Bestselling, award-winning author E. Van Lowe puts a fantastic new spin on paranormal romance with Book 1 of his smart, funny and outrageous Falling Angels Saga…
“Wow!…breath of fresh air...an absolute joy…”
15-year-old Megan Barnett’s teenage angst kicks into high gear when her mom’s new boyfriend gives devilishly handsome a whole new meaning…
Don’t miss BOYFRIEND FROM HELL while it’s just 99 cents!
by E. Van Lowe
Fifteen year-old Megan Barnett and her single mom, Suze, have a special relationship—they are friends, close friends, who do almost everything together.
The special bond takes a turn for the worse when Suze decides to start dating again. She hasn’t had a man in her life since Megan’s father left ten years ago.
Enter two mysterious young men, Megan’s new classmate, sinfully attractive bad boy, Guy Matson, and the dangerously handsome art dealer, Armando. Before long Megan and Suze both wind up in steamy relationships. But neither of the handsome pair is quite what he seems. In fact, one of them is Satan, with his sights set on a new bride. Megan has precious little time to figure out how to stop him. If she doesn’t, either Megan or Suze are quite literally going to HELL.
5-star praise for BOYFRIEND FROM HELL:
“…simply amazing!….captures you from the very beginning…let’s face it, who does not love a story with not one but two bad boys in it…”
“…Smart, witty and has a lot of great lines….This story moves!…a fantastic book…”
Boyfriend from Hell
by E. Van Lowe
She was laughing.
That’s what I remember most about that night. It was Saturday. The sun had recently gone down. It was still warm in our old house, but once the sun had finished setting, I knew we’d be slipping into our snuggies. That’s how Januaries are in the desert—hot in the day, freezing at night.
We were seated at the chipped oak dining room table with the mismatched chairs she was so embarrassed for company to see. We were polishing the silver, and my mother was laughing.
We love polishing the silver. It’s a mother-daughter bonding thing we’ve been doing as far back as I can remember. When I was younger we did it in the summer, but since I’d been in high school, we’d been doing it over winter break.
Ours is an antique set dating back to the early nineteen hundreds that my mother got for a steal at an estate sale when I was seven. We go to lots of estate sales, and yard sales, and garage sales. Glendale calls itself the antique capital of Arizona. This distinction allows anyone with anything festering in their attic or garage to drag it out onto their lawn on Saturday mornings and try to palm it off as an antique.
Since my mother loves antiques, you can find us on any given Saturday inside some cowboy’s grungy garage, rummaging through his crap, looking for the real deal. She has an eye for the real stuff, so no one can cheat her out of a bargain. She works for an art dealer. She is also one of my best friends. Well… she was before our lives went to hell in a hand basket. Guess I shouldn’t use that word too freely around here. Hell, I mean.
As we sat polishing away, she casually said, “What would you think of me going on a date?”
“Umm, you mean with a guy?”
“Of course with a guy. A man,” she said, the beginnings of a laugh bubbling out of her. “I don’t have any prospects yet, but I’ve been seeing all these dating sites on TV and thought, why not?” She looked at me trying to read my face.
It was the first time she had mentioned another man since my father had left ten years ago.
“Yeah, why not?” I said through a thin smile, although what I was feeling was… why?
“Why not?” she repeated, soft laughter spilling out of her, like there was some new, long awaited happiness to be discovered, and she was brimming with the possibility of what that happiness might be.
“I can’t believe your mother’s going on a date,” said Erin.
It was Sunday afternoon. The next day. We were seated at the food court in the Glendale mall, digesting my problem along with a double order of curly fries.
“She hasn’t found one yet,” I countered. “She’s just talking about it.”
I swirled a curly fry into the glob of ketchup on my Styrofoam plate. “Hasn’t she read any of those books or articles about single parent dating? Rule number one clearly states: sneak out behind your kid’s back. Keep us in the dark as long as possible. It’s a good rule.” I popped the curly fry into my mouth.
