Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Excerpt: Never Just Friends

Jacob Berkeley, famous for his critically-acclaimed television show Rage Eternal, last year’s Hottest Male Ever, this year’s 30 Sexiest on TV Under 30, was not hers.
Jake Berkeley, on the other hand, was a guy she met in college. Eater of her sister’s cookies. Playmate of her nephew and niece. The person she sat beside for three out of the last four Christmas dinners. Semi-annual “All-Clear Happy Hour” drinking buddy. Potential future Amazing Race partner. And, if that didn't pan out, her zombie apocalypse buddy.
But he wasn't her best friend, no. That would be crazy. Calling him that would let them fall into that awful cliché, and list them among the dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of platonic male-female “best friends” out there who were really just waiting for the other to wake up and smell the love already.
No they were not that. She was not that.
Lindsay paused and shook her hair out of the ponytail, catching her reflection on the window of an idling cab. It was July, and she rarely saw him in July, come to think of it. Since they both moved away from Fremont in California, they didn't see each other in the summer, when her hair was a bit more blond than brown, even when she did nothing new to it. She got the short end of this stick because she got to see him all year round. Got to see him buzzed and sweaty in photos of him working out to get in shape for his show. Got to see him be hot and handsome in the different time periods that his show’s seasons had been set in. (She didn't watch the show, though, but the promotional photos were used as billboards, and she usually had to walk by one when it was that time of the year.) Got to see him and his perfect black hair, perfectly sculpted stubble, perfect blue eyes taunting her from magazine covers.
She remembered that the dress she was wearing was a sexy crimson halter if she shrugged out of her brown knit sweater. So she did that. She caught her reflection yet again on a car window, and almost smacked the self-satisfied look on her face with her hand.
What for? Why are you doing this?
You have Victor. Maybe.
And he is not your Jake.
They (she and Jake) might not even be as friendly now as she thought they were. The last time she saw him was April, over a year ago, and it wasn't the best time for either of them. He skipped that year’s August happy hour, and missed Christmas, and she didn't hear from him the following April.
Or any other time in between.
Sometimes she wondered if she should be more worried about him, but the news didn't report anything serious enough to get her attention. She’d find out along with everyone else if anything happened to the fifth sexiest guy on TV “under 30” yes? So she assumed the distance was deliberate on his part.
And then this, having her walk five blocks to see him, on an assistant’s errand. A contract for him to sign. She'd find out that he was in New York this way? Because he probably flew in this morning. He liked doing that, flying into places early. Being up early. Doing things at dawn. She wouldn't have met him, in fact, if on that day her sister Cordelia didn't take the first flight out, and Lindsay woke up at five a.m. to help her with something.
And saw him jogging past the house she shared with her sister, her sister’s husband, and their two kids.
He ran by twice, probably circling the neighborhood, and then that was it.
Lindsay woke up early every day to check if he would pass by again. For two days there was no Hot Guy sighting, and then on the third day…
But no. She should be angry. Annoyed. Incensed. She should have put her foot down right there on the carpet and made Marnie do the welcoming herself.

It didn't matter if he was successful Jacob Berkeley now who got to act on TV, be on magazine covers, and take all-expense paid trips to be an environment poster boy. She was important too, damn it. Not in ways that he’d know unless he read the copyright page of policy papers (and who did really), but damn it.

Never Just Friends will be out on November 18. Buy here: Amazon iBooks  Kobo  Smashwords Amazon (Paperback). CreateSpace (Paperback, use code CPWT2BBA to get 10% off).

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