$0.99 Kindle Deals

#kindle #99cents #kindleUK #HeatherBalog #romance #chicklit

For the next three months, one of my novels will be on sale for Kindle almost every day, either in the US or the UK. This week, my debut novel “All She Ever Wanted” is on sale in the UK. Starting Saturday, “Letter’s to My Sister’s Shrink” will be $0.99 for one week only.

https://kindle.amazon.com/search/books?keywords=heather+balog&start=1

I’m practically giving them away, so be sure to check them out and spread the word! Be sure to post a review on Amazon or Goodreads, too!

 

 

Sleepless in the UK?

It’s after midnight in jolly old England, a place I would love to visit. Are you tossing and turning? Unable to sleep? Wish you had a good book but the library is closed? Well I’ve got great news for you! “All She Ever Wanted” is available for a mere £0.99 this week for Kindle! Don’t have a Kindle you say? You can download the app for your tablet! Awesome! Check it out…you won’t put it down till morning!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/All-Ever-Wanted-Heather-Balog-ebook/dp/B005EOM0NM

 

An Egg-ceptional Tale of Easter Misadventure

In honor of Easter, allow me to tell you about why I hate the tradition of dying Easter eggs. Ok, that’s a little harsh…why I STRONGLY DETEST it. Actually, even if you don’t want me to tell you, you know I’m going to ramble on about it, so just get used to it. Grab a cup of coffee (or glass of wine), sit back and relax as I regale you with my timeline of misadventure this year.
Friday 9pm: I start to notice friends posting pictures of their kids dying Easter eggs all over Facebook. I leap to feet, race to the kitchen and throw open the fridge. We have no eggs. We have no egg dye either. Must get eggs and egg dye.
Saturday 9am: Fight crowds at grocery story and stand in front of egg fridge grappling with an earth shattering decision; 18 eggs or a dozen??? In my mind, I am remembering that every single year at least two eggs break in the boiling process and another egg or two breaks while dying. I decide to go with 18.
9:10 am: I am in the grocery line that stretches into the diaper aisle when I remember that nobody in my family eats hard boiled eggs except my daughter anyway. I go back for the dozen.
9:14am: I battle with lady in a robe and bunny slippers for last carton of a dozen eggs. I win, but break 4 eggs in the process. Grab the carton of 18 eggs.
9:32am: I am at the front of the line…finally. And I remember I forgot the Easter egg dying kit.
10:00am: Finally home. Daughter wants to dye eggs immediately. I explain they have to be boiled, cooled, yada, yada, yada. She pouts, I put eggs on to boil.
10:44am: “Mommy, what’s that burning smell?”. I forgot about the eggs. Drive back to store. Repeat above.
1:00pm: After boiling for appropriate amount of time, put eggs in fridge to cool down.
1:02pm: Explain to anxious child that it is too early to dye eggs; eggs must cool.
7pm: Return home after baseball practice, dinner, etc. etc… House reeks of hard boiled eggs.
7:15pm: Ready to dye eggs. Discover we have no vinegar. Modify instructions.
7:20pm: Invite family members to participate in egg dying festivities. Husband suddenly has to go to the bathroom; son sticks iPod earbuds in his ear and sulks; daughter is already eagerly waiting at the table.
7:22pm: Aforementioned daughter tells me I am “doing it wrong” and wails when I put the egg in the pink dye. I step away from the eggs while she happily colors them…alone.
