We are so excited to bring you this excerpt from Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan!
About Ten Rules for Faking It:
What happens when your love life becomes the talk of the town?
As birthdays go, this year’s for radio producer Everly Dean hit rock-bottom.
Worse than the “tonsillectomy birthday.” Worse than the birthday her parents decided to split (the first time). But catching your boyfriend cheating on you with his assistant?
Even clichés sting.
But this is Everly’s year! She won’t let her anxiety hold her back. She’ll pitch her podcast idea to her boss.
There’s just one problem.
Her boss, Chris, is very cute. (Of course). Also, he’s extremely distant (which means he hates her, right? Or is that the anxiety talking)?
And, Stacey the DJ didn’t mute the mic during Everly’s rant about Simon the Snake (syn: Cheating Ex).
That’s three problems.
Suddenly, people are lining up to date her, Bachelorette-style, fans are voting (Reminder: never leave house again), and her interest in Chris might be a two-way street. It’s a lot for a woman who could gold medal in people-avoidance. She’s going to have to fake it ‘till she makes it to get through all of this.
Perhaps she’ll make a list: The Ten Rules for Faking It.
Because sometimes making the rules can find you happiness when you least expect it.
Letting her gaze wander up, she felt a jolt of something she couldn’t put a name to zip through her veins. Why the hell was he looking at her like that?
“What’s going on, Chris? You’re staring. It’s making Everly nervous,” Stacey said.
Everly widened her eyes at her friend. She wasn’t wrong, but still. “I’m fine.”
Chris looked over at Stacey and smiled. When his gaze re- turned to Everly, he sighed. Ahhh, Everly Dean. Making men everywhere sigh in frustration.
Rubbing a hand over his face, he moved back behind his desk. This time, when he met Everly’s gaze, there was the fa- miliar layer of detachment. Cool professionalism.
“Sorry about that, Ms. Dean. I haven’t had much sleep.”
Seriously? The man brought her chocolate pie and now they were back to last names? And not even in the cool jock- style way. Everly shared a “what the heck?” glance with Stacey, who shrugged.
“No harm, Mr. Jansen.”
Stacey snorted. “Jesus. You did not wake me up at the crack of stupid so I could witness you being weird. What are we doing here?”
Chris took a deep breath, and Everly realized that he was nervous. Which was incredibly strange and had the added bo- nus of making her feel more of the same.
“We’ve had over a thousand phone calls in the last two days, regarding your . . . incident,” he told Everly.
There were only so many times she could sink into a pit of
shame. Not your fault. None of it was on you. That didn’t make the mental replays of each of the events feel any better.
“I’m calling it the Unfortunate Incident in my head,” she said. Did you need to tell him that? “Sorry.”
Chris’s lips twitched. He waved a hand and then folded both of his on his desktop. “Please, don’t apologize. People are livid on your behalf. Our email got so overloaded, the server crashed.”
Everly winced. “I heard. Also, I can’t log on to the email.” “I changed the password,” Chris said.
Everly frowned. “What? Why?” He didn’t think she could do her job.
“There was a lot of correspondence, and I figured you didn’t need to read through all of it.”
“It’s my job,” she said, stiffening.
His gaze was . . . assessing. Like he was measuring her for something she didn’t know about. “It’s my job, as station man- ager, to step in when I see fit. To make decisions on behalf of my staff and this station.”
She nodded, feeling chastised.
“None of this is her fault,” Stacey said.
Chris leaned back like he was growing more comfortable with the conversation as Everly went in the opposite direction. “I didn’t say it was. But here’s the thing . . . your show hasn’t been producing the numbers we need. Then there was”—his lips curving up—“the Unfortunate Incident. Listeners are in- vested. You wouldn’t believe some of the messages and emails.
Some have offered to take care of Simon for you.” “Hell, I offered to do that,” Stacey interrupted. Everly glared at her. Now wasn’t the time for jokes.
Chris carried on, looking directly into Everly’s eyes. “Others have sons or nephews they’d like to introduce you to. Several men called the station to tell you they’d be happy to go on a date with you anytime. Some people left irate messages about fidelity and loyalty. There were over two hundred calls just to wish you a happy birthday.”
Everly felt her face flame. Chris got up quickly and moved to sit on the edge of his desk, directly in front of them. The rest of Everly heated up inexplicably.
Stacey, however, bounced in her seat. “Wow. That’s wicked cool.”
