I’m not Irish (duh), and I’ve never been to Ireland (bummer). But my muse is currently leading me to write an Irish character as the male lead in my latest novel.
Yeah. It surprised me too. But I’m always down for a challenge. Plus, my muse is hot like fire and will not leave me alone.
So Happy St. Patrick’s Day, whether you’re Irish or not, and enjoy chapter one of my upcoming contemporary romance novel, FRIENDS & FANTASIES. Look for it May 6th! **Updated on 5-8-14** The release date has been pushed back to “coming soon”. Sorry, that couldn’t be helped. The title has been improved to BEST FRIENDS, FANTASY LOVERS.
**Oh yeah…WARNING for profanity. I promise there’s no violence or sex in it though…yet.**
Capri closed her eyes—just for a second—when next thing she knew, chairs began scraping across the tile floor, waking her as students filed out of the auditorium-size classroom. With the midterm coming up next week, there couldn’t have been a more inopportune time to nap. But dammit, she was tired. All those sleepless nights spent studying for the midterm she took last period were finally catching up to her.
Wiping drool from the side of her mouth, Capri looked next to her where Sasha’s head lay on a desk, her eyeballs swimming left to right under her eyelids as she dreamt of things Capri dared not even imagine. Asleep. As expected. After another long night of partying. Sasha wouldn’t even have shown up if it weren’t for the professor’s attendance policy, and that Sasha had already missed too many days. One more absence and she’d start dropping a letter grade. That did not bode well since Sasha’s parents had conditions on whether she continued to reside on campus. Grade conditions.
A new set of students were already marching in like a herd of cattle for the next class starting in ten minutes.
Capri kicked her sneaker into Sasha’s black boot, jerking her awake.
“What? What!” Sasha’s head spun around, her eyes struggling to focus on the chaotic swarm of students vacating and entering the classroom.
“We’re being invaded by aliens.” Capri zipped her books in her backpack, adjusted the waist of her low-riding jeans, and stood to leave. She paused for a moment while Sasha oriented herself with her Martian surroundings.
Sasha’s face went from shock to panic, confusion to skepticism, and finally— “Ah. You’re joking.” She swept hair from her eyes and started gathering her things. “You really have to learn to smile when you’re joking. Your poker face is hella creepy.”
Capri handed Sasha an ink pen that had fallen on the floor then hoisted her backpack to one shoulder. “And you really have to learn to pay attention in class.” Never mind that Capri had slept as well. At least she’d caught most of the review, which would come in handy. Capri would need the leverage for—
“You and I both know that’s not going to happen, so name your price.”
Capri was all about bartering. She didn’t have a lot of money and resources, but she had other valuables that Sasha did not. Like a serious attitude when it came to studying…and notes to study with.
“Let’s see…” Capri started towards the exit, pretending to think it over as she walked. “You can have my notes from today’s review if you give me a ride to work in the morning.” Capri could always walk or catch the university bus, but why be inconvenienced when her roommate had a car with heated seats and the early morning temperature would be somewhere around too-cold degrees? Helping Sasha ace another test would be worth it for the comfort of roundtrip curbside transportation. “I have to open the computer lab at nine. I’ll need you to pick me up too. Around six. That cool?”
“Cool.” Sasha, showing no signs of fatigue now that class had ended, caught up with Capri as they walked out into the brisk, cool morning. “Why do they insist on torturing us with shit we’ll never use in the real world anyway?”
Capri tucked both hands in her denim jacket pockets. “I think they just want us to prove we’re teachable. We’ll go before an employer, show our credentials and grades, and they’ll immediately know: I can teach this one how to do the job and they’ll do it well. This one, not so much.”
“No wonder I’m not interested. I don’t want a job.” Sasha swept her long stringy blond hair off her neck. She had a habit of doing that. “Hey, let’s go out tonight. Don’t you have the night off?”
Capri shook her head. “No way. I’m tired.” Being off of both jobs tonight was an early Christmas present. She intended to make the most of that time doing something she didn’t get to do much of—sleeping.
“Of course you are, Ben Stein. All you do is work and study. That’s why we have to go out. It’s Friday night. Let’s make the best of it. You have the rest of the weekend to study.”
“Stop calling me that. And some of us have responsibilities. I have to work in the morning, remember?”
“So what? Down a Red Bull and you’ll be fine.”
