Saturday, January 27, 2007
“Man . . . you gotta apologize, man. I do not like being on the receiving end of a Tyler Carver cuss-out, man!”
Gunnar chuckled, going over the schedule for the classes he would be teaching for the rest of the week. It was Wednesday, the first day Damon had been back for work because of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday that Monday and the fact he had Tuesdays off. Gunnar felt really bad for getting his employee-turned-friend in trouble, and though he had admitted to himself he would have to apologize, doing so in person . . . not so much.
“I can’t just send her a card—?”
“How the hell you gonna apologize to a black woman with a card! You gotta be a man and show your face! And given the way you treated her, I’d borrow some kneepads ’cause you gotta do some serious grovelin’, son!”
Gunnar rolled his eyes. Damon certainly had a flair for hyperbole. “I don’t know where she is, Damon, and given she won’t be coming back here anytime soon, I don’t see how that will happen.”
“Go to Soul Cuts. She works there. Hell, her info is even on her contact sheet. Next try.”
Gunnar gnashed his teeth but said nothing. He really had no excuse not to apologize now. He would make it quick, like ripping off a band-aid. Maybe the instant attraction he had felt for her would be gone since there would be no shock at the sight of her anymore.
Yes . . . that sounded good.
For the rest of the day he was distracted, especially since Damon kept dropping none-too-subtle hints about making his apology. He also tried to tell Gunnar the sooner the better, but he’d gotten caught up on the phone with one of his equipment suppliers so the lunch date to Soul Cuts became postponed to after work.
Damon had even threatened to follow him just to make sure he went, but Gunnar threatened to revoke his free Tuesdays if he did such a thing.
“I’m not a preschooler!”
“You damn sure sulk like one!”
Gunnar groaned and for the second time in a week, dreaded the end of the workday. He must have a defective gene between his Norwegian and American Scottish roots somewhere that made him prefer work instead of play, but given the past few months, “play time” had been more stressful.
On his way out Damon shook a fist at him, and though Gunnar knew the other man was kidding, he really didn’t want to call Damon’s bluff. He hopped into his jeep and made the twenty-minute drive across town to the black section, not the least bit intimidated by that as opposed to the woman he was to meet.
It was dark by the time he pulled onto the street where her business was. Her space was tucked between a Laundromat and a knickknacks store. He peaked inside to see it was empty, but the lights were on, and he tested the door.
It was unlocked.
Taking a deep breath, Gunnar opened the door and stepped inside. “Hello?”
“I’ll be right with you!”
Gunnar stood and listened to grunting, crashing, and cursing. He bit his lip to keep from grinning, and a magazine for black hairstyles caught his interest. Intrigued by the photos, he picked up the magazine and began flipping through it, sitting in one of the plastic chairs along the wall as he waited for the shop’s proprietor.
It would be just her luck the one set of clippers she needed would be all the way in the back of the junk she had in her storeroom. She had intended to straighten things out over the long weekend, but laziness had bitten her hard and the sudden cold snap had her less inclined to go out when it wasn’t necessary. Once she got purchase on the clippers—brand new and top-of-the-line—she blew out a breath and ignored the boxes and magazines that had fallen from their precarious stacks to the ground. The next time she asked Damon and Wendy to help she would make a “do not touch” pile so she could find her important things better.
Shaking the unopened clippers in victory, she walked out of the storeroom, barely sending her walk-in a glance. “I’m sorry for the wait. What can I do for you?”
“Um . . . accept my apology?”
Her head snapped up and she whirled towards the sound of the voice. What was he doing here? And why did he still look suave and fine even as he flipped through her Black Hair magazine?
Damon had said he would get his boss—Gunnar, what kind of a name was Gunnar?—to apologize for his behavior, but she hadn’t believed him. Gunnar was the boss, Damon was the employee, and no matter how protective Damon was of Wendy or her, Damon couldn’t make his superior do what he wanted him to do. Besides, Tyler would get over it. She’d gotten over worse insults, after all.
She shook her head and crossed her arms underneath her breasts. “What apology? I ain’t hear an apology?”
He grinned then, still flipping through the magazine. He seemed very intrigued by what he saw, and Tyler had to bite her lip to keep from chuckling at him. He used his forefinger to hold his page and he looked up at her. Those gray eyes lanced right through her, and she fidgeted imperceptibly.
He smirked slightly. “I’m sorry.”
Tyler raised an eyebrow. “Sorry for what?”
“Being rude. I was having a bad day and I took it out on you. I apologize.”
He sounded sincere enough, but it was hard to forget what he said, especially given the rather large grain of truth to it. “Apology accepted. Now you don’t have to worry about Damon punching you in the nose.”
Gunnar chuckled out right then and shook his head. “I know how to bob and weave.”
Tyler’s eyes skipped to his arms and she shook her head. She was sure he knew how to do more than that, too. “Right.”
