A.D. Ellis is the author of A Torey Hope Novel Series and a new series titled Torey Hope: The Later Years. Her 2014 debut novel, For Nicky, was voted #3 of the Top 50 Indie Books of 2014 by ReadFree.ly readers/voters. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Indiana Romance Writers of America.
A.D. always dreamed of being a teacher. Graduating from Indiana State University in 1999 and earning a Master’s Degree from Indiana Wesleyan in 2003, she met her goal of entering the world of education. A.D. has been teaching in the inner city of Indianapolis, Indiana for 16 years; most of her years of experience have been in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade. A.D. loves teaching fractions, variables, probability, and graphing in Math. She loves almost all aspects of English Language Arts. Figurative language, theme, making predictions, drawing conclusions, inference, context clues, making writing come to life, A.D. loves it all! Her students don’t always share in that enthusiasm.
A.D. met her husband in college in 1996 and they married in June of 2000. She lives in a south side suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and two school-aged children. When she’s not reading or writing with music blaring, she can be found shopping at thrift stores, reading to her children, and sweating at the gym.
A.D. began her writing journey in October 2013; she is grateful for the friends and support she’s found along the way.
Please connect with A.D. Ellis on Facebook. www.facebook.com/adellisauthor
Find A.D.’s author page on Amazon at www.amazon.com/author/adellis
AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL "DECKER"
“Hello, this is Decker Morgan at The Center+. I’m calling for Ms. Katherine Turner in regards to her recent resume and job application.” Decker held the phone away from his ear as he heard an earsplitting blare coming through the line.
“Oh my God! I’m so sorry! Hold on please Mr. Morgan! This is Katherine Turner….hang on just a second! Where’s the damn broom?!” A cacophony came through the phone and Decker was tempted to hang up; if this was the way Ms. Turner conducted herself on the phone she was obviously not the one for the job.
“Shut up, damn it! Just shut up!” Her words were barely distinguishable over the shrill alarm-like noise. “There! I’m so sorry, Mr. Morgan. Mr. Morgan? Sir? Are you there? Please accept my apologies. I was helping my grandma bake cookies. I didn’t realize that Grandma had accidentally turned the oven up to 500 and the timer to thirty-one minutes rather than thirteen minutes. Needless to say, our little cookies are now burnt offerings. On the bright side, we know her smoke detectors work.” Katherine Turner spoke in an airy, breathless way that had Decker picturing her in a smoky kitchen, hair askew, with a broomstick to turn off the offending smoke detector.
“Well, Ms. Turner, you’re the first applicant I’ve called who has provided so much entertainment in such a short amount of time. I trust that there’s no danger to you or your grandmother?” Decker really couldn’t explain why he felt the need to continue with this phone interview; the girl obviously wasn’t management material, but he wanted to hear her answers to his questions because she had him feeling something he hadn’t felt in a long time. Intrigued.
Forty-five minutes later, Decker hung up from the most enjoyable phone interview he’d ever conducted. Katherine Turner was not the typical uptight management applicant that he’d been speaking to; this woman was genuine, whip-smart, well-spoken, and on the same path as him. It amazed him just how much they had in common both personally and professionally. Before ending the call with her, Decker had done something he’d never planned on doing; he offered her the job over the phone, sight unseen, no further interview. She had accepted, and he was pumped to meet her in person the next day and get the paperwork filled out so that she could get to work right away.
Looking at the clock, he realized that it was late enough he could call it a day. There was really nothing else he needed to do right then. He texted his brother to see if Sawyer wanted to play some basketball before they headed home. As it turned out, Sawyer’s meeting with the potential martial arts instructor had run over so he wasn’t available; Zach, Kendrick, and Decker played a little game before their dads and uncle showed up. Nate Morgan, Jeremiah Jordan, and Kyle Martin had been playing ball together for years and gave the younger men a run for their money. In the end, all six men were sweaty but laughing. Decker paused as he left The Center+ on his way home. Yeah, it was good to be back.
“Unknown caller” flashed on his phone screen as he worked on some paperwork for Katherine Turner. Absentmindedly he picked up the phone, “Decker Morgan.”
“Hello, Mr. Morgan. I’m really sorry to call you at home in the evening, but you gave me your number and said I could call if I had any questions. I have to apologize, I think the whole cookie burning had me flustered today; I don’t normally accept a job sight-unseen and without meeting my boss in person. I still plan on coming in tomorrow, but I was hoping to discuss the position with you a little more now that the smoke has cleared from both my head and my grandma’s kitchen. That is, if you have a moment to speak to me.” He admired her straightforwardness and knew she was just as knocked off-kilter as he was after their whirlwind phone interview earlier that day.
“I have time, Ms. Turner. Please, ask anything you’d like.” Decker waved to Sawyer as his brother popped his head in the office to say hello. Plopping down on the couch, Decker stretched his 6’2” frame out and got comfortable.
“Well, I’ve been doing some research on The Center+, but I’d like to hear your description of it. Please.” Katherine had a smile in her voice as she added the please to her request.
