Kitty Valentine Dates a Best Man
Spin the wheel. Date the guy. Write the story. Fall in love?
Six years ago, Kitty Valentine took the book world by storm when her sweet debut romance hit number one on the Best Sellers List, which was followed by a string of successful releases.
Her latest novel, however, totally bombs, causing her editor to suggest she write much sexier books.
To Kitty, writing smut is the literary equivalent of stripping.
But with no advance coming in and her royalties dipping to an all-time low, Kitty has no choice.
Armed with a hot-guy spinning prize wheel, made by her best friend, listing all the different types of men she will date and then write about, Kitty will be spinning—not stripping—her way back onto the best-sellers list.
And in the process, she just might write her own happily ever after.
This humorous chick lit series (imagine an awkward Carrie Bradshaw navigating the NYC dating scene) is now complete and ready for binge-reading!
Release date: November 30, 2020
Publisher: Swoonworthy Books
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Listen to a sample
Kitty Valentine Dates a Best Man
“So, I have some news about work,” Hayley calmly says while rooting through my closet.
It’s been a few months since her inappropriate relationship with her boss came to an end when he was found sleeping with another staff member and got fired, so I can’t imagine it could have anything to do with that.
“Well … I might or might not be in consideration for junior associate depending on the outcome of a case I’m working on,” she says distractedly while pulling out another sundress.
“Hayley! Are you serious? That’s awesome.”
“I know. I’m in shock. I don’t want to jinx it, but I had to share.” She grabs my arms, and we start jumping up and down, practically trampling the clothes strewn all over my bedroom floor.
“They must have noticed your hard work and all those hours you’ve been putting in. I told you your brilliance and talent would pay off someday.”
“Well, I don’t want to celebrate yet. Since my old boss was fired, I’ve been doing all I can to show the new guy how professional and capable I am. I won’t know until after we get back from the wedding how this will play out.”
I hold up a long, flowy sundress, my eyebrows raised. “Is this worthy of a fabulous island resort?”
“For sure. You’ll look awesome.”
“You mean that?” I can’t help but feel a tiny bit skeptical. I mean, sure, I’m a best-selling author, and my grandmother has more money than God, but that doesn’t mean I’m accustomed to fancy-schmancy destination weddings at resorts that look like something out of a dream.
My eyes just about fell out of my head when Hayley first showed me the website for the resort at which her sister is getting married in a little over a week. Pristine white sand, water so clear that you can see straight through it to the bottom, infinity pools, jaw-dropping views of lush mountainsides in the distance.
And she’s taking me as her plus-one because she’s the best friend in the entire world, and neither one of us has a man in our lives right now, but I fully expect there will be plenty of men interested the second Hayley sits by the pool.
“You look awesome in just about everything, as if you didn’t know,” she chides with a grin before sorting through the handful of bathing suits in front of her.
I normally buy a new one every year, though I almost never have a reason to wear one. Weird, I know—though that’s hardly the weirdest thing about me.
“Anything worthwhile in the pile?”
“They’re all cute as hell. I’d have to see them on you though.”
“Eek. I didn’t know I’d actually have to wear them.”
She laughs. “Kitty.”
“I’ll probably wear a cover-up most of the time anyway. I have a couple of adorable caftans. I’ll look fabulous when sitting by the pool, sipping a fruity cocktail under a dramatic sun hat.”
“You’re young and gorgeous and hot. Why spend your time lounging in a caftan and sun hat when you can dive into the pool and make a dramatic exit with water pouring off your bronzed skin?”
Nice mental image, but it doesn’t stop me from snorting in disbelief. “Honey, I think you have your life and my life mixed up. I love you, I do, but you’re the bronzed goddess. I’m the girl walking behind you, slipping and falling on the water dripping from your skin.”
She laughs before throwing a balled-up bikini top at me. “Shut up. It’s almost boring, how hard you are on yourself. You’re beautiful, and you know it. You need a little confidence.”
“I need a lot of things.”
“Once we get there, you’ll see. You’re just as hot as any of the other girls who’ll be there.”
