When You Least Expect It by Jennifer Friess
Here is Chapter 2 from Book 2 in The Riley Sisters Series, When You Least Expect It.
If you want to read Chapter 1, please click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2015/07/16/excerpt-chapter-1-of-when-you-least-expect-it-goodreads-giveaway/
If you read Book 1, The Wind Could Blow a Bug, then maybe you were always curious about what life was like inside the big old Tucker farmhouse. So was I. After all, the Tuckers are like royalty in the tiny town of Oakey. All those hot bachelors living on top of each other. Here is your inside look, courtesy of our protagonist Kiley. And don’t forget that my Goodreads giveway ends 8/15/15. Enter here: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/147094-the-wind-could-blow-a-bug
Kiley used to like driving, but now she was just sick of it. She wanted to get to her destination and not have to start her SUV again for at least a week. The sun was sinking lower in the darkening sky. She was only an hour out. Being on South 223, headed toward Oakley, she could already feel her body relaxing. She was headed home. Well, to her hometown anyway. The house she had grown up in with her parents and her sisters had been sold after their divorce when she was 15. Kiley and Miley, along with their mother, Helen Riley, had moved in with their Aunt Jamie in Huntington. That is where they had finished high school. Her dad had gone to take care of his ailing mother in Jackson, until her death a few years later. He must have put down roots, because he stayed. Kiley’s older sister Jane had gone off to college. Miley and Kiley’s relationship with Jane actually improved once their parents were removed from the situation. But she wasn’t going to think about all that fucked up shit just now. Jane was the reason Kiley would be in Oakley by dinnertime.
Kiley could see the large farming complex in the distance; all of the grain elevators, bins, barns, garages, and the office that made up the business of Tucker Farms. The fields stretched out on either side of the road. Freshly planted distinct rows of winter crops gave the optical illusion of bending as they reached toward the horizon with the motion of the moving vehicle. Kiley knew it was the right homestead, because there was no other farm this big anywhere nearby. She could just make out the chipped paint of the wedding proposal for Jane that her now-husband Wade had painted on one of the silos. She pulled into the driveway of the Tuckers’ large farmhouse. It is a good thing it was large, because right now there were seven people living in it, and there were about to be two more.
Kiley parked her car behind one of the pickup trucks, not knowing where would be a good place to not block someone. Kiley was used to parking for the night in a parking lot. She was going to be staying here awhile, at least a few weeks, but some things were just not as clear cut as they would be at an impersonal hotel.
She stepped out of the car and slammed the driver’s door. Somewhere from within the house she heard a dog bark. She opened the rear tailgate and slid out her big suitcase. It hit the ground with an unceremonious thud. As she stood it up and pulled up the handle, she heard plodding footsteps approaching on the gravel.
“Oh my God. It is so great to see you!” Jane yelled as she came closer to hug Kiley. Jane’s light brown hair was up in its usual ponytail. Kiley had once read somewhere that how people wore their hair in high school is how they would most likely wear it for the rest of their lives. That would be true of her older sister. Jane had always favored comfort over style. Her current physical state wasn’t going to change that anytime soon. Jane’s blue eyes beamed at the sight of Kiley.
“Wow. It is great to see ALL of you, too!” Kiley exclaimed. Jane and Kiley hugged awkwardly around Jane’s giant, round belly.
“What did you expect? I’m almost nine months pregnant!” Jane said, sarcastically.
“Well, I guess when you put it that way, you COULD be bigger,” Kiley appraised her sister’s baby bump. Kiley had not seen Jane in months. “I am so glad you didn’t have it before I got here.”
“I haven’t had any contractions or anything, so we will see. They may have to go in after the little sucker,” Jane pondered, putting her hand on her belly affectionately. “I am so glad you came to be my nanny.”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Kiley’s eyes bugged out a little, “but I will help where I can.”
Wade, who had followed Jane out, came around to grab Kiley’s large suitcase. Wade and Jane had been married for two and a half years. Evan Tucker, Wade’s father, grabbed Kiley’s carry-on bag out of the car. Mr. Tucker owned the house and the farm.
“Any more bags, Kiley?” Mr. Tucker asked.
“Um, in the passenger side. And please don’t judge me by the cleanliness of my car, Mr. Tucker. I have been living in it for six months,” she yelled, as he made his way around the vehicle.
“Please, call me Evan,” he replied.
It was throwing Kiley off, having people help her carry things. All the cheap motels she stayed at she schlepped her bags around herself. This was the first indication that after being on her own for four years, it might be hard to reacclimate to a family environment.
“C’mon. Dinner’s almost ready,” Jane led them into the house. It was kind of silly, as she was slowing everyone down with her weighted pace.
“Did Donna cook it?” Kiley asked, hopefully.
“Of course. You deserve a good, old-fashioned home-cooked meal. There is no better cook in these parts than my wife,” Evan boasted. He was always happy to brag about his wife’s cooking.
