“Here,” Abel said, setting something down on the pillow. Mars reached for it, wrapping her fingers around a rigged piece of metal.
She sat up with a start. “A key,” she said.
Eyes still averted, Abel shrugged. “Yeah. To the apartment. Just in case.”
Struggling to hold back her grin, she raised an eyebrow “Just in case? Just in case what?”
“Just in case you ever want to just… I don’t know. Stop by.”
Smiling widely now, she playfully nudged him. “Abe. You like me, don’t you?”
He rolled his eyes. “Shut up. Obviously I like you.”
“No, I mean…” She paused and turned to lie on her belly, her face just inches from his. “I mean you really like me. Don’t you?”
With a small shrug, he finally looked at her. Gone from his eyes was any trace of humor. “And what if I do, Mars?”
Her own smile wavered. Just for a moment. “Show me, then,” she said, raising her lips to chin, then to his cheek, then to his mouth. He kissed her back for just a moment before pulling away.
“Do you have any siblings?”
Her eyebrows furrowed and she propped herself up on her elbow. “No.”
“Only child, huh?”
“That’s usually what no siblings means.”
He nodded. “I guess you’re close with your parents, then.”
She narrowed her eyes. “What are you doing?”
“I have a younger sister, Daniella. She about—”
“Abel,” she interjected. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m trying to get to know you, Mars.”
“We’ve slept together. You know me better than most people.”
He looked her straight in the eye. “Well that’s pretty sad then, because I don’t know you at all.”
With a sigh, she pushed the blankets off of her and climbed out of the bed. “It’s getting late,” she said.
“I’ll call you, okay?”
Abel also stood up, and went around the bed to where she stood, pulling on her pants. “Stop,” he said, taking her by the hands. “Please don’t go.”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I really have to run.”
Letting out a frustrated sigh, Abel carefully but forcefully pushed Mars back down on the bed and pulled her pants off of her. “You’re not leaving,” he said, getting up and tossing the pants to the other side of the room. “It’s been six fucking months, Mars. I need you to give me something. Your dreams and aspirations. A childhood anecdote. Something.”
She pressed her lips together defiantly before letting out a heavy sigh. “Fine,” she conceded. “What do you want to know?”
Look what came in the maillllll
Heyy, that’s MY book on iTunes, Barnes & Noble, & Kobo :). Pre-order the eBook for only .99! Price goes up to 5.99 upon release (September 13!!!!!!!!!!!). Print edition will be available in September as well. #iwroteabookyall #SolitudeofaBirdcage
Good news reviewers! Solitude of a Birdcage is officially available to request on NetGalley!
If you’re approved to review Solitude, be sure to share your feedback. All users who leave reviews will automatically be entered to win one of these of awesome prizes:
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All you have to do for a chance to win is leave your feedback on NetGalley. For DOUBLE entry, leave your review on Goodreads and submit the review’s Goodreads’ URL to NetGalley (via feedback).
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Free books? Yes, please. Thanks #BEA2014!
They’re butchered yet ANOTHER Flowers in the Attic and now they’re moving on to Petals on the Wind. This series deserves wayyy better =(
“He went out for milk. That was eleven years ago.”
Joey’s widened. “You’re kidding. He just… never came back?”
Lauren shrugged. “We haven’t seen him since.”
“Wow. I mean, you hear stories like that, but… Wow. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that actually happened to you.”
She shrugged again. “Like I said, it was eleven years ago. I barely even remember the guy.”
That was a lie. Her memory of him was painfully sharp. She could still picture every detail of his face; the small wrinkles beside his eyes, prominent especially when he smiled. The long scar across his chin. The way his bottom lip fell slightly to the right when he smiled.
She remembered the sound of his laughter, usually ending in a coughing fit after years of smoking. She could remember the way he smelled, like tobacco and natural musk. She could remember the way he felt when he pulled her head against his belly to drop quick kisses on the crown of her head.
No matter how hare she tried, she couldn’t forget him.
As if Joey could sense her silent anguish, he took her hand in his and squeezed. “That guy’s an asshole. Anyone who doesn’t want to be in your life is an asshole.”
Lauren smiled. “That’s sweet.”
She leaned over and pressed her lips to his. They were soft and comforting, and when his arms went around her, she almost felt as if she didn’t need a father.
When they parted, she said, “Tell me about your father.”
He lowered his eyes. Almost modestly, he said, “He’s alright.”
Nudging him, she said, “You can tell me. I’ll try not to get too jealous.”
He smirked. “Me and my dad are best friends. I can’t remember him ever not being around when I needed him. He’s a real stand-up guy. The epitome of a good parent.” He looked at her. “Hey, why don’t you meet him? We can go to my house, right now.”
Her mouth fell agape. “Meet your dad?”
“My whole family,” he said, the corners of his lips curling up into a smile. “Why not? It’ll happen eventually, right?”
“Are you sure that’s what you want?” she asked. “I mean, it’s a big step. Meeting the family.”
