Want a taste of what you could get in Missed Connection by K. Larson and Mara White? Well we have Chapter 1 below. This book sounds incredible. I cannot wait to dive in and read.
Title: Missed Connection
Author: Mara White and K. Larson
Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW!!!
SYNOPSIS:Twenty years weren’t enough for either of them to forget.A chance encounter, a missed connection.Two wayward stars that collided in a turbulent sky, at the right place, but at the wrong time in both of their lives.What happens when they meet again? Do the same unforgettable sparks still fly?Titan Jennings and Jesenia Van Buren may come from two different worlds but their hearts are open to second chances. No matter who or what may stand against them, love is what anchors their lives together.Love may be infinite but time is not, Missed Connection is a novel about making the very best you can with what little you’ve got.PURCHASE HERE:
While she’s in the bathroom, I chug one last bottle of water before we head out, per Bridget’s request. I’m happy and feeling good. Bridget and I had a great time tonight at our engagement party. She’s laughing up a storm as we get into the car. As we pull out to make the hour drive home, she cranks the radio. “Regulate” is playing. We both sing along and laugh. Bridget holds my hand between good songs. Her new engagement ring sparkles every so often and makes me feel proud. Snow has started to drop down from the sky. The back roads are dark and twisty and unlit but it’s the fastest way home, which is still another ten minutes out. The moment I hit the brakes, I know something is wrong. It’s like my brain isn’t talking to my leg fast enough or maybe the road is too icy. I stomp down harder on the brake. I stomp down. Bridget screams next to me.
I gently hold the matchbook between my thumb and index finger in my pocket. It’s worn and frail now, but it still anchors me. I’m standing next to the truck in the driveway. I blink twice.
I hate it when I zone out like that. I’ve been fatigued lately.
“Hey, Dad,” my son says, as he brushes past me with bags of groceries. I grab an armload and follow him in.
“Luke—” I say, as he sets them on the counter. He turns and pushes his too long hair from his eyes. I need to remember to get him to the barber.
“You ready for a night of fun, old man?”
I laugh and shake my head no. “It’s just a birthday. No need to get crazy.”
“Yeah. Well, a birthday means cake, at the very least. Oh, can I have twenty bucks? Dillon and Max and I want to go to a movie later.”
“Who’s driving and what movie?” I ask, while putting dry goods away.
“Dillon’s mom is going to drive us and I don’t know yet.”
I raise an eyebrow at him. “You don’t know yet?” I wait expectantly for his response, even though I know it’s not worth it. It’s rare that teenagers have answers to anything these days.
“What? We’ll just decide when we get there,” Luke shrugs. If I try really hard. If I dig down to the recess of my forty-five year old brain, I can almost remember what it was like to be a fifteen year old boy.
“Okay,” I tell him.
Luke puts groceries away with minimal complaints, while I start dinner. It’s just the two of us now and although he misses his mom and God knows I do, too—she was much better at parenting than I—we do well together. Then again, we’ve had the last five years to get our routine just right. When he’s finished with the groceries, he sets out two place settings at the kitchen island. It is rare for us to use the dining room anymore. It seems too formal for us. It’s reserved for Friendsgiving and Christmas Eve. I dish out the chicken cacciatore to each plate, before joining him.
“Did you post it yet?” he asks, between bites. He sounds like a savage beast when he eats. His mother would be horrified. I really need to remember to chastise him more about that. What happens when he takes a girl out for dinner and eats like that?
“No. And chew with your mouth closed.” Luke gives me a lopsided grin. Never mind. If girls run for the hills over his poor table manners, it saves me a world of stress over worrying about him knocking her up by mistake. Chew away, son, chew away.
“Dad, come on. Just post it. Seriously, it’s like a one in a gazillion chance that anything will come of it.”
I finish chewing my bite; mouth closed. I think dinner needs more pepper. “I know. I know,” I answer. He’s right, though. I could put it out there into the great interweb and it may never even be seen. The odds . . . well the odds are not in my favor at all. I’m not sure which is more comforting—knowing that nothing may come of it or the fact that it could find its way to her.
“I mean, just, you know, time and all that. Plus your birthday is a good time to do something like that. Mom always said . . .”
“Birthdays are good luck,” we finish in unison, which makes Luke grin again. The kid has the easiest smile I’ve encountered.
It looks just like his mother’s. Wide and genuine and kind. He’s a good kid, with a lot on his plate. Rory’s death hit him hard. I don’t want to think about his mother. Not right now anyways. And I don’t want to think about time. “What time is Edie picking you up?”
“Seven thirty,” he answers. I nod my head and clear the dishes, while Luke cuts two massive slices of birthday cake for us. He stabs a candle into the center of one slice and licks the stray frosting off his fingers. He pulls something out of his pocket and slides it across the countertop to me.
