Below is the interview and guest blog from Mari. Thank you,

Excerpt from Love at 11

Hello! Below is your excerpt for Mari’s tour. Thanks!

Argh, my head.

My head really, really hurt.

And I was dying of thirst.

I pulled the blankets over my head to block the rays of strong San Diego sun from blasting my sensitive morning eyes. What time was it? Why was I naked?


A flashback of memory—a snapshot of my body on autopilot—hit me like a rock dropped from ten stories up.

The last thing I remembered clearly was leaving Moondoggies. With Jamie. Getting refused at the next club. With Jamie. Going back to my apartment.

With Jamie.

The rest was blurry. But what I did remember was truly horrifying. Blasting ’80s music from my stereo. Mixing up margaritas (like I needed more alcohol!) in my blender. Jumping on my bed, singing and dancing like a idiot to Simple Minds.

Making out with Jamie like there was no tomorrow.

I slowly rolled over to face the other side of the bed. To confirm my worst fear. Was there another body in my bed?

There was.

Not just any body, either. But a sexy, rumpled, naked, sound asleep, Jamie body in my bed.
Again. Uh-oh.

I groaned. How could I have been such an idiot? Gotten so drunk I didn’t even remember having sex with the guy? That was so bad. So alcoholically bad. On about a million and three levels:

a) Having sex and not remembering it.
b) Having sex and not remembering it with a guy I barely knew.
c) Having sex and not remembering it with a guy I barely knew who happened to have a fiancée he was going to marry in three months.
d) Having sex and not remembering it with a guy I barely knew who happened to have a fiancée he was going to marry in three months and that I had to work with day in and day out for the foreseeable future.

Now what should I do? Did I snuggle up next to him and pretend I had planned the seduction? Get the hell out of bed and pretend I’d slept on the couch, hoping he didn’t remember, either? Make breakfast? Leave the country and open up shop as a WWJD bracelet maker in Tijuana?

Hmm. Speaking of, what would Jesus do in a case like this? No, bad question. He wouldn’t have gotten himself in this mess to begin with.

I noticed with some relief a ripped open condom package on my nightstand. One of the ones Jodi had stuffed in a drawer one time “just in case.” Thank god, even in my drunken blackout I’d still had the wherewithal to be safe.

I tried to crawl out of bed, but at that moment the sleeping Jamie rolled over, tossing a heavy arm over my body and pulling me closer so I was spooned against him. I was stuck. Extremely comfortable, but stuck.

I felt his hot breath warm my skin and tried to think back to the night before. Damn it, why couldn’t I remember the hot sex I’m sure we must have had? I bet it was incredible. He was incredible. Not that I should be thinking about that. After all, he was taken. And not just kind-of taken, but wedding-invitations-and-white-dress taken.

Oh my god, I was the other woman.

How ironic that I’d been out mourning the fact that my father had cheated on my mother and had inadvertently helped some other guy cheat on his fiancée. And not just any other guy, but my new coworker! How was I supposed to work with him now? Would I have to go into Richard’s office and beg for a new photographer to combat the awkward morning-after syndrome?

Jamie grunted contentedly and snuggled in a bit closer. Was he conscious? Could he possibly know whom he was holding in his arms? Maybe he had been completely aware of his actions this whole time. Had he been as drunk as I? I couldn’t remember. Was he a good guy who made a mistake or a jerk who liked to cheat on his fiancée by taking stupid, drunk girls home and screwing them?

I suddenly felt disgustingly dirty. Why had I been so easy? Slut girl: give her a drink and watch her spread her legs. Except, that wasn’t me at all. Hell, I could count the guys I’d slept with on one hand and still have a thumb left over. What in the world had possessed me to drunkenly hook up with a guy I barely knew who was getting married in a few months?

I thought of Jen, sound asleep in LA, trusting that her fiancé was alone in his bed too and not curled up, buck naked, in another woman’s arms. She trusted him, and I’d helped him betray that trust. My stomach rolled, and not just from the hangover. I needed to get up. Now.

I squirmed out from under Jamie and vacated the bed. Scanning the room, I found a pair of boxer shorts and an old t-shirt strewn on the floor. After donning the ensemble, I walked to the bathroom.

Staring in the mirror wasn’t pretty. I looked like hell on toast. Black circles under my puffy eyes. Makeup smeared. Bleh.

I brushed my teeth and washed my face and then hit the kitchen to make eggs. What the hell, right? Even the “other woman” needed to eat a balanced Atkins breakfast, and maybe it would get my mind off things at the very least. I tried to swallow down the guilt, but it determinedly rose like bile to my throat. The smell of the scrambled eggs only served to nauseate me further.

“Maddy?” a sleepy voice behind me said a few minutes later. I whirled around. Jamie stood in the doorway, deliciously rumpled. He’d donned his blue jeans but no shirt. I scolded my eyes for straying a second too long on his perfectly sculpted chest. After all, I’d already done more than my share of sampling the forbidden goods already. Time to get my mind out of the gutter and behave like a responsible human being.

