#RisqueReads | #BookReview | FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE by Mariana Zapata @marianazapata_ (February 1st 2018, Indie Published)

FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE by Mariana Zapata
Published; February 1st 2018, Indie Published

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If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.

After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.

But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.

Including Ivan Lukov.

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If you are fans of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (if you don’t know who they are….shame on you!) then I believe you will love this book as much as I did.

The release of this book could not have come at a better time! I was feeding my guilty pleasure that is competitive Figure Skating as part of the Winter Olympics when I heard of FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE.

Until now, I had not read any of Mariana’s works – but in preparation for attending RARE18 London back in February, I was keen to read as many new authors as I could and I’m so glad I picked this book up. It gave me EVERYTHING! I was hooked from the first few pages and I devoured the whole thing in less than 36 hours!

The relationship between Jasmine and Ivan was written to perfection. This is a slow burning romance story. You go on a journey with the pair which ends in what I thought, the perfect way. There’s nothing forced or rushed with the pair and we are right there with them, cheering them on!

It’s not often that I purchase books in multiple formats – but with FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE, I couldn’t resist!

You can buy FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE from the following booksellers (and many more!);

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)

-S.

 

#RisqueReads | #BlogTour | #BookReview | CRUISE (Savage Disciples MC #6) by Drew Elyse @DrewElyseAuthor (11th January 2018, Indie Published @ArdentPRose)

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Welcome to my stop on this Blog Tour for the release of the latest novel in the Savage Disciples series; CRUISE by Drew Elyse.

Huge thanks to Ardent Prose and the wonderful Drew Elyse who gifted me an early copy of CRUISE. I am forever grateful and promise that the review below is 100% honest and of my own views.

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Once a Disciple, forever a Disciple.

After giving up eighteen months of his life for his club,
the Disciples’ president is finally tasting freedom again.
Stone knows there’s only one thing that might ever be as sweet,
but she’s too young, too perfect, too untouchable for a man like him.

A Disciple will fight like a savage to protect what matters.

Evie’s life is pretty much blowing up in her face
until Stone finds her broken down on the side of the road.
Now if only she could get him to stop being the martyr
and give them a shot at what she knows they both want.

It’s high time this biker got the chance to let go and just cruise.

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Extract from CRUISE;

