Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Andi Van for stopping by today.
Title: Starting With the Unexpected
Author: Andi Van
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: LC Chase
Zachary Blaise is having a weird week—even by his standards. Though he’s gay, the radio personality has been dumped via text by a girl named Marian—and he’s never even met her. On top of that, he’s developed a massive crush on Marcus, the new waiter at his favorite diner. His best friend thinks the whole thing is hilarious.
Marcus’s week hasn’t been his best either. He’s been betrayed by those closest to him, and although he isn’t the guilty party, Marcus is the one getting harassed.
Impossibly, things are about to get even weirder. Marian has secrets, and those secrets are going to make some serious ripples in Zach’s life. When he discovers that the girl called Marian is actually the man named Marcus, Zach stumbles down a rabbit hole of abusive ex-boyfriends, psychotic relatives, and revelations from his own past. If he can survive the chaos, the journey might prove worth the effort.
For the release of Starting With the Unexpected, I have a 5-part story starring Zach, Marcus, and Zach’s best friend Jordan. No spoilers, I promise, aside from Zach and Marcus being together which…really isn’t a spoiler. It’s kind of a given. Anyway, there will be a new part at each stop of the blog tour this week. Tomorrow I’ll be at 3 Chicks After Dark, and you can see the entire schedule (with links when available) at http://andivan.com/?p=457.
Anticipated Chaos [Part One]
I swear to God there are some mornings that make me wonder if I’m the only sane person on the planet. Seriously.
For instance, Marcus and I had gone with Jordan to pick up the papers for his deliveries that morning, only to come across one of the other carriers having sex in their VW Beetle. Their convertible Beetle. With the top down. Keep in mind the parking lot that distribution takes place in is crowded as hell when people are picking up their bundles.
“Wow, she’s flexible,” Marcus said casually as he looked out the window from the back seat of Jordan’s SUV, where he and I were curled up together as we waited. This was the first morning he’d gone with Jordan and I to pick up, and it would be the first morning he went with us to deliver. He was getting a hell of an initiation.
“Why are you even watching?” I asked him, despite the fact that I couldn’t look away either. It was like a train wreck. “You aren’t remotely interested in women.”
“Hell, I’m interested in women and I still feel like I need to go buy a bottle of brain bleach,” Jordan remarked with a shudder from the front seat, his eyes also held hostage by morbid fascination. “She just had her seventieth birthday. She introduced her grandkids to me last week.”
Marcus frowned and thumped Jordan’s headrest. “Hey, senior citizens have needs too.”
“They don’t need to take care of them in crowded parking lots for everyone to see,” I argued. I agreed with Jordan, I was going to need a bottle of brain bleach. Or at least several stiff drinks. “No one does. Is the guy with her even legal?”
I heard Marcus sputter a laugh, but I couldn’t seem to drag my eyes away to look at my boyfriend. “He’s a dishwasher at the diner,” he managed to say. “He’s in his second year of college.”
“To each their own, I suppose,” Jordan muttered. “And to be fair, she doesn’t look too far out of her forties.”
“Next time you work with him, tell him he might want to do a little manscaping before the next time he has sex in public with his very own GILF.”
Jordan laughed so hard at that he almost choked, but Marcus just shook his head. “Oh hell no,” he told me. “The next time I work with him, I’ll text you, and you can come in and tell him. There’s no way I’m bringing this up.”
There was a moan and a wail and a shout that might have been a dirty old lady yelling something about her nether regions that I was glad I couldn’t understand clearly from inside the vehicle. The parking lot was in complete silence for a moment, and then the applause started.
Well of COURSE we joined in the applause. It would have been rude not to.
When the noise died down, I was relieved to see that the line of waiting vehicles had begun to crawl forward again – everything had come to a standstill when the vehicular arcrobatics had started.
“Does this sort of thing happen a lot?” Marcus asked after several minutes of silence.
“We’ve seen worse,” Jordan and I answered promptly.
