Today I am so pleased to welcome Kris Ripper to Joyfully Jay. Kris has come to talk to us about zir latest release, The Life Revamp. Please join me in giving a big welcome!
Our eyes met. I pretend-coughed. “Let’s just say I reserve the right to revisit using you as my personal search engine. See, I don’t even know why that’s dirty, but it is.”
“Agreed. And I consent to those terms. But yes, to return to the point, you can ask me anything.”
And even that, surely casual, felt like a big responsibility. As if Diego were opening himself to me and I needed to honor that. Which I did, but also, I had questions. “I don’t want to say anything offensive, but I’m not sure how to phrase this. Definitely tell me if I get it wrong. But you don’t feel like it…cheapens your love for Claris that you can also love other people?”
He shrugged. “Not even a little. Like I don’t think it cheapens my love for one friend to love another, or that loving my sister cheapens my parents’ love for me. Love as a limited-quantity item has never made sense to me.”
“Yeah, but…isn’t that part of the…specialness of it? Of romantic love?” I wished I knew how to better express the question I’d had in the back of my head since I first agreed to meet them at the art gallery. “I don’t know, it’s just that’s how I always thought of it. As a special thing you saved for one person.”
“But people can fall in love more than once in a lifetime. And for me it’s always a little bit different. The way I felt about the first person I ever fell for is different than the way I’ll feel about the next, which is different than the way I feel about Claris.”
I couldn’t help smiling ruefully. “I believe that. I’ve only really been in love with my friend Declan. Which lasted right up until he left me at the altar.”
His eyes widened. “He didn’t.”
“He really did. Literally. All dressed up, standing there in front of this big crowd of people, our parents, our friends, everyone. I’d had this vision in my head of him pulling up in a limo, walking down the aisle with Mia, one of our besties, while I’d walked with Ronnie, another one of our besties. And the limo pulled up. The music swelled. The door opened. I saw his face.” I paused dramatically. “The door shut, the limo pulled away, and I became a jilted lover.” Diego covered his mouth with his hands and said, the words muffled, “Oh my god. I can’t believe that actually happened. Were you okay?”
“Hell no. I was devastated. And also I wanted to freaking kill him for a while.”
“I can only imagine. Or no. I can’t really imagine. You forgave him?”
People always asked that. And I understood it. But it also made me feel like they saw me as the victim in a way I didn’t really feel I had been. “I mean, yeah. But I’d been moving way too fast and gotten swept up in this super-serious lifelong-commitment thing before we were anything close to ready for it. Sure, I forgave him for hurting me. I also realized that as fucked up as it had been, it was probably better than having to get divorced later. Plus, I wanted our friends to keep being our friends, so I got over myself.”
He looked at me for a long moment. “It’s a hell of a thing to ‘get over.’”
“Well, I didn’t have much of a choice. And like I said, he was right.”
“Was it right? Or did it simply turn out all right? I think there’s an important distinction there.”
I considered it more than I would have if someone else had said it. “Maybe. It did turn out all right, though. And that’s what I prefer to focus on.”
He nodded. “Your perspective is so interesting to me.”
“Um. It is?”
“Yes. A lot of people don’t think about things from different angles, but you do.”
“I try to, anyway.” I took a sip of iced coffee. Weird that talking about Dec flipping out on our wedding day had sort of calmed my nerves. “Polyamory is all pretty new to me, or at least thinking about it in the context of me being involved is. But I’d like to…keep thinking about it. This. You. Me.”
“There is a this, though, isn’t there?” His eyebrows drew together in concern. “Or have I invented the entire thing?”
“No. I mean, no, you haven’t invented it.”
“Okay. Good. I…thought I felt something. Feel something. With you.” He cleared his throat. “It seems only fair that I let you know I am powerfully attracted to you and would like to go out on another date. This time without Claris, as much as I enjoy her company.”
“What, she’s not already waving around tickets to something else, strongly insinuating that you should invite me?”
He shook his head. “I give her three more days before she resorts to that. There have been emphatic hints as to just how I should be approaching you. Which I told her to stop because I really don’t need a dating coach.” A frown crashed over his brow like a wave, leaving his mouth curving downward. “Oh no. Mason. What if I do need a coach? What if I try to plan a date and it goes horribly awry because I’m fundamentally bad at dating? But then, what’s the alternative? Let my wife plan all my dates? I might be terrible at this.”
“I have good news and bad news,” I said, fighting off a smirk because it seemed unsporting.
“Bad news first.”
“Everyone feels terrible at dating. My friend Sidney has a whole YouTube channel about that very subject.”
He wrinkled his forehead even more. “Not helping.”
“The good news is that since everyone’s terrible at dating, everyone else is used to it?” I ended on a question mark because as the words were coming out I realized they may not, in fact, be good news.
“Unacceptable. I will not be brought down to a widespread level of terrible dating.” He lifted his glass. “I will persevere, sir!”
“Will you now.” I clinked mine against it. “I look forward to your efforts.” And damned if it wasn’t nice to see someone treating dating as an equal opportunity endeavor, and not just leaving it all up to me.
“It occurs to me that I have now set the dating bar uncomfortably high for myself,” he said after a minute. “Can I, perchance, take all that back?”
“Not even the slightest chance, no.” I raised my eyebrows at him. “Are you giving up already?”
“Don’t you even suggest it or I will call you out!”
I laughed. “Okay, okay, don’t call me out. My dueling pistols are getting polished or something.”
He looked quickly around and lowered his voice. “By god, man, don’t say that so loudly! To think you’d be at such a disadvantage!”
“Couldn’t I just…borrow your pistol?” I asked innocently.
“Why, are you asking to polish my pistol, Mason?”
“Maybe we could polish our pistols together.”
This time he laughed, and the sound of it made my chest fill with light. “Indeed, but not on our first real date. I’m not a rake.”
“Perish the thought. Also, don’t you have to pick up Claris or something?”
His eyes widened. “Oh no! What time—shoot—she’s probably—” He pulled out his phone and winced. “Yep, that’s why I should never put this on silent, oops. Gotta go!” He stood up, taking my hand and bowing over it. “Until next time, my good man.”
“Until next time.”
And then he was off. I sat there awhile longer, trying to wrap my head around it all. A date. With a married guy. Who enjoyed committed relationships so much he wanted to have more than one. Could I be someone’s second-best? That probably wasn’t how Diego (or Claris) would think of it, but how could I think of it any other way?
There was no reason to get ahead of myself. Focus on the important things: I was free to date whoever I wanted. So was he. We liked each other. We laughed together. We were communicating clearly. We had appropriate boundaries. All good so far.
And damn, that one dimple. That soft hair. Mmm.
The Life Revamp by Kris Ripper is available in trade paperback and eBook on November 30th!
All Mason wants to do is fall in love, get married and live happily ever after.
The hunt is beginning to wear him down…until he meets (slightly) famous fashion designer Diego. Everything sparks between them—the banter, the sex, the fiery eye contact across a crowded room.
There’s just one thing: Diego is already married and living his happily-ever-after, which luckily (or not) for Mason includes outside courtships.
But not quite in the way he’d always imagined.
Mason thought he knew what would make him happy, but it turns out the traditional life he’d expected has some surprises in store.
The Love Study
- Book 1: The Love Study
- Book 2: The Hate Project
- Book 3: The Life Revamp
Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.
Buy Links: Amazon
Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and zir pronouns are ze/zir. Kris shares a converted garage with a kid, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.
Find Kris Ripper Online