Evie

“Still in school, then?”
I bit down on the inside of my cheek at his question. Perhaps I had underestimated how hard it would be to share a house with Stone. Tracking the sound of his steps as he approached, I gave myself a mental pep talk.
You can handle this. You’ve faced far worse than an unrequited crush. Time to toughen up.
“Just one last round of finals,” I replied.
Stone knew all about my plans. I’d still been working on my associate’s when we met, but I knew then what I would do when I finished. He’d listened to the whole plan, and he’d been the first person not to question if it was the right one.
“You know what you want, you know how to get it, and you’re making it happen. That’s fucking great, Evie.”
“Does that mean you have graduation coming up?”
It was a logical question, but it felt foreign to me. The surprise of it made me look up at him.
“No. This part is all online. There’s a graduation I could attend if I really wanted to in Seattle, but I already stated I wouldn’t be walking,” I explained.
He’d meant to make small talk, but that was out the window. His attention was fixed on me, his brow furrowed. “Why would you do that?”
“Why travel all the way to Seattle for it?” I countered. “It would be one thing if I was going with a bunch of family to watch, but I’d drive all that way just to walk across that stage alone.”
“You can’t say you’re going now?”
“I don’t know. Probably not. It’s too close now.”
“Find out,” he ordered.
What?
When I didn’t hop to doing that, he repeated, “Go on wherever you have to and find out if you can still walk.”
His tone brokered no argument. This was the president of a motorcycle club, the man who had to be firm enough to lead a group of men most people would never question. Yet, I couldn’t help but do just that.
“Why?”
“You worked your ass off for this, you deserve to be there.”
“Stone…”
“And if you don’t want to go alone, then I’ll take you.”
Where his command had failed, that managed to silence me because it was too much. It didn’t say helping someone you knew out when they hit hard times. He was talking about traveling hours away to celebrate a pivotal moment in my life, the kind of event that family went to, the kind of event you attended for someone that you loved.
My mind a mess of words I wanted to say, my gaze fixed on the books spread out in front of me. Soundlessly, I closed them and stacked them up. Only once that was done, only when I’d had a minute to get some semblance of order to my mind, did I look back to Stone, who’d watched every movement.
“Thank you,” I started, and saw that catch him off guard. “You’ve done a lot for me, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay you. But you don’t have to do this. I don’t want you to. The ceremony isn’t important to me, but if it was, I wouldn’t want to be there with someone who just went because they felt bad that I’d be there alone.”
Stone was going to butt in, I could see it. Since it had worked earlier with Avery, I sallied forth before he could.
“You’re really sweet, and I appreciate it that you want me to have that, but we both know how I feel about you. I’m sorry that I’m making this complicated, but those feelings are still there for me even though I know they aren’t for you. So you being at something like that for me, it would only make this more difficult.”
Knowing I couldn’t withstand much more, I went to grab my things and get out of there.
I didn’t get the chance.
Before I could so much as turn away from him, Stone had my wrist in an iron grip.
“You seriously fucking think I don’t feel that shit?”
His face looked like it was made from pure fire, and it silenced any words I might have drawn up.
“You think I sat on that stool every fucking day you were there to stand there smiling across from me just for the food? Because I’ll tell you right now, I didn’t even fucking taste that shit. I was there for something I needed a fuck of a lot more than food. I was there to see that cute smile on your perfect fucking face.”
I wasn’t smiling then. Even though his words were exactly what I wanted to hear, the harsh way he said them scared me.
“I told you that day you offered me that invitation to get everything I’d been wanting for months, and I told you again last night, I’m trying to do what’s best for you. Now, I’ll give it to you even more straight. You’re twenty-seven. I’m forty-four. You’re beautiful and smart, you’re sweeter than any woman I’ve ever fucking met. I’m the president of a fucking MC. I’m a fucking convict. And you know I didn’t earn that time, but I’ve done plenty of shit that could have gotten me the same rap sheet. I’m too fucking old and too dirty to even think about having you, but I do. I thought about it for eighteen fucking months sitting in that cell, and probably the only thing that kept me sane was picturing your face. But you’ve got your whole fucking life ahead of you, and I’m not going to stain that.”
He stepped closer to me, one hand coming up to run callus-roughened fingers down my cheek.
“I’m not for you, even if it fucking kills me to admit it. But one day when you find the man that is, you’ll be glad I did. And I’ll still probably be wishing that man was me.”
Before I could begin to process all he’d said, before I could say even one word to stop him, he turned away and left.

Want to know what I thought?

First thing to mention when people look at this review and get freaked out by seeing it’s the sixth book in the series is…DON’T! You can definitely read this book as a standalone novel and not feel like you are missing too much of the background on each of the characters.

How refreshing to read a romance story where there is some kind of age gap (Stone being 44 and Evie, 27) as most contemporary romance features characters around the same age or younger. What this book does highlight is that it doesn’t matter if you are 27, 44 or 104 – love is love and can consume a whole person…and a door…and a bed… 😉

CRUISE gives me all of my Sons of Anarchy feels and then some and sits within a sub-genre of romance that I’m not too familiar with, but am becoming more and more involved with learning more. With the MC romance I have read so far, there is always that true sense of family within the clubs, a strong bond between people from all walks of life.

The story moves along at an easy pace and steers clear from over the top action for the sake of filling pages. The relationship between Stone and Evie for me, moves at the right pace and isn’t rushed. It feels natural. The conflict towards the end of the book…I could have easily read more, which is only a credit to Drew. You know you are doing something right when a reader is literally itching to know more details!

