Bottled Up: April Fools For Love

BOOK: Bottled Up: April Fools For Love
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Bottled Up

By

             

Roxy Mews

“Bottled Up”

Copyright (February 29
th
, 2016/ Roxy Mews)

Edited by

Lisa Dunick

 

Published by

RM Productions, LLC

 

Cover by

S.L. Carpenter

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or

dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.  This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.  If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient.  If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please purchase your own copy.  Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system-except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a magazine, newspaper, or on the web-without permission in writing from the author.

Dedication

 

For everyone who got the second chance and made it count.

 

Prologue

10 years ago…

 

The music swelled around them. The pit orchestra missed a note here and there, but there were a lot of freshmen in this group. At least they were keeping the same tempo this time.

The spotlight focused directly on the couple center stage, and the bright beam blocked out all but the glint of Nathan Dallas’s eye lashes. His dimple kicked in on his cheek, and he leaned over her.
Her
. Elisabeth Townsend. She wasn’t the one who was supposed to catch his eye. She wasn’t the one who he was supposed to hold hands with during run through.

She grabbed hold of his arms as he came closer and closer. It was supposed to be a soft kiss. They had performed it a dozen times between rehearsals and show times. This was the last time they’d have this chance. Nate had told her during practice to be ready. He’d told her to hold on tight.

When his brows bounced, the slight scar across the left arch made him look even more dangerous. Then his lips touched hers. Instead of the kiss they’d practiced during dress rehearsal, Elizabeth felt her lips part on a gasp when Nate’s hand slipped beneath the gauzy veil trailing down her back. He held her neck and the small of her back and pressed her to him.

She felt the heat of his body, the pounding of his heart, and…
ohmygod
…his erection. The center of her belly softened for him and she didn’t want this to end. As the crowd figured out this wasn’t part of the play, the cheers and hoots from their classmates broke through the music. Elizabeth didn’t care. Nate was leaving in the morning, and she was enjoying what he had promised would be a memorable kiss. He hadn’t been wrong.

He was going to write and call as much as he could but he was heading to some remote island off the coast of Australia for a photo shoot in less than twenty-four hours. Betty wrapped her arms around his neck and the shouts from the crowd got louder. When the music the pit had scripted ended, Betty began to hear individual voices from her friends.

She hadn’t told anyone. It had been Nate’s idea. He knew the teachers wouldn’t stop the play to yell at them. He was right. Mrs. Fitzpatrick was whisper-shouting from stage left, but the light was on them.

Nate slowed the kiss and pressed his forehead against hers. He pressed the button to turn his microphone off. “Betty, promise me you’ll wait for me. I wish I didn’t have to go, but if I turn it down my agent will have a cow.”

He called her his blue-eyed Betty, and Elizabeth loved it. She’d never had anyone call her by a nickname before Nate. He’d seen the fun side of her, and he’d helped her open up and enjoy her senior year. Now just as he finally kissed her, like she’d been dreaming of, he had to go off to the other side of the planet.

Betty reached back and clicked off her mic. She realized she should have turned it off before the kiss. Thinking about the noises she’d probably broadcast over the school auditorium was something she’d be embarrassed about later.

She had something to say to Nate first.

“I’m ready, Nate. I don’t want to wait until you come home again.”

Nate pulled back at that. When a girl tells an eighteen-year-old man that she’s ready for sex, it’s hard for him to think about anything else.

Nate clicked his mic back on. Turning just his head, he held a finger out to the entire audience, which just happened to be the biggest crowd they’d had since the show began.

“Quick intermission, folks. We’ll resume the play in just one minute.”

Cheers, hollers, and suggestions from the football team that Betty should get with a man who would need longer than a minute followed them off stage right. Betty giggled as Nate hurried her along and the curtain slammed shut.

She saw Mrs. Fitzpatrick rushing toward them and so did Nate. That was why they both ran for the door that hid the ladder leading up to the lighting controls and rigging. Nate slammed them inside and braced his foot against the frame to hold the door shut when the banging started from the outside.

Betty threw her head back and laughed. Her body was shaking from the rush of kissing Nate in front of the world. He’d wanted to lay claim to her, and he’d wanted to have the filmed performance to show the world how beautiful they were together. Betty was pretty sure her perfect GPA and scholastic record had just been tarnished, but as Nate smiled back at her over his shoulder, she couldn’t bring herself to care.

“Nate, we have to go finish the play first. I was thinking of us spending the night at that hotel you have reserved for the party.”

Nate modeled in his spare time, although if his agent had anything to say about it, he’d have been full-time years ago. He had been discovered at a local clothing show, and he’d been gone for almost as much as he’d attended his senior year. Betty had helped him by mailing him homework, and he’d sent her little shells and bottles of sand from every beach he’d walked on. She had a whole shelf in her room filled with the world.

