Friday, August 9, 2013

A Little Complicated: Blurb, Cover & Excerpt

My new novella A Little Complicated comes out September 2nd so I've got the cover, excerpt and blurb for you here. I'm so excited about this one. It's definitely much lighter than what I usually write, but my usual dash of angst is in there. Hope y'all enjoy! (er. the excerpt is not edited)


A Little Complicated by Kade Boehme

Ryan Borja met the guy of his dreams in college. Brady Novak was kind, responsible and easy on the eyes. Yeah, the guy had a kid but Ryan loved her too? What could go wrong? Well, Ryan's sister Ellie, that's what. Ellie is a flighty, love-em-and-leave-em kinda girl with a big heart who doesn't realize she dated the guy Ryan had fantasized about. But, like all of Ellie's other relationships, this one ended withing two months, just in time to send Brady running off to take a job in Phoenix, taking Ryan's heart with him.

Ryan never thought he'd see Brady again until eight years later Ryan's sister blindsides him by announcing that not only is Brady back in Atlanta but she'd asked him out on a date. And he'd accepted. As if that wasn't enough to send Ryan on a tailspin, he finds out the neighborhood girl brings him face to face with Brady.

Brady can't believe when he sees Ryan again. He assumed Ryan had moved on from Atlanta, like he'd always said he would. But Brady hasn't forgotten his cute, nerdy friend and wants nothing more than to have a chance to try the relationship they never got to have all those years ago, but convincing Ryan that he hadn't slept with Ellie proves difficult. Ryan is still hurt over the way they left things and makes it an uphill battle, but Brady has waited too long. He'll damn well give a good go of trying to get his man and with the help of his precocious teenage daughter and a little help from friends they may just get their Happily Ever After. 
(Novella, 27k words)



EXCERPT:

CHAPTER ONE
Ryan

“Guess who I have a date with?” my sister Ellie asked. She pulled up a stool at my bar at Lucky Star Grill & Bar (better known for its whiskey than its steaks, I assure you). This was a question I heard every other week. Ellie’s tastes did not discriminate and she was always on the hunt for her future husband, though I’d never known her to stay with any of her guys more than three months. She was a bit too free spirited to be held down and as much as I adored her for her flighty ways I had poured up shots for many of the guys she’d left heartbroken in her wake.

I pulled a bottle of tequila from my well and started mixing up her favorite margarita. It was Friday night and I was surprised she was in as late as she was, as she always showed up right after work to “start her weekend right”. And I mean every weekend since three years ago when I started bartending down the road from the school where she taught art. Obviously now I understood her tardiness, she’d been chatting up a guy.

“Who is it this time Ells?” I asked, passing her the margarita I’d shaken for her. “Is it the cute guy at the Post Office or is it that guy who helped you air up your bike tire?” I jumped up and down in feign excitement, clapping my hands. “Ooh, or could it be mystery guy at the gym?”

The look she shot me was not amused but she was accustomed to my giving her shit over her lackadaisical dating habits. She took a long pull from her margarita and before she could speak again one of the waitresses came to hand me a ticket for a couple of martinis. I took my time making the martinis and wisely made Ellie her second margarita, she’d sucked the other down before I’d gotten back to her. 

She was pulling her pouty face. For her to be the elder sibling she acted way more like a princessy, younger sister. I adored her, though, so she knew the pouting would work. “Okay, okay. I’m sorry for teasing you.”

“No, you’re not.” She ran her fingers through her long blond hair and poked out her bottom lip. I produced the fresh margarita and traded it for her empty glass. Her eyes brightened and she grabbed the new one greedily sing-songing “You’re forgiven!”

 I laughed at her. “I thought so.”

“So don’t you want to know?” she asked. I didn’t have anyone else at the bar so I leaned in, propping my elbows next to her and motioning with my hands for her to get on with it. “I’m going in for a second helping!”

