Merry Christmas Sourlips1983! I took a lot of liberties but I hope you like it! There's another part coming up, be on the look for it New Year's Day!
Meet the Author
Nick Miller sighed as the bus rolled to a stop. 25th stop in his 40-city book tour. God, it was grueling. Nonstop interviews, pictures, autographs blah blah. He was tired.
Of course, he was grateful that his Pepperwood Chronicles were successful, but he hated the tour aspect. He wanted to go home and sleep. That damn board was NOT a bed and that so-called pillow had given him a crick in his neck that bugged the shit out of him.
Today they had rolled into Astoria, Oregon today.
The hell he knew. His manager had chosen random cities along with the bigger known ones to "establish the humble, familiar attitude" of the book. Regardless, it meant endless nights of traveling and days of people in his face.
He sighed again. Noting the peeling paper announcing his Pepperwood tour on the window. Schmidt's idea. Better to be known he had said and he had been right. Pepperwood had taken off unexpectedly after the second book. Who knew that people wanted to read about a clumsy ass detective and his pesky assistant?
Nick pulled his backpack from the seat and waited for the doors to hiss open. Once again, another city filled with faceless names who wanted to meet him.
He stood in front the bookstore named "The Old Day". Interesting names for non-interesting places.
God, he was jaded.
Jess coughed as the dust hit her in the face. Opening the book and blowing into it had been such a great idea huh. Just twenty boxes to go. Why did she order so many? Nick Miller was just going to be here for one day and did she really expect that all the books were going to be sold? The bookstore was doing well but not that well and Mr. Miller was bringing good publicity to them.
It was another quiet day in her otherwise quiet life that she enjoyed. Too much excitement never ended well, and she preferred to stay away from it.
She placed a book on the table just as a large bus pulled up in front of the bookstore. Great. Showtime. She placed a stack of books on the table and smoothed out her dress. She adjusted her hair bow and straightened her glasses. First impressions mean a lot and she was going to impress Mr. Miller so he'd come back.
Posters had been up all week advertising his signing and she'd gotten a really good response so far. Just in the last couple of days, the book had been steadily bought. Not flying off the shelves but at least two or three bought a day. She hoped that it'd bring more traffic after he left. Her namesake wasn't that well known even though it'd been around for about twenty years.
She heard the squeal of the door and looked up. Out stepped a man wearing too large tweed jacket and a dress shirt that desperately needed ironing. Not much to look at she thought until he made his way to the open shop door.
Scruff and his obvious five o'clock shadow. His messy hair.
What the hell Jessica Day?
"Hello?" His voice pulled her back.
He opened the door and called out again. "Hello?"
Jess walked toward the voice "Hi! Can I help up you?"
The guy turned his head to her and lifted his chin. "Uh, I'm looking for Jessica Day?"
Jess nodded and pointed to her chest. "That's me."
He nodded "Cool. I'm Nick Miller," and held out his hand to shake it. Jess stuck her hand out in response. His hand was warm and oddly soft. "Nice to meet you Nick Miller. Welcome to The Old Day."
Nick smiled. "Thanks Ms. Day-"
"Call me Jess." She smiled. "Too formal with Ms. Day."
Nick let out a chuckle. "Ok. Jess."
Jess liked how he said her name. With an accent. And it rolled of his tongue effortlessly. And a thought surged through her head, how else could he say her name? A small shiver ran down her spine.
And that's when she realized that she was still holding his hand. And he was staring intently are her. Not bothering to hide his smirk.
"So," she began. Awkwardly attempting to let go of his hand. "Where do you think you'd like to set up?"
Nick shrugged. "Wherever is fine." He pointed to his book. "As long as those are gone by tomorrow. Wherever you want me, I guess?"
Jess inhaled. What was going on with her? Why was she reacting to him that way? I know where I'd like you, she thought.
Jessica damn Day! Stop.
She shook her head and pointed to a space between the bookcases. "We can push these closer to the wall and set up here if you'd like."
Just as he opened his mouth, another voice was making its way into the shop.
"This is unacceptable! The reservations were made more than two months ago! Where the hell are we supposed to sleep tonight? Please explain, you idiot!"
The man angrily pushed the table and stomped into the store.
"Nicolas! This pathetic excuse of town messed up our hotel! What are we supposed to do? I am NOT going to spend another night on that god forsaken piece of crap bus-"
He stopped as soon as Jess came into view. "And now we have this beautiful town to thank for-"
Nick rolled his eyes. "Jessica Day, meet my manager Schmidt."
Schmidt held out his hand and she placed hers in it. She cringed as he dramatically kissed the back of her hand.
"Pleasure's all mine." He winked as he said it and let go of her hand.
