Saturday, June 30, 2018

Into the Darkness by Katie Reus (audiobook)

Title: Into the Darkness
Author: Katie Reus
My Rating: A-
Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Series: Darkness #5
Main Characters: Rhea and Conall; Liberty and Rory
Release Date: May 2016 (audiobook)
Publisher: Audible
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
One book. Two stories. A demigod and a half-demon are about to get married. Which means a week of festivities, romance, fun, and the kind of crazy drama wolf shifters are known for. When someone targets the Stavros pack, everyone bands together to fight an unknown enemy and two couples will fight for their chance at happily ever after.

She’s not looking for a mate…

Rhea is a warrior. She’s bled and fought for the Stavros wolf pack for over a hundred years. She never expected to fall for the Alpha of a dragon clan. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she finds herself working side by side with the very man whose been staring in all her fantasies. She never wants to get mated because she’ll never risk getting someone she cares for killed. Not again. So she convinces herself that they have something fun and easy, no strings attached.

But he’s playing for keeps…

Conall, Alpha of the Petronilla clan, has been biding his time claiming his future mate. At fifteen hundred years old he’s patient and cunning. Except when he’s around Rhea, years of civilization are stripped away and all he wants to do is possess her, make her his forever. But something happened in the stubborn woman’s past and she’s determined to keep walls between them. It’s a good thing he’s a dragon. He’ll just burn down every last barrier between them and claim what’s his. But someone from her past is threatening her and her pack—and the life of the woman he’s waited a lifetime to make his own.

* * *

Shifters, vampires and dragons are real…

A year ago Liberty had no idea that things that go bump in the night actually existed. But supernatural beings are real. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in her new reality. Saved from a Hell realm by a team of half-demons and a demigod, she finds herself falling for her sexy rescuer Rory more and more every day. She’s worried she’s too broken to ever have a relationship again, but the more time they spend together, the harder it is to deny her attraction.

And when they choose a mate, they don’t give up easily.

Half-wolf, half-demon Rory has been looking out for Liberty ever since rescuing her from hell. And since she’s the wedding planner for his half-brother’s wedding, he sees her all the time. Not to mention he just happens to spend every night in her bed. Unfortunately he’s in wolf form when he stays over. He’s not sure what it’s going to take to move from friend to more, but he’s willing to wait forever if that’s what it takes. Because Liberty is worth fighting for, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make the brave survivor his.

My Review:
Overall: 4.25
Performance: 4.5
Story: 4.25

From the way the book description reads, it makes it sound like there are two totally separate books within the pages of this one. There are two stories, BUT they are wound together in the one book, so the point of view on all the events that are happening are jumping between the four main characters...AND a few of the PAST main characters,too. At this point in this series, I think I'm going to start needing flow charts to remember who is who and how they all relate to one another (the downside of listening to the books rather than reading them is that I don't retain the details like names as well). 

So, anyway, I got off track right away on this review. Because there are two romantic stories within this one, this book is a bit longer than the others in this series have been, but it is just as good...if not better for it. I loved both these stories and sets of couples. 

The amazingly good thing about this series is just how strong all the heroines are and I think the two in this book are my favorites so far. Rhea is a warrior within the wolf pack and she isn't sure she's good enough to mate with a dragon alpha (the most powerful of all the shifters). Then there's Liberty who's a human that the paranormals of the series found trapped in the demon realm where a human never should have been able to survive. I loved both of these really strong women because they are just everything that a heroine should be. 

And Katie Reus paired them with equally great heroes. Basically, I loved all the characters in this one. It was simply a good, entertaining read. I definitely recommend it and the entire series. But don't worry, despite what I said earlier about needing a flow chart, the author does an incredible job making sure that each book works as a standalone read. You could pick up any of the stories at any time and be able to enjoy the couple's story. But for premium enjoyment, you're definitely going to want to read them all.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Only You by Melanie Harlow

Title: Only You 
Author: Melanie Harlow
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: One and Only #1
Main Characters: Emme and Nate
Release Date: March 2018
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Nate Pearson is ridiculously handsome and wears the hell out of a suit and tie, but I’ve seen the parade of beautiful women leaving his apartment across the hall—a different one every time—and I want no part of it. When it comes to romance, I’m looking for something real, something that will last: the happily ever after. 

As a divorce attorney, he loves to tell me there’s no such thing.

As a wedding planner, I choose to disagree.

We disagree on almost everything, in fact. Everything except James Bond. The only time we really get along is when we’re watching 007 flicks together, and I’ll admit—he has rescued me from a disaster or five. So when one of the baton twirlers from his parade leaves a baby girl at his door with a note that says “I’ll come back for her” and he begs me for help, I can’t turn him down.

But it’s a mistake. 

Because watching him with his daughter, I start to see another side of Nate, a side that has my breath coming faster, my body craving his, my heart longing for him to change his mind about love and tell me there’s a chance for us. 

I don’t want to be just another girl leaving his apartment in the morning.

I want to be the one he asks to stay.
My Review:
Overall, this was a simple little happy read. I enjoyed it. I liked the characters...although there were more than a few times when I wanted to kick Nate in the shins. 

So, the set-up of this book...Emme has lived across the hall from Nate for years. They're friends. Emme has watched his parade of one night stands forever and has no desire to join the many. Nate has watched Emme's disastrous versions of relationships. They like one another as friends, but there's no way they could ever be anything more. 

Then Paisley shows up on Nate's doorstep...his 8 week old daughter that he didn't know existed. Emme has to step in and help just because Nate is clueless. Through sleepless nights and single parenting trials, suddenly they find themselves as something more, but all those things that kept them apart in the first place haven't just disappeared. Nate is still a commitment-phobe and Emme still gives her heart way too easily and quickly. 

And there's the mess of the baby in the middle of all of this. 

It was an enjoyable read. I liked it. I would definitely recommend it. It's a well-written and entertaining story with some low-level angst to keep it emotionally satisfying for this angst-loving girl.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

One and Only by Jenny Holiday

Title: One and Only
Author: Jenny Holiday
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #1
Main Characters: Cameron and Jane
Release Date: February 2018
Publisher: Forever
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Miss Responsibility meets Mr. Reckless
With her bridezilla friend on a DIY project rampage, bridesmaid Jane Denning will do anything to escape - even if it means babysitting the groom's troublemaker brother before the wedding. It should be a piece of cake, except the "cake" is a sarcastic former soldier who is 100% wicked hotness and absolutely off-limits.

Cameron MacKinnon is ready to let loose after returning from his deployment. But first he'll have to sweet talk the ultra-responsible Jane into taking a walk on the wild side. Turns out, riling her up is the best time he's had in years. But what happens when the fun and games start to turn into something real?

My Review:
Okay, I had to go back and read this book after reading book #2 in the series, which just released. I had just as much fun with this one. 

Quite simply, this is a fun series. It's about a group of four friends who are in the process of finding their happily ever afters while being bridesmaids for each other. It's fun to watch the bridezilla moments. It's fun to see the bonds of friendship overcome those tense moments. And it's fun to see the girls who have no hope for love to find exactly that. 

This book is about Jane. She's a young adult fantasy writer. She's plain Jane...the sedate one, the trustworthy one, the one everyone can count on to have the level head. So, she's the one who's tasked to rein in Cameron, the wild child younger brother of the groom, so he doesn't ruin the wedding. 

The thing is...Cameron earned his black sheep status falsely. Yes, all the stories about him are true...kind of. But no one has asked him for his side of things to realize that he's really a good guy who's been falsely maligned. But as Jane hangs out with him she begins to see that there's more to him than the stories. And he begins to see what a goddess she can be when she lets loose, so he makes it his mission to keep Jane in goddess mode. 

