Between the Lines (Paradise Bay Sweet Romance Book 1)(75)

By: Ella Linden

She shook her head, but couldn’t completely keep the smile from her lips. “I think you’ll manage somehow.”

“Wish me luck. We Bards need a little magic now and then,” he said, and the reference to her comic, the warmth in his tone, had her blushing harder.

“You read it, huh?” she whispered.

“I did.” She was mesmerized by his dark eyes, his scent, his voice. “And we have so, so many things to talk about. But I have to go do this first.”

She nodded. “Good luck, Andrew.”

He nodded, kept his gaze locked to hers for another moment, and then finally walked past her and headed toward the podium to riotous applause.

Olivia took a deep breath and moved to her spot behind the counter, setting the box of bookmarks down. Holly and Jack were there too.

“You okay?” Jack asked, leaning toward her. She nodded.

Then, on her other side, Holly leaned over and whispered. “I practically need a cold shower after that.”

Olivia stared at her, and Holly laughed.

“So much tension. Just wait. Lauren’s gonna go full romance novel on that scene later,” she teased, and Olivia shushed her as Andrew started talking. She had intended to be doing other things while he talked, but now that he was in the same room as her, all she wanted to do was drink him in.

“Thanks for coming out,” he said as the applause finally died down. “And thank you to the owners here at Gutters for inviting me. Lauren and Holly are good friends of mine, and I’m excited to be here.”

Olivia smirked. Holly had had to twist his arm, and Scott had guilted him into doing it, finally.

“Thank you as well to Olivia Marquis for all of the promotion and planning for this event. And… for everything,” he said, meeting her eyes for just a moment. Then he looked away, and he started his official talk. The people in the audience took notes on the writing-related part of his talk, and he took questions. Olivia was surprised. He was actually a good teacher. When someone asked him a question, he answered it thoroughly, not rushing through it. He paid attention and put the more nervous audience members at ease. He was still sarcastic, but the audience already knew that from his work and they loved it. After the lecture part of his event, everyone took a small break for coffee and cookies, and Olivia was busy with that, while Andrew was busy signing books and other items. After the break, he took the podium again for the reading part of the talk.

“As some of you might know, I have a new book out this week,” he began, and the audience applauded wildly. “I got word from my agent that it’s debuting at number one on three of the national bestseller lists.”

The audience went nuts, and Olivia couldn’t help smiling. Once the applause died down, Andrew met her eyes again.

“The thing is, that book wouldn’t exist if a good friend of mine hadn’t told me to go for it. I’ve been messing with this story for years, and I kept putting it off. You know… someday,” he said with a shrug. “Someday I’ll get around to it. It can wait.” He paused, eyes still locked to Olivia’s. “The truth is, waiting for someday is a mistake. Putting off living because you’re afraid of what might happen next, or because you’re afraid you might fail… you’re only cheating yourself. This book might have tanked. I’ve failed so many times before. But nothing at all happens if you don’t take a chance. If you don’t leap every once in a while.”

He finally looked away from her and Olivia felt like she could breathe again. “So before we get to the reading part, maybe that’s my last piece of advice for today’s talk. Don’t wait. That, and have someone in your life who will call you out on your B.S. Who’ll be in your corner when you feel like garbage, and who’ll push you at those moments when the last thing you want is to be pushed. ”His eyes found hers again. “And if you find that person, make damn sure they know how much they matter and never, ever take them for granted.”

There was a moment of silence, Andrew’s gaze still locked with hers. Then he looked down at the tablet on the podium and started reading from his latest book. When he finished reading, the audience rose to its feet, clapping wildly. Andrew signed more autographs, talked to his fans while Olivia and the other started folding chairs. Scott and Carter took them back to the storeroom.