‘Cause I’m good like that.
Today is the release day for the Sassy Seven Boxed Set of which I (and my book Lucky Thirteen) are a part. It’s a collection of seven full-length romantic comedy-esque novels from some great authors (and me) all for the low, low, low, low price of .99!
(Handy clicky-buy links go HERE)
There’s also a fun Q&A on USA Today’s Happily Ever After Blog where all seven of us confess why we love romcom so much, who our favorite romcom couples are, and what each of our books is about. I compared mine to My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Of course, I didn’t have the time (or column inches) to talk as extensively about Thirteen as I might have otherwise. Let’s see—interesting tidbits.
This was the second full-length manuscript I wrote, close to ten years ago. (The first one lives under my bed and will never see the light of day.) If you know anything about me as a published author, then you might find yourself asking, “But Barb, this is an adult book—not a young adult.”
Yes. Yes it is. Remember how I’ve always said writing young adult was kind of a happy accident? I not only had this manuscript completed before I ever published as a young adult author, but two more featuring the same extended cast of characters. I had hoped that publishing in young adult would help pave the way for the adult stories, but it didn’t quite work out that way. But that’s all right. Because now I can bring it to you myself!
To whet your appetites, a small excerpt, in which our heroine, Isabel, is having a heart-to-heart with her best friend Ciara in the wake of a most unexpected encounter with a man who a) works for her and b) happens to be thirteen years younger. To say she’s conflicted would be putting it mildly. Thank goodness for Ciara.
“Oh. My. God. Then what?”
I shrugged as far as I was able to while reclined over a shampoo sink. “Nothing. I let him make the escape he so clearly wanted to make. Haven’t seen him since.”
“A week ago.”
“And why not?”
I winced at the imperious tone—and at the increased force of the scrubbing of my scalp.
“Well, for one, I really did have the mother of all colds, so I holed up at home for a few days and now he’s called in sick the last few days. Probably figuring out some graceful way to quit. That way, he won’t have to worry about being the leading man in the next serial installment of Attack of the Crazed and Probably Hormonal Woman—ow!”
Ignoring my yelp, Ciara continued to scrub my scalp vigorously. “Okay, refresh my memory. Which waiter is this again?”
Stretching my arm, I was just able to snatch a towel from a nearby stack so I could wipe away the trickle of shampoo currently threatening my left eye. “The young one,” I sighed.
“They’re all young, babydoll,” she drawled. Water began sluicing through my hair, hot nearly to the point of pain. “Which young one? And how young, exactly?”
I spluttered as she not-so-accidentally ran the spray across my face. “I’ll never get a chance to tell you if drown me, Ciara.”
“Fine.” With a click, the chair popped upright from its reclined position, making the blood rush to my head. Dizzy, I opened my eyes only to rear back from Ciara’s narrow blue gaze, hovering entirely too close.
“I’ll give you condition and rinse time to collect your thoughts, then—all of it.”
“Pfft.” Like the death stare was supposed to impress me after twenty -five years of best-friend-hood?
Parked in the chair at Ci’s station I meditatively blotted my hair with a towel while she arranged her tools. As she began combing through my damp hair, our gazes met in the mirror.
“Well?” But her tone and look were both less demanding than they’d been a few moments earlier which was exactly what I needed to loosen up. She knew me too well, the bitch. “Let’s start with something easy—how young, exactly?”
“Twenty-five.” Not like I’d checked the employee records I had on file or anything. Praying that I was recalling his age incorrectly even though I already knew better.
“Hmm,” she hummed. “Nice. Let’s move on to the physical—how tall?”
I thought back to how, even at five-seven, I’d still had to rise slightly on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. “Just about six feet, I guess.”
Separating a section of hair, Ci started snipping. “Okay, then. Tall enough you can wear your Louboutins comfortably. This is good.” She winked at me in the mirror. “Eyes, hair, distinctive features?”
“Brown and brown and young.”
“Oh come on, Isa.” Ciara’s voice took on a decidedly annoyed edge again—even her tiny diamond nose stud seemed to glitter impatiently under the fluorescent track lights. “You have to give me more than that to work with.”
Sighing, I pulled up a mental image of Josh’s face—not difficult, since it had been on my mind a whole lot more than I was comfortable admitting, even to Ci. “Well… his eyes are the exact color of dark chocolate ganache—deep and rich. Great lashes. Not girly long, but thick.” Yeah, I’d done more than my share of surreptitious glancing during dinner. Don’t ask me why. It’s not like I hadn’t seen him most every day for the last three years.
Ci kept snipping, but looked up long enough to catch my gaze in the mirror again. “Okay, keep going—because I’m still not quite picturing who this is. What about the rest of the face?”
I started to say ‘young’ again, but Ci’s hard tug on my hair warned do not annoy the woman with the sharp scissors. Sighing, I tried to keep it quick and painless. “Wide cheekbones, almond-shaped eyes that turn down slightly at the outside corners—”
Okay, maybe not quick, because I liked mentally revisiting the sleepy, very sexy appearance that particular feature gave him and which had left me going more than a little warm every time he’d turned that intense dark brown gaze on me. However, not sharing that tidbit. That was mine.