This book was so much fun. I really had a great time reading #2 is just as good, too. I highly recommend this series. It's fun and entertaining and kept me smiling as I read it. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Sub Mission by T.S. McKinney

Title: Sub Mission
Author: T.S. McKinney
My Rating: A-

Genre: Erotic Romance (m/m)
Series: #1
Main Characters: Seth and Baker
Release Date: June 2018
Publisher: Painted Hearts Publishing
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: erotic

Story Overview:
With subs being murdered at a Miami BDSM club, experienced dominant Agent Seth Wilkinson must find his own submissive to “entice” a killer. When he’s paired with Agent Baker Daley he wonders just how much a straight man can fake.

Baker Daley knows he can “play the part”; he just needs a chance to prove it to Wilkinson. Being a straight man should have no bearing when his Domme has trained him well in the practice and lifestyle of submission. After all, this is just a job, right?

One scene. One intuitive Dom. One sassy sub. The game is afoot…in more ways than one.

As passions ignite and both men grapple with their internal desires, the mission begins to heat up. In a race against time, confusion and danger, they may just discover the greatest threat is to their hearts.

My Review:
Ooh, this was a good book. I've never read this author so I really wasn't sure what to expect going in. I just knew that another blogger that I follow had recommended it and the story line really appealed to me. 

I was NOT disappointed. 

The book is about a private contract agency that's been tasked to figure out who is murdering gay men attending a BDSM club. The agent who is the Dom, Seth, is looking for a submissive agent to take in undercover with him to act as bait. Baker ends up being that agent. Baker is an experienced sub, but he's straight, not gay...the only real issue with this pairing. 

But you know, this is a romance novel, so that will be overcome. And dang, it was sexy getting there. I liked this book a LOT. The couple was dynamic and the action was non-stop from start to finish both in the development of their relationship and the sexual activity. 

My one complaint (and the reason my rating is an A- rather than an A) is that there were a few key scenes that seemed to get overlooked. They were in the book...passively...when the characters thought about what happened in them (like several trips to the club), but it was always after the fact and I felt like we'd missed out on some of the deeper emotions that could have come through those scenes.

But overall, it was a FANTASTIC book. I definitely won't think twice about reading this author again. From page one, this story captured my imagination and I didn't put it down until I finished the story. 

I definitely recommend it. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Built to Last by Julie Ann Walker

Title: Built To Last
Author: Julie Ann Walker
My Rating: A

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Black Knights, Inc #12
Main Characters: Angel and Sonya
Release Date: June 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Masterful, mysterious, and completely ruthless, Jamin “Angel” Agassi joined the Black Knights Inc. after a mission-gone-wrong forced him to undergo extensive plastic surgery and change his name. He's going to bring down the world's worst crime syndicate, and hopefully keep Sonya Butler, a love from his past, from discovering who he really is...

When a dark-eyed stranger gets caught up in Sonya’s latest mission, she starts to question all her hard-won instincts. Something about Angel tells her he's more than he seems, and sometimes, when she least expects it, he reminds her of a man she used to know. As the bullets fly, she realizes that in love and war nothing is ever what it seems...

My Review:
*eeps* The final book in the series? I'm not sure I can live without the BKI guys in my life, but luckily there was a hint at the end that there might be more to come. *crossing fingers*

Angel is probably the most elusive of the BKI guys. No one knows the real story about his history, and when it comes out in this, it's crazy. But the one person who knew Angel before his world become complicated and dangerous and impossible...was Sonya. She still mourns the man that died 10 years ago...and throughout most this book she doesn't know that Angel is that man. 

Gah, it's so good. The build-up and the suspense for when she'll find out is intense. But the payoff when that happens is worth the wait. Seriously, this book is so good. And that's before you get to all the side stories that are happening alongside the main romance. 

The team are finally close to taking down the bad guy they've been after for several books. There's another side romance that I adored between Rusty and Ace. Gah, those two guys...their romantic payoff was incredible, too. 

It was just the perfect ending for the series (that I hope isn't truly ending and is spawning off in a side series). But regardless, this particular story was fantastic. The action was non-stop from page one. And yes, there were a lot of things going on, but never once did I get impatient when we switched POV characters because all of them had great scenes happening. I just couldn't read it all fast the same time, I never wanted the book to end. 

This has been an incredible series and Julie Ann Walker ended it with perfection. I loved this book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest and voluntary review.

It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday

Title: It Takes Two
Author: Jenny Holiday
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Bridesmaid Behaving Badly #2
Main Characters: Wendy and Noah
Release Date: June 2018
Publisher: Forever
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
"The perfect rom-com." -Refinery29 on One and Only

In this hilarious romantic comedy, USA Today bestselling author Jenny Holiday proves that what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas...

All's fair in love and war
Wendy Liu should be delighted to be her best friend's maid of honor. But after years spent avoiding the bride's brother - aka the boy who once broke her heart - she's now trapped with him during an endless amount of wedding festivities. Luckily she's had time to perfect her poker face, and engaging Noah Denning in a little friendly competition might just prove that she's over him for good...

Noah Denning is determined to make his little sister's wedding memorable. But it seems Wendy is trying to outdo him at every turn. Challenging each other was always something he and Wendy did right, so when she proposes they compete to see who can throw the best bachelor or bachelorette party in Sin City, Noah takes the bait - and ups the stakes. Because this time around, he wants Wendy for keeps. And when you're fighting for love, all bets are off.

"Delightfully sexy and sweet." -Lauren Layne, New York Timesbestselling author, on One and Only

The Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series:
One and Only
It Takes Two
Three Little Words

My Review:
While I own book #1 in this series in my print tbr, I haven't read it yet. I need to change that now, because I really enjoyed this story. 

Wendy and Noah have a history. He was her best friend's older brother, and they bonded by the fact that they both had to mature before they should have. For Noah, that meant he worked two full time jobs on top of going to high school full time. Wendy was the shy wallflower in high school, but her life was changed when Noah stood her up at the prom. From that moment on, Wendy decided to be a stronger, more assertive person. No one was going to ruin her life again. She could rely on one person and one person only...herself. 

For Noah, he has no idea why Wendy has avoided him since that night. To him, they were going just as big deal, so when he got offered a second shift to work, he didn't think twice about not showing up for their 'date'. 

They had chemistry back then and that's increased even more now. To make things even more tense and sexually fraught between the two of them, they're both lawyers. They're experts at arguing and do it all the time. It's definitely a sort of foreplay for the two of them. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The dialogue is witty and fast and fun. The story was interesting and completely captured my attention. 

I loved the story and am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest and voluntary review.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

One Last Time by Corinne Michaels (audiobook)

Title:  One Last Time
Author: Corinne Michaels
My Rating: A-
Narrator: Andi Arndt and Sebastion York

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Main Characters: Noah and Kristin
Release Date: February 2018 (audiobook)
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
I’m getting really good at cutting my losses. 

First, the husband. Divorcing him was the best decision I ever made. But between single-parenting and job-hunting, I can’t catch my breath. When a celebrity blogging position falls into my lap, I’m determined to succeed. 

That is, until I get my first assignment and actually see Noah Frazier for the first time . . . practically naked and dripping wet. My heart races and I forget how to form complete sentences. His chiseled abs, irresistible smirk, and crystal blue eyes are too perfect to be real. So, what do I do? Get drunk and humiliate myself, of course. 

I’m ready to forget the awkward night, yet Noah has no intention of allowing me to move on. Instead, he arranges for me to write a feature on him, ensuring a lot more time together. One embarrassing moment after another, one kiss after another, and before I can stop myself, I realize—I’m falling in love with him. 

