She’s American. He’s Scottish. She’s looking for a fresh start. He’s returning to rediscover his roots.
Harper Scott is starting over. She’s signed up for a work-for-hire Scottish Pub Experience only to discover a half-naked and irritatingly handsome Scotsman in the apartment she’s rented. It’s Christmas season, there’s no room at the inn, and the two are both stubborn enough to refuse to give up the rental.
Now, with the pub being threatened by developers, and Harper’s fresh new start tainted by a decidedly grumpy Scotsman determined to make her leave, Harper must decide what’s more important – beating the Scotsman at his own game or saving the pub in time for Christmas. Let the (Highland) games begin.
Author’s Note: a stubborn American takes on a grumpy Scotsman in this stand-alone, small-town, Scottish romance novella. A bit of banter, war kittens, a pub makeover, and a heartwarming happily ever after makes this the perfect Christmas treat.
Release date: December 12, 2022
Publisher: Lovewrite Publishing
Print pages: 127
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Starting Over Scottish: A Grumpy Sunshine Holiday Romance
“How do you know when a woman is about to say something smart?”
I stared at Dale Graves, a partner at the law firm, and silently debated whether putting a laxative in his coffee would be a traceable crime or not. Dale waited at my desk for me to speak, his eyes alight with humor. When I didn’t respond, he continued as though I was waiting breathlessly for the punchline. “When she starts her sentence with… ‘a man once told me.’”
Two of the junior associates next to him guffawed, as though this sparkling nugget of sexist witticism was the funniest thing they’d ever heard.
Don’t say anything. Don’t say anything.
“I don’t get it?” I blinked balefully up at my boss, and Dale stilled, his eyes meeting mine.
“I’m sorry, what’s that now?” Dale Graves of Smithson, Graves, Leary & Gimbel was not used to being questioned.
“I don’t understand. Can you explain the joke?” I continued, keeping a pleasant expression on my face.
“It’s…the joke is…” Dale pressed his lips together and slapped the file he held onto my desk. “Harper, transcribe the letter and have it ready for the messenger to court by this afternoon.”
“Of course, sir. I’m sorry I didn’t understand your very funny joke,” I said. I infused my voice with sweetness, while Dale snapped his fingers at the associates. They followed him immediately, their heads bowed together, dismissing me.
Once again, I was stuck feeling annoyed and frustrated after fielding yet another inappropriate joke from this man who refused to change his behavior no matter how many times Human Resources had discussed the rules with him. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could take. Today was the first time I’d finally worked up the courage to say something back, and now my hands trembled as I took the file and placed it next to my computer.
I knew better.
This was why I never lasted long at my jobs. With a tendency to challenge authority, or call people out on their bad behavior, I
was often told that I was difficult to work with or that perhaps I would be better off working for myself. The trouble I had with being an entrepreneur is that it required a few key things like ‘startup capital’ and ‘motivation’, both of which I currently lacked.
I was stuck in a rut.
Since graduating college, with less than stellar grades (I’d been more interested in touring with my boyfriend’s band than I had been in geology – which was not a class I should need for a communications major) I’d bounced from one job to the next. So far I’d had the glory of being fired from the front desk at a local hotel, the new nail salon down the street, and from the vet’s office. That job had been particularly daunting considering I didn’t like cleaning up bodily fluids – and now I’d somehow landed work with a temp agency who staffed law firms. I’d only been at this recent position for just over a month, and while I’d been told that I’d been brought in because nobody lasted long working for Dale, even I was surprised with the high-level placement. Though I had zero legal background, my typing skills seemed to be my saving grace.
“That wasn’t very smart, you know.”
I turned to see Lee, a formidable woman in a pastel sweater set, pursing her lips at me.
“Wasn’t it? I wouldn’t know,” I said.
“Dale doesn’t like being spoken back to,” Lee continued, tapping a stack of papers on her desk so the edges would line up neatly.
“I didn’t speak back to him. I merely asked a question.” At the very least, I was starting to hone my disapproval into polite rebuttals.
“You won’t last long here with that attitude, Harper.” Lee raised an eyebrow at me. This, from the same woman who’d advised me not to decorate my cubicle when I’d first arrived. I was well aware that there was a time limit on my stay. I mean, she understood the concept of a temporary employee, right?
