Nobody’s Obligation

Ava Jacobs is a shy accountant by day, aspiring romance writer by night—and her first novel just got published…

 

 
Romance isn’t a big component of Ava’s life. That is, her real life. As the monotonous nature of crunching numbers and drawn-out board meetings slowly eats away at her, the only bright side to her otherwise mundane routine lies on the black and white pages of her debut romance novel. Her inspiration? A long-time infatuation—Tyler Andrews.
 
Until the Olympic swimmer read her novel and connected the dots…
 
Tyler Andrews is used to being the center of attention. But when his sister throws a romance novel in his lap, he’s surprised to be the inspiration for the hot, hunky hero. He has no idea who Ava Jacobs is, but he’s not at all happy with her using his likeness to spice up her steamy scenes. When he finally tracks her down, it’s her likeness that intrigues him.
 
It takes just one romantic dance at a company banquet to spark disaster…
 
When Tyler’s manager arranges a daring publicity stunt and offers him as an auction item at Ava’s fundraising banquet, the bids come in quick and hot. Little did Ava expect the winner, a work colleague, to donate Tyler as Ava’s date. With all eyes on the Olympic athlete, Ava can’t refuse a romantic dance. But even though Tyler was the inspiration for Ava’s steamy novel, she refuses to accept his attention if it’s not real.
 
Will Tyler lose the one woman who caught his interest? Or will Ava push him away in an effort to prove she’s…
 
Nobody’s obligation.
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EXCERPT ONE:
Tyler slumped in the oversized chair wringing his hands nervously, wishing he was anywhere but here, but he couldn’t walk away now. No. It was his fault she was hurt and he would do the right thing. He would stay until he knew she was okay. Until he had the chance to apologise.
“I don’t get it,” he admitted. “What’d I do? I didn’t even speak to her.”
“It’s not you, Tyler,” Christopher assured him with a sly smirk.
Tyler found himself wondering if Christopher had any other faces. In the ten minutes that he had met him, Christopher had half smiled more times than anyone Tyler had ever known. It was the kind of half grin that said ‘I know something you don’t know,’ and Tyler was desperate to discover what was behind it. There was a quiet confidence that Christopher exuded that intimidated the hell out of Tyler and he wasn’t sure where it came from.
“What is it then?” he almost begged, not recognising his own whiny voice. Tyler watched as the men exchanged glances. They were silently debating how much to tell him and how much to keep to themselves. In a way he understood, but he was about to burst with frustration. “Please! Someone just fucking tell me.”
Michael signed heavily, then looked at Christopher, who barely nodded before he began to speak. “It’s not you, Tyler. And it is you.”
“That makes no sense!”
“Tyler, Ava might look like the tough ‘nothing can hurt me’ ice queen, but that is so far from the truth I doubt she can even see reality anymore. Ava is a romantic in every sense of the word. And it’s worse than that. She’s an optimistic romantic. But life has beaten her down so many times that by hiding behind the tough as nails disguise no one can get close enough to hurt her. No one can scale the walls she’s built. No one except you,” Michael explained.
Tyler’s mouth fell open unconsciously as the words sunk in. “B-But she doesn’t even know me,” he mumbled.
“But she does. Tyler, for as long as I have known Ava, you have been her hero in every sense of the word. You’ve been her inspiration. Her guiding light. You were the one thing that was able to pull her from the darkness when it closed in and threatened to swallow her whole,” Christopher added, his voice soft and soothing.

EXCERPT 2:
The sound of the clock ticking was driving him insane. Every second that counted off left Tyler feeling like he was waiting for his own execution. His frustration was boiling. Unable to sit any longer, he stood and paced. A caged lion was calmer. He knew he didn’t have the right to be pissed that she had kept him waiting—she didn’t even know he was there—but that didn’t calm him. He was used to getting his way and for some reason this girl, a girl he’d never set eyes on nor spoken to had gotten under his skin. And now she was keeping him waiting.
Tyler paused and stared out the window, attempting to focus his attention on something else but it didn’t help. Nothing did. The heavily tinted glass just showed him his own reflection, and what he saw scared him. He was tired, dishevelled, and his eyes were wild. “Shit!” Tyler muttered to himself running his huge hands across his face willing himself to calm down. He couldn’t confront her looking like this. She would take off. Screaming. And as much as he wanted to punish her, he wanted to talk to her more. He wanted to know why she had done it, but even more importantly was how. How’d she get into his head and understand him better than even he understood himself without him even knowing?
Hearing voices on the other side of the door made him freeze. For almost twelve hours he’d thought of nothing but this moment, but now it was here he was having second thoughts. It was too late. He was here now. Time to get some answers.
Tyler sunk into the lounge and grabbed a fist full of the nearest cushion. Sucking in deep breaths, he tried repeating reassurances to himself. It wasn’t working. But then he realised it. The anger had faded. The annoyance and frustration were gone. Instead he was filled with nerves like he had never experienced before.
The door creaked open and she appeared. Her face directed down the hallway as she finished her conversation. Her voice washed through his body and suddenly he was calm. Tyler quickly rubbed his clammy hands along his thighs as he rose to meet her. His eyes betrayed him and disclosed his curiosity. Thankful that she was still occupied with finishing up her discussion, he noticed she seemed slightly off balance in her orange pumps. His gaze snuck up her legs appreciatively as an unexpected warmth spread through his body. Clenching his fists, he forced his eyes higher. First he noticed the slight pull of the fabric across her well-endowed chest before landing on the wet spot on the top of her breast, which left it clingy and transparent. A shallow groan tumbled from the back of his throat as he forced his eyes higher and met hers.
Tyler gulped down his embarrassment. He’d been caught blatantly ogling her. He’d come to see her, to yell at her and make her apologise. Yet somehow, without even trying or knowing it, she had completely turned the tables on him.
Her eyes went wide as she realised who was standing before her. An involuntary gasp choked out only seconds before she paled and fell to the floor in an unconscious pile.
Rebecca, one of four kids to her parents who are both primary school teachers, was born in Wollongong on the south coast of Australia before moving to the country with her family. After a few years of embracing all that country life had to offer, the family relocated to Port Macquarie with its white sand beaches. After a brief period enjoying the sun and the surf they finally settled in Canberra where Rebecca still lives today. But all through her childhood a notepad and a book where never far away. These days Rebecca is an avid reader, and when she isn’t buried in a book or cheering on her beloved football team she’s spending time with her husband Robert and their overly spoilt dog Levi.
 
