Manuscript Status: Finished
Mentor Name: Sandi Ward
Mentee Name: Krista Riccioni
Title: ON THE VERGE OF BREATHING
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction with Romantic Elements
Word Count: 78,000 words
When a cantankerous widow discovers her new tenant is like her estranged daughter, she doesn’t let manners or her lovestruck son keep her from scheming to re-build both families. But the harder she tries, the more she pushes everyone away. WFWA 2017 Rising Star Finalist. A MAN CALLED OVE meets ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE.
The last applicant arrives long after I’ve given up on her. Only by chance am I peeking between the sheer curtains when her dusty car invades my gravel driveway. Here we go again. Another woman thinking she’s found her apple orchard paradise. I could set a stopwatch and count the seconds between the hello and goodbye.
She’s the nervous type, biting her nails while getting out of the car and hurrying to the porch. Her face is a pretty type of plain, the kind you’d expect under a straw hat. Similar to my daughter, or at least how I remember her—she hasn’t spoken to me in years.
She presses the doorbell that doesn’t work. I step back into the shadows.
They only see the skin of my world—the overgrown orchard that Stan tended until the day he died, the cobwebby barn still smelling of the Macs we used to harvest, and a paint-peeled cottage that’s solid at the bone—my heart home. The mark of a good carpenter, a passionate man.
Then there’s me. They expect a cheerful granny type to open the door. Someone who bakes apple pies and wears a smile like it’s carved on. Well, the only things carved on me are on places nobody needs to look at—nothing like doctors and their bills to hollow you out.
I shouldn’t have sent Paul to pick up dinner. He promised to help see these people, so he needs to get his ass back here.