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Joint Venture

Joint Venture

Grant Us Grace book 1

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He has a dream and recruits her to help open a salon. Friendship blossoms into something more, but will the pressures of entrepreneurship tear them apart?

Main Tropes

  • Friends to Love
  • Workplace romance
  • Slow burn


Hairstylists and best friends set out to open their own salon. Will falling in love end up in their business plan?

Laura Willis is busy planning her wedding to Ryan when she catches him cheating. Again. This time with her best friend. She throws her fist, and her ring, in his face and immerses herself in work at Brenda's House of Hair. But the salon is awash in drama too as Brenda cuts corners and goes on a rampage.

Laura’s coworker hairstylist, Matt Stephenson, is searching for other employment options and a new place to live. Deciding to take a risk, he determines to open his own salon and invites Laura to partner with him. Can their friendship survive the undertaking or will this joint venture be more than either of them bargained for?

Intro into Chapter One

Ryan’s cell phone vibrated. Laura Willis peered across the table at the screen. Should she answer it?

She chewed her lower lip. On the one hand, he was her fiancé. On the other it was his phone, not hers. She’d answer it. As she started to reach for the phone, she glanced across the crowded restaurant. Ryan emerged from the hall that led back to the restrooms. An involuntary smile bloomed on her face,
cell phone forgotten.

How had she ended up with a man so handsome? Tall and slim, his brown hair was always perfect. She could see the perpetual hint of mischief
in his green eyes as he stopped to slap the backs of some coworkers congregated
at the bar. He said something that had everyone turning her way and laughing.  Were they laughing at her? With a casual wave at his friends, he ambled back toward their table.

His piercing gaze hit her like a caress and she swallowed. How amazing was it going to be to be married to him? To not have to fight so hard to keep things from going too far? The wedding in June couldn’t come fast enough.

“Miss me?” Ryan slid into the booth bench across from Laura and checked his phone. A tiny wrinkle formed between his eyes as he saw the missed call. Flicking his gaze to Laura, he palmed the phone and tucked it into his pants pocket.

“Oh, of course.” Laughing, Laura sipped her water. “Can we talk invitations now, or did you want to wait until after the food came?”

“Invitations? C’mon, Laura. We’ve got six months, we don’t need to decide so fast.”

She gritted her teeth and forced a reasonable tone. “June’ll be here before you know it. The catalogs all say to allow six to eight weeks for processing, so
that’s two months right there. They need to be mailed six weeks out, maybe seven. Plus I want to hand address them, which’ll take at least a week with the number of people on the guest list…”

Ryan raised his hands in surrender. “Fine. Geez. Show me what you want.”

Fighting to hide disappointment about his attitude, Laura slid a dog-eared catalog out of her purse. “My three favorites are these.” She arranged the pages so all three could be seen at the same time.

He barely glanced down, his gaze fixated above her and slightly to the left, where a TV suspended from the ceiling was showing a basketball game. “That’s fine.”

“Which one?”

He shot her a disgusted look and studied the catalog for all of ten seconds before poking the middle one. “That one. Happy?”


Her least favorite. She opened her mouth to discuss the other two, but his attention was already glued back on the game. Fine. They’d have funeral flowers on their invitations. She’d only included the calla lilies option because her mother liked it. Ryan knew how she felt about lilies and weddings…had he chosen
it to make a point? She folded the catalog open. Maybe she’d just choose her own favorite after all. He wasn’t likely to remember what he’d pointed at anyway.

“Thanks.” She cleared her throat. “Do you want traditional wording or something a little more personal?”

Ryan sighed and shook his head. “Really? There’s more?”

Laura scooted the three wordings she’d typed up across the table, taking care to put the one she liked best in the middle. He jabbed the middle one with his index finger. She was right, he wasn’t even looking.

“Satisfied? Are we done with wedding business now? I’d like to enjoy our date, not get nagged about nitty details.”

“Sure.” Laura busied herself tucking the wedding information back into her purse. Tears
welled in her eyes. It was silly to be upset. Hadn’t everyone told her men didn’t care? And here she was, pushing. “Excuse me a minute, would you?”

Laura grabbed her bag and escaped to the bathroom where she held a wet paper towel
over her eyes. What was with Ryan? Every time she tried to talk about the wedding, he got angry or distant. He’d proposed a year ago and then, despite her best efforts, pushed for a long engagement. He’d said it was to save up money so they could buy a house as soon as they were married, but as far as she’d seen, she was the only one saving. He’d just gotten back from another
guys-only vacation to Las Vegas and, from what she’d pieced together, had footed most of the bills.

She checked her makeup and tossed the paper towel in the trash. No more wedding talk tonight. Maybe then he’d tear his eyes away from the excitement of a dribbling ball and they could at least spend some time talking. Resolute, Laura headed back to the table. When she got to the main room, she stopped. Who was that at their table?

She skirted around the bar, hoping to keep out of Ryan’s line of sight.

The woman in Laura’s seat leaned across the table and stroked Ryan’s cheek. Laura’s mouth
dropped open as he glanced around before leaning in and kissing the other woman. The juicy kiss went on. Her stomach stirred, bile burning the back of
her throat. Straightening her spine, Laura wrenched the diamond solitaire off her finger and marched toward the table.

“How dare you?” Laura hissed and grabbed a handful of blonde hair, yanking apart the woman and Ryan. And then she recognized the woman. Betrayal intensified her nausea as the blood drained from her face. “Lydia? How could you?”

“It’s not what it looks like…” Ryan trailed off when Laura glared in his direction.

Laura cocked back her arm and let her fist fly, powered by her legs and back. It connected with a satisfying crunch.  Ryan’s
hands flew to his face, sputtering as blood flowed from his nose.

She flung the ring at him and stormed from the now silent restaurant.

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