Saturday, May 31, 2014

[Wrap Up] May 2013

Much Mayhem in May

Well, not really. I just really like the alliteration. hihi And the mayhem was a pleasant one so no problem there.

This post is overdue, I know. I should have posted this sooner but I was sick (had flu) and I had to deal with enrollment again. Classes start this June 9th for me.

Anyways, May was pretty productive. I haven't done any book review because I was too busy with the #BuqoSteamyReads blog tour. In fact, I accomplished five weeks straight of blog-touring so I feel pretty awesome. Ha!

Oh yeah, I have this sort-of-important announcement:

Beginning June 2014, I will be on hiatus from reviewing books as it is my last year in law school. Other than the books I've already committed to review, I won't be accepting any Review Requests. I will also be taking a break from arranging blog tours. Thank you.

Oh, and yeah, I joined the #FlirtSteamyReads online writing class, still under Mina V. Esguerra, but this time it's for Flirt Publishing under authors Marian Tee and Liliana Rhodes. The end product will be included in a book bundle. The minimum word count is 20k and there must be some steamy scenes so that's a challenge. Hmmmm...

Anyways, that's what happened in May 2014 for me.

Hopefully, June will be great, too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

[Blog Tour-Excerpt Reveal] Wedding Night Stand

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***For readers 18 and up***

By Mina V. Esguerra 

Andrea Crisostomo is no longer your Ms. Right Now, thank you very much. She's had enough of guys who like her "free spirit" but then break up with her before things get serious. One guy in particular screwed her over so much that she now hates weddings, but she has to suck it up to attend her sister Julie's big day.

Damon Esquibel enjoys the slow and steady chase, and it looks like his two-year pursuit of Geraldine is about to pay off. He's at his friend Anton's destination wedding only because of her. But then he meets the sister of the bride, who doesn't seem to want to be there, and it's enough to question his plans for the evening - and the rest of the weekend.
As luck would have it, she was also a sucker for guys who rocked a suit. So much that she watched hours and hours of crappy video on the internet of guys in formal wear, to desensitize and prepare her hormones for this day. She watched wedding videos, awards-night speeches, government press conferences. After that parade of unfit men, wearing ill-fitting outfits, sporting yucky facial hair, Andrea thought she would be ready for her sister’s beach wedding where a good percentage of the guests would be reasonably attractive, not related to her, and probably in that item of clothing.

It helped. She got through the ceremony fine, without being attracted to anyone. (Maybe being in a church helped with that.) But then the reception at the beach happened, and he took the seat beside hers.

Perfection! said her head, heart, and hormones. Her hormones especially. This was the longest stretch so far in her twenties that she’d been single, and the little buggers were pleading to be given something to do.

So to speak.

He had eyes that...she just needed to look at them. She had to find an odd angle so it wouldn’t seem like she was checking him out, but their eyes met anyway, and even more awkwardly.


“Excuse me?” he said.

She coughed. “Sorry. I have a throat thing.” And then she looked away, toward the orchid and tulip centerpieces.

Long lashes. Five o’clock shadow. Hair that was a day or two overdue for a haircut. Straight, broad shoulders, leading into what had to be toned arms, the way his suit draped respectfully on him like it was just happy to be there.

Andrea had never seen him before, and had to clear something up, before this got any weirder.

“Groom’s side?” she asked.

“Anton’s officemate,” he answered, a beat late, and like he wasn’t completely there. And then as his backside slid across the chair and made itself comfortable, he said, "My name is Damon.”

Of course it is. “Andrea,” she replied.

His eyes fixed on her and tracked up to the band of small orchids atop her head, and then to her neck exposed by the ponytail that snaked down one shoulder, and further down still to the section of her lower back that peeked out from the criss-cross back straps of her lavender dress. She knew it, felt it all, even as her eyes swept back to the centerpiece.

“You’re a bridesmaid,” she heard him say. His voice had a wonderful rumble to it, already calling up thoughts of being under soft linens. Or against hard surfaces.

Maybe it’s not him. Maybe I just haven’t been properly had. In ages.

