General Release Date: 18th May 2021
Word Count: 58,680
Book Length: NOVEL
COMEDY AND HUMOUR
An endearingly irreverent love story.
To Jackie Ryan, insults are foreplay and love is war. What the feisty redhead lacks in stature, she makes up in attitude. She’s made more than one grown man cry and she’s damn proud of it. Little does the rowdy barista know she’s about to meet her match in the shape of a walking, talking pair of starched khakis.
When unassuming Eddie Jaworski stumbles into a quirky coffee shop, he isn’t expecting a battle of wits with the maniac behind the counter. Still, he can’t help but be intrigued by the endearingly irreverent human enigma. She’s brash, but considerate. Closed off to most, but fiercely loyal to a few. Everything is a joke, except those things that are sacred. Jackie doesn’t trust easily, and if he wants to get close, he’s going to have to work for every inch. Good thing he’s up for the challenge.
But Eddie has a secret—one he didn’t mean to keep—that’s going to tug at the delicate strings weaving the pair together. When everything begins to unravel, Jackie must decide just what she’s willing to risk for love.
“You can get out of my way or you can die. The choice is yours. You’ve got to the count of ten,” I crow into the mic of my headset. I love this game. Destroying egotistical douche canoes in Rule Them All is one of my all-time favorite things. And I’m good at it. I was born to dominate this computer world with an iron fist.
“That time of the month, Trix?” the snotty, barely post-pubescent voice of S3Xk!ng69 rings in my ear. He must be new.
Wrong choice, dipshit. A wicked smile twists my red-stained lips.
“One. Two. Ten. Time’s up.” With a few keystrokes my digital army squashes my enemies with brutal efficiency.
“Holy shit.” The woeful cry is music to my ears. “I was just playing around.”
“Awww. Poor baby. Next time you feel like playing I suggest you stay the fuck away from Woman’sWorld.”
Yes, I named my make-believe country Woman’sWorld. And yes, I have zero remorse in exterminating pests like this one. He can’t say I didn’t warn him. Rule Them All is not for the timid or insecure. It’s a dog-eat-dog world with player-controlled countries clawing at each other to get to the top. To be the best. My gamer handle is DominaTrix for a reason.
“Wow Jackie, that was harsh,” my best friend chastises me in our private video chat. Elizabeth is a bleeding heart. I love her to death, but she wants to think the best of everyone. Truth is, some people are just assholes. A little bit of humbling goes a long way.
“He had it coming,” her boyfriend, Austin, chimes in. I’d nearly cut his balls off last year when he broke Elizabeth’s heart. Believe me, he had it coming too. I think he’s still trying to get on my good side. I promise I have one. It’s just reserved for a very select group of truly amazing people. The rest of the world can fuck right off.
“Thanks, Man Meat. But I don’t need your approval.” I flip off the camera with a simper. He chuckles, and Elizabeth groans.
“Don’t you have to work in like three hours?” she asks.
I glance across my small studio apartment to the clock on the milkcrate that serves as my nightstand. The bright, abrasive, orange 3:00 silently scolds me.
“Shit. Guess tomorrow’s going to be a bitch.” I shrug, hugging one knee up to my chest, resting my chin on it, and grinning at my best friend through the camera.
She rolls her eyes at me. “Did you at least finish your submission for the contest?”
My gaze darts up to the dozens of half-finished designs taped up on nearly every square inch of wall space.
“Almost,” I lie.
“Almost?” She calls me out with the same disappointed tone my mom uses. The sound is like a tiny needle poking me in the eye.
“Yeah, almost. As in just about. Nearly.”
“As in no.”
“I’ll finish it tomorrow.” It’s a bold-faced lie, and we both know it.
Every year E.B. Jericho, one of my all-time favorite sci-fi writers, holds a contest to design the cover art for her latest release. And every year I promise myself I’ll enter. I have a million and one ideas, but I always let the deadline for submission pass me by. I’ve been torturing myself for months trying to come up with a unique design, but nothing seems right. The fact that this is the last book in the series makes it that much more important.
