“Dream big. There is no dream too big.”

Today we have a fantastic post from Lynn Montanago, who attended the 2014 RWA conference in Atlanta. She attended loads of events while she was there, including the keynote speech from Sylvia Day, which sounds like it was incredible! Here she is to share a little bit about how that speech affected her…

Last year, I made the fantastic decision to attend the Romance Writers of America national conference in Atlanta. I was unsigned, unpublished and sitting on the only three books I’d ever written that I was too petrified to submit anywhere. On the same day I decided to attend that conference, I also decided to bite the bullet and submit my book to a handful of publishers and then hide under the blankets.

Flash forward one year. I’m sitting at my second RWA national conference in San Antonio, Texas. My debut novel and its follow up have been published and I’m still petrified. My fabulous writer friends that I’d met last year and I were sitting at the big luncheon waiting for Sylvia Day to deliver the keynote speech. I can’t lie, she’s my favorite. I fangirled out in front of her last year at the conference and have high hopes that she doesn’t remember one second of it.


As a new author in the romance world, I admire her for her amazing talent but I also admire her intelligence and the pathway she blazed in romance writing. Needless to say, I was looking forward to her speech very much.

She spoke about attending her first conference and how much the publishing world has changed in the past ten years. But the heart of her speech was this: “Business can sap your creative energy. If you stop loving the work, it becomes hard to do the work.”

And then she said the words that spoke directly to me and made me sit up straighter. “We’re afraid.” Of what, you ask? To fail. To succeed. When I was in high school I had a quote taped to the inside of my locker that read “The two hardest things to handle in life are failure and success.” I thought maybe she’d crawled into my headspace, channeled 16-year-old Lynn and saw that. I got goosebumps.

“We’re afraid no one else will want us,” she said, “whether that’s an agent or a publisher or a critique partner.”

Seriously. She was in my head.

She went on to speak about how we as authors want to be validated but maybe for the wrong reasons. She also touched on the importance of having the knowledge to make good business decisions, to “find the route that works for us…the one that preserves your creative drive.”

I didn’t want her to stop talking. I’m sure there are other aspects of her speech that resonated more with people but for me, it was all about the fear. And do you know what she said about that?

“Throw out the fear and just do it.”

The next day I had the pleasure of meeting her again at a signing. I didn’t have a fangirl moment this time (THANK GOD). We chatted briefly and I told her how personal her speech was for me, a newly published author who is still petrified. I thanked her for being an inspiration. And I’m not just saying this, she’s one of the most gracious, genuine people I’ve ever met.


Thank you Lynn! Lynn’s latest book, Unravel Me, is out now!

What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan: Fourth and final extract!


What happens to men when they move to Manhattan“Oh my gosh how many times do I have to say this to you? Nothing happened!” I said for what had to be the third time in five minutes. Olivia and I had decided to grab a drink at Fat Black Pussy Cat after class that evening, and Cassandra insisted on coming along. Michael and Alex also jumped on the idea to drink away Dr. Van der Stein’s lecture on organic chemistry, and were meeting us soon. “Non capisco! I just don’t understand you!” Cassandra threw her arms up and shook her head at me, her chandelier earrings bouncing from side to side.

“Woah, was that English?” Olivia said with a huge smile on her face, obviously entertained by Cassandra’s latest outburst.

“Please don’t encourage her, Olivia,” I buried my face in my hands.

“You have this good looking guy, alone in your apartment,” Cassandra continued to berate me, ignoring Olivia’s question. But before she could finish, I interrupted.

I held up my right hand. “Christina was home, we were not alone,” I said declaratively, as if that was some sort of justification for my lie.

“Oh really? Was she in the living room with the two of you? Or was she once again cooped up in her bedroom reading some obscure novel, and being completely antisocial?” Cassandra cocked her head to the side and raised an eyebrow.

“Jeeze!” I shook my head.” First you attack me, now Christina?”

