Release date: May 16, 2016
Commercial real estate mogul Rachel Reed followed her workaholic father’s footsteps to success, so when he’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she vows to rise to the occasion. She’ll help her father get the Arlington Aces independent professional baseball team up and running, then sell the franchise off to recoup their investment. It’s a tall order, but Rachel knows one thing for sure: a few acres of trees aren’t going to stand in her way of building the facility they need.
Landscaper Sam Sutter is surprised to find his brother’s high school girlfriend lurking in the woods behind his secluded log house. This former minor leaguer’s even more upset to learn “his” trees are on her chopping block. There’s no way he’ll help her erect a painful reminder to his failed career in his backyard. But butting heads with the beautiful businesswoman proves to be a tricky task, and before long, he finds himself heading up the grounds keeping crew at her father’s stadium.
by Elley Arden
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Elley Arden is a born and bred Pennsylvania who drinks wine like it’s water (a slight exaggeration), prefers a night at the ballpark to a night on the town, and believes almond English toffee is the key to happiness.
An excerpt from The Change Up:
Rachel Reed sat at her sleek black desk in her corner office overlooking city hall, complete with its statue of William Penn, and tried not to worry. Any time your boss came to town it was nerve-racking. This time wasn’t any different. At least it shouldn’t have been. Nothing had changed since the last time he’d been here. All systems were go on the abandoned warehouse being converted into residential space. Closings were complete on the land assemblage in downtown Philadelphia, and tenants in all ten buildings were being relocated efficiently.
She maniacally strummed her squared-off fingernails on the desk. Think, think, think. Was she missing anything? Was there any reason he’d be back in town so soon after his last visit? Had she made a mistake?
She just about shattered the intercom button with an overenthusiastic press as she summoned her executive assistant, Liv Butler, into the office.
“What’s up?” Liv asked, bright and confident, like any young and hungry EA should be.
“Something is wrong,” Rachel said, clicking through screen after screen of monthly status reports. “I can feel it. We’ve met all our objectives, correct?”
“Yep,” Liv said, her face in her tablet. “Wait. Maybe he’s coming in for your birthday. The big four-O.”
Rachel looked up in time to see Liv’s brows bob in jest and ignored it. Forty wasn’t a big deal unless you were using it to measure professional success—as in being able to call yourself a multimillionaire by the time you turned forty. Rachel could do that, so forty could come and go without any fanfare, like all the rest. “My birthday is not for another week,” she said dismissively. “Besides, that’s too sentimental a reason for him to come in. We’ve never had that kind of relationship.”
“Maybe he’s retiring.”
Never. He might’ve been sixty-five, but he had the focus and determination of a man half his age. “Liv, we’re talking about a man who texts me at three a.m. to alter directives and clarify goals. He won’t sleep, let alone retire.” Although those texts had been far and few between lately.
Something was definitely wrong.
Rachel spent the next ninety minutes strumming like a madwoman, rereading texts and emails, replaying conversations in her head, trying desperately to come up with something—anything—that would warrant this visit. But everything was perfect on her end … until the intercom sounded again.
“They’re here,” Liv said.
What the heck was Rachel in for?
The door opened, and her father walked in, followed by her mother. For as long as Rachel had been heading up the Philadelphia offices of Reed Commercial Real Estate Services, her mother had never stepped foot inside this building.
Maybe the impromptu visit was about her birthday after all. As weird as that would be.
Rachel stood, steadied her stride, muffled her surprise, and gave them the requisite greetings—a handshake for her father, who had been her business mentor and boss since she’d graduated from UPenn what seemed like a lifetime ago, and a hug for her mother, whom she saw once a year at Christmas—if her work schedule permitted. The greetings were even more stilted than usual.
“What brings you to Philadelphia?” she asked, knowing it wasn’t business if her mother was in the mix. Jackie Reed preferred defined gender roles. Men worked. Women took care of them. Rachel couldn’t think of a more miserable existence.
“Let’s sit,” her father said.
Those two little words tilted the world on its axis.
Rachel didn’t hesitate to do as she was told. When your boss said jump, you asked how high. When your boss was your father, you didn’t have to ask; you already knew. Still, her heart doubled its beat.
Once she was seated behind her desk, she studied her father, who couldn’t seem to make eye contact with her. Danny Reed looked well: wrinkle-free skin a healthy shade of pink, salt-and-pepper hair as thick as always, tailored suit coat the perfect fit. When silence stretched on, she turned her attention to Jackie, who appeared every bit as put together as usual: neither a gray hair on her sleekly bobbed head nor a mark on her pancaked and painted face. Flowers and pastels were topped off with pearls. So why the long faces?
“We’re sitting,” Rachel said. “Now what?”
“Darling,” Jackie started, finally looking at Rachel, only to be cut off by Danny.
“I have Alzheimer’s,” he said.