Missing from Me by Jayne Frost

Today we have the sales blitz for Jayne Frost’s MISSING FROM ME audiobook! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy now!
Title: Missing From Me
Author: Jayne Frost
Genre: Contemporary Romance
About Missing From Me
Sean
As the drummer for the band Caged, I’m the poster boy for living the fucking dream. I’ve got it all. Success. Money. A new woman in my bed every night.
Too bad it’s all a façade.
The only thing I really want, I can’t have — Anna Dresden.
When I decided to follow my dream, she was the price. But I never forgot her. Never moved on.
And then she was there, backstage after one of our shows. That’s when I knew — Anna was mine, would always be mine. And if she gave me a half a chance, I’d convince her.
Anna
When Sean Hudson walked out of my life, he shattered me. Broke me in untold ways. Now it was my turn to run.
The last thing I expected Sean to do was follow. Especially since I was wearing another man’s ring. Never mind it was just for show.
My marriage was over — had been for a year.
But that didn’t matter. Sean was my past. I couldn’t survive his brand of hurt ever again.
Soul mates, he used to call us. Too bad there was no such thing.
Missing From Me
Audible Narrated by: Jacob Morgan and Elena Wolfe
Exclusive Excerpt:

Chapter One

4 YEARS AGO

Sean

The front door slammed, shaking the walls in our small apartment. I snuggled closer to Anna’s side and buried my face in her hair.

Logan’s agitated voice cut through the fog of near sleep.

“Dude, wake up!”

Whatever mess my best friend had gotten himself into, he’d have to solve it on his own. This was one of Anna’s rare mornings off, and since we’d had the apartment to ourselves, we’d stayed up late, listening to the rain and having lazy sex until we’d passed out.

Smiling at the thought of a repeat, I grumbled in Logan’s general direction, “Go away. I don’t have any condoms. Carry your ass to the store like a normal person and leave us alone.”

His footsteps echoed in the tiny room, and then he was beside me, his long fingers digging into my shoulder as he gave me a hard shake. “I’m serious. Get up.”

Not happening.

A frustrated groan escaped my lips when Anna twisted in my arms. She propped herself up on one elbow, wiping the sleep from her eyes. “What do you need, Lo?”

A swift kick in the ass.

Rolling onto my back, I smothered my face with the pillow, hoping he’d get the hint. Of course, he didn’t.

Cursing under his breath, Logan rooted around under the comforter.

“Hey!” I snarled, tossing the pillow at him. “Whatever you’re looking for, I don’t have it.”

Running an agitated hand through his blond hair, Logan glared at me.

“Where’s your remote?” Anxiety laced his tone when I didn’t answer right away. “For the TV, douchebag—where’s the remote?”

Anna fumbled around on the nightstand and then handed him the clunky device. “What’s wrong with the TV in your room?”

Logan walked to the end of the bed and took a seat.

Anna sat up, scowling. “Make it quick.” She slumped against the headboard, glaring at the back of Logan’s head. “Seriously, Lo, hurry up. I have to pee.”

Logan ignored her, all his attention focused on the screen as he flipped through the channels. His shoulders sagged when he reached CNN.

Cable News? Now he had my attention. The only things Logan ever watched were MTV, VH1, or the Cartoon Network.

I popped up to see what was so important, but something told me I didn’t want to know. “What’s going on?”

“Quiet,” Logan whispered.

Buttoning my lip, I reluctantly focused on the screen where a stone-faced commentator stood in a field, fat droplets of rain pelting her microphone.

“. . . live footage from the scene of the tragic accident outside of Fredericksburg, Texas this morning where two members of the super-group Damaged lost their lives in a fiery crash. At this point, we’re unable to confirm the identities of the deceased. Damaged, arguably the hottest band in the country, just completed a series of shows in the Southwest and . . .”

The camera panned out for a wide-angle shot. Wisps of smoke rose from the wreckage, dissolving into the gray morning sky.

A gasp from Anna. “Oh my God.”

She crumbled against me, her small hand curving around my waist as she buried her face in my chest. Unable to make sense of what I was seeing, I stroked her hair with numb fingers.

After a few moments of stunned silence, Logan jumped to his feet. “What the fuck is she smiling about?”

Confused, I blinked at him. “Who?”

“The fucking reporter.” He pointed at the TV with a shaky hand. “What the hell is she grinning for?”

I shifted my gaze back to the screen, and sure as shit, the reporter was smiling. Just a slight upturn of her glossy lips.

I tightened my grip on my girl. “It’s her job, man. She doesn’t . . .” Emotion clogged my throat, and I struggled for breath. For words. “She doesn’t know them.”

But then, neither did we. Not really. Damaged hailed from Austin, our hometown. And over the last five years, as their star ascended, our paths had crossed on occasion.

Our band, Caged, was one of the many groups on Sixth Street that loosely followed the Damaged blueprint. Since high school, we’d been playing the same bars where Damaged got their start, hoping a little of their magic would rub off.

The news report abruptly cut to KVUE, the local ABC affiliate. Terri Gruca, the nighttime anchor, sat stoically behind the half-lit desk, her co-anchor nowhere in sight.

“Thank you, Sandy.” Terri blinked into the camera. “We’ve just got word at the studio that Rhenn Grayson, lead singer for the Grammy winning band Damaged, and Paige Dawson, lead guitarist, were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident on Highway 290 this morning.” She looked down at the copy wobbling in her shaking hand. “Rhenn’s wife, singer Tori Grayson, and drummer, Miles Cooper, were airlifted to Brackenridge Hospital via Care Flight. According to band manager, Taryn Ayers, Mrs. Grayson and Mr. Cooper are both in critical condition. The bus driver was also pronounced dead at the crash site.” Still photos of Rhenn and Paige appeared on a split screen in the background behind Terri’s head. “Our prayers go out to the families. After a brief commercial break, we’ll cut to the CNN studio for further updates on this tragedy and a look back at the lives of these two gifted musicians.”

My head pounded as a commercial for toaster strudel flickered across the screen. Smiling faces and cheery voices, touting the virtue of strawberry jam tucked inside a fluffy pastry shell. Somewhere, people were probably eating that shit.

But not Rhenn or Paige.

“They were twenty-four years old,” Logan murmured.

As he turned to face me, questions clouded his arctic blue eyes. The same questions I’d seen every day since the first time we met. About death, and why it visited some while leaving others alone. Death was what brought Logan and me together, after all. Our shared bond. Two kids whose mothers would never sit at the long table in Mrs. Varner’s classroom handing out cookies. Because our mothers had “passed.”

That’s the polite term people used when someone died. The same folks made sure to tell you they were “sorry for your loss.”

Which I always found funny, since my mother wasn’t lost. She was dead.

Rhenn’s voice boomed from the speaker on the worn-out TV. Smiling his most iconic smile, he stood back to back with Paige as he crooned the band’s latest hit.

I leaned forward to drink it all in. Because that’s all that was left now, bits of light and shadow caught on tape.

Slithering from my loose hold, Anna stumbled to her feet. “I’ve got to pee.”

Before she got away, I swung my legs over the side of the bed and then slipped my arms around her waist to pull her between my knees.

Resting my forehead against her chest, I breathed deeply, her peach scent soothing me like a balm. “I love you, Anna-baby.”

