Just Might Work Release + Sneak Peek
Grab your copy here!
Just Might Work is LIVE! I've already had so much wonderful feedback from early readers about this story, and it means the world to see so many people connecting with Dane and Evangeline. I have a whole week's worth of festivities planned to celebrate the book's launch, including lots of special features here on the blog.
Today, I'm sharing a sneak peek of the whole first chapter of Just Might Work! Take a look at the release week celebration schedule below and then keep scrolling to read the preview.
“I thought you said this was a job for sexy people!”
“It is!” Jonah spreads his hands, which are covered in black gloves shaped like cloven hoofs. “We’re sexy cows.”
He tries to put his hands on his hips, but the inflatable cow costume he’s wearing doesn’t have a waist for him to rest them on, so he ends up patting the suit’s spherical sides instead. The battery-powered inflator fan inside the costume whines extra loud to compensate for repelling the pressure.
“You said this was going to be like promoting a club,” I argue.
“It is! It’s exactly like promoting a club.” He takes a few wobbling steps forward. “Except we’re on skates and dressed as cows, and instead of enticing people into a club, we’re trying to get them to buy milk products made in Quebec.”
I look down at my own inflatable suit and then back at Jonah, doing everything I can to convey how much I hate him right now in a single stare.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he says, waving off my disdain with his hoof. “A job is a job. This pays surprisingly well, and if we do good today, they’ll take us on tomorrow too.”
I sigh and shoot him another glare, but I join him in inching towards the door flaps of the tiny staff tent we’re standing in. A medic is sitting on one of the benches, engrossed by his phone. Other than that, it’s just me, Jonah, and the constant whir of our costumes’ fans as they surround us like bulbous, black and white balloons.
We have udders.
“Here, take these.”
Jonah shoves a few pamphlets featuring a sheet of milk discount coupons into my hoofed hands. I clutch the glossy pages and stare at the rink through the gap in the tent’s entrance flaps.
I haven’t skated since last winter. I’ve only been standing on my skates for a couple minutes now, and my ankles are already starting to ache.
We have a four hour shift ahead of us.
“Don’t you think it’s kind of weird that a milk company is the main sponsor of an outdoor skating rink in downtown Montreal?”
Jonah shrugs, or at least I think he does. It’s hard to tell what’s happening under the costume.
“No weirder than any other sponsor.”
He goes to part the tent’s flaps, but I reach my pamphlets out to swat him before he can manage to expose us to the crowd out there laughing, shouting, and skating around.
“What?” he demands. He tries to glance over his shoulder, but the inflatable layer around his head and neck limits his range of motion too much. He shifts around to face me instead.
I bite back a laugh. If I weren’t wearing the same thing, I’d be killing myself laughing at the little horns and floppy ears adorning his head. The edge of the costume is cinched around his face like a hoodie with the drawstrings pulled way too tight, which keeps the air locked in.
Thankfully, they didn’t require us to put any cow face paint on.
“What is it?” he asks again.
“It’s just...” I look down past the sphere that is my torso to the bright pink udders below. “We’re seriously going out there like this? I look like I have four dicks.”
“Yeah, and I’m using these four dicks to pay for one dick,” he says with an emphatic crotch grab. “Come on. You know you need the money too.”
Jonah is saving up for bottom surgery, and I’m saving up to start my photography business once I move back to my hometown of Vancouver, but the sweet song of cash calls to us both. We’ve been partners in money making escapades since we got in a fight at a temporary catering gig three years ago. To this day, he still swears it was my fault we crashed into each other and destroyed two trays full of expensive glassware holding even more expensive champagne.
We bonded after our boss forced us to spend the rest of the evening on dishwashing duty, which we spent bitching about how much it was screwing us both over to miss out on tips. We’ve been hunting down money-making opportunities like this together ever since.
Not that we’ve ever done something quite like this before.
“There’s gonna be, like, girls out there,” I complain. “Hot girls, and I’m dressed like a literal cow. Why did you tell me they wanted attractive people for this? Was that just to get me to say yes?”
“They really did!” he protests. “I had to send in photos of both of us. I didn’t know about the cow thing until this morning.”
