by Marie Astor
Twenty-eight-year old Annabel Green is about to tie the knot with her college love, an aspiring author Jeremy Blake, but her plans for an ideal wedding are rudely interrupted when she catches Jeremy kissing his gorgeous book agent.
Shell-shocked by Jeremy’s betrayal, Annabel retreats into the quiet routine of TV dinners and solitary evenings. It is then that Annabel’s best friend, fashion designer Lilly Clayton, sets herself on a mission to draw Annabel out of her shell. In an attempt to persuade Annabel to keep an open mind on dating, Lilly takes Annabel for a stunning makeover, but after Annabel passes on a date with a dashing entrepreneur, Lilly decides that more drastic measures are needed. Lilly invites Annabel to see a palm reader who gives Annabel a lucky charm that is supposed to help her find true love.
A few weeks later, Annabel meets a new love interest, and as the two embark on a whirlwind romance, she starts to believe in the power of the talisman the palm reader has given her. But what Annabel doesn’t know is that Lilly is hiding a secret that could unravel her faith in her newly found luck in love.
Talk about being complacent, Annabel thought, suddenly catching her own reflection in the mirror. She was wearing sweats with sagging knees and her old college t-shirt. Granted, she was cleaning, but she had to admit that she had been guilty of wearing similar attire around Jeremy – something she never did when they first started dating. Were she and Jeremy in a rut without her realizing it?
It was hard to believe that it had been six years since they had graduated college together. There was no denying that their relationship had changed over the years. Jeremy was busy with his book, and she was busy at work, so, inevitably, they got sucked into a routine. But then, wasn’t that the natural progression of things? Besides, there was comfort in routine, a reassuring stability. Of course, there were also drawbacks. The changes felt more palpable as of late. They did not have sex as often as they used to when they first met, but then who did? Annabel frowned, trying to remember when she had last worn lingerie, but drew a blank. That was not a good sign. Perhaps it was time to shake things up a bit. She would surprise Jeremy tonight. She remembered seeing a lingerie shop a few blocks away. Right after she finished vacuuming, she would run over there and pick up something special for tonight.
Annabel had been so intent on vacuuming that she barely heard the doorbell ring. It was not until she heard loud pounding that she rushed to open the front door.
“Hey, Lilly!” Annabel made a conscious effort not to sound disappointed. For a brief moment, she had hoped that Jeremy had arrived early.
“Is this a bad time?” Lilly asked, walking inside without waiting for Annabel’s answer.
“No, no it’s fine. I was just doing some cleaning. The place is a mess.”
“I think I’m in love,” Lilly announced as she plopped herself on the couch, stretching dreamily.
“You are? With whom?” This was surprising news, especially given the fact that for the past ten years, Lilly had maintained that all men were cheating, lying scoundrels, and that she would never entrust her heart to any of them.
“A man I met last night.”
“Spill.” Annabel threw aside the vacuum cleaner and took a seat next to Lilly.
“Last night, I was at this nightclub event that my friend Alex was hosting. By the way, I sent you the invite, but you said you couldn’t make it,” Lilly added accusingly.
“I was busy.” Annabel looked away. Lilly was always sending her invites to lounge and nightclub openings, but it just was not her scene.
“So there I was, drinking my drink, shooting the breeze with Alex, when this hot, gorgeous guy comes up and asks me if he could buy me a drink. And when I say gorgeous, I mean gorgeous. An Oliver Martinez look-alike: dark brown eyes, jet-black hair, tan skin, six feet tall, and best of all, he is French. I mean, this guy could make ice sizzle! I have to stop here. I’m beginning to sound like a porno ad!” Lilly giggled. “So, we start dancing and talking and before long he tells me that he’s been in New York for a year on assignment for his job, but of course, as my luck would have it, his term is ending, and he’ll be going back to Paris in a little over a month.”
“What’s his name?”
“Simon, Simon Barnette. Even his name sounds perfect! Too bad that he’s leaving so soon.”
“Well, you’ll be going to Paris in three months.”
“Yeah, but who knows what will happen then.” Lilly waved her hand dismissively.
It was just like Lilly to fall in love with someone who would be moving halfway across the world in a month. This way she could be sure to have an expiration date on her feelings.
