"What lies beneath my veiled perfection is the ugly truth—my truth, my reality, my destiny."
Vivian Graham has an acceptance letter into Harvard, a badass tattoo, loyal friends, ties to marijuana, a penchant for Dunkin’ Donuts, and her pesky V-card.
Everyday she takes the Red Line to her job at The Green Pot in Boston while her friends enter the coveted, black iron gates to higher learning. The ramifications from a tragic accident have put her life on hold while time marches on for everyone around her.
After graduating from Harvard Law, Boston native, Oliver Konrad, moves to Portland to start his career and his life. Three years later, after a horrific discovery, he returns home to trade in his three-piece suit for leather work boots and his suburban home for a condo in Cambridge.
All he brought back to the East Coast was an aversion to pillows and secrets he keeps hidden behind a mysterious locked door. Oliver’s days are predictable and his nights are lonely until he meets Vivian on the subway. Her long raven hair, green eyes, and mile-long legs are achingly sexy, but the way she "innocently" fingers and licks her Boston Kreme doughnut can only be described in two words—complete torture.
When their paths cross at every turn, laughter is abundant, friendship is easy, and love is unintentional. However, their future seems improbable.
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1ydrcfX
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1w6SmWO
Ivy League Doughnuts
Wake. Stretch. Shower. Then navigate through the bustling morning crowd to the subway via the corner coffee shop. A kaleidoscope of colors and the inviting bittersweet aroma of America’s favorite pick-me-up dazzles my senses.
No offense to Paul Revere, but when I think of Boston and its exhausting list of historical figures, William Rosenberg is the name that warms my chest and tempts my tummy. It’s my firm belief that his inspiration and influence in the business world fed my ambition to achieve the high merits that earned my acceptance into a well-known university north of the Charles River.
“Boston Kreme and a medium Dunkaccino, please.”
I ignore the piercing glances, rolling eyes, and subtle head shakes behind me. Yes, at five foot eleven inches I can eat whatever I want and not gain a pound. Long, wavy, ink black hair and green eyes, a runway model on the outside. Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before. My personal assessment of the reflection in my mirror includes the words lanky, bony, witchy hair, monster eyes, and freaky freckles. A tiny grin tugs at the corners of my mouth as I focus on my phone, moving my thumbs over the screen with effortless strokes to send off a text.
Me: Up, bitches? 2 hrs. to study then get your asses to work. The real world awaits.
Judgments are nothing more than presumptuous thoughts, flawed opinions at best. What lies beneath my veiled “perfection” is the ugly truth––my truth, my reality, my destiny. Though, for now, I grab my decadent treats and sashay out the door with a wicked smile.
Two years after I nailed the admissions interview, I have yet to see the inside of a Harvard lecture hall, but it won’t be long now. Instead, I take the Red Line at Harvard Square to Central Square every morning while my two bitches enter the coveted black iron gates to “Grow In Wisdom.” Since my hopes of love and marriage were snuffed out like a torch my senior year of high school, I have my whole life to focus on becoming a successful entrepreneur.
The air grows thick and musty on my final descent to the subway. And then I see him, my new visual indulgence. He first captured my attention a week ago. A sky scraper among the diverse sea of heads bowed and drawn into their handheld technological gods. But then again, when you’re my height the bar for being considered tall is set pretty high. He must be at least six foot four with lean muscles, short sandy blond hair, and cornflower blue eyes. Sipping my Dunkaccino, I peek over the lid and worm my way through the morning crowd, positioning myself to get on the same car. Everyday he’s dressed in faded jeans, an old T-shirt, and leather work boots. Maybe he’s married, or has a girlfriend, but it doesn’t matter. My infatuation will go no further than basking in his sexy aura and taking mental pictures to use for my own pleasure.
The train screeches to a stop and the whoosh of the hydraulic doors sets the crowd in motion. Most mornings I find a seat opposite my rugged blue-collar worker. We play a flirty game of peek-a-boo where I unabashedly stare at him until he glances at me then diverts his shy eyes, taking a deep swallow. I eat my Boston Kreme doughnut and sip my coffee keeping my eyes fixed on him. Click, click, click--I take my mental pictures.