She grabbed a broom and began sweeping the hair and other debris from the floor. She felt those eyes on her and felt self-conscious. Why did she wish she wear something more flattering other than her ratty black smock? It wasn’t as if what was underneath was much better—a long-sleeved tee and old jeans—but usually she didn’t come to work to impress people, especially not on slow Wednesdays.
Yet there he remained throughout her chore, watching, cataloguing, arousing her to the point she wanted to kick him out. She already knew he found her borderline repulsive. Hadn’t he already done what he came here to do?
“Can you cut my hair?”
Gunnar was just as surprised as she was by the question, and he ran a hand through his hair to tamp down his embarrassment. He needed one, anyway, and what better way to make up for his rude behavior than to give her business? Hair was hair after all, even if his was European instead of African, he thought she would be able to do a good job. Damon’s hair always looked great after a cut, after all.
“You want me to do your hair?”
“You know this is a black barbershop, right?”
He shrugged. “I know you get mostly black customers, but I doubt this is a black barbershop.”
“Not many white people make the drive to this part of town unless they want soul food,” Tyler said frankly. Gunnar pinked a little. He rarely came to this side of Durham himself.
“You’re not doing this to sue me if you get a craptastic haircut, are you?”
He laughed. “Craptastic!”
“Yes! You’re pullin’ my leg, aren’t you?”
Arching an eyebrow, he shrugged out of his leather jacket, walked slowly to her, turned her chair, and sat in it. “You’re far too professional to botch a job, Tyler. I trust you.”
She looked shocked at that confession. “You do?”
“Yes. The fact you so succinctly put me in my place and the fact Damon speaks so highly of you tells me you are a trustworthy person. So . . . have at it. I’m at your mercy.”
Those brown eyes met his cautiously in the mirror. He grinned at her. “This is your last chance to back out.”
Her nostrils flared. Gunnar remembered them doing that during their session when his voice issued a challenge. He knew Tyler was definitely up to meet it.
“Would you like a wash, too?”
“I’ve already washed my hair in the shower, but thanks for asking.”
Tyler rolled her eyes and turned the chair. She took a spray bottle from her cart and began misting his hair to dampen it. His brown hair turned darker and the cool sensation relaxed him. When her fingers began combing through his hair he almost purred. She had a gentle, assured touch, and he glanced at her face through the mirror. She was all professionalism now, and she looked very sexy that way.
He never realized the scalp could be such an erogenous zone, but between her body brushing against his head, her gentle fingers, and the calming snap of the shears, Gunnar’s body was working to a fevered pitch. He gripped the handles of his chair to keep from squirming.
“Am I making you that nervous?” Tyler asked with a bit of an edge.
“No . . . I actually have to go to the bathroom,” he said sheepishly.
Tyler’s eyes went wide in surprise, and she bit her lip to keep from laughing. “Go straight through that door to the back. It’s the door on your left.”
Gunnar walked quickly there, and once he was inside locked the door and sagged heavily against it. The pressure in his jeans was too much, and he unzipped them to relieve it. Did the woman have any idea how alluring she was? He’d never gotten so aroused from a haircut, and he’d females cut his hair before. No, this reaction was solely Tyler’s and he was at a loss on how to control himself.
He took a series of deep breaths and went to the sink. He could do this . . . he had too—she wasn’t done with his haircut yet! He thought of numerous unpleasant things—at the fore of his mind was the last date he had with Kaci—and Gunnar finally felt fit to go back out there. He splashed water on his face, dried it with a paper towel, and went back into the shop where Tyler was cleaning out one of her clippers.
“Did you wash your hands?”
Gunnar’s eyes snapped to Tyler’s. “Um . . .”
“It’s a pet peeve of mine. If you go to the bathroom, please wash your hands! I make sure it’s always stocked with soap and paper towels!”
Gunnar smiled a little and relaxed. “You sound almost as anal retentive about cleanliness as I am. When I first opened the gym, it would take me at least an hour and a half to disinfect every single piece of equipment. Me and germs do not get along!”
“That’s why everyone and their mama’s always sick all the time,” Tyler said, starting her soothing and arousing cutting again. Gunnar was better prepared for it this time, however, and he willed his body to relax.
The duo managed to fall into a comfortable stream of small talk. How sad was it this was the most enjoyable experience he’d had with a woman in weeks, and she hated his guts!
He closed his eyes and enjoyed the feel of her fingers through his hair. Maybe it wasn’t so sad . . .
His hair felt like silk. That was the only way Tyler could describe it. The strands were fine as they slid through her fingers, but not so fine they would be considered thin. Given she was used to thick, tightly-curled strands that fell in puffy clumps on the floor, seeing the light-brown sleek strands fall on the floor was a bit fascinating.
“I can’t believe you’re letting me do this,” she muttered absently, pulling the comb through a section of hair she was about to cut.
“Why? I know you know I don’t get many European hair textures in my shop.”
“Considering my mom is Norwegian and my dad comes for a line of Scottish settlers, I guess you can’t get anymore European than that!”
