Have I got a book for you! I’m so excited about this next release, I can hardly contain myself. Here’s why:
- First, that cover. *Bites knuckles*
- There’s wine involved. We all know how much I love my wine. I especially enjoy the way the heroine dumps wine all over the hero in the opening chapter…
- There are precocious and utterly adorable animals involved. If you’ve read any of the books I’ve co-written with Misti Murphy, you know that’s kind of a signature thing for us.
- There may be mention of an Australian firefighters calendar. The hero may be so hot the heroine suspects he’s one of the models.
- Did I mention the hero actually is Australian (and the heroine is American), and therefore there are lots of (hilarious) Aussie phrases and plenty of opportunity for (also hilarious) misunderstanding as a result?
No Jerks on Monday releases on June 10th. It’s up for pre-order now. It will be in KU, if you are one of those awesome, voracious Kindle readers. And below is an excerpt, a blog post our heroine wrote about the first time she meets the hero.
No Jerks on Monday Blog
I can’t believe how many of you are following along with this blog of mine, and the sheer number of women who have gone through the same things I have. Dating is hard!
It seems to be a never-ending cycle of disappointments and embarrassing encounters. Honestly, I don’t know how we stay sane while trying to find our Mr. Right. Or even Mr. Right Now.
As you know from last week’s blog, I was ready to take a breather. Put on my pajamas. Snuggle up with a good book and a bottle of cab sav. But that didn’t happen.
Instead I ended up on a blind date, thanks to my sister’s husband, who thought he would do me a favor and set me up with one of his work colleagues.
I really wanted to say no. But you know how it is with friends and family. So I decided to suck it up, put on my game face, and agreed to meet Cam*. I mean, it couldn’t be that bad, could it?
Yeah, right! If there’s anything these past few months have taught me it’s that there isn’t a rock bottom when it comes to jerks behaving badly. And I have the worst luck. Well, maybe not the worst, but close.
So there I was, sitting at the bar of the rather swanky restaurant where Cam and I had agreed to meet. I was a bit nervous, since I hadn’t met this guy before. But I had a rough idea of what he looked like thanks to a few well-spent minutes on Facebook. There was nothing too pervy about him, although there were a couple of photos with random women recently, but the busty redhead could have been his sister and the leggy brunette his friend. Or maybe they were just dates that hadn’t worked out. My brother-in-law had armed me with enough tidbits about his personality that I was willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt.
A controller for a successful local company, he spent his down time fishing with his nephews. He’d also recently left a long-term relationship, which meant he wouldn’t be one of those guys who hops from bed to bed as often as possible.
All that to say he was a great guy, if a little rusty, and he was super excited about meeting me, thanks to my brother-in-law talking me up.
Only he hadn’t shown up. So I waited. Five minutes. Ten. Thirty minutes passed and I was starting to feel a little irritated. He could have called. He had my number. But Atlanta traffic can be a nightmare, so I was prepared to let it go when he made an appearance.
I ordered a glass of wine from the bar and settled in to check my schedule for the following day. I had a couple of meetings in the morning. Lunch with my mother. Then I was supposed to go bridesmaid dress shopping with my sister.
The server—the tag on his white shirt suggested his name was George—set my wine down. A gorgeous rosé all the way from a place called Anders Valley in Australia. It was good. Like really smooth and citrusy on the tongue. A Danger Zone award winner for its use of Saperavi grapes. I even took a photo of the label. And what they’d titled it, Seduction, didn’t even come close to how quickly this wine hooked me. I was all in, and in love. Enough about the wine though.
So I was sitting there people watching in between checking my phone and taking generous gulps of this rosé. The restaurant was one of those old-world Hollywood glamor places. You know what I mean. Dark leather, dark wood, and chandeliers. With the kind of romantic atmosphere that would make our mothers think of Carey Grant and Katherine Hepburn. Or at least mine would. The main dining area was filled with booths, three rows running parallel to the wall. Ivory linen. White roses on every table. It was either the waiting room for heaven or I accidentally walked in on someone’s wedding. Which obviously wasn’t the case since there were a couple of Wall Street types at the front having some kind of auctioneer-style business meeting. Hair so slicked back it looked like Lego, designer suits, and shoes you could see your reflection in.
