The intrigue, mayhem, and romance continue for JJ & Lori, as the girls find themselves in increasingly compromising positions while trying to solve a case.
When we last saw JJ and Lori Schultz, their dinner was rudely interrupted by someone at the door with a gun. In this second episode of GETTING DUMPED, we learn who’s brandishing the pistol and follow along as the girls’ sleuthing kicks into high gear.
Who can JJ trust to help, and who’s hiding sinister secrets? Is it Collin, the surly British science geek? Pete, the D-list action-hero turned secretary? Or Daniel, the on-again, off-again boyfriend? Tune in, turn on, and help decide! Oh, did we mention that we’ve dialed up the sizzling sexiness, too?
GETTING DUMPED PART 2 is the second installment of an Active Fiction series from Coliloquy. Instead of just watching the story unfold, readers help influence future episodes by giving their feedback on the heroine’s romantic choices.
In Part 2, Tawna gives you three tantalizing choice points: Who should JJ contact when she needs a little comfort? Who should she ask for some sleuthing help? And what does she do when things get dangerous and she’s in need of rescue? Depending on your choices, you not only unlock different paths to solve the mystery but you’ll also get to know one of the guys a bit more intimately.
Tawna whittles the hunks down to two but still isn’t sure who JJ should end up with, so she’s eager to see who will win this face-off. She receives the aggregate statistics on who gets picked the most, so the more you read, the more you influence what she writes.
The second I left Lori, I pulled out my phone and scrolled for Collin’s number.
“Collin, hey, it’s JJ.”
“JJ, jolly good. How are you feeling today?”
“Better. Much better. Listen, I know you have the day off, too.” I hesitated. “Are you in the middle of anything important?”
“Relaxing by the fire with a text on quantum mechanics and the corpuscular theory of light.”
“Right, me too. Any chance you’d be willing to help me do a little snooping?”
“Snooping?” I could picture him sitting there with one eyebrow raised and a thick textbook on his lap. It was a very cozy picture.
“Yes. See, the police seem sure there’s no connection between the other night and whatever’s going on with Macy and the counterfeit bags, and they aren’t too interested. But I’m still worried.”
“What are you suggesting?”
I bit my lip. “I’ve driven past her house a bunch of times, but I’ve never actually looked inside. I thought maybe—”
“You want help peering through the windows?” Collin sighed. “Isn’t that illegal?”
“Well, technically, maybe. But doesn’t it negate the illegal part if we’re doing it for Macy’s own good?”
“Funny, I don’t recall reading that exemption anywhere.” He was quiet a moment.
“I’m a little spooked about going alone,” I admitted. “And I’m not tall enough to see through some of the windows.”
And you’re sexy and fun to be with, and I kinda like the idea of prowling around a dark house with you.
Collin sighed. “Very well. How about I pop by your place in an hour? You can direct me from there.”
He escorted me to his car—a slightly dingy Volvo that looked to be three or four years old—and waited until I was safely buckled up before putting the car in reverse. I gave him directions to Macy’s house and then leaned back in my seat, trying not to notice how nice he smelled—like fresh grass and clean wool. Trying to remind myself that he was suspicious and pompous and not at all someone I should be thinking of shagging.
He shifted gears, and his elbow brushed mine. A million little nerve endings snapped to attention as the heat of his arm spread through my skin.
I pulled my arm back and began a silent chant in my brain. I do not want this man, I do not want this man, I do not want this man.
“What are you mumbling over there?” Collin asked.
“Nothing,” I said, feeling my face heat up. “Turn left here. This is it, that gray house right there,” I told Collin. “The one with the black trim and mahogany pillars in front. You can pull into the driveway. This shouldn’t take too long.”
Collin frowned but did what I asked. As he killed the engine, I peered through the windshield at the empty driveway, the vacant front porch, the white piece of paper fluttering on the front door.
I opened my door and stepped out, shivering a little in the chilly air. Collin followed suit, eyeing the neighborhood with suspicion. The homes were expensive and modern, but modest compared to the mansion Macy’s uncle owned in the west hills.
I reached the front door first. Placing my hand against it, I surveyed the white slip of paper stuck next to the peephole.
“UPS delivery,” I said, fingering the paper. “This says it’s the third attempt.”
“Come on,” I said, moving toward the front window. “I only want to look around a little.”
Collin followed me on my circuit around the house and stood at a polite distance while I did the peering. On the backside, there was a window I wasn’t quite tall enough to see through.
“I think it’s her bathroom, but I can’t remember. Can you take a look?”
“Seems a bit dodgy to go peering through the bathroom windows of a woman I’ve never met.”
“You prefer peering through the bathroom windows of women you have met?”
Despite his reservations, Collin angled himself up and peered through the window, shielding the glare with his hand. “I see knickers lined up on the shower rod. Don’t you women own clothes dryers?”
“Knickers are delicate,” I informed him. “You should be impressed we take such good care of our unmentionables.”
“I’d need to see the unmentionables in a slightly different scenario for them to impress me,” he retorted as he turned around. “Nothing noteworthy in there.”
I sighed and stood on my tiptoes to peer through a window at the rear of the house. I had only been inside a few times, but I was pretty sure this was Macy’s bedroom. Cupping my hands around my face, I squinted into the darkened room.
