Lost and Found Excerpt | Triple Date

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen my post last night about how much I love Chapter 7 of Lost and Found. It’s a very full chapter with plenty of content to love (11,311 words?!)… why I didn’t break it up, I’ll never know. It was my first book, and it admittedly has its quirks.

Anyway, I’m not here to apologize for lengthy chapters. I am here to give you a big, juicy excerpt from this particular chapter.

To set the stage, Nate and Emi have been best friends for, like, 13 or 14 years at this point. There’s a little something between them, but they made a pact long ago – friends only.

Chris is Emi’s older brother and one of Nate’s closest friends. After meeting the woman he thinks he’s going to marry, Chris invites Nate, Emi and their dates (Sam and Colin, respectively) to dinner in order to meet the lovely Anna.

As the image below suggests, things don’t go very well.

For those of you who’ve read the story, maybe it’s been awhile and you’d like to reconnect. If you’re new here, though… welcome to Hollandtown. This is where it begins… Nate’s narrating.

“I’m nervous,” Sam whispers in my ear as we wait for the hostess to seat us in the Spanish restaurant I’d chosen.

“Why?” I ask her with a chuckle, wrapping my arm around her bare shoulder. “You look perfect. Everyone’s going to love you.”

“I hope.” I could tell that Sam was putting a lot of pressure on herself tonight. I think she feared that if my friends disapproved, it would be over between us. Even if their opinions weren’t favorable, I wasn’t ready to end what we had going yet.

“Just be yourself. And I bet everyone’s a little nervous anyway, so you’ll fit right in,” I assure her.

“Right this way, sir,” a host signals for us and leads us to the table already occupied by Emi, Chris, Colin and a very pretty Asian woman that I assume is Anna. I smile at Chris and nod my approval. He stands up to greet us, shaking my hand and pulling the chair next to his out for Samantha. As he talks to my girlfriend, I make my way over to his date.

“Anna, I presume?”

“Hi, you must be Nate,” she says with a smile that would ease anyone’s fears. “It’s so good to finally meet you.”

“You, as well.” 

Emi’s seated next to her, and she stands up to hug me. It’s not our normal hug, as her hands barely touch my arms. Colin’s too busy eating a chip to even shake my hand. I finally find my way back to the empty chair and take a seat next to Sam. She’s introducing herself to Anna and complimenting her on the shirt she’s wearing.

“You remember Emi,” I mention at the end of their conversation.

“Of course,” she says with a small wave across the table at my friend.

“And that’s her date, Colin.” I refuse to call him her boyfriend.

“Pleasure,” he says, stretching his hand over my plate to shake hers. 

“I’m Samantha,” she says to him. He nods once, returning to his appetizer. Pleasant guy. Real winner, Em. 

I try to make eye contact with her to see what she thinks about his greeting, but she and Anna are laughing quietly together. Colin taps Emi on the shoulder once and holds a chip in front of her face.

“Taste this, babe,” he says to her. I catch myself cringing a second too late. He feeds her the chip, and she looks a little uncomfortable, her eyes meeting mine, then Chris’s. I fake a smile at her, then turn my attention to her brother. 

“So, Colin,” he says, distracting him from feeding her any more food, at least for a few seconds. “Tell me what you do. Emi says you’re a writer?”

“Yeah, I write the sports column for the Journey News– LoHud– and I do some freelance now and then for Sports Illustrated.” One time he wrote an article for his hometown paper, and it was picked up by the well-known magazine. One time. I stave off my laughter and keep that fact to myself, not wanting anyone to know that I had done a little research on the guy.

“Any sport in particular?” I ask, joining the conversation.

“Football and baseball, mainly. I played both in college.”

“Really? Where?” 

“SUNY,” he says.

“And what was your major?” I continue.

“Communications,” he says.

“Great, when did you graduate?” I already know the answer.

“I didn’t,” he begins, not an ounce of regret in his voice. “I was drafted to a minor league football team, so I took that gig and ran.” He laughs, proud.

“Excellent,” I say. “So, what happened with that career?” My tone is admittedly condescending, and he sits up straight in his chair, puffing his chest out.

“He had a leg injury,” Emi speaks up as she puts her hand on Colin’s. She slants her eyes at me. “His experience at his college newspaper got him the job at LoHud.”

“Sounds like an awesome job. What city is that paper in?”

“Rockland… Putnam…” He knows I’m mocking him.

“Right, right. Lots of high school reporting, I guess.”

“I hear there’s a baseball team in Putnam with a female pitcher,” Sam joins in, sensing the tension and trying to diffuse it. “My cousin goes to that school.”

“Really?” Colin says, genuinely interested. “I’ll have to look into that. That’d make a pretty good story.”

Sam smiles brightly, proud. 

“I guess you know all about high school sports,” Emi pipes in, her attention directed at Sam. “Didn’t you just graduate last year?” Emi knows exactly when she graduated.

“No,” Sam says, then swallows, picking up on Emi’s tone. “I’m a junior at NYU.”

“What sorority are you in?”

“I’m not in any sorority,” Sam cocks her head slightly when she answers.

“Surprising,” Emi mutters under her breath. “I thought all prom queens were automatically drafted into some greek underworld or something.”

“You were the prom queen?” Chris’s date asks, hanging on to a fact that I wish I had never mentioned to Emi. Anna sounds genuinely interested, though. I like this woman already.

“Yeah, but that was a long time ago.” I can tell Sam’s embarrassed and doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.

“Three years,” Emi sighs. “So long ago…”

“I’m sorry,” I whisper to my date. 

