First page of a rough draft (omg): Fat Girl Gets the Guy

Fat Girl Gets the Guy is a working title that seems to have stuck. Depending on how the story unfolds, I might change it – but I admit I’ve grown pretty fond of the story it conjures up. This is Mark’s book, the sequel to Love Handles. I expect to publish it in late May 2012. Normally I don’t open the door on what I’m writing, but if folks are interested I’ll give it a shot.

This is a very early draft. All typos and grammar mistakes are mine. (But you knew that, didn’t you?) I’m using ye olde Courier fonte and underlining the italics to emphasize its draftiness.

Chapter 1
It was the first time Rose had ever been asked to take off her clothes for a job interview.
“You don’t want me to totally strip, though, right?” Rose asked the lady with hair like a snowball. White and round.
Like me, Rose thought.
“What kind of bra are you wearing?”
Rose looked down at her chest, unusually compressed for the occasion. “It’s a sports bra. Brand new.”
“Panties?” the lady asked.
“What do you mean?”
“What kind of underpants?”
This is a very odd conversation, Rose thought. She didn’t even know the lady’s name. The receptionist had sent her up to the engineering floor for her appointment and Snowball Head had ushered her down a hallway without any preamble.
“They’re just… regular. Not a thong or anything.”
The lady nodded. “Good. We’ll need to know your real numbers. We’ll add on a little for the bust.” Then she nudged Rose deeper into the storage closet and pulled the door shut between them.
Rose looked around. She’d imagined something a little more glamorous than a small, dim closet overstuffed with clothes on racks and sagging shipping boxes. Maybe the fashion industry in San Francisco was as casual as everything else on the West Coast. And, of course, Fite Fitness was just an athleticwear company, not couture or anything.
Rose unzipped her knee-high leather boots and pulled them off, unwound her favorite silk scarf, then stripped off her low-rise black pants and magenta wrap sweater and folded it all into a neat pile. She left on her trio of long silver necklaces and assorted bangles and stood there, wearing just her underwear and jewelry, wondering if the lady expected her to walk around in the big workroom outside in all her full-figured glory.
Crossing her arms under her breasts, Rose decided to wait where she was. It was drafty out there.
After a minute there was a knock on the door. Rose opened it a crack and met the impatient eyes of the white-haired woman looking over her bifocals.

Rose opened the door wider. “I guess. I’m not sure what you want me to do.”

“You’ve never modeled before?”
Keeping a straight face, Rose said, “It’s been a few years.”
The lady stepped inside and closed the door. “You certainly have the hair for it. And the skin. I’d kill to have skin like yours.” Her gaze dropped down over Rose’s exposed, pale form.
“Thanks.” Rose was used to people complimenting her Barbie-like blond hair and peaches-and-cream complexion. Right before they suggested how lovely she could have been if she’d just stop eating. “By the way, what’s your name? I like to know the names of people I get naked with.”
The woman glanced up at her over her bifocals. “Meryl.” She peeled off one of the measuring tapes she wore around her neck and moved closer, her arms extended in front of her like a cartoon zombie. “Hands up. And don’t suck anything in, please.”
Rose did as she was told, feeling the brush of the Meryl’s fingers against the sensitive flesh of her waist, the small of her back, her abdomen. The tape met over her tummy in Meryl’s small hands.
Don’t suck it in. What did that mean? It was impossible not to tense a little bit under the circumstances. Taking a shallow breath, Rose looked over Meryl’s fluffy white head and focused on a very slim pair of black running pants hanging on the back of the door. “You’re just starting a plus-sized line?”
“Mmm,” Meryl said. “Waist, thirty-eight and a quarter.” She let one end of the tape fall to the floor as she jotted a note in a yellow pad balanced on top of one of the lopsided boxes. “That might be a problem.”
“I told Blair I didn’t know what my measurements were but she said you guys wanted to meet me anyway.”
“Let’s see what else you’ve got.”
“Plenty, as it happens,” Rose said.
Meryl leaned in to measure her bust. “Arms up again, please.” She slid the tape back and forth, paused. “Forty-seven and a quarter. But I’ll add on an inch to allow for the bra.”
Rose stared at the ceiling. This was unexpectedly embarrassing. When her roommate had told her about a job that paid seventy dollars an hour just to try on clothes, she’d been happy to hop on the first BART train to San Francisco. She hadn’t considered how being poked and prodded might make her feel like a seventh grader undressing in the school locker room for the first time.
The tape moved down to her hips. Meryl slid it around and held on with one hand as if she were lassoing a calf–
Don’t go there, girl, Rose told herself. Chin up. Big and beautiful.
“Forty-eight and a quarter,” Meryl said, wrapping the tape around her neck. “Well, that one’s within spec.”
“I really do wear an 18. Often. Well, sometimes.”
Moving to the door, Meryl tucked her yellow pad into her pocket. “You can get dressed. I won’t need the rest of your numbers.”
Rose propped her hands on her hips. “Too big?”
“A little bit. Thanks for coming in… uh… ” She stared.
“Right,” Meryl said. “Rose. Thanks for making the trip. You can bill us for the full hour.”
Rose let out the breath she’d been holding. So much for that. For a few days she’d enjoyed a little fantasy about making some easy money. It would’ve been fun to tell people she was a model. Without lying.
“If I lost a few pounds,” Rose said, would you be interested in having me come back in?”
Turning back from the open doorway, Meryl shook her head. “Probably not. We need somebody whose weight is really stable. If you lost it, chances are you’d just gain it back. Bodies have a mind of their own, you know? Yours is probably happiest where it’s at.”
“That is so true. Let me call my grandmother and you can repeat that to her.”
With a little smile, Meryl said, “Best of luck to you,” and closed the door.
While she got dressed, Rose reflected that if ever there was a good time to max out her credit card, this was it. Clothes, shoes, makeup, jewelry–San Francisco’s best shops were only a few blocks away.
After all, it wasn’t every day a girl found out she was too fat to be a plus-sized model.
* * * * * * *

