About author, Isabella Louise Anderson: Isabella grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and has been featured on several blogs. While Isabella doesn’t blog a lot, she focuses her time on featuring other writers, along with writing and editing.
Isabella Louise Anderson created Chick Lit Goddess to share the love of the following genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, Romance, and Romantic Comedies! She loves featuring authors and their books.
She lives in Dallas with her husband and cat. She enjoys spicy Mexican food and drinking margaritas, and can be found spending time with family and friends, cheering on the Texas Rangers, and reading.
Isabella’s short story, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, was featured in Simon & Fig’s Christmas anthology, Merry & Bright, in November 2013. The Right Design is her first novel.
Describe yourself in five words: Creative, determined, fun, loving, and stubborn.
How long have you been writing? Since I was eight or nine. Writing has always been a huge part of my life, so I’m very thankful to have a had a huge support team behind me, who encouraged me to start living my dream as an author.
How did you celebrate publishing “The Right Design”? It was quite an emotional day. After banging my head on the bed over and over (afraid of failure), I finally managed to press the “publish” button on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. The hubby handed me a glass of champagne, and I cried. Since “The Right Design” is my first novel, it was quite exciting after I finally calmed down. It’s definitely a feeling that I could get used to…:)
Between writing, editing, and publishing, which is your favorite? Definitely the editing. While it was very hard at times, I loved the challenge.
Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? Both! While I carry my iPad with me everywhere I go (thank goodness for oversized purses), I find it convenient to carry a hard/paperback, too…especially when I’m traveling. (Apparently, flight attendants aren’t too fond of allowing you to read on your iPad when taking off or landing.)
Being a published author makes you feel…: Complete!
What is your favorite writer quote? “Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough,” by Stephen King.
Every author must have a…: patience and motivation!
What is your favorite word? Cilantro.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given? While it’s easier said than done, the words “just keep writing” are true. No matter how bad a draft can be, just getting it down is the first step.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects: I just finished the second draft of “Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop.” It’s about a woman (Khloe) who owns a florist looking for love, and takes orders from four other characters: a cheating husband (Richard) who can’t decide between his devoted wife and his mistress, an older woman (Gabriella) who finds love online after her husband dies, a middle-aged woman (Connie) who sends herself flowers at work each week, claiming that their from an imaginary boyfriend only to gain attention from her co-workers, and a young man (Curtis) who dates a health-obsessed nut, only to find himself falling in love with Khloe.
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“The Right Design” by Isabella Louise Anderson
Blurb: Interior designer Carrie Newman could not have envisioned a more perfect life for herself. She had a great job doing what she loved, wonderful friends, and a close relationship with her sister and brother-in-law. Add in an amazing man who she’d hoped would soon become her husband, and her life was perfect. Until one devastating decision ruins her relationship and changes the course of her life.
Determined to make a new start, Carrie leaves Texas and heads to Palm Beach to pick up the pieces of her shattered and broken life. The last thing she expects is to find herself attracted to her first client at her new job—Brad Larson, who has proven himself time and time again to be cad.
But there’s something beneath the surface of Brad’s arrogant exterior that keeps her craving more of him—something almost sweet that Carrie can’t seem to resist.
Is Carrie ready to take another chance on romance? And will this new design of her life prove to be the right one…?
Carrie Newman’s day started out like any other, only there were presents involved. After showering and dressing, she came out of the bathroom and found Roger sitting on the bed, handsomely dressed in a white dress shirt and blue pinstripe slacks. His still-wet hair from the shower was slicked back, and his expensive cologne smelled of a combination of sweet flowers and fresh lemons. In his manicured, but masculine hands, he held a little blue box—the kind most women fantasize about receiving at least once in their lifetime.
Is Roger about to propose? With a pounding heart, she sat down beside him and pointed to the box. “What’s that?” she asked, trying to make her voice sound casual.
“Oh, just a little something to let you know how much I love you and how special you are to me. Happy sixth anniversary, babe.”
Carrie blushed at his sweet sentiment and tried to control her trembling hands as she tugged eagerly at the gift’s white ribbon. Inside the box was a black velvet one. When she opened it, round diamond earrings sparkled against the satin cushion.