She sifted her fingers through my hair until I stopped shaking, and then kissed the top of my head. “Love you too.”

Reluctantly, I let her go, and she retreated into the tiny bathroom. Through the paper-thin walls, I heard her crying softly.

When she returned, her face splotchy and her eyes glistening with leftover tears, I gave her a soft smile and lifted the covers so she could crawl in beside me.

An hour later and we still hadn’t moved, like if we stayed here, it wouldn’t be real.

But it was.

When they showed the Care Flight helicopter on the roof of Brackenridge Hospital for the second time, I snapped. “Change that, will you?”

Logan flipped the channel to MTV while I reached for the pad of paper I kept beside the bed to jot down lyrics.

Like everyone else, the music channel was covering the Damaged story. But instead of reporting what everyone already knew, they were running a special broadcast about the three lesser-known bands that had followed Damaged up the ladder.

A solemn voice spoke over a montage of snippets flickering on the screen.

“While it stands to reason that Leveraged, Revenge Theory, or Drafthouse will fill the gaping hole left by today’s tragic event, a few lesser-known groups from Austin have amassed quite a following.”

Jolted by the familiar beat, my gaze snapped to the television where footage of Caged performing at the Parish flashed on the set.

“One such group, Caged, is currently playing the same venue where Damaged got their start some five years ago.”

The camera panned to the front of my drum kit where the band’s logo, a lion inside a gilded cage, shimmered under the lights.

“Like many of the smaller Sixth Street bands, Caged is still fighting for notoriety outside this small, but illustrious, stretch of road.”

“Oh my God,” Anna whispered, squeezing my hand. “That’s you.”

Guilt flooded my insides, sweeping away the momentary jubilation.

They’re dead, I reminded myself, turning my attention back to my lyrics.

Voices dying on the breeze, eyes now see what no one sees.

Will you be among the masses, forever frozen as time passes?

As I pondered the morbid compilation, the incessant ringing roused me from my next thought.

“Answer that call, dude,” I grumbled to Logan’s back.

He glanced down at his hand as if he just realized he was holding the phone. Swiping a finger over the screen, he took a deep breath before lifting the device to his ear.

“Hey, Chase.” Logan pushed to his feet and began to pace in a tight circle, glancing at the television every few seconds. “Of course I heard.” Stopping in his tracks, he listened intently. “Tonight?” He glanced at me, brows drawn together over troubled blue eyes. “I don’t know. Let me talk to Sean first.”

Tossing the phone on the bed, Logan dropped his head back and stared at the ceiling. “That was Chase. He wants us to do a set tonight.”

My stomach twisted as the shock rolled through me. “Why tonight?”

Logan’s eyes met mine, conflicted. “There’s going to be some kind of candlelight vigil.” He cleared his throat. “They’re expecting music, so someone’s got to take the stage.”

Might as well be us.

About the Author:
I’m an author who hails from Texas (by way of California), currently living in Sin City.
A romantic by nature, I believe in fairytales and happily ever afters. And music. Because the best stories always have a soundtrack.

 

Jennifer’s review of Nowhere Girl by Fiona Keane

received_1645942628771341Title: Nowhere Girl

Author: Fiona Keane

Genre: young adult

Stars: 5🛍🛍🛍🛍🛍

Nowhere Girl,debut novel from Fiona Keane, held me under its spell. I couldn’t read it fast enough. The characters were absolutely amazing. Not only did I fall in love with the broken Sophia and Jameson, I was loving the secondary characters as well. This story is full of mystery and suspense. The author definitely did a pretty fantastic job of creating a world I could get lost in with her words. I’m so excited for book two. I need more on Jameson and am hoping it will answer some of my questions. Beautifully written story!!!!!!
**received an advanced copy**

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ChristmasBells-SmallAfter grieving the loss of her husband and son, TV host Morgan Marshall is ready to embrace life again. But she won’t risk a relationship with the father of her favorite cooking student, Avery, since the girl’s happiness is more important than her own.

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 Dec

 

Carnival by Jane Harvey Berrick

 

 

 

 

AP new - synopsis.jpg
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Empty inside, cold in his heart, Zef turned to whisky and drugs to fill the void.

Instead, he ended up with a prison sentence and a new determination to get clean and make something of his life.

Since his release, Zef has been on the road, finding his spiritual home with a traveling carnival and working as a motorcycle stunt rider.

Live fast, live hard, keep moving.

He doesn’t want to be tied down to anyone or anything. Fiercely loyal, the only people he cares about are his brother and his carnie family.

Until a crazy girl who’s run away to join the circus crashes into his world.
But now his old life is catching up with him, and Zef has to choose a new road.

A standalone story, and the last one in the TRAVELING SERIES.

 

Heredity

I watched the flames leap and dance, sending a shower of sparks into the sky as one of the logs caught light.

Even though the daytime temperatures had soared into the nineties, it was considerably cooler now and everyone gathered around the circle of fire. It was a carnie tradition that went way back, signaling the end of another day.

Tonight was special because it was the penultimate night at this pitch, and our last chance to take it easy for a few days. The final night was always crazy busy because it was a jump day—which meant that all the roustabouts were taking down the carnival rides and packing everything back into the rigs, then driving through the night to get to the next town by morning, to set up for the following afternoon, when the whole cycle started over again.

In fact, the 24-Hour Man had already left. He was the guy who went ahead, signposting the way for the rest of us to follow. It may not sound important, but you don’t want fifteen eight-wheelers getting stuck or ending up driving down a one lane road to the wrong field.

So tonight was our night—our time to kick back, relax, and visit with other carnies.

“Bro, you look like someone just kicked your dog. What’s up with you? You’ve been a pain in my ass all week.”

Tucker left the others by the fire and squatted down beside me, ignoring the fuck-off vibes I’d been giving everyone else.

“What’s eating you, man? Tell Uncle Tucker all about it.”

Tucker was a year younger than me, but sometimes he acted like a teenager and spoke like a California surfer, if you ignored his Tennessee accent. We were all like that in the carnival—mongrels who didn’t call any place home, but everywhere was our kingdom and the road was our right.

He sighed when I didn’t reply and threw an arm around my shoulder.

“I know about Mirelle. Tough break, brother.”

I shot him an angry glance and he pulled a face.

“Mirelle called Aimee, Aimee told Kes, and well … you know how it goes.”

Yeah. I knew. Kes and Tucker were my family, my blood brothers—cut one, we all bleed. We didn’t keep secrets. And since Mirelle was Aimee’s best friend, I’d expected the news to circulate faster than it had. Perhaps she’d thought I’d tell them myself.

I should have, but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want their pity.

“She wasn’t right for you,” Tucker said softly. “I like Mirelle, but she wasn’t going to make it as a carnie. She has roots and that big ole Puerto Rican family back on the East Coast.”

I knew he was right, but the sharp cut of disillusionment was hard to take. Aimee had lived out East and she’d followed Kes to the carnival; Tucker’s woman flew out to see him every couple of weeks. Why couldn’t that work for me?

I shrugged off his arm and stood up. I was ready to walk away when a thought stopped me in my tracks.

“Did she tell Aimee who the father is?”

