Title: I Have Never
Author: Camilla Isley
Release Date: July 13th, 2017
Genre: Chick Lit
Twenty-nine-year-old Blair Walker is a girl with a plan, or more a girl with a list. A list of dos and don’ts to live the perfect life, land a dream career, and marry Mr. Right.
When Blair loses her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend all in one day, she starts to wonder if she’s had it all wrong. And what better way to find out than experience everything the list forbade?
With hilarious consequences, Blair will discover some items are trickier to tick off than she’d thought…
A laugh out loud romantic comedy perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk, Sophie Kinsella, and Mhairi McFarlane. First Comes Love is a series of interconnected romantic novels. However, each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel.
Camilla is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband in an adventure abroad.
She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.
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Never Get Drunk
My entire body aches. Even the tips of my hair are in pain. Instead of blood, it feels like acid is pumping through my veins, and my lids have been replaced by sandpaper. What’s happening to me?
I try to move. Easier thought than done. My muscles feel like Jell-O. I’m stuck lying on something soft, something that smells like a cold winter day: pinecones and rain. Slowly, I open my eyes. Daylight stabs my pupils, sending tendrils of pain through my brain. Where am I? In a bedroom, it seems. Whose bedroom? Ah, that’s the question.
Panic gnaws at my stomach, followed by a flood of nausea. I turn to one side and spot a glass of water and a blister of Aleve on a nightstand. A lifeline. I pop two pills and drain the water before collapsing back on the bed.
Who’s bed? Oh, crap… I’m in someone’s bed, in my underwear, and I’ve absolutely no idea how I got here.
The last thing I remember is walking into a bar determined to tackle the next item on the list: never get drunk.
Ding-dong. Mr. Hangover, we meet at last… Not sure I like you. I close my eyes hoping the Aleve will act quickly.
When I open them again, I’ve no clue how much time has passed—a minute or an hour—but at least I’m slightly better. Well enough to roll over and retrieve my discarded clothes from the floor. There’s my bag, too, and I always carry a compact mirror. Face damage assessment time. Gingerly, I flip the little metallic lid open. I’ve got panda eyes, but it’s nothing some makeup remover wipes can’t fix. The cool touch of the damp cotton is heavenly on my heated skin as I scrub myself clean. The soothing moisture helps also with the headache, so much so that I don’t stop until I’ve used up the entire packet of wipes.
With my head a little clearer, I search for my phone and unlock the screen. Eight fifteen in the morning. There’s an unhealthy number of missed calls and messages waiting to be answered. Later. My temples are still pounding. I open the map app to check where in the world I am exactly. The little blue dot stops on Brooklyn Heights.
What the hell am I doing in Brooklyn? How did I get here? Whose house is this?
Time to find out.
Still sitting on the bed, I put on the silky turquoise dress I was wearing last night—perfect for a proposal, not so much for a morning-after commute from Brooklyn. There’s nothing I can do about the hair, so I scrunch the red tangles in a messy-for-real bun and stand up.
The room spins. I blink several times to fight the dizziness and shake my legs until the dress’s skirt slithers into place, reaching my knees. Shoes in one hand, bag in the other, I drag my feet to the door and tentatively exit the bedroom to enter… a cool loft. One of those with brick walls and modern furniture.
Feeling like a burglar, I slip my pumps on and shuffle into an open-space living room with floor-to-ceiling windows.
“Hello?” My voice sounds thick.
“Morning,” someone says. A male someone. “I was starting to worry you were dead.”
“I thought I was d—” My throat catches as a guy in jeans and a light blue shirt comes out from behind a pillar. He’s so good-looking I literally can’t talk. Rumpled dark hair on the longish side. Dark brown—almost black—eyes, a strong jaw covered in five o’clock shadow, and he’s smiling at me. A little sexy dimple on each cheek. My stomach flips.
Is it the smile or the hangover?
But the real question is, did I have sex with this hunk? Well, I woke up in his bed wearing only underwear. I hope we did it. And I hope he wants to do it again because I can’t remember a thing and the guy is too handsome for me to leave, not remembering having sex with him.
Eeeeee, somebody please censor my brain. Never in my life would I have had sex with someone I just met—but that was the whole point of throwing out the list and getting crazy drunk. If this man is the first outcome of my new lifestyle, high five to me. But how embarrassing not to remember if we slept together. What do I do? Do I ask him? I don’t even know his name!
“Er, Blair?” he says. “Are you all right?”
Mr. Hot knows my name. “Yeah, super… mmm… uh…”
“Richard.” He smiles again. “The name’s Richard Stratton. I made coffee, you want some?”
If he wasn’t already hot enough, the dude has an impossibly sexy British accent that’s making my knees wobble. Either the accent or serious dehydration.
“Richard, sure.” I pretend like he needn’t have told me his name. “Coffee would be great, thanks.” I stroll to the kitchen bar, sit on a stool, and drop my bag to the floor.
“Black? Sugar? Milk?”
“Sugar equals poison,” I declare. “Do you happen to have almond milk?”
Richard’s eyes widen.
“Black’s fine,” I hurry to say.
Mr. Hot hands me a mug. “You didn’t seem to have a problem with the sugar rim of your cocktails last night.”
