And you know what that means! MORE GARRICK! Here is the first excerpt, which covers the first two chapters of LOSING IT in Garrick’s POV. There’s still three other Garrick Bonus Scenes left. The more #FakingIt Pre-Orders, the more Garrick you get!
Note: This scene is unedited, so please forgive any typos or errors.
The One Where They Meet
When the bartender asked me what I wanted, I almost told him one of everything. Getting mind-numbingly pissed wouldn’t bode well for my first day of work, but it would make me feel better.
So, I settled for a bourbon and took a seat in the back of the bar.
I laid the book containing the complete works of Shakespeare on the table, and fixed it with a glare.
I couldn’t believe I was teaching Shakespeare. When Eric had told me, he looked at me like he expected me to throw a damn parade. I suppose all Brits are supposed to love the guy, or Americans think that anyway.
So I’d bought the stupid book, threw it in the saddlebag on my motorcycle, and then put off making lesson plans for that class until the last possible minute.
What the hell had I gotten myself into?
My life in Philly had gone up in flames, and I’d thought this job was my way out, my open window. I was only thinking about getting away when I jumped, not about the pavement I was hurdling towards.
When I couldn’t put off reality and lesson plans any longer, I’d gone out to my bike to get the book, and I’d forgotten that the door to my new flat automatically locked behind me, and left my key inside.
So while I waited on a locksmith, I decided a drink was in order. Or several. Anything to help me swallow down a bit of Shakespeare before I had to teach it tomorrow.
Life, meet pavement.
I opened to Romeo and Juliet first, and then immediately flipped another chunk of pages. No, thank you.
At least that one was bloody.
If I remembered correctly, it was the shortest Shakespeare play, and I’d still never managed to get all the way through it. The history of the play’s cursed performances was infinitely more interesting than the play itself.
I dragged myself through the first act. The writing in this damn book was tiny, and every time I turned to a new page filled with miniscule print, I had to battle thoughts of suicide… and book burning.
I’d just gotten to the scene where Macbeth hallucinates a floating dagger as a sign that he should kill Duncan.
I swallowed a yawn.
I could go for a floating dagger right about now.
“If that’s supposed to be a way to pick up girls, I would suggest moving to an area with a little more traffic.”
A voice broke through my boredom, and I looked up to something much more preferable to a floating dagger.
I said, “Excuse me?”
My distraction was brunette with pale, almost porcelain skin that nearly glowed against the tiny black top she wore.
She said, “Shakespeare. No one reads Shakespeare in a bar unless it’s a ploy to pick up girls.” People actually did that? Jesus. “All I’m saying is you might have better luck up front.”
She put a hand on her hip, and gave me the cheekiest smile. I took it as a sign from the universe that I could be done with Shakespeare for the evening.
I smiled and said, “It’s not a ploy, but if it were, it seems to me that I’m having great luck right here.”
A faint blush chased across her cheeks, and that tempting smile froze on her face. I used a napkin to mark my place in Macbeth. Her eyes went a little wide, and the hand on her hip dropped. Her back straightened and she said, “You’re not trying to pick up a girl?”
Confusion crept across her eyes as the blush crept from her cheeks down her neck. It was a lovely neck.
I said, “I wasn’t.”
But this seemed like a much better use of my time.
Her eyebrows lifted, and I couldn’t help my grin. She’d come over blazing, and now she looked like I’d pulled the rug from beneath her feet, and maybe the floor too.
I turned my head to the side, trying to figure her out. Her outfit matched her bold approach, but as my eyes were drawn back to her face, I noticed how little makeup she wore. Maybe that was why her blush was so vivid.
“What’s your name, love?”
She pressed her lips together for a moment, like she was trying to keep herself from speaking, but then she said, “Bliss.”
I eyed her, trying to decide if she was playing with me.
“Is that a line?”
Her blush migrated to her collarbone, drawing my eyes to the curved neck of her shirt. My mouth went dry. I cleared my throat, and dragged my gaze away from her chest.
She said, “No, it’s my name.”
For months, I’d been pushing any interested girl away. Because even though Jenna and I had been split up, I knew it would make our already messy issues messier if I started seeing someone else. And despite the fact that she’d turned all our friends except for Spencer against me, the last thing I wanted to do was hurt her more. For the thousandth time, I wished I’d never crossed that line from friends to lovers. If I hadn’t, I’d still be in Philly. I’d still be acting, instead of running away here to teach. I’d still be happily ignoring all things Shakespeare.
But I wasn’t in Philly anymore.
Jenna wasn’t going to walk past or hear it from a friend.
There was one benefit to letting my former best friend run me off, and she was standing right in front of me.
