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I think readers who are looking for something a little … different  🙂  are absolutely going to adore Camilla Isley.  We saw her book A Sudden Crush earlier this year and I’m expecting something just as unique with her newest outing.  If you haven’t read anything by her, definitely remedy that as soon as you can!

*****

cover-love-connectionLove Connection 

by Camilla Isley

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Chick Lit, Adult, Contemporary

Sexual content: Clean, not explicit

Length: 58k Words/220 pages

Publication Date: October, 8 2016

In a Series: yes, book 1. Reads as a standalone.

Blurb:

Have you ever wondered what might have been?

Gemma Dawson is at the airport, staring at two plane tickets to two different cities. Two different weddings. Two possible futures. She’s at a crossroads.

Be maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding or crash her ex’s?

Gemma’s decision, unknown to her, hinges on a delayed flight and a chance meeting. Now her life is about to go down two parallel tracks—will Gemma fly toward a life with her first love or a future with a man she’s not even met yet?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LXO39NU

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-connection-camilla-isley/1124707490?ean=2940153753386

iBooks: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/love-connection-feel-good/id1159355874

Kobo: https://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=1230001361223

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=y6kkDQAAQBAJ&hl

*****

Excerpt:

One

Two Weddings

♥♥♥

Saturday, June 10—New York, JFK Airport

“You’ve been staring at those two plane tickets for almost an hour now. My role as bartender compels me to ask: what’s the big dilemma?”

I stare at the guy behind the bar for the first time since I sat on this stool an hour ago. He has a broad smile and a friendly face.

“If you stop pretending to be drying glasses just to peek at my tickets and pour me another drink, I’ll tell you.”

“Sambuca, with ice?”

I nod and shift my attention back to my tickets. Maybe if I stare at them hard enough the letters will magically move and spell a solution for me. In the background, I can hear the bartender doing his job. The ice tingles as it hits the bottom of a glass, and it cracks when he pours the sambuca. These sounds mingle with the general noises of the airport: flight announcements, passengers chatting, luggage rolling on the floor.

“Here you go.” The bartender puts my drink on the glassy surface of the bar in front of me.

“You added coffee beans, nice touch.”

“Pleased to please. But isn’t 7 a.m. a little too early for double heavy spirits?”

“I’m on U.K. time, and believe me, I need the double heavy spirits.”

“Which brings us back to the tickets. I’ve earned an explanation.”

I take a sip of my sambuca and a closer look at the guy’s face. Young—mid-twenties, I’d say. Short sandy hair, intelligent eyes, and always the big smile. He’s back at his occupation of drying glasses that don’t need drying. Probably one of those people incapable of standing still with nothing to do.

On the screen behind him, a report about a fire at Miami International Airport is taking over the news. The screen reads that the fire has been contained with no casualties, but the airport will sustain heavy delays throughout the day.

“Looks like they’re having troubles in Miami,” I say, jerking my chin toward the screen.

“Trying to change the subject are we? You’re not making me beg for your story, are you?” the bartender prompts me again.

I swirl the ice in my glass. “Is this on the house?”

“On the house, along with the free advice.”

“All right. One ticket’s for San Francisco, the other one for Chicago. There’re two weddings today, and I need to choose which one to go to.”

“Two close friends?”

“You could say that.”

“Oh, okay. Let’s see, do you have a particular role in one of the weddings? I mean, do both your friends expect you to show up? Don’t you usually need to RSVP months in advance for this kind of thing?”

“Mmm, this wedding,” I push the Chicago ticket forward, “I’m supposed to be the maid of honor. This wedding,” I slide the San Francisco ticket next to its twin on the countertop, “I’m not invited.”

The bartender snorts. “Seems pretty straightforward to me. Why would you want to bail on a friend to go to a wedding you’re not invited to?”

I look him in the eyes. “To stop it from happening.”

“Woo-oh. And the plot thickens. My morning just got a lot more interesting than I was expecting. Is it about a guy? Is he the one who got away?”

“Yep.” I take another swig of sambuca; it burns my throat as I swallow. “You don’t make burgers here by any chance? I’m starving.”

“Burgers at seven in the morning?”

“I told you, I’m on U.K. time. And burgers are my favorites.”

“Sorry, but the kitchen’s closed. I can give you some tortilla chips.” He opens a new bag and pours them in a wooden bowl. “So what’s his name?”

“Jake.”

“Jake.” The bartender pauses. “The name has appeal.”

“Not just the name.” I sigh.

“You want to tell me what happened?”

“We first dated in high school. After graduation, he wanted to go to Stanford and I wanted to go to Harvard.”