“Yeah.” He stared down at the dirt, idly pushing his fingers through the tough, brown grass. “Some dude who teaches at the same school.”

Figured.

Suddenly Kes rose to his feet. Everyone stopped talking and we all turned to face him.

He stood with the fire at his back, the flames dancing behind as he faced us. His people, his family.

“I’ve got some news I want to share with you,” he said. “Perhaps I’d better say that we’ve got some news to share with you.”

He smiled at Aimee as she walked to his side, her eyes glowing with love as she looked at him, and he slid his arm around her waist.

“We’re going to be parents. By January, there’ll be a new little carnie joining the family.”
Yells and cheers rose from the carnies around the fire, then Tucker called out,

“Oh my God! Does that mean you’ve been having sex?”

“No, it’s an immaculate conception, dufus,” I muttered, slapping him around the back of the head.

Aimee shot Tucker a look that said he’d be paying for his dumb joke later.

Everyone crowded around offering congratulations.

“A new little stunt rider for the family business?” asked one of the carnies.

Kes shrugged, his whole body lit with happiness as men slapped him on the back or shook hands, and women kissed him on the cheek. Aimee was surrounded with her own admirers, smiling and laughing, glowing with joy as she turned to look at Kes to hear his answer.

“Our kid can be whatever he wants.”

“So, it’s a boy?”

“Maybe. We don’t know yet.”

When the crowd around them thinned, I walked over to give Aimee a kiss on the cheek. Then I turned to Kes.

“Congratulations, man. That’s great news.”

“Thanks, Zef. I appreciate it. And I wanted to ask you—Aimee wants the baby to be Christened, something old school, you know? So I was wondering if you’d be Godfather.”

That was the last thing I’d been expecting. I wasn’t the kind of guy that a kid could look up to.

Kes read the doubt on my face and laughed.

“I’m going to ask Tucker, too. So the kid will need at least one Godfather who’s not completely crazy.”

I grinned at him.

“Well, when you put it that way … I’m the lesser of two evils?”

“Something like that.” His voice sobered. “So, will you do it? If anything happened to me and Aimee…” he swallowed, a flicker of fear on his face, “if anything happened, I’d want to know that I could count on you.”

“Fuck, man, nothing’s gonna happen to you!”

“Yeah, but it could. We both know … we know it could and … I need to you to say it, man. I need to know that you’d be there. If I hadn’t had Dono to take care of me and Con, I’d have been in a fucking foster home. ”

I rubbed my hand across of my face.

“Of course. Of course I’d do it—anything.”

I stuck out my hand and he shook it before pulling me into a swift hug.

“Thanks, Zef.”

I nodded, then asked the question that had been burning me since he’d made his announcement.

“Are you scared … about being a father?

Kes cocked his head to one side, thinking about it.”

“Nah, I couldn’t fuck it up as bad as Mom the alcoholic or dear ole dad who barely knew I existed, or cared. Anyway, I’ve got Aimee to keep me straight.”

He grinned and turned to accept more congratulations from other carnies.

I walked away, surprised by the emotions I was feeling.

Kes, a father!

That was some pretty serious shit. Coming on top of Mirelle’s news, I was feeling off kilter. I tried not to picture her with a guy who wore a collared shirt to work, some nice, safe townie who’d give her security. But she deserved that. She deserved more than a tatted up wiseass who jumped motorcycles for a living—a man with a criminal record who’d served time in prison.

Someone walked over my grave and a shiver ran down my spine. I’d cleaned up my act since then and I wasn’t ever going back.

And I meant what I’d said to Kes: if anything happened to him and Aimee, I’d take care of their kid. Fuck knows what kind of parent I’d be, but he’d asked me and I’d sure as hell try.

The breeze had picked up since sunset and I could see the tops of the distant trees swaying blackly against the rising moon.

The Ferris wheel was still and silent, a towering monument to man’s desire for mindless pleasure. It didn’t go anywhere, it didn’t do anything—except give the illusion of movement. And wasn’t that what the carnival was all about? Cheap thrills for a few bucks before moving on to the next small town. And yet, even with the existence of Netflix, tablets and smartphones, people still came, searching for a little of that stardust, that elusive magic, the freewheeling world of the carnies. Maybe that was what made it so unreal: we’d arrive in the half-light of dawn, and by the evening a world of bright neon and music erupted from an empty field. A few days of eating cotton candy and corn dogs, a few moments of adrenaline as you were whirled around the Tilt-A-Whirl or rode the bumper cars, and then we’d vanish in the night, leaving patches of flattened grass and an empty field.

I pushed my hands into my jean pockets and stared up at the moon as if it had called my name.

How many years did I have before my body broke down, before my knees or ankles or spine couldn’t take it anymore, when throwing myself through the air on 200 pounds of metal no longer seemed like a good idea? Then what? What would my life be then?

“The Cheyenne tell a story that the moon was held by a warring tribe, so a pair of antelope tried to rescue the moon and take it to a good village. But Coyote, the trickster, decides to make trouble and the antelope chase him. Coyote tosses the moon into a river each night, just out of reach of the antelope.”

I didn’t turn around as Ollo spoke.

“Is that supposed to mean something to me, old man?”

I heard his soft chuckle behind me, a wheezing hiccupping laugh.

“Nope, it’s just a story about the moon.”

“Great, thanks for that. Very educational.”

He sat down behind me, ignoring the obvious message that I didn’t want company.
I felt a soft tug on my pants leg as Bo started to climb me like a jungle gym, nestling into me and throwing his thin arms around my neck, chattering in my ear.

“Damn monkey doesn’t know when he’s not wanted,” I grumbled, supporting Bo’s tiny furry body as he snuggled into my chest.

Ollo laughed again.

“I’d say he knows exactly when he’s wanted. Capuchins are smart critters—smarter than most damn humans.”

I sighed, knowing I wasn’t getting any alone time tonight.

I sat down on the bone-dry dirt next to Ollo, smiling as Bo took his chance to go scampering off into the darkness. For a moment, I listened to him rustling in the tall grasses at the side of the swing-boats and I leaned against the canvas backdrop of the Ghost Train.

When I was a kid back in Georgia, I used to try and sneak in under the canvas without paying when the carnival came to town. Sometimes I made it, and sometimes I got dragged out by a hard-faced carnie and sent packing with a smack to the back of the head.

It didn’t matter how many times that happened, I always snuck back. I was fascinated by the mechanics, all of those big machines whipping you into the air or speeding around in circles. I hadn’t heard of hydraulics or knew anything about the physics of gravity, but I loved the dirt and grease behind the scenes, and the rides that made people laugh and scream.

Now, I could take a ghost ride anytime I wanted, but I never did.

I sighed, wondering if the carnival would ever feel magical to me again.

“Good news about Kes and Aimee—new life. A child will keep the carnival alive.”

I nodded, but I wasn’t sure that Ollo was right. It was a hard life, the traveling carnival, and many of the smaller outfits had shut down or gone out of business. I knew as well as anyone that there were no guarantees in life, but I hoped Ollo was right.

“Yeah, I’m happy for them.”

I watched a shooting star shimmer across the sky, wondering what the world had in store for me, wondering if fate was planning some new torture.

“She wasn’t right for you, Zef.”

Ollo’s voice broke and squeaked like a twelve year-old boy, although his body was no taller than the average seven year-old.