Tyler grinned in spite of herself. “That explains ‘Gunnar’, huh?”
“Yes. My sister is Inge. I think she has it worse!”
“Oh my,” Tyler laughed, but that wasn’t bad compared to some of the names she’d heard. Young mothers who came into the shop sometimes had children whose names Tyler could only pray they would learn how to spell eventually. It was as if they had put all twenty-six letters on a dartboard and shot at them, then constructed a name from whatever had been hit. Then again, her name was Tyler after her grandfather because her father was determined she would be a boy—no other name would do.
“I got teased awfully when I was in school. Not many southern boys with a name like mine,” Gunnar chuckled.
Tyler stood behind him, their eyes locking in the mirror. Once again, they blew her away. Never before had a pair of eyes affected her so. Throughout the entire cutting she’d forced herself not to stare at them, at the way his eyelashes seemed too long for a man like him, yet only served to enhance his handsomeness. His eyebrows almost looked tweezed, so perfect was their arches over his eyes, but Tyler knew that was because of the perfect cocktail of genes he’d inherited from his European roots.
She noticed his mouth curving into a slow smile and she ducked her head immediately. “Uh . . . is that why you stared working out?”
Tyler rolled her eyes and had to force herself not to drag her hands along his arms. “The teasing. You decided to work out to stem it, or did this body happen later?”
There was a short exhalation of breath. “You’ve been checking me out?”
She scowled at him through the mirror. “You own a gym, and it’s obvious you’re in peak physical shape. I notice things. And actually Damon has a better body than you anyway.”
Gunnar shrugged slightly. “That would probably hurt my feelings more if it weren’t true.”
“You agree with me?”
“He’s had more time to work out than I. I’ve gotten lazy trying to get the gym off the ground, though after a year and a half you’d think I’d be done with that.”
“You’re never done. The market is always changing . . . gotta keep things fresh.”
Another slow smile. “Exactly. It’s nice to talk to someone who understands that.”
Though she had inherited Soul Cuts from her father, and with it many of his regulars, there was still the need to expand business. With many chain barbershops coming into town, she had to offer something a little more. She hired many kids and younger people in her neighborhood for jobs here—many times their first—and she rented out stations for people who could do hair but didn’t have the money to open up their own shop. It was a way to keep everyone more connected to the business, and she liked her set up just fine. She was, however, talking to some local television networks about getting ads on the channels and she would start putting in calls to radio stations as well.
Sighing, Tyler put down the shears and picked up the portable hair dryer. She had finished styling his hair and would now dry it so he could get its full effect. She didn’t get too crazy with it, but she cut it much shorter than she imagined it had initially been. It was short in the back and a little longer in the front. It made him appear younger, bringing out the boyish charm and enhancing his piercing eyes.
Damn but this man is fine!
“So,” Tyler said, handing him a mirror so he could look at the back of his head too, “what do you think?”
It was a simple haircut, but it rivaled many of the hair stylists his modeling agency had forced upon him during his years in LA. She really had found her calling, and he suddenly realized why Damon was always in a better mood after he’d gotten a haircut. Tyler was as personable as she was professional, and despite the way he had treated her upon their first meeting, he’d never felt unwelcome in her establishment.
He shook his head, bemused and once again humbled by her. “You’re an amazing woman, Tyler Carver.”
The absolute shock coloring her voice had him chuckling. He turned his chair around so he could face her head-on and he nodded. “You could’ve easily given me the haircut from hell, and yet you gave me one of the best cuts I’ve had in years. I find that incredible.”
Tyler shrugged, averting her eyes from his as she took the mirror from him. “You’re my client. I always treat my clients with respect irrespective of how I really feel about them.”
He ignored the way his heartbeat had accelerated in his chest. “And how do you feel about me . . . when I’m not your client?”
Tyler made a big show of putting up the mirror and cleaning her clippers and shears. “What does it matter?”
That was a very valid question, and Gunnar didn’t have the balls to answer it just yet. He stood from the chair and reached into his pocket. “How much?”
She pulled her bottom lip between her teeth. “Fifteen.”
Gunnar reached into his wallet and pulled out a twenty. She reached into her pocket and pulled out some cash, preparing to make change, but he put his hand over hers. “Keep it.”
Her eyes were wide and luminous as they looked into his. Her hand was dry, but he could still feel the softness underneath. He wanted to rub his thumb along the back of her hand. He wanted to bend his head and see if her lips were as pliant as they looked.
“Wow, that’s mighty generous of you.”
Her voice was huskier than it had been and he grinned. So it seemed he wasn’t the only one affected. “I figure it’s a thanks for making me look good and a sorry for treating you like crap earlier—to go along with the initial apology of course.”
Tyler placed the twenty with the other bills and flashed him a small smile. “All right. Will do.”
Gunnar didn’t want to leave. He had to, though, before he made a complete ass of himself around her again by kissing her.
He stepped away from her and went to the chair where his jacket was. Their eyes remained on each other as he slipped his hands through the sleeves.
