I leave stuff to the last minute. It’s a trait that I’m sure some fins annoying, but for me it works. Sooo, with that in mind, creating a novel in a month should be a cinch. I took part last year and wrote Evangeline – a novel which actually I shelved. I’ll go back to it one day but it’s a dystopian and I want to move it to a sci-fi which is a LOT of work. A major rewrite, so for now I’m moving on. So, this year I’m going to complete my spicy contemporary romance, Stripped – a book I’ve already started. It’s a standalone contemporary romance, and here’s the first chapter! It’s unedited and raw,and the tats on the cover need work, but it’s a start! For all of you taking part in NaNo this month, good luck! We can all totally do it.
The offending tube of superglue lay on top of a dusty rag, its innocent looking liquid spilling from the top. Innocent my ass. The small crystal vase stuck to my finger assured me of that. Shit. Ellie was going to have my balls in a vice. Despite her being at work, I swear her voice echoed around the large rustic farmhouse—‘Stop putting cups on the same shelf as my vase, Dylan. Carter’s grandmother gave me that right before she passed away’. Double shit. Her and her fiancé—my best friend, Carter—were due home within the next hour and despite my best effort to fix the vase, it still hung in jagged pieces stuck to my thumb.
My head snapped up as a pounding started at the front door. I groaned—the day could not possibly get any worse. I’d already blown off work after I spotted my latest shag lurking at the end of the long dusty driveway when I went for my morning run. With my luck, that’d be her. The banging on the door grew louder, shaking the wooden frame with its ferocity.
“Carter!” a woman’s choked voice shouted.
Okay, so not for me. In four strides, I made it from the large kitchen, across the living area and to the front door. Sneaking a look through the peephole, a bowed head of tangled, glossy brown hair greeted me.
“Carter, let me in,” she shouted at her feet.
“All right, calm your panties,” I muttered opening the door.
The woman flung her tiny body into my arms, dissolving into howling tears. “I left him, Carter. The fucking vagina pounding prick cheated on me.”
As she spoke the stench of a hundred too many whiskeys assaulted my nose. Her body shook with sobs. Not exactly well versed in dealing with women in distress, I patted her on the back and said, “There, there.”
“Ow, what is that?” she asked, yanking my arm from around her. She held up my hand, the vase still attached, swaying as she studied it. Dust covered her tight pink dress, and I noted her feet were bare and dirty. Thick black makeup of some variety surrounded her eyes and trickled down her cheeks. What I can only describe as neon pink lipstick half covered her plump lips. She squinted up at me, her eyes so narrowed I couldn’t make out what color hid between her mascara caked lashes. “What the hell, Carter?”
“How wasted are you? I’m not—”
“Oh shit.” She clasped her hand to her mouth and mumbled between her fingers, “I think I’m going to be sick.”
Wasting no time, I grabbed her elbow and ushered her to the bathroom. Second only to Ellie’s prize vase came the highly polished dark wood floor.
I scooped up her hair and held it as she emptied her stomach into the toilet in a most unlady like series of wretches. The pungent odor of vomit filled the bathroom, some of the lumpy liquid splattering on the cream marble floor.
When she stopped spewing, she rested her forehead on the edge of the toilet seat. With one of my hands clutching her hair and the other still glued to Ellie’s vase, I fumbled to unreel some toilet paper. Mission accomplished, I lifted her gently and wiped her mouth free of any remaining sick.
“Thank you,” she mumbled. Her eyes rolled and she sagged against my chest. “My life is over.”
Lifting her up, I carried her into the living area and lay her down on one of the cream crushed velvet couches—the only splash of color in the dark room.
In a surprising surge of strength, the woman sat up, grabbed my wrists and pulled me down, then lay her head on my lap and snuggled her face against my jean-clad thigh. Her eyes fluttered closed, and before I got the chance to ask her who the hell she was, soft snores vibrated against me.
Raising my hands to my face to give it a well-deserved ‘what the fuck’ rub, the vase smacked me in the eye. I hissed a bunch of expletives under my breath. My crappy day had morphed into a full-blown travesty. The petite brunette sprawled in my lap had a lot to answer for once she woke up. I made a mental note to go easy on her and supply her with plenty of Advil first. Sighing, I gripped her shoulders and tried to move her off me. She wrapped her arms around my legs and clung on like a mama bear protecting her cubs.