Ollo was a dwarf and had lived his whole life in a traveling carnival. He’d done every job from clowning to tumbling, fire-eating and fire-breathing to knife-thrower and rodeo rider, fairground barker to roustabout, and everything in between. He was old now; no one knew how old, probably not even Ollo, but he’d been with Kes’s family since the second world war, so he must be at least eighty.

He probably weighed no more than ninety pounds. I could have picked him up and tossed him over my shoulder without a problem, but I had too much respect for him to do something like that.

So I sat back and listened to what he had to tell me.

“You’re the second person tonight to say that Mirelle wasn’t right for me,” I said, my voice wry.

Ollo spit a stream of tobacco juice onto the hard-packed soil, aiming at one of the iron tent pegs.

“Are you surprised? Her family has uprooted once—she wasn’t going to do it again. Not for you.”

“Feel free to sugarcoat it!”

“Aw, is the big, tough stunt rider feelin’ sorry for hisself?”

I shook my head.

“Nah. Just pissed that she was seeing someone else and didn’t tell me.”

There was a long silence and in the distance I could hear the sound of Luke’s guitar playing.

“I had a woman once,” Ollo said softly. “Long time ago.”

His voice was quiet and it sounded like a confession.

“She wasn’t like me,” he said. “She was a townie, a petite lil’ thing. Delicate all over, tiny waist. Taller than me, of course. We were in Boise for the summer and it was the swinging sixties. She had long straight hair, golden brown, the color of corn. I was a rodeo clown in those days, and she’d come to see the ponies. We got talking and became friends. I’d wait for her to come for me at night. We’d hold hands and sit watching the stars from the top of the Ferris wheel. We fell in love.”

“Sounds … nice?”

“Yeah, it was. She was going to come with me at the end of the summer,” he chuckled quietly. “Run away and join the circus.”

“But she changed her mind?”

Ollo shook his head.

“I don’t know. One night, she didn’t come. I waited every night, knowing that soon we’d be moving on. I went to look for her. In the town.”

I stared up at Ollo’s stars, knowing that this story didn’t have a happy ending. I imagined how brave he’d have to be, leaving the carnies—his people—to go look for this girl among strangers, among townies.

“I didn’t find her, but her father found me. Gave me what they used to call a damn good beat-down, and told me he wouldn’t let a deformed freak like me near his daughter. I don’t know if she’d been sent away or whether she was locked in her room, listening to her father whip me with his belt as I kicked and screamed and tried everything to fight him off. I always wondered about that.”

“Jesus, Ollo!”

My voice was quiet, shocked, and he was silent for a moment.

“You never saw her again?”

“Ah, but I did. Ten years later, we were in Boise again doing the northern circuit. By then, the music was louder and angrier. We were all trying to forget about Vietnam, and everything seemed a little wilder. Borders were breaking down, and even the townie boys were starting to wear their hair long. That’s when I saw her. She was with a rube and they had two kids—a boy and a girl, maybe seven or eight years old. They had her eyes, I remember that. She saw me watching her and she stared back. She smiled at me, then she turned and walked away.”

His voice disappeared, lost in memories.

“That was the last time I saw her. I never tried anything with a townie again.”

“What was her name?”

“Jeanie. Jeanie with the light brown hair.”

I heard the soft patter of Bo’s footsteps, and he appeared out of the darkness, his tiny body curling into Ollo’s arms as he chirruped quietly.

I watched Ollo stroke the soft gray-and-white fur.

“Am I supposed to take some deep meaning from that story?” I asked, hoping to lighten the mood.

Ollo coughed out a laugh.

“Nope, just a story about a boy and a girl under the stars.”

And then, as silently as he’d arrived, he stood up and walked away, Bo still cradled in his arms.

I leaned back against the canvas, thinking about everything he’d said. If I was honest with myself, I’d known from the start that me and Mirelle wouldn’t last, but it still stung that she’d obviously been with this other guy for a while. And that she’d picked someone who was the complete opposite of me.

I didn’t have any trouble hooking up with women who wanted a one-night stand with a biker carnie, but even I had to admit that had gotten old. And now Kes was married and about to become a father, and Tucker lived half the year with his woman in LA. Everything was changing.

I’d had a family once—Mom, Dad, and a little brother. I still had my brother, but he was a man full grown now, successful and living his own life. He didn’t need me anymore, and he definitely didn’t need the shit I’d brought to his door. It was better that I kept moving, kept those wheels rolling.

The other Daredevils were my brothers too, but now they all had partners and I was on the outside again.
Sometimes it felt so damn lonely.

 

AP  new -about the author.jpg

 

Writing is my passion and my obsession. I write every day and I love it. My head is full of stories and characters. I’ll never keep up with all my ideas!

I live in a small village by the ocean and walk my little dog, Pip, every day. It’s on those beachside walks that I have all my best ideas.

Writing has become a way of life – and one that I love to share.

 

Author Links

 

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Finding Perfection by Cassandra Giovanni

River Ahlers is damaged goods. On the surface she’s a driven businesswoman, leading a new division of the marketing firm she works for. But she knows better than anyone that being driven also tends to drive people away. At twenty-eight she’s made some of the toughest decisions of her life by burying the reason she’s damaged deep inside her. That is until she walks into a tattoo parlor and falls into the arms of someone else just as broken.



West Brighton is bad news. He’s a tattooed rebel with more money than he needs, and so many scars on his heart, he’s sure there’s no way to let someone in. Until River, but she’s still stuck on her ex and his friend — Adam Beckerson.



Adam Beckerson is a changed man. He’s made a successful career for himself and his best friend, Tara, hasn’t left his side. She gets him– the real him that he’s never shown anyone, but there’s still something missing.



Each one of them is beautifully flawed, and in one another they can find perfection, if only they are willing to reshape their shattered dreams into new, better ones.

Amazon ~ B&N

Flawed Perfection: FREE

Amazon ~ B&N


Faded Perfection: $1.99

Amazon ~ B&N

 


EXCERPT ONE

“I never really pictured you with a guy like Adam,” West said, and we stopped walking as we reached the stairs. He turned to face me, cocking his head. “You’re both too high strung. There’s no balance there.”

“High strung?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at him. I’d never been mad at West before, but at that moment I felt the warmth turning into burning anger.

He leaned forward and kissed my nose. “Absolutely nothing wrong with that.”

And like that, it melted away.

“I think I just miss him,” I replied with a nod.

West smirked. “And you’re realizing what an ass Adam was.”

“You’re his friend!” I shot back and West shrugged.

“That doesn’t mean I think he deserved you,” he said, and his neck turned red.

“Are you jealous?” I asked, elbowing him.

He pulled me into his arms, his eyes teasing as he leaned down and pressed his lips to mine. The fire ignited in my heart, and the kiss deepened, taking any thoughts of either of the Beckerson boys always immediately. West’s lips moved away from mine, but I could still feel his breath on them as he tangled his hands in my hair.

“Not at all. You’re mine,” West whispered, and there was a painful edge to his voice as if there was a silent for now at the end.

“For as long as you want me,” I replied, trying to convince him with my eyes that I meant it.

“I’d like that to be a very long time, Riv. Is that a promise you want to make?”