Ha! Easy for Sasha to say. She’d be happy with a B in Psych 101. That’s all her parents expected of her. Capri didn’t come from a wealthy family like Sasha. Not working was not an option. She needed to have the best grades to get the best job.
Capri’s golden opportunity to have uninterrupted time to herself had come. “Or…you can go out, have a blast, and tell me all about it tomorrow.” Capri could actually get to bed early and wake up refreshed then study for next week’s exam while at work tomorrow. Working in the campus computer lab really was a great gig for a student. Her second job at the library wasn’t too bad either. Both were perfect places to study. Since she had to work all weekend, she’d get a lot of studying done and get paid for it.
Sasha was right. All Capri did was work and study. That’s all she could do if she wanted to be successful in life. And she did. Nothing would stand in the way of her dreams. She had it all planned out.
“Girl, you better live now while you’re young. Pretty soon you’ll have kids and saggy tits. You’ll wish you had taken advantage of natural vaginal lubrication now.”
Capri laughed. “I don’t have time to lubricate my vagina. I’m going to be a professional therapist, not a prostitute.”
“Honey, we’re all prostitutes. Don’t kid yourself. The better your vagina is, the better your clientele. And by better, I mean wetter.”
Capri laughed as Sasha got on her usual soapbox about the birds and the bees and the flower and the trees, and all of her twisted ideals about gender roles and feminism, sexual liberation, and pussy empowerment. Capri had heard Life According to Sasha before. To be honest, she found it all contradictory. With a wet cooter, she could get a wealthy man…and be more independent? What the hell?
Sasha realized her monologue was going nowhere fast. “Okay. How ’bout for an hour? You haven’t gone out with me since our second day of orientation.”
Oh, there was a reason for that. Capri couldn’t hang with the elite party girl. Not when they had different aspirations.
Nevertheless, Capri cocked her head. Maybe Sasha had a point somewhere in there about only living once. Going out for an hour wouldn’t be the end of the world, would it? She really could stand to break the monotony of her schedule. Just this once.
“Okay,” Capri said, thinking of how literal she would be. She would even set her watch to notify her when the hour was up. “I can go for an hour.”
Sasha froze with her mouth gaped. “Really? You’re giving in that easily? And here I was all prepared to bribe you with chocolate.” Sasha pulled out her cell and started punching the pad. “I’ll RSVP us. Frat party starts at eight. We can get there at nine-thirty.” She tucked her phone back in her jeans pocket and nudged Capri’s side with an elbow. “Getting laid tonight isn’t a bad idea either.” Sasha laughed as Capri pulled away. Sasha had to jog a little to catch up with her. “You’re going to have to give it up to somebody sometime. Best to go ahead and get the bad lay out of the way now so you’ll be ready for—”
“Don’t push it. We’re just going out to do some underage drinking, stand around so all the upper class girls can point fingers at us and call us whores, dance once or twice with some guys who probably don’t even go to school here but front like they do so they can get some college pussy,” Capri took a deep breath and continued. “And then I’m going back to the dorm to sleep while you actually fuck one or two said guys and later stumble in our room and pass out on your bed.”
Sasha’s eyes widened in mock horror. “Thank you very much for showing me my shortcomings.” They walked inside their dorm building and started up the first flight of stairs to their tiny room. “I’ll go for a record of three guys tonight to shake it up a bit. Can’t be all predictable and shit.”
“You’re laughing now,” Sasha flipped her hair, “but it’s true. You need to get laid, and this frat party we’re going to tonight—plenty of hotties. You’re hot. You’re eighteen. A freshman. It’s time to give it up.”
Capri shook her head. “You sound like a guy. Should I be worried? You trying to fuck me?”
“Only thing you need to be worried about is me pushing you down the stairs to your death so I can get an automatic four point oh for the semester.”
“That’s just a myth, you know. And why do you care about a four point oh anyway?” Capri faced their room door and started digging around in her backpack for her keys.
“It’ll make the parents happy. They may even let me trade in my car.”
“Right. Because last year’s model is so outdated.”
“Exactly.” Sarcasm was lost on her. Sasha’s attention had already drifted elsewhere. “Helloooo, stranger.”
“Hello, yourself. Do you ladies have a moment?”
“Damn straight.” Sasha’s voice had dropped an octave in an attempt to sound seductive.