I unwrap the newspaper wrapping and smile. A matchbook from Sloane’s. How he managed this one, I have to know.
“Thanks, Luke! This was the missing one.” I run my free hand across my salt and pepper hair. Life’s funny like that, sneaking up on you, adding lines and colors to your body that didn’t used to be there. Forty-five. I’ve already loved and lost and loved again and lost again, but still feel like I have lifetimes left to live but I don’t want to do it alone. Dating scares the pants off me. I haven’t done it in so long, I’m not sure I can anymore. There’s too much baggage. Too much history to share. Too much hassle.
“I know. I had to mow the guy who hadn’t done his lawn for three weeks to get that, but it was worth it, to complete the collection.” Luke’s smile is shy and he won’t really look me in the eye. He’s going through the I-don’t-really-do-touchy-feely-talk-about-my-emotions stage. It’s been an adjustment from the mama’s boy Rory left me with, but we’re making it work.
I’ve collected matchbooks for the last twenty years. The goal started as one from every diner in the great State of New York. After Luke was walking and talking, we decided to collect them from anywhere we travelled. But the Sloane’s matchbook was the very last diner in New York that we needed. People don’t really make matchbooks to give out anymore. It’s a shame. They’re like mini postcards. Memories. I put the matchbook aside for the moment. Luke lights the one candle and sings terribly and loudly the Happy Birthday song for me. I blow out the candle and this year, I make a wish. But I can’t tell because then it might not come true.
Luke finishes his cake just in time for his pick-up. Dillon’s mom, Edie, honks the horn and Luke leaps from his chair. He slaps me on the shoulder and yells happy birthday on his way out the door. I sigh and lean back in my chair. The house is still.
I put the radio on the Nineties station. I rinse all the plates from dinner and dessert and load them into the dishwasher. “Regulate” comes on. A chill runs through me and I shudder. I touch my hand to my pocket. To the matchbook and then I resolve to make my birthday wish come true.
New York >Fairfield >personals >missed connections post
The last day of 1995—m4w
I met you in the snow on the last day of 1995, the same day I decided to kill myself.
One year prior, I’d killed my fiancé, and a mother, a father and a daughter. We were at a party and I was intoxicated when I drove my fiancé and me home. Only I was the only one who ended up making it home. The lives and families I’d destroyed in that accident, haunted me. They still do.
On the morning of that New Year’s Eve, I found myself in a desolate house with a fifth of Jim Beam and the pangs of guilt and shame and grief permeating the recesses of my soul. When the bottle was empty, I made for the door and vowed, upon returning, that I would retrieve the Glock from my nightstand and give myself the sentence I deserved.
I walked for hours. I looped around the town before roaming through the riverside park.
By the time I reached the riverfront, the whitewashed sky had begun to drop snowflakes, which soon became a blizzard. While the other people darted for homes and restaurants to keep warm, I trudged into the onslaught of snow. I hoped that it might wash away the sludge of guilt that had congealed around my heart. It didn’t, of course, so I started back to the house.
And then I saw you.
You’d taken shelter under the awning of Hope’s Diner. You were wearing a green gown, which appeared to me royal and ridiculous. Your blonde hair was matted to your face, and a constellation of freckles dusted your shoulders. I’d never seen anything so beautiful.
When I joined you under the awning, you looked at me with big, sky blue eyes, and it was obvious you’d been crying. I asked if you were alright. You said you’d been better. I asked you if you’d like to grab a cup of coffee. You said, only if I would join you. I still don’t know why I bothered to ask you. Before I could answer, you snatched my hand and led me into Hope’s Diner. Despite the blizzard and lack of coat, your hand was warm and soft.
We sat at the counter of that diner and spoke like long lost friends. We laughed as easily as we grieved, and you confessed, over cheesecake, that you were engaged to a man you didn’t love, a stockbroker from some line of New York nobility. A Van Buren, or maybe a Rockefeller. Either way, his parents were hosting a gala to ring in the New Year, hence your gown.
I shared more of myself than I could have imagined possible, at the time. When I mentioned the drunk driving, I got the sense that you could see there was a war waging inside me. Still, your eyes offered solace, not accusation, and I loved you for it.
After a little over an hour, I excused myself to use the bathroom. I remember watching my reflection in the mirror. Wondering if I should kiss you, if that was completely ridiculous, if I should return to the Glock that waited for me at home. I decided that I was unworthy of the solace this gorgeous stranger in the green ball gown had given me, but to turn my back on such sweet happenstance would be the real disgrace. My mind was made.
On the way back to the counter, my heart pumped in my chest like a jackhammer, and a future—our future—ran through my mind. But when I reached the stools, you were gone.
A matchbook next to my mug caught my eye. I turned it over, nothing but the diner’s name and number on it. When I flipped it open, the inside top flap had a drawing of an anchor.
