By author Liberty Kontranowski
Genre: Chick Lit
Release Date: 09.28.16
Every fangirl has a fantasy . . . what happens when that “if only” dream comes true?
Though she’s a single mom wedged firmly into thirty-something territory, author Kallie Reagan’s devotion to rock star Niles Russell knows no bounds. To pay homage to her muse, Kallie writes a smokin’ hot novel featuring a hero who looks and acts an awful lot like Niles — and a heroine who may or may not have a smattering of herself thrown in for fun.
When Niles learns about the book and surprise-texts Kallie, the two deliciously complicated creatives become fast friends . . . and so much more. But trying to define a relationship that’s laced with closeted skeletons, half-truths, and constant question marks proves harder than making it big. If they’re going to progress from Fangirl Infatuation to The Real Deal, these two need to give each other All Access to the most important place of all: their hearts.
Text Me, Maybe
Ever been on the receiving end of a text from your celebrity crush?
Yeah, neither have I.
At least, I don’t think I have.
I stare at my phone, where all kinds of letters are lined up to make sentences that would normally be pretty benign. But when I see they’re from a number I don’t recognize (with a New York City area code) and they say, “So is it true? Did you write your book about me?” they go from benign to what the hell?! in a hurry.
Because my book was written with someone very specific in mind—as in Niles Russell, the lead singer of my favorite band—and it’s highly unlikely he’s at the opposite end of this texting conversation.
God, Kallie, get a grip. Of course it’s not him. No question this is just a prank and I should definitely ignore it. But, not gonna lie, I kind of have the flutters here. And I’m a little intrigued. So, I take a deep breath and type, “?? Who is this?” and hit send.
Oh, God. Did I just do that? Seriously, why am I engaging with someone who A) seems to know they’re talking to someone who wrote a book and B) also seems to know said book was inspired by someone real? I must be a special kind of crazy. I roll my eyes at myself and toss my phone back on the coffee table.
An instant later, my mystery texter’s response comes in.
“You’ve written books about other people?” it says, complete with a winky face.
Uh, no. No, I have not.
I shake my head and laugh because, duh, I get it now. This is obviously Sara, my “best friend,” clearly taking pleasure in messing with my head. She knows that even though I’m wedged firmly into thirty-something territory, I become a complete and utter fangirl whenever I talk, think, or speak about Niles. Sara’s a total goofball and she must be bored, so, hey, why not borrow someone’s phone and pretend to be Niles, just to blow my mind? Awesome.
“Sure, I’ve written tons of them,” I respond.
Let’s see how long she’ll play this out before coming clean. Hopefully not long. I have laundry to do.
“Aw, then I’m sad. Thought I was the only one.” Another winky face. “Saw a lot of myself in the Nash character and was kinda flattered. Just wanted to let you know.”
My eyebrows pop up and I look around to be sure there isn’t a hidden camera somewhere, capturing this terrible joke. She’s starting to be a little convincing, which is honestly kind of mean. You know what I would give to hear from the real Niles? I sigh and, against my better judgment, keep playing along.
“Okay, you got me. Now send me a plane ticket so I can come manhandle you and we’ll call it a day.”
Ha! If that doesn’t make her squirm, I don’t know what will.
My phone stays silent for a minute, maybe two. Yep, I got her. She has no idea how to respond.
Bloop. “So . . . about your book . . .”
Oh, okay. This is how it’s going to be? She’s going to keep going? Blerg.
“What about it?”
Sara, more than anybody, knows all about my book—the book that started out as an outlet for the fangirl crush I have on Niles and totally took on a life of its own. When I finished the thing (Shocker #1, because writing a novel is hard and takes a long time!), I reached out to my dream literary agent, who loved my book as much as I did and signed me fairly quickly (Shocker #2). The next thing I knew, she was shopping my novel to some of the biggest publishers in New York City and ultimately secured me a deal that slightly squelched the monetary fears I was having as I navigated my way through the dissolution of my twelve-year marriage (the book deal was Shocker #3; the ending of my marriage was of my own doing).
“It’s creepy,” the mystery texter says. “And awesome. Good job. But weird.”
Okay, that line twists my stomach. Sara doesn’t speak like that. She would never, ever start a sentence with “and” or “but.” And she really wouldn’t do it two times in one text. For a minute, I let myself believe it really is my muse.
Okay, minute over.
“Hey, Sar. You’re super hilarious, but quit playing with me, k? Aren’t you supposed to be heading to dinner with Jack?” Sara is going through a divorce, too, but instead of swearing off men for the next six lifetimes like me, she’s diving right back in with a guy from high school. From high school! Ack!
The next response is instantaneous. “Sara? Uh, nope.” A few seconds pass, then, “It really is me. –NR”
Okay, if my stomach had the flutters after that very first text, it’s hosting an entire community of butterflies, hummingbirds, whatevers after this one. NR. NR. NR. No freaking way! It cannot be Niles Russell! I feel woozy. If this is a game, I am so done with it. My hands shake as my fingers slowly type, “Okay, if you really are NR, then where are you right now? I know . . . but do you?”
