Home > Here Comes My Man (Hopelessly Bromantic Duet #2)

Here Comes My Man (Hopelessly Bromantic Duet #2)
Author: Lauren Blakely

 


PROLOGUE

 

 

LOST AND FOUND: DESPERATELY SEEKING MY MISSING MOJO

 

 

TJ

 

I have a dirty little secret.

Everyone thinks they know why my pen ran dry. The answer seems obvious if you catalog the public events I was at the center of—and people do that frequently.

He’s the guy who was dumped on national TV by the chicken dude. No wonder TJ Hardman’s in a funk. I mean, could you write an epic love story if that happened to you?

The evidence does seem to add up. Exactly one year ago, my face went viral as the ouch, that’s gotta hurt guy when the dude who ran a chicken café said “see you later” to me on a New York morning show.

But the day my keyboard went silent was a couple of months later, when I got on a plane in Los Angeles and flew away from the swooniest guy I’ve ever known.

I haven’t dispelled the rumors, though, because the public story suits me. It hurts less than the private tale that exposes my deepest hopes and dreams. My dreams of Jude. Dreams that died when I packed my suitcase and left him, returning to New York.

So, what’s my dirty little secret?

I’m both the public guy who got dumped on TV, and I’m the private guy who walked away from America’s newest heartthrob. I see Jude’s face on the sides of buses, on tops of taxi cabs, on my TV, on my phone, on my social media. He’s everywhere, with a smile that charms millions—but it charmed me first.

That man is also lodged somewhere deep in my heart and soul.

He’s the reason I’m stuck. Somehow, though, I’ve got to figure out how to write my way out of this heartache. But some stories often surprise even the writer, and Jude’s return to my life is the plot twist I didn’t see coming.

 

 

1

 

 

THINGS THAT SUCK

 

 

TJ

 

A lot of things suck, like bad coffee, seventies music, and regret.

But live and learn. Move the fuck on.

Blasting my newest anti-romance playlist, I run through Central Park on a Wednesday afternoon. It’s one of the rare spots in New York free of any posters, billboards, or commercials featuring Jude Fox’s face promoting his new movie.

Away from his chiseled features, smoldering eyes, and see-inside-my-soul stare, maybe I can find a great meet-cute concept for my next book.

Like over there on the Great Lawn, where dudes toss frisbees to each other. Maybe one guy accidentally whacks another with a flying disc. Perhaps in the jaw.

Bam—instant meet-cute.

But instant ER-visit? Not cute.

What about the carousel—horses are cool, and so are amusement park rides.

But sexual tension on a kiddie merry-go-round is not cool. It’s pretty fucking creepy.

Why are ideas so hard?

Ah, I’ve got it. I know where to go.

I cut across the park, making a beeline for Bethesda Terrace. That picturesque spot has romance written all over it. I bet there are a thousand proposals there each year. I’ll watch a few till I crack the case of the missing inspiration I need for the book that’s massively overdue to my publisher.

I’m almost at the terrace when a food truck comes into view, and I do a double-take.

Wait. A Wing and a Prayer is peddling its rotisserie birds in Central Park? I slow my pace as I study the fire-engine red vehicle. I didn’t know that Flynn—the guy I dated before Jude reached into my chest, grabbed my pathetic heart, and yanked it out to feed vultures—had opened a food truck for his chicken café.

But one hundred feet away, parked along the road in Central Park, is the architect of the public’s perception of my poor romantic sitch. I haven’t seen him since he broke up with me on TV a year ago—the guy who just wanted someone to love him for his chicken.

Flynn turns away from the ordering window to peck the cheek of the other cook.

Wow.

I stop in my tracks. And yes! Holy fuck, yes!

Inspiration just sauntered in like a badass pimp in a faux fur leopard-spotted jacket. I give a perfunctory wave to Flynn. In his chef’s apron, streaked with chicken barbecue sauce, he blinks, then waves back a few seconds later. The guy next to him does the same. They look sheepish. Like they think I’m bothered by seeing them together, being all flirty and lovey.

Please. They’re not Jude. They’re merely story fodder.

I fly home on fleet feet to Chelsea, bound up four flights of stairs, flip open my laptop, and crack my knuckles.

It is on.

After the ten long, painful, idea-free months since I left California, words now flow out of my head and onto the page. I don’t even need a coffee shop to write. Nope. I’ve been transformed. I can write at home.

Goodbye, trash can full of proverbial crumpled-up pieces of paper.

Hello, brilliant idea for my next novel.

And the best part? This new story has nothing to do with Jude.

A few days and countless cups of home-brewed coffee later, I’ve got almost ten chapters. After a quick re-read on ye olde laptop, I send this puppy to my agent.

Five minutes later, Mason replies with a hallelujah and tells me to swing by in an hour since he’ll have read it by then.

I pump a fist then push away from the couch to take a shower. Even when inspiration strikes, I’d never leave the house smelling, well, the way people think writers smell.

My goal in life is to smell like a magazine ad looks, and I accomplish that in twenty minutes, though I could use a haircut soon. I text my barber buddy to schedule one as I get dressed quickly, tugging on jeans and grabbing a short-sleeve button-down I snagged at a thrift shop.

But I stop before I put on the shirt, taking a good, long look at it. Why do I still have this? I thought I got rid of this one with the fox illustrations. Yet another thing that makes me remember Jude.

Don’t need any assistance on that front, brain.

Like it’s constructed from biohazard waste, I stuff it into a canvas bag to donate stat.

Bye-bye, anything with foxes.

I return to my closet to hunt for a shirt that doesn’t make me think of the guy whose face is everywhere these days.

Including in my head.

Far. Too. Often.

Ah, perfect. This purple shirt has tiny illustrations of vinyl records on it. I check my reflection. Much better. I head uptown on another unseasonably warm March morning in Manhattan—no jacket required. I push through the revolving glass door of CTM, eager for Mason’s feedback.

A minute later, I exit the elevator on the eleventh floor. From behind the reception desk, Rachel waves excitedly at me, her chunky bracelets jingling and jangling against themselves, revealing bits and pieces of the tattoos of vines that line her arms. “It’s been forever, TJ! Good to see you again. Mason said to just wave you in.”

“Thank you, Rachel. It’s great to see you too,” I say. It is, indeed, good to be back in the land of, well, writers who write.

When I reach Mason’s corner suite, he’s seated at his desk, scratching his head.

Huh.

I was kind of hoping he’d be standing in the doorway, blowing a trumpet as he hailed my return.

A mild foreboding tickles my brain. Maybe that’s just nerves, though. Normal ones and all.

Parking my hands on my hips, I clear my throat. “Hello? Where is the parade? The ticker tape? The marching band? I’ll wait for them but, man, I expected you to be a little faster.”

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