With all the time I’ve spent in the past year or so with McKenzie, learning her story, I figured it might be a good idea to sit down with Drew and allow him the opportunity to clear the air about a few things. Having this thought in mind, I contacted him and requested an audience. Drew seemed to think the fact that I even used that word was hilarious, but graciously accepted my request. When I asked where in Sarasota I should meet up with him, he quickly informed me that he was in Amarillo,Texas, and wished for me to meet him there.
Upon arriving at the address he provided me, I find myself at a little coffee shop called The 806. This isn’t my first time to frequent The 806. When I lived in Amarillo a few years back, I loved venturing over to 6th Street. There are loads of local shops and The 806 sits in the middle of them all. It’s the perfect resting spot for a tired shopper.
I enter the establishment. The fresh aroma of coffee and pastries fill the air, invading my senses. The lighting is rather dim, but not-so-much that it prevents people from interacting. To me, it sets the tone for coffee bar. Around the room, I notice eclectic pieces of art on the walls. Local artists display their work for potential buyers and admirers. Tables are scattered around the room in chaotic symmetry. There are very few patrons, but then that’s to be expected for this time of day.
After making my order at the bar, I sit down at an empty table near the makeshift stage, and wait for my guest to arrive. I don’t have to wait long. A few minutes later, Drew enters the coffee shop, with a cocky smirk lighting his face.
He appears to be very comfortable, dressed in a faded pair of jeans, a blue v-neck t-shirt and an old green baseball cap, that I could almost swear he stole from Jared. But that couldn’t be possible; he and Jared are not big fans of one another.
Holding up a finger to let me know he’s seen me, Drew walks over to the bar and orders himself a coffee and pastry. He glances at me, giving me a wink. As always, Drew’s bright blue eyes and dimples take my breath away. Next thing I know, he has a cup of coffee in each hand, one, of which, he’s using to balance a small plate with a brownie.
He approaches my table and places the items down. “I asked the barista what you were drinking. I hope you don’t mind, but I went ahead and got you a refill.”
“You didn’t have to do that, but thank you.”
Drew shrugs one shoulder and produces his award winning smile. “It’s no problem at all.”
I extend my hand out, shaking his hand. “Thank you so much for meeting with me today. This is such a great honor for me.”
“The pleasure is all mine. It’s not every day one is summoned by the very person that is distributing their life story to the masses,” he teases, giving me a coy wink.
I open my mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. Silly me, you’d think I’d be used to this guy after spending so much time writing his and McKenzie’s story, but nope. “Thank you,” I giggle, mentally slapping myself for sounding so fangirlish.
A cocky snicker falls from Drew’s lips, his brow raising. This bastard knows what he’s doing to me, and loves every minute of it. Drew and I each take our seat. I suck down a gulp of my mocha, thankful that it’s had a little time to cool.
Wiping the corners of my mouth with the tips of my fingers, I dare to lift my eyes to meet Drew’s. His brilliant stare is burning through me. “So,” I squeak.
“So,” Drew repeats playfully.
“Um, you know what, let’s get started,” I say, swallowing hard. Damn, my nerves.
“Fire away.” Drew takes a bite of his brownie and I have to force myself not to gawk at this man’s mouth. As he chews, he leans back in his chair and drapes his arm across the empty chair beside him.
I rub the back of my neck, feeling the slight perspiration developing there. Thank God for a good deodorant.
“Well, all right,” I say, clearing my throat. “I’ll start off with something simple.” I pull out a pad of paper from my bag and glance down at my notes. “Let’s see. Hmm. If you had a free day and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?”
Without hesitating, Drew leans in, keeping his hand stationed on the back of the empty chair and whispers, “All I need is Mr. Righty,” he wiggles all five fingers of his right hand, resting on the table near his coffee cup, “a bottle of lube, and a good porno to enjoy myself.” He leans back in his chair, as if nothing was said, taking a sip of his coffee.
My mouth drops. I can feel the burning heat of my embarrassment coloring face. “That’s not what I meant, Drew!” I exclaim, slapping my hand over my mouth.
Drew laughs, shaking his head. “You should be more specific.”
