It’s time to pick some giveaway winners!
So, the winners of an audio book from the backlist of Josh Lanyon are… Continue reading
It’s time to pick some giveaway winners!
So, the winners of an audio book from the backlist of Josh Lanyon are… Continue reading
by Taryn Plendl
A whole world opens up for me after 10:00 PM. My lovely daughters are in bed and my early-rising husband has said goodnight and here I sit alone on the sofa with my laptop. The only sound I hear is the fan of my computer and the occasional jingle from Jasper’s (my 18 year old dog) collar as he sleeps next to me, and if I’m lucky, the tapping of my fingers on the keys. This is when I listen to the voices inside my head—the ones that beg to be brought to life on paper.
I believe in love in all its forms. It is the one true emotion that speaks more in silence than words could ever. I think this is why I am drawn to the books I read. As a contemporary romance author, you would think that would be primarily what I read, but I actually step outside of my own genre a lot of times and find myself lost in the lives of men who love men. That’s right, the majority of the books I read are m/m romance. I have several gay friends who have found their happy ever after with “the one”. Their happiness hasn’t always come easy, but it is as true as any love I’ve seen, and I think that is what draws me to gay romance as a reader. (The idea of two hot men going at it doesn’t hurt either.) All in all, I like a story where love is fought for. One where obstacles are overcome, hurt and angst are high, but ultimately, love wins out in the end.
Love is what drives each of my books. I’m a sucker for a happy ending. It’s like my Prozac. I can’t stand the thought of my characters not finding that special someone that makes them whole. With that said, I tend to be all over the spectrum of the romance genre. I have books that are angsty, with troubled characters and ones that are romantic comedies, full of sarcasm and fun.
My newest series, The Chrome Series, is a bit on the lighter side. I would classify it as a friends to lovers romantic comedy. I hope you enjoy this excerpt, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: This scene is based on my own personal experience at the gym. Happy Reading!
Avery Moore writes about romance, but she sure as hell doesn’t live it. Blake Patterson has no trouble getting women, in fact as the owner of a popular club, women are practically throwing themselves at him.
They couldn’t be further from each other’s type, but when a solid friendship is formed, little by little the lines become blurred.
In this struggle between friendship and love, the desire between them becomes too much to resist.
What happens when your friend suddenly becomes So Much More?
I turned off the car and sat back in my seat, looking around the parking lot. The car was cool and comfortable, nothing like the sweltering temperature outside. I could see the ripple in the air as the heat radiated off the black top. We were having an unseasonably warm streak for fall, and the idea of leaving the car so I could work up a sweat seemed ridiculous. People were walking by my car, looking fresh and built in their little spandex pants and sports bras that hardly covered their top half. Granted, most of them could carry it off fine with their svelte little bodies, but weren’t you supposed to wear something over that?
I was wearing a sports bra, too, but there was no way in hell that I would be showing it off. Hell, I had barely gotten the girls in there, and I had a sneaking suspicion they were currently planning a revolt. I would probably get just inside the door of the gym and they would spring free, taking out several unsuspecting people in the process. How people even worked out in clothes like this, I’d never understand. Weren’t you supposed to be able to at least breathe during a workout? I read somewhere that oxygen played a vital role in exercise.
My phone chirped, alerting me of an incoming message, from where it sat in the cup holder right next to the twenty-ounce diet soda I purchased for the ride to the gym. I didn’t even need to look at the phone to know it was my best friend, Morgan. Especially because it was Morgan’s bright idea to join a gym together in the first place. What was I thinking when I agreed? I was in good shape … okay, maybe not good shape, but I wasn’t overweight. I just had very little muscle, like wind could blow me over lack of muscle, but I knew this. I’d like to think I was blessed with a rapid metabolism, and, in combination with my self-diagnosed ADHD, I could basically eat whatever I wanted. Okay, so I may have been weak and clumsy as hell, but I could eat a double cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake and not gain an ounce. Don’t hate. I deserved that little bone the good Lord threw me for being so awkward.
The cell phone that remained untouched began to blare with the obnoxious ringtone that I had assigned to my best friend. I should have just responded to the previous text message to save myself from the auditory assault that was about to take place in my small car.
“Hello?” I made my voice sound as pleasant as possible.
“Oh, don’t act like you didn’t know it was me, Avery. What are you doing?” Morgan asked. I could picture her hand on her hip, foot tapping, other arm waving as she spoke.
“I’m just about there,” I lied.
“I call bullshit. I’ve been watching you sit in the parking lot for the last five minutes. Get your ass in here.” She hung up before I could respond.
