by Anna Denisch
Genre: Erotic Romance
sweet and sensual friends-to-lovers erotic romance about finding
self-love, overcoming childhood traumas, and learning to go after the
future you want in this world.
They say you should write what you know, but popular romance novelist Alice has never had a problem writing about love when she herself has always been single. Yet her newest writing venture, an erotic romance, is proving to be more challenging than she expected.
Enter Tony, the ‘playboy’ grandson of her publisher. After being kicked out ‘for his own good’, Tony’s looking for a place to stay and a job where he can prove himself. And what better use of his skills is there than helping Alice as her erotica research assistance?
In an exchange that works in both of their favors, Tony agrees to work as Alice’s writing assistant and Alice agrees not to tell his grandmother what he’s up to. But once Tony gets a real job at a rival publishing firm, his grandmother’s response threatens their newfound peace. If they want to preserve their futures, Tony and Alice have to come to terms with their feelings, both for each other and themselves.
A true learning to love yourself story where friends-turned-lovers-turned-romantic partners find their own peace in a world that’s designed to tear them down.
“What about that dress off to the side?” Tony asked. He craned his neck to see it better.
“Oh, no,” Alice said. She stepped over, blocking Tony’s vision with her body. “I couldn’t. It, er, it doesn’t fit.”
“Then why did you bring it?”
Alice chuckled that nervous chuckle of hers and turned around, closing herself back in the closet as she changed once again. Tony checked his watch, glad they had started this an hour before their reservation. She never answered his question.
“Alright, it’s either this or I’m wearing jeans.”
Alice emerged again. This time she sported a blue button up shirt laying gently over a pair of tan pants that seemed to have a permanent wrinkle to them. Tony squinted, looked at the pants, then looked at Alice.
“Jeans it is!” she declared. She threw her hands in the air in defeat and turned back to the closet.
Tony jumped up and raced over, beating her to the door, holding it open. “C’mon,” he said, leaning over her. “Just try it on.”
“It doesn’t fit,” Alice insisted. She crossed her arms and challenged him. Tony never was one to back down from a challenge.
Smiling at her, Tony reached behind him and felt around for the dress in question. He pulled it off the rack and held it up to her. So that was the real problem. The dress was an off-white top, sheen in places where it didn’t count, with slits running down the sides from the shoulders to the elbows, allowing the perfect peek of skin to show through. It was attached with a small bow to the skirt of the dress, a tan and white tartan style that rose to well above the knees. And with a neckline that swooped down below the collarbone, Tony knew exactly why Alice didn’t want to wear it.
“Doesn’t fit,” Alice said again, her voice shy and uncertain.
Tony held the dress closer to her, tilting his head. “Looks like it would fit to me.”
“Well, looks can be deceiving.”
Alice snatched the dress out of his hand and ducked under his arm, stepping into the closet. Tony frowned and let her close the door. He wandered back to the bed and plopped down, trying to imagine what Alice would look like in that dress. You’d be able to see the delicious curve of her thighs, the smooth texture of her skin, the delicate structure of her neck. She would look divine, especially with a necklace, gold, draped around her, something like a jewel fitted right between her breasts.
The door opened and Alice started to say something, but just kind of squeaked a bit. Tony sat up, his head spinning. Not because he had sat up too fast, but because the image he had just made in his head was nothing compared to the reality of it standing before him.
Alice was beautiful. The dress hugged her curves in all the right places and left just enough to the imagination. It was, obviously, something a little outside of her comfort zone, given the way she was hunched over a bit, arms scrunched forward, fingers picking at the hem of the skirt. But even in a non-confident pose like that, Alice was an image of pure beauty.
“See?” she said, not looking directly at him. “It...it doesn’t fit.”
“What are you talking about?” Tony asked. He surprised himself with how easily he found he could talk. “You look…” he struggled to find the right word, sputtering and mumbling because no word had been invented that described it.
“Awful?” Alice suggested. “Trying too hard? Not dressing for my body type?”
“Stunning,” Tony offered. It wasn’t the perfect word, but he wanted her to stop saying such terrible things.
Alice frowned and turned to look in the mirror that hung on the back of the closet door. “You’re lying,” she said.
“I’m really not.” Tony stood behind her, itching to reach out and touch, to place hands on hips, run fingers over arms, press legs to legs. But he held his hands behind his back and resisted the urge. He looked at Alice in the mirror as she did. “You’re beautiful.”
“You’re just saying that.” Alice relaxed a little, her shoulders no longer hunched, her head held a little higher. With every bit of confidence, she looked even more amazing in the dress.
“I’m telling the truth,” Tony argued. Alice turned around to frown at him. He couldn’t hold it back anymore, reaching out to gently cup her cheek. “You always look beautiful.” He dropped his voice to a whisper, feeling an electric heat between them, like the last time he had helped her pick out an outfit. “But in that…” he let his gaze wander, drinking in the full sight of her. “...You’re the most beautiful woman in the world.”
“Is that what you tell all your dates? It’s a very good line.”
Tony’s attention snapped back up. Alice was looking down at her feet. Tony had told a lot of men and women a lot of things. But this one he meant. He moved his hand from Alice’s cheek to her chin, lifting her head back up.
“This isn’t a date,” he reminded her. Then he shrugged with a smile. “What reason would I have to lie?”
Alice pouted a bit and turned back to the mirror, studying herself. “You-you’re sure?” she asked. “I... I look okay?”
“Better than okay. Perfect. Amazing. Wonderful.”
Alice bit her lip and hummed and hawed for a bit. “Well, I suppose...I suppose I could. I-I have been meaning to wear it for a while now…”
“You are free to wear whatever you want,” Tony said, stepping away. “But I meant what I said.” He held his hands out to her. “Stunning.”
Anna Denisch was born and raised just outside of Baltimore City, but she has never called it home. When not traveling around the world or daydreaming about dragons, she spends her time looking at books she wants to read without actually touching them. She received her M.F.A in Creative and Professional Writing from Western Connecticut State University and considers daily if she is just insane enough to take her family’s sometime suggestion of getting a PhD.
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