SECRETS of THE TULIP SISTERS by Susan Mallery

*** CONTEST CLOSED ***

tulip

The Tulip Sisters are in for the most colorful summer of their lives!

Follow along with this excerpt from best-selling author, Susan Mallery’s new novel, SECRETS of the TULIP SISTERS(HQN) being published in July! Today followers of our blog, Thoughts on This ‘n That get a sneak peak at the first two chapters, and a chance to win a bouquet of gorgeous fresh cut tulips! Then in July, we’ll be giving away a copy of, SECRETS of the TULIP SISTERS – the perfect summer read.

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Kelly Murphy’s life as a tulip farmer is pretty routine—up at dawn, off to work, lather, rinse, repeat. But everything changes one sun-washed summer with two dramatic homecomings: Griffith Burnett—Tulpen Crossing’s prodigal son, who’s set his sights on Kelly—and Olivia, her beautiful, wayward and, as far as Kelly is concerned, unwelcome sister. Tempted by Griffith, annoyed by Olivia, Kelly is overwhelmed by the secrets that were so easy to keep when she was alone.

But Olivia’s return isn’t as triumphant as she pretends. Her job has no future, and ever since her dad sent her away from the bad boy she loved, she has felt cut off from her past. She’s determined to reclaim her man and her place in the family…whether her sister likes it or not. For ten years, she and Kelly have been strangers. Olivia will get by without her approval now.

While Kelly and Olivia butt heads, their secrets tumble out in a big hot mess, revealing some truths that will change everything they thought they knew. Can they forgive each other—and themselves—and redefine what it means to be sisters?

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Chapter One

Most people thought the main difference between a tiny house on wheels and one that wasn’t had to do with size. But Griffith Burnett knew differently. It was about weight. If you were going to be pulling your 200-square-foot tiny home all over the place, you didn’t want to be weighed down. No granite countertops, no thick wooden flooring, no wrought iron railings on the upper deck. But if your 200-square-foot home was going to stay in one place, then he knew a great hard surfaces vendor who could hook you right up. And because your tiny home was…well…small, you could get first-class material at remnant prices.

He stood in the center of what could, in a pinch, be called his manufacturing facility. In truth it was two warehouses connected by a covered walkway, but not only was it a start—it was his.

The bigger of the buildings held six houses in progress. Two were headed for San Francisco, one to Portland, Oregon. Two were for a family compound in eastern Washington—or as a frustrated middle-aged woman had put it, “My sons are never leaving home. I just can’t stand stepping over them every day. I’ll accept that they’re staying put if I don’t have to deal with them and their mess.”

The last was going to be an elegant guest cottage at a quirky Texas B&B.

That side of GB Micro Housing made the money. Whether you wanted to spend thirty thousand or a hundred and thirty thousand, Griffith could build you a tiny home pretty much to your specifications. Single level, two levels, lofts, upper story decks, high-end finishes or everything recovered from tear-downs. You name it. It was all about weight and how much money you were willing to spend.

He had orders for the next couple of years and the waiting list continued to grow. He’d hired two more full-time employees, bringing his total to ten.

He supposed a money person would tell him to use his other warehouse to fulfill the paying orders, but he wasn’t even tempted. That second, smaller space, well, that was where the real work happened.

In the smaller warehouse, he experimented, he played, he dreamed. He would never make a cent from that work, but it also meant at the end of the day, he could know he’d done what was right. That made sleeping at night a whole lot easier.

He went into the break room to pour himself some coffee only to find his brother sitting at one of the tables. Ryan leaned back in a chair, his feet up on a second one. His eyes were closed as he listened to something through earbuds.

Griffith resisted the urge to kick the chair out from under his brother’s feet. Maybe that would get his attention, although he had his doubts.

Ryan was currently unmotivated. The only reason his brother had come back to Tulpen Crossing was because he had nowhere else to go. When Ryan had blown out his shoulder, the Red Sox had cut him loose. After two years of paying more attention to baseball than college and nearly four years in the minor league, Ryan wasn’t exactly skilled labor. He’d needed a job and Griffith had offered him one—on the line, building tiny houses. It was a decision Griffith was beginning to regret.

He nudged his brother’s arm. Ryan opened his eyes and smiled.

“Hey, bro.”

“Hey, yourself. Break ended a half hour ago.”

“What?”

Ryan blinked and looked around, as if genuinely surprised to find everyone else was back at work. “Huh. Sorry. I was listening to the game. I guess I got distracted.”

Griffith could guess how the conversation had gone. One of the guys would have said break was over. Ryan would have said he would be there in a minute. Had the twenty-six-year-old been anyone else, the shop supervisor would have been notified. But Ryan was the boss’s brother. No one was sure if the rules applied—not even Griffith.