I leaned up on my toes, pressing my hands into his shoulders as my lips met his ear.

“I promise.”

EXCERPT TWO
 
“I hope you don’t mind. I changed our plans a bit. I figured we couldn’t go into the city with the pups, and I know it’s a bit too cold for the ocean, but I figured we could go to the Cape. Maybe have a game of volleyball, and eat the last lobster rolls of the season. Just meander the coast.”


The piece of waffle went heavy, sticking in my throat as I swallowed.


The Cape.


The last time I’d been there, Adam and Bobby had fought, and Tara had come away with a concussion. My ears rang, and I could feel the blood drain from my face. West slowly put his paper cup down.


“Are you okay?” he asked, concern showing in the way his eyes flickered over mine.


I closed my eyes, inhaling through my nose. “The last time I went…”


“It was with them?” West filled in the blank, and his voice went hard at the edges. I opened my eyes to see him leaning against the kitchen island, his tattoos flattening against his arms.


“Yeah, there was a big fight. Tara ended up going to the hospital,” I replied, and West’s eyes widened. “Accidentally. Bobby pushed Adam, and he went into Tara. She hit the volleyball net’s post.”


West looked ahead, his tongue running over the inside of his cheek before he turned to look at me. His green eyes twinkled with a new enthusiasm. “So we fix it.”


“Fix what?” I asked, looking at the once tasty breakfast that was now getting cold.


“Bad memories. We’re going to make new good ones to replace them,” West replied before nodding to our breakfast. “Starting with the general birthday suckage and moving onto specifics like the Cape. When was the last time you played volleyball?”


I swallowed, and West gave a knowing nod before playing with his waffles. His voice was deep as he continued, “Ate a lobster roll?”


This time his eyes rose to mine.


“He ruined a lot of things for you, didn’t he?”


“The lobster roll wasn’t a bad memory,” I replied, and he took an angry bite of his waffle, smearing whip cream across his cheek.


“I’m going to make it better,” he said through his full mouth.


I laughed leaning up and kissing away the cream. “I’m sure you will.”


One of his eyebrows rose. “Eat up, Missy. I have an ex-boyfriend to show up.”


I laughed at that, taking a bite of the fantastic waffles and the strawberries we’d grown together. The crop had been so plentiful that half the freezer in West’s house was filled with them, and there were another two bags in my freezer. The waffles beat Adam’s perfectly gooey in the middle pancakes because they symbolized West and I. Something different. Something sweet and that we made together. Like he intrinsically knew that breakfast food like this would be the start of a perfect day.


“You’re already winning,” I said, popping the last strawberry in my mouth.


“And how is that?” West asked as he took my plate to put it in the dishwasher. I bit my lip at the way his ass looked perfect in his jeans.


He turned, and I signaled with my finger for him to lean over the island to me. I kissed him once slowly, and then pulled away, pressing our foreheads together.

 

“By being you.”
Cassandra doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing. In fact, the first time she was published was when she was seven years old and won a contest to be published in an American Girl Doll novel. Since then Cassandra has written more novels than she can count and put just as many in the circular bin. Her personal goal with her writing is to show the reader the character’s stories through their dialogue and actions instead of just telling the reader what is happening. Besides being a writer, Cassandra is a professional photographer known for her automotive, nature and architectural shots. She is happily married to the man of her dreams and they live in the rolling hills of New England with their dogs, Bubski and Kanga.

Cassandra Giovanni is published by Show n’ot Tell Publishing based out of Connecticut, USA
 
Connect with Cassandra on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter.  Learn more about her and her novels at her website, www.cgiovanniauthor.com and read the first ten chapters of each of her published novels through her Book Catalog.
The Boys of Fallout Series
FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Out of Beat: Amazon

Behind the Lens: Amazon

Rebel Cause: Amazon

Finding the Cure

Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Google Play ~ B&N

In Between the Seasons (The Fall Series #1)

Love Exactly
 Walking in the Shadows 

 

Jennifer’s review of I Burned Down His House by Jessica Frances

received_1645942628771341Title: I Burned Down His House

Author: Jessica Frances

Genre: Contemporary romance

Stars: 5🛍🛍🛍🛍🛍

I Burned Down His House is book 3 in the Love At First Crime series. It can easily be read as a standalone. This is by far my favorite book in the series. It had me laughing from the very beginning. It has a well written story and absolutely amazing characters. I love how in each book all of the previous characters are there. I love being able to keep tabs on my favorite old characters and be introduced to new ones as well. This story pretty much had it all for me. Laugh out loud funny, just enough of the feels, mystery/suspense, and the BEST DOG EVER! Read this book! I hope everyone loves this book as much as I did!
**received an advanced copy**

Jennifer’s review of The Sounds of Secrets by Whitney Barbetti

received_1645942628771341Title: The Sounds of Secrets

Author: Whitney Barbetti

Genre: Contemporary romance

Stars: 5🛍🛍🛍🛍🛍

Where do I even begin? The Sounds of Secrets deserves ALL the stars that can be given in my opinion. Everything about this book is beautiful, from the cover to what’s inside. This is an amazing story of angst, secrets and love. Whitney Barbetti is an amazing storyteller. This book is real and heartbreaking. I absolutely loved it and wish with all my heart I could read it again for the first time. amazingly beautiful read and one of my favorites of this year!
**received an advanced copy**

Office Intrigue by Nicole Edwards

IT HAS ARRIVED!

Nicole Edwards is releasing her HOTTEST story yet! So hot that it took over 230,000 words to tell and spans two books! 
 
 
The question is… Can you handle it?


 
​Book 1
Do you get up every morning, spend close to an hour or more getting ready, pick out the perfect outfit, make sure your makeup is suitable, then style your hair just so? Do you slip your feet into your favorite heels, lock your modest one-bedroom apartment, climb into your practical car? Do you drive twenty minutes to downtown, find a spot in the company parking garage?
If you do, then you’re very much like me.
However, I think our stories will differ significantly once you get to your office and I get to mine.
Sure, it’s possible you work in a high-rise office building in the heart of downtown. It could be any downtown office in any big city, in fact. New York, Chicago, Dallas. The location doesn’t matter. It’s even feasible to think that you’re a secretary for a multi-billion-dollar PR firm. You could even have four bosses like I do. Four mouth-watering, malebosses, even.
But, like I said, at that point, our stories will likely be drastically different.
​In order for you to understand why, I’ll have to start at the beginning…
 



​Book 2



Having spent the last two and a half months with my bosses, the thought of spending the holidays alone isn’t ideal. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what I feared I would be doing.



Or so I thought.



I probably should’ve learned long ago not to underestimate the men I work for. 

They do have a way of surprising me when I least expect it.



While I find myself immersed in a lifestyle I am still getting familiar with, spending time with my bosses is proving to be more than I’d originally anticipated. Not only am I experiencing what it means to offer my submission freely, I’m also experiencing something else.



Something that feels a lot like love.



Until they switch things up and make me choose between them. That’s not something I’m capable of doing. After all, not only am I falling in love with one of my bosses, it appears my heart already belongs to two. Except one of those two seems to be rejecting me and I’m at a loss. If only I could let things go back to the way they were in the beginning, return to our original arrangement. If I could do that, it might work out.