“They’re beautiful,” she said softly, trying her best to hide the disappointment in her voice, wondering if he’d forgotten that she preferred princess cuts. In her mind, she replayed many conversations about what kinds of jewelry she favored, but she knew that Roger hadn’t always been good with shopping. For her birthday one year, he had bought her a pony (yes, a real one) because that’s what she’d jokingly said she wanted. Really, round-cut diamonds?
“Aren’t you going to put them on?” Roger asked, sounding impatient, as he nudged her and playfully pouted.
“Oh, yes, sorry.” She took off her favorite silver dangles, and replaced them with Roger’s diamonds. “Well, how do they look?” She tried to force a smile.
“Beautiful on you.” His eyes danced, and he smiled proudly as if he’d just given her the gift of a lifetime.
Carrie walked to the bathroom to see how the earrings looked on her, assuming the worst. When she saw herself in the mirror, her jaw almost dropped. Taking a closer look, she held her ear closer to the mirror and admired the earring’s sparkling beauty. Completely caught off-guard, she took a step back again to see the full effect, her eyes widened with approval as the large diamonds shone off her oval face, brightening her fair complexion. “Wow,” she whispered.
Roger snuck up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. “If you don’t like them, I can replace them.”
Carrie turned around and put a finger to his soft lips. “They’re perfect. I love them, and I love you.” She stood on her tiptoes, draped her arms around his neck, and kissed him passionately. Tasting mint on his lips, she smiled when she felt his tongue start toying with hers, and she pulled him closer.
“My meeting got canceled,” he said, grabbing her waist and lifting her onto their black onyx marble bathroom counter with two individual sinks. “How about we start the day off right?”
While Carrie wanted nothing more than to spend the morning making love to him, she couldn’t. She needed to get to work because she had planned on leaving early to come home and surprise Roger. “I can’t, love, I really can’t.” She pushed Roger’s hand away right as he began fingering the top button of her red blouse. “I promise I’ll make tonight worth the wait.”
“You’d better.” Roger gave her another quick kiss, and then released her.
After they finished getting ready, Carrie kissed her boyfriend of six years goodbye and left for work. “Have a good day,” she said.
“Oh, believe me, I will.”
After the twenty-minute drive to work, she smiled into the rear-view mirror to once again admire her new earrings. As Carrie made her way to her office, she drew quite a bit of attention from her co-workers, thanks to the glistening baubles adorning her ears.
“Carrie, those are beautiful!” Mary Ann, her co-worker, gasped, bringing her hand to her lips. Though there was a twenty-five-year age gap between the two of them, they’d become friends the instant they’d met.
“Thank you. Roger gave them to me this morning. Today’s our six-year anniversary.”
“Oh, that’s right.” Mary Ann snapped her fingers. “Happy anniversary. I can’t believe I forgot. I’m sure you two will have a very memorable celebration.” She wiggled her eyebrows.
Carrie laughed. “That’s the plan for tonight,” she said to Mary Ann and continued down the hall to her office.
Carrie had been at Sawyer Design & Associates, a highly acclaimed firm in Dallas, for three years. She was offered the job right after graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in architecture, and only a year’s experience as an intern. Design being a passion of hers since childhood, she had grown up designing and drawing homes and buildings. In college, she’d helped her friends organize and decorate their dorm rooms, coordinating their bedroom furnishings and accessories. By landing her dream job, she couldn’t have asked for more and everyone at the design firm complimented Carrie on her great sense of style. Just last month, she finished designing the interior for the home of her city’s major league pitcher, who had received a recommendation from Roger, whose firm represented several athletes. Since then, she’d received many inquiries from several major league wives.
As she sat down at her desk, a picture of her and Roger on New Year’s Eve caught her eye, and she grinned at the memory. Her sister, Sara, had taken the photo of them kissing at midnight only months ago. Of all the pictures that they had posed for over the past six years, it was her favorite. When Carrie’s office phone buzzed, it shook her out of a daze, and signaled that her day at work had officially begun.
By eleven-thirty, Carrie had met with two potential clients, but before she could deal with her growling stomach, she had to meet with her boss, Renee Phillips. “Knock, knock,” said Carrie, tapping lightly on Renee’s door that was only halfway shut.
