Read Chapter 1 of When It's Love!
We're just under 2 weeks until When It's Love releases (August 7), so I thought I'd share chapter 1 to get you ready.
She was in a sex drought. It was official, and she could no longer deny it.
Never in her life had she gone this long without sex.
Seven. Fucking. Months.
Camilla Ester Rickman didn’t go seven months without sex. Ever. The last time she’d gone that long was between high school and college, and that was only because she’d broken up with her boyfriend right before high school ended and didn’t find another one until after Christmas break her freshman year of college.
But even then, she’d had a couple of second and third base hits.
Picking up the iPad on the desk in front of her, she tried to put her lack of sex out of her mind while she worked. It was not an easy thing to do when everyone around her seemed to be doing the deed.
“Incoming, bay two,” someone shouted, shaking Camilla out of her thoughts.
“I got it,” Nash yelled, and she followed him since she was on his team.
Nash Hayes was one of her best friends, which was odd since his sister, Sloan, had been her best friend since kindergarten. It was funny how the world worked.
They’d become fast friends when he’d started working at the same hospital as her as an intern. It was good to have someone you could trust, someone who would always have your back. From there, it grew, and somehow, he became an important person in her life.
Not as important as he was to Hazel.
Hazel was her other best friend since kindergarten, and she’d recently started a relationship with Nash. Not only was one best friend marrying her brother, Asher, now her other two best friends were engaged to each other.
And there she sat, alone and sexless.
The alone part she could handle. She liked being alone. Loved the quiet of her apartment when it was just her there. Liked sleeping in her bed without anyone else hogging the covers and enjoyed watching whatever she wanted on TV without having to answer to anyone else.
The sexless part was new and something she was going to have to get used to being without.
She’d made a pact, albeit with herself, that she wasn’t going to have any more sex just for the sake of having sex. She wanted to try and find someone she liked. Someone she enjoyed being with for more than sex. Someone who could be part of her future.
An actual boyfriend instead of a fuck buddy.
It didn’t have anything to do with her two best friends, Sloan and Hazel, finding love. At least not really. It was more that she was turning thirty soon, and since she’d been eighteen, she hadn’t had an actual boyfriend.
Lots of sex but no one with who she could talk.
And while a year ago, she’d have said that was no big deal, she saw the way Sloan and Hazel were with Asher and Nash. How they talked to them and missed them when they weren’t around. How they always had someone to talk to, no matter what.
While she didn’t love the thought of sharing her bed, she liked the idea of always having a sounding board, a person to talk her down from her crazy ideas and moods.
“What do we have, Cam,” Nash said across the new patient who had been wheeled into the emergency room.
“Fifty-six-year-old male who slipped off a ladder while cleaning his gutters. A possible broken leg, and a puncture in his ribs.” She set the iPad down and gloved up.
“Okay let’s get him moved to this bed.” With the ease of people who had been doing this for years, they moved the man to a new bed and dealt with his injuries.
When it was all over, and they’d moved the man to recovery, Camilla sat back down at her desk, Nash sitting down right beside her.
“It’s been a long day.” They were both at the end of a twelve-hour shift.
“It has,” she said. “I hate to say it, but the days that are slow are the worst.” They’d only had six patients the whole day, including the gutter guy.
“I know what you mean. I don’t want people to get hurt but for my sanity, it would be better.”
“I don’t think you can complain since I know for a fact that Hazel stopped by and you two were locked in the on-call room for over an hour.” She nudged his shoulder with her own.
He smiled, not even trying to conceal the fact that he’d had sex in there. “That was the best part of my day.”
“I miss sex so fucking much.”
“Why aren’t you having sex again?”
“Because I want more than just sex. I want to like the person and be able to talk to them.”
“I can attest to the fact that it is better when you like the person.” He wagged his eyebrows suggestively. “Everything with Hazel is better.”
“Gack, stop talking like a love-sick puppy. It’s nauseating.”
“You know, if you want to have a real relationship, you’re going to need some love-sick puppy moments. And I’ve got to say, I’ve known you for a long time, and I just don’t see you enjoying that. You like to argue and fight. Those things don’t really go with love.”
“Are you saying that I’m not lovable. That I can’t be happy and teeth-achingly sweet? Because I can be those things.”
“Listen, I love you, and so do Sloan and Hazel, but that’s because we know you and how you are. I don’t think you should change that. But maybe add in a little nice with the fights and arguments.”
She thought about that. Was she too argumentative? Did that turn guys off?
“Shifts over, Cam. Go home, sleep, and stop worrying about finding a guy. He’ll find you when the time is right.”
“You sound like Hazel.”
