Small Town Girls Don't Marry Their Back-Ups - Carol Moncado


Madi Beach had to leave her apartment for the first time in a week. While she wouldn’t wish a quarantine on the world, Madi was pretty sure she was better suited to survive with her sanity intact than most people.

An actual quarantine probably wouldn’t be any fun, because of the stress that would likely go with it, but the staying home for weeks at a time part wouldn’t bother Madi.

She’d often told her older brother, Sean, that she could almost be a hermit, but she thanked God she’d never had to test the theory.

Standing at the bottom of the stairs, she sighed. Books were her life, and a job in the bookstore seemed ideal for her as a writer, but in reality, notsomuch.

The walk down the exterior stairs from her apartment only took a few minutes so she hadn’t put gloves or a hat on. Instead, she shoved her hands deep in her coat pockets and hunkered down so her ears were at least partially covered by the faux fur lining the hood.

With her eyes on the sidewalk cracks she knew like the back of her hand - a phrase that had never made much sense to her - she rounded the corner.

And ran smack dab into a brick wall.

That shouldn’t be there.

When she put her hands out, she didn’t feel the rough surface she expected, but instead found soft fabric covering smooth muscles. Probably pectoral muscles.

When she looked up, she found her brick wall had bright blue eyes and several days of scruff on a strong chin.

Her wall set his hands on her hips, likely to keep them both upright.

“Excuse me.” His voice didn’t surprise her, though Madi had no idea why it might sound familiar. “Are you all right?”

Madi blinked, cleared her throat, and still couldn’t get a word out as she stared at the features marred by a scar near his hairline. “Imfnthlyu.”

His eyebrows pinched together. “Huh?”

She cleared her throat again. “I’m fine. Thank you. I’m sorry I ran into you. I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

“Neither was I,” he admitted as he finally dropped his hands and took a step back. He moved away from the building. “I promise to watch where I’m going if you do.”

Madi managed a smile. “I can do that.”

He bowed his head slightly. “Have a collision-free day.”

“You, too.” She stared at him as he walked away.

He wore a longish coat that hung past his rear, but it hadn’t been zipped closed. A knit cap covered most of his hair, but wasn’t pulled down onto his forehead. Dark hair that matched the growth on the rest of his face had stuck out from underneath the front, blown back by the wind allowing her to see the scar near his hairline.

Before she let herself think about it any longer, Madi ducked into Beach Reads, the bookstore she lived above.

The one owned by her parents.

“Madi. There you are.” Her mother glared at her. “You should have been here five minutes ago.”

“I was running late.” She wouldn’t apologize directly. Her mother had volun-told her that she would be here for this shift. There would be no paycheck. She didn’t pay rent for the one-bedroom loft above the store, but she also didn’t charge her parents for the paper copies of her books, which sold like hotcakes to the locals.

It was a symbiotic relationship.

Kind of.

After putting her coat under the counter, she went to work. Several boxes of books needed to be shelved in the used section of the store. For the next hour, she did that. Then she unpacked a shipment of new releases for the new books part of the store.

Six hours after she walked in, she left, having stopped only for a quick sandwich. Even though Madi wasn’t getting paid, her mother didn’t approve of break times.

Rather than head back up to her apartment, Madi chose to head over to the diner. She could sit in her back booth, pull out one of the notebooks Derek let her keep behind the hostess stand, and start writing something new.

It had been months since she’d been inspired to write, though she’d managed to string enough sentences together to meet her last deadline. It had been enough to convince her she couldn’t do monthly releases like some people. It just wasn’t how she worked.

She worked better at a slightly slower pace, letting the stories come to her as the characters talked.

Madi was simply the scribe.

Those outside of her writing world didn’t understand when she talked about