Friday, February 1, 2008

Valentine's CYOA, Chapter 1

From now until Valentine's Day, the Manuscript Mavens are running a Choose Your Own Adventure® story, in which YOU vote on what happens next! Every morning brings a new author, from the Mavens to the just-sold, to the best-selling. And every night brings a new twist!

Get your Choose Your Own Adventure® votes in by 7:00pm EST (4:00pm PST) and you'll be eligible for random prize drawings, where you can win books by our Guest Mavens! Vote every day, and you'll even be eligible for the Grand Prize. (More info: here.)


Who the hell would order a stripper on Valentine's Day?

Isn't it supposed to be a couple's holiday? Fancy dinner for two, a dozen roses, a bit of bubbly, maybe even a big rock. And definitely some hip-to-hip action later on.

But a stripper?

I shook my head at the woman standing at the door. "I'm sorry, you've got the wrong address."

She just looked at me blankly--probably because her eyes were so heavy with glittery blue eye shadow and false lashes she could barely keep them open, let alone focused. Her stringy blond hair was piled in whorls and swirls on the top of her head and the clothes she was wearing...well, let's just say, she looked like a schoolteacher, but that hint of fishnet stocking beneath her knee-length skirt, not to mention the four-inch leopard heels, sort of gave it away.

"I didn't order a stripper," I said. And even if I had...well, it wouldn't be a female.

Come to think of it, maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to have a stripper on Valentine's Day--especially if you, like me, didn't happen to have said Valentine.

This year anyway.

Ah, hell. Not even last year either.

That's what came with being a research assistant at a sleep lab. I spend all my waking hours watching people snore in their little comfy beds in our lab, and much of the day trying to keep the sunlight from blasting through my windows.

People who didn't know me might think I'm a vampire.

Which I'm not. And this isn't a story about vampires, in case you were wondering. I was just making a comparison.

Anyway, I looked at her again, tempted to wave my hand in front of her eyes to see if I could get a reaction. I didn't think she'd blinked once since I opened the door.

"Ma'am," I said again. "I didn't order a stripper. You'd better check the address and see where the mistake was. I'm sure someone," I couldn't help sounding dubious, "is waiting for you."

At last she spoke. Her cherry red lips, plumper than a velvet cushion, moved carefully, as if she was afraid her lipstick would smear. Based on the thickness of it, I'd say not a chance. She was wearing enough color and gloss to cover all of the Baywatch girls. And then some.

"Imelda Branchos?" she said. "1450 Madison Street?"

"Uh, that would be no," I replied. "This is 1450 Madison, but my name isn't Imelda." For some reason, an image of shoes popped in my head. Lots of shoes. "Someone must have written down the wrong address." I smiled a good-bye. "You'd probably better call your...dispatcher or john or whatever. Good luck."

I closed the door.

Why couldn't it have been a male stripper who came to the wrong address? Of course, with my luck, it'd be like the Friends episode where Danny DeVito showed up.

I was just settling back down with a new episode of Grey's Anatomy (one before Katherine Heigl started to get on my nerves) when the doorbell rang again.

I paused it, got up and thought for a moment how pathetic it was that here I sat, on Valentine's Day, watching made-up people save other made-up peoples' lives and falling in love with McDreamys.

I peered through the sidelight at the door. Well, hell-o there! A tall, extremely handsome specimen of male hunkness stood there. Very tall, very straight, and with the best nose I've ever seen on a guy.

I'm a schnozz girl. Because you know what they say about schnozzes, right? The same thing they say about a guy's feet.

It's true.

Trust. Me.

I opened the door, keeping it chained (I may be easily distracted, but I'm not stupid). "Can I help you?" Oh, I'd sure like to!


A) He said, "Hello, I'm Bradley Bulky from StripWorld (We tease better than anyone!) and I have an...appointment (he gave me a sexy grin) with Imelda Branchos. I hope that's you." (His grin turned hotter.)

B) He moved and there was the silver barrel of a gun pointing right at my gut, through the crack of the door. "Well, well, Imelda Branchos. I've been looking for you for a long time. Open the door or I'll do it myself."

C) He flipped open his coat to show a gleaming gold badge that looked very official. And pecs that showed through his tight shirt. "Officer Galahad here. Do you live at this residence? Have you ordered a stripper?"

D) Before he could answer, a sharp ping sounded in the air, and something shot into the door that I was holding. Holy crap. A bullet. "Let me in!" he exclaimed, pushing at the door.

YOUR TURN: You decide what happens next! Leave your vote in the comments by 7pm EST (4pm Pacific) every day between now and Valentine's Day---Tomorrow's story continued by Jody Wallace with the twist YOU choose!

