Author: Ginger Voight
Shannon McKenna is a shy production assistant with big dreams and even bigger phobias, most of which are not unrelated to her size 12 figure. She coasts along quite comfortably in the “Shadows”, where she lives vicariously from her fingertips as an aspiring writer.When her similarly sized boss Dixie dangles a carrot in front of her crew to come up with her next TV project, Shannon teasingly concocts a dating reality show with her best friend, the hunky Jake Dalton. Instead of a traditional format, there would be a “mole” at the bachelorette pad, who would provide all the inside scoop of how the girls really behaved to the Bachelor in question.The only problem is her coworker Rex, or Dogface, Lord of the Reptilian People. When she dallies in her insecurity he pounces on her idea and virtually steals her producing credit. With a little help from Jake and her fairy godmother Jorge, Shannon decides to sabotage the show by rigging it from the inside out.She and Jake would star in the show, and the hunky hero would choose the mole – the “Every Woman” instead of the bevy of beauties that had already been cast.The more they fake it, the easier it is for Shannon to feign a budding romance with her best buddy. Before long she has lost her heart, and some of her sanity.She finally realizes she loves Jake, just in time to fight off 20 other women to win his heart.
Teaser from “Love Plus One”
Maybe it was the lack of sleep, might have been the hangover, but Shannon was in a sour mood when she sat down to watch the streaming video of Jake and Kayleigh’s date. No matter how much she’d thrown herself into the fantasy of dating – or even seducing – him, the truth was Jake and Kayleigh looked like they were made for each other.They hiked through Griffith Park, and though Jake kept a pretty brisk pace Kayleigh ran circles around him. They had a picnic overlooking Los Angeles and a private show at the Planetarium at the Observatory, complete with a change of wardrobe.Shannon sucked in a breath as Jake emerged from the building, dressed once again in a formal wear. This time he wore no tie, and the first button or two remained open in a devil-may-care kind of way. His bronzed skin and stark black hair contrasted with his white dinner jacket, and the way he carried himself with the ease of a man who could wear a tuxedo in one minute and jeans the next left Shannon thinking that he had never looked more sophisticated in his life.When Kayleigh met Jake out on the grass, she wore a long, satin gown that fit her like a glove. It was red with a halter neckline and when she did a pirouette to model it for him, there wasn’t an ounce of spare flesh on her frame.Jake’s mouth dropped open in a silent “wow”, and he held out his hand with a smile.There was no doubt about it. Jake was getting the most out of his learning experience.Shannon’s throat constricted as she watched Kayleigh cuddle into the crook of his arm, and the smile Jake bestowed upon her as she did so. They retired into the darkened Planetarium and sat closely as they were entertained by the show.Then came the heart wrenching moment when Kayleigh captured her gaze with his own, a clear invitation for a kiss. To his credit, Jake hesitated longer than most red-blooded American men might, but when her head tilted towards his he got caught up in the moment. Their lips met, tentatively at first, but Kayleigh was the kind of girl who would definitely make things happen her way. The kiss deepened and for a moment Shannon forgot she was on camera herself.She had no way of knowing that on the other end of that camera Rex was very pleased with himself.Things were going just the way he had planned.And if Shannon got jealous or heartbroken?Well, that’s just good TV.As the date drew to a close with a slow dance under the stars, Shannon turned off the monitor. It was her turn to talk but she had nothing to say. She mumbled a bit about wanting the best for Jake and supporting his decision to choose Kayleigh if that’s what would make him happy, but the words felt like marbles in her mouth.She knew she needed to act the part, but her stomach had twisted into knots and her heart felt like a block of Swiss cheese. It just wasn’t in her at the moment.The other girls knew something was wrong when she entered the bedroom, but she brushed them off with the hangover excuse and laid down for a much deserved nap.The next day was yet another group date. This time Jake and his chosen six jetted off to Las Vegas for an overnight rendezvous at the Palms Hotel & Casino. They caught a show, invaded the casinos and finally ended up at Eden’s review on the strip. Her dance act was strictly for the eighteen and over set, and she gave Jake a sample of what made her popular in cabs and on buses all over Sin City.Ever the team player, Jake also got into the spirit of things and danced with Eden, Dominique and Sabine while the other girls cheered on. They had so much fun Shannon almost wished she could participate in the group dates as well.After the whole Kayleigh incident, Shannon wasn’t especially thrilled to go out on another pretend date. Sure she’d have