“About that…” I take a sip of coffee, hoping caffeine will help my synapses connect. “I’m not exactly sure what… er. To be honest, last night’s a bit—uh—foggy. How did we meet?”
“I called you.”
“You called me?”
I have to kill the parrot possessing me and stop repeating whatever people say.
“How? Did I give you my number?” I think I’d remember giving my number to someone as hot as him.
“No, I got it through a friend of mine.”
I frown. “A friend?”
The parrot lives.
“Yes, I’m the Editor-in-Chief of an up and coming web-based magazine. We’re looking for a Fashion Editor—”
I hear magazine, I hear fashion, and the other shoe drops. He’s gay. Ninety-five percent of Évoque male employees are gay. “Oh, you’re gay,” I interrupt him, a bit crestfallen. “Of course you’re gay. That face is too handsome for you to be straight. I mean between the hair, the eyes, and the smile you’d have to go around with an I’m-too-hot warning sticker on your chest…” I’m babbling and Richard’s eyebrows have shot up. Blair, shut up. But I’m possessed, and can’t stop talking. “And that accent! Imagine what it would do to women. You sound like Prince William. Well, at least now I don’t have to ask you if we slept together last night…” I brush my hand over my forehead in a gesture of relief and laugh nervously. “Phew.”
Richard stares at me dumbfounded for a few seconds before saying, “I thought I made it clear last night I wasn’t gay.” His tone is dead serious.
Something in my guts twists. “You mean we”—I point at my chest and then at his—“slept together?”
“No, we didn’t. I was mocking you.”
“But I woke up in your bed in my underwear.”
“I left you in my room with your clothes on. You must’ve done the undressing.”
“Oh, so you are gay.”
“No, I’m not gay.” He scoffs. “It’s just that so-drunk-she-can’t-remember-her-name doesn’t do it for me.”
I’m too mortified to speak, so I hide my red-beyond-control cheeks by staring at the floor.
“Last night,” Richard continues, “I called you to talk about a job opportunity, and you told me to join you in a bar in downtown Manhattan. When I got there, you were already drunk and delirious about a list, spaghetti marinara, and someone’s secretary…”
I’m feeling smaller and smaller. From under my lids, I dare a peek at Richard.
“When we left the bar, I tried to put you in a cab to get you home, but you weren’t able to supply an address. So it was either leave you on the street or bring you back here.”
“Oh, okay.” I drop the empty coffee mug on the bar and get up. “Sorry for all the trouble I caused and thank you for… mmm…” Giving me a bed to sleep in instead of the curb? Saving my life? Making me believe for five seconds that we had sex? I go with, “For hosting me last night. I’ll get out of your way now.” I pick up my bag from the floor and… I’ve no idea where the exit is. “Where’s the door?”
“This way.” Richard leads me to the opposite side of the room and stops in front of a metal door striped with faux rust, or real rust, I’m not sure. Cool, design rust in any case. “About that job interview,” he adds. “You want to reschedule?”
“You still want to interview me?”
“You look suspicious.”
Not look, am. “I don’t mean to be rude, but if you’re still considering me for a job after last night’s stunt and this morning’s conversation, you must be desperate.”
His jaw tightens. “I’m not desperate.”
“So what’s your magazine’s circulation?” I challenge.
“It’s an online-only editorial hub; we hardly have any circulation.”
“You’ve no printed edition?”
Richard holds my gaze for a couple of seconds before answering, “In the lower thousands. But most of our traffic comes from in-app views, with no ad blocking, and we want it to stay that way.”
“As I said, you’re desperate.”
“Well, from what I gathered last night, so are you.”
Ouch. Below the belt, Richard. Way below the belt. What else did I tell him while I was drunk as a skunk? Probably better I don’t remember.
“Listen.” He rolls up the sleeves of his shirt, and I get distracted looking at his forearms. He has really pretty forearms. Correction: he has really pretty everything. “I don’t claim to be Évoque Magazine, but I’m working on making something fresh. Something better. I’ve put together a great team, so before you snub us, why don’t you hear me out?” Richard takes a business card out of his pocket and hands it over.
As he comes closer, I get a whiff of that same pinecones and rain scent I smelled in the bedroom. His scent. So Richard was my cold winter day. The combination of shower gel or aftershave plus male skin is intoxicating. I bite the inside of my cheek to keep focused and take the card. “Thank you.”
“Go home, take a shower, and come back to check us out at the address on the card. This afternoon, tomorrow morning. Whenever works.” Before I can politely decline he adds, “If nothing else, stop by so you can see my too-handsome face one more time,” and winks.
My mouth hangs open, and my face sizzles in shame for the millionth time since I woke up. “You know you can’t use anything I said while I thought you were gay against me.”
“Nice try.” Richard gives me a wicked smile and opens the door. “See you later?”
I scold him on the way out. “Maybe.”
He guides me down the hall in silence until we reach the elevators. There, I push the down arrow and wait. When the doors sweep open, I briskly step inside, push the lobby button, and say, “Goodbye.”
Richard braces both arms against the doorframe. “I’ll see you soon,” he says, stepping backward, and, as the doors begin to move adds, “And I’ll work on finding that sticker.”
The doors close so that I’m left staring at my shocked, beet-red face reflected in the metal.