No Jerks On Monday

“No, no, no. This is all wrong,” a woman’s shrill voice penetrates the quiet of the cellar. The normally echo-y building has been peaceful to this point. I lift my gaze from the emails I’ve been going over and glance around.

“This is not what I wanted. The linen is the wrong shade of white, the flowers aren’t pink enough, and you haven’t changed the menu despite my express wishes. The spot you picked out for the ceremony just won’t do. You’re ruining my wedding.”

I roll my gaze to the ceiling. Bloody drama queen.

“I’m sure we can figure this out,” Sarah, our new cellar manager, says. “How about we sit and talk about the changes you would like, and then I can show you several more spots on the property where you might prefer to host the ceremony.”

I go back to reading. Sarah was Evan’s assistant for the last few years, and while she isn’t quite where I would have liked her to be training-wise before I promoted her, she’s been part of Anders long enough that she should have this handled.

“The only good thing about this awful place is the wine,” the woman snaps. “If you can’t do the job I’m paying you for, I want my deposit back. And don’t expect that I’ll keep quiet about your ineptitude. I’ll contact every bridal magazine and tell them not to bother with this place.”

Well, that would be fine by me. The wine’s all that matters.

Except my mother would be heartbroken, and the business that comes in from weddings might suffer if the bride follows through with her threat.

I blow out a breath and shut my laptop before joining them. Sarah doesn’t have it handled. In fact, her eyes are a wide as a bunny’s, her breath speeding like she’s caught in a spotlight, and this bridezilla in her tacky orange spray tan and teensy tiny white dress is holding the rifle with her candy-colored talon resting on the trigger.

Not good.

“How’s everything going, ladies?”

They both turn their gazes on me; Sarah’s full of worry, our bridezilla shooting me a look from under heavy mascara that could intimidate someone other than myself. It sweeps over me and lights up as I take her hand. I don’t know why, but women seem to like me on first meeting. Most of them. Except one in particular.

“I’m Jake Anders. And you must be…”

“Candy St. James,” she says, the shrill replaced by a huskier tone.

“Sarah, could you please go get us a bottle of…” I scan Candy from head to toe. American. Likes to think she’s sophisticated, but I doubt that she’s as refined as she thinks she is. Definitely a bubbly drinker. Probably a three-dollar bottle of Passion Pop kind of girl, but I’m not about to suggest it. “Moscato. Sparkling. The batch from 2012.”

Candy’s lips sweep open on an “oh.”

“Are you sure?” Sarah asks. That wasn’t our best year. But her asking probably makes it sound like it’s better than it is, which works in our favor.

“Absolutely,” I say.

Sarah leaves us to search out a bottle, and with a hand to her elbow, I guide Candy toward a table at the front of the building with a panoramic view of the sprawling emerald lawn surrounded by rows and rows of vines. It’s a pretty view. One that never fails to make my chest swell. “Why don’t we take a seat and you can tell me what we can do to make your day perfect.”

“Well…” Candy pulls a binder out of her Mary Poppins-sized tote, places it on the table, and starts flipping through the pages. And then she rattles off a list of grievances so long I zone out.

I have never understood the fascination of weddings. Women become downright swoony at the idea of a white dress and vows. Obsessive. Lithe, hungry demons really. I’ve yet to meet a woman who doesn’t get a far-off look in her eye when it comes to weddings.

But it’s the commitment after that matters. Not whether it’s fucking sunny on that particular day or if the flowers are the right color. Pink is pink, for Christ’s sake.

Hell, my mother spent thirty years with a man who not only put work above her but didn’t tell her he was sick until he found out it was terminal. And my sister is trying to get a divorce from a man she never should have married in the first place.

And the one time I considered it…

Sarah comes back with the wine and glasses. I pour one for the bride and hand it to her. “Okay, let’s start with the biggest issue. Location? What would you need to make it perfect?”

“I want it outside. With the vines in the background. Your planner showed me your usual spots, but the one that would work is next to a pond. There are ducks. I don’t want water fowl waddling around, crapping everywhere.”

Is Monday the kind of girl who falls for this whole cock and bull? Probably. I shift in my chair. Who gives a shit if the auditor is a romantic at heart? It’s none of my business.

“Okay, I have a couple of ideas for you.” I gesture for Sarah to bring the photo album of locations at the vinery. “Let’s have a look at your options and then we can take a tour and check them out before you make your decision.”

“Mmm,” Candy says, sipping her sparkling wine. “One thing I know for sure is, this wine is incredible. How’d you know?”