Today's installment brought to you by Colleen Gleason. Vote to win one of Colleen's books!

Don't forget to join the Manuscript Mavens' quarterly newsletter on the right for advance notice of other exciting upcoming events!


Vicki said...

Good Morning Mavens and Mavefaves, since I'm leaving for the TARA retreat I thought I'd better check out the story early. :)

My vote is for D.

I'm so glad you are doing this again. It was great fun last time.

Jennifer Linforth said...

OOOO... C or D.

C could be cool 'cause it could be all sorts of bad to hire a stripper after all.

But.. I am going with D just to make you all write ping again.

B.E. Sanderson said...


Something about hot cops, or maybe it's 'cause I just finished reading a thriller with a hot cop.

Bill Clark said...

Great opener, Colleen! I'm torn between A and D, but anything with "Holy crap" in it rocks my boat, so I guess it's D. :-)

lacey kaye said...

I'm a D girl, myself. It just sounds hot.

Erica Ridley said...

Hmmm, C or D, tough choice...

I think I'll go with D! w00t, bullets!!! =)

Isabel said...

Oh this is so much fun!!! Colleen, that was awesome! :)

It has to be "D" though I admit I considered "C" as well.

"D" is my choice. Bring on the action, and the bullets and that hot guy!

Julia Buckley said...

Not to be the one dissonant note, but I like B. There's a lot of possibility there, because he doesn't necessarily have to be a bad dude just because he's holding a gun. It could well be Imelda who is evil, and who has oppressed him or his kin. :)

I always like the handsome cop route, but I figured that one has been done a lot, so I like the mysterious stranger with the gun.

Holli Bertram said...

What a fun start, Colleen! And working in a sleep lab...very interesting occupation for our heroine.

I vote for D. I'm another action girl who likes the bullets flying.

Writer & Cat said...

I can hopefully do things with any of those, but let's go with B because I want to find out more about this Imelda character. Does my vote count??

Jody W.

Marnee Jo said...

I like D too! I am glad you guys are doing this again too! The first one was great!

Amy Addison said...

B...I like the idea that he's just a little bit bad (if he's the hero) and that she's in a whole lotta trouble.

Darcy Burke said...

Yes Jody, your vote definitely counts! I'm voting for B too. I'm looking for romance (it's Valentine's Day!) and the conflicty goodness of B is too good to pass up.

Amie Stuart said...

I gotta vote for B too.

Carrie said...

I love it!!!

And clearly he has a gun because he is running from zombies, hello!!

Jackie Barbosa said...

Oh, I'm gonna have to join the B posse, because I love mistaken identity plots and, as others have said, conflict-y goodness.

P.S. Does anyone else think the stripper might be a zombie?

Alice Audrey said...

Put me down for C. Hot cops, you know.

Stephanie H. said...

It is really close between B and D....but I think I'm going to have to go with B!

Angie Fox said...

Put me down for a "D." There's nothing like bullets flying to spark a romance, or at least bring a hot man into her life. Great start to the story, by the way!

Jill James said...

I have to vote for D.

Action, adventure, and flying bullets, oh my!!!

CM said...

B. Because B is for Branchos, Imelda.

Maggie Robinson said...

D for danger.

Jessie said...

Great start to the story.
I vote for D

tetewa said...

My pick would be D! Glad to see you here today Colleen.

Patricia W. said...

A or D? How about B? I like mistaken identity too, especially if handled in a comedic fashion. A sounds like it could get to the romance faster and D is definitely romantic suspense...

I'm going for B. Because she's not Imelda. So who is she and who is he?

Christine Koehler said...

I admit, B sounded cool, but I'll go with my 2nd choice, D.

terrio said...

I'm voting for D. I missed this the last time you did it so I'm glad you brought it back.

Great job, Colleen!

Cory said...

That's a tough choice definitely. I think I'll go with D for my vote though. It sounds the most exciting!

Great start Colleen!

JenWriter said...

This is great!

I choose D.

LeeAnn said...

I say go with D

T.D. Kearly said...

Gotta be D

And Katherine Heigl has SO gotten on my nerves too - and not just in Grey's

Mary said...

My vote is C, for Cop. :-)

Jackie Barbosa said...

And it's D in a landslide!

KimW said...

My vote goes to D.

Anonymous said...

I choose D!

It seems very interesting! Can't wait to see the next installment

Stephanie Dray said...

I choose D.

Not because I love thriller romances, but because in this scenario, it's the least cheesy sounding of the options.

Love this as a first chapter though. The narrative voice is fun!

aBookworm said...

D - that option makes it all the more intriguing!

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