Lily – Lana Dash

L 1 ILY I’ve seen the group of them meet for weeks now at the coffee shop I work at, but I couldn’t have imagined that I would ever get a chance to join The Nice Girls’ Naughty Book Club. When Michelle found out I was an avid reader of romance and asked if I’d be interested in sitting in on a meeting, I jumped at the chance. It’s so hard to find anyone willing to own up to their love of reading romance without concerns of being judged. There is such a stigma surrounding certain genres in the literary world that the mainstream deems not real literature—and romance is at the top of that list. “All right,” Quinn says. “As you all can see, we have a new member of our book club —” “I might have someone else who is interested in joining too,” Michelle adds. “But she couldn’t make it today.” “Well, that’s great,” Quinn continues. “I love the idea of finding more like-minded women who love reading romance with some naughty bits added in to spice up a story. So, let’s all welcome Lily.” I smile and give a quick wave to the group. “Thank you for letting me join. It’s so great to finally have some other people to talk with, who share my love of romance books.” Michelle invited me to join the group, and Quinn already talked with me before the other members of the book club showed up. The rest of the group—Jess, Courtney, and Fiona—go around the table and say hello.

They are all really nice, and I’ve served them all here at the coffee shop before, but it’s weird to be sitting at the table with them. The invisible divide between coffee shop barista and customers gets wiped away as they all welcome me into their group. “We are all pretty open to new suggestions for books to read, so if you have any titles you’d like to throw out there, don’t hesitate to speak up,” Jess says. “I used to think that I didn’t like alpha stories until Courtney suggested a book, and now I can’t get enough of it.” “Do you have a certain preference? Or something that you just can’t handle reading?” Courtney asks. I shrug. “I’m open to trying anything at least once.” “Then you are going to fit right in,” Fiona flashes me a shy but assuring smile at me. I listen to the discussion of last week’s book and notice what each member likes to enjoy more of in the story. Courtney, Jess, and Michelle wanted more of the steamier bits of the book. While Quinn and Fiona were more focused on the falling in love part of the story. Something they all agreed on is not having a lot of time to read a full-length novel in the allotted week time. All the girls in the group are in new relationships, and spending time with their boyfriends was cutting in on their opportunities to read. “Can I offer a suggestion?” I ask, raising my hand like I’m back in a classroom. “You don’t have to raise your hand,” Michelle smiles at me.

“Oh, right.” I drop my hand back into my lap. “My friend’s roommate was telling me about a trend of short story romance books that she just found out about.” “Short story books?” Jess asks. “Yeah, they are perfect for romance readers that don’t have a lot of time to devote to reading a full-length novel but want the satisfaction of reading a complete story.” “I’ve heard Max talking about those,” Courtney says. I look at Michelle in confusion. “Her boyfriend. He’s—in publishing,” she explains, although, from the way she says it, it sounds like there is more to that story than she is ready to give away. “I think we should try one this week,” Fiona says. The table agrees, and I feel excited that they are taking my suggestion. That is until all the girls at the table turn and look at me expectantly. “Do you have any author suggestions we can start with?” Quinn asks me. I shake my head. “I only just heard about it.

” “Not a problem,” Jess says as she pulls out her phone. “We can all take a few minutes and search for a few titles.” Using their tablet readers or their phone, each book club member starts looking up possible options. I’m already mentally marking to read a lot of fantastic options—hot dorks in the city, mountain men in Alaska, blue-collar bad boys, and MMA fighters. We all search quietly until Courtney slaps her hand down on the table. “Ding, ding, ding, I got it!” she yells. We all glance up at her, and she turns her tablet around and shows us a colorful but straightforward cover of a guy smiling with the title in big letters reading: Virgin Guy Next Door. “She’s the host of a sex podcast, and he’s a cute virgin guy next door,” Courtney explains the premise to the group. “I love a story where she isn’t the delicate virginal flower, but the strong, experienced one of the two,” Quinn says. “I vote yes.” “Me too,” Michelle adds. “Agreed,” I say. Everyone else around the table agrees to this, trying out this new shorter form of reading romance books. I’m excited to start reading, but I have to start my shift in five minutes. “Girls,” I push back in my seat from the table.

“I have to go start my shift but thank you for allowing me to join the book club. I’m looking forward to reading this and finding out what everyone else thinks next week.” They say their goodbyes to me, and I head behind the counter to get my apron. I take a quick moment to order the book online, so I have it ready to go when I read it in the bath later.


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Updated: 24 August 2021 — 09:52

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