Decisions We Make After Midnight is a sweet romcom that reads exactly like a chick flick. It’s got a brooding alpha male, a quirky heroine and a lot of fun and swoony moments.
We meandered lazily, stopping at nearly every stall to check out the wares and chat with the vendors. We shared a funnel cake, a German pretzel with homemade beer cheese sauce, street tacos from a food truck, and latkes. I had never even had a latke until today, but I frankly couldn’t live without them now. It was settled. I needed latkes in my life always.
Not to mention all the drinking.
I shared my newfound knowledge from Will while we tried cocktails and martinis. And boozy kombucha. Homebrew beer. And some actual moonshine.
“Good thing we had all those carbs,” Reese noted as we practically collapsed on an empty picnic table hours later. “Otherwise, you’d have to call an Uber to get us home.”
I gazed blearily into the distance. “You still might have to call an Uber to get us home.”
“Nah,” she said, waving me off. “We’ll just keep walking around and eating our body weight in fried food. We’ll be good in an hour.”
I snorted a laugh. “I can’t remember the last time I day drunk like this.” I thought about what I’d just said and tried again. “Day drinked.”
Reese raised an eyebrow. “It’s day dranked.”
We dissolved into laughter again, but a figure in the distance caught my attention, and I bolted into sitting straight. “Ohmygosh,” I slurred. “I think my boss is here.”
“Your dad is here?” Reese blurted. “Where? I’ll kill him. I swear it, Lo, I will kill him.”
“No, not my dad. My boss. My new boss. My bar boss.”
“Your bar boss?” She was too tipsy to understand.
But I wasn’t. Well, I was obviously tipsy, but I knew what I meant. And who was here. And why was he here? And why was he going to see me like this? Day drank . . . er . . . drunk on the middle of a Sunday.
For shame, Lola. For shame.
I turned around, hoping he hadn’t seen me yet, even though he seemed to be very purposely walking in our direction. But maybe he’d parked over this way. Next to the tie-dye people. Or maybe he wanted a German pretzel. Which was on the other side of the market.
Or maybe he—
Wanted to talk to me?
I spun back around and squinted at him in a way I knew was decidedly drunken but was unable to help in my current less-than-sober state. “Oh, my gosh, Will. Hi.” I was overly bright and friendly. The rational part of my brain told the totally inebriated part to pull back. Dropping my smile, I demanded, “What are you doing here? Why aren’t you at the bar?”
He squinted back in a way that was decidedly sober. “It’s Sunday. The bar is closed.”
I laughed too loud. “Oh, right. Duh.”
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“What? I’m fine. Why? Do I not seem okay?”
“No, it’s not that. You seem—”
“Drunk,” Reese filled in for him. “We seem drunk.”
“We’re not drunk,” I argued, laughing, scowling, shooting wide-eyed looks at my oblivious best friend. “We’re just, um, we’ve been sampling the samples. It’s early. We’re not good day drinkers.”
He laughed, taking the seat next to me on the picnic bench. “You’re not a good night drinker either.” His expression was charming and sweet and amused. I could have fallen into that expression and lived there. I never wanted to see another expression again in my life. Just that one. On that face. Forever and ever, amen. He turned away and gave the expression to Reese. As if she deserved it. Then he stuck out his hand. “Hi, I’m Will.”
“I’m Reese,” she said, going gooey gazed the same way I just had. “I’m Lola’s best friend.”
They were still shaking hands. “I’m her boss.”
“The bar boss,” Reese confirmed.
He pulled his hand back. “That’s right. The mean bar boss.”
Reese looked at me. “Mean? Is he mean?”
I plopped my chin into my hand and wished I had another drink nearby. It didn’t have to be alcoholic. But I needed something to wet my suddenly dry throat. “He’s not mean. He’s just . . .” I looked up at the sky, hoping it would flash the word I was looking for. “Persnickety.”
Will made a choking sound. “You think I’m persnickety.”
“I mean, you’re not not persnickety.”
His expression twisted into something closer to disgust than charm.
Charlie came out of nowhere and sat down next to Reese with a massive tin of nachos. “New Girl!”
“Nachos,” I exclaimed back, helping myself to the closest chip.