When she braved another glance at him, he had turned somewhere else—Table 10, and that distracted look was on his face again.

That was refreshing. Maybe it was safe to look at him after all. Maybe he wouldn’t notice how hungry her hormones were.

“Yes I am. Sister of the bride.” There was a bit of movement over at that table, and someone stood up. Cute, regal-looking, gorgeous in navy blue. His eyes followed her too, almost intently.

Huh. Well.

“And she is?” Andrea said.

He knew what she meant, and the smile that came to his face was an unexpected softening of all those sharp edges. “Geraldine. You don’t know her?”

“Probably a friend of the groom. I don’t know the people on his side.”

Damon leaned closer, his voice dropping to a whisper. It wasn’t necessary, really; there was music, and the white noise of two hundred people finding their seats. But it gave her the excuse to tilt slightly toward him and expose more of her neck.

She is someone I’ve been trying to ask out. For a while now,” he admitted.

A small, light stab at her heart. That the rest of her ignored, because she was close enough to see his straight teeth and observe him lightly chew on the inside of his lip.

“She’s straight?” Andrea asked.

A smile, again. “Yes.”

“So what’s wrong with you?”


“Why won’t she bite? What’s wrong with you?”

He laughed a little. “She just doesn’t know me that well.”

Oh come on. She had eyes. And blood, and a working reproductive system. The way just being within arm’s length of Damon had woken up her ovaries, this Geraldine had to have a reason for not wanting a piece of that.

Those eyes shot toward Geraldine’s direction, before coming back to Andrea.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe it’s something you can enlighten me about. Female perspective and all.”

Damon didn’t know it, but he just wandered into her turf. She was the queen of the female perspective.



Mina V. Esguerra writes contemporary romance, young adult, and new adult novellas. Her young adult/fantasy trilogy Interim Goddess of Love is a college love story featuring gods from Philippine mythology. Her contemporary romance novella Fairy Tale Fail won the 2012 Filipino Readers' Choice award for Chick Lit. Through her blog Publishing in Pajamas (, she documents her experiments in e-publishing.
When not writing romance, she is president of communications firm Bronze Age Media, development communication consultant, indie publisher, professional editor, wife, and mother. She created the workshop series "Author at Once" and #romanceclass for writers and publishers.


Monday, May 19, 2014

[Blog Tour] #BuqoSteamyReads Passion Bundle Blog Tour Giveaway Winners!

And the winners for #BuqoSteamyReads Sizzling Bundle Blog Tour Giveaway are...

Cy V.
Winner of Gatorade Drinking Bottle
Colin Q.
Winner of 1 ebook or a 3-month emagazine subscription (winner's choice from the Buqo Catalog)


[Blog Tour-Excerpt Reveal] Lights Off by Asha Carpio

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***For readers 18 and up***


Broadway Star Olivia Rivera knows exactly what she wants: fame, successful career, and to prove herself. She even has a “script” to get this: find the next big thing, grab it, then move on to the next one.

Her plans get shaky when the sultry and equally ambitious Jacob Pecson makes a surprise comeback in her life. Jacob knows exactly what Olivia wants, and he has a mission of his own: to turn her life around.

With their paths crossing again, Olivia finds herself troubled as she rekindles her fire with Jacob. Will Olivia finally give in to what her heart desires or will she runaway again this time?


