Sunday, June 25, 2023

New Story: Troubled By Love

Newsletter subscribers already got the heads up, but I've got a new story for you. I'm going to be releasing it as a serial over on Ream, and then releasing it as a full ebook in August. (Preorders are still going up to all the sites for that.)

But I wanted to share the first scene with you here.

This story is a standalone romance novella. Still set in DC. Their might be a cameo from someone in one of my other series. There might be a museum. There will be food.

Content notes - This story contains on page abortion, and references to parental cancer and death that occur prior to the book.  

And the blurb:

Amy's now ex sent Dan to her, instead of himself. Living in a new city and having to go get an abortion and dump her ex was not how Amy imagined this new chapter of her life going. 

Dan has been working hard to get his food truck going. Picking up ride shares, bartending, and barely sleeping, has all been to support that goal. Amy is the first person to make him wonder if he should be finding time for things that aren't work. 

After a few months of texting they decide to make a go of it. But when her ex shows up, Amy will have to figure out have things really changed?

Troubled By Love

Chapter 1

Amy He Metcalfe didn't believe in New Year's resolutions. January was no better month than any other to start changing your life. But four months ago, she had decided to focus a little more on her own goals, and when she was offered a job DC, she had said yes.

DC wasn't far from Philadelphia, where she had gone to college. It was a great opportunity, and her boyfriend Ryder traveled so much she'd see him about the same amount anyway.

She had not counted on finding herself pregnant of course.

Ryder: What time is the appointment?

Amy: 10 am

Amy held onto the phone for another second, but there were no more bubbles indicating he was texting back.

Ryder's job as emergency communications strategist kept him on the move. About six weeks ago, a sudden storm had him in town for an extra day, and they had run out of condoms. Their plans to just use hands and mouths had disappeared.

Amy purchased Plan B at the pharmacy the next day. But she had read all the fine print, and knew Plan B didn't work if you were already pregnant by the time you took it.

Amy knew a lot of stats about both contraception and abortion. She was the eldest of seven kids. Amy had bought her first pack of condoms at ten, placing them prominently at her mother's bedside.

Lots of siblings, especially female siblings knew a lot about middle of the night feedings, diaper changes, making lunches, or back to school shopping on an extreme budget. Amy had gotten any desire to raise kids out of her system well before the school sex ed program came to scare her about teen parenthood.

The sex ed program in Nevada suggested abstinence. Teen Amy had known she couldn't convince her mom of abstinence. Her mom never opened the condoms Amy bought her. The pill, in addition to being expensive, had turned out to have a terrible effect on her mom's depression.

Amy had discovered while she herself as an adult had not previously shown signs of depression, she inherited the same reaction to the pill. She and her ob/gyn had gone through a few of them, before her ob/gyn suggested that condoms had no such side effects. Plan B as a backup was probably better for her mental health.

All of this added up to Amy making a dreaded call to Ryder. She explained she was pregnant, she had an appointment to get the medication necessary to end the pregnancy. She didn't like ultimatums, but he could either get his butt back here or they were officially over. He had agreed to everything.

Then a hurricane hit the Caribbean. Amy had learned to hate hurricanes for many reasons - evidence of climate change, destruction wrought, but also because those bastards sent Ryder places without warning. Ryder should be off the schedule, of course, for the next few days.

Her phone rang and there was a knock on the door. Figuring Ryder had made it from the airport early, she threw open the door without looking, only to find an unfamiliar dark-haired, brown-eyed man standing there. "Next door," Amy said. Her neighbor had a lot of friends and often they knocked on her door by accident.

"Amy?" he said.

Amy stopped swinging the door closed. She knew better than to confirm her name to a stranger, but the folks looking for her neighbor Helena never knew her name.

Her phone chirped one more time and then went silent.

"I'm Dan," stranger dude said, "and I think that was Ryder calling to warn you. I made good time."

Amy wanted to slam the door now. It wasn't stranger dude's fault. Dan. Stranger dude's name was Dan. If Ryder had sent a stranger to her door, he wasn't on a plane. Not to here at least.

"Is it the hurricane?" Amy asked. It wasn't a question that would make sense to anyone who didn't know Ryder.

Dan shook his head. "Mudslide in Japan."

"So, Ryder sent you to what - spend the night?" Amy asked. Part of her, a stupid hopeful part, was still crushed that just this freaking once, Ryder hadn't taken himself off the schedule. He could. His other coworkers did. Amy was nothing if not an expert at looking strong when she was crushed inside.

"I think the idea was for us to chat a bit before tomorrow. To make it less awkward." Dan grimaced a bit, as if he realized the awkward train had long ago left the station.

"Darling," Helena said, leaning out of her door, long strawberry blonde hair loose. "As fascinating as this has all been, could you either let him in or kick him out. Any minute now, Mrs. Overgaard is going to email the whole building."

"Thanks, Helena," Amy said flatly.

Helena smiled and shut her door.

Helena was right though. The building was old enough that the soundproofing between apartments was good, but hallway conversations carried. Mrs. Overgaard often sent emails to everyone in the building reminding them of courtesy and decorum. "Come on in, I guess," Amy said.

Probably, Ryder's friend Dan wasn't a serial killer. And if he was, well, Amy didn't have a plan for that. Her plan for Ryder not showing up had been to go to the clinic herself. She'd been assured the pills were fairly painless, and had stocked up on super-strength pads, a bunch of microwave meals, and sports drinks. She had a streaming list of silly, lighthearted comedies, and dark revenge dramas, for her every mood.

She sat dead center on the couch, in her partially unpacked living room. Having to find the Planned Parenthood clinic her first week in DC had not been on her to do list. Nor had asking for a planned sick day before she'd had a chance to accrue any leave. Her boss had been great about it, made sure Amy had enough funds. But Amy had hoped that was it. That was enough awkward and uncomfortable at least for the month, but she should have known. The universe had endless wells of awkward and uncomfortable, and when it decided it was your turn, it was like a mudslide.

If you want to read more - the first two chapters are available to subscribers on Ream.