“You better. You’ve got this thing on lockdown.” Elizabeth’s faith in me is unwavering, despite the fact that I’ve never actually had any paid graphic artist work.
I glance over to my long-forgotten drafting table, now housing junk mail and yet-to-be-folded laundry. I haven’t used it or any of my hundreds of dollars’ worth of design software since I gave up on starting my own graphic design business a couple years ago. In the six short months after I dropped out of college, I realized selling my art meant selling a piece of my soul with it. I was a used car salesman every time I tried for a commission. I’m really talented, I swear. Trust me. Rejection after rejection poured in until I just stopped trying. After a long morning of slinging coffee, doodling cover design ideas is all I have the energy for.
“You’ve read every one of his books, what? Like a dozen times?” Elizabeth asks.
“Her books and at least a dozen,” I correct her.
No one really knows who E.B. Jericho is. She’s a notorious recluse, but Elizabeth and I have a standing bet on the author’s gender. She goes with odds, seeing as how seventy-five percent of sci-fi writers are men. I am convinced E.B. is a woman. She’s too clever and witty not to be. If we ever met, we’d be hetero-lifemates. Instant besties for sure.
“All right, kiddos. I better get my beauty sleep.” I blow a kiss at the screen.
“Night, Jackie,” Austin’s deep voice announces.
“Night. Love you, babe,” Elizabeth chirps with a sweet smile.
“Love you too.”
I click off the camera, toss my glasses onto my desk and shut down my computer. Stretching my arms up and taking a long, deep breath, I sweep my eyes over the design ideas splattering my walls again. Not one of them is good enough. It’s so late it’s early, but my mind is still racing. The idea of submitting a design to be judged by someone I truly admire makes me nauseous.
I grab my sketchbook and sprawl out in my tangled mess of an unmade bed. Closing my eyes, I picture Persei Rivera, the main character from E.B. Jericho’s Sins of Tomorrow series. She’s a space smuggler and the most kickass character of all time. She’s standing tall in front of her ship, Phobos, a Hellhound-class light space cruiser. Her grease-stained cargo pants are tucked into lunar-dust speckled boots. Her father’s old leather bomber jacket is zipped up to keep out the chill on the darkside of the deserted space rock where she’s currently stowing cargo. The wind blows her raven-black hair in thick waves behind her, and her pale skin appears nearly translucent. The low light from a distant sun glints off the laser pistol strapped to her hip. Her arms are crossed, and the edge of her mouth is quirked up in a devious challenge. She’s the Dirty Harry of space. She wants you to try something. Punk.
In my mind, the sight is clear as day. I spring my eyes open and stare down at the blank page. Two strokes of my pen and it’s already gone wrong. I rip the page out of my sketchbook, crumple it into a tiny ball and toss it across the room with a huff. I try again, but I can’t get the angle right for Phobos. She’s an impressive ship, and I made her look like a bathtub toy! Another page ripped out. Another discarded failure.
Over and over again, I doodle the same intergalactic scene until my eyelids get heavy and I pass out in a heap of crumpled paper.
About the Author
Amelia Kingston is many things, the most interesting of which are probably California girl, writer, traveler, and dog mom. She survives on chocolate, coffee, wine, and sarcasm. Not necessarily in that order.
She’s been blessed with a patient husband who’s embraced her nomad ways and traveled with her to over 30 countries across 5 continents (I’m coming for you next, Antarctica!). She’s also been cursed with an impatient (although admittedly adorable) terrier who pouts when her dinner is 5 minutes late.
She writes about strong, stubborn, flawed women and the men who can’t help but love them. Her irreverent books aim to be silly and fun with the occasional storm cloud to remind us to appreciate the sunny days. As a hopeless romantic, her favorite stories are the ones that remind us all that while love is rarely perfect, it’s always worth chasing.
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