I bite my tongue since arguing isn’t getting me anywhere. It’s not that I think of myself as an ogre. It’s more like I’ve never seen myself as the type who lounges gracefully by the pool, being waited on hand and foot, catching the eye of a tanned stranger in a lounge chair across the way and beckoning him with a sly smile.
Dang it. Even my this will never happen fantasies end up looking like a romance-novel setup. Call it habit.
She stands with a satisfied look on her face. “I think a quick shopping trip is all you’ll need, and don’t even bother pouting and grumbling.”
“Not even a little?”
“Not even a little. You need something to wear to the actual wedding and maybe the rehearsal dinner, but I think you’ll be okay otherwise.” She goes to the vanity, where my jewelry box is open, and toys with a few pairs of earrings.
“What about activewear? Like sneakers and shorts. Didn’t you say there are tours and stuff on the schedule?”
She pulls a face that I catch sight of in the mirror. “Yawn. You can tell my mom had a hand in planning this event. Why we have to be there for a week is a mystery to me. The rest of the guests won’t even show up until right before the wedding. Two days at most.”
Only she would complain about a week in paradise. I, on the other hand, know a good deal when it lands in my lap. “Come on. It could be fun. Life can’t be all lounging by the pool and ordering daiquiris.”
“You close your lying mouth,” she warns, snapping the box shut. “I refuse to hear such blasphemy.”
“Come on.” I laugh, stepping over the piles of clothes. “Let’s get something to eat. I’m famished from all this planning.”
It’s easy for me to feel lighthearted right now. My latest book hit the market last week, and my editor is pleased with the sales so far. I’m thankfully back on the calendar for the rest of the year and starting to get used to this quick-turnaround business. I can afford to feel smiley and generous.
We’re on our way to dinner, walking in the early March sunshine, when Hayley brings up what’s been on my mind. “So, it looks like they’re pushing your e-books pretty hard. Your publisher, I mean.”
“You noticed that, huh?”
“I’ve seen a few ads for your latest. I guess I’m part of the target audience.” She rolls her eyes and blows out a heavy sigh. “As if I would be caught dead reading romance.”
I know she’s joking. It’s a common misconception that only bored housewives read them, but nothing could be further from the truth.
“E-books save on publishing costs, I guess. And the turnaround is quicker since there’s no waiting for print and shipping to stores.” Not that my books aren’t in stores, but I’ve noticed the trend too. And not only with my books.
“Let’s face it; we live in a now, now, now world. Nobody wants to wait to get what they want. They want it immediately downloaded on their e-reader, so they can read on the toilet—the way God intended.”
“What a lovely thing to say.”
“Hey, if you can help just one reader through a difficult bathroom trip, wouldn’t you say it was worth the effort of writing the book?” She flashes a wicked grin while opening the door to a nearby restaurant, where they happen to serve nachos worthy of epic love poems.
“You are so darn charming sometimes. Not exactly what I want on my mind when I’m minutes away from eating.”
“Oh, please. I could describe a dismemberment in graphic detail, and you’d listen while dragging your finger through the last of the guacamole—and don’t even pretend otherwise.”
She’s not wrong.
It doesn’t take long for me to figure out why Hayley started talking about my work either. “I should’ve known,” I groan when the spinner comes out of her purse. “You don’t usually bring up business out of nowhere.”
“Well, you know Maggie’s going to start asking about the next book, if she hasn’t already.”
“I was hoping to wait until after the wedding, to be honest. A nice little vacation to recharge the batteries and all that. And I might end up with inspiration after spending a week in the lap of luxury. Who knows?”
She taps a finger on the spinner, which is now between us on the table. “It’ll be easier to put your inspiration to use if you already have a hero in mind, right? And, hey, what if you happen to meet somebody at the resort who falls in line with who you’re supposed to be dating next?”
I guess she has a point though really. It would be nice to just meet somebody and date them without the ulterior motive of writing a new book dangling over my head. After almost a year of dating for business—though there’s been pleasure; don’t get me wrong—I’m getting tired of feeling like my personal life and my career are permanently intertwined.
