Jen was a romantic who loved weddings. From the time she was a little
girl, she had daydreamed about her own, conjuring up elaborate fantasies
about the dress, cake, and flowers. And so when she got an invitation to
attend her friend, Carly’s, festive nuptials in Reno, she immediately
RSVP’d that she’d be there.
Getting out of Las Vegas for a fun-filled, relaxing weekend was just
what Jen needed. She was still on a leave of absence from her job as a
pop-out girl, a gig she loved that entailed emerging from a six-foot,
multi-tiered cake and then singing, dancing, and stripping down to a
teensy bikini for hordes of admiring guests at special events.
Curvy, blond Jen was a huge hit, one of the most popular girls at
Stripper Grams. But after a scary car crash, she had gone on leave and
was now filling her days with dance classes, lunches with friends, and
singing lessons. None of that got her through the weekends, though,
which were long and lonely without Colton, her boyfriend who was out in
San Francisco recovering from injuries sustained in that same freakish
accident. Carly’s invitation couldn’t have come at a better time.
Jen’s very cool, cocktail-waitress mother, Brandi, ran all over town
with her to find the perfect dress. They finally chose a dove-gray silk
and lace gown that would work well for a winter wedding. Jen was going
to make the seven-hour drive to Reno with her friend, Brianna, another
pop-out girl and one of Carly’s six bridesmaids.
On a cold, dreary Friday morning in January 2017, an excited Jen waited
to be picked up at eight. At least that’s what she’d told her mom,
who was still at work, earlier. She had packed a suitcase and was
flitting around the house, doing last-minute chores.
At the stroke of seven, the doorbell rang. For an instant, Jen wondered
why Brianna would arrive an hour early, but she was pumped to go so she
flung open the door. To her horror, it wasn’t Brianna. There on the
doorstep stood Zane Hollister, her toxically jealous ex-boyfriend
who’d been making her life hell since he got out of prison six months
Jen’s heart dropped. She gasped in fright and tried to close the door,
but Zane quickly shoved his arm out and blocked her. She stared up at
him, six feet of dark, brooding menace in black jeans and a worn biker
jacket, hovering over her. His neck-length dark hair was a bit ragged
and disheveled, his brown eyes glassy and bloodshot. He was obviously
high on pills, maybe uppers, maybe downers, maybe a combination of both.
“Hey beautiful, what’s up?” he purred in a slightly slurry,
faux-light voice as he barged into the house, closing the door behind
“Zane, what are you doing here?” Jen cried, throwing her hands up.
“I can’t talk to you right now. I’m leaving for Reno in a few
“Yeah, I know. Brianna’s boyfriend is one of my posse, remember? He
tipped me she was driving you, so I thought I’d swing by and grab you
first. The early bird gets the worm, right? I’m taking you to Reno
Excerpted from "Pop-Out Girl" by Irene Woodbury. Copyright © 2017 by Irene Woodbury. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Irene Woodbury’s third novel, POP-OUT GIRL (2017), pushes a lot of buttons. It’s a gripping look at the tumultuous life of a 23-year-old showgirl-wannabe named Jen Conover who pops out of cakes at special events in Las Vegas for a living. The novel offers riveting glimpses into the loves, lives, triumphs, and tragedies of Jen’s family and friends as well. Irene grew up in Pittsburgh, and has lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Denver. The University of Houston 1993 graduate also called Texas home for seven years. Her writing career began In 2000. After five years as a successful travel writer, she switched to fiction. Irene’s first novel, the humorous A SLOT MACHINE ATE MY MIDLIFE CRISIS, was published in 2011. The darkly dramatic A DEAD END IN VEGAS followed in 2014. POP-OUT GIRL is another dramatic effort. With her husband, Richard, editing, Irene completed the novel in eighteen months. She hopes audiences will enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it.
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