Home > Lucky in Lace

Lucky in Lace
Author: Melissa Brayden


   Redemption is tricky. And forgiveness can be complicated. But I’ve always been a sucker for the exploration of the things that make us human, relatable, fallible, and real. Most of my books fall into the fun and flirty category, but Peyton Lane’s story lies somewhere outside of that. It didn’t matter. It was an arc that I felt compelled to write along with her unique set of circumstances. She isn’t a typical romance novel character. She has baggage, a past, and a lot to overcome. I think we can all relate to grappling with the results of a mistake and working to come out of the darkness of its shadow. Even when we’re the ones punishing ourselves most. In the end, it’s my hope that this story resonates with you in some small way as you move through Peyton and Juliette’s romance.

   I want to thank Sandy Lowe for the kernel of an idea that blossomed into more. Inspiration sparks from a variety of places, even your senior editor!

   Much gratitude to my own editor, Ruth Sternglantz, who helped these characters grow into all they became. Thank you to the production team at Bold Strokes Books (Cindy, Stacia, Toni, as well as Inkspiral Design) who brought this book to life.

   It takes a village, and I have a great one that includes the meticulous proofreaders who devote their skills to catching the things I did not. You’re invaluable.

   When Radclyffe is your publisher, you know you’re in good hands, and as always, I’m humbled and happy to learn from the best.

   Hugs and relief that I have wonderful friends to pick me up when I’m down and to share a laugh with along the way. Writing community, you’re amazing, generous, and entertaining in the best sense. To my people, I love you. There are now too many of you to list! What a fabulous problem! I’m blessed.

   To Alan, my children, my family, my dogs, my potted plants, and favorite TV show characters—you make my life worth living.

   Lastly, thank you, fantastic readers, for continuing to pick up my books and share a little bit of your day with me. You have no idea how much I value our connection. I’d hug each of you if I could.



For anyone in need of a second chance




Three years ago

   Free air felt different than prison air. Lighter with all sorts of competing aromas. Tree bark, car exhaust, baked goods, rain. They mingled together in an overpowering jumble. Not unwelcome, just all consuming. There also seemed to be lots more of it, air, hovering in the wide expanse of freedom. Peyton Lane couldn’t imagine ever taking free air for granted again. She’d been released from prison exactly eight days prior, and in that time, only the air had been hospitable.

   She’d put in applications at twelve different businesses, only to have four of them inform her it was against their policy to hire her after they perused her application. The other eight had yet to call. That was an ominous sign. She’d need money soon and had to make something happen for herself. A nonprofit program for recent parolees set her up with a studio apartment located above a pretty hopping burger joint, which left her place smelling like freshly cooked burgers she couldn’t afford. Didn’t mean she didn’t long for one, imagining the melted cheese curling to the edge of the burger in a torturous daydream. Even her clothes carried the smoky smell of the grill, which likely didn’t help her job search. She had four outfits in total, also courtesy of the do-gooder program, and a hundred and ten dollars left to her name. Next month’s rent was all on her, and the slightest bit of panic eased in as she walked the sidewalk in front of a strip mall. She often selected those because she could hit half a dozen businesses on foot, increasing her chances of someone taking a chance on her. She’d practiced smiling in the mirror, because there hadn’t been much of that where she’d been the last four years. Remembering the basics took a lot more effort than she’d anticipated. The world was so much bigger, so much louder, and full of complications she’d forgotten how to juggle.

   Peyton paused her search on the sidewalk, depressed because the cosmetics store two doors down had seemed so promising. The dashed hope hurt more than no hope at all. But she hadn’t cried. She’d been numb to true emotion for years, moving through each day like an automaton. The practice had made the time she had to serve easier. The owner had chatted away with Peyton, who still struggled with conversations with strangers after having been absent from the larger world for so long. She’d withdrawn into herself, and now it took work to pull herself back out one piece at a time. Surely, others could immediately tell something was wrong with her, which only made Peyton all the more self-conscious. She used to be good at connecting with other people, and dammit, she would be again. She’d make sure of it. If only someone out there would give her a chance, even a small one.

   “I’m so sorry,” the woman said after five minutes of what seemed like a great interview. But then she’d scanned the application, understanding registering on her face. “We just don’t seem to have what you’re looking for right now. But I’ll hold on to this.” She held up the sheet of paper with Peyton’s handwriting all over it. A lie.

   After a short pep talk, and a gathering of her socials kills, she’d headed into the juice bar next door. Peppy, bright, and fun. She could imagine enjoying her days in a cheerful place like this one.

   She tossed the owner her best smile, hoping to show that she could match the place’s vibe. “I’m looking for full-time, but part-time would be fine. Anything, really. I’m happy to pay my dues.” A pause. “And I love juice. I learn fast, too.”

   The woman in the lime-green Juice or Die T-shirt studied her like a bug. “You’re eager.”

   “Yes.” A smile that she prayed sold her confidence. “I need a job.”

   “Bless your heart,” the woman said as she scanned the application, sympathy all over her face. That had to be a good sign. “How long have you been out?”

   “A little over a week.”

   She placed the application facedown on the counter. “I wish I could help you, but I just don’t have the need for extra help. That’s not a line, either. I’d hire you on the spot if I could.”

   “Oh.” Her hopeful heart hit the pavement. “I understand.” So close.

   “I could use a hand.”

   Peyton turned to the woman in line behind her who’d been studying the menu but also, perhaps, overheard their conversation. “You would?”

   “I’m two doors down at the sassiest little underwear boutique you’ll ever walk into.”

   “Hi, Candy,” the juice woman said. “Your usual?”

   “Yes, with an extra splash of raspberry because this might just be my lucky day.” She smiled at Peyton, and in that very moment hope appeared in the form of a woman in her sixties with big white hair and perfectly applied makeup. “Oh, whatever my new employee is having, too. You just toss that on my bill.”

Hot Books
» House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
» A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
» From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash #1)
» A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime
» Deviant King (Royal Elite #1)
» Den of Vipers
» House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)
» The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #
» Sweet Temptation
» The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)
» Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
» Wreck & Ruin
» Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2)
» Twisted Hate (Twisted #3)
» The Play (Briar U Book 3)