“Andrew Jonathan Wise!” I screech.
A loud laugh bursts from his lips. The barista shoots us a quick glance, smiling at his laughter. I want to crawl under the table. I should’ve been prepared for this, but somehow, I wasn’t.
“Fine,” he notes with a wink. “I’d spend the day in my theater room, watching a Star Wars marathon, snuggled up with Wicket, Chewie and my girl, along with a bag of peanut butter M&M’s, a case of Coke at hand.”
“Aww, that’s so sweet, Drew.”
“Of course Mickie would be feeding me the M&M’s.”
Rolling my eyes and shaking my head, I trudge on. “When you’re driving down the road, what’s playing on your stereo?”
“Currently on my playlist is Korn, Godsmack, Chevelle, Marilyn Manson,” Drew coughs and sputters, mumbling to the point of almost being incoherent, “and maybe some Jason Aldean.” He smirks, glancing around the room, “But only because of his duet with Ludacris.”
“Hard rock. Hmm,” I hum. “I didn’t expect that from you, but I guess I should’ve. You never cease to amaze me.” I smirk, meeting his eyes, “Although, I do recall a little birdy once telling me that you have some Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley on your iPod too.”
Drew waves his and around like a mad man, shushing me. “Jeanne, no one’s supposed to know that. You’re in redneck country. They smell out country music like flies on shit.”
“Hey now!” I exclaim. “You realize that both your girl and your author are from Texas, don’t you? You better be nice, or I’m sending you the cowboy deluxe care package – starched Wranglers, boots and a cowboy hat.”
Drew gives me a vicious look. “Um, you better not.” He shakes his head, chuckling. “My boys require the ability to breathe and move, and I don’t do boots. Converse, yes. Boots, hell no! Hey, wait. You’re not wearing cowboy boots, are you?”
Dipping down, Drew looks under the table at my shoes. I wiggle my feet back and forth, showing off my Converse. “I wore them just for you.”
“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” He rises back up, giving me two thumbs up. ”Oh, and for the record, the only one who’ll be wearing a cowboy hat is Mickie,” he groans, wiggling his eyebrows, “While naked and straddling me.”
“Horny, bastard,” I mumble, laughing.
“And your point?”
“I thought I made it.”
“True enough. Proceed.”
A small crowd is starting to develop inside the coffee house now. The end of the work day has come and The 806 is beginning to fill in with patrons. I notice a live band setting up on the stage and figure it’s time to get the nitty gritty of this interview.
“So, Drew, I’m curious, what was it that attracted you to McKenzie on the beach that first day? I mean, you had a girlfriend and yet you felt compelled to flirt with her. And then for her to appear that same night at your girlfriend’s house, can you say awkward!”
Drew tilts his head slightly, looking at me with a gleam in his eyes. A soft, sweet smile curves the corners of his lips. “I thought she was the most beautiful angel to ever grace my presence. I couldn’t help but flirt with her. Seeing her appear at Olivia’s house was like God giving me a second chance to talk to this woman. It wasn’t awkward at all, at least not for me.”
I nod my head. “That makes a lot of sense, I guess. Now, that night at Olivia’s house, you gave McKenzie a little pep talk. What was going through your mind at that time? I mean, you hardly knew the woman, and that business card was a pretty bold move.”
The soft sounds of instruments being tuned fill the air around us. I start drinking my second mocha, watching Drew as he looks over at the band. “Yeah, it was a bold move.” he says, keeping his focus on the band. “I’ll grant you that, but I really liked her, and honestly I was concerned for her. I’ve been in her shoes to a certain extent, and I thought that maybe giving her the chance to talk about it with someone she hardly knew, that wasn’t a shrink, might help her.”
I reach across the table and pat Drew gently on the hand. “That makes you a good man,” I say with a tender smile. Drew nods only slightly. I pull my hand back and take a quick sip of my coffee before I continue. “Okay, so, I’m dying to know, what was really going through your mind when McKenzie introduced you to Dick, I…I mean Richard?
Drew breaks into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. It’s contagious. I begin to laugh with him, to the point I’m nearly in tears. Once he catches his breath, he says, “You mean the umpa loompa?”
