It’s the BIRTHQUAKE cover reveal day and I am beyond excited to share this with all of you! It feels like I’ve been sitting on this secret forever!! Isn’t she a beauty?! And because I’m over the moon right now, I’m sharing the prologue with you now!! Read on for all of the hilarious awkwardness of Jeff and Henley’s “meet cute!”
And without further ado … here’s a sneak peek of the Birthquake prologue, just for you!
BIG THINGS AND TIGHT SPACES
Beads of sweat race down the back of my neck and adrenaline pulsates through my veins. I can feel my heartbeat in my head all the way down to my toes, and I know that if I don’t get there fast, I’m going to explode. And not just metaphorically.
Pull your shit together, Jeff! This isn’t like you.
My legs quiver and the harder I go, the more I feel like my body is going to give out from underneath me.
“Fuck,” I mutter under my breath as I lick my lips and gasp for air. I swallow hard, doing my best to keep it together. This moment will not end before it even begins. I quickly wipe at the sheen of sweat building on my forehead. I send silent prayers above.
Dear, God, please. Just hold out a little longer. Come on …
My breath is short and fast, and it all hurts so good, and my body aches from the incessant pounding this morning. And then all of my muscles tense simultaneously, and it’s almost euphoric.
Because the radiant woman before me finally comes into focus. And from the looks of it, she’s pissed.
“Hold the plane!” I beg in my final sprint toward the Southwest Airlines gate agent, waving my ticket in the air. My brother Chris will string me up by my balls if I’m not there for tee time later this morning. “Please … wait!” I beg.
The woman is starting to close the door to the tarmac but notices me moments before she shuts it. Her glare pierces right through me, and I can’t tell if she’s annoyed or if that look is just permanent resting bitch face. Either way, it doesn’t matter because, at this moment, she hates me. I’m likely the reason the entire day has started off with a delay. I went so far as to call the Southwest Airlines desk at the Kansas City Airport from my taxi, letting them know I would be there before takeoff, but depending on the security line, I would be cutting it close. In true Midwest hospitality, the agent on the other end of the line informed me that, “We can’t hold the plane for you, but I’ll call the gate agent and see if they can stall closing the doors until the last possible moment.”
The woman guarding the door at the gate looks down at her wristwatch and raises her eyebrows, silently scolding me. Without so much as a word, she holds out her hand, palm up.
So much for that Midwest hospitality.
I hand her my ticket to scan and give her my best apologetic smile.
“Running a bit late are we?”
“I know. I injured myself trying to get into my skinny jeans,” I say breathlessly, my lungs still on fire from my unexpected morning run.
The woman looks me up and down, unamused. “You’re not even wearing skinny jeans, sir.”
Okay, so humor isn’t immune from her sour mood.
“I know. Ironic, right?” I don’t know why I’m making excuses to this woman. I don’t owe her anything. She doesn’t know me.
“Whatever,” she sighs. “This is a nearly full flight, so take the first seat you can find.” The machine between us beeps, and she hands my ticket back to me as I silently curse the fact I didn’t book an airline that actually assigns seats. “Have a nice trip.”
Clearly, this is code for get the hell out of my face.
I hustle down the tarmac, and when I turn into the aisle of the plane, all eyes are on me. It reminds me of the recurring dream I had in junior high where I’d show up to school naked, and everyone would double over in fits of laughter. That dream was far different from my fantasy where I’d show up to school naked and the entire varsity cheerleading squad would fawn over just how ginormous I was. I blame my older brother Kyle’s retro VHS porn collection for my unrealistic expectations of high school and sex and girls.
Ah, those were the days.
“It’s all middle seats now, and there’s only a handful left. Also, the overhead bins are full, so you’ll need to put your bag underneath the seat in front of you.” The flight attendant is a little too perky for this ungodly hour of the morning. She must be running on three pots of extra strong coffee. What I’d give for a hit of caffeine.
I’m close to halfway through the plane when I cross the first open seat and I clumsily climb over a businessman in the aisle and plop into the chair with an exasperated oomph! I take the backpack from my lap and wrestle to stuff it underneath the seat in front of me, which means my long legs are going to be cramped for the duration of the flight. I silently curse myself for not putting more into my checked bag.
“Winning the war against physics, I see.” A woman’s voice jests with a delicate laugh.
I turn toward her and my whole world freezes. And for the first time ever, I have the elusive Dream Weaver moment. You know, where everything moves in slow motion, and you see heinous special effects stars and glitter and Gary Wright’s terrible song plays in the background? It happened to Wayne when he first saw Cassandra rocking out on stage in Wayne’s World. Yeah. That is this exact moment for me, including the part where I have to physically pick my jaw up off of the floor as I mentally go sha-wing!