“No, it’s fine,” she says.

“Do you really want to talk about prom night, Em? Because, boy, do we have a story to tell.” She glares at me from across the table. When I look at Chris, he’s looking at me with contempt. Emi didn’t go to her senior prom out of principle and she had regretted it ever since. That night, she had locked herself in her room and wouldn’t come out. Her mother and I sat at the door and tried to talk some sense into her, but it didn’t work. It took a phone call from Chris later that night to calm her down. She told me to never bring it up, and I never had until now.

“Why? What happened on your prom night?” Colin asks her.

“Nothing,” she mumbles. “And that’s the truth.”

Colin shifts his focus to me, waiting for me to add to her story.

“You heard the lady.” I smile at him mischievously, which is sure to create more questions in his mind. “Wild,” I mutter aside, but loud enough for him to hear.

“Anna,” Chris jumps in. “Why don’t you tell everyone what you do.”

“I’m an interior designer,” she says with a blush. 

“Nate has a great loft that could use a woman’s touch,” Sam says. “I’ve been trying to get him to redecorate. I have a lot of ideas. I’d love to talk to you about them!”

“Great!” Anna says. Emi’s attention is piqued, her eyes curious.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Sam,” I tell her. “Plus, everything there has a purpose. It’s all there to highlight the art.”

“Oh, right,” she says. “I didn’t mean–”

“It’s okay,” I cut her off, not wanting to hurt her feelings. Emi smugly smiles from across the table. “You know, maybe we can work on the guest bedroom together.”

“Really?” Sam asks as Emi chokes on her wine.

“Sure.” I lean down to kiss her gently. When we part, I glance to see Emi, looking away with purpose, revealing a mark just above her collarbone when her loose shirt slips off her shoulder. My first inclination is to point it out. “Did you scratch yourself or something? There’s a large red mark on your neck.” Asshole, marking his territory.

Instinctively, she immediately draws her hand over the hickey he had left on her delicate pale skin. She knew exactly where it is, and by the blush on her cheeks, I’m certain she knows exactly what it is, as well.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she lies. “If you’ll excuse me, I’ll go take a look.” 

Colin smiles smugly, glaring at me as he downs his third beer.

“Nate,” Chris scolds me as Colin stands up, presumably to follow Emi. “Colin, have a seat, I’ll handle this,” he says. Emi’s boyfriend doesn’t argue, sitting back down and having another chip. As Chris leaves the table, he whispers over my shoulder, requesting me to follow him.

“I’ll be right back, sweetie,” I tell Sam as I squeeze her hand.

As we walk toward the bathrooms, he has a hard time keeping his cool. “What are you, four? You two are acting like children. You’re embarrassing yourselves— and me— in front of a woman I really like. Not to mention the unfortunate dates you both brought along.”


“Fix this, Nate.” He goes into the men’s restroom, leaving me in the hallway alone. I wait for Emi to come out of the ladies room. As soon as she sees me, she attempts to push me, trying to move around me, but I block her from getting away. She glares at me angrily.

“This is turning out to be a great night, huh?” I ask her, trying to break the ice. It doesn’t work. She steps past me, but stays in the hallway, out of sight of the restaurant diners.

“What is your problem!?” 

“Me? What is your problem?”

You’re my problem,” she answers, crossing her arms across her chest. 

“Yeah? Well why are you being such a bitch to Sam?”

“Excuse me?” she asks. “Why am I being a what?”

“You heard me,” I say, lacking the guts to repeat what I had called her.

“Why, Nate,” she says innocently, “I’m just trying to get to know her better. I assume you’re doing the same by belittling Colin?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“He has a good job, Nate. A steady job. He earns his own money… he wasn’t born with a silver spoon up his ass like some people I know.”

“Wow, my money never bothers you when you get to take advantage of its perks. Are you a little jealous?”

“Shut up, Nate. No way in hell am I jealous.” I laugh at her answer.

“So I’m supposed to like him because he has good work ethic? Tell, me, Em, does he have good grammar, too? I know that’s a requirement for you. Does he pass your test of they’re, their and there?”

“I’m sure he does.”

“And I’m sure you’re overlooking the obvious. You’ve lowered your standards to the gutter for this winner. I’ve read his articles, Emi. They suck.”

“Right,” she answers.

“I have. Have you? Because if you have, you’d realize they have no sports editor at LoHud, and you would have discovered that he does not, in fact, know the difference between they’re, their and there.” 

“I don’t care,” she argues. “He knows a lot of other things.” I can tell by the tone of her voice what she’s insinuating.

“Yes, he’s left his proof on you,” I remind her. “Classy guy. Who needs money when he can give you your very own, personalized, front-facing tramp stamp? Look, it’s Emi’s red badge of fucking!” I say, pulling her shirt sleeve down to prove my point. When I look closer, I notice it’s not a hickey after all. It’s a fresh bruise. Upon further inspection, I discover another one closer to the nape of her neck.

“Stop,” she says, adjusting her shirt.

“What is that, Emi?” I ask, suddenly concerned.

“It’s a hickey, just like you thought.

“No, it’s not. What the fuck are those?” I pull the sleeve away once more and lightly press my fingers into both.

“Ow,” she hisses.

“Are you guys finished over here?” Chris says from behind me. Emi quickly averts her eyes and pulls the sleeve back up again.

“We’re fine,” she answers him.

“No, Chris, come–” She grips my forearm tightly.

“We’re handling things,” she smiles at her brother. “We just need another minute or two.” 

