The Bookseller's Boyfriend (Copper Point Main Street #1) - Heidi Cullinan

The Bookseller’s Boyfriend

By Heidi Cullinan

A Copper Point: Main Street Novel

Bookshop owner Jacob Moore can’t believe his longtime celebrity crush, author Rasul Youssef, is moving to Copper Point. For many, the chance to meet the playboy novelist would be a dream come true, but Jacob dreads it. You should never meet your heroes.

You definitely shouldn’t pretend to be their boyfriend.

Rasul came to this backwater town for an academic residency—a necessary evil, since he’s burned through his advance without finishing the book that goes with it. But he’s also getting distance from a toxic relationship. Quiet, reserved Jacob isn’t his type, but their charade gives Rasul a respite from the social media circus surrounding his breakup, and Jacob’s charming apartment proves the perfect setting to write.

Of course, prolonged exposure reveals that Jacob’s reserved exterior hides a thoughtful, intelligent man who sets Rasul’s imagination—and heart—alight.

Every day Rasul reveals himself to be more than Jacob ever dreamed he could. Jacob tries to be content with friendship and the professional overlap between author and bookseller, knowing a shooting star like Rasul could never make a home with Jacob in a small town like Copper Point.

Could he?

For Shawn and Holly

who already know how to get there

Chapter One

RASUL YOUSSEF knew he’d gone a bridge too far when his literary agent said, “Either throw away your phone, or consider our relationship terminated.”

Rasul smiled even though Elizabeth couldn’t see him. “You want me to throw away a brand-new fifteen-hundred-dollar phone? While I’m talking to you on it?”

He’d been trying to charm her into calming down, but Elizabeth wasn’t playing. “You’re getting a burner that can’t do anything but text and make or receive calls.” He heard clicking in the background. “There’s a store in campus town, four blocks from you.”

Rasul sobered. “I’m not going to throw away my phone.”

“I busted my ass to get you this gig at the university.”

“It has seven thousand students. It’s hardly a university.”

“Quit trying to get out of this through semantics. This is the end of the line for you in every way, which you well know. It’s taken every ounce of my leverage to get your publishing house to give you a fourth extension instead of insisting on the repayment of your advance.”

He truly hated being reminded of this. “I spent that a long time ago.”

“You think I don’t know that? You’re on the hook for a staggering chunk of change if you don’t provide them with something to publish. You’re out of options. You either write this book, or you’re heading toward an end I will not, and I say this with love, follow you down.”

Rasul sat on the couch that came with the furnished apartment. A cloud of dust rose around him.

Elizabeth kept delivering the hits. “I wish I could say I’m surprised you’d try to sandbag yourself when you’re this far against the ropes, but sadly I’ve come to know you too well for that. This is it, kid. I’m done watching you let that two-bit model stand on your back to get herself a better patch of mud in the gutter. I’m done explaining away the wild parties and Instagram stories when you should be working. And I’m absolutely done running damage control on paparazzi spreads of you and your damn ex partying so hard you missed your flight to Wisconsin.”

His flight had been to Minnesota, with a two-hour drive into Wisconsin, but he had enough self-preservation instinct not to point that out. “That wasn’t planned. Adina called me when I was low, and she was low too, and so…. Anyway. I’m in Copper Point now. I’ll send you pictures. It’s ridiculously small. And Bayview University is a joke.”

“The university, with its stipend, furnished apartment, and cushy teaching schedule, is your last chance at a career. You’re lucky the president is an eccentric old man who doesn’t read gossip magazines but did see your book in an airport once.”

Rasul couldn’t argue with this, which he hated. He still stung from his damn alma mater turning down his request to be visiting faculty. They bragged about him and his awards on their website, but they couldn’t let him come back and coast through some seminars while he finished his work?

Elizabeth kept going. “You’re an amazing writer, and you could be an excellent teacher. Yes, you received international acclaim for your freshman and sophomore novels. But your last work was out six years ago, and your third book is long overdue. As far as everyone else is concerned, you’ve been whoring around