I squint. “You sent a photo of me to a random Craig’s List ad person?”
“Did I mention how well it pays? In cash?”
I stare for a moment longer and then give in and shake my head. Truth be told, this is far from the sketchiest thing we’ve done together.
Jonah turns back to the tent flaps and throws them open before I can come up with another excuse. The bright sunlight of the January afternoon leaves me blinded for a few seconds as I blink to make my eyes adjust. The rink materializes in front of me, the wide expanse of ice filled with families and couples in puffy winter clothing. Everyone moves in slow laps along the oval perimeter lined with boards advertising the milk company we’re here to promote.
“So we just skate up to them and give them these?” I ask, wincing when a few teenagers pass by and point shamelessly at our udders while making suggestive milking gestures.
“That’s the plan.”
Jonah digs the blades of his skates into the ice and pushes off, joining the tie of people that carries him away from me. I watch his horns as they bob along with the crowd before I take a deep breath.
Time to hustle.
I dig my skate blades into the ice and blink a few more times as I propel myself forward into the full glare of the sun. I’m so busy trying to remember how to brake on skates that I don’t notice the gorgeous blonde woman in a cream-coloured coat headed straight for me until it’s too late.
I swerve to avoid her, almost lose my balance, and fling my arms out to keep myself upright. My left hand collides with something spongy, the soft thump followed by a shriek.
“What the hell, cow? You just hit me in the tit!”
I drop my arms—as far as they can be dropped in the globular costume—and do an awkward little shuffle to face the blonde’s brunette friend, who it seems I have indeed just wacked in the tit with my hoof.
Both of them are glaring at me, rooted in place as the rest of the crowd surges around us.
“Well?” the blonde asks, raising an arched brow and tilting her head.
I clear my throat and thrust a pamphlet out toward her. “Got...milk?”
She scowls, and the brunette scoffs as she keeps rubbing her chest.
I clear my throat yet again, reaching deep inside myself to summon the part of me that’s good at customer service. After all the years of seasonal retail work, catering, promo gigs, and a brief stint in tour guiding, it’s become a necessary reflex.
“My apologies, ladies. I was blinded by the sun, and perhaps your radiant beauty. Please accept these coupons for some fine Quebec dairy as my condolences for the inconvenience.”
The blonde takes the pamphlet after a couple seconds of me wiggling the paper at her. She pinches the edge between her forefinger and thumb.
The brunette’s eyes narrow even as she tosses her hair over her shoulder. “Are you hitting on us?”
“Uh...” I reach to smooth my own hair out of my eyes, acting on habit, and then remember my spiky bangs and short layers are all smushed under the elasticized edge of my cow hood. “I mean normally when I hit on people, I don’t literally hit them, but this does have the makings of a really great meet-cute.”
They both gawk at me like I’ve started speaking another language. A thunk from further up the rink distracts me from whatever social disaster my reality has become. I glance over to see Jonah has collapsed against the boards lining the rink as he shakes with laughter while watching the scene unfold.
I fight the urge to give him the finger.
“Okay, well, we’re not into girls,” the blonde says before she leans in a little closer to squint at me. “You are a girl, right?”
Before I can stop it, a strangled chuckle bursts out of me.
‘Are you a girl?’ is a question I would literally pay a million dollars to have someone answer for me. All I know for sure about my gender is that it confuses the hell out of me. I started using they/them pronouns and going by the name Dane right after high school, when I realized my identity lies somewhere beyond the boundaries of just ‘girl.’ I also know I’m not a man, but everything else is still a mystery the Gender Gods have yet to reveal.
The women exchange a look, and I lift my hoof in a wave before they can give me an opportunity to provide Jonah with even more entertainment.
“Enjoy your coupons!” I say as I push off on my skates and start heading over to meet him.
My rudimentary skating skills are coming back to me now, and I manage to avoid any tit-whacking misdemeanours when I come to a stop beside him and prop my elbow on top of the boards.
“Having fun?” I ask with a glare.
He wipes actual tears out of his eyes and lets out a few final snorts. “Did you hit her in the boob?”
