Practically Perfect Heroes Series…Two Long-Awaited Sweet Contemporaries from the
author of “Tempting Jonah,” Nancy Goldberg Levine
Book 1 — Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny…Cab driver and part-time musician Jay Galloway has decided that he’s going to be a bachelor for the rest of his life until he gets a flier for Reese Elliott’s T-shirt company and decides to place an order for shirts for his band. T-shirt designer Reese Elliott doesn’t need a man in her life. She has enough problems taking care of her dad, who’s in the early stages of dementia, and thinks every guy she meets will run off as soon as he meets her dad. Suddenly, Reese and Jay are engaged. Jay turned the meter off, and he’s not driving away…
Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny
Book One in the “Practically Perfect Heroes” Series
By Nancy Goldberg Levine
Chapter One (Excerpt)
“That’s it!” Jay Galloway said, throwing his car keys on the kitchen table of the small brown-sided ranch house that he shared with his younger sister. “I’ve had it. No more dates! I’m gonna be a bachelor for the rest of my life!” The keys and the leather key ring made a thud on the table, startling Lorrie.
She sat there in her striped pajamas, fluffy white bathrobe and terry cloth slippers, putting down the shoe catalogue she’d clearly been looking at. “Another bad date?”
“Hey, didn’t you just buy shoes at the mall last week?”
“Those were boots. They were on sale. These are new shoes for spring.” She picked up the catalogue again and turned to one of the pages. “What do you think of…”
“Lorrie, the only thing I know about womens’ shoes are that all the women I’ve gone out with, including my ex-wife, wear them so they can run from me. I’m tired of being Jay Gal-away.”
Lorrie laughed. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to laugh at you, but that was pretty funny. Don’t worry. You’ll find somebody, or you’ll find each other. You have to be ready for everything.”
Jay’s two American bulldogs, Bulldog and Barks, rushed in to greet him. He leaned down to pet the dogs. “Hey, guys. You never let me down. We men have to stick together, right?” The brown and white bulldogs looked at him, but Jay could tell they were hungry.
“We family members have to stick together,” Lorrie said. “Just because Bulldog and Barks are men, and I’m not, doesn’t mean you have to leave me out of the equation. I’m so hurt.”
She pretended to cry, and Jay put his arm around her. “Sorry, Sis. You’re right. We’re all family here, and I’m telling all of you now, I’m through with romance.”
“You just haven’t found the right person. You will, though.”
“I doubt it,” Jay said, taking a glass with oranges, lemons and limes painted on it from the oak kitchen cabinet. He took some orange drink from the fridge and poured it into the glass. He liked grape soda and cherry cola, too, but he took the orange drink since he located it first. “Do I need to remind you of all my bad dates? There was Melissa…”
“Don’t call her by her name,” Lorrie said. “She’s…”
“You-Know-Who,” Jay said, remembering how much his sister loved all of the Harry Potter books, and how she considered the lying Melissa a villain as bad as the dude in those stories. “She lied to me so I’d marry her and it turned out she wasn’t pregnant. Then there was Peyton. I asked her to marry me, and she laughed. She wanted to see the world, and I’d seen enough of it in the army, so I was happy to stay right here in Cincinnati.”
He tried to forget about Destiny, a recent romance. They’d been pretty serious, too, but her parents had convinced her that he wasn’t good enough. He wisely decided not to mention her, or the girl he’d had a few dates with after that, Honey. “Then there was the one you fixed me up with, Edie. She didn’t like it because I called her honey, even though she called me sugar.”
“Excuse me for trying to set you up with a cute nurse from the nursing home.” Lorrie worked at Wellstone Village as a beautician. “I guess that was a mistake. I should’ve trusted my instincts because I think Vel would have been better for you.”
“Vel? What kind of a name is that?”
“It’s short for Velvet. Don’t blame her because of what her parents named her, Junior.”
“It could be worse. Mom and Dad could’ve named you Lorrie Galloway, Junior.”