“Please do not make me regret bringing her to meet you. I really want this to work with her.” Before I have a chance to speak again, he turns on his heels and returns to the table.

I look back down at Emi, the shock still apparent on my face.

“Did Colin do this?” I brush her shoulder again to remind her of the marks. 

“Shut up, Nate, you’re completely out of line. You don’t know him at all.”

“I’m trying to understand him,” I pause, realizing my lie. “No, I’m not. I couldn’t care less about him, and my god, Emi, if he is hurting you–”

“He’s not,” she says with a look of disgust on her face. “What just because he’s got more muscles than you, you think he beats me?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“I dropped some books from that shelf in my room,” she spits at me. “He had nothing to do with this.”

“Then why did you lie and say it was a hickey?”

“It makes for a much better story, doesn’t it?”

“Right, of course. Then why didn’t you let me have Chris take a look?”

“Because I know his temper, and I know he would jump to conclusions. And I know Colin’s strength… my brother wouldn’t stand a chance against him.”

“Well, what if I decide to take matters into my own hands, then?”

“You wouldn’t.”

“I might.”

“I’d say go for it. You’d be completely in the wrong, and I don’t give a shit about what he does to you.” I know she’s just angry with me… I know she doesn’t mean it; even her eyes tell me so.


“Well, you’ve been a complete dick all night.”

“And you’ve been the model of civility yourself, Emi.”

“You’ve deserved it.”

“Why? What have I done, aside from trying to make you see the guy you’re dating for the asshole he really is?”

“That’s plenty.”

“What do you see in him?”

“You’re one to talk. The only thing your Barbie-doll mute has contributed to the conversation is some tidbit about high school.”

“You haven’t given her a chance to speak!”

“I can see she’ll just be one of those women who will sit pleasantly by your side, agreeing with everything you say, going along with everything you do, until she has her hooks in you. Then you’ll get to know the real Sam, and it’ll be too late to get out.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“I can just see her manipulative little mind at work, that’s all.”

“Whatever. If you just tried to get to know her, you’d see you’re completely misjudging her.”

“Well, we won’t need to worry about that. I don’t want to know her.”

“That’s very mature.”

“Doesn’t seem like you’re into maturity. If you were, you’d date a grown up.” She slants her eyes and smiles smugly.

“Alright, I’m done,” I tell her, trying to end the argument. “Your brother brought us here to get to know Anna. Let’s just try to put this aside for now–”

“Fine,” she says.

“Just after I ask Colin about those bruises.” I turn to walk toward the table. Either she truly doesn’t care about my safety, or she doesn’t believe that I will follow through on my threat. I don’t think he’ll attack me in the restaurant.

I sit down next to Sam as she immediately takes my hand in hers and squeezes it tightly. “So, Colin–”

“Anna, I’m sorry,” Emi cuts me off. “I must be having an allergic reaction to some of the food,” she explains to her brother’s date as she scratches her neck close to the spot I had pointed out to the entire table. 

“Oh, that’s too bad,” Anna says. “I hope you’re okay.”

“I’m sure it’s fine. Probably some herb or something,” she mumbles. “But listen, I’ll get your number from Chris. Maybe we can meet for drinks one night this week?”

“That’d be great,” Anna says. 

“Colin,” Emi taps her boyfriend on the shoulder as he chews on an appetizer. “Nate was nice enough to offer to drop me off on his way home,” she lies to him, “but I was hoping you could take me. I know it’s out of your way.”

“No, it’s fine, babe. Sure. We just ordered, though. Can we wait and have them box it up?”

“Colin, I think we need to go now,” she says, her voice urgent. She watches me out of the corner of her eye to make sure I don’t say any more. 

“I could bring your food by,” I offer her, glaring.

“No thank you. We’ll find something at home.”

“I was looking forward to the lobster,” Colin explains, still seated and completely unconcerned with Emi’s fake illness.

Emi bites her bottom lip to keep from saying more.

“You should take her now,” I tell him, just wanting him out of my eyesight for good. “Plus, maybe it’s not a food allergy. Maybe those splotches on her neck are contagious.”

“Nate,” she warns.

“Wouldn’t want them to spread, that’s all I’m saying.” I stare at Colin as I say this, hoping he understands that I know that they’re bruises.

He stands up abruptly and throws his napkin on his plate.

“Goodnight, Emi,” Sam calls after my friend. Emi turns around to acknowledge her. “I hope you get better soon. Let us know if you need anything.”

“Thanks,” Emi says, her smile forced.

Chris finally speaks up after they leave. “I’m sure she’ll be fine,” he says, addressing his girlfriend. “I’ve never known her to have any food allergies, though. I’ll check on her later.”

“So, Nate, tell me about your artwork,” Anna says, continuing our dinner as if nothing has happened. She takes a sip of her wine and smiles at me and Sam across the table. I can tell she’s going to be good for Chris.

Lost and Found ©2011 Lori L. Otto

Want to start at Chapter 1? Get LOST AND FOUND today!

99¢ Beginning-of-Series Sale (Emi Lost and Found / Choisie)

There are a few hours left in the day… March 21, 2015.

It’s a special day in my world: Lost and Found‘s 4th birthday! To celebrate, I’ve marked down the ebook for Lost and Found, the first book in the Emi Lost & Found series, to 99¢ (that’s 75% off) for the day, so get it fast! You won’t want to miss the epic love story of Emi and Nate! Time is running out!

Kindle | Nook | iBooks


And for the fun of it, I decided to mark down the price of Contessa, too, to 99¢ (also 75% off). The sale on the first book of the Choisie series will last longer–through April 5th! But there’s no time like the present! Go ahead and start this beautiful story of first love and family relationships.