Charlie blinked at me. “They’ve been day drinking,” Will explained.
“Day dranking,” Reese corrected, pulling a giggle out of me. “And I think it was just the kombucha. It might have been drugged.”
“Or the moonshine,” I countered. “That stuff was potent.”
“Rookies,” Charlie tsked. “Those are total newbie mistakes. Everyone knows the moonshine is only for after dark and the kombucha is to be avoided at all costs.”
“It’s our first time here,” Reese explained, confirming his accusations. “There should be signs posted or something. We didn’t know.”
“Well, have some nachos,” Will encouraged, pushing the tin plate closer to Reese’s and my side of the table. We were halfway through the plate. Nothing could stop us now. Not even if he’d kept them on his side of the table.
The cheese and salsa-covered chips seemed to help sober me up, though. The world was already righting itself when I asked, “Do you guys usually spend your Sunday afternoons here?”
Charlie snorted, and Will’s expression dipped back toward horrified again. “You make it sound so . . . illicit,” he said.
Charlie laughed harder. “We’re brothers,” he explained to Reese. They shook hands and did the introduction thing again. Reese, Charlie, Charlie, Reese.
“So you’re her bar boss too?” Reese asked around a big bite of chip with all the toppings, dripping with queso and sour cream.
Charlie squinted at me. “I mean, technically, maybe? I don’t know. Will is pretty much everyone’s boss.”
“That’s not true,” Will denied, sounding embarrassed. “We own the bar with our sister, Eliza. We’re all in charge, just of different aspects of the business.”
“Is that so?” Charlie asked, eyebrows raised.
Will kept his attention on Reese. “Eliza manages our distributors, events, and marketing.”
“Because she’s the nicest out of the three of us,” Charlie put in.
“Charlie manages the front of house and staff.”
“Used to,” Charlie added quickly.
“And I run the menus, kitchen, and bar.”
“And finances, payroll, and my jobs, and most of Eliza’s, and everything else,” Charlie added firmly. Will shot him a look. I pressed my lips together out of reflex. Charlie put his hands up and stared Will down. “What? It’s true.”
“He is pretty bossy,” I confirmed, taking Charlie’s side.
“See? New Girl agrees with me.” He shot me a thankful smile, but I was starting to wonder if he actually knew my name.
My suspicion was confirmed when Will said, “Her name is Lola. Not New Girl.”
“You always call her New Girl,” Charlie pointed out.
I froze, nacho still crushed between my teeth, mouth, thankfully, closed.
Will’s glare turned glacial. “I don’t.”
Charlie grinned. “You do.”
Will cleared his throat, an obvious sign he was irritated. “Anyway, we’ve worked out our differences, so—”
Reese snorted a laugh. “What were your differences?”
Will turned his gaze back to me. It was sliding toward enchanting and adorable again. I finally remembered to swallow. But only because it was either that or choking. “She was hired to be a waitress, but she doesn’t know anything about waitressing.”
Released: September 28 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Lola Ellis has a picture-perfect life. Until she doesn’t.
Successful, engaged to the man of her dreams, and focused. Until suddenly she’s questioning her position in the family company, her fiancé’s fidelity, and everything she thought she knew about life.
On her way to Florida to open a new branch of the family business and meet her fiancé Owen, she unexpectedly detours to visit her best friend in Durham, North Carolina. What was meant to be a week of rest and relaxation as she gets her mind right stretches into a permanent TBD. She can’t face the future waiting for her in Destin, Florida. And the longer she stays in Durham, the less she wants to.
Will English is an uptight, arrogant bartender who keeps scaring away waitresses. Too busy micromanaging his co-owning siblings, his patience is thin when it comes to the rest of the business. When Lola takes a job at his bar to fill her time while she decides what to do about the mess her life has suddenly become, he decides not to engage with the clearly underqualified new waitress. She’s clumsy, clueless, and costing him too much money every time she gives away another round of drinks because she’s messed up again. And yet… there’s something about her that keeps him from dismissing her.
Together, after the bar closes every night, they forge a friendship that doesn’t fit into either of their lives. Lola’s stay in Durham is only temporary. And Will’s roots in the city are deeply established. A relationship doesn’t make sense. But sometime after midnight one night… they decide they don’t care.
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