The modern world is a vibrant, diverse, and of course, imperfect place — it is only fitting that the people and love stories blooming within it be just that, too.
From the aspiring astronaut with crushing anxiety looking to catch the eye of the radiant woman she sees on the bus every day, to the heart-on-her-sleeve artist with a head full of dreams who finds herself uncharacteristically falling for a shy and guarded man, this anthology of romance novellas hopes to portray modern love in all its glory through loveable characters and pairings worth rallying for.
These stories are contemporary, heartfelt, and touching.
Tommy was drawn to the way her lips curled gently as she talked, her face all hard lines and geometric elegance, with high cheekbones and a diamond jawline.
“It’s not really the type of band people in their twenties listen to, I guess,” she added.
Silence. She sucked on her lips lightly, glancing away.
Tommy hated when he created a divot in the conversation like that, unable to think of a good response. All of his half-assed Tinder conquests ended like that, with him unable to think of something else to say, because everything everyone else said always seemed so much more interesting than anything he could offer them back.
Good to know that the same shit still applied in person since the last time he’d bothered to engage in light conversation with a stranger.
“Are you okay?” she asked after a moment. “I don’t want to be indiscreet, but you look super sad.”
Why the fuck was she probing into his life?
“I’m fine,” Tommy grunted. “Thanks for your concern, though,” he added, with just enough sourness for her to know that he didn’t appreciate her asking.
Just sarcastic enough to convey her disbelief of his reply, and just genuine enough to veil itself of its own impoliteness. They remained quiet for a moment, the tension palpable. It felt like crackling electricity; a bit of anger, and a bit of challenge. Like a dare to say something back. And despite his irritation at her unexpected attempted dive into his personal life, Tommy liked it.
“Coming back from work, I’m guessing? Construction?” the girl asked without missing a beat.
There was an edge to her voice, telling him she had sensed the same electricity he had and was jumping onto its current. Tommy should have been happy he had managed to create an odd sort of near-sexual tension with her without having to sit behind his phone screen thinking of a clever response for fifteen minutes, but now all that flooded his mind again was his supervisor’s voice, telling him he was out of a job.
It had taken only a split second to have him feeling like shit once more. He needed to shut this down.
“Wow, how did you know?” Tommy mocked, injecting a leveled amount of genuine rudeness into his tone, enough to hopefully shut her up. “Did the jumpsuit give it away?”
“Maybe I’m just very perceptive,” she answered. She hadn’t picked up on it this time. “What’s your name?”
He bit back a sigh of annoyance. “Tommy,” he said through clenched teeth.
Mike’s house was three stops away now.
“Cool. Short for Thomas or something?”
“I would have fucking said Thomas if my name was Thomas, okay?” he snapped too loudly, heads turning his way.
The girl looked completely caught off guard, leaning away in surprise. Tommy found a sick satisfaction in seeing her dumbfounded, reeling expression like that. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d snapped at someone, and he didn’t like that his lips itched to pull themselves into a nasty snarl.
“This is my stop,” he said gruffly, standing and pressing the button to notify the driver.
Silently, she stood and shuffled out of the seat, letting him out. The bus screeched to a halt and Tommy threw his shoulder into the door, stepping down onto the street. He slung his string bag over his broad shoulders, shoved his hands into his pockets, and began walking towards Mike’s house with his head down.