Sample Sunday: The Supermodel’s Best Friend (Chapter 1, cont.)

The Supermodel’s Best Friend
©2011 Gretchen Galway

Excerpt from Chapter 1 . . . The introduction to our fine hero, Miles Girard.

Even among adults, Miles was used to looking over people’s heads. Coaching his kindergarten volleyball clinic, he was a California redwood in a patch of sorrell. An ent among hobbits. A frickin’ giant.

Man, he loved Saturday mornings.
“Got it!” A five-year-old girl with long black hair ran right under the net (without having to duck) and plowed into him. Before he could react, she bounced off his legs and fell to the gym floor, her glittering purple Twinkle Toes sneakers up in the air. The white volleyball she’d been chasing rolled into the cluster of kids behind him.
Miles bent down and offered a hand. “Way to go after the ball, Caitlin!” He helped her up and guided her back to her side of the court. “Next time you gotta stay on your side, okay sport? But way to move those feet.”
Grinning, he looked over into the stands to see if Felicia was enjoying the game, but her glossy blond head was bent over her iPhone. He shrugged it off and got the kids to rotate positions for the next serve. Or roll, since the little ones couldn’t usually get it over the net.
“Everett, your serve, sport. Get closer to the net, that’s it.” Everett swung his arm like Tiger Woods at tee-off; the ball slipped out of his fingers and bounced past the stationary feet of three small children frozen in the ready-squat position. Miles had another ball ready in his hand and tossed it over. “Here you go, Everett. Now try again from right up here, dude. That’s a lot of power you’ve got in that swing.”
Everett stepped forward, swung, and the ball tripped and rolled over the top of the net into Caitlin’s waiting arms.
Miles clapped. “Way to pay attention, Caitlin!” Beaming, Caitlin hugged the ball to her chest. “Next time you go ahead and swing your arms. No need to hold on to it.”
After another five minutes attempting a game, Miles called a water break, sending off a dozen squealing kids to the fountain or to their parents. Miles strode over to Felicia who was flinching at the noise, wearing a skin-tight black and red tracksuit that showed off her long, lean body. Though she liked to meet him in Berkeley on Saturday mornings, she usually went for a run instead of sitting around the clubhouse.
“Morning, honey,” he said, stealing the Starbucks cup from her hand and taking a sip. “Didn’t expect you until ten.”
She frowned. “I’d rather you let me buy you one of your own.”
He swallowed another mouthful of coffee, handed the cup back to her. “I only wanted a sip.”
“You always say that.”
He leaned down to her ear, lightly touched her thigh. “Afraid of getting my germs?”
Her leg jerked away and he drew back to study her face. She looked cool and put-together, her straight hair sleek along the sides of her narrow face, her soft brown eyes carefully made up with mascara and something faintly shimmery. She must have skipped her run altogether, not just finished early. 
“What’s the matter?” he asked.
Stifling his annoyance, he scanned the gym for aimless balls and children just as his watch beeped. “Got to get back.”
“Miles, we have to talk.”