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” I groaned. “Well, Avery, are you ready to make a fool of yourself?” I mumbled to myself as I stepped out of the car into the oppressive air. It was time to just get this over with.
I could tell it was definitely a bad sign that I was out of breath by the time I reached the door to the gym, and somehow I anticipated my work out to be a bit more extensive than walking across a parking lot and climbing some stairs. “Hey.” I put on my best smile as I walked up to Morgan.
Morgan came into my life when I was floundering. A recent graduate, fresh out of college with a degree in English I had no idea what I wanted to do with, she found me sitting in a coffee shop with my laptop open, fighting back tears. Searching for jobs and coming up empty, I was beyond frustrated. Knowing I should have listened to everyone who had told me there wasn’t a lot of options for someone with a four-year English degree, I sat there trying to figure out how I could avoid going back to Ohio with my tail between my legs and live with my parents.
Morgan sat down and watched me for a minute before tilting her head and telling me to spill it. I ended up having a major case of verbal vomit, telling her about everything from my sheltered childhood to my first heartbreak and finally the fact that I was an unemployed college graduate with zero job prospects. At this point, I was completely surprised that Morgan hadn’t excused herself and left me wallowing in my self-pity. I probably would have, but fortunately she was a better person than I was.
It turned out that she had some connections with some local businesses that were looking for a freelance writer, and she hooked me up. After that, we started hanging out several nights a week. With my sarcastic nature and her ability to ignore it, we were fast friends. When my lease was up, I moved in with her, and until just a few months ago, we were still roommates. As much fun as it was to live with her, I really loved having my own place.
“I already checked us in.” Morgan handed me a bottle of water, already dripping with condensation, and grabbed my arm, pulling me into the middle of the … holy hell, this wasn’t a gym! It was a freaking meat market! The same girls in the sports bras that I’d watched walk past my car had multiplied into a rainbow of sports bras and black spandex covering just about every surface of the room. Loud music rattled off the walls as two guys for every girl strutted around, spreading their testosterone-soaked pheromones. Some of them were bouncing around on the balls of their feet, swinging their arms back and forth in what I could only assume was some kind of gym mating dance to attract the females. The smell was that of musky gym shorts and made me shiver as I was temporarily transported back to the days of high school gym class. Not a place any of us needed to revisit.
“Good Lord, Avery, you act like you’ve never been in a gym before. Don’t look like I just kicked your puppy.” Morgan continued to pull me toward a room at the other side of the gym.
“Why couldn’t we have joined that women-only gym that promotes a quick thirty-minute workout?” I asked, tripping over some type of belt lying next to a weight bench. The floor had a cushiony feel that added a bit of a bounce to my step as we walked.
“The one your grandma goes to?” Morgan rolled her eyes at me. Point taken, but at least it would have been safe.
“Aaahhhh!” A loud, deep male voice bellowed right next to me, causing me to jump back, nearly falling flat on my butt.
“For the love of all that’s holy! Why in the hell is he yelling?” I had just about lost all bodily functions as we passed by the guy, who was squatting with a barbell on his shoulders. Apparently it was a bit heavy, or it was part of his mating call. He proceeded to throw his barbell onto the ground, swinging his arms back and forth and tilting his head from side to side, neck cracking each way. Gross. That was it. I wanted out. The only thing that kept me moving forward was the hope that whatever was behind the door we were walking toward held some sort of peace and refuge.
Morgan was openly laughing at me. “You need to get out more.”
“Do you remember when I asked for your opinion? Yeah, me neither, bitch.” My grumbling did nothing but encourage Morgan’s laughter.
She opened the door, allowing me to go in first. The room was on the smaller side. The floors were covered with rubber mats that were gray like the darkest of rain clouds, and had four rows of stationary bikes with five bikes in each row. The room was dimly lit, giving it a calm romantic feel with the dark red walls, and at the front was a small stage with another stationary bike that faced the rest of the room. I could only assume it was for the instructor. Behind the solo bike was a wall of mirrors, which unfortunately gave everyone in the room a front row seat to everyone else. That’s all I needed—an audience to my awkward attempt at a workout.
“We’re riding bikes?” I asked Morgan, looking around the room. There were only a handful of people adjusting their chosen bikes with towels laid over their shoulders. Did I need a towel? Letting out a small breath, I relaxed a bit. It was nice and quiet in here, only the occasional noise filtering in from beyond the door whenever it opened. I supposed I could be happy doing this, away from the mating rituals of the main gym.
“Let’s get up front.” Morgan didn’t wait for my reply, and I had a feeling it would just be easier to go with it, so I silently followed. Riding bikes was something I used to do all the time when I was little. I could get on board with this. At least with these bikes I wasn’t going to wreck.
