Friday, January 31, 2014

New Release Complexities - Meet Emma Meyer

Continuing the month of new releases (Down by Contact, my inspirational football-themed novella was released earlier this month) Fine Form Press has decided to release Complexities. Complexities is a sweet, art-themed, contemporary romance novel. This is one of my favorite novels, since it was co-written with my wife, who wishes to remain out of the spotlight. The novel is international, being set in Toronto, London and Rome, and it has a humorous tone that makes it a fun contemporary romance. Naive Emma is adorable. She and Marco make a cute couple... or do they?

Complexities by JT Therrien

Emma Meyer has always wanted to own an art gallery, but Love has drawn up different plans for her.

Emma Meyer is in London to study van Eyck’s famous Arnolfini Portrait. This is an opportunity of a lifetime, a gem on her resume, as she positions herself for a successful career in art. One day she will own an art gallery, fulfilling a pact she made with her sister Sophie.

While in England Emma meets Marco DiPietro. She strikes up a begrudging friendship with him, a man Sophie would have desired, but who is not to Emma’s liking. But when a series of Marco-initiated events forces the British government to evict her from the country, Emma knows just how poisonous Marco will be to her career. Still, Emma luckily lands a good job as an art consultant working for a young go-getter executive who is nothing like Marco.

Her career is back on the fast track. But just when she thought Marco was out of the picture for good…

