The Bookseller's Boyfriend (Copper Point Main Street #1) - Heidi Cullinan Page 0,1

the globe instead of working. You and I know it’s more complicated than that, and I’ve done my best to be patient. At the same time, your decisions affect my career. If you can’t show me you’re serious, we’re going to part ways. This is our last conversation on the phone in your hand. It’s up to you whether or not we reset on another device. What will it be?”

Rasul ran a hand through his hair, letting his fingers tangle in the long curls. “I can’t go on a boozy bender with Adina while I’m in northern Wisconsin. There’s no need to get rid of my phone.”

“But you can get drunk and sext her, and you’ll put it on Instagram the same as last time.”

“I’ll uninstall Instagram and delete her number.”

“As if that will stop you when you hit a low. That woman is worse than any drug for you. She manipulates you, you know it, and you let her.”

He desperately wanted to argue that wasn’t true, but he was done lying to Elizabeth. He grunted noncommittally instead.

“Besides, you told me three times already you deleted her number. Either you’re lying, or you have it memorized.”

Best to get her away from this line of conversation where he had no chance of calming her down. “I need to be able to do research. Take photos. Look things up on the fly.”

“Last I checked, your book wasn’t set in Wisconsin, so the photo argument is bunk. As for research, you can use your laptop. You can go to the library. There’s no argument you can make that will change this condition. And as a bit of warning, if you try to tell me you need social media to promote yourself, I’ll hang up and send you the papers breaking our partnership immediately.”

He had considered that argument. She’d been frustrated with him for years for his inconsistent, unremarkable presence on social media, except for when he got drunk or angry with the state of American politics. His Twitter was him yelling at trolls. His Instagram was filled with drunken party photos. He’d cameoed on Adina’s YouTube channel, letting her put him in makeup, endured getting quizzed by her fans, and so on.

God, he’d put Elizabeth through the wringer. Maybe he should just let her go now and be done with it.

Except if he did that, he’d truly be out to sea. Even he could acknowledge he was on thin ice, career-wise and… well, in every manner possible.

But damn, his brand-new phone.

He leaned his forehead against the window of his apartment, staring at a group of leggy college girls as they sauntered by. They were hot. So was the guy with them. So young, though.

Probably he shouldn’t let himself think things like that—they could be his students.

Man, but they were young. Little babies starting out in the world. They had no idea what hell waited for them.

Sighing, Rasul shut his eyes. “How about a compromise? I’ll mail you my phone.”

More clicking. “There’s a post office a block south of the cellular store. Seal your phone in an envelope, take it with you to the cellular shop. I’ll call ahead and arrange everything. You have forty minutes to comply. Call me on the new phone.”

She hung up.

For five minutes Rasul grumbled around the apartment. It was sterile and unwelcoming in the extreme—he’d never write a word here. It smelled funny, like the previous resident had cooked nothing but hamburgers and french fries, and the decor was abysmal. Why couldn’t Elizabeth have put him up in some quaint waterfront cabin?

Because you don’t have the money for that, and thanks to you, neither does she or her agency. No one else is going to bail you out either. You’ve spent the last few years subliminally sabotaging your career and all your connections. She’s the last person willing to stand by you, and she’s about to walk out the door. Get your ass out of this apartment and to the post office.

His first instinct was to defy that chiding voice, to go find a bar and get wasted. It was difficult to turn away from that impulse, but he had enough self-preservation left to understand this was his last shot. Time to commit to a career and a liver and a chance at happiness that lasted beyond a drink, a joint, or the hit of a pill. This was his final opportunity to stop disappointing his friends, his family, and himself.

It was humiliating as hell, and he hated