Finally, I got to the one thing Ciara could relate to. “His hair’s nearly as dark as his eyes, kind of longish and somewhere between wavy and curly.”
Yep. That got her. Should’ve just started there.
“Wait a minute—that waiter with the gorgeous hair that women come in here begging me to give them, regardless of cost? That’s Josh?”
“Oh sweetie, you should’ve just said so. I’d have recognized him from the description of that head of hair alone—I’ve been dying to get my hands on it.”
“Don’t you dare,” popped out before I could stop myself. Didn’t have to look in the mirror to know I was blushing like some adolescent twit.
Not one more word. Even if she snatches you bald-headed.
She laughed as she combed my hair out once more, holding my head steady between her hands and studying the results, then snipping a bit more here and there. “Relax, darling. Just to shape it a bit—maybe rethink the sideburns. Nothing drastic. So, what about the bod, proper?”
I turned to look directly at her, scissors be damned. “Jesus, Ciara, it’s not like I saw the boy naked!” Only nearly shirtless and well, my hands had gotten intimate with his fly and Lord, was it getting hot in here? “I thought you wanted to figure out who he was? Now you know.”
One narrow shoulder rose, the gesture elegant even given the black baby doll tee with “Bite These” scripted in rhinestones across her chest. “Color me curious.”
Color her sadistic. Forget it. The battle was lost. She was going to keep asking and honestly, I wanted to keep talking.
But only to purge myself—get him out of my system.
“Kind of long and lanky, I guess… but not in a ninety-eight pound weakling sort of way. Nice shoulders.”
Shifting in the chair, I took a deep breath that whooshed out on a sigh. “Oh, and his chest—”
“Whoa. Hold up.” Ci leaned forward and grabbed the hairdryer. “I’m guessing with that head of hair….” I watched myself turn beet red as her reflection leered and her eyebrows did a truly horrific Groucho Marx thing.
“My, my… I guess so. And since my chests of preference are neither hairy nor flat, you can keep that tidbit as the little private fetish I know it to be for you.”
“Tit slut,” I muttered beneath the whine of the dryer.
“I heard that.”
Sticking my tongue out at her reflection, I remained slouched in the chair until she none-too-gently prodded the brush handle between my shoulder blades, forcing me to sit straighter. Thankfully, the task of drying and styling my hair brought a temporary respite in our never-ending game of Let’s Dissect Isa’s Love Life. Not that I didn’t do the same to Ciara when opportunity arose—especially since she actually had a love life worth dissecting. Had to be why she was pressing so hard for the dirt given she’d been after me to date… well, since Chris and I had decided not to stay together.
Ten years ago.
One could say it’d been a dry spell.
But who had the time? Or inclination, come to think of it?
And honestly… I was perfectly good without a man. I had Alex, Mae’s, friends, family; why did I need romantic entanglements? I didn’t. Yeah, the physical urges got pesky from time to time, but no big.
I was nothing if not self-sufficient.
Ci shut off the hairdryer and fiddled a bit more with my hair, snipping a few stray bits here and there before finishing it off with a fine mist of spray.
“Long bangs, layers for movement, but not so much that you can’t put it up in a sharp, sophisticated ponytail or twist for work if that’s what you want. You like?”
I looked in the mirror at Ciara’s slightly anxious expression. As if she really needed to worry. Not like I’d let anyone else touch my hair since we were teenagers. Grasping the hand she had on my shoulder I reassured her, “You know I love it.”
Her expression relaxed. “Good. It’s so fun to play with your hair now that you’ve let it grow out again.” Unable to help herself, she rearranged it again. “I think last time you wore it this long was high school.”
“Well, you know, Ci, once you hit forty it’s time for Sensible Hair. Two more years and that’ll be all she wrote..”
“Oh, bullshit.” Ci’s hairbrush hit the rolling cart beside her so hard it skidded a few feet away. Good thing I’d come in before the start of her business day, otherwise, she might be scaring off customers. “Girl, I swear, you are getting on my last gay nerve with this nonsense. I don’t know where the fuck you’ve been getting these crackpot theories of what women our age are or are not supposed to do, but they’re about as outdated as organdy aprons and pearls and heels while you vacuum. ‘I can’t have long hair. I can’t fuck a younger man,’“ she mocked in an acid sing-song. “It’s pure, unadulterated crap, Isabel.”
I spun the chair around to face her. “Always so nice to see the breadth of your Columbia University education shining through.”
“It is crap. My mother’s latest boyfriend, courtesy of CougerStalk-dot-com, is seventeen years younger than her and she says it’s the most amazing sex she’s had since her twenties.”
I shuddered. “Dear God, talk about TMI.”
“Tell me about it, but the woman won’t stop calling me at ungodly hours and conveying all the gory details—in glorious living Technicolor. Thank God she hasn’t figured out how to upload videos to YouTube or else I might have the visuals to go along with.”
She paused as we both contemplated that horror.
From Lucky Thirteen ©2014 Barbara Ferrer