An elderly couple with matching white hairdos was dallying over their split dessert at a table closer to the restrooms. And a young couple, probably in their early twenties, canoodled in the far corner. He was holding her hand and whispering in her ear, and she was blushing and giggling.
Love, huh? I don’t begrudge them for it. Really, I don’t. For some people it comes easy, and for others, like me, I’m about ready to buy an army of cats and call it a day.
“Are you serious right now?”
No, I’m not asking myself that question, though if I were, the answer would be yes. But in that moment while I was utterly distracted by the impossibility of love, this shrilled question pricked my ears.
I swivelled away from the kissy-face couple. A woman scrambled to her feet. To say this woman was stunning would be an understatement. With raven hair piled tastefully on top of her head, her profile was a study in elegance. And she had style to boot. Specifically, a pair of Louboutin booties. So Kate in silver.
God, I’d been pining over those shoes! But back to the story.
I couldn’t hear what her companion was saying. But I didn’t need to. His gaze was glued to the waitress who had finished collecting their menus and taken her leave, and her sashaying hips heading toward the kitchen. A one-eyed pirate with the patch over his good eye would have been able to tell this guy was checking out the waitress. It was almost as if he was ignoring his date on purpose. I’d even go so far as to say he was trying to push her into an outburst. If that was his plan, it was working, because once again she shrilled for the whole restaurant to hear, “You were flirting with her right in front of me.”
She paused as he said something.
“I’m not making a scene.” Her voice rose, erupting like a volcano. “I thought…” She shook her head as she frantically rummaged through her designer handbag—Valentino, I’d have hazarded a guess, and definitely not a fake. “I don’t know what I thought. Maybe that the fact you called me meant you were ready to take this relationship further.”
I was a dog straining on a leash at this point. I desperately wanted to hear his response, but he was the opposite of his date. Unemotional, inexplosive. Damn it! Because I knew this was going in Monday’s Jerk Edition, but it would have been so much better if I could have added his response.
Anyway, whatever he said must have been good, because Lady Louboutin lost it and slapped him across the face. I swear it was like a mini-earthquake ripped through the restaurant. The sound reverberated off walls and glass and was followed with a singularly uttered cuss word on his part.
“If that’s what you wanted, why didn’t you just tell me over the phone instead of bringing me here for a romantic meal? Why flirt with the waitress? I can’t believe I was imagining a future with you, you asshole.” Spinning on some seriously expensive designer heels, she slapped him again. With her handbag this time. I mentally cheered her on as she walked out of the restaurant and the other patrons finally went back to dining and more agreeable conversations.
She’d just been granted a timely escape.
I ordered another glass of that wine. It was too good not to, and besides I had notes to take while they were still fresh in my head. I was so mired in them I didn’t notice the jerk leave his table.
“Can I get a frothy, mate?” his masculine voice interrupted. Like a train, my line of thought derailed. Crashed. Burned. Tiny people screamed from the wreckage of my muddled mind. All because he had an accent. I glanced up, uncertain of what I would find, and came face-to-face with the man I was currently annotating on my phone.
This is where I should tell you this guy was not gorgeous. He was not worthy of being mistaken as a Hemsworth. He was not immediately fascinating even as warning bells rang in my ears.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you any of those things because it would be a big, fat lie.
Botticelli’s angels would have wept over his peppery blue eyes, with just a hint of the devil in them. My fingers itched to run over a jawline that was both sharp and rugged, and sprayed with just the right amount of stubble. His navy suit was fitted to perfection, and, trust me, my imagination was taking every hard edge into account.
I gripped myself mentally and shook the stupidity right off. Somehow, this guy had managed to turn me into a drooling idiot quicker than I could ever remember it happening before. And I wasn’t going to allow that.
“And a drink for my mate,” he said as the server placed a light ale on a napkin in front of him.
I glanced around, pretty sure that wherever Lady Louboutin had disappeared to, she was not coming back after that display. And there hadn’t been anyone else with him. The man had no friends to speak of, at least not in the general vicinity.
“What are you drinking?” he asked, turning his blue gaze on me.