1. Stalking
 Emma glanced around the gift shop, prepared to duck out of sight at the first sign of trouble.
4:45 pm. Technically, she and Molly were still at work, even though they'd already donned winter coats and boots. But, in their defense, at least they were still physically in the National Gallery building. Molly could give an abbreviated tour, should someone somehow guess she worked there and request such a tour, and Emma could make a staff member a photocopy, if they had a tracking device and located her one floor below her office, an inexcusable distance from her desk.
"I'm going to get you a bunch of these for Christmas, Moll." Emma pointed to a pyramid of ceramic cups showing Botticelli's famous lovers, Venus and Mars, lounging after yet another exhausting romp.
"Molly?" Emma turned around, expecting Molly to be at her elbow. Instead, Emma's tall friend had wound her way to the gift shop entrance. She squinted in the window at her ghostly reflection, applying a fresh coat of Berry Sexy to her lips.
Oh, Molly. Emma's chin dropped to her chest in defeat.
Even though Molly had suggested ditching work early to go downstairs, Emma had been against it, maturely pointing out that although she didn't exactly love being the staff's copy-donkey and coffee-schlepper, those duties were part of the internship and the position meant too much for her to risk screwing it up for a 'road trip' to the Gallery gift shop.
But Molly wanted to seduce a man. Sort of. It wasn't even for herself. The exercise was strictly instructional and no amount of begging on Emma's part could deter Molly from her self-appointed mission.
When she spotted a suit-and-cravat supervisor-type strolling by the gift shop window, Emma dove behind a rack of floppy hats bearing an image of van Gogh's famous sunflowers. Close, but a false alarm. From her new perspective she could see the new guy, also known as The Prey. This whole exercise reeked of stalking and it weirded Emma out, something else she'd mentioned to Molly all the way down the stairs.
Molly seemed comfortable enough with it, though.
Emma casually observed the man. The women in the break room hadn't exaggerated their description by one sexy dimple. Studly male perfection stood just twenty feet away, handsomely gift-wrapped in a navy blue pinstriped suit, currently heading for the checkout counter. On a direct collision course with Molly.
No man had ever survived the impact.
Emma unbuttoned her coat, knowing she'd be there a while. She kept an eye on Molly, gliding toward her after having appraised the man's assets when he turned his back to help someone reach down a sunflower-print umbrella.
She crossed her arms, waiting for Molly to put into practice her patent-pending system of four guaranteed steps to landing a man. Four steps Emma would never dare use, but which she nonetheless found intriguing. Statistically speaking, the odds—and her own personal history—clearly dictated that at some point Molly's strategy would fail.
Four months of proven successes, however, flaunted Emma's statistics.
Maybe there was something in the London air. Or something leaking in the Thames. Or maybe it was simply the fact that Molly—a dark-skinned and slim twenty-five year old goddess—had supermodel looks that made Tyra Banks look like a scraggly hag from a Bruegel painting.
Molly stopped strutting and bumped purposely into Emma. She giggled as she snatched a pair of earrings from a display spinner bulging with silver and gold-plated bling. The rack clattered in the wake of her raid.
Ladies and gentlemen, hurricane Molly has struck again.
Not really. Emma recognized step one: attract attention.
"What about these, Em? Little smiling Mona Lisas. Isn't that brilliant?" Molly held the shiny lacquered squares against her earlobes. The miniature painting's dark background matched the roasted coffee color of her flawless skin.
Emma suppressed a smile and brushed a strand of hair from her cheek. "You're the worst actor ever," she murmured, reaching for the earrings.
Molly slapped away Emma's hand, sending the earrings to the floor. She nudged them under a display case with the pointed toe of her shiny boot.
Emma bent down to retrieve them, and almost had her fingers stepped on. She glared at the dull leather an inch away from her pinky. Scuffed Doc Martens, looking as if they'd taken part in the original punk revolution back in the eighties, maybe they had even belonged to Sid Vicious. Moving further up, she noticed distressed jeans sliced at the knees, revealing slashes of pale skin. Further up still, a white belt buckle that Elvis might have worn at Caesar's Palace. Elvis Vicious extended a hand that she gratefully accepted. The view improved somewhat once Emma stood up and assessed the young man standing in front of her looking sheepish.
Dark hair—a bit too long, spilling over the collar—framed handsome features in a slightly round Mediterranean face sporting dark stubble. Sincere brown eyes remained glued to hers. His opened indigo pea jacket revealed a shirt so disastrously designed that any man who freely wore such clothing should have had to register with the local authorities, at the very least as a dangerous offender of style.
Emma smiled tightly and the young man nodded.
"You should be more careful where you hide," he said, the Italian accent thick and immediately recognizable.
Her face burned. "I wasn't hiding. I dropped something. See?" She showed Elvis Vicious the earrings.