“Carrie, please come in.” She gestured to a seat in front of her desk.
“You wanted to see me?” Carrie sat down in one of the matching white Parsons chairs.
“Yes, I did. How’s everything going?” Renee leaned back and crossed her arms.
“Really well.” Carrie nodded, wondering what Renee was getting at.
“That’s good. And your projects, how do you feel about them?”
As Carrie started chewing her lip, she said, “I feel good, and, as you know, I recently completed the Moreland & Hamilton, and Swann projects.”
Renee’s eyes widened and she smiled. “Yes, and they were both beautiful. Are you aware that Mr. Moreland and Mr. Hamilton called me to commend your work? You did a wonderful job, Carrie. I’m very proud of you.”
With a sigh, she relaxed in her chair. Wow! “Thank you.” She’d worked hard on those projects, sometimes not leaving the office until well after midnight. It’s times like these that make the job worth it, she thought to herself.
“Carrie, Don Sawyer is leaving the company.”
Reeling back in shock, Carrie said, “Really?”
“Yes. It seems that he’s trading swatches and designs for bait and hooks. He is officially retiring in a few weeks.”
Carrie had worked with Don a few times but didn’t know him that well, except that he seemed to be a kind man who smiled a lot and was well-liked in the firm.
“I asked you in here because I’d like for you to consider a partner position. I’m nominating you as a candidate.”
Carrie blinked furiously before she practically jumped out of the chair. “Renee, I don’t know what to say. Thank you. Thank you very much.”
Renee smiled brightly. “Well, you’ve earned your due here. Nothing’s set in stone yet and this is only a nomination, but you’ve got my vote. Congratulations!”
After the meeting concluded with a handshake and a hug, Carrie quickly walked to her office and tried to call Roger at work to share her news. But he didn’t pick up his private line or his cell, and she didn’t bother leaving any messages, thinking that maybe it was better to tell him in person anyway.
To celebrate, Mary Ann took her to lunch and they toasted Carrie’s nomination with a glass of champagne. Only one glass wouldn’t hurt, she thought. Besides, if she was going to go through with what she’d planned for Roger, the liquid courage would be helpful.
After lunch, Mary Ann signaled for the check. “So,” she started, reaching into her purse. “Do you think Roger’s going to propose tonight?”
Nearly choking on her last bit of champagne, Carrie shook her head. “Well, we’ve talked about it and I wish he would, but we’ve been together so long, I feel married to him already. I don’t need a piece of paper to make it official.” She traced the outline of her new earrings with the tips of her fingers. “Besides, I already have my diamonds.”
Mary Ann shook her head and laughed as she signed the check. “You’re more patient than I’d be. That’s why two years after George and I had started dating, I told him it was now or never.” She looked at the simple gold band on her left hand. “And we’ve been together for over twenty years now.” Taking a sip of her drink, she continued, “Roger really must think you’re a saint. Most women would push the marriage topic until he put a ring on that bare finger, especially since you two have been together for so long. He’s a very handsome man, Carrie.”
“Believe me, I know.” Carrie thought back to how sexy he’d looked when they’d made love the night before. She loved how Roger’s handsome body hovered over hers in the dim light, how his face had lit up as he pleasured her.
“Does he know how good his life is?” Mary Ann stood up and Carrie followed. “Most men would kill for that kind of life.”
“Oh, Roger knows,” she giggled. “Believe me, he knows.”
When they went back to the office, Carrie started counting down the two hours she had left, when her office phone rang and Roger’s name flashed on the screen.
“How’s my beautiful girl?”
“Great, but busy as ever. Oh, and I have some wonderful news.” She twisted the phone cord, thinking of all the surprises that she had in store for Roger.
“Do you care to share?”
“I want to tell you in person.”
“Okay, sounds good. Hey, is there a chance of you getting off early? I need to see you.”
“I’m sorry, love, I’m so busy.” She tried to make her voice sound tense and overwhelmed with work.
All Roger said was, “Okay,” his voice sounding low and let down.
“Babe, like I told you this morning, I promise I’ll make it up to you.”
“Okay,” he repeated. “Don’t forget that we have seven o’clock dinner reservations at Patetico’s.”
“I can’t wait. I’ll meet you home at six-thirty?”