Still, I know darn well she’ll never let it go. I won’t leave the restaurant with all my body parts intact if I don’t play along. “Okay, fine, you win. Let’s see who I’m writing about this time.”
“I’ll spin it for you.” She’s already flicked the wheel, spinning through trope after trope without giving me a chance.
“Wow, you’re eager. Maybe you should be the one to date whoever the lucky guy happens to be.”
“I’m always interested in who you end up with, and you know it. Besides, I’m the one who came up with the idea to use this thing.”
We both look down at the spinner once it arrives at the next trope I have to tackle.
And my foot shoots out to kick Hayley’s shin under the table.
“Ouch!” she yelps before kicking me back.
“You rigged it!”
“I know you did.” I snatch the device from the table before she can grab it and then scroll through the list of tropes written down for me to choose from. Sure enough, every single one of them is the same.
When I look at her, shooting a glare that could melt steel, she shrugs and slumps a little in her chair. “He’s amazing. I know the two of you will hit it off.”
“You erased all the tropes and added nothing but Best Man, so there wouldn’t be a choice. That’s not fair.”
“He’s gorgeous and Zack’s best friend. Kylie loves him, and trust me, my sister is a hard sell. I’ve hung around him a few times at parties at their place. He’s a really nice guy, Mr. All-American. Works in finance. I wouldn’t recommend you date just anybody.”
“He might be your future brother-in-law’s best friend, and he might be really nice, but that doesn’t mean I appreciate you forcing me into dating him.”
“Fine. Suit yourself. If my vote of confidence isn’t good enough for you …” She sits back, folding her arms and pouting.
“You know, our server’s going to trip over that bottom lip of yours if you stick it out any farther.”
She does it anyway, just to spite me. “You’re no fun.”
“What’s his name?”
She wrinkles her nose. “You’re gonna hate it.”
“Oh, this bodes well.”
I can’t help it. A laugh bursts out from between my pursed lips. “So, a prep-school preppy?”
“Who says he went to prep school?”
“Knowing your sister and the sort of people she hangs around …”
Kylie is a financial wizard. Basically Hayley with darker blonde hair and slightly less sparkly eyes and a knack for numbers instead of law.
“Okay, he went to prep school. Happy? That doesn’t mean he’s not super nice.
“And obviously, his first name isn’t Briggs. That’s his last name. Everybody just calls him by it.”
“Great. I’m sure the two of you are going to hit it off famously if that’s the attitude you insist on taking.”
“Does he wear polo shirts with the collar popped?”
That earns me an eye roll.
“He’s not the villain from an ’80s teen comedy, Kitty.”
“I at least have to know his real first name. I can’t take him seriously without knowing his actual name. I’m sorry. Those are the rules.”
She shakes her head. “I’ll see if I can find out, though something tells me my sister has a lot more on her mind than that right now.”
“Would finding out this dude’s real first name take that much time out of her busy pre-wedding schedule?”
“You don’t know my sister. You think I’m Type A?” Hayley snickers, shaking her head though there’s obvious affection in her voice. “You have yet to meet the ultimate. Her brain is like a computer that’s always running twenty programs at a time. Like having a million tabs open in a browser all at once, while playing some weird music or video in the background. I’d hate to be inside her head.”
Meanwhile, I’m sitting here, thinking I’d like to get to know her better.
I’ll have plenty of time to do that once we’re at the resort, I guess.
“Let me get this straight. A gorgeous best man and an entire week at a first-class resort, where you can have tons of hot sex? Am I dreaming? Is this a dream?”
I have to give it to my editor. She knows how to encourage a girl’s ideas.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you’d talked Hayley into rigging the spinner, so I’d have to pick the best man.” I’m in the process of trying desperately to close my stinking suitcase. It won’t play nice.
“Oh, please. What, do you think your friend and I conspire against you?”
“You’re the one who inspired her to make the darn spinner in the first place,” I remind her. “Calling her behind my back like I’m a child in need of supervision. Why would I put conspiracy past you?”
