Just under four months after I finished the story for NaNoWriMo, it's packaged in a pretty little bow with music and a sweet arse end. So two things. I somehow, incredibly curbed my swearing. And I somehow managed to not use any words associated or substituted for vagina. I didn't write a sex scene. Not an explicit one - not the one's I'm used to. I skimmed. I kept the bedroom door open at a creak, only for Patricia to get up and shut the door in my face. No lie. Fair warning is fair warning. No bang time. But I always believe that to be the mark of a good romance. If you take out the shagging, do the hero and the heroine have a connection? I can safely say that Patricia and Art do. So much so, in my tiny little mind, I am willing for them to make it. Grow old together. Go to IKEA and fight with each other. Remind their kids that they have no idea how hard A-levels are.
Root for them, Tyra Banks style...
An Art To It on Smashwords
An Art To It on Amazon
An Art To It on Allromanceebooks
Question 1: Is this the blurb for An Art To It?
Patricia Nelson has the most important interview of her life coming up. It’s a world away from the girl she used to be. Her future relies on her being accepted into university, so no distractions. That means not getting turnt up, no drinks and definitely no boys. Not even Art. Beautiful, smart, convenient Art. She ain’t got time for that. Truly. None.
Question 2: Where can you find an excerpt of An Art To It?
Like a bucket of ice water, the sound of the front door opening made them both spring to their feet. Patricia leapt for her clothing and placed them hurriedly in a pile next to the armchair, and she threw herself into the seat. Art sat back on the sofa, hooking his ankle onto his knee, only to look down at his crotch and grab a cushion instead.
Patricia clapped a hand over her mouth, and he warned her, “Don’t you dare!”
“Coo-eee!” Gwen called, stumbling into the living room. “How’s my baby! BABY!” she crowed when she caught sight of Art.
She leaned down and cupped his cheeks, pressing kisses to his forehead. Art struggled to throw her off. “God, woman, how much have you had to drink?”
“A bit too much, Mikey Mike is parting…” she hiccupped, “…parking, sorting out the car.”
Finally, Art got up and pushed his mother into the sofa. “Just sit down. I’ll make you some coffee. Actually, I’ll get you some water.”
Patricia leapt to her feet. “I’ll help you.” She grabbed the baby monitor and scampered off after Art. He reached for a glass, and his T-shirt lifted, exposing some crazy definition over his hips.
“Mike’s clearly re-evaluating his life,” Art said ruefully, using the water dispenser to fill a glass for Gwen. “It doesn’t take that long to park a car.”
Patricia leaned against the fridge, catching the hem of his shirt and pleating it with her fingers. “Maybe we shouldn’t go out.”
He cradled her jaw with a warm palm, his lashes fanning over his cheeks, eyes focused on her mouth. “Why not?”
“Umm,” she began, distracted by the intensity of his focus on her.
“We were okay without an audience of the drunk.” When he’d moved so close, she couldn’t recall, but kissing him again was so easy, with the fridge keeping her partly upright.
Gwen bellowed from the living room. “Where’s my coffee?”
Art rested his head against Patricia’s, eyes closed, briefly. “Mind out.” He opened the fridge and squeezed a half lime into the water. He circled her, trailing a kiss over her cheek and she heard him say, “All right, Mike?”
Patricia jumped. Had he heard something? “I’ve been better,” her uncle replied, sounding severe. He stalked into the kitchen where Patricia hadn’t moved, gripping the monitor like a talisman.
He looked her up and down, somewhat more casually dressed than when he’d left. A T-shirt that just about reached her knees—and nothing else. No socks, no jumper, and had Mike and Gwen turned up a little later, probably no knickers, either. “It’s warm in here. I couldn’t figure out how to turn the heating down.”
Mike stared at her as if she’d just said she didn’t realise she was a girl. “Really? That little white box I pointed to before we left?”
Patricia shrugged. “I was thinking about my interview.”
He didn’t look convinced, but changed the subject anyway. “Brian okay?”
Patricia waved the monitor at him, the screen glowing in black and white where Brian snored away in content. “He’s been perfect.”
“I’ll go look in on him, and then I can drive you home.”
