I’m excited to celebrate the release of my novella, Maybe This Time. Here’s a short excerpt I thought you might enjoy.
Kate held the door as Colleen, eyes still glued to her tablet, walked out of the coffee shop. “I’ll follow up on the wine and chocolate class,” Kate promised.
“Nothing gets your mind off a hot guy like wine and chocolate,” Colleen said. “Are you coming to yoga practice?”
“Naw, think I’ll head into the office early and catch up on a few things.”
“And wait for Eric to call.”
“If he calls, he calls. I just met the guy. This isn’t life changing.” Kate argued more to herself than to Colleen, dismissing the idea aloud that she was already in deep. The pounding of her heart did little to reinforce the casual tone she hoped to emit. After all, she and Eric barely spent an hour together and most of that was discussing floor plans and parking flow. “There he is.” Kate shouted at Colleen, shoving a crinkly bag of leftover scones into her friend’s hand before racing up the street toward a parked taxi cab.
Colleen fumbled to catch the bag without dropping her tablet. “He who?” she yelled, chasing behind, but not at the same sprint Kate exhibited. Suddenly Kate stopped hard, as though she hit a wall and turned around. Oh my God. Her breath hitched as she tried to regain her composure before Colleen caught up to her.
“What are you chasing after?”
“A dream,” Kate responded, sucking in air. “It wasn’t Eric. I made a mistake. Let’s go.” She grabbed Colleen by the arm and tugged her toward the cafe, hoping she wouldn’t ask any more questions. Kate didn’t want to tell her friend that she saw Eric standing near a cab. Her Eric, being kissed by a shapely woman with a tiny waist and long legs. A beautiful blonde who whispered something sexy into his ear before walking away. They must have been on a romantic getaway. How stupid I am to think a guy like Eric is waiting around for me. He probably dates lots of women—at the same time.
“Hey, Kate. Is that you?”
Kate walked faster, but Colleen stopped. “There’s a guy back there waving at you. Kinda nice looking. Now he’s coming our way.” Colleen smiled as though inviting him to come closer.
“Don’t encourage him,” Kate said.
“Too late. Here he is.” Colleen made a sweeping motion as though she were a hostess on a game show introducing today’s prizes.
Oh God, his eyes are browner than I remember.
“Kate, I’m glad I caught you,” Eric said. “Sorry I missed you on the phone. I got back into town early.”
“I see that,” Kate muttered, her icy tone coating each word. Not going through this drama again. Crazy guy. Multiple girlfriends. Bad endings.
“I’m Eric Wiley,” he said, offering his hand for Colleen to shake before returning his attention to Kate.
“So maybe we can set up that coffee date. There’s a great little place a couple of doors down.”
“I know. Colleen and I just had coffee there.”
“And scones,” Colleen chimed in, handing Kate her bag of leftovers. “I’ve got to get going. I have class in thirty minutes.”
“Teacher or student?” Eric asked.
“Nice. Maybe I can take your class sometime. It’s not that sweaty yoga, is it?”
“No, it’s more of a flow class. Kate can tell you all about it.” Colleen tapped Kate on the shoulder. “I’ll see you later,” she said before scurrying toward the yoga studio.
“I like your friend,” Eric said gesturing to Colleen’s back.
“She’s pretty terrific. We met in her class. Used to be a cop.” Kate wanted to run away, but her feet grounded into the earth as though an alien force rooted them in place. All the small talk didn’t comfort her. Minutes before this guy was kissing another woman, and now he was flirting with her. Was there no end to his nerve?
“Now that’s really switching career paths,” Eric said. “I consider doing that sometimes.”
“And leave the family business for what? I don’t see that happening.” You’re such a privileged mama’s boy, Kate wanted to say, but didn’t. Truth was during their earlier interactions, Eric didn’t strike her as someone who life had been easy on. It was obvious his parents leaned on his judgment. Eric presented himself as a self-made man, working for what success came his way. Still, he was hiding something she couldn’t quite put her finger on.
Granted with business-owner parents, his path may have been smoother than many. Even if your folks set you up, you’re the one who has to walk that path. Kate knew lots of privileged folks who took the benefits they were born into and managed to drink, gamble or in some other way squander their advantage, as though opportunity was an all-you-can-eat buffet. Made a bad choice, no problem. Just get a clean plate and try again. The sports pages and movie magazines were filled with celebrity examples. A couple of Kate’s sorority sisters were still trying to find themselves. That’s what they claimed at the last reunion.
“You’d be surprised. I can tell you more about my future plans over a hot mocha.”
Kate readjusted her purse strap and leaned away. “Thanks for the invite, but I need to get to work. We’re already brainstorming the next complex. Proposal is due in two weeks.”
“Yeah, I know. We talked about your innovative ideas. I thought they were great. You’re great.” Eric licked his lips and stepped closer. “Seems to me like we connected, at least a little bit, but if you’re not interested, just say so. You don’t have to go through not answering my calls and giving me the brush off. Just be honest. It will save us both a lot of time.”
Kate shoved her paper pastry bag in her coat pocket and crossed her arms. “Honesty? Is that the most important value to you, because I believe in always telling the truth. I always tell the truth.”
“And you’re suggesting I don’t?” Eric’s nostrils flared with anger, causing Kate to step back. “We are standing in the street arguing about I don’t know what. Do you want to have a cup of coffee with me or not? It’s just that simple.”
“Not until you answer a question first.” Kate straightened to her full five-foot-six height. “Who were you kissing a moment ago?”
“Kissing? What are you talking about?”
“Near the cab. The woman who kissed you. Who is she? You’re an only child, so I know that wasn’t your sister. A cousin, maybe?” Kate huffed.
Eric’s eyes widened.
Is this how he stalls for time, cooking up a lie, Kate thought. This should be really good. She waited, even tapped the toe of her boot a time or two. “Well?”
“Like I said on my call, business ended early. I grabbed a cab with a coworker. End of story.”
“Not quite. Here comes your coworker, and she looks ticked.”