I am so thrilled to be in the Fresh Fiction newsletter today talking about my brand new book, LYRIC AND LINGERIE! It’s my first ever self-published book and now that it’s making its way into the world, I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. L & L is a lot lighter and funnier than the books you usually see from me and I’m dying to hear what you think of it. I co-wrote it with my dear friend, Katie Graykowski (who is one of the funniest and kindest women I have ever met) and we had entirely too much fun coming up with our characters and the zany situations we put them in.
Lyric Wright is an off-beat astrophysicist whose life is falling apart around her. After losing her fiancé to a hula dancing astrologer and losing her dress to an ill-fated leap of faith, she’s sure there’s nowhere for her life to go but up. At least until she sits down on a trans-Pacific flight next to the one man she never wanted to see again—the boy she’d lost her heart and her virginity too back before she’d learned that friendship and football don’t equal true love.
Broken down quarterback Heath Montgomery is on a plane ride to nowhere. Dodging the phone call he’s certain will end his professional football career for good, he might be Texas bound, but he knows there’s nowhere for him to go but down. But that’s before his childhood best friend and confidante plops back into his life wearing nothing but duct tape and a bad attitude. Determined not to lose her again (especially since he isn’t sure why he lost her the first time) and desperate to outrun his own shadowy future, Heath sets out to take Lyric on the ride of her life. Too bad she only dates men who actually know what her butterfly nebula is … and can find it without the help of a star chart.
Add in one passive-aggressive flight attendant with delusions of couture, a cherry red car with a crush on Neil Diamond, an over-protective sister with a black belt in Krav Maga, two parents determined to marry their spinster daughter off to the hometown hero no matter the cost, and a whole lot of lingerie popping up in all the right places at all the wrong times and you’ve got an unforgettable love story that fans of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Rachel Gibson won’t want to miss!
“Come on, Lyric,” he coaxed as he made another reach for one of the small bottles of Scotch. “You know you don’t like Johnnie Walker. You’re more a Mike’s Hard Lemonade girl.”
If he remembered correctly, JW was more her twin, Harmony’s, drink. Back in the day the three of them had spent more than one night in high school getting drunk and talking about how they were going to take on the world. Right up until he’d slept with Harmony, and she’d ripped his heart out of his chest.
Lyric’s big, round blue eyes—which he’d noticed weren’t close to being the curviest thing about her—turned glacial. “Scotch isn’t the only thing on this plane I don’t like, but it looks like I’ll have to adapt.”
He was baffled by her hostility, especially considering they’d once been really good friends. But from the day Harmony had dumped him, Lyric had treated him like he had a social disease. He’d understood at the time—or at least, he’d told himself he had. Everyone knew girls stuck together over things like that. But twelve years was a long time to hold a grudge when he hadn’t actually done anything wrong.
She turned her back on him—or tried to, anyway. That duct-taped dress of hers made it almost impossible for her to move. Which was good for him, since it gave him a chance to grab for the Johnnie Walker. Painkillers be damned. If he was going to deal with her anger management issues, he needed a drink. He’d obviously underestimated Lyric’s scorn for him, however, because she jerked the basket away so fast that a bottle of Jim Beam shot out and beaned the guy across the aisle right in the temple.
The bottle bounced off the guy’s head, hit his knee, and tumbled to the floor. The three of them turned as one to watch as it rolled down the aisle into coach. After it disappeared, Lyric’s latest victim turned in their direction. With a sinking heart, Heath watched as his eyes widened with recognition. “Hey, aren’t you—”
The guy didn’t bother finishing the sentence. Instead, he leaped the three feet across the aisle. “I’m a huge fan.”
With a long, put-upon sigh, Heath sat forward and accepted his fate. This was exactly what he’d been dreading all along, though he’d been certain the first shot would have come from Wranglers Jersey in front of him—hence the newspaper camouflage.
Pulling a napkin out of the basket, he grabbed a pen out of his pocket and scrawled his signature across the American Airlines logo. Then he handed it to the guy with a smile that was more fake than their flight attendant’s tan. Under the circumstances, it was the best he could do. Fame came at a price, and that one bottle of Jim Beam was going to end up costing him eight hours of peace and quiet.
“I’m sorry. Can we talk later? Right now I’m catching up with an old friend.”
