It's Just a Little CrushBy: Caroline Fardig
A Lizzie Hart Mystery
I would like to thank Karen Franklin for reading my first draft and very first attempt at writing, such as it was, and still encouraging me to follow my dream; Lisa Hart-Gray for editing the (almost) final draft; and Jennifer Vinson for lending her lovely eyes for the original print cover.
Special thanks to my husband, Matt Fardig, for proofreading after countless rewrites, for listening to me whine and stress over formatting, and especially for not being afraid to tell me, after reading some of my characters’ dialogue, “No man would ever say that in real life.”
This book is dedicated to my children, who are not allowed to read it until they’re older.
It’s time. 9:07 AM. Against my better judgment, I allow myself to steal a quick glance at the door. The sight of a shadow hovering outside throws my stomach into a spasm, clenching, twisting, and tossing my breakfast mercilessly, the wave of nausea leaving me a little light-headed. My heart is banging against my ribcage so hard it may just crack a rib. I should breathe. In, out, in, out. Great, that didn’t help. Now I think I may be hyperventilating. Maybe I should hold my breath. Ooh, now I’m dizzy. I nervously wipe a shaking hand across my forehead, and it comes back soaked with sweat. Gross. As the doorknob turns, a shot of pure adrenaline courses through my veins, causing random body parts to twitch and quiver uncontrollably. In short, I am a hot mess.
You’d think some earth-shattering event is going on or something. Well, it’s not. I’m not in the middle of diffusing a bomb or running from the mob, or anything cool like that. No, I’m just sitting here at my desk waiting for HIM to walk through the door. Know what’s really lame? I’m not even sure he knows I exist. I can count on one hand the number of conversations I’ve had with him, most of them monosyllabic on my part, because I can’t seem to form a complete sentence in his presence. You have to understand—I’m really not a loser. Really, I’m not.
The door swings open, and I inadvertently let a little giggle escape. What am I, back in junior high? This is getting embarrassing. Am I, Lizzie Hart, a grown woman of twenty-six years, seriously going to let a man I barely know get me this excited? Yes, yes I am. Before I can compose myself, a figure steps through the doorway, and there HE is…Blake Morgan. Right on time—well, so to speak. Why he is exactly seven minutes late every day, I don’t know. Maybe he just wants to make an entrance—and does he ever! Wait. Oh, it’s happening again. Why has the room suddenly screeched into slow motion as he struts his sexy self past me? Where is the fan that is breezily blowing his shiny brown hair, only to have it fall perfectly into place by the time he reaches his desk? And where is that pulsating music coming from? I glance around. Everyone else seems to be doing their normal work thing, oblivious to the shift in the space-time continuum that’s going on here. Am I to believe that I’m the only person in this office affected this way? As I hang my head in shame I realize that yes, yes I am.
It always takes a few minutes for my eyes to adjust back into focus after my daily Blake-vision episode. A little too late, I notice some movement out of the corner of my eye and realize in horror that Blake himself is walking straight toward my desk. Get a grip, Lizzie! Oh, crap. Here comes the blushing. Every time I am the least bit embarrassed or caught off guard I turn ten kinds of red, and I’m powerless to stop it. Breathe, girl! It’s your only hope! Don’t panic—he’s probably only going to ask you a simple work question. Everyone knows he’s seeing someone, although no one seems to know who, so surely he can’t be thinking about me romantically or sizing me up in any way. Chill out! I scramble to appear busy and important as he walks…past my desk and starts talking to another co-worker about some game from last night. Oh. I really hoped he was going to stop by because he needed me.
Thoroughly disappointed, I turn back to my computer and begin scanning through my emails. I wonder what grammatically-challenged, boring news stories I’m going to get to proofread today. Don’t get me wrong—I love being the copy editor for the Liberty Chronicle, and without my co-workers’ poor sentence structure and numerous typos, I’d be out of a job. What I really have an issue with is the lack of actual news in our newspaper, not that it’s the reporters’ fault. Liberty is a tiny, mind-numbingly boring Midwestern town where nothing EVER happens. Ever. Front-page news around here is when someone’s cow has a calf. Seriously. That was last week’s headline.