Today, I'm reading an excerpt from Her Bad Idea, which is Book 7 in my Polyamorous Passions series. Her Bad Idea follows the story of Scarlett, a burlesque dancer, as she tries to save her business… it’s a forced proximity, enemies to lovers romantic comedy, complete with a fake relationship. This is an excerpt from chapter 1, when she meets her love interest!
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Hello and welcome back to Indie Author Weekly! Hello and welcome back to Indie Author Weekly! This is the podcast for indie authors, aspiring authors, and curious bookworms who want the inside scoop, tips and motivation, and the behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books. I’m your host, Sagan Morrow (or @Saganlives on Twitter & Instagram), and I’m a productivity strategist and an author of polyamorous romcoms.
For new and returning listeners, you can now get all Indie Author Weekly podcast episodes—plus updates on my writing projects—delivered directly to your inbox each week at SaganMorrow.com/behindthescenes… link is in the show notes.
Now let’s get into this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast. Today, I want to share a reading from Her Bad Idea, which is Book 7 in my Polyamorous Passions series. Her Bad Idea follows the story of Scarlett, a burlesque dancer, as she tries to save her business… it’s a forced proximity, enemies to lovers romantic comedy, complete with a fake relationship. Love it.
This is my most recently published book, which was already last summer! I can’t believe an entire year has gone by since I last released a novel. I am REALLY looking forward to writing and publishing novels much more frequently! This year I’ll be publishing one novel, and I anticipate that next year I’ll publish at least two. Yay! I’m SO looking forward to getting back into it.
Anyway, if you can’t wait until then, why not read (or reread) some of my previous works? Grab copies of the entire Polyamorous Passions romcom series at your favourite e-bookstore, or visit SaganMorrow.com/books. Each novel can be read as a stand-alone, but you’ll get the most from the stories if you read them all.
Here we go: this is an excerpt from chapter 1 of Her Bad Idea, Book 7 in the Polyamorous Passions series.
Scarlett ground her teeth in frustration as she reviewed her online bank account for the third time that week.
She wasn’t shy about reviewing the numbers. Three times in one week was tame for her.
Shockingly enough, the math didn’t get any better, no matter how many times she crunched the numbers: $10,000 owed on her credit card. Another $8,000 on her line of credit.
She was down to $30 in her checking account, with no savings to speak of.
Scarlett was reeling from debt—and worse, there didn’t seem to be any way out of it.
The total amount on her credit card bill kept creeping up, up, up, and those pesky interest rates weren’t helping her at all. Any time she thought she was making headway, the numbers somehow shot up even higher.
Scarlett looked at the creased piece of paper beside her and smoothed it out once again, rereading it for the tenth time.
“Thank you for your loan application… unfortunately it has been denied… would like to offer an increase of $7,000 on your credit card!”
She glared at the letter and scrunched it tightly in her fist. Scarlett closed her eyes. She didn’t need yet another increase on her credit card. What she needed was something to help her get out of debt, something that wouldn’t have such an astronomical interest rate, dragging her back down just when she thought she might be making progress.
What she needed was something to get her out of this financial mess that had climbed alarmingly over the past three years.
It wasn’t like Scarlett had any assets to sell, either. She owned no property. She rented a house with two other roommates and lived in the basement. Her car was an old, rusty vehicle that she prayed would survive another winter.
One of Scarlett’s best friends, Emma, would tell her to get rid of her car if she needed to save money. But Scarlett couldn’t imagine life without a car. It was crucial for her business; the nature of her work required her to drive at weird hours of the night to sketchy parts of the city for her dance performances. A car-free existence would make her life a living hell.
“If you can’t be without a car, then why not pick up a few hours as a barista to make some extra cash,” Scarlett could almost hear Emma suggesting, baffled about why Scarlett couldn’t find that spare time in her day to do such a thing.
Emma was the queen of time management. Not Scarlett. But she viewed it more as a lack of time, in comparison to Emma, than a time management issue.
With the combination of her strange work hours of being a dancer, and handling the business side of things as a solopreneur, Scarlett didn’t see any way that she could pick up a part-time job, even if she wanted to. She couldn’t work a regular schedule, since hers changed constantly.
Besides, Scarlett didn’t live for her work. She lived for her principles. She started burlesque dancing as a career because she was so passionate about the body positivity and sex-positive and self-empowerment aspects of it, not to mention the freedom and flexibility to design a life according to her own set of rules. As such, she prioritized everything that aligned with those values. When Scarlett wasn’t working on her business, she was organizing campaigns, marching in parades, demanding better from her local politicians.