She raises her eyebrows at me, seemingly pleased with herself. Her auburn hair cascades down her back and perfectly frames her face, and her perfectly glossed lips just beg to be tasted. Even seated, I can tell she’s fit, and it’s easy to imagine what she looks like under all those clothes.
And I’m instantly a believer.
I believe you can get me through the night.
I try to recall what she said exactly three seconds ago before I was dumbstruck by her beauty. Yes. Physics. The fact my backpack can barely fit underneath the seat in front of me.
I clear my throat and try to sound suave. “Uh … yeah, I’m kind of the master of fitting big things into tight spaces.” What the fuck kind of comment was that? Although the prospect of fitting my big thing in her tight space is not lost on me, that is not an appropriate conversation with a stranger, and certainly not something you say to a woman whose beauty has stunned you into stupidity.
Her cheeks flush red as she purses her lips and turns to look out the window. “Ooookay, then …” she mutters under her breath.
I shift in my seat, rattle the thought from my brain, and try to avoid my junk from springing into action. And while I subscribe to the theory that it’s never too early for a hard on, I do believe that I need to keep my junk in check when I’m on a plane. Unless, of course, I’m being inducted into The Mile High Club. Which I wouldn’t say no to, especially if she were to do the honors.
“I’m sorry. I … I didn’t mean that to come out so … sexually. I just meant that I’m the master of getting things to go exactly where they belong.” You’re making no sense. This conversation is so stupid. You need to stop talking and close your eyes and stop looking at the pretty girl and simply sleep this flight away.
But I don’t. Because I’m an idiot.
“You should see what I’m packing down below.”
“I meant my bag! Under the plane!” I shut my eyes tight, willing everything I’ve said to her back into my mouth. Heat rises in my cheeks. “I can pack a bag like it’s nobody’s business.” I’m just going to shut now. And die up. I mean I’m just going to shut up and then die. Jesus! She’s even infiltrated my internal monologue!
“I see,” she responds slowly.
I’m desperate to escape this whole scenario, so I grab a magazine from the seat back pocket and start thumbing through, pretending to read some article that appears to be about weight loss based on the pictures on the page.
The flight attendants go through the safety procedures while no one pays attention, and before I know it, we’re barreling down the runway, thrusting hundreds of thousands of pounds into the air, defying all laws of gravity. It’s kind of terrifying when you think about it.
Just like this woman.
She terrifies me in all the best ways possible.
“So …” She turns back toward me, and I’m pleasantly surprised that she’s still engaging with me. Maybe I’m not royally screwing this up after all? “Good article?”
“Yeah. It’s pretty good.” Okay, I can handle short, casual phrases if I don’t look at her. This is improvement. Keep it quick. “This is one of my favorite mags.”
She tilts her head and flashes me her pearly whites. “Long-time reader?”
“Yeah. For years.” I keep my eyes trained to the page, interest feigned. Good! This is good! We’re connecting on common ground.
“I never would have pegged you as a Senior Women’s Weekly aficionado.”
I shut the magazine and look at the silver-haired grandmother on the cover. Shit. I shrug it off and focus on being casual. Cool. Someone she would want to get to know. I turn to look at her. “There’s a lot of things you probably wouldn’t peg me as.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah.” I smile smugly.
“Let me guess.” She shifts in her seat, trying to turn toward me and folds her arms over her chest. “You’re a professional snuggler, who prefers taco Tuesdays to wine Wednesdays. In your spare time you enjoy playing video games on the couch in your mom’s basement. You secretly fancy cats over dogs. And you were late this morning because you accidentally took an ex-lax instead of your daily vitamins and had a rough time getting here.” The teasing smile that plays her lips is enough to make my dick twitch.
“Close. While I am good at being the big spoon in a snuggle sandwich, I’m actually a software engineer who enjoys a good ole fashioned Kentucky Bourbon. The last time I played video games on the couch in my mother’s basement was when I was fifteen alongside my two brothers. I was late this morning not because I couldn’t control my bowels, but rather because I had a love affair with my snooze button.” I lean in closer and lower my voice, looking for any excuse to be close enough to breathe her in. “But yes, I do secretly prefer cats over dogs, and if you ever divulge that to anyone, I will hunt you down and force you to listen to the song Tom’s Diner on repeat until your ears bleed.”
