“Fat Girl Begone!” by D.E. Haggerty #NewRelease

Hey! Look what came out yesterday from our friend and recent blog guest, D.E. Haggerty!

And it’s currently only $.99!

Fat Girl Begone cover

“Fat Girl Begone”

Author: D.E. Haggerty

Genre: Romantic Comedy/Sports

Release Date: May 1, 2017

Amazon buttonAdd to GoodreadsI’m a total mess. My boyfriend dumped me – get this – because I diet too much. Not because I’m fat, mind you. Of course, this spurs me into the diet-fitness-revenge-plan of the century, which leads me to the gym and a scorching hot personal trainer. I even manage to make some cool new friends, including a millionaire if you can believe it. Things are looking up! Naturally, that’s the moment my ex decides he wants me back, the personal trainer asks me out, and my millionaire male buddy decides to throw his hat in the ring. But that’s not enough drama. No, not for me. Because I’ve also lost my job and decided to start my own business. Just call me Ms. Drama.

Warning: Bad language, bumpy roads, and embarrassing moments ahead. But there’s also more than a bit of romance and even, if we’re lucky, love. Fingers crossed.

Not endorsed by or affiliated with any brand of tequila.

“Baby Love” by Emmanuelle de Maupassant #ReleaseBlitz

BABY LOVE

Emmanuelle de Maupassant’s newly released ‘Baby Love’ is a glorious comedy romance, following in the footsteps of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones and the quirky humor of Marian Keyes.

Heavily pregnant Delphine’s rat-fink husband has packed his bags and abandoned her for the charms of their sexy neighbor, leaving Delphine struggling to cope.

Juliet and Suzanne, Delphine’s sisters, insist that the best remedy for a broken heart is a healthy dose of pampering: cue a spa break, where there’s more in store for Delphine than a hot stone massage and a spell in the jacuzzi.

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What readers are saying

‘I sat up until the early hours, unwilling to put it down. It’s a joy to read. I can’t recommend it enough.’

Rachel de Vine

‘A gem of a story – had me in stitches.’

Alison

‘Might be the funniest by Emmanuelle de Maupassant yet.’

Katie

Sexy Snippet

‘I see that you’re not far off your due date,’ said Jack, reading from his clipboard.

Presumably, my form was attached to it. Hoped I hadn’t noted anything too embarrassing. Had probably ticked boxes admitting to excessive flatulence and piles.

Looked up at him, leaning over me. Could see muscles bulging; the sort that would toss a tree trunk like a matchstick. He smelt lovely also. Musk and light sweat with a hint of sawdust. As if had been doing DIY.

Just the thought of him laying his hands on me was sending me all aquiver. Which bit would he touch first? Which bits was he planning to get to next? Where would he end up?

Bar two small handtowels (hardly bigger than face cloths) I was nude.

‘Breathe slowly and deeply for me, Delphine,’ said Jack. His hands, large and warm, pressed down upon my shoulders.

Nearly had an orgasm there and then. Could hardly draw breath, was in such a state of excitement.

He began to knead, working his thumbs up towards my neck, then out again, to the edges of my shoulders. His palms stroked down over my collarbones, to the top of my breasts, in smooth, fluid motions. There was nothing inappropriate. His technique took him only to the upper half of my bosom, but how I wanted him to go lower. Just another six inches. It was tantalizing. He could have taken each breast in his hands and kneaded them like dough. Huge tits, yes, but his were huge hands.

Oh the bliss and torment of it. So near and yet so far.

I’d been traumatized. I was an emotional wreck. But I’d not had sex for nearly two months, and I was hot with desire. If Jack, he of the strong yet gentle hands, had flung aside that little towel, I’d have done nothing to stop him.

‘Oh Jack,’ I’d have cried, as he swept his oiled palms over my breasts, massaging and squeezing, raising my nipples to stiff peaks ready to pop into his waiting mouth.

Of course, that didn’t happen. It was all in my head. But! Revelation! I wanted it to!

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Find ‘Baby Love’ on Goodreads and for sale on Amazon (just 99p/99c through April)

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Pssst… if you enjoy ‘Baby Love’, don’t forget to leave a review. Reviews make books more visible online, bringing new eyes. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, tag Emmanuelle in your review post and she’ll say hello.

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Author D.E. Haggerty – Guest Blogger #BookSpotlight

It is a great pleasure to welcome author D.E. Haggerty to the blog today! She’s the author of the quirky, cozy, mystery three-book “Death by Cupcake” series which were all featured  right here on Nesie’s Place.
D.E. will be interviewing the one and only Molly Smith today from her romantic comedy, “Molly’s Misadventures”.  Be sure to check out D.E.’s social network links, and Molly’s buy links below! “Molly’s Misadventures” is currently on sale for #99cents, but the sale ends soon so do not miss out! AND…D.E. will gift an ebook copy to a random commenter!
Enjoy!

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Book title: Molly’s Misadventures

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Content Warning: Profanity

Published: January 11, 2016

Word count: 64,800

 

Synopsis:

I’m having the suckiest day ever. First, my father, aka Mr. Grumpy Pants, calls to say his nurse just walked out on him. Likely story. I rush home to pack only to walk in on my husband getting it on with his younger, skanky secretary. Unfortunately, my quick weekend trip home to fix Dad’s problems turns into a stay of a few weeks. Luckily, I’ve got Danny, the neighbor boy I had a crush on when I was a dorky, braces-wearing, nose-buried-in-a-book teenager, and a brand-spanking new blog to keep my mind off things. Before I know it, I’m writing product reviews of vibrators and getting questioned by a store rent-a-cop at the world’s worst date ever. All while trying to figure out how to take things with Danny to the next level. Not to complicate things or anything but my boss decides to give me an ultimatum – come back in four weeks or don’t come back at all. How in the world did my life get so complicated?

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Interview with Molly from Molly’s Misadventures

By D.E. Haggerty

How’s the love life, Molly?

Oh, my gosh. *Hides face in hands* No easing into it? We’re going to jump right in there? Can I have an easier question? Please. Pretty please with sugar on top.

Okay, then. Why blogging?

Er … that actually wasn’t my choice. My best friend, Dianne, started the whole thing up. She just set me up an account and shoved it in my face as a fait accomplait. I totally revoked her best friend privileges that day.

Well, you’re definitely blogging now. Tell us why you decided to blog about your dating life.

Dating disasters, you mean? Dianne decided I needed a bout of rebound sex – long story – and signed me up for some internet dating website. Yes, I should really hide any and all electronics from her. I don’t know how, but somehow the little conniver convinced me to go on just one date. Since that first dating debacle happened about the same time the blog was set-up, I thought why not blog about it. It’s not like I could be any more embarrassed. Until the second date that is.

I don’t mean to butt in here but aren’t you married?

Wow. You don’t pull any punches. If you want to get all technical about it, I’m separated. Since you’ll probably find out anyway, my husband stepped out on me – with his secretary – and I am therefore completely and totally not obligated to him. Scorned women unite!

Okay. Let’s go back to the blog then. What is internet dating really like?

Ha! Ha! You’re going to have to read my blog to find that out.

Come on. You can tell us a story from your dating experiences that didn’t make it onto your blog.

Persistent, aren’t you? Okay. One thing you miss with my blogs is the lead up to the date. I try to weed out the possible whackos, although I’ve obviously failed at that numerous times. There are several categories of – how shall I say this politely? – incompatible potential dates. The first are those who just want to meet to have casual sex. Most of them are upfront about it, although their requests can be a bit out there. I had one guy email me a whole list of requirements: Do I like to be called master? Do I know how to handle a whip? Can I walk on five-inch heels? Do I own my own cat suit? I couldn’t run away from the computer fast enough.

Thank goodness you don’t need to rely on Internet dating as rumor has it you have a huge crush.

Is it still a crush when you’ve hit the mid-30s mark? We’re taking it slow. Super-duper slow since, as you so helpfully pointed out, I’m still married and going through a divorce. But super slow is definitely not boring. *Blushes*

That’s pretty much all the time we’ve got for today. Anything you’d like to add?

Obviously, everyone should check out my blog. *Winks* But, seriously, thanks for having me on your blog today. It was fun – if not a bit embarrassing at times. *Waves*

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Excerpt:

Molly’s Misadventures

A Coffee Date with the Police

Posted by: Molly Smith at 4:00 p.m.