Morgan had me stand next to the bike seat and adjusted it to the proper height. Hopping on the bike, I placed my feet in the pedal holders, pedaling, just to try it out. This wasn’t bad, I could do this, I encouraged myself as I pedaled slowly, watching as the room filled up. People of all types came in. Some looked like stuffy businessmen who shoved themselves into name-brand workout clothing in hopes of maintaining their middle-age spread, and then, of course, there were the sports-bra bimbos with their barely-there spandex shorts. And then there was me in my yoga pants—I had actually never even been to yoga—and an oversized t-shirt.
About five minutes into my leisurely ride, a small blonde woman with a cute pixie cut came in and started adjusting the bike at the front of the room. She seemed sweet as she smiled at the class before messing with the stereo, hooking it to her iPod. I felt myself relax even more. “Is everyone set with their bikes?” she asked the class as she climbed up on her own bike in front of them. I nodded along with everyone else.
With no protests, she nodded back and pressed play. She began to pedal, so in turn, we all did, too. Glancing over at Morgan, I grinned as she winked me. The music began to play some sort of piano chords, and I had a sudden vision of a leisurely ride through the mountains, the cool breeze flowing through my hair as I climbed higher toward the fluffy clouds. It was calming and comfortable, and unfortunately very short-lived as my world came to a screeching halt. The soft piano music I had briefly enjoyed morphed into a bass beat that had my insides bouncing. The sudden change sent up red flags, but it was too late. I was stuck.
Suddenly our little pixie friend transformed into a growling, fierce woman as she screamed, “Let’s go!” She pedaled faster as the rest of the class followed as if all of this was completely normal, and maybe it was, except nobody bothered to clue me in on the little secret. I looked around to see if anyone else was startled by the change in the atmosphere, but no one seemed out of sorts. Just me, and I knew that if I had been closer to the door, I would have jumped off this bike and made a run for it, but my best friend, who, by the way, was grinning as she pedaled fiercely, chose the two bikes farthest from the door … and in the front row.
“Up!” the pixie yelled as everyone stood up on the pedals without even slowing down, pedaling like someone was chasing us. I was tempted to look back and see if someone was, in fact, back there.
“Down!” We all sat and continued pedaling like mad. I could feel the burn in my legs, but continued to pedal anyway.
“Up!” she screamed again. I was getting whiplash with her changing commands, and I couldn’t be certain, but I was pretty sure the instructor’s eyes glowed red as she grinned at me. I wanted to look away, but I refused to show her fear, so I just pedaled like my life depended on it. It felt like I was in that movie with Sandra Bullock where she was on the bus and couldn’t slow down or it would blow up. I was pretty sure something like that would happen to my bike if I stopped, so all I could do was pedal and plan the slow torturous death of my best friend for putting me in this Godforsaken situation in the first place.
The loud song moved into another and then another after that before the bike Nazi finally slowed down to a relatively normal rate. Gasping for breath, I held on for dear life, sure I was being suffocated by the tourniquet bra that was thankfully still holding my girls in place. The ponytail that had been neatly pulled back before we started, now sat off to the side, clinging to my shoulder like a saturated mop. Sweat was running in my eyes, and I wanted to call everyone who ever said sweating was a sign that you had a good workout a big fat liar. I was pretty sure this sweat was my body crying out due to the cruelty it just endured at the hands of the deceitful pixie. Now I understood why everyone had a fucking towel!
Taryn discovered her love for books at an early age, spending many hours lost in someone else’s story.
It wasn’t until well into adult hood that she discovered, late at night while the house was quiet, that she had just as many stories inside her just waiting to be let out. Writing has been a way for her to step away from reality and live a bit through her fun and sometimes damaged characters. You will almost always find a Happy Ever After at the end of her stories. She can’t help it, it’s an addiction.
She’s a Southwestern girl living a Mid-Atlantic life with her husband of seventeen years and two incredible daughters who inspire her daily. She is proud to be an advocate for her child with autism, and feels incredibly blessed to be able to see the world through her eyes. Her daughters teach her more than she could ever teach them.
She enjoys reading, writing and spending time with her family, but cherishes those quiet nights after everyone is asleep when she can curl up on the couch with her fifteen year old dog. (Shh, don’t tell…He’s not supposed to be on the couch.)
Keep an eye out for more from her!
Taryn has graciously offered up a $5 gift card to Amazon.com to one lucky winner!! The giveaway starts now and ends November 24, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. To enter, just click the link below!
Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway, except to verify your Rafflecopter entry.