Biochemist Eden Sinclair has no idea that the scent she spritzed on herself before leaving the lab is designed to enhance pheromones. Or that the cute, grungy-looking guy she meets at a gig that evening is Adam Copeland. As in the Adam Copeland-international rock god and object of lust for a million women. Make that a million and one. By the time she learns the truth, she's already spent the (amazing, incredible) night in his bed...
Suddenly Eden, who's more accustomed to being set up on disastrous dates by her mom, is going out with a gorgeous celebrity who loves how down-to-earth and honest she is. But for once, Eden isn't being honest. She can't bear to reveal that this overpowering attraction could be nothing more than seduction by science. And the only way to know how Adam truly feels is to ditch the perfume-and risk being ditched in turn...
Smart, witty, and sexy, Some Kind of Magic is an irresistibly engaging look at modern relationships-why we fall, how we connect, and the courage it takes to trust in something as mysterious and unpredictable as love.
"Sexy, engaging and original. I completely fell in love with Eden and Adam. An amazing first novel." --Sydney Landon, New York Times bestselling author of Wishing for Us
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About the Author
When not writing, Mary Ann Marlowe works by day as a computer programmer/DBA and loves to travel. She spent ten years as a university-level French professor, and her resume includes stints as an au pair in Calais, a hotel intern in Paris, a German tutor, a college radio disc jockey, and a webmaster for several online musician fandoms. She grew up on the outskirts of Indianapolis and has lived in twelve states and three countries. She now lives in central Virginia where she is hard at work on her next novel. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.maryannmarlowe.com, on Facebook, www.facebook.com/marlowemaryann/, and at twitter.com/maryannmarlowe.
Read an Excerpt
Some Kind of Magic
By Mary Ann Marlowe
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Mary Ann Marlowe
All rights reserved.
My pen tapped out the drumbeat to the earworm on the radio. I glanced around to make sure I was alone, then grabbed an Erlenmeyer flask and belted out the chorus into my makeshift microphone.
"I'm beeeegging you ..."
With the countertop centrifuge spinning out a white noise, I could imagine a stadium crowd cheering. My eyes closed, and the blinding lab fell away. I stood onstage in the spotlight.
"Eden?" came a voice from the outer hall.
I swiveled my stool toward the door, anticipating the arrival of my first fan. When Stacy came in, I bowed my head. "Thank you. Thank you very much."
She shrugged out of her jacket and hung it on a wooden peg. Unimpressed by my performance, she turned down the radio. "You're early. How long have you been here?"
"Since seven." The centrifuge slowed, and I pulled out tubes filled with rodent sperm. "I want to leave a bit early to head into the city and catch Micah's show."
She dragged a stool over. "Kelly and I are hitting the clubs tonight. You should come with."
"Yeah, right. Why don't you come with me? Kelly's such a —"
"Such a what?" The devil herself stood in the doorway, phone in hand.
Succubus from hell played on my lips. But it was too early to start a fight. "Such a guy magnet. Nobody can compete with you."
Kelly didn't argue and turned her attention back to the phone.
Stacy leaned her elbow on the counter, conspiratorially talking over my head. "Eden's going to abandon us again to go hang out with Micah."
"At that filthy club?" Kelly's lip curled, as if Stacy had just offered her a non-soy latte. "But there are never even any guys there. It's always just a bunch of moms."
I gritted my teeth. "Micah's fans are not all moms." When Micah made it big, I was going to enjoy refusing her backstage passes to his eventual sold-out shows.
Kelly snorted. "Oh, right. I suppose their husbands might be there, too."
"That's not fair," Stacy said. "I've seen young guys at his shows."
"Teenage boys don't count." Kelly dropped an invisible microphone and turned toward her desk.
I'd never admit that she was right about the crowd that came out to hear Micah's solo shows. But unlike Kelly, I wasn't interested in picking up random guys at bars. I spun a test tube like a top then clamped my hand down on it before it could careen off the counter. "Whatever. Sometimes Micah lets me sing."
Apparently Kelly smelled blood; her tone turned snide. "Ooh, maybe Eden's dating her brother."