“In Suze’s defense, she’s just trying to keep the lines of communication open. If she meets someone, it’s going to affect your life, too.”
All my friends call my mom Suze, never Ms. Barnett. That’s how she likes it. I call her Suze, too, but not to her face, never to her face. I tried that once when I was ten, and if looks could kill, I’d currently be pushing daisies. I think it’s cool having a mom everyone can call by her first name—just not me.
“I know you’re only trying to cheer me up, Erin. But telling me my mother might meet somebody is not going to do it.” I swirled another curly fry.
“Hey, your mom’s kind of hot. I’m sure she’ll find lots of dudes who want to go out with her.” This revelation came from my other best friend, Matt. I’ve known Matt since kindergarten, four years longer than I’ve known Erin. He was tall and slender, with a ready smile and shock of fuzzy red hair. He was also an idiot.
“Matt,” Erin said patiently. “Megan doesn’t want her mother going on a date. That’s why we’re having this little meeting. Duh?”
“Oh,” said Matt. He looked from Erin to me, letting her words wash over him.
Matt was not the kind of boy you’d normally expect us to be hanging out with. Aside from the fact that he was IQ-challenged, Matt was a card-carrying member of our school’s in-crowd, dubbed The Poplarati. He was on the varsity football team and the track team. Erin and I were on the debate team and the math team. We were card carrying members of our school’s leper colony. Yet ever since Suze and I arrived in Glendale and moved next door to the Dawsons, Matt has always been a part of my life. I can’t recall a memory that doesn’t have him in it.
“Why don’t you want Suze to go on a date?” he asked.
“Are you kidding? First off, if anyone in my family should be dating, it should be me. I’m fifteen, primo dating age. How’s it going to look if my mother has a boyfriend and I don’t?”
No one answered. The three of us sat in silence, considering my problem.
The mall had recently been remodeled. Several upscale restaurants had been added to the food court, which they now called the dining terrace, as if by changing the name people would forget they were at the Glendale mall. But you could still get a good burger and curly fries, so the change was just fine with me.
“Then why not get your own boyfriend?” Matt said all of a sudden.
That was a no-brainer. “Gee, Matt, let me see. Maybe it’s because it’s social suicide for anyone at school to date a mathlete. And guess what? I’m a mathlete!”
“But you’re cute,” said Matt. Then realizing he’d committed the cardinal sin of complimenting a girl, he looked away awkwardly. “I mean you’ve got the blue eyes, and… the one dimple in your left check, and…” His awkward eyes found Erin. “And you’re cute, too. You’ve got… the thing with your hair.” His voice trailed off as he attempted to be the equal opportunity looks-evaluator.
“Yeah, well, at G.U., geek trumps looks,” I said, disgusted with my situation.
“And that thing with my hair is called bangs, thank you very much!” Erin was equally disgusted, but hers was aimed at Matt.
“Then maybe you should go out with someone on the math team.”
Erin and I stared at him. Matt knew good and well I wasn’t ever going out with anyone on the math team. And it’s not that I’m an elitist or anything like that. I’d just like to go out with a cool, popular guy for once. And if he happens to look like Taylor Lautner, so be it.
The Poplarati have no idea what the rest of us go through. I mean, just because we’re lepers doesn’t mean we’d ever date a leper. Those of us who occupy the lower links on the social food chain have standards too—even higher than The Poplarati—because our boyfriends not only have to be cute, but they also need to have an IQ higher than that of a titmouse. Unfortunately at Glendale Union, hitting the Dating Daily Double (looks and intelligence), is a near impossibility.
“I don’t see what’s the big deal about Suze dating.” Matt was now giving me the stink eye.
“Oh? Would you like to listen to your mother talking about French kissing?” He screwed up his face as the image invaded his thoughts.
His expression softened. “But you and Suze are so close. I don’t have that kind of relationship with my mom. I wish I did.”
