It’s Blog Hop time! Before I get into all the details about the hop, I just want to remind everyone that there’s still two days to enter to win the $25 Amazon gift card in celebration of the release of Lovestruck in London. To enter, head over to this post and leave me a comment about your favorite book character along with your email address and you’re entered! (The contest is only open to people living in the United States, sorry!)
As promised, there are more chances to win something cool this week and the next one is a BIG one! May is Chick Lit month and I am once again participating in an awesome blog hop. The theme this year is “What’s On Page 25?” so I’ll be giving you a sneak peak of one of my favorite scenes in the new book (which will be available TOMORROW!). During the blog hop there will be chances to win lots of ebooks or even the grand prize of a FREE Kindle Keyboard 3G, with Free 3G + Wi-Fi, and a 6″ E Ink Display. That lucky grand prize winner will also receive a “chick lit starter library” filled with great chick lit books written by the indie authors participating in the blog hop.
Learn “How to Hop & Win!” New to blog hops? Want to learn how to win the grand prize? Find complete information here.
Additionally, I will also be giving a free ebook copy of my new book, Lovestruck in London, to a lucky reader. Just comment below and you’re automatically entered. If you comment on all the blogs in the hop you have a chance to win lots of books!
Once again, if you want more details on the hop and how you can win the Grand Prize, head over here.
You can find the participating blogs here.
Here’s where you enter your secret words to win:
Okay, I think that covers the details. So without further ado, let’s take a look at WHAT’S ON PAGE 25! This is actually one of my favorite scenes in the book. Lizzie has only recently arrived in London for her study abroad. On her first night out on the town, she meets an up-and-coming actor names Thomas. They hit it off right away. Keep reading to check out one of their earliest conversations. And don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for my secret word!
I met Thomas at the velvet rope where he introduced me to a staff member named Bill. “Bill and I go way back,” he shouted in my ear as we shook hands. “He used to tend bar in my local.”
Bill unhooked the rope and stepped aside so Thomas could lead me up a short flight of stairs. I found myself in a small loft area overlooking the dance floor. We could still hear the music, but velvet drapes around our booth muffled the sound quite a bit.
“That’s better,” Thomas said, settling into the booth. “I can at least hear you now.”
“Do you come here a lot?” I asked, amazed that this section of the club existed without anyone below knowing it.
Thomas shook his head. “To be honest, this isn’t really my scene. I’m much more of a pub guy when I want a drink.”
I grinned, glad to hear it for some reason. Maybe Thomas wasn’t too glamorous for me after all. “What about you?” he asked. “Pub or club?”
“Uh,” I felt suddenly uncomfortable. “Pub, I guess. But I don’t really do much of either.”
“A university student who doesn’t go to the pub? I’m shocked.”
I shrugged. “I should warn you right now, I’m kind of a goody-two-shoes.”
“Me, too!” Thomas cried, looking thrilled. He leaned into me and spoke in mock confidential tones. “Would it shock you to know that I spent last New Year’s Eve in my flat studying lines for a film I was about to start shooting?”
I laughed. “I spent last New Year’s Eve at a party at my uncle’s house, so I’m not one to judge.”
“One time my brother convinced me to steal a Coke from the newsagent down the road,” Thomas countered. “He said he would tell all my friends I was a baby if I didn’t. So I did.”
“You returned the Coke an hour later, didn’t you?”
“Twenty minutes,” he said, grinning. “And I cried.”
I laughed, wondering why I had felt nervous about talking with him. He was wonderful.
“Tell me about school,” he said. “Why London?”
“I’ve always wanted to come to London,” I said.
“Are you enjoying it so far?”
“We haven’t seen much of the city. We were stuck in orientation sessions the first few days, and were suffering crazy jet lag at night. Then we had this whole apartment fiasco. It hasn’t been quite what I expected.” I paused, not wanting to admit the underlying disappointment I had been feeling about my London adventure so far. (Win the grand prize! The 12th secret word in the 25-word sentence is: lit) Anyhow. This is our first night really off campus.”