“Hey!” I yelled. “I think I see a passport!”
Collin stepped up beside me, and I tried hard to ignore the heat flooding my body as his elbow brushed the side of my breast. Frowning, he peered through the window. “Where?”
“I don’t see anything that looks like a passport.”
“Collin—it’s right there—that blue thing?”
“Blue? Oh, yes, right. An American passport, of course—blue. Hmm, well, yes, I suppose it could be.”
“If she left her passport, she couldn’t be taking a trip. Her boyfriend said she was planning to go to Italy,” I said. “She’d need a passport for Italy.”
“Hey!” someone shouted behind us. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Collin and I whirled around to face a scowling man with a giant tattoo of an eagle on his biceps. He was carrying a baseball bat and scowling like we’d just made fun of his batting average.
I was fairly certain he hadn’t come to invite us to a game.
A third-generation Oregonian who can peel and eat a banana with her toes, Tawna Fenske has traveled a winding career path from journalist to English teacher in Venezuela to marketing geek. She’s the author of the popular blog “Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing” and a member of Romance Writers of America. Her debut novel, Making Waves, hit shelves August 2011 and was named one of ten “notable debuts” by Writer’s Digest. Booklist magazine stated, “Fenske’s off-the-wall plotting is reminiscent of a tame Carl Hiaasen on Cupid juice.”
Jen: I’m afraid we couldn’t let Lisa do the Q&A for Part 2 — every question she wrote was either a massive spoiler or shamelessly focused on her not-so-secret crush, Pete. She and Michelle are shameless. I think I can remain impartial, but I DO have a favorite…Do you?
Tawna: I definitely do have a favorite, though I wouldn’t kick any of the guys out of bed for eating crackers.
Jen: The ability to choose guys appears to be incredibly popular – Have you been surprised by how passionate fans are for one guy or the other?
Tawna: I’d really love to meet the person who read the first Collin scene 16 times. I feel like I should buy her an inflatable Collin doll, or at least a glass of wine.
Jen: Speaking of that passion…I know you’ve seen the data from Part 1. Any surprises for you? And how did it affect your writing for Part 2?
Tawna: I have a favorite guy, while my agent prefers a different guy. What fascinated me is how many readers picked the third guy – a character I’ll admit I didn’t particularly like. Seeing readers’ choices (and how many times they read and reread the scenes) definitely changed how I planned to craft the second episode.
Jen: While it’s easy to focus on JJ’s love quadrangle, she’s also surrounded by a wonderful supporting cast. You’re known for filling out your books with quirky characters. I’m curious how you go about creating someone like the deputy or Burt. Or are they real? OMG, that would make my day.
Tawna: I have a cousin who works for the city’s sewage treatment department and calls himself a “turd herder.” He used to tell stories about a co-worker who bears a striking resemblance to Burt. The scene where Burt eats a hard-boiled egg with grime-covered hands, or removes his filthy work gloves with his teeth? Both true, I’m sorry to say.
Jen: I also love Lori. She seems like a dream sister. Were you an only child or do you have siblings?
Tawna: I have a younger brother, but no sisters. This book was actually the first time I ever wrote a sister pair, and I relied heavily on two of my critique partners with sisters to make sure I captured that dynamic in a realistic way. “Lori” is based very, very loosely on one of my best girlfriends who owns a handbag boutique. She taught me everything I know about designer bags, and her passionate opposition to the counterfeit industry sparked my interest in researching this storyline.
Jen: How is Blue Cat handling his newfound stardom?
Tawna: Pretty much like he handles everything else – by napping and chasing the dog. Here’s Blue Cat after a particularly grueling day.
Jen: Someone asked me to describe your writing, and I called it epic witty-geniusness. I find myself laughing out loud frequently. Is it a challenge to write humor or does it flow naturally for you?
Tawna: Ha! I like that! Several reviewers have referred to my books as “smart girl romance,” which seems like a bit of a backhanded compliment. Who’s writing the dumb girl romance?
The humor comes fairly naturally to me, which is probably the result of being raised in a family where everyone’s constantly cracking jokes. However, if you read a first draft of any of my scenes, you’d find I’m actually quite un-funny. The humor tends to get layered in on the second or third pass, and I’ve had to learn to be patient with myself when I’m working through that process.
Jen: Where did you learn Russian? I picture you on vacation in Moscow visiting the Kremlin when Aunt Flow visits…Please tell me that’s true.
Tawna: Alas, not true. While I speak Spanish fairly fluently, most of the foreign language dialogue in the second episode came from an online translator.
I do, however, have a funny story about living in Venezuela and visiting a pharmacy to request medication for a yeast infection. My Spanish skills did not serve me well, and the confused pharmacist wanted to know what I was baking.
Jen: Last but not least… So we’re down to two guys (this is where I had to delete Lisa’s spoiler). Shit. I can’t ask my question without a spoiler. This series thing is rough, Tawna.
Tawna: What’s the difference between a tree? An ice cream cone, because a motorcycle has no doors.
(Er, this is the sort of nonsense joke my father and his brothers used to make up to confuse my grandma. What? It seemed appropriate here).