Available May 2018
Brock glanced around his remarkably neat studio apartment. Should he take a picture as proof that he could actually clean if necessary? Of course, who would he show the picture to? His mother would assume it was more evidence that he was gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, but… He shook his head. It was easier letting them believe that was why Shawna had broken their engagement than to convince them of the real reason.
And now the prettiest woman he’d ever seen was coming to his home. Even if it was just to drop off her dog, the idea still gave him heart palpitations. Hell, would she want to come in and check his place was safe for Sweetie Pie or just drop the dog off at the door? The door buzzer startled him and he took a deep breath to calm himself.
“I am confident. I’m a soon-to-be famous author. People like me.” He closed his eyes to visualize his mantra typed in sixteen point Times New Roman font before picking up the phone. “I’ll be right down.”
He patted his pocket for the keys before locking his door and heading to the freight elevator. Please, be working today.
He let out a relieved sigh as the doors creaked open to let him out on the main floor. Janette stood outside the glass doors, her shiny blonde hair framed her perfect features, a peach sweater and short skirt accentuated her generous boobs and showed off those fabulous legs
Wow, she even looked gorgeous at 7:00 AM. What was wrong with the woman?
“Absolutely nothing,” he grumbled inwardly as he opened the door.
“Hi.” Janette smiled apologetically. “Thanks so much for looking after Sweetie-Pie for me. I made her promise she’d be good as long as you were nice to her.” She glanced down at the dog sitting warily beside her.
He chuckled. “Yeah, right.”
“No, honest. She’ll bark three short barks when she needs to go outside to do her business. And here’s a list of all the foods that are poisonous to dogs.” She handed him a paper and then a plastic shopping bag. “Poop bags and some homemade doggy treats.”
The dog stood and wagged its tail at the word treats. It really seemed to understand what Janette was saying. Brock shook his head. Hard to believe this was the same growling, biting, ferocious killer he’d picked up at the pound. He dutifully accepted the growing pile of dog things she pulled out of various pockets and her big purse and handed to him one by one.
“Her squeaky toy, a tennis ball—she loves playing fetch. Here’s some dog food but she’d prefer to share whatever you’re eating as long as it’s not on that list. Grilled cheese sandwiches are her favorite food, so far. And, of course, Sweetie-Pie.” She passed him the end of the leash and he would swear the dog was about to cry at her treachery.
He bent over, put the bag down and held his hand out to the dog. It had occurred to him last night that it—no she—was his best way at actually getting closer to Janette.
“Hello, Sweetie-Pie.” He stifled his cringe at having to say that silly name out loud. The dog ignored him, staring balefully at Janette.
“It’s okay, baby.” She crouched down and hugged Sweetie-Pie.
Her fresh, floral perfume overwhelmed him as he suddenly realized how close they were. If he just leaned a little forward, he could kiss her. He straightened, worried that she might psychically sense his wayward thoughts. She stood and, seemingly without thought, threw her arms around him in a full contact hug. He froze in shock.
“Thanks again.” That glorious smile lit up her face and then she turned and strutted purposefully to her car, her perky ass swaying with every step in her sparkly high heels.
He stared after her, still feeling her luscious breasts squished up against his chest. Wow. A whining noise shook his revelry and he glanced down. Sweetie-Pie looked ready to race after Janette’s car so he wrapped her leash firmly around his wrist.
“C’mon, dog. Let’s go inside.” He pulled on the leash before remembering. “No forcing.” He groaned. “So how am I supposed to make you come in?”
Ah. He picked up the bag of dog detritus and rummaged inside. “If I give you a treat, will you come in with me?”
The dog searched his face, looked down the street after Janette’s car and then back at him. He held up a treat and stepped inside the doorway. “Coming?”
One more wistful glance after Janette, and Sweetie-Pie tentatively followed him inside, eyeing the treat to make sure it didn’t disappear. Brock smiled. Using the same hand motion Janette had used at his embarrassing book signing, he told her to sit. She did and he gave her the treat. Maybe he didn’t need Janette to teach him dog training. Bah, what was he thinking? He couldn’t give up his one excuse to get to hang around with the woman. That would be stupid.
“Oh my God, I can’t tell you how fabulous my computer workshop was!” Anna latched onto Janette’s arm steering her into Moshie’s. The smell of fried food and garlic filled the crowded deli and Janette’s stomach rumbled in response.