Still smiling, he stood up and offered her his hand. “C’mon, Lauren. Let’s go introduce you to my family.”
Taking his hand, she returned his smile and let him lead her to his car. Her heart hammered against her chest as the ride brought them closer to his house. She cared about him, more than she’d ever cared about a boy. Maybe she even loved him. And now she knew that maybe he loved her, too.
Not every man is going to leave you, her mother always said. Not every man is your father. But in her heart, the fear of abandonment lived and reeked havoc. It left her cold and withdrawn, afraid to commit. Afraid to feel.
Except Joey somehow found his way through the wall she’d built. He found his way through it and, as they drew closer to his house, he tore it down. Resentful brick by resentful brick.
“Don’t be nervous,” he said, when they pulled into his driveway. “They’re going to love you. Like I do.”
Lauren could feel her heart fill with warmth. She took a deep breath and followed him through the front door. “Have a seat,” he said, motioning toward the couch. “I’ll go get everyone.”
Unable to stop grinning, she nodded and set down on the couch. When he disappeared, she peered around curiously at her surroundings. The small living room looked like something from a sitcom. A sitcom about a perfect, happy family. If she weren’t floating with elation, she’d certainly feel the pang of bitterness that lingered in her gut.
Family photos lined the walls and decorated the tables. One in particular caught her attention. It was propped atop the fireplace and Lauren stood to get a closer look at it. It was of Joey and his family; his mother, his younger sister, his baby brother.
And his father.
She recognized the wrinkles beside his eyes. The scar on his chin. His crooked smile. And then his voice, from just behind her.
2014 so far ♡
If Karma finds me, I’m fucked.
I know this, and still, here I am. After the last time, I promised myself I wouldn’t come back. I promised myself, and I silently promised Thomas as well.
My best friend, my brother. The one person in the entire world that I can count on, the one person who would never hurt me. And yet, I can’t stay away from her.
What is it about her? What is it that keeps both me and Thomas and every other man thinking of her, even long after she’s gone? When we’re together, when I’m touching her, when I’m holding her, I try to memorize the way it all looks and feels and smells, just so I can relive it in my mind once I leave her.
Just last night, he said, “I can’t live without her. She’s the love of my life.”
I’m being selfish, I know. After all, she isn’t the love of my life. I have someone who I love, someone who I want to spend forever with. Her name is Anna and she’s smart and funny and wildly beautiful. I like the sound of her laughter and the way she sometimes runs the tips of her fingers from my chin, down past my throat, and up again until I fall asleep. Sometimes I start to miss her as soon as she walks away from me. Sometimes the anticipation of seeing her again is what carries me through a bad day.
But she’s missing something. Something that I can certainly live without, though as of late, I’ve been choosing not to. Elizabeth has that something.
As Anna’s face passes through my thoughts, Elizabeth’s back door opens. A smile unfolds on her lips, and the calm in her voice as she says, “hey,” betrays the spark of excitement in her eyes.
She steps aside and I pass by her, into her dark kitchen. “Be extra quiet,” she says. “My parents just went up to bed a little while ago. They might still be awake.”
My heart starts to beat a little faster. Hiding from her parents, Thomas, from Anna, from the whole entire world. It’s beginning to feel more tiring than exhilarating. Suddenly, I have an idea. “Let’s go out tonight.”
She recoils, perplexed. “Go out? Go out where? What if someone sees us?”
I shrug. “I don’t know. Who cares? We’ll risk it, just one night.”
For a moment, she contemplates. Then, she too, shrugs. “Alright,” she says, as if surprised by her own concession. “Fine. Let’s go out.”
I go back outside and wait in the car for her to join me. When she does, I announce that we’re going out to eat. Like on a real date. Like a real couple would do. I imagine this makes her happy, as she’s often tells me she wishes we could go out like a real couple.
I never bother telling her we aren’t a real couple. We never will be. She’s with Thomas and I’m with Anna. Anna, who— despite my recent indiscretions— is the only person I care to go on dates with.
It’s just one night. It’s exciting. Terrifying. And I’m sure Elizabeth will thank me thoroughly afterward. Satisfied with this, I decide that maybe this will even be our last hoorah.
I drive forty-five minutes out of town, where I’m pretty sure no one we know will recognize us. The tiny café is tucked away in the middle of nowhere. The only reason I know it exists of because it serves Anna’s favorite cheesecake. More than once, she’s convinced me to drive here just for a slice.
As I escort Elizabeth inside, she immediately heads to the bathroom while I find a booth. But just as I’m about to sit down at one of the lone back tables, a familiar mop of dark hair catches my attention.
For a moment, I simply stare at the girl across the café. She’s sharing a table, and a slice of cheesecake, with a guy I don’t recognize and at first, I’m sure it’s innocent. It has to be.
But then he smiles. And he takes Anna’s hand. And he leans over and kisses her square on the mouth. I can hear her laughter— the laughter that I love— carry across the small restaurant.
It’s Karma, I realize. She’s found me.