This morning, however, the car is herded to capacity. I find myself next to him with my drink in one hand and my doughnut in the other. As the rest of the passengers cram in, I glance up and smile. He returns a hesitant smile, and for the first time I can see his straight white teeth and dimples. Holy crap! He has dimples. My heart rate increases exponentially as I lift my doughnut toward my mouth. Dimples! The doors fold shut and the train jerks forward before my legs have a chance to balance and root into the floor.
“Oh shit! Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry!” I’m drowning in horrid humiliation while peeling my half-eaten doughnut off his gray T-shirt. I can’t look at him.
Through my squinted eyes, all I see is a smeared glob of chocolate frosting in the middle of his shirt. Risking a glance, a grimace takes over my face while meeting his raised brows, eyes darting back and forth between me and his shirt. Depositing the doughnut back in the bag, I retrieve the wad of napkins I shoved in my purse and begin to wipe his shirt like a mother would do to a child. He doesn’t say anything, he doesn’t move. My brain registers the faint giggles and snickers from a few of the lucky commuters who have witnessed this embarrassing mishap. I may have to start taking the bus from now on, or dress incognito so I’m not recognized as the clumsy doughnut girl.
“It’s fine,” a deep voice sounds. Long fingers encircle my wrist, halting my frantic strokes. “It’s just a shirt.”
Biting my lips together, I nod unable to make eye contact. He releases my wrist and I shove the napkins into my bag.
“I, uh … I’m just so, very clumsy … embarrassed, and uh, again … sorry.” I. Will. Not. Move. I shall stay bowed in shame until I leap from the train at the next opportunity.
“It’s really okay, no need to feel bad.”
“Central Square,” the speaker sounds as the train’s piercing brakes pull to a halt.
My frantic dash to the door threatens to take out a few unsuspecting passengers. I can’t concern myself with that; sometimes casualties are unavoidable and necessary.
“Is this your stop?” Mr. Frosting Shirt says with a questioning tone, probably because for the past week he’s gotten off the train before me.
It is today!
Without looking back I nod and sprint off the subway.
Lucky for me, when the white sign with the green planter’s pot becomes visible over the hill, there isn’t a line of miffed people waiting under it to get in the door.
“Maggie, I’m so sorry,” I say with a genuine apologetic tone as I shove my bag under the counter and tie on my green apron over my fitted T-shirt and frayed denim shorts. “I had to take the bus and walk the last mile.”
“Vivian, dear, why are you apologizing? I told you to take the day off anyway.” Maggie shakes her head while arranging the packs of seedlings into cardboard flats.
I take over while she rings the customer’s order up on the register. “I know, but this is the busiest time of year and who knows if or when Alex and Kai will show up to help.”
Maggie, proud owner of The Green Pot nursery, originally started her business as a front for growing marijuana. She’s not a law-breaking pothead, per say. She’s a ten-year cervical cancer survivor.
“You don’t see me looking too concerned do you?”
I laugh. Maggie has saintly patience and I love working for her. The Green Pot has become a legitimate greenhouse—one of the top suppliers for local landscaping companies—but she still has a stash of wacky tabbacky for those who don’t want to jump through the hoops to get it legally. Her only request is that these VIP customers don’t all come on the same day with their scarf and bandana wrapped heads asking for the Brown Bag special.
“Chance should be here soon if you want to go out back and double check to see if his order is all there.”
Ah, Chance Konrad, the horny green jack-of-all-trades owner of The Handy Hunk. Chance is a real player and, in his eyes, I am the World Series of his playboy game. For two years he has tried to sweep me off my feet and into his bed. For two years I have rejected his often times outrageous efforts to win my affection.
The familiar red flatbed truck backs into the loading zone as I finish double checking the order. “Vivian.” Chance’s velvety voice caresses my name as he strips me with his usual lustful gaze.
I give him the eye roll he’s come to expect while shaking my head. “Chance.”
