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The Mating Season
Foreword by James Patterson
Formats and Prices
- ebook $1.99 $2.99 CAD
- Audiobook Download (Unabridged)
- Trade Paperback $4.99 $5.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 6, 2016. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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BookShots Flames Original romances presented by James Patterson Novels you can devour in a few hours Impossible to stop reading
When I first had the idea for BookShots, I knew that I wanted to include romantic stories. The whole point of BookShots is to give people lightning-fast reads that completely capture them for just a couple hours in their day—so publishing romance felt right.
I have a lot of respect for romance authors. I took a stab at the genre when I wrote Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas and Sundays at Tiffany’s. While I was happy with the results, I learned that the process of writing those stories required hard work and dedication.
That’s why I wanted to pair up with the best romance authors for BookShots. I work with writers who know how to draw emotions out of their characters, all while catapulting their plots forward.
The thing that impressed me most about The Mating Season was that Laurie Horowitz knew her character, Sophie Castle, inside and out. It was like she’d walked around in her skin. Horowitz looked into Sophie’s professional passions and expertly aligned those traits with her personality, which brought her to life. And Sophie certainly meets her match in Rigg Greensman—you just wait and see.
When I get off the plane in Sharm el-Sheikh, I feel like I’ve been sitting for hours in a trash compactor. The man beside me smelled strongly of garlic and fried food.
My mother says that flying used to be romantic. Not anymore. When I catch my reflection in an airport window, I see that over nineteen hours of air travel isn’t exactly a beauty treatment. Not that I care too much about that. I am a scientist, an ornithologist, a bird nerd. I am here for the adventure of a lifetime, and I can turn this exhaustion into exhilaration. All it takes is a little resolve.
I remove my itinerary from the lower side pocket of my safari vest. I have two more copies of the schedule in my luggage. I printed out three just in case something happened to one—or two—of them. The sheet of paper clearly indicates that a driver is supposed to be here to pick me up.
I go off to find my Patagonia at the luggage carousel. It’s a new bag my mother gave me for this trip, a lime-green water-resistant rolling duffle. My mother wanted to buy me a Tumi, but I lobbied for the Patagonia. What self-respecting outdoorswoman would pick a Tumi over a Patagonia? My mother calls it my Patagucci, because it’s expensive for what it is. She knows about these things. She’s been in retail since my father died when I was four.
I am thrown by my missing driver. There’s no sign saying SOPHIE CASTLE anywhere to be found. Here I am in Egypt—my first time out of the United States. I could call Corey West, my producer at the Discovery Channel, or better yet, my friend Halley (named for the comet) who works with him and was the force behind getting me this gig. But no. I’m a big girl. I can figure out how to get from the airport to the hotel without calling Los Angeles.
The driver should have been here to pick up two of us: me and my cameraman, Rigg Greensman. He came to the Discovery Channel from When Sharks Attack, which aired on Nat Geo Wild, and he is supposed to be one of the best cameramen in the field. Halley says I was lucky to get him. I’m sure she’s right, but it’s a little hard to believe when he’s not here. I googled him before I left the United States and printed out all the information I could find, including his picture. When I showed it to my mother, she said, “He’s too handsome for his own good.” I don’t understand that expression since he probably benefits from those looks, while any girl in his general vicinity is likely to be struck down by them. Anyone but me. I don’t pick up the shiny pebbles on the beach. I take the ones that are weirdly colored or oddly shaped. In a choice between Shrek and Prince Charming, I’d choose Shrek. Rigg, with his sun-kissed curls and cleft chin, looks too much like a drawing of a prince.
Finally, I go outside and grab a taxi. The cabbie doesn’t speak much English, and all I know how to say in Arabic is As-Salaam-alaikum. This driver could take me anywhere. I’m at his mercy. I take my compass out of the left upper pocket of my safari vest. At least we are going in the right direction: south. If we were going north, we’d be heading toward Israel. Because I don’t know how long the journey is supposed to be, I can’t relax. The time ticks by and we get farther and farther from the bright lights of Sharm el-Sheikh. The only thing that comforts me is that I am hardly the type of woman who gets kidnapped into white slavery. I cut my long hair infrequently and when I do, I cut it with nail scissors. I don’t have a unibrow, but fifteen minutes with a pair of tweezers would not go amiss. My teeth are straight, thanks to my mother who has made every sacrifice to make sure I’ve had the best of everything, including braces. My breasts aren’t much to speak of, not that anyone’s been speaking much of them lately. My eyes are a greenish-brown. When you take all the features separately, each is attractive enough, but with the way I manage them—or fail to manage them—they don’t cause men to trail after me like lovesick puppies. Not that I’d want them to.
