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Here’s the first chapter of Never Leave Your Side. Enjoy.
There’s just something about a man in a suit that makes me stop and notice him. That makes it hard to take my eyes off of him. Just like the man I’m looking at right now. He’s wearing a suit, and wearing it damn well. I’ve been staring at him for at least the last five minutes. But to be fair, he’s been standing in front of the same painting for longer than that, so he’s kind of asking for it.
His eyes move back and forth as if he’s trying to figure the painting out. It’s both amusing and nerve-racking to watch someone view your art, your creation, with such critical eyes. Out of all the people in the gallery tonight who are looking at my pieces on the walls, he’s the only one who truly seems to be admiring the paintings, instead of just glancing at them.
I walk over and pretend to look over the painting as well.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” he asks.
His voice slithers down my spine, damn near making me shudder. It’s rough and deep.
“You think so?”
“Absolutely.” His eyes come over to me briefly, but then he does a double take and looks at me for much longer, his eyes trailing up and down my body.
I turn my head and look right back at him. His dark-brown eyes, strong jaw, and light-brown skin only add to his appeal. His hair is cut low, same as his beard.
“What do you like most about it?” I inquire, more than curious as to what his answer will be.
“You can tell this is a really important painting to the artist. The way she paid so much attention to the smallest things, like the crinkles around the man’s eyes from his smile. The way she even painted the woman’s stray hairs blowing in the breeze. The details are what make it really special. How about you?”
“It seems like the artist is really fond of the people in this painting.” I answer.
“Fond of? What makes you say that?”
“Because that’s my mother and father. So, yeah, I’m quite fond of them.” I smile at the shock on his face.
“You painted this? All of these?”
“This is my showing.”
He looks down at the flyer in his hand, which has my picture in the lower right corner, and shakes his head.
“Well, now I feel really stupid.” He grumbles.
“Don’t. It’s refreshing to talk with someone about my paintings without them knowing who I am. Keeps people honest.”
“Well, even though I know you’re the artist now, I’ll still honestly tell you that these are amazing.”
“So, what was it?”
“What was it about this moment that made you want to paint it? That you remembered everything about this moment so well?”
I’m taken aback by his question. No one has ever asked it and I find myself having to take a deep breath before answering. “This was the last time I saw my parents together. My dad died that night.”
“I was glad to get this last great memory of them together. This was the first time I ever painted it and felt that I’d truly captured the essence of that moment.”
“You really did. I can tell these people really love each other. That they’re happy in each other’s arms.”
I look over at the painting and try to see it through his eyes. My mother had fallen in our backyard, tripped, really, running from the hose my dad was trying to spray her with. My father was helping her up, his one arm behind her back and her one arm wrapped around his neck. They were looking into each other’s eyes, smiling, and so in love.
“Are all of these for sale?”
“Even this one?”
“Yeah. Do you think that’s weird?”
“No, it’s just that it’s so personal to you. I didn’t know if you’d want someone else having that.”
“The picture will always be in my mind. And I like thinking that someone will look at this and want to find the kind of love my parents had, if they don’t have it already.”
He gives me a sideways smile. “I like that. So now that I know who you are, I know your name is Renna. I’m Kyle.”
He extends his hand and I shake it. The callouses on his hand are a sharp contrast to his suit and they make me want to ask what he does for work. Then I think of those callouses running down my skin and my face heats up. He smirks as if he knows exactly what I’ve just thought about. I clear my thoughts along with my throat.
“So, how did you hear about the showing?” I ask.
“One of my students.”
My eyebrows scrunch in confusion. “You don’t seem like a teacher.”
“A martial arts teacher. I’m not sure if I should be offended or not though.” He chuckles.
“Not at all.” I smile. “I was just thinking, they didn’t have teachers who look like you when I was in school.”
He raises his eyebrows. “Thank you, then. But, yeah, one of my students was telling everyone about it after class.”
“Is he here?”
“She already left.”
“She? Do you have a lot of female students?”