At the “old friend,” Lyric’s eyes cut over to him. The guy took the napkin, wiped his hands with it, and tossed it on the floor behind him. “Dr. Wright, I saw your last video podcast on the Crab Nebula—it was amazing.” There was so much reverence in the guy’s voice, he might have been talking to Jesus or Joe Namath.
Lyric straightened her shoulders, smoothed her hair down, and when she smiled, there was nothing fake about it. “Thanks. Next week, I’m doing quasar output and the effects on dark matter.”
“Oh my God. Oh my God. I can’t wait!”
His eyes practically glowed with the fervor of the zealot. All around them, heads were turning to check out the commotion.
Terrified of Wranglers Jersey one row ahead, Heath tried to slink down to hide behind the chair in front of him. But at six foot five and two forty, wiggle room didn’t exist. Add in the broken knee and the reading light shining down like a spotlight, and he might as well have been the featured performer at the Super Bowl halftime show.
Lyric was oblivious to his discomfort. She and Science Geek had moved on to a spirited discussion about the upcoming (and obviously very exciting) Firefly cast reunion scheduled for the next San Diego Comic-Con. Science Geek got so enthusiastic that his jacket fell open, revealing a T-shirt that read, “Beam Me Up, Scottie. There’s no intelligent life down here.” Heath barely resisted commenting that she’d already Jim Beamed him upside the head, but he doubted they’d get it. With all the science speak flying around, however, he was considering Jim Beaming himself—right between the eyes.
Science Geek’s gaze locked on to Lyric’s cleavage. “That dress. Is that the new light-refracting material they were talking about on the SETI website?” He reached out and ran a fingertip along the top edge of her dress, lingering for a second in the shallow between her breasts.
Heath couldn’t take it anymore. Shooting Science Geek an I’m-going-to-beat-the-shit-out-of-you glare, he yanked the blanket out of Lyric’s cleavage and tucked it under her chin and around her shoulders.
It might have been twelve years and she might hate him, but he still thought of her as the little girl who had brought him a Hostess Cupcake with a candle on it for his tenth birthday. She’d been the only one to remember that birthday and the ones that came after it. Heath would be damned if some Klingon tried to handle her quasars … not on his watch.
She turned to him, bemused, but must have decided he wanted an introduction, because she suddenly said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t introduce you to my seatmate. This is Heath Montgomery.”
Unfortunately, she used her professional lecturer tone and her voice echoed through the dark cavern of the plane. The second his name dropped from her lips, the seat in front of him rattled like an F5 tornado. Wranglers Jersey’s head popped up, and then it was on. Heath dove for the newspaper, but he wasn’t fast enough on the draw, and the guy’s eyes widened as their gazes connected.
“Holy shit.” His voice echoed down the aisle. “Ho-ly shit. You’re Heath Montgomery. Man, you were great in the Super Bowl last year.”
Before Heath could answer, someone else stuck their head past the curtain that separated first class from coach. “Montgomery. Dude, how’s the knee? That was a brutal hit.”
From there, it was only a few seconds before he had a fan club of five or six men gathered in the aisle around them, all vying for his attention. On the plus side, Science Geek had been trampled in the rush, which meant Lyric’s body was safe. Too bad he couldn’t say the same about his own, but he was familiar with taking one for the team.
Wranglers Jersey yelled to his girlfriend, “Tiffany, get up here. You’ve got to meet the Deuce.” He turned back to Heath. “She’s almost as big a fan as I am. In fact, we met at LSU in the kinesiology building, right in front of the lifesize portrait they have of you holding the Heisman. It was fate.”
The next thing Heath knew, a tiny brunette popped over the top of the seat, Sharpie in hand. Before he could so much as say hello, she’d ripped open her shirt and shoved her perfect but obviously fake C cups in his face. They were pretty, but he had to admit, he preferred Lyric’s real double Ds—even encased in duct tape.
“Sign my chest,” she demanded. “Honey, take a picture and I’ll get it inked for your birthday.”
Wranglers Jersey whipped out his cell phone before wiping a tear from his eye. “Baby, I love you.” But then he glanced around and realized all the men in the general vicinity were now staring at his girlfriend’s chest. Reaching over the seat, he grabbed for the blanket Heath had just wrapped around Lyric. “Can I borrow this?”