The bartender whistles. “The war of the Ivy Leagues. What do you guys do?”

“I’m a lawyer. He’s a surgeon.”

“So what happened? You fought over schools, went your separate ways, and drifted apart during college?” he asks, his tone saying, “Same old, same old.”

“No. I went to Stanford instead. He assured me we’d go to Harvard for grad school.”

“Oh. I sense that promise didn’t come true. So you stayed together through college as well. And…?”

“They offered him a scholarship. Everything paid for. No student loans, no living expenses. It was an offer no one could’ve refused.”

“And that’s when you broke up?”

“No, not yet. I hadn’t applied to Stanford Grad School, so for me it was either lose one year or move to Boston. Harvard was my dream, Stanford his. It wouldn’t have been fair for either of us to give up.”

“So you left?”

“Yeah. We spent the summer in California and I moved to Boston at the beginning of the fall term. We thought three years apart would be manageable. That’s when the long distance relationship scenario played out. School was demanding for both of us and catching a six-hour flight over the weekend became more and more difficult. We settled on leading different lives. We were used to sharing everything. Every day, every moment. Suddenly, we both had this huge chunk of life with different things in it. Things the other couldn’t understand or get excited about. It was hard. We started arguing, and…”

“And?”

“Depends who you ask. If you asked Jake, he’d probably tell you it was a miscommunication issue. He’d say I overreacted to him telling me about a job offer he’d received in San Francisco. If you asked me, I’d give you a slightly different version…”

“Was your career really that important?” the bartender asks when I’m finished telling my side of the story.

“It wasn’t that I valued my career over my relationship with Jake. It was the sensation of always coming in second after his career. I’d given up my college dream for him. I’d waited all of graduate school…it was his turn to put me first. To put us first.”

“If he’s still in San Francisco, what made you change your mind?”

“I’m not sure I have.”

“But why did you buy a ticket to San Francisco if you didn’t want to go? You haven’t even forgiven the guy yet!”

“That was a rash, stupid decision. When I found out Jake was getting married, I panicked. I thought, No! I can’t let him do it.”

“So what changed?”

“I cooled off and thought about it.”

“And?”

“What are the odds? I live in London, he lives in San Francisco. I haven’t seen him in forever. I know nothing about his life. We ruined everything once already. How can we make it work this time?”

“And yet here you are staring at a ticket for San Francisco and contemplating crashing his wedding. It doesn’t make sense.”

“I can’t stop asking myself, ‘What if?’. I’m tired of living in a world of what ifs.”

“Meaning?”

“I might’ve been a tad unreasonable after our break up.”

“As in?”

“As in I moved to the other side of the world and ignored all his calls, emails, and messages. I wanted a fresh start so I cut him out completely.”

“Why?”

“I was sure that if I gave him the room to talk me into it, he would’ve convinced me to move back to San Francisco.”

“And you didn’t want to quit your job for him?”

“I couldn’t. I owed it to myself to make the best choice for my career. But the fact remains that moving to the other side of the world didn’t help much in forgetting him. I think I’m still in love with him. I think he’s the only one I ever loved.”

“How long ago was this?”

“Three years ago.”

“And you haven’t seen him, or spoken to him since then?”

“I’m a mess, I know.”

“How did you find out he was getting married?”

“Amelia told me—my best friend, the other one getting married today. Amelia, Jake and I are all from a small town near Chicago. She moved to London after her bachelor degree and she lives there with her fiancé William. But she wanted to get married at home. Anyway, Amelia and Jake had some guests in common, they told Amelia about Jake’s wedding as they’d already RSVP’d yes to him.”

“Do you know the girl he’s marrying?”

“No.” I shake my head decisively. “I know her name and I’ve forced myself not to google her.”

“Aren’t you curious?”

“Yes. But I can’t give her a face. I’d never be able to crash her wedding if I did. She’s to stay a ghost.”

“When are the weddings?”

“This afternoon.”

“Whoa. What’s so special about June 10 that everyone wants to get married today? And you’re hard-core. Shouldn’t you have tried to talk to the guy a little sooner? Are you literally going to barge into the church and yell, ‘STOP,’ in the middle of the ceremony?”

“I’d decided not to go at all.”

“But you brought the ticket all the way from London just in case.”

“I did. Having the ticket, even if I knew I wasn’t going to use it, made me feel calmer.”

“And now you’ve changed your mind?”

“I don’t know. I’ve no idea what I’m doing.”

“When does the plane leave?”

“Which one?”

“Tell me both times.”

“San Francisco’s eight thirty. Chicago’s ten forty-five.”