“Less than I’d like. I think it’s especially important for women to know how to defend themselves.”
“I agree. Do you have classes just for women?”
“There are a few self-defense classes, just for women, so they can be more comfortable. And I do one-on-one lessons. You could come to one, if you want.”
“Is that your way of asking me on a date?”
I cringe right after the words leave my mouth. I meant them to be funny, but they were anything but. Now it seems like I’m fishing for a date. Smooth, Renna. Really smooth. But Kyle just grins.
“When I take you on a date, it definitely won’t be to a class.”
“‘When?’ So sure, huh?”
“More like hopeful. Would you like to go out next weekend?”
“Next weekend, I’m in an auction for charity. So, it would have to be another time.”
“In an auction? You mean, your paintings are?”
“Nope. I am. They’re auctioning off dates, and yours truly is on the chopping block.” I wave my hand up and down my body.
“Interesting,” he says, drawing the word out. “Well, let me get your number and we can set up a date for, maybe the next weekend.”
I give him my number. As he’s putting his phone back in his pocket, the owner of the gallery, Tracy, calls me over.
“Just give me a few minutes.” I tell Kyle.
He nods and I walk over to her. I can’t help but look at him over my shoulder and when I do, I find his eyes on me. He smirks before turning around to look at the painting again.
Tracy introduces me to a few people who want to meet me. It takes a lot longer than the few minutes I thought it would. Of course, I know I need to meet people and be friendly, but my mind is still on the conversation with Kyle. When I’ve finally shaken the last hand, I turn around to find Kyle gone. I look around, thinking he’s moved on to another painting, but I don’t find him.
“Renna, you won’t believe it.” Tracy calls out to me, walking over.
I look for Kyle a few more seconds before giving her my attention. “What?”
“You just sold four paintings.”
My eyes widen. “Really? Which ones?”
“The one of the night sky, the one with the woman touching her reflection, the one of the library, and the one of the man and woman on the grass in the backyard.”
My breath stalls knowing that painting, one that means so much more to me than the others, has sold and will belong to someone else now. Unexpectedly, a tear comes to my eye.
“Oh, this is such great news.” Tracy continues, running her hands up and down my arms.
I nod. “I know.”
“Congratulations. Your first sales.”
And even in this moment, my mind drifts back to the sexy man in a suit, whose number I didn’t even get.
Releasing November 15, 2019
Pre-order now: Never Leave Your Side
Have you pre-ordered Never Leave Your Side yet?
Hello in 2019.
First and foremost… Book 2 in up for pre-order, but lucky you (whoever reads this) because you’re the only ones I’m telling for now. I put it up extra early, for reasons I won’t go into, so it’s available for pre-order now and releasing March 25. I’m super, super excited to say the least. I had to look for the cover for so long (and you would not believe how hard it is to find a cover with an interracial couple) and finally found one I liked. The title is All The Pieces Of You and here’s the blurb:
Life is about all the pieces coming together…if they fit.
Cassidy knows the ugly side of love all too well, and isn’t interested in allowing it into her own life. So, why does the man at the gym make her question that?
Lucas is too busy raising his young daughter to look for love, but life has already shown him just how quickly things can change. Maybe that’s why the woman doing sit-ups has him doing a doubletake.
When the pieces of two people fit, falling in love should be easy. Except there’s always something in the way of happily ever after.
And just because two people fit, doesn’t always mean they match.
This is a standalone romance.
I’ll put the link at the bottom if you want to go over to Amazon and have a look (and see the cover before anyone else).
In other news, I’m working on book #7 right now, about 25k words in and loving it. I’ve plotted out a love triangle book and am working on the plot for a hater to lover book after that.
Like the title of this post says, I’ve got the year all planned out, or at least the way I hope it goes. That means me publishing four of my books, each one three months apart and writing three more, but since I’m already ahead with the writing, hopefully I’ll get more done than that.
Write soon. Bye.
This is the second chapter of my single dad romance. Hope you enjoy.
