Blissful Valentine: A Novella

BOOK: Blissful Valentine: A Novella
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Blissful Valentine

A Novella

 

 

 

By

Amy L. Gale

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015 Amy L. Gale

Cover Art by Viola Estrella

Author Photo by Guy Cali and Associates, Inc.

 

All rights reserved.

This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real characters, places or events is strictly coincidental.

Smashwords Edition

First Edition

ISBN:978–1–4951–4179–9

Dedication

To my husband Chris, my forever Valentine.

Acknowledgements

 

I am enormously indebted to many wonderful people who have helped in my journey to publication of Blissful Valentine.

Chris Gale, my husband and one and only valentine, who inspires and supports me in everything I do.

Carol Riccetti, my mother, who truly believes I can do anything.

Sara Benedict, my PA, web designer, formatter, inspirational coach, all-around-problem-solver, and friend. Blissful Valentine would have never happened without you.

Olivia Howe from Beautiful Promotions and Beautifully Broken Book Blog, who not only created an amazing tour and release party for Blissful Valentine, but also constantly promotes me and my work, I truly believe you are my long lost little sister and I’m so lucky to have such a great friend, fan, fellow author, and promotional wizard with excellent taste in music.

Jessica Valliere, who helped polish my manuscript and offered great advice along with many comments that had me laughing like a hyena.

Cindy Davis, my proofreader/editor extraordinaire who taught me so much in the last few months. You make my work shine and always go the extra mile to help me. 

Viola Estrella from Estrella Cover Art who created my beautiful cover.

Rachel, Sharon and Kelly a.k.a. ‘Girls Book Club’ who are a great group of friends that constantly support and encourage me.

Thank you all so much!

CHAPTER 1—NEW BEGINNINGS

 

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here
. I focus on the words written in Olde English script along the curving mahogany archway. Ah, the inscription on the Gates of Hell, how fitting. Looks like I’m entering Dante’s second level, set aside for those overcome with lust. There’s probably a huge frat house planted smack in the middle of the pit of fire, surrounded by raging flames. I heave a sigh, shaking my head. Why did I let myself get talked into this?

“Hey Brooke, are we going inside or standing on the porch all night?” My best friend Lexie tosses a long brown curl over her shoulder. “Come on, I’m freezing.” She bounces on her toes, shivering.

Guess it’s now or never. “Welcome to hell,” I mutter, yanking the door open to shuffle forward into the foyer.

Lexie looks up at the letters
.
“Let’s see how much hell we can raise at our first ever frat party.” She nudges me, shutting the door to block out the frigid air.

The dingy green carpet in front of me meets tan walls showcasing posters of half-naked women holding beer. A plethora of bodies line the small space. How cliché. A squealing laugh rings out, pulling my attention into the crowd of bodies in the jam-packed room. A group of scantily-clad women, who clearly think it’s eighty degrees instead of thirty-two, lean against the pool table in the middle of room. Their extremely short skirts and tight shirts leave nothing to the imagination. Guess I missed the memo about the beach theme.

The bass line of a Lady Gaga song echoes through my chest. I switch my focus to the crowd forming a makeshift dance floor. Bodies bump into each other, moving to the music blaring through the house.

I slide off my coat and shake the few snowflakes that have attached themselves to my long brown hair onto the foyer floor. Lexie grabs my coat, tossing it along with hers over the banister on the stairway next to two other coats.

Turning sideways, and sliding between the droves sweaty bodies, I follow Lexie through the crowded room, grazing a few with my elbows on my way. The crowd opens up and parts to one side of the room; most of them leaning against the chipped white countertops. A silver keg in a bucket full of ice sits at the edge of the room near the door leading to the back yard. Two guys in dark green Beta Omega T-shirts sit in lawn chairs on either side of the keg, sipping from red cups, nodding their heads to the music. A menagerie of pitchers filled with a variety of rainbow-colored beverages line the countertop. I trudge across the tattered linoleum to the center island and pull two red plastic cups from the stack.

I turn toward Lexie, handing her a cup. “Pick your poison.” There’s certainly enough of it around here.

“I’m sticking with beer.

She heads toward the tap with a smile.

The guy sitting to the right of the keg jumps out of his chair as she approaches. He grabs her cup and fills it for her. She takes the cup and twirls her hair around her fingers with her free hand. The guy runs his hand along his buzz-cut hair and slides his hand in his pocket. I watch the mating dance between them, torn between awe and frustration. So much for sticking together for the night. We’re here five minutes, and she’s already caught someone’s eye.

