I can’t believe there are less than two weeks until Time of My Life is released! Eeeeeeek!
As per usual, sneak peek of chapter one below for those who are interested 🙂
Today is the worst day of Jane Stewart’s life. And she’s reliving it over and over (and over and over) again.
She’s late to the same make-or-break meeting.
She’s fired from the same soul-crushing job.
And—the cherry on top—she’s dumped by the same lying, selfish dirtbag.
But no matter how many times she relives the same disasters and no matter what she tries to change them, it all ends in the same abysmal mess. Because, apparently, being stuck in a time loop on the worst day of her life hasn’t cured her crippling social anxiety. Go figure.
The one bright spot? Her long-time crush wants to be more than friends . . . if only she can get them past their first date. And so her happily ever is doomed before it can even begin unless she can find a way to save her job, her heart, and, oh yeah, the space-time continuum.
Purchase here! http://www.books2read.com/Time-of-My-Life
So we are all prepared, this story has:
- A main character with social anxiety having a terrible day
- A Groundhog’s Day-esque time loop
- A magic closet
- Lots of laughs and awkward situations
- Drag queens
- A happy ending!
Belching. Someone is belching. Ugh, why is it so loud?
I roll over, pulling a pillow over my head. Pounding bass vibrates into my skull, shaking the walls. My pillow is not an effective barrier.
What is that?
Did he say hocus-pocus?
Is someone in my apartment? They broke in just to pass gas and play music at excessive levels?
Is it my alarm? Oh no, it’s Monday.
I jerk up, already reaching for my phone to kill the noise, plucking it from the charging cord.
Wakefulness weaves its fingers through my sleepy mind. My heart thumps along with the music.
I stare at the blank screen. I barely slept last night. It took me forever to fall asleep, worrying over my meeting today, trying to think through every potential response and outcome. My dreams were full of everything that might possibly go wrong, from missing my notes to arriving late to showing up naked.
The memories fade as reality rushes in to take its place.
My phone is dead.
“That’s not my alarm. My alarm didn’t go off,” I croak to the empty room.
The music is still thumping.
I stare at the dark phone screen. I always leave it charging to avoid this exact scenario.
“Oh, no. No no no no no.” I rush out of bed, forgetting the cell phone mystery, skidding into the kitchen to stare at the clock on the oven.
It’s nearly eight.
“This isn’t possible.”
Someone bangs on the door. Maybe the world is ending. That would be good. If there’s some kind of disaster situation—a building fire, a tsunami incoming, aliens invading the planet, maybe—that would be the perfect excuse for being late for the most important meeting of my existence.
I swing open the door, but no one’s there.
“Hugo! Come on, man, it can’t be that bad.”
I peek around my doorjamb. I don’t want anyone to witness me in this state, no makeup, my hair a dark mass of chaos, not to mention the bright blue ducky pajamas, a gift from my sister, Eloise. But I can’t help staying to witness . . . whatever this is.
A portly middle-aged man with thinning hair in a bright red robe stands in front of the door next to mine. I don’t know his name, only that he resides in the apartment across the hall from mine.
I generally avert my gaze to avoid small talk when I pass any of the other residents in my building, so I don’t know much about any of them. Based on the masculine laughter—and other noises that sometimes penetrate the thin walls—I know my next-door neighbor is gay. But that’s as far as it goes. I’m not good at small talk. Or any talk.
But now I unwittingly know my next-door neighbor’s name.
It’s fitting, considering his huge size. He’s a goliath of a man, wide and tall. Body builder maybe. Football player. Possible assassin. Fearful, by all accounts. Except in his choice in music. While loud and pounding, “sparkle me” rapped over and over doesn’t exactly inspire fear.
As the music hammers through the air with no response to the knocking, red-robe man pounds harder.
“It’s Monday! I have a call in thirty minutes. Help me out here, huh?”
I slam the door and rush to the bathroom, racing through my morning ablutions, pitching my ducky pajamas into the hamper. No time for anything more than peeing and scrambling into the clothes I set out the night before, a sensible pale pink blouse and slimming black slacks. I toss a small bag of makeup into my briefcase on top of my proposal. Then I’m out the door, running to the BART station on the corner to catch the next train.
I barely make it in time, the doors shutting behind me as I squish in between a redheaded woman in a hot pink T-shirt and bright yellow pants and a man in an Armani suit on his cell phone, one of his hands clutching the pole in the center of the car.
