I have good news! I’m going to have an Office Crush book for you all, and I’m going to have it SOON (I mean, in the next 3 months or so). I’m not sure yet exactly where it will be available or if I’ll simply put it up here in chapters over the course of a month, but I promise it will be available for free or very cheap (under $3, definitely), and SOON. SOON!
In case you’re wondering, I have not forgotten about this little blog. I am working to figure out the best avenue for the rest of the Office Crush story, but I still don’t know yet. When it’s ready, I will let you know, but just know: there will be an ending! At some point! I swear it!
What’s up is this: I’m working with a literary agent now, and so I cannot just go and publish a book without her first reading it and deciding on what to do–either show it to editors, or say I should go ahead and publish it for the Kindle and Nook.
So! While the book is very, very close to finished, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a little bit longer. But the good news is that the book will get to you one way or the other, and hopefully with another set of professional eyes on it, it will be even better than before.
To make it up to you that it will be a while before you get to read the ending, I’d like one of you to be a beta-reader of the book (meaning you’d read the draft and give me suggestions on what to change, if anything). I mean, only if you want, of course.
So! If you want to be a beta-reader, fill out a comment below on what you think Boss’s real name is, and I will pick whoever is closest and let you have the first look and critique it, provided you can keep all the plot details to yourself, of course. It will be like a SECRET CLUB, OK?
UPDATE: Two people got very close to first and last names, so I’ll be emailing you shortly! Thanks!
I looked at Boss from over my cubicle wall as he passed by and he winked at me. We hadn’t shared the news of us dating in the office, and we weren’t planning on it, so this was a stealth wink. Unfortunately, coworker Sandy was standing next to me and when my cheeks reddened, she raised her eyebrows at me. “What was that about?” she asked, ready for gossip.
“Nothing,” I muttered. “I was…nothing.”
The truth was, I didn’t want anyone to know in the office because I didn’t know if I wanted to stay at the office, and I didn’t know if I wanted to stay with Boss. I’d been looking at culinary schools, like he’d suggested. He was great and supportive and wonderful, and I think that might be the direction my life is headed, if I can get it together enough to apply to them and get loans and quit my job. Boss is a wonderful, loving, handsome, perfect boyfriend. So why don’t I feel what I thought I would?
“It didn’t look like nothing to me,” Sandy said.
“It’s just that I’m not sure about things,” I said.
“Life, that sort of stuff. Job stuff.”
“Like?” she prodded.
“Like, did you ever get everything you wanted, only it turned out that it didn’t feel like what you thought it would?” I asked her.
“Did you get a raise?” she said excitedly. “Is that what this is about?”
“Uh,” I said.
“Because if you got a raise, then I’m going to get one! I’ve gotten more contracts this month than anyone! Oh, this is great! I’ve been waiting to redo our kitchen, so this would be perfect timing.” Sandy continued talking about cabinets and stoves, and I couldn’t correct her. My mind drifted to Ian’s letter, of how I’d hidden it from Boss, of how guilty I felt reading it because it made me so happy. It made me so happy I couldn’t write him back and make it all real. We weren’t together, we’d never be together, and there was no future for us. I had what I wanted, anyway. Didn’t I?
“I’m going to talk to Boss this afternoon about my raise!” Sandy said, interrupting my thoughts.
“Wait, what?” I asked her. “I…didn’t get a raise.” I said.
“Really? Would you be willing to show me your paystub online and compare? Because I bet you make more than me. I’d hate to find out Boss was giving you preferential treatment for some reason,” Sandy said, and I thought, Oh no.
“Do you ever think that maybe you were wrong about something?” I asked Molly.
“Of course. All the time,” she said, which took me aback. Molly always seemed so sure of all her decisions.
“Like what?” I asked. Then I decided it was time to be brave around Pregnant Molly, Biter Offer of Heads. “Like about Chris?” She nodded at me and said, “We’ve been talking, you know.”
“I didn’t know. No. Talking about what?”
“About how stubborn I am!” she laughed, but she was wiping a tear away from her eye at the same time. “I don’t want to raise this baby alone, Aust3n.” I nodded at her, and she continued. “But more than that, I don’t want to be without Chris. I just…you know, we have to work through this.”
“Why?” I asked her. “Isn’t it better to be alone than to be with the wrong person?” I was bouncing my own question off of her.
“Of course it is,” she said, then patted my knee. “Definitely.” She looked me right in the eye, and I think she was answering the question I hadn’t asked. “But Chris isn’t the wrong person.”
“But–” I failed to get out the words. If he was the right person, why weren’t they together.
“This thing between us isn’t easy. Just because we were in love, I thought it would solve my problems. I thought it would make me a new person. Lessy bossy, better hair, all that,” she said, and I smiled at her, understanding everything. “But it’s not easy. I’m just the same person madly in love with someone else.”
