Lisa—My business is failing, my father disappeared, my brother is lazy, and my uncle just mansplained me—again. Ben is nothing I want right now, but he might be everything I need.”Ben—My new brother-in-law, the legendary “Zen Shredder,” is making me launder my karma which is bullshit and interesting. The coolest man on the planet just married my spreadsheet-loving sister and is about to save Tennent Surf Company, making him Lisa Tennent’s hero.I’m the one who should be her hero, yeah, me, a tattooed ex-con with anger issues. I’ll show her my friendship and loyalty and return her magic.
“The Dasher” is a friends-to-lovers, single father, over 40 romance sequel to “The Perpetual”- with GenX pop culture references and lessons in self-love as we age.
I took a cigarette from my purse and stuck it between my lips, staring at the rain. The water hitting the asphalt was getting louder in my brain. Before I lit the cancer stick, I stepped out from under the overhang and into the downpour.
This kind of rain wasn’t common in Southern California. I was compelled to embrace it every time it poured like this. I didn’t give a shit that my hair, makeup, and $700 Gucci sneakers would be ruined.
Fat water drops hit the cigarette I had between my lips, reminding me it was there, and I lifted my hand with the lighter.
“Good luck getting that lit,” I heard from behind me and spun to see Ben standing with his hands in the pockets of his baggy shorts—his chain wallet swinging, and his arm tattoos on full display.
I wasn’t sure how long I stood there staring at him.
In an act of defiance for him and mother nature, I flicked the metal of the lighter several times. Then threw the damn thing, followed by the cigarette.
“Let me ask you something.” He had to shout over the rain, but his tone was calm.
That pissed me off. I was standing in a rainstorm. Soaked from head to toe, I tried to light a cigarette. How in the fucking hell was I qualified to answer any question right now? I hadn’t even taken a breath yet.
“Is it about the money? Or is it a fuck you to your old man to prove him wrong about you? Or to fix something that you think is broken?” he asked.
I had to blink to keep the water from getting in my eyes that was now dripping from my forehead.
“That’s three questions.” I shook my head. “Why are you even out here? What do you care about any of this? Who the fuck are you, Ben?”
He stepped closer. “Now you asked me three questions.”
God, he was impossible. What did he think would happen, some romance movie moment in the rain where I jumped into his arms, and we lived happily ever after getting matching tattoos and motorcycles?
In my silence, he answered one of my questions: “I’m Billy-fucking-Joel.”
My heart clenched then fell into my stomach. He knew. Of course, he knew what I’d thought last night when Jason described
“Uptown Girl” as a man falling in love with a woman out of his world and how it had changed him. Was Ben in love with me? I didn’t expect him to change for 1. He shouldn’t even like me or, God forbid, love me. I wasn’t worthy.
“I don’t need this shit right now,” I shouted at him.
“Answer my question, Lisa.”
I wiped the rain from my eyes. “Which one?”
“Is it about the money?”
“Yes, damnit, and my father and fixing broken things. It’s all of it.”
It was too much. I couldn’t keep this up. His questions, his mysterious look, the mere presence of him. My desire for him. My lust for him. My fear of him. My fear of him and me together. I wasn’t strong enough.
I was too broken. “You have to stop. You want to fix me—”
“No, I don’t. I like you like this.”
“What? Having a breakdown, standing in the fucking rain? You like this? You’re a sick fucker.”
He laughed. He fucking laughed at me. I was having a stage-three meltdown, and he was laughing. I threw my arms up and spun away from him.
“You’re the only one who can fix you,” he hollered to my back. “All of the business stuff, though, you can figure that out. Just think about it. We all know you’ll make it work.”
I turned back around. “Why? Why do you think I can? I can’t even figure out that a lighter doesn’t work in the damn rain.”
My writing journey began after my 50th birthday, and the pandemic lockdown provided the opportunity to write. Some of my stories have haunted my dreams for decades. When the characters shouted day and night, I knew I had to write about them.
My previous lives have been in advertising, fashion, and a small business owner. I've made it my life’s ambition to push through challenges of a dyslexia diagnosis to consume novels, poetry, articles, and tell fun, swoony, romantic stories.
A proud GenX woman and native Californian, I live in Hermosa Beach, CA, with my husband aka "The Greek", two beautiful kids, and two spunky-rescue kitties.
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