After leaving the gym, I went grocery shopping, and now I was home, stepping out of the shower when my phone started ringing. Hoping it was Lucas, I’m just as excited to see it’s my best friend, Monique.
I’d met her four years ago when my town decided to show all of Game Of Thrones season 3 at the local theater. When you sit next to a girl for 10 hours, you kind of have to become best friends right?
I swipe to pick up the call, answering with, “I met a guy.”
“Tell me everything.”, is her only reply.
“I was at the gym and got caught staring at this guy doing pull-ups. So, of course, I took my smooth self over there and got his number.”
She snorts, “Right. Smooth meaning you made some corny jokes and he somehow still asked you out?”
“You know me too well.”
“So when are you going out? Wait, what’s his name?”
“His name is Lucas. Is that sexy or what? We both said we’d text each other tonight to figure out the details. Of course, I’m itching to text him, but I’m trying to wait him out. But there’s one little thing I did not expect…”
“Oh God, what?”
“I think he has a daughter.”
“And? What if he has baby mama drama? What if the little girl hates me?”
“Are you trying to screw the guy or marry him?”
“Hold up. Nobody is screwing anyone just yet.”
“I give it three dates.”
“You’d give it one if you saw his body and eyes.”, I give a dramatic sigh.
Monique chuckles. “Don’t worry about his kid unless things get serious. I’m sure he doesn’t go around introducing his daughter to every girl he dates.”
“Yeah, that’s true. Should I mention that I know he has a daughter?”
“Are you even sure the girl was his?”
“Oh, well no, not 100%, but they looked like father and daughter. I don’t know.”
“Just go out and have a good time and…”
I don’t hear the rest of what she says because my phone alerts me to a text and I take my phone away from my face to see who it was.
I look and scream, “THE SWEATER!”
“It’s Lucas. Hold on.”
I tap open the text.
Sweater: I held out as long as I could. Please don’t change my name to Desperate.
I burst out laughing. “I’ve got to go.” I hang up hearing Monique say something about wanting all the juicy details.
Me: Don’t worry. Only my best friend calling stopped me from texting you first.
Sweater: Did you tell her all about how good looking I am?
Me: Yup. We were debating…
I delete that and start a new message.
Me: Yup. I told her all about your gorgeous body and beautiful eyes.
Sweater: You were typing something and then stopped. What did you delete?
I’m shocked by his question. I decide to just be honest.
Me: I was saying my best friend and I were debating how many dates it would be before you and me did the dirty, you know, based off said body and eyes.
I hit send with a flushed face. He’s taking a while to reply, so I take that time to change his name to Lucas. As soon as I save it, another message pops up.
Lucas: Well I’ve got to get in on this debate. How many did you both say?
Me: I won’t say who said what, but one of us said one and one of us said three.
Lucas: Hmm, I’ll take the middle ground and say two.
Me: LOL. There’s that confidence again.
Lucas: Hey, you’re the one who said one date.
Me: Why do you assume I was the one who said that?
Lucas: From the way you were watching me do pull-ups today.
Me: Whatever, We’re supposed to be planning a date, not talking about what WON’T be happening after it.
Lucas: I’ll give you three options for a date and you pick one. Cool?
Me: I like options. Make em good.
Lucas: 1) Dinner and I beat you in bowling
2) Dinner and a movie (your choice)
3) Dinner and go-kart racing (where, again, I beat you)
I take a minute to consider my options. I know I’ll be driving slower than my granny at go-karts, so that’s a no. I check the current movies out and there’s nothing I would bother seeing. So that leaves bowling.
Me: Dinner and bowling it is, but you pick the restaurant and bowling alley.
Lucas: I think I can handle that. How’s tomorrow night at 7 sound?
Me: Anxious to see me again huh?
Lucas: You have no idea.
Me: Ok, tomorrow then.
Lucas: Are you going to mention you saw me picking up my daughter?