The only small disappoinment is knowing that this is the last book in the series 😦 but also keen beans to learn that Drew is writing a spin off series! Until then…. it looks like I have five more books in this series to devour! 🙂

 

About the Author;

Drew Elyse spends her days trying to convince the world that she is, in fact, a Disney Princess, and her nights writing tear-jerking and smutty romance novels. Her debut novel, Dissonance, released in August of 2014.

When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found over-analyzing every line of a book, binge watching a series on Netflix, doing strange vocal warm ups before singing a variety of music styles, or screaming at the TV during a Chicago Blackhawks game.

A graduate of Loyola University Chicago with a BA in English, she still lives in Chicago, IL where she was born and raised with her boyfriend and her prima donna pet rabbit, Lola.

Author Links
Twitter  Facebook  Web  Goodreads  Amazon

You can buy CRUISE (Savage Disciples MC #6) from the following booksellers (and many more!);

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)

-S.
Be sure to follow all the blog tour action across Twitter and Facebook!
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#RisqueReads | #BookReview | PAINTED FACES (Painted Faces #1) by L.H. Cosway @LHCosway (16th December 2012, Smashwords @Smashwords)

PAINTED FACES (Painted Faces #1) by L.H. Cosway
Published; December 16th 2012, Smashbooks

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Come forth with an open mind, for an unconventional tale of love..

Dublin native Freda Wilson considers herself to be an acquired taste. She has a habit of making offensive jokes and speaking her mind too often. She doesn’t have the best track record with first impressions, which is why she gets a surprise when her new neighbour Nicholas takes a shine to her.

Nicholas is darkly handsome, funny and magnetic, and Freda feels like her black and white existence is plunged into a rainbow of colour when she’s around him. When he walks into a room he lights it up, with his quick wit and charisma. He is a travelling cabaret performer, but Freda doesn’t know exactly what that entails until the curtains pull back on his opening night.

She is gob-smacked and entirely intrigued to see him take to the stage in drag. Later on, Nicholas asks her if she would like to become his show assistant. Excited by the idea, she jumps at the chance. Soon she finds herself immersed in a world of wigs, make-up and high heels, surrounded by pretty men and the temptation of falling for her incredibly beautiful employer.

In this story of passion and sexual discovery, Nicholas and Freda will contend with jealousy, emotional highs and lows, and the kind of love that only comes around once in a lifetime.

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** WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS **

Painted Faces by L H Cosway was started as part of the RARE18 Readathon that was held by the P Turners in January and I was not disappointed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish the book in one sitting, however I was not disappointed, as this was a story that needed to be cherished.

Instantly I became fond of Fred (Freda), our average Irish lady, who is both beautiful and honest. Her attraction to Nicholas, the stranger next door was tangible to say the least. Here is a handsome New Zealander who flirts outrageously with Fred as soon as they meet. Fred is a baker and all round sarcastic character who bounces brilliantly off Nicholas, the flamboyant, talented and handsome drag queen. Their instant connection for me was the core of this story and it is a remarkably beautiful story.

The emotional rollercoaster that they take, both separately and together kept me hooked, the chemistry between them sparking off the page, to my utter delight. I loved getting to know these characters, seeing Fred as this independent, witty, flirty young lady who is open minded. And this is perfect for Nicholas, a very mysterious young man, who is both beautiful inside and out. He goes against all stereotypes and I think it is this that pulled me into this story, this is what appeals to Fred. A girl who isn’t looking for a romance, but finds one in the most unlikely of places. I felt a connection to Fred on a level I haven’t in most female protagonists, she was your average girl. But there is something wonderfully un-average about her that I love. I related to her on so many levels that I felt she could be real.

Seeing their relationship develop, going through all the emotional highs and lows is an adventure itself. Nicholas is so strong but a troubled soul, the life he’s lead up to this point one not always consisting of rainbows and glitter, yet he never fails to put a smile on your face. With eyes that draw you in, the body of a Greek god and a voice from the heavens, any reader would be attracted to him. I could picture him on stage, his presence palpable.

