It's only a few days to go before my next book To Not Date My Best Friend goes live on Amazon. For my last two releases, you were able to see my darker side, the humor, and kinkiness. Now you get to see another side of him. This one is best-friends-to -lovers, and i believe this book marks my first time writing this trope. It turned out to be so much fun.
Inspired by the TV series The Bold Type, Not to Date My Best friend takes place around the setting of a trendy magazine. What I loved about The Bold Type was the supportive work environment where employees and even employers had each other's backs instead of the sabotage we so often find in entertainment form when it comes to people working together in a competitive area.
Here's the prologue of To Not Date My Best Friend. Check back tomorrow for chapter 1.
Oh god, no.
I whimpered as I stared out the car window at the pouring rain that partly obscured my view of the walkway to the building up ahead. Even if I made a mad dash from the car, there was no way my brand-new pair of suede shoes wouldn’t suffer the consequences of me ignoring the weather report this morning.
Drat. Never again.
I glanced at the time on my dashboard. I had five minutes to get to my class on time. The rain wouldn’t magically stop, and since I didn’t have a staff to part the red sea…
“Here goes nothing.”
I grabbed my umbrella from the backseat of the car and slung my messenger bag over my shoulder. With any luck, my shoes would be the only things to get wet.
Air whistled past my lips into my lungs. I huffed several breaths, bracing myself for the impact of the hurricane no one had warned us was imminent. This was no ordinary rain.
I flung the car door open and yelped as icy wetness landed on me. I pressed the button for my umbrella to open up and duck beneath it, hauling my bag after me, then slammed the car door shut. Water rushed into my shoes. I ran in the general direction of the humanities block.
A gust of wind plastered my clothes to my body and tugged at the umbrella. The momentum of my body hurtling forward and the wind pulling me back yanked the canopy of the umbrella up, offering me no shield against the harsh elements. Water slapped my face, and in a matter of seconds, my hair was sticking to my head, my clothes to my body.
“Fuck!” I ran as fast as I could toward the building. Finally, shelter. “Useless junk.”
I dropped the umbrella to the floor and leaned my bag up against the wall. Hands spread, I stared down at myself. I should have turned the car around and returned home when the rain had gotten this bad. How could I be comfortable in class when I was soaked to the bone? Water was dripping along my ass crack! I might have appreciated that at some other point, but I was in public, for crying out loud!
A quick glance around revealed the corridor was empty. I pulled my shirt over my head, my flesh instantly awash with goose bumps. I squeezed the excess water out of the shirt. That would have to do for now.
I stiffened, clutching the shirt to my chest, and whipped my head around. The culprit was a ridiculously hot guy—because fate needed a bit of humor at my expense today—with a camera poised at his face and the lens pointed directly at me.
Anger boiled through me. “Hey, stop that!” I yanked my shirt on and turned my back to him. How many pictures of me had he taken?
“I’m sorry. I—”
“Delete them now.” I marched over to him. “Don’t you have any respect for people’s privacy?”
“Privacy?” He lowered the camera, showing off a lopsided grin. “You’re in the open space, man.”
Heat surged in my cheeks. “I may be in public, but I still have rights, and you just violated them. Now delete every single photo you just took of me.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t.”
“What do you mean you can’t? I’m not leaving until you get rid of those photos. You think I’m going to have you and your friends laughing over them later?”
“Dude, seriously, you need to chill.” He raised his camera arm to keep the equipment out of reach. “Why would I laugh at the photos I take? If I don’t take my art seriously, who will appreciate it? Look, I’ll show you the ones I took.”
He moved to stand beside me, and I inhaled the musky scent of his cologne. It wasn’t enough that he was ridiculously hot. He had to be incredibly tall too. He pressed a button, and the last image he took appeared on the screen. Just as I’d thought. I was shirtless in the photo, and his camera was too damn good. Every fine line of stretch mark and my pudgy belly was on display.
I sucked in my gut.
“But it’s a wonderful photo.”