“That’s the one,” I reply, covering my mouth, still laughing.
Pushing his empty cup and plate away, Drew leans forward, resting his elbows on the table. His eyes dance with his unfading laughter. “When I walked in and saw that guy talking to my girl, I nearly came unglued. To this day, I can’t figure out how he got his teeth so white. And I really wanted to ask him where the hell Willy Wonka was. With as much money as I put into Wonka bars, I’d demand an autograph.”
Laughing to the point of breathlessness, I barely manage to ask, “What on Earth possessed you to call McKenzie your wife?”
Drew stops laughing, but his smile doesn’t fade. “I did that for two reasons. One, I knew it would freak the fucker out; and two, I wanted to see her reaction. My feelings for McKenzie were well beyond friendship at that point, no matter how hard I tried to deny it, and I figured that would get an honest reaction out of her.”
I tilt my head, glancing at Drew. “That day also introduced us to another issue. Drew, we learned that you have a bit of an issue with alcohol, care to talk about it?”
The laughter around the table suddenly faded away. Drew pulls the cap off of his head, dropping it to the table. He stares down at the faded hat, running his fingers through his hair. The atmosphere has shift and Drew is now stiff and uncertain. I swallow back my guilt for asking such a private question, but since it was out there, I give him the chance to shoot me down. “I really don’t want to talk about it. Some things are better left unsaid,” he answers, fidgeting with the fray on his hat.
Hoping to bring the lighter side back, I quickly ask, “Why do you hate the nickname Andy so much?”
Drew releases a deep sigh. A lopsided smirk tilts the corner of his mouth and his body relaxes. My ploy seems to have worked. “I hate that name because when I hear it, I think of my sister. In my mind, you might as well be calling me a girl, and I’ll kick anyone’s ass who dares to call me Andy. Except for my girl. She has this little southern twang that goes straight to my dick.” Drew slips his cap back on, and gives me a coy wink.
I cover my face and laugh. Leave it to Drew to find every way possible to included his penis into the conversation. After taking a sip of my coffee, I ask the next question that comes to my mind. “What’s it like growing up with a twin sister?”
Rubbing his hand along his chin, Drew ponders the question for a moment. He glances around the room, then leans toward me as if he’s about to tell me a secret. “Like a living Hell.” He wrinkles his nose. “Drew, stop picking on your sister,” he squawks in a high pitched voice. “Drew, did you steal your sister’s cookie? Drew, dance with your sister. Drew, don’t pull your sister’s pigtails.”
“Oh, stop it. You’re mother didn’t sound like that!”
Drew’s expression takes on a seriousness that I’m sure he uses quite often in the courtroom. “That wasn’t my mother. That was my brother, Gavin.”
“Oh, God!” I exclaim, laughing. “Now, really, your childhood couldn’t have been all that bad.”
He rolls his eyes and leans back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. “Let’s just say my childhood isn’t something I want to relive. Andie was the pretty little angel, Gavin was the sweet young man, and I, well, I was the black sheep. Enough said.”
“Black sheep or more like Neanderthal?” I tease.
Drew raises an eyebrow, giving me a warning glance.
“What?” I deflect. “I’m just saying that jealous side of you does come out quite often. Not only with Richard, but with Jared too. You damn near came unglued when Jared was about to take your place in apartment hunting with McKenzie. Explain what was running through your mind at the time.”
Crossing his arms over his chest, Drew straightens to his full height, seemingly foreboding in his appearance. I shrink down a little, worried that I might have pissed him off.
“You want to know what was running through my mind, I’ll tell you. I was pissed. I’d already told her I would help her. Then she tries to go over my head, because she has this deal about not wanting to hurt anyone. That’s bullshit. She hurt me, by denying me the chance to help her. Even if I hadn’t been falling for her, I still cared for her as a friend, and I couldn’t allow her to live in some dump. On top of that, she asked Jared. I’d known from the start that he had a thing for her. Everyone knew it, except for McKenzie. That woman really doesn’t see herself very clearly. Anyway,” Drew takes a deep breath then releases it, “it was the principle more than anything. She’s the most stubborn woman I’ve met, and needs to learn to accept peoples help every once in awhile.”