“Thank you, Ms. Carver,” Gunnar said in a low voice.
“You’re welcome Mr. . . .”
“Daniels. Thank you for your business.”
They stood there staring at each other a moment more before Gunnar found his sense. He gave her a tiny wave and smile, then walked out the barbershop.
He would have to see her again, and since she swore she’d never set foot in his gym again, he would have to return for another haircut.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
And considering this is the first book I've ever completed, I guess I shouldn't take the knocks too hard. I also have to remember the publisher probably makes a whole lot of money off of the "recommended" editorial services.
I'll need to sit on it for a bit. I have a tendency to jump on the negative.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
One month. It had taken Tyler Carver exactly one month to buck up the courage to use the coupon. As she stood inside the facility, watching the precision-toned bodies operate the equipment with expertise and ease, she grew suddenly very nervous her bucked up courage would leave her.
Tyler tugged on her too-big T-shirt and clutched her bag like a lifeline. She didn’t see Damon anywhere. She had called him yesterday to make absolutely sure he would be there to greet her. That was the deal she had made: it was him or no one at all. She trusted Damon to be patient with her and not embarrass her. She knew she looked as if she were long overdue for this personal training session, and the last thing Tyler wanted or needed was some cocky beefy jerk continuously reminding her of that fact.
“Where are you, Damon?” she muttered under her breath, still hovering at the gym’s entrance.
Someone muttered “excuse me” and she moved aside so a gorgeous woman wearing an exercise outfit Tyler could never imagine herself in could pass. The longer she remained inside the more she wanted to bolt, but she wouldn’t let Damon down . . . herself down. It was the New Year, and that meant keeping resolutions.
Taking a deep breath, Tyler walked further into the clean, state-of-the-art gym to the service window where a man with light brown hair in desperate need of a cut and gunboats for arms stood bent over a clipboard. He looked to be in a hurry, so she cleared her throat to get his attention.
His brusque tone made her pause and wince. “Um . . . I’m here to see Damon?”
“Damon’s not here. Can I help you?”
He still hadn’t looked at her and she frowned. “I have a session with him. Tyler Carver? I called him yesterday and he said he’d be here . . .”
He looked at her then, and Tyler had to work not to cuss in approval. His hair fell into the most piercing gray eyes she’d ever seen, and everything about him screamed masculine and chiseled.
Those eyes went wide as they catalogued her features before falling flat with disinterest and borderline dismissal. “You’re a girl.”
The flow of attraction within her dammed immediately. She wanted to glare at him. “Am I?”
The man rolled his eyes and picked up another clipboard. “According to the schedule you’re three minutes late . . .”
He left the room, came out to the main area, and began walking. Tyler gaped at him. No “Follow me, please?” or “Right this way?” Damon better have a damn good explanation as to why he wasn’t here.
“Are you coming or are you determined to waste my time?”
Tyler clamped her mouth shut. She had half a mind to leave, but she refused to give this rude man the satisfaction. His stride was assured—cocky—and he was working the hell out of his track pants and too tight sleeveless tee. She followed him to a relatively open area where there was a mat, free weights, and a rowing machine. She set down her bag and tugged on her shirt again, anxious about what he would want her to do.
“We’re going to stretch first,” he said on a sigh. “So you don’t hurt yourself. God forbid you should pull a muscle . . .”
Again, she said nothing. He had a point even if he could’ve been nicer in delivering it. She sat on the mat and followed the stretching exercises he demonstrated. While not nearly as limber as he was, she clearly surprised him at how flexible she was by the way he grunted in satisfaction.
Once they were fully stretched, he gave her two-pound weights. She looked at him askance. Did he think her a weakling?
“Low weight and many reps help tone muscles better, especially for women,” he said in a bored tone. “Again, it’s better to start nice and slow so you won’t hurt anything.”
He really needs to work on his people skills, she thought as she tested the weights in her hands. He still hadn’t told her his name, but she wasn’t going to ask, either. She hoped this was the first and last time she would have to deal with him.
He began showing her the movements for the exercise. At first they started with simple shoulder shrugs. Tyler gained confidence with each set of reps completed, and though her muscles stared to burn, it was a good feeling instead of the ones she had feared she would experience. As the time passed, however, Mr. Gunboats, with his fifty-pound weights, started doing more complex combinations and positions. Tyler did her best to copy his movements perfectly, but her arms and legs weren’t holding the position correcting, and she felt silly as she damn near slipped and fell multiple times.
“You know, there’s nothing wrong with just buying a treadmill and trying that for a few weeks.”
The blood in her body ran cold. “Excuse me?”
The man, who hadn’t even flushed or broken a sweat, sighed as if he were struggling for patience with speaking to a slow child. “I just mean you can’t walk before you crawl.”
“I walked in here just fine.”
“Maybe if you’d do more walking—”
“Oh no,” Tyler said, standing up straighter, the dumbbells still in her hands. “You don’t know me to judge me, and even if you did you ain’t God—”
“At this rate He’s the only one who can help you anyway!”