 Okay, I admit. I assumed my first ‘real’ date in over a decade would be a disaster of epic proportion. I never thought—in my wildest dreams—that the next date would be even worse than that. What’s worse than epic? I have no words. Let me know in the comments if you think of a (mis)nomer that works.

Let’s back up a bit, shall we? Just how did Molly end up on another date after the ambush date? I call it temporary insanity. I let my best friend talk me into signing up for a dating website. I must have been completely out of my mind because I also agreed to go on two dates a week. Not enough craziness? I also agreed to blog about these dates. What have I gotten myself into?

Considering the ambush dinner date of last week, I decided to go for a coffee date with Harry. Not his real name, obviously. I’ve decided to use aliases for all of my dates that start with the letter ‘H’. I once had a friend who named all her children with names that start with a ‘D’. I always did love alliteration, so I’m totally copying her on that one.

So, anyway, my coffee date with Harry. I suggested we meet up in the coffee shop located in a bookstore. It’s a new bookstore I haven’t had time to explore yet. I figured if the date was a dud, I could always do some book shopping because everyone knows you can never have too many books.

The date started out really well. I had mentioned my addiction to lattes when chatting with Harry. When I arrived at the bookstore, there he sat with a fresh latte waiting for me. I’m not going to describe Harry’s physical characteristics because that makes me sound shallow. And now you all think he’s fugly. Well, he’s not. At least not on the outside. Wait until you finish reading to decide on the rest.

We drank our coffees and chatted for about fifteen minutes. Harry was funny with that dry humor that I love so much. My stomach rumbled after a while, and Harry suggested we head to the diner down the street for lunch. I thought it sounded like a great idea and readily agreed.

I should have realized something was off when he then hurried out of the store without waiting for me. I wasn’t expecting him to hold my hand or anything, but he could have walked out the door with me. Well, let me tell you, there’s a very good reason he took off like a rabbit in heat.

I walked through the exit and the security gates started to beep and the lights twinkle. I didn’t think anything of it. I’ve had plenty of security alarms go off by accident before. Being the good citizen I am, I immediately stopped and turned to the security guard rushing towards me.

He grabbed my bag and opened it. To my great surprise, he pulled out the book: Kama Sutra for Beginners. OMG! I don’t think I’ve ever been so embarrassed in my life. I made the incredibly stupid comment: “How did that get in there?” The security guard just looked at me and raised an eyebrow. Yeah, he’s probably heard that one before.

It didn’t take but a second for me to realize that there was only one way that the book got in my bag—Harry, Mr. Not-So-Nice-After-All. I immediately started to lie out of my ass. “Oops!” I may have even done a giggle at this point. “I must have forgotten to pay for that. Shall I just get in line over there?”

Nice try, Molly. The security guard shook his head at me and told me to follow him. He took me straight to the front of the line—because getting caught stealing the Kama Sutra wasn’t bad enough, I also had to piss off all the people waiting in line. But then he decides to find his voice, and he booms loud enough for the whole store to hear: “Caught this lady trying to steal the Kama Sutra.”

I tried to use my nonexistent magical powers to teleport out of the store, but, like I said, my magical abilities are nonexistent. So I just stood there, turning so red my face could have probably lit up the store. I quickly paid for the book and got the hell out of there—escorted by the security guard, of course. I didn’t even bother to see if Harry was at the diner. I was afraid of what I’d do to the thief if I saw him in person. I rushed home and thanked the goddess that I’ve started stocking my bedroom with wine.

Whose idea was it for me to get back in the dating game, again?

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Buy Links

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Meet D.E. Haggerty

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D.E. HaggertyI grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage, every once in a while, to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I decided to follow the husband to Istanbul for a few years where I managed to churn out book after book. But ten years was too many to stay away from ‘home’. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.

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Author links

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Website

Blog

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Scroll down and leave a question or comment for D.E. Haggerty. One lucky commenter will win an ecopy of Molly’s Misadventures!

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“Delayed Call (Assassins Book 11)” by Toni Aleo #ChapterReveal #PreOrder


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Coming March 20th

Amazon   Nook   Kobo  iBooks
Vaughn Johansson is the Nashville Assassins’ star player. He’s brash, cocky, and talented. And he isn’t afraid to let anyone know it. He lives his life on his own terms, never forming romantic attachments, and only allowing his very closest to see his true, caring self.

Brie Soledad has the weight of the world on her shoulders. As the staff reporter for the Assassins, she balances her high-profile job and its heavy travel schedule with being the sole provider for her adult brother with Down syndrome. Sure, she’d like to find love. But who has time for that when there are bills to pay?

Brie has been the match to Vaughn’s gasoline since the day she first held out her microphone to him. They strike sparks off each other, keeping their friends, the team, and the Assassins fans in stitches. Brie’s refusal to fawn over Vaughn sets his teeth on edge and his blood boiling. Especially in that body part…

Brie’s been let down by love before, but she knows she deserves nothing less than real, forever love. Vaughn’s past has left deep, hidden scars, and there are some secrets he cannot bear to reveal. As much as Brie wants him, Vaughn may be too big a risk for her wary heart to take. But he is at his best under pressure. When the delayed call is in effect and he has no choice but to score, Vaughn always delivers.