“What can I say, she makes me an optimist.”
Shaking her head, she stood. “I’ll see you at dinner tomorrow night.”
“See you then.”
After grabbing her stuff from her locker, she left the hospital for her walk home. She didn't always walk to and from work, but when the weather was beautiful, she liked the one-mile walk to decompress after a shift. Sticking in her earbuds, she called Sloan, who she knew was off.
“What up?” Sloan answered.
“Just leaving work.”
“Busy or boring?”
“Boring. I spent half the damn day organizing the carts even though they were already organized.”
“That’s gotta be better than someone dying.”
“It is, and I should be happier that it didn't happen. Where are you?”
“Just left my parents where my mom and your mom have decided that I must wear a veil at the wedding.”
“I thought you were against a veil?” Sloan and Asher’s wedding was two months away. But there was never a shortage of things to do to get ready for it.
“Oh I am, but both our moms are insane. You’d think I was murdering someone the way they talk about not wearing a veil.”
“Want me to talk to Mom? I can usually get my way with her.” Usually meaning always. She’d figured out a long time ago how to work around her mom.
“Would you? I just can’t anymore, and I feel bad asking Asher. I don’t want to do anything to make him have to go against your parent’s wishes.”
Asher had lived in London since college due to a falling out with their dad. Only when he’d started dating Sloan, the issue came out and they have since buried all their problems and animosity. Camilla could see why Sloan wouldn’t want to cause ripples so soon.
“If I do this for you, I need you to do something for me?”
“Set me up with someone.”
“What? Like on a date?”
“Isn’t that usually what setting someone up entails?”
“But you don’t date and have always been adamantly against being set up.”
She groaned. “I know, but now I’m ready. I want to date, not just have sex.”
“Does this have something to do with you not having a fuck buddy for several months?”
“If by several you mean seven, then yes, this has something to do with that. But it’s also because I want more than just sex. I want to have...conversations with a guy.”
“You said ‘conversions’ like it’s a bad word.”
“It’s so foreign to me that it almost is.”
“That’s bullshit. You have conversations with me all the time. And Hazel and Nash. Your problem is that you don’t like to open up to people.”
“I’m an open fucking book.”
“Wrong. You pretend to be an open book, but really, you use sarcasm as a way not to be open. I have known you for twenty-five years, Cam, and despite having good role models, people who have been in love for a lot of years, you are afraid of love. Don’t even try to deny it.”
She couldn’t deny it because Sloan was right. She had no idea why she was the way she was or why she thought love wasn’t real. She’d seen how real it was with her own eyes all her life. With her grandparents and parents and now her brother and her best friends. There were no explanations for her fear of love.
“How am I supposed to change who I am, who I have always been?”
“I don’t think you need to change who you are. It’s more that you need to be open to love. The right guy will like you how you are. Arguments and all.”
“So you’ll set me up?”
“I do know someone who I think you might like. His name is Caiden, and he works with Asher. I’ve only met him twice but he’s funny and nice and crazy hot.”
“Define crazy hot?”
“Let’s just say that Asher had to wipe the drool off my chin, and he wasn’t happy about it.”
“On a normal day, I’d be mad that you kept a crazy hot guy from me but since you are being nice and setting me up with him, I’ll forgive you.”
“Don’t let anyone ever say you aren’t generous.” Camilla could hear the sarcasm in her friend's voice.
“Are you going to dinner at Hazel and Nash’s tomorrow?”
“We are. Do you want me to see if Caiden can join? Would that be a good or bad time to be set up?”
She badly wanted to say no, to change her mind, but it was now are never. “If Caiden can make it on short notice, I’m game.”
“Your excitement is bubbling over.”
“No thanks. I’ll let you know if Caiden can make it. See you tomorrow!” She hung up, leaving Camilla on the phone, wondering what she’d just agreed to.
A triple date. It was bad enough usually, but with two couples who were insanely in love and couldn’t keep their hands to themselves, it was only going to be worse.
God, she couldn't’ even remember the last time she’d been on a date. A real one. Not one where she knew it would end up in bed.
As she reached her apartment, all she wanted was something to eat and her bed. But that was waylaid when she found Hazel standing out in front of her building.
“What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to talk to you. Nash mentioned that you seemed down, and I thought I could cheer you up.” She held up a bag from a bakery, and without asking, she knew it contained donuts.
She loved donuts.
Unlocking the front door, she held it open for Hazel. “I’m only letting you in because you have donuts.”
“Why do you think I brought them.”
“For such a nice, sweet girl, you sure know how to be evil.” They walked the two flights of stairs to her apartment and went inside. “Aren’t you supposed to be working?”