Bliss. I smiled. What a name. Maybe the universe thought I was dense, and decided to be especially overt with its signs.
I said, “Lovely name for a lovely girl.”
I pushed the Shakespeare book over until it sat forgotten at the corner of my table. I’d spent long enough wallowing over the disaster that was my life in Philly, and I’d carried that over to my new life here.
Sure, being back in Texas at the same Uni I’d attended wasn’t something I’d ever thought I would do, but I had some ideas about how to make the most of it.
I told her about the mishap with my apartment key, and then talk turned to Shakespeare. She looked intrigued, so I tried not to grimace too much.
I said, “Don’t tell me you’re a Romeo and Juliet fan?”
For a brief second, my stomach dropped. It wasn’t that I was against the idea of love, but I just didn’t get their relationship, or the way women fawned over it. Romeo goes to that party obsessed with another girl, and then somehow in a matter of hours, he and Juliet fall so deeply in love that they’re willing to risk everything just to be together?
Bliss answered, “Othello actually. That’s my favorite.”
Now that was a relationship that I bought. Obsession can be an even more powerful motivator than love.
“Ah. Fair Desdemona. Loyal and pure.”
Looking at Bliss, I understood that obsession even better. The way her skin flushed set my blood pumping. I wanted to trail my fingers across her collarbone, just to see if her skin was as soft as I imagined it would be. But I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be able to stop there.
She started to stay something, but stuttered over her words. Flustered, she was even more attractive. She was real, unlike half the bints I’d dated over the years.
Finally, she managed, “I like the juxtaposition of reason and passion.”
As a soon-to-be teacher, I probably should have been impressed by her thoughts. As a man, I was only really paying attention to that last word.
“I’m a fan of passion myself.”
I’d always been direct, probably because I’d grown up with a mother who never filtered her thoughts, not because she couldn’t, but because she didn’t like to. She liked to watch people squirm.
I’d quelled that directness with Jenna, and ignored the gut feeling that told me we were better as friends. I thought that just because I wasn’t initially interested in her didn’t mean I couldn’t be. Look where that had gotten me.
From now on, I was following my gut. And it was pulling me toward this girl in a way I hadn’t felt in a very long time.
I said, “You haven’t asked me my name.”
She cleared her throat, and I knew she was nervous. Nervous was a good sign.
She asked, “What’s your name?”
“Join me, and I’ll tell you.”
She took the seat across from me, and my lips spread in a victorious smile.
I told her my name and that I was going to buy her a drink.
“Then we can chat some more about reason… and passion.”
And then maybe we’d have time for some hands-on study, too.
I waived down an employee and asked for another bourbon. When the waiter turned to Bliss, he put a hand on her shoulder and said, “I remember—Jack and Coke right?”
A few strands of her caught beneath his hand and laced between his fingers. I stiffened. I’d been thinking of touching her hair since she sat down, wanting to run my fingers through it, and now a waiter had beat me to it.
I’d never been particularly jealous, but when he winked at her, I felt the liquor sour in my mouth. Her eyes stayed locked on him the entire time he stood by our table, and I was fighting cave man impulses to pull her chair around to my side of the table and away from him.
He started to leave, but then said, “Should I tell your friend up front that you’ll be back?”
Still not looking at me, she said, “Oh, um, sure. I guess.”
When he finally left, I took a long, slow breath.
And then because I’d given my gut free reign, I said, “You know, sometimes I wonder if Desdemona was as innocent as she let on. Maybe she knew the effect she had on guys and enjoyed making them jealous.
Her eyes met mine, and she leveled me with her stare. I saw that brassy girl who first spoke to me step back into the ring.
“Or maybe she was just intimidated by Othello’s intensity and didn’t know how to talk to him. Communication is key, after all.”
That was definitely something I could give her.
“It could have solved a lot of their problems.”
It could have solved a lot of mine, too. But this was a new town, new leaf. Instead of cave-maning her chair over to mine, I picked mine up and placed it directly next to hers.
“In that case, I’ll endeavor to be as clear as possible.” She smelled sweet, floral. I resisted the urge to lean in to her ear and communicate exactly what I wanted to do to her. Instead, I said, “I’d rather you didn’t go back to your friend. Stay here with me.”
I tried to make it sound like a question, but my gut had other ideas. I was not going back to Shakespeare. And I was not giving her up to some friend. Or that damn waiter.
“Well, my friend is waiting. What will we do if I stay?”
