Friday, February 10, 2017

Valentine #10 - Your #fridayreads takes you back to what coulda been.

What is the name of today's Valentine?

How old is he when we meet him?

Six, nine, twelve, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, twenty-two, twenty-eight, twenty-nine and thirty-eight.

What stands out most about him?

He is Jake Ryan. If you understand that reference, this book is the PERFECT book for you.

Nice guy or douche?

He's a douche who thinks he's a nice guy. Or a nice guy who doesn't realize he's being a douche. It goes either way.

Favorite moment with him?

Here's what you have to understand about The Leftover Club. It is my ode to unrequited love. That era of unblemished hope of things that might come is quite a remarkable thing. Every moment carries delicious weight. Time loses all meaning. Every comment is reexamined and reanalyzed into perpetuity. Every near-touch, every breathless moment wondering might end in a kiss, makes the heart stop and the mind race. That shit is intoxicating to me, almost more so than the conquest in many ways. So I decided to devote a book to it. Dylan is a mix of every crush I've ever had, every guy that "got away." He's based on my first kiss on a schoolyard, that first "real" kiss by a pool, that boy who was extra nice to me because he wanted to "let me down easy" when I chased him around like a puppy, that guy who "saw" me and didn't run away, virtually making one of the darkest times in my life more bearable, and his echo I find in several guys that followed. He's that guy I loved/wanted without telling, but he always knew, and he still made me feel special, less weird and okay even if he didn't feel the same way.

In a way, they were all that guy. So it's fitting that they all found their way into Dylan Fenn.

There's no way I could pick a favorite if I tried.

Dylan grabbed my arm and propelled me out toward his car. He said nothing as he unlocked the door and thrust me in the passenger seat. He revved the engine once he got in, and then screeched around in an illegal U-turn as he pointed the car towards home.

“That was stupid, Roni,” he finally muttered once we hit the Pacific Coast Highway. “You can’t go alone with guys like that. They’re only after one thing.”

“Not from me,” I said softly.

“From anyone,” he corrected. “All those guys want is an easy lay.”

“I’m not an easy lay,” I snapped. “I’m a virgin.”

He stole a brief glance. “For now.”

I was starting to get angry. “What is that supposed to mean?”

He sighed. “Insecure virgins are a number one target.”

“You’d know,” I snapped.

He pulled off the main road and headed down toward the beach, pulling into the parking lot and killing the engine. He swiveled to face me from his bucket seat. “Is that the kind of guy you think I am?”

I held his gaze for as long as I dared. Finally I looked away. “I don’t know what kind of guy you are.”

“I’m a guy who cares about you,” he said softly, which forced me to look at him again. “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

It was hollow comfort. I had been hopelessly infatuated with Dylan Fenn since I saw him ace a spelling bee in the first grade. A lot of good that had done me over the years.

Silence stretched on indeterminately between us until finally he said, “Truth or dare?”

My eyes met his. “What?”

“Truth or dare?” he repeated.

“There are no merry-go-rounds here,” I pointed out.

He conceded that point with a nod of his head. Then he reached across me to pull a joint from the glove box. He lit it up, inhaled deep, and then handed it to me. I took it begrudgingly and gingerly took a hit. “Hold it in,” he instructed, and I did. “Good. Give it a few minutes and you’ll feel like you’re right back on that merry-go-round.”

After I finished coughing and sputtering, I leaned back against my seat and closed my eyes. Just like he said, within minutes I felt like I was flying. “Truth or dare?” he repeated softly.

I didn’t bother to open my eyes. “Truth.”

“Would you have slept with Todd if he had asked?”

I exhaled slowly. “I don’t know,” I finally said. And that was the God’s honest truth. “It’s not like anyone has ever asked.”

“Would you have kissed him?” Dylan persisted.

“I don’t know. Probably. I mean look at me, Dylan. I’m a cliché. Sweet sixteen and never been kissed.”

“I think you’re forgetting something,” he said softly.

I glared at him. “That wasn’t a real kiss.”

A long moment passed before either of us spoke. “You’re right,” he finally conceded. “It wasn’t. We were just kids and it was just a silly dare.”

Though I long suspected it, it hurt to hear him say so. I started to look away but his hand curled around the back of my neck and pulled me back. “This is a real kiss,” he said before he leaned toward me and his mouth landed on mine.

I was in shock. I gasped, which parted my lips, a clear invitation for him to deepen the kiss. I tasted the alcohol on his tongue as it slid between my lips and meshed with mine. Inside I went up just like a roman candle. A rush of emotion flooded over me and I had no clue what to do with it. I sat rigid in my seat, as if I moved, or even breathed, I’d wake up lip-to-lip once again with my pillow.

His fingers tangled in my hair as he deepened the kiss, a moan of his own locked in his throat. His breathing was ragged as he broke apart. I knew my eyes were big and wide as I stared at him, unsure what to do next. He sighed as his eyes scanned my face. Gently he brushed my hair from my face before planting a long, lingering peck on my lips.

Without another word, he scooted back to his seat, started the car and pulled out of the lot towards home.

What do you love about him?

Like I said, he's a combination of all my unrequited crushes. Like the very first boy who turned my head when I was six, he is smart. Like my first great "love" when I was twelve, he is as funny as he is sweet. He looks like an idol, and makes me swoon like one too. Yet he's accessible, just close enough to touch even though I know I shouldn't. He's everything I wanted, when all I could do was want it, silently and from afar. He is everything I fear might be too good for me.

What do you hate about him?

He is walking angst. You never know where he's coming from, even if you think you do. He's just as scared of getting close as you are, so the missed opportunities stack up, which makes him want to give up entirely. Instead he'll chase after things that feed his ego, because that's how he copes. Deep inside he's still an abandoned little boy.

If you went on a date, where would you go?

We'd picnic on a forgotten merry-go-round in an abandoned park.

Who inspired him?

The better question is who *didn't*. I will say this much: the "club" is very much a real thing.

Who might play him in a movie?

If we're going for "the ultimate boy," I guess we could go with...

Do you have a special song that reminds you of him?

Oh, the songs...

All the songs...

SO many songs...

Ultimately, though... there could be only one.

Any "Easter Eggs" planted with this book boyfriend?

You'd be hard-pressed to find something that WASN'T an Easter Egg in this story. That first kiss story was lifted right out of my "real" life. My dad died when I was young, which left me with a big hole in my life to fill. This was done best by my childhood friend, who just happened to be gay. At one point, my mom and I lived with another family, a divorcee and her two kids. (He was also the cutest boy in that grade, which meant I had a TON of new "girlfriends" as a result.) That scene with the high school coach was based on real events. Most of the things Roni loved, I loved, from the shows that she watched to the music she listened to. I embellished a LOT, so no experience is *exactly* the same, but there couldn't have been more of me poured into it if I wanted.

Where can we find him?

THE LEFTOVER CLUB. For now, anyway. A reader asked me if I would consider writing a story about Meghan, and, given how old she'd be right now, that is certainly a possibility. I think she'd fit into my Groupie Universe quite nicely, actually.

Until then, you can take a stroll back in time and read The Leftover Club, which is free today only.

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