I walk away from the pair toward the far end of the kitchen. Beer is way too bitter, maybe something sweet with a kick. I peruse the colorful concoctions and choose the red pitcher that smells like berries. Perfect. I fill a cup and take a sip. The sweet liquid glides along my tongue on the way down.

The house is filled with hordes of people getting wrecked and flirting. It’s just like the parties I used to go to after our football games in high school. Whether we were at someone’s house whose parents were away, or partying it up in the woods, it didn’t matter. Same scene same result, and never worth the aftermath. I sip my drink. Well, I came, saw, bought the T-shirt, frat parties are now a thing of my past.

“Brooke.”

I whip my head around to turn toward Lexie and plow into a tall solidly-muscled body. My plastic cup crushes in between us, spilling red liquid all over the front of my white shirt dripping down my jeans to the floor.

“Whoa, sorry about that,” he says, quickly turning to grab a towel from one of the nearby drawers. He frantically wipes it across the stain near my stomach.

I step back and look up at his slightly messy, dirty-blond hair
.
“I’ll live,” I stammer out, taking the towel from him. My stomach flutters as our skin makes contact. I take a deep breath and step back again, trying to create more distance between us. At this rate I’ll probably end up hooking up with a frat boy. No thanks, hook-ups are off my bucket list. Time to switch to nonalcoholic drinks.

He rubs his hand along the back of his neck. “Wanna borrow one of my shirts?” His eyes travel from the stain to my face.

“Yeah, take it off,” a voice drunkenly hollers from somewhere behind me.

I shake my head. “It’s okay, plus I doubt we’re the same size.

Going up to his room is the last thing I should be doing tonight, even if it is only to borrow a T-shirt.

He wipes his hand down his jeans and holds it out to me. “I’m Dean.”

I look down at his faded blue jeans, frayed at the knee and continue up to his dark green Beta Omega T-shirt, hugging the outline of his broad shoulders and sculpted pecs. I slide my fingers along his and shake. “Brooke.”

Wetting his lips with his tongue, they upturn into a small smile. “Brooke, I’ve got to make this up to you.”

I drop my hand and scrunch my eyebrows. “No worries.”

He rubs his chin. “I’ll start by letting you know that Hell Fire punch you’re drinking is made with grain alcohol. Go easy on it.”

I turn toward my crushed cup on the island. Maybe he did me a favor by spilling it.

I nod. “Thanks for the heads-up.”

“Hey Dean, we need you to help us with the next keg,” a voice yells through the crowd.

“I’ll be right back. Don’t leave,” he says, placing his hand on my shoulder and gently squeezing before jogging through the doorway, into the crowd. My eyes follow the muscles in his back as they dance under his shirt with every step.

“What happened?

Lexie breaks my trance.

I pull down my shirt, exposing the stain. “Had an issue with a guy and a drink.”

“Can’t take you anywhere.” She nudges my shoulder. “Let me guess. That guy you were talking to? He’s cute, where’d he go?”

“Some frat emergency. You know how important a full keg is,” I say, shrugging.

She nods and sips her beer. “Yep.”

I sigh and grab a chip from the nearby bowl.

She puts her hand over mine, stopping me from grabbing another chip
.
“You wanna leave?”

“The deal was we’re staying until two.”

“If you want to go, no biggie. We’ll have a few drinks in our apartment, maybe order a pizza.”

No way am I ruining her fun, a promise is a promise. “Nope, I’m staying.”

The guy with the buzz-cut comes up behind Lexie and puts his hand around her waist. “Wanna dance?”

She turns toward him. “Sure.” She puts her hand on my shoulder. “If you change your mind, I’ll be in here dancing with Tom. Just say the word.”

“Will do,” I say, nodding. “Hi Tom.”

“Hey,” he says, giving me the typical guy “s’up” nod.

Watching as they disappear into the next room, I grab another cup and head over to the pitchers. Hmm, what’s the lesser of the evils? I peruse the choices and stop at the last pitcher filled with blue liquid marked
Virgins
. Perfect, must be non-alcoholic. Filling a cup, I take a sip. Yum, blue raspberry.

I turn my head from side to side, and step on my tippy toes, scanning the sea of people for those clear blue eyes on that all-American boy face. He’s nowhere to be found. Wait a minute. Why am I looking for him? Dean is the exact opposite of what I need. It’s like this place sucked all the rationality out of my brain. Maybe I should just try and find an unoccupied corner and wait it out until two.