I’m not naive enough to think that he has been waiting in patient celibacy for me to succumb to his advances. In fact, I can’t imagine him going a single night without some gullible girl’s naked body wrapped around his. Not that I too don’t find him physically appealing, but I’ve resigned myself to believe that all my orgasms will be self-induced. Chance is eye candy, another visual for my private moments. Click. Click. Click.
“Hate to disappoint you, I know how much you look forward to our sexy banter, but my brother is working with me now so you’ll need to use a little more discretion with your advances,” Chance says as he leans against the back of his truck with his arms folded over his chest.
Uncontrolled laughter erupts from my chest but halts in my throat, nearly choking me, as the other door to the truck opens and a very tall guy steps out with a chocolate stain stamped in the middle of his gray T-shirt.
Kill. Me. Now!
“Viv, this is my brother Oliver. Don’t mind his shirt. Some chick on the subway rammed into him with her doughnut.”
My eyes are so wide I think they’re locked in this position. “That uh, really sucks. She must have felt awful.”
“Yeah, what did you say?” Chance looks at Oliver. “That she scurried off at the next stop with her tail between her legs?” Chance laughs.
Oliver grimaces, glancing at me. “I don’t think that’s exactly what I said.”
“Yeah, bro, it was. You also said––”
“I’m sure she gets the point!”
I nod and cross my arms over my chest. “Oliver’s right. I get it. I can totally imagine it. But I’m sure she didn’t run off with her tail between her legs. It was probably just her stop.” I give Oliver a tightlipped grin and offer my hand. “Anyway, Vivian Graham, nice to meet you.”
Oliver stares at my hand for a few moments then meets my eyes. “Nice to meet you, Vivian.” We shake hands and my grip cinches to convey my unspoken displeasure with his interpretation of what happened this morning.
“Mind if I use the restroom before we load up and head out?” Chance asks, not waiting for my response before he heads into the building.
Oliver and I divert our gazes away from each other as an awkward silence closes in on us. I glance at his shirt and an uncontrollable giggle bubbles up and out.
“What are the chances?” I laugh, shaking my head and meeting his gaze.
He grins and chuckles.
“I really am sorry. I’ll get you a new shirt.”
Wiping his hand over the dried chocolate stain, he licks his lips and smiles so big his dimples steal my attention. “Not necessary. It will probably come out and if not, I’m quite certain I have at least twenty other old T-shirts just like it.”
“Load ’em up!” Chance emerges from the building as we slip on our work gloves and start arranging the plants into the back of the truck.
When everything is loaded and secured, Chance hops in the truck, starts the engine, and rolls down the window. “Let’s go, Oliver, no need to flirt with my girl. After two years of rejecting yours truly, I’m pretty sure she’s a lesbian. And for some reason that makes my dick even harder.”
Oliver closes his eyes and shakes his head as I laugh. “Please excuse my vulgar brother. He doesn’t have a delay button between his brain and mouth.”
I wave a dismissive hand. “I’ve been putting up with him for two years. His potty mouth is the highlight of my lesbian day.”
Oliver furrows his brow with a slow nod. “All right then, I guess I’ll see you around.”
“Later, guys.” I hand the order receipt to Oliver with a wink and walk away to check on Maggie.
“Now I know why you’re taking on so many landscaping jobs instead of sticking to mowing and home repair.” I flash Chance a knowing glance.
“She’s hot as hell, isn’t she?” He grins, pulling out of the back parking lot.
I shake my head. “It’s been two years. I think it’s safe to say she’s not interested.”
He lifts his shoulders. “She’s baiting me, slowly reeling me in.”
“She’s stamped rejection on your head so many times you have brain damage and can no longer see you make her skin crawl with your dick talking out of your mouth.”
“She’s a nice girl. We have a good thing going. Didn’t you notice how she defended the doughnut chick from this morning?”
“Shit.” I laugh and run my hands though my hair. “She is the doughnut chick from this morning, dickhead.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
I roll down my window and pull my Red Sox baseball cap on. “Vivian was the one on the subway who fell into me with her doughnut. Thanks to you, now I look like a real asshole because you had to run your mouth about the whole tail between the legs comment.”
