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How To “Write What You Know” Without Getting Disbarred

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Image Placeholder of - 95 Written by Erin Lyon

We’ve all heard the saying, “Write what you know.” Well, I’m a lawyer and we have this pesky little thing called “confidentiality.”

So, how do you write what you know without getting into hot water? Very carefully.

My books, I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions and the sequel, Unconditionally, follow the life of newbie-lawyer Kate Shaw through both romantic tribulations and legal shenanigans.

And I actually do this for a living so I can attest to the “shenanigans” part. Being an attorney gives you an interesting perspective into people’s lives and behaviors. Not *my* clients, of course. They are all amazing and are always on the right side of the fight. But other people’s clients … wall to wall shenanigans.

In Unconditionally, Kate runs into not one, but two, ex-boyfriends in court – one of whom is in a lovely prison-orange jumpsuit. Well, filed under the write what you know category, I really did see a long lost (very long, very lost) boyfriend in court. Shackled. And it really did look like orange was his color. And, in my brief stint working as a prosecutor, I did end up seeing not one, but two, exes. I’m not certain if they recognized me. Kate, however, isn’t so lucky, allowing me to envision in the most hilarious ways possible how much more embarrassing those encounters could have been.

I’ve also had more than my share of clients going all Hatfields and McCoys with their neighbors. Neighbor feuds begin gradually, but escalate quickly until you having seemingly rational people doing entirely irrational things. So, how do I take these clients and make them indecipherable from reality for my books? It’s a lot like baking.

Start with the proper ingredients: one offensive lawn ornament, one jealous husband, one trespassing pooch, 20 calls to local law enforcement, and a dash of crazy. Now let it stew over medium heat for five to ten years and voila! Kate gets a case with dueling exes living next door to each other and chaos reigns. By drawing inspiration from several different cases, adding tweaks where necessary (along with some creative license), my clients are undetectable and I get to keep my bar card to fight another day.

Being a lawyer, I also have many lawyer friends who share their own tales of jaw-dropping behavior which I’m able to mine stories from – such as the story of a young woman attempting to get child-support from an in-custody baby-daddy. When they were looking the man up in the computer, they requested his birthdate and when the (very) young mother heard her ex-lover’s birthdate, she loudly complained that she’d…um… had relations with “an old guy.” In open court. Loud enough to be overheard by everyone in the courtroom. Word to the wise – open court means just that. And anything overheard in open court is fair game for a writer.

So, in summation, put your facts in a blender and embellish liberally. And change the names to protect the innocent. And the crazy. And, lastly, if you say it in open court, it’s going in the book.

Order Your Copy

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Follow Erin Lyon on Twitter and on her website.

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New Releases: 1/9/18

Happy New Release Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

Dark State by Charles Stross

Poster Placeholder of - 84In the near-future, the collision of two nuclear superpowers across timelines, one in the midst of a technological revolution and the other a hyper-police state, is imminent. In Commissioner Miriam Burgeson’s timeline, her top level agents run a high risk extraction of a major political player. Meanwhile, a sleeper cell activated in Rita’s, the Commissioner’s adopted daughter and newly-minted spy, timeline threatens to unravel everything.

Shroud of Eternity by Terry Goodkind

Placeholder of  -21 The formidable sorceress Nicci and her companions—the newly powerless Nathan and the youthful Bannon—set out on another quest after driving ruthless Norukai slavers out of Renda Bay. Their mission: restore Nathan’s magic and, for Nicci, save the world.

 

Starlight Nights by Stacey Kade

Image Place holder  of - 8 At twenty-two, Calista Beckett is trying to overcome her early fame and fortune. The former savior of the world on Starlight is now a freshman at college—miles away from L.A. and her former existence. She sees it as her start to a new life, a normal life, one where she won’t make the same mistakes she made before—a brush with heroin addiction and losing her freedom to her controlling mother, thanks to a court order.

Unconditionally by Erin Lyon

Image Placeholder of - 71 In this hilarious conclusion to Erin Lyon’s I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions, Kate has accepted a job practicing signing law, the one type of law she swore she’d never do – especially since what she thought was her very own happily ever after turned into just another expired contract. But between Kate’s embarrassing penchant for running into exes in court, clients determined to use her as their very own therapist, and a couple having a knock-down, drag-out over the custody of the family guinea pig, at least the job’s never boring.

NEW FROM TOR.COM:

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

Place holder  of - 3 Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third book in McGuire’s Wayward Children series, returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children in a standalone contemporary fantasy for fans of all ages.

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

NEW IN MANGA:

The High School Life of a Fudanshi Vol. 3 Story and art by Michinoku Atami

Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary Vol. 7 Story and art by Shake-O

Merman in My Tub Vol. 7 Story and art by Itokichi

Spirit Circle Vol. 2 Story and art by Satoshi Mizukami

Yokai Rental Shop Vol. 2 Story and art by Shin Mashiba

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Excerpt: Unconditionally by Erin Lyon

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Image Place holder  of - 17 In a world where marriage doesn’t exist—only seven-year contracts—you don’t marry, you sign. You don’t divorce, you breach. And sometimes, you just expire.

In this hilarious conclusion to Erin Lyon’s I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions, Kate has accepted a job practicing signing law, the one type of law she swore she’d never do – especially since what she thought was her very own happily ever after turned into just another expired contract. But between Kate’s embarrassing penchant for running into exes in court, clients determined to use her as their very own therapist, and a couple having a knock-down, drag-out over the custody of the family guinea pig, at least the job’s never boring.

But while Kate finally has a handle on her career, her love life is still, well, complicated. The former love of her life, Jonathan, wants her back. Her current main squeeze, Dave, wants to take things to the next level, but she still can’t shake her wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing vibe about him. And then there’s Adam, her mad crush who really wants to be her friend. So, to sum up, one questionable ex, one player with a capital “P,” and one guy who’s kind of stolen her heart even though she’s in the friend zone. This should be a piece of cake.

Unconditionally will be available January 9th. Please enjoy this excerpt.

Chapter 1

Move-in day. A new beginning. I looked out the window at my new rental and got a rush of excitement at the thought that I finally had my own place again. My parents are amazing, but moving home with Mom and Dad at thirty-four, after an unexpected breakup, is definitely less amazing.

Dave and I pulled up in front of my new apartment with his truck loaded with my belongings and my parents parked at the curb behind us in Dad’s truck packed with the other half of my stuff.

Dave and I hadn’t really talked since he picked me up at the bar last night. You know, after my irrational and unexpected little bout of jealousy sent me running at the thought of Adam’s (potential) hookup with another woman. When I’d met Adam, he pursued me because I was unavailable. And when I suddenly became available? I no longer fit his criteria—no attachment—but he still wanted us to be friends.

At first, sure, Adam was beautiful, but he didn’t really get to me. Until we became friends and I was treated to a whole new, amazing Adam that I seemed to find slightly irresistible.

So I left with Dave last night, leaving Adam standing on the sidewalk, watching me climb into Dave’s truck. And he just let me go.

So I woke up this morning with a new resolve to do the same.

I looked over at Dave with a big, silly grin and danced around a little in my car seat.

Dave chuckled. His blond hair was perfectly styled, as usual, but he had some sandy-blond scruff on his face like he’d skipped his morning shave. He smiled at my excitement, displaying his overly perfect teeth (which, Dave had clarified, were necessitated by his brief foray into youth hockey and not by the vanity that came with being a well-known local news sportscaster, as I had first suspected). He was very all-American-boy handsome today, which always made me think of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Jury was still out on that one.

