Second in my Happily Ever Austen Series
Love is a lot closer and more complicated than Marty ever dreamed.
Marty Dashwood is a true romantic. Hearts, chocolates, kisses on the hand—the whole nine yards. His killjoy brother Eldon doesn’t believe in love at first sight, but one day Marty will have the perfect meet-cute, she’ll fall helplessly in love with him and they’ll live happily ever after.
Brandy’s worked with Marty for almost two years. He’s the best friend she could hope for after the accident that took her husband. So she should be happy that Marty finally found what he always wanted, right?
So why does it feel like every time she sees Marty with the ‘Social-Media Angel’ he rescued from a mugger a piece breaks off her heart? How can she explain any of this to him before she loses her best friend forever?
Rash & Rationality is a modern gender-swapped friends-to-lovers Sense & Sensibility, set in a cozy bookshop.
Excerpt from Rash & Rationality
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a store nearing closing without any customers will be the epicenter of employee mischief.
In the midst of re-stocking the latest airport thriller, Blood on the Tarmac, Brandy heard the pre-programed soundtrack skip. The classical piano and violin CD—which made her both ache to nap and also homicidal after a twelve-hour shift—changed, and a rhythmic beat rumbled from the three speakers crammed above the giant bookshelves.
Shaking her head, she resumed unboxing the books despite a smile climbing up her cheeks. Just when her arms were full, a head popped around the long corner. With windswept hair never tamed even by a comb, Marty was a wiry man in both stature and height, but his exuberant smile and deadly cheekbones more than distracted from it.
As the song rolled out of the musical intro, he mouthed along, “Snow falls from the skies, forgetful and pure…”
“It’s June,” Brandy said, but Marty ignored her.
He slapped a hand to his forehead and collapsed against the bookshelf. “I reach out to feel, glass cold as a grave…”
“Shouldn’t we be working?” she said and bit her lip to keep from laughing. Marty, not about to give her an inch of relief, started to shake his hips.
Hands extended far, as if he was stretching, he cried out along with the singer, “Reach for me, reach for me. Give me a chance. Sing me a hope, gift me a dance.”
Brandy doomed herself by turning to the man pleading for her attention. A glint struck his boyish brown eyes and he fluttered his fingers while straining for her. With a laugh, she dropped the paperbacks and accepted his hands. Together, the pair swung in a tight circle, the shelves pressing them so close he was nearly on top of her.
Marty dipping her caused Brandy’s no-nonsense ponytail to smack into the display of big-headed collectibles. One carrying a surfboard rebounded from its stand, falling into the arms—and giant head—of a woman in a parka. Ah, plastic love.
“Reach for me, reach for me,” Marty sang, his sweet voice barely competing with the artist’s baritone. Not that it mattered to Brandy, who laughed along while joining him.
His hands locked tight around her waist, the pair galloped up and down the walkways of the store. Brandy could barely keep up with Marty, who managed to raise his knees nearly to his chest with each step.
“You’re such a dork,” she called to the man twirling her with abandon. Marty waggled his eyebrows at her in response, too busy mouthing along with the song to respond.
They dashed through the shelves of thrillers and horror, hovered around sci-fi, and he gave her a deep dip at romance.
Brandy skimmed her palm along the floor, which needed a mopping by one of them later. But she didn’t care about work, not with her unending laughter trapped in a cascade of giggles and Marty sweeping her around in a circle. Marty kept her from smashing into him, but the two lingered barely a breath away from each other as the love song drifting through the air reached its climax. His gaze beamed into hers and he sang the final words in a gentle whisper.
“I reach out to hold a hand fit for mine. Hearts become bold, and our stars align.”
Brandy rose, staring in wonder at the lips singing to her. She reached out, about to touch his cheek, when a jangle burst from the front door. Marty opened his hands and she danced back, a silly blush burning up her neck. What was she doing? It was just Marty, who always acted like a fool nearing closing time. Good friend. Nothing more.