My eyes got wide. She never did second chances with guys. Never. An unspoken rule existed whenever she broke up with someone and that was for them to never try to ask her out again. “Must be serious.”

She looked wistfully into her margarita glass with a shy smile that I can’t say I’ve ever seen on her face. “I always kinda thought he was the one. Y’kno, ever since college I only ever felt bad about ending it with this guy.”

Oh shit. Shit, shit, shit. I knew this story. I’d heard it before and she meant every word. She’d regretted breaking up with only one man ever and it was... “Brady Novak,” she said dreamily. 

I stood up and turned from her to pretend I was washing dishes, hiding my facial expressions at all costs. I’d never expected to see that man again, much less had I expected her to be dating him again. 

Good lord.

“Can you believe it?” She was fucking swooning. I shook my head but still said nothing when I turned back to her, my face blank. She looked me over. “I know. I deserve that look. I hurt him good, but hey, if he can forgive me wouldn’t that be awesome? Who ever gets another chance with the one that got away?”

Who indeed? I needed a shot myself. I went over to make another round of drinks for a waiter and another margarita for my sister. I may or may not have slipped a little vodka in the Red Bull I had stashed under my point of sale computer. Whatever.

Fucking Brady Novak. Holy shit. I was stunned. She’d dated him as briefly as anyone else, but he was the only guy she’d ever pretended to be serious about in a for real way. I assumed it was because he had a kid and she needed to impress him. That had been my freshman year and their final year of college so they let me tag along with them on campus. I thought Brady hung the moon every bit as much as my sister had. He’d had a kid in high school and when the mother didn’t want it he’d taken the little girl on himself and moved out of his parents’ house to support her and still managed to finish high school and get through college. Pretty much a dream guy. And did I mention he was hot? Like, how-in-the-hell-did-my-sister-ever-think-she’d-do-better-than-him hot.

“So, Brady, he’s cool given how you ditched out on him and his kid and all?” I was surprised at how bitchy my question was. I couldn’t even really tell with whom I was more annoyed; my sister for having a date with Brady, Brady for coming back, or me for still being affected from just the man’s name after all these years. 

Ellie looked surprised at my cunt-a-licious response at first then shot daggers with her eyes. “Well, he says he’s missed me too and he thought second chances were only fair.”

I hmphed. What can I say? I own my jealousy. I am one with my jealousy. And let’s face it, she kinda sprung this on me and I’ll be damned but I wanted to go find Brady myself and kick his ass for not think I deserved a second chance if he was passing those out.

No time for that, though. I shook my head clear.

“Sorry, Ells. I’ve just been busy all day and I won’t be out of here until late. Congrats on snagging Moby Dick. Maybe you’ll hang on to him?”

She beamed. “You better believe it!”

“Do you need another margarita before it gets busy in here again?” I asked, seeing a line of people wander in the front doors.  She threw a look over her shoulders and grimaced.

“No thanks, Ryan. I’ll just head out.” She started digging through her purse and I printed up her check, still a bit stunned from earlier when she asked “Heya, can I ask you a favor kid?”

“Because calling me kid always gets you what you want?” I asked drily. I hated when she called me kid. She only had three years on my twenty-six years.

She rolled her eyes in her indulgent big sister way. “My bad. Ryan, can I get ready at your place tomorrow. Mom and Dad have some big to-do going down at the house and I don’t want to be in the way.” I often wondered why she still lived with our parents since she made plenty of money  and hated that they had better social lives than both of their twenty-something children combined. God knows I’d left during college and not looked back. Don’t get me wrong, I love our parents but good Christ I loved my freedom, even if it didn’t often get me much more than a blow job because I worked two jobs. Damn my inability to sit still.

“Okay, that’s cool. I have to be here at five-thirty so you should definitely get there no later than four-forty-five please.”

“Great!” She leaned over the counter with her winning smile and pecked me on the cheek as I picked up the cash she’d left in the ticket presenter. “I’ll be able to get ready right down to the wire, too, because he just moved in your building. Maybe I won’t be late for a date, for once.”