“So you’ve been here all week and you haven’t seen the city yet? We’ll have to fix that.” The implication in his words made my heart thud in my chest. I couldn’t seem to wipe the smile from my face.
“I think the big draw for me was the literary history here,” I went on, trying to control the giddiness that threatened to overwhelm me. “My favorite authors are British; I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would want to study literature.”
“Funny, my favorite authors are mostly American,” he said, taking a sip of his beer. “Patterson, King, Grisham.” He gave me a rueful grin. “Not exactly high-minded literature.”
“There’s nothing wrong with genre fiction,” I said firmly. “Take it from an English major; people who only read the classics are usually boring and uptight.”
“Cheers.” Thomas rapped his bottle lightly against my glass. “Did you study literature at your university in the States as well?”
I nodded. “My BA is in English. I also have a teaching certificate.”
“A teacher, eh? My mother was a teacher.”
“So are my sisters,” I said, feeling depressed suddenly. “But I have a ways to go. This program is nine months long.”
“Nine months is a long time to be away from home. Where is home, by the way?”
“Detroit, Michigan. You know, where they make the cars. Motown, Kid Rock.”
“I’ve seen Eight Mile, you know. I’m quite familiar with Detroit.”
I laughed. “Well, I don’t actually live in the city. The suburbs. Sterling Heights, to be exact. Much more Pleasantville than Eight Mile.”
“Thank you for putting things in movie language for me,” he said, winking. “Taking pity on the brainless actor is kind.”
“You started it!” I cried, smacking his hand as he laughed. “So where are you from?”
“I grew up in Surrey, but the family’s all up in Edinburgh now.”
“Oooh,” I sighed. “I can’t wait to get up there.”
“It’s a beautiful city,” he said. “They moved right when I started working in London, so I never lived there full time, but it’s really nice to be able to visit them now.”
We chatted for a while about family. I learned that Thomas is a middle child, his older brother is married and living outside Edinburgh, and his younger sister still lives at home. He seemed fascinated by the idea of my five siblings, and wanted to know all about my family, cousins and aunts and uncles included.
“My grandparents on both sides immigrated from Mexico,” I explained. “My mom’s mom moved back there after her husband died, and my dad’s parents are both gone. But we have a huge family all nearby, more than a dozen cousins, and I don’t even know how many second and third cousins. It gets pretty crazy when we’re all in the same place, which happens all the time. We have more family dinners and parties than anyone you’ll ever meet.”
“Wow,” he said. “I only have three cousins all together.”
I laughed. “Then your house is probably much more peaceful than mine at Christmas.”
“I think it would be nice to have a bigger family,” he said. “You must have had lots of built-in playmates when you were little.”
“I did,” I agreed. “My best friend is actually my cousin Sofia.” I felt a pang. It had only been a week but I missed Sofie like mad.
“It’s pretty brave of you, coming all this way on your own, for such an extended stay.” I looked up and saw that he was watching me closely, something about his expression making me think he could tell what I was feeling. Slightly embarrassed, I reached for my drink.
“I don’t know about brave,” I said, after I’d drained the rest of it. “But my family sure wasn’t thrilled about it.”
“They thought it was too far?”
“They thought I should be putting my hard-earned education to work getting a real job, not spending more loan money on something frivolous.”
“Higher education is frivolous?”
“It is to them.” I reached for my drink again, my hand coming up short when I realized it was empty. Talking about my parents’ expectations always stressed me out.
Thomas noticed and gestured for a waitress. “Another gin and tonic and another Heineken, please.”
“Thanks,” I said, grateful.
“You’re welcome. We can change the subject if you want.”
“No, it’s okay. I just have some guilt issues when it comes to my career,” I laughed lightly, hoping I didn’t sound too melodramatic, but Thomas only said, “I can relate.”
“My parents are big on stability. They saw their parents struggle so much when they came to America. My dad worked a bunch of terrible jobs before he got hired at Ford. For him, a job with a good union, good benefits, that’s like the holy grail.”
“Your brothers and sisters agree?”
