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“I’m face-down in forty glorious inches of cock cake, seriously reassessing my life choices, when suddenly I hear it. The voice that launched a thousand teenage boy-band dreams. My #1 crush, Drew Delaney himself.”
Ten years ago, Drew was boy-band royalty: the subject of a million teenage fantasies – and the guy next door. He was so far out of my league, I couldn’t see him for stars, but now I’m back in town for our high-school reunion, guess who I run into but Mr. Right-Now himself…
Older. Hotter. And still sexy enough to make me forget about the glittery white frosting currently smeared across my chest.
Sparks are flying, and so are my panties, and soon, our trip down memory lane has taken a detour to ‘oh my god, don’t stop!’. Population: me.
But can I turn Mr. Right-Now into Mr. Forever? Or will crazed fans, vicious yoga moms, and three dozen cock-sicles (don’t ask) doom our romance to the ‘Where are they now?’ section of MTV’s greatest hits?
You’ll be begging for a taste of Lila Monroe’s new sexy, laugh-out-loud summer romance!
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Whoever decided to call it a “walk of shame” clearly didn’t have a good enough time the night before. Sure, you might be wearing yesterday’s clothes, with your panties inside out, and raccoon eyes from your smudged mascara, but I always like to think of the morning after as your merit badge for a night of hot sex—and anyone who thinks that’s shameful can bite me.
But trudging into my childhood bedroom less than a year shy of thirty, carrying two suitcases that represent the sum total of what’s left of my life? That’s a walk of shame I’d much rather skip.
I stop on the threshold and take a look around. My parents never redecorated after I moved out, so it’s like a time capsule of my teenage life: plush indigo comforter on the twin bed, fairy lights strung across the oak bookcase, orange-and-maroon shag rug I thought was so impressively retro, and posters and photos tacked all over the lavender walls.
Oh, God, the posters. Buffy The Vampire Slayer glowering from over my desk like she’s going to stake the posturing Justin Timberlake next to her, Avril Lavigne slathered with eyeliner beside him, a cluster of Harry Potter movie posters—one of them signed by half the cast, which I am still kind of proud of, thank you very much. And of course, Category 5 in all their gleaming boy band glory, in their place of honor above the head of my bed.
The room even smells like my teen years—the vanilla-jasmine perfume I bought for ten bucks a pop at the local Walgreens. And yep, it smells that cheap.
Maybe I can get a new cupcake flavor out of that. Nostalgia-No-Thanks: A vanilla cake base with a generous splash of Natty Light, buttercream icing in a teeth-achingly sweet bubblegum flavor, sprinkled with rebellious black licorice.
Nah. No one wants to eat that any more than I want to be living it.
I’d like to groan and flop headfirst onto the bed. But that would be horrifyingly teenager-y of me, wouldn’t it? Instead I heave the suitcases up there and pop them open to start unpacking. This arrangement is only temporary, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be stuck with wrinkled clothes and cosmetics arranged by Ziploc bag the whole time.
My ringtone sounds as I’m hanging up one of my dresses in a closet that is mercifully free of my high-school concept of fashion. It’s my cousin Brooke, and I wince, already knowing this is going to be an un-fun conversation, but that’s not her fault.
“Hey, cuz,” I say.
“Hey, Maggie!” Brooke all but chirps. She must realize she’s overdoing the upbeat cheer, because her voice drops. “So you got in from New York okay?”
“Of course, no problem at all. The train stayed on the tracks. We did not encounter a freak late-August snowstorm.”
“Maggie,” Brooke says, chiding and teasing at the same time. Our senses of humor don’t always line up perfectly. But my favorite cousin is a total sweetheart, which is why the next words out of her mouth are: “Are you okay? I mean, after . . .”
“After the bakery of my dreams got run out of town by Miss Big Shot Celebrity Chef in record time?” I think of Sunny Street’s perky grin, and I scowl. It took me ten years to save up to open my own cupcake emporium, a year of plans and preparation—and six weeks for her to open up down the block and steal every last one of my customers.
“My ego is wounded, but I’ve survived,” I tell Brooke with a sigh. “But let’s not get into the damage to my bank account.”
“It was just bad luck,” Brooke says. “I say with total objectivity that you make the best cakes in the world.”
“We’ll just have to clone a thousand of you, and then I’ll be in business for life,” I kid, but my smile feels forced. “This is just a stepping stone. I’ll be back on the horse in no time. Don’t worry about me. So how’s married life treating you these days?”
“Oh, you know, not much different from living-together-but-not-married life, other than there’s no immense looming event I need to plan. So pretty good. Where are you at in that department? Wasn’t there that guy you worked with—”
“Gio,” I say quickly. “That was never anything serious. Friends with benefits was about all I could handle with everything else I was juggling.” And the last time I talked to him, it was when he told me he was going to work for the woman who’d run me out of town. I was happy for him, and he deserved the opportunity, but didn’t I inspire any more loyalty than that?
“Well, I guess you have time to play the field now,” Brooke says hopefully. Trust her to find a positive spin.
“Of course. I’m sure the guys will be lining up. What could be sexier than a washed-up baker living with her parents, after all?”