“What?” I looked up at him. He had to be making fun of me. His face didn’t show any trace of humor, though. His tongue peeked out at the corner of his lips as he frowned as if concentrating on the image.
“The angle is great,” he said. “The lighting hit you just right. It’s perfect street art. A picture that speaks a thousand words about a man and his war against the elements. Look how much energy you’re putting into wringing out that shirt. It shows determination not to let the elements win. It’s breathtaking. You’re extremely photogenic.”
I glanced back at the picture. He saw all that? From that awful picture of me? Any minute now he would laugh, and shame would burn through the tingling sensation that warmed my belly at his words.
“You can’t keep that,” I said but without the earlier conviction I’d felt. He had kind, honest eyes. He didn’t flinch or look away as if he were trying to hide something. And he was staring at the photo as if it—I—was something special.
“Technically, I can, given the fair use of street art, though I’d very much like your consent to keep it. I have an exhibition coming up, and I would like this photo to be one of my feature pieces.”
“Nobody wants to see that.”
“Why do you think so?”
I shrugged, dropping my gaze. “There are many more interesting people to photograph.”
“But today is your day, my friend.” He lowered the camera and extended a hand to me. “I’m Andy. Are you also a student?”
“Yeah, part time. I’m Baz.”
My insides melted at the way he said my name as if it held great meaning.
“I like it,” he declared. “And it fits the photograph very much. How about I develop the photo and I’ll send you a copy? Then you can decide if you don’t want me to use it.”
“You won’t show it to anyone else?”
I scoffed. “Like you were a boy scout.”
Andy laughed. “You got me, but I promise I’m good at my word.” He dug into his sweater pocket and handed me his phone. “Put your contact details in. I’ll send you the photo once it’s ready.”
“My hands are still wet. You might want to do it.”
I rattled off my cell phone number and my email address. My phone rang, and I turned toward my bag against the wall.
“That’s just me,” he said. “Now you have my number too. If I convince you to let me use this photo, I can even get you free tickets for you and your… girlfriend to attend the art show for free.”
“No girlfriend.” I straightened my shoulders and looked him square in the eye. “I’m gay.”
He shrugged. “Bring your boyfriend, then?”
“I’m not going out with anyone right now.”
He laughed. “Dude, just bring whomever you want. It’ll be fun.”
“Well, don’t go talking like I’ve agreed to this yet. You’ll send me the photo first.”
“Yes, I will.”
A heavy gust of wind blew past us, and I shivered. I wrapped my arms around my torso to conceal the way my nipples pointed through the fabric of my shirt. I should have gone with a darker color today too.
“Damn, you’re soaked to the bone.”
“Yeah, I-I should go to the bathroom and see how dry I can get using the hand dryer.”
He grabbed the hem of his sweater and pulled it over his head. Beneath, he wore a graphic T-shirt with a camera and the words “I’m always watching you.” His arms were well defined and his shoulders even broader than I’d thought with the sweater covering him up.
“Here, put this on. You’re cold.” He thrust his sweater into my arms and stalked away. To where my bag was. He slung the strap across his chest.
“I can’t take your sweater.”
“You need it more than I do. You’re shaking. I’m betting you don’t live in the dorm, but I do. You can dry your stuff in my room, and I may be able to lend you some clothes.”
He walked off, his strides so long that I had to run after him while pulling on his sweater, which was all warm and cozy. And smelled like him.
Andy glanced over his shoulder at me, and my heart skipped a beat at the grin on his face. He was so handsome. What did any of this mean? Did people show random acts of kindness to others like this? He’d seemed interested in who I was dating. Had it been a genuine question with no hidden agenda, or did he feel it too?
“We have to hurry,” he said. “We have maybe half an hour before I have to go pick up my fiancée, Malia.”
My heart plummeted. He had a fiancée named Malia. How typical. The kindest guy I’d ever met, and not only was he taken, but he was straight to boot. I’d bet my new pair of—now soaked—suede shoes on it.
Well played, fate. Well played.