Julia closed her eyes, her fingers a hair's width from striking the laptop's keyboard. She could almost feel the sun on her cheeks, smell the freshly turned soil. It was a comfort she would often recall whenever she needed a reminder of some of the happiest moments of her life. As a child she'd spent her summer months living at her grandparents' farm in Harmony Grove, Iowa. In retrospect, those quaint, stuck-in-time summer vacations were a great way to grow up, but she couldn't be happier having moved to Chicago—or living with Nora, her best friend since they'd been paired as college roommates eight years ago.
The click of high heels brought her out of her reverie. Julia looked up to see the overly made-up face of the nail tech as she glanced at the timer and whispered, "Five more minutes." Julia nodded and looked back at her laptop screen.
She sighed, happy to have finished another weekly column. Not only was it finished, it was actually pretty darned good. Nine months of weekly columns… she never imagined it would last so long, or that she would even have enough to write about to keep it fresh and interesting. When she'd started the column as a simple blog she never thought anyone would read it. But somehow, in the mysterious workings of the internet, her little Wordpress blog had garnered a following, a following that soon outgrew the free domain world of Wordpress. Her blog, The Good Life, had been syndicated by the Chicago Herald website for six months. Her thousand loyal readers had now become ten times that amount, and growing.
She saved the file to her laptop, careful not to smudge her manicure, and then emailed a copy to her editor at the Herald.
When the timer went off, Gloria, the owner of the salon, approached with a smile and lifted the hairdryer. "How was your day of beauty?"
Julia stood up from the pedicure drying station and glanced down at her toes. "I finally look worthy of the gorgeous Jimmy Choos I bought last week. They only cost me a month's worth of columns."
"I don't know how you get any work done here with all of this racket going on."
"When I'm working on my column, I'm not really here," Julia said as she closed her computer and stowed it in her laptop bag. "I'm at the farm."
"You sure don't look like a farm girl to me."
"And thanks to all of your fabulous skills, I never will." Julia wiggled her fingernails, gleaming with fresh polish. She hadn't had her hands in freshly turned soil in many years.
"None of your readers suspect that you're really just a city girl with an active imagination?"
"No, ma'am. That's one of the reasons I keep coming back to you. Beautician-to-client confidentiality," Julia said with a wink.
"Your secrets are safe with me, girl," Gloria said as she walked Julia to the cash register. "Same time next week?"
Julia handed over her well-used Visa. "You know I can't resist."
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Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – PG-13
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