Perfect Drink: Green tea latte with coconut milk and raw honey.
Perfect Fashion Icon: The Duchess of Cambridge. Always on point with her fashion, dressing appropriately for every occasion and not afraid to recycle things from her wardrobe, I truly admire her class and style.
Perfect Place: Seattle.
Perfect Activity for Relaxation: Yoga. I’m terrible at it, but I’m determined to perfect downward dog. Someday.
For Seattle blogger Payton James, life is all about trying to achieve perfection. Payton is determined to be her best self in all areas, and she refuses to rest until she achieves it.
However, an imperfect moment in a coffee shop completely changes Payton’s life. When her drink order gets switched by mistake, Payton finds herself face-to-face with a gorgeous British man named Brooks. Payton is instantly attracted to the witty stranger who is quick with his words—and has a beautiful smile.
Brooks is an exotic veterinarian with a huge passion for animals. Heartache in his past has led him to focusing on his career out of fear of getting hurt again. But there’s something about Payton that makes this vet want to know more about the bubbly blogger he has met via fate—and has him reconsidering his stance on love.
But will Brooks ever be free of his fears to truly open his heart? And will Payton’s drive for perfection cost her the one thing she loves most? Or will she learn to embrace imperfections?
And maybe perfect is the one thing Payton doesn’t want after all . . .
Today’s plan to improve myself item: To achieve perfect physical health, I will attend the early morning yoga class. And enjoy a green tea latte to go from Coffee By Jules, with coconut milk and raw honey.
“Bring yourself to a sitting position,” Alanna says as she walks around the yoga studio. “Nice and tall. Close your eyes. Let the tension flow from your body . . .”
I sit on my yoga mat, breathing in and exhaling according to Alanna’s instructions.
“Clear your mind,” Alanna continues over the new age music that fills the room. “No distractions.”
Nope, not distracted. I, Payton James, am completely focused on my yoga practice. After all, one can’t perfect yoga without total devotion to the pose at hand.
I wonder if I can find an affordable copy of that ISSA wrap dress that the Duchess of Cambridge loves for my blog?
Gah! No! No thoughts of my blog.
I really want to duplicate that look for my readers this week.
I mentally bitch slap myself. Focus. Yoga. Health. Not my work.
I squint and glance around the studio. Students still have their eyes shut. Oh, come on, surely I’m not the only one who has a wandering mind, right?
“Breathe in,” Alanna says, “and breathe out. Be in the moment.”
I dutifully close my eyes. Yes. Back in the moment.
I wonder if I can find those super cute Kate Spade yoga pants on sale?
Okay. So it’s going to take me a long time to get in the moment with yoga.
But I’m totally in the moment with Kate Spade yoga clothing. And with planning my next fashion find blog for my Duchess of Cambridge fashion website.
I blink as the entire class says the word in unison. Oh, crap. I totally got lost in thought and missed closing hands to heart chakra and saying, “Namaste,” while bowing my head.
I can see perfecting my yoga is going to be a very long process.
I sigh and roll up my yoga mat. As I do, I feel someone staring at me. I look up and see the fiftyish woman who was practicing to my left studying me.
“Don’t worry, little cherub,” she says sweetly as she puts her designer yoga bag over her shoulder. “You’ll move past downward-facing dog. Hopefully.”
Then she laughs and pats her bobbed platinum hair before heading off with her friends.
I frown. Did she really call me “cherub”? Cherub? Why, because I have golden, curly hair? And just because she can twist herself into a freaking pretzel while I am a ten on the inflexible scale doesn’t mean I’ll never move past downward-facing dog.
She was totally a mean girl in high school. I can tell.
“Payton,” Alanna says, moving over to me and interrupting my thoughts, “remember at the end of class that your mind should be calm. I sense that you are running on a very high energy today.”
I frown. Obviously, Alanna doesn’t have a part-time job as a professional errand runner and Duchess Kate fashion blogger. And while my brain is constantly in motion—thinking, dreaming, planning—I think Alanna lives in the moment she’s in.
I sigh. If yoga weren't considered such a wonderful thing to do for health, I’d reevaluate what I was doing here.
“I’ll work on that,” I say determinedly as I put my bright pink yoga mat into my bag.
I’m incredibly stubborn about wanting to perfect anything I do. And I want to show pretzel-woman that I can be a pretzel, too.
“Have a great week,” Alanna says, smiling at me. “And practice some meditation. It will help you calm your mind. I have beginner sessions on my YouTube channel if you want to try one.”
Argh. Meditation? I have a hard enough time getting through yoga, and I get to move with that. I can’t imagine simply sitting still and trying to visualize a beach while listening to waves or my inner thoughts or whatever you do when you meditate. The mere idea of trying to sit and simply be gives me hives.
“Um, okay,” I say, not promising anything. “Have a good week!”
I walk out of class and into the bustling Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. It’s a beautiful June morning, with bright sunshine even though it’s only seven o’clock. The temperature is going to be in the upper sixties later, a beautiful day. Full sun! But since it’s cool out now, I’m glad I have my coordinating workout jacket over my black and white yoga top and matching capris.