“See you then.”
“Roger, I love you.”
“I love you more,” he said, and then hung up.
When four o’clock came around, Carrie was out the door and headed to Neiman’s to pick up the necessities. She’d finally got enough guts to make one of Roger’s fantasies come true—for her to seduce him wearing nothing but heels, a negligee, and a trench coat. This, by far, wasn’t high on her fantasy list, but since she’d had a glass of champagne at lunch, she felt more relaxed with the idea. In the lingerie department, she tried on four negligees. They all fit nicely against the toned body she’d worked hard for. Carrie settled for a black baby-doll gown made of silk, edged with lace.
In the jacket department of the store, Carrie picked a bright red trench coat that reminded her of the movie Dick Tracy.
Trench coat, check.
She’d wear the same sexy Alexander McQueens she had on, so she didn’t bother shopping for shoes.
Now that Carrie was prepared, she drove home to set the mood for Roger’s arrival. She’d have candles, champagne, and strawberries with whipped cream (which she had already bought and hidden outside in their garage refrigerator) waiting for him for when he walked through the door. Carrie hadn’t forgotten even the smallest detail in creating the perfect evening and couldn’t wait to see Roger’s face when he saw that his fantasy had become a reality.
As she made her way down their street, Carrie blinked twice, confused and a little disappointed to see Roger’s car already in the driveway. She looked at the clock on her dashboard, noticing that he wasn’t due home yet.
Quick, think of something, she thought, turning off the car, contemplating what to do. She glanced down the left side of the street and the right, then into the rear-view mirror. When all was clear, Carrie quickly took off her clothes, including her red lace thong, slipped on the negligee, and then the coat. She applied lip gloss and pinched her cheeks, giving herself a hint of more color. After a deep breath, Carrie felt ready. It was show time.
She got out of the car and didn’t bother to lock it, afraid her car alarm signal would ruin the surprise. Carrie hurried up the steps, slipped her key in the door, and twisted the knob. When she pushed the door open, her heart raced with anxiety and excitement, until she heard moans coming from inside the house.
Carrie stopped in the doorway of the kitchen, not believing what she saw. Roger had a redheaded woman bent over the island in their kitchen and was screwing her from behind. As she watched Roger and the other woman together, her blood turned cold and her mouth went dry. She stood frozen with rage and anger, not knowing what to do. Her keys left her hand and clashed loudly, hitting the marble floor. Instantly, Roger and the woman stopped in their tracks and looked at Carrie.
“Carrie!” Roger yelped in shock as his eyes oozed with guilt. Pulling out of the other woman like he was on fire, he reached for his jeans that lay carelessly on their wooden table and struggled to put them on. “Wh-what are you doing here?”
Carrie glared at him, sending daggers into his eyes. Trying to ignore the other woman who stood against their countertop with crossed legs and hands folded over her breasts, Carrie began yelling at Roger as she forced herself not to cry. “What am I doing here? This is my home, too! But if you must know, I came here to surprise you.”
He let out a heavy sigh and closed his eyes. Moments later, he walked closer to Carrie and tried to reach for her hand, but she jumped. “This is not what you think it is.”
“Don’t you dare touch me!” Carrie cocked her head toward him and placed her hands on her hips, in disbelief. “Explain this, Roger. Who the hell is that tart, and why is she still here?” Carrie narrowed her eyes at the woman.
“I’m not a tart,” the young coquette (who looked barely twenty) chimed in with a Spanish accent.
“Roger, you’d better start talking!” Above feeling angry and hurt, her heart raced, and she tried to swallow the bile that had risen from her stomach. She wanted answers and wanted them now.
Instead of saying or doing anything, Roger stood there with his head hung down and tail between his legs, looking like his body had been caught in another woman’s cookie jar. Finally, his mouth opened but nothing came out.
“You have nothing to say? I gave you everything you ever wanted, served to you on a silver platter. I was there for you when your parents died. I stood by your side when your siblings didn’t give a damn during your cancer scare.” She took a breath while tears began to cloud her eyes. She waited for any sign of explanation, but he had none. “Happy freakin’ anniversary, Roger.” Carrie picked up her keys and ran out of their house without taking anything, sickened that the past six years had been nothing but a lie.