I would’ve recognized the voice anywhere. In Barcelona, in Venice, in London, in Taipei, in New York—in every city that I went to in the past three years, it was the only voice that I wanted to hear amidst the crowd’s cheer every time that I took my final bow.
“JACOB! I thought you weren’t coming!” Marian told him. He gave her one of his boyish smiles, the one that made the girls fall for him back in college.
He moved closer to me, making butterflies form in my stomach. He looked so much different now. He was wearing a light blue long sleeved shirt, his muscular arms clearly under it. Last I heard, he was doing mixed martial arts during his free time – not that he had many. After all he was managing the accounts for his family’s advertising and public relations agency and he was also spearheading the expansion of the firm in Malaysia.
He looked lean but muscular, but his face remained the same. His dark eyes, full lips, and strong jaw had turned him into one of the heartthrobs. He was the guy that any girl would kill for, and now he’s also one of the most eligible bachelors of Manila.
 I can still remember how those lips tasted, how I felt when they touched every inch of my body. Three years and all I could think about was his body against mine. I didn’t realize that I was staring a bit longer than I intended until a playful smile formed on his lips.
“Hey, we’ll just meet you there,” Marian told me. She exchanged knowing looks with Poch before they scampered to leave the room with Elle.
When I heard the door close, he moved towards me and by instinct, I stepped back.
“You were good out there,” he told me. He gave me a kiss on the cheek. “I got these for you by the way.”
“Thanks,” I replied as I tried to mask the confusion. I haven’t seen him in four years and I was pretty sure that I wasn’t his favorite person. Especially not after what I did. I took the bouquet of white lilies from him. “What are you doing here, Jacob?”
I tried to sound friendly, to not let my guard down but as he stepped closer to me, I can’t help but think about what we had. Or rather, never had. Jacob had that effect on me—he broke my walls down once, making me vulnerable. That was my biggest mistake by far.
“I came to support you, just like old times. Besides, I handled the publicity for your show,” he said in an as-a-matter-of-fact tone.
I was a good actress. I was so good that I even won a Tony last year, but my feelings kept betraying me at the moment. I could tell that he was watching my every move, waiting for my response but I didn’t have any.
“Great job,” I said, faking a smile.  When we parted ways, I told him that it was fine, that we would remain friends. It was only now that I’ve fully realized that what I told him was bullshit. I’m not fine. I was never fine after what happened.
“Who are you dressed up as?” He asked me, his eyes surveying my body. He was looking at me keenly. His eyes travelled from my neck to my legs, lingering on my thighs and at the curve of my waist. His stare made me melt inside.
“Velma Kelly,” I answered. “You?”
“Peter Parker, Broadway edition,” he grinned as he tapped the glasses that he was wearing. Though dressed as a geek, Jacob still looked hot. I remembered how he would often dress down when we were doing rehearsals and still, heads turned when he passed by. He can basically wear a garbage bag and still look incredibly sexy.
“Anyway, it was nice of you to drop by.” I reached out for my blue clutch from the dresser and started to walk towards the door, hoping that Jacob would take the cue and leave. Being alone in a room with him was never a good idea. Besides, I had no plans of repeating history, anyway.
“I am pretty sure that your stage manager said that you had twenty minutes to spare,” he said. His voice sounded gruffer than I last remembered but it still had that hypnotic effect on me. He looked at his watch, before adding, “I still have fifteen minutes.”
“I wanted to go in earlier. Why don’t we talk outside?” I suggested. We both knew that this was a lousy excuse, but I didn’t have anything better to say.
“But I don’t want to share you, Olivia.” he told me. He walked closer, with only a foot between our bodies. He smelled like clean aftershave and mint, making my knees go weak. “So how about this, dinner is on me tomorrow. All you have to do is say yes.”
“I have a thing tomorrow,” I lied. I managed to walk past him and headed for the door, trying my best to ignore the feelings stirring inside. Before I could head out, he grabbed me by the hand which caused me to lose my balance. I nearly tripped but he caught me, pulling me close to him.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

[Blog Tour-Cover Reveal] Intoxicated

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***For readers 18 and up***

About the Book:

Deke, Sam and their new relationship will take you on a journey of friendship, love and complications.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

[Blog Tour-Excerpt Reveal] Passion Within The Stone Wall

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Passion Within the Stone Wall
By Kali Ragilles

Sometimes, it’s okay to be selfish…

Unless you’re Paige De Guia, whose only concern is to make sure all the bloggers under her charge enjoy themselves during their sponsored trip. Everything goes as planned, until she meets a handsome and mysterious tough guy on the way to the island of Sabtang in Batanes.

And just like that, Paige’s priorities turn upside down.