The kids were starting to go wild. They liked to run up and down the bleachers to make them rattle, usually knocking over the adults’ assorted coffee containers in the process. “Sure, soon as I’m done here.” He jumped down and jogged over to the net, calling the kids back for the second half-hour of almost-volleyball. 
Arms folded over her chest, Felicia scowled at him. The coffee cup sat abandoned at her feet.
He shook off his dread and got back to work. He only had to remind Caitlin six times to stop running under the net, which was progress, and by the time they were in the end-of-clinic huddle for a go-team shout, he’d almost forgotten his angry girlfriend was watching.
No, not watching. Back to her phone. 
The kids scattered to their parents and grandparents and he went around the gym to collect the stray balls. Fourth through sixth grade boy’s basketball was at noon, but he had Ronnie coaching that group. He was off until Monday morning, just like corporate types, which was probably what was annoying Felicia again—how he wasn’t one.
When the last ball was locked up and the net put away, Miles stood in the middle of the gym with his hands on his hips and regarded the classic profile of the brooding blonde staring at the neon exit sign.
Marriage. Another birthday had come and gone; she was still single; it was all his fault.
He climbed up the bleachers two at a time to reach her. He sat down beside her and didn’t touch the coffee, though he was dying for it. “I’ll marry you this weekend,” he said, kissing her sweet-smelling hair, “if you agree to move into my place.” She hated his two-bedroom condo in the Mission district of San Francisco, calling the neighborhood a ghetto. He’d sunk all his savings and years of sweat equity into it and really didn’t want to give it up. He knew she’d learn to love it if she gave it a chance.
She twisted around, tilting her head back to look down her nose at him. “Excuse me?”
He raised his eyebrows. Managed a grin. “Kidding?”
She stood up and he had to lurch forward to grab the Starbucks cup before it tipped over. He got tired of mopping up spilled coffee under his bleachers. 
“I can’t stand talking to you here.” She tromped down the stairs to the floor. “You’re so childish.”
He didn’t get up. “What’s your problem now?”
“Oh, now. As if I’m the one.”
“Aren’t you?”
She closed her eyes and shook her head at the ceiling. “I should have waited until we got back to the city, but I thought it might be easier for you here. See? I’m still putting you first, thinking of your needs, ignoring what would be best for me.” She pointed at her chest, drawing his attention to the swell of her breasts, the shadow of her erect nipples under the thin jacket. She moved her pointer finger higher, to her face. “Up here, buddy. This is me, not my tits.”
He got up, jumped down to the floor to close the doors and drop her coffee in the trash. The last thing his club needed was some paranoid Berkeley mother walking in on an intimate conversation. And Felicia could go from G to Mature Audiences Only in a matter of seconds—one of the things he liked about her.  “You’re right. This wasn’t the place,” he said.
“Fine. I’ll meet you at your hovel. I drove over.”
He moved to stand in front of the door, his six-five, two-hundred-forty frame easily blocking her exit. “No. You started this, let’s finish it.”
She glared up at him, hands on her hips. “Yes, let’s.”
He waited, but she kept fuming in silence, and he felt the anger seep out of him. He wasn’t the one who was pissed off, after all. He was having a perfectly nice day. And it probably was a mistake to joke about getting married. “What is it, Felicia?” He softened his expression and stepped towards her. “Let’s grab breakfast somewhere. I’ll buy you another coffee. Promise I won’t touch it.”
To his horror, the tough, independent woman he was starting to think about maybe someday spending the rest of his life with began to cry. Her glossy lower lip trembling, her forehead wrinkling in pain, she sank to the floor.
For a long, stunned moment, all he could do was stare at her hunched over with her face in her hands. What was wrong with her? In all their three years together, the only time he’d seen her cry was during a sad movie or after too many glasses of wine.
“Have you been drinking?”
With a screech, she reached forward and pounded him on the shins. “You big oaf! Of course I haven’t been drinking! But if I married you I’d have to!”
Well, that wasn’t what he expected to hear. He went over to the bottom seat of the bleachers and sat down. “This isn’t about the coffee, is it?”
She buried her face in her hands and rocked back and forth.
“Is there anything I can do?”
She shook her head but didn’t look up.
“I’ll just wait here, then, until you can talk.”
Her head popped up, her eyes wide with rage. “That’s all you can say?”
“What should I say?”
She rolled her eyes in disgust, swiped away her tears with her sleeve. “Forget it.” She got to her feet. “I should know better than to expect you to be serious.”
“No, it’s hopeless. You’re never serious.”
“I’m at work, Felicia.”
“Work! You call this work?” She flung her hand out dismissively. “Come to the firm sometime, I’ll show you work.”
He stood up. “That’s what’s bothering you again? My job?”
