Today, we have a very special treat! We have a Guest Post by Erica Lucke Dean, author of "To Katie with Love"! The Guest Post is about names. Interesting! PLUS, we have an excerpt of "CHAPTER ONE" of "To Katie With Love"!
Let's start with the Guest Post, first!
GUEST POST by Author Erica Lucke Dean
by Erica Lucke Dean
-THE BIRTHDAY PARTY-
The rest of my coworkers had finally arrived, honking plastic party horns and waving a heaping shot of Grand Marnier in my face. Just what every girl needs on her birthday—liquor.
Ironically, Silvia was the one who gave me the first three volumes in a series of vampire romance novels, introducing me to my fictional boyfriend… and my new favorite author—Elizabeth Jayne. Like we were kindred spirits, the woman spoke to me, as if she’d poked through my fantasies and written them down. I’d already read every book of her Immortal Blood series cover to cover and back again so many times the pages were pulling loose.
What I wouldn’t give to jump back into volume five, Blood of the First, the one I’d tucked into my bag. Bright orange sticky notes peeked out from between the pages to mark my favorite sections, and I’d seriously considered pulling out my trusty highlighter from the desk drawer and highlighting a few really juicy parts. But at midnight, the time I was typically immersed in the story, I hardly felt like climbing out of bed to dig for a marker. And besides, that would be pathetic. So instead, I’d memorized the page numbers. I reread my favorite passages each night before slipping off to sleep, hoping Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome would visit my dreams. Sometimes, I imagined I was falling asleep in his arms.
My fantasy man was simply better than any real man I’d ever met. Romantic, mysterious, and did I mention hot? Sure, hot in print, but I had a really good imagination. Besides, real men all seemed to be interested in the same type: the cocaine-chic supermodel. But that definitely wasn’t me. So what if my dream guy had a few drawbacks? Besides being completely one dimensional, which was not much different than a lot of the real men I’ve dated, and a seven-hundred-year-old vampire with fangs—he was and always would be trapped inside the pages of a book. But all men had their flaws. Didn’t they?
“He wasn’t so bad. I thought he was almost good. I believed he found paradise by the dashboard light. That was a Meatball song, right?”
I pressed up against the wall of the booth and sipped from my second drink. The amber liquid warmed me all the way down, and I felt my inhibitions drifting away. Silvia gave me a thumbs-up, and I threw back the last swallow, eyeing the room once again. The place had gotten crowded, but I still didn’t see anyone worthy of a good stomach flip. I was, however, vaguely aware of my name being called over the speaker system. I cringed as I heard it, “…birthday girl, Katie James. Where are you, Katie?” My friends started to cheer, and a beaming Silvia shook my arm.
“That’s you! Get up. Go sing!” Oh, Crap. As my clapping and shouting coworkers nudged me out of the booth, I felt the color drain from my face and thought I might faint. The simple fact was I loved to sing… when I was alone. I’d never sung in front of a crowd, certainly not at a karaoke bar. Yet, there I was, being propelled toward the stage by Silvia, the real manager in my office, title or no title.
I dragged myself forward, feeling more like I was headed to the guillotine than the stage, looking back to my table for moral support the entire way. They waved me on, cheering like a bunch of high school girls at a pep rally. Even Phil. I spun around to watch where I was going, and a guy shoved a microphone in my hand. Next thing I knew, I was facing a crowd filled with semi-drunken college students and business bankers. Dozens of eyes stared at me, and I really wished I hadn’t worn the short skirt and form-fitting blouse Silvia had promised would make me look hot. I was a banker, not a prostitute. I didn’t dress hot. I dressed professionally—not that kind of professionally. Well, not usually anyway. But on the night of my big birthday soiree, I was Silvia’s science project.
I stood in the wash of the spotlight, my heart slamming in my chest beneath the sheer black blouse. My insides did a mini flip as I started to sing the first line of the Etta James song. At last… Then I saw him step through the door—the most beautiful man I’d ever seen in all my twenty-nine years. He was the epitome of tall—at least six-two if I was any judge—dark—thick wavy hair, just long enough to run my fingers through—and handsome—with that sexy just-rolled-out-of-bed look that always made my heart race. A serious ripple began to build in the pit of my stomach. I could only see him in profile, but he obviously hadn’t shaved that morning, maybe not the day before either. He could have stepped right out of one of my romance novels. I couldn’t have written him better myself.
My mystery guy appeared to be searching the crowd for something or someone. And when he ran a hand through his hair, the way I’d just imagined doing, it was all I could do to breathe.
Sing, Katie. I reminded myself. It was a wonder I could sing at all. From his dark jeans and gray Henley shirt, to his battered brown leather bomber jacket, I quickly memorized every inch of him to recall later. He didn’t notice me, but I was barely aware of a single other person in the room. I was trying to send a telepathic message for him to turn my way, and either my message got through or he felt my eyes burning a hole through him because he spun around to look directly at me.
But I knew that smile… didn’t I?
It couldn’t be. He was too unbuttoned. Too disheveled. Too… perfect?
Mr. Off Limmts himself.
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