“There was the orgy at the house in the country club that spilled into their courtyard,” Jordan added.
“Right,” I said with a nod. “Even better, it was one of the houses that requests porch delivery, where you have to actually get out and put the paper by their door. We couldn’t see the courtyard from the car, but man was Jordan green when he came back.”
“I will never look at wine bottles the same way again,” Jordan said solemnly.
Marcus stared at me with wide eyes, and I gave him a reassuring grin. “Don’t worry,” I told him. “This morning will be fun. You’ll see.”
FUCKING CHEATING bastard.
The shit you had here is in boxes next to the dumpster.
If you don’t fucking get it, the garbage men will.
Hope my skanky whore of a sister was worth it, jackass.
Fuck off and die.
I sat there staring at my phone as the text messages flashed up in rapid-fire style, and it’s safe to say I was feeling somewhat perplexed. I wasn’t dating anyone, let alone anyone at the number I didn’t recognize, and I certainly wouldn’t have been sleeping with someone’s sister. Ew.
When the shock wore off, I thought about it for a moment, shrugged, and started a reply. If nothing else, the poor girl needed to know her ex had no idea his things had been left by the dumpster. She was far more polite than I would have been in the same circumstances—I would have left his things in the dumpster and made him crawl in after them.
Pretty sure you’ve got a wrong number, hon. The last thing I want to do is sleep with someone’s sister.
Wanted to let you know, so your ex doesn’t give you grief about his shit.
Either that or I’m being dumped by someone I had no idea I was in a relationship with.
I can’t decide whether that would make me awesome or pathetic, to be honest.
I hope the cheating bastard and your skanky whore sister give each other crabs.
“I suppose this means I’ve done my good deed for the day,” I mumbled to myself as I tucked my phone back in my pocket. It was kind of a weird good deed, but a good deed nonetheless.
“What’s that?” my housemate and best friend Jordan Walker asked as he joined me in the living room.
“I just got dumped,” I told him. “By a girl. Apparently I cheated on her with her sister.”
Jordan gave me that indescribable look he always gave me when I said something that completely confused him. It was hilarious, really. It was also part of his charm, much like his ability to belch the entire alphabet in one go. “What the fuck?”
I tossed my phone to him so he could read the messages for himself. “Wrong number texts,” I told him. “I feel kind of bad for her, to be completely honest.”
Jordan scanned through the messages, shaking his head as he did. “She handled it better than I would have. I would have torched his shit in a massive bonfire. I mean, think about it, it’s perfect timing. A bonfire to start off the new year would be awesome.”
“That’s just because you had so much fun doing it when Tyler dumped me,” I told him with a grin. Tyler had dumped me nearly six years before, in a painfully public way that I’d prefer to forget but had never really been able to. That night, while I was sobbing on Jordan’s shoulder, Tyler was fucking someone Jordan and I had been good friends with. Obviously we weren’t friends with him anymore. When Jordan and I got home from that ill-fated weekend, we’d bundled up the few things that Tyler had left in the apartment Jordan and I shared at the time and had taken them to the beach as bonfire fodder. Granted, it hadn’t been the middle of winter when we did it, but it was still quite satisfying.
“Well, her number’s local,” Jeff said as he tapped my phone against his chin. “If she really does live nearby, we could offer to burn the shit for her.”
“You’re just hoping she’s cute and looking for a rebound,” I shot back and got a grin in response. I sighed and grabbed my phone from him. “Fine, I’ll at least tell her you said she ought to burn the stuff. Maybe it’ll make her smile.” Like I said, I felt bad for her. I’d been in that sort of situation, and the only thing that had kept me sane was Jordan’s weird sense of humor. “Don’t think this means that I’m going to try and get her to hook up with you, though. The poor girl’s obviously devastated.”
My roommate says you should just torch your ex’s shit in a massive bonfire, by the way.
He offered to do it for you, but I think he’s just hoping you’re cute and on the rebound.
Or possibly he just wants an excuse to roast marshmallows. I can never tell with him.
