The Art of Loving Ellie
Publication date: November 14th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Smart, beautiful, talented, and… awkward.
Ellie Clark has big dreams of moving to the city to become a well-known artist. With the help of her eccentric boss, Alex, and his influence in the New York City art scene, everything should go according to plan. Until suddenly, Ellie comes to realize that her passion for painting has vanished with no explanation.
Despite her best attempts at avoiding distractions, she not so gracefully tumbles into a sexy stranger, adding more chaos to her already unsteady life. He continues to challenge her to the point of losing her grip on the one thing that keeps her grounded—her control, and to make matters worse, a past she had long ago made peace with is ripped wide open when she receives a phone call from a ghost of her previous life.
The refuge of her comfort zone is her greatest dependency, but Ellie doesn’t see the bigger picture. Can she risk opening her heart to this exciting, overconfident trouble-maker, or will she embrace the trauma of her past to discover that second chances aren’t just for the storybooks…
The wind whirls around me on my walk from the train to the office, and I continuously have to pull my hair out of my sticky lip gloss. My scarf has come loose from my coat and is flapping around, slapping me in the face repeatedly, and I’m starting to get irritated. I promised myself today would be a better day and dammit, I’m not going to let a little wind ruin it.
I’m attempting to wrangle my scarf and push the door open, all while trying to somewhat maintain my composure so Margaux doesn’t think I’m a total twit. Judging by her squinted eyes and puckered face, I can see that I’ve less than succeeded in that mission.
Finally getting inside the building, I turn around to scold the doors and realize I’ve dropped one of my bags in all of the chaos. I huff as I walk over to grab it off the floor, and turn to make my way back toward the elevator.
Instead of advancing forward to my desired destination, I’m propelled backward when I full-on body slam the solid form standing in front of me. Without even knowing who I’ve run in to, I start to sputter, “Oh my God! I’m so sorry!” Reaching out to try and stabilize us both, my hands wrap around what I realize are firm, male biceps.
My eyebrows rise in shock as my eyes adjust to what they can only perceive as the most attractive man in all of New York City. I’m struck by the curious way he’s staring at me, making me feel like a bug in a petri dish. The warm amber scent of his cologne slams my senses, and I feel a quick head rush. I expect him to be annoyed by my clumsiness, but to my surprise, he appears amused.
He lightly chuckles, “Whoa there, Windy.”
His deep, masculine voice rumbles between us, and I have to blink a few times to keep myself focused. The long sleeves of his shirt are folded halfway up his forearms, showcasing a tan that practically glows with warmth, and my fingers twitch with wonder at what it would be like to run them across his exposed skin.
The humor in his eyes shines bright, and he appears to be laughing at me. Did he happen to see the scarf display? Surely he didn’t.
“I thought that scarf was going to strangle you before you even got through the door,” he says teasingly.
Dear God, he did. My heart beats loudly in my chest, and I feel my face burning hot. My gaze follows his movements as his arm flexes to fix his disheveled hair. His shoulders are wide, and even under his button-up shirt, and form-fitting vest, I can tell he is physically fit. His slacks hug his legs in all the right places, and I’m immediately drawn to his warm, welcoming presence.
His laughter is gentle, but I feel awkward standing here in front of this gorgeous guy, looking like a klutz. The man is taller than me, and I have to bend my head back slightly just to look up at him. He blinds me with a bright white smile as my eyes travel to a small scar on his left cheek just below his eye, and I’m curious as to how he acquired it.
There’s something about him I can’t put my finger on. He’s attractive, sure—but he’s unlike any guy I’ve ever met before. A lazy, confident smile graces his lips, and the way he crowds me while keeping just the right amount of distance causes my skin to flush.
I feel self-conscious, so of course, I have to blurt out something super embarrassing. “Yeah, this scarf is a real bad boy!” My eyes practically bug out of my head in shock.
Please, tell me that did not just come out of my mouth.
With a hand cupping my eyes to block him from my sight, I try to skirt around Mr. Attractive to find anywhere to repeat to myself what a big, awkward idiot I feel like.
