If you’ve read Husband Auditions, you met Charlie. You may or may not remember that on the night before his ex was supposed to wed another man, he randomly prays, “God, if you want me to marry Nicole, don’t let her walk down the aisle tomorrow.” Then he forgets about the prayer until his sister runs into Nicole and finds out she’s still single.
The book begins with Charlie believing it’s God’s will for him to marry his former fiancée. Unfortunately for him, Nicole hasn’t received the same message.
To get close to her again, Charlie contracts Nicole to work for him. Normally she’d refuse, but circumstances arise that force them together. Thus, her job is to market the very documentaries Charlie left her to film.
The romcom doesn’t release until next fall, but I’m too excited not to share. Here’s a sneak peek:
It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not. —André Gide
It’s rare for me to be awakened by the sound of an incoming text message because it’s rare for anyone to beat me out of bed. So when the phone on my nightstand starts to vibrate, I’m lost in the dark. Then I see a glow of blue light and hear the buzz. A rush of warm fuzzies reminds me what day it is.
It’s the day my campaign launches. And by “my campaign,” I mean the one that is going to skyrocket my career in advertising. It’s what I’ve sacrificed for.
It took some finagling, but I finally persuaded a well-known Christian golfer to represent the pizza restaurant Slice of Heaven. Naturally, because he’s made some memorable slices in his career. All the billboards have been designed, all the radio spots recorded, and all the commercials filmed. Hence the fact that I was finally able to get a good night’s sleep. Now I’m just waiting for audience response, and by the sound of my cell buzzing, I don’t have to wait any longer.
I reach for my phone with a smile in my heart.
Morgan: Dante is trending on social media.
I sit up straight, the text more energizing than a shot of espresso. I’d known my campaign was good, but I hadn’t expected such instant results.
I fumble for the switch on my reading lamp, and a warm glow spills across my all-white bedroom, reflecting off the black windows that will give me a great view of the Portland skyline once it wakes. I rub the sleep out of my eyes and try to focus on my phone.
If this campaign turns out to be as big as I think, I’m taking myself to Jamaica for vacation. Better yet, Costa Rica. No, wait. Peru.
My pulse stills in a silent moment as I think about the man who left me for a film gig in South America. I could have gone with Charlie, but that would have required giving up my own dreams. Now look at me. I’m going to have both the job and the journey. Who needs the man?
There’s another man in my life now, and he’s a star in the PGA. I bite my lip and click on the app that might as well be a magic wand, because it’s going to make all my wishes come true.
Dante Sullivan. His name pops up first on the list of popular subjects.
I jump to my feet and do a little dance right there on top of my mattress. “Thank you, Jesus.”
I pause my celebration long enough to find out exactly what I’m celebrating. I click on Dante’s name. But then I bounce again while waiting for the app to load. Because I can’t help it.
The first post reads like a political ad ripping on a rival in the opposing party. I should have expected as much. Christianity is considered offensive these days. Religion is a punchline. Believers are the new blonds. But that’s okay. Dante has a huge platform, so not everybody who sees him is going to be a fan.
I scroll to the next post and cringe at a sexual comment. Weird.
Pizza isn’t that kind of hot.
I shake my head. Moving on.
The following post is a link to a news article about . . . I gasp and smash a hand over my mouth.
Either my phone vibrates with another text, or I’m trembling in shock. Probably both.
Morgan: Dante apparently sent some inappropriate texts to a single mom of a kid in the junior golf camp he’s helping coach. Slice of Heaven is dropping him.
“No . . .”
My legs give out. I sink into a nest made of sheets and pillows. Not that I feel any of their comfort. I’m numb. I’m horrified. I’m mad.
My college psychology teacher taught us to use the word angry rather than mad, because mad can mean crazy. But I think mad fits this scenario.
Tingles shoot through my body, and my breathing comes out in gasps. This is the stuff of mental breakdowns. Or at least panic attacks.
I’m mad at Dante. I’m mad he propositioned that mom. I’m mad that his followers are going to blame his poor choice on God. I’m mad about the company that just spent their whole advertising budget on a “pillar in the community” who is turning out to be more like one of the pillars Samson knocked over. I’m mad about how this is going to affect me.
There’s no trip to Machu Picchu in my future. There might not even be a job in my future.
But you know who I’m most mad at? Me.
I should have known this would happen. Everybody falls off their platform eventually. It’s just more devastating to a community who prides themselves on being wholesome.
This is my dad’s fall from Grace Chapel all over again.
I can practically feel a cold sore forming on the outside of my mouth from the onslaught of stress. I rub my lips together. Yep. There’s the tender bump. Because public humiliation wouldn’t be complete without an open lesion on my face.
The phone rings, startling me back to the present. It’s Morgan, of course. Soon it’ll be the owner of Slice of Heaven, my boss, and the press. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
I’m not one to hide under my covers, but I’m also not sure what I can possibly do about this. I feel the devastation that’s coming for all involved. There’s no spinning it, and I wouldn’t want to.
“Why, God?” I just want to understand.
My phone rings a second time. I take a deep breath of the soothing lavender sachets, though they are not currently cutting it. I must come across as poised. It’s my brand.
I look at Morgan’s wide brown eyes staring at me from the contact photo on my screen, then I slide my thumb over its slick surface to answer. “I saw the news,” I state calmly. “Have you spoken with Dante?”
“I’ve left messages for him with his agent and his mom.” Her voice is pitched higher than usual, and mine would be too if I’d spoken with Mrs. Sullivan. The matriarch wears an apron with all the charm of June Cleaver but brandishes her rolling pin like a weapon. “There’s an apology forthcoming.”
I can’t hold back my huff. Dante’s apology is only going to split the justice and mercy arms of the church even wider—not to mention in the eyes of those who don’t go to church. What should be used as proof of how badly we all need a Savior will be used as evidence of hypocrisy. Though honestly, I don’t feel like anything can save me right now.
If you’ve read either of the first books, I’d love to know which character is your favorite and what you hope to see from them in Fiancé Finale. I’m not done editing and could totally make something else happen for you.