“Simple is as simple loves.”
Susan Combs had long ago found the love of her life. The only problem was the other party still didn’t know he had been found.
Every day Susan saw Calder Hurtz, her next door neighbor and childhood best friend. They always enjoyed the short drive to school down the dusty streets of their small Texas town. She was happy in those perfect moments, for her life at home was most imperfect. The challenging homestead she inhabited was also the favorite subject of local gossip.
But one autumn day she overhears two boys having a conversation. This occasion of accidental audience sets Susan’s life on an unforeseen path. In the seasons to come, her future will be changed by two hospitalizations, two confessions of love, and one betrayal.
Compulsively readable, The Simple Soul of Susan is an engaging, soul-endearing romance and a mesmerizing debut.
“Susan isn’t dating anyone. You both should be lookin’ for someone. Live a little!”
“Well, now, don’t rush her,” Marley said. “Susan was already interested in someone for a long time. Love doesn’t happen overnight!”
Calder stopped in the middle of flipping a card over. He didn’t even seem to register what was on it.
Susan’s face grew warm. She hadn’t expected these dear ladies, who told the same stories every week and often had to be reminded multiple times what day it was, to remember the details of her hopeful love interest.
“Oh, she was?” Calder responded. He focused on Marley with a gleam of mischief in his eyes. He looked back at Susan as if to warn her of his new investigation and then looked back to Marley.
“Sakes alive, she is well over him by now!” Tasha proclaimed.
“Why, most certainly. They are next door neighbors and best friends. He wasn’t interested in her, though… I don’t think you ever told us his name?” Marley said, turning to Susan, who knew her face was now the deepest shade of scarlet she could imagine.
“Oh?” Calder now looked a bit confused, finally resuming his turn and passing. Any gleam of mischief was now gone as he gazed down at the cards on the table.
“He sure sounded like a catch! Going to fancy colleges. You may know him… She is good friends with him too,” Marley added. Intent on her cards, she didn’t notice Susan’s bright red face.
Elinda, with a quick glance at Susan, tried to change the subject. “My, it was hot out today! Of course, I didn’t go outside, but I heard—”
Calder cut her off. “Why didn’t he like her?”
“He is very ambitious and wanted to go far away for school. I think he didn’t like her because she is staying in Walnut Springs to take care of her dad. Just sounded very conceited and selfish in my opinion. I think she’s better off without him!” Marley finished with a nod and tossed a card down confidently.
“He sounds awful,” Calder replied, his face betraying no emotion. He was now examining his hand with great interest.
“Would you like some almonds?” Tasha offered.
“Hit me!” He grabbed a handful.
“I told you not to eat the almonds,” Susan said irritably as Calder eased the truck out of their parking spot.
“What was I supposed to do? Say ‘No, thank you, ya old goat!’?”
“Well, if you would have listened to me for once in your cotton-pickin’ life, then you would have said no. She buys chocolate covered almonds and then sucks off the chocolate and passes out what’s left!”
There was silence. Calder clutched the steering wheel and shifted gears as they went up a hill.
“Actually, I was saving them for a special occasion. Like right now!” He tossed a few from his pocket into her lap.
“Gross!” Susan shrieked.
“See? I listen.”The last comment unsettled Susan. She was thinking how Marley had described Calder in all her bumbling wonder. Surely he had recognized himself. Yet he was acting normal, so Susan resolved to attempt the same.
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Born and raised in a small Texas town, Noel Branham started her career in digital communications after graduating with a degree in English. An award winning communicator, she now writes from her home in Florida about things closest to the heart: home, family, and love. Her debut novel will be published Fall 2017.
Social Links: Instagram: Branham.noel Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noelbranham/ Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/branhamnoel/
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