A Mercedes belonging to my landlady, Sandy, was already parked on the opposite side of the street. Sandy was standing on the front steps, managing to look crisp and vintage even when she was in jeans. She had on a white blouse with the wide cuffs turned back and she was wearing brown loafers that were just old enough to look classic rather than dowdy. Her dark hair with its streaks of gray was pulled back from her face with a headband. The distinctive combination of dark hair and light-green eyes made it hard to forget that she was Adam’s mother. Damn.

I walked up to her and she wrapped me in a big hug. My parents followed me up the walk and I made introductions.

Sandy unlocked the front door and we all trailed in behind her and stood in the foyer. I had a foyer now. A teeny, tiny foyer, but it was mine.

“Oh, Kate,” Mom said. “This is perfect.”

I smiled at her and draped an arm across her shoulders. “I know!” I said, not masking my excitement. She wrapped an arm around my waist and smiled back at me with her matching light-blue eyes. As much as Adam and Sandy were definitely mother and son, I was my mother’s doppelgänger. Sure, I was a little taller and leaner, but our brown hair and light-blue eyes made our link unmistakable.

We headed back out and started unloading the truck with the big items first. Dad and Dave went back inside with my mattress, heading straight upstairs. I grabbed the closest box marked “Kitchen” and figured I could start getting the boxes to the right rooms while the guys lifted the heavy furniture. I walked inside, holding the big box a little awkwardly.

I smiled to myself as I headed for the kitchen. Life was good.

And then it happened—one of those pure Wile E. Coyote moments. One minute my feet were under me, and the next, I could see them straight out in front of me. It’s awesome the way time slows down when you start to fall . . . because you would hate to miss a moment of this. I seemed to have ample time both to admire the air I’d managed to achieve and to ponder how much it would hurt when I crashed to the wood floor.

It hurt a lot. Thankfully, I had the foresight to push the box aside so that it didn’t land on top of me. Whoosh. The wind was completely knocked out of me and I could see little gray spots in my field of vision. And I just lay there, stunned.

The first thing I saw was Sandy dropping down to kneel over me, her green eyes wide and shocked.

“Oh my god! Kate! Are you okay?”

Kate can’t come to the phone right now—you’ll have to leave a message.

Then it was Mom, Dad, and Dave, freaking out, talking about calling an ambulance. Say something, Kate. Before someone tries to give you CPR.

“I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay.” Perfect. Why say something once when you can say it three times?

Dad was looking down into my face, his bushy eyebrows lowered over his gray eyes. “Are you sure?”

Mom put her hand on my dad’s shoulder. “Maybe we should still call the ambulance, Jeff.”

Shit. Time to nip this hysterical little situation in the bud. I took a deep breath and lifted my head off the ground. So far, so good. When I got my shoulders off the floor, Dad and Sandy reached arms under me and helped me to a sitting position. Dave was positioned by my feet and reached out and took one of my hands, once I was sitting up. He was frowning, his lips pursed tight.

“I’m okay,” I repeated.

“Are you sure?” Sandy asked, sounding on the verge of tears. “I think you should go get checked out.”

I shook my head—and wished I hadn’t. I had a quick throbbing in the back of my head and a few more spots danced in front of my eyes.

“Really,” I said. “I’m fine. I’m just a klutz.”

“I am so sorry, Kate. The housecleaners must have used some kind of wax on the floor. I’m so sorry.”

I grasped her hand and smiled. “It was my fault.” I wiggled my well-worn Chuck Taylors. “These shoes are so old, they are worn completely smooth on the bottom. I should have worn different shoes.”

Sandy shook her head, unconvinced.

“Maybe we should take you to the hospital,” Dave said. “You could have a concussion.”

“I don’t have a concussion,” I said, although I was careful not to shake my head this time.

Dad waved Mom down to his side. “Deanna, sit here with her. Dave, let’s go get the sofa so she has somewhere to sit and we can get her off the floor.”

“I’ll give you my homeowner’s insurance information,” Sandy said.

“Sandy, please don’t blame yourself. I am totally accident prone.”

“She really is,” Mom chimed in.

Sandy reached out and gently brushed my hair back from my forehead and looked into my face intensely. The act was so sweet and maternal, I had a complete Awww moment, and I tipped my head at her, smiling. She finally smiled back.

The guys brought the sofa in, and apparently all four of them were determined to help my sorry ass off the floor.

“You guys. I really am okay,” I repeated, feeling like a broken record.

Mom settled a pillow behind my back when I sat down, and Dave picked my feet up and put them on the couch so I was semi-reclined. I think I would have fought it more if I didn’t feel a little queasy all of a sudden.

“Knock knock,” Logek, my best friend, chirped from the doorway. Her long blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she was wearing a plain pink T-shirt and jeans with holes in both knees. She walked in and saw me stretched out on the sofa and her eyebrows went up. “What did I miss?”

“Kate took a bad fall,” Dad said.

“It wasn’t that bad,” I said.

In response, my mother turned to Logek and nodded agreement with my father.

“You know I can see you, right?” I asked her.

Mom shrugged.

Logek looked down at me and down to my feet. “I told you to throw out those Chuck’s, Kitty Kat. They’re like ice skates.”

Since apparently this crowd was going to need some hard proof, I put my feet down on the floor in front of me and sat upright. My fingertips were still a little tingly, but I definitely was fully functional. I didn’t want to stand up just yet, since I felt like there might be a fifty-fifty chance I’d swan dive to the floor. That’s okay, though. They seemed satisfied with me sitting up, looking alert and cheerful.

Everyone seemed to be feeling better, except for Dave. He was still frowning at me, thoughtfully.

“You could have a concussion,” he repeated.

“I don’t have a concussion.”

He shrugged but still didn’t look happy. Tough shit. The emergency room was so not happening today.

I smiled brightly for everyone. “Okay. Enough slacking. Let’s get me moved in.”

I got a couple of chuckles, some smiles, and everyone started moving with a purpose again.

Logek walked over to the box I’d lobbed away for my well-being. It was on its side and it was a little lopsided now. She righted it, broke the tape, and opened the box. She looked inside and made one of those inward sighs where you suck air in through your teeth.

“Do I want to know what was in there?”

“Nope.”

Wonderful. I raised my eyebrows at her. “Hit me with it. I can take it.”

She pulled some newspaper off the top and laid it out flat next to the box . . . undoubtedly for whatever broken pieces would be laid out on it. I sighed.

She held up a large piece of glass that it took me a moment to identify. Part of my wineglass. My favorite wineglass. The goblet with the giraffe spots on it. So cute. Damn.

She continued plucking out pieces of broken wineglass until we’d counted five broken out of my set of six. Her face lit up then. She pulled lucky number six unscathed from the box. I guess I didn’t pack them well enough. Then again, I hadn’t really expected to be chucking the box six feet in the air.

“We have a survivor,” I said, as Logek twirled the stem of the wineglass between her fingers.

“Oh no!” Sandy said, when she realized we were inventorying the damage from my fall.

“No biggie,” I said. “I got them at Pottery Barn. Not exactly fine china.”

“You must be Sandy,” Logek exclaimed, jumping up to shake her hand. “I’m Logek, Kate’s best friend.”

“Very nice to meet you,” Sandy said.

“So, I understand you are Adam’s mother.”

