Monday, February 9, 2015

CLP BLOG TOURS presents GIVE YOUR HEART A BREAK by Helen Peterson Excerpt

Chapter One

Friday morning. Another morning you could find me at my desk at the advertising firm, where I spent more hours in than my own apartment. I twirled a pen between my fingers, desperately trying to block out the sounds of my co-workers that surrounded me. What was the topic that morning? Relationships. Of course. In my department, eighty percent of the workers were female, so the water cooler talk was typically about men, shoes, relationships, shopping, and men.
            Why was I so bitter? Just because I was twenty-seven with no relationship prospects in sight—no big deal. And oh yes—everyone around me was happy as clams with their significant others. Nothing like salt in the wound to rub it in. I so badly wanted to find “the one.” And for other people—cough, my co-workers, cough—to stop flaunting their happiness in my face.
            I picked up a file and started flicking through the pages, trying to put my daily plan together. Only one meeting scheduled today, hurray. You would think meetings in advertising would be more exciting—and you would be wrong. As I shimmied my mouse to wake up my computer, I could hear Meiline talking about the new apartment she and her TV producer husband just bought on the Upper East Side. Meiline only worked for fun—bitch. The other girls were crowded around her desk, oohing and ahhing at the pictures she showed on her brand-new iPhone. Scowl.
            Never one to let attention be off her for long, Sydney soon pulled out her phone to show pictures of her flavor of the week—and the new “love of her life.” I swear, she said that after every date she went on. The guys never seemed to last more than a month—can’t imagine why. Imagine Kate Hudson’s character in Something Borrowed, then times it by ten. She’s loud, provocative, and ├╝ber-selfish. And loud.
            “And he showed up at my door with a dozen roses! He even hired a private car to take us to our destination. If that doesn’t scream keeper, I don’t know what does!” Sydney practically screamed at everyone listening to her. Why they were so rapt, I just couldn’t figure out.

            Okay, I get it. I sound like an awful, jealous, spiteful person. But I’m not, I swear. It’s just . . . my past relationships have made more of a mess of me than I would like to admit. But hey, I just did—right? So maybe that’s the first step?
            I snapped out of my thoughts when I heard my best friend Kat screeching my name.
            “Jeez, I’m right here. No need to yell,” I said.
            “I said your name twice. What were you thinking about?” she asked as our friend Monica walked up beside her.
            I casually pulled a blueberry muffin from the brown paper bag that was atop my desk. “Nothing. The workday.”
            “Yeah, right. I haven’t been able to stop hearing about Meiline’s swanky new digs and Sydney’s Mr. Wonderful for the past thirty minutes. Unless you have invisible earbuds in, you were hearing the same,” Monica said, giving me a small smile. She was someone in the blissfully happy category, though she didn’t flaunt it like some people.
            “Anyway. We came by to talk about tonight,” Kat said.
            I wrinkled my brow and tried to look confused. “Tonight?” I asked innocently.
            They both stared at me.

            “You didn’t forget, did you? You promised you would come with us to Kiss Crush,” Monica said.
            “Right, of course!” I hadn’t forgotten, but I had secretly hoped that they had forgotten. Kat was at my desk just a few weeks ago ranting and raving about this Kiss Crush. It was apparently the new hot spot in Manhattan and we just “had” to make an appearance there. She was super insistent we go with her, and even assured us that we would be well taken care of if the three of us went together. I heard choice words and just nodded, smiled, and said sure, hoping they would forget. It sounded like a frat house to me, not a club, but Kat assured me it would be nothing like a frat house. How could she know if she hadn’t even been there yet?
            “So that’s a yes, you’re still in?” Kat looked at me with perfectly shaped Anastasia eyebrows raised. Kat was the leader of our three-person pack and had been since high school, where we all met. She was beautiful, always turning heads when we were out—by males and females, it was just that kind of beauty. Just a smidge shy of six feet, she was also graced with a reed-like body with just the right amount of curves in just the right places. Finishing off her look was stick-straight blonde hair nearly to her waist and pale blue eyes. No wonder she landed a top dog—Brian, who was Vice President of Visual Marketing at NBC. While they weren’t married and Kat couldn’t claim she worked for “fun” like other people—cough, Meiline, cough—Brian was incredibly wealthy and loved showering Kat with gifts and other glamorous items. Kat wasn’t too shabby herself in the career department and had been climbing the corporate ladder since starting as an intern here right after college. Between the two of them, let’s just say money was never a concern.
            Monica was the sweet one of our group, the ever optimist. She balanced us out–able to calm Kat down and keep her from getting too adventurous (like the time she tried to book us all flights to Jamaica simply because she heard the Dunn’s River Falls is a must), and she helped bring me out of my shell and not let me stay home in bed every night. Petite with dark wavy hair, dark brown eyes, rosy cheeks, and barely topping the scale at one hundred pounds, Monica was the definition of the word cute—which she hated. Monica’s boyfriend, John, worked at the New York Stock Exchange and was always busy with . . . stocks and stuff. I never quite understood what he did, and the times he did come out with us, he was pretty quiet, usually wrapped up on his phone.
            “I would say yes, but I have nothing to wear. Like, nothing. And I’m not even saying that just because I want to get into your closet, I swear,” I said, shooting Kat a wink. “I kind of went a little overboard on my last donation run. I think I gave up a fourth of my closet.”         
            That was right after a particularly bad breakup with Mark, a guy I met at Starbucks and truly thought could be “the one.” Until I found him at the same Starbucks with a blonde sitting on his lap. I had heard that donating to the less fortunate was a way to make you feel better. It really just made my closet look empty.

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