Olivia just sat there in silent bewilderment, her light brown eyes as wide as possible. She had met Cassie several times before but was still confused by her boisterous demeanor. Olivia was the polar opposite of Cassandra and I. Being that we were both from Staten Island, Cassie and I prided ourselves on being loud, outspoken, and at times bitchy. Olivia on the other hand was from Providence, Rhode Island. Having only moved to New York four months ago, she was still quiet, polite, very shy, and free of any New York City style dialect. She had attended college at the University of Florida. No city experience what-so-ever. Olivia had newcomer writer all over her. The only unpolished thing she did was smoke Newports. I found it to be very uncharacteristic of her, but it did give her a little bit of an edge. However, despite their differences, the two got along famously, as if they balanced each other out.

“Dire! Just answer the question!” Cassie demanded, her hazel eyes flashing.

Being that her grandparents were right off the boat from Italy, they demanded she learn to speak Italian and this she bestowed upon us when she was excited.

“Were you, or were you not alone with him?”

I felt defeated.

“I was, alright, but nothing happened!” I said for now the fifth time. “Also, can we stick to English tonight?”

Cassandra smiled triumphantly.

Through all of my annoyance, I felt a smile tug at the sides of my lips.

“I’m going to slap you,” I said jokingly.

Olivia shook her head at the two of us, a wide grin decorating her face.

“I’m going to record the two of you and upload it when you aren’t looking,” she said laughing at us.

She reached into her gorgeous Michael Kors purse, and pulled out her cell.

“Oh hey guys, it’s actually almost nine thirty. Michael and Alex are going to be here any minute so maybe it would be a good idea to cap this conversation until tomorrow?” she asked.

“You know what?” I leaned forward. “No need to, ladies because I am done pretending. Cassandra, you were right all along. We did it, Michael and me. We had hot, dirty sex right on my Ikea couch all while Christina was in the next room. It was amazing. I mean, it was the kind of sex you could only have when you’ve been stuck screwing the same person for years, boy did I let go of my inhibitions. Phew! Feels so good to get that off my chest!” I slammed my right hand down on the table, hoping this would finally shut Cassie up.

Olivia burst out laughing and then raised her glass of wine to toast me. Thinking I had finally silenced her, I shot Cassandra a look.

Cassandra gave me a blank, unamused stare, and flipped her hair back. “Fine, but Amalia this conversation is not over. I’m heading to the ladies.”

She dramatically pushed her chair in and marched to the ladies’ room.

“C’mon! Champagne for everyone! Don’t you want to know if he wears boxers or briefs?” I shouted to her as she walked away.

Her three inch heels clacked loudly on the bar’s old wooden floors. Every man at the bar turned to watch Cassie walk. Having come straight from her office, she was wearing dark gray dress pants, patent leather pumps, a bright red button-down top, and oversized chandelier earrings. I had to hand it to the girl, she looked great. Suddenly feeling self-conscious about my own outfit, a dark brown dress paired with gray blazer, and a jeweled headband, I turned to Olivia. She was wearing a lime green cardigan with a white camisole underneath, a knee-length black pleated skirt, and understated basic black flats. Her mousy brown hair was pulled back into a plain pony tail, minimal jewelry, and from what I could tell no make-up other than clear lip gloss. I couldn’t help but wonder if she felt underdressed. Before I could complete the thought, I suddenly felt two hands on my shoulder causing me to nearly jump out of my seat. I quickly turned around to see who it was.

“I always say it Hastings, you’re too highly strung,” Alex said, holding on to me tightly.

“Maybe it’s because of the lack of personal space I have in this bar,” I countered, as he continued to hold onto my shoulders.

I brushed him off, and wondered why Michael was friends with him. He and Michael had appeared out of nowhere wearing what appeared to be matching outfits. They both had on dark denim jeans, loafers, and button-down shirts with fitted v- neck sweaters over them, allowing the pattern of the shirt collar and cuffs to show. I pretended to be disgusted and dust off my shoulders.

“Hey you two,” said Michael, pulling an empty bar stool from a neighboring table.

“So how ridiculous was Dr. Van Der’s class today?”

