The Hustler Next Door – Polson Falls Read Online K.A. Tucker

Categories Genre: Contemporary, Funny, Romance Tags Authors:

Total pages in book: 99
Estimated words: 95264 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 476(@200wpm)___ 381(@250wpm)___ 318(@300wpm)

From the international bestselling author of The Simple Wild and Ten Tiny Breaths comes a new stand-alone enemies-to-lovers, small-town romance.

Justine MacDermott is in what she would call a transition period: squatting in her best friend’s house and working in an appliance store in Polson Falls while the man she was supposed to marry starts a new life with someone else.

She’s definitely not thinking about slashing his tires and wishing his vital extremities would fall off.

When newcomer Garrett Harrington strolls into Murphy’s looking to buy a refrigerator, Justine convinces herself she’s found her rebound. Or the next love of her life. Either works. But a chance encounter leads her to discover that Garrett isn’t who he made himself out to be, and he’s more interested in hustling her kindly old boss out of his family business—and using her to do it.

Furious at being fooled by yet another man and itching for retribution, Justine enlists the help of unlikely townsfolk to battle Harrington Group’s big-city development plans for Polson Falls.

It’s all going to plan … until Justine finds herself crossing enemy lines.

The Hustler Next Door is set in the Polson Falls world. Books in this series can be read in any order.

*************FULL BOOK START HERE*************

Chapter One

“Half of Boston must be here.” My calf muscles strain as I stretch on my tiptoes, striving to see over the bulky winter jackets and capped heads. It’s pointless. There are too many people and, as usual, my diminutive stature works against me.

Mom waves off my protests. “It’ll move fast. It always does.”

She’s right, of course. Rain, snow, or sunny summer skies, mornings at Sam’s Pastry are always hectic as Bostonians flock to the iconic downtown bakery for their cannoli fix. Even now, only days after everyone has renewed their gym memberships and made New Year’s resolutions about pious lives of salads and spin classes, bodies are stuffed into this storefront like the rows of cream-filled pastries in the display cases ahead. Five separate lines wait impatiently for service while a crowd loiters outside in the frigid January air.

Mom and I have always been Saturday regulars. Even after I moved out, I’d insist on coming here every visit home, just so I could taunt my brother Joe with unflattering pictures of myself shoveling pistachio—his favorite—into my gaping mouth. But it’s been ages since I’ve faced this crowd, and I’m not in the mood for it. “We picked the slow line.”

“Stop fussing.”

“I’m boiling.” I tug at the collar of my knit sweater for effect.

“And you’ll be cold once we step outside.” Mom toys with a strand of my lengthy hair. I’d dyed it black for years but recently made the switch to a rich chestnut brown. “I’m so happy you’re here.”

I meet my mother’s gaze, see her sincere smile, and I swallow the other complaints waiting to spill out. “So am I.” There’s something about walking into Sam’s and inhaling the sugary-sweet icing sugar and pastries … it transports me back to childhood every time, if only for a moment.

She hesitates. “Especially since you missed Christmas.”

Oh my God. “Please don’t start now.” I’m already irritated; a guilt trip will put me over the edge. “You know why I didn’t come home.” Why I did the unthinkable and skipped the holidays with my family for the first time in my thirty years of life. It’s not that I didn’t want to see them. It killed me not to see them. But holidays with my family include our longtime friends, the Wrights, and there was no way I was spending Christmas watching a certain six-foot-three Wright—the one I was supposed to marry—and his new woman suck back eggnog while canoodling in matching reindeer sweaters. “If you’d wanted me there badly enough, you should have banned them from visiting.”

“That would have put a strain on the relationship. And punishing everyone for his mistake—”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

“These things always happen for a reason. One day you’ll look back and—”

“Cheating is cheating. Do not make excuses for Bastard Bill.” I stab the air with my finger in warning.

“I’m not! The truth is, I don’t think I’ll ever look at him the same way again. But, for Molly and Craig’s sake, would you please stop calling their son that, or I’m liable to do it in front of them accidentally.”

“Would that be so bad?” I know Mom’s in a difficult position. The Wrights have lived next door to us for almost three decades. Our families have a long, entwined history. When my father injured his back and couldn’t work construction any longer, Craig put his reputation on the line to get him a job at his company, even though my father didn’t have the first clue about insurance or office work. Mom and Molly must have burned a trillion calories together over the years on their daily walks while venting about their husbands and children. They travel to Mexico every winter together. I can’t expect my parents to cast away those friendships because of what Bill did.