8:00pm: Our eggs look nothing like the ones that friends have proudly posted pictures of on Facebook. Ours are a putrid shade of green and brown as the child has dunked them in every single color. They are adorned with stickers and sparkles and she has given them all names like “Señor Eggcellence” and Bob. Her hands are now bright blue.
9:00pm: Put child to bed, explaining Easter bunny cannot come if she is awake. Translation, “Mommy can not hide eggs if you are not sleeping, kid”.
10:00pm: Child is still pacing the house, saying she is too excited to sleep. Knowing what is in her Easter basket, I try to convince her that there is really nothing to be the that excited about.
11:00pm: Kid is still awake. Mommy scrolls through Facebook for the Easter Eve version of “how spoiled is my kid”. This is similar to the overwhelming number of Christmas Eve Facebook photos that parents post of the grossly obnoxious amount of presents that are sprawled out underneath their tree. Except with Easter baskets.
Midnight: Child mentions she is not still not sleepy. Mommy falls asleep on couch.
Sunday 2 am: Kid is standing over me telling me she still can’t sleep. I walk her back to her bed and promptly fall head first into mine.
4:14am: I awake with a start, realizing that “The Easter Bunny” has not hidden the eggs yet. I crawl (reluctantly) out of bed.
4:17am: I stare at the carton of 18 eggs (not one of which broke, btw) wondering where the hell I am going to hide 18 REAL eggs. I can’t put them too high; they may fall and break. I can’t put them too low; the dogs will find them and eat them. And my oldest is asleep on the couch in the living room, putting an extra difficult spin on the hiding game. I start shoving them in highly predictable places, trying to take note of how many are in each room.
4:23am: I am running out of places.
4:30am: Seriously, this sucks.
4:37am: I am finally done. I crawl back to bed.
4:40am: I can’t fall sleep now.
5:02 am: Ugh!!! You’ve got to be kidding me!!!
5:58am: I have finally fallen asleep.
5:59am: I feel someone standing over me.
“Hi, Mommy! Can we look for Easter eggs now?” How is she so damn chipper on 4 hours of sleep???
“No, go away. It’s too early.”
6:05am: “Is it later now, Mommy?”
6:20am: Child is now asleep at the foot of the bed. I sigh with relief and go back to sleep.
7:07am: “Is it time yet?” I awake with a start to find her hovering. I sigh as I lumber out of bed, but not before kicking my hubby in the leg. “Get up. She wants to look for eggs”
“Ugh,” he groans. “I didn’t sleep well last night.” My ass. He lies like a rug. He was blissfully snoring away the whole time.
7:10am: Wake up the Prince of Preteen Angst. “Your sister is going to get all the eggs,” I taunt him in efforts to get him to wake up.
“I don’t care,” he mumbles.
“Geez, what happened to your competitive streak? Go help your sister look for eggs,” I tell him.
He rolls over on the couch and I hear a muffled reply. “I don’t want to look for eggs.”
“There’s money in them,” I lie.
“Duh. They’re real eggs. How dumb do you think I am?” He goes back to sleep.
7:12am: I let her loose to find 18 eggs by herself.
7:13 am: The dog has found an egg that rolled off the window sill and is eating it, shell and all.
7:21am: All the eggs except for two have been located.
7:22am: Can’t remember where I put them!
7:25am: Found one but where the hell is that last egg???
7:35am: Tearing the house apart, muttering, “I knew I should have written it down.”
7:44am: Daughter points out that the missing egg is the one the dog ate. Sigh with relief. I will not be finding a rotten egg under the stove in June.
Following Sunday: Throw out 16 hard boiled eggs. Should have gotten the broken dozen