“So you’ve less than,” he pauses to look at his watch, “twenty minutes before they start boarding for San Francisco.”

“That’s correct.”

“What’s Amelia’s take on the situation?”

“She got mad at me at first for even thinking about ditching her wedding. But then again, she’s always been a huge fan of Gemma and Jake.”

“Gemma?”

“That’s me. We all grew up in the same street and we’ve been friends forever. Anyway, she’s marshalled a back-up maid of honor and she told me to follow my heart.”

“And what does your heart say?”

“My heart’s telling me it loves Jake. But this is too big. As you said, I can’t run into the church and yell, ‘Stop’.”

“What time’s the wedding?”

“Six p.m.”

“What time does your plane land?”

I look at the ticket. “Noon.”

“So you’d have plenty of time to get there before the ceremony starts.”

“Mmm, I’m not so sure. The wedding’s in some fancy winery in Napa.”

“That’s barely an hour’s drive. You’ll still have all the time you need to get there and talk to him before he goes to the altar.”

“But what am I going to say?”

“Say that you love him.”

“And?”

“Nothing else. If he’s in love with you it’ll be enough.”

“And what are we going to do next? I’m still in London and he’s still in San Francisco.”

“You’ll figure something.”

“I’m not so sure.”

“You said it yourself: you don’t want to live in a world of what ifs, right? So it seems pretty obvious you must try.”

“But I’m so scared.”

“Have you something to lose?”

“No, not really.”

“Then why not go?”

“What if he doesn’t love me anymore? What am I going to do if he laughs in my face?”

“Sorry for going all Oprah on you. But if you go, you’ll have your answer and no regrets. If you love him, go.”

My face becomes suddenly hot and an electric prickle spreads from my heart to my fingertips. “Right. What’s the worst that could happen?”

“They could arrest you for crashing a private party. Or the bride could sue you for emotional damages. Or…”

“I’m a lawyer; I can take care of myself in the law-department. Are you on my side or what?”

“Of course, I am. So what’s the next step?”

“A car. I’m going to need a car in San Francisco. I need to rent a car.” My pulse is racing. I pick up my phone and tap away frantically. “Uhhuuuhhhu. It’s done. I did it. I’ve booked a car. I’m really doing this. Oh gosh. I’m doing it! Is it too lame if I want to high five you?”

“No, not at all.” He raises his palm. “Shoot away.”

I slam my hand into his. “I’ve to tell Amelia so she can have her maid-of-honor-plan-B rolling.”

“All passengers. Flight UA 730, with destination San Francisco, is beginning boarding at gate B 25. We’re going to start boarding families with small kids and passengers with special needs. Then, we’re going to board first and business class passengers. And finally all other passengers…”

“That’s your flight they just announced.”

“It’s my flight, I’m going.” I fumble with my bag and carry-on luggage and almost fall from the stool. “How much do I owe you?”

“It’s on the house.”

“Everything?”

“Yeah, you go tell your man you love him. Go catch your love connection.”

“Thank you, thank you so much.” I stroll toward the gate.

“Hey,” the bartender calls after me. “Let me know how it goes. I’m on Facebook.”

“What’s your name?” I shout back without stopping.

“I’m Mark Cooper, and you?”

“Gemma Dawson.”

Two

One Choice

♦♦♦

Saturday, June 10—New York, JFK Airport

“…Isn’t 7 a.m. a little too early for double heavy spirits?”

“I’m on U.K. time, and believe me I need the double heavy spirits.”

“Which brings us back to the tickets. I’ve earned an explanation.”

I swirl the ice in my glass. “Is this on the house?”

“On the house, along with the free advice.”

“All right. One ticket’s for San Francisco and the other one for Chicago. There’re two weddings today, I need to choose which one to go to.”

A female flight attendant with long strawberry hair interrupts me.

“Please don’t talk to me about weddings. Not today.” She plonks herself on the stool next to mine. “Mark, can I have a drink?” she asks. “Make it strong, please.”

She’s remarkably beautiful. Tall, with amazing lips and flawless skin. But her blue eyes are filled with so much sadness.

“What’s up with you ladies and drinking so early in the morning?”

“I don’t give a damn about the time. I’ve changed so many time zones in the past week, I’m not even sure if it’s day or night for me.”

“Did I miss something?” Mark the bartender asks in mock shock. “Is I-can-drink-at-7-a.m.-because-I-have-jet-lag the new black?”

“I just need something to calm my nerves and survive the day,” the flight attendant pleads. “Make it a shot, please. Quick and painless.”

“What happened to you, love?” Mark asks her. “You’ve got a dark aura today.”

They seem to know each other well.

“The whole of Miami Airport almost went into shut down today. An idiot started a fire, but the firemen caught it before it spread and everything was solved quickly. Otherwise I would’ve been stuck in that swamp for the entire weekend.”

“Oh, come on, darling. Miami’s hardly a swamp. What’s really up with you?”

“Nothing. Is my drink ready?”

“Give me a sec.” Mark starts fumbling with various bottles and a shaker. Who knew you could put so much work into a shot? “Aren’t you supposed to go home, honey?”

“Too depressing. I might drink myself to death if I go home now. At least here you can keep tabs on me.”

“Will do, but for now…here’s your drink. A pink starburst shot for the nerves.”

I’m kind of jealous. My sambuca, albeit with coffee beans, looks a little beginner problems-of-the-heart-at-7-a.m.-drinker next to the pink starburst. At least, I’m assuming the flight attendant is going through a heartbreak. Nothing else could drive a seemingly non-AA woman to drinking so early in the morning. I should know.

Anyway, I don’t have much time to admire the pretty pink starburst. As soon as Mark puts the glass on the bar, she grabs it and drains it in a single swig.

“Better?” he asks.

“A little bit.”

The vodka did add some color to her previously ghastly cheeks.

“Is this dark mood about your professor?”

The word professor has barely left the bartender’s lips than the flight attendant is already sobbing her heart out. She’s hiccupping one word in every two or three sighs.

“Never…iff…mine…engaged…all along…wedding…today…she blonde…”

Mark looks at her, eyes wide, mouth slightly open. “You may have to repeat that, sweetheart.”

I should be offended that my own wedding troubles have taken a back seat in the conversation, but this girl seems to be doing a lot worse. Plus, I could use a break from my ticket staring.

“Tissue,” she pleads.

Mark offers her a paper napkin and she blows her nose loudly. After a few more sobs, she seems calm enough to speak.

“William,” she spits the name in a way that tells me she hates and loves the guy at the same time. “He’s been engaged all this time. Never had the guts to tell me until he was practically at the altar. Too bad men don’t wear engagements rings. We should shackle a band on their fingers—an irremovable one—the moment they propose. At least that way they couldn’t walk the world free to string along perfectly innocent, stupidly over trusting naïve girls like me.”

Ouch. She’s really having it rough.

“Engaged? But how’s that possible? You’ve been with him…how long?”

“A year!” the flight attendant wails. “Twelve months down the drainer. Bam, just like that. A year of my life, wasted. I was already seeing him as the father of my unborn babies and he’s probably going to make one with another woman. Tonight!” If she were a cat, she’d be wheezing. “He always said he couldn’t stay in New York for the weekends. Remember how he always flew back to London the minute his last class of the week ended? It was because he had a fiancée to go back to. And she’s blonde.”

“Do we hate her?”

“No, we don’t hate her. She doesn’t have any fault in this. She’s getting married to a lying, cheating sorry excuse for a man and she doesn’t have a clue.”

“Don’t you think she should have a clue? It sounds to me as if she’s marrying a man she doesn’t know. How could she not suspect anything?”

“Same applies to me. I didn’t suspect anything. I didn’t have the slightest clue. Believe me, he’s that good.”

“Esther, I’m so sorry,” Mark says. “I thought the professor was The One.”

“Me too.”

“How did you find out?”

“The bastard told me. Two weeks ago. He just said it: ‘I’m sorry, I’m getting married in two weeks. I thought I’d have the strength to call it off, but I don’t. I love you, but I can’t see you anymore.’ That’s what he had the guts to tell me. More or less. In one awkward conversation I was gone from his life.”

“But you really never had a teeny tiny suspicion? Didn’t you check his Facebook profile?”

“He doesn’t use Facebook. He says it wouldn’t be dignified for a professor.”

“Ah, never trust a guy who doesn’t have a Facebook profile.”

What a bastard. How can anyone do something like that? Why get married if you’re already cheating? It doesn’t make sense. It’s like adding Mexican chili peppers to a dish when you can’t digest spicy food.

“And he said he loved you.”

Esther nods.

“Do you think he was lying?”

“The worst part is that I’m almost sure he wasn’t.”

“But, darling, this whole story doesn’t make sense. If he says he loves you, why would he go get married to another woman?”

“He said he’s been with her for a long time. He said he tried to call it off, but every time he was about to tell her, he panicked. In the end, he said he just couldn’t do it. So today, he’s marrying her in Chicago. She’s from a small town nearby. I googled her. She does have Facebook. Her name’s Amelia. She’s blonde and beautiful. And today she’s going to become Mrs. William Reilly.”