“Oh no!” Cassandra said as she strutted back to her seat. “If you’re going to talk about class, I’m out of here!”

Cassandra was the only one at the table who did not currently take classes at NYU.

“Who are you?” she said to Alex.

“Hey, I’m Alex”, he said, holding his hand out, seemingly unfazed by her sharp question. “You must be Cassandra.”

“Another hand shaker, eh?” she said sarcastically.

I kicked her under the table and shot her a look of warning. Her iPhone started to vibrate, shaking the entire table.

“It’s Bryce,” she explained.

A smile crept across her face, and something made me think it was a booty call.

“The yuppie from Oliver’s?” I grimaced; a little disappointed she was seeing him again.

“That’s the one,” she answered without looking up from her phone. “I forgot I was supposed to be meeting him. I have to run. Boys, always a pleasure. Arrivederci.”

“Goodnight,” we all said in unison.

“Who’s Bryce again?” asked Olivia.

“Ugh, you don’t want to know,” I shook my head.

The bar was starting to clear out thankfully. In New York City, no one was ever home. Most of the population inhabited bars, or boutique coffee shops instead of ever returning to their respective homes. I couldn’t decide if it was the size of their apartment that kept them away, or the constant need to feel “busy.”

I caught Michael’s eye and for a second I forgot anyone else was with us. He smiled at me and the increasingly familiar rush of heat started to creep up on me.

“So, Amalia,” Alex said, breaking me out of my daze. “I heard you’re going to Panama when school’s over in the spring.”

“Brazil,” I answered quickly.

“Same shit,” he shot back.

“Actually, they’re two completely separate countries, on two completely separate continents,” I answered, annoyed at his ignorance and attitude.

Alex and I had always had a love–hate relationship, and he was closer with Michael and Olivia than me, but I tolerated him for the sense of the group.

“Whatever, they speak Spanish there don’t they?” he smiled sarcastically.

“No. Actually, they speak Portuguese. Seriously dude, get a map,” I mumbled and took a sip of my beer.

“Brazil! That’s so exciting!” Olivia said, trying to recover the uncomfortable moment.

Michael looked up at me and said, “I didn’t know you were leaving the country? For how long?”

“About three months”, I answered. “I’ll be there from the end of May until August. I have a cousin who lives there so I am going to spend some time living with the locals.”

“Are you going for your job?” he asked.

“No, nothing like that,” I shrugged. “I’ve just always wanted to go there, it just looks so beautiful. I spent all of last summer working as a receptionist so I could save enough money to buy a plane ticket.”

“Very ambitious, Amalia. What does your boyfriend have to say about that?” Alex asked, challenging me.

“Nothing. He feels fine,” I shot back.

No need to go into details, to explain Nicholas and I had gotten into a small argument that morning, over the length of time I was going to be away. Our minor argument was none of Alex’s business, and also I didn’t want Michael to think Nick and I had any problems at all.

“Well, I could use a smoke,” Olivia said to Alex, attempting to break the tension. “Care to join me?” She could tell I was getting annoyed by him and gave me a small smile. He nodded and stood up, motioning for her to walk in front of him. As obnoxious as he was, he had good manners. I was relieved to have the questions stop, and also to be alone with Michael. I noticed once again how well put together he looked and wondered how he looked when at home, alone, with no one to impress.

“Hey, listen sorry I skipped out last night with just a note,” he leaned closer over the table.

His cologne smelled very masculine, like deep sandalwood and a touch of something else I couldn’t quite put my finger on. He leaned back in his chair and laughed. “It’s just that, you looked so peaceful, I didn’t want to wake you.”

“Yeah, um, don’t worry about it,” I muttered nervously. I tucked a stray curl behind my ear and sat up a little straighter. “I’m just embarrassed I fell asleep!”

I was definitely more disappointed than embarrassed, having wasted my time with him unconscious. After I ran into him on the street two nights ago, Michael had come back to my apartment to talk. After opening a bottle of Pinot and, pouring us both two oversized glasses, I asked him what was bothering him.