 

Life’s Tough, Wear a Cup

So I was at my daughter’s softball game this morning and I’ve come to a conclusion and it’s not just that watching 9 years play softball is akin to watching paint dry. I’ve reached the realization that parents are lying to their kids. I am not, nor will I ever be, a parent who sugar coats things. I know it’s hard for you dear readers to imagine, but I don’t believe in lying to my kids. Yes, there are some teeny white lies we tell to protect them like “no there are no vegetables ground up in this meatloaf, why ever would you think that?” , but I do believe in being honest about their abilities, even if it means their feelings are going to get hurt.
Over the last 8 years as a “sports mom”, I’ve witnessed other parents and their reaction to their kids playing and I realize that there are not too many parent subscribing to this same policy. And that terrifies me. Because I am realizing that soon in the future we are going to have a whole generation of kids looking for praise when none is warranted. We’re going to have a lot of young adults content with mediocre work and no incentive to strive to do better. Everyone is going to want their participation trophy just for putting on a uniform and showing up.
Ok just so we are clear, I’m not “that parent”; the one screaming at their kid the whole game, vein bulging out of their neck. That’s just crazy and plain rude. First of all, you’re embarrassing your kid. Secondly, you’re undermining the coaches and third of all, you look like an ass. It’s just a game after all.
That not to say that I’m not pacing and chewing my nails, praying my kid doesn’t mess up. I think about yelling at my kid in my head sometimes, too. “Oh my GOD, you gotta cover second!” went through my head about ten times this morning. I may have even muttered it into my coffee cup a few times. But, I’m not going to start screaming it on the field. I feel that it is up to the coaches to tell my kid what she did wrong.
Except, today the coaches weren’t telling anyone what they did wrong. Instead, they were applauding every abysmal effort. A ball rolled right past my daughter while she made figure eights in the dirt with her shoe and they just clapped and said “you’ll get it next time!” Meanwhile, I wanted to scream, “wake the hell up out there shortstop!” (But I bit my tongue) One girl stood at the plate while three perfectly good strikes came right down the middle and she didn’t even swing. Everyone clapped for her and I’m wondering WHY? Well, I’ll tell you why. We have to clap because we can’t make anyone feel bad. We have to clap because we don’t want that girl to go home and cry in her pillow. We have to clap because God forbid, the girl realizes she has to try harder or do something else.
I know I sound like a hard ass. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the girl to cry or feel bad, either. What I want all the kids to do is try their best, realize their full potential and LEARN. We don’t learn from our mistakes if nobody points them out. We don’t learn that we are putting up a subpar performance if someone constantly tells us that we did a good job, even if we didn’t. We don’t learn that maybe we are not as good as we think we are unless someone tells us we can do better.
I don’t blame the coaches either. They have to walk that fine line between pointing out what the kids are doing wrong and appeasing the parents. They don’t need a disgruntled parent keying their car. A good number of these parents want to tell their child, “you did great”, “there are no winners or losers” and other platitudes like that. Wrong! There are winners, there are losers! The sooner we realize it, the better chance we have to be one of those winners.
Not every one is a natural athlete. There are some kids that aren’t going to be good at softball and baseball or soccer. There are kids who are going to stink at basketball or karate or dance. Guess what? They don’t need to be good at those things! They can try other things! There’s kids that can’t swing a bat to save their life, but they are awesome at playing the piano or drawing or can hack into their teacher’s computer and change their grades. It takes all kinds.
My son has been an athlete for many years. A few years ago he brought home a musical instrument (and I can’t even remember what it was because I’m trying to block that portion of my life out of my memory). He was TERRIBLE. But people (like his teacher and my mother in law) lied to him and told him he was good and had potential. The only potential he had was to make our dog run from him in fear. Fortunately, he lost interest in the instrument (which often happens when you’re no good at something) and that went by the wayside. And I was glad, not only that I didn’t have to wear earplugs any more, but that he experienced failing at something, not being good at something. It’s an important lesson to learn. You will NOT be good at everything. You will fail. Practice makes perfect. There are losers and winners. You may suck at stuff. There are no participation trophies in real life. And most importantly, life’s tough, wear a cup.

Falling When the Bough Breaks

What does it mean when you lose your only child? Are you still a mother? Can you go on with your life as if the child never existed or will you always be missing that piece, unable to love another child the way you once loved your child?
This is not a hypothetical situation for Andrea Pringle. It’s her unfortunate reality and she is torn between love for her dead son and her desire to be a family after the birth of her daughter. She cannot seem to bond with the new baby, feeling an overwhelming amount of resentment for the simple fact that she is alive and her brother is not. No one understands her pain and Andrea feels that she is completely alone, Falling When the Bough Breaks.

Im taking a break from comedy as my newest novel explores the complexities of motherhood and postpartum depression after loss of a child. Check it out on Kindle.

http://www.amazon.com/Falling-Bough-Breaks-Heather-Balog-ebook/dp/B00JHQV57K/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1396742468&sr=1-4&keywords=heather+balog

Note to Self: Change the Locks

My face fell, along with the blue terry cloth towel wrapped around my body, when I opened the door to find Simon staring back at me, backpack slung over his left shoulder. No, no, no! This can’t be! What in God’s name is he doing here? I caught the towel with my left hand before it completely dropped to the floor and attempted to pull it tighter using only one hand.

“Hello, love!” Simon chirped in his annoying British accent, eying me up and down and giving me the creeps.

