by C.C. Bridges
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have C.C. Bridges here today talking about Dreamspinner Press’ latest story in their States of Love series, Love in the Time of Hurricanes. Welcome, C.C.!
Today is the release day for Love in the Time of Hurricanes! In a lot of ways, this story was a very personal one for me to write. But today, I’m going to talk about my main characters: Lou and Nick.
I don’t typically put a lot of myself in my characters. They often show up in my head, fully-formed, with personalities of their own (See: Hank Abraham in Exodus, for example!) https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/exodus-by-cc-bridges-4242-b
But this book is different. There’s so much more of me in here. There’s a little bit of me in each of the main characters.
Nick has my anxiety. He can’t stand up to his father, and he’s unsure of what he even wants. All of that spirals together into a knot of anxiety inside him, and the hurricane only makes things worse.
Lou, like me, comes from a big Italian family. He loves to cook his family recipes, and play with some non-traditional recipes too. He pulls Nick into his world of pizza, marinara, and skeeball, and changes his life.
Just how does he do it? You’ll have to read and see.
The night Nick Henderson storms into Martelli’s Pizzeria, he’s just looking for something to eat. Along with dinner, he finds Lou Martelli—pizza cook extraordinaire and Jersey Shore native. Nick is renting a Shore house for the winter while taking classes at the local community college as he devises a way to escape the accounting major his father chose for him.
When Lou offers to show Nick around, heat flares between them as they realize they have more in common than domineering families. But it’s not all fun and games on the boardwalk. Hurricane Sandy blows ashore, changing the place Nick was starting to think of as home. His peace is shattered, and it will take everything he has to keep his relationship with Lou from being torn apart by the storm brewing around them.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
When I spotted a pizza place with the lights still on, I took a chance and pulled into the empty parking lot. That should have been a clue.
I pushed open the door, the sudden warm air a relief from the cooler September night. A bell jangled loudly and cut into the music playing from a stereo propped on the counter. I blinked at the sudden brightness after the darkness outside. Springsteen sang to an empty room, not a single person filling the booths with polished red leather seats that lined the wall. I noted the black-and-white checkered floors, a mural of the leaning tower of Pisa on the wall—yeah, like a million pizza joints I knew.
And then he walked into the room, wielding a broom and dustpan and looking good enough to eat.
“Sorry, man, I’m about to close up.”
It took me a minute to find my voice. He had dark hair that curled around his ears, sleepy bedroom eyes, and a wicked grin beneath a noble-looking nose. His shoulders filled out a green T-shirt that had Martelli’s written across it in golden letters. Apparently he got a workout from rolling pizza, because those arms were solid muscle.
But I couldn’t draw my eyes away from the bit of scruff on his cheeks. More than a five-o’clock shadow, it was the kind of almost beard that begged to be licked.
“Um, sorry. Do you have anything left over?” To make me sound even more pathetic, right then my stomach chose to gurgle. It wasn’t anything like a manly growl—it was a tiny twisted gurgle.
The guy with the broom laughed. Fuck, were those dimples? I thought he was lickable before.
“Tell you what. Take a seat at the counter.”
I’d missed the barstools lined up along the counter during my first glance. Instead of display containers with stale pizza, there were napkin holders and glass shakers of pepper flakes and garlic powder. I sat carefully, and I say carefully, because the guy turned his back in order to flip the sign on the door to Closed, and I got a really nice view. Those tight jeans framed that ass spectacularly.
He turned, and I swear he caught me staring. Shit.
About the Author
CC Bridges is a mild-mannered librarian by day, but by night she writes about worlds of adventure and romance. When she’s not busy solving puzzles in an escape room, she can be found diving into comics or binge-watching superhero movies. She writes surrounded by books, spare computing equipment, a fluffy dog, and a long-suffering husband in the state of New Jersey. In 2011, she won a Rainbow Award for best gay sci-fi/futuristic novel.
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