I blinked, staring for a moment. “He lives in my building? I haven’t seen him around at all.”

“Oh, he lives on the lower floor to accommodate his daughter. She’s sick or something. He didn’t explain, really.”

I blinked and stared more. “Wow. Poor guy hasn’t had it easy.” I said that more to myself but she made a sympathetic frown and nodded.

“Well, Ellie is here to make it all better.” She winked and I wanted to puke.

“I’m sure she is.”

Brady Novak’s daughter was sick. My sister had dumped him and his kid when everything was way more peachy than that, did he really want to take that kind of chance again? I knew my sister, though, and she had pined enough that I thought she might actually want to give it a real, grown up try with Brady.

But that hurt. How could I sit across the table at holidays, watching them be a couple? That thought threatened to rip out my heart.

CHAPTER TWO

The next day Ellie showed up exactly at four-forty-five. I actually didn’t have to be at work until six p.m. but I’d learned to tell her at least thirty minutes earlier for everything because work was about the only thing she seemed to be able to make it to on time. How she passed college was beyond me, for all the tardies that kept adding up into absences.

I’d been obsessed with the fact that Brady lived in my building. I almost wanted to roam the first floor to see if I might catch him wandering out so I could ask him "What the hell?" Alas, there was no reason for me to venture to the first floor. Only thing on the first floor was handicapped accessible apartments and the Superintendent’s quarters. They had a separate parking area and everything so that definitely explained why I hadn’t bumped into him randomly. And I really, really still wanted some answers, even all these years later so bumping into him would have been really fucking nice.

He’d disappeared after that night. I guess when he was supposed to leave the next day anyways it was unfair to be really angry, but we’d kissed, we’d touched and the next day he was gone.

I didn’t want to think about that -- especially now that he was going to be dating my sister again. Good lord. It was fucked up that all this time later he had be so mixed up and I didn’t even know if he looked the same. He probably had a pot belly and a sad, frumpy face after dealing with all of the stress in his life.

Right, like Ellie would date him if he’s turned into a slag.

Fuck. 

As I was leaving out the front entrance I noticed a girl I’d seen a lot of lately, pushing herself up the wheelchair ramp on the sidewalk. I smiled at her when she saw me and she returned my smile, only twice as bright and much less jaded. Even in a wheelchair, at I assumed was around fourteen-years-old she was open and bright and I envied her natural cheer.

“Well, good afternoon, Miss Lila. How are you today?” I asked as I pressed the unlock button on my keyless entry, pointing it at my Jeep.

“I’m awesome. Just got a mile in eight minutes.” She was breathing heavily, face flushed from heavy exercise. 

“You’ll be Paralympics bound in no time.”

“It’s the goal!” She smiled brightly, giving me a thumbs-up. I reached in my messenger bag and pulled out a cold bottled water I’d grabbed for myself before leaving, but she seemed to be in more need than I at the moment. She huffed and puffed a "thank you" when I passed her the water. 

“Well, I gotta get to work. Be careful out there.”

“Thanks for the water!” She yelled at my retreating back, obviously having found her voice again. I was super impressed with the kid. She’d shown up recently working out to prepare for wheelchair racing. She hit the sidewalks and the park by my apartment building every other day around the same time. I only wish I was that determined. Or that damn chipper.

I made it through my shift, which was a typical Saturday night in a Decatur, Georgia, restaurant. Drunk kids from the local college (doing my alma mater so proud) and locals who rarely tipped. I didn’t mind it, though. Like I’d said, I don’t do sitting still. I’ worked as a bartender at Lucky Star since I was in my final years of college and after I’d gotten my degree in computer science I’d gotten a nine-to-five job working for the state tax commission on their tax software. If you do e-file in Georgia, I had something to do with why it was such an easy process. 

