Saturday, April 8, 2017

Read the first chapter of my new book here

I've taken a leap of faith and embarked into self-publishing waters with my first self-published romantic comedy titled "The Wedding Date".

I hope you'll find it funny and compelling. For a limited time you can pre-order the book for only $0.99 FREE on Kindle Unlimited.


Nerrisa (Neri) Runic, in her late thirties is deemed unmarriageable by her family. So she fabricated a story about dating Mark Warren, a sexy doctor and the gym owner she's been ogling for months. She thinks none of her lies will come back to haunt her. When her mother RSVP s to the cousin's wedding invitation on her behalf including a Plus One, Neri has no choice but to attend...or come clean and face her family's scrutiny.
Frustrated with everyone trying to fix him up on a blind date, Mark Warren lied about dating an elusive redheaded member of his gym who caught his eye months ago. Only, he fully intends to turn this lie into truth. Once he musters enough courage to approach her, that is.
With hardly a month before his cousin's wedding, he hopes his mother would reply to the invitation, declining his attendance. But getting out of this obligation is out of question. She expects him to reply with ‘happy to attend with a guest’.
When they find out they are forced to attend the same wedding, Mark and Neri must practice their 'relationship' in an effort to fool their families into thinking they are a real couple.

But the thin line between pretending and the real deal is easily crossed.