Janette inhaled the comforting odor before answering. “It was good, huh? Did you meet a bunch of super-spies?”
“Shhh, we’re not supposed to even joke about that in case someone is recording us.”
“In Moshie’s? Hard to believe.” She covered her mouth with her hand and whispered, “Do I have to call you Agnes Classelfitch now to throw them off track?”
“What? Don’t be silly. But Chris says I have to be cautious.”
Janette gave her the stink-eye. “So why’d you bring it up if you can’t even talk about it?”
“I just—” Anna paused to hold up two fingers to the hostess and nodded thanks before following her through the tightly packed, plastic covered tables. Anna sat before continuing. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to say how much fun I had. And I did meet lots of super-bright, really cool guys.”
“Did you tell Ericson that?”
“Of course not. If I did and he got mad, I’d think he didn’t trust me. But if he didn’t get mad, I’d worry he didn’t love me as much as I love him. It’s a no-win situation.”
“Hmm.” Janette eyed her friend with skepticism. “So did you meet any cute guys for me?”
“Really? I thought from your last e-mail message saying how much Sweetie-Pie now loved Brock, that maybe he was back on the to-date list.”
“No.” Janette felt the heat of a slight blush rising up her cheeks. “I mean, I like him way better, now that I know why he was trying so hard to get Sweetie-Pie to obey him. Apparently not only was he scared of dogs, he’s also terrified of public speaking. I don’t get why they’d insisted he do a cross country book tour.”
“I guess.” She scrunched her nose, embarrassed. “This is gonna sound bad. He’s really not as cute in real life as in his promo shot. His hair’s a lot dorkier, the glasses look nerd rather than hipster, and, I don’t know, he just doesn’t ooze that hot uber-sexy vibe.”
“You could fix the hair and glasses but I don’t know how you fix the vibe thing.” Anna turned to the waitress now standing beside the table. “Could I get a coffee, please?”
“Me too.” Janette flipped open the menu. “I don’t know why I bother looking. I always just get the usual.”
Anna nodded. “You’re right. Six, small fifteen and thirty-two, hold the slaw. So how was the film shoot? Did you do anyone famous?”
“No. J. Lo had her own hair and make-up and it was mostly extras needing gaping wounds and scars.” Janette searched for the waitress. “Looks like a fun movie though. Very campy and I got to do some spewing arteries—I love those.” She grinned. “Especially when someone else has to clean it up after.”
The server plunked down their coffees. “You gals ready?”
“You bet.” Janette gave their orders and they watched her hustle to the next table. “She must be new. I like it when they’re still speedy.”
“So are you going to see him again?” Anna had a sly smile on her face.
“Who? Oh, Brock? Yeah, I guess so. I was still thinking about the set.” She grimaced. “Wally asked me out again.”
“The old guy?”
“Yeah. Yuck.” Janette sipped her coffee and added more cream. “Brock isn’t his real name.”
“You mean he chose that name? Why?”
“His agent wanted a more macho name to match the ‘lion tamer’ claim. And they said no one would believe his real name, Pavlov.”
“You’re kidding? Wow, you’d think he’d be a natural at training dogs.” Anna pursed her lips. “Where’s he from? He didn’t have an accent.”
“Moldavia, or was it Moldav? It’s next to Romania, apparently.” She shrugged. “He’s not a gypsy, though. His family make refrigerators.”
“Wow, that’s specific. Just fridges and not freezers and other appliances?”
“Nope. And they’re in Poughkeepsie, now.”
“He’s getting less romantic every time you open your mouth.”
Janette laughed. “I know, right? But Sweetie-Pie’s been bugging me constantly about when she can see him again. I don’t know what kind of food he gave her, but she’s determined that only he has it.”
“Where is she now? I thought she couldn’t be alone.”
“I bribed her. I told her I’d bring a Reuben sandwich for her dinner tonight if she’d stay home alone.”
“Does she even know what that is?”
“Not yet, but she’ll like it. She eats anything… Oh, and that’s what else. I need to teach Brock how to be a dog trainer.”
“How’re you gonna do that? Tell him to bribe them?”
“I guess so. I keep hoping he’ll forget I promised to help him. I don’t think he really wants to rewrite the book, but he has to give them something for the advance he’s already spent.”
