An all-new hilarious romantic standalone is out now from Max Monroe, and I have a sneak peek for you.
After two and a half hours on a plane, an hour-long slog in a death taxi—without mention of horses, mind you—a long line to check in at the Vanderturn Manhattan Hotel, and eleventy-billion interview pep talks from Emory, I’m at the very brink of insanity.
My skin feels tight, my hair hurts, and my eyeballs seem to be operating independently from each other.
Apparently, I’m not the only one to notice.
When the bellman leaves to head up to our rooms with our luggage, Emory gets bossy and points in my face.
“Go work out. You need some Elle Woods thinking in your life. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t murder their husbands.”
I scoff and tilt my head to escape the virtual laser beam shooting out of her finger. “Grumpy people without husbands don’t murder their husbands either.”
“You’re going to have one someday, I’m telling you. So, you should start training now.”
“Training? To be happy?” I frown. “Isn’t that the sort of thing that should come naturally?”
“For you?” She snorts. “Probably not. You have a nasty habit of being a miserable shrew, and habits are hard to break.”
My sigh is heavy as I grab the tops of her slender arms and squeeze affectionately. “You really say the nicest things.”
She ignores me and shoves me in the shoulder.
“Go. Change out of last night’s clothes—”
I grin contemptuously.
“And sweat out all of that toxic energy you’re carrying around. I’m going to need you to be in a better mood when I introduce you to Quincy.”
“Ah, the boyfriend,” I hum. “You’re finally done hiding him?”
My best friend has been dating the illustrious Quincy for a few months, and this is the first time she’s even mentioned introducing us. The guy also lives in New Orleans, yet she’s waited until we’re in New York for the big meet-and-greet. It’s like she’s afraid I’m going to do something crazy and doesn’t want me on my home turf or something.
“I haven’t been hiding him,” she corrects. “Just making sure he’s good and hooked before you scare him off.”
I plaster a sugary-sweet smile onto my lips. “I resent your insinuation that I’m anything but pleasant and easy to get along with.”
“If by resent you mean accept and acknowledge its validity, okay.”
“Hmm…” I pause and tap my chin pointedly. “Webster’s must have come out with a new version I’m unaware of, but I’ll go with it for your sake.”
She subtly applies a sheer shade of imaginary lipstick with her middle finger.
“Quince and I will meet you at the party at nine.”
Son of a bitch. The New Year’s “Mask-erade.” Obviously, I’d blocked out the fact that this trip includes a social engagement where an actual grown-ass human decided it would be a good time to take a traditional masquerade-themed party and sleaze it up by making the masks be made out of rubber and celebrity likenesses instead of exquisite lace and beading. But Emory’s reminder ensures I can’t ignore it now.
It takes every ounce of willpower not to dive into a long-winded, snarky rant about it.
But I suck it up and remind myself of the silver lining.
A New Year’s Eve party equals alcohol, Greer.
“Be on time, please,” Emory adds, but the please completely contradicts the stern, motherlike tone in which she delivers it.
“As if I’m ever anything else.”
Her responding scoff echoes around us.
“Just enjoy yourself,” she says. “Have a positive attitude for once. If you do, I guarantee it’ll be great.”
“You got it, Mom.”
“Hey,” she says, and her eyes turn soft as she steps forward to wrap me up in a hug. “You’re my best friend, and all I want is for you to be happy. I know I’m pushy, but it’s only because I love you.”
I hug her back. “Love you too, E. Even when you sound like you’re gearing up for a career in direct sales.”
She snorts and lets me go with amusement shining in her eyes.
“Working out before a party gets results, people! Four out of five farm animals can’t be wrong!” I use a far too high-pitched voice to mimic hers. “Happy people make happy choices, and this tea is the answer to happiness at least once a day! Your tits will be perky and your energy rejuvenated! Try the gel pads under your eyes for a fresh day feel!” I finish off my little act with a set of a jazz hands and a cheeky grin.
“I feel like you might have exaggerated a bit there…”
“Nah.” I grin and shake my head. “I’m pretty sure that’s what you said.”
Emory rolls her eyes and laughs at the same time. “I’ll see you tonight at the party.”
She departs without another word—probably in an effort to avoid another smartass comeback or impromptu jazz hands—and leaves me to my own devices.
Once she’s gone, the interior designer in me kicks in, and my surroundings become my companion.
And let me tell you, she’s a real bitch.
The lobby is ostentatious in its design, and I’m practically offended by the maroon and green color scheme. Honestly, even Santa Claus would be offended, and that jolly mothershucker is all about the green and red.
The décor is more pretentious confusion than anything else. And if I have to come face-to-face with one more gilded sailboat painting or ornate statue, I swear on everything, I might puke.
Jesus. These people are never going to want me to do the design work for their New Orleans hotel. We have completely different tastes.
My style is what the design world would call comfortable minimalism. Not minimalism like Kim and Kanye’s morgue-like mansion, but warm light, rich textures, and clean lines. My designs revolve around making a space feel light and airy yet so warm and cozy you feel like you’re cocooned inside of a womb.
A space you not only want to look at, but you want to live in, be in, thrive in, too.
But this? This flashy and ostentatious gilded-clutter of a design scheme is giving me a headache.
If this space is a womb, I’m smack-dab in the center of Satan’s uterus.