Hi, I'm Kris and welcome to the blog tour for The Butch and the Beautiful, book two in my awesome queer soap opera! Enjoy the blog tour!
About The Butch and the Beautiful:
Jaq Cummings is a high school teacher who really wants a committed relationship—as long as it doesn’t keep her out late on school nights or interrupt Sunday mass with her dad. She is absolutely not about to fall for the hot-mess divorcée she hooks up with even if said hot mess pushes all her buttons. Jaq’s white knight days are over.
But one hookup with Hannah becomes two, then coffee, then more incredibly hot sex. And unlike most of Jaq’s exes, Hannah’s not looking for someone to come on strong. In fact, Hannah comes on plenty strong enough for both of them. But she’s just out of a disastrous marriage, she’s in the process of moving across the state, and Jaq can’t take a chance on yet another relationship where she defaults to being a caregiver instead of a partner.
Just when Jaq decides her relationship with Hannah is far too precarious, a crisis with a student reminds her of her priorities and makes it clear that sometimes, you have to take big risks to get what you really want.
Chapter OneI wasn’t hiding behind the topiary. People in suits this expensive don’t hide.
I was trying to dodge Liz’s brother for the third time. He hadn’t caught me yet, but he eventually would, and I wanted to put that moment off as long as possible on this, the happiest day of Liz’s life. Or whatever.
It probably would be the happiest day of her life. Liz had a sentimental streak the size of the Pacific. And she and Marla were deeply in love. Since Marla was only a little bit crazy, I was genuinely pleased for them, but that didn’t mean I wanted to be buddy-buddy with my co–best man all afternoon. He was going to ask me to fix everything he’d screwed up, while eyeing my breasts—just wait for it.
If your ex ever shows up on your doorstep one brisk autumn evening, plies you with wine, and says, “We’re getting married, you’re the best man, and we’re doing everything ourselves,” run like hell. Obviously. Do not, whatever else you do, slosh more wine into your glasses and say something totally absurd like, “That is going to be amazing. How can I help?”
My co–best man was actually supposed to be helping, at the moment. Oh god. What if he had screwed something up? I had visions of Bobby surrounded by torn tissue paper and massacred crafts. Fucking lesbian weddings. I had no idea why people were so into DIY. I’d hated arts and crafts in school, and adulthood made everything worse.
“Jaq?” he called, edging into view. “I know you’re hiding!”
Liz and I had dated off and on for five years. I should probably feel at least a little bit guilty about leaving wee Bobby in the lurch.
I was on the verge of coming out of my, uh, lingering place, when a woman I’d never seen before walked up to him. In a stunning, intense, ocean-depths-blue dress that draped off her curves and flowed around her.
“You’re Bobby, right? Liz said I should find you. I’m Hannah.”
That was the other ex? I’d heard a lot about Marla’s ex, who was serving as maid of honor, but apparently everyone forgot to mention she was gorgeous. I ducked more completely out of sight and caught my breath. Then, utilizing skills learned over the course of watching many James Bond movies, I edged around the sculpted bush to see better. Did Hannah have a sculpted bush? I told my brain to take a break. By all accounts, Hannah was batshit, histrionic, and in the middle of a nasty divorce. She probably did have a sculpted bush, though. She was from LA. I think it was go sculpted or wax off down there, no exceptions.
Bobby, clearly unsettled in the face of a hot woman, stumbled over his words. “Um, I’m not actually in charge—the person you should talk to is Jaq—”
“Any idea where I can find her? Unless—if you don’t need help, I can just head back to my room.”
I couldn’t let that happen, now, could I? All hands on deck.
I strolled out into the open, you know, like you do when you have in no way been hiding from your former almost-brother-in-law.
“Oh, hi, Bobby.” My voice, so very casual. I turned to the perfect stranger, whose name I didn’t know since I hadn’t been eavesdropping, and held out my hand. “Hi. I’m Jaq.”
“Hannah.” Handshake: firm. Palms: dry. Nails: short, squared-off, French manicure.
Batshit, histrionic, nasty divorce. Do not assess.
“Good to finally meet you,” I said.
“Jaq!” Bobby shifted restlessly from foot to foot. “I’ve been looking for you—”
“Sorry, Bobby. Took a walk. What’s up?” I gave Hannah a pointed last look before turning to Bobby.
“It’s the paper-bag things! There aren’t enough of them to reach all the way to the altar thing.”
“There’re two hundred of them. I mean, it’s not that far.”
Even at twenty-five he still looked like a sixteen-year-old wearing a suit too big for him. “We tried!”
Who was “we”? Cousins? Nieces and nephews?
“I’ll be over in a few minutes,” I told him, hoping he’d take the hint and skedaddle.
“Fine, but it’s almost four—”
Screw hints. I lightly shoved him. “Go on, baby brother. I’ll take care of it.”
He sighed. “Why didn’t they hire someone to do all this?”
“Hey, you’re preaching to the choir.” Another shove.
“Yeah, okay. Fine.” He turned away, then looked back. “That suit looks really good on you, Jaq.”
The eye-flick downward was only a second long. I shoved him a third time. Harder.
“Get to work.”
He grunted and took off.
“I thought he was Liz’s brother,” Hannah said.
“Well, they are both Asian.” I paused to see if she could take the ribbing.
“I literally just thought that. Then I was like, shit, he could have been adopted or something. Or you could have. So should I shut my big mouth, or—”
I have a few ideas for things you could be doing with your mouth. “He’s totally Liz’s brother. I’m just her ex.”
“And I’m Marla’s ex.” Hannah offered a charming half smirk. “You know this means we have to have sex, right?”
Damn. And yes. But damn.
“Did I shock you? Sorry. I really should stop talking altogether. You’ll tell everyone I’m mute, right? Unless that’s totally ableist, which it probably is.”
“I didn’t say I objected to sex.” Okay, obviously I should, but come on. Like, look at her. “Before we get there, though, we have to survive the wedding, and at the rate we’re going, I’m gonna have them recite their vows sitting in the car so they can drive away real fast. And that’s if I can find their car keys, and Bobby’s the last person who saw those.”
“That bad, huh?”
“Shambles might be an improvement.” I gestured to her dress. “Do you want to help, or—”
“Or I’ll sit in my room rewriting my entire life. Lead me to the work.” The smirk reappeared. “I’m glad he’s not your brother. Or that look he shot at you would have been wildly inappropriate.”
“What can I say? We met when he was a teenager. I think I ruined him for femme girls.”
About Kris Ripper:
Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a toddler, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.
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To celebrate the release of The Butch and the Beautiful, one lucky winner will receive their choice in ebook from Kris’s backlist.
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