I don’t really know how to respond. Do I say I was going to mention it, but figured it wasn’t my place or that I didn’t really think it was relevant right now, seeing as we’re not serious?
Me: I was going to wait for you to bring it up during our date. I figured if you wanted me to know, you’d tell me. But now that you brought it up… She’s beautiful.
Lucas: I would’ve told you during dinner, but I saw you leaving the gym when I picked up Bella, so I assumed you’d seen us. And thank you. She takes after me.
Me: Hehe. How old is she?
Lucas: Four, but she likes to make sure people know she’s four and a half.
Me: Too cute. Are you the dad dressing up for his daughter’s tea parties?
Lucas: Hell yes, Gotta impress Mrs. Fuzzy and Elmo.
Me: Well Elmo doesn’t wear clothes, so I’m sure you look better than him,
Lucas: Well when you see me without clothes, you can compare Elmo and me and tell me who looks better.
Me: You can take pictures in your birthday suits and I can judge now.
Me: Oh my God, that sounded so bad. Forget I texted that. Please.
I don’t get a reply for at least five minutes. I spend all of those minutes pacing the floor. I realize I never got dressed after the shower, so I reluctantly put the phone down and tug on some panties and an old gray shirt. I pick up my phone and head to the kitchen. Still no reply.
I get out the pasta, sauce, and ground beef to make some spaghetti. I’m putting the seasoning on the ground beef when my phone pings. It’s shameful how quickly I drop the seasoning to pick up my phone. But when I open the message, my eyes almost pop out of my head.
It’s picture after picture of side by sides of Lucas and an Elmo doll. My first instinct is to laugh, but it’s quickly swallowed as I scroll through the pictures. The first is a full body shot with Lucas and Elmo standing against the wall. Lucas has a barely there towel wrapped around his waist, covering the part of him I’d like to see most. Elmo has a wash cloth pinned around his waist. The little bit I saw of Lucas at the gym is nothing compared to this picture. Heat coils in my lower belly and shoots straight to my pussy. That man is sexy. No offense Elmo.
The next picture is a close up of a smiling Lucas’ face and Elmo’s black mouth and orange nose, and weirdly huge eyes. But it’s Lucas’ eyes that have me looking at this picture for longer than I should. The next picture is of their chests and abdomens. I immediately look past the half of the picture full of red fur and look at Lucas’ chest and shoulders. They’re both broad and toned. This close I can make out some of his tattoos. The ‘Bella’ written in beautiful cursive across his heart. The tree that’s growing out of his towel and spreads across his stomach, with what looks like crows perched on it’s branches. God, how I wish I could see the rest of that tattoo.
The final photo is of the bulge under the towel, or lack thereof in Elmo’s case. And what an impressive bulge it is. If only I could reach through this phone and snatch that towel away. I go through the pictures a few more times before finally replying.
Me: Elmo gave you a real run for your money, but in the end, I gave my vote to you.
Lucas: You took so long to reply, I thought your hands must’ve been busy.
I see Lucas has no shame. I like it.
Me: I’ll save that for later.
Lucas: Then my night is complete.
Me: Don’t worry, my hands will have recovered enough by tomorrow night to whip your ass in bowling.
Lucas: HA! We shall see. So do you want me to pick you up or would you rather meet me at the restaurant?
Me: I’ll meet you there.
Lucas: Ok. When I decide where we’re going, I’ll text you the name. I can’t wait to see you again.
Me: Sounds like a plan. See you at 7.
Lucas: Goodnight Cassidy.
Me: Goodnight Lucas.
This is the prologue and first chapter of my new adult romance. If you read the first chapter I posted of my contemporary romance, you will find this post darker than that one, but I hope you’ll like it all the same. As I’ve said before, I’m not quite sure yet if I’m going to keep the genre new adult, but you’ll know when I figure that out. But for now, that’s what I’m labeling it is. Enjoy.
I sat on the couch trying to figure out what to do. What to say. How to say it. I had to summon up every ounce of strength to mumble, “Mom?”.
She turned around and barked, “What?”
