Authors: Olivia Hawthorne,Olivia Long
Table of Contents
Copyright © Bookish 2016
by Olivia Long
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
“Oh my God did you see Rebecca Hawk’s new book?” Chloe exclaimed in my ear. I was wearing my noise cancelling headphones, kind of the universal signal to leave me the heck alone, but her voice managed to penetrate the technology.
I sighed dramatically and pulled them off, hanging them around my neck. “No,” I said, “I have not.” I knew I would now; Chloe was a bit of a cover model whore.
“Check it out,” she said and shoved her phone in my face, “Isaac James. He is so fucking hot. Like lickable fucking hot, don’t you think?”
He was hot; I’d give him that. The book cover predictably cut his head off and emphasized his rippling washboard abs. The cover was white, with slashed hot pink text and I swear a spotlight on his muscled midsection. It was rippled, looked oiled and shiny, and so, so delicious.
“Not bad,” I said and pushed my glasses up my nose, “I wonder if I’ll get an ARC.” Advance Review Copies were pretty much the reason I got into book blogging in the first place. That and of course I loved reading. I mean loved it, in love with it, would make love to it if I could. It was in my veins and pumped through my blood and kept me moving through my days. The best thing that ever happened to me was the invention of e-books. Now I could sneak reading in wherever I could, at work, on the bus, the occasional family dinner with my aunt. You name it, I was probably crouched somewhere in a corner with a glowing light reflected on my face.
“Oh my God! If you get it, can I read it?” she asked. “I have been dying to read this one. It’s book three in the Rock Stars of Nevada series. Cowboy rockers, I mean what a fucking hot cross over.”
“Throw them into a motorcycle club and you’ll ramp it up a notch,” I said and giggled to myself. As much as I loved this genre, it could get to be a bit much at times.
“That would be
,” Chloe replied, “you don’t think he rides a motorcycle, do you Aubrey?” She shoved the phone back in my face.
“I have no idea,” I said and turned back to my laptop. I was trying to finish my review for the latest in a long line of dark books. I hated this part of the industry, just when you think you’ve got a handle on what it’s all about, somebody decides to make some money and make a run for it. Eventually they all followed, even the happily ever after writers were adding kidnapping and dubious consent to their books these days.
“Could I read it though?” Chloe asked, “I’ll do anything you ask, I promise.”
“I can’t do that,” I said, “it’s illegal for me to share the file. I can see if I could get you a copy though.” I kinda lied on that one, I wasn’t going to try and get her anything. She could more than afford to buy her own books, so she’d have to wait for it to come out on its own like the rest of the planet.
“Aubrey!” Aunt Abigail yelled from the bottom of the stairs, “you girls need some cookies and juice?”
“I guess so,” I called down. After my parents died years ago, I’d moved in with my crazy Auntie Abby. She wasn’t a bad crazy, not like violent or taking her pants off in the middle of Safeway, but she was a little nuts. She had just enough money for her to be considered eccentric I supposed.
“Then get it yourself!” she yelled back and chuckled. I heard her shuffling away muttering to whatever cat was in her way. She had several. Yes, my sole living relative was a crazy cat lady and I was painfully aware that I was following in every shuffling, slipper clad footstep.
“I’m not hungry,” Chloe said and glanced at my sagging midsection. I wasn’t fat, but I wasn’t exactly slim like her. We’d met in grade ten, she’d felt sorry for me I’m sure of it, and she’d needed help in Science. I needed a friend, so it was a match made in heaven.
I don’t know why I still hung out with her. I made it through college; she banged her way through half the dorm and dropped out. But she wasn’t slutty, I know that doesn’t make sense, but Chloe is everything I should hate about another woman but I do love her. She’s funny and smart in her own way, and even though she sleeps with guys faster than you can say, ‘pants off,” she retains a naiveté about her. She’s a true romantic, desperately trying to fuck her way to a real life Hollywood romance happy ending.
“I wouldn’t mind a couple,” I replied pointedly and stood up, stretched and grabbed my belly flab with both hands. Seriously, I’m not a huge girl but the way Chloe looks at me sometimes I feel like the before picture of a weight loss ad. I’m just not toned and I don’t work out much. I mean ever. Let’s be honest here, you’re in my head, you already know, I’ve never been to a gym. The mere thought of it makes me panic. Being locked into a windowless room with grunting sweaty people? No place to read a book? No thank you.
“You should really watch what you eat, Aubrey,” Chloe finally said. And there it was, I knew she couldn’t keep it inside for long. “It’s for your own good, for your health,” she went on, “I was reading about GMOs and stuff like that. It’s very bad for you, you know.”
“What’s a GMO?” I asked just to find out what she’d say. I know I mentioned Chloe being smart in her own way, but the key here was that it really was in her own way. As in applying make up and how to get a guy down your pants in twenty seconds flat.
“It’s, like, this chemical they add to food or something. It’s genetic,” she said and furrowed her brows, “I’m not exactly sure, I just know it’s bad and I care about you.”
I sat back down next to her and laughed. “I know Chloe,” I confessed, “I’m just fucking with ya!”