“That wouldn’t make any sense since Mom’s name wasn’t Lorrie.”
Jay shrugged. “I guess not. Ilene didn’t like my sense of humor, especially about her name because I said it should be Ilene Dover.”
He didn’t miss Lorrie’s bright smile.
“But tonight’s date took the cake. Or she wanted me to give her the cake recipes. She asked me out, but she was just using me to find out what recipes Nancy Moskowitz is using in the Miss Molly’s/Nutsie Nan’s Café Bake-Off.”
“You went out with your friend’s competition?”
“Yeah, and I’m sorry I did. I didn’t go out with Miss Molly. This woman, Janey, just works at the restaurant. Miss Molly’s food isn’t that good, and the only reason I went there in the first place was because her restaurant’s open at five when I start work and I’m out driving around.”
Jay was a cab driver for the Orient Cab Company by day, and played in a band, Jay & the Cincinnatians, on the weekends. His band-mates were also cab drivers. “From now on, I’ll either have to go to Bobbi’s Donut Shoppe in Covington when I take my friend, Dina, to work or to McDonald’s.”
“You’d better make sure you tell Nancy what you did and that you’re sorry.”
“According to her, being her friend means never having to say you’re sorry especially if you’re me.”
“Well, she might let you get away with murder, but you’d better say it anyway.” Lorrie took her shoe catalogue and went into her bedroom, leaving Jay alone to think about his dating disasters.
He sat down at the round oak table, and looked at the rest of the mail. Gas and electric bill, phone bill, cable; those guys got paid too much anyway. He thumbed through his car parts catalogue, and put aside another glossy shoe magazine for Lorrie. He knew he shouldn’t have teased Lorrie about the shoes; when they were growing up, they’d both had to wear second hand clothes because their parents had more love than money. Now if either of them had some extra cash, they bought something they liked. Lorrie had purchased the glasses with the fruit painted on them one time, but she had a thing for shoes.
Trying to forget about the fact that the only good women left in Cincinnati were either married, engaged, or a friend or relative, Jay perused the flier for T-shirts at the bottom of the small pile of mail. Moonlight flickered in through the kitchen window, where Lorrie had herbs like basil and parsley growing in pots. The cheerful red and yellow rooster curtains blew in the evening breeze.
There were pictures of different designs of T-shirts for all kinds of hobbies from baseball to bowling. Then there were pictures of family reunion T-shirts. The company made embroidered baseball caps, too.
Tasteful T-shirts, the ad read. Call Reese Elliott for all of your personalized T-shirt needs at 859-555-7160.
Jay had been thinking about having some T-shirts made for him and the band to wear. Maybe he could get some extra ones to sell with the CDs, or have a promotion to give some away. He decided to give this Reese person a call the next day, and forget about tonight’s date.
Reese Elliott heard the phone ring from outside her office. She rushed in, but by the time she got there, her dad had already picked it up.
“City Morgue. You stab ‘em, we slab ‘em.”
God bless America, Reese thought, although a much stronger phrase crossed her mind. Her dad sat in one of the desk chairs, next to her drafting table. She tried to get the phone from him, but he hung onto it like a lifeline as he leaned back in the chair. Looking at him, she saw the lines and wrinkles in his face. For years he had been her inspiration, and her hero. Now that he was in the early stages of dementia, it was time for her to take care of him. The only relatives she had left were her mom’s sister, Aunt Suzanna, and her kids, Reese’s cousins. She and her dad only saw Aunt Suzanna at sad occasions, like funerals. Her mom’s family hadn’t wanted her to marry her dad because he was twenty years older, and ran a bowling alley for a living. Everything fell on Reese’s shoulders, but she was glad to be able to help her father.
She’d started her business, Tasteful T-shirts, so she could be close enough to him if anything happened, and had moved him from his apartment to her condo.