I flinched at the tone in her voice, but continued on. “You remember when I used to spend the night at someone’s house and when I came home, you would ask if anything happened?”
“Yes.”, she said hesistantly, as a look of worry came over her face.
I looked down. I couldn’t look her in the eyes as I said it.
“Can you ask me that now?”, I pleaded.
It was a few seconds before she asked, “Did anything happen?”
“Yes.” I said, my heart breaking a little more.
Six Years Later
I feel empty. Hollowed out. The only emotions that course through me now are shame, anger, guilt, and sadness. Sadness seems too small a word though. There is a deep, aching pain that fills me with darkness and gnaws away at any moment that might give me a taste of happiness. But apparently my smile seems real enough. My laugh must ring authentic because no one sees through my façade. So here I stand, in the school hallway, laughing at all the right times, while inside I feel like a rotten, festering, corpse.
“You ready to go to science, Ebony?”, Ashley asks me.
“Yeah, sure.”, I say, shifting my backpack higher on my shoulder.
She talks about her latest date from the weekend the whole way there. I nod, wishing I could even think about going on a date. But that won’t happen. The thought alone fills me with anxiety and apprehension. Science class and the rest of the day passes in a blur. I put my earbuds in on the school bus so no one will try to talk to me. Alternating between Numb by Linkin Park and I’m So Sick by Flyleaf, it’s what I need to prepare for being home. I get fifteen minutes of silence before my mom and siblings come home and, as is usual for her, my mom asks, “That’s what you wore today?”
No outfit is girly enough for her, Years ago, when I let her pick my clothes, they couldn’t be too tight. Now apparently, they shouldn’t be so loose. I’m wearing a plain gray fitted t-shirt, but it’s really my black sweatpants that bother her. Or rather, it bothers her when people ask why I’m always wearing them. Half my closet if full of dresses and tight jeans she buys in the hope that one day I’ll wear them.
“Yes. This is what I wore, just like I wear sweatpants every other day.”
“No boy will ever notice you in those loose pants,”, she scolds.
“Good.” I snap. Little does she know, that’s exactly why I wear them. I never want to be noticed again.
“Don’t get smart with me.” She barks.
“I’m going to do my homework.”, I say, walking away from her and this conversation.
I go to my bedroom where a dark blue blanket hangs over my window to block out any light. Just like most days, I do my homework by the light of the tv and as soon as I’m done, I climb under my covers and go to sleep. It’s the only way to escape the pain.
I feel someone tugging me awake. My mom is telling me to come and eat. It takes way too much effort to get out of bed. At the table, I sit with my little brothers and sister, but I feel so apart from them, from everything. They talk about their friends and favorite shows, but I have nothing to add. Their normalcy only goes to prove to me, day after day, how different we are. All the while, I feel my mother’s eyes on me and this just annoys me more. When I needed her to see me, truly see me, she had no sight. So why look at me now? It’s too late.
When I get up to leave the table, my sister, Mia, comes around the table to hug me.
“Are you going to sleep again?”, she asks.
When she pulls back and looks at me, I nod. Her eyes grow sad and I hate that I make her so unhappy, especially when she is the single ray of light in my world.
“Goodnight.”, she says softly.
I kiss her forehead. “Goodnight.”
I enter my pitch black room and I go to close my door when I hear Mia ask, “Aren’t you afraid of how dark it is in there?”
I turn around and offer her a small smile. “It’s not the dark you need to be afraid of. Goodnight Mia.”
She’s too innocent to know monsters don’t wait until it’s dark to hurt you. I set Breathe Me by Sia to repeat on my laptop and climb back into bed. I just wish I’d never wake up.
I said I would post the first chapter of my contemporary romance and voila!! Here it is. Since I still haven’t figured out the title, I’ve been referring to it as ‘Cassidy’ in my mind, since the story is told from her POV. So here it is, hope you enjoy it.