I love that he is flawed, that he goes against all stereotypes and that Fred is the one who connects with him.Your heart breaks for him at the horror and ignorance he has faced, yet you grow to love him even more. There is something highly appealing to me as a reader to see a male protagonist who is both an alpha male and so in touch with his femininity. The two sides to this character are both beautiful and Cosway creates these characters amazingly.

Going against the stereotypes of a standard contemporary romance couple, Fred and Nicholas are refreshing to read. The sensuality, humour, friendship and loyalty between them is something I fell in love with, eager to read more and see how things turn out for this adorable couple. Cosway knows her characters perfectly, every little nuance and flaw, painting them in a light where you can see these and love them. I never wanted this story to end, I fell so in love with Fred and Nicholas.

Separate they are remarkable characters, together they are the one of the hottest literary couples for me. The intimacy between them is subtle, sweet, steamy and delicious, leaving you craving more. It is safe to say that this is a story that makes you think outside the gender norms, opens your mind to the possibilities of love and leaves you feeling at a loss with the turn of the last page.

I am so in love with these characters, that I know for a fact this will be a novel I will read again and again. Cosway has created characters that are completely unique, a couple that I could only dream of finding in real life and a man who encapsulates the fluidity of gender roles perfectly, he is the most delicious of book boyfriends, by far one of my favourites.

Thank you L H Cosway for giving us Fred and Nicholas.

You can buy PAINTED FACES (Painted Faces #1) from the following booksellers (and many more!);

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | Book Depository

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#RisqueReads | #ChapterReveal | UNDEFEATED by Stuart Reardon @stureardon & Jane Harvery-Berrick @jharveyberrick (January 23rd 2018, Indie Published @ArdentPRose)

 

UNDEFEATED by Stuart Reardon & Jane Harvey-Berrick
23rd January 2018, Stuart Reardon Publishing

A powerful contemporary romance set in the fast-moving world of international rugby.

When your world crashes down
When they all say you’re out
When your body is broken
I will rise.
I will return.
And I will be undefeated.

Nick Renshaw is the golden boy of British rugby. When a serious injury threatens his career, he starts to spiral downwards, a broken man.

Feeling abandoned and betrayed by those closest to him, he fights to restart his life. Maybe there’s someone out there who can help him. Maybe he can find his way back toward the light. Maybe … not.

Dr. Anna Scott might be the one person who can help Nick, but she has her own secrets. And when Nick’s past comes back to haunt them both, the enigmatic doctor is more vulnerable than she seems.

Broken and betrayed, the struggle to survive seems intolerable. Who will give in, and who will rise, undefeated?

 

 ** EXCLUSIVE CHAPTER REVEAL **

Prologue

It’s a beautiful game.

It’s a hard game.

And even on a good day your body is battered and bruised. It’s a brutal game with blood, mud and dirt.

See this scar on my cheek? Rugby.

See this scar running through my eyebrow? Rugby.

I have a lot of scars.

I have 13 scars on each arm from keyhole surgery, knee surgery, scars on my forehead and the back of my head, scars on my knuckles, broken fingers. I’ve had both eyelids stitched, surgery on both shoulders, suffered a broken nose twice and spiral fractures in my hands, I’ve broken my fingers so many times, I don’t event count those. I’ve had cartilage cleaned out of my left knee, two medial ligament grade two tears on each knee, three lots of surgery for Achilles tendon injuries, and once I put my bottom teeth through my top lip. Getting stitches in your mouth isn’t much fun. They tug when you eat or speak.

There’s nothing nice about rugby. Maybe that’s why I bloody love it.

Chicks dig scars? Yeah, I’ve heard that, too.

In my experience, they’re not so keen on being around while you’re healing. Being the loser who’s benched, not so sexy. Being the guy who’s career went down the toilet … I’m looking a lot less appealing now.

Trusting a woman when you’re at your lowest—dumbest, stupidest thing ever.

Beat me, break me, butcher my heart.