“Well, to be honest, if I had known you were going away for a destination wedding, I would have certainly asked her to rig the device.”
I burst out laughing.
“What?” she demands. “Kitty, one of us has to care about your career.”
“Which implies I don’t care. You’re a piece of work.”
Maggie sniffs like she’s offended. “At any rate, who is this person? Have you learned anything about him? Is he even straight? This would all be a terrible waste of time if he wasn’t.”
I roll my eyes and mime putting a gun to my head. I’m alone in the apartment, so there’s no one to see me do it, but still. I have to vent my frustration somehow, and something tells me that verbally unloading on my editor isn’t the way to do it. “I don’t think Hayley would be so dead set on me hooking up with him if there was doubt on that.”
“Just the same, you’d do well to find out.”
“What am I supposed to do? Flash him and see if he has a reaction? Or flat-out ask if he prefers men or women? For Pete’s sake, you act like I grew up in a cave and just ventured out into the world yesterday.”
“Fine. Take my advice as criticism.”
Gee, here comes a headache. Why am I not surprised?
Maggie has a lot of terrific qualities, and I know she’s fought for me more than once. I probably wouldn’t have a career anymore if it wasn’t for her going to bat for me against the company’s executives when sales for my sweet romances started tanking.
But, I mean, how much am I supposed to take?
“I have everything under control,” I assure her in a much more docile tone. “There’s a bonus too. His family has a summer home in the Hamptons, where he always spends the season and commutes in and out of the city for work. So, if we hit it off, I’ll have lots of atmosphere to work into the book. And I’ll take plenty of pictures at the resort and post them all over social media too,” I add as an afterthought.
“What a great idea.”
I knew she’d like that.
“Get people talking about your next release before you’ve even started it. Of course, you’ll start it soon. Right?”
“I’m packing my laptop,” I promise with a sigh.
“Don’t forget to have fun out there though. You need a little fun, and you deserve it. I’m not a complete ogre. I’m well aware of how hard you’ve been working.”
How hard she’s been working me, more like, but I’m not so frustrated with the packing process and her nitpicking to stir up another argument. No, I haven’t enjoyed the pace at which I’m now working, and I sure didn’t love it when she first told me I needed to spice things up and write “to trend.”
But it’s paying off. I can’t deny that.
“And be safe, for heaven’s sake,” she adds before we get off the phone. “I don’t want to read in the paper that a successful romance novelist was found dead on the beach or something.”
“Oh my God.”
“Well? It happens. Beautiful, young girls fall victim to wicked men all the time. There are men who prey upon tourists especially. It doesn’t matter the exclusivity of the resort, Kitty. If anything, you’re in more danger because of all the money surrounding you.”
“Why don’t I take a bath with my toaster right now and get it over with?”
“Take care and have fun!”
I swear, the woman swings from one mood to another quicker than I do. One second, I’m being murdered, and the next, I’m having fun.
There’s a knock on the door around one in the afternoon while I’m still in the process of deciding what to cull from my suitcase if I’m ever going to get the darn thing shut without the zipper breaking and all my underwear exploding out.
“It’s open!” I call out.
Yeah, I know. Not the safest thing to do, leaving my apartment unlocked. But I was expecting this.
“Where are you?” Matt’s voice rings out from just inside before he closes the door.
Phoebe’s quicker than he is. She finds me in my room and circles my legs.
“Smart girl.” I give her lots of pets and belly scratches before looking up to find my neighbor with a bag full of what’s sure to be delectable food in one hand.
“She smelled you, you realize that, right?” Always with the charm, this one.
“She’s a smart girl anyway. It’s not her fault she has you for an owner. I can’t hold that one against her.” Phoebe licks my hand. “See? She agrees with me.”
“Woof. You’re in a mood today. Are we eating lunch or what?” Only he doesn’t follow when I brush past him to grab something to drink from the kitchen. “Still trying to pack?”
“Trying to unpack, actually. I don’t have enough room in that big bag.”