She sniffed, walked to the exit. “No,” she said sadly, shoving the door open. “You could change your job.”
Miles looked around the gym one more time before flicking off the lights and following her into the clubhouse lounge. Past the foosball table, through the glass window of their tiny office, he could see the back of Ronnie’s shiny head as he bent over the desk. Felicia circled the pool table, dragging her fingers along the felt. He flinched, having intimate knowledge of just how sharp her nails were.
The lounge was empty now but it would be filled with eleven-year-old boys in about thirty minutes. Whatever she wanted to hash out, it’d better be quick.
He bent over and picked up a ping-pong ball. “So, not just my job. What else?”
“This isn’t going to work.”
“Fine. We’ll talk on the way home. I’ll tell Ronnie—”
“No, I mean us.” She scowled at him through her tears. “I can’t marry you, Miles.”
Whatever he’d expected her to say, that hadn’t been it. She’d been nagging him to get married for . . . ever. “All right, we won’t.” He placed the ping-pong ball on the edge of the pool table. “I was just kidding about eloping anyway.”
Her rage flared again. “See? Oh my God! I can’t believe you!”
“What’s the matter with me?”
“That’s what I want to know!” She lowered her voice, slackened her jaw, and slurred her words. “‘I was just kidding about eloping. What’s the problem?’”
He picked up the ball and squeezed it in his fist. “That’s a great impersonation of me, Felicia. You must have spent a long time practicing that.”
“You knew from the start I wanted a family. You knew that.”
“And you knew I was afraid of screwing one up. I didn’t have the rosy home life you did. Of course I’m more cautious.”
“But three years, Miles? I’m going to be thirty-three this month. When I was twenty-nine, I thought I had time to wait for you. But now—”
“You’d risk having children without knowing for sure we’d last? You refused to move in with me—”
“Yes! And you refused to move in with me!”
“You have a studio apartment in Pacific Heights. I barely fit in the door.”
“Which is why I wanted to look for another—oh, forget it!”  She threw her hands up. “I was stupid for thinking a nice guy who seemed to care about kids would be in a hurry to have some of his own.”
“‘Seem’ to care?” The ping-pong ball in his palm was now a curved lump of broken plastic. He took a deep breath and studied the frayed felt of his clubhouse’s fourth-hand pool table. “I see so many kids whose parents should’ve waited. Who divorced, or never got married, or work all the time. I can’t be that kind of parent. I promised myself—”
She made a rude noise. “Excuses, excuses. You like the kids here because they grow up and move on. You don’t really want to commit to anybody. Not them, not me. You’re immature. Emotionally stunted. Willfully obtuse.”
He squeezed the broken plastic harder, but he kept his voice soft. “Gee, if that’s true, why were you so eager to marry me?”
She let out a scream through gritted teeth and jammed her hand into the pool table’s pockets as though looking for something to hurl at him. Luckily the balls were locked up in the office with a sign-out sheet.
“Don’t you smirk at me, you giant idiot!” She snatched up an empty Dr. Pepper bottle out of the recycling bin and hurled it at his head.
He crossed his arms and let it bounce off his shoulder. He was starting to get seriously pissed.
She hurled another one, a can of Red Bull, and he had to turn his head so it only clipped him. This enraged her, like he knew it would, and she reached into the bin with both hands and started throwing wildly until Ronnie opened the office door.
“Dude, you going to clean that up when she’s done?”
Without taking his eyes off of Felicia, Miles said, “I’ll handle it.”
Their manly conversation seemed to pierce the last of her temper. She sank to a striped yellow couch, its stuffing seeping out of the cushions, and started sobbing again. 
If he hadn’t been so angry he would have gone over to touch her, try to soothe her, but he wasn’t a saint. He held himself still, watching her, feeling his heart pound in his chest and finding some comfort in the fact that he wasn’t driving to Nevada this weekend.
He shoved the broken ping-pong ball into his pocket, vaguely aware of pain in his palm. “So, this is the end of everything between us?”
Swiping her hair out of her face, she got up and marched out of the building without looking at him again. He watched her tight ass swing out of sight. A minute later he doubled over the surface of the pool table to ease his throbbing skull.
Maybe she was right. He hadn’t really let her in, hadn’t tried hard enough. Three years was a long time, long enough that he should be feeling more than relief—
But damn, she’d really confirmed his worst fears. He’d been stupid to even consider marriage, however theoretical that consideration had been. The only happy marriages he’d ever seen were on TV. His father had been married four times, and not once to his own mother. And his current stepmother . . . His thoughts skated away from Heather in disgust.
No, he didn’t have a clue about women or happily ever after. He was a product of his genes and his environment, nature and nurture, and he wouldn’t forget it.
Thank God he’d found out in time.
He stood up, wiped some Dr. Pepper off his jaw, and began cleaning up the mess.

