In a delightful follow-up to Written in the Stars, Alexandria Bellefleur delivers another #ownvoices queer rom-com about a hopeless romantic who vows to show his childhood crush that romance isn’t dead by recreating iconic dates from his favorite films...
Brendon Lowell loves love. It’s why he created a dating app to help people find their one true pairing and why he’s convinced “the one” is out there, even if he hasn’t met her yet. Or... has he? When his sister's best friend turns up in Seattle unexpectedly, Brendon jumps at the chance to hang out with her. He’s crushed on Annie since they were kids, and the stars have finally aligned, putting them in the same city at the same time.
Annie booked a spur-of-the-moment trip to Seattle to spend time with friends before moving across the globe. She’s not looking for love, especially with her best friend’s brother. Annie remembers Brendon as a sweet, dorky kid. Except, the 6-foot-4 man who shows up at her door is a certified Hot Nerd and Annie... wants him? Oh yes.
Getting involved would be a terrible idea—her stay is temporary and he wants forever—but when Brendon learns Annie has given up on dating, he’s determined to prove that romance is real. Taking cues from his favorite rom-coms, Brendon plans to woo her with elaborate dates straight out of Nora Ephron’s playbook. The clock is ticking on Annie’s time in Seattle, and Brendon’s starting to realize romance isn’t just flowers and chocolate. But maybe real love doesn’t need to be as perfect as the movies... as long as you think your partner hung the moon.
Excerpt from HANG THE MOON
Eight. Six. Seven. Two. Six. One. Four.
The keypad to Darcy’s apartment building flashed green and Annie made a break for it, grabbing the heavy brass handle and wrenching the door open. She waved at her Uber driver over her shoulder as she ducked for cover from the out-of-the-blue rain shower. The wobbly back wheel of her suitcase snagged on the threshold, causing her to stumble backward when she tugged harder, her black strappy kitten heels slipping on the slick marble floor.
Slightly out of breath, she dragged her suitcase out of the immediate path and posted up against the expansive wall of windows. Outside, the rain picked up, a gust of wind splattering the panes with droplets. Luckily she’d made it inside when she had, a little damp, but not soaked to the bone like she would’ve been had she still been on the street. She gathered her damp hair off the nape of her neck and twisted it into a messy bun, securing it with the band around her wrist, before getting her bearings.
Darcy’s building was impressive, all black marble shot through with gold veins, and immaculate—if impractical—white leather couches facing one another on either side of the lobby. Directly across from the door she’d stepped through was a gleaming silver elevator. She double-checked the text Darcy had sent her as soon as they’d gotten off the phone.
Darcy (4:44 p.m.): The code is 8672614.
Darcy (4:52 p.m.): Brendon’s on his way with the key. He should be there in 20 minutes.
Brendon Lowell. Last time she’d seen him in person had been eight years ago, back when he was a gangly college freshman with an adorable penchant for talking with his hands when he got fired up about something. For a guy who’d created one of the most popular apps on the market, he was shockingly bad at keeping his personal social media up to date. It would be interesting to see how he’d changed. If he’d changed.
Ten minutes later, the rain had passed, the cloud cover overhead breaking. The sun hovered at the horizon, painting the sky fiery orange, fingers of pink and yellow bleeding up into the beginnings of purple evening. Twilight approached, daylight burning away. Golden hour, her favorite time of day, when the shadows weren’t so dark and everything was bathed in shades of amber warmth. Leaving her suitcase inside, she stepped back out onto the sidewalk, breathing deep, inhaling the smell of rain-soaked pavement. The temperature was dropping and she crossed her arms against the breeze.
Darcy’s apartment was located on a steep hill several blocks northwest of the internationally famous Pike Place Market, in what appeared to be a quiet, older neighborhood. Traffic was lighter than it had been in the thick of downtown, and Annie’s vantage point afforded her an unencumbered view of the street. A silver Smart car shot down the hill like a bullet, cruising to a stop beside the curb.
It even had a giant windup key affixed to the trunk that was too cute not to document. She dug her phone out of her back pocket and snapped several pictures before flipping over to video and recording a brief clip of the key as it rotated.
The engine shut off and the driver’s-side door opened and—Annie blinked twice. Hello. Her lips parted, her jaw falling open a smidge, just enough to let out a choked gasp of appreciation as the driver unfolded himself from the car, all six foot, several inches of him.
It was a clown-car situation—how the driver had managed to pack all of that inside such a small space eluded her, but she wasn’t going to complain. No sir. She was going to thank the universe wholeheartedly for bringing her to this place, at this time, so she could appreciate the sight of this gorgeous guy shutting the door to his tiny car and lifting an arm—holy biceps, Batman—to . . . wave?
Heat crept up her neck, spreading like wildfire over her jaw. Oh God, he was looking right at her while she recorded him in all his long-legged, broad-shouldered, “hello forearms” glory. She fumbled her phone, tapping the button to stop recording, but her stupid cracked screen was having none of it. To save face, she pivoted hard to the right, pretending to record the sunset instead.
From the corner of her eye, she watched as the driver of the Smart car hopped the curb and—Jesus, he and his snug shirt were coming her way.
That was her name. Smart car guy knew her name. He was standing a foot from her, smiling so broadly that the corners of his brown eyes crinkled and his dimples deepened and—
Smart car guy was Brendon Lowell, Darcy’s not-so-baby brother, and he and his biceps and dimples and bronze-haired beauty had rendered her mute. Mute and frozen, like someone had pressed the pause button on her body, her system coming back online only when he reached out, wrapping his arms around her, drawing her in for a hug that eked a squeak from her lips. “Brendon?”
