It's coming down the wire, my friends! TIES will soon be loosed upon the world, and you will have your fill of Ryan and Hattie along with many cameos from some of your favorite characters from the LENGTHS series! I hope you enjoy these teasers! I cannot wait for August 26!
I’m in over my head.
When Hattie joked that I only date ale-guzzling wenches, I had this weird fear that her whole ‘east coast’ backstory was some kind of cover and she somehow knew, firsthand, what I’d been doing with my romantic life the last few years.
Because she kind of hit the nail on the head.
Not that the girls I dated before her were actually swarthy women with mugs of ale in each fist. They were just the kind of girls you’d picture when you imagined inebriated ladies who frequent shady drinking establishments. When my ex and I broke things off, the girls in bars had been the first and easiest to hook up with.
They were all so damn sweet after Megan’s harsh rejection. They looked at me with sympathetic doe-eyes hooded with too much mascara. They clapped clumsy hands on my back and then rubbed my neck, their fake nails unintentionally scratching my skin, while they murmured comforting things about true love and relationships that really mean something.
The beer always flowed freely, we always danced and flirted for a couple hours, maybe less, and then we always wound up back at my place--or their place--or the back of a roomy suburban--or even a tight hybrid if that’s what it took. I loved them for their sympathy, for the wild abandon, for the way they could make me live so hard in the moment that I’d forget the heartbreak of my real life.
The problem was the morning. Always. Sober, in the sunlight, we were never who we’d pretended to be the night before. And that was the reason for a swift, consistent rotation.
Of ale-guzzling wenches.
But that’s my past. My present has been resigned celibacy. My future?
She might be sitting next to me, loose strands of her black hair draped over her shoulders, her eyes a warm coppery color I’ve never seen before. I have a feeling that if she heard my sob story about my break-up, she’d do pretty much anything other than coo with sympathy and rub my neck. She might even laugh in my face.
And I like the idea of that.
We pull up to Crab Catcher because, I’m not gonna lie, I want to impress her, and I’m willing to pull out all the stops to do it.
When I glance over, she’s pressed back against the seat, shaking her head back and forth, those metallic eyes narrowed.
“No. No, no, no, nope.” She gestures down to her dress-thing, which is black, clingy, and looks damn fine to me. “Ryan, we can’t go in there dressed like this.”
“But I know their crab guy personally. You want crab, you love the ocean, and I’m going to score you a bottle of wine that will make you agree to a second date if I’m lucky. But it’s gotta be here.”
I’m sure she assumes I want to eat here because I’m insisting on excellence. And I am, kind of. Crab Catcher is arguably the best seafood in La Jolla, but I’m not sure I could afford to find out if any other place could compare. Darryl sent me on emergency assignment when one of the owner’s yachts got stranded over Labor Day weekend last year. I made triple pay for the run out, and the guy was so happy with my work, I get to eat at Crab Catcher whenever I want as much as I want, on the house.
I have money, of course. I work. I just pour most of it into racing, and what I have left over isn’t enough to impress a girl like Hattie. And I want to impress her in the worst way.
“I’m wearing flip-flops,” she cries, holding one tiny foot up to show me what looks like a perfectly good shoe for eating crab in.
“They have these super fancy things called tablecloths here,” I joke. I like the way she catches her lip between her teeth so I won’t see her smile. “They are known to hide your feet. Because I get how embarrassing those shoes must be.”
“You’re making fun of me.” She doesn’t say it like she minds.
“I’m trying to convince you not to let your damn shoes stop you from the best crab--the best crab--in California.” I watch her lip drop from between her teeth. “In the United States.” She wrinkles her brow, like she’s giving this serious consideration. “In the universe.”
“Who could say no to the best crab in the universe?” She shrugs. “Okay. But if the host makes us leave because we look like slobs, I’m not talking to you on the ride to the corndog hut.”
“Fair enough.” I go around to get her door and take her arm, and she lets me. I never know, because sometimes it pisses girls off when I try stuff like that, and Hattie definitely has that whole independent woman vibe going on big time.
She lets me hold the door for her, too, but she makes sure to thank me when we walk in. It’s just details, just the little things, but she’s such a class act. I know how awkward she feels about her outfit--even though I think she’s crazy...she looks freaking amazing--but she radiates comfortable confidence anyway.
She’s layered. That’s really attractive. I love that she can put on a good show, squash her insecurities. I love that even though she blows me off on the surface, pretends that this is just a casual get-together, there’s so much potential for it to go deeper. And I promise myself I won’t get discouraged if it feels like she’s not as into me, because her game-face could afford her a solid career in professional poker.
I’m determined to call her bluff.
….TIES is coming August 26, 2013!