“No. I’m not Reese Elliott,” her dad said to whoever was on the phone. “Who are you, and what do you want with my daughter? T-shirts? She doesn’t sell any T-shirts. She’s only sixteen.”
“Dad…” Reese said, looking into his confused eyes. “I’m thirty-six. I have a business.” She kept her tone low and even and, she hoped, patient.
“Oh. That’s right. I’m…” With a sigh, he handed her the telephone.
“Tasteful T-shirts. Reese Elliott speaking. How may I help you?”
“I think you need a new receptionist.” The voice on the other end of the line was low and sexy. Just what she needed. Another guy in her life. She had enough problems with the one sitting at her drafting table.
“My receptionist is out to lunch.” Translation: I don’t have a receptionist. I went out to get lunch. I left my dad alone with my co-worker for five minutes and look what happened. “That was my dad. He…uh…likes to joke around with the callers, and it’s getting a little out of hand.”
“It was pretty funny,” the guy said, with a low, smooth chuckle. “Anyway, I’m Jay Galloway, and I have a band, Jay & the Cincinnatians. Maybe you’ve heard of us? We play at some of the clubs around town, and we just put out our second CD?”
“I have to admit, I’ve never heard of you, but I don’t get out much. So how may I help you, Jay?”
“I’m thinking of having some T-shirts made that the band can wear at our concerts, and then some that I can sell or give away to our five fans.” He laughed again. “I guess we have more than five fans, y’know?”
“I’m sure you do,” Reese said. She liked this guy, and she didn’t want to. She did not need another man in her life, especially one who’d run away as soon as he met her dad. When the dementia had started, her ex-husband, Mickey Lee, had walked out. But this was a business call; he wasn’t asking for a date, thank goodness. “I think I can be of assistance.” She said the formal sentence in a light-hearted tone.
“Good. I need all the help I can get.”
“Well, what I’d like to do is meet you…” Translation: And see who owns that smooth voice. “and the rest of the band and make some sketches for any designs I might have. Then we can go over them and you can decide which ones you like. If you like any of them, that is.”
“I’ve got a feeling I will. Let me check my schedule.” He’d picked up on her jovial air, and was talking the same way. She got the idea that there wasn’t any schedule, or if there was, it was fairly limited.
“We’ve got the Battle of the Bands coming up at The Point next Saturday. Maybe I can meet you there and introduce you to the rest of the band. Then you can watch us beat Kevin’s Prophets. Do you know where The Point’s at?”
She didn’t, and she’d never heard of Kevin’s Prophets either. Jay gave her directions unlike anything she’d ever seen from a GPS. He even told her what buildings were around The Point, and what the club itself looked like from the outside. “How do you know so much about getting around Cincinnati?”
“I’m a cab driver during the day, and I play in my band on the weekends.”
“Ah. The mystery is solved.”
“Well, it was nice talking to you, Jay, and I’ll see you at The Point on Saturday.”
“Okay. I’ll see you then.”
“Who the hell was that?” Reese’s dad asked.
“Jay Galloway. He’s a cab driver and he has a band. I’m going to design some T-shirts for them. I have a meeting with him next week. He sounds sexy.” Now what had possessed her to say that, and to her dad, no less?
“Girl, don’t you start getting romantic notions just because the guy’s a smooth talker. Don’t forget what happened with Mickey Lee.”
Reese gave her dad a hug. Even with his illness, he still knew just the right
thing to say. She reminded herself that this was a business meeting; nothing more.
Book 2 — Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless…At her brother’s wedding, beautician Lorrie Galloway blurts out her undying love for paralegal Scotty Caldwell, her brother’s best friend. Scotty never saw the evidence coming. Once he gets used to the idea, he has to present his opening arguments and convince Lorrie that he really loves her. When his parents arrive from Miami and find Scotty and Lorrie kissing, his dad brings up old issues and insists that Scotty marry Lorrie…immediately. Can he patch things up with his dad and win Lorrie’s heart before her closing arguments lose his case for him?
Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless
Book 2 in the Practically Perfect Heroes Series
By Nancy Goldberg Levine
Chapter One (Excerpt)
Murphy’s Law certainly applied to weddings, especially in the Galloway family. Lorrie Galloway should have known how the day was going to go when she heard her brother singing “I’m Getting Married in the Morning” in the shower. He had a great voice, but that was the worst British accent impersonation she’d ever heard. The day just kept getting better, Lorrie thought sarcastically. She saw Reese and the maid of honor, chatting and giggling together and had the feeling they were talking about her. She’d known Reese for a while, though, and she didn’t think her brother’s fiancé would make fun of her. She didn’t know Mallory Gideon, however, and didn’t like what she saw. Mallory was tall and slender with a crown of perfectly straight black hair that fell down her shoulders. She didn’t have Lorrie’s “virgin ears.” And she had her eye on the best man, her brother’s best friend, Scotty Caldwell. Scotty had no idea Lorrie was alive. She knew that was a cliché, but it was true. Lorrie, Scotty and Jay had been friends since they were kids growing up together in Deer Park. Jay and Scotty looked out for her, but Scotty didn’t realize that she’d had a crush on him since she was fifteen years old. “Your bridegroom’s best man is hot,” Mallory said, slipping a pair of pale green slides onto her feet. She’d been walking around the dressing room at the church bare-footed before. “What’s his story?” Lorrie’s future sister-in-law, Reese Elliott, stared at her friend as if to say “Well, duu-uuhhh.” She had the feeling that even Reese knew her feelings for Scotty. Jay had probably told her. “I think he’s…seeing someone.” “Too bad,” Mallory said. “That boy is fine. Our bodies would be in perfect proportion for having sex, if you know what I mean. And his hair is so nice and wavy. Just perfect.” “Thanks for sharing that visual,” Lorrie muttered, going to the door to answer it when she heard a knock. She looked up and straight into the eyes of the object of Mallory’s horniness, Scotty Caldwell. Mallory was right; Scotty was a fine-looking man, with light brown hair and merry blue eyes. His eyes weren’t twinkling right then, though. “Scotty? What are you doing here? We’re all trying to get dressed. Jay isn’t with you, is he?” “No,” Scotty said. “There’s a problem.” He spoke in a whisper, but Lorrie even found that sexy. He’d been born in New York, and had moved to Ohio when he was about five. He still had the accent. The man knew how to make her act like a blithering idiot. Everyone around him was aware of Scotty’s effect on her…except Scotty. “Reverend Thomas is sick. Reese is trying to find somebody else, but she’s having trouble. I called my boss, Judge Sherman, and I’m waiting to hear back from him. He might be able to officiate.” “I hope you can get ahold of him, Scotty. It’s a good thing you didn’t bring Jay in here with you. It’s bad luck for the bride to see the groom before the wedding.” Mallory sidled up next to Scotty and looked down at Lorrie’s 5’2” frame. “That’s just an old wives tale.” Lorrie saw her bat her black eyelashes at Scotty. “I hope you can reach the judge, too. Maybe he can make it a double wedding, but I’m really not looking for a commitment. How about a little pre-marital make-out session between the maid of honor and best man, Mr. Tall, Fair and Handsome?” What a slut! Lorrie thought, keeping that to herself. She didn’t need to alienate her future sister-in-law just an hour before the wedding. “Sorry,” Scotty said. “I’ve got to…” His cell phone beeped. “Hello? Hi, Judge Sherman. Thanks. Thanks, so much, man. Okay. See you then.” He hung up, and smiled at Lorrie and unfortunately, at Mallory. “Judge Sherman will be here within the hour.” “Crisis averted,” Lorrie said, putting a hand to her forehead. “Whew!” “I’d better go tell Jay.” “Okay.” He seemed reluctant to leave, Lorrie thought. She didn’t want him to go either. And she certainly didn’t want to stand there in this dressing room, making small talk with Reese’s maid of honor and bridesmaids. ‘”What’s