There was a knock on the door as Hadley sat down with a bowl of chocolate-chip ice cream. She glanced at the clock: 8 p.m. Sunday night. She’d shot the whole weekend, mostly grading papers and sleeping the day before.
“My God,” she said aloud, remembering Trey’s promise to make good on a date. How could he possibly show up after she’d been so deliberately elusive? She had forgotten the resiliency of some guys.
“Who is it?” she trilled, bouncing a mound of the frozen dessert on her tongue. She cleared her throat and repeated the question, all the while picking up the detritus from the weekend—the pizza box, the ice cream container, the National Enquirer.
“ ‘Tis I, Old Dog Trey,” he yelled through the door. “Ever faithful. We have a meeting, remember?”
She used her fingers to comb her hair and moaned when the mirror reflected a wan, puffy face staring back at her.
“I never confirmed any meeting,” she said through the door. She hurried to straighten the cushions on the couch. “I’ll take a rain check.” Her heart was doing double time.“C’mon. Please open the door. It’s getting chilly out here.” His voice was deeper than usual.She brushed the lint off her sweatshirt and zipped up her jeans before opening the door.
Trey was twirling the end of a white stick in his mouth. With a loud slurping sound, he pulled from his mouth a bright red lollipop before sticking out his tongue, which now matched the color of his shirt.
“Fire your secretary,” he said, tapping his watch. “May I come in?”
She let him in, the shame of her unkempt apartment equaled only by the shame of her own disheveled appearance.
He stood close to her. “I have to say, you are much more attractive without all that make-up.” He talked with the lollipop stuck in his cheek. “Definitely younger.”
It was an approach she remembered from her time with Derek. First you surprise them, then compliment them when they’re at their most vulnerable. She made a mental note.
He walked toward the nearest chair, sat down, but quickly jumped up again, fishing in his pockets. “Where are my manners? Here.” He extended a lollipop, grape flavor, her favorite.
“No thanks.” It wasn’t even on the level of the apple Neil had given her on the first day of school. Besides, what was with men and their semiotics anyway? Perhaps it beat communicating with words. And how in the world would he have known grape was her favorite flavor? Was she that transparent? Was there a grape “type” as opposed to an orange or cherry type? The grape type would be moody and dark. The orange type would be young, perky, sassy. The cherry type? Passionate, desirable. Like him.
Lollipops aside, he was lusciousness itself, the blood-red shirt adding to his angel-faced carnality. His skin glowed, no doubt from a day spent in the autumn sun with a frisky faun.
Friday, June 2, 2023
Babe in the Woods by Jude Hopkins Virtual Book Tour
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press Inc.
Date of Publication: June 7, 2023
Number of pages: 294
Word Count: 72,321
Cover Artist: Tina Lynn Stout
Tagline: Timber! She’s Falling in Love
It’s September 1995, the first year of the rest of Hadley Todd's life. After living in Los Angeles, Hadley returns to her hometown in rural New York to write and be near her father.
In addition to looking after him and teaching high school malcontents, Hadley hopes to channel her recent L.A. heartbreak into a play about the last moment of a woman’s innocence. But she seeks inspiration.
Enter Trey Harding, a young, handsome reporter who covers sports at the high school. Trey reminds Hadley of her L.A. ex and is the perfect spark to fire up her imagination. The fact that Trey is an aspiring rock star and she has L.A. record biz connections makes the alliance perfect. She dangles promises of music biz glory while watching his moves.
But the surprising twist that transpires when the two of them go to Hollywood is not something Hadley prepared for.
Jude Hopkins has published essays in The Los Angeles Times, Medium, the belladonna—and poetry in various journals including Gyroscope Review, Timber Creek Review and California Quarterly. Her first novel, Babe in the Woods, will be published June 7, 2023. She has also taught English and news writing at various universities, including the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Arizona State University and St. Bonaventure University in Olean, N.Y. She also worked at Capitol Records in Hollywood for a few halcyon and unforgettable years.
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