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Forget your yule logs, TN’s favorite purveyors of hot fictional men, Christina Lauren, have a new standalone contemporary romance to keep you warm this month. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year because you’re going to love Roomies as much as we did.
Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.
Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a bigtime musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.
Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?
What that book blurb fails to mention is that Holland had an epic – go out of your way to see him, gave him a nickname, all her friends know about him – crush on Calvin long before she ever speaks to him. We can relate. To celebrate the release of Roomies we are sharing stories of our most epic crushes.
Spoiler Alert: One of us ended up married to their crush like Holland and Calvin. The rest of us…not so much.
Quick disclaimer before I start, I’m a happily married woman who is head over heels in love with my husband. HOWEVER, last year I saw the world’s most handsome human man who isn’t David Beckham climb out of a police SUV in the parking lot of my daughter’s school. I can’t lie, I audibly gasped. There he was, dropping off Red Ribbon Week supplies like baby daddy material while I corralled my kids into their car seats. Kismet. He was like a unicorn, I’m not even convinced he was real, he was THAT cute. You better believe I did a full blowout and makeup before drop-off during this year’s Red Ribbon Week festivities. I’ve never been so interested in keeping kids off drugs. Alas, I haven’t seen him again, but one of these days I’m going to get pulled over and it’ll be him at my window and I’ll immediately stick my hands out the windows to be cuffed. Or not.
I used to see this guy at my local coffee shop with his girlfriend. They’d always come in post-coital (I assume, her hair screamed as much) looking so hot and fully, satisfactorily sexed. It was hot. I mean both of them.
There were moments when I’d stare so hard and my fantasies would be so vivid I’d be pretty embarrassed for myself in that coffee shop. This went on for a year or so. A few months passed and I didn’t see him as much so he fell from my mind.
UNTIL ONE DAY
I was swiping on the dating apps some Friday night as you do as a sad lonely single and THERE HE WAS. His beautiful face, though very professional and much less sexed looking, staring at me, begging me to swipe right. I did, immediately after I screenshot his profile to send to all the appropriate group text threads.
And we didn’t match.
I was immediately overcome with self-doubt. Maybe my profile picture wasn’t pretty enough. Maybe I didn’t have enough pictures with dogs. Did I snapchat filter TOO much? Maybe he RECOGNIZED me from my in-the-corner-coffee-shop drooling. I was bummed.
So I did what any self-respecting dating app user would do in that situation: I reverse Google Imaged searched the screenshot and found his LinkedIn Profile, his bio page on the website for the small financial firm he worked for, an old blog from 2009, his Instagram, Twitter account and his mom’s Facebook page which showed family pictures going back to the early 1990s. I learned his favorite music (SAME AS ME), what he liked to do for fun (I LOVE COFFEE TOO), his values (FAMILY- SAME!) and realized we were perfect for each other.
We matched on the app a few weeks later and started dating pretty immediately. We shared taste in music, some life experiences, had similar goals and hopes for the future. But ultimately it didn’t work out. Because relationships are hard, complex and chemistry is a very specific thing that rarely works out.. unless you’re reading a book.
And now when I see him at the coffee shop… I give him a big hug, pet his dog and ask about his mom.
His name was Norman. He was the visual display designer I met during my brief, but illustrious, career in fine china sales at the San Francisco Neiman Marcus flagship store. He was tall enough, and his combination of edgy grunge look (an anathema to the stodgy Neiman Marcus environment), elegant sense of visual balance, and retro-fogey name (not to mention my soul-crushing, new-to-the-city loneliness) made him irresistible. I always knew which department he was working in, and went out of my way to use whatever restroom was Norman-adjacent. I used my time to and from to woo him with my own special brand of flirting (which, as many of you know, consists mainly of asking after his dietary habits and making sure he has enough clean underwear). I even took my life into my hands by traipsing my Ross-clad ass through Haute Couture, past diminutive, angular sales associates dressed in Issaye Miyaki outfits that cost more than my Honda Civic. The glares were so contempt-filled I’m surprised to this day that my eyebrows were never actually singed off. But it was worth it to awkwardly bask in his reserved artsy-ness, hoarding bits and pieces of our non-conversations to build our imaginary life together. (Also worth it for those Haute Couture department restrooms! Luhx-zuhrious!)