“Is he madly in love with you?”
“He said to me that he always would be. That kind of love, it never leaves you. No matter what.”
“No matter what?” I said, echoing her questions in my head. “Not even in dire circumstances?”
“I don’t think so.”
“But I want to be a different person, Mol. I don’t want to be the same me, but madly in love. I want to be better.”
“Then start,” she said. I smiled over at her, rubbed her belly because she hated that, and said, “You’re right. I am. Right now.”
I sent the letter to Ian two weeks ago. I was sorely tempted to rip it into pieces and then throw it out, but Molly and Sarah sat me down and asked me to chant over and over, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
The worst would be that he would write me back telling me he hated me. That’s what I told them. They asked if I could live with that, and just the thought of him reading something from him made it easier to breathe, so I nodded to them. I could live with that.
Too bad I was wrong. The worst would be that he would totally ignore me. Every day I’d come home and unlock my mailbox, sorting through the junk fliers and catalogs and find…nothing. There was nothing from him. He didn’t care.
Except, of course, last night. Last night Boss came home with me, and he wrapped his arms around my waist from behind, pulling my hair away from my neck to kiss my shoulder. I gasped as I opened the mailbox and Ian’s letter slipped right out and into my hands. It had messy handwriting I’d never really seen, barely legible. My heart started beating at triple speed, and that’s when Boss gently turned me around, smirking at me.
“You seem excited,” he said, giving me a full smile now. He kissed my neck some more, but I could barely feel his lips because my hands were burning holding the envelope from Ian. I wanted to push Boss away, send him home, so I could sit with the envelope and read what it said. Would he hate me? Would he want me back? Was he enclosing my letter unread in the envelope?
But I couldn’t do any of that. Boss was staying for dinner when I wanted him gone. And that was proof enough that I was going straight to hell.
“So, what, you two are a couple or something now?” Molly asked me while attempting to buckle her sandals. “Help, Austen. I can’t even see down there anymore.”
“Or something,” I said, leaning over to reach her foot as she straightened her leg. “Have you talked to Chris lately?”
“Humph,” she said. “He wants to discuss names. I want to discuss clubbing him over the head.”
“Does he get a vote in naming the kid?”
“It’s his kid, too, I guess,” she said, sighing.
“Honestly, I wish you two would figure your stuff out. You’re having a kid together,” I told her.
“Austen, it’s so complicated and messed up. I wouldn’t know where to begin.”
“Oh, like dating Boss while his only family member is the guy I thought was my One True Love isn’t complicated?”
“You thought Ian was your One True Love?” she said, putting her leg down before I finished buckling. “You never told me that.”
I winced and nodded. “Yeah. And Boss and Ian–I don’t know, Molly. They only have each other. No mom, no dad. Don’t you think it’s tacky of me to be dating Boss?”
“Do you think it’s tacky?”
I nodded again. “Yeah.” Then I sighed and leaned my chin to my palm. “But I still really like him. He’s…”
“Yeah,” I sighed. “Really hot.”
“But,” she said.
“Yeah, his butt, too. I agree. A good butt.”
“No!” she laughed, swatting me on the arm. “No, he’s really hot, but…”
“Oh. But I don’t think I’ll ever feel about him how I feel about Ian. I don’t know if I’ll feel that way about anyone. Ever.”
“And you’re telling me to work things out with Chris?”
“Isn’t Chris your One True Love?” She puckered her mouth and stared off. “I hate to admit it,” she finally said. “But yes.”
“So?” I asked her.
“So, you contact Ian.”
“That never works, Mol. It always ends in disaster.”
“Maybe you could write him a letter.”
“Well, maybe you could write him a letter and not send it. To get the feelings out.”
“I will if you’ll do the same with Chris.”
“Deal,” she said.
So now I’m sitting at my desk, trying to figure out where to start.
“So,” I said, sitting across from Boss with dirty dishes from the dinner I’d cooked between us. “Let me get the pie.” He touched my forearm and said, “No, let me. Is it on the counter?” I nodded and he dropped his hand and disappeared behind me.
So far we’d discussed work, Boss’s penchant for running races, furniture styles, and politics. We hadn’t discussed his feelings, or mine, or his brother’s. We’d made zero progress, and the entire dinner had been full of awkward pauses.
Boss walked back to the table carrying the pie. “Wow, you made this?”
“Mmm hmm,” I said, and he said, “I love pie. I’ve never known anyone who could make a pie. Isn’t it difficult?”
“No,” I said. “It just takes practice, like everything else.”
“So you really like to cook and bake, huh?”