“Hey, wait a second!” he calls after me. His large hand wraps around my arm gently, the casual touch warming its way to my skin through my layers. I turn toward him, halting my escape.
“Look, I—I’m sorry that I ran into you, and I’m glad I could give you a good laugh, but there’s no need to carry on.” I rub the back of my neck nervously with my free hand.
Trying to move around a man who’s a good foot taller than me is a lot harder than I realized. His eyes, which I now notice are the most beautiful shade of whiskey brown I have ever seen, lock with mine, momentarily freezing time. Though smacking the amusement out of them is pretty tempting, I’m finding it increasingly hard to breathe around this man.
The stranger continues staring at me, making me a little uncomfortable, and I glance around the lobby nervously as I wait for him to speak. I rock back and forth on my heels, gently shrugging out of his hold. “I really should get upstairs. My boss is kind of an ass when I’m late, and god-forbid I tell him I’ve been terrorizing guests downstairs.”
Tilting his head slightly, as if something about me perplexes him, he asks, “Would you like to get coffee with me?”
“G—get coffee with you?” I stutter uncertainly. He hasn’t stopped smiling since I attempted to take him down Dwayne ‘The Rock ’Johnson style, and I’m starting to wonder just how crazy this guy is. “We’ve only known each other for five minutes?”
My heart begins to flutter a little when he takes a step forward into my personal space. “I think I’d like five more.” He winks at me and my jaw drops a little in surprise. He laughs lightly at my reaction to his request.
“Listen, uh—” I give him a second to insert his name. When he doesn’t supply me with one, I continue, “I’m not exactly the dating type.”
“Who said anything about dating?” he teases, but there’s a confident look in his eyes as if he knows I’m going to agree.
This guy is charming, and if I had to bet—a lady killer. His light brown hair is tousled about, but it’s not too long to be unmanageable. I momentarily let my eyes roam over him and think how he favors Alex Pettyfer quite a bit.
I’m staring at the adorable way his hair curls away from his ears when he politely clears his throat. Shaking my head, I clear my thoughts, “Oh! Well, I—I suppose coffee couldn’t hurt.”
“Charlie’s?” he asks, and I squint my eyes at him in question. There are at least five different coffee shops between this block and the next, and he chooses my favorite one. It’s odd, but I can’t find a single good reason to say no, so I breathe out an unsteady, “Okay.”
“How’s noon, tomorrow sound?” I look past him to see that he’s left his bags by Margaux’s desk. Curious. I wonder what business he has here, but I smile up at him, trying not to give away my thoughts.
“Sure, sounds great.” Maybe he’s an artist too, or possibly meeting with someone to reserve space on a floor here.
“May I have your name?” He extends his hand for me to shake, and I reach out, feeling the soft heat of his palm against mine. “Elizabeth, but I prefer Ellie.”
He pulls my hand up to his unbelievably soft lips, giving the back of it a quick kiss, and the crooked grin he gives me piques my interest as he turns away, swaggering back toward Margaux’s desk.
I begin to sweat with nervousness on my walk over to the elevator, nausea coating the back of my tongue, and my stomach threatens to heave its contents. What was I thinking saying yes? Turning back toward the lobby slightly, I see him leaning over to Margaux with both elbows on her desk as they smile and talk about something that I can’t make out.
Mmhmm, he’s a lady killer alright.
She’s practically drooling. Poor thing probably isn’t even listening to what he’s saying, but he uses his hands excitedly while talking to her and I find it almost… endearing.
I get on the elevator and I’m forced to stare at them as I wait for the doors to shut. Margaux’s back is to me, but Mr. Attractive flicks his gaze up to meet mine right as the elevator doors are beginning to close and gives me a smile so mischievous, it causes my body temperature to rise to a feverish degree. The doors shut and I realize—I gave him my name, but he didn’t give me his.
Loren is a dreamer, artist, radiologic technologist, and author who loves animals and people. Always writing short stories as a young child and young adult, she knew she wanted to become an author someday. The Art of Loving Ellie is Loren’s debut novel.
Loren can be found in her cozy home in Texas with her nose in a book, her corgi and mini-aussie on her lap, and her son trailing along with her and her husband through their many adventures.