Using both hands, I cinched the towel as snug as it would go, practically cutting off my circulation. Damn it. Simon is not the Fed Ex man. Now just so you know, I don’t normally answer the door in a towel, but I was waiting for my new stilettos that I ordered from DSW. When the doorbell rang as I was getting out of the shower, I raced to answer it since I was sure it had to be the Fed Ex guy. Those damn shoes were supposed to be delivered yesterday and I’ve been waiting so patiently for them. I really needed them to come like, right now, since I planned my entire outfit for today’s interview around those shoes.

Had I glanced in the peep hole and saw Simon standing there, I wouldn’t have opened the door in a million years. In fact, Iprobably would have climbed out the fire escape. “This is a really bad time, Simon. What do you want?”

“Oh! There another bloke here, then?” Simon asked, craning his neck to peek into my apartment. Stepping out into the hallway, I pulled the door closed behind me.

“No! There is not. Not that it’s any of your concern,” I replied crossing my arms. At least, Austin wasn’t here right this moment, but that wasn’t really any of Simon’s business, now was it?

Simon leaned up against the wall, trying to appear cool. I bit my lip to suppress laughter. The building super had just painted that wall and Simon now had a big white line of paint on his sleeve.

“Ah, so no new chap? Still carrying a torch for old Simon then, huh?” He flashed one of his cheesy grins my way. God, did his audacity ever end?

“Listen, I’m really busy this morning. I have an interview at 11:00 and I thought you were the Fed Ex man with a package. Therefore if you could just tell me why your English ass is on my doorstep so I can bid you Cheerio, to borrow one of your expressions from your homeland.” I forced a tight smile.

“Well, I was really hoping you wouldn’t tell me to sod off, love. You see, I’ve been forced from my flat,” Simon drawled, leaning closer to my cleavage. “My, you smell delectable. New scent?”

I frowned as I side stepped his wandering nose. “No. Same old scent.” And same old Simon. “Listen, Simon, I’m so sorry to hear that, but A, I don’t see how that’s my problem and B, we call them apartments here in the States.” So freaking annoying. He’s lived here for nearly twenty years, but he still thinks the accent is charming and is going to get him his way. Simon was like those Italian guidos at the Jersey shore. They strut around town with their Italy tattoos and Italian horns around their necks pretending they’re born and bred in Italy when they’re actually from Bloomfield and probably haven’t ever been outside the tri-state area. Like my brothers.

“Alright then, my apartment. I was forced from my apartment.” He articulated the word carefully. It still sounded overly British. Why can’t he just talk like an American?

Come to think of it, at one point in time I did find Simon’s Britishness (if that’s even a word) sexy and irresistible. It’s pretty much how he got me into bed in the first place. Well, it’s not going to work today.

“And why, might I ask, were you forced from your apartment?” I enunciated every syllable hoping to piss him off. I could be a bitch if he was going to be a jerk.

Simon cringed. “Well, I had a little bit of dickering with the landlord over the rent.”

“By that, you mean you didn’t pay the rent?” Simon was completely irresponsible with money. His parents had been well off, but they never seemed to teach him the value of money. He threw it away on toys and frivolous endeavors without budgeting for essentials of daily living. It was another one of his many grating habits.

“Well, it was kind of hard. You see, I got sacked.”

“Shocker that is,” I remarked with a smirk. Simon was a very smart guy; his IQ was off the charts. But he absolutely refused to apply himself and I’m pretty sure he had an adult version of ADHD because he couldn’t seem to stay in any job for more than a few months. He changed his college major twice and then didn’t even graduate. He told me that it had “bored” him. With a big, fat trust account after his father died, he didn’t feel the need to ever be serious about a career or even a steady income.

“Please, Lizzie? I can’t get an apartment on a moment’s notice. The waiting lists are eons long and I have nowhere else to go. You know Mum’s in a home now. I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t desperate.” Simon’s face fell and his dark gray eyes grew wide and moist. Oh, shit. Not the puppy dog face. Simon, put the puppy dog face away! That infuriating man knew I could not resist the puppy dog face.