My day job sucked the life out of me, but the money was awesome and afforded me great benefits and helped me pay for my badass apartment in Midtown Atlanta. I couldn’t really complain. My bartending gig, though, I love. Several of the waitstaff and I have been there for years and know each other well. The restaurant is an awesome environment, all of us complimenting each other’s abilities and getting along like family (yes, I mean the ups and downs). It was about as close as you could get to a dream job for the food service industry. 

When I got home my sister had left a pile of clothes on my couch and make-up all over the sink. I rolled my eyes fondly before tidying up a little then showering and changing so I could get the smell of beer and wings off of me. I hadn’t been vegged out on my couch long when my sister wandered in, sighing wistfully.

“Why, Miss Scarlett, did Mr. Ashley sweep ya off your feet?” I asked in my best southern belle lilt.

“Oh, stop it!” She plopped down on the couch beside me. “Ryan, he’s so much better than college. He’s all grown up and manly.”

“He always was.” I distinctly remembered just how manly he’d felt in my hands. I didn’t want to think on that, though, and saying any more would really not be wise so I stuffed my mouth with one of the tacos I’d brought home from work. I was always loyal to my sister, never lied to her (unless it was for her own good, like on days she was in fact too bloated to wear that particular shirt—I suppose that lie was good for both of our health but I digress) but this was not something she’d get. Hell, I still didn’t get that night. Part of me wanted to go knock on every door until he answered one of them and I’d punch him for misleading her. He’d kissed me. He’d touched me. Wasn’t it dishonest to get involved with my sister? I didn’t think he was that much of an asshole. Had I really been that wrong about him?

“No way,” Ellie said, pulling me out of my inner wanderings. “He’s aged like a wine, baby. That man has filled out in all the right places and he’s still so humble and nice. Such a gentleman, too.”

I stood from the couch and went to the kitchen to throw away the last of my carry out. I couldn’t listen to this anymore and I had definitely lost my appetite. 

“Gentlemen don’t have their dates home at—" I looked at the clock “—two in the morning, Ellie.”

“What? Oh! No. He went home to his daughter around eight o'clock and I was bored just hanging out here and there was no way I was going back home so I called Trish and we went for drinks at Atkin’s.”

Well, that made me feel better. They hadn’t slept together. I tried to tell myself I felt better because that gave me time to tell her that her boyfriend and I had hooked up all those years ago so she could make an informed decision, but secretly it was because the jealousy roiling in my stomach was giving me cramps and I couldn’t have handled them spending the night together. I felt guilty and disloyal, but I’d been in love with the guy since before I’d known him, before she dated him, and I still obviously was. Damn him for coming back.

“I’m going to bed.” I realized I snapped and she looked at me quizzically.

“Grumpykins needs a nap,” she intoned our mother’s most common quote when we were bitchy as kids. I smiled despite myself. It wasn’t her fault I was pissy and she sure didn’t kno what was going on until I told her…

Tomorrow. I’d tell her tomorrow.

CHAPTER THREE

I woke up earlier than I’d intended for my only day off—Sunday. Sundays were the one day I worked neither job. Everyone needs at least one off day, even us workaholics. I usually spent the day sleeping in, but it obviously wasn’t in the cards for this weekend. I rolled over to look at the clock the first time I woke to see it was only seven-thirty. I tried hard to keep sleeping but around eight-fifteen I gave up the fight and put on some running clothes, tiptoeing through the living room where my sister slept on the pull out. 

I had been neglecting my morning run for a couple weeks now so it was definitely needed. I did my stretches and headed out to the park that sat adjacent to my apartment building. It was smaller but the running trails were some of the cleanest in the city.

I was just getting a good rhythm up, feet pounding the pavement, pushing out all the guilt trying to eat at me, and all the fucking jealousy. Damn jealousy. I knew it was D-Day. I’d resolved to find a way to talk to Ellie. I’d take her for breakfast, maybe. There was a tea-room close by that served awesome brunch. She loved their mimosas. Yeah, that was what I’d do.

Until my plans got de-railed by one weeping wheel chair racer.