"Don't be ridiculous, Kelly." Stacy rolled her eyes and gave me her best don't listen to her look.
"Oh, right." Kelly threw her head back for one last barb. "Eden would never consider dating a struggling musician."
The clock on the wall reminded me I had seven hours of prison left. I hated the feeling that I was wishing my life away one workday at a time.
Thanh peeked his head around the door and saved me. "Eden, I need you to come monitor one of the test subjects."
Inhaling deep to get my residual irritation under control, I followed Thanh down the hall to the holding cells. Behind the window, a cute blond sat with a wire snaking out of his charcoal-gray Dockers. Thanh instructed him to watch a screen flashing more or less pornographic images while I kept one eye on his vital signs.
I bit my pen and put the test subject through my usual Terminator-robot full-body analysis to gauge his romantic eligibility. He wore a crisp dress shirt with a white cotton undershirt peeking out below the unbuttoned collar. I wagered he held a job I'd find acceptable, possibly in programming, accounting, or maybe even architecture. His fading tan, manicured nails, and fit build lent the impression that he had enough money and time to vacation, pamper himself, and work out. No ring on his finger. And blue eyes at that. On paper, he fit my mental checklist to a T.
Even if he was strapped up to his balls in wires.
Hmm. Scratch that. If he were financially secure, he wouldn't need the compensation provided to participants in clinical trials for boner research. Never mind.
Thanh came back in and sat next to me.
I stifled a yawn and stretched my arms. "Don't get me wrong. This is all very exciting, but could you please slip some arsenic in my coffee?"
He punched buttons on the complex machine monitoring the erectile event in the other room. "Why are you still working here, Eden? Weren't you supposed to start grad school this year?"
"I was." I sketched a small circle in the margin of the paper on the table.
"You need to start applying soon for next year. Are you waiting till you've saved enough money?"
"No, I've saved enough." I drew a flower around the circle and shaded it in. I'd already had this conversation with my parents.
"If you want to do much more than what you're doing now, you need to get your PhD."
I sighed and turned in my chair to face him. "Thanh, you've got your PhD, and you're doing the same thing as me."
When he smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkled. "Yes, but it has always been my lifelong dream to help men maintain a medically induced long-lasting erection."
I looked at my hands, thinking. "Thanh, I'm not sure this is what I want to do with my life. I've lost that loving feeling."
"Well, then, you're in the right place."
I snickered at the erectile dysfunction humor. The guy in the testing room shifted, and I thought for the first time to ask. "What are you even testing today?"
"You can't tell me?"
"No, I mean you'd already know if you read your e-mails."
"I do read the e-mails." That was partly true. I skimmed and deleted them unless they pertained to my own work. I didn't care about corporate policy changes, congratulations to the sales division, farewells to employees leaving after six wonderful years, tickets to be pawned, baby pictures, or the company chili cook-off.
He reached into a drawer and brought out a small vial containing a clear yellow liquid. When he removed the stopper, a sweet aroma filled the room, like jasmine.
He handed it to me. "Put some on, right here." He touched my wrist.
I tipped it onto my finger and dabbed both my wrists. Then I waited. "What's it supposed to do?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Do you feel any different?"
I ran an internal assessment. "Uh, nope. Should I?"
"Do me a favor. Walk into that room."
"With the test subject?" It was bad enough that poor guy's schwanz was hooked up to monitors, but he didn't need to know exactly who was observing changes in his penile turgidity. Thanh shooed me on through the door, so I went in.
The erotica continued to run, but the guy's eyes were now on me. I thought, Is that a sensor monitoring you, or are you just happy to see me?
"Uh, hi." I glanced back at the one-way mirror, as if I could telepathically understand when Thanh released me from this embarrassing ordeal.
The guy sat patiently, expecting me to do something. So I reached over and adjusted one of the wires, up by the machines. He went back to watching the screen, as if I were just another technician. Nobody interesting.
I backed out of the room. As soon as the door clicked shut, I asked Thanh, "What the hell was that?"
He frowned. "I don't know. I expected something more. Some kind of reaction." He started to place the vial back in the drawer. Then he had a second thought. "Do you like how this smells?"
