The blurb (to be revised):
When a banker’s hours leave long weekends for romance, cosmic intervention is Grant’s only option when money doesn’t buy happiness and he’s got virginity in spades.
Grant Davis is a twenty-six year old bank teller who’s unlucky at love, yet hopelessly hopeful. Every guy he’s ever gone out with ended the relationship before the second date. It could be Grant’s bad taste in men, or it could be his ODC and pedantic nature that’s sent them packing. Still, he’s convinced he’s saving himself for true love.
Tristan Carr has been in a holding pattern since his daughter was born. Fourteen years later he’s still alone, and that suits his workaholic lifestyle just fine. He hooks up occasionally, when long nights seem lonely, but honestly he’s never wanted anyone interfering with being a weekend dad. To enter Tristan’s world, a guy needed to be special.
Between daydreams and wet dreams, a reticent skeptic can only find love when it shows up at his window.
And an excerpt. Let me know what you think. Everything is sort of rough at the moment, but this gives you an idea of what I am currently doing.
“Who’s the hottie?” asked a female customer to my colleague Jessica. She “whispered” her question in a none-to-hushed voice, as if it wouldn’t be overheard four feet away in the adjacent teller cubicle. I kept my back turned, pretending to tidy my work area because I wasn’t sure how to respond. I didn’t really know Jessica, since I’d only worked in this branch of the bank for a week. I certainly didn’t know the customer who asked the question, since I hadn’t seen her in the bank before. I did, however, know enough to understand that I was the object of said question.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been referred to as a “hottie;” although I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t have the muscular and height I normally associated with hotties. I guess I was okay looking, but after people got to know me, my looks never mattered. I was pedantic with dose heavy dose of OCD, and I guess it was a little too much for most people because I rarely got asked out twice by the same guy. Actually, I couldn’t remember ever being asked out twice.
I almost threw a pity party for myself in my cubicle, but knocked over my pens instead. They went rolling off my station and I forgot to stew over the fact that I was twenty-six and never been kissed. I wanted to think of it as “saving myself,” but the truth is I was a loser and no one had ever liked me enough to kiss me.
“That’s Grant,” Jessica answered her customer. “He transferred from another branch when it closed.”
I picked up my pens and set them back in the round container and moved it to a different stop. I made the mistake of glancing over and caught Jessica and that woman staring at me. Was this what penguins felt like? No, they probably didn’t notice the humans staring through the glass as they swam at the zoo. Monkeys were more intelligent. Maybe they understood the uneasiness associated with being gawked at. It wasn’t merely the staring, or the compliment she’d given me, my problem was because the remarks never stayed on the complimentary level. Once they got past my dark blond hair and blue eyes, people normally laughed at me for something.
I turned away from Jessica and headed toward the restroom. Once I locked the door, I took out my phone and texted my mother. I didn’t live with her, I wasn’t that pathetic, but we texted often.
How are you, Mom?
She texted back quickly, as per usual. I’m fine, Grant, but you are supposed to be working. Stop texting me.
I’m on a five-minute break.
Stop ducking into the bathroom every time something stresses you out.
Nothing stressed me out.
Did you pee, or did you lock the door and take out your phone?
“Shit,” I mumbled. I glanced at my reflection over the sink. “I am pathetic.” I texted my reply: I peed.
Liar. Go back to work. You’ll settle I fine. Talk to people, make friends, and then the new branch won’t be so scary.
But it took me a year to make friends with Laura and then she moved across the country and left me two months before they decided to close my branch. I feel like my life is in turmoil.
Grant, go back to work. Talk to people. The ones you work with and the customers. Maybe one of them lives near you and will turn out to be a good friend. I need to go. I have a massage in ten minutes.
Fine. Bye. Have fun.
She didn’t text back. She probably thought I was ridiculous. I pocketed my phone and washed my hands. I liked clean hands, plus I enjoyed the smell of the pink grapefruit foaming hand soap. Sometimes I washed my hands just so I could smell my fingers while I was working. People may have thought I had an unusually itchy nose, but I only rubbed the tip of it so I could smell the soap scent.
When I got out of the bathroom, I returned to my cubicle to discover a line had formed. It was like that. One minute I could be straightening my deposit slips and reorganizing my inkpad and teller stamp, and the next minute fifty people show up in the lobby at the same time. I put on a bright smile and called a woman over.
“Good morning,” I said to the older lady.
“It’s the afternoon,” she replied gruffly.
I glanced at my computer screen. “Technically, it’s morning until after noon.”
She glared and shoved a check my way. “Cash that. I want it all in twenties.”
I took the check and flipped it over. “Can you please sign the back, and may I see your driver’s license?”
She snatched up a pen and proceeded to scribble her name. “My license is in the car, surely you can ask one of the other tellers to vouch for me?”
“I could, but then how am I to learn your name for the next time?”
“By memorizing the name on the check,” she huffed.
“Well, I’m new here and it is procedure to ask for a driver’s license for all transactions. Even with customers I know, I am supposed to write the number on the check or at the very least double check the name.”