That man has got to be a gift from God. I almost checked to make sure I wasn’t drooling while watching this gorgeous man do pull-ups. I had seen him a few times in the gym on the weekends, but never on a weekday, which is when I usually had time to squeeze in a workout. But here he was, all muscles and sweat and I could not find it in myself to move off the sit-up bench. It’s not like I’d done more than ten crunches anyway. I hadn’t been able to workout other than a pull-up here and there in a month and my stomach was not having it today.
Mr. Gorgeous finished his set and dropped down. He turned his head so quickly, I didn’t have time to act like I was ogling him. He caught me staring and raised an eyebrow. Welp, I figured I was already caught, so I smiled and got up to walk towards him. I held my hand out, “Hi, I’m Cassidy. The Starer.”
“I’m Lucas. The Sweater, which is probably why you really don’t want to shake my hand right now.”
I bought my hand back to my side and his dark gray eyes sparkled with amusement.
“Well Lucas. I was admiring your pull-ups, in a totally platonic way.”, he gave a sarcastic nod, “Because I’ve been doing this pull-up challenge for two weeks, but cannot seem to get past two pull-ups. Three, if I practically do the worm on the third.”
He chuckled and it made me want to tell a million jokes to hear it again and again.
“Well, platonically speaking, chin-ups might be a little easier for you. Maybe I can stare, I mean watch you, do some and see if you’re doing anything incorrectly.”
“Yeah, I’m definitely now embarrassing myself like that in front of someone so sexy.”
He smirked, “So I’m sexy, am I?”
“Like you didn’t know that?”
“Doesn’t hurt to hear it every now and then.”
“Mmhmm, I’m sure you’re really hard up for compliments.”, I said, rolling my eyes.
“Well, let me take you out for dinner and you can compliment me all night.”
“Is that the best you can do? Honestly?”
He cringed a little. “It’s been a while since I asked a beautiful woman on a date.”, he admitted.
I found that really hard to believe, but I guess that was something I could ask over dinner.
“I’ll give you a pass, I guess.”, I shrugged.
“Next time, I’ll make a much better effort.”
“Already planning a second date huh? Well aren’t we confident?”, I smirked.
He only smiled. “Give me your phone. I’ll call myself from it, so we’ll have each others’ numbers.”
I took my phone from my armband and handed it to him after putting in my passcode. I watched the muscles in his arms bunch as he typed in his number before I got a hold of myself and looked at his face. He had a small smile and I wondered what was so funny. When he handed me my phone back, I figured out the smile. On my screen I saw an outgoing call to ‘The Sweater’. I burst out laughing. Once I heard his phone ringing, I pressed the end button.
“Please tell me you’re not going to make my contact name ‘The Starer.” I pleaded.
He chuckled that chuckle and shook his head. “I have a much better name in mind for you.”
“I’ll tell you when we’re eating dinner.”
“Ah, making sure I show up huh?”
“More like hoping.”, he said with sincerity in his eyes.
I smiled, “Well, at the risk of seeming desperate, I’ll text you tonight, so we can figure out the where and when.”
“At the risk of seeming even more desperate, I might text you first.”
“Oh, text away Lucas.”
He smiled and his face lit up. I figured this was a good time to make my exit while I still seemed like the cool and collected one. I put my phone back in my armband. “Well Lucas, my ‘workout’is over, so I’m gonna go, but I fully expect us to be texting tonight.”
“I’m done too. I can’t wait until tonight. Bye Cassidy.”
I gathered my towel from the sit-up bench and turned around to find Lucas gone. I looked towards the exit, expecting to see him leaving. Instead I saw a now shirt covered Lucas make a right. The only things that way were the daycare and the ladies’ locker room. Curious, I walked over to the exit to see where he was going. I watched him open the daycare door and not five seconds later, a bundle of curls and tutu came bounding towards him. He barely had time to kneel before she jumped into his arms. They hugged each other so tightly I felt like I was invading their privacy just by watching. With that thought, I pushed the exit door open and left the gym, all the while thinking, “Holy shit, he has a kid.”