One day I decided to confide my crush to my closest sales-associate colleague, Eddie, who was in the process of auditioning for Real World San Francisco (I did not have the heart to tell him that, while he possessed the requisite narcissism, pettiness, and shallowness for the show, the festering rash consuming his left earlobe rendered that dream next to impossible). After snorting uproariously, he did not in any way regret to inform me (did I mention the pettiness?) that Norman was gay, and lived happily with his life partner out by the beach. Sadly, I knew that even my “are you getting enough fiber?” game was no match for a male lover at the beach, so I walked away. And while my dreams of co-creating an edgy, elegantly balanced, artsy loft with my grungy lover Norman were quashed, tbh I was pretty relieved to never have to walk through the minefield that is Haute Couture ever again.
My longest running crush was on one of my best friends in high school. I won’t name him on the off, off, off chance he sees this, but I thought we were perfect for each other for all of eternity. He was tall, had glasses, funny, and ok looking, which for me was apparently kryptonite. Best friend, said crush, and I were the three amigos for the first couple years of high school. I got to see him all the time which was great, but we were never the hang-out-alone type of friends, much to my dismay.
On the outside, we looked perfect for each other – to the point that other people even commented, “wow, you would make a good couple” (Ok, that was one person, but I’m sure everyone else was thinking it). Of course, I wasn’t brave enough to tell him about my giant crush on him, but I was not so bashful as to not have my best friend tell him for me.
Alas, it was unrequited. More than unrequited. It was not me who he was interested in, but – you guessed it – the third amigo in our three amigo crew. Yes, he had a crush on my best friend, which she did nothing to dissuade him from despite the fact she constantly had a boyfriend. She encouraged it through her “unknowing” flirting while I watched and silently seethed. (I’m not still bitter, I swear.) We continued to be friends for a while, despite my disappointment, and eventually, we weren’t. And my crush disappeared as he got more into drugs and drinking and I got more into weird fantasy books (#thatsnormal). I’m still into books and he’s still into drugs so I don’t feel too bad about it.
I am pretty sure that my biggest “secret” crush was not a secret at all. I was 14, an age not known for its subtlety. He was Ricky, 3 years older, a boy I had grown up with. Between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, he was my swim team coach and a lifeguard at the neighborhood pool, the summer before he headed off to Clemson. Something happened from May to August, because I fell in love. He had wavy brown hair, wore Birdwell boardshorts, and supinated severely when he walked around the deck.
I remember seeing Jason on the first day of my junior year of High School. He didn’t look like any of the other North Idaho country boys at school, he had colorful dreadlocks, tattoos and piercings. I was smitten immediately. He ended up being the senior TA for my junior English class and his desk was right next to mine, I could barely concentrate in that class. I thought I was going to pass out the first time he came over to talk to me in the commons. We chatted for a few minutes and then he asked for my number and I couldn’t believe it. I don’t what else happened that day but I remember it being the best fucking day ever. He called my later that day and I went over to his house, we listened to music and talked for a couple hours. I was feeling pretty hopeful about where things could go but that quickly went away when I saw Jason holding another girl’s hand about a week later. I was crushed but I couldn’t shake the crush I had on him.
My junior year was rough for lots of reasons but watching Jason be with someone else was one of the worst parts. The year was coming to an end and he was getting ready to graduate. We crossed paths at a party, he was single by then, and we couldn’t keep away from each other. We spent the night together and again about a week later. After that he moved to Eugene and I thought I’d never see him again. I was wrong. He came home for Thanksgiving break to see his parents during my senior year and we ended up spending one more night together.
That was in 1999 and it wasn’t until 2006 when we would find each other again.
I was on Myspace one day poking around a friend’s page and saw the name ‘MetalFace’ and I immediately thought to myself, “Jason would call himself that,” and I was right! I waited a day or two because I wasn’t sure what to say to him, but I finally got up the courage to send him a quick note to say hi and that I hoped he still remembered me. He replied later that night and the subject line read “Forget you?! Impossible!” He went on to say that he had been thinking about me for the last 7 years and thought he would never see me again. After a month of chatting back and forth he offered to fly me down to Eugene to see him. I was so nervous/anxious/excited, but I knew if I didn’t go it would be something I regretted later on in life. We spent four days together and I went from remembering my crush on the boy Jason was to having a crush on the man he had become. Four months later I moved to Eugene, eight months later I moved in with Jason, five years later we got married, a year and a half after that we had a beautiful baby boy together and life continues to be ever so sweet with my crush by my side. Sending that message to Jason on Myspace back in 2006 is one of the best and smartest decisions I’ve ever made.
Buy Roomies here and then tell us your secret crush story in the comments!
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