“Me, too.” Erin was looking at me with the same expression I used on her when I was trying to make her feel guilty about something.
“Come on, guys, she’s my mother,” I said with an exasperated sigh. “Can I really tell her that while we’re snuggled up on the sofa watching Spider Man Three, I’m secretly undressing James Franco with my eyes? Of course not. These things I keep from her for her own good. And likewise, there are things she should keep from me. I don’t care if she wants to go on a date. I just don’t want to know about it.”
That wasn’t exactly true. I did care about her going on a date. But if I told them how I really felt, I’d appear selfish.
Erin reached for the ketchup. “It’s just that you’re lucky to have a mother who’s your friend. The only time my mother ever talks to me is when she’s telling me to clean my room, do my homework, or stay away from boys—not necessarily in that order.” She squirted a big red blob onto her plate.
It was then the answer I was looking for came to me, triggered by something Erin had said. “Hey, remember when your mom didn’t want you riding in cars with boys? She told you horror stories about what could happen.”
“Yeah. That was so lame.”
“Why don’t I do the same thing? I’ll tell her a graphic horror story about some parent at our school who went on a date and was never heard from again. That’ll scare her off dating forever.”
“I don’t like it,” said Erin.
“Me, either,” said Matt. “I think Suze getting a boyfriend is a good idea.”
I ignored both their responses. “Then it’s settled. I’m doing it.”
“Megan,” Erin’s tone turned serious. “If you’re uncomfortable with your mother dating, maybe you should just tell her?”
I shook my head. “You guys have a lot to learn about open relationships.”
Pythagoras, the famous Greek philosopher, is known for being the first person to demonstrate the theorem that with any right triangle, the sum of the squares of both sides is equal to the square of the hypotenuse: A²+B²=C². What most people don’t know is Pythagoras also stated: “It is evil to eat beans.”
The sad fact that this useless bit of information resides in my brain is one of the many contributing factors as to why I do not have a boyfriend. I’m a trivia junkie. I can’t help myself. Put a useless piece of information in front of me and I will gobble it up like a double cheeseburger with a side of curly fries.
Cute boys like girls who are into fashion magazines and lip gloss, not mathematical equations and trivia. So imagine my surprise when our first day back at school after winter break, a really cute boy walked into the Math Lab.
Don’t get me wrong, cute boys walk into the Math Lab all the time. However, as soon as they discover they’re in a room crawling with geeks, they realize their mistake and make a hasty exit.
I was at the chalkboard with Erin, working through a problem using a logarithm [and trust me, I am well aware that my use of logarithms has solidified my place in the annals of geekdom forever, but humor me here].
“Hottie at three o’clock,” whispered Erin, digging her elbow into my side.
I turned, and there he was, a cute boy standing just inside the doorway. This cute boy was different from all the others who’d come before him. This cute boy was acting like he intended to stay.
“I’m looking for the Math Lab,” he said as he surveyed the room. There were seven of us in all, not including Mrs. Brewster in the back. Five boys who followed the geek dress code to the letter, all the way down to the black socks they wore with their uncool sneaks, Erin, and me.
“Who wants to know?” asked Erin. I swear that girl could go from zero to flirt in six-point-five seconds.
He smiled. It was a confident smile. He had a lot to be confident about. He was basketball-player tall, with jet black hair, and the kind of dark, dreamy eyes you could look into forever. It was obvious from the way he carried himself that he’d been flirted with before. Erin’s question, “Who wants to know?”, would have sent most male mathletes scurrying for cover, but not this boy.
“The future captain of The Glendale Mathletes,” he said in response. His smile widened.
Geoffrey, Tran, and the other math geeks stared up at him from behind their glasses, their faces twisted into tight little knots. G.U’s male mathletes were very protective of Erin and me—not that they’d ever try flirting with us themselves. They had enough trouble just standing next to us without sweating out their undershirts.