“I do. In a dream world, I’d like to do it for a living, I suppose.” I sighed and smiled at him cutting sloppy pieces, ruining the bottom crust. I kept my hand away from the offset spatula and watched him further mangle the pieces onto the dessert plates. “Thanks,” I said as he handed me my plate.
“Why don’t you?” he asked, settling back down across from me.
“Why don’t I what?” I wrinkled my brow, trying to track our conversation.
“Why don’t you cook and bake for a living? You don’t seem to enjoy working for me, do you?” He was grinning at me like an idiot with a secret.
“I’m just not into sales,” I shrugged. “It’s nothing personal.”
“And cooking and baking?” he prodded.
“Well, I haven’t gone to culinary school.” I started counting on my fingers. “I don’t know the first thing about restaurants; I wouldn’t know where to begin, and I don’t know if I’d even really like it. It’s one of those pipe dreams that people never pursue because they’re better as dreams.”
“But you’re not people,” he said. “You’re you.” He was still grinning wildly.
“Uh, OK,” I said, not knowing how to get away from this subject and move on to the one with feelings.
“This pie is amazing,” he murmured with a full mouth.
“I know,” I said. One thing I was sure of was the food in front of us. “I have amazing pie.”
“Did Ian ever try it?” he asked, and I choked on the crust that was in my mouth. “Uh, no,” I shook my head. “Ian and I never got to that.”
“Sorry for bringing him up, but we should talk about him,” Boss said. “I think you should try contacting him again. He’s just–he wants to be your friend.”
“And what would he say about this?” I asked, not looking at him. I was feeling a little bold, but bold enough to stare at Boss.
“I already told him about it. He said it was fine. Which is why I know he would be alright with you contacting him.”
“Oh, OK,” I said, suddenly depressed at the thought that Ian was fine with me and Boss.
“And, before I finish dessert, I promised I would tell you again that I have feelings for you. It’s alright if you don’t have them for me, but I’d like to know, either way,” he said.
“Uh, I don’t know,” I answered honestly. “It’s weird, with you and me working, and Ian, and, you know. It’s just weird. And I don’t want Ian to hate you. You’re brothers.”
“Ian doesn’t hate me. Trust me. He doesn’t,” he said cryptically.
“OK,” I said. “But that doesn’t solve the us working together thing.”
“It only matters if you have feelings for me,” he reiterated.
“Right,” I said. “Well, I guess I might.”
“OK,” he said, his jaw working. “Well, then, how do you feel about quitting your job?” he asked me. I looked at him, and his eyes had gone dark and they were full of something. Lust? For me? It was thrilling, and surprising, and I was wrapped up in the sight of him. Before I could answer his question, he leaned across the tiny table, grabbed my wrist to pull me up, and kissed me.
I stood at the counter rolling out a new pie crust recipe for sour cherry pie. Sarah and Molly kept stealing scraps of dough off the counter top until I turned around and said, “Cut it out! Quit it! This pie is not for you.”
“Oh, right, it’s for Boss. If I sleep with you, do I get a pie?” Sarah giggled.
Molly said, “Oh, I bet Ian got a lot of pie. TONS of pie.”
My cheeks reddened first, then my ears. I could feel the heat all over my face and neck a few seconds later. “Ian got no pie,” I said.
Molly dropped her pie dough and looked at it longingly on the floor. “I can’t eat it now, and I can’t even bend over to pick it up.”
“I’ll get it,” Sarah said. Then, “What do you mean, Ian got no pie?”
“I mean,” I said, and then blinked more than necessary, “there was no pie. There were other, er, desserts, but no pie.”
“Why the hell not? I would have jumped him!” Molly said. “Sorry, pregnancy hormones. But what? I would have.”
“He didn’t even come close to jumping me,” I mumbled. “I think that’s one of the reasons we never worked out. He never explained why, but he kept putting it off, making up terrible excuses like, ‘Oh, I have to vacuum my car in the morning!’ or ‘I have a cold, bad idea.’ I would have gladly vacuumed his car for him,” I said, and Molly and Sarah started snorting.
“I’m sure you weren’t the only one who vacuumed his car,” Sarah said.
“I was thinking that. Maybe he had another car vacuumer. Or maybe he just wasn’t attracted to me.”
“Oh, honey,” Sarah and Molly said together. “But Boss?” Molly asked. “That guy wants to jump your bones.”
“Let’s hope so,” I said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve given anyone a pie.”
I am a few weeks away from finishing a decent draft of the Office Crush book (woo hoo!), and now I’m collecting covers that I love to give to my amazing graphic designer friend for inspiration.
So! I need your help. If you could design the OC book cover, what would be on it? Do you have a favorite book cover you love and could share the link or image with me? I’d be very grateful for your help!