After almost an hour, dusk has turned to darkness and we pull into the gravel parking lot of the Pigeon House. The stucco exterior makes the building look like a sand dune and I feel a little like Lawrence of Arabia. I pay the driver in Egyptian pounds, glad that I had the foresight to get them, and walk inside, dragging my bag behind me.
When I find my driver and cameraman, they are sitting at a plastic table in the bar at the back of the Pigeon House. I don’t know whether I am relieved or furious.
“You were supposed to wait for me,” I say, stabbing at my itinerary.
“And hello to you, too,” Rigg says. He stands and sticks out his hand. It isn’t until I reach out my own hand that I realize my fingernails are dirty. I pull it back. Rigg probably thinks I’m snubbing him. “Have a seat. This is our driver and translator, Ahmed,” Rigg says. In his buttery leather jacket, Rigg looks much as I expected he would. His Ray-Bans hold his floppy hair off his forehead like a woman’s headband.
“Hello, Ahmed. Didn’t you read the itinerary?” I sit down in the kind of plastic chair you can pick up at Walmart, three for ten dollars.
Ahmed looks at me blankly. He obviously doesn’t understand the word itinerary so I take it out and wave it in his face.
“Put that thing away, will you?” Rigg says. His tone makes me feel like a guy who has just opened his raincoat and flashed his junk.
I sit down and look at the menu. It’s in both English and Arabic. Turns out that the Middle East is a vegetarian’s paradise. I don’t eat birds, of course. After I stopped eating them, it was only a short jump to not eating anything sentient. I order falafel.
When the food comes, I tuck in. I haven’t had anything to eat for five hours. I focus on the food and block out everything else. That is, until I feel Rigg staring at me. I pause to look up.
“Haven’t you ever seen a girl eat before?” I ask, wiping some tahini off my chin with a paper napkin.
“Not quite like that,” he says.
“The girls you date probably don’t eat,” I say.
“I don’t know why you would say that,” he says.
“Just a hunch.” I look toward the bar and beckon over our translator.
“What do you need?” Ahmed asks. He has very short cropped hair, bronze skin, and green eyes. He couldn’t be much older than twenty.
“I’d like a beer,” I say.
He calls out to a blond girl behind the bar. “Katya, this lady would like a beer,” he says in English.
“I could have done that,” I say.
“But I’m your translator.” He smiles. His two front teeth overlap just enough to be appealing.
I take a breath and look at Rigg. “Tell me a little about yourself,” I say.
“What do you want to know?” He leans back on the two rear legs of his chair and I’m tempted to tell him he’ll break his neck if he doesn’t come back down to earth.
“What got you interested in birds?” I ask.
“I’m not interested in birds,” he says.
He’s been put on this bird project. He could at least pretend to be interested in birds.
“Oh,” I say.
“I’ve spent the last few years working on When Sharks Attack,” he says.
“So how’d you end up here?”
“Just a little careless mistake.” He is wobbling on that chair now. “My assistant lost his little finger.”
“Well, a shark ate it. We were trying to get an impossible shot,” he says.
“I suppose it could have been worse,” I say. “It could have been his whole hand or his thumb, which is much more useful than a little finger.” I shovel up some hummus with a piece of pita and take a bite. “So, this is basically a demotion for you.”
“I wouldn’t call it that,” he says without conviction.
“Well, who knows? You could end up liking birds.”
His expression says that I shouldn’t count on it, but he gives me a crooked smile.
I wipe my plate clean with a piece of bread.
“They won’t even have to wash that,” Rigg says.
“I hope they do.” I get up and stand for a moment with my hands on my hips. “I’m going to bed and I suggest you do the same. Early day tomorrow. And just in case you haven’t read the itinerary, we start at dawn.”