I’m coming for you. And this time…

I’m going to win.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

STUART REARDON

Stuart is a retired England International Rugby League player who’s career spanned 16 years as a professional playing for several top League clubs. He has had several major injuries that nearly ended his career just as in Undefeated, the amazing collaboration with Jane.

Currently he is a Personal trainer living in Cheshire, and has an online fitness program: Fear Nothing Fitness.

Web  Twitter  Facebook   Instagram  YouTube  Tumblr


JANE HARVEY-BERRICK

 I enjoy watching surfers at my local beach, and weaving stories of romance in the modern world, with all its trials and tribulations.

It’s been the best fun working with Stu on this story. And yes, he did think about joining the Marines once.

Web Facebook  Twitter  Amazon Page Goodreads Instagram

 

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#RisqueReads | #BookReview | HOLLYWOOD SCANDAL by Louise Bay @louisesbay (August 18th 2017, Indie Published)

HOLLYWOOD SCANDAL by Louise Bay
Published; August 18th 2017, Independantly Published

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He’s a Hollywood A lister. She’s literally the girl next door.

As one of Hollywood’s A-listers, I have the movie industry in the palm of my hand. But if I’m going to stay at the top, my playboy image needs an overhaul. No more tabloid headlines. No more parties. And absolutely no more one-night stands.

Filming for my latest blockbuster takes place on the coast of Maine, and I’m determined to stay out of trouble. But trouble finds me when I run into Lana Kelly.

She doesn’t recognize me, she’s never heard of Matt Easton, and my million-dollar smile doesn’t work on her.

Ego shredded, I know I should keep my distance, but when I realize she’s my neighbor, I know I’m toast. There’s no way I can resist temptation when it’s 10 yards away.

She has a mouth designed for pleasure and legs that will wrap perfectly around my waist.

She’s movie-star beautiful, and her body is made to be mine.

Getting Lana Kelly into my bed is harder than I’m used to. She’s not interested in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, but I’m determined to convince her the best place in the world is on the red carpet, holding my hand.

I could have any woman in the world, but all I want is the girl next door.

A sexy, stand-alone romance.

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On my continuing mission to explore strange new worlds authors in preparation for RARE18 London in February, I picked up HOLLYWOOD SCANDAL by Louise Bay. The blurb grabbed my attention and instantly made me think of the trailer I had seen for the new Passionflix movie; Hollywood Dirt, where a movie star is filiming in a small town and just happens to fall for the local girl.

Wowsers! What I was not prepared for is just how up front and open each of the characters are with their sexuality and how they communicate with each other. We are pulled into Matt and Lana’s relationship so tight that there’s no room to wiggle free. Every emotion they feel, we feel it with them.

This book does have that element of drama thrown in as we discover more about Lana’s past and how she is living back in her home town. Thankfully Louise doesn’t write Lana as a young woman who is shy, meek and wouldn’t say ‘boo!’ to a ghost. Lana is independant, she’s comfortable, but with that air of sadness which gives her both the relatable and likable quality.

Overall, this book is sweet, hot, steamy, intense and breathtaking. It’s too easy to feel yourself being drawn into the fantasy of the celebrity world.

AUTHOR LINKS; Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

You can buy HOLLYWOOD SCANDAL from the following booksellers (and many more!);

Amazon (UK) | Amazon

-S.

#RisqueReads | #ChapterReveal | CRUISE (Savage Disciples #6) by Drew Elyse @DrewElyseAuthor (January 11th 2018, Indie Published @ArdentPRose)

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Once a Disciple, forever a Disciple.


After giving up eighteen months of his life for his club,
the Disciples’ president is finally tasting freedom again.
Stone knows there’s only one thing that might ever be as sweet,
but she’s too young, too perfect, too untouchable for a man like him.

A Disciple will fight like a savage to protect what matters.

Evie’s life is pretty much blowing up in her face
until Stone finds her broken down on the side of the road.
Now if only she could get him to stop being the martyr
and give them a shot at what she knows they both want.