“Tran is captain of the mathletes,” I said, adding my two cents, and then I smiled. It was supposed to be a mysterious, seductive smile, but my mouth froze into a toothy grin. I have practiced that seductive smile in the mirror like a zillion times to perfection, and the first time I try using it on a real boy, I wind up looking like the Joker.
The new boy looked at me. “Interesting smile.”
Is that laughter in his eyes? Is he laughing at me?
“You must be Guy,” Mrs. Brewster called from the back of the room. “Welcome to the Glendale Union Mathletes. Come on, I’ll introduce you around.”
At the time, I was happy that a cute boy was joining the mathletes, especially since I was in the market for a cool, cute boyfriend. I didn’t find it strange that a boy so handsome and sure of himself would be hanging around geeks. My mistake.
With my mother working every day, and me off with the mathletes and the debate team after school, weekday dinners at our house were usually catch-as-catch-can. Take out was the norm. Or sometimes I’d make burgers, or enchilada pie, which was my specialty. But on some evenings, Suze would bring in the fixings for something a bit more elaborate, a meal we could prepare together.
That’s what she did Monday evening. We converged on the kitchen around six-thirty to prepare chicken paprikash, which really isn’t that elaborate. It’s just sautéed chicken in a paprika sauce over noodles.
I knew the reason for this together time was so she could ease into the dating thing again. While I pretended to happily work away, all I could think is that mother-daughter activities like these would come to an end if she found a boyfriend.
“Are you sure you’re okay with me dating, hon?” She said it casually as she sliced the chicken breasts. But there was nothing casual about it.
“Sure? Sure? Sure I’m sure. Why wouldn’t I be sure?” The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to put an end to the dating conversation.
Our kitchen was small, cozy she called it. But it was bright, with a big bay window over the sink that looked out onto our eco-friendly backyard, and lots of counter space so we never got in each other’s way.
She started placing the chicken slices into the pan of sizzling canola oil on the stove. “Just checking. I have to tell you, I’m excited. It’s been so long, I don’t even know my type.” She stared off, a wistful look in her eyes. “I suppose tall, distinguished, and everyone likes a man with a nice butt.”
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. Mentally I hummed as loud as I could, trying to blot out the conversation. I was in the midst of chopping veggies for the sauce. When I looked down at the chopping board, I was surprised to discover that if I chopped them any finer I’d have a nice puree. Breathe, I told myself as I eased up on the blade.
While it was always fun when Erin and I talked about boys and their butts, butt talk was not something I wanted to hear from my mother.
Then she giggled.
She giggled like a little girl. Thirty-nine-year-old Suze Barnett, who had tiny wisps of gray she was always adding highlights to, was giggling over the prospect of dating a man with a nice butt.
I had to put an end to this—now!
I cleared my throat. “I just want you to be careful out there, Mom.”
“Thank you. I will,” she replied, as she happily turned the chicken slices to brown on the other side.
The kitchen was filling up with a yummy fragrance that reminded me of my childhood, when she cooked every night when she got home from work.
“I mean, I definitely don’t want what happened to Mrs. Tobolewski to happen to you.”
“Tobolewski. One of the girls at school’s mom.” I pretended to concentrate on the chopped veggies, scooping them into a bowl to be sautéed once the chicken was done. Yet through the corner of my eye, I was watching, as like a hungry fish she slowly rose to the bait.
“So…” She sniffed at it: “What happened to Mrs. Tobolewski?” And then Bam! She swallowed it whole.
“Oh, didn’t I tell you about her? She went on a date.” I let the word date hang in the air between us, heavy with harmful meaning.
This was too easy. Should I reel her in now, or play her for a while? I should probably practice in case this dating thing gets serious. I’ll play her. “Huh?” I said, shooting her my best blank stare.
“Mrs. Tobolewski’s date. What happened?” The sautéing was forgotten for the moment, as she urged me on with her eyes.
“It’s not important. I don’t want to worry you.”
“Megan Barnett!” she implored.
