Monday, February 1, 2016

Lost and Found: The Crazy Girl's Handbook

Welcome to the Lost & Found Valentine's Edition Blog Hop! Featuring The Crazy Girl's Handbook

Ever missed out on an opportunity for love? Ever thought about what might have been? When Greenly Kendrick vehemently turned down a blind date her sister had set up without asking her, she never expected to find herself with gum in her hair, soda down her shirt, and face to face with the guy she'd blown off. 

Check out the excerpt, then enter the giveaway at the bottom to enter for a chance to win a copy of the Valentine, Pets & Kisses box set!

Excerpt from The Crazy Girl's Handbook


The body of a four year old crashed into me from behind. I felt something wet and slimy slither down my neck and grimaced. “Auntie Greenly,” Evan said, his tone oddly apologetic, “I dropped my gum.”
He leaned over my shoulder too far, nearly toppling into my lap. “I. Dropped. My. Gum.”
I almost told him not to worry about it, but the image of someone stepping in it and getting ticked off made me reconsider. Tugging a napkin out from under a half-eaten tray of nachos, I said, “Where’d you lose it?”
Evan pulled away, quiet. When I looked back at him, he lifted a hand, finger pointing behind me. “In your hair.”
For a second there, I thought he said his gum was in my hair. Surely that was just the heat scrambling my brain. “What?”
Scrunching in on himself worriedly, Evan pointed again. “It’s in your hair. It fell out when I jumped on your back.”
I just sat there waiting for him to say he was joking. Ten seconds. Thirty. Eventually it hit me. He was serious. Reaching back, I patted my hair gently. Just above my shoulders, I felt it, a sticky blob drenched in saliva. Maybe…maybe if I was really careful, it wouldn’t be stuck too badly yet. It just plopped out of his mouth onto my hair, right? I pictured it almost floating above my hair and hoped beyond hope I could just lift it off. Gently…gently...and….
The gum squished between my fingers even under gentle pressure, and as I tried to lift it from my hair it strung out hopelessly. “Ew, ew, ew,” I whined.
My hand froze, because what was I supposed to do now? I was holding a glob of gum with a stringy mess connecting it to my hair. If I moved either direction it would only make the mess worse! What on earth ever possessed me to give a four year old gum? How did I not see this coming?
“Hold on,” a man’s voice said from behind me. “Don’t move, or it’s just going to make it worse.”
“What?” I tried to turn and see who was talking to me, but a hand landed on the top of my head and held it in place.
The pressure on my head released a moment later, but then a napkin was pressed against my fingers in an attempt to extract the gum from my grip. He wasn’t quite able to get it, and suddenly his other hand was involved, maneuvering my fingers so he could get the gum cleaned up more easily. That accomplished, he dropped my hand and told me not to move again. I could feel my hair being jostled slightly, but he didn’t seem to be trying to remove the gum just yet. Actually, it sounded like he was taking a drink of his soda. Too afraid to turn and figure out what was going on at the risk of spreading the gum even farther, I had no choice but to wait.
“This might be a little cold,” he said.
Icy water dripped down the back of my shirt. I jumped in surprise, sending it rolling over my shoulder and down the front of my tank top as well. “What are you doing?” I demanded.
“The best way to get gum off anything is to freeze it. All I had was ice from my drink. Sorry. I spilled a little on you trying to get the ice out.” He did sound apologetic, but Evan thought it was hilarious. “I’m Roman, by the way. Sammy’s dad.”
I couldn’t immediately pinpoint who Sammy was, but the name sounded familiar and I was fairly certain he was a kid on my other nephew’s team. The one whose game was dragging on into eternity. “Greenly,” I grumbled.
“Lydia’s sister, right?”
A little weirded out that this guy knew that, I was slow to answer. “Yeah. Guess she’s mentioned me?” Hopefully it wasn’t to complain about me, as usual.
Roman laughed. “Once or twice.”
That could not be good. My older sister was married to a great guy, had two awesome kids, freelanced as a graphic designer, and ran marathons. I was working on a master’s degree…still, hadn’t had a boyfriend in a while, worked part time at the campus library, and according to my sister, was getting more disillusioned by the day. When she wasn’t telling me what I should be doing with my life, she was trying to set me up with one of her friends.
