Stuck With You

Stuck With You - A novel by Jessica Kate

Stuck With You

Kimberly Foster and Samuel Payton can only agree on two things:

  1. they love her best friend and his cousin, Aussie dairy farmer Jules Hogan, and
  2. they cannot stand each other.

The pair run up-and-coming Virginia-based youth ministry ‘Asylum’, founded to be a ‘safe place with crazy love’ for dozens of struggling teenagers.

Kimberly wants nothing more than to be accepted as a part of a team, and shows it by devising an expansion plan that will take Asylum to the next level.

However, Sam’s taken risks before—and almost destroyed his family’s business in the process. Kimberly will have to pry Asylum out of his cold, dead fingers before he lets this high-stakes plan swing into action.

When Jules is injured on her Australian farm and unable to work, both cash in their long-overdue vacation days and fly Down Under to help out.

However, Jules’ recovery will take weeks and her financial situation is scarier than the statistics on Australian spider bites.

Stuck on the other side of the world in the middle of nowhere, Sam and Kimberly have no one to rely on but each other as they attempt to save Jules’s livelihood.

Stuck With You is a sassy romance about life and love when the risks don’t pan out . . . and when they do.


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CHAPTER ONE

 

Samuel Payton is an idiot.

Kimberly Foster jammed her phone in her pocket and rushed down the snowy Charlottesville street in a Mr. Potato Head costume, high-heeled Ugg Boots, and a murderous rage. It was 10 A.M. on a Saturday in January and she was late for a child’s birthday party.

But first she needed to strangle a youth pastor.

The words of her esteemed colleague’s email burned into her mind’s eye as she shoved through a glass door into the stuffy warmth of Charlottesville’s Asylum Youth Ministries building, stomped over the Safe place, crazy love welcome mat, and beelined for the corridor that led to the offices.

I won’t be offering my support for this proposal if you take it to the board.

That twerp was going back on his word. The last time they discussed her idea to open a youth drop-in center in Baltimore, just like the one here, he was all for it.

Well, he was reluctant at first. But as soon as she promised it was less risk than the New Orleans pilot program, he got on board.

Why, besides his life-long mission to drive her bonkers, would he change his mind?

She burst into the open office space. The scent of fresh popcorn leaked through the wall from the drop-in center next door to this boxing ring they called an office. Her stomach gurgled. A broad-shouldered man faced away from her, silhouetted by the window on the far side of the room.

Her nemesis.

“Sam, you better have an amazing reason for back flipping on me.”

The man turned.

Not Sam.

A blast of heat scalded Kim’s face from the inside out, as Harvey’s Bathroom Supplies HR manager Gregory Sampson walked toward her, hand extended. The man was a delightful mix of sandy hair, kind eyes, and a dark gray suit jacket over jeans that did little to hide the evidence of his marathon-running habit.

What was he doing here on a Saturday?

“Sorry, I’m not Sam—but by the sounds of it, I’m glad not to be him.” Laughter infused his voice.

Kimberly’s phone dropped from her fingers and clattered on a desk.

She’d just blasted the good-looking HR manager of a company looking to recruit her.

While wearing a potato suit.

She should pull her arms and legs into this giant vegetable and hide like a turtle. Instead, she thrust out her hand to shake Greg’s. “Don’t be sorry, you’re an upgrade. What can I do for you?”

He’d already tried to hire her twice, to join the team trying to pull Harvey’s out of a financial black hole. And she’d refused. Twice.

Getting head-hunted and offered double her current salary was an ego-boost, sure, but despite Sam’s maddening qualities, Kimberly believed in what he was doing at Asylum with these kids.

She wasn’t leaving.

“You can come with me to lunch. There’s a new organic cafe open in the mall.” He smiled the smile of a man who knew he’d just offered a sweet deal. “Not a grain of processed sugar in sight.”

Oh, he’d done his research. Her mouth moistened. She licked her lips and tasted raspberry lip balm.

“No thanks.”

The wattage on Greg’s smile dimmed. “No?”

She mentally groaned. Lunch in Charlottesville’s outdoor mall—one of her favorite pastimes—would go a long way to soothing the rage monster inside right now. But . . . “I can’t accept the job. I’m already late. And I need to find new and inventive ways to yell threats at Sam.” Though a carrot may work better than a stick, at this stage. Sam’s support for this proposal was vital.

Greg spread his hands, palms up. “No shop talk. Promise. Just lunch with a friend.”

Oh, his blue eyes were cute. His smile genuine. His invitation tempting.

“Can’t. Sorry.” It wasn’t fair to get a free lunch from Greg when she already knew her answer.

The smile shifted, a shade disappointed. “Okay. Let me know if you change your mind.” He left his card on the desk, gave a two-fingered salute and headed out the door.

Kim watched him go, let a moan escape at her fate of sugary party food for lunch, and pounced on her keyboard. The movie-themed tenth birthday bash for Asylum kid Laura started in the drop-in center in 9.5 minutes. Sam’s online calendar might tell her where the rat was hiding before she ran out of time.

“He was trying to ask you out.”

Kimberly jolted.

A dark-haired Captain America strode into the room. His star-spangled costume stretched over the impressive biceps that carried two-year-old Adaline Kent and her golden curls.

Kimberly’s uterus did a backflip.

He was dressed as her favorite superhero. Carrying an adorable toddler.

Doing his best to make her life miserable.

Samuel Payton.


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Inspirational contemporary fiction author Jessica KateJessica Kate is a 26 year-old Australian writer. She prefers the term writer because it’s too hard to say ‘journalist, online training developer and author’ in one sentence. 

Her first manuscript was a finalist in the 2015 Frasier Contest, run by My Book Therapy, and is now a finalist in the 2017 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis competition.

She is currently penning her second novel, Stuck With You, and reading every Janet Evanovich book she can get her hands on.

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