“I’d actually rather not discuss it,” he said. “Is it all right if we just sit here?”

I wasn’t quite sure what to say. Our reason for being at my place alone was gone, and I felt even more awkward than before.

“Yeah, sure,” I replied, noticeably confused by the request. “Anything to help.”

The night was, as I told the girls, uneventful. After we finished the wine, we sat and talked about school, applying for internships, and what our lives were like before we moved to New York. Apparently I had been so exhausted that I fell asleep on the couch while we were watching The Daily Show.

I woke up the next morning, still on the couch, with a throw blanket around me and a note on the coffee table that read, “Thanks for the company, see you in class.”

My assumption was right, that Michael had left right after I fell asleep. I looked around and noticed the bar was emptying out. Now this was more like it, no fighting over the bartenders tonight.

“So, um, how’s Marge doing?” I asked, and then immediately regretted the words.

He seemed a little taken back by the question. The only information I had on Michael’s girlfriend was her name, and the fact that she was two years younger. Since she was still in college, a senior at Arizona State, they only saw each other once every month or two.

“She’s doing fine. I spoke to her earlier today on the phone, but it’s not the same,” he said. “Long-distance relationships are hard. Even harder when you’re older. I mean, I’m not an undergrad any more.”

I looked at him surprised. I wasn’t expecting such a detailed answer.

“Anyway, isn’t your birthday coming up? Twenty-three right? Getting old,” he said playfully, obviously changing the subject.

I played along.

“Yeah, next week,” I mumbled. “Don’t remind me.”

“Ha, not a birthday person?” he asked, looking amused, and gave me a poke on the shoulder.

“No actually I’m not. Does it matter?” I answered, now laughing myself. “You’re all going to make me do something lame anyway!”

“No way! We’re going to have fun,” he motioned to the bartender.

I cocked my head to the side and said, “Michael, every time you say we’re going to have fun, we end up drunk, completely broke, and lost in neighborhoods no one should ever be lost in.”

“Yes, Amalia,” he smiled at me, flashing every one of his perfectly straight teeth. “That is how I define fun.”

 Keep reading What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan – out now!

What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan: Extract three

Dirty Blondes

What happens to men when they move to Manhattan“You’re a damn idiot,” Cassie rolled her eyes as she tried to flag down the bartender at Oliver’s Tavern.

Except her nasty comment wasn’t directly at the cute, hipster bartender, it was directed at me.

“You’ve been in love with Michael since the first day you met him, I remember you going on and on about how he made you shake his hand,” she said, annoyed at both me and now the hipster.

Cassandra was not used to not getting her way, or in this case, her order taken. She was growing increasingly annoyed at the bartender for not paying attention to her besides, her best efforts.

I looked around the bar, I couldn’t help but notice the place was overly crowded for a Thursday evening, containing mostly an older scene. I checked my watch; it wasn’t even nine, way too early for this kind of crowd. Even through all of the yuppie noise, I could hear Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” playing over the speakers and had a brief flashback to summer camp. In the left corner of the room I noticed a group of four good-looking men in suits, probably bankers, laughing too loudly. Finally, the exasperated bartender appeared in front of us.

Before he could even ask what we wanted, Cassandra said, “It’s about time! Gin and tonic, and not any of that cheap well shit. Make sure you put Tanqueray in there.” she commanded without even looking up, “I can tell the difference.”

.A little embarrassed by her tenacity I said sheepishly, “Jack and Coke. Please.” Adding the please as an attempt to soften the experience and minimize the chances of spit being in her drink in addition to her high class gin.

He made the drinks in record time and slammed them down in front of us, spilling a good amount of mine onto the bar, but thankfully missing any of my clothes.

“I mean,” she started in again as she plucked the lime out of her drink and dropped it onto the bar, “I can’t believe you haven’t done anything about this sooner.”

She sipped her drink and then finally met my gaze. I suddenly felt very alert.

“Woah, wait a minute, I’m not doing anything. What are you talking about?” I said, a little confused by her vigilant attitude.