   “He’s cute.”
   “She’s a sweetie, too.”
   “Oh, she’s a she?”
   “Yes.”
   “Girls don’t usually like me,” Vaughn Johansson said with his brows pulled together as he looked into the dark brown eyes gazing back at him.
They were full of such hope, wanting… And instantaneously, he fell in love.
   “Well, I think she loves you.”
   Looking up briefly at the adoption counselor, Vaughn gazed back at the little black French Bulldog and smiled. She was a cutie; her little nub tail was wiggling, and her eyes were so wide that Vaughn felt like he could fall into them. But just as quick as he fell in love, he noticed something was missing. “She only has three legs.”   
   The adoption rep smiled grimly. “Yes, she was brought in having been hit by a car, and we fixed her up. That’s what throws people off, her not being whole and all.”
   Making a face, Vaughn crouched down and took ahold of the fence as the little girl wiggled in excitement. She wanted to come through the fence. He could feel her eagerness, especially when she started to lick his hands, her eyes telling, or better yet, begging him to take her home. The thing was, she didn’t have to beg. The little three-legged dog was his from the moment he saw her. As he leaned into the fence, his nose went through the links before he whispered, “Don’t worry, girl, I’m not whole either.”
   She licked his nose before letting out the sweetest little bark, and Vaughn was hooked. Standing up, he clapped his hands together. “I scored three goals last night, a hat trick, so it only makes sense that my first dog be a three-legged one.”
   “Oh, cool.”
   She had no clue what he was talking about. “I play for the Nashville Assassins.”
   The lady, who obviously had never seen a game of hockey a day in her life, nodded happily.
   “Cool. That’s fun.”
   “You know what team that is, right?”  
   “Yeah, football. Right?”
   Vaughn blinked in dismay, but then, what did he expect? She was barely an adult and probably hadn’t been exposed to the great sport of hockey. “Hockey.”
   “Oh, I don’t like hockey,” she said, wrinkling her face up. “But the players are hot.”
   He couldn’t disagree, but then she looked him up and down with very sinful eye, and he froze. There was no way in hell he was going to prison for this jailbait, so that was his cue to get his dog and bounce. Yet, he asked, “Have you been to a game?”
   “Oh, no, I don’t have time.”
   Rolling his eyes once more, he looked back at his new girl and smiled. “Well, that’s too bad because I’m naming this girl Tricksie, and that won’t make sense to you.”
   “Oh, you want her?”
   “Yes, I do. You know what a hat trick is, right?”
   The fact that she had no clue what he was speaking of was all over her face as she only nodded. “Like tricks with hats?”
   Vaughn wanted to cry. The poor youth of the world. “It’s where you score three goals.”
   He might as well have told her the answer to the greatest unsolved math problem in the world, because she was more lost than the three blind mice. “Cool. That’s hard, huh?”
   Smiling, he shot her a wink. “For some. But for me, it’s easy peasy, lemon squeezy.”
   Her face scrunched up more. She thought he was an idiot. “That’s corny.”
   “Well, that’s because you’re ten.”
   She pressed her lips together in annoyance. “I’m twenty.”  
 “Same thing. Can I get my dog, please?”
    Rolling her eyes before popping her gum, she turned for the front. “Yeah, let’s go to the office, and Linda will get the paperwork done.”
   She started to walk away, but Vaughn didn’t move. “Can I have her?”
   Letting out a long breath, she nodded before reaching for her keys, which made Tricksie jump to the best of her ability and howl louder. A huge grin spread across Vaughn’s face as he bent down and the little girl came running for him, jumping into him and scrambling to climb up his body. Holding on to her overactive little body, Vaughn laughed as he stood, kissing her head. “I think she’s happy.”
   “That’s an understatement,” the girl said dryly as she started for the front of the adoption center, but Vaughn was in complete paradise.
   It had been a long month of looking for a companion, but holding Tricksie, Vaughn was pretty sure it had been totally worth the wait. His need for company came when he discovered he was the only single guy on the team. Everyone had girlfriends or wives and/or kids. Meanwhile, Vaughn was chilling with just an Xbox when he wasn’t working. Hockey kept him busy, but when he wasn’t at the rink, there was no one to hang with, no one to talk to, and he found himself a bit lonely. He wasn’t ashamed to say that; it was a natural occurrence when one didn’t want to put himself out there and find someone to love him. The thing about love was it was just so uncertain, and Vaughn didn’t have the time for it. But a dog, a dog loved you no matter what. Plus, he had always wanted a dog. Ever since he was a little kid, he had yearned for one, but since hockey was so expensive, his dad never got him and his brother one. Along with all the therapy and treatments his brother needed, a dog wasn’t doable. But now, now, a dog was doable.
   And Vaughn was convinced Tricksie was going to be the best dog ever.
   As Tricksie licked and barked happily, Vaughn couldn’t believe he had waited so long to do this. But then, if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have this beautiful gem of a girl. And boy, what a beauty she was. He couldn’t believe people would turn up their noses at her, all because she didn’t have four legs. She had killer dark-as-night fur, her big, brown eyes were two huge views into her heart, and she smiled. The damn dog was smiling, tongue hanging out as she wiggled in his arms. She smelled a little musky, but that was fixable. No, this girl was the jackpot, and Vaughn was glad he had pulled the lever.
   As he walked through the doors leading to the office area—or at least, he hoped this was the right way since the lady who was helping him had disappeared—his phone sounded with a notification from his Nashville Assassins’ team app. It was probably weird that he had the app to the team he played hockey for on his phone, but he liked to know what his team was posting. Plus, he sometimes heard information from the app before he did from Coach. When he pulled out his phone, sliding the tab over, he realized this instance was one of those times.
   Jensen Monroe signed to Nashville Assassins for a three-year, three-million-dollar deal.
   “Holy shit! Tricksie, look! Uncle Jenny is coming to our team,” he said to his girlie before he laughed out loud. “You don’t know Uncle Jensen, hell, you don’t know me, but you will. Don’t worry.”
   Tricksie licked him happily, and he was pretty sure she didn’t care what he said as long as he loved her and fed her, which was his plan. His phone started to ring, and he laughed when he saw it was the man of the hour. “Jensen Monroe, signed to the Nashville Assassins for some bookoo bucks! What’s up, brother?”
   Jensen laughed softly, his voice deep. It had been deep since they were, like, thirteen. “Who the hell says bookoo still?”
   “Fuck you, dude. Congratulations!”
   “Thanks, it’s a great deal, I’m excited. It will be like old times too,” he said with a low laugh, and Vaughn smiled.
   There wasn’t a teenage moment that didn’t have Jensen and their buddy Wells in it. The three had been inseparable. When Jensen came to live with Wells’s family to play for their high school team, the three guys just clicked. They played all through high school, went to the same college, and were all drafted the same year too. Even being apart, Wells on the Avalanche, Vaughn on the Assassins, and when Jensen was with the Wild, they all stayed in contact. They were brothers. Always would be too. The guys were there for Vaughn when no one else was, and he would be forever in debt to the two men who became his brothers.
   “Wait, what happened to Dylan?”
   “He got sent down. Mrs. Adler said she wants someone she knows will win games. He hasn’t won a game since last season. I can win the games.” He wasn’t lying. Jensen was a great goalie, and it surprised Vaughn that he had come to the Assassins as a backup when he had a starting position with the Wild.
   “Why did you leave?”
    “I wasn’t happy. Yeah, I was winning games, but my contract was up and I needed a change. So I took the deal from Mrs. Adler, and I think it’s a good one. Except now I’ll be fighting the best goalie in the league for playing time.”
   Vaughn sucked his teeth. “Yeah, Tate Odder is the best.”
   “Thank you.” Vaughn laughed. “Besides, you, duh,” he said, his voice high and playful. “I hate you, but are you still single?”
   Vaughn paused. “Shit, are you telling me you’re gay too? I always knew Wells was, but I never suspected it from you. And, dude, you know I don’t bat for that team. I’m a pussy-only kind of guy.”
   “No, you douche canoe. Fuck.” He could practically hear Jensen roll his eyes, which, of course, made Vaughn laugh. “I seriously hate you, and I can’t believe I’m about to beg for this, but can I please live with you?”
   Vaughn stopped laughing as he looked down to his new ladylove. “I don’t know, man, I just got a new roommate.”
   “What?”
   “Yeah, she’s sweet, cold nose, licks a lot, and has three legs, but she’s cute as all hell,” he said as Tricksie kissed him with excitement before barking out in agreement. “And she barks. I’m not sure if it’s a lot, though.”
   “You got a three-legged dog?”
   “Yes, I did.”
    “Of course you did. Who is going to watch said three-legged dog when we are on trips?”
   “Wren,” he said simply, and Jensen groaned loudly at the mention of Wells’s baby sister. Jensen had always had a thing for her, but Wren never took notice. She was too busy with her nose in a book. Which he guessed paid off because now she was a hotshot therapist for the Nashville Assassins. Plus, Vaughn was pretty sure she batted for the other team. He had never seen her with a dude, and he had tried to sleep with her plenty. He couldn’t imagine why she’d turn him down if she were straight. Obviously.
   “Does she know this?”
   “Yeah,” he lied, and Jensen let out a long breath of frustration.
   “You never think things through, I swear. But whatever, can you get me from the airport at 9:10?”
   Vaughn smiled since he had never said yes to Jensen living with him, for the simple fact that Jensen didn’t have to ask and he knew that. Jensen knew he had a home wherever Vaughn was. “Yup, me and Tricksie will be there.”
   “Tricksie?”
   “She’s a three-legged dog, and I scored a hat trick last night.”
    Jensen paused and then laughed. “You’re insane. See you in a bit, and make sure you call Wren.”
   “Will do.”
   They hung up, and Vaughn rolled his eyes. Jensen was always the do-right kind of guy. While Wells and Vaughn wanted to go out, get drunk, and break something, Jensen would talk them down and convince them that getting drunk and playing on the back pond was a better idea. He was the last one to lose his virginity because he wanted it to be with someone “special.” He never cheated on a girl, and when he broke up with one, he felt bad. When his young marriage broke up, he took all the blame on himself. Never said an unkind word about his ex. He called his mom every day, multiple times, and he hung out with the dorky kids growing up. He was voted Homecoming King of their class because he was so sugary sweet. Not to mention, he looked like a runway model, while Wells and Vaughn looked a little rough around the edges. Still, they were best friends, and nothing could ever change that.
   When his phone rang right as he reached the doors to go sign the papers for Tricksie, he looked down to see it was Wren.
   Shit.
   “Hey, Wren,” he said, answering the phone with a big smile. “How’s my favorite therapist who won’t sleep with me?”
   “Oh, I’m just fine. But funny thing, you didn’t show up for therapy, and then I got a text from Jensen saying you got a dog and I’m watching it. Oh, and it has three legs.”
  “Um… Her name is Tricksie and she is amazing, and I don’t need therapy.”
  “You do. Tricksie. Cute, but I never agreed to watch her.”
  “Yes, you did.”
   “When?”
   “When I got you drunk the other night and stole your virtue.”
   “Vaughn Johansson, I haven’t had my virtue in a long damn time.”
   “But did a guy take it?”
   “I will kill you dead, and that’s off the record, mister,” she growled into the phone, at which he laughed. “So you have no leg to stand on, and I don’t think Tricksie can lend you one.”
   Vaughn scoffed. “You said I needed a companion. I got one, and in return, you have to watch her when I leave.”
   “I meant a woman, but fine, a dog is fine. It’s a step in the right direction, I guess. But I never agreed to this, and I travel too, Vaughn.”
   “Not all the time, though. Maybe once a month, and I can board her then.”
   “So you have a plan?” she asked, and she didn’t sound convinced because, really, Vaughn never had a plan.
   “Yup, sure do.”
   “Okay, well, add me in at nine tomorrow before morning skate, and if you don’t show up, I’ll tell your coach.”
   Vaughn’s face scrunched up. “You’re mean.”
   “I love you too. Bye.”
   She hung up, and Vaughn tucked his phone into his pocket before looking down at Tricksie. “That was your aunt Wren and she’s mean to me, but she’ll be nice to you. Are you ready to go home?”
   Tricksie began to lick his skin off, and he took that as a yes. As a huge smile covered his face, Vaughn nodded his head. He had his baby girl, his best friend was coming to his team, Wren would watch Tricksie, and he was playing for the team of his dreams. Things were good. Really good.
   And loneliness would be a thing of the past; he just knew it.   