I closed my eyes to shut out his pathetic expression. “Don’t call me Lizzie. You know I hate that. What about Jake? Why can’t you stay with Jake?” Jake was Simon’s successful and talented screenplay writing older brother, whose home was literally three blocks from my apartment. Except, I still lived in the crap part of town and he was living in a mansion penthouse.

“Jake’s being an arse.” The way he said arse gave me goose-bumps. Damn accent again. Stop it now, Elizabeth. Do not let him get to you. “Something about not wanting company there when they’re doing construction. Mary Ellen is having a baby, you know.”

“No, I didn’t know,” I remarked dryly. He was so dense. Did he really think I kept in touch with his family after our breakup? I always found the whole bunch to be rather pretentious and I had been overjoyed to purge myself of all of them in the process of breaking up with him. It had been one of the perks of our relationship ending.

“Well, she is. Due in May. Going to be a girl. They’re doing the nursery in Mother Goose or some other nonsense like that.”

“How about Robert?” I suggested, ignoring his foray into the inane topic of nursery themes. Robert was Simon’s younger brother. He was a bit of a romantic drifter, but he did have a house in Long Island.

Simon waved off that suggestion. “He’s decided to live in Spain. New tart he met on vacation lives there and apparently he’s in love. Again. Remember Illyana? Yeah, this one speaks even less English than her. I bet all she knows is…”

Exasperated, I sighed loudly. “Listen, Simon, I’d love to chat and catch up with the last two years of your life, but I’ve really got to go.” I reached for the doorknob as I spoke. “Why don’t you friend request me on Facebook or something and we can be regular old chums,” I remarked with sarcasm.

“That’s quite naff. Leaving me out in the cold,” Simon pouted.

“It’s April, Simon. You’ll be fine. Go find a refrigerator box or something,” I countered as I turned the doorknob. Much to my chagrin, it wouldn’t turn. What the hell? I gripped it tighter and tried again; sometimes it stuck when it was humid.

As hard as I tried, the door wouldn’t budge. Oh sweet Jesus, please tell me I am not locked out! In the hallway. In a towel. With Simon. When I have an interview uptown in less than an hour!

Simon chuckled as I desperately rattled the doorknob. “A bit of a pickle, eh?” His voice was full of amusement.

“It’s not funny, Simon,” I growled through gritted teeth. “I really need this job. I can’t be late for the interview.” Tears burnt my eyes. Stop crying. You cannot lose it in front of Simon. I pulled at the door harder, to no avail. I tensed as Simon inched so close to me I could feel him breathing on my neck. What a creep!

“Ah, what happened to your job, Lizzie?” Simon inquired with sarcastic sweetness.

“My job is none of your beeswax,” I retorted as I jiggled the handle futilely. Son of Sam, why the hell won’t this open? I don’t remember locking it from the inside.

“Oh, so you don’t have a job either? And you were criticizing me?” Simon chuckled. “You want to be the pot or the kettle?”

I inhaled sharply as I whipped around, looking up at his pointy chin. “Good day, Simon,” I told him, curtly nodding before marching off barefoot to the bank of elevators at the end of the hall.

“Where are you going?” Simon called after me.

“Getting the Super to open my apartment door,” I called as I punched the button to summons the elevator. This was going to be one embarrassing visit to the Super’s apartment. Perhaps even more humiliating than the time Nora and I tried a new sushi restaurant and we both had explosive diarrhea and clogged up my toilet.

“Oh, well that seems rather mortifying,” Simon commented. Really, Simon? You don’t say. I focused on the glowing numbers lighting up on the top of the elevator door. Why was this damn thing so slow today? “So you need a key?” I heard Simon ask.

“Yes, Simon. Keys usually open doors,” I replied sarcastically, refocusing my gaze and staring down at my feet. I could see that my hot pink toenail polish was flaking off. Great. Now I have to wear boots and it’s hot. I can’t even wear the open toed shoes if I wanted to. Even if they came before I was done getting dressed. I’ll never get the job with chipped toe nail polish. Ugh, I’ve got to rethink my whole outfit now. My mind was reeling as the clock ticked down.

