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Salty Pickle ebook

Salty Pickle ebook

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She's eight months pregnant and headed to New York to tell the baby daddy. With her goat.

This standalone romantic comedy in the bestselling Pickleverse is proof that love can triumph over saltiness!

A pregnant yoga instructor with a pet goat arrives in New York to confront the gorgeous, salty one-night stand she never intended to see again.

Boss and ex-assistant. Stranded on a deserted island. Revenge plot turned steamy.

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Book Summary

I’m headed to New York for the first time.
With my goat.
I’m eight months pregnant.

Oh, and I’m barefoot. (The goat eats shoes when she’s nervous, and we’re definitely wild balls of anxiety.)

The man I’m meeting in his big fancy New York office is the saltiest hunk of male beauty you never want to cross. He wouldn’t know a smile if you drew one on his face.

I slept with him on a dare on New Year’s Eve. Eight months ago. Eight months pregnant. Yeah, you get it now.

I was going to raise the baby in my Colorado yurt with my pet goat Matilda. My two best girlfriends were going to be the other moms, but their lives moved on.

I’m a yoga teacher with forty dollars to my name.

So I’m loading Matilda onto the subway and headed to Wall Street.

It’s time to confront a salty baby daddy in a place called Pickle Media.

Read Chapter One

My sweet baby girl Matilda is not impressed by the New York subway.

Have you ever ridden it?

The press of bodies is like slow dancing with a hundred sweaty strangers, except nobody is having a good time.

It reminds me of my first middle school dance. Too many people. Too much angst. Everybody felt like they had to be there, but would really have preferred sitting on the sofa watching binging Netflix.

And yet, here we are, swaying to the music of the screech of metal.

I look down at Matilda. Her steely blue eyes meet mine. “We’re not in Colorado anymore,” I tell her.

The lights flicker as we approach a station, like the car is about to blink into the Twilight Zone. When the doors open, I push against the tide of exiting passengers and snag a seat, pulling Matilda with me.

The open space in front of us is a temporary relief. A squeal in the machinery below startles Matilda, and she backs even closer against me.

As the subway car fills up again, we both shrink away from the crush of strangers. We’re weary of the unnatural smell of engine oil and too many people.

It’s the total opposite of our yurt in the mountains.

“You’re okay,” I tell her, shifting my knees so she can move closer to the bench.

She’s my best girl.

My everything.

I’m so glad I moved heaven and earth to keep her with me on this journey.

But then, a shopping bag smacks into her precious little face.

She turns her long fuzzy nose to me and lets out a plaintive meh-eh-eh-eh.

Oh, right. I should have told you that up front.

I’m traveling through New York City with a two-year-old snow-white Nigerian dwarf goat.

And she needs to be milked.

I try to move Matilda out of range of a man in a black suit with an open collar, tightly fitted pants, and baby-smooth mankles showing over shiny shoes. How can he walk in those? I wear socks with my Birkenstocks, and they are already comfortable and worn. Those must be killing him.

He hasn’t noticed how his Gucci bag keeps knocking into Matilda. The corner pokes her forehead.

She lets out another unhappy bleat. Several people look our way. I give them a big everything-is-just-fine, nothing-to-see-here smile.

I tuck her tightly between my knees. “Shhh, Matilda.”

This has been the hardest part of the journey. We boarded at a subway station in Queens, fresh off the feed truck I’d hitchhiked on. I didn’t have a lot of options, coming from Colorado with a goat.

But there was no way I would leave my baby behind. Besides, my two best friends had already deserted me. I didn’t have a goat-sitter.

It’s just me and Matilda with them gone. I even lost my friendly yoga students after I had to quit teaching class due to the strain on my belly. The doctor made me put a pause on exercise.

Yoga and goat milk are the basis of my entire income, keeping me in herbal tea and tofu, and Matilda in fresh feed and the occasional carrot. But with yoga out for the foreseeable future, I’m stuck. Goat cheese doesn’t pay the bills.

And thus, I’ve come to Manhattan with a knapsack stuffed with feed and a change of clothes. I’ve got forty dollars to my name.

I’ve gotten by so far on luck and kindness, but there seems to be a lot less of it now that I’m in the city.

The subway car screeches to a stop, forcing me to clutch Matilda to avoid tilting into our neighbors. Nobody else seems to notice the shift in movement. They’re probably used to traveling like cattle.

A wavering voice next to me says, “You know, you’re supposed to keep pets in a carrier.”

I turn to the woman. She has sleek gray hair and huge red glasses. Her checked suit and shoes undoubtedly cost more than my yearly income.

Tucked in her lap is a supple red purse with a furry face sticking out. A Pomeranian, by my guess, although it’s coiffed within an inch of its life.

“I don’t think Matilda would appreciate being in a bag,” I say.

“Hummph.” Her disapproving lips pinch together like a squished tomato.

Will she tell on me? Nobody stopped me from getting on the subway with a goat. Of course, I hadn’t seen a single attendant or official-looking person in the station. We’d followed a lady with a baby stroller through a pair of swinging gates, then got on the first train going to Manhattan.

