One Day Fiance by Lauren Landish

Gee, thanks. As if I didn’t know what happens at that point. I definitely needed that.

“Hil, you know—”

“But I have something that I think might help. Get you out of the house and inspired, ready to kick this book’s ass.”

“Huh?” I ask, suspicious of the dangling carrot Hilda is holding out. It’s not that I don’t trust her, but I know she’ll do anything to get me to the finish line, whether it’s good for me or not. She’s an agent first, and if I don’t succeed, neither does she.

“Look, I just got news that a sudden spot opened up at J.A. Fox’s workshop dinner. Apparently, someone forgot that, yes, sex does lead to babies, even though she writes accidental pregnancy books all the damn time.”

Whoa. I mean, I feel bad for the author, but . . . the Fox Dinner. J.A. Fox is the Grand Dame of Romance Writers. The GOAT, in my opinion. And for the past few years, she’s held workshop dinners with fledgling romance authors, talking about her illustrious career, giving writing advice, and signing copies of her latest new release. Right now, it’s The Art Thief, which is already a New York Times bestseller. Not only that, but she's going to showcase the rare painting of a beautiful woman called The Black Rose, the art that inspired the novel.

I might have been fangirling a bit—fine, a lot—when I heard about the dinner.

“Normally, you wouldn’t be up for something like this, but I fought for you to get the spot because it's local to you . . .” Hilda quickly corrects herself. “I mean, I know what a huge fan you are. I thought it’d be a good reward for finishing your manuscript. Maybe that’s not a good idea if you’re this far behind, though? Hmm.”

I’m so excited that I don’t worry about her little slight at the beginning or take offense to her dwindling faith. I’ve always wanted to meet J.A. Fox and have always looked up to her writing prowess. Whether she knew it or not, J.A. Fox was my inspiration, my mentor, my guiding light in the dark. Every time I didn’t think I was good enough, I’d remind myself that if J.A. Fox could do it, so could I. And I’ve got my own WWJD when it comes to writing. What Would J.A. Do?

“Enough waxing poetic, Poppy!” I whisper to myself before speaking up. “Hilda, OMG! Of course, I can do it. This’ll be just the boost I need to finish. You’re the greatest, I actually love you after all . . . if I can go to this workshop.”

“Hmph!” Hilda says with a full harrumph. “You don’t love me, you just love my agent benefits. But you should be loving me for putting up with your craziness and making it sound cute and eccentric to the publishing company.”

“You know I already love you for that. You’re amazing!”

“So you say. But if a catering hall chicken breast with no seasoning is what it takes for you to appreciate me . . . voila. This will be a once in a lifetime chance, and maybe a little of J.A. Fox’s magic will rub off on you and you’ll be able to finish,” Hilda says, obviously not ready to let up on the pressure quite yet. She’d probably make a Marine drill instructor sweat. “Make sure you show up on time looking fabulous . . . well, at least shower and fix your hair, ’kay?”

Ouch, she knows me that well. Or maybe she can smell me through the phone? I might be rank enough for Verizon to carry the signal.

“Okay, I’m gonna be on it,” I promise her, crossing my heart even though she can’t see me. “Look, I want to finish at least a chapter, maybe two, and then I’ve got an appointment. And I’ll shower. Definitely shower.”

“With body wash?”

“Of course, I promise,” I tell her, trying not to hop up and down in excitement. I’m getting to meet J.A. Fox! “Look, lemme get to pounding my keyboard, and then I’ll scrub myself fully. Promise!”

“You’d better.”

We hang up, and though I just promised, when I check the clock, I see that writing will have to wait. I’ve barely got enough time to take care of Nut and Juice before it’s time to get on the road to get to the library on time. But I do grab a quick shower first, scrubbing down with some cinnamon scented body wash just like I promised and getting dressed.

I don’t do anything fancy, just some jeans and a baggy sweatshirt for comfort and to cover the bewbies before I let Nut and Juice out into the front yard. I’d prefer the back, but my ‘back yard’ is about the size of a picnic table with just enough space for a small barbecue and no grass. So front yard it is, but my babies know the invisible fence.