But when the unthinkable happens, can I even blame him for cutting his losses? 
What I wouldn’t give for just one last time . . .
My Review:
Overall: 4.25
Performance: 4.25
Story: 4.0

I've really enjoyed the books that I've read from Corinne Michaels and I can say with honesty that if you've enjoyed any of her other books, that you'll probably enjoy this one, too. It definitely has the same type of feel to it that the others have had. (Note: I've listened to most of her books on audio with these same two narrators and that may have helped all her stories have the same, similar feel to them that really may not be there if reading them  without the audio.)

Something that Corinne Michaels does very well is the broken down, scorned woman and giving her a hero who can truly build her back up. This book was that same story line. When the book begins, it's at the beginning of Kristin's marriage blowing up, so we get an up close and personal about what a jerk her ex was and just how verbally abusive he was to her. 

But that's where Noah comes in...the perfect guy. He's a movie star with gorgeous good looks who's never even been tempted into a relationship before...until he meets our heroine and then he's swept away.

I'll admit, the story felt a little far-fetched this time around, but that may be because I've read it all before...or the familiarity to the narrators like I mentioned before. I truly do NOT believe it is a fault within the book. I've just read several of these stories before, but honestly if I'd read this one first, I have no doubt I would have adored the story. And I did still really enjoy it...don't get me wrong. The writing is tight and entertaining and I liked listening to the audiobook. 

This is every woman's fantasy...have the perfect movie star (our american version of a prince, right?) come in and fall at the normal, housewife's feet and fall helplessly in love with her. What's not to love? 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Cursed Bones by Kelly Apple

Title: Cursed Bones 
Author: Kelly Apple
My Rating: A

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Grimwood #3
Main Characters: Isobel and Cade
Release Date: September 2016
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Once upon a time, Isobel Grimm had been the favored daughter of one of the oldest families in Grimwood. Prideful, arrogant, and vain, she found out the hard way that not all those she saw as beneath her are weak. Fleeing to her family manor hidden in the depths of the great forest seemed her only option when a powerful curse stole her looks and made her a monster in the eyes of most.

When an intruder invades her sanctuary, Isobel is forced to face some painful truths—she’s lived in solitude far longer than she realized and her problems are only the precursor for something far more deadly. For the trees in the forest are dying, stricken by a mysterious disease rotting them slowly from the inside.

In the manor hidden away from prying eyes, a pact has fallen and the entire forest is paying the price. As a Grimm, it’s Isobel’s duty to right this wrong and reverse the curse spreading across the land.

If she can’t, all of Grimwood may fall.

My Review:
I've read and enjoyed several of Kelly Apple's books, but this is by far my favorite of hers that I've read so far. This story is part of her series that's based on twisted fairy tales and since this one is based on my favorite fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, then it seems appropriate that it's my favorite story. I love the way Ms. Apple twisted the fairy tale to truly make the story her own. 

In this version of the well-known story, the heroine is the beast. Instead of being a monstrous animal, she has black lines under her skin. Imagining them, I saw them like her entire body is covered by tattoos. For the hero, Cade, he never thought of her lines as something hideous. He sees Isobel as a beautiful and slightly sad woman, especially as more and more of her story is revealed. 

And I don't want to say anymore, because I don't want to spoil the story any. But I will say that I love the brilliant twists on the original story. All the details of the original story are there, but twisted into a new version of the same story. I loved it so, so much. 

Cade is a true hero in every sense of the word. He's brilliantly loyal, but he also has other obligations beyond Isobel. There's the whole Grimm family and their effect on the Grimwood Forest is fascinating and I loved the fix that occurred in the story. It will be interesting to see the way it plays out in the rest of the series. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Promo Post: Guarded Desire by Christi Snow

Guarded Desire Details...

