When It's All Said & Done
by Denise N. Wheatley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Savvy, fun-loving writer Leslie James dreams of one day joining Limelight magazine’s writing staff. In the meantime, she keeps her journalistic skills sharp with Blissful Beauties, a beauty blog that celebrates all women.
Leslie’s passion for writing takes her mind off her current relationship status: Single. She’s okay with leaving love out of the equation, until she meets Michael—a handsome, sexy single father and sports journalist with everything Leslie could want in a man. At the urging of her supportive, sassy best friend Crystal, Leslie befriends Michael but insists that they remain strictly platonic, but Michael has other plans. He’s determined to make Leslie his lady for life, and as their undeniable chemistry begins to sizzle, Leslie is powerless to resist him.
But their budding romance is abruptly cut short when Michael’s ex-wife suddenly resurfaces, wanting to rekindle their relationship. Will the love Leslie has for Michael ever be enough to truly win his heart?
Reader Alert! Leslie James is at her wits’ end when it comes to love. The minute she decides to throw in the towel, gorgeous and charming Michael Allgood comes along. Mesmerized by this fine specimen of a man, and against her better judgement, Leslie decides to give him a chance—but she regrets that decision when his greedy ex-wife Mia suddenly shows up on his doorstep. Can Michael prove to Leslie that his intentions are good and he wants a love with her that’ll last forever?
To My Readers: I’ve been a lover of romance for as long as I can remember. WHEN IT’S ALL SAID & DONE is fun, contemporary romantic comedy that’s very close to my heart. As the novel came to fruition, I found myself wanting to be friends with the smart, savvy, beautiful women in the book and date the handsome, strong, sexy, men! My goal was to tell an entertaining story that embodies matters of the heart and would leave readers thinking about these colorful characters long after the final chapter. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
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Once Michael finished cooking breakfast, he and Leslie headed into the living room to watch college basketball. The twosome chatted about a little bit of everything as they ate. And then, just when they sat their plates down on the coffee table, Michael turned to Leslie.
“I love you,” he said softly.
She stared blankly at him, thinking she must’ve misheard him.
“I love you.”
Leslie’s chest began to tingle, and her eyes teared up a bit. The sweet, sincere look on Michael’s face was beyond words. She was positive that she’d never felt this way about anyone before in her life.
“I love you, too.”
Michael wrapped his arms around her. He leaned in, and she closed her eyes, waiting to feel the soft, warm touch of his lips. And then, just when the tip of his nose gently brushed against hers, she heard the sound of keys rattling outside of the door.
Michael stopped abruptly. “Did you hear that?”
“I did. It sounds like somebody’s coming in.”
Michael jumped up and walked over to the door. Before he could turn the knob, it flew open, and Tyler came running inside.
“Daddy! Daddy!” he yelled.
“Hey, what’s up little man!” Michael said, picking him up.
Leslie stood up, smiling and waving at Tyler. Then she walked around the couch and waited nervously for Michael’s mother to walk in. She hadn’t expected to meet his mom this soon, especially under these circumstances.
“Hello Michael,” a sexy-sounding female voice said. It sounded nothing like his mother.
Leslie watched as a beautiful woman carrying a designer suitcase appeared in the doorway. It was, in fact, not Michael’s mother. It was his ex-wife, Mia.
Leslie’s entire body went numb. She eyed Mia, noticing how tall and curvaceously thin she was. Her jet black wavy hair cascaded down her back. Her deep bronze complexion was flawless. Her hazel eyes were dazzling. And she acted as though Leslie was invisible considering she had yet to acknowledge her.
The atmosphere suddenly became tense and awkward. Leslie didn’t know what to do, so she looked over at Michael. He seemed to be just as shocked to see Mia as she was. When Mia
reached out and tried to embrace him, he took a step back.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“Your mother called and told me the wonderful news about your sports casting job! Instead of calling to congratulate you, I decided to come home and give you my well-wishes in person!”
“Home?” Michael asked cynically.
“Yes,” Mia replied confidently. “Home.”
Leslie’s eyes widened. She could not believe what she was seeing or hearing. She struggled to keep her cool. Waited to be noticed. To be spoken to. Introduced. Something. But since that didn’t seem like it was going to happen, she cleared her throat, forcing Mia to acknowledge her presence.
“Oh. Hello. I didn’t see you standing there.”
“Hello, I’m—” Leslie began. But before she could continue, Mia interrupted her and turned back to Michael.
“I didn’t realize you had company. Your mother told me you were here alone.”
Michael looked at her in disbelief. “How did you get the keys?”
“Your mother gave them to me,” Mia smiled. “I stopped by there first to see her and pick up Tyler, and told her not to mention that I was coming home so I could surprise you.”
“I’m sorry,” Leslie interrupted, feeling as though a bomb might go off inside of her. “As Michael said, I’m Leslie.”
“Hello. I’m Mia. Tyler’s mother.”
The smirk on Mia’s face said it all. She obviously felt as though she had the upper hand here.
Leslie looked down and saw a wedding ring set sitting boldly on Mia’s finger. She hoped that it was from a new husband and wasn’t the set that Michael had given her.
“Come on mommy! Come see my room!” Tyler insisted, clutching Mia’s leg.
“Okay, here I come!” Mia then turned to Michael. “Your daddy has some things to take care of out here anyway.”