Resigned to spending the rest of the afternoon stuck to the couch with a broken vase glued to my thumb, and a drunken woman in my lap, I stared longingly at the shards glimmering under the kitchen lights. With no chance of salvaging it at least until I could find an identical replacement, my stomach twisted as images of Ellie going nuclear flashed through my head.
A tiny sob whispered from the woman’s sleeping mouth. Whoever she was, life had clearly thrown her a curveball. Tears leaked from her closed eyes. I’d heard of people crying themselves to sleep, but never of people crying in their sleep. An unexpected bout of sympathy bloomed in my chest. The person responsible for her state needed a beating; then again, I only knew a tiny amount of one side of the story.
A strand of hair hung across her face. On instinct, I reached out and tucked it behind her ear. Even with her panda face, her small nose and full lips indicated a beauty lay beneath the layers of makeup. Regardless, there’s nothing more unattractive than a woman wearing enough slap for an entire circus full of clowns. I wondered what lay beneath the caked skin colored stuff. Maybe a freckle or two? Her body, all smooth curves in all the right places, was worthy of worship, and her tits, fuck me—heavenly.
Blowing out a breath, I stretched my hands behind my head and leaned back, the crystal biting into my scalp. Carter and Ellie would be home soon. The safety of my balls had long departed, but I’d gladly hand Ellie a nutcracker if she could get the damn vase unglued from my hand.
On cue, a key ground into the lock and the front door swung open. Carter removed his boots before stepping into the house and dropped them onto the shelf Ellie had designated the shoe holder. Raking a hand through his dark waves, he got half way to the kitchen before spotting me on the sofa with a random woman’s face buried in my crotch.
“What the fuck? Dylan, you prick. If you’ve touched her, I swear, I’ll throw you through the god damn window and out into the yard.”
Raising my hands, I swallowed, imagining myself hurtling through the window, glass tearing at my skin. My life flashed before my eyes as all six-foot six of him hulked toward me.
“I haven’t touched her. I don’t even know who she is. She just turned up here, drunk as a skunk and wailing like a banshee. She kept calling me Carter, so I figured she’s a friend of yours, and I better let her in.”
Carter stopped midstride, gaping at something to my side. “Is that Ellie’s vase?” Clutching his sides, he dissolved into laughter. “Shit, Ellie’s gonna kill you, man.”
My shoulders slumped and I scratched the side of my head. “I was hoping I could find a replacement before she noticed.”
Carter stopped laughing and sniffed. “You’ve got no chance. That vase is like, a hundred years old or something. The only way you’re going to find a replacement is if you can convince my sister there to give you hers,” he said pointing at the woman in my lap.
“You’re sister?” I tried to scramble up, but a growl rumbled from his sister’s chest.
“She’s got you in a death grip. Trust me, you’re not getting out of it,” Carter said disappearing into the bathroom. He emerged with a pink bottle and some Q-tips. Swinging my legs up, he sat down and plunked them into his lap. “Here, hold out your hand.”
He unscrewed the lid from the bottle and dipped a Q-tip in the liquid. A sharp aroma sliced its way through the air, bringing tears to my eyes.
“It’s nail polish remover,” Carter said, a grin plastered across his face. “Ellie swears by it.” He set to work removing the vase from my thumb. “Did she say what was wrong?”
“Huh?” I asked, too engrossed in the vase slowly peeling away from my thumb, taking some skin with it.
“Mia—my sister, did she say what was wrong?”
“Oh yeah, something about a vagina pounding prick cheating on her. She’s left him, from what I can gather.”
“Aww, shit,” Carter said, his features softening in concern. “That son of a bitch. I knew he’d break her heart one day.”
I cleared my throat, embarrassment at his sister sprawled in my lap and my earlier admiration of her tits sending heat up my neck. “She was pretty cut up.”
Carter nodded. “I can see that. Plus, she rarely drinks and definitely not enough to get her as wasted as that.”
“She really thought I was you,” I said, keen to prove my innocence.
