We are so excited to share with you the adorable cover and exclusive excerpt of Ghosting: A Love Story by Tash Skilton, out May 26th, 2020!
About Ghosting: A Love Story:
Online Dating Ghostwriting Rules to Live by:
- Do not present a “perfect” image. No one will trust it. Nor should they.
- Think of your quirks—such as cosplaying B-movies from the 1980s—as a “Future Honesty.” Save these as a reward only for those who prove worthy.
- Never remind the client you’re their Cyrano. Once you’ve attracted a good match, let the client take over ASAP.
Dumped by his fiancée, not only is Miles couch-surfing across New York City, but downsizing has forced him to set up shop at a café. Also, he no longer believes in love. Not a good look in his line of work.
Zoey’s eccentric L.A. boss sent her packing to New York to “grow.” But beneath her chill Cali demeanor, Zoey’s terrified to venture beyond the café across the street.
The only thing Miles and Zoey share is their daily battle for Café Crudite’s last day-old biscotti. They don’t know they’re both ghostwriting “authentic” client profiles for rival online dating services. Nope, they have absolutely nothing in common…Until they meet anonymously online, texting on the clock.
Soon, with their clients headed for dating disaster, both Miles and Zoey’s jobs are at stake. And once they find out their lines have crossed; will their love connection be the real thing—or vanish into the ether?
My stomach rumbles. All I have in my fridge right now are ketchup packets and half a bottle of Riesling, and I can’t spend my taxi money on an expensive quiche for breakfast, so it looks like another biscotti morning. (Café Crudité offers free “day-old baked goods” on a plate at the counter.) The place is mostly empty; just one person in front of me on line and no one behind. I watch in slow motion as the guy in front of me reaches his greedy hand straight for the free biscotti, aka My Breakfast. There are two left, enough for a sad, quasi-meal. I’m so hungry I feel saliva gathering in my cheeks.
I need the biscotti.
“Wait!” I bellow. It’s my “I’m in the hall” voice, weirdly resonant. I start over. “It’s just—those are mine, so . . .” I trail off in a normal voice.
The guy’s hand pauses in midair and he turns to look at me. He’s tall and tan, like the California dreams of my past, but there’s nothing easy, breezy, or ocean-sprayed about him. His dark hair sticks straight up, intense and angry, he wears hipster glasses he probably doesn’t need, and the not-quite-a-beard on his face can’t decide what it wants to be when it grows up. He looks like if Zayn Malik were a stressed-out dental student.
“How are they ‘yours’?” Zayn Malik, DDS, asks, complete with air quotes.
“You can have the day-old muffins,” I say, pointing. (Heh. They’ve got vegetables in them, but Hipster Glasses may not know that. He may not know “crudité” is vegetables.) “They’re bigger, more filling, and I’m doing you a favor by letting you have those instead,” I add, my teeth gritted.
“How magnanimous of you. They’re stale.”
“That’s why they’re free!”
“And they’re probably stuffed with zucchini or kale.”
Oops. He does know.
“The biscotti are already hard, they won’t taste any worse,” he snaps, reaching for them again. “The muffins will be CRAP. Besides, I was here first.”
His raging case of bedhead is infuriating. Someone’s fingers obviously clutched his hair in a moment of passion last night and he hasn’t bothered to make himself presentable. He thinks he’s Bringing Disheveled Back, the morning after Sexy had its triumphant return; he probably slept in late with his loverrrrr, leisurely feeding her eggs and toast in bed, and now he thinks he can have my breakfast, too? Still, he hasn’t picked up the biscotti yet, so maybe he’s open to reason.
“I always get the biscotti,” I mutter. I can practically taste them. “They’re saving them for me.”
The barista appears and hands the guy his grande coffee. Her name tag reads “Evelynn.”
“Are you saving the day-old biscotti for this insane person, Evelynn?” he asks.
“I’ve never seen her before, and no. It’s first come, first served.”
“I come here every day,” I protest. “Monday through Sunday, seven days a week.”
Evelynn shrugs. “I don’t remember you.”
“I bring you more business than he does,” I say desperately. “I’m a regular, every day since I moved to New York.”