fun, but she knew that she would compare everything he and Kayleigh had shared with everything they would do.There’d be no moonlit dance, and definitely no kiss unless it was the chaste kiss of friendship.For everything else, she had to rely on her overactive imagination and the theater in her sleeping mind.Although even that had cooled off ever since she saw him in a lip lock with Kayleigh. Even her dream ego took a beating on that one.Thankfully there were no deep, meaningful kisses on the Vegas date. Nor on the second group date at Sea World in San Diego.Before she knew it the week was over and her date was upon her. Fortunately she didn’t have to maintain her girly routine around Jake, there was nothing to prove.That the date was casual, even better. She didn’t even bother with makeup. Much.Jorge insisted that she at least wear enough makeup that it didn’t look like she was wearing anything at all.She laughed, but he was dead serious. “Are you kidding?”“Trust the artist,” he said.She kept chuckling under her breath the entire time he fussed over her, but when he was done she realized that it really was an art after all. She didn’t look like a glamor girl, but she didn’t look like the old plain Jane she was mere weeks before. He really knew how to bring out hidden beauty.“No wonder you get paid the big bucks,” she joked.He just swatted her on her behind and sent her on her way.She waited for Jake in the living room. As the clock ticked closer to the time he was due to arrive, Shannon became more and more excited. She had looked forward to this date more than she could have consciously admitted, and now that it was here she didn’t want to think of anything else but spending time with her very best friend.All that crush business… it was just an act.Right?She had herself fooled right up until he walked in the door. Like Shannon he was dressed casually, and no one wore casual quite like Jake Dalton. It was so much more than just how he looked, but how he carried himself. His aura radiated kindness, generosity, self-confidence.She’d always known that. What was new was the way she noticed how his dark lashes framed his amazing blue eyes, or the large strong hand that reached out for her… the way he smelled as he bent in for a hug.Jake was a hugger. He gave some of the best hugs around. They weren’t stingy, shy hugs. They were full body, head to toe bear hugs.She found herself fully aware of how his body felt molded against her own. Despite her size, his arms were big enough to sweep her into an embrace that engulfed her. She felt safer there than she had ever felt anywhere in the whole world.At least until she felt the immediate emptiness the minute he pulled away, but his eyes held her fast and refused to let her go. She could tell how happy he was to see her. Try as she might, she didn’t remember him looking at Kayleigh this way.That made her happier than she’d been all week.They ducked inside the limo and were alone at last.Except for the camera, but Shannon was quickly learning how easy that was to forget.They sat close together, comfortable old friends.“I’ve missed you,” he said. “I don’t know what to do with my nights without my favorite IM buddy.”She laughed. “I’ve seen the video. You have plenty to keep you busy.”An embarrassed grin crossed his face. “Well, you know.”She nodded. She knew. As much as he’d begun this journey to help her reclaim what Rex stole, he was still human.“So what’s it like for you? I don’t get to see any tapes,” he reminded her.Purple feathers and misplaced underwear flashed in her mind. “Thank God.”That got his attention. “Okay. Now you have to tell me.”Her entire face turned red as she shook her head. “No way, buster. That’s not how this game is played.”“You know,” he said, donning his best German accent, “ve have vays of making you talk.” He held up two hands in prime tickle position, which made her giggle before he even touched her.“You wouldn’t dare!”He dared. He dove right in and tickled her until she was laughing so hard she could barely breathe. “Okay, okay!” she gasped. “Uncle!”Mercifully he stopped, but he didn’t move. As she caught her breath she realized that he had her pinned against the seat, their faces mere inches apart. Time seemed to stand still as she stared into those baby blues up close. She had dreamed of being in his arms like this, but nothing compared to actually being there.“Well?” he whispered with a crooked grin.“Well what?” she whispered back, having completely forgotten the original line of questioning.Jake seemed extremely amused. He didn’t move an inch. “What goes on at the Bachelorette Pad when I’m not around?”“Oh,” she said. She licked her lips which drew his gaze that direction. The butterflies in her stomach clog danced their way to her feet when his eyes briefly glanced down at her mouth.