I push through the line of people waiting to fill their cups at the keg and head through the archway into a short thin hallway lined with people and ending at a white door. Bathroom line.

I walk through another doorway into a room with a handful of people. Two burgundy leather couches line the light gray walls and a huge wooden coffee table sits in the middle of the room. Wall to wall bookshelves cover the far end of the room and pictures of fraternity brothers from past to the present line the wall on the right. This has to be the meeting/studying room. I set my cup on the coffee table and sink into the cool leather.

The couch shakes like a small earthquake. I hold onto the armrest for dear life and turn toward the person ruining my few minutes of peace. The smell of tequila and sweat fills the space between us. My stomach rolls. Last time it felt like this I had food poisoning. The scruffy guy now sitting next to me with half-opened eyes, runs a hand through his damp rat’s-nest of dark brown hair. I scoot over toward the edge of the couch. Time to plan my escape.

He moves toward me and throws a sweaty arm around me. “Come on, let’s get out of here,” he slurs.

I swallow hard and push down the small amount of vomit that made its way up my esophagus
.
“I’m good.”

He stands up in front of me and yanks at my arm. “Don’t make me carry you.”

I pull away, the force knocking him backward.

Is he really planning on kidnapping me? Yeah, like he could carry anything right now. I’ll be impressed if he’s able to walk down the hallway. Oh God, what if I’m wrong? It’s like I’m in the middle of an anti-drinking film.

Dean jumps over the top of the couch in a
Dukes of Hazard
move and lands on the cushion next to me perfectly seated. It’s like he practiced the move a million times. He slides his arm around my shoulder
.
“Sorry bud, she’s with me.”

I fight the urge to stand up and cheer from his flawlessly choreographed stunt. Soft fingertips graze the skin under my collar bone.

The man squints and tips his head. “She can be with you later,” he slurs and pulls at my arm again.

I yank my hand backward breaking his loose grip
.
“I’m a one-man kinda woman.” I shrug. “Sorry, there can be only one.”

The man holds up his hands and backs away. He trips on the coffee table on his way out.

Dean wrinkles his forehead. “Where’d you come up with that line?”

I sip my drink
.
“A line from a cheesy 80’s movie.”

He slowly slides his hand off my shoulder. “No way,
Highlander
?”

I raise my cup.

He leans back and looks me up and down. “Yep, you’re perfect. Marry me.”

I set my cup back on the table. “Wow, a marriage proposal because I know a line from a movie where the character’s main goal is to cut the other’s head off

It screams romance.” I smile.

“Hey, everyone ends up dead in
Romeo and Juliet
so decapitation in
Highlander
works too.” He winks.

I chuckle. Guess he’s got a point.
Romeo and Juliet
is a classic. If poisoning can be romantic then so can beheading. “Flowers and candy don’t stand a chance next to decapitation.”

He shakes his head. “I get it, all girls want is expensive jewelry, fancy dinners, and a white knight on a horse.”

Yeah, like anyone actually gets that. I press my lips together and hold back a smile. “I’ll take John Cusack holding up a radio and blasting a ballad outside my bedroom window.”

He flashes a sexy half-grin. “Nice, a girl who knows her 80’s flicks.” He tips his chin toward me. “Theater major?”

I scrunch my eyebrows and move my head back. “Do I look like I want to be a star?”

He scans my body, from my black, high-heeled boots, to my fitted, white, now-stained, shirt. “Hell, yeah.”

My skin scorches from his heavy gaze. “I’m a double major, business and marketing.” I grab my cup and slug down the rest of my drink. “How about you? No. Wait. Let me guess. Undeclared until junior year and until then it’s all about frat parties and bagging chicks.” Oh my god, what the hell am I saying? Real cool, Brooke.

I cover my mouth with my hand and slowly lower my fingers down my chin, dropping my hand at my side. “I’m sorry, looks like I had a bitch hiccup. I’m blaming the drink.”

“What are you drinking anyway?” He takes my cup and looks at the few droplets clinging to the side of the rim.

“Blue stuff from the pitcher, it’s pretty good.” I sink back in the couch and turn toward him. “I’ll get us refills.” He stands up and looks over his shoulder. “By the way, I’m a double major too, Civil Engineering and Business. We’ll have to have a Monopoly battle sometime.”

He disappears into the horde of people. I cover my face with my hands. Maybe I should just find Lexie and tell her I’m leaving. Frat boys aren’t the sit around and chat type. In the end it’s all about the conquests. Guys like him don’t end up alone at parties like this.

BOOK: Blissful Valentine: A Novella
9.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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