It’s high time this biker got the chance to let go and just cruise.
Prologue

 

Stone

I shoveled in a forkful of eggs thinking I was becoming a masochist.
It was high past time for me to stop dragging my ass to that diner five days a week. Christ, after that first time stopping in to grab a bite, I should have gotten on my bike and not come back.

Instead, I developed some sick fucking need to torture myself incessantly.
Across the dated countertop I sat at—the same damn place my ass was parked every time I came in—she was singing. She did that a lot. It was always quiet, just barely audible from my spot, and eaten up by the room before it could get to any of the tables.
Today, it was “Delta Dawn.”

I knew the song, though I wondered how the fuck she did. It had to be about as old as me. My mom listened to it when I was growing up, but it wasn’t a new one even then. Forty-odd years later, it was surprising a girl in her twenties would know it, let alone be singing it quietly while she worked.

In her twenties, I repeated the thought to myself the way I did every time I had it.
Even as I did, I couldn’t tear my eyes off of her. Not that that was anything unusual. How the hell she hadn’t cottoned on, I didn’t know. Then again, Geneviev was a woman the likes of which were rare these days.

Evie had told me a lot in the months I’d been planting my ass on the stool in front of her four times. The only reason I skipped three days every week was because she didn’t work them. The food she set down in front of me each time was fine, but it wasn’t what kept me coming back. It was her. She was sweet as sugar and for some reason seemed to take to me. This meant I got a lot of her sweet directed my way when I took up residence at that counter. She’d talk about what she had going on, how she was studying to be a nurse, her roommate, crazy shit that happened there at the diner. She’d talk about whatever came to her, and I’d soak up every damn word.

What she hadn’t said—and I hadn’t asked because I was smart enough to know that it was dangerous ground for my own self-control—was how the fuck she came to be the woman she was. That being, a woman who was cute, gracious, caring, funny, but more importantly, sheltered.

I knew it the first time she’d taken the gamble on talking to me, and she’d asked about my cut. It wasn’t like I never got questions about the Savage Disciples MC patch on my back. Hell, it wasn’t even like I didn’t get those from a whole lot of folks who knew nothing about the life. It was the blatant curiosity that shone in her eyes—a look I’d seen more than a few times since—that verged on wonder. Like a bunch of bikers were the stuff of fairy tales or some shit.

“Top you off, Mr. President?” the object of my obsession asked on a light, ringing laugh.
Yeah, she’d started calling me “Mr. President” when I’d explained that part of the cut to her.

Christ, she was dangerous.

I gave her a lift of my chin, which got me a smile I forced myself not to fully take in as she topped off more coffee into my mug.

“Thanks, babe.”
The words earned me another smile, this one softer.
That right there might be the biggest indicator she was sheltered.

She’d told me once, amid her talking about the nursing program she was doing, and how she wished she’d been able to start right out of high school and already be working in the job she’d wanted since she was young, that she’d just recently turned twenty-five. I wouldn’t deny that there were twenty-five-year-olds out there that’d smile at me and do a fuck of a lot more. I wasn’t in my twenties—or my thirties—anymore, but I could still get a lot of women of a lot of different ages in my bed. Patch chasers or party girls, that “President” stitched onto the front of my cut could get me a taste of a variety of flavors.
Evie wasn’t one of those.

A girl like Evie, with the air of innocence that hung around her, had no business smiling at the gruff, former marine, old-enough-to-be-her-father president of the local motorcycle club.

And that asshole had no business coming around, drinking in all the sweet that was her, and dreaming about what it would be like to get a taste.

“Time to make the rounds,” she announced, moving her lithe body around the counter to go check on the two occupied tables in the joint.

I had to curl my hand into a fist so tight my knuckles protested to keep from turning where I sat to watch her move. It was a battle I fought every time I was there. If I had to put a number on it, I’d say I was at about a forty percent success rate. The other sixty percent of the time, I’d end up engraining her courteous smiles, the flair of her waist, the way her hips moved with her steps into my head. Like I didn’t already have a million images of her stored away up there, making certain the torture I came here and subjected myself to didn’t stop when I walked out the door.