“God, I hope not,” I agreed, smiling at Lee cheerfully. The woman sniffed, turning to pick up her phone, and I figured my days were numbered.
“Four weeks is a new record, Harper.” Jewel, my roommate and best friend, flopped over the back of the couch with a cheap bottle of champagne in her hand. “Champers?”
“Immediately,” I said. I held up my empty coffee mug and she poured some bubbly into the cup. “I just couldn’t anymore, Jewel. I mean, seriously? What is with the Old Boys Club? Do all these women really sit there every day while these obnoxious men make rude jokes at their expense? When, in reality, the women are the ones who really run the office. These men would be nothing without their secretaries. Seriously, it’s unbelievable the way some of them are treated.”
“Yes, I know, not all men there were like that. I just happened to work for the worst of them, so I’m annoyed right now, okay?”
“That’s fair,” Jewel said. She pulled out her phone and scrolled while taking a sip from her own mug.
“And don’t get me started on the inane reasons for the forty-hour workweek. You mean to say that I have to sit at that desk from eight in the morning until five in the afternoon even if my work is done? And do what?”
“Question your existence as merely a pawn in some alien’s video game?” Jewel suggested.
“Exactly!” I raised my coffee mug and paused. “Erm, no, not really the alien part, but yes to the existence part. What am I doing with my life, Jewel? I’m stuck.”
I’d changed from the one pencil skirt I owned into comfy fleece pants, and now pulled up Netflix on the television. Flipping mindlessly, I landed on the recent season of the Kardashians, hoping their inane arguments about fashion and difficult love lives would distract me. I was going to die here. I blinked at the unbidden thought, my gaze taking in our messy living room, my chipped coffee mug, and my sheer unwillingness to make a change. I kept hoping life would happen for me, and instead it was just whizzing past me while I stayed here, stuck on this couch, worrying about where my next paycheck would come from.
It didn’t help that half my friends from home had either graduated with fancy degrees or were traveling the world as influencers. I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I turned green with envy every time I scrolled Instagram and saw one of my friends in a
fabulous new location. #Grateful. #Lovinglife. #Digitalnomad.
“What’s a digital nomad again?” I asked, turning to Jewel. “Is that something you can just do?”
“Um, I think you have to be in IT or something like computer programming.” Jewel shrugged, twirling a lock of her long blonde hair around her finger as she scrolled. Jewel worked in retail at a trendy downtown boutique and, unlike me, she was good at her job even if she didn’t love it. “Why? Do you want to give it a go? I’ll go with you. I could use a change too.”
“Really?” Interest perked, and I straightened, studying her pretty face. “I thought you liked it here.”
“I do. But I’m up for an adventure. Plus, maybe if I go somewhere it will make Brad get off his ass and make a move.” Jewel had been hinting for a ring from her boyfriend, Brad, for two years now. I thought they were too young for marriage, but she was convinced he was the one.
“If you’re sure?” I tapped my finger against my lips. “Where can we go on a limited budget? Maybe somewhere that the currency exchange works in our favor?” I wasn’t lying when I’d said that worry over money was an issue for me. We could add poor spending habits to the list of my faults.
“No way!” Jewel exclaimed, holding her phone up in excitement. “The timing on this is, like, perfect.”
“What is it?” I leaned over to squint at the picture of a man in a kilt standing in front of a rugged stone building. “Scotland?”
“Aye, lassie.” Jewel butchered a Scottish brogue and clicked through to read a text that was too small for me to see. “Sign up for a genuine Scottish Pub Experience. Live above the pub and experience running the business. Book your stay now.”
“Wait, what? Is it like one of those vacation experiences?”
“I’ve heard of this, you know.” Jewel’s eyes took on a faraway look before she jabbed her finger in the air. “That’s right. There’s a bookstore that does this. You, like, go on Airbnb and rent the apartment above the bookstore and run the store for a week. Gives you the experience of running a bookstore in a cute little town overseas without having to invest all your money. And this? This sounds even better. Think how much fun we’d have bartending at a pub. In Scotland. Can you imagine? And I bet the guys are wicked hot. We are so doing this.”
“But…what about Brad?”...
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