He made a face as if she were showing him something that had come out of the wrong end of a dog. "Let me see those." He held out his hand, and she dropped them in his palm.
He barely glanced at them. "You really like these?"
"Emma! I see you made a new friend," Molly approached the man. From behind she rolled her eyes at the stranger's outlandish outfit.
"Just be careful, in the future," Elvis Vicious said, before heading toward the gift shop doors.
"So? Dish! Who's your new beau?" Molly asked, a look of mischief animating her eyes.
Cheeks still burning, Emma glanced past Molly and said, hoping to change the subject, "Are you happy? Now the suit's watching you like a hawk." She watched Elvis Vicious talk to The Prey. He turned and pointed in Emma's direction before leaving. What was that all about, she wondered.
"Is he? He's quite the handsome prey, isn't he? Young. But not too young. Did you notice those shoulders? He must work out. Buff, but not too buff, you know? A three-pack instead of a six-pack?"
When she didn't reply, Molly licked her luscious lips and added, "Tell me he isn't dishy, especially compared to your runaway circus clown."
Emma shrugged as she recalled talking to her un-prey-like man. She felt the heat return to her cheeks. "I suppose, if you like vain men who are so put together."
"Do you remember his name?" Molly asked, pointedly ignoring Emma's lack of interest.
"Brendan?" she suggested before shuffling further down the aisle, hoping to distance herself from Molly.
Molly followed close behind. "It's not Brendan. FYI: it helps to know the name of the prey you're seducing."
Emma closed her eyes and tilted her head back, mustering all her reserves so she wouldn't shout and cause a public scene. She brought her head back down, only to discover Molly's teasing smile. Between clenched teeth she said, "I'm not seducing anyone."
"Not with that attitude, you're not. But watch and learn, Miss Meyer."
The sandy-haired man nodded when Molly shot him a cover-girl smile.
Step Two: make eye contact. Subsection A: Send subtle libidinous messages via body language.
Molly smoothed her already perfectly straightened hair, and his eyes followed the path of her elegant hand as she dropped it slowly, letting it linger on her hip before suddenly turning her back to him.
She winked at Emma before blowing out and holstering her index finger, gunslinger style.
Heat spread across Emma's face. Twenty-four and she reddened at the slightest embarrassment which, for the past four months, had been her roommate Molly Edwards' antics.
"Stop stalking the poor guy, Moll. He seems nice."
"But I like nice guys."
"You like any guy," Emma said, the criticism in her voice more than implied.
"But this is for you, love."
Molly resumed her strut, stopping by the checkout counter, near Mr. Handsome, where she faked an interest in shrink-wrapped prints of the world-famous sunflowers. Emma studied Molly's staged, yet highly provocative, pose. Even a full-length leather coat couldn't hide the curve of Molly's back—inviting and seductive—or her long sexy legs beneath a gray skirt. Knee-high leather boots screamed take me.
She bit her lower lip. What was it like to be Molly, a woman comfortable in her own skin, able to so easily flirt with men?
It wasn't that men didn't find Emma attractive. Her new friend Elvis Vicious had certainly looked at her with a gleam of interest in his eyes. She had gone out with a few guys in high school, and a few more in university, but she rarely accepted a second date.
There were reasons.
Let Molly and her skanky friends assume Emma's reserved Canadian demeanor got in the way of finding relationship-euphoria.
For a little while longer, that's the way it had to be. She wasn't looking for a man, or even a meaningless fling, thousands of miles away from home in a foreign country. But the thought haunted her, clinging to position Number 2 on her bucket list, right behind getting her own art gallery. Make it Number 3 if full-time work in any gallery presented itself. Okay, romance and true love slipped down a notch to Number 4 when she thought of getting a career doing anything at all related to art.
A loud, braying laugh drew her attention back to the front counter, but it was just Molly being Molly, capturing the interest of Handsome in the blue suit. He manned the cash register, mesmerized by Molly's every move as she once again claimed a spot on the world's stage, looking sexier than Emma imagined any flesh-and-blood woman could, leaning over the glass counter to ask the prey a question.
How does she do that? A quick glance over her shoulder confirmed she was alone in the aisle. Emma closed her eyes, bent forward at the waist, and arched her back, striking what hopefully came across as a voluptuous Molly-pose: shoulders pulled back, breasts thrust out at the world like two loaded machine guns, ready to mow down anything in their path. Betty Paige would've been proud.
She opened her eyes to the disapproving glare of a well-endowed matron standing in front of sunflower-printed umbrellas. Emma winced, immediately retracted her weapons, and straightened her back. Clearly, she would need bigger caliber guns to play that game.
She drifted down the narrow aisles, strategically avoiding Chesty-What's-Her-Name, and randomly picked up items decorated with reproductions of famous works of art featured in the National Gallery and elsewhere in the world. She returned to the Mona Lisa earrings, killing time by evaluating them with the shrewdness of a jeweler appraising a ten-carat diamond.