NM Protectors #1
(m/f new adult, romantic suspense)
Kidnapped and terrorized, I refuse to let anyone break me. I can stand on my own, no matter what it costs...even if that cost is my life.
I was living the life of an ordinary college coed, but that existence was blown wide open when I was kidnapped while visiting my very famous mother, rock-star, ViviAnna.
Now I’m back at college, pretending life is normal while dodging paparazzi and dealing with my face showing up regularly on the nightly news. Trying to find a new balance isn’t happening and the effort to not jump at every shadow or bump in the night is messing with my head more than I ever expected.
I’m a highly trained bodyguard, but that doesn’t mean I want to deal with some spoiled pop princess’s daughter, especially if she’s anything like her handsy mother.
But when I met Elle, she shocked the hell out of me. She’s nice and thoughtful with an incredible inner strength. Even more surprising...she doesn’t want me anywhere near her. But every once in a while I see a flash of fear and vulnerability that make all my protective instincts flare.
I have to protect her.
Because they never caught her kidnapper...
Note: This book is the first in a series of stand-alone, romantic suspense, new adult novels involving sexy bodyguards and the coeds they protect.

I'm trying something new with this release.
For the first 24 hours of release (until June 22nd),
the price will be $.99. 

For the week after that, it will be priced at $2.99.
Then the price will rise to its regular $3.99 price tag.
(this only applies to the ebook)

Amazon buy link

How about a sneak peek at an excerpt?