going on out there?” Reese asked, adjusting her veil one last time. Lorrie thought she looked beautiful. She was thrilled to be getting Reese Elliott as her sister-in-law, but less than happy with her maid of honor. She didn’t have a problem with the other two bridesmaids, just Mallory. “Reverend Thomas is sick, but Scotty’s getting his boss to officiate. He’s a judge, you know, and Scotty works for him as a paralegal.” “And he’s very, very cute,” Mallory added, although no one had asked for her opinion. She was right about Scotty, though. Another knock at the door sent Lorrie running. “Hi, Mr. Elliott,” she said, when she saw Reese’s father, who looked very dapper but uncomfortable in his tuxedo. He wore a white carnation in his lapel, and Lorrie couldn’t help but wish her and Jay’s mom and dad could have been there to see the wedding. “Reese, there’s some judge dude out there looking for you. I guess it’s time for the wedding.” Lucas Elliott was in the early stages of dementia, and after Reese and Jay got married, Lorrie, Reese’s dad, she and her brother would all be living together under the same roof. That was the plan until Jay and Reese found another place. “Okay, Dad. I’m ready.” She smiled at her bridesmaids and at Mallory, who didn’t deserve anything nice. “Are you all set for the insanity…I mean…the wedding to start?” “I’m ready, willing and able, especially if it involves the hunkalicous Scotty,” Mallory said. The two other bridesmaids looked at Mallory like she was crazy. Lorrie rolled her eyes and said, “Let’s go.” As she walked down the hallway toward the sanctuary, she thought maybe she was hearing things. When she looked, she saw her and Jay’s two bulldogs, Bulldog and Barks, sitting in chairs in the chapel. She rushed down to talk to Scotty, who looked like he was trying to keep them from walking down the aisle with the bridal party. “How did they…” she started to ask. Scotty shrugged his broad shoulders. “I think they’ll be okay. Your cousins, Gigi and Glenn, promised to watch them to make sure, though. How did I know they’d follow me to the church and come inside? Jay’s got those guys trained. He sent them to obedience school and everything.” Lorrie thought Bulldog and Barks were well-trained, but who knew? If somebody did one stupid thing, and it looked like an afternoon of more crazy stuff ahead, Bulldog and Barks might make a run for the lectern, where Judge Sherman stood. “I hope nothing else bad happens.” “Well, I might take Reese’s friend up on her kind offer since she seems so anxious to make out,” Scotty said. “And you’re not available.” What? Wait a second. Had he just said…? “Damn it, Scotty!” She didn’t usually use that kind of language, but the words started flying out of her mouth before she could stop them. “Don’t you know that I love you?” Practically Perfect Heroes Series…Two Long-Awaited Sweet Contemporaries from the author of “Tempting Jonah,” Nancy Goldberg Levine Book 1 — Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny…Cab driver and part-time musician Jay Galloway has decided that he’s going to be a bachelor for the rest of his life until he gets a flier for Reese Elliott’s T-shirt company and decides to place an order for shirts for his band. T-shirt designer Reese Elliott doesn’t need a man in her life. She has enough problems taking care of her dad, who’s in the early stages of dementia, and thinks every guy she meets will run off as soon as he meets her dad. Suddenly, Reese and Jay are engaged. Jay turned the meter off, and he’s not driving away… Book 2 — Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless…At her brother’s wedding, beautician Lorrie Galloway blurts out her undying love for paralegal Scotty Caldwell, her brother’s best friend. Scotty never saw the evidence coming. Once he gets used to the idea, he has to present his opening arguments and convince Lorrie that he really loves her. When his parents arrive from Miami and find Scotty and Lorrie kissing, his dad brings up old issues and insists that Scotty marry Lorrie…immediately. Can he patch things up with his dad and win Lorrie’s heart before her closing arguments lose his case for him?