Last week we announced that Award Winning Author Laurel Osterkamp’s November Surprise is our Romance of the Week and the sponsor of thousands of great bargains in the Romance category: over 200 free titles, over 600 quality 99-centers, and thousands more that you can read for free through the Kindle Lending Library if you have Amazon Prime!
Now we’re back to offer our weekly free Romance excerpt, and if you aren’t among those who have downloaded November Surprise, you’re in for a treat!
by Laurel Osterkamp
Six presidential elections
One consuming love affair
For Lucy Jones, the distinction between love and politics is hazy at best. Both can be all-consuming, and either can lead to a heart-breaking loss or an exhilarating win. Whatever the case, if you’re seen as a loser, you probably are one. Lucy first learns this lesson in 1988, when she’s a shy girl, battling a high school bully and rooting for Dukakis. Through the years Lucy will experience stunning victories and agonizing defeats as she makes the choices that define her. Meanwhile, she also struggles to define her relationship with Monty, who comes in and out of her life like the changes in public opinion. Is Monty simply a one-night stand, a kindred spirit, or the love of her life? And by 2008, can he offer her a change to believe in?Over the course of twenty years and six presidential elections, Lucy grows and adjusts with the times. Filled with snarky political and pop-culture references, November Surprise is about the journey we take to believe in a candidate, in love, and in ourselves.November Surprise is a companion piece to Campaign Promises, which is free on Amazon. They can be read in either order.
*WARNING – the political views expressed in this book are fiercely liberal. If you’re a conservative, be prepared for your blood to boil.
And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:
I pull my car up to the curb. I have one more of my mom’s fruitcakes left to deliver, and I’m at Jack’s house. I saved his house for last, in hope that we could hang out for a while before I need to be home for dinner. I ring the doorbell, smiling in anticipation of seeing him.
But when the door opens it’s not Jack I see, but Monty.
“Lucy?” he says. I feel the blood rush to my cheeks. The last time I saw or spoke to Monty was when we spent the night together after Jack’s wedding. It took a long time, way too long actually, but I finally managed to exorcise Monty from my mind.
“I didn’t know you were in town.” I stammer.
He shrugs his shoulders. “Home for Christmas.”
“But you never…” I stop myself. I don’t want him to know that for years I have been hoping to see him on some sort of holiday visit, only to be disappointed every time.
He looks down at the fruitcake I’m holding. It’s wrapped, with a red bow on top. “Oh,” I say, and I hold out the cake. “It’s a fruitcake. For you. For your family, actually. From my mom. She makes them every year for her friends.”
“Not her enemies?” He laughs at his fruitcake joke and takes it from me. Our fingers touch. The brief moment of physical contact is enough to leave me a little winded.
“Thanks,” he says, referring to the cake. I shift my weight from one foot to the next. “You know,” he continues, “I should be really mad at you.”
“Huh?” I look at him, trying to tell if he’s kidding. His hair is sticking out in different directions, like it hasn’t been combed all day. He’s wearing a flannel shirt that’s frayed at the collar, and his five-o-clock shadow is showing. It’s enough to make him look rugged and handsome, but not angry.
“You left without saying goodbye.”
“I… are you talking about four years ago?”
He nods his head slowly. “What was with that? I woke up, and you were gone.”
“I thought that’s how one-night stands work.”
He squints at me. “Sometimes. But afterwards, when we watched CNN and ate room service in bed, I fell asleep before you finished telling me why Newt Gingrich is the devil incarnate.”
The wind is cold, and I’m still standing in his doorway. He sees me shiver. “Do you want to come in? I think Jack’s around, somewhere.”
We step inside, into the entryway. “I really didn’t know you wanted me to stay all night.”
“Of course I did.” He hasn’t moved, and I can’t walk past him, so we’re standing very close.
“Umm… Sorry. I guess. I mean, I had to get back. I was driving home the next day, and work was super busy, and I needed to do laundry.”
He points up to the ceiling. I look up and see a mistletoe hanging directly above us. “You can make it up to me now,” he says with a smile.
Monty grabs both ends of the woolen scarf that hangs around my neck, and with a gentle tug, we’re less than inch apart. He leans his head down, and before I can even comprehend what’s happening, he’s kissing me. And I’m kissing him back. And it feels every bit as good as I remember from before, which is bad. Bad. He lives in New York. I don’t have time for this right now. He’s Jack’s brother. Jack. God Damn It.
I push him away. “Are you crazy? Didn’t you say Jack was home?”
Monty laughs. This is obviously all a big joke to him. “Jack!” he yells. “Lucy’s here.”
Monty steps away and walks into the kitchen, taking the fruitcake with him. I stand there, awkwardly, hoping guilt won’t show on my face. Then Jack comes bounding in.
“Lucy!” he yells, and he picks me up in a ferocious hug. “When did you get into town?”
“I thought you weren’t getting here until tomorrow.”
Jack has put me down and released me. I run my hand nervously through my hair, and notice that Monty has returned from the kitchen.
“She should come to dinner with us tomorrow night,” Monty says.
Jack nods his head vigorously. “You should. Do you have plans? Petra and I want to go to this new Thai place. It’s supposed to be really authentic.”
I look past Jack, at Monty. He raises his eyebrows and smiles.
“Sounds great,” I say.
The next night we all go for dinner. Our table is in a prime spot, right by the fish-tank, and it gurgles throughout our meal. The eggrolls are excellent, and the conversation isn’t even a little awkward. Mostly we discuss Y2K and our predictions for New Years Eve. But if I didn’t know better, I’d think Jack was trying to set Monty and me up.
“You’re both political junkies,” he says. “I don’t know anyone more obsessed with politics than the two of you.”
“It’s a sign of intelligence,” Monty replies. “And it’s wonk, not political junkie. Junkie makes us sound like we need to go through rehab, when actually, unlike some people, we care about the world and not just ourselves.”
In response Jack dips his fingers into his water glass then flicks them at Monty. Monty lets out a satisfied laugh, clearly proud of his consistent ability to annoy his younger brother.
After dinner, Monty offers to walk me to my car. Petra was cold, so she and Jack are already in the shelter of their Toyota Corolla.
We reach my little blue Volkswagen, and without prelude he says, “Can I get your number?”
I’m momentarily speechless. “You want to call me?”
He laughs. “Don’t look so surprised. Yes, I’d like to call you, unless you don’t want me to.”
“Umm…no, that’s fine.” I rub my mittened hands together for warmth. “I just don’t understand the point, since we live thousands of miles away from each other.”
He raises his eyebrows. “You can say no.”
“Yeah, but that would be rude.”
“Thanks. I’m flattered.” He’s wearing a wool sailor jacket, and he reaches into one of his pockets. “There’s nothing I love more than getting a girl’s number out politeness.” He takes out his cell phone, and fingers poised, waits for me to recite my digits. After I’m done, he smiles and says, “I might also get your email from Jack, if you’re okay with it. I think you’d enjoy some of the articles I come across at the ACLU. I could send you links.”
“Great,” I say. “Thank you.”
Monty leans in, gives me a chaste kiss on the cheek, and says, “It’s not like I’m always having one night stands either, you know.” He then turns around and walks away. I tell myself to get used to the sight of his back, as he moves out of my reach.
Wanting an unobtainable man is dangerous, and I don’t want to turn into a Monica Lewinsky type, convinced that a casual encounter is actually significant, or analyzing what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. But I see how it’s possible to lose your ideals when you’re with someone who makes you lose your breath, simply by kissing you on the cheek.