An Autumn Boyfriend Disaster
An Autumn Boyfriend Disaster
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I kissed my boss, then I ghosted him. I’ve always wished I had a second chance with him, and now… Maybe I do. This fall romance features plenty of pumpkin but no spice—just swoony kisses, baked apples, and warm sweaters. An Autumn Boyfriend Disaster is a sweet fake-engagement, second-chance romantic comedy. It can be read as a stand-alone or part of the series.
- Fake engagement
- Second Chance
- Friends to Lovers
- Butler Brothers of Boston series
- Stand Alone Novel
- 512 pages
I kissed my boss, then I ghosted him.
I’ve grown up a lot since then, and things have changed. I’ve always wished I had a second chance with him, and now… Maybe I do.
Luke wants to bring our band to play at his celebrity brothers’ wedding. I’m moving to Alaska at the end of the week, so it’s my last chance to hang out with him. I’m a go-with-the-flow hippie, so I figured, Why Not?, but I had no idea what I was signing up for. Luke’s family makes My Big Fat Greek Wedding look tame.
It’s changing everything about the dynamic between me and Luke. The walls between us are falling down, and best of all, he’s not my boss anymore. Nothing’s in our way—except ourselves.
And my concussion. And the Twitch livestream. And a fake engagement. Oh, and his brother’s secret baby. Then there’s the paparazzi. I don’t know. Maybe we’re not meant to be. Maybe the universe is conspiring against us.
But maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance of salvaging this autumn boyfriend disaster before we ruin his brothers’ wedding for his entire
This second-chance romantic comedy features plenty of pumpkin but no spice—just swoony kisses, baked apples, and warm sweaters.
An Autumn Boyfriend Disaster is a closed-door, sweet fake engagement romantic comedy with swoony-worthy kisses, but no spicy content. It can be read as a stand-alone or
part of the series.
Intro to Chapter One
Intro to Chapter One
I have nothing better to do than stalk my ex-boyfriend on New Year’s Eve. Technically, it’s not stalking. It’s not my fault that Luke never turned off the location sharing on his phone. And technically, he was never my
But I’m not very technical. I’m more of the emotional, intuitive, I can’t-believe-you’re-working-again-tonight type, so I make a detour on Pearl Street and head to our office. I can’t count how many interventions I’ve had to make for Luke’s own good over the last four years.
Except I’m not sure who the intervention is for tonight. He might not take my news as well as I hope.
The cold cuts through me as I walk through the crowds of revelers. Snow dusts the sidewalk beneath me. This dress was a mistake, but it’s my lucky first-date dress. It’s the dress my mom wore when she met my dad, but the loose, flowing style doesn’t provide any warmth in the Colorado winter.
The sandals? I have no reason for wearing them, except that I always wear them. And I didn’t think I’d be walking home from my date. Alone. Without a proper coat.
I swipe my badge and pull open the glass doors—metal handles should be illegal in Colorado during the winter—and skip up the winding circular stairs. Past the pool table. Past the bean bags and ping pong table. All the way to the corner office, where a lone light burns at eleven o’clock at night.
Music blares through the
cracked-open door. Luke’s high, clear voice sings along, and the lyrics tug at my heart. I know this song. It’s one of my favorites by Bread.
I pause in the hallway, swaying to the song. If he knows I’m listening, he’ll stop singing, and I love his voice. Not many men can hit those high, clear notes and make it sound effortless. But then the song hits the part about taking people for granted and losing them, and Luke’s voice cracks.
So does my heart.
That must be why I caught the vibe to check on him. He’s sad, and I could sense it. He needs me.
So, I’d better cheer him up before I drop my news-bomb.
I start singing along with the
beautiful lyrics as I fling open the door to his office.
Luke’s head whips up from the desk, and his eyes widen. He stares at me with an anguished expression. I’ve never seen him so raw. I can feel the pain radiating from him.
“Andie?” his smooth voice suddenly has a ragged edge.
I can’t tell him tonight.
“Hey, Boss.” I lean over and check the music app on his phone. “What is that playlist? ‘Unchained Melody’? ‘Always on My Mind’? ‘Someone to You’? No wonder you’re depressed.”
