Harry Sackes leads a double life: making a career as an author by day and dipping into the dark underworld of criminals at night. The moment he sees Manda in his twin brother's arms, his whole life becomes his personal Shakespearean trag-comedy of mistaken identity and unrequited love in this fast-paced chick lit romance.
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.39(d)|
About the Author
Register for her newsletter to learn about her upcoming projects and find out about deals and giveaways at http://eepurl.com/MFZ55
or connect with Kat here:
Also by KAT DE FALLA:
THE 7 ARCHANGELS SERIES
The Seer's Lover
MOTO MADDIE BMX PORTAL SERIES
Flying Mutant Zombie Rats
Slime Spewing Vampire Velociraptors
HAUNTS FOR SALE SERIES writing as Kat Green
Read an Excerpt
"Sometime all full with feasting on your sight, And by and by clean starved for a look;" (Shakespeare Sonnet 75)
Frigid Saturday morning in late December: Lincoln Park, Chicago
"Our Princess Cupcake book made the New York Times Best Sellers list! Now we can add that to the banner for your book signing. You've done it! This is like the fifth message I've left you, Maggie! Please call me back so we can celebrate. I've got the champagne chilling in the fridge for when you get here next weekend!" I hung up the phone and frowned down at the screen, waiting for it to light up with Maggie Monroe's photo. Why wasn't she calling back? This was her baby after all. I was just her literary agent.
But today I was feeling like one hell of a fine agent. I'd managed to take Maggie's dream and help her turn it into a reality. Cupcakes and princesses. That was the idea she'd pitched me in Chicago at the author event before she moved to Boston. I loved it and signed her within twenty-four hours of our first meeting. Best move of my life. Of course, Maggie wasn't my only client, but she was my first and, secretly, my favorite.
Shoving my phone into the back pocket of my jeans, I tried in vain to rein in my rescue bulldog-lab mix, Beefer, who was successfully dragging me through the polished revolving doors and into the refurbished foyer of my downtown condo. "Heel, Beefer. Heel!" He outweighed me by thirty pounds of pure muscle and, based on his forward lunging, was well aware of the treat awaiting him in the apartment.
The building's doorman, George, paused from sweeping the tile floor. "Slow down there, Manda!" At his full height, he still stood an inch shorter than my meager five foot six. The buttons on his black, double-breasted suit coat squeezed a bit when he bent to pick up a crumpled piece of paper.
I reached down and grabbed it for him. "I got it, George," I said before tossing it in the garbage. His fogged, round glasses and ruddy cheeks implied he'd just stepped in from outside as well. "Thank you. By the way, your dad is keeping me company this fine morning while he waits for you. He says he's in no hurry." George gave me a quick wink.
Dad clicked a forefinger on his wristwatch from where he sat waiting in the condo's lobby. The man valued punctuality, a trait I hadn't quite mastered. I gave him a quick wave. "George, stall him for a few more minutes, will you? Beefer and I slept in."
George tipped his hat. "Will do, Miss Wolfgram."
"You're the best." I wondered when people wouldn't require his personalized services and his job would become obsolete, like a lift operator. Could a fingerprint scan, automated key cabinet, computerized voice, or online concierge ever replace George's warm handshake, sports small talk, or friendly face? His capacity for remembering names, faces, and people's schedules was uncanny.
The closest elevator sported an "out of order" sign. The second elevator seemed in permanent halt on the eighth floor. It crossed my mind to take the stairs, but cardio before brunch might turn my stomach. Or so I convinced myself. I let my finger trace the circle of the up arrow button before pressing it, thinking about the poor lift operator. Funny how I lived in a building with hundreds of strangers and it never seemed to bother anyone but me. Everyone was so engrossed in antisocial technology. Always looking down and missing the whole world happening around them. Engaged in electronic conversations when flesh and blood people surrounded them. The modern day domination of parasocial relationships made me sad.
The last guy who'd asked me out checked his phone every five minutes over dinner. Huge red flag. When he'd texted to ask me out again, he received the same stock response I gave to most potential clients and boyfriends, "Sorry, not for me."
