She ran away from the town that wouldn’t forget, to a city that doesn’t forgive, right into the arms of the guy who insists she set things right.
Less than a year ago, Hayley Jones made a scandalous decision that sent her packing. She left her country hometown, moved to the city and made a new life for herself. But it’s hard being someone else when the real you has some unfinished business.
Hayley knows taking care of the unresolved piece of her past could stir up more trouble and humiliation, so she dodges the truth and puts her energy into her new friends and job. That strategy works for a short while but people from her past start showing up in her present.
Life gets even more complicated when she realizes she’s falling for Nick Noel, a guy who knows she’s running from something, and continually challenges her to be herself. But Hayley is afraid of what will happen if Nick finds out who she really is and what she did back home.
General Release Date: 23rd January 2015
It’s Thursday night and I’m hanging out at a record store. It’s the kind of place you’d only find in Detroit. Three months ago The Twelve Inch Groove didn’t exist. It was storage area in the back of the bowling alley. I don’t mean just any bowling alley. I mean the Midtown bowling alley that also has an upscale restaurant on one side, a bar filled with regulars up front and a club upstairs where anybody from Whitey Morgan to DJ Assault will be on stage. Two weeks of cleaning and moving crap around, and bammo, it’s a store.
Sure, you have to weave through the bowlers to get here but as long as you keep off the lanes and don’t mess with the barrel-chested guys hurrying to get their next pitcher of Coors before their turn rolls around, traipsing through is no big deal.
“You like this track?”
On my left is what looks to be a walking ad for Goodwill. Baggy pants, huge Red Wings shirt, but short, clean-cut bleached hair. Two-tone Sperrys. It’s like he can’t make up his mind. Can’t commit.
On second thought, maybe I have something in common with the guy. Commitment and I aren’t on speaking terms, apparently. I pay attention to the music blaring from the speakers. “I think it’s from Criminal Minded.”
“BDP. Ooooold Skooooool.” He smiles, obviously happy with the way he can stretch out words.
Nice teeth though.
I flip through the Retro Classics, wondering if it’s possible to develop any sort of relationship based on a good set of teeth. Seems doubtful but who knows? Maybe. Anything is possible in Motown. Especially in the spring when everyone is emerging from the winter darkness like—well in this guy’s case—trolls from under a mud-coated, concrete overpass.
He starts talking again, this time about the horrors of new rappers and how they’re all sellouts. Lil Wayne for example. “Take that Lollipop song. Stupidest damn song on the whole fuckin’ radio. He should’ve been long gone after that shit. But he’s not. He’s still here. Gettin’ paid.”
I do not need to degrade myself with this sort of stupidity, talking about rappers as though them getting paid has anything to do with me. Inside my head I hear myself whining. Not about the guy’s behavior—predictable. But about my own—pointless. My subconscious is complaining about the sad state of my affairs and the way I spend too much time hanging out in the sort of places that seem like going there is a good idea but once there, after looking around, it’s obvious being there isn’t so hot after all. Do I leave these places? No. I draw on my inner self, that practical rural Midwestern part of me that I’m always trying to hide, and I make do.
Hayley, I say to myself, there has to be more to life than this. Deep inside I accept that there has to be a way for me to get my shit together. No, I’ve never had my shit together before but it could happen. Right? Grasping for a sense of purpose, I push away from the classics and say “See ya” to the guy.
“Sweetness,” the guy pulls out a Gap Band promo twelve-inch doesn’t notice that I’m leaving. How flattering.
I head to the vending machine for a little something but spot a mob milling around it so I detour to the ladies’ room that the bowling alley and record store share with the bar. There are a couple of couches in there, separate from the stalls so it’s pretty common to find people randomly hanging. I go to the mirror. The girl staring back at me looks pretty much like she did an hour ago. I coat my lips with more gloss anyway.
“That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard. Of course you can wear plaids that don’t match.”
That from Scotty, the notorious hairdresser to the stars—stars being the local news anchors and those girls at the auto show who strut around Cobo Hall and stretch across the new model cars. He pats the redhead next to him and adds, “It’s just a matter of attitude. It’s all in how you do it.”
The bowling alley regulars are getting used to finding Scotty perched on the counter in front of the mirror. Actually, I think they’re a bit excited about the whole thing and are starting to appreciate the alternative flair that having a guy hanging out in the ladies’ room gives The Woodward Lanes. The girl next to him is an exception—she isn’t sold yet. But she will be. What she doesn’t know is that in the end, Scotty somehow always manages to be right.