Shit. I was kind of hoping to make it through the day without hearing his name. I guess I sort of assumed Logek would come to that conclusion, given that she knew I bailed at the bar last night after seeing Adam in “contract killer” mode. I had another flash of the petite hottie that had her arm around Adam’s waist, a token dangling from her bracelet announcing her signed status. I really needed to work on that letting him go thing.

“Yes,” Sandy said, smiling like a proud mama. “You know Adam, too?”

“Just through Kate, but yes.”

“I wonder where he is,” Sandy said, with a glance toward the front door. “I told him I wanted him to help with the move.”

Logek must have (finally) caught the chilly look in my eyes, because she quickly replied, “I’m sure he was just busy today. But it looks like we have plenty of help.”

Sandy sort of shrugged. Adam was so going to get it later. Mama was not happy that he was a no-show.

“Well, I guess I should start helping,” Logek said.

“Me, too,” I said, about to push myself to my feet.

“Oh no you don’t,” Sandy said.

“You do still look a little pale. Just sit a bit longer and see how you feel,” Logek said.

So I leaned back on the sofa and watched the bustling activity as everyone (but me) put my little apartment together. My furniture fit perfectly. The decor looked like I’d bought it specifically for this apartment. My tastes were much like Sandy’s, apparently. My things were a blend of vintage and rustic, which went perfectly with the wood floors and old-school appliances in the kitchen. No wonder this was Sandy’s favorite of her rentals. It was her—classic, lovely, and perfectly stylish. I had a moment of disbelief that this was really my apartment. And I don’t think it was falling on my head that gave me the disbelief, thankfully.

Dad and Dave came down from upstairs. “Done with the furniture up there,” Dad said. “Logek is putting your clothes away. I assume that’s okay?”

I laughed. Silly question. Logek knew my clothes as well as her own and had been familiar with my closet for twenty years. You pick up a lot about someone’s organizational techniques in twenty years. Dad winked at me, and he and Dave disappeared outside again.

I’d stopped leaning my head against the back of the sofa, since I was pretty sure I was developing a pretty good goose egg on the back of my head. My phone was sitting next to me on the couch, and it buzzed.

I heard you fell and might have a concussion?

Adam. I ignored the butterflies in my stomach since they had no business being there.

I don’t have a concussion.

You sure?

No. Yep. I’m fine.

I leave you alone for a day and you practically split your head open.

Pretty sure I still would have managed to fall on my ass even if you had been here.

That’s comforting.

Who told you?

Mom.

She feels so bad. Totally not her fault. Tell her.

I did. I told her you’re one of the clumsiest people I know.

Thanks?

Lol. Well, you did trip on the rug on your way out of the bar last night.

Wow. Really? We’re talking about my hasty (and inept) departure last night? I stared at my phone. I can’t do this. I can’t talk about last night.

Kate?

Nope.

Dave walked through the door carrying my coffee table. He set it down in front of the sofa and sat down next to me.

“Thank you,” I said.

“You’re welcome,” he said, and he leaned in and kissed me. Nothing indecent, since my parents were walking around the apartment, so he just pressed his soft lips to mine and held them there a moment. When he pulled back, I glanced into the kitchen and saw Sandy watching us. She looked bummed, so maybe Adam was right when he said she’d had hopes of matchmaking the two of us. She may be in for a lot of disappointment if she thinks she’s ever going to be successful on matching Adam with anyone.

Logek came bounding down the stairs with a spring in her step and sat down on the coffee table, facing Dave and me.

“Your closet is organized, my lady,” she said, with a slight bow of her head.

“Much appreciated.”

“Next time I have to move, I am totally spraining my ankle,” she said with a decisive nod.

“Yes, my humiliating fall was all part of my master plan to avoid my own move.”

She chuckled. Then looked at Dave. “So, Dave, how’s it going?”

“Good.” He checked his watch. “I’ve got to head to the station pretty quick.”

“It was nice of you to help,” she told him.

He tipped his head toward me. “I spend so much time pissing her off—I have to do something to stay in her good graces.” And he kissed the top of my head, like he frequently does, I’ve realized, when he’s trying to be sweet. And pacify me.

Logek laughed. “Maybe try pissing her off less and you won’t have to work so hard.”

“Now there’s a thought.” Dave looked at me, then back at Logek. “Don’t you think we’d make a great couple, though?” he asked her, putting his arm around my shoulders.

When I met Dave, two weeks ago, he struck me as an unrepentant playboy who likely bedded women like it was an Olympic sport. But once I caught on to his BS (and called him on it), we ended up kind of liking the unfettered honesty that we were left with. So we sorta started seeing each other. And despite things kicking off with his open declaration of having the goal of getting me into bed, he did an about-face a week ago and now claims to want an exclusive relationship, which is wrong in more ways than I can count. Not the least of which is that I’m not totally sold on his sincerity. I can’t help but wonder if it’s part of his game. So, at his mention of the relationship thing again, my eyes rolled back in my head.

Logek smiled. “Wow. You really are good at pissing her off.”

Dave quickly looked back at me to catch the spectacular glare I was giving him. Then he made matters worse by going all sweet and sensitive (and yes, probably totally fake) and saying quietly, “I just want to be with you. I don’t know why that’s a problem.” All his sweet gesture did was unleash a flood of contradictions in me, making me somehow flattered and suspicious at the same time.

He pulled me against him, kissing me again, but with added enthusiasm this time. Before he could get too carried away, I leaned away, tipping my head to Logek, who was just sitting in front of us with an amused look on her face. After I pulled back, he released me and stood up.

“I have to get going, baby. Logek,” he said, leaning over and giving her a quick hug, “always nice to see you.”

“You, too,” she said, with a somewhat speculative smile.

I heard Dave kissing ass—I mean saying good-bye—to my parents and Sandy and, with a final wave, he headed out the door.

My parents had left, along with Sandy, hours ago. Logek and I were sitting in my kitchen with a glass of wine.

“Congratulations, big girl,” she said, with a quick look around my new home.

I grinned. “Thank you very much.”

“How’s the head?”

“A little sore. Tell me the truth. Did my parents tell you to stay with me tonight and keep me awake in case I have a concussion?”

“That is one possibility.”

“I figured. Did you have plans tonight?”

She played with her wineglass . . . part of my mismatched set, now that my one complete giraffe set was busted all to hell. And her evasiveness meant one thing: Derek. Derek, as in the once love of her life, turned heartbreaker, Derek. Derek who breached their contract by sleeping with another woman Derek. And now he was back, full of sincere apologies and regret. And it seemed he was still Logek’s kryptonite.

“Logek. I’m not going to judge.”

“I know,” she said with a sigh. “I’m judging myself.”

“Don’t. Old habits die hard.”

“And that’s why I’m still in love with him?”

Well, shit. I nodded.

“It feels like more than habit.”

“Did anything happen last night?”

“A kiss. One kiss, and I didn’t return any of Daniel’s texts today.”

Daniel was a new guy she’d recently started seeing, who was apparently about to further the stereotype that nice guys finish last. I didn’t know what to say.

“I’m a terrible person,” she said matter-of-factly.

“No,” I said.

“Yes. I’m going to break Daniel’s heart. For no good reason.”

“Come on. How serious could you really have been about Daniel if you were this ready to push him aside? Maybe it’s for the best that you figured this out now rather than stringing him along for another six months. And besides, maybe Derek is different.”

“He seems different. But we know I’ve never been a good judge of character when it came to him.”

“So take it slow. Text. Talk on the phone. Try not to jump back into a physical relationship with him. See how dedicated he seems.”

She took a long drink of wine and her blue eyes were shiny. I reached out and grabbed her hand.

“Why are you crying? The love of your life just waltzed back into your life and wants to be with you. It could work.” I wished I believed that. Prove me wrong, Derek. Please, please, please.

She sniffed. “It could.” I could hear it in her voice. She didn’t believe it any more than I did. Yet she accepted that she would get drawn back in, as though he were a hurricane she might not survive—brutal, dangerous, and beyond her control. Love sucks.

Her phone buzzed and she checked the screen. She tapped in a reply and looked up at me. She smiled. “I told him I’m on concussion watch.”

“I’m glad my clumsiness could be there to save you from yourself tonight.”

“Yeah, so what’s planned for tomorrow?”

I laughed. “We’ll think of something.”

“You know, I could ask you the same question. The love of your life wants to be with you. What’s holding you back?”

The love of my life, Jonathan, had turned my world upside down a month ago by informing me that he didn’t want to re-up our contract at the end of our seven years, which I’d foolishly taken as a given. I hadn’t even considered life without him. Apparently, he’d somehow convinced himself that I’d be willing to take a break from our contract for a few years and then reunite and grow old together, or something like that.

After a couple weeks of nursing my broken heart and planning for my new single-girl life, he threw me for another loop when he declared that he’d made a huge mistake and asked if I would sign with him again.

I looked at Logek and shrugged. “I have no answer to that. Having trouble letting go of the hurt and disillusionment, I guess.”

“I have no idea what that would be like,” she said, heavy on the sarcasm.

“Yeah,” I said with a grimace. “Sorry. Your breakup totally wins. Or loses. Whatever. So how are you over it?”

“Derek is my crack. Terrible for my health but irresistible. And I’m not over it.”

“But you’re still willing to give him another shot?”

“Did you miss my ‘crack’ metaphor?”

Since I’d taken my spill at about 9:30 a.m., by 2:00 a.m. Logek and I figured I was safe from any concussion side effects and she went home (happy that I was now only five minutes away from her place instead of forty).

I climbed the stairs of my new apartment and went into my room. My bed was set up exactly where I would have put it, and all my trinkets were already perfectly arranged on my dressers. I’m not saying people should try to get a concussion at the start of moving day . . . I’m just saying, it’s crazy the way everything gets done perfectly with zero help from you.

After brushing my teeth, I climbed into my crisply made-up bed. Occasionally, I could hear the sound of a car passing down my street. Welcome to the city. No after-hours traffic in the suburbs where my parents live, that was for sure. But I wasn’t in the ’burbs anymore. And there was something exciting about that—about being back in the city.

Of course, that excitement contributed to me staring at the ceiling (and the clock) at 3:00 a.m. It was about 20 percent new-apartment insomnia, 30 percent work related, and 50 percent what – to – do – about – boys. And I missed Jonathan. In my own bed in my new apartment and I missed him more acutely than I had in the month we’d been apart. Whenever I was confused, he was always the one thing that just made sense.

I picked up my phone from the nightstand and stared at it, debating. Screw it. He won’t see it till morning anyway. No harm.

I started typing a text to Jonathan, then the phone buzzed in my hand with an incoming text (and it may have scared me enough to drop the phone—so sue me).

It was Dave. Naturally.

Hey beautiful. Can’t sleep tonight. Got home from the basketball game I was covering, worked out, watched some TV, thought about you. I know you’re probably asleep and won’t see this till morning, but just wanted to say I wish you were here. I think if I could wrap my arms around you right now, I’d be able to fall right to sleep.

I lay there in the dark, looking at that text, trying to make sense of things. Obviously sleep found me before any sense did.

Copyright © 2018 Erin Lyon

Order Your Copy

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On the Road: Tor/Forge Author Events in March

Tor/Forge authors are on the road in March! See who is coming to a city near you this month.

Steven Brust & Skyler White, The Skill of Our Hands

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Saturday, March 18
Uncle Hugo’s
Minneapolis, MN
3:00 PM

Sunday, March 19
Borderlands Café
San Francisco, CA
3:00 PM

Friday, March 31
Book People
Austin, TX
7:00 PM
With Skyler White only.

Susan Dennard, Windwitch

Wednesday, March 1
Barnes & Noble
Bensalem, PA
6:00 PM

Thursday, March 2
One More Page
Arlington, VA
7:00 PM
Also with Jodi Meadows.

Randy Henderson, Smells Like Finn Spirit

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Wednesday, March 8
University Bookstore
Seattle, WA
7:00 PM

Thursday, March 9
LoveCraft Brewing Company
Bremerton, WA
6:00 PM
Books provided by Liberty Bay Books.

Saturday, March 18
Village Books
Bellingham, WA
7:00 PM

P.J. Hoover, Tut: My Epic Battle to Save the World

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Saturday, March 4
Book People
Austin, TX
3:00 PM

Caitlin R. Kiernan, Agents of Dreamland

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Thursday, March 9
Savoy Bookshop and Café
Westerly, RI
6:00 PM
In conversation with C.S.E. Cooney.

Monday, March 20
Porter Square Books
Cambridge, MA
7:00 PM
Also with Max Gladstone.

Thursday, March 23
Pandemonium Books and Games
Cambridge, MA
7:00 PM

Ellen Klages, Passing Strange

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Monday, March 13
Dog Eared Books
San Francisco, CA
7:00 PM
Also with M. Christian and Vylar Kaftan.

Erika Lewis, Game of Shadows

Monday, March 6
Vroman’s Bookstore
Pasadena, CA
6:30 PM

Wednesday, March 8
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA
7:30 PM
Also with R.A. Salvatore and Sheryl Scarborough.

Friday, March 10
Poisoned Pen
Scottsdale, AZ
7:00 PM
Also with Aprilynne Pike.

Saturday, March 18
Borderlands Books
San Francisco, CA
1:00 PM
Also with Veronica Rossi.

Thursday, March 23
Powell’s Books
Beaverton, OR
7:00 PM

Erin Lyon, I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions

Saturday, March 4
Hyatt Regency Sacramento
Sacramento, CA
5:00 PM
Authors on the Move Dinner – hosted by the Sacramento Public Library.

Ada Palmer, Seven Surrenders

Tuesday, March 7
57th Street Books
Chicago, IL
6:00 PM
Also with David M. Perry.

John Scalzi, The Collapsing Empire

Tuesday, March 21
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Lexington, KY
7:00 PM

Thursday, March 23
Flyleaf Books
Chapel Hill, NC
7:00 PM

Friday, March 24
Fountain Bookstore
Richmond, VA
6:30 PM

Saturday, March 25
Parnassus Books
Nashville, TN
2:00 PM

Sunday, March 26
Book People
Austin, TX
3:00 PM

Monday, March 27
Brazos Bookstore
Houston, TX
7:00 PM

Tuesday, March 28
Half Price Books
Dallas, TX
7:00 PM

Wednesday, March 29
Volumes Bookcafé
Chicago, IL
7:00 PM

Sheryl Scarborough, To Catch a Killer

Wednesday, March 8
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA
7:30 PM
Also with R.A. Salvatore and Erika Lewis.

V.E. Schwab, A Conjuring of Light

Wednesday, March 1
Book People
Austin, TX
7:00 PM

Thursday, March 2
Blue Willow Bookshop
Houston, TX
7:00 PM

Friday, March 3
Flatiron Writer’s Room
Asheville, NC
6:00 PM
Books provided by Malaprops.

Saturday, March 4
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Crestview Hills, KY
7:00 PM

Thursday, March 9
Changing Hands Bookstore
Phoenix, AZ
7:00 PM

Burt Solomon, The Murder of Willie Lincoln

Saturday, March 4
Barnes & Noble
Bethesda, MD
2:00 PM

Sunday, March 5
One More Page
Arlington, VA
2:00 PM

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On the Road: Tor/Forge Author Events in February

Tor/Forge authors are on the road in February! See who is coming to a city near you this month.

W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Purpose

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Saturday, February 18
South County Pet Expo & Dog-a-Palooza
Lake Forest, CA
10:30 am

Susan Dennard, Windwitch

Sunday, February 26
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Cincinnati, OH
4:00 PM

Monday, February 27
Brookline Booksmith
Brookline, MA
7:00 PM
Also with V.E. Schwab.

Tuesday, February 28
Books of Wonder
New York, NY
6:00 PM
Fantastic Teen Reads – also with V.E. Schwab, Kim Liggett, and Erika Lewis.

Lara Elena Donnelly, Amberlough

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Tuesday, February 7
Astoria Bookshop
Astoria, NY
7:00 PM

Wednesday, February 14
Books and Company
Beavercreek, OH
7:00 PM

Thursday, February 16
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Lexington, KY
7:00 PM

Friday, February 17
Carmichael’s Bookstore
Louisville, KY
7:00 PM

Saturday, February 18
Dark Star Books
Yellow Springs, OH
3:00 PM

William R. Forstchen, The Final Day

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Saturday, February 4
Barnes & Noble
Asheville, NC
2:00 PM

Ellen Klages, Passing Strange

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Thursday, February 16
Book Passage
San Francisco, CA
6:00 PM

Monday, February 27
Powell’s Books
Beaverton, OR
7:00 PM
Also with David Levine.

Erika Lewis, Game of Shadows

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Tuesday, February 28
Books of Wonder
New York, NY
6:00 PM
Fantastic Teen Reads – also with V.E. Schwab, Kim Liggett, and Susan Dennard.

Erin Lyon, I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions

Saturday, February 11
Barnes & Noble
Folsom, CA
1:00 PM

Friday, February 27
Copperfield’s Books
Healdsburg, CA
6:00 PM

V.E. Schwab, A Conjuring of Light

Tuesday, February 21
Parnassus Books
Nashville, TN
6:30 PM

Wednesday, February 22
Tattered Cover
Denver, CO
7:00 PM

Thursday, February 23
Third Place Books
Lake Forest Park, WA
7:00 PM

Friday, February 24
Kepler’s Books
Menlo Park, CA
7:00 PM

Saturday, February 25
Barnes & Noble
Huntington Beach, CA
2:00 PM

Monday, February 27
Brookline Booksmith
Brookline, MA
7:00 PM
Also with Susan Dennard.

Tuesday, February 28
Books of Wonder
New York, NY
6:00 PM
Fantastic Teen Reads – also with Susan Dennard, Kim Liggett, and Erika Lewis.

Burt Solomon, The Murder of Willie Lincoln

Sunday, February 12
Abraham Lincoln Association Symposium
Lincoln Presidential Library
Springfield, IL
1:30 PM

Thursday, February 26
A Likely Story Bookstore
Sykesville, MD
7:00 PM

Sunday, February 26
Politics and Prose
Washington, DC
5:00 PM

Charles Stross, Empire Games

Thursday, February 16
Pandemonium Books
Boston, MA
7:00 PM
Multi-Author Celebration Event with Elizabeth Bear, Max Gladstone, Ada Palmer, Jo Walton, Fran Wilde, and Scott Lynch.

Patrick Taylor, An Irish Country Cookbook

Saturday, February 18
Barnes & Noble
Palm Desert, CA
2:00 PM

Saturday, February 25
Barnes & Noble
Temecula, CA
2:00 PM

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New Releases: 1/10/17

Here’s what went on sale today!

Chasing Shadows by David Brin & Stephen W. Potts

Chasing Shadows by David BrinDavid Brin, Hugo award-winning author of The Uplift War, presents a collection of short stories and essays by other science fiction luminaries. As we debate Internet privacy, revenge porn, the NSA, and Edward Snowden, cameras get smaller, faster, and more numerous. Has Orwell’s Big Brother finally come to pass? Or have we become a global society of thousands of Little Brothers—watching, judging, and reporting on one another?

The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett

The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett“I plead the blood.” Those were the last words seventeen-year-old golden boy quarterback Clay Tate heard rattling from his dad’s throat when he discovered him dying on the barn floor of the Neely cattle ranch, clutching a crucifix to his chest. Kim Liggett draws on her childhood during the Satanic Panic for a chilling tale of magic in The Last Harvest.

I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions by Erin Lyon

I Love You Subject to the Following Terms by Erin LyonIn a world where marriage doesn’t exist—only seven-year contracts—you don’t marry, you sign. You don’t divorce, you breach. And sometimes, you just expire. Kate is struggling to find her footing. She gave up a career she hated to pursue the law, and now she’s buried in debt and unemployed. At least she’s signed to an amazing guy—hot, sweet, and committed.

Windwitch by Susan Dennard

Windwitch by Susan DennardIn this follow-up to New York Times bestselling Truthwitch, a shadow man haunts the Nubrevnan streets, leaving corpses in his wake—and then raising those corpses from the dead. Windwitch continues the tale of Merik—cunning privateer, prince, and windwitch.

 

NOW IN PAPERBACK:

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan DennardIn the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble&mdashas two desperate young women know all too well. Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

NEW FROM TOR.COM:

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuireWhen her sister Patty died, Jenna blamed herself. When Jenna died, she blamed herself for that, too. Unfortunately Jenna died too soon. Living or dead, every soul is promised a certain amount of time, and when Jenna passed she found a heavy debt of time in her record. Unwilling to simply steal that time from the living, Jenna earns every day she leeches with volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline.

NEW EBOOK BUNDLE:

The Wild Cards Collection by George R.R. Martin & the Wild Cards Trust

NEW IN MANGA:

Arpeggio of Blue Steel Vol. 9 Story and art by Ark Performance

Battle Rabbits Vol. 3  Story by Amemiya Yuki; Art by Ichihara Yukino

Golden Time Vol. 6 Story by Yuyuko Takemiya; Art by Umechazuke

My Monster Secret Vol. 5 Story and art by Eiji Masuda

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Lawyers Should Not Write Romance Novels

Image Place holder  of - 40 Written by Erin Lyon

Truly. Because we do cruel and terrible things to commitment and everlasting love. Things like, say, replacing marriage with seven-year contracts so that relationships can be managed via contract law. And putting an expiration date on that contract so that couples get to decide whether or not to continue the relationship every seven years. Tragic, really. Psh. Lawyers.

Or (hear me out), maybe it’s actually an awesome idea. I’m pretty sure I would have had Elizabeth Taylor’s full support on this. She was married eight (8) times – two of which were to the same man. Tell me that wasn’t a woman whose life would have been vastly simplified if each time she fell in love she had only been committing to seven years!

Even in the literary world, so many relationships would have benefitted from my proposal. Case in point:

Catherine and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff is a poor nobody so Catherine marries boring old Linton. Then Heathcliff comes back all rich and sexy but Cathy’s already hitched. In my world, a few years after Heathcliff came home, Cathy and Linton’s contract would have expired, leaving Catherine free to choose Heathcliff (like she should have done from the beginning, obviously). She would then have opted to not re-up with Linton and, voila, no one is dying of a broken heart or plotting generations of revenge. (Seriously, Heathcliff – find a hobby that doesn’t involve torturing your enemies and their descendants over a 20-year period. That might be going a tad overboard.)

Romeo and Juliet. This one is too easy. Warring families, a secret marriage, dual suicide. Yikes. Under my idea? Everyone knows that minors can’t legally enter into contracts and Juliet is only 13! Ergo, no contract is ever (legally) signed. Romeo and Juliet grow up a little bit and Juliet realizes she wants to be a writer (which Romeo doesn’t support) and Romeo ends up hooking up with the girl from the Verona market. Everyone parts ways without all that unnecessary suicide stuff.

Jane and Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre. Scandal ensues when Mr. Rochester falls in love with his daughter’s plain-Jane governess, Jane Eyre, and he marries her. Spoiler alert! He was still married to his first wife! In his defense, Wife #1 had gone completely mad years before so he locked her up in the tower (probably prudent for the safety of all involved given that she did slip past her nurse one night and do her best to flambé Mr. Rochester while he slept). Ah, but the simplicity of contracts. Mr. Rochester’s contract would have had an incapacity provision so that once his first wife’s elevator stopped going to the top floor, so to speak, the contract would have been null and void and poor Jane would never have been publicly humiliated by accidentally marrying a married man.

Mrs. de Winter and Maxim in Rebecca. Maxim de Winter is married to the cheating, narcissistic Rebecca – at least until she dies under mysterious circumstances. Then Maxim meets our mousy-but-delightful, never-to-be-named heroine and marries her (allowing us to simply call her Mrs. de Winter). Sure, we find out later that Rebecca was a manipulative bitch who sparked Maxim into a rage and he actually shot her and dumped her body. (Perhaps a bit of an overreaction.) Anyway, point being, the night Maxim killed Rebecca, she had been rudely confessing to being pregnant with another man’s baby and claimed that she would raise the child as Maxim’s and there was nothing he could do to stop her! (If you’re anything like me, you’re oddly at peace with Maxim getting away with murder in this book.) But! Under contract law, Maxim would have sued her for breach of contract, taken her for everything she was worth, and sent her lying ass to go live with her baby-daddy. (Yes, yes. I am well aware she wasn’t actually pregnant, but she still admitted to the infidelity which would be sufficient for breach as long as you have a good lawyer.)

So, to conclude, lawyers probably should write romance novels. Just think of the second chances at love we’d be providing! (Not to mention all the literary lives we’d be saving.) I rest my case.

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Follow Erin Lyon on Twitter and on her website.

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Sneak Peek: I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions by Erin Lyon

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I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions by Erin Lyon

In a world where marriage doesn’t exist—only seven-year contracts—you don’t marry, you sign. You don’t divorce, you breach. And sometimes, you just expire.

Kate is struggling to find her footing. She gave up a career she hated to pursue the law, and now she’s buried in debt and unemployed. At least she’s signed to an amazing guy—hot, sweet, and committed.

Enter the contract killer, the man who pursues only signed women. No commitment, no hassle, all the fun. But Kate has enough fun on her plate… until her partner doesn’t re-up their contract.

After an epic but well-deserved meltdown, Kate gets practical. She accepts a job with her uncle’s law firm, practicing signing law—the one type of law she swore she’d never do. And the contract killer? Now that Kate is single, she’s no longer his type, but he still wants to be friends. Yeah, that’ll work. Kate may be heartbroken, but she’s not impervious to this sexy, smart, and complex man. But hey, it looks like he may not be impervious to her either—signed or not.

Hilariously relatable, with biting wit and charm, I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions is 27 Dresses meets Bridget Jones’s Diary for the millennial set.

I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions will become available January 10th. Please enjoy this excerpt.

CHAPTER 1

What am I doing? Rhetorical question. I know what I’m doing. This just isn’t where I thought I would be at thirty-four. No, not this bar. Starting over with a brand new career. I had a job (emphasis on “had”). Not a great job, but a good job. And I suddenly decided I needed law school. No one needs law school, by the way. Now I’m thirty-four, out of law school; I’ve passed the bar exam, but am unemployed. With a capital U. I’m too old for this shit.

Yes, I’m signed, thank god, but one’s love life is only part of one’s life, right? So after finishing law school with a bunch of snot-nosed twenty-five-year-olds (no offense), I’m starting over. Starting over sucks, FYI.

So the seeming failure of my ill-conceived master plan led me to a bar on a Wednesday night (not like it’s a worknight for me) to commiserate with my BFF, Logek. Yes, that is her real name.

“Seriously. It’ll work out. You’re brilliant. You’re talented. Fuck ’em,” Logek said.

And this is why I go out with Logek when I’m down. She always has the right words, in the right order. Unfortunately, her usual pick-me-up wasn’t enough to get my eyes up from the bar.

“I know,” I said. My voice was muffled since my head was resting on my forearms on the bar. “I know.”

And she knew what was coming next.

I picked myself up from the bar. “But, I just wish I’d gotten a ‘We’d love you to apply again when you have more experience’ or even a ‘We think you’re an idiot.’ That at least might have been helpful. But after months of interning there for free to just get a ‘We went with a different candidate’? No explanation. Nothing.”

Logek gave me a frustrated face. She’s been talking me off this particular ledge for a week now. “Kate. What do you hate more than anything?”

“Hypocrites.”

“Oh, right. But what do you hate almost as much?”

“People who feel sorry for themselves.”

She raised her eyebrow. I let out a loud sigh and gave myself a physical shake.

“Kate,” she said. “You worked your ass off for them—for free—for six months feeling sure you’d get the job. Then they say, ‘Thanks but no thanks’? I’d say they weren’t the right fit for you if that’s how they treat their interns. Give it a couple months. You’ll probably realize it was for the best.” Logek hugged me and put my drink in my hand. “To bigger and better things,” she said emphatically.

I nodded, took a swig of my drink, and straightened my shoulders.

“So,” Logek said, a little louder than necessary. “How’s Jonathan?”

I smiled. “He’s good,” I said. “He’s been a doll through all this, of course. ‘Their loss, better things to come…’ All support, all the time.”

Logek pushed her heavy, blonde hair back over her shoulder. There must be a man around. “Some things matter more than others. Screw the idiots at the DA’s office. If they aren’t smart enough to want you, it only means that someone better will. And, in the meantime, you’ve got a gorgeous man who loves you and thinks you’re brilliant.” She finished with an overly bright smile, busting out her halogen-white teeth and her dimple. Yep. Definitely a man around.

Right on cue, a predictably attractive man strolled up behind Logek, pretending to order a drink. He was good-looking, but not my type of good-looking—a little too pretty. And he knows it. I hate that. But, Logek is a different animal and maybe he’s just her type. Best of luck, Pretty Boy.

Logek is my best friend. We’ve been friends since high school. She has signed five times and never had a single one go to term. Not me. When I fall in love and sign, I mean it for the entire seven years. I’m traditional that way. Of course, she always intends it when she signs, too; it just never works out that way. I guess, like the rest of us, she’s a romantic at heart. Every time she signs, she wants to believe it’s the person she will re-up with for life.

Pretty Boy paid for Logek’s drink and tried to charm her pants off. From the look she gave me, her pants are securely in place, but at least the drink was free. I smiled. Being with her does make me forget about my barely on life support career. Which is her ultimate goal. Which is why she’s the BFF.

But because she’s signed five times and breached four times (one time the guy actually breached, if you can imagine that) she is perpetually low on cash and is always happy to accept a free drink. What do you expect when you are paying on four failed contracts? Moral of the story: sign well, or, at the very least, only breach when you’ve got nothing to lose.

“So, really?” the guy asked. I know where this is going.

“Yes, really,” Logek said, with a gloriously fake smile on her face. “It’s pronounced ‘logic,’ but it’s spelled L-O-G-E-K. Mom was a little heavy on the painkillers and Dad was off getting coffee.” Logek and I have told this story thousands of times. Her name is the ultimate icebreaker.

The guy looked appropriately dazzled. Naturally. Men are simple. All it takes is long, blonde hair and a name no one else can pronounce and they’re asking you for a pen. The stereotype about women always trying to get men to sign is usually debunked around Logek. Even when she has no interest, men want to get a pen in her hand.

I watched her big, blue eyes do their damage to a guy that, let’s be real, was no match for her.

So while Logek is paying off her two remaining breaches of contract, I’m about to let my contract go into automatic renewal. These seven years have flown by. Jonathan is every bit as sexy, funny, and sweet as he was when we signed. The contract is up in a couple of weeks, but, like most contracts, it has an automatic renewal clause. If neither of us contacts the attorney to notify of cancellation, it automatically renews for another seven years. So many contracts don’t renew and it seems like just as many don’t even go to term, so I’m a lucky girl.

With Logek and Pretty Boy engaged in conversation a couple feet away from me, I sipped my drink and casually (at least I was shooting for casually) glanced around the room in case I knew anyone here. Nope. Nice to know my luck hasn’t changed that much.

From the rim of my glass, I noticed someone watching me. Why is he looking at me? I’m wearing my token. I looked down at my necklace—a gold feather quill with a diamond at the tip. He knows I’m taken—it’s not as though I intentionally left it at home.

He walked over and stood in front of me with his back to Logek (which is hardly ever the case, I might add). I had to do the quick math (sad, I know)—if I’m five foot nine and I’m wearing three-inch heels and he’s at least three inches taller than me … screw it. I can’t do math sober—now it’s pointless. Whatever, he’s tall. He’s got dark, dark hair and light eyes. We were in a bar so I couldn’t vouch for the eye color—either green, gray, or hazel, though. Big eyes. Perfect lips. Holy shit. He’s beautiful.

He held out his hand. Big hand, long fingers, tan. Gasp. I shook his hand, politely, because that’s what you would do when any man offers to shake your hand. Regardless of his movie-star quality.

“I’m Adam,” he said, in a deep voice. Figures. He does kinda make you think of original sin.

“Kate Shaw,” I said, trying to sound casual.

“Kate. I love that name.” I’m sure you do, incredibly hot guy, who is inexplicably hitting on me.

“Thank you,” I said, turning back toward the bar. Score one for Kate.

“What do you do?” he asked, seeming genuinely interested. He’s good.

“I’m an out-of-work attorney,” I told him, with a quick nod and an ironic smile. “You?”

“Oh … sorry,” he said, cringing slightly, acknowledging that he just stepped in it. “I’m in marketing.”

Of course he is. It’s pretty much the vortex that sucks up young, attractive men, giving them no actual job definition other than “marketing.” Translated as: I’m good at selling shit to people that don’t need it because I’m (incredibly) good-looking. Oh, Adam. I am so onto your game.

I cocked an eyebrow at him. “Really? Just marketing? That encompasses anything from being a sign spinner to being an advertising executive.”

He smiled. “I’m not a sign spinner,” he said. Shit. He has a dimple. Whatever. Jonathan is six feet, gorgeous; has dark Latino skin, black hair, dark eyes. Hot. All that on top of him being the love of my life. Like this guy is going to sway me.

“Good,” I said, playing with the token on my necklace. “Too much sun is bad for you.”

He laughed. At my stupid joke. I narrowed my eyes at him, looking, I’m sure, bitchier than I intended.

“What?” he asked, eyebrows raised.

“Nothing,” I said, looking over at Logek who, unfortunately, was engrossed in Pretty Boy. Shameful.

Adam frowned at me. “You’re a beautiful girl. Why am I a dirtbag for noticing?”

Difficult question to answer. “You’re not. But it’s obvious that I’m signed. Maybe you should run along and find an available playmate.”

“I’m aware that you’re signed.” He frowned. “Does that mean you aren’t allowed to talk to a man?”

“No. I just like to be clear from the get-go. I mean, this is a bar. I’ve heard that, on occasion, single people actually try to meet in places like this.”

He laughed. “I’ve heard that as well. But I know that you’re not single. So can we move on?”

Hmm. “Sure.”

“So, what were we talking about?”

“We were just discussing what you do for a living.”

“I’m in advertising with Samson and Tule.”

Oh. They’re good. Even I have heard of them.

“So, Kate, what types of law are you interested in?”

“Right now, I’m interested in the kind that makes me employed. Well. Except signing law.”

He chuckled. “Not interested in signing law? That certainly would be an easy meal ticket at least. Suckers sign every day. And then breach the very next day. Steady employment.”

I smiled. “Most signing firms deal strictly with breaches. Spending my days with bitter, angry couples trying to deconstruct their contracts does not sound fun. Too emotional. Add in the child custody battles and the thought makes me cringe. Everything is sunshine and roses when people sign, so they aren’t practical about covering themselves.”

He nodded. “Yeah. People sign when everything’s great. And then one year later, everything is shit and they don’t understand why their contract doesn’t cover it.”

“Exactly.”

“But that wasn’t the case with you?”

“No. We did a practical contract with the typical re-up terms. No blinders there.”

He nodded as though he was thinking over what I said. “I sort of bailed on a buddy over there,” he said gesturing to the other side of the bar. “I should let him know where I am in case he’s looking for me,” he said. “You’ll still be here?” he asked, pointing at the bar in front of me.

I nodded.

He poked his long finger against the polished bar. “Still here, right?”

I couldn’t help but smile. I nodded again.

I watched him walk away, broad shoulders, tall frame, and all. Good lord.

Now Logek turned back to me, ignoring the guy in front of her like she had been listening, waiting, for Adam to leave.

“Kate!” she hissed.

“Logek!” I said, sarcastically matching her level of excitement. No idea where it was coming from.

“You know who that was, right?”

“Adam?” I had a feeling there was more.

“I’m pretty sure that was Adam Lucas.”

“And?”

“You’ve heard us talk about those guys before.”

“I have?”

She gave an exaggerated sigh. “Yes. He’s a contract killer.”

Oh. I knew I should know that term. I know I’d heard it mentioned, but I couldn’t recall the meaning.

“He’s one of those guys that only goes after signed women.”

“Really?”

“Yep. They’re notorious.”

“Why is that?”

“Why are they notorious or why do they only go after signed women?”

“The signed women thing.”

“I don’t know,” she said, reaching for her cocktail that was sitting on a napkin on the bar. She picked up her glass, holding the napkin against the bottom. I was never sure why people did that. “Maybe because they’re more of a challenge. Maybe because they only want women who aren’t looking to sign a guy.” She clearly thought the second option was the more likely possibility. It probably was.

Wow. A contract killer. After me. Insulting and exciting at the same time.

“Well, I guess that makes sense,” I said, momentarily slipping back into my sour mood. “An incredibly gorgeous guy comes over to talk to me, not you. I should have figured there was a reason.”

“Kate! Shit! You are beautiful! And smart! And a pain in the ass!” With that she gave a frustrated growl and turned to the guy that was still waiting for her attention to turn back to him. “Bill,” she said.

“It’s Ben.”

“Ben, this is Kate. Is she gorgeous?”

Perfect. Thank you, Logek. This is the cherry on the top of my sundae.

Ben looked at me as though he hadn’t realized I was there before and I had magically appeared. He looked into my face for a minute before smiling.

“Yes, she is.”

“See,” Logek said, turning to me with eyebrows raised. As though Ben’s validation was what was going to save me from a lifetime of insecurity. I rolled my eyes and she turned to the bartender and pointed to my empty glass. The bartender nodded.

“Enough,” I said. “Talk to Ben.” She frowned at me and turned back to Ben who had waited most patiently.

The bartender took my empty glass and handed me another gin and tonic. I wasn’t sure that I should have this fourth drink. Usually three is entirely ample to buzz my tower. But screw it. Tonight was the night for it. Jonathan was working late and, anyway, he deserved a break from me crying on his shoulder.

“Good girl,” said a low voice behind me.

I spun around and sure enough, there was Adam. Back just like he said he’d be.

“Good girl?” I asked.

“You are still here like you said you’d be.”

“Do I get a dog treat? Or a scratch behind the ear or something?” I probably didn’t need any more to drink.

He just looked at me with the slightest smile. He leaned down to me, since he was tall enough to need to, and got close to my face. Too close. Close enough to tighten things in me.

“Do you want a scratch behind the ear, Kate?” he said, lifting his hand to my ear, brushing it gently with his forefinger. Well, I guess it was his forefinger—I don’t have eyes in the side of my head. It did, however, elicit an unexpected shudder from me.

“I’m good,” I said, pushing away his hand.

He laughed. “Okay, Kate. So you’re an unemployed attorney. What’s the plan?”

I was tempted to tell him it was none of his business. Or that I didn’t want to talk about it. But three and a half cocktails in, you bet your ass I wanted to talk about it. “I’ve recently been operating under the assumption that I would get a job that I, in fact, did not get.” Shit. Was I slurring? “So, I’m sort of regrouping.” Bullshit. “Actually, starting from scratch.”

“That sucks.”

“What sucks more is that I really wanted that job.”

“Ouch.”

Uh-oh. Tears. Close to the surface. I was not going to cry. Not going to. Dammit. A traitorous tear ran down my cheek. Son of a bitch.

He brushed his thumb across my cheek, wiping away the tear before I had a chance to. “I’m sorry, Kate. I get how disappointing that must be.”

I shrugged and took another drink of my cocktail.

“So,” he went on. “What have you been applying for?”

“Anything. Everything that is looking for a new attorney—which, by the way, most are not. What the hell was I thinking? I’m thirty-four and a brand new attorney. Why in the world did I do this?”

“Because it was a personal goal?”

I laughed and shook my head. “I mean, I’d thought about it, but really did it because I wasn’t happy where I was and couldn’t find anything else.”

“And where were you?”

“TV.” He looked at me, assessing. I was used to this. “Not in front of the camera,” I offered. “Behind. Sales, programming. Funny thing is—TV doesn’t translate to other fields. So I’d basically painted myself into a corner. Career-wise.”

Adam just nodded. Why was he even listening to all this? Oh, right—because I’m a signed woman and he’s a contract killer. I can’t even get hit on right.

“You know,” he said, pulling out his cell phone. “I’m a member of the Chamber of Commerce and they just sent out something about a new job site they were launching. I didn’t really look at it, but it might be useful. Here,” he said, without looking up from his phone. “Give me your number and I’ll text you the link.”

Give him my number. That seems imprudent. But my fourth gin and tonic was assuring me that it was for a completely legitimate, nonpromiscuous reason so I rattled off my cell phone number to him and he typed away on his phone.

“There you go,” he said, slipping his phone back into his pocket. “Maybe it’ll have some good leads on it.”

“Thanks.”

He nodded, smiling seductively. Or just smiling. With this guy, who could tell?

“So.” Subtlety was not in my vocab right now. “I hear you’re a contract killer.”

He laughed, but also nodded ever so slightly, clearly not denying the accusation.

“So you admit it then?”

“Why should I deny it? Although I do find the term amusing.”

“Why?”

“Why do I feel no need to deny it or why am I amused by the term?”

Why does everyone do that to me? “Why are you?”

“Why am I what, Kate?” Why does he keep calling me Kate? Because that’s your name, dumbass. It’s just that people rarely call you by your name. Like that first time, sure, when you’re being introduced, but after that, no. Even Jonathan—I get “baby,” “sweetheart,” “beautiful,” but hardly ever Kate. It’s sort of a thing for me when people use my name—when I hear it, it electrifies me a little, feeling oddly intimate.

“Only after taken women.”

“Hmm.” He leaned down close to me again. Too close again. “I don’t see the need to sign a contract with a woman to be with her.”

“You don’t have to sign. Lots of people date and never sign.”

“But women can’t help it. They ultimately want that. They are raised believing that relationships involve a piece of paper. The fairy tales teach little girls that a happy ending only comes when Prince Charming asks you to sign a contract to be his and his alone. I’m not saying there aren’t men with the same ingrained ideals—but I do think all women fall victim to it in one way or another.”

“Not all.”

“You didn’t?”

Hmm. Tell the truth or not? The gin said to tell the truth. “I did. What can I say? My parents have been re-upping since I was born. What about yours?”

I wasn’t sure he’d answer. So far this had been the “Kate Show” as far as sharing personal information went. “No. They were one and done.”

“Do you think that changed the way you feel about it?”

“No,” he said, smirking. “I think logic made me feel that way about it.”

At the mention of her name (sort of) Logek turned around, eyebrows raised in question.

“Adam,” I said, hand extended. “This is my friend, Logek.”

“Oh,” he said, smiling. He shook Logek’s hand. “Interesting name.”

“Isn’t it, though?”

He smiled and nodded at her. And then turned back to me. Like she wasn’t there.

“So it’s illogical to want to commit to someone?” I said, falling back into our conversation.

“No. Not for some people.”

“You don’t really believe that, though.”

“No,” he said, with a secret smile. “I guess I don’t. It just feels like a trap to me.”

“What about children?” I was seeing the allure of the contract killer already—I could ask these bold questions without being misconstrued. He knew I wasn’t testing him out to see if he’d be white picket fence material.

“What about them?”

“It’s kind of irresponsible to have them without being under contract.”

“Is it?”

Hmm. I’d always thought so. I was wondering whether I was prepared to have this depth of conversation right now. “I think so.”

“Why?”

“Because. It provides for their future. It doesn’t leave their life to chance.”

“Did it do that for you?”

I nodded.

He smiled. “I can’t say it did that for me. I just think that there are plenty of people that will be good parents without a paper mandating it.”

“I think you’re the one being naïve now,” I said.

He looked disconcerted. I don’t think he had people challenge him often. Or maybe just women. I got the impression he wasn’t used to having this much depth in his conversations, either.

“I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” I said. “I’m just saying that it’s possible that because it didn’t work for your parents, it shaped your views on it.”

Something flickered through his eyes momentarily. Some sadness or longing. It was strange how much I could read from his subtle expressions.

He shrugged noncommittally. “I suppose anything is possible,” he said, looking at me steadily. He glanced at his watch. “I’ve got to get going.”

He leaned in again and gave me a peck on the cheek. “I’ll see you again, Kate Shaw.”

 

Copyright © 2017 by Erin Lyon

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