“Oh, my god, honey!” I gasped as I ran to where she was lying on the grass, her wheelchair having rolled down an impossible embankment to crawl down unless she wanted to be stuck down there, too.
She looked up at me pitifully and I squatted to check her over. “Are you alright? Anything broken?”

She looked at her legs. “Well, I hope not.” Her voice shook. She was crying but that appeared mostly from injuring her pride. She had some scrapes on her hands but otherwise looked okay.

“Do you mind?” I indicated that I wanted to check her legs. She nodded but looked away as I checked them over. Nothing appeared broken or mangled. “Should we call someone?” I asked.

“No!” I jumped when she yelled. She looked at me apologetically. “Sorry, it’s just that my nurse hates all this ‘racing business’. If she knew I was coming out in the mornings she’d flip out. She thinks I just go to the coffee shop on the corner.”

Oh, teenagers. 

“I’m sure she has good reason, hon.” I said, indicating the errant wheelchair. She scowled at me, her button nose scrunching in distaste. I put up my hands in the universal sign of surrender.

“I’m just saying,” I said. I made my way down the embankment, her glare burning through my back, and grabbed her wheelchair, pushing it back up to the path. I looked it over, as well. “Anything look fucked up?” She looked it over then grabbed my arm. I turned to her, surprised.

Oh. She was staring at my tattoos. I pulled my arm back, not wanting to explain to a fourteen year old how I’d gotten a tattoo for the one that got away, the one my sister was currently dating again. 

Although, I suppose if anyone understood fatal attraction it was a fucking teenager, huh?

“No. It looks fine,” she said, lifting herself in the chair. I dared not even ask if she needed assistance. I’d fucked up enough talking to her like a kid. How had I turned into that adult?

“Lila, what happened?”

She looked at my with her chin jutting out defiantly. “I spun around the turn too fast and flipped out.”

I weighed my words but decided to go with what she’d rather hear. “Sounds fucking gnarly. How fast you reckon you were going?”

She looked infinitely pleased with that response. How could I judge anyways? I didn’t even know the particulars of her paralysis so if she was well enough to be pulling of six-minute miles I assumed she wasn’t new to all this. “I don’t know, but it was so awesome. I felt like I was flying. ” Her face flushed with embarrassment.

“And then you were actually flying, huh?” I joked.

She nodded. I petted her head like a dog. “It’ll be okay, Princess.” She rolled her eyes grandly and I was cool with that. “So you live around here?”

She nodded. “In the Del Mar.”

“Oh, I live there.”

“Well, duh. I do see you come out, like, all the time.”

I chuckled. She had me there. “Well, Miss, would you like to actually go for some of that coffee so you don’t have to lie to your nurse and perhaps take it easy until she can make sure you’re not injured.”

“How do I do that? She can’t know I fell.” 

“You suck at this,” I said. “You’re supposed to tell her you fell off the bed reaching for your cell phone or something.”

She eyed me like I was crazy. “Well, you’re not like a pervert are you? My dad says I shouldn’t hang out with strangers.”

“Well, your dad’s smart, but don’t let my butch exterior fool you,” I said, flexing my biceps, “I’m gay as a picnic in June on the inside.”

She laughed. And that’s how me and Lila ended up with a coffee and her explaining more about Paralympics than I ever cared to know. She also told me about the diving accident that led to her paraplegia. Now, I know it was weird to take a kid for coffee, but I was most definitely gay for one thing and another she was a nice neighborhood kid who was hurt. The coffee shop was literally across the street so I didn’t figure it’d hurt anything. Plus, she was fabulous.

“So you’re really gay, huh?” She asked. Now this question sometimes surprised me. I had a subtle flame but people usually picked up which way my bread was buttered fairly quickly. I’d never had an issue with being gay, coming out at fourteen. My parents shrugged and we all went on with our lives.

“No doubt. I have the extensive collection of Britney Spears records to prove it.”

“That proves nothing,” she snorted. “You could think she’s hot.”

