because you’re hoping he’ll help you find out what happened to your stepsister? Or is it awkward because you slept with him?”
“All of the above, I guess,” she answered, reaching for the wine bottle on the counter to pour herself another glass. “You know, Nick, this is really getting old. I feel like all I’ve done for the past week is apologize for mistakes I made when I was a kid. Ever since I got here, I keep having to deal with all these people who think I screwed them.”
“Only, in Glenn’s case, it’s literally.”
She made a face. “Gee. Thanks for bringing that up.”
“You didn’t . . . literally . . . screw me.”
“Oh.” She colored slightly, and took a long drink. Her eyes studied him appraisingly over the rim of her glass. “Yeah. But, you know, I don’t really think I can take any credit for that,” she said as she lowered the glass. “You just got lucky, is all.”
Lucky? “Interesting choice of words. How do you figure that?”
She turned on him, suddenly. “Look, Nick. You’re still mad at me for something that happened twenty years ago? Well, fantastic. Join the club. I made mistakes, sure. People do that. Only I learned a long time ago that for some reason, I was never going to be allowed to forget about mine. Which, by the way, is yet another reason I never came back here before now. And why I don’t plan on staying an instant longer than I absolutely have to. But as far as you’re concerned, I think it’s time for a reality check. You got off easy.”
“You think so?”
“Yeah, I do. If we’d kept going the way we were going, then yeah. You’d have been screwed all right. Legally, as well as literally. And maybe then you’d have a reason to hate me. But it didn’t happen, so…” She shrugged, and took another sip of wine.
“Oh, I see.” Fury raged inside him. He took a deep breath, and reminded himself to stay calm. “So, you came to your senses just in time, and dumped me for Glenn in order to save me from myself? I’m touched, really. But I gotta tell you, if that’s your definition of getting lucky? I could think of a much better one.”
Scout’s frown turned puzzled. “I dumped you? Where did that come from? Is that what you thought?”
“No, Scout. What I thought is that you were just a kid who liked to play games. You must have gotten a pretty big kick out of pretending you were attracted to me just so you could piss Lucy off.”
“Forget it.” Nick shook his head. Jesus Christ, some great seduction this was turning out to be. How in hell had they gotten off on this tangent, anyway? “It was a long time ago. What difference does it make now? Water under the bridge, right?” He reached over and flipped up the cover of the pizza box.
He picked up a slice and took a bite. “Come on, we better eat this. It’s not gonna get any warmer.”
She didn’t move. And for a moment, she didn’t speak. And then, “You’re wrong, you know,” she said, staring at the island in front of her, her voice low and husky. He looked at her. Two bright spots of pink burned on her cheeks.
Now what? He eyed her wearily, chewing pizza with dogged determination, although he might as well have been eating the box for all the flavor it had for him. “Wrong about what?”
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