“So, what are you doing for the rest of the day? Do you want to grab some lunch, or maybe go for a walk? I feel like I could use some air.”
“Yes, sure,” Annabel agreed, guessing that what Lilly really wanted was to dish about her new love interest. “I have a few errands I need to run, but I’m up for lunch.”
“Can I help?”
“I wanted to go shopping…” Annabel stalled, deliberating whether she should disclose her plans. Inviting Lilly along would most definitely result in an extravagant shopping spree.
“Shopping for what?” Lilly prodded.
At times Annabel thought that if Lilly had not become a designer, she would have made an excellent detective.
“Lingerie. I wanted to get something special for when Jeremy gets home tonight. You’re welcome to come with me if you’d like.”
“Count me in. I could use a few new things myself.”
Annabel raised an eyebrow, wondering what Lilly had in mind. She had once seen Lilly’s arsenal of lacy undergarments, and it had every possible thing imaginable.
Lilly insisted that they head to Bloomingdale’s, flatly rejecting as amateurish Annabel’s idea of checking out the neighborhood lingerie shop.
“So, what did you have in mind?” inquired Lilly as she picked out a lacy black bra and a matching black silk thong for herself.
“Oh, I don’t know. Something pretty, but not too crazy. I kind of like this.” Annabel picked out a pale blue slip with lace trimming.
“It’s pretty, to sleep in,” Lilly conceded. “But if you want to get Jeremy all hot and bothered, I would go with this.” She thrust a black garter belt with red lace trimming at Annabel. “And these.” She handed Annabel a matching corset and thong.
“Don’t you think it’s a bit much? It looks like something a stripper would wear. I don’t think I could carry off something like this.”
“I thought you wanted to surprise Jeremy. Try it on.” Lilly pushed Annabel into the fitting room.
“Are you ready to come out yet?” Lilly called out several minutes later. “And don’t even try telling me that it did not fit. I know your size.”
“I can’t get it to close,” Annabel panted. Getting into this contraption required more work than she had realized. Finally, she hooked the last clasp and cautiously parted the dressing room curtain.
“Let me see,” demanded Lilly, shoving the curtain open. “Wow, this getup makes me hot and bothered. Poor Jeremy. He might have a heart attack.”
“Do you really think it looks good?”
“That mousy slip you picked looked good. This little number looks hot. You should definitely buy it, and I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer.”
“How much is this thing anyway?” Annabel fumbled with the price tag and gasped. “This is crazy. You could buy a suit for this price.”
“A suit won’t get you laid,” Lilly observed flatly. “Do you have a pair of black stilettos?”
Annabel nodded. The word “stiletto” was not in her vocabulary, but she did own a pair of black pumps and thought that they should do just fine.
“Perfect. Wear black stilettos with this tonight, and Jeremy will be all over you.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Marie Astor is the author of contemporary romance novels This Tangled Thing Called Love, Lucky Charm, On the Rim of Love, romantic suspense, To Catch a Bad Guy, and a short story collection, A Dress in a Window. Marie is also the author of young adult fantasy adventure novel, Over the Mountain and Back.
If you would like to learn more about Marie’s writing, please stop by her website: www.marieastor.com or visit her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marieastorcollection
Books by Marie Astor:
This Tangled Thing Called Love – a contemporary romance about overcoming one’s inhibitions, learning to tango, and finding one’s true love match.
Lucky Charm – a humorous contemporary romance about love, luck and friendship.
On the Rim of Love – a contemporary romance about the unexpected power of love.
A Dress in a Window – a collection of short stories about love, coincidences, and fate.
Over the Mountain and Back – young adult fantasy adventure novel about a boy who takes his snowboard for a ride and finds himself in a magical, hidden world he never knew existed.
Social Media Links:
Marie will be awarding to five randomly drawn commenters at the end of the tour (US ONLY), one of the following five custom-designed jewelry prizes:
Prize 1: Smoky quartz necklace with sterling silver flower clasp
Prize 2: Lapis and labradorite necklace with sterling silver clasp
Prize 4: Onyx and red agate sterling silver bracelet
Prize 5: Jade, amber and red agate necklace
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: