Mike warned Marissa back in high school that if they kissed, she’d never get over it. He was joking, but he was also right.
Ten years later and Marissa is well and truly stuck in Mike’s friend-zone and he’s made it very clear that’s where she’s staying. Her love-life isn’t the only part of her life that’s in a rut so when her elderly parents pack up and move South, Marissa admits it’s time to move on with her life.
With the encouragement of her friends Lucy and Cherie, the matchmaker, she updates her wardrobe and her attitude. Lucy’s engagement party is the perfect place to start fresh and find her old self again, the self that likes to dance until dawn. Mike wants Marissa to be happy and he’s convinced he’s not up to the job, but he doesn’t like watching her flirt with other men or worse, dating again. His twin brother, Todd, who is Marissa’s best friend warns him to back off, he’s had his chance.
Is this a case of not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone? And if so what is Mike prepared to do to get Marissa back with the whole town there to offer him advice.
Will Marissa and Mike get their happily ever after or is it a case of too little too late?
Any Way You Plan It is Book 4 in The Upper Crust Series
Book 1 – Any Way You Slice It
Book 2 – Any Way You Dream It
Book 3 – Any Way You Fight It
Marissa lay in bed thinking about Mike. Stupid Mike with his cute smile and the way he somehow managed to capture her attention in any room he was in. Mike who had once told her he liked her. Who’d once kissed her and made her want more. He’d warned her that he wouldn’t give her more, that they would never end up together, and she hadn’t heeded the warning.
Nope, she’d been a naive teenager who believed in happily ever afters and life-long friendships and first loves becoming forever loves. She flopped over onto her belly and groaned. Why hadn’t she listened?
The prom after party was at Jacob’s house. Jacob was hosting, and Lucy was on his arm, of course. Marissa didn’t envy her so much as wish she, too, had a hot and handsome boyfriend to take her to prom. Patty had Mark Avery, who graduated last year and was back from Holy Cross for the prom. She, of course, had gone with Mike; they were great friends. He had brought her a really beautiful pink corsage to match her dress, and he looked so handsome.
As Lucy had said earlier, she should really consider making a move because she’d been crushing on him forever, and he was going off to NYU and she was going to UNH with Lucy, and how often would they really see each other again?
“You may never get another shot at this, Marissa,” Lucy had urged her.
So now they were here, dancing to the DJ, and maybe it was the alcohol, but Mike looked even better than usual. It was a slow dance and he felt so warm, and her whole body had a lovely tingle that she knew was not from the beer.
“Thanks for being such a great date, Mike,” she said, looking adoringly at his sweet and perfect face.
“Same to you. It has been really fun. I’m going to miss you when we go off to college,” he’d said and tucked a loose curl behind her ear. She knew she was blushing, but it was dark, so hopefully he wouldn’t notice.
“I know, I’m going to miss you, too. It’s scary to think you can spend so much time with someone and then they’ll be gone.”
“We’ll both be gone. You’ll be away flirting your ass off at UNH.”
“OH really.” She laughed, leaning back a bit so she could feel his hand pressed into the small of her back. “You think I’ll be flirting my ass off?”
“Of course you will. You’re a beautiful girl, and all those boys are going to be fighting to get near you.”
She laughed again. “So it’ll be exactly like high school. I’ll be beating them off with a stick.”
“I don’t think you’ve lacked male attention, Marissa. You’ve had Todd and I beside you every day.”
“It’s different though. Neither of you like me like that,” she said, pulling back in and resting her head on his shoulder. Taking in the lovely woody smell of him for maybe the last time.
“That’s not true.” His voice fell to a whisper. “One of us likes you as more than a friend.”
She turned her face up at him. “Which one?”
Marissa felt the air leave her lungs. Luckily, he had a hold of her or she might have fallen over with the shock.
He nodded. “You want to go outside and get some air.”
He took her hand and led her to the back porch. There were people sitting in small groups, and they went past them and made their way to a line of trees that framed the back of the yard. No one noticed them or acted like it was strange because Marissa was always with one brother or the other.
It was dark except for the glow of lights from nearby houses and some moonlight. The party music and laughter drifted across the lawn toward them.
“Why did you never say?” she asked him.
“You deserve better.” He shrugged.
“You think I deserve better than you? I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“I’m just saying I don’t see myself as a settle down and get married guy.”
“Well, considering I’m just eighteen, I don’t consider myself a settle down and get married girl, either.”
“You know what I mean.”
“So even though you like me, you’ve never kissed me because you’re not sure you can marry me in say seven years?” she teased.
“When you put it like that, it sounds kind of lame.” He grinned at her.
“Just a little bit.”
“I just . . .” He ran a hand through his thick hair. “I don’t want to mess this friendship up. You’re going to go away, meet some hot guy, and bring him home; I don’t want to see you at the Fourth of July parade and have it weird between us.”
“Wow, you must be an amazing kisser if you think one kiss with you is going to ruin me for my really hot husband down the road”
“I don’t like to brag . . .”
“I’m going to need proof,” she said, smiling at him.
He backed her up against a tree. She could feel the rough bark against her back and his warm body against her front. “Proof you say.”
She nodded and bit her lip. This was really happening. After years of longing and waiting, wondering and wishing, Mike was going to kiss her.
He leaned in and placed a feathery kiss to her lips. A hand was to either side of her head on the tree.
“You taste like vanilla.”
“Lip gloss.” She managed to reply.
“Yum.” Then he leaned in again. He ran his tongue along her lips and she opened for him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and felt his soft hair against her hands. His tongue became more searching, more urgent. And then time slipped away and it was just Mike and his mouth and a perfect moment.
When he pulled away, he rested his forehead against hers. “Wow. That was . . .”
“It certainly was.”
“You want to go back inside?”
She shook her head at him. “No, I want to do that again.”
That was the one and only time they’d made out, and he’d been right and she had been oh so wrong because that one kiss with Mike had absolutely ruined her for her really hot future husband. In fact, it had ruined her for even the pursuit of a future husband.
I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women's fiction including chick lit and romance.
I have written all my life especially as a child when I loved to write short stories and poetry. At University I studied Creative Writing as part of my Communication degree. Afterwards I was busy working in public relations I didn't write for pleasure for quite a few years although I wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters. (And I still do in my day-job!)
When I began to write again I noticed a trend - writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since.
I am the author of five stand alone novels including Mr. Right and Other Mongrels and Hearts Afire and the Upper Crust Series. Many of my novels focus on an Australian characters meeting and visiting US characters.
I have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for ten years. Our anthology Better Than Chocolate raised over $10,000 for the charity Room to Read and helped build a library in South East Asia. I am also a member of the Romance Writers of Australia. In 2015 had a piece on writing chicklit featured in the successful Australian non-fiction book Copyfight.
I live on Sydney's Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter where I run a boutique PR consultancy.
To learn more about my books, my writing, my caffeine obsession and my upcoming books please visit www.moniquemcdonell.com.au.
Where to find Monique
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