I can’t even be sure you drew the anchor.
As strangely as our time had begun, so, too, did it end. I was distraught. I went back to Hope’s every day for a year, but I never saw you again. Ironically, the torture of your desertion seemed to swallow my self-repugnance, and the prospect of killing myself was suddenly less appealing than the prospect of discovering what had happened in that diner. The truth is, I never really stopped speculating.
Obviously, I’m an older man now, and only recently did I recount this story to my son for the first time. He told me to post this on Craigslist, I told him I didn’t know anything about Craigslist, and all I knew about you was your first name and that you had lived in New York once. And even if, by some phenomenon, I happened upon you, I’m not sure I would recognize you. Time is unkind that way.
But as I cast this proverbial coin into the wishing well of the universe, it occurs to me, after a thousand what-ifs and years of lost sleep, that our connection wasn’t missed at all.
You see, in these intervening twenty years, I’ve lived a decent life. I eventually fell in love and married a wonderful woman. I’m raising a great son. And I’ve forgiven myself—mostly. And you were the cause of all of it.
You breathed your essence into my lungs one snowy New Year’s Eve night, and you can’t possibly imagine my gratitude.
I have difficult days, too. Sometimes I can still smell the smoke from the burning car in the accident with my fiancé. My wife passed five years ago. And then, a few dozen times a year, I’ll receive a gift. I remember you. Your words, your kindness, your eyes and that dress. I remember the way you got my heart beating again.
So whatever you’ve been through in life, wherever you are now in life, and wherever you’re going in this life, know this: you’re with me still.
This is the worst idea. I read the post a thousand times. Maybe more than that. I’ve written and rewritten it. This is the best idea. I want it to be just right. Or maybe it doesn’t have to be right at all. This is ridiculous. I am a grown man. What am I thinking? The clock reads eleven fifty one. Luke is home and asleep already from his movie and I’m losing steam. I have nine minutes before my birthday good luck runs out. Deep within my soul, I have a need to do this, no matter how ridiculous it is. I hover the mouse over the submit button and close my eyes.
I hang up the phone gently and let out a deep breath. The wedding planner quit on my daughter, looks like I’m the only one left standing. Am I a terrible mother, if I say I’m not all that surprised? She can’t keep her opinions to herself; she is forthright—to a fault. Angie is the definition of a bridezilla and I’m the one to blame because I created her.
“The Yacht Club,” she said. “I want to make the Times.” “At least two hundred guests, if we want to invite Andrew’s client list.” I should have stopped her. I should have reeled her in and demanded a package deal on some little island. A remote spot where only one in five guests invited would be able to swing it. I am too passive when it comes to my daughter. I chose nurture over discipline, indulgence over rules. Angelina is what I turned her into and I’ll just have to deal with the demands of the bride monster who is my one and only daughter.
I pull up the spreadsheet she’s emailed, while drinking jasmine tea at the marble island countertop. Ten thousand yellow roses shipped in from Ecuador costs more than ten thousand dollars. Of course, it does. I know all too well and so does Angie. My daughter and I are both designers, that’s why she wants the wedding to be “better than perfect.”
Interiors Made Easy with Jess and Angie is the top design podcast on iTunes most weeks. It often sneaks up the charts and settles in right beside NPR, if we happen to have a strong topic project underway. Room Partitions and Folding Screens was a huge one for us. But if I remember correctly, it was Vegetable Garden in the City, which really put us on the map. My parents, however, did not send me to an Ivy League school to learn how to do interiors. They sent me to meet my husband and I did; John was more than they could have even asked for. But being a New York State senator’s wife can get boring. There are only so many luncheons and yoga classes and charity galas one can take. So when Angie was just in tenth grade, we started getting crafty. It turned into an obsession for us both and out of a hobby, we built an empire. We have our own line of paint and fabrics and crafters tools, and whatever gets refurbished on the show, goes into an online auction for charity, the minute we close the episode.
For the last five years, we’ve been offered network deals—full creative control, an entire crew, ridiculous dollar amounts for every single episode. But I turned them all down, to Angie’s dismay. I like the anonymity of the podcast and it’s worked out so well for us this way.
I believe, on a fundamental level, that our success comes from the soothing tone of our voices when we talk about easy ways to make everyday life more beautiful. Visuals would destroy the therapeutic experience, we’d become like every other glossy television host with a spray tan and a complicated wardrobe fit for the wife and daughter of a politician. And, of course, it helps that John likes us to be less visible; in his eyes a televised DIY design show is only steps away from a “Real Housewives” episode.