Once the train is in motion, I grab my phone from my bag and hold down the power button. Maybe it needs a reset or something. If I can call the office, let them know I’m going to be late, make some excuse, maybe I won’t have a panic attack on the train surrounded on all sides by strangers.
I shake my head and take a breath.
Focus, Jane. Phone. Work. Important meeting. But thinking about the upcoming meeting doesn’t calm me. Instead, my heart races, my stomach twists into knots, black spots crowd the corners of my eyes, and my hands shake.
I breathe and stare at my phone until my vision clears and I can focus on pressing the power button down. It’s not working. I take a deep, calming breath—and choke on the fumes from the cologne of the businessman next to me, earning me dirty looks from the rest of the passengers.
“Sorry,” I cough into my hand.
I spend the rest of the train ride using a compact to try and fix my face and hair, but in the cramped train car it’s an exercise in futility. Business man is on the phone the entire time, yelling about assets and liabilities and bitcoins, all while waving his free hand and smacking into my elbow while I’m attempting to put mascara on. I end up swiping a thick line of black under my cheek and poking myself in the eye three times. Finally, I give up.
The train jerks to a stop, forcing me to grab on to the pole under business man’s hand and . . . ick. There’s something on there. It’s wet. I lift my hand. And it’s brown.
Please, universe, let that be chocolate.
I sprint through the train station and up the stairs, wincing at the waft of sewer stench as I reach the street, dodging people and holding my dirty hand away from my body. I have nowhere to wipe it. Ugh. Why is my nicest, most professional blouse also pale pink?
Mother. That’s why.
The office is a block from the station and I jog down the cracked sidewalk, my hair working itself into a truly remarkable frizzed-out halo surrounding my head. Of course I forgot to grab a hair clip.
When the glass-front entrance of the building comes into view, I nearly sob in relief. Almost there.
I’ve worked with Blue Wave Marketing for nearly four years. This meeting is going to determine whether I can be a senior marketer. It’s what I’ve been working toward, handling my own accounts, running my own campaigns. I can’t let one broken phone ruin everything.
I’m ten minutes late. What if they use this as a reason to reject my proposal? What if they decide they can’t have a senior marketer who arrives late to important meetings? What if they laugh at me and call me a ridiculous waste of space? What if—
Stop it, Jane.
I push through the front door and immediately get a disgusted look from Hannah, the front desk executive. She flips a sleek length of blonde hair behind her shoulder and avoids my eyes.
Blue Wave is all about giving people advanced titles, and “receptionist” is much too demeaning. So front desk executive it is.
The entire office space exemplifies feng shui, open, airy, light, except for a cramped coffee station in the back that’s cluttered with ten different espresso machines Brandon keeps ordering for reasons I still don’t understand. There are two hallways on either side of the employee area, one that leads to a storeroom and bathroom, and on the other side, the conference room where I’m sure management is waiting for me.
Directly behind Hannah, all of the employees are spread out, no cubicles, all open space with individual desks. Even the team leaders sit among the rest of the crew because they believe in putting everyone on equal footing, regardless of title.
I’m not a junior marketer, I’m a “student” marketer. Because according to Blade, we are all learning. It’s crap, but whatever.
“Hannah, please.” I don’t want to beg, but I have no other choice. “Can you tell the team that I’m here and I’ll be in shortly?”
She purses her enhanced lips, nose wrinkling in disdain.
Oh no, does my hand . . . smell? I sniff the brown gook and she glares at me like I’ve started licking the desk in front of her.
“I’m not your secretary. Tell them yourself.”
Hannah has never been my biggest fan, but she’s been especially rude for the past few months. I’ve racked my brain to figure out what I did, what stupid thing I might have said, and while there are many options, I still don’t know what her deal is and I haven’t asked. I hate confrontation with anyone, but with Hannah, who’s naturally aggressive? I would rather rub naked against splintered wood.
Presley, another student marketer who has only been here a few months, pipes up from behind her. “I got it, Jane. You look like you need a sec.”
Relief and nerves make my voice quiver. “Thank you, Presley.”
She nods and strides away toward the hall to the conference room, her dark ponytail swinging behind her.
In the bullpen, Mark is tossing a stress ball back and forth with Brandon, brainstorming ideas for a campaign. He catches my eye and gives me a wink.