Kindle | Nook | iBooks


The Emi Lost & Found and Choisie series consist of four books each, and they are both complete! The Choisie series is a spin-off of Emi Lost & Found, but it is NOT necessary to read the first series before the second!

Happy reading to you all!

We won five Lost in a Book Blog awards for 2014!

Recently, Lost in a Book Blog held their first annual book awards, which had readers both vote and nominate for their favorites in different categories. I am happy, honored and grateful to report that we won FIVE awards in 2014!

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I want to thank all the readers out there who nominated, voted and asked for more vote! There was some amazing competition, and I’m surprised to have won in even one category!! It means so much to have books and characters from both of my series as winners, too. See? They’re both worth reading! 😉

Last but not least, thanks to Lost in a Book Blog for hosting these fun awards, and for all of their support year-round!

Conversations: “Shakespearean Texts” from Lost and Found


Alone in my hotel room, I’m reminded of another of Shakespeare’s sonnets.  I know she’s not a fan, but the verse is too fitting, describes my feelings tonight perfectly.  I decide to pick up my phone and email her the last two lines before my shower.

“All days are nights to see till I see thee / And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.”

After I take a shower, I check my messages before going to bed.  There is a text from her, and I’m immediately surprised and amused at her Shakespearean response.

“Is it thy will thy image should keep open / My heavy eyelids to the weary night? / Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken / While shadows like to thee do mock my sight?”  

“So I’m keeping you awake at night?” I respond quickly, crawling into the plush bed, throwing off all the pillows but two.

“Maybe,” she answers.

“Since when do you quote the Bard?”

“Since Google found a good comeback. ;)”

“You always were resourceful.”

“Hey, Shakespeare, shouldn’t you be sleeping, dreaming of me?”

“I was just about to go do that.  I had some things to take care of.”

“Like what?  It’s pretty late…”

“Well, I had to do things that simply involve me imagining you… and then I took a shower.”

“You had to tell me that…”

“You had to ask?”  She doesn’t respond.  “Well, what do you do when I keep you awake at night?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“In fact, I would.  Have you been to sleep tonight?”

“Nope.  Can’t sleep.”

“What are you doing right now?”

“Right now, I’m wondering why you don’t have curtains… the moon is really bright tonight… it’s shining directly into your room.”

“You’re in my bed?”

“I am.”

“And what are you wearing?”

“Such a guy response… I thought you already took care of that. :p”

“I’m just trying to give you something to do, alone, in the middle of the night, without me.  Is that so wrong?”

“Well, maybe I already took care of that, too…”

“Emily Hennigan!”


“Next time, you’d better call me.”

“In your dreams… speaking of which…”

“I miss you, Emi.  I can’t wait to see you in person.”

“I miss you, too… but with this rock-hard pillow, it’s almost like you’re here.”

“Rock-hard, huh?”

“Shut it, Nate.  Next time I’m bringing my own pillow.”

“Bring over anything you’d like.  I just want you to be there when I get home.”

“I may not be here, but I’ll come soon enough.”

“I’m sure you will.  ;)”

“From poetry to porn.  My, how this conversation has regressed.  Go to bed, you dirty, dirty man.”

“With dreams of my sweet Miranda…”  When she doesn’t text back, I add clarification“Shakespeare?”

“I know, but which one was she?”

“From the Tempest.  She was the one whose beauty and virtue eclipsed all others.”

“Hell, I think you’re already dreaming!”  

I laugh quietly to myself.  “Like ya, Emi.”

“Sweet dreams, Nate.”

I set the phone on the night stand and roll on my side, pulling the soft pillow into my body, anxious for those dreams to come.

Lost and Found: Kindle / iBooks / Nook

©2011 Lori L. Otto

Conversations: “A Better Man” from Lost and Found


“Happy birthday, Emi,” I tell her, my voice strained as I try to read her.  She just glares at me blankly.

“Yeah, it’s really happy, thanks,” she mumbles.  “You can’t just keep coming over like this,” she warns me as she opens the door to her apartment.

“Well, then, you’ll have to start taking my phone calls.  Or at least returning them.”  I walk into her apartment and sit on her bed.

“I will when I’m ready,” she says, following me to her bed and wrapping her hand around my upper arm, pulling me back up.  “Why do you keep pushing things?”

“What are you doing?”

“We can go for a walk, but I don’t really want you over here, invading my space.”  I stop in my tracks and just stare behind her.  “Come on.”

“Invading your space?”


“I guess I didn’t realize there was such a division here.  I apologize.”

“Come on,” she says again, clearly annoyed and signaling for me to follow her into the hallway.  “You’re not calling the shots.”

“As if I ever have,” I mumble after her, hating her tone and wishing she would soften it just a little.  In my mind, this was supposed to be much easier.

Once we get outside, she starts walking down her street and turns south on 1st Avenue.  She finally addresses me as a gusty warm wind blows in our faces.

“What’s going on?”  Her question sounds so general, so casual.

“I told Sam about our kiss today.”

“The guilt finally got to you, huh?”

“Look,” I tell her, taking her by the shoulder and spinning her around to face me.  I push her hair back behind her ear, holding it against her head since the wind refuses to let up.  I keep my other hand on her shoulder.  “Let’s cut it out with the sarcasm, please.  We’re never going to get anywhere if you keep talking to me like that.”

“Well where would you like things to go, Nate?”

“I want things to get better between us, Emi.  I think you want that, too.”

