Breakthrough

By: Kris Bryant

Acknowledgments





I have a wonderful family of friends, other writers, and readers who constantly encourage me to tell my stories. A heartfelt thanks to Radclyffe and Bold Strokes Books for publishing my books. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes, so many women involved that without their hard work, these books wouldn’t get into the hands of our readers.

How I am able to start a book and finish it is based solely on my friends pushing me (and looming deadlines). There are so many women to thank—KB Draper and Hot Stacy for being my cheerleaders and only a twenty-minute drive away when I need encouragement; Megan Ullrich and Maggie Cummings for boosting my ego and just being the coolest “they” in my life.

There are wonderful writers who inspire me to do my best—Friz, Carol, Fiona, Melissa, Georgia, Cindy, Heather, Dena, and hundreds more. We have proofers and readers who make our works successful. Thank you, Kathy, Sue, Nadine, Val, Karen, Kaz, Heather, Paula, and thousands of others who read our books, get the word out, and feel just as passionate about our stories as we do. Reviews are so important to our success. Thank you TLR, Tara, Sheena, Anna, April, Amy, Rachael, Lambda Literary, and the publications who push our names and reviews. Lesfic is a very important part of the literary world, and it’s growing bigger every day with every book that is written, published, and recommended. Thank you.

I owe so much to my editor, Ashley, for pointing out mistakes I never see, and for polishing my stories to a nice shine. She makes me cooler than I really am.

I am fortunate to have my dreams come true.





Dedication





To Deb

Alaska was one of the best trips of my life! Thank you for encouraging me to write this story. As much as I hate to admit, so much of this is based on true events.





Chapter One





Gum. Just my luck. I found the one spot in an empty parking lot where somebody spit out a piece of gum and I stepped right into it. The sticky pink glob spread beneath my heel and I grimaced in disgust. I leaned against the car to scrape it off, but lost my balance and stepped in it again with my other heel. Not just any heels, but my Jimmy Choos.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I asked no one. Both shoes were covered with tiny strings of gum and I was almost late to my meeting with my boss, Erin Waters. I shuffled over the asphalt to scuff more off on my way into the building. Not a great way to start my morning. I already knew shit was going to hit the fan because Erin rarely asked for a meeting. I gave up on the gum knowing I’d much rather deal with it later than worry about a disgruntled boss. I pulled at the front door a few times before I remembered it was a push through door. Lynn, the receptionist at Mainstream, saw me and laughed. As I’m sure she did everyone who fell victim to the backward door.

“Good morning, Kennedy. Nice to see you again.” Waters Publishing did a great thing when they hired her. She was the friendliest, and most helpful, receptionist.

“Lynn, please tell me you didn’t see me out there in the parking lot.”

“No. I did not see you zombie walk in the parking lot and wonder why. Not at all.” She winked at me. I groaned.

“Hopefully you’re the only one who did.” I wanted to sit and chat with her, but I was expected upstairs. “Wish me luck.” I caught the elevator to the fifth floor and quickened my step the closer I got to Erin’s office. The door was slightly ajar so I busted in. She was expecting me.

“Good morning, Kennedy. Have a seat. Would you like some coffee or a doughnut?” Her nicety threw me off. The tiny hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention. Something was up.

“Why are you being nice to me?” The wolf-like grin on my boss’s face wasn’t the endearing kind of smile. My stomach sank. “Oh, hell. What do you want me to do?”

“It’s not that bad. I need you to cover a story for A&A’s August issue. You know I have to hold my brother’s hand during the transition, so I need to make sure he succeeds. His success starts with me and ends with you.” Travis had just graduated with his Master’s degree and their family was grooming him to take over Antlers & Anglers, Waters Publishing’s magazine focused on anything to do with the great outdoors.