I nodded. "Yeah, it's good."
"Take it." He tossed it over, and I threw it into my purse.
The rest of the day passed slowly as I listened to Kelly and Stacy argue over the radio station or fight over some impossibly gorgeous actor or front man they'd never meet. Finally at four, I swung into the ladies' room and changed out of my work clothes, which consisted of a rayon suit skirt and a button-up pin-striped shirt. Knowing I'd be hanging with Micah in the club later, I'd brought a pair of comfortable jeans and one of his band's T-shirts. I shook my ponytail out and let my hair fall to my shoulders.
When I went back to the lab to grab my purse and laptop, I wasn't a bit surprised that Kelly disapproved of my entire look.
"I have a low-cut shirt in my car if you want something more attractive." She offered it as though she actually would've lent it to me. Knowing I'd decline, she got in a free dig at my wardrobe choices. We were a study in opposites — she with her overpermed blond hair and salon tan, me with my short-clipped fingernails and functioning brain cells.
"No, thanks. Maybe next time."
"At least let me fix your makeup. Are you even wearing any?"
I pretended she wasn't bothering me. "No time. I have a train to catch."
She sniffed. "Well, you smell nice anyway. New perfume?"
"Uh, yeah. It was a gift." Her normally pouting lips rounded in anticipation of her next question. I zipped my computer bag and said, "Gotta go. See ya tomorrow, Stacy?"
Stacy waved without turning her head away from whatever gossip site she'd logged on to, and I slipped out the door.
As I stood on the train platform waiting for the 5:35 North-east Corridor train to Penn Station, I heard someone calling "Hello?" from inside my purse. I fetched my phone and found it connected somehow to my mom, whose voice messages I'd been ignoring.
Foiled by technology and the gremlins living in my bag, I placed the phone to my ear. "Mom?"
"Oh, there you are, Eden. I'm making corned beef and gravy tonight. Why don't you come by before you go out?"
I didn't know how to cook, so my mom's invitation was meant as charity. But since she was the reason I couldn't cook, her promise of shit on a shingle wasn't enough to lure me from my original plans.
"No, thanks, Mom. I'm on my way into the city to hear Micah play tonight."
"Oh. Well, we'll see you Sunday I hope. Would you come to church with us? We have a wonderful new minister and —"
"No, Mom. But I'll come by the house later."
"All right. Oh, don't forget you've got a date with Dr. Whedon tomorrow night."
I groaned. She was relentless. "Is it too late to cancel?"
"What's the problem now, Eden?"
I pictured Dr. Rick Whedon, DDS, tonguing my bicuspid as we French kissed. But she wouldn't understand why I'd refuse to date a dentist, so instead, I presented an iron-clad excuse. "Mom, if we got married, I'd be Eden Whedon."
Her sigh came across loud and clear. "Eden, don't be so unreasonable."
"I keep telling you you're wasting your time, Mom."
"And you're letting it slip by, waiting on a nonexistent man. You're going to be twenty-nine soon."
The train approached the station, so I put my finger in my ear and yelled into the phone. "In six months, Mom."
"What was wrong with Jack Talbot?"
I thought for a second and then placed the last guy she'd tried to set me up with. "He had a mustache, Mom. And a tattoo. Also, he lives with his parents."
"That's only temporary," she snapped.
"The mustache or the tattoo?" I thought back to the guy from the lab. "And you never know. Maybe I'll meet Mr. Perfect soon."
"Well, if you do, bring him over on Sunday."
I chortled. The idea of bringing a guy over to my crazy house before I had a ring on my finger was ludicrous. "Sure, Mom. I'll see you Sunday."
"Tell Micah to come, too?"
My turn to sigh. Their pride in him was unflappable, and yet, I'd been the one to do everything they'd ever encouraged me to do, while he'd run off to pursue a pipe dream in music. So maybe they hadn't encouraged me to work in the sex-drug industry, but at least I had a college degree and a stable income.
"Okay, Mom. I'll mention it. The train's here. I have to go."