“A key like this one?” Simon called, just as the elevator doors opened. My upstairs neighbor, Mrs. McIntyre was inside the elevator, gawking at me with her mouth hanging open. She clutched her purse and her stupid toy poodle, Cupcake, close to her body like I was some sort of crazed animal snatcher. Haven’t you ever seen anyone waiting for an elevator in a towel, lady? I spun around to see Simon dangling a key in the air. My key. On my Mets lanyard. Son of a bitch! I’ve been looking all over for that!

The elevator door closed with Mrs. McIntyre and Cupcake safely behind it as I stormed over and attempted to snatch my key from Simon’s hand. He was shorter than average, a fact he absolutely hated, but he was still taller than I was and able to dangle the key well out of my reach. Holding on to the towel, I tried to jump for it, lost my balance and my body covering in the process. Quickly, I snatched up the towel and held it to my bare body. Thank goodness it was a weekday and most of my neighbors were already at work.

Simon laughed with glee as he tossed the key on top of the junk pile my neighbor kept outside his door, despite the association regulation forbidding use of hall space for personal storage. Every weekend, Mr. Jackson attempted to clean out his apartment, dragging furniture and boxes into the common hallway. And every weekend, the poor dear became so overwhelmed by the process of sifting through his hoard, he would quit halfway through. I didn’t have the heart to report him and his mess even though the pile of rubble was slowly encroaching on my own hallway space.

“Come on, Simon! That was a real shit thing to do!” I dragged a chair to the edge of the pile. Thankfully, Mr. Jackson had attempted cleaning his dining room this past weekend and his entire set of dining room chairs was leaning against the wall. I climbed onto the chair, trying to reach my key. Simon sidled up next to me and gazed upwards, getting a clear view of my naked hoo-ha. I stared down at him and tucked the towel between my thighs. “Are you serious right now?”

A broad grin erupted on his well chiseled face. Damn, I forgot what nice cheekbones he has. But he does look like he’s put on weight. That thought satisfied me for some perverse reason. “I don’t think you can reach the top of that pile, love.”

“I can too,” I replied, puffing out my chest. I can’t reach the top of this pile. Damn my parents and their genes. Short, fat people should not be allowed to procreate together! The result is even shorter, sausage-like children.

Simon casually leaned against my door frame, resulting in a white streak on his other sleeve. “I can help you out there, Lizzie. In exchange for one teensy little favor.” A sly smile spread across Simon’s lips.

“Don’t call me Lizzie,” I growled. I was stuck. Damn it. I needed his help. I sighed as I tightened my towel for the umpteenth time and ran my free hand through my hair which was now dry.”What do you want?”

Simon pushed off the door frame. “Oh you know what I want.”

I sucked in my breath. “You can’t live with me, Simon. It’s just not possible. I’m sorry.”

Pouting and casting his doleful eyes in my direction, Simon inquired, “How about just for a few days? Till I can find a new flat? I promise I won’t be a bugger.”

I cringed at the word flat. Flats were shoes, damn it, not apartments. Just listening to him butcher the English language gave me the feeling of nails on the chalkboard. Sighing, I explained, “It’s not that I think you’re going to be a bugger.” I actually know that you will be a huge pain in my ass. “I’m sort of seeing someone right now. And I don’t think he would appreciate coming home from his business trip to find you living in my apartment.” Especially since I never even let him spend the night, I reminded myself.

Simon’s face clouded slightly. But then he triumphantly remarked, “Ah! So there is someone else!”

Sighing, I nodded. “Yes. And it’s, um, serious. I don’t want to jeopardize that.”

Simon bobbed his head up and down with comprehension. “No, no, I understand. I don’t want to get in your way.”

I smiled gratefully. See? Simon can be a normal human being sometimes. “Thank you. Can I have my key now?”

Simon continued to smile. “No. I don’t think so. Why don’t you get your boyfriend to bring you the key?”

Oh my God he was so exasperating! Just when I think I’m making headway with the pompous prick!

I pointed my finger at him as I spoke. “First of all, Austin is out of town on business, as I mentioned before. And secondly, he doesn’t have a key to my apartment.” I quickly clamped my hand over my mouth. The words had escaped before I could stop myself.

“Ah, so not as serious as you’d like me to believe, my dear,” Simon said with a grin.