​Too bad my heart doesn’t seem to be listening to reason.

Book ONE – Office Intrigue:

Amazon: http://geni.us/baZN

B&N: http://bit.ly/NEOI1BN

Apple iBooks: http://geni.us/PnheDW

Book TWO- Intrigued Out of the Office: 

***Kobo, Google Play, and Print links can be found here: http://bit.ly/NELTDOI2

JUST A REMINDER: 

The 5th annual Nicole & Colt’s Countdown to Christmas is underway! 
More info here: http://bit.ly/NELTDC2C
Enter Here:

 

Road to Eugenica by AM Rose

 

Today we have the gorgeous cover reveal for ROAD TO EUGENICA by AM Rose! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy February 5th!
Title: Road to Eugenica
Author: AM Rose
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Release Date: February 5TH!
About Road to Eugenica:

Two dimensions – And the girl who connects them.

Yesterday, Drea Smith couldn’t do anything spectacular—even walking and texting at the same time was a challenge. But today, she suddenly has more answers than Google, can speak and understand numerous languages, and she can fight. Like a boss.

Super freaky.

Drea has no idea where her encyclopedic knowledge has come from, but she’ll take it when she discovers someone out there knows her secret and wants her badly. And that they’ve been searching for her since she was born.

Since she was created.

With the help of her best friend Dylan, who just wants to keep her safe, and Maddox, a mysterious new boy who is prepared to get her answers, Drea will have to push her new skills to their limit as she uncovers nothing is quite what it seems.

As she uncovers…Eugenica.

Exclusive Excerpt:

“Right on. I’m Maddox.” He extends his hand toward me.

Right on? Who says that? And who shakes hands unless they’re meeting an adult? A guy with perfect hair and bright white teeth does. And he’s smiling at me. Waiting for me to say something, do something. Crap. I extend my hand. Please don’t let it be sweaty. “Hi, I’m Alexandrea.”

As soon as he takes it, something inside me ignites. I barely passed chemistry, but it’s the only word I can use to describe the feeling. It’s not a connection, it’s something deeper. Stronger. More powerful. Like energy maybe. And it’s hot like fire. I pull my hand away and grip my fist to my chest.

Maddox Georgas has a beautiful smile, model worthy. But when he sees my confused expression, it falters some. “Everything okay?”

“Just…I’m not much of a Shakespeare scholar.” The warmth that ignited my skin when we shook hands is gone now. It was nerves, that’s all. “You might regret this.”

His smile widens again as he sweeps an arm toward the door. “I won’t.”

About AM Rose:

A.M. Rose is the author of Road to Eugenica, and writer of young adult novels of all genres as long as they have a hint of romance, the drinker of too much coffee (with way too much coconut creamer), and lover of all carbohydrates.

Currently, she lives in Houston, TX with her three boys (yes, her husband is in that count) and three cats. When she isn’t writing about swoony boys or ways for her MC to get into trouble, she is an avid reader, critiquer, (is that even a word?) and trampoline enthusiast.

A.M. Rose is a graduate from San Diego State University with a BA in Communication and a minor in underwater basket weaving. (Okay, maybe not the basket weaving part.)

Connect with AM Rose:
Enter AM’s Giveaway!

 

Musings of a Gossip Queen by Victoria Bright

Today we have the chapter reveal for MUSINGS OF A GOSSIP QUEEN by Victoria Bright! Check it out and be sure to pre-order your copy today!
Title: Musings of a Gossip Queen
Author: Victoria Bright
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: January 4th
About Musings of a Gossip Queen:

Thoughts of the day:

1. Silas is a sex bomb

2. Madison is determined to ruin my life

3. Nothing online is EVER private, no matter how insane your “strong” password is.

#FML

Gossip queen Blake Spencer thought she received the opportunity of a lifetime when she was offered a writing position as a gossip columnist at Hot Topic magazine. By day, she’s a model columnist that quickly earns the respect of her team and boss but by night, she writes all the secrets of those around her in a password-protected blog.

When the office mean girl has Blake’s not-so-private blog hacked and uploaded to the magazine’s home page, the secrets are out and Blake’s “awesome life” starts to crumble around her. With her friendships, budding relationship, and job on the line, Blake will have to decide whether being a gossip queen is worth losing everything she’s worked to rebuild.

Exclusive Chapter Reveal:

Monday, January 12th

4:37 a.m.

In bed

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

I huff and take a pillow and hold it over my head. My neighbor, Taylor’s, headboard bangs against my wall, so hard that I’m sure she and her slutty fuck buddy, Brendan, will end up in my bedroom after a while. Who the hell wakes up at four in the morning and thinks, “Hey, how about we bang and see if we can put a hole in the wall this time?” It wouldn’t even be such a bad thing if Taylor’s moan didn’t sound like someone was shoving their dick in a dog’s squeaky toy. It’s a miracle that Brendan can stay hard long enough when his girlfriend sounds like something straight out of Animal Planet. My Shih Tzu, Milo, jumps up on my bed and begins yapping at the wall. Fucking great.

“Down, Milo,” I mumble, blindly reaching out to pet him. He whimpers for a few moments before yapping some more. “Shh…shh, it’s okay, boy. Hush, boy.”

The poor dog probably thinks his favorite toy was stolen. He jumps off the bed and runs out of the room. I press the pillow harder over my head, hoping to muffle the sounds coming from next door. Milo returns back to the bedroom, the bell on his collar jingling as he pads across the floor and jumps on the bed. Just as I close my eyes again, Milo barks and starts chewing on his squeaky toy.

How is this my life right now?!

5:01 a.m.

Still in bed

Annoyed AF now

They’re STILL going at it. What the actual FUCK?!

Of course Milo is keeping up with his squeak toy.

5:33 a.m.

Still in bed

Fed up

There’s less than thirty minutes left until I have to get ready to be at the office, but here I am wasting it listening to these humping hyenas through my paper-thin walls. I hate this piece of shit apartment and my dickhead neighbors. Bastards.

5:41 a.m.

Obviously still in bed

Ready to slap a bitch

I sit up in bed and pound the wall with my fist. The noise stops momentarily as Taylor laughs. Yeah, he-he hell, I think, settling back under my blankets and closing my eyes. As soon as I get comfortable, the pound fest starts once again. “SERIOUSLY?” I shriek, sitting back up. I get on my knees and face the wall, pounding on it with both fists. “PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO SLEEP, YOU CUNTS! SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

“Fuck you!” Brendan yells, pounding the wall with his fist. Taylor laughs again, which does nothing but piss me off.

“Fuck YOU and your nonexistent dick, Brendan! How about I call the cops?” I counter.

There’s a loud squeak as if someone’s hopping off the bed. “Who the fuck is Brendan, Taylor?” he questions.

Whoops. Wrong guy.

I giggle to myself. It isn’t my job to keep up with who she’s taking to bed. Though she’s a sweet girl, her apartment door is a revolving one. It wouldn’t surprise me if it were to be later revealed that her apartment is in fact some incognito brothel or something else sinister or prostitution-like.

I settle back into bed and close my eyes, a slight grin settling on my face as their moans of passion turn into bickering. Hey, anything to stop the pounding on my wall and the mewling projecting from her strained vocal cords.