***   

   “Who talked me into this?”
   “No one. You did that to yourself.”
   “Why?”
   “I don’t know. You’re lonely?”
   “Oh. I am, aren’t I? Shit.”
   “Yup, so may the force be with you, my friend.”
   “But I don’t want to do this.”
   “Then leave?”
   “Can’t you come with me? There’s still time. It doesn’t start for another fifteen.”
   “I’m just sure my fiancé would love that.”
   Brie Soledad rolled her eyes as she leaned on the pillar of the ballroom, her eyes burning a hole in the sign that read: Speed Dating for Nashville Locals. It was embarrassing that this was what her life had resulted in, but as her best friend had said, she was lonely. Mekena Preston, though, was not lonely. Nope, she was all happy and in love with her fiancé, while having a great job and a wonderful life, blah, blah, blah. And if Brie was honest, she was jealous as hell and so desperately wanted to get laid, maybe even fall in love. Get the blah, blah, blah.
   God, she wanted the blah, blah, blah. So damn bad.
   Being a hockey reporter for one of the hottest teams in the NHL, the Nashville Assassins, one would think she would be rolling in the men, but she wasn’t. Everyone treated her like a little sister or they ignored her or they treated her like shit. Well, only one did that, but that was beside the point. The point was, Brie needed more. She was happy in her career. It was awesome, she was amazing, and people loved her. She had even won an Emmy the year before; she was kicking ass. The only problem was she didn’t have anyone to share her success with.
   Yeah, she had her little brother, Rodney, but he really didn’t understand. Also, he needed to focus on his health and not on her. She was supposed to worry for him, not the other way around. Or at least, that was what she had promised her mom before she passed away from cancer a few years back. Sometimes, it was hard to remember, but she blamed that on the fact that she had no one to lean on. It was just her, with the weight of her job and her brother’s issues on her shoulders.
   And plus, she really wanted to get laid.
   It really didn’t make sense. She wasn’t an ugly girl. She was short, and maybe she could have skipped a few desserts, but then, what was life without ice cream and donuts? She had a pretty face, big blue eyes, and lips that screamed to be kissed, yet no one was kissing them. It was annoying, and pray God, this damn speed dating worked.
   “I’m gonna stay,” she said, coming off the pillar and fixing the skirt of her little blue dress that stopped right at the middle of her thighs. “I need to get laid.”
   Mekena stuttered. “Not tonight, though, right?”
   “Jesus, Mekena, I’m not a whore.”
   “Oh, you’re not?”
   And this was the problem with being best friends with a girl she met only a month ago. “I’m not. Asshole.”
   She giggled. “Fine, but please text me and let me know you weren’t killed.”
   “I’ve got my pepper spray.”
   “And your Taser?”
   “And my Taser,” she said, rolling her eyes. She wasn’t sure why Mekena was even asking; she was the one who had stuffed it in her purse the day before. If nothing else, Mekena Preston was practical and smart, very smart.
   “Good, text me when you leave.”
   “Will do.”
   “Have fun. Find your forever!”
    Brie’s face scrunched up. “That is dumb, don’t ever say that again.”
   “Hey, everyone says that when they fall in love.”
   “God, I hope I don’t.”
    “You will.”
    “I won’t.”
    “Stop stalling. Go find your forever.”
    “That’s disgusting. Bye,” Brie complained before hanging up and then tucking her phone into her pocket and taking in a deep breath. Looking around the room, she noticed there was a decent men-to-women ratio, which was good. She didn’t want to be the only chick in the middle of a sausage fest. While she wanted some sausage, she only needed one. A large one, thick, some girth, mmm… Great, now she was hungry. Pressing her hand to her belly, she rolled her eyes. She needed help.
   Or, again, to get laid.
   Maybe she should just go home with the first able-bodied man.
    When a large, round man stopped in front of her, her eyes widened. He was easily twenty years older than her thirty-two years and he was losing his hair, but he was trying to cover it with a toupee. People still wore those? Pointing at her, he smiled with bright yellow teeth. “Hey, sugar, make sure to stop at my table.”
   “Ugh, sure,” she blurted out before hightailing it to the left.
   She would not be going home with that guy. No matter how desperate she was.
   Standing in the back, she looked over the sea of people as the announcer explained what they were to do. The sad thing was, this wasn’t her first time, so she knew what to do. Last time, she hated it and met no one, but maybe this time would be different. Letting out a long groan, she shook her head. If she could be normal and meet someone in a coffee shop or at her job, that would be awesome. But she hadn’t had luck with guys her whole life.
   She wasn’t one of those serial daters or even a casual one. She dated for a reason, and because of that, she had only been in two serious relationships. Both were ended by the guy, which did nothing for her confidence. Both times she didn’t see it coming, and that alone was depressing as hell. Especially Matthew. She loved Matthew—a lot. But when her mom died, he said it was too much and left her high and dry. Not only did she have to pick up the pieces of her heart and Rod’s from her mother’s death, but then she had to pick up the extra pieces of her heart from Matthew’s departure. It was horrible, and because of that experience, she was a little scarred by relationships.
   Okay, a whole lot scarred. But she was coming up on a new year, and it was time to turn over a new leaf. She wanted the happiness that being with a guy could provide. It had taken her a long time to love herself again. After the grief was no longer overwhelming, after the pain of Matt was gone, she was ready to love once more. It was time, time for her to venture out and find that guy. The… There was no way she was saying the forever guy, but something along those lines.
   “So let’s get started!” the announcer said, and then she rang a really annoying cowbell. Taking the cue, Brie went to the first table and sat down as a guy with hair longer than hers did. He was decent-looking, but no spark whatsoever. Maybe it would come?
   “Hey, I’m Brian.” Brie smiled.
   “Hi, I’m Brie.”
   “Ha, like the cheese.”
    She blinked. “Excuse me?”
    “The cheese. I love Brie, it’s my favorite. I wonder if you taste like Brie? Wanna get out of here?”
    She blinked once more and then let out a hard laugh. “So let me get this straight,” she said, leaning on the table. “First, you compare me to cheese, and not even the most exclusive cheese, kind of midrange. And then you want me to go home with you?”
   He shrugged like that was a normal exchange.
   “Yeah.” “Yeah, no. And fuck-you-very-much,” she said, standing up just as the bell rang. Thankfully. Moving down the chair, she skipped the guy from earlier, the balding dude, and sat down as a very attractive, clean-cut guy sat down. And wowza, was he gorgeous. Big blue eyes, wonderful angles to his face, and thick, yummy shoulders. He reminded her of someone…but… Whoa, not now, Soledad.
   With a bright smile, she said, “Hey, I’m Brie.”
   “Tim, nice to meet you,” he said, matching her grin as he looked her up and down. “Let me guess, a doctor?” She laughed. “Reporter for the Nashville Assassins.” His eyes lit up. “Go Assassins!”
   She smiled as she nodded. “Greatest team in the league.”
   “Agreed, but I’m sad. I could have sworn you were a doctor. That would have worked for me since I’m a lawyer, and I need someone to deal with my crazy hours.”
   “Well, I need that too because I leave a lot.”
   “Oh, well then, hi,” he said, leaning on the table, and she did the same.
   “Hi.”
   “Family?” She nodded. “A little brother.”
   “What’s his name?”
   “Rodney.”
   “Is he in town?”
   “Yup, over at Riverdale.”
   His brows pulled together. “Riverdale? Isn’t that the old folks’ home?”
   “They also have a facility for people with Down syndrome.”
   “I didn’t know they kept retards too. That place stinks, I had an aunt die there.”
   Oh, look, there went all the attraction she even thought she had for this piece of junk. Swallowing hard, she stood slowly and then tucked her chair in. “Actually, not all people with Down syndrome have mental challenges. My brother is highly intelligent. You wouldn’t even know he had Down syndrome if he didn’t have the physical characteristics.”
   He shrugged, waving her off. “Same thing.”
   She could only blink. “You know what isn’t the same? A dick-fuck and a cuntasaurus.”
   “Um—”
   “But you know what? You’re both of those,” she yelled. “And we are done.”
   “Your loss, sweetheart.”
   “No, you piece of dog shit, it’s your loss because I am fucking amazing,” she announced before turning on her heel and walking straight out of the speed-dating event.
   Fuck guys.
   They sucked.

My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.
… and did I mention I love hockey?
Author Links

“Self-Serve Murder (Death by Cupcake #3)” by D.E. Haggerty #Review

Death by Cupcake #3

“Self-Serve Murder (Death by Cupcake #3)”

by D.E. Haggerty

Genre: Cozy/Mystery/Humor

Release Date: December 5, 2016

Amazon          Goodreads

4/5 Stars!

#TeamKristie

Though little more than a supporting character in the first two Death by Cupcake books, Kristie Larson is a standout in Self-Serve Murder, the third book in the series.

The youngest of the daring trio (which includes Callie and Anna) from Callie’s Cakes, Kristie is, IMHO, the most mature…or at least she doesn’t act on impulse…much. And while she seems timid, you already know there’s more to Kristie than meets the eye considering her ‘job’ and commitment to an inner-city youth center.

These ladies seem to have a knack for finding dead bodies, and in Kristie’s case, she wakes up next to one!

(Totally appropriate to freak out at this point.)

A frazzled Kristie is soon ruled out of any involvement in the murder when test results show she was drugged. However, she did know the deceased, and wonders if his death is related to something sinister Kristie was looking into – the drugging and sexual assaults of young women who all happen to be in the Social Work program…like Kristie. So, who’s responsible?

Enter Callie and Anna to help solve the case! *Overly dramatic eye roll* I like these two, honestly, but they’re just a bit too over-the-top for me some of the time.

But, Kristie…she’s not (quite) from the same ilk. She’s more focused, and keeps things closer to the breast – the proof being the major secret she’s kept from everyone, including her best buds/workmates.

While Kristie needs to know what happened to her and Dick (the dead guy) and find out if it’s all related to the sexual assaults, she’d rather keep Lucy and Ethel, er, Callie and Anna…and everyone else away from the case…lest her secret comes out.

Of course, Kristie doesn’t get what she wants.

At the risk of angering their police detective significant others, Callie and Anna commence with the investigation plans. Kristie is more thoughtful…and tactful. Finding and gaining access to a private online forum for sexual assault victims, Kristie attempts to build a friendship with another member. She doesn’t necessarily get the information she’s after, but this connection will bring a big reveal Kristie never saw coming.

A couple of suspicious characters keep popping up at the unlikeliest of times, but when the villain is revealed, it’s #TeamKristie all the way. She’s shocked…and caught off guard, but when she realizes who’s standing before her…I wanted to stand up and cheer. I may have screamed, “YOU GO, GIRL!” It was awesome, and I subconsciously apologized to Kristie over and over again for underestimating her in previous reads.

Self-Serve Murder is a good read. Kudos and much respect to the author for tackling such a sensitive, yet timely issue.

Two things kept this from being a five-star for me – 1) the passive/aggressive relationships of Callie/Ben and Anna/Logan. One minute they’re all “We do what we want”, and the next they’re being chastised and plopped on their men’s laps with threats of spankings, and 2) Tyler’s aggressive behavior with Kristie. For me, it was too much too soon considering what happened to his sister, and for not only what Kristie went through, but the fact she was still an ‘innocent.’ It’s okay to be concerned, protective, and interested, but being so ‘hands-on’ right from the start isn’t.

It’s still Kristie’s show, though. Her internal thoughts were quite telling as to who she is. While she may have been falling victim to a case of insta-love, and hesitant to speak, she did eventually say the words, “I belong to no one.”

And that brings the story full circle and cements the vileness of the villain because he took away women’s right to choose. Good stuff!

You could read this as a standalone, but I don’t recommend you do. Reading books one and two will help you to understand more of the conversations, how the other two couples got together…and see just how awesome Kristie Larson truly is!

Enjoy!

“Gone for You (A Sixth Street Band Romance)” by Jayne Frost #FREE

Gone for You

“Gone for You (A Sixth Street Band Romance)”

by Jayne Frost

Romantic Comedy

Release Date: April 28, 2015

#FREE #FREE #FREE

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Add to Goodreads

As the guitarist for the rock band Caged, I know the rules: no relationships. No complications. Leave ‘em smiling when you go, but always go. Besides, it’s not like I’m ever in one place for more than a few days at a time. As the next hottest thing out of Austin, the band and I are riding the wave, and the music is all that matters.

Until her…

Lily Tennison has “complication” written across her beautiful face. But I can’t get involved. The timing’s all wrong. But she’s under my skin, and I can’t resist her troubled eyes and sweet smile. And I do have a little time to kill. Not much, just a few days in Dallas.

So I’ll scratch the itch and move on, like I always do.

Simple, right?

Note: You won’t need to turn up the heat—Sixth Street Bands Romances have plenty of steamy fun. This story can be read as a stand-alone but is part of the Sixth Street Bands music scene.

“Wake-Up Call” by Amy Avanzino #BlogTour

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Book Title: Wake-Up Call
Author: Amy Avanzino
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

Goodreads

book blurb

Sarah Winslow wakes up with a terrible hangover…and a kid in her boyfriend’s bed. She makes the horrifying discovery that, due to a head injury, it’s not a hangover. She’s got memory loss. Overnight, five years have disappeared, and she’s no longer the hard-living, fast-track, ad executive party girl she thinks she is. Now, she’s the unemployed, pudgy, married, stay-at-home-mom of three kids under five, including twins.

As she slowly pieces together the mystery of how her dreams and aspirations could have disintegrated so completely in five short years, she finds herself utterly failing to manage this life she can’t imagine choosing. When Sarah meets the man of her dreams, she realizes she’s got to make a choice: Does she follow her bliss and “do-over” her life? Or does the Sarah she’s forgotten hold the answers to how she got here…and how she can stay?

excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

The moment I wake up I know I’m in trouble. I try and caution a peek at my surroundings but I can’t get my eyes to focus. I feel nauseous. I finally manage to make out an image of a massive lump beneath the covers beside me. It rises and falls with alternate motion in rhythm to a rumbling snore, which only intensifies the loud thumping in my head. I soon realize, with a sinking heart, that the man in bed with me is too large and unruly to be my boyfriend.

What have I done?

I become lightheaded with the thought of myself as a cheater. My stomach turns and I think I’m going to be sick. I take in a few short breaths and try and collect my thoughts. What happened to me? How did I get here? Why would I do this when I have a man with defined abs and the sex drive of a man at sea?

I must have had too much to drink last night because my memory is so fuzzy. I can’t seem to remember anything.

It doesn’t matter. Kofi will never forgive me and I couldn’t ask him to. My eyes well up and my chest feels clinched while thinking about all the things I’m going to miss about him. The way he looks at me when I enter a room. His ambition and how he inspires me to work harder and be a better person. He has this sarcastic sense of humor, I often don’t understand, but he accompanies it with a laugh that’s quiet and contagious, like a yawn. I miss him already.

I need to get out of here. I want to get up but my head is too heavy to lift and moving makes my head pound harder. I have a charley horse in my neck and a shooting pain in my eye. This is the worst hangover ever.

I mine for deeper reserves of strength and roll myself off the bed and hit the floor with a thud. Through scrunched up eyelids I look around for my belongings but I can’t seem to find any of my things. Where’s my bag, my shoes, my clothes?

A twinge of guilt trickles down my spine as I borrow a shapeless shirt and sweat pants from the floor. I pause for the poor girl who owns these garments. Not only did I sleep with her big fat man last night, but worse, her personal taste is appalling. She has enigmatic style and is awfully un-savvy. Because her clothes identify her as a husky woman, I best move fast before she returns. I’m quite certain she can kick my skinny ass. Although my Tae Bo keeps me perfectly toned, I fear the heavily practiced jabs, punches and sidekicks have little street use.

I look for the emergency exit and can’t help but take in this distasteful environment. I’m surrounded by a terribly decorated room with cheap imitation Anne Geddes baby photos and mismatched furniture. I’ve seen garage sales with better interior design elements.

I creep to the door and twist my ankle on an oversized Lego. I tumble to my knees and mime a silent scream. Now eye level to the carpet, I’m better able to survey the final course of my escape route. I stay low and slither across the floor, appreciating the breathable fabric and freedom of movement of the clothes on loan.

Once I make it past the threshold of the bedroom, I’m faced with a mine field of toys planted in the hallway, obstructing my passage to the outside world. I trip over a stuffed dinosaur and he screams and then there’s silence…the snoring has ceased. As this could further complicate my departure, I begin my high-speed pursuit towards the front door forgoing all thought of injuries and hangover.

“Sarah?” says a recognizable voice.

I cock my ear at the door. “Kofi?”

“Where you going babe?”

I weave my way back through the house to my boyfriend.

“Where are we?” I breathe a heavy sigh when my eyes meet his.

Kofi has intense smoldering charcoal eyes and behind them there is a light that sparkles whenever he is excited. He’s got impeccable lustrous ebony skin, exotic full kissable lips, and high cheekbones – a fascinating combination resulting from his African American-Cherokee heritage. When standing he is nearly six-feet-tall, with a v-shaped torso and he oozes with unadulterated, uncontrived maleness. But in spite of his appearance, he has this cool confidence that’s devoid of arrogance. In fact he is so smooth that the Isaac Hayes’ theme song for Shaft plays in my mind whenever I watch him from across a room.

My heart is dancing inside my chest, thrilled I haven’t ruined the opportunity to see where this relationship will go. I want to leap into bed with him, pin him down, and smother him with kisses, but I’m still feeling off balance. Instead I rest my shoulder against the door frame for support.

Kofi, moving sluggishly, sits up. I watch him closely and notice I can’t hear the music playing in my head, instead I hear my brain beating against my skull. My eyes still zooming in and out of focus. “Where are your braids?”

Kofi jerks his head up. “What do you mean?” and talks in a loud whisper.

Kofi once described his hair as an expression of originality but it is now something approaching respectability and uniformity. “You look like a Marine and yesterday you looked like K-Fed.”

After a pause, he says, “huh?” sounding perplexed.

“You know K-Fed, a.k.a Kevin Federline, a.k.a Mr. Britney Spears,” and if he didn’t get those references I add, “a.k.a the next Eminem.”

Kofi looks at me with an expression curiously akin to confusion.

“Why did you shave off the cornrows? A buzz makes you look so…” I trail off, unable to think of a single word other than fat. Then old comes to mind. I finally arrive at “different. You look so different,” I say, wincing on his behalf.

Before Kofi can answer, the covers start rustling and out pops a child rubbing his eyes.

“What is that?” I scream and point at the boy. “Why? Why?” is all I am able to say.

“He had a nightmare.” Kofi exaggerates a long drawn out yawn and stretches out his lengthy arms.

“Huh? What?”

“Mama, what’s wrong?” says the boy in the bed in a tiny, weary voice.

“Kid I’m not your mom,” I say, followed by an uncomfortable chuckle. I share a look with Kofi and gesture towards the door. “I’m going home.”

“Very funny Sarah, but I don’t have time for this.” Kofi digs into the corner of his eyes with his fingers. “I have to be at work, I’m in trouble enough as it is.”

The boy turns to Kofi and asks, “Daddy, why’s mama acting weird?”

“Daddy? Daddy! You have a kid? Shit Kofi, you never told me you have a kid.” I study the child closely, there’s no denying the resemblance. He’s but a miniature clone of Kofi, with lighter skin and one third his stature and both are sitting cross-legged, with heads tilted slightly to the left, the same single eye brow raised, and both now pouting petulantly.

I retreat into the hallway and try and slow down my thoughts that are running circles through my mind. Where am I? How did I get here? Why does this kid think I’m his mom? And why is Kofi looking at me as if I’m crazy?

“What’s shit?” the child asks.

“Oh sorry kid, I mean…” I search for a more child-friendly vocabulary and come up with nothing. I just look at the boy blankly as he looks back with wide saucer eyes. The silence stretches too long and my nerves burst with a bang. “Shit,” I repeat -I can’t help myself.

Kofi’s expression goes instantly very angry. “Sarah, what the heck is wrong with you?” he grumbles.

“Me? What the heck is wrong with you? I didn’t know you had a kid. You somehow breezed over that topic in the six months we’ve been together.” The last thing I want to be is some poor, confused kid’s step-mom. “I didn’t sign on for this! Where’s my stuff?” I stalk back and forth like a caged animal searching for an escape route. “I want to get out of here.”

“Okay. Ha-ha, you’re funny. I never told you I have a kid.” Kofi and the child exchange puzzled looks.

“Whatever. Let’s talk about this later. I can’t deal with it now. God, my head is killing me,” I tell him. “I have the worst hangover and I think I’m going to throw up.”

“Hangover?” Kofi draws back sharply. “Babe,” he squints his eyes slightly as he surveys me, “maybe you should get back into bed?”

“With the young boy…that’s illegal,” I say, avoiding eye contact with the child. “Can you just take me home?”

“Sarah,” Kofi says in a slow, clear, soothing way; a tone I imagine a pre-school teacher would use or maybe a psychotherapist. “Are you okay?”

“What do you think? I just found out my boyfriend has a kid. I’m in some dreadful house and God only knows where the Excedrin is. I’m probably wearing your baby’s mama’s clothes.” I breathe in deeply, the smell is repugnant and triggers my gag reflex.

Kofi gets out of the bed and approaches me slowly. He’s wearing boxers and T-shirt advertising Jones BBQ. I scrutinize his appearance for a moment and perceive a change, but my eyes feel like they’re burning behind my head. I squeeze them shut.

“Actually, don’t even bother getting up Kofi. I’ll bus back to my apartment.”

Kofi walks toward me looking troubled. “Oh babe,” he nervously shifts his eyes and says, “Babe, can you…can you…” then he stops, looks at his…son, raises his voice an octave. “Sweetness, why don’t you go use the potty and give us a minute.”

The boy jumps several times across the bed, as though on a trampoline and then darts out of the room.

Kofi turns back to me and his stutter returns. He finally manages to spit out, “Can you tell me what you did yesterday?”

The only thing I know for sure is how brutal this headache is and it seems to be crippling my thoughts.

I attempt to reconstruct the events of last night’s drunken debauchery. I try to concentrate as hard as I can. Desperately searching for the memory, much like trying to remember a dream the morning after. “I…um…oh yeah, I interviewed for that promotion I’ve been talking about for weeks, which went really well by the way. I’m pretty sure I got it.” I stop, think harder. “And then I met up with the girls for happy hour, like every other Friday for the past three years.”

Kofi’s mouth falls open.

I think back on the night, but nothing jumps out as odd: the drinks went down in the usual way. My girlfriends and I covered the typical topics: men, fashion, office gossip and celebrity current events. When the spirits took over us, we took over the dance floor. I remember Jo-Jo dancing to a seven count rather than the conventional eight and Piper’s good judgment was lost somewhere between the funky chicken and the robot. Celia was jiving and using her hand as a microphone, lip-syncing with the house band. It appears in my recall, however, that I was an expert dancer.

I shrug my shoulders. “I must’ve blacked out after that because I don’t remember coming here.”

Kofi stares at me hard. “Babe, are you serious?”

“Yelling isn’t helping Kofi.”

“I’m not yelling,” Kofi says and looks me firmly in the eyes. “I think…we have a problem. Nico told me you fell when riding his skateboard yesterday and you hit your head, maybe you…” his voice trails off.

Instinctually, I put my hand up to my head and I cringe at the touch. “Ow!” I call out. There’s a bump the size of a golf ball. It feels sore and tender and its throbbing like it has its own heart beat.

“Nico? You mean grandpa? He just got a hip replacement…he can’t even Bocce Ball anymore.”

“You haven’t been to a happy hour in, well, forever.” Kofi speaks slowly and maybe even a little sadly. “Last night we watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on DVD and we were in bed by 9:00.”

“Wait a minute…this is a prank.” This must be another one of Kofi’s jokes, although I’m not really sure how it’s funny. “You totally had me going for a second. Bravo.” I applaud his originality, creating his own Harry Potter title, Deathly Hallows, that’s detailed. “Where’d you get the kid? He’s a good little actor…did you rent him? Did you drug me to get me here? That’s a little bit excessive, but man, you really got me. I almost believed you.”