This will definitely bust Sara—or whoever is yanking my chain. Niles and his band are on tour right now, not too far away from me. I know this because in five days I am going to see them live. Again. I know every single stop on their tour, and if I somehow can’t remember where they are on a particular day, I dash straight to their website to check. I am like a high schooler who knows every class her crush has, what halls he goes down, the drinking fountain he stops at before each period, everything. If Niles is doing it, I know about it. It’s become like a game.
“Just sound-checked in Chicago. Barely made it in time. They’re starting to let people in. Oops.” Another smiley face.
Whoa. Niles is in Chicago. I was thisclose to going there myself, but chickened out on driving alone. Nobody knows that. Not even Sara.
“Hang on. Sending you a pic.”
As I wait, my stomach flops, my heart races, and my lips hurt from clenching them so tightly together. If this really is Niles, what in the world does he want with me? How would he have gotten my number? Yeah, he was the inspiration behind my book, but it’s not like I actually called him out in there. How would he know? Why would he care?
My phone blips and my shaky hands raise the screen to eye level. The air leaves my lungs as I focus on those funky blue/green/gray eyes that have lured me in during every music video, those lips with the perfect bow, and those super white teeth that are a bit too big for his slender face. This can’t be real.
My eyes travel up to his hair—that telltale floppy brown hair that’s short on the sides and all crazy on top. It is the exact same hair I’ve seen in a million pictures and subsequently fantasized over. I want to reach through the phone to touch it.
He’s not smiling, but he’s also not not smiling. He looks exactly as quirky as I expected him to. I’m smitten all over again.
“See? Told you it was really me.”
I can’t even feel my fingers as they type, “Holy shit,” and then press send.
In an instant, my mind is plotting whom to tell first. No one will believe me. But, wait, they’ll have to. The picture is right here. The picture of Niles. Niles Russell. Right here on my phone.
I’ll tell Sara first, of course. After all, she is the one who encouraged me to write the dang book, knowing full well it was stirring up some major dust in my head and my heart. Then maybe I’ll go to the library or Target or somewhere. Just whip out my phone and say, “Oh, hey look. A text from Niles Russell. Oh, and he sent me a pic, too. Huh, isn’t that something?”
Half the people won’t know who he is, because even after winning three Grammys, he’s kind of nondescript. They’re the band that is all over the radio and TV, and everyone knows their songs, but hardly anyone knows their name. Which I love because they’re kind of like “all mine.”
Of course, I’m not their only real fan, and their real fans are diehards. We know every word to every song, every funky inflection of Niles’s voice, every pause where he takes a breath in preparation for his trademark belting. We know that he shows up to concerts in whatever he has clean—usually black jeans, a way-too-big sleeveless shirt and some cool jacket. We know—and are okay with the fact—that he often takes his shoes off mid-concert and runs around barefoot. And we know that no matter how many shows they’ve done in the nights, weeks, and months before, every single performance is like it’s their first and last. There is so much heart in them, it makes my breath catch.
“Sorry if I freaked you out,” he says. “Read your book. Thought it was trippy. If it’s really inspired by me, I’m super flattered. If not, then pretend this never happened.”
I’m not sure I’ve ever had a harder time breathing. If Niles Russell truly read my book, then he truly knows exactly how I feel about him, and that is truly insane. Truly. Because, let’s be honest here, things definitely got pretty steamy in a few parts. Within those pages, Niles and I got naked together, bore our very beings to each other, and ran off into the sunset, living happily ever after. It was a magical, electric, beguiling, and mesmerizing journey. And now he knows all about it.
My phone startles me when it dings again. “You still there?”
My face is scorching hot. Not only does he know my deepest and darkest feelings, but five seconds ago I told him to send me a plane ticket so I could come manhandle him. Oh my God. This is the opportunity every fangirl dreams of, and here I am, totally blowing it. I’m paralyzed, deciding whether to pretend our connection got dropped, tell him the book wasn’t about him, or hell, just ignore him altogether. Sure, it’s one thing to fantasize about someone when they’re nothing but a few pages of Google images and some concert viewings from the first few rows, but it’s quite another when the real deal sends you unsolicited text messages and you suddenly have to own up to your obsession.
I wonder what he’s thinking right now. Is he seriously flattered? Or is he totally freaked out? In my wildest dreams, I didn’t expect my book to find its way into Niles’s hands . . . or for him to figure out he was the inspiration behind it. This is so crazy.
After the next ding—a picture of him with a big, genuine smile, raised eyebrows, and the heart-meltiest look in his eyes—I know what I have to do.
“I’m here. And I wish you were, too.”
Liberty Kontranowski is a romantic women’s fiction author who adores all things lovey-dovey with a pinch (or more) of hubba-hubba. When she’s not at the keyboard, she’s taxiing around her three boys, knocking back craft beers with the hubs, blogging, fangirling, and dreaming up more fake people. She also spends an inordinate amount of time drinking coffee and dreaming of the day she can bid adieu to far-too-wintry Michigan and move to a place where she can write with her toes in the sand.
Liberty loves to hear from her readers (and otherwise cool people) so give her a yell.
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