By the time Evie finished her rounds, including delivering bills to both tables, I was finished eating. I’d even gotten out the cash to cover my meal—since I ate there so often I already knew what the damage would be. I told myself again and again that I should get my ass up and just call out a goodbye as I left.

Sticking with the theme, I didn’t listen to my own good advice.

Which was why I was still sitting at that damn bar when she was back behind it, standing right across from me with a smile on her face that had turned tight. I didn’t get it, not as I watched her grab the rag she used to wipe down the tables, not as she set about cleaning the unmarred stretch of counter in front of her.

“So…um…any plans this weekend?” There was a faint, nervous tremor to the words.
“Nothing much,” I answered, keeping my voice level.

Her anxiety set me on edge. It wasn’t like her. She wiped the same spot repeatedly as she turned over whatever she was about to say.

“I was wondering—you know, if you’re not busy and all—if you’d want to…I don’t know…get dinner,” she stumbled out. “Or something.”

Fuck.
Fuck me.

Here I’d been thinking all this time that I needed to let go of this attachment. Never, not even once in the craziest shit my brain thought up when I didn’t check myself, did I think that the tables would turn.

She had no business, not a fucking lick, asking me out.

And now it fell on me to correct that problem, even when I wanted nothing more than to take her up on her offer.

Fuck.

The time had come. No more avoiding this shit. No more convincing myself it was fine.
This was the end.

“Kills me to do this, you gotta know that, but I’m gonna have to say no.”

It sounded like a line, a bullshit way to ease the rejection. I wanted to rip the words back, choke on them if I had to when I watched her face fall as they sank in. She thought I wasn’t interested. She honestly fucking thought I’d been coming in all this time for…what? The food? The atmosphere?

No, I’d been there day after day because she was the most magnificent thing I’d ever laid my eyes on and that didn’t even scratch the surface of all there was to her.

Turning down her sweet invitation burned through me in a way I knew the singed wasteland left behind would never be the same. But I couldn’t give her that. She’d push if I did, and I was too fucking weak to keep resisting.

“Oh,” she finally breathed in response. “That…that’s okay.”

It wasn’t. Not for her, with the disappointment she tried—and failed—to mask still showing in her eyes. Not for me, with the way it was actually physically painful to hold in all the words I wanted to give her to ease that damage I’d done.

It wasn’t okay in the fucking slightest, but it was the right thing to do.

“I’m not the man you should be offering that to,” I found myself saying. I should have just kept my mouth shut, taken the blow that was seeing her dejection, and gotten the fuck out. “Shit’s me to say it, but it’s the truth.”

The downturn of her lips, something I’d never seen before that moment, told me she didn’t believe a word of it even as she said, “Okay.”

As I sat there, watching her avoid looking at me, watching her chin tip down to her slender neck like she was trying to hide beneath her honey-colored hair, I fought the urge to say more. I wanted to talk until I was blue in the face if needed to make her understand, but doing so would be admitting too much.

Instead, I finally forced myself to do what I should have done months ago. I stood, slid the money closer to her for the bill, and I lied.

“I’ll see you soon, Evie.”

They were the same words I gave her every time I walked out the door, but it was the first time I said them with no intention of making them true.

Four months later, as the bars to the cell I’d be calling home for the next year and a half closed for the first time, that lie was the only thing in my head.

Drew Elyse spends her days trying to convince the world that she is, in fact, a Disney Princess, and her nights writing tear-jerking and smutty romance novels. Her debut novel, Dissonance, released in August of 2014.

When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found over-analyzing every line of a book, binge watching a series on Netflix, doing strange vocal warm ups before singing a variety of music styles, or screaming at the TV during a Chicago Blackhawks game.

A graduate of Loyola University Chicago with a BA in English, she still lives in Chicago, IL where she was born and raised with her boyfriend and her prima donna pet rabbit, Lola.

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