“Call it my wine sense. It’s sort of a sixth sense for pairing people with wine.”

“Whatever it is, you nailed it. We absolutely must serve it at the reception.”

“Of course.” Whatever the bride wants, she gets.

It’s a good two hours before we finally have all her issues rectified. Sarah joined us to take notes as we went through every little detail. Now Sarah’s walking the bride-to-be to her car.

I head behind the bar to filch the bottle of scotch I keep stashed there. Wine is my world, but after that meeting, I need a proper drink. I pour two fingers into a glass and settle in front of my laptop.

Sarah joins me at the bar a few minutes later. “I’m sorry. Evan always handled the difficult cases.”

“He had a way with the bridezillas,” I agree.

She smiles and tucks a tendril of brunette hair behind her ear. “He learned from the best. Your mum is brilliant with all this stuff. I’m just…”

“It’s fine. I’ve thrown you in the deep end with this one. And that woman is a bridezilla if I’ve ever seen one.”

“Well, at least she left happy,” Sarah says, collecting the glasses and the leftover wine.

“Yeah.” And I didn’t have a drink tossed in my face.

I roll my gaze to the beams overhead. Monday wasn’t happy at our meeting. Neither was I. And I’m pretty sure I acted like a tosser during it.

Perhaps I should try to make peace with her since my business is in her hands. A little light-hearted banter ought to bring her around. Grinning, I pull out my phone and tap out a quick text.

 

Me: Clearly not all American women think I’m an arse.

 

I don’t get a response until much later in the evening while I’m in the shower. Dripping wet, shampoo still in my hair, I stumble out of the bathroom half-blinded by soap to pick up my phone. Who does that? Me. I’ll do anything for the winery, including trying not to irritate the gorgeous blonde who holds the power to stop the largest distributer in the US from dealing with my business. A deal I need if I want to grow Anders Valley Vineyard as aggressively as I plan to.

 

Monday: Sorry. Who is this?

 

I have her number and she has mine, but I suppose it would make sense that she doesn’t have my information stored in her cell phone. I consider telling her, but where’s the fun in that? I reply on my way back to the bathroom.

 

Me: The jerk.

Monday: Which jerk?

 

I raise an eyebrow as I study those two words on the lock screen through the glass shower paneling. So it’s not just me then? Either she has a thing for jackasses or she’s uptight and judgemental. It’s hard to tell. I wash out the shampoo and take a moment to dry off before responding again.

 

Me: You know more than one?

 

Dot. Dot. Dot.

Those little dots go on forever. Long enough for me to clean up the bathroom and stretch out in bed. One hand tucked under my head, I glare at the dots. Is she writing a damn essay on how all men are dicks? If so, that would explain a lot. Sure, I wasn’t having a great night when we met, but her reaction was over the top. If this is a standard thing for her though… Maybe she just needs someone to show her we’re not all arseholes.

 

Me: All women like my wine. This one drank it like a civilized being though instead of tossing it in my face.

Monday: Jake Anders????

 

That wasn’t so hard. My lip tugs up on one side. I’m never going to let her live it down. The experience was unforgettable.

 

Me: That’s the one. Knew you’d be able to figure it out.

Monday: Why are you telling me this?

 

Good question. I guess I want to prove I’m not as big a jerk as she thinks I am. It’s as a good excuse as any to text her. And come on, it’s funny.

 

Me: Thought you might like to know most women don’t find it necessary to douse me in rosé.

 

I wait for her to respond. Or send a laughing emoji or a winky face or something to suggest she finds it as funny as I do. I get nothing.

What if she didn’t find it funny at all?

No Jerks on Monday

 

^^^That is a tidbit from my latest release, NO JERKS ON MONDAY.

Here’s what it’s about:

Jake Anders looks like he should be on the cover of an Australian firefighters calendar;

instead he owns a winery that makes a fabulous rosé.

The first time I met him, he was a jerk.

And then he became my client.

And he started acting distinctly non-jerky.

So I set out to prove it was all a ruse.

My ploy didn’t work.

And now, we’ve slept together.

If this is nothing but a one-night stand, I am so screwed.

You can grab it on Amazon. Happy reading!

~Tami Lund & Misti Murphy

Wine Country and Wine Books

I’ve just returned from a trip to northern California, where I visited both Sonoma and Napa Valley. My trip can be summed up in one word: Fantastic. Maybe one more word: Wine.

However, blogs were not meant to be short and sweet, so let me expound.