She looked at me, straw in mouth, and cocked her head to the side as if to say “You know what I mean.”

“Cass, Michael and I are just friends.” I said calmly, hoping to disarm the attack that I knew was coming. Clearly not buying it, Cassandra let out a laugh, but it sounded more like a snort. “Sure, he’s a good looking guy, but I’m not doing anything! For starters, I have a boyfriend who I love.” I pressed my hands to my chest, watching as she shook her head at me.

Even though Cassandra was my best friend, she had only met Nicholas a hand full of times and for some reason unbeknownst to me, she wasn’t his biggest fan. I believed her disdain for him had something to do with the first time they met. He had made a joke about her name; I couldn’t recall the details since I was already three or four drinks in when the misunderstanding happened, but the whole ordeal had left a bad taste in Cassie’s mouth.

“Secondly,” I said and then paused to take a sip of my drink. I suddenly felt a strong relief for the alcohol that was in front of me, “Michael has a girlfriend, in case you had forgotten.”

“Hello! Who lives in Phoenix!” she practically shouted, at the same time as the bartender walked by. He shot us a look, and then smiled politely.

“That bartender’s pretty cute, you shouldn’t be such a bitch to him,” I muttered.

“Don’t try to change the subject, Amy!” she said, now grinning. She held up one finger and shook her head. Her blonde hair bounced from side to side.

She was the only person on earth who could get away with calling me Amy. After all, Amy is in no way short for Amalia, but in 8th grade gym class she decided my actual name was too much of a mouthful and has been calling me Amy ever since. She could obviously tell I was not amused by this conversation so she finally pulled back.

“Fine,” she said, softening. “I am sorry I even so much as implied that you could do better than Nicholas Anderson.” She crossed her legs and started looking around the bar, as if this conversation was suddenly boring her.

I shook my head and clapped in front of her face to re-gain her attention. “It’s not a question of doing better, Cass. I love Nick, he’s my boyfriend, Michael is in a relationship and regardless of geography he and Marge seem to be doing fine, so moving on!” I said in a self-declaring rant, and then downed the rest of my drink.

Cassandra, not knowing when to leave well enough alone concluded with, “Marge, ugh! I even hate her name.”

“We’re moving on!”

Now I was the one practically yelling.

We both looked at each other and burst out laughing. We’ve been friends for ten years and had never gotten into a real fight. Sure there were moments when we would get short with each other, but it always ended with a laugh, knowing how ridiculous we sounded. She flipped her short, golden hair back, and gave me a light punch on the shoulder.

“Excuse me,” someone said from behind us.

I turned around to a very well dressed man in what I assumed was an expensive, and well-tailored, suit. It was one of the laughing bankers from the corner. I noticed he had grayish eyes, and recalled earlier that day in class, when I had learned how rare that physical trait was. All in all, a good looking man.

“Are you sisters?” he asked as he leaned in a little closer to us.

When he came closer I could tell he was older than Cassie and I, definitely late twenties or possibly even thirty. I turned to Cassandra, expecting her to answer with some quick retort, but she just sat there, staring at the guy. I felt the need to jump in.

“No, sorry. We’re not sisters,” I offered, not really sure why I felt the need to apologize, but he seemed completely disinterested in what I had to say and continued looking at Cassandra.

She finally recovered from her swoon and said, “That’s right, we’re not sisters. People always ask us it we’re related though because we have to same hair color.”

I loosely grabbed a hand full of Cassandra’s, barely shoulder length, hair and held it up to my own in an attempt to justify this comment. My hair was about five inches longer than her hair, hanging down the middle of my back. Despite this difference, the coloring was virtually the same.

“Dirty blondes?” he smirked.

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at him, anyone over the age of 18 should never make a joke that pedestrian. He barely noticed my dismay.

“Bryce Peterson,” he said. I work for Ernst and Young, in accounting”.

Bryce took a sip of his beer and then continued, “I just started working there this week so a few of my buddies and I are out celebrating. What are your names? What do you do?”