Some minutes after Mayette left, a shout rang across the basketball court. What the fuck, dude? That was an easy rebound! the guy with the funky hair called out. The other men howled with laughter, but Paige hardly noticed them.
Because Sean was staring straight at her.
Sean, bro! You still playing or what? Seans other friend, Duke, passed the ball to him. He barely caught it, his attention still on Paige. She held Seans gaze, pretending to ignore how the sweat on his bare skin glistened in the afternoon sun, how she would love to run her fingers over those six-packed abs. Paige inhaled deeply, watching as a small smile formed on his lips. Those kissable red lips.
Geez, this guys sex incarnate.
Yeah, Sean said, casting one last look at Paige before jogging to catch up.
Paige sat on the concrete fence in silence, watching the guys play. She did her best to seem uninterested, but her eyes followed Sean like a hawk, watching every flex of his sweaty, hard muscles. Seans friends and the locals were evenly matched, ending the game with a draw when the sun began to turn their surroundings orange.
Oh, shit, Paige muttered as she glanced at her watch. It was already half-past five. They had to leave Chavayan as soon as possible, or risk traveling on dark and narrow cliff-side roads. Panicked, she jumped down the fence and nearly fell on all fours.
Easy, cowgirl, a familiar voice drawled beside Paige. Gino leaned over the fence with Leizel, Austin and Queenie beside him. TJs off chasing the sunset, but Eddie and his troopers are probably halfway back to Centro by now.
You heard right, girl. Leizel pointed her camera phone at the basketball court and snapped a photo. Were staying here!
But our things ― ”
Queenie wrinkled her nose. Still at the Heritage Building. Well have to buy basic toiletries for the night. The kids said they have everything well need at the sari-sari store. Speaking of which, she started. Ill buy our stuff before it gets dark. I dont want to suffocate from your cumulative BO and bad breath tomorrow.
But its a great bonding experience! Gino batted his eyelashes comically. You, me, Leizel, Paige, Austin and TJ Sharing our bodily essence in one stone cottage!
Yuck, Queenie said, her face full of disgust. Ill see you at dinner. The blogger turned around before Paige could ask more questions.
What a bitch, said Gino. But she has her moments, so I guess Im not suffocating her with a pillow tonight.
Paige pretended she didnt hear Gino. Can someone please explain to me whats going on? Where are we staying? And where in the world are we going to have dinner?
I told you we had your back, girl. Leizel grinned. Weve got it all taken care of. Kuya Nestor got us a stone cottage, and his mom is preparing us dinner. What a nice old lady.
But the fees and all ― ”
Everythings okay, Austins hoarse voice chimed in. Relax, Paige.
Wow! Four words in one breath. A record for Austin, so Id take his advice if I were you, Gino said, smirking. Oh, and if you can stop ogling the hot guy for a bit, you might want to check your cellphone. Eddie says hell text you.
Paige blushed. I wasnt ogling.
Whatever. Gino said. Cant say I blame you. Abs galore!

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

[Blog Tour-Excerpt Reveal] Boyfriend Stealing Bitch

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Jess Rodriguez always gets what she wants. That's why no one in her office has difficulty believing she tried to steal the gorgeous Martin de Guzman from his perfect girlfriend, Eliza. Now, the label "boyfriend-stealing bitch" has been slapped on her. Plus, Martin has to leave for the U.S. and Jess is left all alone to pick up the pieces.

Two years later, Martin shows up in the most unlikely of places: at Jess’s weekend getaway with her boyfriend, Joey. Will it be his turn to steal her away on a hot summer night? Is she finally going to claim the title she was so unfairly given back then? 

The week goes by really fast. And the next thing I know, we’re having a despedida party for Martin at a bar in Makati. Everyone’s there, and group pictures are being taken left and right. Martin, however, looks distant. He smiles and acts normally, but I know something’s wrong because he has that look on his face. Drinks in hand, I lead him away from the fray toward a balcony cocktail table far from the bar.
“Are you okay?” I ask him.
“I feel like shit. Eliza’s not talking to me.” I should have known.
“Maybe you should go patch up things with her.”
“I don’t know. Maybe I should,” he says, but he stays where he is. He’s quiet and, I suspect, a little tipsy, if not drunk.
“You could always go home.”
“Look, you’re in no condition to drive. Let me just call you a cab.” I start to head back toward the bar, but he puts his hand on my arm.
“Not yet, Jess,” he says. There’s a plea in his voice. His hand is warm on my skin. I’m not a very touchy-feely kind of person. And I’m sure we must have grazed elbows or arms at some point in the past, but this feels funny. Well, at least, the feel of his hand on my arm is making me feel funny. I know I should walk away, but I don’t.
“Just stay with me for a while.” I don’t say anything.
His hand is still on my arm.
“I’m going to miss you,” he says.
“I’ll miss you too.”
“Say it like you mean it.”
I look at his face. What is going on with him? Is it the alcohol talking?
“Look, Martin, I think you’ve had too much to drink—”
His hand has traveled up to my shoulder, and before I know it, he’s gently stroking my cheek and jaw.  My heart is hammering in my chest. I know I should pull away, but stupid me, I feel frozen in place. I’m still waiting for something to make sense. Or I’m enjoying the way he’s touching me. I don’t know. Or maybe I’m realizing that he looks even better when his skin is slightly flushed.
“Jessica,” he says. He’s never said my whole name like that, like a half whisper. And then he’s kissing me. Slowly, at first, then hungrily. I can smell the vodka on his breath mixing with the scent of his cologne. I don’t know how it happened, but his arms are around me, and I’m leaning into his body. What am I doing? is the last thing on my mind before we hear a gasp behind us.
“Oh my God, Jess Rodriguez, you are a boyfriend-stealing BITCH!”
And there’s Eliza, tears streaming down her face. I think the whole floor has heard her.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

[Blog Tour-Cover Reveal] Love Under Cover by Mia Del Socorro

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Jake and Nicole have been close family friends for many years.  He first met her as a shy thirteen-year-old tomboy, saw her through high school, watched over her as she went through the Philippine Military Academy, where he himself graduated, and continued to keep tabs on her through her early years in the Philippine Army.

A special undercover mission in the isolated foothills of the Cordilleras will place both of them in grave danger.  Will it also bring them to a new frontier in their relationship?

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

[Blog Tour] #BuqoSteamyReads Seduction Bundle Giveaway Winners

And the winners for #BuqoSteamyReads Sizzling Bundle Blog Tour Giveaway are...

Congratulations to...
Adrianne C.
Winner of the Gatorade Drinking Bottle 
Anne C.
Winner of 1 ebook or a 3-month emagazine subscription 
(her choice from the Buqo Catalog).

Saturday, May 10, 2014

[Blog Tour-Excerpt Reveal] Virgin Island Delights

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Virgin Island Delights
By Annamaria Alba

For years, Chessa loved only one man, but she couldn’t make him love her back. To fill the emptiness, she goes into meaningless relationships until one night she realizes she can’t take it any more. Chessa escapes to the beautiful Hundred Islands chain on her own for some soul searching and a little adventure. What she finds there and whom she meets give her the shock of her life and the hottest adventure to last a lifetime.

“Ma’am? Ma’am Chessa!” Mang Lucio shouted over the noise of the engine, breaking her reverie. “That’s Horseshoe Island up ahead. Would you like to see it?”

She looked in the direction the old boatman was pointing, and shook her head. “No need for me to see anything else. Can you just take me to Virgin Island, please?”

“You’re missing a lot, Ma’am. There are so many sights to see here, you know.”

“I know. Thank you, Mang Lucio, but I’d really rather just go and set up camp.”

He grew quiet. After a long pause, the old man’s forehead wrinkled even more. “Ma’am, are you really serious about camping alone tonight?”

Chessa had already gone over this with Mang Lucio before leaving the wharf.

“This may be a national park, Ma’am,” he continued. “And it’s relatively safe, but you just never know. There are strangers over by Cuenco Island looking for some old Japanese treasure. They have firearms, Ma’am.”

“Is that anywhere near Virgin Island? No? Then I’m sure I’ll be fine. I have your cellphone number, anyway. I’ll call in case I run into trouble.” She smiled reassuringly. “Promise, I’ll be just fine.”

