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Nocturnal Book Reviews 3rd Blogoversary Celebration Day Four with Penny Reid!


Hello, peeps!
We are THREE on the 9th of May, so we will be celebrating all week with exclusive content from our favorite authors, giveaways and personal tidbits.
Hope you join us in all the fun.
Cheers,
Karina & Vika

Did you know?

The best stunt this blog has ever done was Christmas With    feature in 2012 which still gets hits every week. We managed to get together a formidable team of Elizabeth Hunter, Jess Haines, Carolyn Crane, Seanan McGuire, Suzanne McLeod, Dakota Banks and Marta Acosta. It was amazing, folks!

Today's final guest of honor is our beloved, funny and beautiful Penny Reid with a very special present for our anniversary. It's an exclusive short story!

 * * *



 
Since Karina was kind enough to write a Valentine’s Day review for my latest book, Love Hacked, I thought I’d write a little Valentine’s Day story for her blog. Thank you, Karina, for your FANTASTIC and honest reviews, and congratulations on your accomplishment!!







 
What did she really have to lose? All she needed to do was email the guy, set up the date, pray he was even a fifth as amazing as Emily said he was and show up. That’s all.

I am such a Scaredy McFrightenedton…

She stared at the blinking cursor on her screen and eyed the “x” in the upper right hand corner that would end her misery. She could just close the screen, go to the start menu, select shut down, and watch her computer screen fade to black…

One year… twelve months… just a week shy of three hundred and sixty-five days.

Somewhere in the rebellious recesses of her mind, an annoying little voice that sounded suspiciously like her own reminded her that twelve months had passed since her last date. Since her boyfriend had broken up with her via text message, completely out of the blue, on Valentine’s Day.

On the scale of awful, it rated pretty high. This was because the text he’d sent was a picture of him kissing another girl.

In other words, he was a douche.

Sure, she had sworn off dating for the remainder of her life. Sure, she had been resigned to living her existence as a neurotic spinster.

Maybe she would get a cat, or two, or four, or seven—might as well make it a baker’s dozen.

But now, after almost twelve months and Valentine’s Day looming large, she was ready to throw her hat in the ring again. Get her groove on. Get jiggy with whatever “it” was, if people even said that anymore…

She was not so sure.

What do you have to lose?

That thought troubled her. Pursing her lips as she contemplated loss, she realized—sans the possibility that he was a serial killer—all she had to lose was time. Time she would most likely otherwise spend watching Room with a View and rewinding the scene on the hill over and over and over and over.

The one where Julian Sands grabs Helena Bonham Carter with his big, masculine hands, holding her around the waist and sliding his—she imagined—cool hand over her cheek, then pulling her to him with expectation. And as their lips meet for the first time, amidst the sea of golden barley, the kiss explodes with passion.
Screw fear of the unknown! Carpe Diem! Seize the fucking day!

Mary nodded, then started typing.

Hi Lucas,

You don’t know me—not really—but Emily informed me that she told you all about me and you are interested in a date; she thinks we would be perfect for each other but I am more skeptical- by nature. Even though I am a romantic, I do not believe in love at first sight- that’s just silly. What I do believe in is chances- everyone deserves a chance.

So, if you want yours, please meet me at Jake Peterson’s microbrewery on 5th and Pine this Saturday at 6pm (Valentine’s Day). I’ll be the one in leather pants.

Looking forward to meeting you, Mary I. Harris

PS Don’t ask what the “I” stands for because I won’t tell you

On a rush of adrenaline, she typed her email, typed the address from the card Emily had given her, and hit send. Mary reveled in her courage and guts and ability to grab the moment and smiled at the inspiration of meeting at the microbrewery—most likely brought on by the picturesque barley field of Lucy and George’s first kiss.

She also considered herself to be quite ballsy, having scheduled the date for V-day.

Mary spent a full minute congratulating herself, dwelling on her amazingness before anxiety hit her like a punch in the throat.

What have I done?

***

Nervous wreck? Anxiety-ridden? How about deer caught in headlights?

Oh yeah, that and more.

What am I doing here? What are you doing?

She glanced down at her outfit—leather pants. Leather-fucking-pants. She was certifiable. She needed to find the nearest sane person and sign over her rights to decision making, or at least give them her computer and passcode to the computer labs on campus. She glanced around the microbrewery with severe apprehension, and her mind started rehearsing for the seventh time all the excuses to leave when he showed up… if he showed up.

It was already five minutes after 6:00 pm.

He is not coming. You are a moron in leather pants, and he is not coming because you are a moron.

She tucked her hair—worn in a cascade of curls down her mid-back—nervously behind her ear and glanced at her watch again, unable to miss the cleavage peeking at her beneath the purple V-neck she’d decided to wear.

Mary had justified it earlier by reminding herself that today was laundry day. What she didn’t want to think about was showing up in leather pants and her green granny sweater, the only other clean item in her closet.

Mary chewed on her purple-painted lip and shifted in her seat. The waiter looked her way and their eyes met. His gaze flickered to her chest, he smiled shortly; then he turned and attended to another table. The knot in the pit of her stomach twisted.