I thought it was odd that he offered up his credentials without us even asking. Also, his questions were directed at both of us, but it seemed clear he was only interested in Cassandra’s answer. I felt relieved; I had enough problems with men right now. For example, I couldn’t get the thought of Michael’s soft graze against my arm out of my mind. Something so insignificant was suddenly the main focus of most of my thoughts. I couldn’t tell Cassandra, she’d never let me hear the end of it. Besides, I felt guilty for ever feeling this way.

“Hello there, Bryce. My name is Cassandra de Luca and I work for Prestige magazine,” she said proudly, although it was clear he had never heard of the publication.

Cassandra had just been promoted from intern to publications assistant. I still wasn’t entirely sure what her job entailed. “Um hi, I’m Amalia Hastings,” I uttered, giving a little wave to Cassandra and Bryce who appeared to be in a staring contest at this point.

“I’m studying Biology and Behavioral Sciences at NYU; decided to go for my Master’s,” I continued, but it was no use, the attention was clearly not on me.

I checked my watch again, nine-thirty. If I left now, I might actually be able to get a good night’s sleep. I decided to let Cassandra and Bryce talk and call it a night.

“Ok Cassie, have a good night,” I called to her and grabbed my purse. “Nice meeting you, Bryce.”

“Yeah, sure. Goodnight,” she mumbled, seemingly mesmerized by her new crush.

I laughed to myself and then made my way to the door. The cool, crisp fall air felt great when I got outside. It was refreshing after coming out of the stuffy, crowded bar. I smiled and thought about how lucky I was to be living in this city. I started to make my way down Barrow Street when I heard something. It sounded like a twig snapping. The type of sound you hear in a horror movie just before the damsel in distress gets stabbed.

“Amalia?” a voice called. My heart started pounding faster, and this time I couldn’t blame it on illness.

“Yes?” I called out. The figure came closer to me and was now in focus. He stood there, smiling and I felt a little dizzy. I took a deep breath and finally spoke, “Hi, Michael.”

 What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan is published TODAY! Download your copy right here.

What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan: Second extract

Tell me you love me

What happens to men when they move to ManhattanThe next day my apartment buzzer went off at exactly 8p.m.  Without asking who wanted in, I buzzed back, opening the downstairs entrance, unlocked my door, and plopped back onto my couch. My best friend Cassandra had made me re-tell every moment of yesterday’s class with Michael ad nauseum over the phone that afternoon. By the end of it, I chalked up my new-found love for him as nothing more than fever-induced delirium. Even if I had found Michael momentarily attractive, I was looking forward to a nice relaxing evening on the couch with Nicholas. I finished the conversation with Cassandra by telling her that Nicholas was coming over that evening because he wanted to “nurse me back to health”.

Cassandra let out a long sigh into the receiver, and almost threateningly said, “We’ll talk about this tomorrow.”

Two minutes after the buzzer had rung, my door opened and Nicholas Anderson had materialized. He was just standing there, smiling warmly at me. He was wearing his traditional torn jeans, plain white sneakers, and a dark blue T-shirt with a hoodie over it. He topped the look off with a worn-out gray baseball-style hat that I remember him buying four years ago at Abercrombie. Nicholas was always a jeans and T-shirt kind of guy, he never dressed to impress anyone, always appearing completely comfortable, and he effectively pulled it off. It was one of the things that had drawn me to him in the first place.

We had met four years ago, freshman year of college at Rutgers when my roommate Dasha had introduced us. We clicked instantly and became fast friends, bonding over our mutual hatred of our economics professor and our love for Dashboard Confessional’s music.  Even though the economics class would be the only class we would take together, me being a combined Biological Sciences/Psychology major, and him being a Communications major, we still made it a point to spend nearly every day together. At this time, four years ago, I was still involved with my high school sweetheart and didn’t think of Nicholas as more than just a good buddy. By the time we finished undergrad, I came to think of him as one of my best friends. It wasn’t until one rainy Friday night two years ago when Nicholas insisted on coming over to talk and said that it was extremely important. He refused to tell me any details over the phone which only made me imagine the worst.  I was so nervous from his evasiveness, figuring something horrible had happened, that I immediately grabbed and hugged him when he arrived that evening. I nervously looked him up and down for some sort of clue as to what was going on. He quickly realized my frantic state, and let out a chuckle.

