Title: Thank You for Holding
Series: On Hold #2
Author: Julia Kent & Elisa Reed
Genre: Romantic Comedy/Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Having it all is a fantasy, right?
Carrie Shelton thought her boyfriend was too good to be true. Her best friend's brother? A guy who loved antiquing? Who cuddled on the couch while watching foodie YouTube clips and talking about artisanal spices? Who helped her accessorize her outfits?
So when he ran off with Kevin, the owner of an antique shop, right before his sister’s wedding, Carrie’s life went from fantasy to nightmare.
As maid of honor, she can’t back out of the wedding. And her ex is the best man - but now he has his own best man.
She needs a date. Stat.
Enter Ryan. Sure, he’s a hot male stripper at the O Spa where she works as junior designer, but he’s a few years younger and just, you know -- a friend.
Perfect. She needs a friend more than she needs a boyfriend.
A weekend of playing her boyfriend so she can save face is a lot to ask, but for some reason Carrie doesn't understand, Ryan's all in. Enthusiastic, even.
Especially when it comes to physical displays of affection.
Public kisses turn to private confessions, and pretty soon, Carrie can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality.
Because if Ryan's just pretending he's in love with her, then why does the chemistry between them -- and between the sheets -- feel so real?
Carrie can't settle for almost, though. She's already done that. She's not putting her life on hold anymore.
Turns out Ryan won't, either.
He's holding out for more.
Thank You For Holding is a STANDALONE in the On Hold series. You do not need to have read book 1 in the series, but after reading about Carrie and Ryan’s friends-to-lovers adventure, you’ll want to. ;)
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2ltR0pa
I'm going to be the maid of honor in my friend Jenny's wedding. You probably saw that coming. I met Jenny at work here at the O Spa, the women’s private club chain where I am the Assistant Director for Design. O Spas are the “fourth space” for women. Home, work, and other public venues are the first three.
We are meant to be the ultimate space. From highly-trained, well-oiled, hot massage therapists who wear g-strings that are outlawed in 111 countries, to a sex toy boutique with weekly workshops, to a new coffee shop with lattes that are better than sex, the O Spa caters to what women want.
A break, a chance, and a friend.
Jenny loved working for O, but she moved on a year ago, a promotion she could only get by changing companies. We were never just work friends. We're true best friends, and besides that, we could be sisters-in-law someday. I'm dating her brother, Jamey.
Who is standing in front of my desk right now, telling me about the tickets he just scored to Straight No Chaser at the Wang Center in November. We love a cappella.
"Fifth row, Carrie! And it'll be near the holidays, so maybe they'll do songs from their Christmas album!" His dark, wavy hair falls over his forehead in a boyish little curl. His eyebrows are perfectly arched. He gets them threaded more often than I do. His narrow chinos are rolled at the cuff, exposing his bare ankles in brown loafers. And is that my cotton scarf knotted around his neck?
I smile at him. Jamey is a great boyfriend because he always wants to do fun and unusual things. Has ever since we began dating two years ago. Our friends rely on Jamey to keep them current. When Steve Martin curated the Lawren Harris show at the MFA, we were the first people in the door. When Juliet opened in Union Square, we were tasting the tasting menu before anyone else had tasted it.
You can see why a lavender flowered cotton dress -- with puffed sleeves -- is of no use to me.
“We can go back to my place after the concert and I’ll make cocoa. Bet you’d enjoy something sweet and hot,” I say with a flirtatious grin. I give him what I hope is a smoldering look. He’s holding my hand and his eyes widen in mock excitement, then he looks away.
I love Jamey.1
“How’s Jamey doing?” I ask. I don’t give a rat’s ass about him. Talking about anything that will deflate my ever-growing boner is my goal. Think about Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton. Ken Bone. Betty White.
Perfect. Deflation sequence activated.
“Jamey is so sweet!” Carrie gets that weird look again. Her eyes fill with a mild form of panic, which fades quickly, leaving her chewing on a pen cap. “He got us tickets for a holiday concert and just stopped by with my favorite coffee.”
