A waitress sauntered over. “What are y’all drinkin’?”
Celeste ordered first. “Jameson. Also, could I get an IPA? Thanks.”
Well, damn. I’d figured a “New York gal” like her, with her sharp fashion sense and haughty streak as wide as the Mississippi River, would’ve been all about the Cosmopolitans. “Sounds good. I’ll have the same,” I said to the server.
While we waited, I sat back and watched Celeste do everything she could to avoid eye contact. She studied her hands, the table, and the bar to our left, but her gaze flicked to me every few seconds. I suppressed another smile.
Come on, Celeste. Look at me. We’re at a bar; we can chat a little, right?
I searched for a conversation starter, but nothing seemed safe enough. What’s your story? Why is a woman like you fighting for a position like this? Too invasive. How long have you been in programming? No, might sound like I’m fishing for info.
Did you know how thirsty I was while I stared at your mouth? Do you have any idea how beautiful you are, how often I look at you during the day? Why do you seem so sad?
Is there someone who makes you happy? Is there someone who can make you come so hard that you forget all your troubles?
“What is wrong with you?”
Celeste blinked at my whispered self-reprimand. “Sorry, what?”
Shit! Recover, quick! “What, ah, what’s wrong with—”
“Two Jamesons, two IPAs.”
I could’ve kissed that waitress for her timing.
Benjamin let me ride in frustrated silence over to a café called Portland Brew. Inside, David Bowie played on the speakers while baristas called hello to regulars. The smell of roasted coffee made me salivate. We took a small booth in the back by a display of handcrafted mugs for sale.
He let me take two sips of my latte before speaking. “Why are you so upset?”
I sighed. “I don’t know. This whole thing is weird for me. I don’t do flings . I know it’s just sex, but—”
“That’s what you think this is?”
“I’m not asking for more, don’t worry—”
“That’s not the same as—”
“But it’s still complicated.” I paused to realize he’d spoken. “What?”
Benjamin swirled his coffee. “You’re right that it’s complicated, but I disagree with...” He trailed off, still intent on the drink. “I’m sorry you’re so upset. You weren’t worried last night,” he said at last.
“Last night was crazy.”
He set his cup on the table and pointed at me. “Last night was incredible. And you thought so too because if you didn’t, I wouldn’t have a bag of clothes in my car right now.”
“Stop,” I whispered, but his voice was already giving me goosebumps.
“Do you know you’re blushing?”
I nodded, focused on the pattern in the wood tabletop.
He leaned in. “You can hide your beautiful eyes all you like, but that blush on your cheeks still gives me ideas.”
I glanced up. “Ideas?”
“Mm-hmm. When you make that face, the ideas it gives me are definitely not suitable for work.”
Querying is a long road, y'all. Sometimes it's hard not to get discouraged, to remember that this is a journey and a process. Sometimes you need a little boost.
Well, I got one this morning.
"Not Suitable for Work" WON the Linda Howard Award of Excellence in the "Romantic Sensual and Sizzling" category for 2017! Not only that, the MS has been requested by the judge! I'm so honored and excited, I've been grinning for the past hour and show no signs of stopping.
Break out the whisky and raise a glass!
Allow me to explain...
Yes, these are romance novels. In each book, characters fall deeply in love. Before they can, though, they have to fall in love with themselves, and that can be the hardest thing to learn how to do. The Anti-Belle series are love stories with story—story of finding oneself, of laughing a little more, living without having all the answers, facing your demons, and learning that perfect is exactly what you make it.
No sweet Southern belles; no Prince Charmings. Just true love.
Skye McDonald is my pen name for the series of novels I’ve written. Each of the books features its own protagonists, and can be read as a standalone novel; however, this seven-book-and-growing series is the world of a group of friends and family, and you will meet your favorite characters again in supporting roles as you progress through the books.