She ignored my reason and fussed at my coworker. “Jessica, can you tell this boy who I am please? I don’t have time to follow his procedures.”
“You can cash Mrs. Caldwell’s check, Grant. I know who she is,” Jessica said. She didn’t seem smug or condescending, but I felt snubbed all the same. I had protocol to follow, and my first customer of the day sidestepped it.
I grinned and nodded politely, but I begrudgingly counted out twenties. “Will that be all, Mrs. Caldwell?”
“Yes, thank you.” The terse woman put the wad of bills in an envelope before I even had the chance to ask if she wanted one, and then stormed away.
The next person to walk up to my window made my breath hitch. I swallowed hard. “Ca-can I help you?”
The man grinned, but only with the left side of his mouth. “Yes. I’d like to deposit this in the account at the bottom, and I’d like to withdraw money from a different account. I’ve written down how I want that back on this slip of paper.” He slid a piece of paper to me across the counter. His hands were soiled and greasy. I suddenly wanted to wash mine.
“Oh, okay. I can do that. I’ll just need to see—”
“My driver’s license,” he said, sliding across the counter. He half-grinned again.
“Oh, thank you,” I replied. I was slightly startled by his compliance, and half nervous over his grin. I took his personal license and wrote the number on the business check for Carr’s Automotive. Tristan Carr. “Is this your company?” I asked.
“Yes. My dad started the business and I took it over before he died. If you ever need an auto mechanic, I’m only fifteen minutes north of here.” He winked.
My mouth went dry. Was he flirting or just being friendly? “Um, okay. I bet you get harassed about the name.”
I punched in his account number and clicked the corresponding option on my screen. I ran his checks through the scanning machine and then set them in the correct bid. I handed him the receipt for his deposit. “How did you want that back?” I asked. He glanced down and tapped the counter. “Oh, right, you gave me a list.” After I counted out the appropriate amount, and zipped it up in his money pouch, I asked, “Is there anything else I can do to—for you?”
I expected a smirk, or some facial tick to reveal he’d heard my slip, but he only paused before answering, “No. Thank you,” he glanced at my name placard, “Grant. I’m sure I’ll see you again. Perhaps the next time you won’t need ask for my license.”
Why would he say that? He couldn’t know I was checking him out. I barely made eye contact. “Perhaps,” I replied. “It was nice to meet, Mr. Carr, of Carr’s Automotive.”
He grinned again and stuck out his hand, but as I went to shake it, I bumped the container of pens I’d set next to the window, after I’d knocked them over from their previous location, and sent them rolling across the counter and through the window onto the floor at his feet. I was so embarrassed. “Oh God. I’m so sorry.” I gathered them up and set them in the container I up-righted.
He bent down and retrieved the pens from the floor and put them into my container. Three were upside down so I took them out and flipped them over. He smirked and said, “Until next time, Mr….” he paused, picking up one of my business cards from the stack next to my name placard. “Rush. Grant Rush,” he repeated. “It was a pleasure to meet you.” He stuck out his hand again and this time I didn’t knock over the pens when I shook it.
His hand was dirty and rough and completely swallowed my tiny palm. “Likewise.”
He nodded and walked away, and I glanced at my hands. They felt gritty.
I looked to the next customer and smiled as she stepped up, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the feel of his skin touching mine. She set her money and checks on the counter, but I had to excuse myself. “I’m sorry. I need to wash my hands.” I took a step backwards. “I’ll only be a second.”
She gave me a questioning look, but warily conceded, “Okay.”
I dashed to the bathroom and pumped three squirts of foam onto my hands and lathered thoroughly. His hands appeared greasy; and even though there was no evidence of grease or dirt on mine after he’d shook it, I still had to wash. I rinsed and dried my hands. I looked down at my open palms, fresh and clean. He’d touched me. A man I’d just met, held my hand briefly. I’d introduced myself to countless people before, some of them male, yet Mr. Carr’s warmth still lingered inexplicably.
I heard a knock on the door. “Grant? How long are you going to be in there?” Lucinda, another teller, asked. I opened the door and she said, “There’s a line. I don’t want to call Tracy over to help.”
Tracy was the bitchy branch manager I’d come to loathe from day one. She was not friendly by any means, but did her job well enough to garner the customers’ adoration. Lucinda had been kind enough to warn me about her before I got myself fired over nothing. Tracy was all business and as long as I did my job to her satisfaction, Lucinda had assured me Tracy would leave me alone. Only, I hadn’t been here long enough to earn my reputation for excellence. Tracy hadn’t worked with me at the other branch and apparently word of mouth wasn’t good enough.
“No,” I replied. “I’m coming.” I shut the door and returned to my station. The same woman was waiting there. “Good morning.”
“It’s twelve ten, therefore afternoon,” she corrected, handing me her deposit.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Time flies when your having fun,” I joked, hoping she would let my inattention slide.
“Or chatting up a customer,” Jessica commented.
I blanched and hoped my customer didn’t notice as I entered her account number into the computer. I couldn’t believe Jessica would say such a thing with a customer right there.