I roll my eyes. “She deserved it.”
“I’ve gotta say, watching you skate around in this costume is worth having to wear one myself.”
I tap my stack of pamphlets against the boards as he fights off another laugh attack. “How the hell do you even find these kinds of gigs?”
He shrugs, the costume bobbing a little to indicate his shoulders have moved. “The same way you do.”
“Yeah, but yours are always way weirder than mine.”
He scoffs. “And yours are always way sketchier than mine. You have to admit this one is very wholesome—literally. It’s a coupon for whole milk.”
He points at a perforated section of the pamphlets, and I groan while he laughs at his own joke.
“Come on,” he continues. “Admit this is a way better experience than that time you got us a weekend gig delivering ‘top secret props’ for the ‘film industry.’”
He mimes little quotation marks with his hooves, and I almost give in and laugh.
“You have no way to prove there weren’t Marvel props in those boxes,” I argue. “They had to be very secretive when they were filming here.”
“So they hired a couple twenty-one year-olds to drive their props across the city?”
“Jonah, Jonah, Jonah.” I shake my head. “We are just going to have to agree to disagree on this one.”
Truth be told, he’s right; that gig was sketchy as fuck. In the two years since, I’ve learned to be a bit more discerning in my hunt for quick cash.
“Just as long as you know I’m not delivering anything with you ever again,” he quips as he
straightens up and pushes off the boards. “Come on. We have coupons to inflict on people.”
* * *
Four hours later, my ankles feel like limp noodles, the tip of my nose and all my fingers and toes are frozen, and my voice is getting hoarse from accosting so many skaters with my offerings of discounted milk.
After the fumble with the brunette and blonde duo, I got into my interpersonal groove and managed to elicit some laughs and thank-you’s during the rest of my pamphlet deliveries. The guy Jonah got the job from called us over to the edge of the rink half an hour ago and told us we could work again tomorrow, so despite the chill working its way into the marrow of my bones, I’m grinning when I meet Jonah at the edge of the rink, both our stacks of pamphlets gone.
“Success!” he crows. “Put it up, my bovine homie.”
We join our hooves in a high-five before I tug at the edge of the tight hood surrounding my face. “I cannot wait to get this fucking thing off.”
We’re about to head for the staff tent when the sound of someone calling my name makes me shuffle around to scan the rink.
I hone in on the voice, and my eyes widen before quickly narrowing when I spot my roommate getting up from one of the benches arranged along the outside of the boards.
Jonah shuffles up beside me. “Is that Evangeline?”
I sigh. “The one and only.”
He elbows the side of my costume. “Can’t you just be nice? She’s really not that bad.”
I raise my eyebrows. “Jonah, she’s insufferable.”
We both watch as Evangeline trudges along the packed-down snow to get to us. Her ash blonde hair is tucked under a pink knitted hat with a pompom on top, and her scarf and gloves are a matching hue. Her oversized, thin-framed glasses glint in the sunlight, and when she gets close enough for us to carry a conversation, I see her pale cheeks and the bridge of her nose are stained pink from the cold too.
She’d be adorable if she weren’t such a tyrannical roommate. I have actual nightmares about all the ‘chore charts’ she has pinned to our kitchen walls. I’ve spent the two years we’ve been living together attempting to coexist in a state of mutual yet peaceful disdain, but I can barely go two days without her pounding on my door to tell me about whatever house rule I’ve apparently broken.
“Wow, Dane! It really is you. You’re...” Her gaze darts up and down the two of us. “A cow?”
I bob my head. “So it would appear.”
She looks at Jonah and lifts her hand in a wave. “Hey, Jonah.”
He waves back. “What’s up, Evangeline?”
She shrugs, her thin shoulders rising under her pale green coat. “The usual. I was studying at McGill all day, and then my friend Chloe convinced me to get some fresh air here and check out the rink before calling it a day. She just left.”
“Oh, so you’re heading home now? We should all go together.” Jonah slings an arm around my inflated shoulders and gives me a jostle that forces me to dig my skate blades in extra hard to keep from tipping over. “I’m coming over for dinner. We can all take the metro together.”