I realized my heart was pounding in my chest as I waited for what he’d say next. Then I remembered my manners.

“Do you want some eggs?”

“Maddy, I’ve got to ask you . . .” He raked a hand through his mussed hair in a way that made me pretty sure his question wasn’t whether the eggs came from cage-free chickens.

“Yes?” Cool, calm, collected. Whatever he wanted to ask me, I’d be okay with it.

“I had a lot to drink last night and I wasn’t sure . . . Well I woke up and . . .” He looked around the apartment. “Are we at your place?”

“Yeah, ” I said quietly. He didn’t even remember agreeing to come here. Guess that answered my question about his level of sobriety.

“Oh. Right. And I woke up in . . .” He pointed vaguely toward the bedroom. “. . . and I didn’t know . . .”

“You want to know if we had sex.” I spelled it out, shocked at how clear and cold my voice sounded.

“Y-yeah.” His face reddened at my bluntness. He hadn’t been so shy last night.

“I don’t know, Jamie. I don’t remember either. But I woke up in my bed naked. And you were naked next to me. So I’d say chances are pretty darn good.” I realized I sounded angry. Hurt. Don’t let him see that you care.

“Oh God, ” he cried, sinking down onto the sofa, head in his hands. “Oh God.”

I stared down at him, not sure what to do or say. This was so outside of my expertise it wasn’t even funny. I’d never had a one-night stand before. And I certainly had never hooked up with someone who had a fiancée. What would Miss Manners suggest in a case like this?

“Don’t worry, ” I said harshly. “It’s no big deal. Just forget it ever happened.” I actually had reservations about letting the jerk off the hook like that, but it took two to tango and so really, I was as guilty as he was, right? Best to just move on and forget it ever happened.

He looked up. “God, I’m so sorry, Maddy. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m such an idiot.” His face was white as a ghost and it appeared he couldn’t meet my eyes. “I swear to you, I didn’t mean for this to happen. I’m not that guy. I’m really not.”

“I said it’s fine, ” I cried, my voice breaking on the word. Don’t cry, Maddy! Don’t you fucking cry! But I couldn’t help it. It was all just too horrible. I felt sick and confused inside. What was wrong with me? I should be screaming at him and telling him to get the hell out of my house. Instead, I was feeling sorry for the jerk. Like, I hated him for what happened, but at the same time, his distraught face tugged at my heart.

Jamie rose from the couch and approached me. He took my trembling body in his arms and pulled me close. Unable to stop myself, I buried my face in his chest and started sobbing like a baby. He smoothed my hair and kissed the top of my head.

“Shh, ” he whispered soothingly. “I’m sorry.”

“I said it was fine, ” I repeated, bawling. He led me over to the couch and sat me down. “The eggs will burn, ” I protested.

He nodded and walked back into the kitchen, switching off the stove. So much for breakfast, I guess. Then he returned to the couch, sitting down beside me.

“I’m sorry, too, ” I said, staring down at my lap. “I never should have—”

He pressed a finger to my lips, stopping my words. “No, ” he said. “You did nothing wrong. It was completely my fault. Here I am trying to comfort you over your family situation, and I end up making it that much worse. I’m the only one here who needs to fucking apologize.”

He pulled me into another hug, holding me close. I could feel his heart beating fast in his chest. He held me there for a moment, not saying anything. It should have been suffocating, but the closeness was strangely calming.

Finally, he pulled away, meeting my eyes with his own sad green ones. God, he was good-looking, I couldn’t help thinking. Jennifer was one lucky girl.

“What do you want me to do?” he asked, his expression earnest. “Is it going to be too hard to work together now? Do you want me to ask them to reassign me to news?”

I swallowed hard. What did I want? Was I going to be able to move on from this? Or would it be eternally awful and embarrassing and weird between us?

“I don’t know, ” I said truthfully. “I’ve never had to deal with anything like this before.”
He gave me a wry smile. “Yeah, me neither, ” he said.

“I guess if you think we can work through it . . . and be mature adults and all that, ” I mused. “I guess then it’d be okay to try working together still.”

“Are you sure? I mean, I’m totally fine with that. But I don’t want to make things hard for you. I feel so awful as it is.”

I shook my head. “I’m a big girl, ” I said, though I didn’t completely feel it at the moment. “I’ll be fine. We’ll just have to keep it professional from now on. Stay away from the Scooby Snacks.”

Jamie laughed. “If I never have another Scooby Snack it will be too soon.” He paused, then held out a tentative hand. “So, still friends?” he asked.

I shook it, hoping he didn’t notice my fingers were still trembling. “Friends, ” I agreed.

But inside I wondered if it’d really be that easy.

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