Genre: New Adult, Romance
Page Count: 225
What do you do when you fall in love with your best friend’s boyfriend?
That is the question that twenty-six year-old Justine Sterling has been asking herself ever since the day she met David Whitman, her best friend Renee’s boyfriend. Justine is determined to ignore her growing feelings for the irresistibly charming David, until one night, when she finds herself in the bed of the one person she should stay away from.
When Justine and David’s affair ends in heartbreak, Justine is forced to repair the damaged friendship with her best friend. In doing so, she learns that right and wrong decisions aren’t always black and white, and sometimes you have to follow your heart to see where it leads.
I always know that I’m going to sleep with a guy by the way he looks at me. It’s usually an intense stare, he’s usually Italian, and I usually end up regretting it. That’s just how it goes.
I was less than an hour into our morning meeting at Sphinx when I noticed it. The Stare. I was seated in the conference room with the marketing team for their weekly conference. They met every Monday at 10am to go over marketing strategies for new game releases, and Vincent thought it would be a good idea for me to join the meetings, even though I hadn’t a clue about anything they were discussing. As one of the girls talked about an upcoming convention, I caught eyes with Vincent from across the table. I quickly reverted my gaze back to the girl so he’d think I was paying attention. I wanted to make a good impression. But when I looked back at him a few minutes later, he was still staring at me.
It’s easy to differentiate a professional stare from a sex stare. A professional stare ensures that the employee is comfortable and attentive on his or her first day of work, but seizes once eye contact is met. A sex stare does not. A sex stare is confident, and will maintain eye contact even after the contact is broken, thus intimidating its target and causing he or she to become nervous.
And damn it, it always fucking works.
By the third eye contact connection, I already knew I was going to sleep with him. The stare wasn’t making me uncomfortable. Instead, a familiar nervous-yet-exciting stomachache appeared. I looked down at my outfit, trying to see myself as he did. I was wearing a black fitted sweater, my favorite pair of Bebe jeans, and black stilettos. Undoubtedly the most feminine outfit in our entire mini-gaming world. I twirled my long brown locks between my fingers. I felt his dark Italian eyes on me. I liked it.
My eyes drifted to his left hand. No wedding band. Check. Rolex watch. Silver cufflinks. Double check. Navy collared shirt, tanned skin, slightly gelled hair. Very put-together. I pictured him in an expensive sports car. A Porsche, maybe. Black. I pictured myself in the passenger seat. I wondered if he had a girlfriend.
It suddenly occurred to me that maybe I had been looking in the wrong places. I mean, didn’t a lot of couples meet at work? It was pretty obvious by now that I wasn’t going to find Mr. Maturity at UCLA, nor was I going to find Mr. Monogamous on the Sunset strip. Vincent was older, good-looking, and judging from his appearance and title, did well for himself financially. He was a catch. And based on my appearance, age, and the burning stare from across the conference table, it appeared that the feeling was mutual.
My first few weeks at Sphinx were a joke. I made zero professional contribution whatsoever. Instead, my days went something like this:
10am: Get coffee and bagels for Vincent.
11am: Have coffee and bagels with Vincent in his office. Pretend to talk about work. Talk about anything but work.
12pm: Have lunch with Vincent.
1pm: Pretend I am checking my professional emails. I am an intern. I do not have professional emails.
2pm: Pretend to pay attention to Vincent’s social media tutorial when I am really paying attention to is how close he is standing to me.
3pm: Attend “off-site meeting” (happy hour drinks) with Vincent and “vendors.” Pretend to know what “vendors” are.
Surprisingly, Vincent waited an entire month before asking me out. By then, I was practically panting for it. He, of course, pretended the invitation was to “celebrate” all the hard work I had accomplished during my first month. I knew better. Not only because he stared at me like I was a Krispy Kreme, but because I hadn’t accomplished jack shit in the past four weeks.