Anna laughed. “He could write a cat training book. Then no one would expect it to actually work.”
“That’s an idea. Probably wouldn’t sell, though. Might as well write about training rhinoceroses. Or would that be rhinocerii?” Janette nodded her thanks as the waitress slid her sandwich platter in front of her. “Mmm, that looks good.”
“Yeah.” Anna licked her lips as she eyed her bagel piled high with shaved beef. “It must be getting close to the full moon, because boy does food ever taste good.”
“Uh huh. I know what else would taste good.” Janette sighed. “God, I need a boyfriend! Another full moon and no one to enjoy the fringe benefits with.”
“Maybe you should give Brock a chance. Sometimes those nerdy types are the best in bed because they try harder.”
Janette chomped on her pastrami on rye before giving Anna the side eye. “You think? But if he isn’t then how will I get rid of him?”
Anna grinned as she leaned forward to whisper, “That’s not a problem, just act really crazy and tell him you’re a werewolf. They run every time.”
“Ha! You’ve never done that. Your family would kill you if you even joked about that with a human.”
“You’re right. Especially with that new whack-job they were talking about on the TV news the other night claiming he’s a werewolf hunter.”
Janette glanced around to ensure no one was eavesdropping. Not that half the city wasn’t talking about that guy, but still… “I saw Lucas’ memo to the pack. Did he have any sort of evidence?”
“No, and he isn’t even from Seattle, so I don’t know why he’s out here drumming up publicity.” At Janette’s raised eyebrows, Anna continued, “I think they said he’s from New York.”
“Well, they do have a special breed of crazy out east.”
Anna laughed. “Yeah, but what’s funny is his method for killing werewolves. It was something like you have to blast them with nitric oxide—is that the dry ice shit?—and then when they freeze it makes them revert to their wolf form. At that point you dismember it and put half their body into warm water and bury the other half so the wolf can’t re-form itself.”
“Dry ice? Maybe liquid nitrogen. Scary to think of this crazy guy running around wanting to freeze dry people. I hope the cops are watching him.”
“They’re trying to find out where he is, after all his publicity. He’s online promoting his Go Fund Me page so he can find the werewolves. Anyway, back to Brock, it’d probably be safer to pretend you’re a zombie. You could even do the make-up.”
Janette laughed. “You’re a genius. Now I just have to figure out how to get him to make a pass at me. Guys like to make the first move.”
“Strike!” Brock pumped his fist as he turned back from the alley. “Okay, beat that!”
“You’re annoying. You know that?” Greg grabbed a ball and glared at him before lining up for his shot. “I just need two strikes and a spare and you are toast, buddy.”
“No pressure.” Brock grinned at Greg’s exaggerated set-up to his shot. It felt good finally beating his friend after almost a year of choking in the final frames. Could it be his luck was changing? Maybe he should ask Janette out in case he was on a lucky streak.
“Bend, baby, bend.” Greg contorted his body, urging the ball to the left. He straightened as it miraculously edged to the sweet spot between the one and three pins. Most of the pins scattered and then the last one slowly teetered to the gutter. “That’s one,” Greg crowed as he waited for the pins to be reset.
Damn. His win didn’t look so inevitable. “You know, if you spent as much effort writing books as you do on perfecting your bowling game, you’d probably have a best seller by now.”
“Yup. But look how far that got you. You did all the things that ‘Write a Bestseller’ guy said and now what do you have? A pulled book and you have to rewrite the thing from scratch.” Greg grabbed his ball from the rack.
Brock shook his head. “Didn’t I tell you? My agent renegotiated with the publisher. I submitted a proposal for my mystery series and they said they’d consider that instead.”
Greg turned to stare at him in shock. “What about the bombshell who was going to teach you to train dogs? Don’t tell me you blew her off.”
“You kidding? I’m not telling her. Besides, maybe I will rewrite the dog training book. Could happen.”
“You little sneak.” Greg smirked before starting his elaborate pre-bowling routine, eyeing the pins as if they might’ve somehow ended up in different positions from the last ball he threw. Three steps toward the lane, he stopped and pulled the ball into his body before turning back to ask, “Does this mean you’re going back to your werewolf story?”