Heath’s hand shot out, knocked Wranglers Jersey’s hand away. “Dude, show some respect. Don’t touch her.” Guarding Lyric’s cleavage was turning into a full-time job.
The guy blanched, held up both his hands in a sign of surrender. “I’m sorry, man. I didn’t mean to disrespect your girl.”
You would think after ten years as a pro quarterback, he would be used to the crazies, but the truth was, they still threw him for a loop. He heard a snort come from Lyric’s general direction, and worried she was upset. But when he glanced at her, she was laughing her ass off—enjoying the hell out of his discomfort. Just like a woman.
Trapped now—as much by the crush of expectations as by the small crowd that had gathered around him—he gingerly reached for the Sharpie and started to sign right below the woman’s chin. Lyric stopped him with a hand on his wrist.
“No, no, no. You don’t want to sign there. The bones are much too close to the surface and it will hurt when she gets it tattooed. Plus, she might not want it showing at her next job interview.”
She repositioned his hand directly over the fullest part of the woman’s breast. “Sign here, where it’s fleshier. But be careful of the aureoles. She might want to breast-feed someday.”
Gritting his teeth, he quickly scrawled his name across her chest, avoiding the nipples as Lyric had suggested. This wasn’t the first rack he’d signed in his career, but it was by far the most uncomfortable. Something about Lyric watching and offering suggestions threw him off his game.
But once he’d given one autograph, it was open season. People handed him napkins, scraps of paper, T-shirts, even a diaper bag. He was on signature number eight when the flight attendant stomped down the aisle and muscled his way through the crowd. Hands on hips and one eyebrow raised, he glared down at Lyric. “What. Did. You. Do?”
“Me?” Lyric pressed her hands against her chest in mock innocence. “I haven’t done anything. It’s Mr. Football over here causing all the commotion—signing boobs and posing for pictures.”
The flight attendant sighed heavily, then, with all the self-importance of a dictator commanding his legions, pulled himself up to his full height of five foot six inches. Turning to Wranglers jersey, he ordered, “Stop touching those. I don’t care if they’re signed by Versace himself.”
“As for you,” he told the girlfriend with a scowl, “you’ve got five seconds to put those away or I’m getting out the duct tape. And this time, it’s not going be pretty.” He pointed at Heath. “And you, keep your Sharpie to yourself.”
As the couple in front of him finally turned around and did what they were told, Heath took a long sip of Lyric’s drink. Then nearly spewed it when the flight attendant held up his hands and said, “People, this is not Playboy One. Hugh Hefner is not on this airplane, and God willing, he never will be. Which means there will be no more nudity on this airplane. Do you understand me? No. More. Nudity.
“Now, unless you possess a first-class seat,” he continued, turning a snarky eye on the folks loitering in the aisle, “please return to the back of the plane. The curtain is here for a reason, people. We DO NOT run amuck in first class.” He pointed his index finger at the closest offender. “There is NO AMUCK running in first class. Do I make myself clear?”
Fingers fluttering, he shooed them down the aisle into coach, then turned back to the first-class passengers. “Ladies and gentlemen. There are three rules that we live by here in first class. One, we eat, we drink, we sleep. If there is talking, it is in hushed tones. Hushed tones, people. I’m talking whisper with perhaps a muted hand gesture or two. Personally, I prefer telepathy, but if you haven’t evolved that far then hushed tones will do.
“Two, the only body parts I want to see are your hands and your faces. Everything else must be covered at all times. Please don’t test this rule.” He glared at Boobs and Wranglers Jersey as he spoke. “And finally, rule number three. The—”
A shriek came from the back of the plane, interrupting him. It was followed by the sound of rapid footsteps tromping up the aisle. Seconds later, a topless woman appeared at the edge of first class. “Deuce, sign me too. Please!”
Mr. Flight Attendant sighed heavily, then snapped the curtain closed right in her face.
Without missing a beat, he continued, “The curtain stays closed. Always. Do you understand these three rules as I’ve explained them to you? If not or you are unable to comply with them, feel free to gather your belongings and move to coach.”
When no one spoke up, he took a moment to smooth the wrinkles from the front of his navy vest before asking, “Now, who needs a drink?”