The bad news was that he was going to be working from Sphinx’s London office for the next month, so our date was postponed until his return. The good news was that we had already covered everything that you cover on a first date, so I figured I was good to skip the three-date rule and prematurely put out. I knew everything about him that I needed to know. He had grown up in Milano and moved to the United States when he was eleven. He lived in Beverly Hills. He had a ten year-old son whom he mentioned having on the weekends, thus the reason he didn’t go out much. Ah, a divorced dad. I wondered if my parents would disapprove.
I couldn’t wait to tell Renee about my upcoming date. I had been gushing about Vincent since my first day at Sphinx, and I could tell she was relieved that I finally had a love interest, too. Her daily David Whitman anecdotes had grown more than tiresome and I hadn’t even met the guy yet. They were still in the newlywed stage where they mainly just had sex at his place. David lived alone. I understood.
I was bent over the kitchen stove making a grilled cheese when I heard the sound of our front door open.
“He asked me out!” I yelled to Renee, flipping my sandwich onto a plate. I barreled into the living room, but stopped dead in my tracks when I realized she wasn’t alone.
“J,” Renee said cautiously, as if she felt bad catching me off guard. “This,” she gestured behind her, “is David.”
Wow. I was not expecting that. Naturally, I wasn’t expecting David to be standing in my living room, but I also wasn’t expecting to feel the sinking in the pit of my stomach when I met him. Never in my life had I met someone and felt so instantly drawn to them. And he hadn’t even said anything yet. He just grinned at me like we were having a private joke. The only two people in the room. In the universe.
“He asked you out, huh?” David joked. There it was again, that mischievous, one-dimpled grin. His eyes went slightly wild when he smiled, like he was scared, surprised and amused all at the same time. I couldn’t help but smile back.
“He did,” I said, nodding slowly. David loomed behind Renee, at least six feet tall, with dark hair and a hint of a baby face. His lips had twisted into a faint smirk, the amusement of the situation still lingering. But those eyes. Those giant, brown, crazy eyes. They were having sex with me. In my own living room. Behind my best friend who I could no longer see.
“About time,” Renee said, hanging her purse on the wall rack. “Listen, we’re going to sleep here tonight because David has a meeting in Brentwood in the morning. Fill me in tomorrow?” She winced like she felt bad.
“Okay,” I agreed. David followed Renee out of the living room, still smiling back at me. But not with his mouth. With those goddamn eyes. I had never met anyone who could smile without moving their mouth.
I heard the bathroom door close and the sound of the sink running. Before getting settled on the sofa, I realized that I’d left my grilled cheese sandwich in the kitchen. I got up and headed toward the kitchen, and there he was. Leaning casually in the doorway, his right arm propped against the wood. Like he’d been hiding there, waiting for me the whole time.
“So, did you say yes?” he asked, not bothering to move out of my way. He was blocking the doorway. I couldn’t get through. I didn’t care. “To the date, I mean.”
“I did.” I was whispering. I wasn’t sure why. Like we were sharing a secret.
“Lucky guy,” he said in a low voice, slowly looking me up and down. As he turned and disappeared into Renee’s bedroom, his eyes never left mine.
Even if Vincent wasn’t in London, at that moment, he still seemed a million miles away.
About the Author
She graduated from Bridgewater University in 2011 with a B.A. in Communications and Media Studies.
Rachel's work has appeared in Prevention Magazine, Worcester Magazine and Starpulse News Entertainment.
It’s a long story, actually. The process of publishing a book is pretty difficult, and after many months of submitting query letters, I finally signed a contract with a literary agent. Unfortunately, my agent had a difficult time selling my book, so after about a year we decided to part ways.
Shortly thereafter, a friend of mine sent me an article about a girl who had self-published an eBook and sold millions of copies, because eBook sales were rising ever since the evolution of eReaders. After reading it, I thought, okay, what the heck – I have a finished manuscript that was good enough to land me a literary agent – I might as well self-publish it and see what happens. So I picked out a cover photo, had a graphic designer friend put together the cover design, and published my first novel, Sound Bites.
Never in a million years did I think it would gain the popularity it did.