“Oh, all right.” I made a big deal out of stopping my chopping. I sighed. “Well, let’s see, the girl’s mother was about your age, attractive like you, and from what I can remember, it was her first date since the divorce.”
“Ooh. Bad date, huh?”
“Well, not for the guy who lopped her head off. I’m sure he had loads of fun.”
“Oh, my!” She nearly dropped a chicken slice on the floor.
“And it was their first date,” I repeated.
I could tell from her sickly pallor she was totally rethinking the dating thing. A pang of remorse shot through me. I really did feel bad fooling her this way. We were friends. But that’s exactly why I was doing it. She had convinced herself that dating was a good idea. It was up to me as a friend to point out the pitfalls.
“How did they meet?” She began placing the sautéed chicken slices on a paper towel to drain.
“Huh? Oh… they umm… met at church.” The answer was totally unplanned, and yet totally genius. I mean if you can’t trust a guy you meet in church…
“Where did they go?”
“Go?” What was with all of these questions? Was I not making myself clear? The woman was dead because she went on a date.
“On the date,” she repeated. “Where did they go?”
“Mom, does it really matter where they went? The man killed her!”
I was beginning to lose it. Not good. I needed to play it cool. I took a deep breath.
“Skiing,” I said. “They went skiing at a very posh ski resort. And did I mention it was their first date ever? The first date she’d been on since all those years ago when she went out with her husband.” Even an idiot could make the connection.
“Did they catch him?”
But not my mother. I lost it. “What difference does that make, Mom? She’s dead! Do I have to draw you a map? The woman is dead because she went on a date.”
“No. She’s dead because she didn’t screen properly.”
“Megan, this is sounding an awful lot like one of those urban myths. I mean, who goes on a ski trip on their first date? Really! First dates should be coffee in a public place.”
Okay, so she has read some of the literature on single-parent dating. Who knew?
I handed her the bowl of veggies and she began ladling them into the pan.
“You and I aren’t going to make that mistake, are we, hon?” She said this, and then she smiled at me. She smiled as if everything I’d said, rather than discouraging her, proved her point.
“Umm. No.” I was at a loss for words.
What just happened here? As I mentally retraced my footsteps trying to see where I zigged when I should have zagged, Suze wiped her hands on a towel and moved to the counter where she picked up a pamphlet.
“I appreciate your concern, Megan. But don’t worry. My first date will be an e-date,” she announced proudly. “Those bad guys can’t harm me in cyberspace, now can they?”
Should I tell her she could catch a deadly computer virus? Nah, she’d never go for that.
“This is the dating questionnaire they sent me. After dinner you can help me fill it out. No one knows me better than you.”
“That’s for sure.”
Suze moved to the cabinet where she kept the cooking sherry. “Don’t say it like that. It’ll be fun.”
Fun? That questionnaire was going to ask my mother questions about herself I did not want to know the answers to. What happened to the good old days when mothers wore knee length skirts and spent all their time in the kitchen baking bread? Those mothers didn’t care about dating, or questionnaires, or butts. All they cared about was how good their kitchens smelled. I suddenly had a taste for fresh baked bread.
She looked at me and smiled. She had the biggest, bluest eyes. A lot like mine. “What do you say?”
“Sure,” I replied weakly. “It’ll be… fun. But let’s order some cheesy bread.”
It was as close as I was going to get to the good old days.
Dinner was a disaster.
The meal was good, perfect, although I must admit cheesy bread is an odd complement to Chicken Paprikash. The disaster was that my thoughts kept drifting to the result of us filling out that questionnaire—and what I saw was not pretty.
A short time after we had eaten, cleaned the kitchen, and put the leftovers away, we seated ourselves on the high wooden stools at the kitchen counter with the questionnaire lying between us. That’s exactly how I felt. That stupid questionnaire was coming between us.
Our special bond began way back when I was five years old. That’s when, after six years of marriage, my father decided to move to Australia to find himself. I guess he figured if he took us with him, he’d be harder to find—so he split, leaving us high and dry. I haven’t seen or heard from him since. No biggy. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to meet him. I even tried looking him up on Friend Finder a couple of times.