I stroll down the street, my brain mentally flipping the pages in my planner which is tucked inside my purse. Today. June 5. I want to complete an article for my blog, Payton’s Take on Kate, where I showcase the fabulous, utterly perfect style of Kate Middleton and how I re-envision the look with different pieces at all price points.
While my parents are mortified that I graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in marketing but am now working as an errand runner and Kate blogger, I have to follow my heart. I love fashion and blogging; I love meeting people from around the world who want to discuss Kate’s latest public appearance outfit and if they can get that beloved ISSA dress on sale.
My long-term vision is for the blog to be a success financially. I can make money from advertising and then have my Kate blog feed into my lifestyle blog, Payton’s Take on Living, where I chronicle my lifestyle in Ballard, Washington, post-graduation. I have a business plan. I want to publish some lifestyle books based off my Living blog, in addition to some e-booklets I want to write.
But Mom and Dad think I’m ridiculous. They want me to be more like my older sister, Sophie. Sophie, who is a research scientist with a pharmaceutical firm in Seattle. Oh, and is married to an equally successful contracts attorney with a beautiful baby boy named Connor. Mom is obsessed with the idea that I’ll be running errands my entire life. Dad keeps asking why I “can’t go work at Google and do a real job?”
Because you know, apparently everyone in Seattle wants a job at Google.
Anyway, errand running supports my vision. I mentally go back to June 5th. I can see in my planner that my first appointment isn’t until nine, when I will work with a new client in the Ravenna neighborhood. I’m not sure what errands I will be doing for her, but I’m booked out all day. I hope that I’ll get to walk dogs or something that involves being outside.
I reach my location and tug open the door to Coffee By Jules, the bells clanging against it as I do. Ah, bliss. I inhale the wonderful aroma of freshly brewed coffee filling the space, one of the most comforting scents in the world as far as I’m concerned. Even if I prefer to drink tea instead.
I head across the old hardwood floors of the shop, which has an eclectic, homey vibe to it. There’s already a line at the counter. I step closer and readjust the band on my ponytail, which is keeping my long, blonde curls out of my face. There. Better.
I wait patiently as I listen to Enya playing from the overhead speakers. I scan the counter and see Maureen is at the register - must be her Monday on, and Brad the barista and oh, I spot a new girl. She’s young like me, early twenties, and she has jet-black hair with purple streaks and a nose-ring. She seems flustered by all the activity going on around her, and I would be, too. Orders are being called out right and left, and she’s trying to scribble on cups, which I see are stacking up on the counter.
“What does this say?” Brad barks, holding a cup to her.
She chews her lower lip, which has a deep purple lipstick applied on it. “Mmmm . . . I . . . I don’t remember!”
Brad lets out a sigh as the door clangs again, the bells chiming over Enya to announce a customer coming or going.
“Carrie, what was your order?” Brad yells out over the hissing of the espresso machines.
“Double shot Americano,” Carrie speaks up.
“Oh, D. D for double,” the new barista nods.
I finally make it up to Maureen, who smiles at me. She knows my order without even asking.
“One green tea latte with coconut milk and one squirt raw honey for Payton,” Maureen calls out.
I glance at the new girl. She appears paralyzed by my order.
“Do you ever get anything different? Earl Grey latte? Lavender tea latte?” Maureen asks as she rings up my order.
I smile. “Nope. My green tea latte is the perfect healthy drink for my morning,” I declare. “Once you achieve perfection, why mess with it?”
I hand her my debit card, and she swipes it. I thank her and retrieve my phone out of my purse, scooting down toward the drink pick up area at the end of the counter.
I swipe open my email and see that one of my readers—a girl named Jo in Lancashire, England—has a lead on a sale at Temperley London, one of Kate’s favorite designers. Yes! Now I can do a Temperley sale feature on the blog today. I quickly message her back, thanking her for the heads up. I’ll need to post it today.
See? This is what I love about my job, connecting with someone from across the Atlantic because of a mutual love of Kate’s style. Jo is so fun—we even chat on WhatsApp—and I can’t wait to go back to the UK to meet her someday.
So many people wonder why I love Kate so much. Besides the fact that I’m utterly fascinated with all things related to the United Kingdom, it’s simple, really. She is pure class. Kate is always appropriate. Whether she’s doing an official visit, running errands, or attending a gala, she’s perfection in her choices. And while I don’t duplicate every outfit myself—after all, she is a duchess and I’m simply Payton of Ballard, ha!—I do find inspiration in her wardrobe for being an elegant woman.
“Orders for Payton and Brooks,” purple-haired barista girl yells out, pushing two cups across the counter.
I reach for one, and so does a guy behind me. Our arms brush against each other, and I immediately pull my arm away.
I turn around to say, “I’m sorry,” but as soon as I do, the words evaporate on my tongue.
Because I’m completely paralyzed by the brown eyes of the hottest man I’ve ever seen.
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