“Happy now?” I called after Jordan, who’d headed into the kitchen.
“I’d be happier if I didn’t have to go to work,” he answered. “You still feel like helping tomorrow night?”
“Sure. You still buying breakfast afterward?”
“Yeah. Looks like I’m also buying pizza right now,” Jordan said as he came back out of the kitchen, frowning. “Nothing in the fridge. Want to split an order?”
“No olives on my half,” I reminded him, like I did every time we ordered pizza. Maybe I thought he’d forget between orders or something, despite the fact that we’d basically grown up together. “I’ll pay for the pizza. I’ll even go grocery shopping tonight if you want.”
Jordan came back into the living room, dropped onto the couch next to me, and rested his head on my shoulder. When I glanced down at him, he fluttered his eyelashes at me. “Best housemate ever. Doesn’t steal my girlfriends, keeps me company at work, and does the grocery shopping. If I were at all interested in men, I’d marry you.”
“Uh, no,” I said, smothering a grin. “Because that would mean I’d have to have sex with you. Just…. No. Ew.” I already teased him about how he was my mom’s favorite son. It would’ve been like having sex with a sibling or something.
“Yeah, okay, that’d be a bit too much like incest,” Jordan agreed.
“Right. So order us some pizza like a good boy and quit grossing me out.”
Before he could say something smart back to me, my phone started to chime. Jordan practically pounced me to get at it, and I ended up with a lap full of roommate. “Is it her?”
“Good lord,” I sighed, pushing him off me. “Seriously, she just got dumped. Don’t be such a dog.” I held my phone out of his reach and glared at him. “Pizza. Go. Now.”
“You’re no fun anymore,” Jordan grumbled, heading back to the kitchen where he would likely dig through the latest specials from our favorite pizza place. When I was sure he was occupied, I read the messages.
I’d say awesome and not pathetic.
You guys have made me smile for the first time in over 24 hours. Thank you.
So sorry you got blindsided by my rage texts. Thanks for letting me know and for having a sense of humor.
Tell your roomie I’m flattered but not looking. Roasted marshmallows sound good though.
We’d made someone with a broken heart smile. Mission accomplished.
By the time Jordan and I had polished off our pizza, written down a shopping list, watched an extremely bad and unintentionally hilarious movie involving sharks, and said good night when Jordan left for work, the heartbroken girl was forgotten.
Little did I know that she wouldn’t stay forgotten for long. Those wrong number texts were about to make some big ripples in my life.
DESPITE THE popular trend to automate radio stations, the tiny one I worked for couldn’t manage that. Some days I was amazed we were on the air at all. Because we were so small and underequipped, the morning show had to be recorded live during drive time, which meant my workday started around three in the morning. This also meant that, during one broadcast when my cohost was feeling particularly evil, there had been no way for me to stop our entire audience from hearing her play a recording of me singing “Material Girl” at the top of my lungs after a night that involved far too much alcohol. Obviously there was a downside to recording live.
On the plus side, she’d refrained from sharing my rendition of Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together” from the same evening, so that was something.
The odd hours made Sunday nights particularly difficult for me, though it helped that Jordan basically had the same schedule I did. Unfortunately he also had the same propensity to stay up far too late on my days off, despite the fact that he worked seven days a week.
When I stumbled into the station carrying two cups of liquid caffeine, my evil bitch cohost—who I adored, incidentally—was waiting for me.
“You look like shit,” Kat said gleefully as she took the caramel-mocha-whatever she always made me get her.
“I love you too,” I growled. “Got anything interesting to talk about this morning?”
Research into local news, current events, and interesting bits we thought the listeners would enjoy took up a good portion of our working hours. As much as I would have liked to have been able to tell people we made everything up on the fly, it just wasn’t true. We spent a lot of time throwing ideas back and forth, writing out notes, and scripting funny bits that we thought we really ought to have scripted. I was just grateful we no longer had to run the content of the show by our boss.
“A couple of things,” Kat answered. “How was your weekend?”