He scrambles to turn off the music, cutting it off before the song can finish, then straightens in his chair. “What are you doing here?”
It takes me a second to remember. I’ve never seen Luke like this. He doesn’t usually show his feelings, and here he is, oozing emotions all over the room. I toss my coat on the tiny sofa and shove a pile of papers aside to perch on the edge of his desk. “Happy New Year’s!”
He clears his throat, then tugs a contract out from beneath my thigh. “Happy New Year’s, Andie.” Luke taps the papers and sets them neatly on the other side of his desk.
I ease into the conversation. “How was your Christmas break?”
Luke checks his watch. “This is going to take a while, isn’t it?”
“Yep. It’s not midnight for another hour.”
He pulls out his phone and texts something before I answer. “I’m ordering food.” He slides the phone onto the other corner of the desk, the one where I’m not sitting.
I pick up his phone and hand it to him.
Luke texts again, then shoves it on the desk beside my leg, nudging me.
I hop off the desk and drape my coat on one of his chairs. “I came to cheer you up.”
Luke’s expression shutters, and I can’t see the despair and hurt anymore. He’s just—blank. “Who says I’m depressed?”
I take off my lucky string of beads and position myself behind him. “Why else would you be at the office on New Year’s Eve?” I drop my hands onto his shoulders and start massaging. “I’m not leaving until you clear this negative energy.” So, I can’t create any. “Was your trip that bad?”
Luke sits stiffly in his chair. “You’re here, too. Are you depressed?”
I pause with my hands on his shoulders, and he squirms. I need his help as much as he needs mine. I rub slow circles with my thumbs. “I’m never depressed. Who can be sad in a world full of such beauty?”
Luke gazes up at me. He doesn’t tease me about being a hippie, like he normally would. He eyes my lucky date dress and glances at the beads on the sofa. When his gaze locks onto mine for an uncomfortably long time, I tell him the truth. “Maybe a little sad. My date ended early.”
And the shutters lower on his expression again. “Sorry, Andie.”
I don’t want him to think that he’s my second choice or last resort for tonight. Even if he kinda is. I nudge his shoulder. “Why’s your world ending?”
Again, no smile. “My dad offered me a promotion.”
“And that’s bad?” I rub a thumb down his neck and along the top of his shoulders. He’s wearing a butter soft button-up shirt that’s not at all his usual style. He looks best in blue, but most of his geek shirts are black or white. My hands glide over the smooth fabric, and knots of tension ripple beneath my fingers. “You’re holding onto some serious stress. Let it flow out of you.”
Still nothing. Sometimes I have to be painfully direct with Luke. “What’s up?”
“No comment.” He closes his eyes and tips his head backward, resting it against my stomach.
That prompts the usual flutters, the ones I’ve trained myself to ignore. And Luke smells different tonight. Better. He doesn’t usually smell like anything, but tonight some new, delicious manly scent wafts upward.
Humor usually works with him. “Poor, spoiled millionaire baby.”
Luke tenses again. “It’s not about the money. My brothers set a date for their double wedding.”
“That’s awesome.” I keep massaging his shoulders, working on the knot beneath his right shoulder blade. “I don’t see the connection.”
I gently push down his shoulders. “Release the stress.”
Luke purses his lips, and from where I stand behind him, he looks amazing. My gaze roams over his face, a constellation of freckles on each cheek. His blue eyes are closed, and those lips look way too kissable.
They’re not. I tried once,
and it was a disaster. I rub the tense spots at the top of his neck, but mostly it’s an excuse to play with the curls at the bottom of his hair.
“It’s a C-level position working for my dad in Boston. CTO. Do you have any idea what it’s like to live around five brothers and my parents? And now I’ll have sisters. Sisters who like me, and want to spend time with me, and buy me cologne for Christmas.”
So, that’s what the delicious scent is. I dig into the knots on the left side of his neck. “I love Brie and Lindsay.”
Luke snorts. “But do they have to love me so much?” He tugs at the collar of his shirt. “Lindsay was so excited to see me wear my Christmas gift that I couldn’t say No.”
“I like this shirt. It must be
Luke shrugs. “It’s slim fit, whatever that means.”