“I do,” she says plainly, her jaw still set.  “I just don’t know how that can happen.”

“I have some ideas.”  She searches my eyes and simply nods her head.  I drop my hands and begin walking again slowly.  She keeps pace easily.  “Sam and I broke up,” I tell her.

“Shocking.”  I look down at her from the corner of my eye.  “You’re right, I’m sorry,” she concedes.

“Thank you.”

“So she dumped you.”

“No,” I tell her, still surprised with Sam’s response.  “She forgave me.”

“Wow,” Emi says.  “That’s not what I expected.”

“Well, she said that she wouldn’t be mad, as long as the kiss didn’t mean anything.”

“And lucky for us, it didn’t, right?”  She stares straight ahead when she says this.  I get the distinct feeling she’s simply quoting my words.  She starts picking at her nails nervously.

“That’s just it.”

“What’s just it?”

I take a deep breath and walk a few more paces before stopping at a red light.  My attention focused on the pedestrian signal, I begin to talk.  “I did feel something.”  The light signals us to walk, so I step out into the intersection, waiting for her to speak.  It’s not until I get to the other side that I realize she didn’t cross the street with me.  She’s just staring at me from the other side, the red light keeping us apart again.

Her eyes don’t blink, and even with the distance, I can see her breaths quicken as her shoulders move with each inhale, exhale.

“You felt something?” she yells from across the street.  A few people around us pretend to not pay attention, but they’re too close to avoid it.

“Yeah!” I speak loudly back to her.  “I did.”  I hope she can hear my confirmation over the traffic, but the words nearly get stuck in my throat as my heart throbs in my ears.  “I do.”

“And why are you telling me this now?”  The light changes again and people begin to cross, but Emi stays planted on her corner, and I don’t realize she’s not coming toward me until it’s too late.  I look both ways, but traffic is coming, so I remain on the curb, waiting for the next light.

“Are you coming across?” I holler to her.

“No!” she says quickly.

“Okay, well, wait there.”  She starts to shake her head, slowly at first, then faster.  She starts to turn away from me.  “No, wait!  Emi!” I call out.  Her gait is bewildered as she stumbles away from the street.  I start running as soon as the light signals me to.

“Go get her!” a woman shouts from behind me.  I do feel like I’m suddenly in a movie.  Only when I get to the other side, Emi’s not waiting for me with open arms.  They’re actually crossed in front of her chest as she continues walking in the other direction.

I’m short of breath when I get to her.  “Wait,” I breathe.  “Please.”

“Why?” she says as she glares angrily at me.

“Because I’m trying to tell you something.  I’ve been wanting to tell you this for– well, forever.”

She laughs– laughs– at me.

“Whatever, Nate.”  She rolls her eyes and walks ahead.  “Save your breath.”

“What?  No!”

“When did you say you and Sam broke up?”

“Today.  Just an hour or so ago.”

“And you’re telling me this now, why?”

“Because it couldn’t wait!”

“More like you couldn’t wait.  You just can’t stand to be alone, can you, Nate?  So you go to the next woman you think you have a chance with, right?  Have you run out of women, Nate?  Have you fucked the whole city already, and I’m the only one left?

“God, Emi, no.”

“I’m not a placeholder, Nate.  I’m not the bookmark that waits for the next chapter of your life to come along.  I’m a human being.  I thought I was your friend.”

I swallow hard, disbelieving how this conversation has turned out.  “You are.  I just… I just want you to be more.  I thought you might feel the same way.”

She slants her eyes at me in disgust.  “I’m not interested, thank you.  I’m not desperate.”

“Is it Colin?  I’m a better man than him, Emi.  I’ll prove it to you, every fucking day.  I am a better man,” I plead with her, holding her hand in mine.

“That’s debatable.  But no, it’s not him.  It’s me.  I have my dignity, Nate, and your fear of being alone isn’t going to take that from me.”

“That’s not what this is at all, Emi!”

“We kissed, Nate.  So the fuck what?  People kiss every day and live to regret it, just like I do.  You said it meant nothing to you.  You told me that–”

“I was trying to protect my feelings–”

“By hurting mine?”

“I didn’t mean to.  Did it?  Did it hurt your feelings, because if it did, you must have felt something for me, too.”

“No,” she says, her posture steeled and her eyes mean.  “You are so arrogant.  You think the whole world revolves around you, don’t you?”

“Actually, no.  I feel like it revolves around you.”

I can hear the surprised sigh escape her lips as her cheeks blush.  She swallows hard.  “Well, you know I didn’t feel anything.  So you’re wasting your time.”

“It’s bullshit, Emi.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Then why have you been acting like this?”

“Like what?  Depressed?  Withdrawn?  Colin and I broke up, that’s why.  Thanks for asking.”

I nod silently.  “I’m sorry,” I tell her.

“No you’re not.”

“I’m sorry you’re hurting.  I’m not sorry you’ve stopped seeing him, you’re right.  He was wrong for you.”

“And you’re not?”

“I don’t think… I don’t know.”

“I know.  You need to really think about what you’re doing, Nate, and what you’re asking.  And the consequences of your actions.  Everything you’ve done recently just seems to mess things up.  Your confession to me today is just one more.”

“I’m just being honest.”

“You’re just feeling alone.”

“I’m not.”

“And I’m not going to just jump into your arms and tell you I feel the same.  I don’t.  In fact, I’ve never been more angry with you than I am right now.”


“Because,” she begins to cry.  “Because you keep messing with my emotions, Nate, for your own personal gain.  I just want you to leave me alone.”