“I have four guys signed up already, Hayley. Are you sure you don’t want to get in on this with me?” My friend Josie has appeared and is sitting on the sink, chomping on a Twizzlers. She’s one of those beautiful, sexy girls that pretty much always look awesome.
I slip my lip gloss into my purse. “I’m positive,” I say.
Josie recently cooked up what she calls a perfect business opportunity. Perfectly ridiculous, I said a couple of nights ago when she’d cornered me.
“Let me explain it to you first, before you say no,” she insisted.
I reluctantly agreed to listen to her plan when she unscrewed the cap of a pleasantly large bottle of our fine friend Carlo Rossi. From what I remember, it’s this deal where she videos guys talking about themselves and saying what kind of girl they want to go out with. Then she offers the recordings to girls. The point—to hook them up with guys without the total overexposure of the Internet sites.
All this for a price, of course.
The details are kind of fuzzy because it took the whole bottle of wine for her to explain everything. The more she talked, the more sure I became. I was not cut out for the digital dating business world. All this explains why I shake my head when she asks, again, if I am totally sure I do not want in. Even if it means missing out on all the money.
“I don’t care about making money.” That is a bit of a lie but it sounds good.
Josie grabs my arm and pulls me over to the lumpy couch vacated by two giggling girls who’d obviously been helping their parents with those pitchers of Coors. After we watch them totter out, she turns back to me. “True or false—it is impossible to find a decent guy to date.”
I look around the bathroom. Unrelenting, Scotty is still trying to get the resistant girl to come over to the risky side of dressing without boundaries. I hear the drone of that Goodwill dude. The answer pops out, “True.”
Josie swallows the last of her Twizzlers then pushes her blonde curls out of her face. “True or false—guys love to talk about themselves.”
I don’t even have to think that one over. “True.”
Her face is triumphant as she springs the last one on me. “True or false—girls are willing to try almost anything to meet the elusive Mr. Right.”
Like hang out in a record store that’s so bootleg it’s in the back of a bowling alley?
Like sit in the same crappy donut shop every morning for a month, waiting and wishing, that just once her life could be like a movie—or at least a commercial?
I fight against these truths but can’t come up with anything. So I offer an opinion. “Not everyone is looking for a boyfriend.”
“Of course not, some girls already have one.” Josie frowns and looks at me, as though seeing the truth for the first time. The truth that I don’t have a boyfriend.
There are other truths she doesn’t see but those are definitely staying hidden from her and everyone else in the city of Detroit.
If my so-called boss, Caroline, has a last name, I don’t know what it is. Everyone at North Pointe Farms Apartments simply calls her Caroline, as if that says it all. I could think of a couple of words to add to her name but what would be the point? I know I can’t stand her, she knows I can’t stand her—she must?—and neither of us cares. So every time the phone rings, and it’s a call for her, I only write Caroline across the top of the message. If the call is for Bob Hastings, the old dude who takes care of security, I write Mr. Hastings. If it’s for Tony, the macho guy who fixes stuff, I write Tony Cattalioni.
What does this have to do with anything? Not much, except it gives me something to think about while I’m sitting at the desk that’s been my home away from home since I gave up on college. Friday afternoon around three I’m sitting there, thinking about how much I despise Caroline, when my phone hums.
It’s Josie. “It’s a good thing you didn’t want to be a partner because I just finished recording this one guy.” She moans obnoxiously. “You’ve got to see this. Tonight.”
I don’t like the way she put emphasis on this. And I don’t like the way she’s in such a hurry. What’s the rush?
She doesn’t give me a chance to say anything.
“Want me to come by at eight or nine?”
Behind her voice is the high-pitched chatter of women getting their hair done. Being a hook-up queen is not Josie’s real thing, she’s actually a hairstylist—that’s how we know Scotty but that’s a whole story in itself.
“Ummm,” I stall. I need an escape route. Something to keep me from the clutches of the self-proclaimed dating guru. “What about Riana? Maybe she’s got to see that.”
I feel powerful and creative and maybe a bit bad for throwing my friend into the net but because she’s been saving my ass for a while now, I come back with, “Yeah. Riana.”
A sigh comes out of the telephone. “I don’t think Peter would appreciate your attitude. Besides, this guy is not for her.”
With that settled, I let curiosity have its way with me. “What does he look like?”
“Oh, no. I’m not telling you a thing. Eight or nine?”
Not willing to let Josie call all the shots, I negotiate. “Eight-thirty—and I’m calling Riana—as back up.”
“Oh please. What about Nick? You going to call him too?”
If I invite him, Josie will give me a hard time about lying to myself about us just being friends and me using him as my crutch. Whatever that means. “No, I’m not going to call him.”