Sideswiped by Lauren Alsten #RomCom #agegap @LaurenAlsten

How many times will Tara swipe right before realizing her perfect lover is already in her bed?

Jared might be stuck in an unfulfilling job, but he knows what he wants to be doing. He also knows who he wants to be with — Tara, a.k.a. The Goth Girl Next Door he’s fantasized about for years. He’s not bothered by their age difference, but everyone else seems to be. Tara thinks he’s just a plaything, his brother thinks she’s a witch, and his parents think she’s trouble.

Jared thinks she’s perfect.

Tara loves her job as a sex streamer, but since quarantine, she’s tired of flying solo. Then she teams up with her zygote of a neighbor, and her tips soar. So does her pleasure, yet she keeps swiping, searching for a mature, responsible LTR-worthy man.

Jared’s convinced he’s everything she needs, but can they keep their relationship hot without their passion self-destructing?

Get it at Changeling Press

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Lauren Alsten

“I offer people who are bored with their lives new ways of dealing with situations. You know, encourage them to explore their options. Around the house. Decorating, and… stuff.” She plucks out some threads, tossing them on the floor before smoothing her hands down her thighs.

I stroke my chin in mock contemplation, but instead of making me look wise, it pushes my mask up my nose and into my eyes. I bump it back down and stifle the nervous urge to cough. “How does one manage one’s lifestyle situations, exactly?” Now that we’re conversing instead of eyeing each other up, I hold the advantage. Visually, she owns me, because while I look at her, my mind turns to mush. However, verbal repartee is my strong suit.

Her so-called Lifestyle Management Blog is a front. I know this; she knows this. But she doesn’t know I know. I mean, what twenty-one-year-old guy gives a shit about lifestyle management? The blog we’re pretending to talk about does exist, but she only posts on it once or twice a month. Her real moneymaker is most likely her live sex stream and blog, where she directs, and acts out, scandalous sexual encounters. Of course, there are lots of costumes and masks involved. She’s never revealed too much of her face. Other things, I have intimate knowledge of. I clutch the pillow tighter.

The reason I know about her blogs at all is because of remote office hours. In between researching company stock histories, I fuck around on social media. My brother posted something on Facebook about his law firm’s company picnic, and Allie had liked it. Out of curiosity, I clicked on her profile, thinking she’d lead me to Tara.

Allie’s page was filled with books, and her friends list didn’t include her sister. I scrolled through two years of library news and craft shit until I hit paydirt: a photo of both sisters, captioned We may be different, but we both love our jobs! P.S. Mine’s temporary!

The women held up their arms. Tara’s wrist sported a slightly red, brand new tattoo while Allie’s sparkled with a butterfly decal. They were tagged at Tats-n-Sticks Tattoo & Body Mod Shop just inside the city. I clicked the link. Tara wasn’t in many photos, but Pages Liked by This Page included one called Downright Dirty.

Now, I’ve researched a lot of porn sites — how else is a guy supposed to learn? — but the cover image of Downright Dirty drew me in immediately. It featured a masked woman, her red-streaked, black hair framing her face as she towered over a bound man spread-eagle on a bed. Something about the tilt of her head, the curve of her shoulder… and a bright red cherry tattoo on her right shoulder blade. I zoomed in to confirm it was the same one I’d seen years ago during her bike-washing bonanza. Tara working at a tat shop that liked an X-rated page whose owner sported the exact same tat? Not a coincidence.

Downright Dirty streams live three days a week. Solo, or with a partner, she and her chat audience would compose the stories, which she’d complete a few days later and sell along with high-res images for 10 a pop. I’d read a few before I started chafing. The site also sold glossy stills of her in high heels, leather, pleather, latex, vinyl, whips, chains, clamps, other assorted goodies, you name it. Her blog’s been active for over ten years with an archive of video shorts. For two weeks, I’d watched her shows and tipped her outrageously, although I had a hard time watching her with other men. With normal porn and stream sites, a lot of the women looked fake and none of their orgasms seemed real. Tara looked like she really enjoyed it.

This is all past tense because I no longer watch at all. She isn’t some hot, naked rando anymore. She has a name, and since I wanted to meet her for real, it feels… wrong to watch.

“Let’s not pretend you’re interested in interior decorating or color palettes. What have you been up to lately?”

I won’t cop to scouring the Wall Street Journal every morning, so instead I admit, “Working, remotely, like most people. Slacking off a bit.”

She tilts her head a familiar angle. “Slacking off how?”

“I used to doomscroll. Now I bingestream.”

“Seen anything interesting?”

For a split second, I consider coming clean and answering, “You.” Then she squeezes my forearm. I swallow hard. My memory fills in the parts of her face I can’t see. I wonder if she’s wearing her usual bold red, purple, or black lipstick.

Schitt’s Creek. Parks and Recreation, Catastrophe. Buffy –”

Fuck. That last one just slipped.

She sits up straighter. “You watch Buffy the freaking Vampire Slayer?”

Schitt’s Creek is fucking genius. And Parks is hyster –”

“Buffy. The freaking. Vampire. Slayer. Own it, Jared.”

I throw my hands up. “Fine. Owned. Sarah Michelle rocks my world. Honestly, it really was a good show.”

What I can see of her face lights up. “You’re right. It was. You know, when I was a teenager.”

Something in her eyes stops me from joking about how long ago that was. While I haven’t dated tons of women, the ones I have were several years older, and you don’t have to be a genius to know joking about their age is a surefire ticket to Schitt’s Creek, without the paddle or the humor.

She turns wistful. “I had a major crush on Angel.”

“I always thought he was kind of a tool –”

“You’re crazy. He was hot.”

I’d just seen him on a Buffy twenty-year reunion cast interview. But I suffer a momentary lapse in my own judgment. “What’s he now, like, fifty-something?”

Her eyebrow lifts. “No clue. How old are you, now? Eighteen-something?”

Ouch. A lesser man would cave. But I am a smart-ass adult.

“I turn twenty-one midnight, tonight. Fully legal at last.”

I’m met with a zombie stare. Zero words. My palms start to sweat as she withdraws her hand, and her attention. Reclining against the couch back, she drapes her arm across her forehead, and sighs.

Before she loses any more interest, I take yet another risk. “I’m throwing a little get-together tonight if you and your sister want to come party with us. I mean, not too many people. Just, you know, a few friends. We have a deck in case people want to hang outside after the game. It’ll be huge. I mean, the hockey game. Blackhawks vs Predators. Actually, the deck is big, too. And there will be, you know, free beer. Liquor. We catered a lot of food. Lasagna, brisket, gourmet sandwiches and tons of other… stuff.”

Jesus Christ, I’m babbling like a twenty-something idiot.

I rub my hands together, contemplating a quick exit. The silence between us turns uncomfortable, but I can’t stand up quite yet.

“A big deck, and… stuff,” she purrs. “Sounds like fun.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

When she’s not obsessing over her latest characters and dreaming up meet-cutes for future books, Lauren Alsten loves photographing wildlife while hiking under a warm sun and bright blue skies. Her writing journey began with A-list movie star fan fiction, but these days she prefers penning humorous tales of emotional upheaval served with a side of snark. She currently lives with two ungrateful cats who never lift a paw to help around the house.