I climbed on the train and relaxed, so tired of everyone harassing me. At least I could count on Micah not to meddle in my love life.CHAPTER 2
At seven thirty, I arrived at the back door of the club, trailing a cloud of profanity. "Fuck. My fucking phone died."
Micah exchanged a glance with the club owner, Tobin. "See? Eden doesn't count."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" After two hours fighting mass transit, I'd lost my patience. My attitude would need to be recalibrated to match Micah's easygoing demeanor.
Micah ground out his cigarette with a twist of his shoe. "Tobin was laying a wager that only women would show up tonight, but I said you'd be here."
I narrowed my eyes.
Micah's small but avid female fan base faithfully came out whenever he put on an acoustic show. His hard-rock band, Theater of the Absurd, catered to a larger male following and performed to ever-increasing audiences. But he loved playing these smaller rooms, bantering with the crowd, hearing people sing along with familiar choruses.
Before Tobin could get in on the act, I blurted, "Can I charge my phone in the green room?"
I made a wide berth around Tobin's plumage of cigarette smoke and followed Micah down the shabby narrow back hall. Dimly lit eight-by-eleven glossy posters plastered the walls, advertising upcoming bands and many other acts that had already passed through. Nobody curated the leftover fliers although hundreds of staples held torn triangles of paper from some distant past. A brand-new poster showing Micah's anticipated club dates hung near the door to the ladies' room. That would disappear during the night as some fan co-opted it for him to autograph, and Tobin would have to replace it. Again.
The green room was actually dark red and held furniture that looked like someone had found it on the curb near the trash. And it smelled like they'd brought the trash, too. God knew what had transpired in here over the years. I tried to touch nothing. Micah flopped down on the sofa and picked up a box of half-eaten Chinese food. His red Converse tennis shoes and dark green pants clashed with the brown-gold hues that stained the formerly whitish sofa.
I plugged in my phone, praying I'd remember to fetch it before I left. I fished out some ibuprofen and grabbed Micah's beer to wash it down. I waved off his interest in the drugs I was popping. "Birth control," I lied.
Without looking up from his noodles, he said, "Oh, good. I was starting to worry you'd joined a convent."
When Micah finished eating, he led me to the front of the club and put me to work setting up his merch table. His band's CDs wouldn't sell, but his self-produced EP of solo work would disappear. Mostly for girls to have something for him to autograph. They'd already own his music digitally. A suitcase filled with rolled-up T-shirts lay under the table. I bent down and selected one of each design to display as samples.
Micah moved around onstage, helping the club employees drag cables and whatnot. Not for the first time, I envied him for inheriting some of Mom's Scandinavian coloring and height, while I got Dad's pale Irish skin and raven hair. Micah repeated "one-two-three check" into the mic a few times and then disappeared around back to grab one last smoke before he had to transform from my sweet older brother into that charismatic guy who held a crowd in the palm of his hand.
Right before the doors opened to the public, one of the guys I'd seen setting up the stage stopped by the table and flipped through the T-shirts and CDs. He picked up Micah's EP and then raised dark brown eyes. "Micah Sinclair. You like his music?"
He wore faded jeans and a threadbare T-shirt from a long-forgotten AC/DC concert under a maroon hoodie. His black hair fell somewhere between tousled and bed head. I saw no traces of product, so I assumed he came by that look through honest negligence rather than studied indifference.
My quick scan revealed: too grungy, probably unwashed, poor. I resisted the urge to pull the merch away from his wandering fingers. But I wouldn't risk the sale, so I leaned in on my elbows, all smiles.
"He's amazing. Will you get a chance to hear him perform?"
"Oh, yeah. Definitely." He set the EP down and held out his hand. "I'm Adam, by the way."
I wrapped my hand around his out of sheer politeness and proper upbringing, but I couldn't help laughing and saying, "Just so you know, my worst nightmare would be dating a guy named Adam."
He quirked his eyebrow. "That's kind of discriminatory."
"My name's Eden." I waited a beat for the significance to register, but I guess any guy named Adam would've already dealt with such issues of nomenclature. His eyes lit up immediately.
Excerpted from Some Kind of Magic by Mary Ann Marlowe. Copyright © 2017 Mary Ann Marlowe. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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