Another month, another project. But you knew that already, didn’t you? 🙂
In between drafting Blood and Shadows, revising a synopsis for a book I’d pitched to my editor, and drafting and revising a novella for a special submissions call, I’ve been working on final revisions of a book I wrote two years ago, Not About Love. It takes its title from the Fiona Apple song, and it’s about two friends (Lisle and Braden) who, for various reasons, avoid love and all its trappings. Things get interesting when their friendship crosses a line, and Lisle had to make a choice: open her heart, or lose Braden.
This is the opening scene, before things get naughty. Enjoy!
“It wasn’t that my date was boring. He just wasn’t terribly interesting.”
Braden choked on his drink and sputtered out a laugh. “Jesus, Lisle. Tell me how you really feel.” His glass landed on the worn bar with a thunk.
I stirred my gin and tonic, the ice clinking against the glass. “I don’t know what went wrong. He seemed perfectly nice when he asked me out. We talked a few times on the phone, didn’t have any trouble making conversation.” I poked the stir straw at a piece of ice. “I shouldn’t have gone. I just had this feeling, you know? As soon as I started getting ready, I wanted to put on my scrub clothes and watch a movie instead.” I knocked back the rest of my drink and signaled to the bartender for another. She nodded and immediately reached for the Bombay on the back shelf. That was one of the great things about this bar; it was almost always half empty, which made service pretty prompt.
“That explains the outfit.” His gaze drifted over me, taking in the dress and four inch heels.
“What are you talking about?”
He rolled his eyes. “You mean to tell me you dress up like that for all your dates?” His lips curved in a smirk. “China, you go out looking like that, you are up to no good.”
“Shut up,” I muttered, ignoring the fluttering in my chest that happened whenever he called me that stupid nickname. China Doll. The unfortunate thing was it fit. Black hair, ice blue eyes, and skin that didn’t belong on someone living in California. Shortly after we’d met, we’d gone to a party and hid out in a corner for a while, watching people get drunker and drunker. In an awkward and intimate moment, he ran his fingers over my skin, saying it was like a porcelain doll’s, perfect, smooth, so pale.
Three years later the memory still gave me shivers.
His smirk faded, replaced by concern. “I’ve seen you after bad dates before. You’re bitchy. You’re not bitchy tonight.”
I pushed my hair back and took a long drink of my new gin and tonic. “Oh? And how am I tonight?”
“Sad. Or disappointed. One of the two.”
It was a combination of both, and I didn’t have a right to feel either of them. “Justin texted me after I’d walked out of the restaurant.” Thinking about him, about the hopeful gleam in his eyes dying a slow, slow death, made me gulp down the rest of drink number two. “I figured if I was being mean tonight, I might as well spread the love. I went over there, and like an idiot, I let him plead his case, and then I turned him down. Again.”
Braden held up a finger. “One second. Did you walk out on your date before or after dinner was served?”
I frowned. “Before. Why?”
He lifted a hand to the bartender, and she hurried over. “Terri, darling, a club sandwich for the idiot here.” He glanced over. “Fries?”
Terri’s smile was sweet and hopeful, dropping away when Braden spun his stool back to me. Poor girl. “Heartbreaker.”
He looked pointedly at my shoes. “Do you know what those shoes say?”
“That I like pretty shoes?” I stuck out a foot to admire them. They were rather nice. Thin straps crisscrossed my feet, the leather soft and supple. Plus, they were pink. Bright pink.
The dim light caught the amber of his whisky and soda and refracted it, distracting me from the pitying look on his face. “Those shoes say you want a good, hard fucking. You wore those shoes and that dress to tell Justin he had to take you off his booty list? Harsh.”