She would get to see it someday, but she wanted to go to college first. And she wanted to show the man she was falling for that she wanted to see the beaches with him.

“Betty, you know I’m not putting any pressure on you, but do you mean…” he cleared his throat, and pink rose to his cheeks. “Are you talking about sex?”

The pounding got louder and Mrs. Fitzpatrick rattled the door. “Someone help me get these hinges off,” she said.

“I’m ready, Nate. I don’t want you to leave without being with you. Three weeks is too long to wait.”

Betty was shocked the words came from her mouth, but they were the truth, and just like in their letters to each other, it was easier to tell the truth to Nate.

“Tonight,” Nate said. “Yes. But give me a kiss to help me get through the next hour.”

Betty leaned in as his body was jerked from the movement of the door. She wrapped her hands around his head and steadied him enough to kiss him. Her lips parted, and they moaned as Nate let go of the door to pull her in even tighter than he had on stage.

It was worth the trouble they got into that night. She woke the next morning with a wonderful soreness, and she couldn’t wait to start their adventure after school was over.

CHAPTER ONE

 

Water splashed on her socks. Dirty sink water soaked into her feet, and she toed off the white cotton to wipe her soles on the mat under the malfunctioning garbage disposal. The three-day-old Chinese food she’d tried to run down the drain made the odor even worse.

Shoving the plunger in the sink again was having the same effect it’d had the last three times. Absolutely nothing.

“I told you.” Angela said. “It’s pointless. I’ve got a plumber coming over later. You should wait and see what he can do.”

Betty put the plunger on the floor. It made a wet slurp as the rubber ring rocked back and forth. She shoved it up against the cabinets with her foot. She kicked the drain snake she’d bought next to it. That had been even less effective than the plunger and the drain cleaning chemical.

Waking up to her roommate complaining wasn’t anything new. Betty lived with her best friend Angela, and the two had always been opposite enough to make things work. Ang was grumpy in the mornings until Betty made the coffee, and then the world seemed to right itself.

Betty could afford an apartment on her own, but having a roommate and best friend to come home to made life a little easier and a lot happier. Not to mention her friend hooked her up with a discount at the designer boutique she worked at. Betty managed a local theater, so they both worked odd hours and knew whenever they came home late, the other would make the chaos better with a bottle of wine.

Graduating from college and moving out of her parents’ house was supposed to give Betty her independence and prove to her parents that she didn’t need help. Instead she grew up enough to realize having a friend to come home to was better than any empty apartment. Eight years after holding her diploma in the air, she had a job working in the local theatre. She loved working behind the scenes and coordinating the acts that came in. Her roommate wasn’t as lucky to have found her dream job. Angela had a business degree. When you’re drowning in student loans it’s not easy to take the time to dream.

“If this plumber really can fix the problem, did he have an estimate on how much this was going to run? And is the building going to pay outright or reimburse?” Betty asked.

She wiped the back of her arm across her brow and pushed her bangs out of her eyes. When the chick at the beauty school had done the cut and dye job, Betty had been thrilled at the new dark brown color and sexy side swept bangs. Unfortunately, without seventy-five dollars worth of hair care products and two hours she didn’t want to bother with, her waves came back full force. She’d still been unable to recreate the look she’d fallen in love with.

Ang elbowed Betty and bounced her perfectly styled brows up and down. “Maybe you can work out a payment plan. The girls look especially hot today.”

Betty pulled the neckline of her tank top up. “No, this bra is just too small. I thought you were supposed to go down breast sizes when you worked out? I swear, they’ve gotten bigger.”

“Nah,” Ang said. “You’ve just gotten muscle underneath and they are finally up where they’re supposed to be.”

Betty flipped her roommate off before heading to wash her hands. “When is this guy supposed to get here?” she called from the bathroom.

Ang’s phone started ringing before she could answer. She walked toward where she had it charging as she yelled down the hall, “Should be in the next hour or so. We can make inappropriate comments while he plays with our pipes.”

Betty chuckled as she washed her hands in the bathroom sink and tried to smooth down her hair. At least they wouldn’t be bored today. They both had the day off, and Ang had decided they needed to have some girl time. The library hadn’t counted as girl time, apparently, so they were planning on hanging in the apartment and watching movies.

Betty tugged up her tank top again. She would get her work out in at some point, but definitely after some more coffee. Or maybe she could convince her metabolism that working on the drain would work off the cinnamon rolls she was craving. Walking to the living room, she saw Angela stuffing her work badge and keys into her purse.

“I work with a fucking idiot,” Ang grumbled.

Betty didn’t argue. Ang loved the discount, but it was still retail management.  “What happened?”