Mang Lucio looked far from convinced. “You already paid me a day’s worth of rental, Ma’am. You should at least tour the islands.”

Clearly, he thought she was out of her mind. Or strange, at the very least. A woman alone with no desire for sightseeing at a national park wanting to camp at a deserted island overnight? It did sound strange but she needed this. The incident with Roddy had jarred her to the core.

…I hope he loves you back as much as I loved you. Digs was never going to love her the way she loved him. A decade too long of unrequited love and she’d had enough. Of crying, praying, hoping, whoring. Years of “replacement” boyfriends never did work. Also, by tomorrow, she’d have turned 25. It was time to make a change. For real.
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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

[Guest Post] Satisfaction as a Mother and as a Career Woman

Satisfaction as a Mother and as a Working Woman
Guest Post by Marie Claire Lim-Moore

I enjoy balancing different roles. I get great personal satisfaction leading a high stakes business meeting over lunch and then being silly with my kids over dinner. It makes my life richer. The different perspectives I get reading books with my children, watching Frozen for the ninth time, answering all the “why” questions, this broadens my world and makes me a better person. I also like the idea that my kids see me doing both: being a mom and having a career.

For me, one definition of success is achieving an integrated life. One where my work colleagues know my family, my side projects, etc. When I first wrote my book I didn’t talk about it at work because I thought I needed to compartmentalize the two. Maybe subconsciously I feared it would show a lack of commitment to my job. To my surprise, once my bosses and colleagues found out about the book they were incredibly excited for me and Citi has become one of my biggest supporters. The book has actually been a great platform to talk about the global products and services I manage at Citi because they are actually part of my everyday life.

I recently experienced what I felt was the pinnacle of an integrated life when I was in the Philippines last December. I had just finished doing a talk about my book at Citi and I was walking with my family out to the elevators. On the one side was a global ad campaign I had spent most of the past year working on – A Citi Client Anywhere is a Citi Client Everywhere – and on the other was a big poster about my book launch in Manila. At this moment there was no separation between my personal and professional life and I relished in this feeling.

Thanks for inviting me to share.

Don’t Forget the Soap is a collection of anecdotes: stories from the tight-knit Filipino community in Vancouver mix with memories of her move to New York, experiences at Yale and travels as a young executive. Underlying this narrative is the story of a global citizen who does not want to forget the fundamental values that come along with the “immigrant experience” as she and her husband raise their children in the increasingly glitzy expat bubble of Singapore. Her parents continue to remain a big influence in her life and her mother’s reminders a grounding force.

Share this inspiring book with the awesome women in your life!


** Also available in MPH and Kinokuniya in Singapore (SGD 18.60), and Fully Booked in the Philippines (P650).


Marie Claire Lim Moore is a Filipina-Canadian-American working mother and author of Don't Forget the Soap. After spending the early part of her childhood in Vancouver, Claire moved to New York City and attended the United Nations International School. She went on to study at Yale, climb the corporate ladder at Citi and travel around the world. She met her husband, Alex, while working in Sao Paulo, Brazil and they married in Manila, Philippines shortly before moving to Singapore. Now Mom to Carlos and Isabel, Claire also manages the Global Client business for Citi in Asia. She enjoys juggling career and family and likes to throw in community and politics for fun by campaigning for US political candidates, fundraising for organizations that advance the role of women in business and promoting foreign direct investment in the Philippines. She is also a guest contributor at Sassy Mama Singapore.

Monday, May 5, 2014

[Blog Tour-Excerpt Reveal] One Night At The Palace Hotel

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One Night At The Palace Hotel
By Bianca Mori

The line to Hot Doug’s snaked down the residential block in a pleasant but decidedly more working class part of the city than the Lincoln Park neighborhood Consuelo lived in. She stamped her feet in the chill fall air. The sidewalk cold seeped into her fashionable but seasonally inappropriate flat boots, but she also stamped in annoyance at traveling all this way for hotdogs. Gourmet, Zagat-rated hotdogs, but still.

Blame her homesickness for the whole thing.