He had me there. Austin and I had been seeing each other for almost a year. He was a very talented baseball player, who was currently playing minor league ball. After being drafted right out of college, he spent a few years in Triple A where he batted .470 and played a mean center field. He was called up to the majors two years ago, before we met. A hamstring injury in his first year sidelined him for several weeks and he ended up being sent back down after rehab. We met at a bar that very night. He was out drinking with some of the other guys on the team. Even though I wasn’t a fan of his former team (cough, cough, Yankees), I recognized one of his teammates and as a lover of baseball in general, I was completely tongue tied. Nora dared me to go up and talk to them. She bet me the next month’s rent that I wouldn’t do it. I had lost my job a few weeks earlier, along with any shred of dignity I had, so I took the shot of whatever the hell the bartender put in front of me and waltzed over to the guys. And promptly got the heel of my boot stuck in the floorboards. And proceeded to fall flat on my face in front of them.

Austin’s friends thought it was hilarious and teased me, including the player I had worshipped up until that very moment. But Austin was sweet and helped me to my feet. While his friends moved on to picking up a group of girls who couldn’t even be out of high school, Austin and I sat alone at the bar and lamented about our recent career changes. We knocked back shot after shot and I guess I was drunk enough to go home with him that night, something I don’t normally do. But he had been a major league ball player after all so that probably clouded my usual virtuous judgment.

I was mortified when I woke up the next morning, naked in his bedroom. I was certain he was going to kick me out when he sobered up, telling me how much he regretted our transgression. Instead, to my shock, he asked me to spend the day with him.

I did just that. We lounged in bed, talking, ordering take out Chinese and drinking wine. Turned out, he had all the episodes of my favorite show, The Wonder Years, so we watched about three seasons worth of that. And of course we had sex a few times, too.

The next day, we actually got up and got dressed and spent the day in Central Park playing Frisbee and having a picnic. It was the most fun I had in ages, so we’ve been dating ever since. I was pretty sure it was exclusive, but I never really asked. I didn’t want to pressure him into anything else right now. I had a feeling he was frustrated with where his life was taking him professionally and he wasn’t going to be able to commit to our relationship just yet. I mean, we hadn’t even said “I love you” to each other yet. Not that I didn’t love him. I definitely did. I didn’t want to seem needy and all that. And I was a little out of practice. Did I mention I hadn’t dated anyone since my breakup with Simon?

So I didn’t really know if it was serious or not, but I wanted Simon to think it was. And also that my very jealous boyfriend would beat him up if he found him at my apartment.

“It is serious. He just doesn’t have a key because he’s out of town so much. He’s a baseball player,” I stressed importantly.

“Just dandy,” Simon remarked without enthusiasm. He never really gave a hoot about sports. “So if he’s out of town a lot, he won’t mind me staying here, then. It’s not like I will be in his way or anything.”

I shook my head defiantly. It reeked of a rotten idea.

“Come on, Lizzie. For old time’s sake?” Simon was practically on his knees.

“For old time’s sake is exactly why I don’t want you staying here, Simon. If you’ll remember…”

“I swear to Christ I’ve changed, Lizzie. I promise I won’t be the wanker I was back then. Please? You won’t even know I’m about.” He gazed into my eyes like a gazelle being mauled by a lion as he pleaded.

I rubbed my temples. I could feel a migraine coming on. Maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. I mean, it would only be for a few days and even though he’s a real jerk face, I can be gracious and try to forget the past. It’s not like what he did could ever hurt me again, right?

I sighed audibly. I can’t believe I’m going to do this. Certain that I was going to regret this for as long as I lived, I opened my mouth and said, “Ok, Simon. But only for a few days.” Simon beamed as he bounded to the top of the chair like a drunk leprechaun and retrieved my key. When he was on the ground again, I poked his chest with my finger. “And you stay on the couch. You don’t dare come near my bedroom.”

Simon winked. “Are you playing hard to get?”

I shoved him. “I’m dead serious, Simon. Stay on the couch and out of my way. You said I wouldn’t even know you were there? Well, make that happen.”

“Of course, of course. I wouldn’t dream of making this difficult for you.” He unlocked the door and stepped aside with a sweeping motion. “Ladies first.”

 

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