He briefly thought of his parents who had always insisted he look after his baby brother—no matter how inconvenient it might be—sucked in a breath and told himself he would deal with Ryan another time.

“Get back to work,” he said. “Now.”

“Sure thing.”

His brother got to his feet and ambled toward the door.

Griffith watched him go and told himself any annoyance was his own fault. Ryan had never hustled—unless he was on the baseball field. There he could be little more than a blur of activity, but in life, not so much with the speed.

*

“I love it!”

Olivia Murphy basked in the delighted tone and happy words of her client. Jenny was a sixty-something recent widow who needed to sell the family home to fund the rest of her life. Getting top dollar was a priority.

The ranch-style three-bedroom, two-bath wasn’t anything fancy. In fact hundreds of them existed in the older neighborhoods of Phoenix. Adding to that challenge was the lack of updates and the time of year. June wasn’t exactly peak selling season in the desert—not when midday temperatures routinely topped a hundred degrees. No one wanted to be looking at homes if they didn’t have to be. Winter was far more active in the real estate market.

But Jenny couldn’t wait until winter, which meant making a splash on minimal budget. Olivia had spent hours on Pinterest, had haunted thrift stores and had begged and borrowed everything else. For less than five hundred dollars, she’d transformed the aging, very ordinary rambler into a cute, welcoming Cape Cod retreat.

“I just can’t believe it’s the same house,” Jenny crowed. “Look at what you’ve done.”

“I know,” Marilee Quedenfeld said, her tone a combination of modest pride and look-at-me. “It’s wonderful, isn’t it? The second you walk in, you feel the cool, ocean breeze.”

Olivia kept her smile firmly in place. There was no point in saying anything. Working for Marilee these past four years had taught her that. If there was praise to be had, it went to Marilee. If there was a complaint, well, that went anywhere else.

“You’re a genius,” Jenny told Marilee. “Everyone said you were the best, but I didn’t expect this. Thank you!”

“You’re welcome.” Marilee put her arm around her client. “I know what you’ve been through and this is the least I can do.”

Words Jenny would take at face value, Olivia thought, while Marilee was probably thinking something along the lines of Dear God, why doesnt this woman take better care of herself?

The contrast in their appearances was startling. Jenny was short, frumpy and had obviously surrendered to the aging process. Marilee, by contrast, wore an Akris punto polka-dot A-line dress and Valentino pumps. Her hair was a sleek, shoulder-length, dark blond bob, her makeup emphasized large eyes and smooth skin. She was close to fifty, looked thirty-five and occasionally tried to pass herself off as even younger.

“Let’s go look at the rest of the house,” Marilee suggested. “You’re going to love everything I’ve done.”

“I know I will.”

Chapter Two

Most people thought the main difference between a tiny house on wheels and one that wasn’t had to do with size. But Griffith Burnett knew differently. It was about weight. If you were going to be pulling your 200-square-foot tiny home all over the place, you didn’t want to be weighed down. No granite countertops, no thick wooden flooring, no wrought iron railings on the upper deck. But if your 200-square-foot home was going to stay in one place, then he knew a great hard surfaces vendor who could hook you right up. And because your tiny home was…well…small, you could get first-class material at remnant prices.

He stood in the center of what could, in a pinch, be called his manufacturing facility. In truth it was two warehouses connected by a covered walkway, but not only was it a start—it was his.

The bigger of the buildings held six houses in progress. Two were headed for San Francisco, one to Portland, Oregon. Two were for a family compound in eastern Washington—or as a frustrated middle-aged woman had put it, “My sons are never leaving home. I just can’t stand stepping over them every day. I’ll accept that they’re staying put if I don’t have to deal with them and their mess.”

The last was going to be an elegant guest cottage at a quirky Texas B&B.

That side of GB Micro Housing made the money. Whether you wanted to spend thirty thousand or a hundred and thirty thousand, Griffith could build you a tiny home pretty much to your specifications. Single level, two levels, lofts, upper story decks, high-end finishes or everything recovered from tear-downs. You name it. It was all about weight and how much money you were willing to spend.

He had orders for the next couple of years and the waiting list continued to grow. He’d hired two more full-time employees, bringing his total to ten.

He supposed a money person would tell him to use his other warehouse to fulfill the paying orders, but he wasn’t even tempted. That second, smaller space, well, that was where the real work happened.

In the smaller warehouse, he experimented, he played, he dreamed. He would never make a cent from that work, but it also meant at the end of the day, he could know he’d done what was right. That made sleeping at night a whole lot easier.

He went into the break room to pour himself some coffee only to find his brother sitting at one of the tables. Ryan leaned back in a chair, his feet up on a second one. His eyes were closed as he listened to something through earbuds.

Griffith resisted the urge to kick the chair out from under his brother’s feet. Maybe that would get his attention, although he had his doubts.