It’s as if city people transformed at night. During the day, Taylor’s great. Her bubbly personality, fiery red hair, and freckles drew me in when I first moved into the building. It’s tough enough trying to adjust to moving to NYC after leaving everything and everyone I know behind in North Carolina to obtain my dream job at Hot Topic magazine, but she welcomed me with open arms and even showed me around. But as soon as her “boyfriend” (and I use this term loosely, because in the two weeks I’ve been here, she’s already introducing a new one) comes over and waves a penis in her face, she morphs into Wolverine or something, howling at the moon during sex.

Milo continues chewing on his toy, feeling as if he’d won the squeak war by out-squeaking the Squeak Queen. After I’ve had enough of his noise, I lift the pillow from over my head, feel around the bed for the toy, and throw it out the door.

5:54 a.m.

In bed

Ha, Wolverine.

If she sounds like that, I wonder what her “O” face looks like. On second thought, I probably don’t. I don’t think I’d ever be able to look at her the same.

6:00 a.m.

Alarm

DAMN IT TO HELL! I LITERALLY JUST DRIFTED OFF TO SLEEP! FUCK MY ENTIRE LIFE, AFTER LIFE, AND REINCARNATION (well, if it exists) WITH A CACTUS!

To make sure I’d get up in the morning, I purposely had my alarm clock on the other side of my bedroom. Yeah, nice going, Blake. I stare up at the ceiling as the radio blasted at high volume, contemplating whether or not I really need this job. I mean it’s only my first day; no one would care if I didn’t show up, right?

“PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO SLEEP! TURN THAT RACKET OFF!” the guy in Taylor’s apartment yells, pounding on the wall. A smirk pulled at my lips. Looks like that makes us even, Not-Brendan. I ponder whether or not I can survive off of soup kitchen meals and huddling around a New York City fire with a cool group of hobos in an alley. My mind reels at all the possibilities of how I can decorate my soon-to-be new cardboard box home. Thanks to sites like Pinterest, I’ll have the coolest cardboard box on the block.

Who the hell am I kidding? I can’t survive a day being homeless. I couldn’t even survive a night of camping in Girl Scouts when I was younger. Looks like I need this job after all. Milo confirms my thought when he jumps onto my pillow and licks my face.

“Okay, okay, I’m up,” I mumble, picking him up and moving him aside as I sit up. If I had a decent night’s rest, I would be excited about my first day at Hot Topic tabloid magazine. It isn’t every day when you land your dream job. To be able to gossip and get paid for it? Perfect! All those years of gossip blogging has finally paid off! But how in the hell am I going to be able to scoop up any dirt on anyone when the only thing I want to do is bury my head in it and sleep?

My senses immediately jump into high gear the moment my bare feet touch the icy, wooden floor. Milo pounces off the bed and run in circles in front of me, his bell jingling as he moves about. I feel around the cold floor for my slippers and put them on before pulling myself off the bed, feeling my way across the room to the alarm clock. I can hear Milo moving around but can no longer see him in the dark.

“Milo? Where are—FUCK! GOD DAMN IT!”

I hop around on one foot as I cradle my throbbing toe. Stupid bedpost!

Milo whimpers nearby, the jingling disappearing down the hallway as he leaves the bedroom. I stumble around my room, using my hands as a guide as I cautiously cross over to the alarm clock and slap the snooze button on top of it. What a way to start a morning.

6:05 a.m.

Living room

“Okay, okay, I’m coming,” I say to a yipping Milo, bouncing around on one foot while trying to shove my other foot into my Ugg boot. He runs around in circles in front of the door and continues to bark and growl.

“You gotta go potty, boy?” I coo, slipping on my coat and grabbing his leash. “Who’s a good boy? Milo’s a good boy! Yes, you —OW!”

I jerk back when he snaps at my hand and growls. Glaring at him, I snap the leash on his collar and open the door. Of all the dogs I could’ve adopted, the one I happen to choose turns into a dickhead when he has a full bladder. Such an ungrateful pup.

6:09 a.m.

Outside

Milo prances down the stairs as we make our way out of the apartment building. When we reach the second floor, I pause momentarily when the door to apartment 2C opens and a man that isn’t Mrs. Keller’s husband walks out. He’s fairly young looking, appearing as if he belongs in an Abercrombie or Ralph Lauren ad. He definitely doesn’t look like anyone who would creep around with a married woman who looks a bit like a surprised goldfish with too much botox and a botched nose job. Ew to the no.

I start to move along. Eh, it’s probably nothing. Or at least I thought so until the guy turns back around and nearly shoves his tongue down her throat. She leans against the door frame with a dreamy expression on her pale face as she watches him leave. The moment her eyes fall on mine, she gasps and quickly steps inside and all but slams the door. Geez, does everyone in the building like to sleep around?

The guy leaves just in time though. As soon as my foot hits the first step and puts me on the first floor, Mr. Keller walks into the building, brushing arms against the man that’s probably just banged his wife from here to Mars. He looks up from his phone and utters an apology and continues walking, giving me a small smile and nod as he passes. Luckily the guy left when he did; otherwise I would’ve been late for work watching this Jerry Springer episode air. I can see the title of it now: I’m a Cradle-Robbing Cougar.

6:29 a.m.

Still outside because Milo is being a cunt

“Damn it, Milo, can you just pee already?” I grit, shivering against the sharp winter wind that whips around me. He keeps stopping and sniffing the same area about forty times and barking at the passing people going to their cars. Milo continues to bark long after the people disappear, so much so that someone from our building sticks their head out of the window and yells, “Quit that barking, you little rat!”

I look up to see who it is, but only see the window closing instead. Milo trots back over to the same spot by the tree that he’s sniffed twenty times already and does his business.

Fucking finally.

6:34 a.m.

Outside of my apartment door

Taylor’s apartment door opens just as I pull my keys out of my jacket pocket. Dressed in nothing but a long t-shirt, she kisses the blond-haired beau and smiles. “Thanks for last night,” she purrs.

Yeah, and thanks for waking me up before I had to be awake, I think. Milo barks and growls at him, averting their attention to me.

“Oh, good morning, Carolina,” Taylor says with a small wave. “Sorry about all the noise.”

Her fiery red hair is thrown in a messy bun, a few tendrils framing her perfect oval face. Her pink lips pucker as she blows a cloud of smoke in my direction and smiles, showing two rows of perfect white teeth.

Fucking models, I tell you.

“Yeah, sure,” I mumble, averting my eyes away from her when I notice her nipples pushing through the cotton material of her shirt. My fingers fumble with my keys until I locate the right one. “And for the millionth time, my name is Blake.”

“Well, Blake, maybe you should get laid yourself so you won’t be so worried about what we’re doing. My lady is a screamer,” the guy says with a cocky grin, grabbing Taylor by the hips as she giggles.

“Oh Cliff, don’t make me blush,” she says, kissing him once more.

Gag.

More like his lady swallowed a chew toy if he wants to be technical. Sure, she has the body and face of a porn star or Playboy Playmate, but that moan of hers won’t get her very far. I wonder if they have any kind of surgeries to fix that kind of thing…

I bring my attention back to Taylor, refusing to acknowledge the meathead standing next to her. “Or maybe you can be more courteous and remember that other people have actual jobs to go to—”

“I have a job, thank you very much,” Taylor says with a frown.