It didn’t leave her with a whole lot of spare time. And that wasn’t a problem, exactly: Scarlett knew what her priorities were.
...Sometimes, she just wished she could make more money doing it. That’s all.
Scarlett had attempted to diversify her income streams with a book of love poems she wrote a few months earlier, but those poems were more of a cathartic attempt to deal with the emotions she felt about her long-standing unrequited crush, Wes, than earning an income from it. After writing the book, she’d found a local bookstore willing to sell it, but with the minuscule royalties she would make, Scarlett was beginning to think the poetry book would cost her more than she’d earn. It could hardly be considered a business asset.
No, the truth was that she had no assets to sell, and no opportunity to earn extra money outside of her burlesque business. And if the bank wouldn’t loan her the money she so desperately needed… well, there was no doubt about it: Scarlett was at the end of the line.
What I really need is a knight in shining armour, Scarlett thought to herself, looking up from her computer to gaze wistfully at the stacks of romance novels that lined every shelf of her cramped bookcase.
As independent as she liked to be, sometimes a girl needed to get extra help.
Scarlett picked up the phone and dialled her own knight in shining armour, her saviour, the one person she could always count on to help her in these situations of dire financial need: her talent agent.
“Scarlett,” her agent, Jen, said without preamble into the phone. “Perfect timing. I was about to call you. Can you come to my office tomorrow? I have a fantastic opportunity for you.”
Scarlett eagerly agreed before hanging up the phone. She looked down at the crumpled letter still balled in her hand, and then smiled triumphantly, tossing it in the recycling bin.
Who needs the bank’s help? I can get myself out of this financial mess without them.
She closed her computer, hiding the negative dollar signs on her online bank statements from view.
This is it, Scarlett resolved, her natural optimism pushing aside financial anxieties. I’m done with being broke. It’s time my business started making real money.
Scarlett knocked on Jen’s door the following afternoon, waiting for her agent to call out an invitation before entering the office.
Jen glanced up at Scarlett with a distracted smile and nodded in greeting from behind her massive desk, not breaking her brisk typing speed for a second.
After five years of working together, Scarlett was accustomed to Jen’s brusque conduct. She settled patiently into the chair across the table from Jen and let her eyes wander around the familiar office until her agent was ready.
A few minutes later, Jen pushed back her chair and regarded Scarlett across the table. “How are you?”
“Oh, you know,” Scarlett said, pasting a smile on her face. “And you?”
They engaged in pleasant chitchat for a couple minutes, until Scarlett, unable to wait any longer, cleared her throat. “What have you got for me, Jen?"
Jen beamed at her. “Oh, it’s a good one,” she said, waving an envelope at her.
Scarlett smiled. “Well, out with it.”
“You know the BeDazzled Dance Competition?”
Do I know about the most prestigious dance competition on the continent? Scarlett raised an eyebrow at Jen in response.
“Well,” Jen went on, taking the hint, “there was a problem with the location—something about a permit issue and organizers changing hands. So they got in touch with some people here, and they’re moving it to our city.”
“Really. And since it’s a last-minute change, some of the original competitors had to pull out. A few spots have opened up in competitions at your level… and you’ve been invited to perform.”
“Oh my god,” Scarlett whispered, her eyes sparkling.
This was a dream come true! She always loved the idea of competing, but never put her name out there—Scarlett always figured that next year, when she improved her skills, maybe then she’d apply.
...The only thing was, she’d told herself that for the past four years in a row.
Not that it mattered right now. The important thing was that now she had this incredible chance to partake in a coveted, highly competitive showcase.
Yes, when it came right down to it, the opportunity to perform alongside international sensations was something Scarlett had waited for her entire career.
Not to mention, I can definitely use the cash prize if I manage to win a placement in the competition.
“There’s a catch, though,” her agent warned, pulling Scarlett out of her daydream. “You’ll need a dance partner.”
“A partner? What for? I dance solo.”
“Not this time. The competition that has an opening available for you—which, by the way, also happens to include the biggest cash prize—is in a doubles division.”
Scarlett slumped back in the chair, heart sinking as her mind raced.
It wasn’t that she had never danced with others before… it was just that she worked best alone. She knew how to move to the music in a rhythm that suited her. And she liked having complete creative control over her work.
The only time she ever collaborated with another dancer years ago, she’d put in all the work upfront, only for them to swoop in at the last minute, incorporate a bunch of changes, and then take all the credit for her hard work.
Scarlett didn’t have much interest in dealing with another sketchy dance partner again.
“I don’t have time to find someone to dance with,” Scarlett cautioned.
Jen waved her hand, dismissing Scarlett’s concern. “That’s not a problem—I found the perfect partner for you.”
