Three RiversHow do you start over when you gave everything to one life, one plan, and lost it all? Althea refuses to allow herself to love again. Imprisoned in grief at twenty-four after her husband’s sudden death, she’s convinced her heart died along with him. She spends her days honoring his memory by clinging to the legal career he helped her to build and to the remaining pieces linking her to their life together. Griffen’s been running from his past. Despite success as an author and investigative journalist, he’s been traveling through life on autopilot. For a decade, he’s chosen perilous adventures and meaningless sex over the danger of any attachments. When he finally returns home to Pittsburgh, he’s slammed by the awakened memories and regret he’s spent years trying to escape. A chance encounter brings them together. Their instant desire for each other –and the bond they discover between them – shocks them both. Despite her best efforts, Althea can’t resist Griffen’s charm or his intriguing proposition– if she agrees to a no-strings affair with him for the two weeks he’s in town, he swears he’ll walk away when their time is up. Assured she can test the waters of a new life while keeping her vow never to betray her husband’s memory by opening her heart to another, Althea throws herself into the escape Griffen provides her. Their perfect plans go awry when the intensity of their connection overwhelms them. Will they risk it all on the chance of something great together…or will the power of their secrets and guilt tear them apart?
In a cute, little coffee house in Pittsburgh, I am getting the opportunity to meet up with Althea (Tea) and Griffen. I loved getting to know them in Three Rivers and am extremely excited to interview them for BOOK friENDS. I might be a little awe struck by the hotness that is Griffen so please excuse me if I drool.
So Griffen, be honest… how many times have you cried during the Sarah McLachlan commercial for the ASPCA?
Althea: Ooh, I want to know the answer to this one. Spill it!
Griffen: Sure! I’m man enough to admit I get choked up every time that commercial comes on – so more times than I can count. I love dogs…and no creature should have to suffer abuse.
(he pauses for a minute and I notice how serious he can become in an instant)
Every time that commercial comes on and I hear that music, see those pictures…Whew. Althea, baby, remind me to make a donation when we get home.
Althea: Done! (she gives him a little kiss on his stubbly cheek)
Griffen, when you first met Tea at the bar, you were Rico Suave-suave, have you always been this smooth with the ladies?
Griffen: I have always been pretty smooth, but there’s only one lady for me now, right gorgeous?
Althea: Puh-leeze, answer the woman.
Griffen: Hey, I speak the truth.
Come on, I know that there was one time when you had to have failed miserably with a woman. Spill the beans, what happened?
Griffen: Well, I wasn’t particularly inspiring my first time under the bleachers with Candace Johnson freshman year. I think it was embarrassing for both of us. After that I pretty much hit my stride.
Althea: He hit a lot of strides was my understanding.
Griffen: They didn’t mean anything, really they didn’t. And to answer your question most honestly, I thought for a while there that I was striking out with the only one that really did matter.
(He looks at Althea)
Althea: Aw stud.
(She kisses him a little more deeply than I am ready for and I don’t know if I should look away or get a drool cup).
You could never strike out with me, Griffen. You’re my MVP.
All right you two.
Althea: Oh right, sorry, back to the questions.
Tea, you went from shy innocent lawyer to sexy vixen in less than 60 seconds… do you think the minx in you was just itching to come out?
Althea: (laughing slightly) Yeah, I did go from zero to sixty in one minute flat. I guess that means that Griffen turned me into some kind of a sexual racecar?
Griffen: I knew it! You were just needing me to come along and tune you up right? Hey, easy with the eye rolls, gorgeous. C’mon, I’m a writer, I love analogies. (Griffen starts stroking her knee).
Althea: (giggling now) Cool it, stud, keep your analogies in your pants until the interview is done.
(She is laughing at him but I can see her turn her leg closer into his easy caress).
I honestly wasn’t that experienced before I met Jack, and I was always kind of awkward in my own skin growing up, but I do have a pretty strong sexual appetite.
Griffen: Thank fu—
Althea: Griffen! Sorry, I would tie him up to make him behave, but I left all that stuff we got in New York at home. Where was I? Oh yeah, I had been, um, servicing my own engine for several years by the time I met Griffen and he is right, that no other mechanic even remotely interested me during that time, not to mention how guilty I felt even thinking about being with someone else… But that night I met him I really was blown away by how much I wanted something to happen. It was supposed to be one night, and I hated the idea of missing out on even a second. Life is so short, and I was so lonely…and well, Griffen’s really hot. I am proud of myself that I didn’t jump him at the bar!
Griffen: I would’ve been okay with that. Want to go there for dinner tonight?
Althea: Hmm, good idea, but we better cooperate with the nice lady first. Next question.
Tea – were you seriously blind that David had the hots for you? Did you have blinders on?
(I can’t help but notice that Griffen visibly stiffens and grips Tea’s knee tightly)
Althea: Oh, um, David.
(Okay, I guess that one was a mood killer)
Griffen: (whispers to her but I can’t hear what he says. Damn. She just shakes her head).
Althea: I think blinders is a good way to put it. When Jack died I was so young and had no experience in the world. Not only did I love Jack, but he was my whole world. He took care of me, looked after me in a way I never questioned. When I…lost him, I was in this strange city all alone. Jack’s mom and David were the only connections I still had to Jack. David did so much for me and seemed to be so helpful…I wouldn’t let myself question him. I know that was wrong now, but grief will make you do crazy things you never thought yourself capable of. I don’t ever want to be blind like that again. Life is too short, and I have too much to lose.
(Griffen hugs her and I notice tears in her eyes).
We can take a break…
Althea: No. I’m good. Next question.
How is your relationship now with Carol?
Althea: Um, complicated. She’s never wanted to see me with anyone other than Jack and I’ve always just let that go, but I want to protect what Griffen and I have. I have to be tough with her. She’s come around some but mostly keeps her distance from us as a couple. Carol says she’s okay with us being together, but I know it’s still really hard for her. We have to see her a lot of course, but I hope she grows to really accept us being together more.
Griffen, Don’t you have any available male friends for Tea’s friends? Now that you are settled down, don’t you want your friends also to have the same happiness?
Griffen: Absolutely. Most of my friends are in New York but I have yet to meet anyone man enough to take on Aubrey or Jenna. They’re sweet, but tough cookies. Trey and I are pretty tight and he was all about Jenna when he met her…
Althea: Trey is hot!
Althea: Oh, come on, you know you’ve got nothing to worry about stud. I don’t think that fix up would work, though. Jenna does not go for bad boys – and Trey is the baddest boy I know.
Griffen: Besides, I’ve grown pretty protective of Jenna and Aubrey, I think I might beat up any guy that’s not nice to them, and I would hate to kick the shit out of a friend. I’ll keep an eye out for someone worthy of those two though, mark my words.
Thank you so much Tea and Griffen for spending the afternoon with me. Tea, with all honesty and respect, I have a major crush on your man!
I look forward to the sequel in the A Gateway to Love series.