Tyler could not believe this man’s gall! So what he looked like he peeled right off an Abercrombie & Fitch billboard, he had no right to speak to her that way. It was proof no matter how good looking a person could be on the outside, an ugly attitude could ruin that very quickly.
Tyler didn’t even think she was in that bad a shape. Of course she had a little more hips, booty, and belly than she would have liked, but she earned her fair share of catcalls walking down the streets of Durham. She had “junk in her trunk” her best friend Wendy would say almost enviously, and while she didn’t plan on gracing any fashion magazine covers anytime soon, she didn’t consider herself a walking advertisement for those needing gastric bypass either.
Tyler wasn’t here for cosmetic reasons anyway. She wanted to get healthy, and after a recent chiropractor’s appointment, the doctor had said even losing twenty pounds would do wonders for her lower back problems. Damon, Wendy’s boyfriend, had been eager in wanting to help her, and since he was one of the few people she absolutely trusted, she finally agreed.
Now she wished she hadn’t.
“Where is Damon?”
“He got sick. I had to cover him. Your time is ticking, lady. Some of us have plans.”
The way he had said it clearly implied they were of the “dating” variety, something with which she would have no knowledge. Tyler was vaguely aware they were also gaining an audience, and her russet cheeks burned in anger and embarrassment.
She calmly put the weights back on the rack before walking up to the man and poking him in the chest. Her voice was low but firm as she spoke. “I may not be the world’s slimmest or healthiest woman, but even fat people deserve respect. We breathe and bleed just like the rest of you ‘damn near perfect’ people, and just like us, you’ll die eventually, too. So you can kiss my big, chocolate, black ass Mr. Abercrombie. I don’t need this shit from you.”
His face remained emotionless but his chiseled jaw ticked. With one final poke to his chest, she picked up her bag and left the gym with her head held high.
Gunnar Daniels refused to look at anyone as he stalked to his office. He felt the stares of nosy customers follow him along his walk, which only served to send him deeper into his foul mood.
Who did that woman think she was, coming into his establishment and . . . what . . . put him in his proper place? His parents and sister would be so ashamed if they had heard how he spoke to her. Just because his plans for the day had taken an unplanned and unappreciated turn didn’t mean it was her fault. If he really wanted to blame someone, he could blame the restaurant that had served undercooked fish that had caused Damon to go home sick. Or he could blame Kaci for demanding they moved their date from Saturday to today because she had “plans.”
What kind of plans did she have that didn’t include him? Weren’t they supposed to be giving their on and off relationship another shot? Gunnar didn’t know why he bothered sometimes, but Kaci really was a nice girl if she kept her mouth shut more often than not.
Gunnar groaned, plopping into his chair and throwing an arm over his eyes. He really had messed things up big time. The woman . . . Tyler . . . she hadn’t deserved his anger or his rudeness, and he definitely deserved the dressing down she had given him. She hadn’t even raised her voice or made a scene—that had been his doing—but she had effectively made him feel as small as the dumbbells she had carefully put on the rack before she laid into him.
He had tried to be unaffected by her presence from the moment he saw her. Her dark skin was smooth and flawless and her almond-shaped eyes had a hint of vulnerability that called to him. The wild riot of curls that was like a halo around her head beckoned him to sink his fingers into it. Her body . . . not even the big t-shirt she wore could hide her abundant curves. Though she was definitely larger than the women who usually frequented the gym, Gunnar couldn’t deny the pull of his groin when he saw her. She was of average height, and she carried her extra weight in all the right places: breasts, hips, and behind.
Gunnar had tried to convince her and himself that he didn’t find her the least bit appealing. It was bad to get involved with clients, and the fact she wasn’t the type of woman who usually garnered his interest left him confused and disconcerted. It also wouldn’t do well to be thinking about one woman when having a date with another in a matter of hours.
What did it matter anyway? Ms. Carver wouldn’t be back. Though his gym was doing very well, any loss of business was bad. Besides, he had opened the GD Gym and Fitness to help people lose weight safely and effectively, not for it to be the pretty people’s club. If she had come in at any other time . . . on any other day . . . the reception she would have gotten would have been much better and much closer to his real personality.
At least he’d like to think so.
Gunnar certainly wouldn’t have tried to sneak peaks at her as she stretched or watched as the shirt pulled across her chest when she had gone through the exercises. Tyler was a quick learner, someone who was definitely eager to make a change in her life despite her anxiousness, and he had gone and snuffed that out with his mean-spiritedness.
“Way to go, Gunnar,” he muttered.
How would he explain this to Damon? Damon Wilkes was one of his best employees, and had had been bringing in business continuously since he had been hired. The club was diverse because of him, whites and blacks working out in a relaxed environment free from the racial tensions that simmered underneath in Durham. The fact he had treated one of Damon’s referrals so poorly was sure to bring that trend to a screeching halt.