“The Center+ has been a part of my family’s life since long before I was born. My Uncle Nicky attended school there and my Grandma Cindy worked there as an administrative assistant for several years. Uncle Nicky had finished schooling, but he attended several recreational programs even after high school and he met the new librarian, Libby Decker who later married my dad. Not long after, my Uncle Nicky met my Aunt Carly while they were both working there. When my brother and cousins and I were younger, we spent almost every spare second at The Center+, although it was just The Center in those days. We enjoyed all of the programs available and took full advantage of the recreational sports. We used to always talk about growing up, going to college, and coming back to Torey Hope to expand the programs; make The Center+ bigger and better than ever. That brings us to today; we are adding two new wings, several new programs, revamping and improving the sports program, and enlarging the arts program by leaps and bounds. My family owns The Center+ now, so we have the ability to grow the business as we’ve always dreamed.” Decker paused in his description; on the other end of the phone Katherine was touched at the sense of pride the man had in his family’s business.
Several minutes later, Katherine had asked as many questions as she could come up with and their conversation turned to more personal information. Decker learned that she had also recently graduated and returned to Torey Hope, her childhood home. She and her mother lived across town and her elderly grandmother lived with them. She had always planned to leave Torey Hope for college and thought she would move to the big city, but when her mom divorced and her grandmother moved in she took inventory of her life and her plans for her future and realized that Torey Hope was her heart, and she didn’t want to leave.
Decker found himself lulled by the melodic lilt of her voice and nodded in agreement with her that finding a business management job in a small town was a definite challenge. He smiled when she shared her excitement over the potentially perfect job opportunity he had presented her with.
Through their conversation, Decker felt a definite connection to this girl; she shared his vision for success, she was a hard worker, she was self-motivated, she was a people person, she knew how to get a job done. She was perfect. Damn, the first girl he’d ever felt truly drawn to was going to be his assistant manager which meant that the connection he felt to her couldn’t go anywhere. One of his hard and fast rules was that business and pleasure never mixed. Never.
“Well, Mr. Morgan, thanks for answering my questions. I feel a little bit more at ease over my spur-of-the-moment acceptance of this job. I just want to say one thing, please remember how perfect I am for the job when you meet me again tomorrow.” Katherine had a smile in her voice as she spoke. “Goodnight, Mr. Morgan.”
Meet her again? What the hell did that mean?
Decker’s sleek, black Chevy Camaro pulled into his parking spot at The Center+ early the next morning. He’d wanted to get to work early to get his workout done so he had time to prepare for Ms. Turner’s arrival. Decker felt a nervous buzz of energy throughout his body; he didn’t do nervous.
He was surprised thirty minutes into his workout to see Sawyer walk into the room. He and his twin had always had a strong connection, and he immediately felt and saw tension in Sawyer.
“Mornin’. What’s up, man?” Decker stopped the treadmill and waited for this brother to speak. The way Sawyer ran his hands through his hair and closed his eyes told Decker that his brother definitely had something on his mind.
“Let’s do some weights, man.” Sawyer spoke nothing else and headed to the weights.
Knowing he’d have to let Sawyer talk about whatever was bothering him on his own time, Decker followed. He felt a strong pull to his brother. Placing a hand on the other man’s shoulder, he spoke, “Hey, you know you can talk to me or any of the guys, even Dad or our uncles or grandpas. We’ve always had the luxury of having a multitude of people to talk to. I want you to talk to me, but if you can’t then talk to someone.”
Decker was taken by surprise when Sawyer turned to him and embraced him. A shudder traveled through Sawyer’s body and he held tight to his brother. Decker’s heart plummeted at the thought of what could be bothering him. Sawyer had always been the more emotional and sensitive of the two; Decker kept his emotions closed up and controlled, Sawyer was more emotionally demonstrative and reacted more overtly to bothersome situations.
“Man, I just miss when things were simple. I miss the days when our biggest problems were if we were going to kiss our girlfriends or try to get to second base with them. Sometimes this grown-up thing just sucks; I’m not sure I’m ready for it.” Sawyer stopped speaking and drew in a deep breath, “I just wish….” He stopped again. “Never mind. Spot me.”
Decker allowed Sawyer to let the subject drop for the time being, knowing he’d talk about it when he was ready. His mind drifted. Sawyer speaking about kissing was sort of peculiar, he hadn’t had many girlfriends. He had one serious girlfriend during high school and he’d dated a couple girls off and on through college. The breakup in high school had hit him hard, but he’d recovered fairly quickly. Sawyer never seemed interested in the girls he dated in college, more like he was just friends with them; Decker always felt like his twin was dating just to keep up appearances. Appearances of what? He wasn’t sure.
Workout finished, mind slightly preoccupied with his brother, Decker finished his shower and dressed in a dark suit with a red tie. He had a penchant for unique ties; nothing gaudy, just different colors and patterns.
Walking past some of the construction for the new wing at The Center+, Decker acknowledged the early morning crew and continued to check his email. Head down, focused on his phone, he literally slammed into a body in front of him.
As his phone clattered to the ground, he immediately grabbed for the body in front of him, and he swallowed hard at the initial contact as his hands filled with smooth, soft, warm skin.