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It was my twentieth wedding anniversary (I know! Can you believe it? Yeah, we were babies when we tied the knot. Babies, I tell ya!). My husband joined me, of course. (Might have been a tad awkward if I’d gone for our anniversary without him.) The best man from our wedding (and his wife) and my bestie-in-the-whole-wide-world, aka maid of honor (well, she was technically matron since she got married first, but that term sounds lame, so we stuck with maid) and her husband, and the parents of our flower girl and ring bearer (Who are also super amazing besties of ours–the parents, I mean. The kids are cool, too, though.) all joined us.

(Side note – yes, another one – we suggested the ring bearer and flower girl join us for the next trip, since, crazy enough, they’re of age, which is so weird considering they were these two totally adorable toddlers walking–and maybe a little bit of running–down the aisle at my wedding. But then again, I guess that whole thing did happen two decades ago!)

Anywhooooo, so we vacationed in Cali, these four couples who have known each other for far more than two decades. Which is crazy, because are we even old enough to have friends that long? Okay, okay, maybe I’m referring to the way we act. But hey, if you can’t have fun with your besties…

I won’t bore you with every single detail (not that a single detail was remotely boring–not even that morning three of us woke up early and went hiking, legit hiking, on a mountain that just happened to be at the end of the street on which the house we were renting was located. Of note, we are not from states in which hiking on mountains at the end of the road is a thing, so yeah, we may have been a tad excited.)

I will tell you that it was magnificent, every single aspect, from the wine to the food (we highly recommend Brix in Napa Valley and the Depot Hotel Restaurant in Sonoma) to the company (the laughs, oh my gosh, the laughs!) was utterly and spectacularly perfect.

I will also leave you with a funny story from our trip (and a reminder that I just wrote a book about wine country–okay, okay, it’s based in Australia, but it’s still about a winery, specific a super hot guy who owns a winery, and it’s well worth the read if you’re into, well, wine country, and also romantic comedy or maybe just my books in general. It’s called No Jerks on Monday in case you want to check it out.).

No Jerks on Monday

So here’s the story: My bestie and her husband started their vacay early–they flew into San Francisco on Monday and on Wednesday, when the rest of us arrived, we picked them up and headed north to Wine Country. While we were at dinner on Wednesday, they told us a story about a food tour they’d gone on in downtown SF. It was quite the pleasant experience, until a presumably homeless man stepped in the middle of their group while the tour guide was giving details about whatever building they happened to be standing in front of.

She didn’t miss a beat, keeping her cool and nodding at the guy as he talked gibberish while gesturing wildly. She carried on as if this was a completely normal part of the tour. And then, after he muttered something about someone named “Steven,” she said, “Oh, yes, I know Steven.”

At which point the homeless guy shouted, “STEVEN IS A BITCH.”

And the tour guide, still without missing a beat, said, “And we’re walking,” and herded her group down the sidewalk and on to the next stop.

We found this story outrageously hilarious, and proceeded to insert “Steven is a bitch” into every conversation we possibly could. It became our “That’s what she said” of the weekend.

Oh, but it gets better.

Thursday morning, we went on the Sonoma Food, Wine & History Tour (if you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend it, and ask for Abby because she’s amazing, as you’ll learn in just a moment).

Our tour guide, as I just noted, was Abby. Friendly, bubbly, made a point to get to know every person in the group. We were comfortable with her in probably less than twenty minutes.

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The tour started right outside the Depot Park Museum in downtown Sonoma. Abby was giving us a bit of history about the area, including the fact that the now-defunct tracks we were standing next to used to carry a train full of basalt (which was excavated from the mountain right there in Sonoma) into San Francisco to be loaded onto boats to be carried who knows where in the world.

An elderly woman who clearly worked or volunteered at the museum happened to be walking by at the precise moment Abby mentioned San Francisco, and the woman snapped, “No, that’s not where it went. It went to blah blah blah [I don’t even know what she said, to be honest]. You should come into the museum so you can learn something.” And then she stuck her nose in the air and stomped away.

At which point someone in our group muttered, “Annnnd Steven is a bitch.”

And then we collapsed against each other, laughing hysterically, while poor Abby looked on, quite mystified. Until we filled her in on the joke.

Which she proceeded to use to her advantage for the duration of the tour.

So, yeah, we had a marvelous time. I can’t wait to go back.

~*~

No Jerks on Monday

 

Tami Lund is an author and wine drinker who writes books about sexy winery owners. Take a peek at No Jerks on Monday HERE.