Love that iBooks Merchandiser
Kim and Lena clinked their wine glasses with mine.
I took a deep drink.
Chablis… my favorite.
“I just can’t believe he thought I wouldn’t find out!” Lena said.
Kim laughed. “He should’ve made sure to erase his browser history.”
I smiled. Lena had just found out her boyfriend, Brian, was having a cyber affair with a data analyst in California. A data analyst he’d met on Facebook three months ago.
Physical or emotional, cheating’s cheating.
And Lena had kicked him to the curb in less than a day.
She was my hero.
But I knew a little of what Brian had been feeling.
Feeling love and longing for someone…
Someone not there?
Kim had moved from her spot on the couch and was leaning in to whisper in my ear.
“Penny for your thoughts…”
Oh, my thoughts were worth far more than that.
“Come on, Alice…” Kim said, “You’ve been a million miles away all night.”
“Yeah, spill.” Lena cooed, pointing her finger at me accusingly.
I looked at my two best friends in the world.
Should I tell them?
I adored them both. I loved no others more than these two ladies.
I slid to the edge of my seat, holding my wine glass tensely. I was so nervous.
“I met someone.”
Lena’s brows shot up her forehead.
Kim’s jaw dropped.
Was it really that shocking?
Well, I am a romance author, and I spend my time typing away in worlds I want to live in…
Instead of living in the world I’m in.
“Oh, my God!” Lena howled as Kim clapped her hands, fell back into the couch and giggled.
I pushed on, not wanting to lose my nerve.
“I met him at the book fair in Houston last month.”
I remember that moment, seeing him for the first time from across the crowded room.
“He’s book-boyfriend gorgeous and so smart and kind… but he can be naughty too.”
Lord have mercy… if they knew.
I’d wanted to walk up to him that very moment and lay the kiss of all kisses on him.
“He’s an iBooks merchandiser,” I confessed.
I felt so relieved to finally tell them. They were like sisters to me.
“So, what’s his name?” Lena asked.
Name? “I don’t know his name.”
“What?” my friends said in chorus.
I got up and headed toward the kitchen. My wine glass was empty.
“Alice!” Lena said, chasing after me. “You don’t know his name?”
I opened my refrigerator and started refilling my glass.
“Well, I didn’t get close enough to talk to him.”
Kim burst into the kitchen and stood beside Lena. “What do you mean you didn’t talk to him?”
“Well, he’s an iBooks merchandiser. He was surrounded by like a hundred authors trying to… well, I don’t know what they were trying to do, but when our eyes met, for that one, brilliant moment… I knew I’d found my soul mate.”
I put the bottle of wine back in the fridge.
When I turned back to Lena and Kim they were staring at me with twin expressions—as if I’d grown a second head.
They glanced at each other, and then Lena looked at me.
“So, you talked to him later?”
I frowned. “No. I had to see the Paranormal Romance Writers panel. It was absolutely loaded with—”
“You got his email or something,” Kim asked, “And you’ve been texting?”
I shook my head. “Not exactly.”
I started to walk toward the living room again, but Lena got in my way. “Alice, what’s going on?”
I stood there, holding my wine, looking from Kim to Lena.
“He sends me emails… every day.”
They both scowled.
“Emails?” said Kim.
“But you said you didn’t get his email?”
My mouth was dry, so I took another drink of the Chablis. “He knew who I was.”
They just stared at me.
“From my author profile picture.”
They looked at each other again.
Why didn’t they get it? Why didn’t they understand?
“He loves books, maybe even more than I do… and he recognized me from my author photo.”
“So this guy—”
I cut Kim off. “The iBooks merchandiser.”
She looked at me opened mouthed for a moment. “So he… displayed in some way that he recognized you?”
“Yes,” I exclaimed. “Of course he did. It’s not like I’m crazy or something.”
Lena stepped closer and touched my arm. “But you don’t know his name.”
“I don’t need to know his name… not yet.” I walked past them and headed back into the living room. “He’ll tell me when it’s time.”
“Honey,” Lena said, trying to catch up. “What’s the name on the emails he sends you?”
I had to smile. He had been so clever.
“They’re all from iBooks.”
“The emails are promotions from iBooks?” Kim asked, looking from me to Lena.
Why did they look so nervous?
Sure, it had been a long time since I’d been on a date.
That’s why my heroines are always… well, in some way like me.
Hope Jones hasn’t been on a date in years. But then she finds her true love—that has been in love with her for years—fixing cars at Walmart.
Liz Hamilton lost her orgasm in the delivery room witnessing her best friend give birth to her baby. But she finally got it back when Jackson Burk—the man who rejected her virginity in college—showed up in her life again and just wouldn’t leave her alone.
Mmmm… That one’s ending is going to be awesome.
What can I say? Love can make you do the whacky.
Lena and Kim were staring at me again.
“I’m not crazy,” I said.
Their eyes widened and their mouths fell open again.
“He works at iBooks, where he reads like EVERYTHING. So he’s read my books—there’s on iBooks! So he knows me.”
