Facebook is a nifty thing, don’t you think? It’s so good about reminding me of old posts and birthdays and how many likes I’ve had in the last year.
Well, Facebook reminded me yesterday that it was the two-year anniversary of my master’s thesis defense.
Two years, y’all.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I stood in front of my professors and peers to talk about the novella I wrote and read an excerpt. I’d been dreading that moment since I applied to graduate school to begin with.
And when that day finally came, I’d made my peace with it. I knew I had to get in there and defend my work and be proud of all that I’d done. No, my novella wasn’t perfect and polished by any means. But I’d worked on it for over a year in between classes, tutoring, teaching, and living. I’d pulled all-nighters, read and re-read chapters, and went through many stages ranging from self-doubt and perseverance.
It was difficult and amazing, all wrapped in one.
Well… that and chaotic. The actual day of my defense was pretty hectic. The room I’d reserved was locked when I arrived. I couldn’t get ahold of anyone who could let us in. I paced the halls in order to find someone – anyone – who could help.
My professors also arrived, but we couldn’t get in. Together with them, my friends, and my now husband, we walked across campus to use the University Press building, where I had an even bigger audience because the interns and other students wanted to stay and watch.
But no matter how nervous and flustered I was, it was all okay.
Because once I stepped into my thesis defense, I knew I’d come a long way, and I was close to being done with grad school. I was close to starting the rest of my life as a writer, the reason I’d gone back to school after two years of being out.
So, in honor of the two-year anniversary, I wanted to share an excerpt (eek!) of my thesis novella below. Keep reading for a teaser, followed by the excerpt, and then let me know what you think! *Disclaimer: This excerpt has not been edited, nor is it the final version.
I’m the good girl.
He’s the hot new boss everyone’s talking about.
Getting involved with him means that everyone will know… I’m not the good girl at all.
Prisda and I take a couple of seats at the bar, where she orders us Amaretto Sours. As I sip on mine, I contemplate the taste and whether or not I like it. I’ve had alcohol once before, when I was in college. Seth and I went to a wine party his friend was having. Our friends weren’t really drinkers. Krista never drank, but he had a few friends from the National Guard whom we occasionally had a drink with. We didn’t stay long at the wine party, nor did we have much wine. I hadn’t liked it, so Seth finished my glass.
Tears sting my eyes. I’m the one who ended things, but I’m still hurt. We talked about spending the rest of our lives together, and now we won’t even be keeping our date to see each other next week.
The thought just about gives me a panic attack, like a WWE wrestler is sitting on my chest—Seth loved WWE.
“Hey, hey, hey, no sad thoughts here.” Prisda swivels my chair to face her and waves her hands in front of my face. I brace myself for a thump to my forehead, but she cuts me some slack. “This is a happy place. Tonight’s supposed to be fun.”
As I nod, I catch a familiar sight in the corner of my eye. It’s Jayce, followed by Natasha and another guy whom I don’t recognize. Jayce isn’t wearing a hat again tonight. He wears his short brown hair restrained in place by a little gel, which glistens from the smallest light in the room.
I take big gulps of my drink as I drink the gorgeous sight of him in. He’s wearing a burgundy button up that is tucked into his black slacks, like he was just in a meeting.
What is he doing here?
He wasn’t at work tonight when we decided to come out. One of the girls probably invited him. The thought enrages me with jealousy. The rumors start buzzing in my ear like an annoying fly you can’t get rid of. But I sit tall and remember what Prisda just said.
I’m supposed to be having fun.
And in any case, I’m glad to see him, I have to admit.
He’s nice to look at—and that’s putting it lightly.
I don’t know how long I stare at him before I realize he’s looking at me too. He wears a smirk, one side of his mouth tilted like he’s robbing a bank, knowing he’ll get away with it. I don’t notice if any of the other girls recognize him. They don’t acknowledge him if they do.
Either way, I don’t care because our eyes are still locked as he makes his way to our small table. His stare is intense, heating up my skin. I can’t look away or move.
This is the first time I’ve seen him outside of work, outside of a professional context, and it seems strange. For only a second, he seems like just another guy, not my boss. Just a handsome man who’s looking at me in a way that gives me goosebumps.
As we continue this eye contest, I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience. Like in this smoky bar in small-town USA, he isn’t my boss. I’m not a 22-year-old girl living with her parents because her dreams of becoming a doctor and moving far away from this ghostly hellhole were shattered.
Shattered by her unfortunate reality that she wasn’t fit for the job.
Here, in this bar, I’m not a girl who just broke up with her boyfriend and in need of a distraction. A tall, sexy distraction with delicious dimples now visible and teasing as he comes closer.
My breathing slows, and it takes all my willpower not to melt into the floor at the thought of us together.
He approaches our group with Natasha and the other man who turns out to be her husband. Once they greet us all, they sit a few tables over, and I snap out of my trance. I’m being ridiculous. No matter how badly I want to believe I’m in a fantasy alternate reality, I’m not.
Jayce is still my boss.
In other words, off-limits.
And I’m not that girl. I’m the quiet girl who aims to make everyone but herself happy, and that involves not being myself at all. I have to be the girl my parents told me to be, who is supposed to settle down with a nice boy my own age. I’m supposed to wait until marriage to have sex. These kinds of traditional values were supposed to mold me into a respectable young lady.
I do charity work. Got good grades in school. Always listen to my parents.
I’m that girl–supposed to be, anyway.
I’m not supposed to be attracted to my boss, who’s eight years older than me and sleeps around, according to the rumors.
But the thought of him sleeping with me, being on top of me, is… enticing.
My face flushes, and if it wasn’t so dim in here, I’d be worried everyone could see me blushing.
I twirl my straw in my third drink, then take another sip, doing my best not to meet Jayce’s gaze every time he glances back at me.
Prisda and the girls are discussing what song to sing for karaoke, to which I tell them it’s not karaoke night, so I won’t be joining them. They look at each other in silent surprise, then laugh loudly once they notice their empty glasses.
I’m laughing too, when I feel Jayce beside me before I see him. He leans down and whispers to me, “Can I buy you a drink?”
I soak in his words before noticing that Natasha is eyeing us, her red lips pursed. I can’t decipher if she’s furious or envious. Either way, she turns to her husband, disapprovingly shaking her head when he asks her if she wants another drink because he’s going to get one.
I don’t want to draw attention to us from her or anyone else. Because we’re not in our own bubble. The smoke in here isn’t thick enough to hide us from the town’s gossip mill.
I can’t have people getting the wrong idea. No matter what dirty thoughts my mind is having, I can’t act on them. I hold up my glass and quickly say, “No thanks, I already have one.”
He eyes me suspiciously, moving his gaze from my eyes to my glass, then back to my face. “That’s empty, sweetheart.”
And just like that, my breathing stops, and I’m launched back into my fantasy.
Like the cloud of smoke around us clouds the reality that he is my boss and I his employee. It clouds my reason that I need to stop this before I cross any boundaries. Before I do something that I can’t come back from.
But the way he’s smirking at me, those dimples calling to me, I wonder if maybe crossing boundaries is what I need.
Maybe Jayce is the adventure I need.
–an excerpt from Seducing the Pro