“It’s nothing bad, Amalia,” he said, leading me to the couch. “I’m sorry I scared you. I just had to talk to you in person, and it had to be now.”

Dying of anticipation, I put my hands on his shoulders and commanded, “Tell me now.”

He took my hands off his shoulders and held on to them tightly, all while keeping strong eye contact. Taken back by this gesture, I was beginning to feel nervous. He let go of my left hand and stroked my out-grown bangs away from my face.

Without breaking eye contact, he said “I know we’ve been friends for a long time.” Nicholas paused and finally broke eye contact. He sheepishly looked down at the floor, almost too embarrassed or afraid to continue with his obviously well prepared speech.

I opened my mouth to break the silence when he said, “But I’m crazy about you, and I have been since the first time I saw you.”

My initial reaction was to bypass this type of emotionally charged contact with a joke, but I was too stunned to deflect with my usual sarcasm. Nicholas then proceeded to proverbially pour his heart out to me, recapping every moment of the first day we met, from the smell of the perfume I had on, right down to the green laces in my sneakers, and everything inbetween. He ended his pontification perfectly, declaring the words that every girl longs to hear from a man.

He cupped my face in his hands and softly said “Amalia, you’re the one”.

I was petrified. No one had ever told me I was “the one”, and certainly never with such conviction and confidence that Nicholas had presented. He spoke as if the alternative, me not being “the one”, was impossible. After taking a few days to think about this proposal, of him and I taking a huge leap into a full blown relationship which could end badly, ultimately causing us to never speak again, I decided it was worth the risk if it meant I got to be with someone who loved me so intensely. It was now two years later, and I had never felt happier.

Remembering that night only made me feel more relieved and comforted by his familiar presence when he walked over to me tonight.

“I come bearing gifts!” he said as he excitedly reached into a plastic Duane Reade bag.

I wrapped the blanket around me and sank a little lower in the couch, fully preparing myself to be taken care of. Even with his cap on, I could see that Nicholas’s dark hair had grown out well past the point of needing a haircut, but somehow it only made him look sexier.

“Nyquil, tissues, organic green tea, and Vitamin C,” he proudly presented as he systematically placed the contents of the bag in a line on my coffee table.

After empting the contents of the bag, he took off his hat and threw it on the table, revealing his perfectly straight, gorgeous jet black hair. He then leaned over me and put his hand on my forehead; his hands were always warm and comforting. I immediately closed my eyes in reaction to the warm rush of what I could only recognize as love. True love that formed when you knew someone perfectly for years before you even began dating them, not the kind of quick lust that was elicited when a near stranger offers you a lozenge. Having been raised by an atheist mother, the notion of faith to me was as well received as believing in the tooth fairy. However, when it came to Nicholas, the cynical, black and white realist that had been ingrained in me from an early age seemed to disappear. I firmly believed that we were meant to be. Soul-mates. I opened my eyes and stared into his.  His eyes were by far his best feature. They were perfectly round and impossibly wide and youthful, a light chestnut color with flakes of deep brown which masculinized an otherwise feminine trait.

“Hi baby,” I purred dreamily, slipping further into bliss. His strong arms were exactly what I needed to fall into after a day of feeling awful.

“Hello darling,” he answered sweetly, stroking my hair and pulling me closer to him.

I could smell his Acqua di Gio cologne, and I was convinced it was the greatest scent in nature. I could feel him breathing as he gently put my heavy head on his chest.  All of the chaos and stress of the previous day had vanished. This was exactly what I needed. I felt the warm envelopment of sleep coming.

“Tell me you love me,” he whispered as he pushed my hair off of my face.

I smiled, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. Before I could even take a swig of Nyquil, I was out.

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