“Gossiping. Grooming. Sacred shaving rituals. You know. Girl stuff.”He nodded, but he didn’t look as if he believed her.And he also didn’t look like he had any intention to move.Only Shannon couldn’t take it anymore and she scooted out from underneath him to open the tiny refrigerator. “Soda?” she asked without looking him in the eye.It crossed her mind only briefly that if Kayleigh had been in her position she’d have taken full advantage of the situation. The date wouldn’t have even made it from the back seat.But Shannon wasn’t Kayleigh. And no one knew that better than Jake.The limo came to a halt in front of an outdoor recreation center. Shannon got the nagging feeling Rex was up to something dirty.When she saw the rock wall, she was certain of it.Shannon wasn’t exactly the outdoorsy type, and there was that near pathological fear of heights thing. And she knew that Rex knew that because when Dixie had researched her show about phobias she grilled her entire staff out of curiosity.Despite that show, she never really saw the need to tackle this particular fear. Shannon had been very careful to cultivate an existence that didn’t move more than two feet off the ground. No high rises, no planes, no juggling act while balancing on a high wire. None of it. She even chose a ground floor apartment and worked in a one level studio.She had convinced herself it wasn’t really a phobia. It was a choice.Jake had absolutely no idea, but she had a sneaky suspicion he was about to find out.Conversely, Jake was stoked. He loved physical activity that tested his limits. He listened intently and nodded enthusiastically as their guide gave them the rundown. Shannon plastered a smile on her face, but inside she seriously fought coming unglued. She glanced up at the wall that had to be at least forty feet high – which was funny because that’s exactly forty feet higher than she wanted to go.Before she could protest she was trussed up in a harness and face to face with the Wall of Doom. Suddenly her arms felt like jelly and she just knew, without any doubt, that she was going to hurl.Jake had already crawled up on the wall. He glanced back at her. “Come on, Shan! I’ll race you.”“Let’s not and just say we did,” she muttered. She tried to will herself to move but it just wasn’t happening.“Chicken!” he called down. It was a friendly dig meant to get her up on the wall.It didn’t work.The guide came over. “Everything okay?”No, she wanted to say. Everything is not okay. Instead she made a joke, which was the Shannon way. “How strong are these things?” she asked and motioned to the harness.He just smiled. He knew the type. He also knew if she gave it half a chance she’d have a great time and gain a new hobby.With the patience of a saint he showed her again where to step and where to grab on. With his help she managed to make it off the ground. “Just concentrate on your next step,” the instructor told her. She looked no further than that.It was slow going, especially with the way Jake was scaling the wall. But she didn’t feel she was doing too badly and even called back to the guide to say so.That’s when she realized the ground was about fifteen feet down. If she’d have stopped to think about it, it was really not that far away – but to her frantic mind she felt like she was on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Suddenly her heart thumped against her ribs and her limbs began to shake. She couldn’t breathe and it felt as though she might actually be having a heart attack.She looked up, but that only gave her a mean case of vertigo.That was when she closed her eyes and began to scream.“Jake!”Like a flash he propelled down to where she sprawled frozen against the wall. She was white as a ghost and shook badly. Tears coursed down her face and she squinted her eyes tight. “Shan?”His soothing voice only made her cry harder. She shook her head. All she wanted was to get down, but she just didn’t have the guts.He tried again. “What’s wrong?”She barely opened an eye. “Heights.” It was all she could muster.“You’re afraid of heights?” he asked, then glanced down at how far she’d come.She nodded. “I want to get down.”He touched her shoulder. “Okay.”Only she didn’t move.“Do you know how?” he asked finally.She nodded again and cried even harder. Her hands gripped the wall so tightly her knuckles were white.“Honey, you gotta let go,” he said softly.She shook her head. She couldn’t even handle the thought. “I can’t.”“Yes, you can,” he soothed. “Look how far you came. Getting down will be a cinch. You’ll be on the ground before you know it.”Intellectually she knew that, but it was another matter convincing her body. She visibly shook as she clung to the wall. “I can’t let go.”He placed his hand on hers. “Then hang on. To me.”She looked into his face. He was her Jake. She knew he’d never let her down. Finally she allowed him to take her hand in his.“Trust me?” he said. She nodded. Together they kicked away from the wall and propelled down to the ground in one jump.The small crowd that had gathered applauded, but Shannon had a feeling it was more at her expense than it was for her accomplishment. Some of the guys even sneered as they turned away.And the camera, well. It caught it all.She followed Jake back to the limo, bringing their individual date to a close.Kayleigh: One.Shannon? Big, fat, amazing zero.
For more information about Ginger Voight, her books and the AWESOME GIVEAWAY this week – see my Author Page for Ginger – CLICK HERE