“Aubrey,” she whined, “I hate it when you do that. I get it, you’re smarter than me but you’re going to be an old spinster with fifty cats if you don’t pay more attention to these things. Do you think a guy like this,” she shoved the phone in my face with Isaac James’ delicious abs right under my nose, “would want a girl like that?” She pointed at my little tummy pooch and wrinkled her nose.
“I don’t think he would,” I replied. I know you’d think I’d be upset, but remember this is Chloe. I’ve heard this shit for years now and it never got to me. I added, “Which is why I don’t pant over guys like him. I keep my expectations realistic.”
“Then why are you addicted to romance novels like the rest of us?” she asked slyly, raising her eyebrow. I told you, every once in a while this girl is pure genius.
“It’s just a fantasy,” I said, “but I guarantee if I ever met a guy like him in real life, I would run the other way. Too much trouble if you ask me, give me a nice, normal, stable guy over that any day of the week.”
“Well we can find out then,” Chloe said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“That big book event next month? The West Coast Express book signing?”
I nodded, I knew the one. I had VIP tickets, one for me and one for Chloe. She had begged me for it until I’d given in. And let’s face it, who else would I have taken?”
“Well, guess who was just announced as the big headliner cover model?”
“Um, Isaac James?”
“You got it! Maybe you’ll meet and fall in love and have a million of his babies.”
“Not likely,” I said, “you’d have a better chance with him than I would in a thousand years.” I meant it, I swear I did. But why did my stomach do little flip-flops at the thought of meeting him?
Chloe nodded sagely at my declaration, her own plot formulating behind her eyes. I wondered if she knew about this before begging for the ticket, or if she had been as surprised as I was. Either way, it was true; she did have a better chance at him than I ever would.
But still, a girl could dream. I turned back to my laptop to finish the review before diving into the next book in my line up. If only the hero in every book didn’t wear Isaac’s face, and if only my damn stomach would stop fluttering at the thought of meeting him.
I disliked public events.
Scrap that, I hated public events.
Chloe had insisted I dress up, which was the crap icing on a turd cake for me. I’d been talked into a loose skirt, a pretty top and something called smoky eyes. I did look nice, I had to admit. I wasn’t ugly; I know I seem like a bit of a grouch; I’m just not rocking a sexy bod like Chloe and her ilk. And I use words like ilk. I mean that’s not sexy.
I’m pretty, I know that. I look like my mom’s less hot little sister. My mom had been a fashion model and my dad a photographer. They’d had a whirlwind romance that had ended with me. Well, they’d gotten married somewhere along the line, but it had seemed very romantic to me from the time I understood how much they loved one another.
When I was about ten they’d gone for a drive, some dinner and date thing, and had never returned. My babysitter had been forced to stay the night and we’d been up at four in the morning when the police had shown up with the bad news.
I suppose I’d been grouchy ever since. They’d been held up at gunpoint, and when the thief had roughed up my mom for her wedding band, my dad had intervened. They’d both been shot in the struggle and neither had made it.
Mom hung on longer than dad, a full day in the hospital before she gave up and followed him, leaving me with crazy Auntie Abby.
You’d be grouchy too.
Still, I was tall, almost five eleven. Thinnish, kinda. Just not toned. Skinny fat Chloe called it. I was awkward, had thick black hair down to my waist and endless, deep, dark eyes. My mother’s eyes, but I hid them behind my glasses.
I had my dad’s chin though, not hairy thank god, but strong enough that I’d never be beautiful.
I sighed and tugged my panties down discreetly. They were crawling up my ass, I hated wearing fancy panties. Anywhere I had to go where I couldn’t take a book and wear my comfy granny panties was a place I didn’t want to be.
I was jostled as the crowd grew increasingly more excited. I felt my Kindle jab into my ribs through my cloth bag.
Did I mention I hated public events?
“Aubrey!” Chloe hissed, “where are you? This is important.”
“I’m right here, what are you talking about?”
“I mean your head is a million miles away right now. Fucking pay attention, Isaac is about to come out. You know I’ve been following him religiously on Twitter and he even tweeted back a couple times.”
“You mean stalking.”
“Stalking, following, whatever. All I know is he’s fucking hot and he just broke up with his long-term girlfriend. He’s vulnerable and ripe for the picking and I’m going to hook up with him tonight.”
“Good luck with that,” I replied and tried to focus, to stay present. I already knew about Isaac’s big public break up last month. I’d read about it, I’d done my own “following” before this event. I was even trembling, my hands shaking and my knees were weak. It was ridiculous, but I finally understood why all those girls used to scream and faint when they met the Beetles back in the day.
I thought about the possibilities, him seeing me and instantly falling for me, dropping to his knee, picking me up, running off with me…maybe he did ride a Harley. Dear god, I have to stop thinking about it before I fall down in at his feet.
I started to fantasize about life with him, our little house in the country, our two cats. See? Two cats, if I could get a guy like Isaac, I would never become a crazy cat lady like Auntie Abby. I allowed myself to sink into the daydream. Letting my mind drift was my escape hatch in big crowds though, and it was difficult to pay attention.