Pre-edited Chapter One Excerpt of Beauty and the Geek: You know that guy you went to high school with? No, I’m not talking about the hot jock that’s probably married, divorced and has three kids, with two different women and a beer gut…no, no, no. I’m talking about, The Nerd. He was the guy that all the other smart kids went to for help with their homework. He was the guy that made the teachers nervous when he walked into a classroom. He didn’t date, because he didn’t seem to want to. He didn’t party because, he didn’t need to. He didn’t do much but study, and sit quietly amongst your group of friends, never really saying anything, and now he’s a robotics engineer in California. If you haven’t guessed it, I’m talking about my nerd from high school. His name is Aden, and at this exact moment I’m thinking really hard about Aden, and what could have been. Why didn’t I date him, back then? Why didn’t I date guys like him now? Well, to be completely honest, I’m not only thinking about Aden. I’m also thinking about how I’m going to get away from my currently, homicidally, enraged fiancé. You see my fiancé, Tom, has this one rule, and I sort of bent it a little bit. Okay, bent isn’t accurate, I broke the damn thing in half. His one rule is that I never look into this one little black book. For the last three years I let it slide. Mostly because Tom had platinum cards and gave me expensive gifts. Don’t judge me. I’m not just some fru-fru spoiled little arm candy/future trophy wife. I’d been raised the hard way, and I’d lived that way for a long time, before meeting Tom. When he found me I was just as self-righteous and feminist, as the next classically trained, female artist out there, but I was also hungry and wearing Goodwill garbage bag specials. That means I pulled them out of the dumpster. Tom wasn’t my first bad relationship. There had been between ten and twelve, “Toms,” before him and every time things went south, I found my, self-righteous, self, out on my penniless, single ass. The first time I met Tom, I was desperately peddling my art out of the trunk of a ’94 Buick, Skylark. Said Skylark was also doubling as my current residence. I’d hit rock bottom, and he was interested in my art, and by art I mean me. Tom couldn’t have cared less about my art and at that point, neither could I. So, turning over a new leaf, in an effort to pull my, self-righteous, half-starved ass, out of the pit of despair, I decided Tom was going to be my meal ticket. I knew in order for this to happen, I had to swallow my enormous pride. This, I found, was surprisingly easy to do on an empty stomach. So, I ignored his strange behavior and strange friends, who did everything secretly, from ordering spaghetti to having a conversation about the weather. I ignored that fact that Tom didn’t talk about his work and I ignored his little black book and the fact that I wasn’t allowed to touch it. Four years and one engagement later everything was working out okay, until I first smelled the cheap perfume, three weeks ago, and suddenly, my forgotten pride was rearing its ugly head, and demanding answers to questions I should have left buried. I was never told what was in the forbidden book, or why I wasn’t allowed to look in it, but as they say, curiosity killed the cat, and satisfaction brought him back. Tom carried the damn thing with him everywhere and on the rare occasion when he’d forget it I would sit and stare at it whenever I walked into the room and discovered its presence. It was a real life mystery and since I was recently engaged when I first smelled the cheap perfume, I had somehow convinced myself that the secret rule was officially moot. He must have had her knock off Channel on the brain when he left for work that morning, because he forgot his, little black book of secrets, on the nightstand, next to his watch. I eyed the worn little book suspiciously, from my perch on the edge of our bed, while chewing my perfect, manicure, all to hell. I knew the bastard was cheating on me but I wanted proof, I needed proof. I didn’t have a whole lot of rules anymore, but I didn’t usually accuse people of doing things unless I knew for sure. I’d been accused of things, growing up, that I never would have done, and I didn’t appreciate being judged without proof. So me looking in the book wasn’t an act of rebellion, it was an act of respect. I scooted innocently closer to the night-stand, and flipped the little book open with my heart hammering in my throat but after brief inspection I realized, the names in the book weren’t women’s names…not all of them anyway. No, most of the names in this little book were of people who’d recently gone missing, and showed up again later, in pieces, in people’s dumpsters on garbage day or in the river. Once I realized what I was actually looking at, I reread the extensive list with, “reasons” carefully printed beside their names. Betrayal, snitch, liar, blaa, blaa, blaa…all reasons, Tom and his group of mysterious, cryptic, friends thought were sufficient enough to end someone’s life and desecrate their rotting corpses. Sure, I knew he was into something dirty, but I was thinking stolen toaster ovens, knock off purses, and pirated movies, kind of dirty, not fitting people with cement shoes or cutting them up into little pieces for convenient disposal, kind of dirty. I read through the list a few more times, in utter and complete shock, their remembered faces popping into my memory, from the missing posters and local news channel, as well as few that I’d met personally, and subsequently, hadn’t seen in a while. Abruptly my brain caught up with the racing of my heart. I stood and hauled the largest of my suitcases from under the bed and started packing. Well, packing isn’t what I did. Packing is when you carefully place folded clothes into a suitcase, what I was doing was grabbing fistfuls of over-priced, gaudy, clothes and cramming them, hangers and all, into the open suitcase. Tom walked into the bedroom catching me with two fistfuls of underwear in my hands. My heart seized in my chest, and I glanced at him, then the still open black book on the nightstand, then back at him again, before clearing my throat. “You’re home early.” I said with a shaking voice. The look on his face was grim as he quietly took in the scene before him, and slipped his athletically, wide shoulders out of his tailored sports coat, carefully folding it and placing it on the bed. “You looked in the book didn’t you?” He asked in a strange soft voice that sent shivers of terror down my spine. https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-beautyandthegeek-1628204-149.html On sale now for a limited pre-order price of .99.