“That man did look dirty,” the customer said. “I don’t blame you for washing your hands.” She slid her license toward me without prompt.
“Thank you. Although it’s not necessary for a deposit.”
She smiled. “I come in here several days a week. You’re new, so I wanted to make sure you got familiar with my name. It will make it easier then next time.”
“True,” I read the name, “Ms. Gina Snyder.” I chuckled. “I have Snyder’s pretzels in my lunch today. You don’t own the pretzel company, do you?” Her deposit was large, but there had to be hundreds of Snyders in the greater tri-state area.
“Mrs., and not directly, no,” she replied, grinning precociously. Her eyes lingered on me and my face flushed. “I’ll see you another day, my dear boy.” She winked and turned away.
Two winks in one day. If this was any indication of the type of town Westminster was, I wasn’t sure I could handle it. I was used to attention, but this was silly. I wasn’t sure I’d last in this branch of every customer flirted with me. Although, perhaps I was assuming too much. Mr. Carr couldn’t possibly know I was gay, and Mrs. Snyder wouldn’t flirt with a guy my age, would she? I was probably young enough to be her son.
Jessica stepped up behind me and whispered, “Be careful with her. She’s a cougar.”
I turned around sharply. “What?”
Jessica glanced at the lobby, before saying, “She’s an aggressive older woman who likes to prey on hot younger guys.”
There was one guy filling out a slip and another waiting to see the manager about opening an account, so I had a minute or two to fuss. I protested, “I’m not hot.”
She snorted, “Oh, please. You’re hot. I wouldn’t normally admit that, but since you’re gay my opinion won’t get misconstrued.”
“Gay? I’m not….” I started to protest but the look she gave me screamed “Stop before I smack you.” I glanced around and whispered, “How did you know?”
She snorted. “I know this is going to sound awful, but you drip gay. From your pink shirts—”
“Straight guys wear pink.”
“To your perfect hair—”
“Straight guys comb their hair.”
“And your obsession with cleanliness—”
“Straight guys can be clean.”
“There isn’t a single thing about you I’ve seen that would convince me you’re straight. Maybe Mrs. Snyder can over look your less-than-straight qualities because she wants to bag you, but I pegged you from day one. I’m just saying… be careful and stop flirting with everyone.”
“I’m not.” Besides the fact her assessment of me was offensive, I couldn’t follow what she was suggesting. I didn’t flirt.
“Oh right,” she laughed. “Then you better get that blushing of yours under control because women like Mrs. Snyder will eat you alive, and guys like Mr. Carr might punch the shit out of you. I saw him at a Papa Joe’s once. He got off his motorcycle and walked across the parking lot like he owned the place. It scared the crap out of me. He could be a police officer or a general of an army. Believe me, you don’t want to mess with him.”
I couldn’t imagine Mr. Carr punching me. He seemed very nice. His half smile intrigued me; it made me think of trouble brewing under the surface. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. He didn’t seen dangerous to me. Besides, I’m not flirting with anyone and I don’t blush easily.”
“The hell you don’t. Just watch yourself or Tracy will haul you into her office and rip you a new one. She’s all about policy, and dating customers is frowned upon.”
We were only standing in my cubicle, but I felt as though she’d shoved me into a corner and was pointing her finger at me as she yelled in her quiet tone. “Okay, okay. Jeez. I haven’t done anything.”
She expression changed. “I’m sorry, Grant. I like you. I don’t want to see you get fired or get hurt. You seem very sweet, albeit a bit naïve.”
She had me there. My cheeks heated from embarrassment.
“See, you’re blushing again.” She reached up and touched my arm. “I’m sorry I commented about chatting up the customers. I think it was my way of challenging what I’d seen. Part of me hoped it wasn’t true because you are seriously cute. Being gay would ruin my chances.”
I sighed. “You’re right, I’m gay.”
“Then why be so defensive about it?”
“I guess because you deconstructed my sexuality based on stereotypes. I don’t like labels and definitions because I think there are too many people out there that don’t fit into a category. Some get offended.”
“But yours are obvious. Tone down your actions or expect people to assume.” She looked over my shoulder. “Customers. Gotta go.” Jessica patted my arm and waved the customer in line to head over to her window.
I greeted the next one, “Good afternoon.”
I went home after my shift and gazed at myself in the mirror of my dresser. Was I really stereotypical? I liked pastel shirts and I didn’t see a reason to wear white or black just to blend in. I undid my pink and white striped tie and pulled from around my neck. I hung it on the tie organizer in my closet and unbuttoned my shirt. My pasty white skin sagged in my reflection. I flexed. The lack of muscle made my self-image worse. I was scrawny and awkward, and my body was not one that guys like Tristan Carr desired. Even with the point zero two percent chance he was gay, I highly doubted I had anything he’d find attractive. In my suit and tie, I had the hot young executive appearance in my favor. Out of the suit, I was a pathetic twenty-six year old virgin with zero appeal.
And that's all you get. Come back another day :)
Currently this work sits at 50,776 words. It is coming along very well and very fast. I hope to submit it to Dreamspinner by the end of August (or sooner). Hugs <3