As the subway moves forward, an older gentleman sits next to me. “I used to have a goat,” he says and reaches down to pet Matilda.

She preens under his hand like a puppy. She’s full grown, but barely tops the knees of most travelers. Her beautiful white coat is broken only by the cotton diaper tied to her hindquarters. Pooping on the subway would definitely get us kicked off.

I beam at my new neighbor. I knew I’d find my people here. “What was your goat’s name?”

He sits back in his seat. “Oh, we didn’t name them. They were meat goats. Raised them until their fat, round bodies were ready for the butcher. Made the best stew.”

I can’t stifle my gasp, pulling Matilda away from him.

He sniffs. “Don’t worry. I see she’s a milk goat. She a good producer?”

As if my baby is nothing more than a factory!

Except… she is a good producer. I can’t help but be proud of her and say, “Two quarts a day.”

“Nice. I do love a hearty goat cheese.”

I glance down at her. Oh, no. Matilda’s nosing her way into a mother’s diaper bag, probably foraging for snacks. I try to pull her back, but then one of the lightning-quick pains rockets across my midsection. I suck in a hard breath and press my hand to my belly.

The woman next to me leans away. “You’re not in labor, are you?”

Right. I forgot to mention that, too. I’m eight months pregnant. I’m headed to meet the father.

I didn’t call. I don’t have a cell phone.

I didn’t email. No computer.

He has no idea. I’m going in cold and hoping for the best.

But first, to breathe through this pain.

The man next to me sounds alarmed. “Should we call an ambulance? Are you due?”

My voice is a squeak from the darting cramps. “No. I have a month to go. It’s just pregnancy pains.”

The woman frowns like she doesn’t believe me, sure I’ll shoot a newborn out onto her red leather pumps.

“Does the baby’s father work in the financial district?” the man asks. “He should have gotten you a car.”

“I think so,” I say.

“You don’t know?” The woman’s tomato lips tighten again.

The pain finally eases, and I can talk normally. “I only knew him ninety minutes.” Give or take.

“Ninety minutes!” Both the lady and the man cry the words at the same time. This makes even more passengers turn their heads to look.

I lower my voice. “I mean, it only really takes five, right?” I plaster on the same smile I did at my yoga studio when the questions started coming about my growing belly.

Of course, at that point, April and Summer were planning to be the other two moms. We would raise the baby in love and sunshine and unbridled femininity. Make flower crowns from the meadow. Swim naked in the rivers.

But April got a chef internship in France.

Then Summer met a guy and eloped to Vegas, of all the horrible places, full of unnecessary electricity and poor decisions.

And that left me and Matilda to raise the baby.

The man shifts next to me, probably uncomfortable with my promiscuity, or my defamation of male performance, or both. Whatever. I don’t care what he thinks.

I shouldn’t, right? You’re with me. You understand. Sometimes a girl just gets in a situation.

But this guy was something. Tall. Gorgeous. I wasn’t looking for a future.

I got one, though.

The woman tugs out a handkerchief and waves it as if I have bad juju she should ward off. Or maybe Matilda is pooping in her wrap. “Are you headed to the financial district right now? In the middle of the workday? With that thing?”

Here we go again. “Matilda is not a thing.”

“Now now,” the man says. “Don’t be mean to the girl. She’s obviously in a real pickle.”

Funny he should say that. Pickle Media is the name of the company I found when I looked up the man I got dared into approaching eight months ago.

I check Matilda’s diaper wrap. Yep. Poop. Great. Now she needs both milking and a clean-up.

The woman stands as the car slows, tucking her dog under her arm. “Thank God this is my stop.”

The man chuckles and pulls himself up by the silver pole. Apparently, it’s his stop, too. “Good luck. If you start selling goat cheese in the city, look me up. Stanley’s Emporium.”

“You’re Stanley?”

“The one and only.” He laughs. “Among the Stanleys in New York.” The door opens, and he moves toward it.

I study the map on the wall and count the stops until I’m in range of Wall Street. Six. I feel a tickle on my feet and look down to see Matilda chewing on the strap of my shoe.

“No, no, baby.” She nibbles when she’s nervous. I tuck my feet under the bench, but she’s eaten halfway through the strap. I’ll fix it later.

The car lurches forward. I tighten my gut as much as I can with an eight-month pregnant belly, to avoid tilting into the teen girl who has plopped down next to me.

I guess I do stick out here in my socks and sandals, the elastic of my colorful paisley skirt pulled up over my belly so it will still fit, and my choppy self-cut hair. But there’s nothing I can do about it.

I’m having a baby in a month. April and Summer are gone, along with their car and cell phone. My job at the yoga center is on hiatus, with no more access to running water and a bathroom since I handed in my key to the building.

I’m at my last resort.

And believe me, if Court Armstrong is even close to as brooding and salty as I remember, he’s absolutely the last resort.

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