Oh, hell no, I was not about to become his friend. Or worse, his mate, which I’m ashamed to admit conjured up more than friendly images. God, he really was a jerk if my inability to stay unaffected was any barometer. “No thanks. I can buy my own drinks,” I told him and turned my attention to the bartender. In hindsight, this was mistake number eleventy billion for the evening, but in my defense, it’d been a long day and I’d been cuckolded into a date where I’d clearly been stood up. Another glass of wine surely wasn’t going to change the trajectory of my evening. “Same again, thanks.”
The jerk shrugged his wide shoulders, picked up his glass and tossed down eighty percent of his drink. “I’ll take another and put the lady’s on my tab.”
This was yet another strike against him, but I let it slide. I’d have my wine and be on my merry way, the jerk forgotten by the time I lifted my head from the pillow in the morning.
“Anders Valley, huh? Any good?” he asked while the bartender poured.
Whether it was because I had two glasses under my belt or I just wanted to hear his accent one more time, I don’t know. It could simply have been my need to share a great new wine find. Whatever it was, if I could take back that moment, I totally would. Actually, on second thought, no, I wouldn’t, and you’ll see why in a minute.
This prompted a conversation that’s altogether too boring unless you’re a wine connoisseur, and I know that’s not why you read this blog. You’re here for the drama, the train wreck that is my dating life, so I’m going to skip over this bit. Suffice it to say, he knew his fair share about grapes and he was pleased with his knowledge.
“You know,” he said, leaning an elbow against the bar and making his shirt gape at the collar as he plucked two buttons undone. “We should move this party elsewhere. I have a private wine collection I think you’ll really appreciate.”
The way he said wine collection would have made a better woman swoon, but obviously it was a proposition wrapped in a euphemism, duct taped together by two of my favorite weaknesses: wine and men I should not be into.
It was time to move on. Cam wasn’t showing up at this point. Cam couldn’t even send a freaking text message, so it shouldn’t be surprising he couldn’t navigate GPS. ** And this guy, who had just broken up with his girlfriend, was altogether charming the pants off me. Or maybe it was the wine. I’d really like to blame the wine. But I’d had my fair share of assholes at this point, so I knew it was more my attraction to the wrong men that was to blame for the way his wolfish smile made my pulse rocket. I slid my numb ass off my stool, all but ready to abandon my almost-untouched drink. “I don’t think so.”
“Why’s that? Afraid I’ll bite?” He chuckled at his own joke.
I didn’t find it funny. I wasn’t so much scared that he’d bite as I was sure that he would and I’d like it. And then I’d be the new Lady Louboutin, losing her shit and screaming in a public setting. It had happened before.
That’s the problem with being an addict. You tell yourself you won’t get hooked again. That you can handle being around your addiction. But before you know it, you’re drowning in feelings. I knew better than to mess with it.
“Didn’t you have a girlfriend when you walked in here?” I smirked as the dig left my lips.
He scrubbed a hand through his hair and dropped his gaze for a second before zeroing in on me again. The slightest tinge of pink showed through a hard-earned tan. “Not my girlfriend. Just an acquaintance.”
Acquaintances? It sure as hell hadn’t looked like that mid bust-up. Seriously though, this guy was the biggest jackass, and no sexy Australian accent or sinful smile was going to change that. But now he was also a liar?
The only thing worse than a jerk is a lying jerk. Trust me on this.
Lifting my glass, I tossed the entire contents at his face. It soaked into his hair. Streamed over his eyelashes. Splattered his mouth, which hung open. Dripped from his jaw and onto his shirt, leaving small pink dots on the white cotton. He spluttered and coughed.
I couldn’t believe I’d done it. But boy, did it feel good.
I hightailed out of there while the bartender was handing him a fistful of napkins. Hailed a cab and took off.
Do I regret it? I can’t say that I do. Because that moment felt like a show of solidarity for our sisters who have been toyed with by jackasses. A victory for every one of us who has had to deal with men like him.
Your Gal Monday
*Names have been changed to protect my own ass.
**Cam actually could navigate GPS. I found out the next day that he’d shown up, taken one look at me at the bar, and decided even meeting was a bad idea. Thanks, Rob. That’s the last time you’ll get to mess with my love life.
Click HERE to continue reading on June 10th!