The good news is, I was so young when he left I don’t remember him leaving. Since his departure, though, my mother and I have become, well… friends.
I mean for ten whole years it had been just the two of us, me and mom—the Two Musketeers. We had a great time doing everything together: movies, concerts, amusement parks, museums, and let’s not forget the tons and tons of garage and estate sales. She took me to my dance recitals, and I accompanied her to art shows where she shared her love of sculpture. She sat up with me when I had the chicken pox, and after Erin’s eleventh birthday party where I ate two dozen chocolate chip cookies on a dare, and spent the entire night throwing my guts up into a bucket… [By the way, if you’re an eleven-year-old, you need to know that a dozen chocolate chip cookies should probably be your limit.]
Anyway, after all the good times we shared, she suddenly wanted to change things.
She picked up her pen and began to write. “Let’s see,” she said, thinking out loud. “Attractive single parent…”
I made a face.
“It’s that word, attractive.”
“You think I’m ugly?”
“No, no, of course not. You’re beautiful, Mom. But if you lead with attractive you sound vain. Think about it. The first thing you mention is your looks. You sound like one of those botox bimbos. Ooh, look at me, I’m so cute.”
Suze stared at me a moment and then nodded. “Hadn’t thought of that. Good catch.” She started over: “Intelligent…”
I made a face.
“You sound like a snob.”
“Because I say I’m intelligent?”
“Mom, you know how boys are. They like to think they’re the smart ones. I’d hate for you to miss out on a good date because Mr. Perfect was feeling a little insecure the day he read your questionnaire.”
She started over again, and for the next hour and a half, I challenged every word she wrote: Sincere… means insincere; clever… gay; Sensitive… crazy; loves life… loves sex, industrious… means you have no time for him, caring… means you have too much time for him. After a while she became so frustrated, she threw up her hands and asked me to take over filling out the questionnaire.
Perfect, I thought. For the next ten minutes I carefully crafted a sentence that, while seemingly alluring, sent a subtle yet firm message to men to stay away from my mother. Finished, I handed over the questionnaire and smiled proudly.
She read aloud: “Unattractive mother of five seeks man with money.”
She stared silently down at the questionnaire. A slight crease appeared in her brow. After a while, she took a few deep breaths then looked up at me with a confused expression.
“You know, Mom, I’m getting a sense you’re not fully appreciating the important message that statement is making.”
“You’re right, hon. I’m not. Care to explain?”
“Certainly. By saying you’re unattractive, you’re not going to get any of those shallow types who are only interested in a woman for her looks. And if five kids doesn’t scare him off, then you know he’s into children. What a pleasant surprise when he discovers it’s just me. And okay, maybe I went a bit too far with the money thing. I just don’t want a guy dating you for your money.”
“I don’t have any money.”
“Like I said, I probably went a bit far with that one.”
All of a sudden she began laugh. “Megan, Megan, Megan. For a minute there, you had me. But now I see. It’s a joke. I mean, if I wrote something like that, nobody would go out with me.”
“Really?” Okay, I guess I wasn’t subtle enough.
“Very funny, hon, but I think I’d better fill this out on my own. Are you sure this is all right with you?” she asked for like the thirteenth time.
I suppose that was the perfect opportunity to bring up how I was feeling about our open relationship being a bit too open for me, about how I didn’t want to hear that she admired men’s butts, or that she was going to go out on dates, and how if she ever went on a date, I did not want to hear the gory details. And then there were my darker thoughts, about how I liked that it was just the two of us and didn’t see why things needed to change.
Had I known what was coming, I would have told her my true feelings right then and there. But I didn’t know. So I said: “It was a joke, Mom. I’m cool.”
“Very funny,” she repeated, then she sat down and began filling out the questionnaire.
It was the beginning of the end.
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