I started to answer her with my usual “fine” when the brokenhearted girl from the other night popped into my head. I took a sip of my chai latte to give myself a few moments to figure out how I wanted to word my answer. “I have a funny but kind of sad story about my weekend that we might be able to work into the show, but it might cause a bit of a stir,” I admitted. Discussing the need to burn your ex’s things could potentially be hilarious, but could also be polarizing if people who’d had their things burned were still upset about it. But then, really, everything was polarizing. We’d gotten hate mail over an episode where we joked about rubber duckies, for God’s sake.
“Would the stir be from the boss or from the public?” Kat asked, arching an elegant eyebrow as she peered over her coffee cup.
“Public,” I told her. “See, it started with these random texts….”
And so, when five o’clock hit and we welcomed everyone to “Kat and Zach in the Morning,” Kat started off the show by asking me how my weekend had been.
“Well,” I said slowly, “I got a very interesting set of texts from the wrong number. That leads me into our first question of the morning. If you discovered your lover sleeping with your sibling, would you feel justified in having a nice little bonfire with the crap they’d left at your place? We have a poll up on our website, and at the end of the show, we’ll let you know the results.”
“I’ll admit that cheating is a pretty messed-up thing,” Kat said. “But what if it was an accident?”
I snorted. “What, like they were both accidentally naked and she tripped and accidentally impaled herself on his—”
Kat grabbed the bike horn we used to censor each other and cut my words off with a loud honk. “Point made. Never mind.”
My phone vibrated in my pocket, but I wasn’t about to check it while we were on air. “Not that I’d know what’s impossible between a man and a woman, of course, but it seems pretty unlikely to me.”
That was one of the fantastic things about working for the station I worked for. I went into my interview fresh out of college and announced to them that I was very gay and very out. My boss had seen that as a draw, and our tiny station had gained a devoted following of listeners from the LGBT community thanks to the gamble he’d taken in putting me on the air after telling me to just be myself. The previous year, Kat and I had even been asked to join the Pride Parade, and we’d already been invited back for the next year’s events. It was another reason we got hate mail, but our supporters far outnumbered our adversaries. We were too small a station to cause a huge stir.
The topic shifted, and we followed our notes until the first commercial break, at which point I pulled out my phone to check my messages.
Oh my fucking God, I rage-texted Zach Blaise??
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. And then I sighed and hoped I wouldn’t have to change my number. I’d been on the wrong end of “oh my God, you’re a local celebrity” before, despite the fact that I wasn’t really that well-known, and I didn’t care to deal with it again.
You did. Now that you know my name, can I get yours?
It took a little longer than usual before I got a response, and for a moment I wondered if I was going to get an answer at all.
When my friends want to piss me off, they call me Marian.
If it pisses you off, why give me that name? I asked. It seemed weird to give someone a name you didn’t really want to go by.
Like I’m going to give someone I don’t know my real name, even if you are Zach Blaise.
Smart, I told her. In that case, when my friends want to piss me off, they call me Ollie. Can I call you Mari?
Only if you pronounce it MAHR-ee, and not like Mary. Why Ollie?
Middle name’s Oliver. Commercial break’s almost up. Enjoy the show.
I grinned as I put my phone away. Mari had spirit, and I could see us being friends. Who couldn’t use more friends? Maybe I’d end up setting her up with Jordan after all, once she was over her ex. She was definitely our kind of people.
The commercial break came to an end, and I put it out of my head and focused on the next segment of the show.
About the Author
Andi Van lives near San Diego with a small fluffy thing named Koi, a baseball bat
that’s forever being used for things other than baseball, and a fondness for rum and
caffeine (though not necessarily together).
Andi is fluent in three languages (English, sarcasm, and profanity), and takes pride
in a highly developed—if somewhat bizarre—sense of humor.
I’m giving away one paperback copy and two ebook copies of Starting With the Unexpected – winners will be selected at random on the 19th, after waving a rubber chicken over my computer and chanting in a dead language.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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