Open Book Society is proud to bring you another great blog tour! This one is for S.L. Siwik’s Just Good Friends. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about Just Good Friends and where you can purchase your copy!
Juggling two jobs and mounting bills, Audrey decides she doesn’t have time for a boyfriend, but contemplates a friends plus situation. After placing a personal ad, she meets Mike, a local cop, former Marine. He’s old fashioned and overbearing, but she just can’t walk away.
Unfortunately for her, Michael is an expert marksman, and her heart never stood a chance. Their tumultuous love affair crashes to an ending neither foresaw, and Audrey is forced to make a decision that will change both their lives forever.
The burglar’s hands grabbed her waist. His fingertips dug into her skin, and her hands covered her mouth to keep from screaming. His body pressed against hers, not an ounce of softness to be found. He whipped her body around to be facing the cash register.
“Empty out the register, old man, or she’s done for.”
Audrey would have laughed at the line, finding it comical. Under normal circumstances, she would have probably asked if he heard the cheesy line in some poorly written movie. The fact that she was now being held at gun point, and her boss, whom she loathed, would supposedly be her savior, was far from hilarious. Imminent and painful death had a strange way of leeching humor out of a given situation. She needed to make sure she didn’t turn to hysterics out of fear, and cause the robber to become trigger happy, or her few remaining seconds would end even quicker.
The barrel of a gun slammed against her temple, and she kept her eyes on her idiot boss, Mr. Constantine, notorious for trying to argue his way out of everything. Audrey prayed he’d keep his fat mouth shut and hand over the money. The metal pressed against her skin chilled her to the bone, odd since it was ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit outside. She mentally calculated the degrees into Celsius to keep her mind busy and not contemplating her current predicament. Thirty degrees Celsius? No, her math seemed off.
“Any day now!” The man shouted. Audrey heard a clicking sound, the revolver now cocked and aimed at her head. Urine trickled down her inner thighs as hot tears streamed down her face.
“Any last words you want to tell your boss?” The man whispered in her ear.
She didn’t have any particular words for her underpaying, pain-in-the-butt boss, nor did she really have anything to say to her co-workers, waitresses who she never spoke to more than a few moments. What did come to mind, however, was Mike and the sudden, acute regret over never confessing what he meant to her. Tomorrow she would be lying in a coroner’s office, and he’d be left to believe that they were just good friends.
At least she wore a matching black lace bra and panty set. She always feared dying while wearing granny panties, a serious deep-seated fear of hers. During her freshman year at college most teachers made the students fill out ice breaker questions. What’s your biggest fear always made the top of the list. Most people wrote normal stuff: spiders, heights, failing their first semester. Audrey wrote down dying while wearing granny panties. Other students might have laughed, but she knew deep down they thought the same and weren’t brave enough to admit it.
She also wondered if the coroner would be so kind as to omit from the autopsy reports her peeing incident. The truth was too embarrassing to have on permanent record anywhere.
But, right now she was still alive, and she wanted to stay that way. She had to tell Mike once about how he made her fall in love with him. It suddenly became the grossest injustice in the entire universe, even though somehow it was his fault. Maybe all of his absurd idealism had finally rubbed off on her, but he needed to know the truth, because it couldn’t die and be buried with her.
“Why are you doing this?” She asked him as a stalling tactic. Sergeant Scarface sat in the back corner of the restaurant, and with a little bit of luck…
“Why am I doing this?” He asked, slamming the metal into the side of her head. She bit her lip hard to keep from screaming out. That was going to leave a bruise.
“I’ve been cleaning up this town for a while, sweetie. This will be my last job.”
Cleaning up the town… His words triggered in her memory the night lying with Mike spent from their lovemaking as he confessed his frustration at not catching the thief.
“Do you mean house robberies or other stores like this?” She asked trying to draw him out.
“What are you, a reporter?” He shouted.
Mr. Constantine stood in front of them, frozen in fear still not moving.
“Well, it seems your boss doesn’t want to part with the dough. Tough luck for you.”
Religion had never given Audrey any comfort, so she didn’t pray for her soul. It seemed hypocritical to her, since she had never prayed before. Why start now? Instead, Audrey spent what she believed to be her last moments alive thinking about Mike. Every look, every kiss, every gesture ran through her mind since the moment she laid eyes on him like a silent film.
If these were her last seconds of life, she chose to spend them with him.
I love you, Mike.
The week rolled by, the same as usual, and Monday came again, her group of cops sitting in front of her. Mike leaned forward, kissing her cheek. Even though Audrey’s eyes closed the moment his lips neared her skin, she made sure to pull away before him. From now on, she would make sure to always pull away before him.
“Did anyone give you trouble today?” He asked, invading her personal space in his normal, pushy manner.