“The big bag.” He snorts. “Along with the three smaller bags.”
“What? We’re going to be there for an entire week. A week full of activities, mind you. Hiking and boating and sightseeing. I’ll need daytime outfits, nighttime outfits, bathing suits, something to wear to the rehearsal dinner, something for the wedding itself …”
“I get it; I get it. It sounds like a chore, this wedding.” Matt goes to the living room and unpacks the bag, setting things on the coffee table like we usually do.
“Honestly, it sort of is, but I know Hayley would go nuts, being down there for an entire week with her family alone.”
“She doesn’t get along with them?”
“It’s not that. They’re all great people, but she’s the least impressive of all three kids.”
“I find that hard to believe!”
I sit across from him, cross-legged on the floor. Phoebe rests her chin on my knee, and I scratch her behind the ears. I’m going to be away for a week, so I need to get my pets and scratches in while I have the time.
“Kylie graduated college when she was nineteen and made COO of her firm by the time she was twenty-seven. Brandon is wicked smart and studying to be some sort of astrophysicist. She used to tease him about being a frat boy, but he’s twenty-two now and anything but. ”
“Holy hell. No wonder Hayley is so driven.”
“Can you imagine being as amazing as her and still only coming in third place? So, she gets the inevitable questions from extended family members who tease her about being the family slacker.”
“That’s the worst. Poor girl. No wonder she wants somebody there to keep her from drowning herself.”
“Or drowning well-meaning family members.”
“Though you do realize people are going to think you two are a couple because she brought you with her, right?”
“Please. Like I could land a smoke show like Hayley in my wildest dreams.”
He chuckles, nodding. “You have a point.”
“Oh, shut up. You weren’t supposed to agree with me.”
“You think I don’t know that?”
“Anyway,” I continue, raising my voice to speak over him, “all is not lost. Yes, this is going to be a grueling week if we’re expected to go on all these tours and hikes and whatnot, but there’s a silver lining.”
“The fact that you’ll be at a five-star resort? For free?”
“Okay. Two silver linings.”
“What’s the other one?”
“My next trope is best man, thanks to Hayley being a sneaky little sneak, so I’ll be taking inspiration for my next book while we’re there.”
He toys with his food, keeping his eyes averted, and I just know he’s about to make a remark that’s going to make me want to slug him. It never fails.
“What? What are you thinking?” I finally have to ask when I can’t take it anymore.
“I wasn’t thinking anything.” He shrugs before popping a piece of chicken into his mouth and chewing a lot harder than he needs to.
“I mean, I know you don’t think very much, Matt, but …”
“It’s just that I’m wondering when enough is enough.”
“What do you mean?” I put my rice down on the table in case what he says next inspires me to throw the container at his head. I’m growing as a person.
“I mean, how many guys is Maggie gonna make you date just to get another book out of you? It was funny at first; don’t get me wrong.”
“No duh. You laughed yourself sick how many times?”
“But now, it’s been, what, almost a year? And you’re still going out with one dude after another, all based on what they do for a living or whatever trope you’re writing about this time. Isn’t this all getting a little repetitive?”
“And don’t even get me started on what it’s got to be doing to you.”
“To me?” I point to myself with my chopsticks. “What’s that got to do with anything?”
His hazel eyes aren’t sparkling when he hits me with a stony stare. “Come on. This is me you’re talking to. Remember the time you came to my door, crying because you got dumped? Again.”
“Wow. Way to remind me of a really crappy time in my life.”
“You have to see what I mean though.”
“I don’t have to do anything.” I can stare just as hard as he can, and I do.
We’re practically a still life, except for the way Phoebe’s tail occasionally smacks against the floor.
He blinks first. “Listen, I know why you had to do this in the first place. But don’t you have enough, I don’t know, experience now to write without having to date new men all the time? This is, what, your sixth book since you started the whole dating by trope thing?”
“Yes, it is.”
“When does it all end? That’s all I’m saying. I just want to understand. I don’t like what Maggie’s making you do. I’ve never liked it.”
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