I can’t believe how excited, nervous, anxious, terrified, and thrilled I am to think about my book in the hands of readers. I’ve been blogging about other people’s books for six years. Now that it’s something I wrote, the game has changed!
It makes me wonder how many other writers DM anxious and ridiculous messages to their friends before their release date. How many of them bite their nails about whether the manuscript is perfect. How many want to both hide under a pillow and shout about their book from the top of a mountain. (*raises hand*)
I hope you all enjoy the book. If you’re on the fence about reading, here’s a sneak peek at part of Chapter 1.
“I don’t understand what all of the fuss is about.” I looked around at the Sandhill stadium, packed to the brim with teenagers from two different school districts. The scent of hamburgers wafted from the concession stand and I was almost tempted to go stand in the line. Almost.
“These are two of the top teams in the state,” Shelly explained as she scanned the crowd. “One of them is going to go against Woodlake in the championships.” She finally stopped looking around and turned to me. “Besides, these guys are as hot as they come on this side of the Mason-Dixon.”
I rolled my eyes. “Glad to see you’re not still mooning over Caleb.” The only reason I’d come to this godforsaken game was because he ditched her at the last minute. Spending a Friday night at a football game sounded about as exciting as a bikini wax, but Shelly didn’t want to come alone. What was going to be an indulgent night home with a book turned into a loud and crowded night out with my three best friends.
Shelly grinned, already spotting her new quarry, wearing a burgundy Woodlake hoodie. “Jason Hunter is over there. Girl, I’ll see you in a bit.” Then she was gone, disappearing into the stands just like Merrin and Chloe did as soon as we arrived. So much for female solidarity.
My phone chimed. It was Mom.
Send me a selfie from the game. Your dad thinks you’re really in Mexico.
I flipped my camera, stuck out my tongue and sent the shot back to my parents. Mom was a little skeptical when I told her where I was going tonight. Honestly, I wouldn’t have believed me either.
I stood alone in the crowd, scanning for my missing friends.
That’s when I saw him.
About 6 feet tall. Brown hair so dark it was almost black and brown eyes with lashes so thick, they barely looked real. He was leaning against the side of the concession stand, laughing and flashing one perfect dimple. It lit his entire face. Everyone was gathered around him, captivated by whatever it was he was talking about. And I wanted to be there too.
The wheels in my head started turning right away. Do these pants fit ok? What did I weigh this morning? No matter how many times I got on the damn scale –no matter what it showed me—I was never happy with how much I weighed. Somewhere in my head I knew the number didn’t really matter. But telling myself that didn’t actually help.
To be fair, since I’d lost 30 pounds two years earlier, the only talk about my weight had been from my mom, nagging me to stop dieting. But that stupid scale was one of the few things in my life where I couldn’t say screw it and walk away.
Even if I couldn’t ignore the nagging voice in the back of my head, I refused to let it cripple me.
He flashed his dimple again and I bit my lip.
I hadn’t dated much, though there had been a few guys since I lost the weight. I can do this. I just needed to walk over there and be me. I can be charming, dammit. And confidence is sexy.
As I got closer, I could pick up bits of the conversation.
The blond guy standing next to Mr. Eyelash Dimple-God was gesturing wildly as he spoke, “…and I’m telling you, that lady was crazy. She was waving her broom around and yelling at us in Spanish, and here comes Luke with the car. The Halloween decorations were still stuck in the front tire…”
I was only half listening. He was even more beautiful close up. And he was laid back; his smile: lazy, sexy, magnetic. Even as his over-loud friend told the story, everyone was looking at him.
“Who do we have here?” I turned to face the voice to my left, and I had to look up. Standing next to me was clearly a football player, even though he wasn’t in uniform. He was a hulk of man. Good looking with deep black skin and hair trimmed close to his scalp. Big smile. He waited, obviously thinking I was going to worship at his feet or whatever it was that football groupies did.
“I don’t know, Big Guy. What do we have?” Not my best comeback, but to be fair, I was heavily distracted by Dimple-Guy. Football dude caught on quickly. “Ah, I see your interest lies elsewhere. I’m Marcus. That’s my boy Luke. You want me to introduce you?”
Luke. His name is Luke.
I finally gave Marcus my full attention. He really was pretty impressive looking. I could see why he expected a bigger reaction from me. I grimaced. “That obvious, huh?”
He smiled warmly, “Hey, it’s cool. What’s your name?”
I smiled. “Evelyn. So you’re on the Woodlake team?” I gestured to his burgundy jacket.
“Yeah,” he grinned. “We’re just checking out the competition. Both Prescott and Sandhill have some solid players.
“Hey Luke, man, come here.” Luke looked at us and my chest started thumping. He gave me a long once-over before he walked towards us and offered his friend a fist-bump.
“Marcus. What’s up?” He was talking to his buddy, but his eyes were locked on mine.
“Man, I just wanted to introduce you to my beautiful new friend here. This is Evelyn. Evelyn, my boy, Lucas.”
Luke smiled at me and I swear it was like the sun shining right on my face. “Nice to meet you, Evelyn. Are you a football fan?”
“No,” I blurted out, “I really hate football.” Way to go, Ev. Very charming. Perhaps next I should tell him that his name is stupid and his shoes are ugly.
But somehow, instead of walking away, he laughed. “I’ve got to say, I don’t hear that too often. So if you’re not a fan of the sport, what are you doing here?”
“I’m not sure. Bad karma, maybe?” The words fell out of my mouth without checking in with my brain. I didn’t sound terribly stupid, I guess, because he was laughing again. Marcus gave a short salute and left us alone.
“I’m actually here with my friends. One of them had a need for back-up. And when your friends need you, you’ve got to show up.”
He leaned in. “Damn right.”
He cocked his head toward the back of the stadium, and we moved together away from the noise of the crowd. “So if you weren’t here tonight, forced to endure this misery of a game,” he chuckled, “what would you be doing?”
Finishing Razorland. “Ah, writing my memoirs probably. So many adventures. I want to make sure I remember them all when I’m old.” With every ounce of charm I was able to crank out, Luke rewarded me with a touch on my arm or another one of his panty-melting grins.
He was practically howling by the time I told him about how I nearly killed myself trying to windsurfing on the Gulf of Mexico. I grinned too, since I was no longer working so hard to make an impression. I was just being me and enjoying his company. That’s when a skinny, dishwater blond with a tight dress walked over and stood between us.
“Luke, the first quarter is almost over,” she drawled in what sounded like a little-girl voice. “Are you coming back or what, baby?” She stuck out her bottom lip and dragged her fingertips across his chest.
His smile dimmed. “Yeah. I’ll be there in a minute.” She looked at me pointedly before basically eating his face with a big, wet tongue kiss. One more glare at me and she walked away.
My eyes shifted back to Luke, and I forced a bland expression on my face. “She was marking her territory.”
He rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah. I guess so.”
Pause. “Dogs do that.”
And just like that, his smile returned.
“Give me your phone for a sec.” He handed it to me and I added my name to his contacts. “Tell you what. When you find yourself single, give me a call.” Full of confidence that was at least 50 percent genuine; I smiled slyly and walked away.
Feels Like Forever is available November 21 on Amazon.