A haze of smoke surged out the door as Jane opened it. Walking in the door, the smell of homemade fried chicken reached Kiley’s nostrils. The aroma of grease hung heavy in the air. Her nose told her that burnt stray buttermilk batter bits in the pan had overcooked and were the source of the kitchen smog. Kiley thought she might pass out from the overpoweringly delicious aroma. She had only had Donna’s cooking on a few occasions, one of which being Jane’s wedding rehearsal dinner, but it never disappointed.
Kiley followed Jane through the door. A large, orange dog leisurely wagged its tail as Jane approached. When it got a whiff of Kiley’s unfamiliar sent, the dog went into a crazy barking fit. Kiley liked dogs, but was a little afraid of all the teeth she saw as the dog growled at her.
“Dave, come,” a man called from the living room. The dog barked three more times at her, the hair on his back standing at attention, before turning tail and heading further into the house to obey his master.
Huge hooks filled with coats hung on the wall just inside the door. There was a striped rug over the tile on the entryway floor. It could hardly be seen under the pile of boots and shoes that eclipsed it, mostly men’s. Many were covered with a reddish-brown crust. Kiley was going to hope that it was only dirt. She figured Donna must make them all remove their footwear here. It was the only way that the carpet in the house would ever survive to see another year. There was a door to Kiley’s left that seemed to go directly into the kitchen. There was a short hallway to the right. There were at least three more doors down there. The living room lay straight ahead, filled with bodies. She found herself smiling reflexively at the smell from the food, even though she was entering a room full of people who were virtually strangers.
The room collectively greeted her as she came in. She knew all the guys were Wade’s brothers. She used to know all their names, but was now fuzzy on who was who. She had met so many new people in the past year. The unknown female must be one of their wives. Jane led Kiley through the living room and in front of the pass-through window for the kitchen, where Donna spotted her.
“Oh, there you are! Give me a hug, honey.” Donna embraced Kiley in a giant hug before she ever had the chance to protest. Not that she would have. Donna was pleasantly plump with a wild nest of curly burnt sienna hair. Kiley didn’t know her well, but Donna was the most genuinely nice person she had ever encountered.
“Sorry about the smoke. Happens every time I make fried chicken,” Donna paused, taking a breath. “Are you excited to become a first-time aunt? Cuz I am SO excited to become a step-grandma-in-law, or whatever!”
“Yes, I guess so. I am interested to see how Jane does with labor,” Kiley said.
Jane held up a middle finger for her sister that no one else could see as she had already snuck into the kitchen.
“Oh, honey. I wanted to tell you what a great book you wrote. Oh, but I bet everyone tells you that. I read it cover to cover. Everyone in town is so proud of you…” Donna could talk a mile a minute, and use more exclamations than anyone could believe possible. Kiley was out of breath just listening to her.
“But one thing did bother me about the book. I never realized Jane was so mean to you growing up.”
“It’s not Jane!”
“It’s not me!”
Kiley and Jane yelled in unison.
That is one thing that Kiley never anticipated would be such a big deal about her book. The main character had an evil older adopted sister. The older sister character was in no way based on Jane, other than maybe that she was adopted. But now everyone thought Jane had been a wicked step sister. Even their mom had called Kiley and Jane to see if there was any truth in the writing to real life.
“Oh, well, that’s good. We are so glad you could come stay for the birth of the bouncing baby and for the holidays. It will be so good for Jane to have family around at this time.”
“You are all my family,” Jane said to Donna loud enough for those in the living room to hear, but Donna pretended not to notice. Maybe the statement had embarrassed her. Jane snatched a biscuit off the counter behind Donna’s back and took a bite out of it.
“Thanks for having me. I know you already have a full house. But it will be so nice for me to be off the road for a while,” Kiley sighed. ‘That is an understatement,’ she thought to herself.
“Hey, people can only check-in if they have a definite departure date,” a loud guy yelled from the couch in the living room.
“Then you are more in violation of that rule than anyone else here!” a younger-looking guy said. Everyone laughed.
Kiley wasn’t used to spending copious amounts of time with loud men. Ted definitely didn’t qualify as a loud man, and he wasn’t into horseplay or games. He was too serious for that. Kiley had grown up in a house full of girls. Her own father had been the quiet type. She would have to stay close to Wade and Jane for protection. On second thought, Wade often seemed a likely target. Kiley would have to hide behind the pregnant woman.
“C’mon everyone, gather round the table. Dinner is ready,” Donna sang. Literally, the words came out like a song.
“It’s been ready for forty-five minutes. We were just waiting for that chick to show up.”
“Shut up, Josh.”
Kiley saw the youngest brother jab his elbow into his older brother Josh’s ribs.
Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a Bug ON SALE for only $.99 for a limited time & GIVEAWAY going on over at Goodreads (ends August 15, 2015)
When You Least Expect It AVAILABLE NOW!