That's right, I finally have another book getting ready to leap forth into the great unknown. It's only been ten months... *cough*
Now, what does a new release have to do with costumes? Why, just that my two main characters actually met at a Christmas party, where one of them was dressed in a rather unflattering way. Since I rarely post any excerpts, and since this one actually fits the theme, I figured I'd have at it!
So here's a little snippet from early on in "Playing House". As with all my Willsin works, my heroine is delightfully curvy, with the kind of wide hips that could see a man through a hurricane, and the kind of smart mouth that could pin him to the wall. The difference with this story is it's more of a romantic comedy. It's just one with the bedroom door wide open.
(Incidentally, I'm straight and married and all that, but if Daniel, the cover model down there, were to ask... well, who knows what I might end up doing...)
* * * *
He flashed that annoyingly beautiful smile at me again and I couldn't stop myself from smiling back. Why did he have to be so damn personable and attractive? My brain was ordering me to reject him, but the rest of my body had other ideas. Stupid, treacherous hormones!
Toni and I sat on the sofa across from him, setting ourselves up like job interviewers. Mark bent and picked up the teapot.
“Lucy, you take yours with a dash of milk and a drizzle of honey, right?”
“Th–that’s right.” Again I glanced at Toni. I still hadn’t worked out her agenda, but it was clear that, in her head, this was a done deal.
He filled my cup to exactly three-quarters and then turned to Toni. “White with two?”
She nodded and he prepared hers, then sat back down.
“Aren't you having any, Mark?” I asked.
“Oh, no. I'm a coffee drinker. Never developed a taste for tea.”
For some reason that felt like a strike against him. I'd never taken to coffee, either the taste or the smell. But if he moved in he'd be filling the house with the pungent aroma of brewing beans. On the other hand, if it masked the smell of sweaty gym socks, then perhaps it was something I could live with.
He ran a hand back through his hair as he put one leg up over the other. It almost seemed he was part of the furniture. “Yeah, I worked my way through college as a barista. I even thought about giving away the studies and buying a little place of my own.”
“Why didn’t you?” That interested me more than a little, since essentially I’d done the same thing, only with books instead of beans.
Mark shrugged, with his eyebrows as much as his shoulders. “Practicality, I guess. There’s a zillion cafés out there, all fighting for a limited number of customers. Until the zombie apocalypse hits, people are always gonna need IT experts.”
Toni chugged half her tea and put her cup down, looking from Mark to me and back again. “Look, let's cut the crap, okay? Luce, you need someone to move in ASAP. Mark needs somewhere to live, like, yesterday. I know you guys have only just met, but I've known you both for years. You'll suit each other. Trust me.”
“That's not strictly true.”
I glanced over at Mark. “Sorry?”
“We have met before.”
I shook my head. “No. No, we haven't.” I knew that for sure, simply because if we had, he’d have featured in every erotic dream I’d had from that moment on.
“I'm not surprised you don't remember. It was at our work Halloween party last year. You went with Toni, because Robert couldn’t make it. You were dressed in black and you must have dyed your hair for the occasion. That’s why I thought you were a brunette.”
Scanning my brain, I strove to recall the night in question. I suddenly cringed as it came back to me. It happened to have been exactly one month since I'd sent Cameron packing. Pretty much my only memory of the evening was how quickly the vodka in my glass kept evaporating. “Oh, god. That’s right. I didn't hurl on your shoes or anything, did I?”
“No, you weren’t that drunk.”
“Huh. We must have met early in the evening then.”
“Yeah, we did. But I meant you wouldn't remember because I was in costume. Frankenstein's monster. It was pretty lame, but I don't usually go to those things. I didn’t really have the hang of it.”
“That was you?” I'd been halfway down that slippery slope of sweet, sweet alcohol at the time. “Did...we talk at all?” I bit my lip, hoping I hadn’t embarrassed myself.
He chuckled lightly. “Yep. You said my costume was probably an improvement on my real face.”
“Oh, god.” I hid behind my hands, peeking through my fingers at Toni who could barely contain her giggling. “I didn't really say that, did I?”
She just shrugged. “I don't know. I was racing you to the bottom of the bottle. Plus I believe I spent most of the night sexting Robert from one of the private offices. But given what was happening in your life at that point, then yeah. It sounds like the kind of thing you'd say.”
Then my memory clicked. That’s why his scent had seemed familiar as he’d walked in. There had been a hint of bourbon on his breath that night, but his blend of cologne and detergent had squirreled into my subconscious. I remembered, though, that it was the rich masculine tang of a healthy young man that had really shaken me. That must have been why I'd insulted him. I’d been scared of how delicious he’d smelled, and how warm it made me feel.
* * * *
This story is in the late stages of editing now, and hopefully I'll have it out before November leaves us. My main stumbling block is that it's soooooo long (I love telling people that). It's at around 70,000 words now, which might come back a little with these final edits, but of course, it's also entirely possible it will grow a tad. I'll definitely keep folks appraised of release dates, too. I'm putting together an ARC (Advanced Review Copy) group as well, which is all kind of grown up and mature. And totally unlike me!