Chapter One

Three weeks later...
I shivered as a wave of fear rolled over me. Looking at the big windows of my penthouse loft in downtown Gran Colina, New Mexico shouldn’t affect me like this. I was safe now.
When I’d bought this loft, I’d loved those windows and all the light they infused into the apartment, but that had been when I’d lived in relative obscurity. Now after only being home for a few hours, all I could think about was how many eyes were out there, watching me through the clear glass.
And any of them could be his.
I wrapped my arms around my waist, feeling the tremors start deep inside. No, I’m stronger than this, I chanted to myself as I sank to the floor behind the safety of my kitchen island. No one could see me behind this thick wood.
I reached up and felt my way across the countertop for the remote to shut the floor-to-ceiling curtains. My hands shook so bad, I could barely hold the tiny piece of plastic to find the button. Finally, I could hear the rhythmic whirring of the motors that controlled the huge swaths of fabric shrouding my apartment in darkness so unlike the bright-shining, New Mexico sky.
But that didn’t stop his voice inside my head, mocking me. I’ll make you famous. You’ll be my most renowned creation.
I had never seen his face, and I knew that more than one cop had thought I’d made the whole thing up, but I could guarantee them that I’d never forget that creepy, sing-song voice. I could identify him by voice recognition alone. How could I forget it when it had haunted me every moment after he’d drugged and kidnapped me, making me into the very image of my way-too-famous mother before disappearing into the night.
Stop it!
Going through it in my head over and over and over again would slowly drive me insane. That’s why I’d escaped my mother’s house in Texas. I couldn’t live like this. I’d always prided myself in being strong and independent. It was time to take my life back. I wouldn’t let him steal it from me.
I called the front desk of my building.
“Ms. Wilcox, is everything okay?”
“Yes, Jennifer, everything’s fine.”
Jennifer Sloane ran security for the building, and she was tougher than any bodyguard that ViviAnna had ever hired to protect me, but since her bodyguards were usually glorified boy-toys, that wasn’t too surprising.
That was part of the reason I chose to live in this building. I liked that the head of security was a woman and tough as nails. It also meant my mom wouldn’t try to get in her pants. Thankfully, mom’s experiments with lesbianism had failed right along with her album on feminism. That awful publicity ploy had been an utter bomb.
I cleared my throat and peeked around the island to the massive, twenty-foot high windows now shrouded in darkness, but I still didn’t feel safe. In my mind, I knew the bulletproof glass would protect me, but that didn’t stop the ants from crawling under my skin.
“I’m sorry, Jennifer, I know this isn’t your area, but I was wondering if you might be able to help me.”
“I’ll do my best. What seems to be the problem?”
“I need...” My voice cracked, and I cleared my throat. “Um, sorry. I need something to cover my windows. Shutters, I think. Metal ones.” My voice wavered, and I just prayed Jennifer couldn’t hear the fear in it, but then I considered my request. Yeah, I might be becoming unhinged. I laughed a little hysterically. “I know. That sounds crazy, right?”
“No.” Her voice softened. “Would you like me to come up and check your apartment for you? I have equipment that can sweep it inside and out for bugs or any other electronic devices like cameras.”
My breath whooshed out of me, and I almost sobbed in relief. “That would be...helpful. Thank you, Jennifer.”
As I turned off my cell phone, I knocked it against my forehead. Of course, she had seen the story. Everyone in the country had seen the story. Poor, little, rich girl, kidnapped by a phantom, by someone who the police couldn’t even verify existed. It hadn’t taken long for the press to glom onto the idea that it was all a hoax.
But it wasn’t.
I still heard his voice.
I’ll make you famous.
That was the one thing I’d spent my whole life trying to avoid, and already, it was happening. In the past three weeks, my name had been in every paper, on every newscast in the country, but instead of becoming famous, I had become infamous.
I’d run home to escape it all, but as the prickles under my skin increased, I began to think that there was no escape from this living nightmare.
After Jennifer came and swept my loft for bugs, I managed to calm the panicked ants crawling under my skin. It helped that I’d sent an SOS out to my best friend, Trace, and he’d promised to be there as quickly as humanly possible. He’d been shooting a video for a commercial up in Santa Fe. He hadn’t known I’d be coming back today, or he would have already been here, taking care of me. I just had to survive the quiet alone for the two hours it would take him to drive from Santa Fe down to Gran Colina.
Trace had been taking care of me from the time my mother gave him to me for my fifteenth birthday. What? Didn’t everyone’s mother give her a hot, viral guy to take their virginity when they turned fifteen? Yeah, I know...totally unfair. But that’s what it’s like having grown up as ViviAnna’s offspring.
But it didn’t work out quite like she’d planned since Trace was gay, and I had no desire to shed my pesky virginity just because VA decreed it. Instead, Trace had become my very best friend, and the one person in this world who kept me safe when ViviAnna’s crazy seemed to be taking over.
Case in point...the circus my life had become in the last three weeks. Paparazzi, panic attacks, and paranoia...oh my. I’ve needed my best friend more the last few weeks than I ever had in my entire life. The problem...ViviAnna wasn’t aware that I’d never let him go after my supposed deflowering. Since he was trying to survive in an already brutal entertainment industry, he and I agreed it wasn’t worth the risk to let her know. One bad word from her could ruin him. I refused to have that on my conscience.
Instead, I’d spent the last three weeks trying to ignore the building panic buzzing inside of me to the point that I’m now having panic attacks inside my completely secure apartment.
Even that thought had my heartbeat speeding up again. Crap. I tried to gain control. Wasn’t there something on the internet about breathing into a paper bag to stop things like this?
I frantically started yanking my kitchen drawers open. Why didn’t I have any paper bags? Would recycling shopping bags work? As the spots began to encroach on my vision, I decide it couldn’t hurt. I sank to the floor and pressed my face into the recycled bag, focused on slowing down my breathing.
It felt like it took hours, but eventually, the elephant taking up residence on top of my chest began to climb off, leaving me exhausted and more than a little strung out.
I still sat on my kitchen floor, the idea of facing those windows enough to feed the tendrils of another panic attack looming.
Instead, I grabbed my cell phone and crawled across the width of my living room to the guest bedroom next to it. This room had been built as a panic room with a false wall included. But even after the wall closed behind me, I still didn’t feel secure enough. I crawled into the solid, thick wood armoire where I stored my winter wardrobe. Only as I settled inside the smaller space did I feel like I could breathe again.
I set the alarm on my phone so that I would be out before Trace arrived in two hours. He might be my best friend, but he didn’t know how deep my crazy was running right now.
No one needed to know.
Exhaustion pulled at me.
I just needed to relax and maybe take a little nap. Then, I’d feel like my normal self to face the windows of my apartment. Even with the shivering, I finally started to feel myself drift off to sleep.

Wanna

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