“Nice. But every guy should do that for the person they’re dating.”
“Really?” She looks so surprised. I hate that she looks so surprised.
“It’s pretty basic Dating 101 stuff, Carrie.”
“Like you know anything about dating,” she lobs back at me. “You haven’t had a girlfriend since I met you.” She walks into her cubicle and nods for me to follow.
My heart just got decimated by a SCUD missile. I can’t look at her. I follow, then pick up one of the metal balls on her Newton’s Cradle and let it clack against the others. The force shoves the ball on the other end to strike out in an arc.
“Well, you know…”
She snorts. “Yeah, I know. Why settle for one woman when you can have a taste of so many?”
I’m not sure when she got the idea that I’m some kind of playboyCasanova manwhore. That’s Zeke. But no matter what I tell her, she doesn’t believe me.
“Right.” Our eyes meet and I can’t breathe. You spend years pretending and hiding your feelings and when those little slivers, fractions of time that don’t show up on a clock, protrude through your facade, you take them as they are.
Real, raw, and so hard.
The day drags on. The evening drags on.
Until finally, around ten p.m., I glance at my phone and there's a message. I've been reading in bed, or trying to, but now I sit up so fast, my copy of Me Before You drops to the floor.
We need to talk
The four most dreaded words ever texted. My stomach drops through the floor, and my hands and feet go numb.
This makes no sense. What could we need to talk about? Nothing's wrong! Jamey and I get along perfectly! We're so happy! He probably means we need to talk about Jenny's wedding present, or which new restaurant to try Saturday night.
The phone I am holding rings, and I jump a mile. It's Jamey. I have to swipe three times before it connects.
"Hey." His voice is quiet and flat.
"Jamey, what's going on? What's wrong? Are you sick? I've been so worried! Did you get a tattoo?"
"I'm sorry, Carrie. I -- I can't do this anymore."
"What are you talking about? I can barely hear you! Can't do what? I don't understand!"
There's a pause. "I've met someone else. It's not you, you're wonderful. It's me."
"Someone else? You've met someone else? Who? Who is she?"
"Devin? Who is Devin? What's all that noise? Where are you?"
"It's Kevin, Carrie." He speaks very clearly and a little bit louder. "From the map store."
"That's ridiculous, Kevin's a guy. This isn't funny, Jamey."
I think I hear a man's voice in the background.
"Carrie, listen. I'm gay. I'm gay! Kevin has taught me that I can't hide it anymore. It's been an incredible two days. For the first time in my life, I feel free. But I can't stand to hurt you. I'm sorry."
"You can't be gay! You're my boyfriend!" I think I might be shouting. It's hard for me to tell, because there is a loud buzzing in my head. It's the sound of my entire world imploding. "You're my boyfriend, and we love each other, and we might get married, and everything is perfect! You don't become gay in two days!"
"I do love you, Carrie, just… not that way. It didn't happen in two days. I've always been gay." I hear a man's voice again. "I have to go now," Jamey says. "They're calling our flight. I'll call you when we get back. Try to be happy for me. I am so sorry."
"Flight? Your flight? What? Where are you going? Back from where?" I yell, but the call is ended. He's gone. I sit on the edge of the bed, staring at my silent phone.
Gay. He’s gay. Jamey can’t be gay! If he were gay, we wouldn’t have sex.
If he were gay, we -- oh, God.
I don't know what to do. The world is spinning fast and mercilessly frozen at the same time.
ALSO AVAILABLE IN THE ON HOLD SERIES
#1 Our Options Have Changed
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2bvxNfy
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men's room toilet (and he isn't a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down.
Elisa Reed is a journalist-turned-fiction-writer whose snappy, irreverent prose combines with an irrepressible zest for the simpler, and often intimate, pleasures of life to produce fun(ny) contemporary romance with a focus on second chances. New England born and bred, Elisa Reed now lives, writes, and plays in New Orleans and along the sugar sands of the Gulf Coast.