I wait for him to break into laughter and then deliver some punch-line, but instead he holds a poker face for an unbearably long time.

Kofi rubs his forehead as though trying to gather his thoughts. “I’m going to call the doctor Sarah,” he says and before I can respond, the kid has returned from the bathroom. Kofi bends down to meet him. “Stay with her. I’ll be right back.”

Kofi grabs a navy fuzzy robe from the back of the bathroom door, leaving its matching baby blue one behind. He slips into a pair of house shoes from the foot of the bed then hustles out of the room, leaving the child and me behind.

I flash the youngster a nervous semi-smile. He’s an attractive kid. He has large, soft, dark chocolate eyes, shapely nose, perfect lips, charming grin and a skin tone I’d risk skin cancer for. He has wild, brownish hair that’s styled in a three-inch, loose-curl afro. He’s smallish, as a child should be I suppose, but he has the build of a bulldog; broad shouldered and solid frame. He looks like my sister’s kid, but I guess all kids look alike.

I open dialogue hesitantly with, “Hi”. He begins to speak a dialect unfamiliar to me. And wow, does he speak: he goes on and on and I haven’t a clue what he’s talking about. He’s using up all the oxygen in the room, and I feel like I’m suffocating. I begin side stepping my way to the door. I’m hoping he won’t notice if I duck out, but he watches me like a hawk. I try zigzagging and weaving, but he won’t get off my tail. It’s like being chased by a mugger in a dark alley.

Kofi, still on the phone, is pacing back and forth, in and out of the kitchen. He yells into the receiver, “Yes, I understand we don’t have an appointment…No, we don’t want to see another doctor…I don’t care that he’s not on-call, this is an emergency….If you can’t make this happen, put someone on the phone who can.”

When I look down at the kid, he’s still talking. I try to politely excuse myself. “Kid,” I say, “I don’t know what a wocketchip is, and I need to go tinkle…okay?”

“Okay. A wocketchip is…” and he continues talking, unbothered by my lack of interest. Thank God my ears are ringing to drown out some of his noise. He follows me right into the bathroom, stubbornly determined to invade my personal boundaries.

Then Kofi storms into the bathroom- even though, and I can’t stress this enough, I told him I was busy inside. “Blue’s Clues is on,” Kofi says and without another word, the young boy whirls out of the room, not unlike a miniature tornado.

Kofi approaches me slowly. He kisses me gently on the cheek, despite the fact he hasn’t brushed and his scent is musty.

“The doctor wants us to come in right away. He’s worried you may have a concussion or something.”

“Don’t be silly. I don’t need a doctor. What I need is a Bloody Mary. Will you make me one?”

“Um,” Kofi utters, fumbling for the words. He slowly lifts his eyes to meet mine. He looks weird. I squint at him and study him. I notice the deep set lines. His hair is cropped short, peppered gray amongst the jet blackness of the rest of it. His stomach is…round.

I wonder if I’m dreaming. Am I still drunk?

“Maybe you should sit down.”

“What’s going on Kofi?”

“Well, I’m not sure how to start actually.” He takes a deep breath and composes himself. “You know that interview you were talking about?”

I nod firmly.

“That was at least five years ago.” He pauses to let it sink in.

I look up briefly and rub my eyes. What did he just say? There is no way he just said that was five yearsago.

He adds in a no-nonsense tone. “Nico’s our son.”

“What?! You’re trying to tell me that I’m a…a…” I can’t even say it. I notice my knees shaking ever so slightly. Kofi tries to slide his arm through mine but I pull away.

“Yes, you’re a mom and we’re married and this is our home.”

I feel hot on the inside, and itchy, and a little bit queasy. I try and speak but the lump in my throat won’t budge. I need a few moments to take all this in. I take a few steps back and lean against the wall and start looking around the room at the graffiti walls, the laminate flooring, the dirty counter tops and then begin to panic.

“You don’t work in advertising anymore,” Kofi continues, “you work full time at home, you’re a stay-at-home-mom.”

I freeze. Time seems to slow down to a crawl. Is this what the deer-in-headlights, who we hear so much about, experience right before the 18 wheeler smacks it head-on?

“You’re not kidding?” I ask nervously.

Kofi fixes his eyes to mine and shakes his head very slowly. He puts my hand inside of his and says, “It’s going to be okay.”

I can’t believe this is happening. I was finally moving up the ladder. When I began my career in advertising my 5×5 cubicle was blocking the elevator and in four short years I’d moved to three cubes away from the office that had a window. I was so close. I could finally see success. All that shit work I put into advancing my career. The late nights, working weekends, the years of school, was for nothing. This is just my luck.

“So I’m not twenty-eight anymore?”

“You’re thirty-three.”

I react to the news physically, with a flinch. Thirty-three is practically mid-thirties, that’s almost forty, which means…I’m old. Oh God, no!

“Oh, and your grandpa’s dead too; sorry,” Kofi adds, cautiously awaiting my next move. He’s following me closely with his eyes as I shift my weight, so that I can peer into the mirror behind him.

I look at the stranger in the reflection and I don’t know who I see, but she looks as surprised to see me as I am too see her. I spin around a little, slowly, and she does the same. I approach the mirror and with every step the reflection gets bigger and bigger and fatter. My voice is shaking now. “What’s going on? What…what…. happened to me?”

Kofi explains again more slowly and enunciating his words judiciously. “I don’t know exactly, I was at work, but according to Nico you were attempting an ollie off his skateboard and you fell back and hit your head on the curb. You weren’t wearing a helmet, but I thought you were okay…there was no blood and last night you seemed fine….maybe a little shaken up…maybe a little tired, but you’re pretty much always tired, so…” The color from his face begins to fade as the memory cascades over him. “Oh God, now that I think about it, you were acting strange. You put Nico’s Transformer back-pack on and said you were going to school. I thought you were just fooling around…it was really funny.” He puts both hands up to his head. “Jesus, I laughed.” His expression looks about to crumple. “I’m so sorry Sarah, I feel terrible…” his voice trails off.

Truthfully I’m not really listening. I’m still staring at myself in the mirror, while my fingers trace the fine lines that crowd my mouth. “No. No. Why do I look like this?” My eyes have sunken; my roots now freckled with gray and at least an inch thick above the rest of my wild ash-blond mane. How could so much damage happen in five years? I’ve aged at least a decade. “You’re right I should probably sit down. I’m so pale. I look faint.”

“Actually, you look…normal.”

I feel tears build behind my eyes. I start blinking hard, refusing to cry, refusing to believe that this is actually happening.

“I have the arms of a linebacker, my thighs are fuller and my boobs,” I say, grabbing my breasts and lifting them up and down, like I’m doing arm curls with them. “They’d definitely fail the Pencil Test.”

“Pencil Test?”

“The Pencil Test. If you can tuck a pencil under your breasts, they’re saggy. If you can tuck the entire back-to-school supply box under them, you have mine!”

He scratches his head. “I love your shape,” he says, thankfully convincingly.

“Then you must like circles!” My cheeks feel swollen, my legs feel like jelly and I’m feeling myself wobbling on the edge of hysteria. “What’s happened to me? This makes no sense. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe!”

“Relax,” he advises. “We’ll get this all straightened out at the doctor. It will be okay. Everything is going to be okay,” he says almost to himself.

I inhale deeply through my nose, then open my lips and make an om sound as I exhale, trying to find my center.

“Right now you just need to get dressed so we aren’t late for our appointment.”

“Are you out of your mind?” I say, unnerved. “There’s no way I’m leaving this house looking like this. I haven’t even showered.”

Kofi blinks, taken aback. “That’s crazy talk. This is really serious.”

“Well so is hygiene,” I point out.

“Please,” Kofi struggles to keep his voice calm, “let’s just go and you can take a bath when we get home.”

“Ew, I am not leaving this house without a shower.” I put my unpedicured foot down.

“Fine, I need to make a few phone calls anyway.” Kofi throws up his arms. “But hurry.”

When Kofi leaves, I take off my clothes and against my better judgment I take a look. It’s worse than I’d expected. My stomach looks like a walnut shell. I have a muffin top without pants on and even my hair looks fat. I’m dumbfounded. I always valued beauty and grooming. I love working out and being unemployed, I imagine that I have time in spades to do so. What else do I have to do, for Christ sakes?