All the blood drained from my face. No. No way. A few weeks back, Lydia kept going on and on about this single dad of one of the kids on Colby’s baseball team. She kept trying to talk me into coming to a game to meet him because she was just sure he was exactly what I needed in my life. She even went so far as to set up a date without asking me. I’d been so furious with her I refused to call him myself and made her cancel since she was the one who’d set it up. The fight we’d gotten into led to her husband James taking refuge on the deck in the backyard for two hours.
Normally, our arguments lasted a few minutes, long enough for both of us to rant a little, then we made up and moved on. That one had been different, for more than one reason, but mainly due to flat out bad timing on my meddlesome sister’s part. Not that she understood why, or that I explained the reason behind my freak out, but we’d eventually made up and she hadn’t set me up since then. A small miracle, to be sure.
Now, sitting here with gum in my hair and watered down soda dripping down my chest and back, every word of that argument came back to haunt me. Lydia telling me to grow up. Me throwing a fit about her sticking her nose in my business, again. She’d begged me to just call and talk to him, promised he was different than the other guys she’d set me up with in the past. I’d refused, flat out refused, and made her do it instead. She’d been embarrassed and completely fed up with me, and I had no doubt this guy had heard every spec of mortification in her voice as she’d called to cancel the date.
I could have sunk down through the bleachers in that moment, gum and all. The last thing I wanted to do was talk to this guy now, but he was trying to get gum out of my hair and I felt like I owed him some sort of explanation for that. “You’re that guy, aren’t you? The one Lydia tried to set me up with?”
Roman laughed. At me, I’m sure. “Unsuccessfully, but yes. That would be me.”
Of course it was. “She never even asked me before setting that up with you,” I said defensively. “I already had something going on.” Actually, I had nothing at all going on, as usual, but that hadn’t stopped me from spurning Lydia’s pity blind date.
Roman tugged on my hair. It didn’t hurt, but it yanked my head back enough that I almost lost my balance and fell on him. Awesome. Just what I needed right now. Hooking my fingers under the bleacher seat, I held on for dear life.
“I got the impression Lydia expects people to do what she says within the first five minutes of meeting her and she didn’t disappoint,” Roman said as he tugged my hair again. “I figured that’s what had happened. It’s not a big deal.”
He said that, but I was still mortified. Right now he was probably thinking he was lucky I’d refused to keep the date Lydia set up. Whatever. This would be just another part of a story you tell your friends and have a good laugh about. Him, not me. I was not telling this story to anyone. Ever.
“Well, I got most of it out,” Roman said. “You might want to try peanut butter when you get home for what’s left.”
“Peanut butter?” I wrinkled my nose at the thought of putting peanut butter in my hair, on purpose. “How many times have you had to do this?”
Laughing, Roman said, “You’d be surprised.” He tossed the napkin into the nacho tray and I reached back to feel my hair. There was still some stickiness, but he’d actually managed to remove most of the gum wad.
I turned to thank him despite my embarrassment after realizing who he was, but my words and pride stuck in my throat when I saw him. Expecting some balding, nice-personality, let-himself-go single dad like Lydia usually tried to set me up with, I wanted to die right there on the bleachers when I looked at Roman. He looked to be in his early thirties, had dark thick hair that demanded to have fingers run through it, a casual weekend kind of stubble on his face, and bright green eyes I knew were laughing at me. His smile was the worst. Holding a hint of amusement, his lips curled up at what he saw.
Sweaty, possibly sunburned by that point, covered in gum and slobber and watered down soda, I was sure I looked like every guy’s definition of a bullet dodged. Heat was creeping up my neck and I knew I was half a second from breaking out in a full body blush. I wasn’t cute when I blushed. I looked like I had some sort of spotted fever when I blushed like that. Could this encounter get any worse?
“Thanks,” I mumbled before turning back around and pretending to be super interested in the seven-zero game. I was such an idiot.

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