“I worked in the office this morning before hitting a couple of job sites this afternoon.”
Hazel was a county engineer and only two months ago had fallen off a bridge at one of the job sites. That was the catalyst to her falling in love with Nash, who’d taken care of her while she’d been hurt.
It was all so Lifetime movie-esque.
“Are you still nervous being on job sites?” She stole the donuts from her hand and removed one from the bag.
“Yes, and it sucks. I love my job and I hate that I now have this fear.”
“I’m not a psychologist, but I have to assume that’s pretty normal. You fell off a fucking bridge, Haze.”
“I know.” She grabbed a donut from the bag and flopped down onto the couch. “It’s just so frustrating. Nash wants me to take it slow, but I hate that idea. I don’t want to push my work onto other people nor do I want to skip out on job site visits.”
“Sounds like you already have it all figured out.”
“I’m going to keep going to them, slowly, and hopefully, the feat settles.” She took a bite of her donut. “Now, tell me what has you all funky.”
“I’m not funky. That’s a stupid word anyway.” She shook her head. “I’ve just been thinking about making some changes recently.”
“What kind of changes?”
“The kind where after I have sex with a guy, I have a conversation with him.”
“Woah, this is a big change. What brought this on?”
Shrugging, she took another bite of her donut. “Who knows. Maybe the fact that I haven’t had sex in seven months is making me crazy.”
“SEVEN MONTHS!” she shouted.
“There might be someone in California who didn’t hear you.”
“I’m sorry but, seven months. That’s a long time for you. Have you ever gone that long?”
“Not in twelve years, and believe me when I say it is not easy. I’m like a live wire.”
“I had no idea. Why didn’t you talk to Sloan and me about this? We always tell each other everything.”
“You have Nash, and Sloan has Asher. I didn’t want to burden you with my lack of sex.”
“Okay, that’s just stupid. You are not a burden. I want to know everything that’s going on with you, not just the major points. This isn’t an eight or higher situation like on How I Met Your Mother. This is a ‘you can share anything’ situation.”
“Since when do you watch How I Met Your Mother?”
“Nash likes it, so I watch it with him sometimes. It’s pretty funny.”
She threw her hands in the air. “I’ve only been telling you that for fifteen years.”
“I know. I’m one of those annoying people who doesn’t listen to her friends but then suddenly when her fiance mentions the same thing, listens.”
“I used to hate those people. Now I just want to be one of them.”
“Is that what you want? To be in a relationship?”
“I guess I won’t know until I try it, will I?”
“Wow, okay, this is a lot to process. Do you have a guy in mind for this relationship?”
Camilla shook her head. “Not in the least. But I asked Sloan to set me up with someone and I’m hoping you’ll do the same.”
“You want me to set you up. On a date.”
“Yup. Sloan knows a guy who Asher works with and is planning to see if he wants to come to dinner at your house tomorrow. I figure maybe you know someone who you could set me up with on another day.”
She looked at the donut she was eating. “Do you think they put drugs in these donuts because I am definitely hallucinating.”
Camilla laughed and then threw a pillow at her friend. “Don’t be an ass. If I’m going to find a guy to have a relationship with, I have to date. And by date, I mean a meal, maybe a walk in the park. Not sex.”
“Let me get this straight. You want me to set you up with a guy who you can take a walk in the park with and talk to but not have sex with?”
“I don’t know why this is so hard to understand. You’d think I was talking in another language.”
“Hey, don’t get snippy with the person you want to set you up on a date. I know some assholes who I could set you up with just as easy as the nice guys.”
“Just think about it and let me know if you know anyone who would fit the bill.”
“I think I might have just the person. And you’ve met him before. Do you remember Noah from my office?”
She searched her memory. “Messy hair, great build, tall.”
“That’s him. I’ve always thought you and he would be perfect together. And I distinctly remember him mentioning that you were cute after you met.”
“So set it up.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to wait until after you meet Sloan’s guy? What if you like him and want to date him?”
“I need a bigger sample size than one guy. I need to get back into the game, or in my case just in the game period. I need to learn how to date. Plus, what’s the likelihood of me falling in love after one date?”
Hazel choked at a cough. “I might not be the person you want to ask that question.”
“You might have a point.” Nash and Hazel had pretty much been in love after their first official date.
“Hey Cam, you know that you can always talk to us about anything, right? It doesn’t matter that Sloan has Asher and I have Nash. We are still best friends, and nothing is going to change that.”
“I know.” Or at least she thought she did. But as much as Hazel and Sloan said things wouldn’t change, they already were.
They were part of a couple, and she was alone.
Nothing could change that fact.