“I mean a steady one,” I say, narrowing my eyes at her.

“If it weren’t steady, I wouldn’t be able to afford to live here, now would I?” she counters.

I fight the urge to roll my eyes. There’s been a few times in my short weeks of being here where she’s sat on my couch crying because another girl was picked at a casting call. Her whining usually consists of, “What am I going to do,” or “How am I going to pay rent this month,” and my personal favorite, “Maybe I’m not meant to be a model.” Well, I’ll have to agree considering she’s yet to book a serious gig that doesn’t involve her taking her clothes off.

“Riiight…I’m going to go now. See you around,” I say, unlocking my door and quickly closing it behind me once I’m inside.

“Your neighbor is a certified bitch,” I hear the guy say as I remove the leash from Milo’s collar. Taylor only laughs in response before the hall goes quiet after another set of disgustingly cute goodbyes. Bleh.

6:52 a.m.

Bathroom

Do I really need this job? Like, on a scale of one to ten, how fucked will I be if I don’t go to work and just go back to bed?

6:54 a.m.

Still in the bathroom

You need this job, Blake. This is your dream job. Get it together!

6:55 a.m.

STILL in the bathroom because I can’t get it together

Maybe I could just—”MILO! STOP HUMPING MY BUNNY SLIPPERS, YOU FURRY LITTLE PERVERT!

7:47 a.m.

Bedroom

I look at my reflection one more time in the mirror and sigh. The girl looking back at me doesn’t reveal any of the mixed emotions I feel. She looks confident and assertive, ready to take on the world. Her beige turtleneck sweater dress accentuates all of her curves and her black leggings and thigh-high boots completes her look. Nerves run rampant within me as I pass a brush through my brown mane once again, wishing I’d curled it instead of frying it with the hair straightener. Pretty sure if I don’t stop brushing my hair, I’ll probably be bald before I even get to the train station.

7:56 a.m.

Front door

“Okay, Milo, be a good boy while mommy is at work, okay?” I say to him as he jumps on the couch. He simply looks at me, his tail wagging and his tongue flopping around his face. I won’t be surprised if a herd of dogs pass me as I leave the building to attend some kind of weird gangbang Milo set up on BangPuppies.com. With the way my dog behaves sometimes, I’m almost certain he lives a secret life I don’t know about.

I lock up my apartment, twisting the doorknob just to make sure. Taylor exits her apartment just as I turn around. Shit.

“Oh, hey again, Carolina,” she says, locking her door and turning to face me. Her t-shirt from before has been replaced with a bright blue windbreaker and black, skintight running pants that are made up of mesh material from the middle of her thigh down to her ankles. She may as well have worn shorts.

“Hi, Taylor,” I say, adjusting my bag on my shoulder. Not knowing what else to say to her other than to state the obvious, I continue. “Going for a run or something?”

“I may as well since I’m up so early. With my job, I have to look good, you know,” she says with a smirk before bounding down the stairs.

“With my job, I have to look good, you know,” I mimic under my breath as I follow behind her.

We both reach the second floor at the same time, running into Weird Marty and his elderly mother who always smells like cheap perfume and mothballs.

“Looking for a workout, baby? You know where to find me,” he says, dabbing at his forehead with a dirty handkerchief. I can’t see how he can be sweating profusely as chilly as it is in the building. His “white” tank top is dingy and spotted with stains of different shades and sizes, the collar of it soaked in sweat. Gross.

“You’re not much of a workout, Marty. I think I’ll stick to running,” Taylor replies with a flip of her ponytail.

My eyes widen as I gawk at her. “You….him…no!”

“No is right,” she says and laughs. “Only way that guy would end up with me is if my body was found chopped up in his freezer or something. That guy screams John Wayne Gacy.”

I snicker. She’s right about that. He definitely looks the part with his balding head, the lopsided grin that’s always plastered on his face, and his black beady eyes that always follow you. The only thing probably saving a lot of women in the building is the fact that he lives on the second floor and can hardly carry his own body weight up the flights of stairs, let alone a body to dismember.

We step out of the building and into the windy air. Taylor begins to stretch. “Are you nervous?”

I turn to look at her. “About what?”

“I remember you saying you were starting a new job at that gossip mill or something. You’ve been chewing your lip the whole way down here.”

“I’m more anxious than I am nervous, I guess,” I say with a light sigh. “Still can’t believe I work at a magazine.”

“A shitty one at that.” When I glare at her, she holds her hands up defensively. “Hey, they have a reputation of putting some very hurtful things out about people, sometimes without even knowing the facts.”

“Well, I wouldn’t be like that,” I snap. Well, maybe. Perhaps.

“I sure hope not,” she says, slipping her iPhone into a pouch strapped to her upper arm and untangling her ear buds. “I’ve seen a lot of friendships and relationships damaged due to gossip and tabloids. Don’t get sucked into the madness.” With a parting wave, she turns and runs in the opposite direction of me until she fades into a group of commuters. Realizing the time, I skip down the stairs and rush down the sidewalk. I better pray I make it there in time or else I’ll need to start thinking about how I’m going to decorate my cardboard box for when I’m homeless.

8:20 a.m.

Train

The train is crowded as it usually is, but I lucked out and am able to find a seat near the back. I pull out my iPad Pro, flip out my keyboard, and open my password-protected Tumblr blog.

Blake Unfiltered blog post #782

A few thing important things before 9 this morning.

1) Taylor would make a horrid porn star. Instead of modeling, she should try out for a Planet Earth animal voiceover or something. And her new guy looks like an Ashton Kutcher reject. Can you say desperate? Can’t believe he had the nerve to tell me I needed to get laid so I’d stop worrying about the noise. I wouldn’t have to worry about the late night wolf calling if my own dog didn’t take it as a dog toy challenge at nearly five in the morning. Just thinking of the sleep I missed and how tired I am pisses me off.

2) I should really hide my bunny slippers from Milo. Wouldn’t be surprised to come home one day to see a bunch of baby bunny slippers moving around. Okay…that was just dumb. That couldn’t even physically happen.

3) The lady in 2C is going to get caught one of these days and it’ll be glorious. How in the hell do women cheat on their husbands or boyfriends and then end up kissing them on the mouth after all of that? Just the thought of swapping spit and God knows what other kind of bodily fluid makes me want to vomit my entire existence.

4) Marty really does have a John Wayne Gacy vibe about him. Totally creepy and predator-like. He actually reminds me of that weird guy that was in the second Human Centipede movie. Oh my fucking goodness. What if he’s creating a human centipede in his apartment?! Nah, his mom would probably have a fit, but that’s if his victims don’t die of suffocation from the extreme mothball stench that permeates their apartment and entire hallway of the second floor.

Today I start at Hot Topic magazine. Still can’t believe I’m working at a magazine! The opportunity to meet celebrities, do what I love (which is writing, of course), and getting paid to gossip is an absolute dream. Hopefully today will be great! All in the name of gossip, right?

xoxo,

B

About the Author:

Victoria Bright is from a small town in North Carolina and currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina. You can usually find her hoarding bottles of Cool Blue Gatorade, playing The Sims when not writing, or obsessing over Camaros.

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