The Supermodel’s Best Friend
©2011 Gretchen Galway
Coming in eBook – October 2011

The Supermodel’s Best Friend – First Chapter Excerpt

French Postcard from the Graphics Fairy

August has not been a good month for my blog. I apologize. I’ve been caught up finishing my next book, The Supermodel’s Best Friend, due out in early October. I’ve got a hero in it that is so wonderful I almost want to give him a sequel. But he’s got his HEA with Lucy and he’s way too loyal to ever give her up.

As I prepare The Supermodel’s Best Friend (TSBF) to go to my editor, (the snazzy and charming Rhonda Stapleton Helms), I’m trying to get back into my world here online. Summer is almost over, the kids are back in school, the weather will cool and the days grow shorter – all conditions ripe for reading. Though TSBF would be a great beach read, I think most readers will glom onto it during the colder months. A cozy romance with a lot of laughs and heat.

I’ll be posting teaser scenes as I prepare for publication in October. These have not yet been through my editor or proofreader, so keep that in mind. If you’re an altruistic sort, feel free to mention any typos or grammatical mistakes you see; I’m in the Make It Perfect stage. (Later, when it’s on your Nook or Kindle or iPad, I’ll be in the OH GOD I HOPE THEY DON’T NOTICE stage. Though I’d still need to know so I can upload a correction.)

Anyway, I hope you like it!

* * * * * * * * *

The Supermodel’s Best Friend
© 2011 Gretchen Galway

Chapter 1 

      This was not in the plan, Lucy thought, staring at the handsome face on her phone. Her fiancé was supposed to be standing by her side, pen in hand, not using video smartphone technology to dump her from another state. I don’t love you enough to let you ruin the plan.
      “I’m still in Seattle,” Dan said, his voice as small as he was.
      Lucy looked around the empty living room of the spacious three-bedroom California bungalow with original plank hardwoods and walnut built-ins. “You said you’d kill to have this house,” she said, wondering if the real estate agent, laying out the pages for their revised offer on the granite breakfast counter in the kitchen, could hear them.
      “It’s a great house,” he said, sighing. “A perfect house. But now I see that it would just tie us down, drag out the inevitable.”
      She blinked, not sure what she was hearing. “We’ve been planning this for almost five years.”
      He hesitated. “I met someone.”
      “When? This morning?”