“No, Emi.  Please don’t say that.”  We end up back at her apartment building.

“There are some days that I really hate you,” she tells me, the expression of pain taking over every muscle in her face and body.

I shake my head at her words, feeling moisture in my own eyes.  “I don’t think you do, Emi.  I really don’t think you do.”

“Well then that’s for me to figure out.  Please don’t come by unexpected anymore.”

“When can I see you again?”

“I don’t know, Nate.”

“Can I call you?”

“I’d prefer it if you didn’t.”

“Don’t do this, Emi.  Please don’t cut me off.  Not now.”

“I think now’s the best time.  It seems like you need to really think long and hard about what you’ve done… and what you’re suggesting.”

“If that’s what you’d like.”

“It’s what you need.”

“Fine,” I concede quietly.  She nods her head.  “Like ya, Em.  And again, happy birthday.”

A tear drops down her cheek.  She wipes it with the back of her hand, turning to walk inside her building.  I stare blankly at the empty space she left for a good ten minutes before returning to my own loft.

Lost and Found: Kindle / iBooks / Nook

©2011 Lori L. Otto

Conversations: “Anna and Collie” from Lost and Found

“Thanks for meeting me,” Emi’s brother, Chris, says as we set up on the racquetball court early one Saturday morning. “I can’t sit at home and wait any longer.”
“What are you waiting for?”
“I’ve been seeing this woman for a few weeks. I really like her. She, uh, finally stayed over the other night…” I glance at him, and his expression fills in the blanks. “But I haven’t seen her since. She’s all I can think about.”
“Well, Em, here I thought I was spending the morning with your brother.”
“Fuck you,” he tosses the ball to me. “You don’t understand.”
“I don’t understand women?” I serve the ball– hard– and he swats it back at me. “I know women,” I remind him.
“I know. That’s why you’re here and not any of the decent guys I know.”
“Hey, I resent that,” I tell him, rolling my eyes. “You listen to your sister too much.”
“We have better things to talk about than your sex life,” he responds.
“I highly doubt that,” I joke with him. “There’s really nothing better than my sex life.”
“Oh, here we go…” I laugh, continuing our game. “But speaking of which, you still seeing the young blonde?”
“Samantha,” I tell him, “and yes.”
“Emi says she hasn’t seen much of you lately. I’m guessing she’s the reason?”
“I will admit that Sam requires a lot of my attention, yes,” I answer honestly, “but I don’t know if you’ve met the schmo she started seeing…”
“So you’re a fan, are you?”
“You can tell? What’s his name? Carter or Colin or Collie… something like that.”
“Colin. And yes, I’ve met him. Briefly. He was at her place last week when I dropped off some books she had left at my apartment.”
“First impression?”
“He’s big. And his shirt was too tight.”
“Yeah, right? He doesn’t seem like her type,” I hint.
“I don’t know, Nate. I honestly don’t know him well enough to say one way or another. Plus, what’s her type, anyway?” He takes a break from the game to take a drink. He looks at me out of the corner of his eye. “The only guy she’s spent any amount of time with is you, and you’re just friends. I was beginning to wonder if guys were her thing.”
“Shut the fuck up.”
He laughs at me defending her. “I just wish she’d find a decent man soon.”
“So you don’t like him, then?”
“I didn’t say that,” he groans, starting the game up again. “I’m not going to shut the door on anyone this soon. I’ll support any man who wants to date her until he gives me reason not to.”
“He’s given me reason. I don’t like him.”
“What? What don’t you like about him?”
“He’s a total dick!” is my first argument… admittedly not a good one. I decide to fill him in on the brief conversation Colin and I had at the basketball game.
“That’s real mature.”
“Just wait. You know we saw the Knicks together a few weeks ago, right?”
“Yeah, that’s where she introduced you two. She told me. What happened?”
“He followed me into the men’s room at the arena,” I start, looking up at Chris, who is now completely interested in the conversation. “I would have punched him if I had the slightest bit of assurance that he wouldn’t break both of my arms off and beat me with them.”
“What’d he do?”
“He didn’t do anything. It’s what he said. Something like, ‘She’s a wild one,’” I begin.
“Yikes, do I want to know more?”
“I’ve never had to defend your sister’s honor before, but I did. I mean, out of all the adjectives in the world, ‘wild’ is not one I would ever use to describe her.”
“Yeah, agreed.”
“So, after I stood up for her, he told me it was obvious that I hadn’t ‘had’ her. I mean, can you believe that?”
“What? Surely you misunderstood.”
I start the game again. “Yeah, I didn’t misunderstand. His meaning was quite clear.”
“How did you respond? Did you tell her?”
“I wanted to, but once we made it back to the suite, he made it a point to stake his claim on her by putting his hands all over her, glaring at me… you know, for the three minutes they stuck around before going off to wherever and… fuck, it just pisses me off.”
He looks at me and laughs, shaking his head. “Don’t tell her.”
“Why not?”
“Because I just have a hard time believing–”
“It happened–”
“That’s fine, so he’s a little immature. Maybe he felt threatened by you, I don’t know. But let it play out on its own. She hasn’t dated anyone in awhile. And she’s a pretty good judge of character. There’s got to be some redeeming quality about him, right?”
“It’s nothing I can see. Nor do I care to.”
“You two really are ridiculous, you know that?”
I’m sure he can see through me. He’s known me too long and knows me too well. There have been plenty of times that I’ve let my guard down. I have no doubt he knows how I feel about her, but he’ll never say it and he’d never encourage me. I’m sure it’s because she feels nothing for me in return.
“Why do you say that?” I decide to ask him anyway as his phone rings from the back of the court.
“Hold on. That’s Anna.” His smile grows instantly as he sighs, relieved. He runs to his gym bag and answers it. While he’s on the phone, I check my emails. Three from Sam. One from my agent. None from Emi. It’s been so long since she’s dated someone that I don’t remember if this is normal. Do we normally go this long without talking? I send her a text, just a friendly reminder that I’m still alive.