Unable to think about the consequences of his actions any longer, Gunnar packed up his bag and left the gym early. Valerie would close up . . .
He slapped his forehead. He should’ve passed Tyler on to Valerie when he discovered Tyler was a woman, and then he remembered Valerie didn’t come in until after Tyler’s session was over.
“Shit,” Gunnar said, hopping into his Jeep and revving the engine. It was just not his Friday at all.
He made it to his split-level home relatively quickly. He had half a mind to call Kaci to cancel, definitely not in the mood for this date anymore, but then Kaci would throw a fit and he didn’t have the patience to deal with that either. Kaci, with her long, curly brown hair and buxom hourglass figure didn’t cotton to men turning her down for any reason, so why was Gunnar trying to start something with her again?
“Because she’s easy,” Gunnar answered aloud. She didn’t make him expend much energy. There was little passion outside of the carnal, and even that didn’t last very long. They were very compatible sexually and made a very handsome couple, but Kaci also loved drama. Having spent ten years of his life in LA, Gunnar had had his fill of drama for at least the next twenty years.
So why am I going out with her again?
Damon had said he needed to get laid; he was wound too tight. Gunnar, apparently, agreed, or else he wouldn’t be two hours away from spending his hard-earned money on Kaci Mondale.
“And then he starts talkin’ ’bout how only God could help me lose the weight! I swear to God, Wen, I was two seconds from putting my size tens in that tight ass of his!”
Tyler chose to ignore the knowing look that crossed her friend’s pretty face, too caught up in her righteous indignation to recognize she was admitting her attraction to “Mr. Abercrombie.”
“Tight ass, huh?”
Tyler rolled her eyes. “I may be mad, but I’m not blind. He had a really nice ass . . . for a white guy . . .”
Wendy laughed out right then, plucking a fry and pointing it at her. “While I admit homeboy was wrong for comin’atcha like that, are you more upset at him being rude or at yourself for still being attracted to him despite it.”
Tyler scowled before she slouched in her booth seat. “Both. And the fact he seemed cool as you please while I proceeded to make a complete fool of myself in front of him. Damn Damon . . . I hope he feels better, of course, but damn him anyway.”
Wendy chuckled and shook her head. Tyler had been all set to sulk into a bag of potato chips while watching a movie from her extensive DVD collection, uncaring she was only proving Mr. Abercrombie’s point, when Wendy had called and demanded she accompany her on a night on the town. Wendy wasn’t above coming to Tyler’s house and stripping her down and dressing her in appropriate clothes either, so Tyler grudgingly agreed. Tyler had asked if Damon was okay with her going out considering he was sick, and Wendy had said Damon was knocked out on medicine and would be okay for a few hours. The doctor had said he needed to sleep it off since it seemed he’d purged all of the contaminated fish out his system already.
“I don’t see how Damon can work with someone who’s such a jerk,” Tyler muttered, stirring her straw in her sweet tea. “And he said he loved being a personal trainer, too. He should find someplace else to work.”
Wendy shrugged. “Maybe you caught him at a bad time.”
“Bad time or no, I’m a client. He should know how to squash all that when he’s on the job.”
“Well, I don’t know what to tell you. He didn’t have a bad suggestion about getting a treadmill, though.”
“No, but dag, can a sista get some respect? White man or no I still deserve it!”
Tyler shot Wendy a look but ended up chuckling. Wendy had an uncanny knack for dragging her out of her dark periods, and for that, Tyler was grateful. The other woman, a producer for one of the local news stations, could have easily been in front of the camera instead of behind it with her caramel skin, large eyes, and short and sassy haircut, courtesy of Soul Cuts Barbershop—Tyler’s business. In fact, that was where Wendy had met Damon almost three years ago. Wendy had come in for a rush while Tyler had been putting the finishing touches on Damon’s fade. It had definitely been lust at first sight for both, but the pair had formed a deep and loving relationship.
Tyler would have hated Wendy if she didn’t love her friend so much.
“Well, you know how I feel about this whole ‘losing weight’ thing. You better be doing it for yourself and for the right reasons and not because of some man.”
“What man? There hasn’t been a man in forever!”
“I know that. That’s not because of your weight, either, I hope you know.”
Tyler didn’t respond to that.
“I’d kill for your curves,” Wendy added.
“For what? Damon loves you just the way you are.”
Wendy grinned and shrugged. “Yeah, but I feel like a stick compared to you. I wish I had more meat on my frame.”
Tyler pushed her unfinished plate of fries over to her. “Have at it. These should definitely help!”
Wendy rolled her eyes, but she did take her fork and transfer the fries to her plate. “You don’t know what you’re missing!”
Tyler looked longingly at her plate. “Yeah . . . I do . . .”
It would be his luck Tyler Carver would be at the same restaurant tonight. So far she hadn’t noticed him, and for that he was grateful. His date, on the other hand, was a grade-A disaster, especially with Kaci flirting with the waiter and a table full of men opposite them as if he weren’t even there. He was irrationally angry with Kaci, and he had half a mind to just leave her to her own devices, but his mother raised him to be a gentleman, so he would stick it out until the end.