Rigg stretched out on his bed. He shouldn’t have had so much to drink. He was thoroughly pissed. Arak is powerful stuff. Rigg loved the taste of licorice and even though this licorice burned going down, he drank four glasses.
That girl he’s supposed to work with is what you’d call a hot mess. What was in that nest of hair? He saw a bunch of clips holding it up, but worried there were other creatures lurking inside. Hadn’t she ever heard of a hairbrush? And that safari vest is ridiculous.
The Pigeon House is a dive. A cockroach the size of his thumb came crawling out of the sink while he was brushing his teeth. The shower is in the corner of the room and isn’t delineated from the rest of the place with a door or a curtain. It’s just a showerhead with a drain and a gutter.
Rigg would like to blame someone else for his predicament, but he knew that it was his fault. He had used the word careless to describe his behavior on When Sharks Attack, but the correct word was reckless. Rigg had fostered a reputation for getting all the best shark footage. He was hoping that would help him get into directing. He wanted to direct a feature film, but he would be happy to start with an advert. Advertising could be sexy. A good spot could capture an agent’s attention. Lots of directors were discovered that way. Rigg’s ambition earned him a reputation for being egotistical and difficult to work with. That’s what the exec at Nat Geo said when they let him go. Rigg was grateful the guy hadn’t mentioned the finger.
Rigg knew he’d been lucky to get this assignment. The money was respectable. He’d be working with a scientist on a prestige project—boring, but prestige. To him, those words are synonymous. When Rigg was growing up, he’d watched enough boring documentaries on the BBC with his father to last a lifetime. The aardvark is a burrowing, nocturnal animal usually found in Africa. It sleeps in the heat of the day, but awakes at night to claw through mounds of dirt for its favorite food: termites. Now, if that same aardvark were to be eaten by lions, the show would be worth watching. The worst thing about those kinds of nature films was that they weren’t dramatic enough. That’s why sharks and grizzlies would always beat out birds.
Rigg got up. He’d better drink some water and take a couple of paracetamol. Was the water all right to drink here? He probably should have asked. There were two bottles near the sink. Maybe he should have used one of them to brush his teeth. Too late now.
He opened his backpack, took out People magazine, and flipped through it looking for that picture of Nicola he liked. The stunning Nicola Upton. Supposedly, she was dating her agent now.
Nicola and Rigg had been on-again, off-again since university, when he, she, Simon, and Philip had all been starting out together. Now, Nicola was being called the next Emma Thompson; Simon, the next Julian Fellowes; and Philip, the next Hugh Laurie—all alumni of the Cambridge Footlights. And what was Rigg? Rigg Greensman was the next big nothing.
His father would say Rigg was wallowing. Rigg’s father, Sir Alastair Greensman, was not fond of wallowing. He believed it was not very British. Sir Alastair was disappointed by Rigg’s choice of profession. The Greensman men always went into law and then politics.
By now, Rigg had hoped he could have presented Sir Alastair with a BAFTA or an Academy Award. But, no, he was here on the Sinai Peninsula to film birds. The irony was that his father probably would respect this project more than any of Rigg’s glitzier jobs.
Rigg traced his finger over the picture of Nicola’s face. She’d been his first love. It had been ten years since they’d left university, and they both had had plenty of growing to do. Nicola’s success came early, and with it, came a desire to spread her wings. Rigg didn’t spend their time apart moping. He dated one actress-slash-model after another. Sophie Castle had pegged him there. But his playboy lifestyle didn’t mean he was not a serious person. He’d settle down someday. Probably with Nicola. And that was one of the reasons he was here. Nicola was starring in Nefertiti, which was being filmed in Sharm el-Sheikh, less than an hour away.
“Where’s Rigg?” I ask as I get into Ahmed’s tattered Subaru wagon.
“I come back for him,” Ahmed says. “I drop you first.”
- "The Mating Season [...] has depth and engaged my emotions from the first page to the last. There was laughter and tears that I didn't expect [and] the characters are multidimensional."—RomanceJunkies.com
- On Sale
- Sep 6, 2016
- Page Count
- 144 pages