Lost and Found
(C) 2011 Lori L. Otto

Conversations: “An Irrelevant Woman” from Lost and Found

“So,” Emi says as she takes my elbow in hers, leaning in close to me so our conversation can be heard in the loud arena.
“I need some advice.” I strain to keep my eyes off her chest… fortunately, her green eyes are completely captivating, her lips soft…
“Let’s say you know a girl…”
“I know many girls,” I answer.
“Right, obviously, but let’s say it’s one particular girl.”
“Is this a girl, or a woman, Emi?”
“A woman, but she hates that term.” She hates that term.
“And is this woman someone I know?”
“She’s irrelevant…”
“Okay, an irrelevant woman…”
“No,” she laughs. “Stop it. So anyway, this woman…”
“Let’s say you met her under certain circumstances… and she wanted one thing from you, but with the way things panned out, you got the distinct impression that she wanted something else.”
“Okay…” Is she talking about us? “How would this girl– this woman– go about correcting this?”
“She shouldn’t beat around the bush, and she should just come out and say it. Guys are dense, we need for you to spell things out.”
“Okay, yes, that would be the obvious answer… but what if this girl really likes this guy, and he really is just interested in her for the other thing?”
“I’m not following,” I tell her. “Dense, remember? Be plain.”
“She likes him for one thing… but he sees her differently, based on some things she… did… hypothetically…”
“Right.” What? “So you don’t think the guy and the girl want the same thing?”
“Right. Like, maybe certain circumstances caused this girl to be someone… other than the person she really is… what if the guy just likes the girl he thinks she is but not the one she really is?”
“Why wouldn’t he like the girl she really is?”
“I don’t know…”
“If the girl is you, I’m sure the guy would really like you, for you.” And if the guy is me… no, I can’t go there.
“This is all hypothetical,” she blushes. “Irrelevant girl.”
“You are never irrelevant, Emi,” I tell her. “If he didn’t like you for who you were, he wouldn’t be worth your time or trouble, Em. But why don’t you think he knows you?”
“Hypothetically?” she plays with me.
“Because she led him to believe she was someone else… that she wanted something else.”
“Well, what caused her to lead him on in the first place?”
“Poor judgment,” she sighs. “Wine and terribly poor judgment.”
“And you’re sure the guy likes the girl for this ‘something else?’”
“Pretty sure.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“He seemed to be enjoying himself… with her…” She blushes again, this time tucking her head into my shoulder.
“I think you’d be surprised, Emi. You should ask him.”
“Okay, no,” she shakes her head. “That would be too embarrassing. I don’t think I could do that… um, she could do that.”
“Sure you could. Try it.” Just say it.
“I’d be afraid he wouldn’t like me the same way… and then he’d be gone… probably run into the arms of someone better.” She laughs lightly under her breath.
“He wouldn’t leave you. There’s no one better.” I tuck a strand of hair that had fallen out of her pigtail back behind her ear, losing my breath in the process.
A strange look of awareness flashes through Emi’s eyes. Her lips part slightly as she stares at me.
“He’s probably on the same page as you,” I tell her, my voice hushed. “You just have to tell him, Emi, and find out.”
Her cheeks redden for the third time in the conversation as she pulls her arm from mine. “Right. I think I will. I need a drink.”
Abruptly, Emi stands up to get another drink. She trips over my feet as she crosses in front of me, falling into my lap, my hand touching her breast as she tumbles into me. Good lord…
“Maybe you don’t need another,” I suggest quietly.
“It’s the shoes, idiot,” she laughs nervously, “and your big feet.”
“Right,” I agree with her, unconvinced. Let the entertainment begin… Teresa slides into Emi’s vacant seat.
“When’s your next gig?” she asks.
“Nothing on the calendar yet,” I tell her. “But I’ll be sure to let you know.” We sit together until half-way through the second quarter when I begin to wonder where my best friend has gone. I turn around to scan the room, finding her seated at a bar in the suite talking to a man. He, too, is wearing a Knicks jersey and cap. His posture screams jock, his muscular arms further proof. She’s never been into that type. I wonder who he is, what they’re talking about.
She’s leaning into him, her back straight, chest out. She plays with her damned pigtail, twirling it coyly around her finger. I can see her pronounced dimples all the way across the room. Her laugh stands out among all the other crowd noise.
“Who’s that?” I ask, nudging Teresa.
“That’s the guy she’s been talking to… Colin, I think is his name.”
“They’re dating?”
“Not exactly,” her roommate answers. “They met at a happy hour that the magazine sponsored a few weeks ago. He’s a sports writer. Apparently,” she says, her voice dramatic, “they made out in his car till the wee hours of the morning.”
“Huh.” I have no words. “Really.”
“Yeah, they’ve been texting ever since. She wasn’t sure he’d show up… I’m glad he did, for her sake.”
“Yeah…” I say, running my hand through my hair. Why am I here?
“He’s a big Knicks fan… hence the outfit tonight. It’s her cute cheerleader look.”
“I see that,” I mumble, unable to tear my eyes away from her. Were we not just talking about us? About what she wants from me?
“When are you gonna ask her out?” she asks quietly.
“What?” I look at her, startled, the confession of my feelings written all over my face.
“You heard me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I lie.
“Yeah, keep it up,” she says, exasperated. I sit in silence for a few minutes, eventually turning back to the game but just seeing a blur of action in front of me, my eyes not wanting to focus.
“I could never be what she wants,” I murmur, a part of me hoping Teresa won’t hear me, an equal part wishing she would.