“Honey, I own Crossroads. I cry when I watch it.”

She sniggered at me. “Okay. Gay. Though, my dad would fuss at me for stereotyping.”

“Your dad sounds very smart. I suppose I shouldn’t encourage it.”

“My dad likes both. Y’kno, like, he likes girls and boys, so I’m totally cool with it,” she said matter-of-factly. Her eyes slid around the room then back to me, slyly. I couldn’t help just looking at her blankly for a minute.

“Is that so? Well, there’s my random fact for the day.”  

“I think you two would get along.” She winked at me.

“So now I know why you’ve been friendly to me. You’ve been trying to match-make for the old man.”

She snorted. “Well, you are cute. And gay. Seeing anyone?”

“Who are you and where did you come from?” I looked around with exaggerated turns of my head. “Am I being punk’d?”

Another grand roll of her eyes. Oh this kid. “Your sense of humor is about as dumb as his, too. You guys should get along great.”

“Thanks,” I said drily. “I bet you even faked that little tear fest in the park.”

She perked up. “Right! You caught me. I saw you coming and took my chance. And now you can walk me home like a responsible adult and my dad will be so grateful he’ll whisk you away.”

“You’re awfully big on hooking your dad up with a guy,” I said, eyeing her carefully as I took a sip of my coffee.

“Women always try to use me as some prop, playing the perfect step-mom.” She leveled me with her gaze. “And If It’ll get the stick out of his ass to get a dick up his ass I’ll do about anything to make it happen.”

That sip I’d just taken of my coffee… Yeah. Spit it right in the poor thing’s face. Then I started apologizing profusely and trying to wipe her down with my napkins. “Oh my God I’m so sorry, Lila. Oh my god. But seriously? You’re fourteen! How the hell do you know anything about that?”

She waited for me to finish fussing over her. “I read fanfic. It’s all boys doing that stuff. And I’m almost fifteen. Not stupid, y’kno?” Oh I wanted to smack those rolling eyes out of her head.

“Well, I’ll walk you home and say hi to your dad as long as you never say anything like that to me again. My gah!”

“Deal!” She said with another of her winning smiles.

I followed her home and she smiled as she unlocked the door to their apartment. I’d never said I’d actually go out with her dad, but hey, at least I’d let him know I had been looking out for her. 

The door flung open before she could finish turning the key. “Oh shit,” Lila mumbled. An elderly black lady in floral scrubs looked between the two of us and launched into a tirade about being early and not finding Lila in her bed and Lila Novak, child, you’d better not have been out doing that wheel chair racing. Tut tut tut. The nurse was just in the middle of checking a griping Lila out from head to toe while shooting death glares at me when it really sank in what she’d just said.

First floor of my building.

Handicapped apartment. “His daughter is sick or something. He didn’t explain.” Fucking. Hell.

“Lila Novak?” I asked, looking at her dumbly. She looked up at me and nodded, looking confused at the dumb look that must be on my face.

Delilah Novak? Brady’s Delilah?” I asked, stupidly.

She and the nurse both stopped to look at me, inspecting me carefully like one might a species they’d never encountered—wondering first and foremost does it bite? Lila nodded, eyeing me. “How—" she started but was stopped by a voice come out of the apartment, toward us.

“Y’all, what’s all the fussing about?” Brady asked, coming from inside the apartment, hair adorably ruffled from sleep. I fought the urge to swoon like my sister had been for days.

“Oh, shit.” I repeated Lila’s earlier sentiment.

Brady looked from Lila and her nurse to me. Then proceeded to also repeat, “Oh, shit.”

“That’s what he said,” the nurse said drily. Everyone turned an acerbic look to her. She looked among the three of us. “What?”

 

Hope it sounds fun for you guys. I just love Brady and Ryan. And holy crap thanks so much to L.C. Chase for another awesome cover. I'll get more info on giveaways and buy links ASAP. September 2nd yall! I'm so stoked.

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