Honestly? There’s nothing quite like Jon and Livvy being in love. It’s been AWESOME “being in love” with them, too. I think you’ll love every moment of this book, but this night is particularly special for our lovebirds… so here’s the first excerpt. I don’t want to give too much away of A Holland and a Fighter–in a way, it’s a love letter to my most devoted readers: the Holland bubble.
Jon’s wearing his ten-year-old Columbia baseball cap when I get downstairs. He looks so cute and boyish when he wears that; it reminds me of when we were much younger. He looks like high school Jon, like the one that asked me out for the first time when I was fifteen and he was seventeen. On my tiptoes, I deliver to him another kiss. I feel like I’ve fallen in love with him all over again tonight.
“Did I already tell you how lucky I am to be with you?” he asks.
“Will you still be saying that at two in the morning when I’m nudging you to get me some Tums?” I ask him.
“It will be tinged with sarcasm, but yeah.” He tosses his keys in the air once and catches them, setting the alarm and opening the door to the apartment for me.
I notice he slipped on his jeans. “Should I put on actual pants or something?” I ask him, suddenly having second–rational–thoughts about my lounge pants.
“Nope. Normal people do this every day. We’re just ordering burgers, running in, picking them up and leaving. Why can’t we be normal for a night?” he poses the question to me.
“The Scotts go normal… I like that,” I tell him.
“The car should be ready when we get downstairs,” he tells me, holding his hand out for me. Butterflies blossom in my belly. “Did you just blush, Liv?”
I shrug my shoulders. “This is… fun. I just feel so… happy.”
In the elevator, he envelops me in a hug. “This is fun.”
Once we’re in Jon’s SUV and hidden by his tinted windows, I pull out his phone and find the menu for the place with the best burgers in the city–he’s the keeper of all the bookmarks to our favorite places. “Wow, they have a bunch of new things since we last did this.”
“It’s been years, Liv,” he laughs. “I hope they’ll still serve us.”
“We tip very well,” I remind him. Their food caters toward an adult crowd, so it’s not someplace we take the girls. When we normally get nights alone, we go out to nicer, sit-down restaurants–places where we can carry on a conversation with one another.
“Think they’ll make them to go?”
“We’ll tip even better. I’ll call them.”
“I’m thinking you should have worn jeans…”
“The high’s wearing off from earlier, huh?” I ask him, pinching his forearm and laughing.
“See if they’ll bring it to the hostess stand,” he whispers as I wait for someone to answer.
“Thank you for calling Raoul’s. How may I serve you?”
“Hi. This is Livvy Holland,” I say, earning a poke in my side from my husband for using my maiden name. It’s the one that gets the impossible done in this town, though. Scott can open many doors. Holland gets us the red-carpet treatment.
“Yes, Ms. Holland, what can I do for you this evening?”
“My husband and I have had a crazy night, and we were just wondering if there was any way we could get a couple of your burgers. It’s, like, the only thing I’m craving…” I say.
“Oh. Ummm. Let me ask the chef,” she says.
“We’ll pay whatever,” I tell her before she slips away.
I link my fingers with Jon’s while I wait for an answer. He holds on to me tightly.
“Ms. Holland? The chef says we can prepare burgers and fries for you and your husband. How would you like them cooked?”
“Oh, thank you so much!” I gush. “Both medium rare with everything on them. And could you have them ready at the hostess stand? We’ve been working in the nursery tonight, and we’re not really dressed to make an entrance, if you know what I mean.”
“Of course, Ms. Holland. We’ll have them ready in fifteen minutes.”
“We’ll be there. Thank you!”
“Working in the nursery, huh?” he asks.
“Sounded better than screwing, right?” I make a production out of sliding his phone into the pocket of his tight-fitting jeans.
“A little more to the left,” he suggests.
“Yeah, yeah…” On my phone, I shoot a quick text to Shea.
– Guess who got some…
I wait for a response, but by the time we get to the restaurant, I still haven’t heard anything back from her. If I know her and Will, she’s probably getting some, too. Still… she should be celebrating this with me! It’s been months! Auggie the cockblocker took a night off!
“Ready?” Jon asks.
“Do I have to?” He nods his head, but I already knew the answer. It’s not safe for me to idly sit in a car late at night in SoHo, just like it’s not safe for Coley to take taxis by herself. They’re easy opportunities for bad things to happen. The words originally came from my father but have since been echoed by all the men in our family.
There are times when I miss the freedom, but I would never give up my life with my family, and especially my life with Jon. Not for anything in the world.
People are excited to see us out in public. Many of them are yelling my name, but I keep my head bowed down, not wanting to be in any pictures tonight, and I know that’s the only reason they’re calling me. Fortunately for us, they’re just average New Yorkers. No paparazzi tonight. That’s one good thing about going somewhere we don’t normally visit–none of the vultures are waiting on the off-chance they may catch a glimpse of us.
Jon makes quick work of the transaction. I don’t even watch him pay because I know he’ll tip them very well. When we met, he was very frugal with his money. After growing up without any, I couldn’t blame him. But since realizing what we make and what we stand to inherit someday, and knowing that both of his brothers are taken care of, too, he’s good about taking care of people who take care of us.
And trust me, getting us these burgers is truly taking care of me tonight.
“I cannot wait to eat this,” I tell him when we settle back into the car.
“Mrs. Scott?” he says abruptly.
“I will, though! Don’t worry. I wasn’t going to start now!”
He shoves his phone in my face before we pull away. “Can you tell me why Will is sending me sexually suggestive emojis right now? With confetti and champagne?”
“I mean,” I say, grinning, “what’s sexually suggestive about an eggplant? And a peach?” I ask innocently.
“There’s a rocket and a tunnel, too, ma’am,” he says, mockingly annoyed. I scroll though no less than twenty texts from his brother–half dirty, half congratulatory–all very Will.
“I just have no idea.”
“You told Shea.”
“I haven’t seen Shea!” I argue.
“Does your phone have an eggplant and peach on it?”
“Absolutely not! When Shea and I talk food, we spell it out. She’s a chef. She’s wordy like that.”
“Stop playing coy. What’d you tell her?”
“I just told her to guess… who… gotsome,” I say quickly.
“Got some?” he asks. “That’s how you talk about it? What are you, 13?”
“It’s been awhile, okay?” I laugh.
“I got some,” he says, mimicking my voice.
“Oh, my god. But wait! Don’t get onto me about telling Shea. It’s obvious you’ve told your brother you haven’t been getting any by his response to you.”
“Brothers talk! Whatever! It’s a guy thing!” he counters.
“Well, so do sisters.”
A Holland and a Fighter © 2019 Lori L. Otto