His eyes searched out Tyler again. How different she looked when she wore clothes that flattered her frame. Apparently he wasn’t the only one who appreciated it, either, for plenty of men kept looking at her table, and it was Tyler’s friend who was pulling the attention. Gunnar groaned. What the hell had he been thinking talking to her like that? He should go over there and apologize, but given the way she had spoken to him earlier, he wasn’t in the mood for another telling off.
“I gotta go to the bathroom ’kay?”
“Whatever,” Gunnar said, taking out his wallet and throwing bills on the table. This had been a horrendous waste of time. “I’ll be ready to leave when you get back—”
“But I’m not done!” Kaci pouted.
“You barely touched your salad!”
Kaci fluttered her eyelashes and ran her hands along her curves. “I’ve got to keep my figure right, you know. Don’t you like it?”
“Gunnie!” Kaci said, her pout even more pronounced.
He hated it when she called him that, but he was too indifferent to correct her this time. After this date, they would be off permanently. He was never so hard up for sex he would settle for anything. Then again, when he and Kaci had first gotten together six months ago, he had been extremely inebriated, but that was neither here nor there.
Kaci sashayed off towards the restrooms, taking the majority of the male attention with her, and Gunnar shoved into his jacket. He could catch up on his expense reports and updating his orders for new equipment . . . maybe buck up enough courage to go apologize to Ms. Carver.
His pride kept him as far away as possible, however, and he breathed a relieved sigh when Kaci sauntered back.
She chattered unceasingly as he drove her back to her apartment, his headache mounting with every syllable she spoke. When he reached her complex, he debated whether or not to just drop her off, but he had already fulfilled his jerk quota for the day so he walked her to her door.
“So . . . you wanna come inside?” Kaci asked, playing with the lapels of his leather jacket.
He took her hand and removed it before stepping back. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”
“Because . . .” he ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”
He shrugged helplessly. “Things just . . . can’t work out between us. Every time we’ve tried it’s ended in disaster.”
It was her turn to shrug, her breasts pulling tight against her blouse. Though it was barely fifty degrees outside she hadn’t bothered with a jacket. “How about one last go for the road?”
“I’d rather not.”
Kaci sniffed. “Hmm. I guess Sheila was right. You’re gay. That’s funny, though, because my gaydar is usually spot on . . .”
Gunnar laughed, unable to help himself. “Whatever helps you sleep at night.”
“It could’ve been with me if you were smart, but you’re not. Toodles!”
Kaci entered her apartment and slammed the door in his face. It was just as well. She took this “break up” a little too breezily for his liking. She probably got some poor dude’s phone number and was calling him to come over right now.
“Whatever,” Gunnar muttered, going back to his jeep. He could do better than Kaci anyway.
He refused to think he had just met “better than Kaci”, too.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Anyway, I'm glad I've finally decided to not kill myself by turning this into a full-length novel. I should just stop fighting what the characters are doing and admit this won't be as long. Maybe it'll even get published in print form one day. *shrugs*
Friday, January 19, 2007
Thursday, January 18, 2007
I have gotten in contact with wonderful people online, people who believe in my talent. To them I say thank you SO much. They give me suggestions of publishers (mostly e-publishers) and while I am so grateful I struggle with are those really good fits for any of my work. A lot of e-pubs go for erotica, and as someone whose first and last kiss was almost six years ago and has NEVER had sex, I feel pretty silly and odd (and my grandma and great aunt might want to read it!) to be very explicit. Also, there isn't a lot of "making love" in my stories either. Maybe if I was an older woman I wouldn't be so shy about it, but I had to learn about "baby making" through my friends, encyclopedias, and Cinemax After Dark! lol This isn't to say I don't enjoy erotica. I can read along with the best of them, but for me I prefer intimacy over the actual act any day. CAD gets me hotter than porn, and some erotica gets me hotter than visual stimulation. I'm sure other women feel that way too hence the flourishing erotica e-publishing niches everywhere.
I don't know. There are a few e-pubs I may try, though some of them don't want simultaneous submissions, so that only leaves MT. If TF was even close to ready I'd try to shop that, too, but even so far eight-ten chapters there's still been no sex--explicit or otherwise. And TB isn't even a romance. It's interracial fiction and it's kicking my booty hard! lol
I don't know. I have to think and hurry up and wait. For someone born in May who was due in July . . . I don't do that "waiting" thing very well lol. I'm learning, though. It's insane I have three novels done without a book to show for it however (well, if all goes well, I'll have one book to show for it at least)! I know I'm lucky and blessed however. I know I'm supposed to be a writer, and God willing I'll be a successful one. I don't see myself as being anything else . . . except maybe a backup singer. I think that gig would be hella cool, too! :-P
Friday, January 12, 2007
Don't worry, I still have to at least grammatically edit a few chapters before they get updated on TST and RICH, so those who follow there won't have to worry abou the end for at least a few more days.