The lighted numbers above the elevator marked its snail-like descent to the lobby. Beefer planted his furry backside on the cold tile floor, tail swishing like a restless mop. The high ceiling in the atrium allowed the morning sun to burst through the massive windows where it splashed against the rose-tinged marble floors, making the lobby sparkle like a ballroom. I imagined women with bodice-hugging gowns and full satin skirts curtsying as their partners bowed before sweeping them around the dance floor.
Women should meet men at balls, not bars.
The doors opened, jolting me from my British Renaissance daydream enough to step inside the claustrophobia-inducing metal box. The doors started to close when a series of rapid clicks and heavy footsteps pounded toward the elevator. A deep voice yelled, "Hi ya, George! Hey, can you hold the elevator?"
I knew that voice. Oh no!
With a jerk forward, I managed to hit the little button with two outward pointing arrows. A hand appeared in between the doors to stop them from shutting. The doors reopened. My throat seized shut, and time froze.
The sixth-floor hottie!
Every time we passed, I couldn't form a coherent sentence. My brain cells deserted me when his male perfection entered my personal space. The last time we passed in the lobby, it was summer and Beefer sniffed his golden's butt to my utter mortification. I think I mumbled "I'm sorry" and fled in horror.
Today I will form words!
Emboldened, I stood taller and began to formulate a witty question. My cheeks burned while I resisted the urge to gawk. He was bundled up in a winter coat and heavy boots, holding a bag of groceries and wearing an ushanka winter hat that covered most of his face. But it was him. I knew for sure because of the dog.
Instructing myself to take deep breaths, I vowed I'd say something funny and interesting. I was a literary agent for crying out loud! I lived in a world of words. But then I caught a whiff of him: masculine and heavy, like black pepper and tangerines with a splash of the fresh cool, Lake Michigan wind. After that, all words eluded me. Blank. I had nothing.
"Thanks for holding the door." He spoke. To me. And in the most polite manner, his hint of a smile melting my insides like hot chocolate after a winter snowball fight.
The elevator slid shut. I stole a sideways glance, and his gray-green eyes locked on mine for a fraction of a second too long.
I jerked my head toward the front of the elevator again, swallowing copious amounts of saliva. Great, I'm about to drool over this guy for real!
He reached across and hit the buttons for the sixth and eighth floors. He raised one eyebrow. "Eight, right?" I nodded like an idiot from my stupor, wishing I could channel chameleon superpowers and melt into the wall.
Hold up! He knows what floor I live on?
Trying to focus on something else, I watched his waggy-tailed golden retriever, who had pranced into the confined space and planted its furry backside right next to its owner.
He pulled a flask from his jacket and unscrewed the cap. After taking a swig, he held the bottle out to me.
I couldn't do anything but give him a confused expression. The elevator stopped at four, but the hall was empty. I risked a look inside his paper bag. A stalk of celery was sticking out next to a nudie magazine. My precious sixth-floor hottie was hot all right ... a hot mess.
"So no?" He calmly covered his flask and put it away. "Oh, Desdemona, if only she knew 'I have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking.'" He mumbled the whole thing while patting his dog on the head.
Who the heck was this guy? Quietly quoting Shakespeare but drinking from a flask in an elevator with a girlie magazine in his grocery bag? I mean, where was the guy I saw this summer out for a run? The guy whose T-shirt was sticking to him in all the right places? The guy with the defined shoulders and rippled abs that made me want to ski up and down their slopes?
"What's your name, big guy?"
Beefer puffed out his chest to be macho and sat up nice and tall while the sixth-floor hottie scratched his chin.
"His name is Beefer," I answered, realizing how uncool his name was compared to Othello's Venetian debutante. "Desdemona?" I said it out loud because I still couldn't believe it.
"Nobody gets the reference. No worries."
The elevator opened on the sixth floor, and he stepped out.
"Shakespeare's Othello," I said without a moment's hesitation. "I'm ... I'm a literary agent."
He turned quickly and stuck his hand in the other pocket of his coat. His eyes brightened, and one corner of his mouth lifted in a half smile as the door began to close. He stuck his arm inside, risking bodily injury, and the door shut on his outstretched hand.
He dropped something.