“Wow! That was a mouthful,” I tease.
“Sorry. That woman gets me so riled up.”
“I can tell.”
I finish off my second mocha, and notice that Drew is starting to look a little antsy. The cafe is full. Nearly every table is occupied. The music starts and I have to admit the band is pretty good for a garage rock band.
“Okay,” I say, raising my voice a little to compensate for the band. “I have just one more question for you.”
“And what’s that?”
I lean forward, looking him directly in the eye. “It’s the same question that every one of my readers has on their mind, and I can’t say that I blame them. Why the Hell did it take you so long to break things off with Olivia and confess your feelings for McKenzie?
For a moment, Drew looks stunned by my bold and direct question. A mischievous twinkle glints in his eye and he meets my exact stance, bringing us face to face in the center of the table. “The answer is simple, really. Because of their connection, I convinced myself that if I let go of Olivia, I would lose Mickie too, and I couldn’t handle that. Before Mickie, being with Olivia was simple. It was nothing more than a casual arrangement for me, but Mickie changed everything. Being around her was like being able to breathe again after being held underwater for a long time. In the end, I finally had enough, and put my heart on the line. Mickie’s the sunshine that brightens my day, and I couldn’t go another day without the sun.”
Tears form in the corners of my eyes as I listen to him talk. To hear someone describe love in that way was poetic. “That’s probably the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Drew shrugs his shoulders, glancing up at the band. “What can I say? My girl brings it out of me.”
“She’s a lucky girl.” I look down into my second empty cup, and sigh. “All good things must come to an end, and while I don’t want this to end, I do have to get myself back to Dallas to take care of my family.”
“And I have to get back to trying to win my girl back.”
“Agreed. But before I go, how about a quick lightening round?”
Drew laughs and nods. “Go for it.”
“Blonde or Brunette?”
“Patriots or Cowboys?”
“Patriots all the way. How the Cowboys became America’s team is beyond me.”
“Boxers or Briefs?”
“That’s not an option, Drew.”
“Coffee or Tea?”
“Dumbledore or Gandalf?”
“Princess Leia or Queen Amidala?”
“What? No. Why?”
“Because it’s too damn hard to decide between a sexy bikini and a woman wearing a blaster. Talk about childhood fantasies merging with grown man desires.”
“Bossy, aren’t you? I guess, Amidala. But I still hold the right to change my answer at anytime.”
I laugh. “Fine. Last one. Favorite sexual position?”
“Really? I didn’t see that one coming at all.”
Drew smirks, his eyes dancing. “Oh, but that’s the fun of the cowgirl. Watching her ride me with the perfect view of her face and tits.” Drew reaches in the air, making grabbing motions. “I absolutely love seeing her face as she falls over the edge of ecstasy.”
My mouth drops. “Damn, you really thought about that one.”
“All the time.”
I stand up, and Drew follows. Reaching out to shake his hand, I’m startled when Drew moves around to give me a hug. “This has been fun. Maybe we can do it again sometime.”
Hugging him back, savoring the smell of his cologne, I chuckle softly. “I’m pretty sure that when you and I are finished with book two, you’ll be sick of me. Ask McKenzie. I’m certain she was happy to get some air.”
“I highly doubt that.” Drew places a soft peck to my cheek. “I look forward to working with you on The Certainty of Deception. I think this will be an interesting experience to share with everyone.”
One can only hope that the hot man hugging them doesn’t notice the insane blush that is burning through their skin. That’s exactly how I feel at this moment. Then to add a friendly kiss on the cheek, I want to simply melt. “I agree. Again it’s been fun. I’ll see you soon to start working on the continuation.”
“Until then,” Drew says.
I gather my belongings and head toward the door. Before I leave, I turn around, taking one last look around the small coffee shop. Drew has sat back down at our table, his cell phone is in his hand. I could only imagine he is texting McKenzie in hopes she would join him. At least, I could hope that’s what he’s here for – to make things right with her. I guess I will have to wait and see what happens with the next book.
With a satisfied smile on my face, I leave The 806 and return home to begin prepping for the continuation of Drew and Mickie’s story.