That seemed doubtful. Still, Jen knew her style. She hadn’t steered Scarlett wrong before.
Scarlett hesitated before asking the question that really mattered: “...How much money are we talking about?”
Jen settled smugly back in her chair, smiling at Scarlett for a moment in silence to relish the amount. “Ten. Thousand. Dollars.”
“You heard me.”
Scarlett stared at her agent, stunned.
She’d be able to put that entire amount of cash on her credit card. Goodbye, spending hundreds of dollars every month on credit card interest fees!
It would be an opportunity to start fresh. To no longer be completely broke and swimming in debt.
This can’t get any better.
Scarlett shook her head, trying to ground herself in reality. She’d had her hopes dashed too many times in the past to get on board that quickly. Don’t let yourself get caught up too fast in the excitement. You need to be realistic, here.
“But if I’m dancing with a partner, then I’ll have to split the cash, anyway.”
Not that I’d complain about $5,000. God, I’d take $500 at this point. Fifty dollars. I’d dance for any kind of money I can get my hands on.
Anything would be better than seeing the red line on her bank statement for the umpteenth time in a row. Anything would be better than hiding behind stressed, forced smiles as she dipped into overdraft when she dutifully paid her rent each month.
“Not with this partner. He’s been looking for his big break. The financial reward holds no interest for him—he wants to align himself with a name like yours and get his foot in the door. And since you’ll be putting together the choreography and teaching him the moves, he already agreed that the benefits he’ll get out of this are worth it without the cash prize.”
Now, that’s an interesting proposition, Scarlett thought to herself.
“What if we don’t win? Then he’ll benefit and I won’t.”
“I discussed that with him already. In that case, he’ll back-pay you for the time spent teaching him the choreography.”
Scarlett’s eyes darted toward the ceiling as she did some quick calculations. Not ideal, but at least my time won’t be completely wasted.
“But the competition is only six weeks away,” Scarlett protested. “Creating a whole new choreography for two people, and with someone I’ve never even met… that’s a lot of work to shove into a short timespan. I want to do this right.”
Jen shrugged. “It’s your choice whether you want to do it. No skin off my nose.”
“I never said I didn’t want to do it—” Scarlett began quickly.
“Excellent,” Jen answered before Scarlett finished speaking, giving her a sneaking suspicion that her agent had just goaded her into accepting the gig, “Would you like to meet your dance partner?”
“I guess I should,” she agreed. “Can you arrange—”
“Great, because he should be here any second.”
“That… seems oddly convenient,” Scarlett said, blinking at her agent.
Jen coughed. “Well, I knew you’d agree to this, so I might have told him to meet us here.”
“I see,” Scarlett smiled.
There was a sharp rap on the door, and then it opened behind her before Jen could invite the person in.
That’s a bit rude, Scarlett thought to herself as she turned. What kind of arrogant—no, come on now, I need to go into this with an open mind. Just because I was burned once with the only other person I’ve collaborated with, doesn’t mean this dance partner deserves my prejudice. Maybe he’s just excited about this meeting, and it’s eagerness rather than rudeness or arrogance that made him enter without an invitation. Yes, that must be it.
She appraised him as he entered the office. The man who walked in the door was well-dressed, handsome, and built. He had a piercing gaze, sympathetic eyebrows, a sharp nose, and full lips. His face was lined in a rugged way that made Scarlett immediately judge him to be 10 years her senior, which only made him that much more attractive.
There was something classically old Hollywood about him, almost a Humphrey Bogart vibe going on. He carried himself with a self-assuredness that she found both charmingly sexy and annoying as hell.
And there was something familiar about him...
She was still trying to decide whether he fell into the category of arrogant or eager when Jen made the introductions.
“Scarlett Mitchell, meet Pete Fraser. Your new dance partner.”
“Nice to be formally introduced to the darling of the dance community,” he said, raising an eyebrow in sardonic greeting, and that was when she placed him.
“You!” Scarlett gasped.
The man standing before her smirked. “Me.”
There you have it—a little sneak peek from chapter 1 of Her Bad Idea.
You can continue reading Her Bad Idea by grabbing a copy at your favourite e-bookstore, or visit SaganMorrow.com/books. This is Book 7 in the Polyamorous Passions romantic comedy series—each novel in the series can be read as a stand-alone, but you’ll get the most from the stories if you read them all. Happy reading!
And that, my friend, is a wrap for today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly! Access the show notes for this episode, including all links and additional resources, at SaganMorrow.com/podcast.
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Until next week, this is Sagan Morrow, signing off the Indie Author Weekly podcast.