So for now, we work out of the studio on Madison Avenue, we give verbal instructions and listeners can simply go to the website to upload simultaneously aired photos and short videos. This way, I can work in overalls or a pair of comfy jeans, my hair thrown back in a ponytail, Birkenstocks on my feet. Angie and I are spending quality time together while we work and that’s part of the appeal. Listeners tune in just to hear our banter, we’re funny together and smart and spontaneous. We love what we do and our enthusiasm shows through. Both of our voices are low tenors, without a smidge of a New York accent. That’s the pedigree of private school and hundreds of thousands in tuition. We could be from anywhere in New England, the Eastern Seaboard, the Rocky Mountains, even California, if that’s how they want to envision us. We could be anyone’s neighbor or aunt or mother-daughter team at the local flower shop. That’s why so many Americans welcome Angie and me into their living rooms, kitchens, garages and craft sheds.
The podcast takes up all of my time. It makes me happy, it fills a void that I’ve been unsure of how to fill, ever since Angelina grew up. John is busy, he’s important, work has alwayscome before family. I’m not complaining. I’m grateful. I’m used to being an extraneous ornament. I say it without malice. Why would I complain? My life, relative to most lives, is gorgeous. I’m a woman who owns far too many formal dresses for the average walk-in closet. Yet, I am still compelled, from someplace deep inside, to obsessively beautify.
I set up a date for tasting canapés and cakes. A meeting with a sommelier who also advises on champagnes. In one afternoon, I have imported fabrics from India for fifty table runners; candles from a small family manufacturer in Vermont, hand poured, scented with lavender from their own thirty acres; truffles from a tiny, vegan bakery in Northern California. I peruse images of centerpieces from yacht club weddings from across the globe, searching for something that will grab my attention. I don’t want seashells or starfish, no fishing nets on Angie’s tables.
We, the Van Burens, don’t even own a boat. It’s Andrew’s family that is big into yachts. His parents live in Cape Town and Andrew came to New York for law school. He met my Angie on a runner’s pub-crawl and they immediately took a liking to each other. John had ideas about the kind of man he wanted her to marry.
“Cape Town is not an area I want her traveling to for the holidays.”
“John, she’ll marry who she loves.”
I put my foot down, I wouldn’t budge. This is one area of life where I will not make accommodations. Angie deserves true love and not a recipe prescribed by her father, not a political liaison, not a merger, not an investment, or a pardon. My daughter will marry for love, if it’s the only hard stand I make on this earth. I don’t ever want her to be like me, a profoundly lonely woman, who didn’t even want a passionate marriage, who just longed for a real partnership. An equal, with someone to share my life, my fears, my dreams, even my missteps. What I got, instead, was a lifelong commitment to the façade. A charade. And sure, I love John. I do. But we’re not a real couple, who carry a burning flame for one another. We are a presentation to the public, that’s constantly undergoing editing and shuffling. Our relationship accords to the public’s demand, it doesn’t run on a heart clock; John gets paid by the feds.
Love, to me, seems like the most delicate pastry; divine, indescribable, and so very fleeting. I want love for my daughter. I will guard her chance at happiness like a rabid dog, if that’s what it takes, from the media, from my husband, from the whole goddamned state.
I decide, on a whim, to drive out to the Yacht Club. Get a better lay of the land, start the enchanted, nautical theme brewing. I make phone calls from the backseat of the town car, as I sit in traffic. Angie never should have hired a designer, it was doomed from the get-go. What idiots we both were. We’re a do it yourself design team that hired a designer.
The ballroom is huge and really quite beautiful. The hardwood floors shine with the late afternoon sun. Giant bay windows line the wall that leads out to the floating deck on the water. It will be stunning. I can see it already. This is a magical room and Angie will be so radiant in it. There’s an ornate fireplace that takes up a large portion of the back wall. It’s hard to tell if it’s usable, or just for show. The mantle houses various nautical minutia, scrimshaw, ships in bottles and a rusted, old-fashioned anchor.
That’s it. Right here in front of me. My table centerpiece, well, Angie and Andrew’s. How charming and how perfect. A rusted anchor.
I pull a yellow legal pad from my messenger bag. Sketching it out quickly, I add antique blue hydrangea in yellow-hued Mason jars. But an odd sensation moves through me when my pencil tip hits the paper, like a wave of nostalgia that overtakes me so fast, I feel dizzy. It’s drawing the anchor that makes me remember him.
K. Larsen is an avid reader, coffee drinker, and chocolate eater who loves writing. She received her B.A.from Simmons College- a while ago. She currently lives and works in Maine. She writes steamy romantic suspense novels when no one’s looking.
Mara White is a contemporary romance and erotica writer who laces forbidden love stories with hard issues, such as race, gender and inequality. She holds an Ivy League degree but has also worked in more strip clubs than even she can remember. She is not a former Mexican telenovela star contrary to what the tabloids might say, but she is a former ballerina and will always remain one in her heart. She lives in NYC with her husband and two children and yes, when she’s not writing you can find her on the playground.