Today I am so pleased to welcome Lissa Reed to Joyfully Jay. Lissa has come to talk to us about her latest release, Absolutely, Almost, Perfect. She has also brought along an excerpt and a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Lissa a big welcome!
Of all the characters I have ever written – and when you’ve been writing since you were about 9 or 10 years old, that’s a lot of characters – the one that’s closest to my heart is, without a doubt, Alex Scheff from the Sucre Coeur Series. The Alex in Absolutely, Almost, Perfect is a far cry from the Alex we met in Definitely, Maybe, Yours. The Alex we met when this series kicked off was a mess. And he’d been a mess for a while, partly because of his anxiety that he didn’t know about, and partly because he’d been self-medicating himself into and through some bad choices.
But he’s in therapy now and doing really well, and his therapist thought it would be a good idea to write his younger self a letter, as a way of showing himself how far he’s come.
Dear 22-year-old Alex,
Younger Me. Hi. I don’t know how I feel about this. I mean, you’re never going to read it. This is my “therapy homework,” and it’s not like Back to the Future is a documentary. But Dr. Laborteau says it might do me some good to write this letter, so fine.
I guess that’s the first important point. You – I – we…we’re in therapy, Younger Me. And yeah, you think we don’t need it, but man…wow. We needed it a long time ago. And to be honest, it took almost throwing away something incredibly important to get here.
No. No, no, and no, I do not mean Jeff. You have no idea how much I don’t mean Jeff.
Where were we at 22? Halfway through college and two and a half years into chasing after Jeff.
Jeff was only ever supposed to be a hookup, Younger Me. One and done. A single night. Sure, he was hot. He was a model! And, okay, he was in the anthropology program, and you always had that Indiana Jones crush. But still. It was never supposed to happen again. And again. And it sure wasn’t supposed to continue, and oh, my God, you were never supposed to decide to leave a perfectly good college in Oregon to move back to Seattle to better your chances of hooking up with him more.
Oh, Younger Me. You were kind of dumb.
Okay, okay, this is why I have to write this letter, because Dr. Laborteau says I am way too hard on you, younger me.
Look. This thing with Jeff, it’s out of control. You can’t stop trying to make him want you and nobody else but you. But the thing is, it’s never going to work, Alex. He likes you, you have fun, but it’s not going to go anywhere. And you know what? It’s not worth it. He’s going to hurt you a lot. But you and those deeply hidden self-esteem issues are going to keep trying. You’re going to waste almost six years of your life on and off with Jeff.
Except it’s not a waste, Alex.
Because one night, Jeff’s going to do what you can’t and he’s going to end it.
And that same night, you’re going to meet someone. Tall, dark, handsome, British. Carries cookies in his coat pocket. He finds you at your lowest point and for some reason, he wants to talk to you anyway. He wants to get to know you. His name is Craig, and he is amazing and terrifying and everything.
I had to live through Jeff to get to Craig. I had to survive Jeff to understand what love is, and what it isn’t. And if he hadn’t dumped me, I wouldn’t have met Craig.
I have to believe it all happened the way it was supposed to. So if I could go back and change it, I wouldn’t, not a minute, not a single second, even though sometimes, it was really, really bad.
The thing is, changing even a blink of an eye might mean missing out on Craig, and hey, Younger Me – you don’t want to do that.
We’re going to England next month. Time to meet the family. We’ll survive that, too. We can survive anything.
At the sight of their joined hands, a lump grows in Alex’s throat to match the one in his stomach. “It’s just… your family…”
Silence falls again, interrupted only by Fitz tap-tap-tapping across the checkerboard linoleum of the kitchen floor and whining to be picked up. Craig scoops him up and scratches Fitz’s fuzzy little ears. “They won’t bite, Alex. They’re just…”.
“Just people, just your family, I know.” Alex’s chest tightens. “Just your mother, your father, your sisters, your brother who you don’t even like, and I guess there’s an Aunt Lorraine now, and this Chloe chick and God knows who else gathering for the Wedding of the Century, where they’ll get to meet Craig’s neurotic train wreck of a boyfriend and judge us. They’ll judge me for being an uptight, deadbeat American and you for <span class=”ItalicCharacter”>clearly </span>having some kind of episode, to decide that I was an appropriate choice for a boyfriend.”.
The lump in his throat swells and cuts him off..
Craig’s family, to Alex, is the grainy laptop-camera picture of his small, pale, sharp, smart mother Moira seen in their twice-weekly calls. They catch an occasional glimpse of Craig’s tall, lanky father Stephen with a pen tucked behind his ear and a stack of math exams in his hands as he ambles through and smiles at them. The siblings, well, none of them have showed up on any of the calls thus far, so Alex views them almost as mythological creatures or endangered animals..
They’re not real people. They’re… they’re computer people. Computer people are far away and not alarming at all. Computer people can’t judge.
Across the table, Craig holds the wedding invitation between his index fingers and uses his thumb to spin it in a lazy circle. “You’re being too hard on yourself, as usual. They’ll love you. They won’t judge you, and, for the thousandth time, you’re not a deadbeat.”
“I’m not?” Alex can’t help a snort. Sitting back, he crosses his arms over his chest. “I left a perfectly good advertising job to open a photography studio. I struggle to break even every month, let alone turn a profit. We live on beans and spaghetti and cereal because I’m bringing in half of what I used to make before we moved in together.”
Craig Oliver and Alex Scheff lead a charmed life. Craig is part owner of Sucre Coeur, the bakery he’s loved and managed for years. Alex is an up-and-coming Seattle photographer. Their relationship has been going strong for a year, and everything is absolutely perfect—right up until Craig receives a wedding invitation from his long-estranged brother.
As Craig grows tense over seeing his brother for the first time in years, Alex can’t control his anxiety over meeting Craig’s family. At the wedding in an English hamlet, boisterous Scottish mothers, smirking teenage sisters, and awkward ex-boyfriends complicate the sweet life they lead.
Lissa Reed is a writer of fiction, blogs, and bawdy Renaissance song parodies. She traces her early interest in writing back to elementary school, when a teacher gifted her with her first composition book and told her to fill it with words. After experimenting with print journalism, Reed shifted her writing focus to romance and literary ?ction and never looked back. She lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Absolutely, Almost, Perfect is the third book in her Sucre Coeur Series.
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