Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Men & Martinis by Delancey Stewart

Men and Martinis by Delancey Stewart
(Girlfriends of Gotham #1)
Publication date: April 15th 2015
Genres: Comedy, New Adult, Romance

It’s 1998…and New York City just might not be prepared for the Girlfriends of Gotham…

Natalie Pepper knows almost nothing about New York City, except that it’s far, far away from her home in California. When she packs up everything she owns and moves there on a whim, luck is on her side. She stumbles into a promising marketing job in the developing Internet industry and finds herself surrounded by poised and polished men who are nothing like the guys she knew back home.

One man stands out from the rest… CJ: All-American hunk and genuine good guy. But they work together, and giving in to their mutual attraction could put Natalie’s sparkly new world at risk. She resolves to look, but not to touch…if she can ignore the feeling that he’s the guy she’s been looking for her whole life.

Natalie’s new friend Candace Kanie has no such concerns. From the barroom to the boardroom, she’s used to getting exactly what she wants, and her no-crap attitude ensures nothing gets in her way. But when she meets Damon, the notorious playboy at Natalie’s company, she finds that her take-no-prisoners style might not be as effective in the romantic realm.

Frustrated and often irrational, Candace pushes for what she wants until something’s gotta give. And when it does, she realizes that the one thing she might not do better than anyone else is change.

The first book about the loves, lives, and laughter of a group of friends finding their way in the city is a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy full of Men and Martinis!
Purchase at Amazon
Once he’d poured a glass of wine for me, I felt slightly less annoyed with him. And though I felt a little bit guilty about sitting across the table from Candace’s dream guy having dinner, I was starving and the wine was definitely helping to ease some of the biting fatigue my week had brought.
We ate and drank in silence for a little while, and I was surprised how easy it felt to just be with Damon. I watched him over the edge of my glass, and realized that it was nice to be around him when his guard was down.
“Thanks for dinner,” I said, when I felt somewhat human again.
“You’re welcome.” He put his chopsticks down and smiled at me. “You shouldn’t push yourself so hard, Pepper. You deserve a break now and then.”
“I don’t think I work all that hard,” I said.
“I see you at the office, remember?”
“Yeah, well …” I didn’t know what to say.
Damon watched me for a few minutes, and just when I was about to snap at him for making me nervous, he asked, “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?”
“I don’t know,” I said honestly, squirming a bit under his thoughtful gaze. This wasn’t the Damon I was used to. This Damon was making me uncomfortable. “Just haven’t found the right guy, I guess.”
“Maybe you’re too busy with work to notice the right guy.”
“What do you mean?” Damon was being very un-Damonlike. He didn’t seem to be flirting, and I thought he might actually be suggesting that I should have noticed him.
“What about CJ?” he said, then added, “Or, you know … other people.”
“CJ is great,” I told him, holding my tongue and hoping that my face wasn’t giving away my pointless crush on the handsome business development director. “But I don’t think he thinks about me that way. And I’m not really into dating people I work with.”
Damon poured us each another glass of wine and looked pensive. “I can understand that.” He rose and cleared off the table. “Wanna watch TV for a little bit?”
Sex and the City was on. If I wasn’t watching it on my couch I might as well watch it on Damon’s, I figured, so I snuggled into the deep brown cushions and relaxed. Damon sat next to me, and the silence between us felt comfortable … but there was definitely something else there too, making the air zing with some kind of unspoken anticipation. I should have left after I’d finished going over the sales pieces.
But I didn’t. And somewhere in the middle of Carrie’s exploits, Damon’s arm went around my shoulder and I leaned into his warm solid chest. A little further into the episode, he leaned me back onto the couch and found his way next to me, our bodies touching from shoulder to ankle and his breath hot on my neck as he nibbled my earlobe.
“Is this okay with you, Pepper?” he asked, his voice a throaty whisper, the scent of him surrounding me, both comforting and exciting at once.
“It shouldn’t be,” I told him. Guilt was tapping a rhythm up my spine, and there was a little voice in my head screaming at me, shouting Candace’s name and warning me about girl code, but it was overshadowed by the shivers caused by Damon’s hot breath in my ear.
Instead of answering the question directly, I gave in. I pulled at his shirt and pressed my body up against him. All the frustration that had been building up inside me, all the pent-up feelings about CJ that had been begging for recognition, pushed their way out. Damon wasn’t CJ. And I wanted CJ—in my exhaustion I could finally admit it, at least to myself. But here was Damon, wanting me. I was warm from the wine, and his closeness and magnetism were overwhelming. I realized that I was tired of pretending not to want what I wanted. And in this moment, I wanted this, even though I knew it was wrong. I told myself that I was living for the moment, just like Maggie had said I should.
Within seconds, Damon’s mouth was on mine and I let my mind retreat into its den of exhaustion, allowing my body to take over. He smelled so good, and it was easy to just give myself up to him. Until I pictured Candace’s face. I couldn’t do this.
“Damon, no,” I said, pushing him back and sitting up.
“Sorry, Pepper,” he said. “I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to push.”
“It wasn’t all you.” A dark sense of dread spread through me, making me feel heavy. What was I doing? What kind of friend would allow this to happen? “You’re dating my friend. And you and I work together.” That was me. Master of the obvious.
“I know that. I got carried away. I’m sorry.” Damon looked around, his icy eyes shimmering. He did look sorry. Not as sorry as I felt, though. “You’re gorgeous,” he said quietly. “And for some reason, I just wanted to see what it would be like.”
“Now you know.”
“I guess I do.” A thin smile pulled at his lips. “And now I’m just going to have to imagine the rest.”
“I really wish you wouldn’t,” I said.
“Look, Pepper,” Damon poured me more wine and leaned back into the couch. “This is not a big deal. We’re friends. We just shared a moment, that’s all.”
I was finding it hard to look at him as guilt bubbled within me. “I have plenty of friends who I don’t make out with.”
“You’re going to beat yourself up about this, aren’t you?”
“No, it’s fine.” I took a huge sip of wine and stood up. “I need to go.” I excused myself from his apartment, carrying an excess of crappy sales pieces under one arm and my seething embarrassment and guilt under the other.

Meet the Author
Delancey Stewart writes contemporary romance.

Stewart has lived on both coasts, in big cities and small towns. She’s been a pharmaceutical rep, a personal trainer and a direct sales representative for a French wine importer. But she has always been a writer first.

A military spouse and the mother of two small boys, her current job titles include pirate captain, monster hunter, Lego assembler and story reader. She tackles all these efforts at her current home outside Washington D.C.

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