How could they have known me for all these years and not get this?
“Sweetie,” Kim took me by the arm and sat me down on the couch beside her. “What the hell’s going on? You’re saying you’re having an imaginary affair with some guy you never even talked to.”
She still wasn’t getting it.
“He knows me.” I reached over and grabbed my iPhone from the coffee table. I pulled up my emails and accessed the folder that held all his emails. “Look, he keeps sending me recommendations for books he knows I’ll love.”
I showed them the list so far. Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, JR Ward, Janet Evanovich, Jennifer Crusie, Rachel Caine…
“Alice, look at me.”
I turned and looked at Lena.
“These are just computer generated recommendations based on the books you’ve already bought from iBooks, and the books you’ve browsed on their app.”
I shook my head. This didn’t make any sense at all.
Where they insane?
I pulled up yesterday’s email. “He recommended Wallbanger yesterday.”
“Good book,” Lena said, “but what does that have to do with anything?”
I scrolled to the bottom of the email to show them.
There in small, plain type it read, <Tomorrow night, at eight.>
There had been a little message at the bottom of every “iBooks” email I’d received since that day in Houston.
<This one was written for you.>
<You’ll die laughing.>
<What do you like to eat for dessert?>
And I had never signed up for an iBooks mailing list before. They just started showing up in my inbox.
Lena looked up at me.
Kim laughed and looked up at me too.
We all looked over to the lovely IKEA Cinderella wall clock hanging on my wall.
Two minutes till eight.
My phone chimed, making Lena and Kim Flinch.
I clicked back to my inbox and saw the familiar iBooks email. I clicked it and read the message.
I smiled, set my wine down and showed my friends the screen of my phone.
<I’m waiting at your door. Plain cheesecake with whipped cream, right?>
Their eyes bugged out as I stood and announced, “I’m sorry, ladies, but I’ll need the place to myself tonight.” My smile was so wide. “So scram.”
Lena and Kim both jumped to their feet, grabbing their purses and chugging the rest of their Chablis—waste not, want not.
They followed me to the door, whispering questions like, “What if he’s a serial killer?” “What if he’s a Republican?” “What if he’s ugly?” “What if he’s a she?”
I held up my hands to silence them.
“I love you both, but I’m opening that door to let him in, and to let you out. So wish me luck.”
Lena pulled out her cell phone. “I’m taking a picture of this guy, just in case he kidnaps you and we need to identify him to the FBI.”
“He’s probably a nymphomaniac,” added Kim.
“Don’t tell her that!” Lena scolded. “You’ve read her books. That’ll just make him more attractive to her!”
“I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow…” I said. “Maybe.”
There was a knock at the door.
The girls squealed.
Now or never…
I ran my hands over my hair, stood up straight and took a deep, calming breath.
Open the fucking door!
The knob was cool in my hand, the door opened without a sound.
And there he stood—tall, dark haired, blue eyed, devastatingly handsome.
And the wickedest dimples God ever gave to a man.
“Hi, I’m Cal.” His voice was deep and a little raspy.
“You’re right,” Kim said, peering over my shoulder. “He’s Book-Boyfriend gorgeous.”
Cal held out a box with Panari’s scrolled on it. They made the BEST cheesecake. On top of that was a small bag of Dove milk chocolate minis.
I said he knew me.
“I know.” His eyes practically glowed. Was he a shifter? A vampire? A freaking Norse god come to life?!?!
“Who are your friends?” he asked, but his eyes remained homed on me.
I heard Lena take a breath, but I cut her off.
“They’re leaving.” I slid a glance at each of them.
“We’re leaving,” They agreed in perfect unison, hustling around Cal and out my door, their eyes practically undressing him as they did so.
“Goodnight, girls,” I said, shutting the door in their amazed faces.
When I turned around, Cal had set the box of goodies on my coffee table and was walking back over to me.
“I like your name,” I said.
“So did my mama.” His Texas accent peeked through when he said mama.
He adverted his eyes when he said, “I hope you don’t think I’m just some perverted stalker or something. It’s just… when I saw you at the book fair I knew I had to meet you.”
He had seen me there.
His blue, blue eyes bored right into me, making me warm all over.
“But you disappeared before I could approach you.”
I took a step closer, close enough I could smell the clean scent of Dial soap on his skin.
I reached out and touched the crisp white cotton of his dress shirt.
“You’ve read my books,” I said, staring up into his drowning deep eyes. “I like perverts and stalkers.”
He moved that one last step closer, closing in on me until I could feel the heat rolling off his body. He dipped his head until his lips were almost to mine. “You do?”
I felt breathless for a moment.
This kind of thing didn’t happen to me.
And especially not with a handsome, sexy iBooks merchandiser.
“No,” I whispered, “I don’t like it.”
I popped up on my toes. “I love it.” And I kissed him.
I kiss, kiss, kiss, kissed him.
What can I say, I love my iBooks merchandiser.
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