“When was that?” Hipster Glasses says.
“A month ago.”
“Oh, wow, gosh, yeah, you’re like a LEGEND,” he says loudly. “‘The coffee lady!’ An entire month, you say? Yeah, that’s impressive . . . except I’VE BEEN COMING HERE FOR ALMOST FIFTEEN YEARS.”
He’s yelling at me. A complete stranger. In public! In LA, only celebrities could get away with that shit. The reptilian part of my brain shrieks, Retreat! but the hunger part of my brain replies, Don’t you fucking dare, so I stand tall. “How come I’ve never seen you, then?” I demand.
“Probably because I spread out my visits like people are supposed to do.”
“Maybe you could spread them out farther next time,” I reply. I know I sound crazy but he doesn’t need the biscotti the way I do. He’s a local, free to move about the city, whereas I’m stuck on this one block for the foreseeable future.
“Wait.” Evelynn snaps her fingers at me. “I do remember you. Bottomless cup of coffee, no food.”
“That’s not bringing them business,” Hipster Glasses points out. “It’s taking business from them.”
“Evelynn, I’ll give you ten cents for the biscotti,” I blurt out.
“Twenty-five,” the guy interrupts.
Evelynn looks between us.
“Seventy-five,” I counter.
“The point is they’re free,” Evelynn says slowly. “Because they don’t taste very good.”
“This’ll just be for you, Evelynn,” I remark. “Under the table. No need to declare it.”
“Two dollars,” Mr. Moneybags says, pulling the cash out already. “Final offer.”
“The point is they’re free,” I protest. I can’t compete anymore. I need the two dollars for my bottomless cup of coffee.
Evelynn pulls the plate toward her.
“Great,” the guy fumes. “Now no one can have them and no one’s happy ever again!”
“Wow, okay. ‘Ever again’?”
With gloved hands, Evelynn breaks both bars of biscotti in half. She swipes two broken pieces into my open hands, and two broken pieces into his. Why did she break them in half first? Was it the only way she had of showing her anger? Was it so we’d both still get two pieces, shut our mouths, and go away? Or was she reminding us who has the power in this scenario? (Irrelevant, I know. But those are the details that make up a character. I take note of them whenever I can.)
Biscotti pieces and crumbs secure in my fist, I order a large Americano and place seventy-five cents in the tip jar since that’s what I’d bid during the auction. My cheeks feel warm and I avoid Evelynn’s gaze when she hands me my order. Dramatic Sex Hair McGee got to scurry off with his ill-gotten bounty after yelling at me, while I had to stay there and accept the annoyance pouring off Evelynn like a heat wave. I mumble a “thank you” and pivot away. I can feel her eyes on me as I walk to my large, lovely window table, and I don’t blame her. I set my coffee down and—
Are you freaking kidding me? There’s a bag on the opposite seat, the nice long bench against the window. My window.
It’s a messenger bag with a front Velcro flap, one of those bright, one-of-a-kind upcycled jobs from Switzerland or something, made up of rubber tarps and an old seat belt that goes across the shoulder and clasps at the collarbone. It’s morally superior to every other bag, which is the only reason to buy it, and now it gets my table, too. Whoever owns it is elsewhere, so I could technically . . . push the bag off the bench and pretend it fell and I never saw it. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. I look left and right and lean over with my combat boot to tip it when . . .
“That seat’s taken,” says a male voice.
I freeze, caught.
And of course, of course, it’s the asshole again. To prove his point, he moves around the other side of the table and makes a show of lifting the messenger bag off the bench and plopping it in the middle of the table.
I pick up my coffee. “All right, geez. I’m going.”
About the Authors:
Tash Skilton is the pen name of Sarvenaz Tash (author of The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love and Virtually Yours) and Sarah Skilton (author of Fame Adjacent and Club Deception), who met on Twitter and parlayed their online friendship into an IRL one. Their Guidebook to Forever Friendship includes getting each other’s ‘90s pop culture references, passionately discoursing their favorite TV shows/books/movies via email, and cheering each other on through the psychological matrix that is motherhood. They have a complicated relationship with the Internet, but will also always love it for facilitating their bi-coastal friendship (and the writing of this book).