I had to bite my tongue to keep from uttering something that would scare her off. Instead, I did what I’d been longing to do and reached forward to touch her hair. It was soft and the low light in the bar picked up strands of gold among the brown. I brushed it back over her shoulder, revealing that delicate neck that was still painted in tones of red. And I couldn’t stop myself from touching her there, too. I trailed my fingers over her skin, pausing at the place where I could feel her blood pulsing through her veins. Her heartbeat was almost as fast as mine.
This was what was missing with Jenna. I’d loved her. A part of me still did, despite how shitty everything had turned out. But there had never been this primal need to touch her, to keep touching her whatever the cost.
“We can talk Shakespeare.” It was a small price to pay, really. “We can talk about anything you want. Though I can’t promise not to get distracted by your lovely neck.” I trailed my fingers up smooth skin to her jaw. I followed the curve of bone to her chin, and narrowly resisted continuing up to her lips. I used a finger to crook her chin forward, drawing her closer to me. I felt her inhale, and it was like she’d sucked the breath right out of me. She was a distraction, every part of her. I said, “Or your lips.” She bit down on her bottom lip, staining it red. God, she looked good in red. “Or those eyes.” A deep blue green. “I could woo you with stories about my life, like Othello does Desdemona.”
“I’d rather not parallel our evening with a couple who ended with a murder-suicide.”
And she was funny. Even better. Maybe Texas wouldn’t be so bad after all.
“Touché. I don’t care what we do as long as you stay.”
After a torturous pause, she said, “Okay.” Her voice was low and breathy, and I fisted my hands to keep from pulling her to me.
“Maybe I should lock myself out of my apartment more often.”
A small smile unfurled across her lips, and I was a goner. I couldn’t take my eyes off her lips, not even when her friend called. She took the call, but I didn’t hear what she was saying. Her mouth mesmerized me.
I liked her, enough that I wanted to see her again. Logically, I knew I should cool it and take things slow, if that was the case. But the part of me that wanted to see all of her and see it now spoke so much louder.
My resistance was shaved down to a miniscule thread when the waiter came back with our drinks. His eyes fixed on Bliss and barely left her as he set down our drinks. I slipped my arm around the back of her chair, and it took all of my restraint not to lower it to her shoulders.
When we were alone again, she asked, “Are you the jealous type, Garrick?”
Right now? Absolutely.
“Not really.” I shrugged.
She raised a disbelieving eyebrow, and I smiled. She didn’t seem angry, so I wasn’t about to feel guilty.
“Maybe this discussion of Othello has set me a bit on edge.”
I was halfway to obsession already.
When she hinted that we go back to my place to wait on the locksmith a few minutes later, halfway went out the window.
I kept up conversation as best as I could, but my mind was already wandering onto other things, like how the short ride to my apartment wasn’t short enough. Like the way her hair would look spread across my pillow, how her hips would feel in my hands, and what her lips would taste like.
It was akin to ignoring an itch. Every second that passed, my world seemed to narrow until I couldn’t focus on anything else, but how badly I wanted to close the distance between us.
And like a tiny pebble causing an avalanche, she looked up at me from beneath her lashes and gave me an opening, a window.
And I took it.
And the walls of self-control I’d been straining to hold up crashed completely. I took hold of her elbow, and pulled her to her feet. And I followed the pull in my chest straight to her lips.
She froze against me, and I wanted to bloody pummel myself. I waited for her to shove me away or slap me, but that didn’t come either. I’d already hung myself out to dry, what was the harm in tightening the noose a bit?
I pulled her bottom lip between my teeth, and felt her shiver. She swayed toward me, and her neck tilted back. I threaded a hand through her hair at the same moment that her mouth opened.
The first taste of her would have been worth any pummeling she or I would have given. By the second, I was addicted. Her hands pulled at my back, and I was starving for her. I tugged her closer, until the curve of her chest pressed against me, but it still wasn’t close enough.
I needed more.
So, I slipped my hand underneath the hem of her top, sliding my fingers across her lower back. Her skin felt like silk, and I traced the slight dip just to the side of her spine. I spread my hand, wishing I could touch more of her, sink my fingers deeper. A moan flowed from her mouth into mine, and I pulled back, wanting to touch more of her. My hand on her neck was heading for the hem of her shirt when my peripheral vision reminded me exactly where we were.
Damn it all.
I looked back to her lips, pink and slightly swollen, and God I wished we weren’t in public. She leaned closer, tempting me almost past what I could bear. I couldn’t look at those lips anymore. I dipped my head down toward her shoulder, inhaling her sweet scent.
My resolve broke for a moment, and I tasted the skin of her neck just for a few seconds.
With my eyes close, I tried to pull myself back together.
I said, “Sorry. Got carried away.”
Check out the thermometer below to see how far we have to go until the next scene: