Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Tucker Springs #7, It’s Complicated!
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of one ebook off my backlist (excluding It’s Complicated) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on May 4th, and winners will be announced on May 5th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.
Exclusive Excerpt from It’s Complicated:
Driving from my place to the shop, I gripped the wheel so tight my hands hurt. I should’ve gone in earlier and gotten this over with, but I’d needed some time. I’d rationalized that I’d be better able to discuss this with her after a shower and some caffeine, but my showers were never that long and I never had more than two cups of coffee before noon.
After a twenty-minute shower and my third cup, though, I couldn’t justify milling around more than I already had, so I sent Christine a text to let her know I was on my way. Now there was no turning back, no getting out of it no matter how badly my stomach was turning or how difficult it was to hold the wheel with my palms sweating like they were.
This was utterly insane. It had to be a prank. A joke. Something.
A baby? Now? With my ex-wife? Really?
For fuck’s sake. Every time I thought I had a handle on things, something else threw a monkey wrench into it. And the monkey wrenches seemed to be getting bigger and bigger.
No. I wasn’t going to freak out. Wiping my palms on my jeans, I took a few slow, deep breaths. I could handle this. It was overwhelming, and it wasn’t exactly a minor thing, but I would deal with it and not lose my mind in the process. I was thirty-five years old, not some fucking teenager who’d knocked up his girlfriend on prom night.
But how could I not be panicked over this? My ex-wife and business partner was pregnant with my baby. My boyfriend—ex-boyfriend?—and I were on ground that was way too fragile for any kind of upheaval.
Cursing under my breath, I thumped the wheel with my fist. This was insane.
And it’s probably a good thing Grandma didn’t live to see this, I thought bitterly. The old bat had never gotten over the fact that I’d married a black woman. She’d never seen any reason to apologize for being openly cold and rude to my wife. Needless to say, I’d stopped attending family gatherings before too long, and I’d only heard through the grapevine how thrilled Grandma was when Christine and I had divorced. From what my mother told me, the woman had gone to her grave believing I’d eventually find a “nice white girl.” No one ever had the heart to tell her when I’d moved in with a nice white boy.
The nice white boy who I’d slept with last night and had wanted to spend the whole day with. But now . . .
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!
Part of me wanted to turn around and go back to Brad. I needed to know we were okay. Or that we still stood a chance of being okay.
Tonight. We’d have dinner tonight, assuming he was still willing to be in the same room with me, and . . . and I didn’t even know what would happen. I could only imagine the thoughts going through his head. He’d known since day one that I was bi, but there was no way he’d seen this coming. I sure as fuck hadn’t. And now I had no idea what to think of anything.
First things first, I needed to talk to Christine.
The sign for our shop came into view, and the nausea got worse as I parked behind the building we shared with a tire place and a car stereo manufacturer. On my way to the Employees Only entrance, I tried to convince my stomach to settle down, but . . . yeah. That was going to happen. I’d been nervous on my way into the restaurant last night and on the way into the house with Brad, but an entirely different set of nerves had me hesitating outside the shop door.
I closed my eyes and pulled in a long breath. Standing out here wasn’t going to change anything. Then again, talking about it wouldn’t change much either, but maybe getting on the same page with Christine would at least calm me down. And maybe her too. She must’ve been a wreck, though she’d kept it together well enough on the phone.
Man up and face the music, Hayden.
Another deep breath, and I pushed open the door.
The crew was already hard at work. Cory was setting up the embroidery machine for what looked like a sizeable order of bowling shirts. Mary Ann had the laser engraver going while she carefully pulled more acrylic trophies from a box and set them up beside the machine. The shipping guys were loading boxes into the back of the delivery van, and three more jobs were staged and ready to be packed as well.
Dave glanced up from laying a set of brass nameplates in one of the engravers. “Hey, boss. Didn’t think you were coming in today.”
That makes two of us.
“Just left something in the office.” I forced a smile. “Anyone asks, I’m not here.”
“You got it.”
I didn’t see Christine in the back where the crew was working, so I made my way to the lobby and found her at the front desk, poring over a stack of work orders.
“Hey,” I said.
She looked up. “Hey.”
Our eyes locked. If I hadn’t already known what was going on, I would’ve known from the tension in her posture and the panic in her eyes that we were about to have A Talk about something important.
She turned to Tim. “We’ll be in the office for a few minutes. If you need, give us a holler.”
Tim responded with a two-fingered salute and returned to filling in the week’s schedule on the whiteboard.
Christine and I exchanged a quick look, and I followed her into our shared office.
She leaned against her desk, and as soon as I’d closed the door, her unbreakable exterior broke. She didn’t cry, didn’t completely fall apart, but for a stoic woman like Christine, the way her shoulders sagged and she rubbed her eyes with the heels of her hands was close enough.
I had no idea what to say, so I just went to her and wrapped my arms around her. I hugged her tight and closed my eyes as I stroked her tight curls. “I’m so sorry, Chris.”
“Isn’t your fault.” She sniffed but didn’t let me go. “Took two to tango.”
“Still . . .”
“Doesn’t matter anyway. This is happening.”
My stomach somersaulting, I released her. We let each other go, but neither of us sat. She leaned against her desk. I leaned against mine. Separated by a couple of feet of faded laminate, we were silent for a long moment.
Finally, I said, “How long have you known?”
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.
It’s Complicated Blurb:
After their umpteenth breakup, Brad Sweeney and Jeff Hayden are living apart and starting over from scratch. The morning after a promising first date, they’re more optimistic than ever that they can make it work this time . . . until Jeff’s ex-wife and business partner calls to announce she’s pregnant with Jeff’s baby. Brad’s already competing with a demanding business for Jeff’s time. Now there’s a baby on the way, and worse, he’s afraid Jeff is still carrying a torch for the woman who’s carrying his child.
Jeff is desperately trying to keep his life together, but before he can even get his head around the news that he’s going to be a father, his ex announces that she wants to leave Tucker Springs. Now he either has to take over her role at the shop while ferrying the baby back and forth from Denver, or move the business—and himself—with her.
Brad and Jeff knew reconciliation wouldn’t be easy, but they’re rapidly running out of room for compromise. And sooner or later, something has to give.
It’s Complicated is available April 28th from Riptide Publishing.
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