The door opened all the way back up as a safety precaution, and I bent down to pick up the piece of paper. Now it was my turn to force the elevator into an indecisive pattern. I stuck my head out into the hallway and followed the direction of Desdemona's wagging tail. "Hey, you dropped this."
"It's for you. If you really like Shakespeare, come see me," he stopped walking and looked over his shoulder.
I looked down to find a ticket for Romeo and Juliet at Navy Pier for today!
I nodded like a mute fool. My wit and vocal chords were failures and would get a stern admonition later. The mute fool — the only character to cast me as if Shakespeare eviscerated me in fiction.
I stepped back and allowed the door to finally shut. Did the sixth-floor, day-drinking, girly-mag-reading hottie just ask me on a date?
Did it matter? He'd basically dropped a free theater ticket in my lap.
An apropos Othello quote popped into my head: "Kill me tomorrow, let me live tonight!" I unlocked my apartment, unsnapped Beefer's leash, and filled his water bowl. Of course, it isn't a date! After slurping water and dripping it all over my tiny kitchen floor, Beef trotted to the bedroom, jumped up on the bed, and plopped down on his pillow, giving me his look of, "What?"
"I many have to rename you 'Brutus' to up my cool factor." Not. A. Date.
Because if it were, I'd have to fess up that I spoon with a dog every night, and unless he sprouts soft, warm fluffiness from every follicle, the dog stayed in the bed. I couldn't get the image out of my mind of the nearly naked girl on the cover of the magazine he'd made no attempt to hide.
The sixth-floor hottie was definitely not for me. But that was no reason not to dress up and go to the theater. No frumpy work clothes for this classy chick.
Yeah, right. Like I could pull that off.CHAPTER 2
"O! she doth teach the torches to burn bright" (Romeo and Juliet 1.5.46)
As soon as I opened the door to our apartment, I sniffed in disgust. "Dane," I called out, "this place reeks, and I gave my ticket away to some chick in the elevator." Who'd smelled awesome.
My twin came strolling out of the bathroom in a towel. My brother was every girl's dream hunk. And I wrote him — physically — into every novel. But I added my personality, because he was a bit of the pretty dumb blond of our family. I was scar face.
"Hey, stale coffee and old pizza is still preferable to Desdemona's breath, don't you think?" He stepped over old pizza boxes in an attempt to navigate down the hall to his bedroom. "Hold up, that ticket was front row, man. You promised to come. It's the last show tonight! What chick in the elevator?"
I plopped down in my computer chair and swung around like a little kid. Why was I still thinking about how that girl in the elevator smelled? I usually avoided women like the plague. Or maybe it was vice-versa. Dane had all the fun, and that was fine with me. We shared a common goal. The end would justify the means. Or that was what I kept telling myself. "Maybe I'll sneak in and grab a back row seat," I yelled down the hall, hoping to appease him. Better not to say that I had never intended on going to the show. Collecting the old newspapers, I began to systematically stack our scattered garbage. "She knew who we named Des after. I couldn't very well not give her the ticket. So say "hi" to her after the show. She thinks you're me. Don't impress her with your acting chops so much that she wants to jump you after the show, though. Capisce?"
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I felt a pang in my chest. Dane couldn't have her. Whoa! I'd never had that thought before about a girl. I never cared who he chose to love and leave. After peeling off my winter hat designed to cover my cheek, I took a quick glance in the mirror by the front door and remembered why. I was ugly, and Dane was a Greek god. I brushed at the long scar running down the side of my cheek. No girl would ever want to be seen in public with me. That much was true.
"Why? Does she think this is a date?"
"No," I yelled my definitive answer so it reached his bedroom. Besides, no way I'd be able to make this den of men presentable enough to let a girl like Manda in here. Ever.
Who am I kidding? There was no room in my world for dating. Not now when I was so close. And Dane was a serial two-dater. Even if he liked her, he'd find some fatal flaw after the second date. Like Wendy with the overhanging second toe.
Damnit! I was drinking and had a copy of Penthouse in my grocery bag. Great first impression. So despite the fact I'd watched her for months, I'd kept quiet. And she never looked at me twice. My gut was beginning to tell me giving her that ticket was going to be a big mistake. And telling Dane this was not a date probably made him think that it was for sure a date.