She’d woken up in the middle of the night in a panic, tears streaming down her cheeks. She’d been in the US for six weeks and had gone through a rollercoaster of emotions—something akin to the stages of grief she’d learned in freshman psych, but what exactly her emotional stages were signifying, she did not know or understand. Six weeks ago she was excited and giddy as she watched Manila recede from her airplane window. After a week in Chicago, she felt brave and resigned, like a soldier facing the great unknown. Then the quiet in her small, bare apartment made her anxious. Then she stepped into her first class and felt lost and out of place. Now she had progressed into a full-on black depression.

As soon as the sobs calmed she went online to speak with her best friend. “I want to go home! This is all a big mistake!” she wailed the minute Cora’s delicate features filled the tablet screen.

By the time the call ended, an hour later, Cora had sufficiently calmed her down and bucked her up with typical bluntness–reminding her that wasn’t this the plan all along, to get away from stifling parents and monumental expectations? Wasn’t this why she went AWOL from school in Manila and psyched her parents out by lazing around for a year until they agreed to college abroad? What was all the emotional blackmail and conniving and ingratiating to the wealthy spinster grandaunt for, if not for this?

Cora’s sleep-deprived scowl deepened. “How often have you been out of the apartment, Con? Except for classes and groceries?”

“There was, uh, Art Institute last month…”

“Geez, Con, no wonder you’re going crazy. Get out of your place, get out of your head. Didn’t we make a list of all the places you wanted to visit?”


“And? Get off Skype and out the door, loser!”

So Consuelo brushed off the list, plotted an itinerary, downloaded directions, put on a coat and boots, and did exactly what Cora said.

The first place on the list was famous Hot Doug’s, of which Anthony Bourdain gushed so exuberantly; but she did not realize it was such a long-ass bus ride away. Twenty-two bus stops, she counted. Why did American cities have to be so gigantic? Why couldn’t they be sensibly manageable, like Asian cities—like Singapore or Hong Kong? Or Manila, for that matter, where you could stand on a footbridge in Makati and spit on Pasay?

She also did not expect that the square red brick restaurant—sorry, “Sausage Superstore”—would be as popular as she’d been warned. The store was still closed yet already there were probably 30 people lined up before her. She stamped her feet again and groaned.

“Woah there,” said a male voice behind her. Consuelo ignored it, quickly learning that if you honestly answered the Midwesterners’ reflexive “How ya doin’ today?” greeting you could get sucked into a long, uncomfortable small-talk situation. Better be the unfriendly FOB who smiled mysteriously and then averted her eyes instead of yakking with people one did not actually care about.

“You might break a toe if you keep doing that,” said the voice. She let out an irritated huff in response.

“That’s a pity,” the voice pronounced. “Pretty, but rude.”

There was something so smug and self-satisfied about the voice, and the way it announced things like it was the authority on everything, that pierced through Consuelo’s self-imposed remoteness, making her turn and confront the speaker.

And promptly lose the ability to speak for a few moments.

The accent, pitch and volume had her preparing for a blue-eyed blond jock with a beefy neck and chapped, wind-burnt cheeks; she did not expect the tall Asian with the swimmer’s body that perfectly filled in a beat-up leather jacket. He also had piercing brown eyes and a sardonic, self-possessed smile. Of course. He had to be just her type.

“Hi. I’m Sam,” he said, taking advantage of her shock to thrust a hand and introduce himself. “I take it you’re not a regular?”

“What makes you say that?” She did not taking the offered palm.

He put it back into his pocket without missing a beat. “The look of annoyance. If you come here often, you’d know what to expect. See anyone else complaining?”

She looked at the pleasant faces around her and the buzz of good-natured small talk and sighed. “Those hot dogs better be fucking good.”

He laughed. “So fucking good you’d want to take them behind the middle school and get them pregnant.” She bit down a smile. “Come on. That was a good line, yeah?”

“Only because you stole it from 30 Rock,” she said tartly.

His laugh was unperturbed. “So what do they call you, then, gorgeous?”

Was this guy for real? “Excuse me?”

“What’s your name?”

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