“I don’t doubt it. She can’t see for shit without her glasses.” Carters brow creased as he nudged at the final patch of skin stuck to the crystal. “This bit’s not budging. Hold still.”
Before I could protest, Carter grabbed the vase and yanked it free of my hand, taking a strip of flesh with it. Holding my breath, I squeezed my eyes shut waiting for the rip of pain to pass.
“You’re an asshole,” I said once I’d recovered.
Carter waggled his eyebrows. “Worked didn’t it?”
“That’s one of my problems solved. Now I need to get the other to get off me and wake up so I can ask her for the vase.”
“Did you just call my sister a problem?”
I groaned. “I didn’t mean it like that. I’ve just had one hell of a day.”
“That the reason you didn’t turn up to work today?”
I rubbed the back of my neck. Carter owned a mechanics out back. He’d hired me three years ago and we’d been best buddies ever since.
“When I asked you to come live here, I told you no special privileges.”
“I know, man. I’m sorry. It’s just Meghan turned up there this morning,” I said.
A huge smirk spread across Carter’s face. “Told you she’s the not the kind you can have a one nighter with.”
I shifted in my seat to face him, earning a growl from the tiny tiger in my lap. “I made it clear from the outset I wasn’t interested in any more. She said she was cool with it, then five minutes after I left her place, she starts calling and texting for more.”
“So call her back,” Carter said.
“I already did. I’ve phoned her and texted her, all saying the same thing—that I didn’t want a relationship—but she won’t back down.”
“Want me to set Ellie on her?” Carter asked.
I chuckled. At only five foot four, Ellie had the bark of a pug, but the bite of an Alsatian. “Nah, I can handle it.” Better to try to have a talk face to face than send Ellie gunning for blood. I just needed to work up to it.
Mia squirmed in my lap and released my legs. “Finally. Can you get her off now?”
“Sure.” Moving my legs, Carter stood and lifted Mia. “I’ll put her in my bed. You’ve got a little extra time to convince her to part with her vase. Ellie took a last minute trip to see her sister, and she won’t be back until Monday.”
“Will your sister be staying with us?” I asked once Carter had tucked Mia in bed. Time alone in the house was already hard to come by. I really needed to get my own place and had my eye set on the guest house next door. That way I could entertain as much as I wanted without risking Ellie or Carter coming home to find me banging someone on the floor.
“Nah. I’ve been trying to convince her to move into the guest house next door for months, so if she doesn’t go back to her prick fiancé, she can stay there.”
As they say—all good plans. Plenty more places in the sea, or Georgia. “So what’s her deal? Who’s the douche she broke up with?”
“Name’s Adam, a total piece of crap. Never used to be though. They got together when they were only fourteen. Up until college, he was the perfect guy. Then he started disappearing for days on end and not answering his cell. When he was around he pretty much controlled her, told her what to do, where she could and couldn’t go.”
“And you let him?” Carter was one scary looking chunk of muscle. Tattoos wound from his wrists to his shoulders and his chest was wider than even mine despite me spending six days out of seven pumping iron at the gym.
An angry cloud settled over Carter’s face. “I tried to stop him, but Mia told me to keep my nose out. You think Ellie’s bad? She’s a kitten compared to my sister. I figured she’d come to her senses eventually, but then the dick proposed, moved them to Atlanta, and made an excuse every time I wanted to visit.”
“Wow, and she said yes to him?”
Carter sat down on the couch and tipped his head back. “You have to understand, they truly were sweethearts, and even though Adam’s a douche, Mia always seemed happy. I guess she thought things could go back to how they were if she married him.”
I nodded in understanding. Carter knew I had problems with my high school sweetheart too. She’d trashed my heart when she decided to move to the other side of the country to pursue her dreams of becoming a film star. For the longest time after she left, if she’d come back I would’ve taken her back in a heartbeat. God knows how many women later; I finally banged her out of my system.
My cellphone shrilled in my pocket and when I pulled it out and checked the caller id, I bit back a groan.
“Aren’t you going to answer it?” Carter asked with a shit-eating grin.
“No. I’m going to do one better,” I said heading to the door and pulling on my boots. “Call me if your sister wakes up.”