“Yup. Apparently paranormal comedy mysteries are selling well, so if I can whip off a series based on the short story I sold last year, I should start raking in the dough.” Brock grinned. “And I don’t have to do any research for fiction.”
“What about setting?”
Brock waved at Greg to shoot. “It’s set in Seattle in the present. No need to look anything up.”
“Hmmph.” Greg began his pre-shot routine again, patently ignoring Brock’s fake cough. Finally the ball was sailing toward the one pin, with Greg’s body twisting in encouragement. “C’mon, just a little more. Yes!” He started to pump his fist then stopped, staring in frustration as the last pin wobbled but didn’t fall. “Damn!”
“Whoop! I gotcha. Wait. Let me post this on Facebook.” Brock whipped out his phone and opened it just to bug the guy.
“No way. I don’t post when I win.”
“I know. This way it’ll look like I always win.” He handed Greg the dirty knife from his leftover burger platter. “Hey. Pose with this dagger in your chest in front of the lane—oh wait, here’s some ketchup for the full effect.”
“Yeah, right. I’ll get your victory beer. And that’s it.” He shook his head. “I would’ve tried harder if I’d known you’d be such a gloater.”
“Harder? We’d be here until midnight if you took any more time setting up.”
“Ha, ha. Coors?”
“I’ll go for a Pike since you’re buying.” Greg walked to the bar and Brock absentmindedly pushed the pin reset button. Okay, I’m gonna ask her out. He stifled a smile as a shot of adrenaline zipped up his spine. Maybe he should buy a lottery ticket, too. No, he needed all his luck to get the date with Janette. What should he suggest? Something with the dog would improve his odds, so a movie was out. He tapped his chin in thought.
“Here.” Greg thumped the beer onto the table. “Enjoy it because next time you won’t be so lucky.”
“Lucky? Skill, man. Sheer skill.” He eyed his friend warily. If he asked Greg for dating ideas, then he’d have to also admit if Janette shot him down. Still, Greg had been married so he might know what a woman like her would like. Nah, he’d Google date ideas when he got home. That would be safest. “Cheers. So how is your book coming along?”
Greg shook his head. “I can’t get into writing about the vegan lifestyle. I’m thinking maybe I should go back to fiction, too. That guy made sense on determining what sells on Amazon, but actually writing non-fiction is way too dull.”
“I know. It’s such a relief just letting my imagination go and not having to sound so bloody didactic.” He swigged his drink. “Ahh, victory beer, so much better than the regular shit. Hey. Did you hear about that guy claiming there are werewolves in Seattle?”
“Yeah. What a nutbar.”
“I know, but fabulous timing if he’s still doing his werewolf hunting when my book is coming out. His craziness would be like free advertising!”
“How close are you to finishing your book?
“I’m on the second to last chapter. My werewolf detective just has to save the heroine from the guy that murdered her husband and framed him for a big drug operation. Then they start making out, but he realizes that she’s still mourning her husband and tells her not now, but maybe when she’s truly ready for another love. The end.”
“What? He doesn’t get the girl? That sucks.”
“Maybe they’ll make love, but he definitely can’t keep the girl. This is the first book in the series, so he needs to be single for the next book. Plus then he’d have to bite her and turn her into a werewolf too, and—I dunno, that all sounds too complicated at this late part in the book.”
“As long as they have sex first. I mean, where would James Bond be if he didn’t have sex with all those babes?”
“It’s a different kind of book, but I get your point. Hell, I need a new pen name—probably with just initials so I can get both male and female readers.”
“I can’t call you Brock anymore?”
“Whatever. What about B.P. Adams? No one will connect it to Brock Benson, humiliated dog trainer.” He shook his head. “Jesus, I’ll have to do all new branding and social media.”
Greg punched his shoulder. “Quit your bitching, at least you’ve got a book deal. You’re ahead of most of the other people from our old writing group.”
“You’re right. And I met the most beautiful woman ever—even if she did kill my first book.”
“Shut up, I’d settle for the girl or the book deal and you’re trying for both.”
“Dream big, baby, otherwise you’re stuck working in refrigerators.”
“Nah. My folks are dentists.”
“Same difference. Dentists aren’t exactly babe-magnets either.” He held up his beer. “Here’s to writing a bestseller and getting the girl. Not necessarily in that order.”
stay tuned, Bite Me Baby, One More Time will be available on Amazon in May of 2018!