I stand in the shower and let the water pour down my face, as I try to piece together the mystery of how my dreams and aspirations could have disintegrated so completely. But my eyelids are feeling heavy again. My head’s spinning and banging, like having shoes in the dryer. I can’t think.

“You okay babe?” Kofi watches me through the clear shower door, which is just another design flaw of this house.

“I’m fine.” This is a lie. I’m freaking out.

“You need to speed things up. Our appointment’s at 8:00 and it’s almost 7:00.”

I sputter through the water, annoyed, “I only have an hour to get ready?”

“No, we have to be there in an hour. So you have about fifteen minutes,” he yells over the shower stream.

“Sorry, no can do. I’m in need of a deep conditioning. And I mean deep.” I’m hoping against all hope that that’s all it takes to get me back to some semblance of normalcy. “We’ll just taxi.”

“Actually, we have to drive. We live in the foothills, about twenty miles east of Seattle.” I mentally zoom in on the word “foothills”. What he really means is, we live in a damned suburb.

I lean my head into the water stream that won’t get hotter than warm and look down for my hair products and only see one bottle, Pert Plus 2 in 1, shampoo and conditioner. So this is what it’s come to. I lather and spread the soap. My skin moves with the wash cloth. I have an eight inch scar beneath my belly and below that I’ve gone savage.

By the time Kofi returns, again he enters without knocking or announcing himself. I’m perched on top of the bathroom counter doing extensive damage control: the makeup bag that I managed to dig out from underneath the sink has vomited its contents all over the place. I apply a generous amount of make-up and pull my hair back in a perfectly parted, elegant twist, at the nape of my neck. Although it makes me look like a pudgy ballerina, it’s better than a disheveled housewife.

Kofi grabs a shirt and pants from the top of one of the clothes piles, sniffs them, and then puts them on. He pats his pockets and discovers his phone and wallet. His eyes grow bigger when he notices me. “You’re not even dressed yet?” He begins to pace about the way he does when he’s nervous. “Your friend’s coming over and she’ll be here any minute. You should be ready by now.”

“Who’s coming Piper or Jo-Jo? I know you wouldn’t call Celia. I couldn’t handle her honesty right now anyway.”

“I called Elaine. She’s very concerned about you and is on her way over.”

“Who?”

“Our neighbor.” He slips his feet in his shoes without unlacing them. “You don’t really talk to those other girls much anymore.”

“It’s because we don’t get reception in the burbs, isn’t it?” Something squeezes hard in my chest. “Oh God, you moved me to a place that’s out of network.”

“Babe, I know this is a lot to take in, but maybe we can get more answers from the doctor.”

The doorbell rings.

“Let’s go,” Kofi says, “I know Elaine really wants to see you. She’s really worried about you.”

“Send her away,” I say, trying to summon some composure. “I’m not ready to meet anyone right now.”

“You’re not meeting, you’re great friends.” He rubs his face hopelessly then says, “That’s right, you don’t know that because you don’t remember. Well,” he speaks quickly, “she offered to babysit while we’re at the doctor, so she’s staying. I’ll just ask her to stay with Nico in the kitchen while we sneak out.” Kofi moves across the room at a pace four times that of mine. “Can you please hurry up and get dressed?”

I roll my eyes to mean, whatever, and he leaves with a loud sigh.

The sounds of Kofi and a chirpy, disembodied voice head down the hall toward the kitchen.

Now according to my lingerie drawer, I’ve given up on sexy. All undergarments are functional and supportive, meant to stay concealed and not revealed. My panties are white and made of cotton and –oh God!- they’re tall. Why, why? My brassieres are built with technological and scientific sophistication. They cover my entire chest, with three inch straps and needing a five clasp panel system in the rear. I then origami my breasts to get them in my bra.

Everything in “my” closet is casual, conservative and machine washable. I’m completely underwhelmed by my options and trying to put something acceptable together with what I have is like my own Project Runway challenge. I pick out a shirt that has a pattern that gives me vertigo and hope since it’s been at least five years that poly-cotton blends are just a bad trend like the visible g-string or holey jeans. I reluctantly pull on a pair of high waist jeans. I lace up my shoes and then admire the finished product. I do my signature runway walk to a half length mirror and hit my pose, but instead of looking fierce, I look healthy, plump, and jolly.

Kofi puts his head in around the door. Can’t he knock?

“Ready?” he asks, looking at the woman in the mirror, who vaguely resembles the woman he dated five years ago. “Babe, you know we’re just going to the hospital right?”

“What do you mean?”

“You look…” he stops, then starts again, “glamorous…like you’re getting ready for the theater and not a doctor’s appointment.”

I give a few twirls and wonder what Kofi’s complimenting. I have always appreciated his trustworthiness and candor, but my suspicions are now raised to his sincerity.

Kofi grabs my arm. “Come on. We have to get out of here before Nico catches wind that we’re leaving.” I hear urgency in his voice. “Let’s go quietly. And don’t step there,” he points to a spot on the floor. “That board’s loose.” Kofi moves like a ninja but I walk with a heavy foot on a rubber sole. “Shhh, tiptoe,” but it’s too late.

I hear the frantic pitter patter of running feet before an advancing blur attacks me from down below. The next thing I know the little boy, “Nico” I presume. He has his legs wrapped, then locked, around my midsection. He’s squeezing the breath out of me and I’m unable to withstand the weight of his forty plus pound frame. I begin to crumble, hitting the floor. My foundation is smudged almost instantly and my hair comes undone.

“Help me,” I say with my last breath, “I think he’s trying to kill me.”

Nearly blacking out but revived by his high pitched piercing scream, “Don’t go!” The kid is covered in tears and getting slobber on my hair and neck. Then he plants his face into my shirt and wipes it across the front, leaving a snot streak. I’m appalled that I was just used as a tissue. “Mama, don’t leave!”

I don’t know who this mama person is, but I run for the exit. I reach for the door handle, that much closer to freedom, when I hear something, like an echo. It’s coming from the back of the house, and the sound is suspiciously familiar.

“What’s that noise?” I gasp. “Oh no. Do I also have a baby?”

“No,” Kofi replies, frantically pushing me towards the door.

“Oh, thank God. I just couldn’t handle that right now.” I’ve got one foot out the door. I can almost taste the escape.

“We have two.”

praise

“Funny yet tender…witty and charming…a reminder of the things that really matter in life.” – Jackie Bouchard, USA Today Bestselling Author of What the Dog Ate

“A sparkling debut novel brimming with heart and hilarity.” – Karin Gillespie, National Bestselling Author of Girl Meet Class

“With a marvelously snarky, sarcastic wit and a formidably flawed heroine, Wake-Up Call is frequently laugh-out-loud—and hard to put down.” – Phoebe Fox, Author of The Breakup Doctor Series and Huffington Post Contributor

“I laughed through every page…I never wanted to put it down…hilarious.” – Holly Rust, Co-Founder of Mother’s Guide to Sanity and Contributing Author of It’s Really 10 Months: Special Delivery

One of the best I have read this year… a great read especially if you are feeling the strain of raising small children and you are dreaming about the greener grass in someone else’s yard.” – A Novel Mama

“A sarcastic, snarky, funny look at life and all the things we never knew we really wanted.” – The Books Lover’s Best Friend

“Hilariously funny…endearing and heartfelt.” – Library Thing

“Thought-provoking…relatable…loved.” – Tara Wilson, Co-Author of Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?!

“A lighthearted read, with lots of love, hilarity, some sexiness and definitely a good time.” – Comfy Reading

“Fresh, funny, and compulsively readable. I loved it!”– Kati Merritt Radziwon, Founder of OneMomADay.com

“I love everything about Avanzino’s writing; it’s witty, true and extremely smart. She is awesome at creating hilarious dialogue and her characterization is also spot on. I love how she has taken a run-of-the-mill suburban street and plucked so many fascinating stories from amongst its residents” –Bookaholic Confessions

“Amy Avanzino has quickly developed a reputation for writing realistic characters and situations that truly touch the heart and inspire.” –BestChickLit.com

meet the author

Amy Avanzino received a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a Master’s from the University of Washington. She is a former special education teacher who has spent the last several years writing and doing extensive hands-on research for her Wake-Up Series, the first of which is Wake-Up Call. She’s a contributing writer of Hap Scotch, a play performed at the 2008 Frigid Festival in New York, which won two Audience Choice Awards. Amy currently lives in the stands above the football fields, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds around Folsom, California with her husband and four children.

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