In the makeup world, life and love are never cruelty-free . . .
After living in New York City for four years and reaching a dead end on her acting career, the indefatigable Alison Kraft needs a new role — time for a career change. When she reads about the world-famous Sally Steele Cosmetics studio, Alison quickly swoops in to make a good impression and lands a job as an assistant to the diva herself.
Surrounded by fantastic new hues of blushes, eye shadows, and glosses, Alison initially loves her new job and the new swag. Even better, she discovers she's actually really good at it!
But in the midst of juggling her love life, crazy family members, and the grueling demands of a jealous, flaky boss who could put Miranda Priestly to shame, Alison starts to question her choices. How long before the pretty face cracks for good?
Don't miss this entertaining beach read What Pretty Girls Are Made Of from author Lindsay Jill Roth.
For more on this sultry novel, visit XOXO After Dark!
When Bret arrived, I opened the door to be met with two bags of groceries. He was hidden behind them. He unpacked four types of cheese, rosé, green grapes, Marcona almonds, dried apricots, prosciutto, and honey. Not the kind that comes in a little plastic bear—this guy meant business.
"Last but not least," he said as he reached into the paper bag once more, "Peanut M&M's."
I laughed. "Peanut M&M's? How do they fit into the spread?"
"They don't. But they're delicious and I love them."
"Me too! Very good call." I was impressed.
"Cheers," Bret said as he held up his full pink glass. "To cheese, almonds, and our culinary expertise."
We clinked and drank.
There wasn't much choice on demand, so we settled for a random drama that neither of us had seen. Before I could finish the movie purchase, he kissed me, his soft lips massaging mine with just the right amount of pressure. He moved his hand to the back of my head while keeping his lips on mine, and managed to reposition us to a better and more comfortable make-out position.
The background noise was filled with movie previews, but I couldn't tell you what was showing. Bret's lips slid down my neck and my body tingled. How badly I wanted to move to the bedroom—but I was going to practice self-control. I ran my hands through his hair as I felt his run up my shirt. Surreptitiously, I found the remote and pressed Play, the last step in the movie-ordering process. It pained me to do so, but I needed an external distraction or my clothes were coming off.
"Nice work," he whispered in my ear. We laughed.
We found comfortable movie-watching positions on the sofa and began the flick. About forty minutes into it, Bret made a beeline to the bathroom.
He jumped up and ran so fast, I didn't realize what was going on or pause the movie until he'd been in the bathroom for about thirty seconds. I pressed Pause and heard retching sounds coming from the bathroom.
Bret was vomiting, and it sounded uncontrollable.
Was I supposed to turn the movie back on so he could vomit and I wouldn't hear it? Should I check on him? I felt so bad for him. He must have been mortified.
"Bret? Are you okay?" I called out. A pathetic "Yeah" was the response.
"Let me know if you need anything, okay? Water . . . anything." A weak attempt at a groan was all I heard.
With my knees hugged to my chest, I waited, feeling terrible for Bret. A third flush and the door opened. He appeared in the hallway, his blue eyes dim. He did not look well. And I just wanted to take care of him.
"I am so sorry you just got sick!" I said, resisting the urge to mother him.
"Yeah, me too," he stated, holding on to the wall and looking green. "I wasn't ready to see our cheese and M&M's so soon."
"Oh no. Can I get you anything?"
He came and sat down next to me, though I could tell he didn't want to get too close.
"I think I should just go home. I'm really sorry," he said as he gathered his stuff to leave. I desperately wanted to run my hands through his messy dark hair, to smooth it out for him and make it look like he hadn't been pulling at it.
"Of course. Don't be sorry."
Just get better soon so we can have sex—I mean, so we can finish the movie.
And again I found myself rolling around in bed wearing only half my clothes. This time, we were in my apartment and I was finding it very difficult not to give in to the little voice in my head that told me to sleep with Bret. I wasn't looking for "just sex." That I could have, if I wanted it. I wanted meaningful sex. Boyfriend sex.
He finally whispered those five fateful words: "Do you have a condom?" Instead of replying, I kissed him. When I pulled away, he was looking at me and waiting for an answer.
"I like you, Bret. But I want the next person I have sex with to be my boyfriend."
The sound of my heart beating was all I heard. I needed to know where he stood. I hoped I wasn't ruining my future with this man because I said 'no'. Please let me not have scared him away!
"Boyfriend, huh?" He questioned. I nodded, feeling fear and cold, like the passion we had a moment ago was walking slowly out the door. "I want to put in an application."
I laughed, relieved and relaxed.
"Well, it's a tough process." I teased. "Are you up for it?"
"Are there lots of applicants?" he asked playfully.
"Oh yes, tons. You should probably get in line."
"Come here," he said, as he took me into his arms. He pulled up the covers, and we tussled a bit more. Just before falling asleep, he whispered in my ear, "I'm going to beat out the competition"
I woke up to the heat of the sun radiating into my room and warming my bedcovers. It was bright out and I couldn't wait to start the day. Ten o'clock in the morning.
Surprisingly, I had slept through the night. It usually took me weeks, or sometimes months, to feel comfortable enough to be able to sleep in the same bed with someone. I'm sure I had the Macallan to thank for some of it.
I rolled over to see if Bret was still sleeping, just as he walked into the room. In his right hand was a cup of grapefruit juice, my favorite, and in the other, a bouquet of yellow roses (another favorite!). I rubbed my eyes and sat up. When had he left? He walked to my side of the bed and I moved over for him to sit on the edge.
"I wanted my boyfriend application to really make a good impression," he said softly as he put the juice on my night table and handed me the roses. He ran his hand through my hair and I laughed.
"You still need to make it through the interview process," I teased.
"That should be no problem. I'm great in interviews. I just need to be really comfortable first."
"Yeah," he said, pulling off his shirt.
He knew he passed the test the night before, but that morning made it official.
His aptitude level: off the charts.