The art lover in her bristled. Who would buy these tawdry adornments? A poster, a matted print, maybe even a placemat, something two-dimensional, she could understand. But Mona Lisa earrings? How could anyone cheapen a beautiful masterpiece like that? And the fact that her new friend Elvis Vicious thought she actually liked them truly embarrassed her. She should've explained to him how she disapproved of corporate branding of fine art.
Emma jumped at a tap on her shoulder. Caught away from her desk! I was just . . . . Me and Molly were . . . . No, idiot, leave Molly out of it! What would she say? What?
Prepared to face the music, she turned and faced Molly, who stood with her hands on her hips, grinning. Emma didn't like the predatory look in her roommate's eyes. It was apparently time for . . . .
"Step Three," Molly said, whispering the phrase seductively.
Determine if the target is worth further effort while there's still time to bail. Subsection A: pursue. B: bail.
"Come with. I'll introduce you to the nice counter help." Molly pulled Emma along.
Emma shrugged her hand out of Molly's grip. "You can go. No one's stopping you."
"Fine, but if you don't come with me I'll tell him you're interested in joining us." Molly cackled at Emma's stricken reaction. "Oh, come on, Em, before he loses interest!"
As if that's ever gonna happen. Emma threw her hands up in the air, hating the fact she was such a pushover. "Okay, let's get this over with. I haven't got all night." She checked her watch. "At least it's after five now so we don't have to slink around and avoid our supervisors."
Molly laughed. "Is that what you've been doing back here all this time?"
Emma spun a postcard display. "My parents are probably sick of National Gallery postcards anyway. I'll switch it up and send them one of Big Ben."
"Ooh, I know where he's dancing tonight." Molly licked her lips, the radiant smile a walking billboard for her orthodontist father.
At the thought of a male dancer named Big Ben Emma's face radiated more heat than a sculptor's kiln on full blast. "I was referring to the clock," she explained coolly.
"Oh. I know where that is, too." Molly's staccato laughter filled the gift shop. The prey smiled in their direction again.
"All right, then. Let's go, Moll. And please try to keep the flirting to a minimum. I'm hungry. On second thought . . . ." Emma took the lead, setting the pace, planning to walk right out the gift shop doors, but as they neared the counter, Molly's tug on her purse stopped in her tracks, quickly dashing any hopes of a quick escape.
"Oh, Miss?" the prey said, addressing Emma.
"Who, me?" Emma turned, surprised by the man's attention. This was Molly's show, after all.
"A gentleman bought these for you," he smiled as he held up a box containing the Mona Lisa earrings, looking elegant displayed against luxurious black velvet.
Emma exchanged a look with Molly. "Um . . . no thank you?"
"Are you sure? They're all paid for. The gentleman said, and I quote: 'for the lovely blond hiding in the back.' And, if I may say so, Miss, you're the only lovely blond hiding anywhere in the gift shop."
Ignoring Molly by her side, Emma feared that if her face got any hotter she'd stroke out. "Okay, um . . . thank you," she said as she took the proffered gift and the compliment.
Molly sized up the clerk once more; she planted her elbows on the glass counter and leaned toward the smiling employee.
Emma groaned.
Molly, clearly focused on a pair of ocean-blue eyes, ignored Emma.
A bonus lesson tossed in for free: an eyeful of cleavage was fair trade for the information gleaned from a man's nametag.
"Bye for now, Brian," Molly cooed, wrapping up their short conversation.
He doffed a non-existent cap toward the two women. "M'ladies."
Emma finally herded Molly out of the shop and into the gallery's lobby. "Are you happy? Now can we go eat?"
"In a sec." Molly pivoted toward the gift shop. Before the glass door completely closed she called out, "I'm a tour guide. Molly Edwards. Upstairs." She pointed straight up to heaven. "Extension 8888. Call me!" She wiggled her thumb and little finger beside her face.
"Step Four: Let him percolate," Molly said.
They left gift-shop-Brian frantically scribbling Molly's information on a scrap of paper.
"Do you smell that?" Molly asked as they headed toward the exit.
"What? Smoke?" Emma took a deep breath. "I don't smell anything."
"You don't? Because I smell a man percolating. He'll call, you know."
"I have no doubt, Moll. You don't have to brag about it." Emma rolled her eyes.
"Why didn't you try my system out on your new fashion-challenged friend?" Molly asked through her laugh.
"You mean Elvis Vicious?" Emma played along. "I would have, except that I think he was from another planet. He was handsome enough, but that white belt was something else."
He was yours, you know, a familiar ghostly voice chastised Emma.
You know I didn't come to London to date, Sophie, Emma reminded her dead sister.
* * * 

I hope you enjoyed Chapter 1! It sets the tone for the rest of the novel.

I will be holding contests later on, but for now Complexities can be purchased from Amazon, Smashwords, or your favorite ebook retailer.


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