Chapter 1

Nerissa squeezed the hard shaft, running her hand along its length. The man next to her moaned, with pleasure or disgust, she couldn’t tell. Mattered not, her fantasy of making love to Mark replayed in her head. And she loved it.
“Miss?” The guy with the store’s apron popped up from behind the stacked melons and pointed at her hands. “Are you going to buy that cucumber?” 
Her daydream shattered. She tilted her chin at the vegetable. “Oh, I was just testing for freshness. The last one I bought turned soft in my fridge in two days. I had to throw it out. I hate to waste food.”
“Right,” the employee stretched the syllable. “Like those plums you squeezed last week.”
Okay, now she was officially the produce destroyer. Damn it, she had to make sure she was getting the quality goods for her money. Giving the guy her best leave-me-the-hell-alone look, she dumped the cuke in the grocery cart and threw in a bag of raw almonds. Where was her list, she’d start crossing items off. She’d left the notepad on the kitchen table again, and was trying to remember what else was on that recommended diet. If this weight reduction plan didn’t do what it promised, she’d have to bring out the big guns. Even her stretchy pants couldn’t stretch any more. The group power training wasn’t her thing, not with her coordination that could be outmatched by a one armed monkey climbing the tree. Like that Zumba class two weeks ago—whatever direction the entire class moved, she’d go the opposite way. No wonder people snickered and scoffed behind her back. Everyone in her gym bragged about the Cross-Fit and the instructor, dreamy Doctor Mark Warren. 
Maybe she could find a spot the back of the room where she would be inconspicuous and check out his training techniques.
The chime of her cell phone stopped her from reaching for a bag of Brussels sprouts. She dug inside her purse and retrieved the mobile. The word Mom flashed on the screen.
Crap, she’d meant to return Mom’s calls from weeks ago. Brace yourself, Neri, scalding is coming.  She’d be in for some real grind.
Neri took in a long breath, pressed her hand to her chest and phone to her ear.
“Hi Ma,” she quipped, mustering the sweetest tone possible. “I was just about to call you.”
“Don’t try that one,” Mom harped. “You know how to work the phone. Why didn’t you return my calls?”
The lump in Neri’s throat didn’t go down at her hard swallow. Of course her mom hadn’t bought the lie.
 “I meant to, but got busy and it slipped my mind.” Neri eyed the bag of Brussels sprouts. Judging by Mom’s irate tone, veggies would be of no help to get over whatever news mom was about to deliver.
“Aunt Hellen is still waiting on your R.S.V.P. It’s just a month away and my sister needs to confirm the reservations with the FantainBlu. Since I know you’ll find some lame excuse not to attend your cousin’s Sandra’s wedding, I’ve R.S.V.P.’d for you.” Mom’s words flew faster.
Neri took a sharp breath in and almost chocked. She didn’t supposed replying with maybe next time would be appropriate. “You did what?”
“I told her you’d be honored to attend.” Mom’s voice slowed and changed to cheerful tone. “Come on, darling. The family is flying in all the way from Croatia and you can’t make it two blocks away. Many haven’t seen you in years. It’s about time you introduced Mark to all of us. You two have been together for how long now? Some have started to think you made him up.”
Oh the gorgeous, blue-eyed, dark-haired and hard-bodied doctor is real, our relationship isn’t.
 “I’m more than two block away.” When it came to her family, moving away three cities away from them wasn’t far enough. “Oh, I don’t know…Saturdays are my busiest days at the school.” True she’d rather do anything else but listen to screeching violins while her pupils struggle through the exercises, but at the end of the day she left with wad of money and bleeding ears.  Mom had R.S.V.P.’d.  Now she’d have to show up at her cousin’s dreaded wedding. A million possible excuses zipped through her mind. Maybe she could say she won all expense paid trip that coincidentally took place the same week. Hmm, what are the odds that would happen? Or she could say she came down with a rare case of small pox, the disease had been eradicated—no one would believe her. No one would buy it if she said she must mow her lawn, even if they knew her yard was the size of Texas. Of course not, she lived in an apartment building. No, unless she got abducted by aliens, she was attending this wedding. How would she pull off showing up without her imaginary boyfriend Mark? Damn.
“Don’t give me that, Nerissa.” Mom’s stern tone returned. “You can clear your schedule for once. I’m sure the music school can give you one Saturday off. Besides, it’s time your mother met him, don’t you think? You’re not getting any younger, you know.”
And there it was your time’s slippin’ away speech.
“Mom.” Neri groaned inwardly, trying to get a word in, but her mom was on a roll. She turned her attention to the herbs in an attractive packaging, listening to her mom going on about Mark hopefully being a husband material and not to let him get away if she wanted kids with a good man.
“There is time for me to get married and have kids.” Neri blew a long breath of frustration. That would get Mom on a whole new rampage.
“Tell that to your woman parts. You think it’s an easy job to grow a baby inside you at a young age, but when you’re older...” Mom paused to answer something to Dad yelling in the background, then returned to the phone. “And if you want to use me for granny service, you better do it soon. You think I’ll have energy to run after a toddler in my eighties? Just bring that fine man to meet your family.”
Jeez, Mom, is that an order? Certainly sounded like one.
“Mark’s busy too, being a doctor and all. I can’t guarantee he’ll be able to free his time.” Neri cringed at how easily she lied. Mom was not going to take no for answer, but it was worth the try.
“You see that he does,” Mom barked. “In the meantime, you’ve dress fittings at the Urban Bride.”
Neri froze and gripped the phone tighter. “What the heck for?”
“Why, you’re a bride’s maid. And you’d know that if you bothered to return my phone calls. One of her maids is moving away and won’t be able to attend.”