Jess bit her lip to stop a laugh from tumbling out. "I'm sure." She managed to say.
Nick just looked at her and shrugged. "Anyways. What's going on with the hotel Schmidt?"
Schmidt huffed. "Well, apparently when the reservations were made, the dates were incorrect! They were for last week! And they're refusing a refund since the day already passed. I'm telling you Nick! These people think they're so slick! I refuse to spend another day on that filthy bus! My skin is not responding well to the lack of moisture in the air and my hair is schvitzing to the hard water in that shower! Nick! What are we going to do?"
He as breathing hard while Nick rolled his eyes again.
"Stop being so dramatic Schmidt! There has to be another place for us tonight?"
Jess shook her head. "Not with the annual crab festival. All the hotels in the area are probably booked."
Schmidt sighed as he pinched the bridge of his nose. "Crab festival? With real live crabs?"
Jess nodded. "Ye-es?" she answered quietly.
"What a concept." He said sarcastically.
Nick scratched his chin. "Uh, yeah. Fascinating. So, what about our sleeping arrangements?"
Schmidt sighed. "I guess it'll be another smelly night in that metal death trap. Don't think I don't suspect you Nicolas Miller in being the smelliest."
Nick sighed again. "Great. Can't wait."
Jess put a finger up. "I might know of a place. It's not too far from here and it probably smells a lot better than that bus."
Schmidt grabbed her finger. "And pray tell beautiful madam about this wonderful smelling location?"
Jess jerked her hand from his grasp. "Uh, yeah. It's not a hotel. It's actually my place."
Nick shook his head. "Are you sure? You barely know us. And wouldn't it be kinda dangerous to have total strangers in your house?"
Jess laughed. "It's not like you're planning on killing me, right?"
Nick shrugged. Jess laughed nervously, and he burst out with wild laughter.
"Of course not! What the hell kind of question is that?"
Jess squinted. Unsure of the tone of his voice. "Just checking."
Schmidt let out another giggle. "So, Jessica Day. Where is this magical place?"
What was Jess doing? Offering her house like that. Without consulting Cece. Oh God. She was going to be so mad. Just like that time Jess had let a homeless man "borrow" her debit card. I mean, he did eventually bring it back but Cece had been angry.
She was going to blow a gasket.
The entire drive Jess berated herself. Cece was going to kill her. Slowly. Then bring her back to life and kill her again. Cece hated surprises.
She pulled up to their drive way and inhaled slowly. It was now or never. She'd rather deal now then hear about it later honestly.
She opened her door just as the bus came to a screeching halt behind her. Then her front door opened. Cece bounding down the steps.
"Hey Jess!" She greeted. "You're home early. I thought you were setting up the book signing."
Jess nodded. "I did! But I finished my wonderful early and thought why not go to my wonderful home to my wonderful roommate and see what she was up to on this wonderful evening."
Cece's eyes narrowed. "Too many wonderfuls in that sentence Day."
Jess bit her lip. "See Cece. They needed a place to sleep. Just for tonight and-"
"My my my. What a beautiful specimen of a woman you are!" Schmidt said as he approached them. "Schmidt. Enchanted." He reached for Cece's hand and tried to kiss her palm. She snatched her hand back and wiped it on her yoga pants.
"What the hell, Jessica Day?!"
"Uh yeah Cece! Schmidt and Nick Miller. You know, Nick Miller? The writer? There was a mix up at their hotel and they don't have a place to stay tonight and I kinda sorta offered them our place?" She finished that sentence with a wavering tone.
Cece closed her eyes and inhaled very slowly. A smile immediately formed on her face. "Excuse us for a moment?" and grabbed Jess' hand to drag her inside.
Nick walked up next to Schmidt and pointed his chin to the door. "What's up with them?"
Schmidt sighed. "I'm in love."
"You know. This place is actually pretty comfortable."
Nick rolled his eyes. "She's not gonna talk to you Schmidt."
"You don't know that Nicolas!"
Nick threw a pen hitting Schmidt square on the head. "Why the hell would she Schmidt? You took off your shirt to show her your six pack. Why?" Schmidt picked up the pen and put it in his pocket.
"No need for violence." Schmidt grabbed the hanger with his sweater and placed it in the closet. "She needs to see the kind of man I am Nick! How is she going to know if she can't see the goods?"
Nick threw another pen at him as he walked out.
The hallway was filled with pictures of a family. Obviously, they were of Jess. He stood in front of one that showed a toothy grinned Jess. Her bright blue eyes crinkled in a smile. Huh. How'd he miss them?
Merry Christmas again and I'm sorry that it abruptly ended it BUT I have more!