Home > Once Upon a Sure Thing (Heartbreakers #2)(3)

Once Upon a Sure Thing (Heartbreakers #2)(3)
Author: Lauren Blakely

He shudders. “I can’t think of anyone more qualified to do that than you.”

I flick my hair off my shoulder and raise my chin proudly. “I’m so adept at navigating the dangers of imagined worlds from my trusty studio C.”

“How many books is it for you now? Five hundred?”

I swat his elbow. Because I like swatting him. I like nudging him too. I’m not sure why, but I do.

“Ha. You know it’s not that many. I’m at one hundred forty-two books and counting. And I still haven’t been hired to narrate a romance, despite submitting tons of auditions and putting the word out to all my publisher contacts.”

He sighs sympathetically, knowing my dream to expand into romance has been blocked by cyborg-infested walls hundreds of feet high. “Look on the bright side. The publishers love your sweet style. You can’t help it if you have the perfect voice for a teenager. It’s like sugar. It’s like honey. It’s like a Pixy Stix, and those are damn good.” He flashes that winning grin again, one that seems to say don’t worry, be happy. “Note to self: pick up Pixy Stix for dessert.”

“You have such an overactive sweet tooth.”

“It’s well-exercised.”

“And, yes, I’m thirty-one going on sixteen vocally,” I say with a what-can-you-do shrug. I’ve been trying to crack the romance genre for five years to no avail. I’m told my voice reads too young, too innocent for that genre. I’ve been working on vocal exercises to bring a tiny bit of a smoky, sexy vibe that might help me snag some romance deals. I love the work I do, and the number of great young adult stories has flourished in recent years. But I have to think of the future. What if the young adult genre goes bust at some point? What if my voice becomes overused in teen stories? I want to diversify, and romance seems the most natural segue, especially since I like romance.

Miller holds open the hobby shop door for me. “After you, my warrior princess. I believe we have a castle to create.”

“Chloe left me a list of items to pick up, since she’s seeing her therapist.”

“Never miss a shrink visit, I say.” Miller stops in front of a remote-controlled helicopter display. “How are they going for her, anyway?”

“Good. She’s almost done with the appointments. She’s doing so well now, but it took a while,” I say, smiling as we go inside, proud of my girl.

“I’m glad she’s doing better. It’s all because of you.”

I wave off the compliment as we head down the aisles. Pom-poms and fabrics abound, nestled alongside scrapbook boxes and glitter glue, which cuddles with glitter guns and ribbons. I stop at an aisle bursting with silver ribbons, polka-dot ribbons, and ribbons with tassels. I scratch my head. “I don’t understand why there are so many ribbons.”

Miller leans in close and whispers, “The better to tie you up with, my pretty.”

A tingle spreads over my shoulders, surprising me, even though I’m not surprised by his words. He’s a natural-born flirt, and I’m used to his naughty banter. It’s never directed toward me, per se. He’s just having fun. It’s Miller being Miller, like when we play Bananagrams and he tries to make as many naughty-sounding words as possible, like caulk and diphthong. “In that case, let’s make it a polka-dot ribbon. I can wear it with my famous polo shirts and ponytails,” I say, referring to the super-sweet style I wore when I sang online with my brother.

“Ooh, that makes it even naughtier, and it proves my point.”

“What’s that?”

He holds up a finger. “I have a hunch craft stores are frequented by the Fifty Shades crowd.”

I laugh. “DIY BDSM-ers?”

He wiggles his eyebrows. “Ribbons are for tying pretty wrists.” He circles his hand around my wrist, sending another unexpected charge through me. I do my best to ignore the sensation. He lets go quickly and leads me to an aisle of wooden frames, birdhouses, and, oddly enough, paddles. “Those paddles are not for school projects, I tell you.”

“Whatever are they for?” I ask, feigning innocence.

Miller mimes spanking my butt. Next, he gestures to the candle-making section. “Exhibit B that hobby shops are fronts for kinky sex clubs—just imagine all this wax dripping on bellies and butts tonight.”

“How on earth am I supposed to work on a project with Chloe now that you’ve put these thoughts in my head?”

He runs a hand lightly over my hair and says in his raspy baritone, “I suspect those thoughts were already there.”

Were they? Are they? Images scroll through my mind, mostly involving ribbons.

Miller rubs his hands together and switches gears. “Now, let’s find some Styrofoam to make ramparts.”

He walks ahead of me, and for a brief moment, or maybe longer, I linger on the feel of him near me, his hand on my hair, the comment about the notions in my head. Are the notions in my head involving him?

I’m not sure what to make of this new zip that rushes through me. So I dismiss it, since that’s easier. I join him in the Styrofoam aisle, where he plucks the items Chloe needs from the shelf and drops them in a red shopping basket.

I enlisted Miller’s help for Chloe’s sixth-grade project on medieval times, since he’s absolutely amazing at building things. I suspect that’s on account of the fact that he still has a ten-year-old boy inside him.

He also used to be a Lego master, and he won several Lego contests growing up. A few years ago, he showed me pictures of his creations, and I promptly enlisted him as my secret weapon in the school project battle.

As we head to the checkout line, Miller sneaks a peek at his watch.

“Do you need to go?”

He scoffs. “Please. I’m in this for the long haul, warrior princess. I’m just checking to see how many minutes until my feeding time.”

Miller’s stomach keeps me busy—I’ve learned a few tricks. “Can I tempt you with Thai or Chinese takeout tonight?”

Miller’s eyes light up. “Actually, can you get that pumpkin curry dish from Avatar’s Burritos?”

“Anything you want. You know the rules. I feed you, and you help Chloe with the tenth circle of hell.”

“It’s a fair deal to me.”

As we leave and walk to the therapist’s office on Sixth Avenue, Miller clears his throat. “So . . . I made a decision.”

The earnestness in his voice surprises me. He sounds vulnerable. I meet his gaze and ask softly, “What is it?”

His hazel eyes look into mine. “You know how Campbell’s been pushing me again to start a new duo?”

I nod, remembering that Campbell mentioned it when we met up with him recently.

Miller shrugs happily. “I’m ready. I posted an audition notice on my way down here. I’m looking for someone to sing with me, do some local gigs, maybe record a few videos, see how it goes. Nothing too crazy yet, but we can start here in New York.”

I bump my shoulder to his. “Good, because if you were on the road all the time, I’d be a sad panda.” I frown dramatically, but I’m more relieved than I let on that he’ll mostly be around.

“You know I’d miss you, and Campbell and Samantha, and Jackson, and, hell, I’d even miss my doorman because that dude has the best advice on fantasy basketball picks.”

I roll my eyes. “Glad I rank up there with your insider fantasy league coach, Miller.”

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