Before following Tyler to his room, Mia turned to Leslie with a beauty pageant smile on her face and waved.
“Nice meeting you…Lindsay was it? Take care,” she said dismissively before walking off in
her fancy designer stilettos.
Leslie didn’t bother to respond. She was too irritated to even open her mouth. Instead she turned to Michael, struggling to maintain her composure as she stared at him silently and waited for him to handle the situation.
“Sweetheart,” he began, holding his hands up, “I swear I didn’t know she was coming here.”
“Oh, I get that. I’m just wondering why you haven’t asked her to leave.”
“Well, Tyler’s here…so…”
“Sooo...you’re not going to ask her to leave?”
“Well…I just don’t want to make a scene in front of our son.”
Leslie’s heart plummeted to the pit of her stomach. “Michael, you do know what’s going on here, don’t you? How ironic that the minute you don’t get an NBA contract, she leaves. Then the minute you get a sports casting job on a major network, she reappears.”
“I know…But Mia is Tyler’s mother, and he’s so happy to see her. I don’t feel comfortable asking her to leave right now. It would break his heart.”
Leslie felt a lump forming in her throat. She looked into Michael’s eyes, wondering what all this meant for the two of them. She was afraid that if he let Mia stay, then somehow that could drastically change things between the two of them.
“So you’re going to let her stay?” Leslie asked quietly.
“I don’t have a choice. Please understand that, Leslie, Please…”
Loud laughter between Mia and Tyler came booming from his bedroom. Leslie felt completely defeated. She got it now. Mia was back. So it was time for her to leave.
“Why’d I do this?” she asked herself out loud. “Why? I knew better…”
“Leslie, please don’t say that,” Michael insisted.
Tell us what When It’s All Said & Done means to you and what you’re hoping readers will take away from the story.
I’ve always been a lover of romance and enjoy writing it just as much as I enjoy reading it. When It’s All Said & Done is fun, contemporary romantic comedy that’s very close to my heart. As the novel came to fruition, I found myself wanting to be friends with the smart, savvy, beautiful women in the book and date the handsome, strong, sexy, men! My goal was to tell an entertaining story that embodies matters of the heart and would leave readers thinking about the colorful characters long after the final chapter.
What are five of your favorite quotes from When It’s All Said & Done?
1. “Michael, I know it’s not your fault that she came here, but it will be your fault if she stays.”
2. “If this night has to end now, then I’d love to see you tomorrow.”
3. Right before she closed her eyes, Leslie looked down at her left hand and decided that maybe an emerald cut diamond would better suit her….
4. But as Ann Landers once said, if you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things that are missing. If you don't have love in your life, no matter what else there is, it's not enough.
5. Then she turned back around and walked out the door, knowing that when it was all said and done, she would be entering this next phase of her life with absolutely no regrets.
What makes a good story?
For me, a good story involves an element of romance. That, along with creating strong, interesting, relatable characters, while developing a thoughtful, interesting plot that will keeping readers guessing, makes for an awesome storyline.
Do your characters seem to hijack your books or do you feel like you have the reigns of the stories?
My characters absolutely hijack my books lol! A perfect example would be the protagonists and antagonist in my novel The Road to Bliss. When I began writing that story, I had a solid idea of how it would progress and how things would end. But as I wrote and the storyline developed, certain characters pulled me in a different direction, which completely changed the course of the narrative. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say my main character Timber West did not end up with the man I thought she would.
How do you handle writer’s block?
When I get writer’s block, the first thing I do is grow patient with myself, understanding that I’m just not on a roll that day or week. If I spend a whole day on one paragraph, then so be it. I’m just glad to be making progress and moving forward. Another tactic I use during those periods of
writer’s block is to just write whatever comes to mind without judging it. No matter how terrible the words may seem, I just write. And usually when I go back and edit what I’ve written, it isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it’d be. I also like to tinker with photography and graphics programs (usually to create promotional pieces for my work) or dabble in another project when I burn out. It’s therapeutic and helps get me back on track.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I like to write with noise. Nothing too loud, but I always need a little bit of activity in the background. As strange as it may sound, total silence can be disruptive me when I’m trying to write.
Let’s play ten questions in ten seconds. Go!
1. Favorite Author: Terry McMillan
2. Favorite Book: Butterfly by Kathryn Harvey
3. Sweet or Salty: Sweet
4. Dream Vacation: Paris
5. Music or Silence: Music
6. Plotter or Panster: Plotter
7. Vanilla or Kink: Kink
8. Morning Bird or Night Owl: Night Owl
9. Half Full or Half Empty: Half Full
10. Boxers, Briefs or Bare: Bare
Denise N. Wheatley is a lover of romance, happy endings and the art of storytelling. She used to cry as a three-year old child when her mother read to her because she so badly wanted to read the books herself! Once she learned, Denise constantly had her nose in a novel (especially the ones she’d sneak from her mom’s bookshelf). She’s been writing for as long as she can remember and draws inspiration from Chicago, the city where she was born and raised, as well as Los Angeles, which is one of her favorite places in the world. Denise has published several books and novellas with Simon & Schuster, Red Sage Publishing, eXtasy Books and independently, has written screenplays and teleplays, and has ghostwritten for some of your faves. When she isn’t sitting behind her computer, you can find Denise in a movie theater, on a tennis court, watching true crime television or chatting on social media.
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