No, not again. Hadn’t she had more than her fair share of being a bride’s maid? Why would her cousin do this? To embarrass her, by stuffing her into the ugliest dress and paring her with some dweeb of groomsman that every other bride’s maid avoided. Neri would bet anything the girl wasn’t able to stand bridezilla’s wraith. The poor maid most likely sold her house and moved miles away. Well, Sandra was about to find out Neri wasn’t one bit bothered by all her drama. Not anymore. The princess could throw her fits.
“I know you’re reluctant because you’ve put on a few pounds. By the way, how’s that weight loss coming along?” Her mother’s question startled Neri. Knowing her mother, she most likely unburdened her heart.
Neri scrubbed her hand across her face. “Mom, tell me you didn’t mention my weight to anyone.”
“I might’ve mentioned it.”
This time she couldn’t suppress a groan. “Why would you do that?”
“It’s not like no one will notice as soon as they see you. This way, they’re prepared.”
The orange in Neri’s hand threatened to burst under her grip.  She placed the fruit back with its friends on the pile. No need to enforce her unofficial title of produce destroyer. “You’re making it sound as if I gained a ton.”
The number on her scale had continuously crept toward two hundred pounds for the past year. No matter how hard she exercised and ate right, her efforts showed little improvement. Any few pounds loss was gained back and then some. 
However, standing in the middle of the grocery store was not the best place to wallow in self-pity. She needed to end this phone call. 
 “Okay, Mom. I’ll see you soon, and we’ll talk.” Mom’s voice still poured through the line when Neri tapped end call button.
In a hurry, she pocketed her phone, heading straight for the junk food. Today’s revelation would require heck of a lot more than a bag of Brussels sprouts. 
A little boy lay on the floor, kicked and screamed as his mother placed the bag of cheese puffs back on the shelf. If only Neri could have a meltdown like that toddler. Except, she could have all the chips she wanted with no one to stop her, and that was her problem, she was her own enabler. 
After loading her cart with bags with chocolate pretzels, ketchup chips and trail mix she’d denied herself for months, she picked up a large tub of caramel swirl ice cream and headed for the cash register. Yep, tonight was wallowing in self-pity night. Thanks mom.
At the checkout line, a headline on the front page of a fashion magazine caught her attention. She picked up the glossy publication and turned to the page eighteen. 
The summer is nearly here. Is your body ready for the beach?
A beach body. She huffed and rolled her eyes. The article sported pictures of all too familiar exercises that would straighten and tone the stomach, legs and butt. She stared at the models demonstrating the moves. Their perfect bodies squeezed into spandex shorts and sports bras. Why wasn’t her body like theirs? She’d done those same moves for years. Well, some people inherit money, others talent. Her? She got her mother’s thick thighs, and her father’s beaklike nose. Fat on her legs could get burned off with hard, consistent workouts. Her nose was a different story. The only option would be plastic surgery, if only she had the money.
“Miss, are you ready to check out?” The cashier’s gruff voice made her jump. She put the mag back.
No, she wasn’t ready. She backed out of the line, bumping into the other shoppers’ carts.
“Pardon me. ‘Scuse me. I apologize. I’m so sorry.” Jeez, the grumps all because they needed to make room for her to pass through.
In the snacks aisle, she placed the dangerous food back on the shelves. All but a small box of cookies, after all she was allowed one cheat day.
Mark’s cross fit class couldn’t be that bad. She was about to find out in a day or two, maybe three, maybe five…oh, what the heck she’d go and if she’d muster the courage to talk to him, ask what she was doing wrong in her get-fit efforts. She’d have to move aside the tall and skinny bitches who circled him all the time. Then she could try a chat. Stupid idea, she didn’t know any good conversation starters. Her tongue would tie up and nothing but incoherent stammer would come out of her mouth.
If, by some miracle, everything played out to her advantage, than she’d be over the moon, but she may as well dream in Technicolor. She could almost picture it, no not almost, she already did. The two of them entered the banquet hall together, him handsome as hell in his tux, her in a flowing gown. Everyone’s jaw would hit the floor when they saw her arm wrapped around Mark’s. There she went daydreaming again. There was no chance in Hell that would ever happen.
Life is too short to wait for the perfect moment. She’d blurt the question and hope not to make a total ass of herself. For over a year she’d been a member in his gym. They’d bumped into each other. They weren’t strangers. His smiles and friendly hellos could’ve been directed to someone behind her, or they could just be good business practices. Still, she could’ve mistakenly believed he directed them at her for personal reasons.
The thought of attending the wedding flipped her stomach. Without a doubt, it would be a grand affair and knowing her cousin, nothing but the best would suit her taste. Neri didn’t even own a nice dress, but why buy one only to wear it once. For she couldn’t see a time she’d ever have to don it on again. And if she went solo, she’d be stuck sitting with her parents or worse, at the singles, aka losers’ table. She was the last unmarried and not dating person over the age of ten in her family, only thank to her lies, no one knew that. If she couldn’t get Mark to accompany her, she could end up sitting at the kids’ table. Still, better than sitting between Mom and Dad.
"Historia est magistra vitae,” she murmured while squinting at the small print of some healthy snacks that had caught her attention. New and improved said on the box in bright yellow letters. Hmm, who bought it when it was old and crummy? A premonition that attending the wedding would turn into a huge blunder overwhelmed her. Yes, the past taught the life’s lessons…except when it came to her. She didn’t make the same mistake twice, but five or six times just to be sure.  Then again, those who claimed they haven’t erred— never did anything at all. 


  1. Finally a romance story that is not about a 16 years old who acts like she's 40 and the blurb sound fascinating :)

  2. Love the intro and the chapter. This sounds like a story that's as sweet as it is sexy.