Why did this make her heart race? What was wrong with her? She shook her head, and he sat back down in his seat, the same exact booth in the diner that the cops always sat in, his eyes remaining on her.
“What are you doing tomorrow?” He asked.
A smile crept across her face. “I have a date.”
“Do you now? Give me the details,” he said, clasping his hands on the table. The rest of the cops watched the exchange.
A slight blush tinged her cheeks as she shoved her hands in her apron pockets. She realized that talking to Mike about men she was romantically interested in made her uncomfortable. The situation was really weird.
“His name is Todd.”
“What do you know about Todd?” He asked.
She frowned, realizing very little. “Well, he likes to read, he went to community college before transferring to a four year college. He works a desk job, lives in Mercerville. His degree is in civil engineering. He likes dramas and foreign films. He goes to poetry readings nearby at a local coffee shop.”
“He sounds like a real hoot,” John said, sarcasm dripping from his words.
“Hey,” she said, turning towards him, “it’s slim pickens if you exclude the insane and the taken. He sounds pleasant to me.”
“Yeah, cause pleasant is gonna rock your world beneath the sheets.” Garver, the cop whose name Audrey was making it a point to remember, commented.
Mike ignored them all asking her, “Did you go to these supposed poetry readings and check him out?”
She blinked. “Of course not.”
Mike frowned. “Why not?”
“Because I’d be invading his privacy. It’s stalkerish, and creepy.”
“You’d learn a few more things about him, though. Wouldn’t you?” He asked rhetorically before continuing on, “How many weeks have you been talking to him?”
She bit her lower lip thinking. Had it been five weeks?
“Five, six maybe…I think. What? I work a lot. The days bleed together after a while.”
“Five weeks and those few pieces of information are all you learned?” He asked.
“Well…he hasn’t been consistent. He replies sporadically.”
“He’s poking someone else,” Garver said. “The poetry readings are his hunting grounds.”
“He can’t enjoy poetry and coffee? Must he have an ulterior motive?” She asked.
“No man enjoys poetry readings,” Mike replied.
“Many men enjoy poetry!” Audrey shouted back.
“No, they don’t,” John replied.
“Of course there do! Some of the most famous poets are men.”
“Yeah, to get laid,” Garver explained.
Audrey sighed, her hand on her hip, rolling her eyes.
Sergeant Scarface spoke up next. His voice reminded her of a man who had drunk far too much scotch for far too long.
“Michael is correct. You should be wary. We see many, pretty, young women down at the station filing reports because they had chosen to be naïve and optimistic, rather than cautious and prepared.”
“Fine,” she slapped her hand against her thigh in aggravation. “I’ll bring along my pepper spray and wear high heeled shoes in case I need to bludgeon him.”
The remark had been sarcastic, the joke lost on the older man who seemed impressed. She sighed, irritated by the commentary on her love life, wondering when she had adopted a police force. Man, these guys were such a buzz kill.
“Alright, enough about my love life.” Or lack of. “Who wants disco fries?”
Audrey may have been annoyed by their comments, but thirty minutes later, she realized just how touching it was that they cared for her safety. She may have placed extra cherries on Sarge’s apple pie because she knew how much he loved them, and spent more time than usual making Garver’s milk shake extra thick just the way he liked it. After the crew had finished eating and were leaving, Mike walked over to her as she wiped down a counter. He placed his hand on her arm and as always, stood a little too close.
“Please call me when you get home tomorrow, so I know you’re safe.”
She would have, under normal conditions, not agreed to the request. The situation seemed ridiculous, like she was calling a parent to check in. He looked so genuinely worried, however, that she caved. She might as well tattoo SUCKER across her forehead at this point.
“Alright, I’ll call you when I get home, but if you don’t receive a call, you’ll know it’s because I decided not to go home tomorrow night.” Audrey was firmly holding on to positive thinking.
Mike frowned. “Why wouldn’t you go home tomorrow night?”
She shuffled her feet uncomfortably. “You know why.” Did he really need her to spell this out?
Mike didn’t seem relieved. “In that case, don’t forget to bring protection. Don’t trust a guy to have it. Alright, talk to you tomorrow. Enjoy your date.” He paused for a moment looking conflicted. Finally he added, “Make sure he treats you right.”
She smirked. “You know what’ll happen if he doesn’t,” she said in a teasing manner, carelessly shooting her mouth off before thinking. His smile faded as he simply nodded before walking off, and for a moment she swore he looked regretful.
She waved goodbye as he strutted to the front door, John waiting for him. The two walked out together and Audrey was the one regretful for not thinking before speaking.
About the Author:
S.L. Siwik lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.
She loves going to NJ diners on the weekend for inspiration, drinks a pot of coffee a day, and loves finding new music to add to her list.
Just Good Friends is her debut book.