Erin Mallon has a fresh and authentic comedic voice in her writing that completely immersed me with giggles!– Amy Daws, Amazon bestselling author
Lovebug, an all-new unique and quirky romantic comedy from bestselling author Erin Mallon is available now!
My name is Mabel, the girl who “wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Of course I wouldn’t. I’m an entomologist for goodness’ sake. I work in a nature center. Bugs are my jam.
It’s the humans in my life who are starting to get me down. I’m used to them calling me sweet and innocent. I can even handle them calling me naive. But when they lie and keep secrets from me? That’s when my proverbial pincers want to come out.
Trouble is, I’m not the girl who fights back.
Not until a handsome groundskeeper with a dirty mouth and secrets of his own shows up and lights all sorts of fires in me.
In the bug world, the female is always the fiercest. The praying mantis doesn’t worry about being a “good girl.” Nope, she follows her instincts no matter how crass or crude they may seem to others.
Turns out I could learn a thing or two from her.
I’m not necessarily looking to tear anyone’s head off, but after decades of being nice, it’s high time for me to return to nature and unleash my wild side.
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I check to make sure all kids and counselors are settled safely and the craft is underway, then start a slow walk to where the man is crouched down and working with a wrench.
I have absolutely no idea why I choose this approach, but I whip around the water fountain in a sort of sneak attack, and shout, “Hi!”
His body jerks as though I’ve startled him. Because clearly, I have. I smile and wave. Even though he’s right in front of me.
He turns and looks behind us as if he’s unsure I’m actually speaking to him. I’m noticing this happens a lot when I greet people. Calliope told me once that I approach strangers with “unearned familiarity,” and it freaks them out. Friendliness freaks people out? I’m not sure what to do with that information.
“Yes you, silly!” I say.
His full attention is trained on me, but he doesn’t say a word. I’m starting to think the kids were right, and this guy actually doesn’t speak.
“Hey you,” I breathe.
Was that my voice I just heard? I don’t say “hey you” in that shouty way people do when they’re trying to get your attention outside the grocery store for leaving your cart abandoned in the lot instead of in the assigned cart area—not that I would ever shout at someone or leave a cart abandoned in a lot. No, the “hey you” I give him is that breathy sort. That shy, smiley sort. The kind of “hey you” people say when they know you so deeply and truly that they almost never say your actual name because they don’t need to. Who else could they possibly be speaking to at that moment except… you. You. You. Wonderful, precious, irreplaceable you. Not that I’ve ever been the recipient of such a “you.”
“Did you need something?” he asks.
He speaks! Oh wow, he speaks!
His voice is… gruff. That’s the only way to describe it. Is he annoyed? Nah, it’s probably just his voice. I’ve heard of perpetual bitch face. Maybe he has a perpetual bitch voice? But he’s a guy, so I guess to be accurate, it would be called a perpetual bastard voice?
“Before we begin, let it be known that I don’t think you’re a bastard. Or a bitch.”
“I was just thinking that you sound like a bastard, but I bet that’s just the way your vocal cords operate. They’re probably just prone to a gruff, bastardy tone.”
“No. You had it right the first time. I am a bastard.”
“Gotcha! So. How are you? Your name is ‘The Wall’? I mean, they call you ‘The Wall’? What is that short for? Walter? Walton? Wallmeranian?” I rattle off some suggestions. “Wallace,” he huffs.
“Gotcha. Big fan of Wallace and Grommit?” I ask.
“Gotcha. Can I call you Wally?” “No.”
“Gotcha. Hey, do you think I say gotcha too much?”
“Yes,” he says definitively.
“Gotcha. Thanks for the feedback. I’ll work on that. Hey, wanna hear something silly?”
“Cool, here I go. My kids… not my biological kids—though I do hope to have some of those one day, how about you? Sorry, don’t answer that. That’s an invasive question. See those teenagers over there who are completely unrelated to me?” I point in April and Dante’s direction where they are decidedly not focused on their kids and are instead “hiding” behind a pavilion post watching my flailing interaction. I wave to them. “Hey, guys!” They ignore me and look off in random directions as if they’re suddenly fascinated by all the glorious nature around them. “I’m training them as CITs this summer. That’s right, I’m chief of staff this year! I mean head counselor. And well, the thing is, they’re… well… they’re afraid of you.”
He goes back to working on the fountain as if he’s giving up on his conversation with me.
“Isn’t that ridiculous?” I start giggling uncontrollably. “Fine by me,” he says.
“What’s fine by you?”
“That they’re afraid of me.”
“Oh.” I feel my head jerk back. “Really? But if they’re afraid of you, they’ll keep avoiding you and making up stories about you instead of taking the time to really get to know you.”
“Perfect. Love that plan,” he says and swipes some sweat off his brow.
I’m not sure how to respond to this man.
“Besides,” he continues, “you’re afraid of me too.”
Erin Mallon’s debut romantic comedy novel, Flirtasaurus, releases in July 2020. She is an award-winning narrator of over 450 books and an accomplished playwright and producer in New York City. She has written over 40 plays, which have been produced Off-Broadway and all over the country, including These Walls Can Talk, a raucous theatrical love letter to the romance audiobook community. She lives in a little yellow house on the outskirts of NYC with her husband and Three J’s.
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