Her face pressed against the solid muscle of his chest, her nose buried in the soft, warm cotton of his shirt, which smelled like laundry detergent and rain. After a moment, she stepped back, her knees missing the memo and nearly giving out beneath her. She scrambled for stability, hands wrapping around—forearms. Brendon’s forearms.
Tearing her gaze from where her bright blue nails were biting into the pale, freckled skin of his forearms, leaving little crescent moons behind, her eyes made a slow, meandering path up his body.
By the time she’d made it back to his face, his grin had gone crooked. “It’s been a while.”
Understatement of the century. It had been long enough that he had gone from cute—all auburn hair and freckles, tall and lithe, his limbs a touch too long and his light brown eyes wide, doelike—to this. She swallowed hard. Brendon had grown up exceptionally well. “Only eight years.”
He laughed, the sound coming from somewhere deep inside his chest. “Only.” Eyes still crinkled with laughter, he studied her. “You haven’t been waiting out here this entire time, have you?”
“N—no.” She jerked her thumb over her shoulder, her suitcase visible through the glass window of the lobby. “I was inside and then it stopped raining so I decided to come back out here because it wasn’t . . . raining.” Wow. Brilliant. She cleared her throat, suddenly jittery. Probably thanks to the quad grande latte she’d sucked down on an empty stomach. Yeah, that must’ve been it. “I, uh, really appreciate you coming all the way over here to drop off the key. I hope I didn’t interrupt your evening.”
He fished inside his front pocket, withdrawing the key to Darcy’s apartment. One hand grazed the small of her back as he stepped around her. She stood up straighter. With a quick wave of the key fob, a sensor flashed green and he opened the door, moving aside to let her pass. “Nah, I’m happy to help.”
She smiled sheepishly. “I guess this is what I get for flying into town without checking with Darcy first.”
He followed her inside the lobby, trading the key for her suitcase. She smiled gratefully and shouldered her purse, following him to the elevator.
“How long are you in town for?”
“Two and a half weeks.” She joined him inside the elevator. “Roughly. I fly back on the thirteenth.”
He punched the button for the ninth floor and whistled. “I wish I got two and a half weeks off.”
She tutted, starting to regain her bearings. No longer quite so topsy-turvy over the difference eight years made. “Ah, the plight of Mr. Forbes Thirty Under Thirty.”
He grinned. “Been keeping tabs on me, have you?”
Heat crept up the front of her throat, a startled laugh spilling from her lips at Brendon’s brazenness. “Darcy brags.”
He hummed, rocking back on his heels. “Did she tell you I made the Fortune Forty Under Forty list, too?”
“She forgot to mention how humble you’ve become.” She pressed her lips together, smothering a smile as she stepped out of the elevator and to the side, letting him lead the way. She didn’t know which unit was Darcy’s.
He stopped in front of the third door on the left, apartment 909. She unlocked the door and stepped inside, blinking at the sudden brightness when Brendon flipped the switch.
“Thanks.” She took her suitcase from him, wheeling it over the threshold and inside Darcy’s foyer, her blasted back wheel proving itself a bitch once again.
Darcy’s apartment, while minimalist in design, was cozier than any hotel room Annie could’ve picked on the fly, and far more spacious. Annie spun in a quick circle, getting the lay of the land. “Nice place.”
He lingered in the doorway, one hand tucked in his pocket. “Other than Darcy’s allergy to color, yeah.”
She swallowed a laugh. The place was monochromatic. “I’m guessing the guest room’s—”
Brendon jerked his head to the left. “Down the hall, second room on the right. There’s a Jack-and-Jill bathroom shared between the two bedrooms and a half bath across the hall. Linens are in the bathroom closet and spare toiletries are under the sink.”
Darcy had already given her that spiel, but Annie appreciated the reminder. Not that Annie needed spare toiletries. Her collection of travel-sized shampoos was getting out of hand. “Thanks. Let me just put this in my room. I’ll be right back.”
She wheeled her suitcase down the hall, careful not to scuff the baseboards as she turned the corner. Like the rest of the apartment, the guest bedroom was simple and streamlined, with dark wood floors mostly covered with plush white rugs and white walls unadorned, save for the occasional piece of black and white art that probably cost a fortune.
Annie left her suitcase beside the queen-sized bed—she couldn’t wait to faceplant onto it as soon as she showered off her travel grime—and returned to the foyer. Brendon tucked his phone back inside his pocket and smiled. “Anything you need before I let you get settled?”
Not that she could think of. “Nah. I’m just going to clean up and unpack.” Her stomach gave a growl that made him laugh. She smiled wryly. “Okay. First I’m going to raid Darcy’s fridge and then I’m going to clean up and unpack.”
Brendon made a face, lips twisting and drawing to the side. “You can look, but knowing Darce, she probably cleaned out the fridge so nothing would spoil.”
“I’m sure I can scrounge something up.” Hopefully.
He scratched his jaw. “Or there’s a place on Sixth Avenue that has great dim sum. If you’re interested.”
What else was she going to do? The protein cookie buried at the bottom of her bag wasn’t going to cut it.
Her stomach gave another grumble, making the decision for her. “I’m in.”
Praise for HANG THE MOON
"Smart, sexy, and sweet. Readers will be over the moon for this rom-com." -Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)