"Don't Be Cruel" blared from the alarm clock.
Kevin groaned beside me. He thought it was cruel to have Elvis blasting out at him at three-thirty every morning. He wanted a "normal" alarm. And he had one—set for three hours from now, when it was time for him to get up. This one was all mine.
As always, Elvis also accompanied me in the shower. I lathered, rinsed and repeated to "Hard-Headed Woman," which Kevin deemed more than appropriate, since I wouldn't give up my morning Elvis fix. On weekends, I'd drag Kevin into the shower with me, soaping him down, fittingly, to "Release Me," and he'd stop protesting my musical choices. At least for a moment.
Thanks to a timer the coffee pot was full and hot by the time I was dry and dressed. Checks, Kevin's multicolored cat, waited somewhat impatiently for his breakfast, which today he decided would include chunks of my cream-cheese-slathered New York bagel. He attacked and devoured it like I imagine he'd partake of a mouse meal had there been any in our tenth-floor Manhattan apartment.
This was my favorite time of day. Well, my whole life was pretty much my favorite. I'd worked hard over the past few years to get everything the way it was. I had a great job as Margo in the Morning, the a.m. DJ for WKUP, Wake Up 107, a country radio station housed in the Empire State Building. We liked to joke that WKUP was for people who were country at heart but afraid of farm animals. I had a great market share, enjoyed near-celebrity status among New York City country music listeners and had the privilege of meeting many of my favorite country artists every week.
I had a boyfriend who loved sex, remembered to put the toilet seat down and didn't pressure me to get married—a definite not-gonna-happen in my book. We lived in a terrific apartment—complete with elevator and doorman—on the edge of Chelsea, surrounded by Kevin's modestly elegant decor and my Elvis collection.
I loved New York—running in Central Park, Broadway matinees (so I didn't have to dress up) and meeting friends for drinks at our favorite sports bar. I loved the traffic, the noise, the variety of people. I loved the fact that my mother lived in California.
I simply loved my life.
At four-thirty, I dragged on a lightweight sweat jacket, shoved my feet into sneakers and gave the Elvis bobblehead on the hall table a tap. He'd been my good-luck charm since winning him on eBay six months ago. Some people rubbed Buddha's belly; I whacked Elvis upside the head to watch his pelvic gyrations.
Though the sky over Manhattan was still dark, the sidewalks were bright with lights from the buildings, as was typical for the pre-crack of dawn in mid-June. It was five long blocks to work, and the brisk walk in the still-chilled air warmed me up. I dodged the other Type A personalities headed for work before most people even thought of opening their eyes, and spent the time going over any exciting news I'd read or heard in the past twenty-four hours, which would serve as fodder for my program. I went for fresh and hip on Margo in the Morning.
Two blocks from work my cell phone rang.
"Margo? Honey, is that you?"
"Mom? Mom, it's—" I squinted at my watch as I passed a lighted store front, "It's 1:35 a.m. in California. What's wrong?"
"I know what time it is, Margo. I have a watch."
I rolled my eyes.
"Then why are you calling so early?"
"I wanted to catch you before you got to work."
"Well, I'm almost there now. What's going on?"
"I'm getting married."
© Shannon Mckelden
The Kiss Test
Author: Shannon Mckelden
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Margo Gentry's life is perfect. She loves her job as a DJ for Manhattan's only country music station, and she has a great boyfriend who accepts her need to avoid marriage and tolerates her Elvis obsession—even the velvet Elvis painting in their bedroom.
But then it all falls apart. The radio station changes formats and fires all the DJs. Margo's boyfriend decides he wants kids and a house in the suburbs and kicks her to the curb. And to top it all off, her Mom is getting married—for the 11th time!—and expects Margo to be there as maid of honor.
With no job and no place to live, Margo has to bunk on the couch of her best friend, Chris, whose revolving bedroom door has played host to half the women in New York—at least, the ones who pass his "kiss test." Worse, he's insisting she attend her mother's wedding, and he's personally driving her cross-country to ensure she shows up.
Forget about surviving the road trip—can their friendship survive The Kiss Test?