The words don’t come out as confidently as I’d like, but at least it was a coherent sentence, so I’ll take that as a win given my track record with this conversation.
She stares right through me and my mouth suddenly goes dry. I swallow hard before grabbing my bottle of water for a satisfying swig. “So …” She cocks an eyebrow like she’s deep in thought. “You like pussy?”
I choke on my water and nearly cough up a lung as I try to collect myself. I take a few deep breaths. “Excuse me?” Is she offering hers? What the hell is with this woman?
“You admitted you like cats. I was just fucking with you.” She laughs and gently touches her fingers to my forearm, and it sets my entire body on high alert.
She goes on to tell me random thoughts about her childhood dog, Zeus, her best friend, Tara, and how last night she managed to ruin a batch of instant pudding and instead of trying to clean the pot she simply threw it away.
I hang on her every last word. She could be reading me the dictionary, and I’d still grasp onto her every last syllable like a talisman. She’s unlike any girl I’ve ever met before. And that notion makes me uneasy because every girl I’ve ever met has been candidly predictable. But in spite of how she makes me feel, I want more.
“So are you from Kansas City? Or are you heading home to Denver?”
Please don’t be from Denver. Please don’t be from Denver. If she’s from Denver, the likelihood of me seeing her again is slim. And that would suck. But if she is from Denver, please don’t let her be a Broncos fan.
“Nah. I’m a Kansas City girl through and through. Born and raised in the suburbs. I’m just headed to Denver on business.” She gestures to the leather satchel at her feet as if I should have known this little fact based on her handbag choices. “What about yourself? Are you from Denver? You’re not one of those obnoxious Broncos fans, are you? Because if you are, I’m going to have to change seats. I was sitting over there, and then that sat next to me.” She nods toward the aisle where a grown ass man is sporting a beer belly, a lumberjack beard dyed orange and blue, and the Denver Broncos logo shaved into the side of his head. “His mother must be so proud.”
Oh my god. I think I love you.
“Yes. I mean no. No, I’m not a Broncos fan.” Please don’t change seats on me! “But yes, I am from Denver … was … originally … I mean … not originally originally. I’m originally from Seattle. But we moved to Denver when I was little. And then I moved to KC. Not when I was little, but after college. Kansas City lives me. I mean, I live in Kansas City. Downtown. On the plaza. Where I work. On the plaza. As a software engineer.” What the ever living fuck is my problem?
She smiles and snickers politely. “So you live … and work … on the plaza,” she repeats slowly.
I swallow hard. Idiot! “Yeah, I do.” I can feel all the blood rushing to my face. I reach up and turn the knob to increase the airflow. Would it be too much trouble to get some god damned air back here?
“I don’t work too far from there.”
So not only is she local, she’s in close proximity. There is a god looking down on me!
She nails me with an expectant look, and I think I should just keep my mouth shut. “I’m a teacher, by the way. I teach sixth grade Language Arts at Waterview Elementary.”
I can practically hear the ‘Thanks for asking, douche canoe!’ in her voice. My mind runs wild with all the questions I want to ask, but don’t trust
myself to form complete sentences.
Do you get summers off?
Can you put me in detention?
Will you marry me?
What is it about this woman that makes it impossible to talk to her like a normal human being?
She looks up at me from underneath her mile long lashes. And there it is.
Those eyes are remarkable. A mysterious, rich shade of chocolate brown that is disarming. And kind. Each time I look into her eyes, I turn into a bumbling bumblefuck. Whatever the hell that means. I can’t talk to her when I’m actually looking at her, so I shift my gaze downward, hoping the change in scenery will allow me to regain my composure. I smile as I’m greeted by what are, quite possibly, the world’s most perfect pair of breasts perfectly contoured in this perfect little black v-neck top. I can feel the corners of my lips curl up in a dopey-ass grin. But I can’t even care because…
Oh shit. I said that out loud, didn’t I?
“Hey!” She snaps her fingers in front of my face. “If you want to talk to my boobs, the least you could do is buy them a drink first.”
“Sorry,” I mutter under my breath and silently curse myself. Why the hell did I sit here? Why couldn’t there have been an empty seat next to a little old lady who’d show me photos of her thirty-seven cats for the duration of the flight? Or even a seat next to Mr. Bronco over there. I turn my head to see him digging for gold. If his finger were up there any further, his brain might gnaw it off. But no, I’m sitting here making an ass of myself next to a beautiful woman.
“You think I’m beautiful?”