(C) 2011 Lori L. Otto

40th Birthday Mega Ebook Sale! Save $12 on 7 books!

Purchase links beneath the graphic!




New Cover! Lost and Found

It’s here, and it’s a thing of EXTRAORDINARY BEAUTY! Makes you want to buy the book, right? There are more links at the bottom, if you do.

LAF full

I fell in love with this cover… at first sight. It exists, even with book covers and authors.

First of all, no, I can’t find the scarf anywhere. It’s frustrating as hell, but Katrina has a one-of-a-kind masterpiece of clothing, apparently… and she should probably watch her back around the rest of us. 😉

Seriously, though. I cannot believe how wonderfully beautiful this one is. Christi and Katrina (and Alex) are AMAZING!

Here’s the new synopsis:

Emi Lost & Found series – Winner of the Best Happily Ever After of 2013 – HEA Bookshelf

“There was true depth to the story and the characters that moved me and emotionally gutted me. I was so taken by Nate and Emi’s love for each other. It’s the kind of love that few have and many desire but never get to experience.” – Megan, Reading Books Like a Boss

Independent and sensitive, idealistic and hopeful, Emi Hennigan lives her life with optimism and an open mind.  Between sharing a tiny Manhattan apartment with her fun-loving roommate and spending most of her free time with her heart-breaker friend, Emi’s seen enough failed relationships to know what to avoid in her quest to find her true love.  Not only that, but a single moment from her past lingers in her mind, setting high expectations for every man she dates.

Emi’s best friend, artist and hopeless romantic Nate Wilson, has been her closest companion all of their adult lives.  After swearing off love with Emi in a silly high school pact, Nate has been seeing other women in hopes of finding one that evokes stronger feelings than the ones he’s been harboring for Emi since he was a teen.  Over the span of a year, boundaries are crossed, feelings are confessed, and their unique friendship begins to blossom into something more.

Through Nate’s eyes, an atypical romance unfolds, disrupting the comfortable safe haven their friendship has provided.  With a promising future ahead of them both, fate intervenes to bring two soul mates together.

Photography and cover design by Christi Allen Curtis, assisted by Katrina Boone

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Here are the purchase links:

Kindle US: http://amzn.to/NntO7S

Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/MIxLmD

Nook: http://bit.ly/NntTZ0

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1g4E0J5

New Cover and Edition of Emi Lost and Found


The entire Emi Lost & Found series is getting a facelift, and today, we announce the release of a special edition of the Complete Emi Lost & Found series! This ebook-only edition features new artwork created by the lovely and talented Christi Allen Curtis (with the trusty assistance of Katrina Boone). In this version, you will not only get Lost and Found, Time Stands Still, Never Look Back and the two bonus short stories (Love, Lost and In the Mind of a Dying Man), but you’ll also get the prequel, Not Today, But Someday!

In the coming days/weeks, we will be releasing new covers for all of the individual books. The content remains the same… same beautiful story of romance and loss, friends and family, true love and soul mates. They’re all just packaged in nice, new designs.

Impatient, are you? Here’s an eensy peek at what’s to come!

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Want to win your own copy of the Complete Emi Lost & Found Series? Enter the Rafflecopter Drawing!

Not sure what all the fuss is about?

4.8 stars on Amazon!  4.67 stars on Goodreads! (Beware of spoilerific reviews on both sites!)

Emi Lost & Found series – Winner of the Best Happily Ever After of 2013 – HEA Bookshelf

“THE BEST BOOKS YOU’RE NOT READING. This series runs the gamut of emotions. I felt everything from pure joy and happiness to absolute devastation.” – Kelli, Alphas, Authors and Books Oh My

“Lori Otto managed to pull me in to the story so that I was so engrossed, entwined with it, so much that I didn’t know where the story ended and I began.” – StacyHGG, Books Unhinged Book Blog

Not Today, But Someday (prequel) – Nate Wilson knows he wants Emi Hennigan from the moment he sees her. Emi knows she needs Nate after one night together. A life-long friendship is born, and a pact is made to ensure that nothing will come between them.

Lost and Found (book one) – After swearing off love with Emi in a silly high school pact, Nate has been seeing other women in hopes of finding one that evokes stronger feelings than the ones he’s been harboring for Emi since he was a teen.  Over the span of a year, boundaries are crossed, feelings are confessed, and their unique friendship begins to blossom into something more. With a promising future ahead of them both, fate intervenes to bring two soul mates together.

Time Stands Still (book two) – No man could compete with Nate, Emi thought, until one night – one evening, one party, one journey, one second alters her course completely. That night, her brother’s best friend, Jack Holland, comes back into her life with a mission.  In a year’s time, he slowly finds a comfortable place in Emi’s life, but only time will tell if it’s right for Emi – and enough for him.

Never Look Back (book three) – To say Emi’s life over the past two years has had its share of peaks and valleys is an understatement – and her friends and family would agree. In the conclusion to Emi Lost & Found, Jack guides Emi through a year of self-discovery, and teaches her that faith in true love – and in soul mates – can yield happiness from even the darkest of places.

Are you ready to get your copy? NookKindleiBooks (coming soon) – Smashwords


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