Down to Business by J.C. Alexander
While everyone else heads off to college, small town girl, Autumn Malone, stays behind to help manage her family’s failing restaurant. Two years later, a scholarship at Adelphi University comes her way, and she can’t resist the chance to start a new life. The one thing that she isn’t planning on doing…is falling for irresistible Vinny Mazzola.
To outsiders, Hamptons born Vinny Mazzola has it all: good looks, money, and an esteemed reputation. While studying business at Adelphi, the last thing he expects to do is fall in love with awkward Autumn Malone who forces him to ask himself what is really important in life.
When the opportunity arises for Autumn to work at Vinny’s family-owned Italian restaurant, Mazzolas, it seems like a perfect way for her to get to know him better. That is until she meets his over protective mother and his conceited ex-girlfriend who both want nothing more than to get rid of her. Between frats, family, friends, and foes, when it comes down to business, will Vinny and Autumn have to sacrifice everything for a love they can’t live without?
Release Date: December 22, 2013
Down to Business Excerpts
My bladder threatened to explode if we didn’t come to a rest stop soon. I focused on the haze of green trees that whipped past my vision as we sped along New York Interstate 87, but the vibrations from my mother’s worn 1996 Honda Accord were hard to ignore. I squirmed and pressed my knees into the back of the passenger seat in front of me, trying to find a position that made my discomfort bearable. My leg bumped into my brother’s and he looked up at me with an irritated scowl.
“Knock it off!” he yelled, shoving my shoulder.
“It was an accident, you idiot!” I shouted back and slapped his chest with a loud thwack.
Mom shot us both a glare from the rearview. “That’s enough you two.”
It felt like an eternity had passed since we left home in Hamilton, New York, and started this four-hour journey to Long Island where I was starting college at Adelphi University. I had been trapped in the car with my mother, brother, and grandmother for almost two hours, which was comparable to purgatory. Between having to pee, my grandmother clicking her dentures, and Mom turning the air conditioner on and off to keep the car from overheating, I was on the brink of killing them all.
I grabbed my mother’s shoulder from over the seat. “Mom, I swear to God, if we don’t find a rest stop soon I’m going to piss myself!”
“Nice girls don’t talk like that, Autumn.” Grandma Ruth reminded me.
I met my mother’s sympathetic stare in the rearview mirror. “Ten more minutes.”
“I can’t wait ten more minutes!” I whimpered and tucked my hands between my legs as my bladder spazzed out and sent pain shooting through my lower orifices. I wondered what would happen if my bladder really did explode. Would I die?
“Stop grabbing your crotch, sicko!” Josh scooted up against the door to get away from me, like I was some kind of pervert.
“Shut up, Josh! I can’t help it.”
“You shut up.”
I pinched my eyes closed and tried to imagine how great my future would be without my annoying family.
Mom turned on the radio in an attempt to control the atmosphere in the car. Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” filled the air and she sang along. I grabbed the door handle and considered throwing myself from the vehicle.
“Mom please don’t sing this song.”
“Why not? I like this song.”
“Why does she say she’s a virgin?” Grandma asked. “She’s probably a tramp.”
“Madonna reminds me of the first time I went on a date with your dad. We were at the roller-skating rink and “Crazy for You” came on. We couple-skated to it.”
“Not another story about Dad,” I begged, pressing my forehead up against the cool window. Their divorce was six years ago, just before my fourteenth birthday. I blamed their separation for most of the bad choices I had made since then.
“Like a Viiirgin…” Mom sang while she drummed her fingers against the steering wheel, “touched for the very first tiiime…”
I glared over at my brother with his iPod pumping music into his ears, oblivious to our mothers singing. I knew I should have brought earplugs.
“Oh! That sign said there’s a rest stop ahead,” Mom announced when we flew past it.
“Thank you God.” I sighed in relief.
Two more hours. Just two more hours and I’d be free.
Additional Down to Business Excerpts
“You must be Lindy’s roommate?” His beautiful light brown eyes met mine and his lips pulled into a flawless white smile surrounded by a five o’clock shadow. “I’m Vinny, Tyler’s friend.”
I couldn’t believe how attractive he was. I watched another droplet of water plummet down his chest and realized he was holding his palm out to shake my hand. Heat spread over my face. I roughly slapped my palm into his and shook with him.
“Oh, hi, I’m Autumn.”
“Nice to meet you, Autumn. I like your name.”
“Thanks…yours is nice too…really traditional,” I said, nodding enthusiastically like an idiot.
Traditional? Really? That is all I could come up with?
I finished off my beer and set the empty bottle beside his.
“Do you think I’m playing games with you, too?” he asked.
My cheeks burned and I shrugged. ”I hope not. Are you?”
“No.” He watched me, his gaze soft. “You’re about the only honest thing I have left, Autumn.”
I stared at him and smiled a little, my heart flip-flopping. “Why do you keep pushing me away then?”
He looked down at the bar top. “Because I’m afraid of what might happen if I don’t.”
Before I could finish getting my things out of my locker, Vivian came up behind me.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“What does it look like?” I asked without looking at her and sliding my purse over my shoulder.
“Don’t talk down to me!”
Her hand shot out and slammed my locker closed. I froze and stared at her maroon nails splayed over the door like bloody claws.
“We’re off the clock and I don’t need to be nice to you. Stay away from him, do you hear me?” she growled at my backside.
I slowly turned around to face her. “What if he doesn’t want me to?”
Her lips pulled into a sneer and her nostrils flared. “Look bitch, I know you think you’re cute with your little game you’re playing to get between Vinny and me, but it’s not gonna work. He’s not into you. He feels bad for you because you’re a poor loser with no friends. You do realize that there’s nothing you could offer him, right? You’re just a scrawny, little ginger bitch with no money, car, tits or ass.”
I glared at her and my reply flowed from my lips before I could swallow it back down. “I guess I’ll have to rely on my personality then, since you don’t have one.”
He rubbed his fingers gently through my hair. “I need you.”
The desperation in his voice shattered my resistance. He leaned in and pressed a kiss against my damp cheek. I reached out to push him away, but he cupped my cheek in his warm palm and turned my face toward his. I opened my eyes as his lips met mine, and the salt from my tears and the sweet taste of his lips mixed. His kiss combined with my emotional turmoil was kryptonite. I closed my hand around the front of his shirt and pulled him into me, the mix of yearning and heartache making our kiss that more intense.
“I love you, Autumn,” he whispered against my lips.
Fresh tears flooded my eyes. It felt like I waited a lifetime to hear him say those words. My lips trembled against his. “I love you too, Vinny.”