      Licking his lips, he said, “Why don’t we talk later, after you’ve had a chance to calm down.”
      She frowned. “I’m hardly hysterical, Dan.”
      “Yeah, I noticed.”
      “You’d like me to be hysterical?”
      “Forget it. Of course not. It makes everything easier.”
      She nodded, belatedly piecing together some clues he’d dropped over the past few months. “Your six-month assignment in Seattle wasn’t the opportunity of a lifetime, then.”
      “Well . . . ”
      “Ah. A personal opportunity, you meant.”
      “I wanted to be sure. For both—for all of us.”
      “Very considerate of you,” she said.
      “Damn it, you don’t have to be sarcastic.”
      “You’re hardly in a position to tell me what to do. I’m the wounded party here, wouldn’t you agree?”
      He moved his head outside of the screen’s range and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like, “I wish you were.”
      Lucy dropped the phone to her side and noticed that Robin, the real estate agent, had come up behind her. Her face was pale.
      This was really going to screw over the older lady, the two of them walking away from the deal now. She needed a sale badly. Typical of Dan to think the world revolved around him and his feelings.
      Lucy lifted the phone. “We’ll have to call the mortgage broker.”
      He jutted out his chin. “I already have.”
      “You told Inez the mortgage broker before you told me?”
      “She kept after me to sign the latest thing. It didn’t feel right to string her along anymore—” He stopped and cleared his throat. “Look, you’re getting digitized. I think the connection is breaking up . . . ”
      “It didn’t feel right to string her along?”
      He sighed. “So much of our lives together is what you wanted. Not me. I felt . . . superfluous so much of the time.” He tilted the screen of his laptop so she was staring out the window of his suite at the Extended Stay America. It wasn’t supposed to be sunny in Seattle. It looked sunny. She wondered if the new girlfriend was there, listening off camera. Dan came back into view with a coffee cup at his lips.
      In Berkeley, outside the house she wasn’t going to have, the sky was as gray as lint. “Our relationship was always shaped by what you wanted. We talked about marriage years ago. I hoped to have my first child before I turned thirty. But you wanted to save up for the house first, so we did, even though that was third on my list.”
      “You and your lists. That’s one thing I’ve learned from Brittany—how to trust my heart.”
      “Ah, so she’s one of those.” She took a deep breath and peered into the phone for a glimpse of her. “What else did the little ho say?”
      Dan’s mouth dropped open in shock.
      She said, “You wanted hysterical; this is my version.”
      He looked away, then back at the screen, his lips popping up and down like a broken garage door. “Brittany is not—” He shook his head and stared off to the side, made an apologetic face, then jerked his head.
      So she had been there. “Thanks for making this such a private moment.”
      “I can’t believe Brittany had to hear you call her a—a—I can’t even say it.”
      “What? She’s been sleeping with my boyfriend. For months, apparently.”
      “Brittany has nothing to be ashamed of.”
      “Does she know about me?”
      “Of course. She knows everything.”
      Lucy snorted. Her college advisor would’ve broken out in a rash to hear her insult a woman for exercising her sexual liberties, but to hell with it. She was under a lot of stress. “Ho.”
      Dan’s eyes went wide as he leaned into his laptop camera. “She is completely innocent. Brittany’s not in such a hurry to take her clothes off. Unlike you.”
      Lucy felt an odd snapping inside her, the last of her grip on reality disengaging from the voice in her hand. “We lived together for five years. You think we should have waited until we were, what, forty?”
      “It’s not how long we waited, it’s how often you wanted it. And how much you wanted to do it. I’m a man, Lucy, and I didn’t need half as much sex as you did.” Then he seemed to regret the outpouring, because he ran his hand over his eyes and said, “I’m sorry. I never intended to talk to you about this.”
      Her throat suddenly felt tight. She realized Robin the real estate agent was hanging on every word. “Did you talk to her about this? Brittany?”
      His sheepish look grew sheepier; he leaned away from the camera. Faintly, she heard him say, “That’s how we—how we knew we were perfect for each other. She was avoiding her boyfriend, and I—I was taking a break, too.”
      “And where was this? Her convent?”
      “Lucy,” Dan said, shaking his head, looking so disappointed in her.
      Humiliation didn’t feel right so she tapped into the rage, breathed it like oxygen. “I’m just trying to get the full picture here. I deserve to know the details.”
      “Information isn’t knowledge, Lucy,” Dan said. “Knowing everything doesn’t make you wise.”
      “And having a penis doesn’t make you a man,” Lucy said.

* * * * * * * * *

Pardon me for saying this, but: I love Lucy. Don’t worry, she definitely comes out ahead with Miles. Miles ahead?

Sorry. Been writing like a crazy person for weeks. Bit nutty at this point.

The Supermodel’s Best Friend. Coming in October!