I hope you enjoy what's coming!
Monday, January 08, 2007
I've already paid a fee to iUniverse already.
What to do? Should I submit it anyway?
And the funnier thing is I could have SWORN I got a rejection from this publisher, which is one of the main reasons why I decided to do the self-publishing route--even my sis says I did. Then again, I sent this query way back in April of last year and since it's almost eight months later . . .
God really has a sense of humor. Am I excited and thrilled and blessed? Of course! I just don't know what to do now.
ETA: from the publisher's website: We are primarily looking for original works, but we will consider works that have been self-published, e-published or are out of print. Unagented writers are considered.
So I guess that means it's okay if BP is still self-published? Right?
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Saturday, January 06, 2007
I'm still waiting on two other lit agents to let me know what they think. Hopefully there's a yes in there somewhere!
Friday, January 05, 2007
Today I sent poor Stephanie multiple e-mails asking her about a new title I'd thought of for the story. I liked what she was going for with Lemonade, and as I was writing this current chapter I realized what was probably going on. It's really sad that it takes my readers to enlighten me on things, or I'll have to read something over and over again before I get it. I know some people think I plot this stuff out and outline all the "deep" things I find. Y'all really give me too much credit! If it's deep it's real deep--subconscious deep! But anyway, after running the title by Stephanie (and hitting another pit stop along the journey!), I think I've decided on the title that'll stick farreal.
I won't explain too much because the story's not even done yet, but I think y'all can figure out why it's called what it's called.
Let me know what y'all think!
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Just a little encouragement from an unexpected source. Not that my sis wouldn't support me, but for her to go out of her way and say something like that really meant a lot.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Lawdy lawd lawd!
ETA: Actually the book is slated to be published around April/May, an exact year after I finished writing the novel. *takes deep breath* It's happening! Now all I have to do is wait on the lit agents to like RJC and my muses to cooperate and then we'll be cooking with gas! :-P
I'm allowed to be corny right now, dammit! lol
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
She gets mad props for that one! I thank her, too.
Speaking of which, I'm surprised by the feedback I'm getting for the story. It's different from my others, and Trust Fall . . . sigh . . . I still am not quite sure about that one yet. I do love Margot and Cole, though. There's something so pure about them, so bittersweet and beautiful. This isn't to say I don't love my other characters. They all have special places in my heart, but this is the first I feel I'm watching the story unfold as I write instead of the other way around. In my other stories I always had a vague idea what would happen and how things would be resolved (notable exception is Trust Fall. Rosalyn *sigh* help me help you!) , but with Lemonade, I'm enjoying their journey. I need to get a vague resolution in my head, however. I don't have the stamina (and neither do readers!) to turn this into a soap opera saga. That would be awkward trying to get it published!
Monday, January 01, 2007
RJC has gotten some very positive feedback as well. At the moment it's currently in the hands of three publishers, two of which have asked for more material. That's a good sign, after all, and I'm excited to see what will happen with it. That only leaves Being Plumville.
As of now, I have decided, set in stone almost, to self-publish Being Plumville. It's a scary thing to put up all that money, format it, build the book basically from scratch, and hope people like it enough to buy it. Scary, scary, scary. Scarier than sending it out to lit agents and publishers in fact. This is an investment that may not reap the returns I would like it to, but I believe in my work enough to shell out the dough. Formatting the manuscript, worrying about copyright, wondering how and who can review my book--right now I don't even want to think about it! All I see is that final product, that tradebook paperback or even hardcover . . . that novel with my name on it and the proof of two years' worth of blood sweat and tears.
I can see it in my mind's eye, and it is indeed a lovely sight.
2006 was a very productive year in that I finished two novels, Being Plumville and Reconstructing Jada Channing. This is a big deal because Geminis are notorious for starting things and being unable to finish them. The mere fact I had finished two novels still boggles me at times, but I am very happy and humbled as well. Throughout this journey I've met many people online who have encouraged me and have helped me improve my writing so much--even if it's just to talk about characters, what my stories have insipired in them, and many times have enlightened me on things. The people I know personally have also been intrumental and invaluable to me. At times every writer hits that block, or that patch of discouragement and "what the hell am I doing?!", and then you have people who guide you through it to the other side. To them, and you know who you are, I thank you very much. You've helped me learn so much about myself not only as a writer but as a person, and I will never forget it.
I hope 2007 will see the publication of both of these books, and the completion of more novels. Sometimes I fear I have too many ideas and not enough time, stamina, or even wherewithal to finish them, but that doesn't mean I won't try. So this blog is as much for me as for you, because I adore feedback--it's bread and butter for me. The more indepth and constructive the better, even if it's negative. A person cannot improve unless they hear what does and doesn't work, after all. "Yes!" people don't encourage growth, people who keep it real, do.
Anyway, as it is the new year, have a very beautiful and happy one, and I hope to see and talk wtih you soon!