Perfection is Just an Illusion
Nobody Knows

The 100-Word Challenge

The Thin Spiral Notebook blog issued a very special challenge this week: to write a 100-word story without using the letter “A”.

At first I didn’t think I could do it, but I did! Not my best writing ever (LOL), but it was fun to come up with alternative words.

Here’s my (very) humble contribution.

Ted and Tom were the best men in town for the job. Neither of them were timid or held much sense of decorum.

When Lilly decided to throw Millie the goodbye-to-single-life shindig, their very first thoughts were, “Let’s hire the Thompson brothers to strip for Millie.” But they didn’t know the brothers were both once Millie’s lovers.

The event didn’t quite go down like they expected it.  When the two erupted through the living room door, dressed in nothing else but the tiny loin cloths Ellie provided them, Millie first turned beet red, then killed over.

The boys, discovering they both knew Millie much too well, threw themselves onto each other, punching each other’s lights out. Coming to, Millie yelled bloody murder until her friends ushered the now-bloodied boys out.

The event would never be forgotten, being still the fodder for many fireside discussions.

The Importance of Hugs

You should never underestimate the power of a timely hug. I have never been much of a touchy-feely person, preferring that my personal space be respected even by close relatives. I feel almost claustrophobic if people get too close or too clingy. That said I sometimes feel the need for a hug.

As some of you know I’m a teacher. I’m surrounded by munchkins all day–the kind that wiggle, yell, talk nonstop and giggle uncontrollably at the simple mention of underwear. My husband often wonders why I refuse to go out on Fridays. It’s simple; I can barely move at the end of the week and my brain is mush. The couch and some non-threatening TV shows or movies are all I can handle by the end of the week.

Today there was something in the air. Teachers around the world have never been able to identify it, but we always know when it’s happening. There is even more giggling than usual, a lot of horseplay (which often ends up in tears), and you don’t even have to go as far as uttering “underwear” because even words like “eat” and “sit” provoke epic bursts of laughter that spread like wild fire amongst the munchkin hordes.

The simple act of climbing three steps and waiting for me to open the door to the classroom seems too complicated today and invariably one student accidently pushes the one behind him stirring up a undeserving rant of accusations. He did it on purpose. He pushed me off the steps. It was Timmy, Mrs. Non-Hugger

We somehow manage to enter the classroom without further incidents, but next thing I know little Timmy is in tears at his seat.

“What happened, Timmy?” I ask, surprised by his outburst of emotion.

Little Timmy, a quirky sweet boy, looks up at me with tears rolling down his cheeks and says, “I need a hug.”

This is where Mrs-Stay-Out-Of-My-Space opens up her arms and says, “Honey, hugs are always available for free in my classroom”  After a good long hug and a bit of crying , Timmy recovers from the hurt of being wrongly accused by his classmate and he’s ready for some giggling with the rest of the class.

Hugpainting

That hug did my soul some good, as well. But the good feeling doesn’t last long, for another munchkin has a major meltdown over the fact that our time is up, and we must return to their regular classroom. He wants to finish coloring his Miss Nelson from the day before. Nothing–and I mean nothing–sways him from the fact he WANTS to finish it. I try to talk him into accepting the bribe of a small box of crayons to take home, but it backfires. Now, he wants to take it, but he wants to make sure he can return it tomorrow.

“But honey, tomorrow is Saturday and I won’t be here. You can give it to me on Monday.”

“NOOOOOOOOO…I want to return it tomorrow. TOMORROW…you don’t understand.”

“I do understand. You are frustrated because you wanted to finish your picture, but I also have rules I must follow and it’s time to take you all back to your classes.”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO…you don’t understand.” Followed by howling that would make any wolf proud, and a river of tears.

I now need a hug really badly. I even play with the idea of following Timmy’s example, turn to the rest of the group and ask for one. However, I really need to get them to their classes. I call a friend in the office and she comes to my rescue. She stays and talks with my out-of-control-sweetums while I deliver the others safely to their classroom teachers.

I have one last errand to run before returning for the semi-isolation of my room. I just walked in a classroom to drop off a reading tool when I feel little arms wrapping themselves around my waist. It’s my “attachment”. I call her that because she likes to walk “attached” to me.

“Missed you, Mrs. Non-Hugger,” she says, looking at me with her innocent, sweet eyes.

And just like that my headache fades (at least for a few minutes) and I feel good again. Never underestimate the power of a hug.