Capri, too busy trying to figure out which of her keys matched their door, didn’t bother turning around to see who Sasha was hitting on now. It wouldn’t surprise her if Sasha brought the guy inside and did him on their puppy paw welcome mat as soon as Capri unlocked it. That kind of easy access to fucking was the reason Sasha had wanted a coed dorm. Capri had wanted the dorm because it was the only one with a laundry room on the same floor and no curfew. They were both practical girls, though one of them was more of a free spirit than the other.
Capri continued trying keys in the door while trying not to listen to Sasha get her mack on.
“See, my band’s playing tonight, if you two can make it. Here.” Papers rustled as it sounded like he was handing a sheet to Sasha. “We need all the support—oh, hell—who am I kidding? We need all the beautiful girls in the audience we can get to cheer us on and stroke our egos while we perform. I’ve been passing these flyers out all day, and I have yet to invite one lad.” Then he laughed. Sort of. It was a breathless, light sound that gave out as if he didn’t have the energy to put into it fully. He sounded genuinely happy, and his foreign accent came through thick with a strong lilt. Irish, maybe? “So what do you say, ladies?”
“What kind of music is it?” Sasha asked.
“Doesn’t matter. Do it for a good cause. That way, even if our music is shite, you would have done your civic duty of helping to build self-esteem in today’s youth.”
“I can see you’ve worked on your pitch.”
Capri could hear the excitement in his voice and the interest in Sasha’s, so she hated to be the one to burst their bubbles. She didn’t want Sasha to unilaterally change their plans for the evening and answer affirmatively for them just because Sasha wanted to fuck the guy. “Actually, I have to work in the morning. We’re going out for a hot minute then I’m—” Capri inserted the correct key then turned around expecting to gently let down a chubby redhead with itty bitty green eyes, a full body of freckles, the palest of skin, and thin lips…maybe one that was four feet tall, dressed in all green, and carrying a pot of gold and a four-leaf clover.
She was not prepared.
And she couldn’t remember the last time she’d stared…at anybody.
“Then you’re…?” He waved his hand exuberantly, letting Capri know to get on with it. She didn’t speak, so he finished for her. “Then you’re going to bed like a seventy-five-year-old woman in a nursing home?” He smiled, and it was brilliant, bright as the sun. Nothing else mattered but his ethereal joy. “Wait.” He put long fingers up to his lips, which drew her eyes there. “My mamó’s eighty, and I do believe she’s Skyping in to support my band tonight. You know what that means? That means you’re lamer,” he put his fingers in the shape of an L in front of her face, “than an old lady in a nursing home. Is that really how you want to be known around here? Is that really the legacy you want to leave?” He put his hands on his hips and waited. His eyes twinkled with amusement as his perfect pink lips widened into a smile.
Jesus. That smile.
That hair. The mass of unruly dark curls on top of his head…and the thick eyebrows he used expertly to make countless facial expressions. Even his skin, the same natural tan as hers…and those delicate cheekbones that cradled his straight nose were awe-inspiring. Capri stared up his tall, thin frame to his androgynous features because there was so much unexpected beauty to take in.
“Uh…” Capri couldn’t utter a coherent word if she tried. She tried again anyway. “Um…” Oh, he had green eyes, all right—olive green—but that’s where her preconceived image of him, based on a handful of foreign films, ended. A couture high fashion show in London was missing a model.
Maybe it was time to give up her virginity.
Where the hell did that come from?
“You’re staring,” Sasha whispered to Capri.
“My photograph’s on the flyer, love,” he taunted as he extended a sheet to Capri. “So you don’t have to memorize my face.”
Capri swallowed the saliva that had accumulated in her mouth and took it from him. Was she really salivating? Her face heated with embarrassment.
To get his attention, Sasha shook the flyer she’d gotten from him in front of his face. “Eh, what’s your name, pretty boy?”
He didn’t take his eyes from Capri. Mirth was written all over his face as he studied hers. He even popped the collar of his gaudy orange leather jacket before answering. “Thomas. My friends call me Tommy. Seventy-five-year-old women call me Tom because they forget the other half. ”
That accent. Capri shivered.
Sasha laughed. “We just love supporting youth in the community, Tommy.” Sasha grabbed Capri’s arm, turned the key dangling from the door and opened it. After Sasha shoved Capri inside their room, Sasha turned to him, leaned against the open door and grinned. “I’m Sashana, by the way. That’s Capri. And we’ll both be there.”
“Good,” he smirked. “Then you’ll find out what groupies get to call me when they’re screaming my name.”