At first, nothing happened. I sold a few copies here and there, and honestly, that was all I really expected. Then I learned about book marketing and scheduled a blog tour, but there was a 5-month waiting list.
After the blog tour took place, word got out, and Sound Bites started selling thousands of copies and was in the Amazon top 100 bestsellers ranking for the rest of the year. Then a year later, I received a phone call from HarperCollins offering me a three-book publishing contract. It was unbelievable.
How do you get over writer's block?
I don’t really believe in writer’s block. I guess I shouldn’t say I don’t believe in it, because I’m sure it happens to some writers, but I’ve never experienced it.
Before I start writing a story, I put together an outline of the sequence of events. Every time I finish writing a scene, I draft up what happens in the following scene. So whenever I sit down to write, I know where I left off because I have a guideline to follow.
Sure, there are nights when I’m tired and the writing doesn’t flow as easily, but it doesn’t mean I don’t write at all. It just means I may only write three pages instead of ten.
I’m sure every writer has a different process, but I find that it helps to have an outline to follow, and to try to write every day, even it’s only half a page. It keeps the story and characters fresh so you don’t draw a blank if you take a week off and then try to pick up where you left off.
There's a lot of distractions around, especially with social media, how do you block it all out and write?
It’s hard! But I usually only write at night because that’s when there are the least amount of distractions. Daytime is when I receive a lot of emails, social media notifications, text messages, etc. but at night everything calms down and I can enjoy the quiet and relax while I write.
What do you enjoy, outside of writing?
I’m big into fitness - I love to run, bike, go to yoga classes, and cook healthy meals. I recently started a healthy recipe blog that I’m having a lot of fun with. I also love music and going to live concerts. And I love to travel as well. I’m spending a month in Europe this summer and I’m beyond excited.
What's somethings about you that most people don't know?
I started writing the storyline to Sound Bites when I was fifteen years old.
I’d love to spend a day with Marilyn Manson.
If I could have one superpower, it would be to sing like the chick from Paramore.
I love cemeteries.
I’m obsessed with to-do lists.
I think being a good listener is the most attractive quality a person can possess.
Did you ever think you'd be a published author?
When I was younger, it seemed like such an unrealistic goal. I knew I could write, but I had absolutely no idea how to go about publishing a book. When I hit my mid-twenties, I bought myself a laptop, started writing again, and did a lot of research on book publishing (the internet is a beautiful thing.) Suddenly becoming a published author didn’t seem so unrealistic anymore. It was at that point that I decided I was going to do everything in my power to become a published author, because it was always the one thing I felt like I was born to do.
Who is your favorite character that you've written?
Probably Dylan in Sound Bites. I’ve always had a weakness for bad boys with a good side. And musicians. So I combined all my favorite qualities into the perfect fictional book boyfriend.
What was your first published book? How do you feel about it now?
Sound Bites was my first published book. It was funny because I came up with the initial storyline when I was about fifteen, and then started writing the actual book when I was twenty-five. By the time I signed a publishing contract with HarperCollins, it was six years later, and I had to go back and do some rewrites based on their suggestions. It was strange re-reading it, because I could tell how much I had changed in those six years. I was more critical and had so much more angst in my twenties, and I could see how much more open-minded and content I was in my thirties. So I toned down the angst a little bit during the rewrites.
Do you prefer your books in print or e-book format?
I love print books. I don’t even own an eReader. I love the idea of an eReader because you can fit so many books into such a small space, and you can have a new book within seconds without ever leaving your house. But I love the feeling of holding a print book, and I don’t think that will ever change.
Who is your favorite author?
Jen Sincero. She’s written both fiction and non-fiction books, and I love her writing style. She’s hysterical, intelligent, cool, and extremely relatable.
What is your favorite book?
Sincero has two books that are both my favorite – one is a fiction book, “Don’t Sleep with Your Drummer” (I have a weakness for books with rock stars), and one is a non-fiction book, “You are a Badass” that’s hilarious, inspiring, and life-changing.