Title: Worth the Weight Series: Q for Quarantine #1 Author: Lauren Alsten Genre: New Adult/Adult, Contemporary Romance / Romantic Comedy Type: Novella (102 pages) Release date: October 30, 2020 Publisher: Changeling Press
Qyra plus Quarantine equals heaping helpings of nothing to do, nowhere to go, and zero dating life — until her long-lost college crush Josh shows up in the checkout lane of her hometown grocery store. When he learns she just opened her dream catering business, the hot techno whiz-slash-fitness guru offers to help her fix her nightmare of a website. Menus and meat thermometers aren’t the only things popping up when they both test negative for the nasty pandemic virus and their virtual dating turns IRL. Sizzling sex with a bulked up boytoy is great but keeping her emotions socially distanced is harder than she thought it would be. Josh could be the real deal, but between his thoughtless “flabby” jabs and his inevitable discovery of her private weight loss journey, will their dinner for two become a dine-and-dash?
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Smack dab in the middle of aisle four, my shoes pound out the “I’m Losing My Friggen Patience Blues” as two possibly drunk twenty-somethings argue over condiments. The ladies don’t budge despite the insistent tap tap tap of my right sneaker. Their face masks are tucked beneath their chins, their neon pink lips pouting as they bicker about the spiciness of steak sauce. I belt out a throaty, hella unfeminine cough. They scramble to push their glitter-adorned masks back over their noses. One of them hurls a square brown bottle at their cart. Her aim is terrible, and the bottle banks off the side before cracking open on the floor. Sticky brown sauce spews over their Pepto-pink toenails and daisy white designer sandals. Thankfully, my own floral romper and white shoes stay pristine, because I am far more than the required six feet away. My glitterless, jalapeño print face mask muffles my laughter as the Lipstick Twins wave manicured fingerbirds in my direction. I try to mute my Bluetooth so my Mom can’t hear me cackle, but my finger gets caught in the mask’s elastic loop. “What’s so funny?” I relay the drama of the Sauced & Saucy as I re-lasso my ear. “Actually, it’s not funny, because now I can’t get to the damn ketchup. I wanted to make French fries tonight. How the hell am I supposed to eat fries without ketchup?” “You don’t need fries, dear. Too many carbs.” “The potatoes are already in my cart. I’ll just scallop them or something. What-fucking-ever.” I turn the corner and tip two boxes of the store-advertised cake mixes into my cart. “If you’re offended by the potatoes, you’d be super pissed at the Duncan Hines that just fell into my basket.” She tut-tuts in my ear. “Potatoes and pre-fabricated cake mix? You’re PMSing like a 13-year-old.” When I don’t answer, she placates. “Okay, fine, be a cranky, carb-y bitch. I still love you. Don’t forget the frosting!” She forgets who she’s talking to. “This carb-y bitch will at least be making the frosting from scratch. I need to keep something keto.” Read: high-fat, low-carb. Not like it matters at this point — I’m in the throes of my once-monthly, decidedly non-keto week. But I do make killer frosting. The left rear wheel of my cart turns sideways and skids before I kick it and plow past a woman with three small, unmasked children in tow. One lone, N95 masked employee wearing goggles wanders aimlessly, armed with a can of Lysol and a pack of bleach wipes. I point him up aisle four and shake my head. “Watch it, Qyra. You don’t want your Quarantine Fifteen turning into the Dirty Thirty. I don’t even know why they’re calling this a ‘quarantine.’ It’s technically incorrect –” “Who are you to judge superfluous use of the letter Q?” She harrumphs. My mother was only sixteen when I popped out. In her infinite teenage wisdom, she tried to name me “Bacon,” not only because she craved it her entire pregnancy, but because her older sister (my future Aunt Debbie) had recently introduced her to the original Footloose… and of course, the hunky lead actor. She was intent on the name, until Great Grandma Delaney, aka G-Grams, put her foot down, threatening to disown her rather than help raise a great grandbaby named after a salty pork strip. My mother relented, out of both respect and fear of being orphaned. She promised my first name would be that of the Bacon actor’s wife, Kyra. G-Grams gave her blessing. Until she saw the birth certificate application on Mom’s hospital tray. Along with the funky first name spelling, Mom had listed Bacon as my middle name. From what I understand, G-Grams pork-shamed her in front of two nurses and an orderly before ripping up the paperwork. I come from a long line of feisty.
Lauren Alsten hails from the Midwest, where she spends most days walking dogs, catering to cats and texting herself meet-cute ideas for her next novella. Although a newcomer to the publishing scene, Lauren has been concocting stories for years, spinning A-list movie star fan fiction and tackling semi-serious subject matter with humor and wit. When she’s not tapping away at her laptop keyboard, she’s walking through forest preserves trying to capture the next National Geographic cover shot… and failing miserably.