Emerging from his bedroom in jeans and a gray Shakespeare T-shirt that read "These wenches cannot commit," he gave me a funny look. "What's up with you?"
"Nothing. Why don't we run lines for a bit?" My brother was magic on stage, and I was so proud of him. My lifelong fascination with Shakespeare made role-playing in our tiny apartment a hoot. I wished I could have his free conscience and reckless abandon on stage, but my nasty scar and PTSD kind of kept me typing instead of performing.
I'd died and sold my soul. My debt would never be repaid. My dirty life allowed me to let no one in. Maybe it was for the best. Dane was "the face" of our partnership, and I was the brains and the money.
After an hour, he asked me again, "You like this elevator girl or something? You're still acting weird." His gaze darted from my eyes to my scar and back. "You know not everyone judges a book by its cover. That scar isn't anything."
"So I'm not hideous. Geez, thanks." The scar was the visible sign of my outer ugliness. It was who I hated on the inside that was truly repulsive. I wanted to see that girl again. Maybe if she didn't know I was there ... "It'll probably end up being an empty seat. And no, I don't like her."
A wicked twinkle appeared in my twin's eye. I knew what he was thinking. If I didn't like her, she wasn't off-limits to him. At that moment, I decided to go to the show — in case she actually went and fell for Dane's fake charm. My sewer life occasionally needed to be reminded of the flickers of beauty that could exist. Because each day I forgot about beauty more and more. I was drowning in a life I'd created and was out of control.
"Hey, after we run lines, do you want to order gyros from Snickers, pick up some babes, bring them back here for some pre-show loving —?"
I held up my hand. "I pay girls plenty to entertain you when I need a demo, and how they navigate this cesspool of an apartment for a roll on your dirty sheets, I don't know. So no thanks. How about we clean up a little?"
"Lie to me again about how you don't like this elevator girl! What, are you scared I'm going to bring her up here? You've never cared about the state of our living quarters before." Dane began to pace, like he was a kindergartener putting together the pieces of a puzzle. He ticked things off on his fingers. "First, you pretend to be me. Then, you give a ticket to my show to a random woman in the elevator. Now, you want to clean?" Realization hit him. "You do like her!"
"She smells good." As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I regretted them and bolted for the safety of my bedroom. Desdemona lay sprawled out on my bed, and piles of books covered all my shelves and dressers.
Dane followed me, leaning his frame against my door. "Well, well, well. Mr. High-and-Mighty Smut Writer may actually be having some dirty thoughts of his own finally. Me likey!"
"Forget I said that. Look, I do need a demo of something called the "Cincinnati Bowtie" for my next scene. You up for that later tonight if I find some willing and ables?"
"Don't change the subject. Which girl? I'll bet it's the pink spandex-wearing jogger from the tenth floor."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Not For Me"
Copyright © 2018 Kat de Falla.
Excerpted by permission of SunMoon Arts Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.5 stars. So, this story was a little different than I expected. In the end I did enjoy it, but it took a bit to get into. There were definitely humorous parts, a few that had me laughing out loud. There were some emotional parts as well, bringing a tear to my eye. But I wasn't expecting it to quite go in the direction it went. It sounds like it will be the usual romantic comedy from the synopsis. But if you read the synopsis carefully, you'll find the one line that kind of slipped past my attention on first glance. Now that I read back through it, I see where that came from. I wish maybe we'd gotten a little more background for Harry, earlier in the story, or maybe more throughout it. I feel like fleshing some of that out would have maybe made it a little better. As I mentioned before, it was still good, and I loved the bit of adventure we had at the very end. As it seems to be a series, I can say I might be interested in reading on. The characters, what we got of them, were funny and endearing, and everything really did all tie together in a pretty bow at the end. It was an easy read, other than the few bits toward the beginning that I wasn't quite sure what was happening, until we got a little bit more filled in later in the story.
This book is a charming combination of flirtatious fun and Shakespearean drama. It's a page turner that will have you laughing along with the children's literary agent, Manda, as she is put in the worst possible position she can imagine - representing an erotica author. And when she finds out he's also the hottie she's been pining for things get complicated. But I don't want to spoil it for you. Read it yourself!