Heidi Joy lives in Happy Valley off Sunnyside Road. She swears she did not make that up. Heidi’s obsessed with storytelling. Her career includes marketing, journalism, and a delicious few years as a food columnist. Media passes took her backstage with several rock bands, where she learned that sometimes a wardrobe malfunction is exactly what the rock star intends. You’ll most often find Heidi Joy with her husband and two small kids cooking, fishing, exploring the Northwest, and building epic forts in their living room. She loves to hear from readers via messages at facebook.com/author.heidi.
So now for the excerpt:
Setup: After a rough breakup, Joshua has just moved into a new Seattle apartment with his dog Aussie. He’s invited his friends Mark and Stephanie over for dinner. They have plenty of opinions about who Joshua should date next, but one girl has his attention—the woman he met at the party thrown by his neighbors Juan and Eric a few weeks ago.
“That’s it, don’t feed me another bite. I’m stuffed.” Mark pushed back from Joshua’s cramped dining table and held his stomach, grinning widely. “The best thing about when you were sleeping on our couch was when you were awake in our kitchen.”
Joshua swallowed another gulp of wine, poured from the third bottle they’d opened that night, and surveyed the wreckage on the table.
Every morsel was gone, his friends were well-fed and happy, and Joshua’s home felt alive and cozy, nothing like a sterile catalog page. Aussie snored in front of Joshua’s fireplace, virtually the only open space since the dining table had been extended into the living room to accommodate Mark, Stephanie, Juan, Eric and Joshua.
Juan jumped up from the table. “I know you said to just bring booze, but I also brought some dessert.” He opened Joshua’s freezer and pulled out plastic-wrapped disks shaped like hockey pucks.
“Ice cream sandwiches.” He tossed each person the homemade chocolate chip cookies filled with vanilla ice cream. “They’re better than the kind from the store.”
“He’s more Martha than Martha,” Eric said, giving his roommate a gentle shove. “My ex would have hoped Juan would rub off on me, but I am just not meant to be domestic. I’m an artist.” Eric made a goofy face to show he was not taking himself too seriously.
“So are you single?” Stephanie pried. “Are you dating?”
“I’m, uh, between boyfriends at the moment,” Eric admitted. “My ex moved to Boston about a year ago. I’ve been going out more lately, but I haven’t found anyone worth seeing regularly.” He picked up the last wine bottle and poured a trickle into each of the five glasses to finish it off.
“I keep trying to find him a boyfriend so he’ll leave me and Tina in peace,” Juan said. “She’s in Vancouver getting her master’s, so weekends are our only quality time, if you know what I mean.”
“What about you, Joshua?” Eric asked. “With this place, you’ll be getting plenty of dates.”
“I’m looking,” Joshua answered slowly. “I’m just starting to get what it feels like to be single again, so I’m not trying to rush into anything.” He explained briefly about his split from Crystal, whom he’d met in high school and dated on and off through college.
“Joshua can afford to be picky,” Stephanie said protectively. “The last thing he needs is another pushy girl trying to fit him into her life, rather than appreciating him for who he is.”
“Let’s not get carried away,” Mark cut in. “Maybe what Joshua needs is a fun date—someone who isn’t all serious. Someone hot,” he wiggled his eyebrows at his wife, “and who cares if she’s not the type to bring home to mother? It doesn’t matter if it won’t last long; he’s not trying to get married right now.”
“You want hot? You should go out with that girl Melina,” Juan said. “She’s smokin’.”
“Who’s that?” Mark asked.
“Josh talked to her at the party. Those legs. She works with Eric.” Joshua and Mark exchanged looks over the legs comment.
Eric volunteered a few details. The youngest senior account executive in the company, Melina was known for her killer instinct. Eric liked working with her—usually—because although she was often critical, she never criticized his work unless she could suggest how to improve it.
“You could call her. I’ll give you her number,” Eric offered.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Stephanie frowned. “She seemed really pushy. She strolled into your party like she owned the place, like you threw it in her honor, Eric.”
Eric smiled. “That’s just part of Melina’s shtick. She does it everywhere. I’ve never seen anyone who could so thoroughly own a room. That’s why she’s so successful—she’s totally cultivated the ice queen persona and it works for her. But she’s smart and she’s hot and I think she’s single, so why not go out and have some fun?”
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