Chance laughs. “Damn, you lucky son of a bitch! I should start taking the T. I’m probably missing out on a huge untapped population of hot women. They’re wasting their time bumping into you, the one guy who won’t ever give them the time of day.”
I sigh. “You’re right. I couldn’t care less.”
At the chance of risking what’s left of my manhood to some philosophical bullshit, I have to admit that digging in the dirt and being in the sun all day is somewhat therapeutic. I can’t help but mentally pat myself on the back for coming to that conclusion without the help of a psychiatrist. Lord knows in an effort to save one hundred and forty dollars an hour, I can ask myself how I’m feeling and why I think I’m feeling it with less resentment than I felt from those damn therapists in Portland.
We’re adding raised-bed gardens to a hotel in the Seaport district so they can use the fresh vegetables and herbs in their restaurant. Just one of a million reasons I love this town.
“Wanna go out tonight?” Chance asks while mixing the compost into the soil.
“Tara is going to bring her sister. We’re going to some new Italian place by the wharf then to Mike’s for Cannoli.”
“Who’s Tara?” I sit back on my heels and wipe the sweat from my brow with the bottom of my chocolate-stained shirt.
“The girl I took to Mom’s birthday dinner.”
“Oliver, you need to get out.”
“You don’t know what I need and I told you never to mention a fucking second of my past!”
“Jeez, dude! I’m not talking about your past. I’m talking about now! Nothing more than dinner with a pretty woman. She just graduated from MIT and she’s brilliant. A nerdy scholar like yourself. It’s okay to let a nice piece of ass make your dick twitch every once in awhile. Gives your hand a break.”
“Nobody says that anymore, but whatever, your loss.”
I hate that he’s right, but I’d rather gnaw off my own arm than admit it out loud.
“Sorry, Chance, I’m just … shit, I’m just not ready. I’m not saying never, just not now.”
He pats me on the shoulder. “Don’t sweat it, Bro.”
With a deep sigh, I close my eyes and try to shake the image of the one person who does make my dick twitch. And when that fails, I decide to call it a day. It doesn’t appear that my hand will be getting a rest anytime soon.
I’ve been back for two months settling into my new life. I feel like a zombie most of the time. Food lacks taste, I see the sun but I can’t feel it touch my skin, comedy is void of humor, and the monotonous play of life in all its muted colors doesn’t catch my eye. At least that was the case until last week when I started working with my brother.
Living in Cambridge, I take the Red Line to South Station. Every morning for the past week, I’ve sat across from this long-legged woman with raven hair falling in unruly waves around her slender shoulders and down her back. Soft green eyes peek through sexy long lashes, casting a spell on me, and I’ve found myself locked in a trance watching her eat her cream filled doughnut with chocolate frosting. She makes a complete mess of it, and by the time she’s done every guy in the subway car is sporting a boner from watching her lick her full lips and suck the sticky sweetness off her long fingers one at a time like a fucking Dunkin’ Donuts porn movie.
So now the only thing I smell is a mixture of coffee and doughnuts. I can taste sweet cherry red lips that I will never kiss. It’s absurd I’m so fucking enthralled with her just the thought of the subway elicits a pathetic schmuck grin, and the vision of her lingers like a drunken haze even when I close my eyes. But most disturbing is the part of my body she awakens that I swore I’d never use again.
I’m so screwed.
See Lena's Review of Idle Bloom.
About the Author
Jewel is a free-spirited romance junkie with a quirky sense of humor.
With 10 years of flossing lectures under her belt, she took early retirement from her dental hygiene career to stay home with her three awesome boys and manage the family business.
After her best friend of nearly 30 years suggested a few books from the Contemporary Romance genre, Jewel was hooked. Devouring two and three books a week but still craving more, she decided to practice sustainable reading, AKA writing.
When she’s not donning her cape and saving the planet one tree at a time, she enjoys yoga with friends, good food with family, rock climbing with her kids, watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, and of course…heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, panty-scorching novels.