Published By: HQN
Published: Jun 15, 2012
ISBN # 9780373774524
Available in: Secure Adobe Epub eBook, Secure Adobe eBook
Welcome to Fool's Gold, California, a charming community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. There's lots to do and plenty of people to meet, especially women. Because there's just one tiny problem in Fool's Gold: the men don't seem to stick around. Maybe it's the lure of big-city life, or maybe it's plain old bad luck, but regardless of the reason, the problem has to be fixed, fast. And Charity Jones may be just the city planner to do it.
Charity's nomadic childhood has left her itching to settle down, and she immediately falls in love with all the storybook town has to offer--everything, that is, except its sexiest and most famous resident, former world-class cyclist Josh Golden. With her long list of romantic disasters, she's not about to take a chance on another bad boy, even if everyone else thinks he's perfect just the way he is. But maybe that's just what he needs--someone who knows the value of his flaws. Someone who knows that he's just chasing perfect.
Charity Jones loved a good disaster movie as much as the next person--she would simply prefer the disaster in question not be about her life.
The sharp crack of an electrical short, followed by a burning smell, filled the conference room on the third floor of City Hall. A thin wisp of smoke rose from her laptop, ending any hope of her PowerPoint presentation going smoothly. The presentation she'd stayed up nearly all night perfecting.
It was her first day on the job, she thought, breathing deeply to ward off panic. The first official hour of her first official day. Didn't she get at least a sixteenth of a break? Some small sign of mercy from the universe?
She glanced from her still smoldering computer to the ten-member board from California University, Fool's Gold campus, and they did not look happy. Part of the reason was that they'd been working with the previous city planner for nearly a year and still hadn't come up with a contract for the new research facility. A contract she was now responsible for bringing to life. She would guess the unpleasant burny smell was the other reason they were shifting in their seats.
"Perhaps we should reschedule the meeting," Mr. Berman said. He was tall, with graying hair and glasses. "When you're more--" he motioned to the smoldering computer "--prepared."
Charity smiled warmly when what she really wanted to do was throw something. She was prepared. She'd been on the job all of--she glanced at the clock on the wall--eight minutes, but she'd been prepping since she accepted the position as city planner nearly two weeks ago. She understood what the university wanted and what the town had to offer. She might be new, but she was still damned good at her job.
Her boss, the mayor, had warned her about this group and had offered to put off the meeting, but Charity had wanted to prove herself. Something she refused to let be a mistake.
"We're all here," she said, still smiling as confidently as possible. "We can do this the old-fashioned way."
She unplugged her computer and took it out into the hall where it would no doubt stink up the rest of the building, but her first priority had to be the meeting. She was determined to start her new job with a win and that meant getting California University at Fool's Gold to sign on the bottom line.
When she stepped back into the conference room, she walked over to the dry erase board and picked up a thick blue pen from the small rack attached to the board.
"The way I see it," she began, writing the number one and circling it, "there are three sticking points. First, the length of the lease." She wrote a number two, "Second, the reversion of improvements on the land. Namely the building itself. And three, the freeway off-ramp signal." She turned back to the ten well-dressed people watching her. "Do you agree?"
They all looked to Mr. Berman, who nodded slowly.
"Good." Charity had reviewed all the notes on the previous meetings and talked to the mayor of Fool's Gold over the weekend. What Charity couldn't figure out was why the negotiating process was taking so long. Apparently the previous city planner had wanted to be right more than he wanted the research facility in town. But Mayor Marsha Tilson had been very clear when she'd offered Charity the job--bring businesses to Fool's Gold, and fast.
"Here's what I'm prepared to offer," she said, making a second column. She went through all three problems and listed solutions, including an extra five seconds of left-turn time on the...