“Oh God, yes,” I laughed. “Two brothers are at Ford with him, another is an electrician, and both the girls are teachers.”
“So you followed in their footsteps?”
I was saved answering by the waitress’s return with our drinks, and it was a good thing, too. I had been about to admit that the thought of teaching had lately filled me with a panic I couldn’t explain. I hadn’t admitted that to anyone, not even Sofie or Callie. What was it about Thomas that made me feel so chatty?
“What about you?” I asked, eager to stop thinking about my career prospects. “What did your folks think about acting?”
“They’re supportive, now. It was a different story at first. They sent all three of us to really good schools, education was really important to them. I think they had visions of all three of us becoming barristers, like my dad.”
“What does your brother do now?”
“He’s a barrister.” Thomas laughed. “He’s the good son. But my sister is making noise about wanting to give acting a shot. They’ll really kill me then.” He winked at me, making my tummy flip all over again. I found that I was staring at his eyes while he talked. They were the most expressive eyes I had ever seen, flashing and twinkling, their green depths seeming to darken depending on his tone. If I spent enough time with him I could read his mood in his eyes, I thought. Without him saying a word.
“You said they weren’t thrilled with the acting at first. Weren’t you really young when Darkness came out?”
“I went to an open call when I was seventeen,” he said. “I actually auditioned for Cooper.” When I looked blank, he laughed. “Jackson’s part. I take it you aren’t a fan?”
I blushed to the roots of my hair. “Um…”
He laughed again and patted my hand, the contact sending a rush of shivers down my arm. “Don’t worry about it. It’s actually pretty refreshing. Anyway, I went to the audition kind of on a lark. I really liked drama in school, and kept telling my parents I wanted to study it at university. I figured if I could manage a callback in a major show, they might take me seriously. I was blown away when I was cast.”
“And they let you do it. That’s pretty cool.”
“At that point, they couldn’t have stopped me,” he laughed. “I had visions of Hollywood superstardom in my eyes. I was impossible for months.”
Just then, my phone beeped. I groaned as I looked down at it. “The girls are leaving.”
Thomas sat up straighter. “I could take you home,” he said. Was I imagining the eagerness in his voice?
“Thank you, but I should go with Callie. The other girls don’t live on our side of town, and we’re too new here for me to be leaving her on her own.”
“You sound like a nice friend,” he smiled at me, and I noticed, for the first time, that he had dimples. Or maybe they only appeared when he smiled a certain way. I had already mentally catalogued at least four different smiles to obsess over when I was alone.
He stood with me to walk me down the stairs. As soon as we were out of our protective alcove, the club noise hit me all over again. I had to lean up to yell right in his ear for him to hear me, brushing my arm across his as I went. I wasn’t complaining. “Look, I’d introduce you but I’m afraid Callie will go all fan girl on you. Are you up for that tonight?”
“Hmm, can I take a rain check on the fan-girling?”
I laughed. “Sure.”
As I scanned the room for Callie, Thomas took my hand. I looked up at him, surprised, as a rush of warmth shot through my fingers. “I’d like to see you again,” he said, leaning down so I could hear him. “Would that be okay with you?”
I couldn’t speak. Being so close to his face, his hand holding mine so firmly, I was overwhelmed with the desire to reach up and kiss him. I’d barely have to stretch at all. Instead, I nodded wordlessly, earning another grin from Thomas.
Five distinct smiles, I thought to myself. I wonder what they all represent.
I nodded again, pretty sure that my grin had turned downright goofy looking.
Thomas squeezed my hand before releasing it. “Text me when you get home then, we can set a time and you can give me your address.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
He nodded across the room. “I think I see your friend. Talk to you soon?”
Before I could respond, he was brushing his lips lightly across my forehead, squeezing my hand one last time, and turning away. I stood gaping after him, still feeling his lips on my forehead.
If you have any questions about the Hop don’t hesitate to ask. Remember to leave a comment to enter to win a copy of my brand new ebook, Lovestruck in London. And don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter for the grand prize kindle!
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