My gaze darts to his abdomen. It does fit him well. Too well. “I like your usual t-shirts better.” The ones that hide his shoulders and chest. I run a finger around the smooth fabric, then tuck my thumbs beneath the collar to rub that part of his neck. His skin is warm to the touch, and he shivers when my cold fingers dip below the collar. “This one is obviously suffocating you.”
Luke undoes the top button. “Like my family.”
“You have a beautiful family who dotes on you and wants to be involved in every aspect of your life.” I pull my thumbs out from beneath the collar, missing the warmth of his skin, and go back to rubbing his shoulders. It soothes me more than it helps him. “Why did that inspire your super melancholy playlist?”
I tip his head onto his chest to
stretch his neck. Luke’s muffled voice replies, “I thought I’d be married by now. If anyone’s going to suffocate me, I’d rather that it were my wife.”
This is definitely not the direction I saw the conversation going. I was hoping to use his promotion as a segue to my news.
“I guess that’s kinda sweet that you want your wife to suffocate you. That means you want to spend time with her.”
“All of it.”
My hands go still on his shoulders. How did we get into this conversation? “I didn’t know you were dating someone.” But
maybe he meant that in a general way, not specific to any particular girlfriend. “You’re serious enough to consider marrying her? Or did she break your engagement?”
Luke’s eyes snap open, and his expression closes off again. “No comment.”
Shock roots me to the spot, and my hands are welded to his shoulders now. “You were engaged, and I didn’t know? I thought we were friends.”
Luke ripples his shoulders, like he’s uncomfortable. “You don’t know everything about me.”
My fingers are lead, and I can’t move them. “Did she dump you? Is that why you’re upset?”
He purses his lips.
“Who was she?” I whisper. “Who hurt you?” And I send my healing energy toward him, but it would be easier to help him if I could read him.
Or if he’d talk.
“No comment.” Luke rolls his mouse on the desk. The playlist appears, and he exits the music app.
“Luke, I heard your mopey music. I’m not leaving—”
“Fine.” He spins toward me in his chair, and his face is still a mask. “Seeing the twins so happy made me want that, too.”
“I know. They’re adorable on video calls, and I want to be disgustingly, over-the-top in love too.”
“So, this guy wasn’t your soul
mate?” Luke asks pointedly. “Maybe the next date. Or the next. Or the next. I’m so tired of it.” He glances at me. “Unlike some people.”
I swat his shoulder, then leave my hand there. “The reason I date so much is because I want to love someone so intensely that the room goes dim when he leaves, and only he can lighten it again.”
Luke spins his chair back to face his computer monitor, and my hand falls off his shoulder. “I know how to use light switches, if that’s all you want.” He cracks open a drawer and grabs a remote. He presses a button, and the overhead light goes off at the same time that the light in the corner turns on. The window shades whir and begin to roll
down, blocking the night sky. The music starts again, but softer.
I gasp. “I love this vibe.”
“Here you go.” Luke holds out the remote and quirks a dimpled smile. “True love. It will never disappoint you, as long as you change the batteries every six months.”
And now he’s hiding behind his sarcasm and humor, but it’s not funny tonight. Not when someone crushed his soul.
And when another date fizzled out for me.
But the dim light and setting are ridiculously romantic. It reminds me of the tiny fairy lights I strung in his living room. I wonder if he still has them up.
“Did you love her that much?” I ask quietly. I shouldn’t feel jealous, but a fist grips my heart and squeezes. “You installed custom modifications to your office to create mood lighting. It must have been serious.”
That gets a tiny twitch of his lips. His mood is shifting.
Luke props his hands behind his head. His muscles tense, so I tug his arms back to his side. “I’ll make you a deal. My question for your question.”
He takes my hands and moves them back to his shoulders. “Any question?”
“Of course. But first, I have to
know.” I dig into the knot at the base of his neck. “Are these massages the
only reason you put up with my heart-to-heart talks?”
Luke finally grins. A real one. “Yep.”
I massage his shoulders. “You know the rules. When you stop talking, my hands stop working. Let’s hear your conversation-starting question, Luke Butler.”