“Twila locked her dumb ass out of the store. Third damn time this month.” Ang looked at the door and frowned. “I can’t believe I have to go and miss…” Ang’s eyes widened as she turned back to Betty.

Betty narrowed her eyes. She’d known today was April Fool’s Day. She had been hoping the clogged drain was some sort of prank, but nobody drove to the store for drain cleaner at eight in the morning unless it was for real. If the drain wasn’t the prank, her roommate had done something else.

Betty put her hands on her hips and gave her friend the best disapproving stare she could muster with murky water staining the leg of her pants. “Miss what, Ang?”

“Nothing. Nothing.” Ang grimaced. “I swear. I just really,
really
wanted to be here for the plumber.”

Betty cocked an eyebrow.

“Seriously.” Ang’s hands twirled her keys. She was nervous about something. “I didn’t want to leave you alone with a…plumber.”

Betty wiped her brow, and her hands fell on her hips. “You say that like he’s a serial killer.”

“You never know.”

Well, that was a comforting thought
.

Ang pointed to a specific picture among the collage of smiling faces on the fridge. “Not like your dream man is going to protect you.”

Betty flipped her off. She knew it was childish to keep magazine clippings of her favorite model strewn around the apartment, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself. She should get a pass considering she knew the guy.

“I’m capable of protecting myself, thank you very much. What’s the name of the company you hired?”

“Um…”

“If you want me to be safe,” Betty reminded her, “telling me what logo to look for would be helpful.”

“He’ll ask to be buzzed in, and the account should be under my name. The company began with a B.” Ang put her keys down on the table and chewed her lower lip. “I really should stay.’

After looking up the name Bently Plumbers in the search history on her phone, Ang put down her purse and tapped her toes, repeating again and again that the plumber would be here soon. Betty had to shove her friend out the door with keys in hand before Ang finally got on her way to rescue her incompetent boss. With a few nearby stores being robbed, Betty was glad Ang hadn’t kept Twila standing in front of the boutique for too long.

Betty looked around the rest of their apartment. She would clean up since a stranger was going to be walking in, but both of them tended to be neat freaks. A quick wipe down of the water she’d splashed on the counter and tossing her dirty socks in the laundry left the place company ready.

She glanced at the picture on her fridge again. It was silly to keep it, but after she’d broken up with yet another boyfriend, having the one that got away in easy view made her feel better somehow. Ang knew about Nathan, but not many other people did. It was hard to deal with the idea that your first time flew to the other side of the planet rather than have a relationship with you.

It wasn’t time to think about her failed fairy tale. It was time to be a grown up and wait for the plumber. Betty pulled out the bin underneath the small sofa they shared. Inside were some library books she’d borrowed that were written by comedians. They were due back soon, and she wanted to make sure she got through them. What better way to celebrate April Fool’s Day than with a funny book?

Pulling out her bookmark, she settled in with a smile to wait for the plumber.

If only her plumber looked like the guy on the cover. Wouldn’t that be a much more pleasant way to spend the day? Sure the hero on the cover of her book was holding a bulls eye over his crotch, but she wouldn’t mind getting a shot at a guy if he had abs like that.

A glimpse over the half wall at the fridge reminded her that not even cover models compared to the man she couldn’t seem to forget.

Everyone had a high school first love, but not everyone’s first was an actual model, with actual published pictures where he was shirtless. And oily. Betty Townsend was a romantic at heart. She’d had crazy fantasies about being swept off her feet, and when Nathan Dallas had taken the romantic lead opposite her in their last play senior year, she’d thought her toes would never touch the ground again.

No one thought they were a couple. How could they? She’d been the drama geek. Nate had worked on most of the school’s productions, because he was one of the few guys strong enough to work some of the pulleys, but he’d been her true Romeo for one night. He’d wanted to announce they were together during the last performance. He’d made that moment magic. Betty had dreamt of him starring in a production opposite her. She dreamt of standing on her tiptoes for the kiss of the man who traveled the world for photo shoots and runway work. All the little bottles of sand he’d sent her were in a box back at her parents’ house. She’d had to get over him. She should have thrown them away, but she couldn’t get rid of any of it. His letters had ancient tear stains on them, but falling in love with him was part of her story, and she knew she’d want to read it again someday.

Betty shook her head. No girl ever forgot her first time, but most got a chance to date the guy who made their head spin. Her chance was swept away with a viral marketing campaign.

Would anyone ever measure up to the man who romanced her before he even laid a hand on her? She should take the pictures down, but something made her keep them. Maybe she should get the box from her parents’ basement. She had no idea where in the world he was anymore, but what could a trip down memory lane hurt?

BOOK: Bottled Up: April Fools For Love
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