When she looked at Everly expectantly, Everly could only shrug because she wasn’t sure which part was cool. She didn’t want anyone to take care of anything—she realized this morn- ing that she couldn’t have been all that invested if her heart didn’t even feel bruised from the breakup. Her pride had been knocked around, but that was different. She also didn’t want to meet any of their listeners’ sons or nephews out of misguided pity. If she said yes to that kind of arrangement, her dad would be all over setting her up with “a stand-up man” from his law firm. No, thank you. Though the idea that so many people ral- lied on her behalf was, as Stacey said, wicked cool. And interest- ing. They worked their butts off to gain an audience and higher ratings. One unforeseen mishap and now they were popular? She could get her own dates. But you’ve already acknowledged you need to branch out. Try something new. Suddenly, pitching the podcast seemed like child’s play in comparison to where she thought this was headed. Also, she didn’t need birthday wishes from strangers, but that part was also kind of sweet.
Chris blew out a hard breath like he was bracing for some- thing, and that’s when Everly’s nerves really bit into her skin. He was going somewhere with this.
“The owner of the station wants your segment—wants both of you—cut.”
Everything slowed down, and she felt like she was watching from afar, seeing her own jaw drop, feeling the panic coursing through her, easy to see on her face. Beside her, Stacey blinked rapidly.
One hand gripped the edge of his desk, but he held up the other, and his words came out hurried. “Let me just tell you what I’m thinking before either of you freak out.” Clearly, they
both looked like freaking out was a possibility. “I told him I think it’s the wrong move, but he brought up the numbers, the low audience, and he jumped all over the dead air like he was waiting for another reason. I’ve been here all night because I have an idea that I think will not only blow the ratings through the roof but possibly secure you the coveted morning spot.”
Rule five was being dropped in their lap. You’d have lever- age to pitch the podcast. Her heart was beating too hard in her ears for her to fully process what he was saying.
“You want to fire me over fifteen seconds of dead air?” Sta- cey’s voice went hard.
Chris shook his head. “No. I don’t. I’m not going to. Hon- estly, it’s not about that. It’s the owner looking for an excuse. I have an idea that’ll put you both on the map and make it so you can ask for the moon.”
Everly breathed in and out slowly, tapping her fingers against her thigh. Index, middle, ring, pinkie, back. Repeat. “I don’t want to be on the map, and I don’t want the moon. I just want to do my job.”
Chris turned his body so it felt like the two of them were in an intimate and private conversation. Like the space between them diminished into nothing. Her stomach flipped like a fish out of water.
“I know, Everly. But the bottom line is, we have to do some- thing. I think both of you are great, but unless we come up with something, he’s going to use the other day as an excuse to can you both.”
“He can’t do that,” Stacey said, crossing her arms over her chest, glaring down her nose at him.
“When you guys signed the new contract, it explicitly stated that he could. For the betterment of the station, numbers, or listener enjoyment. He’s a businessman. His bottom line is money.”
Of course it was. That was the whole point of owning a business—to profit. She understood that; it’s where the line “It
isn’t personal” stemmed from. She and Stacey were nobodies.
Not to Chris. He’s got an idea to avoid this.
Chris’s eyes darkened, darted away, and then back. “Now, will you hear me out?”
Stacey leaned around Chris to catch Everly’s hand. “Breathe, babe. Let’s just see what he’s proposing, and if we don’t like it, we’ll go and see how he does covering the spot this morning on his own.”
Knowing her friend was trying to lighten the mood, Everly forced a small smile, but it didn’t settle anything inside of her chest.
“Everly?” Chris looked at her with so much concern, she lost her words for a moment. “Will you hear me out?” That was the second time he’d used her name and both times lowered her defenses, tumbled the wall he usually put between them.
She blinked as she gnawed on the inside of her cheek. Did she really have a choice? You always have a choice. She was go- ing to have to add to her list or maybe just put an asterisk at the bottom: Have a backup plan. For everything.
EXCERPTED FROM TEN RULES FOR FAKING IT BY SOPHIE SULLIVAN, PERMISSION OF ST. MARTIN’S GRIFFIN.
About the Author:
Sophie Sullivan is a Canadian author as well as a cookie-eating, Diet Pepsi-drinking, Disney enthusiast who loves reading and writing romance in almost equal measure. She writes around her day job as a teacher and spends her spare time with her sweet family watching reruns of Friends. Ten Rules For Faking It is her romcom debut novel, but she’s had plenty of practice writing happily ever after as her alter ego, Jody Holford. Visit her at www.jodyholford.com, or @SophieSWrites.