Ryan was currently unmotivated. The only reason his brother had come back to Tulpen Crossing was because he had nowhere else to go. When Ryan had blown out his shoulder, the Red Sox had cut him loose. After two years of paying more attention to baseball than college and nearly four years in the minor league, Ryan wasn’t exactly skilled labor. He’d needed a job and Griffith had offered him one—on the line, building tiny houses. It was a decision Griffith was beginning to regret.

He nudged his brother’s arm. Ryan opened his eyes and smiled.

“Hey, bro.”

“Hey, yourself. Break ended a half hour ago.”

“What?”

Ryan blinked and looked around, as if genuinely surprised to find everyone else was back at work. “Huh. Sorry. I was listening to the game. I guess I got distracted.”

Griffith could guess how the conversation had gone. One of the guys would have said break was over. Ryan would have said he would be there in a minute. Had the twenty-six-year-old been anyone else, the shop supervisor would have been notified. But Ryan was the boss’s brother. No one was sure if the rules applied—not even Griffith.

He briefly thought of his parents who had always insisted he look after his baby brother—no matter how inconvenient it might be—sucked in a breath and told himself he would deal with Ryan another time.

“Get back to work,” he said. “Now.”

“Sure thing.”

His brother got to his feet and ambled toward the door.

Griffith watched him go and told himself any annoyance was his own fault. Ryan had never hustled—unless he was on the baseball field. There he could be little more than a blur of activity, but in life, not so much with the speed.

*

“I love it!”

Olivia Murphy basked in the delighted tone and happy words of her client. Jenny was a sixty-something recent widow who needed to sell the family home to fund the rest of her life. Getting top dollar was a priority.

The ranch-style three-bedroom, two-bath wasn’t anything fancy. In fact hundreds of them existed in the older neighborhoods of Phoenix. Adding to that challenge was the lack of updates and the time of year. June wasn’t exactly peak selling season in the desert—not when midday temperatures routinely topped a hundred degrees. No one wanted to be looking at homes if they didn’t have to be. Winter was far more active in the real estate market.

But Jenny couldn’t wait until winter, which meant making a splash on minimal budget. Olivia had spent hours on Pinterest, had haunted thrift stores and had begged and borrowed everything else. For less than five hundred dollars, she’d transformed the aging, very ordinary rambler into a cute, welcoming Cape Cod retreat.

“I just can’t believe it’s the same house,” Jenny crowed. “Look at what you’ve done.”

“I know,” Marilee Quedenfeld said, her tone a combination of modest pride and look-at-me. “It’s wonderful, isn’t it? The second you walk in, you feel the cool, ocean breeze.”

Olivia kept her smile firmly in place. There was no point in saying anything. Working for Marilee these past four years had taught her that. If there was praise to be had, it went to Marilee. If there was a complaint, well, that went anywhere else.

“You’re a genius,” Jenny told Marilee. “Everyone said you were the best, but I didn’t expect this. Thank you!”

“You’re welcome.” Marilee put her arm around her client. “I know what you’ve been through and this is the least I can do.”

Words Jenny would take at face value, Olivia thought, while Marilee was probably thinking something along the lines of Dear God, why doesnt this woman take better care of herself?

The contrast in their appearances was startling. Jenny was short, frumpy and had obviously surrendered to the aging process. Marilee, by contrast, wore an Akris punto polka-dot A-line dress and Valentino pumps. Her hair was a sleek, shoulder-length, dark blond bob, her makeup emphasized large eyes and smooth skin. She was close to fifty, looked thirty-five and occasionally tried to pass herself off as even younger.

“Let’s go look at the rest of the house,” Marilee suggested. “You’re going to love everything I’ve done.”

“I know I will.”

Olivia stayed in the kitchen. It was safer there—she wouldn’t be tempted to blurt out a fact only the designer would know. While the momentary satisfaction would be great, she would pay for it later.

Olivia stayed in the kitchen. It was safer there—she wouldn’t be tempted to blurt out a fact only the designer would know. While the momentary satisfaction would be great, she would pay for it later.

.
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About Susan Mallery

Susan Mallery is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of books about the relationships that define women’s lives—romance, friendship, family. With compassion and humor, Susan keenly observes how people think and feel, in stories that take readers on an emotional journey. Sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, and always uplifting, Susan’s books have spent more than 200 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list, thanks to her ever growing legions of fans.

Susan lives in Seattle with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a tattletale toy poodle. Her heart for animals has led Susan to become an active supporter of the Seattle Humane Society. Animals play a big role in her books, as well, as she believes they’re an integral component to a happy life.

Connect with Susan

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Hoping to win those beautiful tulips? Just name one of the Tulip Sisters. We’ll announce a winner Monday!

 

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