My eyes flash to her, and there’s no hiding the panic on my face. “Well … uh …” No use backpedaling, dumbass. Don’t be the guy who compliments a woman and then denies it. Ridiculous novels are full of assholes. Don’t be the asshole in this stranger’s life. Don’t be the guy she texts her girlfriends about in some horror meeting on an airplane.
“Yeah, I do. From the little I’ve gathered about you, I think you’re beautiful.”
Dammit! Now I sound shallow.
“And nice. I think you’re nice, too.” I hate that it sounds like an afterthought. I hate that I can’t be remotely coherent around her.
“Nice?” she asks cautiously.
“What’s wrong with being nice? I’m a nice guy.”
“That remains to be determined.” She smirks and playfully nudges me in the shoulder, quickly recovering by casually leaning against the window. “But if natural disasters are nice, then yeah … I guess you could say that I’m nice.”
She’s a natural disaster, all right. This woman is an earthquake with a heartbeat and a smile capable of shifting the earth beneath your feet, but powerful enough to bring your whole world crumbling down. It absolutely terrifies me. And all I know is I want more of it.
I shift in my seat and look more closely at her, trying to read in between the lines. “What’s that supposed to mean?” I ask.
“It means that I am arguably one of the klutziest humans to grace this planet. Murphy’s Law exists because of me.”
Has she not noticed my ridiculousness over the past hour?
“Well, if you’re a self-proclaimed disaster, you are easily one of the most beautiful disasters I’ve ever laid eyes on.” I didn’t mean to call her beautiful, but I love that she’s fighting a smile as her cheeks blush, nearly turning the color of her fiery, glowing hair.
“Thanks,” she says underneath her breath.
The hum of the airplane’s engines take over, and she looks at me wordlessly. Dare I say awkwardly? I have absolutely no idea where to go from here. And so we fly …
In complete silence.
The descent into the Denver airport is brutal at best. I’ve never had a turbulent-free landing here. So when the plane seemingly drops three hundred feet from the sky, she panics and grabs for the armrest. However, she misses the armrest by a long shot and takes a death grip on my upper thigh, mere millimeters from my manhood.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it … just a little bit.
“Oh my God! I am so sorry!” She immediately retracts her hands like she’s just touched a hot stove.
No! Don’t be sorry. It is totally okay with me if you want to put your hand back there. “You know, if you want to grab my junk the least you could do is buy me a drink first,” I jest, mimicking her words from a few minutes ago. “Actually, that’s a lie. No drink needed. I’m easy like that.”
She closes her eyes and shakes her head as she recovers from the moment. “Seriously … I’m sorry … I didn’t mean …” her voice trails off softly.
“It’s okay. Really.”
She offers me a small, apologetic smile. The sunlight angles through the window in just the right way where her hair catches fire light.
And I’m a fucking goner.
Marry me, you hilarious, kind and beautiful creature.
As the wheels touch down, I’m desperate for us to ascend back into the clouds. The hour and twenty minutes in the air with her were not nearly enough for me.
“Do you think when we both get back to Kansas City, I could eat you out sometime?” Shit!Fuck! God, just kill me now. “I mean, do you think I could take you out to eat sometime?”
She nervously bites her nail as she considers my offer. “Yeah … I’d like that.” Her nerves subside, and she smiles sweetly, then reaches into her purse underneath the seat in front of her. She takes out a crumpled up receipt and scribbles something down on the back side. When she passes me the soft paper, she extends her hand to shake mine. “I’m Henley, by the way.” Her skin is soft, and I resist pulling it up to my lips to kiss her hand. There’s no way this woman tastes anything less than incredible.
“Henley,” I muse softly. I love her name. I love her eyes. I love her boobs. I love how her hand feels tucked inside mine. I love that she hates the Broncos almost as much as I do.
Awkwardly, Henley keeps her hand in mine, and we’re holding hands for a few moments too long for this to just be casual. She raises her eyebrows at me curiously and laughs before pulling her hand away from mine. I instantly feel the void and regret allowing her to let it go.
But I’m quickly soothed when I look down at the paper in my hand and see her number scrawled underneath her scrolled name.
“Um…” She hesitates for a moment. “You’re … charming.” She bites her lower lip coyly like she is starting to understand the stronghold she has over me. But damn, I don’t care.
And then it dawns on me what she’s looking for.
“No, not charming. Jeff. My name is Jeff.”
Don’t miss Jeff and Henley’s story on Thursday, September 21st! Pick it up on Amazon or read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited! Sign up here to receive an email alert when the book is available on Amazon.com!★ Are you a blogger? Click here! http://bit.ly/2fn4ySB ★