To tell you the tale of John Gayhart Johnson: Business Centaur, I must first tell you the tale of a book.
Some years ago, while attending a conference in Chicago, I found myself very drunk in a hotel room with Bronwyn Green and Rebel Cowboy, which had been given away as a party favor at dinner. Also given away at dinner were small boxes of elegant chocolates. As I drunkenly tried to put one in my mouth, I dropped it. Despite Bronwyn’s shriek of horror, I picked the chocolate up from the hotel room carpet upon which countless loads have very likely been blown and in a moment I am not proud of…I ate the floor candy.
At some later point, Bronwyn’s gaze fell upon Rebel Cowboy and she noted that the woman on the front “looks like a motorcycle centaur.”
I must make it absolutely clear that no part of this story should be interpreted as mocking the text inside Rebel Cowboy. I really enjoyed this book, it’s a fantastic contemporary romance, and if you’re in the mood for a heroine with a complicated family situation and a hero who’s an ex-hockey player turned llama rancher, you will enjoy this book, as well. Here’s the Amazon link. Consider it my strongest possible recommendation. But the unfortunate angle of the model on the cover really does, in my opinion, and Bronwyn’s, look as though the heroine’s lower body is the motorcycle the hero is straddling:
Through non-stop tears of laughter, we created a ridiculous backstory. The unfortunate heroine had eaten a piece of floor candy and contracted a terrible disease. The only way to save her life was to amputate her lower body and fuse her torso to a motorcycle. About a month later, floor candy and motorcycle centaurs insinuated themselves into the language of our writing retreat.
And then, it happened.
He came into our lives on a majestic wave of inspiration. I was talking about my favorite topic: people whose names are repetitive. Donald Donaldson. Jeff Jefferson. Dick Richards. Names that these people’s parents should have fucking well known better about. And at that moment, one of my friends blurted:
“I know someone named John Gayhart Johnson!”
Time stopped and the room hung suspended in this glorious moment of creation. I don’t remember who said what. But I do know that someone said, “That sounds like a businessman,” and another person, whom I am almost certain was me, shouted, “John Gayhart Johnson: Business Centaur!”
John G. Johnson, Business Centaur, became an inside joke in our group. The next year at retreat, they presented me with this:
Yes, that is a John Gayhart Johnson, Business Centaur action figure that Bronwyn Green lovingly created out of one of her kids’ old toys. We had a hearty laugh, especially after they reminded me that it was I who thought up the ridiculous idea of a business centaur, hence the gift. I’m still not sure that’s how that worked out but I guess I have to trust the memories of five other people.
Obviously, the joke had now run its course. After all, once you create an action figure of something, there’s really nowhere to go.
Or so I thought, forgetting that I am friends with writers.
This year, when we all assembled at the cabin, Bronwyn Green, Jess Jarman, Kris Norris, and two other people whose identities I will protect, presented me with two small, wrapped boxes. In one was a John G. Johnson, Business Centaur action figure.
“Why would you make another one?” I asked Bronwyn.
She proudly declared, “I didn’t. That’s the one from your office.”
Bronwyn lives fifty miles from me, yet she waited until she knew I was going to be at a rehearsal, entered my home and took the Business Centaur from my bookshelf. I never noticed he was gone. They gave me another box, this one containing:
“I don’t get it…” I said, before Norris brought this out from behind her back:
Every Business Centaur, it seems, needs his Virgin Temp. Please note the attention to detail: those charms are clips containing the initials of both John Gayhart Johnson and Flicka Star, his love interest. My dastardly friends truly went the extra mile with this, going so far as to create a cover flat and a wildly elaborate corporate espionage centaur plot for the singular goal of using as many horse puns as they could think of.
I can have any filly in the stable…except the one I want.
John Gayhart Johnson: Business Centaur
My business rival has been trying to put me out to pasture for years. And now, he thinks he’s finally found the means to do it—by maneuvering his sister, Flicka, into position as my new temp and forcing her to steal company secrets. I know I should put on my blinders and hoof it away from her as fast as I can, but I can’t resist horsing around a bit first. I’m hungry—but not for oats.
Lady Flicka Star: Virgin Temp
I know my brother’s using me, but I don’t have a choice. He’s wanted revenge on that stud, John, for years, and I want my freedom. My brother has corralled me for far too long, and I’m a shoe-in for this temp position. So what if I have to pony up and seduce my boss to escape the family barn? It’s not as if I’m galloping headfirst into love—oh, neigh, neigh—never that. Besides, a little foalplay never hurt anyone.
You will note that this is indeed a full cover flat, as if for an actual, published book.
Because that is what they now expect it to be.
I, Jenny Trout, will somehow write The Business Centaur’s Virgin Temp. I will have to figure out how to do this without it being about, you know. Getting deflowered by horsecock. That will not happen, this I vow. But since this is so thoroughly ridiculous, so beyond the realm of anything any sensible person would ever want to read, let alone pay to read, I won’t be slotting it into my release schedule.
I’ll be subjecting you to it, instead.
After our recaps of The Mister end, I will set out once again on a marvelous serialized adventure. Through weekly chapters, I will weave you a story of attraction. Of courage. Of love. Of other stuff.
Honestly, I don’t know what this fucking book will be about. But I’m going to write it with the same attention to detail and effort at actually good writing as I do all my other books. I’m going to try to make the absolutely balls-ass ridiculous premise that has been handed to me something that someone, somewhere, might actually enjoy. I will rise to the challenge as is expected of me and I will not let the anti-centaur lobby win. We need more centaurs, especially Business Centaurs. We need John Gayhart Johnson.
The world needs him.
You need him.
And I’m gonna give you all the Business Centaur you can handle.