For today’s WIP Wednesday, I have an excerpt from The Fall Guide for you. I started this story last year, had to set it aside for other projects, and happily finished it this year. The wonderful Ashley was my pre-reader for this, and she and I are both totally in love with how it turned out. Now I’m incorporating edits, and some of my editor’s comments are so funny and spot-on that I wish I didn’t have to delete them as I go through.
The Fall Guide will be available late this autumn, December 3rd. More to follow!
“Eric Caville is an established beauty blogger seeking to parlay his expertise and online renown to put out his own line of products. When he experiences failure to launch, a chance meeting with smooth producer Devon Talbot results in help from a most unexpected source. Devon is sexy, insightful, and treats Eric better than his own boyfriend. Eric has difficult choices ahead of him in terms of going back to the drawing board with his business, his love life, and whether either will see him through to next season. Along the way, he has to tackle his pride and overcome past associations before they hold him back from reaching out for what he wants the most.”
Eric napped through the flight and woke with Vegas on his left, the Strip gleaming like a string of tacky jewels. He used a small hand mirror from his handbag to check his appearance, reapplying gloss. He was in Vegas for business, after all, and his business was cosmetics and beauty supplies—or he hoped it would be. He had to appear immaculate everywhere, because that day’s casual encounter could be tomorrow’s customer.
The airport was every bit as packed as LAX had been, but at least Eric was able to secure a luggage trolley without resorting to murder or felony. He stacked his roller cases on it and found a cab. The price of the convention’s hotel, the M resort, would cut deeply enough into his wallet that he’d considered taking the shuttle, but he’d discovered there was a baggage limit for that option.
People tended to think of Vegas as glitz and glam, a perfect storm of drinks, gambling, and excess, but the place did good business as well. On any given weekend, Vegas, like L.A., could be found hosting conventions. The atmosphere encouraged deals over swank dinners with plenty of liquor, and while Eric wasn’t holding out much hope for that, he knew he could end up with some good exposure.
Beauty Expo 2012 was one of the events where brand-names and independent products gathered together with plenty of blogger and press coverage, and Eric had managed to dredge up the money to purchase his own table. He’d been running his own successful blog, the man-icure.com, for years and it was his dream to parlay an online reputation into a real-life line of beauty products.
Where most men his age were donning suits and muscling their way up to the board room, Eric had always been more interested in doing a snappy deconstruction of Oscar de la Renta’s latest men’s wear line and keeping his hair, face, and nails on the cutting edge of trends. He’d done his share of starting a few over the course of the lifetime of a blog that had started out on Blogger during his college years, and graduated to his own domain name with the help of a web-savvy friend.
Now he posted daily updates from his tablet and smart phone, sometimes after uploading sneak peeks from his phone cam. A lot had changed, but Eric’s passion for all things fashion had only deepened through the years.
André had advised him many times to try for a journalist position at a major fashion magazine, but Eric knew what was involved to get in the door. It was basically years of indentured servitude.
He wanted to be his own boss, and it was icing on the label cake if he could look good doing so.
Eric leaned toward the window and snapped a few photos with his phone as the cab drove along the Strip. Even in the daylight, before the lights cast their gaudy signals against the velvety black backdrop after dark, the sight of it was striking.
He sent a quick post to his blog, a teaser of things to come as well as an injunction to enjoy happy hour in a cheeky nod to André.
That night would be check-in, a networking event, and he’d definitely be getting together with other bloggers over some drinks. In a way it was a good thing Martine hadn’t come with him, because Eric had to stay focused, get to bed at a decent hour, and make sure he was awake early enough in order to get his table in order before the ballroom opened.
He’d invited Martine, as he supposed all good boyfriends ought to when spending a weekend out of town, especially when headed to a place like Vegas. When Martine had declined, citing work as well as a lack of vacation time, Eric hadn’t been overly surprised, but he had realized most people in a good relationship probably wouldn’t feel relieved.
André was probably right, but Eric had been nurturing the relationship along for eight months. He owed it one more chance.
Eric gave a firm nod, praising his own fortitude as the cab pulled to a stop in a wide circular front drive. He counted out a cash tip and held onto it until after all his cases were safely delivered along with him near the front desk of the hotel.
Check-in was not the breezy process that brochures or movies promised, but an interminable line that had Eric shifting from one foot to the other and constantly checking his phone in an attempt to keep himself distracted. The smoke filtering from the casino floor was beginning to give him a headache, and he was long past ready to have a drink in hand.
A bellhop piled all his cases onto a trolley, at least, and that much was taken care of after he obtained his room key and signed the deposit for an amount that made him wince. It was an inner room without a view, even.
It would all be worth it, Eric consoled himself, once he had a martini in his hand and the money was rolling in from his product launch.
After tipping the bellhop and stripping his shoes off, Eric wandered barefoot around his tiny, windowless hotel room putting things to rights. First and most importantly, he went through an inventory check to make certain nothing had gotten damaged in transit. Next, he laid out his outfit for the networking meeting. When going to a meeting of bloggers, it was essential to be on point and looking his best.
At last, when he’d gone over the essentials and made sure he knew where to check in for the expo, he gazed at his phone and considered calling Martine to let him know he’d arrived safely.
Eric chickened out and sent a text before going to freshen up.
By the time he was done with his grooming routine and returned to his phone in preparation to leave the room and orient himself to the hotel, he had eight texts. Most of them were from his blogger friends, confirming the time and date of their meet-up or letting Eric know they’d arrived at the hotel.
One of them was from Martine, and Eric checked it with a vague sense of dread. That emotion reminded him of the moments when a single message could give him belly flutters. There had been a time he’d looked forward to each and every text from Martine.
That he dreaded them instead didn’t mean the relationship was bad, only … comfortable. Perhaps they’d become too comfortable, and because Eric had noticed it, it was up to him to correct it.
He turned his attention to Martine’s text and his half-formed smile died on his lips.
Nice2knw have fun in Vegas drink hard fuck safe
For a moment, Eric wanted to snap off a return text demanding if Martine had gotten the wrong number and thought he was one of his bros, or if there had been some way he’d interpreted “I’m going to Vegas for a working weekend” as “I’m going to watch male strippers, snort coke off their six packs, and fuck my way from one end of the strip to the other.” He took a deep breath, reminded himself that tone didn’t come across properly in text, and rifled through his makeup kit to touch up his eyes and gloss before leaving the room.
That had earned Eric a night of flirting, at least, and he was going to enjoy it to the hilt.