Amelia and William Reilly. As she says the names, a bolt of electricity runs through me. Amelia, my blonde best friend, is getting married today in Chicago to William Reilly. He’s a professor at London Business School. He also has a job at Columbia University where he teaches Financial Markets one week every month. And he doesn’t use Facebook because he thinks it wouldn’t be dignified for a scholar. It’s one coincidence too many.

I try to stay calm and not show the shock on my face when I oh-so-casually butt in.

“What did you say this guy, the professor, taught?”

The bartender and the girl turn toward me as if they’ve both just remembered I’m here.

“Excuse me. Who are you?” the flight attendant asks, unable to keep the hostility from her voice.

“Gemma Dawson, nice to meet you,” I say with a warm smile. “I apologize for interrupting, but I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation.”

“Esther Porter,” she offers a manicured hand, “and I should apologize. I’m being rude for no reason.”

“Mark Cooper,” the bartender chips in.

We do an awkward round of nice-to-meet-yous.

“Why did you want to know what he teaches? What difference does it make?”

“I read this study once, which said people who work with numbers—finance people in particular—have a tendency to live duplicitous lives.” I can’t believe the load of crap that’s exiting my mouth. But I need to know for sure if she’s talking about Amelia’s William.

“That’s absolutely true!” Mark exclaims. “Didn’t your professor teach Financial Markets at Columbia?”

“Yeah,” Esther confirms. “I’m glad to know there’s a clinical explanation for his being a cheating, double crossing bastard.”

My heart sinks. How many William Reillys commuting from London to New York to teach Financial Markets at Columbia could there be? Just one, I’m afraid.

“All passengers. Flight UA 730, with destination San Francisco, is beginning boarding at gate B 25. We’re going to start boarding families with small kids and passengers with special needs. Then, we’re going to board first and business class passengers. And finally all other passengers…”

I hear the announcement for the San Francisco flight and my heart plummets. I can’t go. I can’t abandon Amelia and let her marry that scum. If I needed a clearer sign Jake and I aren’t meant to be together, this is it. I’m not going to San Francisco; I’m not stopping his wedding. I feel my heart break in my chest and I lean on the bar countertop for support.

“Are you okay?” Mark asks me. “You look as if you’ve seen a ghost!”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. I just need to use the restroom. How much do I owe you?”

“Don’t worry, it’s on the house.”

“Everything?” I ask surprised.

“Yeah, don’t worry,” he says with a big smile. “Hey, we never finished our chat about those plane tickets.”

“It doesn’t matter anymore,” I tell him, tearing in two the ticket for San Francisco and throwing it in a bin. “The universe just decided for me. Thanks again.” I wave goodbye to Mark and turn toward Esther. “I know it’s not much, but I hope you’ll find someone who deserves you.”

“Thank you,” she sighs. “Have a safe trip.”

I wave goodbye again, grab my hand luggage and shuffle away from the bar toward the screens with the departures info.

“This is the last call for Flight UA 730, with destination San Francisco. All passengers please go to gate B 25 for boarding. The gate will be closing in five minutes. I repeat, this is the last call for flight UA 730 with destination San Francisco.”

Hearing the announcement is like having a jackhammer pointing to my chest and digging into my heart. It’s shattering everything it finds in its way, leaving nothing behind. Just a giant empty hole. I’m letting Jake go, I realize with a flip of my stomach. I wipe a single tear from my cheek and stare at the screen, shaking the heartbreak away. I don’t have time to mourn the loss of the love of my life right now; I have a job to do. There will be plenty of time to cry later, like the rest of my life.

Right. I stare at the panel. The flight for Chicago departs from Gate A 47. I head there. While I walk, I take out my phone and search on Google for the number of Columbia University. Before I crash into Amelia’s wedding screaming, “He’s a cheater!” I need to have my facts straight.

After some pushing around of privacy laws, I finally manage to speak directly with the Business Department Dean. He confirms that only one William Reilly teaches Financial Markets at Columbia and commutes from London once a month.

I sit on a plush chair at the gate and text Amelia to tell her I’ll make it to her wedding. I tell her to wait for me at all costs before she starts the ceremony. She texts back a shower of smiling emoticons and I can’t help but feel miserable for being about to ruin her life. Only, I’m not the one ruining her life. The bastard is. Right. I’m saving her from living unhappily ever after. This is the attitude I need to keep for the rest of the day. There’s no way stopping her wedding isn’t the right thing to do. She will understand. She has to. I just hope she’s not going to hate me for it. I was never a believer in, “Don’t shoot the messenger.”

*****

Author Info:

Camilla is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband in an adventure abroad.

She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.
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