Oh great, now Mr. I-am-married-waiter-guy feels sorry for Ms. Looking-absolutely-ridiculous-in-leather-pants. She rolled her eyes, reminding herself that no one looks good in leather pants.

Then, she looked up and saw leather pants…

Leather pants, leather boots, leather jacket, leather motorcycle gloves… and blue eyes. The bluest eyes she had ever seen. As mesmerized by his eyes as she was, she couldn’t help but notice the rest of him—the entire package. Thick muscular thighs, broad muscular chest and arms, square cut jaw, and blonde spiked hair. For a moment, she thought he was… him. Her blind date.

However, a split second later, as she attempted to swallow her lust, she’d already convinced herself he was not him.

Yes, he had blonde hair like Emily had described. Yes, he had blue eyes. Yes, he was tall. But, Lucas had also been described as artsy. This man sure as hell wasn’t “artsy.” Sure, his body was a work of art, his movements were artful, but she would never describe him as “artsy.”

He was combing the brewery—turning his head this way and that as though searching for someone. She hadn’t had time to compose herself when his eyes locked with hers and then it was impossible to tear her gaze from his.

He smirked.

She swallowed.

He started walking toward her.

She swallowed again.

He stopped at her table, but she was out of saliva and her mouth felt cottony and useless.

He dipped his head as though waiting for her to speak. Finally, raising his eyebrows, he queried, “Mary I. Harris?”

The sound of her own name, especially coming from his mouth and said with his sexy man-voice, shook her from the trance. She stood abruptly, causing the chair to scrape noisily on the wood floor, and extended her hand, “Yes, um—yes! I’m Mary, you must be—”

He cut her off, moving a chair closer to hers and said, “Sit.”

And she did. Her face turned beet red with embarrassment. What am I? A dog? Sit. Bark. Roll over. Her face flushed again, this time from unbidden images of her rolling over and him on top.

He was watching her, his elbow resting carelessly on the table, and she burned brighter under his scrutiny. Realizing she could clear her throat, she did. “So…um…thanks for meeting me…” She glanced up, meeting his clearly amused stare.

He leaned closer to her, resting his cheek against his propped up palm, “Not what you expected?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

Her eyes widened, and she instinctively shook her head, “No, no…” She looked away, closing her eyes. Then sighing, she lifted her eyes to his again, “Well, actually, yes. You are not what I expected.”

He raised his eyebrows and scooted his chair closer, “How so?”

She smiled at him, feeling somehow more at ease and more anxious at the same time, “Well, Emily said you were artsy and somehow…” She gestured to him with her hand, unable to finish her sentence.

Watching her, his expression unreadable, he stated, “I am not artsy. I am not even sure what that means.”

She couldn’t help it; she laughed. He watched her amusement with interest—giving in to a small smile—before clearing his throat, “Nice pants.”

Her laughter faded. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and narrowed her eyes, “Yeah, well, yours aren’t bad either. Where do you shop? The Leather Warehouse?”

Leaning back in his chair, he smirked and pulled off the leather jacket and gloves, revealing a charcoal gray t-shirt underneath that proved her suspicions about his chest right. Realizing that she was staring, she forced herself to look away, “So um… Emily said—”

Looking away and sighing heavily he shook his head, “Look, I need to tell you something.”

Oh God. He’s married. He’s a eunuch. He’s gay. He hates my leather pants…

She tried not to let her panic show as he lifted his eyes to hers. Making certain she was paying attention, he leaned in close, “I am not who you think I am.”

Mary’s eyebrows pulled low in confusion.

He continued, “I think you sent me that email on accident. I don’t know anyone named Emily… and no one tried to set me up with a Mary.”

Her mouth dropped open in despair and complete and utter embarrassment, “Oh my God…” She stood, reached for her bag, and backed away from the table.

Clearly anticipating her movements, the stranger reached for her hand. This didn’t deter her from intermittently muttering curses and apologies.

“I’m so sorry, this is not…I mean, I’m sorry you came all the way to…I don’t know what the hell I was…you are definitely not, and I’m not, and fuck!”

“Listen—” he stood and moved his grip from her hand to her elbow, “—wait.”

She raised her eyes to his, slightly shaking her head, and asked, “Why did you even come?”

He took a step forward, dwarfing her with his massive size. His hand—strong and calloused, she noticed without wanting to—shifted to her waist, holding her still and sending heat to her stomach.

Dipping his head to the side and leaning close, he whispered, “I wanted to know what the ‘I’ stood for.”

* * *

AAAAH, what a fab short story, Penny! Thank you So MUCH!!!!

Penny also graciously donated a swag pack with a signed bag for one winner.


Just comment below to enter the contest, and I will choose a winner on May 11th with the help of Random.org.
Good luck!

Penny's books we reviewed:
 Neanderthal Seeks Human | Friends Without Benefits | Love Hacked

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The Night Circus
Legacy
Gabriel's Inferno
Touch

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The Fault in Our Stars
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