Dolly's Sneaky Peeks

Boyfriend by the Book

(find your Amazon copy HERE)

Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre?”

Stephanie waved the DVDs around like bait, waiting for us to vote. My mouth was full of popcorn, and Monique was talking on her cell phone—as usual. That left Kristen, who claims to have read Pride and Prejudice the novel more than fifty times. Guess which movie she chose.

Romance movie night. This was how my circle of friends loved to kill a Friday evening that wasn't spent on a date. Or, for that matter, any free evening. They squeezed into my cozy apartment, a spot which was always a jumble of books, magazine collages, and other clutter that I had collected over the years. I loved big stuffed armchairs and my chintz sofa with its brightly-colored pillows was oversized and comfy — that was the reason they picked my place, I felt. That, and my special popcorn made with a light dusting of garlic and chipotle.

This evening, however, was the beginning of where everything went wrong for me, not that I knew it at the time. I thought it was just another innocent movie night, which proves I'm not psychic in the least — otherwise, if I had seen the future, I would have ejected that DVD and opted for a horror movie instead.

“Wouldn’t you kill to be Lizzie for a day?” Kristen asked, pulling her blond layers into a ponytail as Jane Austen’s characters shared an elegant dance on the screen. “You’d spend all your time drinking tea and going to parties at English manor houses.”

I was pretty sure that wasn’t an accurate description of Regency life, but Kristen would just roll her eyes if I said that. You're being a spoilsport, Jodi, she would say. Next to me on the carpet, Stephanie wore a dreamy smile, chin propped on her knees. “I could do tea and dancing for awhile,” she decided. “I mean, who couldn’t?” 

“Sure, you could,” Monique quipped. She was curled up on the sofa behind us, laying claim to my plushiest throw pillow, a pink one embroidered with flowers. “Someone like me would be stuck serving the tea or cleaning up the mess that’s left after the ball,” she added, with a reference to her dark skin and sleek, black hair with its natural kink tamed by a salon. “Plus, electricity and plumbing weren’t invented yet. Think about it, girls.”

We shared a collective giggle for this. Stephanie reached for the popcorn bowl, exclaiming over the fact it was almost empty. “What, did you guys skip dinner or something?” she asked. Stephanie herself eats like a bird and has the figure to prove it — skinny and sleek, perfect for her red hair and ceramic skin. Grabbing the bowl, she headed towards the kitchen, muttering something about bad manners. Meanwhile, on the screen, Darcy and Lizzie shared a look fraught with significance.

“Can’t you just picture yourself in Lizzie’s place?” Kristen asked, still clinging to her fantasy.
I tried to summon a vision of myself in a beautiful empire-waist gown like the one in the movie, but it didn’t work. All I could think of was my uniform at the hotel. Knee-length black skirt, a matching vest and silk tie over my crisp white blouse. My dark hair in a neat ponytail as I asked Mr. Darcy if he wanted a pot of tea sent up to his room, or needed additional clean towels? I smiled at the ludicrous thought.

“I just think foregoing modern conveniences would be worth it to dance with Mr. Darcy,” Kristen continued. “Don’t you think so, Jodi?”

“Not really,” I admitted, reluctantly. “I mean, I can’t really picture it. It’s just a story, after all.” 

Bad choice of words.

 A Wedding in Cornwall

 (find your Amazon copy HERE)

One of Cornwall's milder breezes swept across me as I found my way past the formal hedgerows to the winding little path to the sea. I buttoned my green pea coat as I climbed down, gradually moving from the craggy slate walkway carefully built like a natural stair to the soft, wild grass growing alongside it. I angled my way towards the view of the water below, hearing it surge and crash against the cliff's walls.

The wind rose and batted my hair across my face. I could see the Channel below, washing its way between the shores. I could see the beach, the stones and sand lost along the shallow edge whenever water rushed up from the sea. I sucked in my breath, imagining the power of the waves if I were below, walking along the strip of white foam instead of the soft grass and delicate purplish flowers around me.

That's when I noticed I wasn't alone. A man was kneeling near the edge of the cliff a few yards away at the foot of the stone path, watching the water also. Wind swept his dark, unruly hair back from his brow, and fanned the edges of his worn brown canvas jacket. Between his fingers was a sprig of something dark green, a plant or a leaf of some kind.

Sensing my gaze, he turned towards me. I felt my breath catch. He was attractive. But more than that, he was… familiar.

The handsome stranger from the railway station, his dark good looks even more impressive against the stunning backdrop of the cliffs and water below. A day’s worth of stubble made his well-formed features even more pleasing:  features that were accented by eyes that I imagined as dark as coffee beneath those perfect lashes and sculpted brow. For a moment, we stared at each other. Then he spoke.

"Do you mind getting off the heath?" A gruff, commanding voice that was filled with disgust — even though he was practically shouting over the ripple of wind and tide, I could detect that much.

I gaped at him. "What?" I asked. His manners weren’t as pretty as his looks, apparently. I felt a surge of annoyance along with my confusion for the accusation in his voice. Why was he talking this way to a perfect stranger? Who did he think he was anyway? Besides a good-looking…but no. That wasn’t enough to justify the rudeness etched in his perfect face, or the scowl he offered my shoes.

"You're standing on it," he said. "The heath. What are you doing off the footpath? Can't you see you're trampling it with those spiky shoes of yours?"