He stares blankly at the screensaver on his monitor and lets out a deep breath as I rub his back with the heel of my hand. “Have you ever loved someone so much that you couldn’t imagine a life without them? Has anyone ever worked their way into every crevice of your life, like an ivy tentacle winding up the side of a house, but you couldn’t bear to rip the vine away? Even though you knew it would eventually destroy the brick beneath.”
That was unexpected.
“Whoa, Luke. Getting all vulnerable and deep.”
A tiny smile tugs at one corner of his mouth. “See, I can surprise you.”
I think about what he asked. “So, women are like poison ivy? And your heart is a brick?” That explains a lot. He’s walled off.
“Regular ivy. Not poisonous.” The smile fades, and Luke’s jaw sets. I must have hit a sore spot—emotionally. Or in the middle of his back. Not sure which. “I was thinking more about the stubborn way plants grow without any water. Like love, when you want to root it out.”
“Why would you want to root it out?” I massage his shoulders again. “What brutal imagery. It’s beautiful and effective, but this conversation is still too dark and mopey.” I shiver. It hits a little too close to home.
Luke reaches for my coat and tosses it to me. He grabs the thin, gray remote and presses a button. The lamp winks out, and the overhead lights flood my eyes. I lean over him to press the button. “I like the mood lighting better for New Year’s Eve.”
Luke tips his head to watch me straighten. My arm brushes against his, and something flashes in his eyes. It’s fierce and hungry, and it stuns me. His clear blue eyes lock onto mine. “You never answered. Have you ever felt that way?”
“I thought that was a hypothetical question.” I can’t answer that. He’s the vine that wraps tendrils around my heart, no matter how many times I rip it off.
And he’s my boss.
He continues to stare, obviously waiting for an answer.
I shrug. “No comment on the ivy in my life. Unless you want to tell me who has a chokehold on your heart.”
A flash of disappointment flickers across his face before his jaw sets and his expression is neutral again. “Nope. Next topic.”
I sense his frustration and sadness, and I’m here to shift his energy, not dwell on his pain. Unless it’s me? I rip the fledging seed of hope out of my heart. That was a long time ago.
And he describes her as someone who would destroy him emotionally. That’s not me. I’ve gone to great lengths to preserve our friendship after the disastrous almost-dating.
Luke glances up. “Now it’s your turn to talk.”
I want to know about the mystery woman, and what kind of girlfriend Luke Butler would want, since I never made it to that stage officially.
But that makes my stomach churn, and I’m radiating nothing but positive energy tonight.
“Instead of having five brothers and two pending sisters-in-law, you could be an only child of self-absorbed parents who guilt-trip you about not doting on them every time you visit.”
Luke’s shoulders relax, as if he’s relieved to leave the subject of drought-resistant vines and brick-hard hearts, and he closes his eyes again. “My parents have ivy on the side of their house.”
“At least your parents have a
house.” I shove his shoulders. “You can’t apply the analogy to parents. It’s their job to suffocate you. That’s what good parents do. I’d love to have a little more attention from mine.”
Luke snorts. His fingers find mine, and he puts my hands on his shoulders again. “I still get guilt-tripped about not staying longer every time I go home.” He cranes his head to one side and looks at me. “What did your parents want this time?”
“You’re too tense.” I put one hand on either side of his face and swivel his head back the way it was. “They want me to quit my hedonistic corporate lifestyle and return to the
blissfully simple van life with them.”
Luke snorts. “What’s so hedonistic about designing websites and writing code?”
I dig into the knots along his spine too hard, then catch myself. It’s not Luke’s fault that my parents are
hard-core hippies. I am, too, kind of. I take a deep breath. I am peace. I am love. “It allows me to do outrageous things like own a couch and extravagant luxuries like the tin of vintage peppermint lip balm I bought at the Christmas craft market.”
A phone pings. Luke opens his eyes and grabs the phone off his desk. “Layla says she can drop off some appetizers on her way home. She got off at eleven.”
“Layla?” My hands freeze on his trapezius muscles, and he rolls a shoulder to shrug them off. I know his tricks. He doesn’t want to talk about this. He wants to eat.
I sink onto the mini couch along the edge of his office. What else don’t I know about Luke’s life?