“Miss, I’m so sorry. Are you okay? I was in my own little world and didn’t even pay attention to what I was doing.” He spoke as he steadied her. His body reacted to her scent, her softness, her nearness. Breathing deeply to calm his heartbeat and clear his head of the thoughts he was having about the complete stranger he’d just run down in the hallway, he waited for the woman in front of him to gather herself and turn around. When she did, he lost his breath. Thick, gorgeous, dark brunette hair hung in shiny waves around a strikingly beautiful face; grayish green eyes behind long dark lashes stared at him and a pair of soft pink lips spoke as recognition slammed down around him. “Yes, Decker, I’m fine. No worries.” The girl laughed and Decker grabbed her up in a hug. His body still reacted in ways it hadn’t in, well, in ever, but now he stamped those feelings down permanently. This girl was off limits.
“Katie Smith? God, girl, I haven’t seen you in years. Are you here to see Sawyer?” The beauty in front of him was the girl Sawyer dated for a while in high school; they didn’t last, as most high school relationships don’t, but Sawyer had been distraught when they broke up. He’d later admitted that they were better off as just friends. Decker knew the conflicted Sawyer would be happy to see his old friend.
Without letting Katie speak, he led her around the corner to Sawyer’s studio. Finding that his brother wasn’t there, Decker turned to her, “I’m sure he’ll be right back. He’ll be thrilled to see you.” Looking at his watch, he realized his meeting was quickly approaching. “Listen, I have to get to a meeting. Set something up with Sawyer so we can all get together.” Leaning in to kiss her cheek he ignored the increase in his already quickened pulse. She smelled like warm sunshine and his gut tightened.
Katie smiled and looked at her watch. “Actually, Decker, I have a meeting soon too. We’ll all definitely have to get caught up soon. It was great seeing you. Please tell Sawyer I said hello.”
Decker watched her walk away, berating himself for admiring the curves of the woman his brother had dated all those years ago. Just like his hard and fast rule of no relationships with workplace colleagues, he had a similar rule of no dating any girl his brother or cousins had dated first. He shook his head to clear it; sometimes rules were a pain in the ass, Katie Smith was a sight for sore eyes. If Sawyer and Katie rekindled something, Decker would need to get the thoughts of her backside out of his mind and quickly.
Decker checked through the paperwork he needed to go over with Katherine Turner and glanced at his watch. Ten minutes; he really hoped Ms. Turner wouldn’t be late. Tardiness on her first day wouldn’t set a good first impression, no matter how impressed he’d been with her over the phone.
A knock on his door brought him out of his thoughts. When The Center+ was running at full capacity, Decker would hire a secretary, but for now clients had to find his office and announce their arrival on their own.
He walked to the door and pulled it open. His mind filled with a strange and unfamiliar mixture of confusion, frustration, and lust. Katie Smith stood in front of him. Sticking her hand out, she spoke as she shook his hand; he attempted to decipher her words through the roar in his ears as he fought the heated feeling her hand in his brought to his body.
“Good morning, Mr. Morgan. Katherine Turner. Nice to meet you.” She spoke professionally, but the glint of humor flickered across her face.
“Ms. Turner, it’s a pleasure, but I’m sure you can understand my confusion.” Decker attempted to keep it light, but he was feeling extremely aggravated at feeling duped. He didn’t like feelings of confusion or being out of the loop.
“Mr. Morgan, may I speak freely?” At the nod of his head, she continued, “I knew that the position I was applying for was to be your assistant manager. I didn’t reveal to you who I was because I wanted to be hired based on my skills and qualifications, not because I used to date your brother. Also, I feared you would possibly not hire me if you knew who I was; I know how you are with rules, and I figured you’d see this as some form of rule breaking.” She spoke matter-of-factly. “My name is Turner now, I took my mom’s maiden name after she divorced my father. I still go by Katie, but Katherine is more professional sounding for interviews and job applications. Remember when I asked you to keep in mind how perfect I am for the job? I hope you’ll do that, Mr. Morgan.”
Having this beautiful, well-spoken, intriguing girl call him Mr. Morgan was doing weird things in his mind; things that he’d never thought about before were now playing out in an overly active imagination he never knew he had.
“Please, Ms. Turner, call me Decker.” They were going to be colleagues and, he hoped, business partners in this undertaking with The Center+ so he needed her to be comfortable with him.
“Fine, Decker, I’ll call you by your first name if you promise to call me by mine. Katherine is acceptable, but I prefer Kate or Katie. Shall we try this again?” She smiled and stuck out her hand, and he felt his heart all but stop. What had he gotten himself into?
“Good morning, Decker.” The jolt of awareness that traveled up his arm as her skin touched his was unnerving.
He pushed the unwanted feelings away and smirked at her, “Good morning, Kate. I’m glad to have you here. Come on in, we’ve got a lot to get done and then we’ll get the day started. Do you want coffee?” His words came out just as he realized she held a coffee cup in her hand.
Katie smiled, “I’m tough in business, but my weakness is frou-frou coffee drinks. The stronger and sweeter the better.” She tipped her cup at him before taking a drink.
He laughed and poured himself a cup of coffee, and they settled in to get the necessary paperwork done.