Title: LANDING FLETCH LAYTON
Author: Beth Henderson
Genre: Romantic Comedy
He was a whiz at sales, climbing the corporate ladder, but he really specialized in procrastination when it came to life. Now he faced the ultimate “M” word ultimatum and needed help deciding what he wanted to do before the deadline arrived. There was only one person who could help him out, his best friend since childhood.
He had no idea that the last thing she wanted to do was to help him decide to marry someone else!
Bren watched the sky change from a pearl gray to a darker Harris-tweed shade spotted with sex-crazed fireflies. The erratic flash of the bugs’ taillights turned the yard into a miniature solar system. Was it the males or the females that were into Morse code? she wondered. She’d learned which in a science class once, but the information was gone. Only the part about the flashing lights being a mating dance remained.
And that had only surfaced because she’d been too close to Fletch all afternoon. Her brain was mushy with the effort of having to be a buddy when she secretly dreamed, hopelessly, of being more.
“I wonder what it would be like to be a bug?” she mused out loud as the screen door swung open.
“Not good,” Fletch said, dropping down beside her on the porch swing. He stretched out his long legs, resting his heels on the porch railing. His running shoes looked like they had run their course, but they’d been his favorites since he’d been in college, she knew. She wondered if he ever wore them around Dominique. Probably not. He was only comfortable enough to be a slob around her.
Lucky me, Bren thought.
“Bugs have got a short life span,” Fletch said. “What with people hating their guts and hiring pesticidal hit men to wipe out their families, it is not an easy existence.”
Bren gave the swing a push, setting it to swaying gently. It wasn’t enough to knock Fletch’s feet off the railing. She considered pushing harder.
“Given this a lot of thought, have you?” she asked.
“Not a bit, actually.” He grinned over at her. It was his lazy smile, the one that tightened her stomach in mating-dance knots.
“Your team losing?” she asked, forcing her voice to sound calm and in control. After dinner the men had disappeared into the family room, and a battle for possession of the remote control had ensued. One sports show after another had flicked by in rapid succession since then. While her mother and Sally put their heads together over the upcoming wedding, Bren had slipped out of the kitchen to join the men before the TV, but when the Red’s game ended, she’d drifted out again.
“Naw, my team’s ahead,” Fletch said. “But it’s a rather boring game. Nothing’s happened in four innings.”
“That mean you’re finally ready to talk?”
He looked a bit guilty. He should, she thought. He’d been in such a rush to get her advice, but since he’d asked for it, sidestepping was all Fletch had been doing.
“Actually, I’m ready to leave,” he said. “I’ve got a spot waiting for me in the boardroom at tomorrow’s meeting.”
Bren took his phone from her pocket and passed it back to him. She’d finally managed to read the text, but other than thinking Dominique could have been a bit more diplomatic, had not given it much thought herself. Sally’s book was an entirely different matter. Bren hadn’t been able to get it off her mind.
“So, what have you decided to do about your girlfriend’s note?” she asked.
Fletched shoved the cell in his jeans pocket. “Nothing. At least for now.” His grin widened. “Hey, what’s the hurry with Dominique, anyway? I’ve still got six days to answer her ultimatum.”
He flicked a finger along her cheek in a casual caress. “Don’t sweat it, sweetheart. We’ll talk tomorrow. How about lunch?”
She frowned. “I don’t know. There’s still a lot to be done if we’re leaving on Tuesday for the trade show in Vegas.”
“Tell you what. I will personally volunteer to help with anything that isn’t tied up tomorrow. But only after lunch.”
“Well…” Bren knew better, but she wavered. She always did when he was in his coaxing mode. She always had. She had the scars to prove it, too.
Fletch got to his feet. “Great. It’s a date. Think about where you want to go. I’ve got an expense account that’s just itching to be used.”
“In fact,” he said, “we’ll make sure it’s a legit expense, something to do with the toothpaste promotion. I’ll say Virgin Fresh and—”
“And I’ll correct you, as usual. It’s Fresh All Day.”
“Damn. Well, I’ll get it yet,” he promised breezily and swung a leg over the porch rail. “Adios. And thanks for being such a great friend, Bren. Don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Bren watched him stride across the lawn, carving a path through the overexcited lightning bugs. He slid into his car, blinked the headlights twice in farewell and backed out into the street.
If he was emulating the courting fireflies, Bren thought, he was doing a lousy job.
But if that was true, why did she always feel so desolate each time he left her?
Would she ever learn?
What makes your featured book a must-read?
You could say this is the classic boy-next-door romance, except the hero has always treated the heroine like one of the guys. He’s clueless that she’s always been in love with him – and even has the physical scars since she took his dare when they were children and still has the mark of that misadventure on her forehead. But when he’s in a scrape, she’s the one he turns to. She thinks he helped her get the job at the same company he works at; he thinks she got it because she was the best person for the job. Now he’s been given an ultimatum by his slinky girlfriend to either marry her within a week or he’s history. As a master procrastinator, he heads to his best friend, our heroine, for help in making a decision. One she changes to making him finally notice she’s female with the help of a book called Land Your Man. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s a fast read for when you need a story to uplift your spirits.
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Beth Henderson has been writing romance for a long time now. Her first title was released—in HARD COVER!!!—back in 1990. Fletch and Bren’s story was first published as A Week ‘Til The Wedding by Silhouette in 1996 in their Your’s Truly line. When she decided to update it, so that people had cell phones, she changed the title to one she felt suited it better. Currently she writes under numerous pseudonyms and in various genres. Find her at www.4TaleTellers.com.
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