Evangeline’s blue-green eyes slide over to me as she purses her lips. “That’s fine. I don’t want to intrude. I’ll see you later.”
She adjusts her hat and the straps of her floral backpack before giving us a final nod and turning to head to the nearest sidewalk.
I stare after her, watching the final rosy red streak of fading sunlight slant between two mirrored skyscrapers just as her path brings her in perfect alignment with the beam. The snow under her feet glows like hot coals, her shadow stretching out in stark contrast.
My hands ache for my camera, and before I can stop myself, I pull off my hoof gloves and arrange my thumbs and forefingers in a photo-shaped rectangle in front of my face.
I squeeze one of my eyes shut and frame Evangeline with my fingers, freezing the moment in my mind with a satisfying click.
“And you say you don’t like her,” Jonah drawls.
His voice makes my jump, and I turn away to start leading us to the tent so I can hide the heat rising in my cheeks.
“It was just a good shot,” I say. “I do not like her, and she does not like me. You saw how sour-faced she got at the thought of riding the metro with me.”
“Okay, one: no one under the age of sixty uses the phrase ‘sour-faced.’ Two: I think if you just gave each other a chance, you could at least be friends. Why don’t you want to be friends with your roommate? It makes things a lot easier.”
We reach the tent, and I peel one of the flaps back to usher him inside. The medic is out supervising the mass exodus of skaters heading home for dinner, so we’ve got the small space to ourselves. We both reach for our costumes’ off switches and sigh in relief when the buzzing of the inflator fans goes silent.
“I think not being friends with my roommate is working out pretty great,” I answer as I peel the hood off my head, a whoosh of air escaping. I rub the line the elastic has indented into the skin of my forehead. “We keep to ourselves as much as we can, and it works—unless she’s on one of her chore rampages. Why would I want to risk waking the beast with an offer of friendship? You’re starting to sound like ma tante.”
“Hey, I take that as a compliment. Your aunt is one bad bitch.”
He’s peeled his own hood off now, and his light brown hair is plastered to his head in sweaty clumps. I’m sure mine doesn’t look any better.
“Tante Noelle is the coolest person ever,” I agree, “except for her weird and inexplicable obsession with setting me up with Evangeline.”
He sits down on one of the benches and tugs at the zipper running down the side of the costume. A gust of air bursts out before the black and white fabric sags against his clothes underneath. We both chuckle at the crumpled cow effect.
“Doesn’t your aunt have weird and inexplicable obsessions with setting everyone up?”
“Yeah, she believes it’s part of her soul’s destiny to be a matchmaker,” I answer, “which is usually fine and honestly surprisingly successful, except for this thing with me and Evangeline. I don’t know where she got the idea. Like, the two of us are literally complete opposites in every way except for our shared desire for cheap rent, and who doesn’t want cheap rent?”
Ma tante owns the walk-up in the Plateau that Evangeline and I have been renting for a ridiculously cheap price for the past two years. Since Tante Noelle spends most of the year off gallivanting in far-flung destinations and attending spiritual retreats, we’re somewhere between house sitters and tenants.
Jonah shakes his head. “Yeah, I still can’t believe she lets you two rent that whole house for next to nothing. If either of us swung that way, I’d say you should convince Noelle I’m your soul mate and let me move in too. Your boy could use some extra savings.”
I abandon my attempt to undo my skate laces and reach over to pat Jonah’s shoulder instead. “We’re gonna get you that surgery, man.”
He closes his hand over mine for a moment. “And we’re gonna get you back to Vancouver, even though you’re gonna break my fucking heart when you go.”
I chuckle. “Well, that’s still a ways off.”
I try not to wince as I think about just how far off it really is. Sometimes Vancouver feels as far away as the dim pinprick of a star in a far-off galaxy, a galaxy where my parents never uprooted all our lives to move across the country, a galaxy where everything went right instead of wrong.
The sound of the tent flap opening helps me brush off the thought. The guy who hired us walks in, two stacks of twenty-dollar bills clutched in his weathered hands.
One step closer to home.
Grab your copy here!