Face heating, I force out a weak smile, then race to the restrooms, running through a list in my head of what I need to do. Wash my hands first and foremost, fix my hair, take some deep breaths—“Oh!” I collide with someone coming around the corner. My hand lifts during the impact, which means—the brown gunk on my hand is now on whoever I just ran into.
Alex. It had to be Alex.
Strong hands grip my arms in a steadying hold. “Jane. Oh. What is this?” He’s eyeing the brown spot on his worn-out Led Zeppelin T-shirt with a mixture of confusion and revulsion.
His bright green eyes meet mine, filling with amusement, and then he smiles. The world spins to a stop and my heart flip-flops in my chest.
Alex is my not-so-secret crush, a fact that has me turning bright red every time he comes within a sixty-foot radius.
And now, he’s touching me.
“Ah. You were on your way to mitigate the situation.” He releases me, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans and inclining his head in the direction of the bathrooms.
“Think of yourself as collateral damage.” I smile and heat floods my face. I managed to say something without sounding like a total dork, so of course I’m going to turn bright red.
Despite the fact that Alex and I have worked closely together for months, I still can’t keep my shit together around him. And it’s worse now, after what happened in the storage closet right behind him.
Don’t think about it, Jane. Don’t remember or you’ll make it worse.
It’s not apparent at first glance, but Alex is kind of a big deal. He started developing gaming apps as a teenager and made his first million just this past year.
About six months ago, he hired Blue Wave to help him market his newest releases. I was on his team initially, but then, of course, I screwed it up and was transferred off his team two months ago. Since then, I only see him when he stops by the office for meetings or to drop things off or whatever business he has now.
It’s for the best, really. If I don’t see him every day, then I can’t waste my time imagining running my hands through his shaggy hair, which is eternally a week away from needing a haircut. I also can’t think about what it would be like to bite that spot at the side of his jaw, just under his ear, or what his perfectly symmetrical lips would feel like against mine.
Nope. Can’t spend time on any of that, because it’s like wishing on a star, or buying a lotto ticket, or forwarding a chain email to obtain true happiness. Nice in theory, but impossible in reality.
“I get it, I’m damaged goods,” he says with a grin.
I chuckle and try to rein in my galloping heart rate. “Yeah, you’re a hot mess.” I wave a hand. “I-I’m kidding. I’m just giving you a hard-on.” The world freezes to a halt.
Our eyes lock.
His brows lift.
I replay the words in my head. Nope. “Hard time!” And now I’m yelling at him. “Hard time. Not hard-on.” The heat in my face is an inferno. A volcano. My head might erupt.
Alex is laughing his ass off while I die inside slowly. I try to force out a laugh. I can laugh at myself, it’s why I’m still somewhat functional, but really, I would rather cry.
Why is it so hard for me to talk to him without making a fool of myself?
“Oh, Jane.” He wipes his eyes. “I miss talking to you.”
My heart leaps in my chest before making a crash landing. He’s the one who asked for me to be removed from his team.
I liked Alex in a more than professional way, and I’m sure that’s why I was taken off of his team. He would never say so, of course. He’s too nice to tell me to my face how much I embarrassed myself.
My face burns even hotter.
It doesn’t matter. I have a boyfriend now. Mark. Even though we’ve never gone on an actual date, we’re sort of together—I mean, we’ve been sleeping together for the past two months, so we’re something. Definitely something. Even though I’m not sure I like Mark.
I kick thoughts of Mark away.
Alex smiles at me when the laughter dies down. “I won’t keep you. You have a pitch or something today, right? For the senior marketing job?”
“Oh, yes. And unfortunately, I’m late.”
“I’m sure you’ll do great.”
“Thanks, Alex. You’re a good friend.”
And that’s all he’ll ever be. Guys like him don’t go for women like me. Especially after I smeared what may or may not be excrement all over him.
His smile slips a little, or I imagine it does, because it’s just a second and then it’s as bright as ever. “Good luck.” He has dimples.
Ugh, so cute.
Washing up in the bathroom, I glance in the mirror and groan. I look like I went through a typhoon to get here. I can’t believe Alex saw me like this. I attempt to straighten my crazy hair and clean the mascara off my cheek.
And then I take one final, deep breath before picking up my briefcase and heading out the door.