The protest came thick and fast. “Oh, no, don’t worry about that. Um, Arthur said he’d give me a lift, and besides, Gwen is toasted. You can’t leave Brian with her in that state. Yes, he’s sleeping, but what if he wakes up?”
Mike made a huff of irritation and lowered his voice. “That boy has a world full of problems, Patricia. Don’t let him get back at his mother through you.”
“How would he do that?” she flashed, furious that her uncle would only see her as some sort of mother-bait. “Gwen actually likes me.”
He touched her shoulder. “Just be careful. I know boys like that. I used to be a boy like that.”
“I don’t think that’s true. Art isn’t breaking up any relationships now, is he?” Before her uncle could reply, she stepped around him and into the living room. Gwen was cradling her water and clutching Art’s hand in her free palm.
“You’re such a good boy,” she slurred. “You know how much I love you, don’t you?”
“In vino veritas, I suppose,” he retorted. His eyes lit up when he saw Patricia. “Are you ready to go?”
“I just need to put on my things, and then sure. Yeah.”
She gathered her pile of clothes and went into the downstairs W.C. to tug on her boots and leggings and jumper, her heart pounding in her chest.
Words with her uncle couldn’t be good. Her mother would be on at her for starting trouble, just when they’d calmed things down. But he asked for it.
Closing the door behind her, she walked into the living room, the raised voices tuning to her brain.
“What makes you think you can come in anywhere you like and take what you want?”
Art scratched his head. “My mum?”
“That champagne was a gift from people who cared to come to our wedding.”
“Actually, that champagne was a gift from my christening. I know because it was on the list of assets they split from the divorce. I guarantee it’s more to do with me than you, considering you weren’t shagging my mother when I was born. Or were you?” Art pretended to look thoughtful. “We never got a fixed date as to when you two became such close friends.”
Mike leaned in, saying under his breath. “If you weren’t Gwen’s son, I’d rip you into pieces, you little shit.”
Art didn’t even blink. “Not much I can do about that. Get out of my face, Mikey Mike. She gave up a wedding for you and I didn’t even ask.”
He left the remaining words unsaid, and Mike regained his senses. “Just go away. And leave Patricia alone.”
“I can speak for myself,” she intervened, coming to stand beside Art and slipping her hand into his. She felt him trembling and it could only be from anger. “If my mum doesn’t interfere with my choices, then you shouldn’t, either.”
“If they knew…”
“There’s nothing to know!” Patricia and Art snapped. They looked at each other and pointed. “Jinx. Jinx again!” She flapped at his finger and turned back to her uncle. “Just back off. You’re not doing anyone any favours by getting mad.”
Understanding finally crossed his face, and he left them in the corridor. “Where’s your coat?” Art asked into the uncomfortable silence.
“Closet,” she said on a whisper. He carefully released her and took her duffle coat with its fur-lined hood from the cupboard and draped it over her shoulders. Bending to her height, he pressed a kiss to her lips.
He loped back into the living room to gather her books, then he hustled her out of the house. Once seated in the car, Art said, “Maybe I should take you home?”
“Oh.” The disappointment in her voice had to be palpable.
He shifted slightly to face her, earnest in his protest. “Not that I don’t want to go out, it’s just…”
“It’s gone a bit Pete Tong,” she finished.
“Listen,” he caught her gaze, and sincerity blazed from those dark blue eyes. “I’ll think of something. ’Cause at the moment, we can just about get a burger van and a can of Old Jamaica ginger beer.”
She looked at the clock dial on the car dashboard. She hadn’t realised it was going eleven. They’d just spent all that time on the sofa getting a little too intimate for people sort of related to each other. “Yeah. Okay.”
Art stroked a hand over her hair, and brushed his thumb over her jaw line. “New day, yeah?”
She nodded, turning to fasten her seatbelt. As practical as separating Mike’s threat from their rather lovely evening together seemed to be, Patricia couldn’t help her worry that in the morning, Art would see it differently.
By the time they reached her house, silence had ruled. Whether thoughts of their miniature rendezvous turned to the path of an error, or the beginning of something sweet and new, remained unclear.
Patricia had nothing to say that wouldn’t sound—to her mind, at least, —immature and whining. She didn’t want to whinge. She wanted everything, especially her feelings, to stay low damn key.