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And for your reading pleasure today, and excerpt from one of my Works-in-Progress, a novella titled Tequila Sunrise. Here's the first meeting between our heroine, soon-to-be-divorced Lou, and confirmed bachelor Toby...
Lou leaned against the rail and stared down at the blue. Not a bad way to go, all things considered. If she went overboard, Terrell wouldn’t be entitled to alimony. Maybe he’d even feel a little bit sorry. Maybe he’d miss her.
And maybe she’d drop twenty pounds and ten years overnight.
She sighed and turned around. Even a makeover that extreme wouldn’t be enough to make her marriage work. Make that my former marriage. She squinted at the sky. At a little after six, the sun was making its way to the edge of the ocean, where blue met orange and seared together in a distant black line that made her want to fly to the ends of the earth and never look back.
“Gorgeous, isn’t it?” Someone squeezed into the space to her right. A tanned elbow touched hers.
Lou turned. And bit her bottom lip. And tried to remember how to breathe. Well there you are.
Chocolate brown eyes caught and held hers. A smile, framed on one side by a single deep dimple, sent something sinfully wonderful squiggling straight down to the pit of her stomach. Lower, actually, to a spot below her stomach that hadn’t felt anything in months.
“I’m Toby.” He reached for her hand, and for a long ten seconds, Lou promptly forgot her name. He held on with a quizzical expression as she tried to think of something to say. All she could make out were the muscles and the dimple and the – “Ah, hello? You okay?”
“Oh, yeah. Sorry.” Idiot, she told herself. She dropped his hand and shook her head to clear away the X-rated thoughts that had zoomed out of nowhere. “I’m Lou. Short for Louise.” Pause. “It’s a family name.”
“Lou.” He smiled. “I like it. It’s unusual.”
Well, he earned points for that one. Most people frowned and asked her how she liked having a man’s name. One guy she’d dated a few months back had even told her he couldn’t imagine sleeping with her because it would be like making love to another guy. Wonderful. Lou swallowed what was left of her water, turned around to look for a place to set the glass, and tripped.
And no, she couldn’t trip into Toby. She couldn’t fall gracefully into arms that looked as though they wouldn’t have any trouble holding her. She couldn’t even fall in his general direction. Instead she lost her balance and crumpled without any grace at all into a stack of lounge chairs that had been pushed out of the way, up against the railing. Why the hell hadn’t she seen those before? Who left chairs someplace where people could trip over them? She lost her balance, pin-wheeled her arms a couple of times in despair, and landed with a crunch. Her dress ended up around her thighs – terrific, cellulite on full display – she lost a shoe, and one thumbnail snapped clean off.
Damn it. Lou blinked back tears of embarrassment.
“Whoa. You okay?”
“Ah, yeah.” For a second she closed her eyes and prayed to be teleported straight to another dimension. She waited a heartbeat and opened them again. Nope, still stuck in this one. Now there was no graceful way to pull herself up except by taking the hand Toby offered and putting the death grip on him as she wiggled her way back to standing. “Thanks.”
She couldn’t read the expression on his face. Humor? He wasn’t laughing at her. He was smiling, but whether in amusement or as a way to cover his thoughts as he tried to figure out a hasty goodbye, she couldn’t tell.
“I – coordination isn’t one of my strong suits,” she said. “I mean, I don’t usually fall down a whole lot, but…” Stop talking, Lou. She tugged the hemline of her dress back into place and waited for him to leave.
He didn’t. Instead he glanced down at her hand. “You’re bleeding.”