Close Match by Tracey Jerald

Release Date: October 3, 2019

Cover Design: Amy Queau – QDesign


Evangeline Brogan grew up Broadway royalty. She commands the stage until one night, everything changes. With lifelong secrets revealed, she’s determined to find out the full story. Even if that means leaving everything she knows behind. Arrogant and protective, Montague Parrish needs to be strong enough for his mother and stepfather as a family crisis comes to a head. He’s wary when fate brings Linnie into their lives at a critical moment. Over time their relationship changes; offering light when fear is ready to consume them both. And then reality intrudes, threatening their need to survive each other. After all, life can bring a close match, but it takes love to make it a perfect one.




After properly warming up, I feel like something sassy. My feet are flying across
the dance floor, and my fingers are snapping. My voice echoes beautifully in the room
as I taunt an imaginary audience. Okay. If I’m honest with myself, I imagine Monty as I
tease him with this particular dance which is seductive and playful.
Since we came back from DC that day, he’s been more open about laughing with
me. He hasn’t held back from casually touching me, which sets my body aflame. The
problem is I can’t tell if it’s just me feeling this way. How do I know if he’s naturally this
personable and I helped release some of the pressure built up in him so he can once
again be himself?
Twirling around, I kick one leg up and then the other. I admire the long length the
stiletto point gives to my kick. Slowly, I sway my hips back and forth as I walk around an
empty chair. This particular show would generally have me wearing much more of a
flimsy outfit than the running shorts and tank I’m presently dancing in, but it’s fun as I
sink into a grande plié and then shift my hand to the ground to slide into a split in front of
my “customer.” I fling my head down to my knee, still singing. Rolling my shoulders
back, I finish with my back arched, one hand up, the other bracing my core.
Then I hear a slow clap. My head snaps toward the door.
“That’s one hell of a show, Linnie.” Monty’s eyes are burning down at me.
“Though I imagine if I were sitting in the chair, it would have been even more
Swinging my back leg around, I push myself to my feet. “It’s from Sweet Charity. I
haven’t done stiletto work in a while, so I figured I needed to bone up on it. Can’t let the
skills get rusty from lack of use.”
Monty lets out a choked sound. I realize what I said, and I want to slap myself in
the head. Instead, I make my way over to the bar and grab the towel and bottle of water
I keep there. Just as the next number starts, I hit Pause. “What’s up?”
“Ev and Char had a few things to do this afternoon. They’ll grab dinner out.
Thought I’d see if you wanted to go for a ride,” he tosses out casually.
“On a horse?” I’ve been up on a horse a time or two around the ring with the
beginner students. They find it cute that someone who’s as old as their instructor is
taking the beginner class.
“No. But dress comfortably. We’ll be out a while ourselves.” Monty turns to leave.
“I’ll grab some food for us to eat on the way. An hour enough time for you?”
“Sounds good.” Ever since we went downtown, Monty’s been different. He’s held
himself back less and less from me even though there’s still a weary edge to him. His
hair looks like it’s about two weeks past due for a cut. Normally, it frames the lines
around his face. Today, with the smile on his face, it makes me wonder what slipping
my fingers through the dark strands would feel like.
“Take your time. We’re not in any big hurry.” He opens the door and is about to
pass through it when he drops a bomb on me. “But the next time you do that number, I
might have to hunt you down after. You may not be used to that kind of response to one
of your shows.” He steps through the door and closes it behind him.
I grab the counter to stabilize myself on the heels I’m wearing. It wouldn’t do well
to roll an ankle at this juncture because if I’m not mistaken Monty just fanned the flames
of the interest sparking between us.
And I just agreed to spend the afternoon with him?
Oh boy.
Dressed in a vest, long-sleeve T-shirt, and jeans, I meet Monty in the kitchen
about an hour later. “I hope this works?” I twirl to indicate my outfit.
“You might be hot while we’re in the car, but otherwise it’s perfect.”
“Are you going to give me a hint to where we’re going?” I ask as we make our
way out through the drop zone toward the garage.
He keeps walking. Holding the door for me, he purses his lips. “Nah. I am
enjoying the fact you know nothing about the area, so everything is so new to you.”
I stick my tongue out at him as I pass by. Quick as a snake, he snatches me
around the waist. “I recommend for your sanity, you keep that inside your mouth unless
you plan to put it to use.”
I smack him on the chest. “Flirt,” I accuse.
“Maybe,” he agrees. “Then again, there’s only one way for you to find out.”
“Do your parents know how you behave when they’re not at home,” I tease over
my shoulder.
Monty’s laugh in conjunction with the doors being unlocked is my only answer.
But when I slide into the seat, a familiar-looking to-go cup is waiting for me. “Wait? Is
this from…”
“You seemed to like their caramel mocha well enough when we stopped on the
way in from the airport. I picked us up some food and drinks.” He shrugs like it’s no big
“What are we doing?” I whisper, turning toward him before I put on my seat belt.
“Giving up on being ‘just friends.’” His hand cups my cheek. “I’m spending way
too much time with you on my mind. What do you think?”
Slowly, I nod, my cheek brushing the inside of his hand. Am I seriously agreeing
to this? My heart picks up in anticipation and nerves.
“Then why don’t we get our first date started.” Monty drags his fingers through
my hair as he lets me go, and I let out the breath I’ve been holding.



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About the Author

Tracey Jerald knew she was meant to be a writer when she would re-write the ending of books in her head on her bike when she was a young girl growing up in southern Connecticut. It wasn’t long before she was typing alternate endings and extended epilogues “just for fun”. After college in Florida, where she obtained a degree in Criminal Justice swearing she saw things she’ll never quite believe and never quite forget, Tracey traded the world of law and order for IT. Her work for a world-wide internet startup transferred her to Northern Virginia where she met her husband in what many call their own happily ever after. They have one son. When she’s not busy with her family or writing, Tracey can be found in her home in north Florida drinking coffee, reading, training for a runDisney event, or feeding her addiction to HGTV.

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