I’ve been keeping busy lately, encouraging myself to do daily writing sprints. I’m determined to finish this book by the end of March.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently working on the sequel to my upcoming release, Damaged Goods. It’s called Reckless Abandon and it takes place several years after Damaged Goods ends. Spoiler alert: Damaged Goods doesn’t exactly have a happy ending. Additional spoiler alert: these characters are fighters, determined to get their HEA…or destroy themselves trying.
RECKLESS ABANDON: It’s been five years since Everly had her heart broken by Grayson Dixon. In that time, she has skyrocketed to fame through her success with her band Autumn Fields. All of her success doesn’t heal the fission in her heart that Grayson left in his wake. She’s never gotten over him, over what happened between them. She’s avoided her home town for years, but when tragedy strikes and Everly returns…she has to face everything she ran from head on.
Grayson has regretted his decision to push her away since the day it happened, but he stubbornly thought she’d be better off without him. When Grayson learns that Everly has returned home to deal with a personal tragedy, he rushes to her side to confess his feelings for her. But is it too late? Has too much damage been inflicted? Can Grayson forgive her once he learns the secret she’s been keeping?”
I’m excited to release Damaged Goods, and then I am excited to release the sequel shortly after. I’m excited for you all to fall in love with Grayson the way I feel in love with Grayson. I’ve blogged about why this character is important to me before, but I’ll let you guys see for yourself.
And…because I am super nice and I know how much everyone loves a little book boyfriend POV, I thought I’d share a little something I tossed together to introduce you all to the perfectly flawed Grayson Dixon.
Click to read Grayson’s POV in it’s raw, all natural format because my husband says I’ve been sitting at the computer for too long. I guess he’s right. I did log over 10,000 words today. I’m not even kidding. My butt is numb. So, here it is in all it’s unedited glory…
Grayson, Damaged Goods. Releasing Spring 2015.
My world was a dark, barren wasteland for so long, until I met her. It’s completely cliche, this love at first sight crap. I never would have bought into it before, but I hadn’t known her before.
I never forgot her face, the face of an angel…of something so pure and perfect. Something I knew I would destroy.
Everly Daniels was always beautiful. Her soft, pouty pink lips are what first drew me in. The smooth cream of her porcelain complexion, her ethereal pale green eyes and thick lashes. She was a natural stunner, the first glimpse of breathtaking beauty I had ever seen.
The best part was that Everly didn’t act like the other girls. The girls who knew they were pretty, who flaunted their looks about the halls of high school as if they were fashion runway models.
Her looks weren’t the only thing that I was drawn to. There was just something about her soul, her purity and kindness. I knew from the first time I saw her that she was special, she was someone who deserved to be cherished.
And I knew, from the first time her eyes locked with mine, that I was all wrong for her.
I had a mile long list of fuck ups already at the tender age of 14. I was in the middle of watching my parents go through a bitter, ugly divorce. I was in a bad place, rebelling against it all.
This new feeling that she woke up in me, it terrified the living hell out of me. The last thing I wanted was to open myself up to the same kind of heartbreak my mother suffered from.
Even after I moved away with my mom, I thought about Everly sometimes. Mostly I would just picture her face and wonder what she was up to, if she was still the same girl I had been unable to tear my gaze away in eight grade.
But I would be lying if I told you I pined after her. I was pretty good at keeping myself busy and distracted. Shortly after we moved into the tiny apartment, Mom lost her job. She was too drunk to get out of bed for her shifts, and after a while…her “just got a divorce” excuse didn’t cut it anymore.
I got so numb to cleaning up her messes, that I shut down. I started smoking a lot of pot, and drinking my weight in alcohol, hoping to rouse her from her pit of despair, but it never worked. She only ever acknowledged me if she was in hysterics and needed a shoulder to cry on, or if she wanted to rage at me because I was “just like him”.
At first, I had pitied her and rallied for her. I wanted the woman that had been my mother to emerge from the fiery incognito. The woman who had taken me on random road trips every single summer. The woman who was fun and lively. But when that didn’t happen…my resentment festered into something unrecognizable and ugly. I started to hate her the same way I hated Dad for what he did. He had to have known what it would do to her, unless he was that blind to her.
Mom was always more in love with Dad than he was with her. She put her entire identity into her marriage with him, and me. But when he told her he was leaving her for his girlfriend who he had knocked up, she disappeared. Cloaked herself in despair and treated the emptiness with bottles of whiskey. She couldn’t even bare to look at me, the son of the man who destroyed her.
I didn’t want that for myself. I didn’t want to give someone the power to utterly break me, and I didn’t want to break anyone the way my dad broke my mom. I knew I wasn’t capable of giving anyone love. I had always had a difficult time connecting with other people. Feeling good emotions, expressing myself. I was more or less a “push everything way down” kind of guy. The only emotions I let come through were anger, violence, and indifference.
I had always been that way, angry and disconnected, even before the divorce. I knew things were fucked with my parents, and had known it probably before either of them knew it. It was in the way Dad stopped looking at Mom. It was in the way he stopped hearing her when she spoke. He stopped seeing her, and he stopped caring. You can’t care about what you don’t see.
Dad didn’t give a fuck that he left Mom utterly defenseless in the world, and that she was drowning in despair. All he cared about was housing up with his new, pregnant girlfriend. Before the ink could even dry on their divorce papers, Dad was marrying Vanessa on a beach in Rio, in a hurry to get his new life started.
So there I was, still in high school and struggling to deal with my very broken mother. At least I tried, for as long as I could I tried…she doesn’t didn’t care to hear what I had to say.
When she wasn’t passed out in a drunken slumber, I could hear her crying down the hall. It did a number on me, it made me angrier, more violent, and killed whatever hope I had left that love exists.
Convenience, now that exists. Dad stayed with Mom, long after he’d fallen out of love with her, because it was more convenient to live a lie than to deal with the outcome of his actions. But eventually, it wasn’t convenient anymore.
Kids are convenient too. They do chores, they carry on the family name, and they’re fun when they’re kids. It’s when they turn into defiant teenagers that they become no longer convenient.
Dad never acted as if he replaced me, in fact…he tried to include me in everything. He invited me to his wedding to Vanessa (I didn’t go) and asked me to visit my newborn half-sister in the hospital (I didn’t).
I still harbored a lot of resentment toward him for breaking Mom, and I couldn’t just walk into the house I’d grown up and see Dad with his new happy family. It pissed me off that he wanted me to do that.
I started fighting more, my fists laying out the fury that swirled within me. Fighting was a momentary way to feel better about everything.
Needless to say, I definitely wasn’t in a good place. The night I saw Everly at the fair was the night that pulled me back…just a little. Her sudden presence back in my life brought some light back to me. I tried to tell myself to keep my distance, but I couldn’t. I grew addicted to talking to her, to spending time with her.
I was careful to never blur the lines between talking and a casual friendship, but I knew she wanted more.
The scary thing was that I wanted more too. I couldn’t stop thinking about her, I craved her. Which is exactly why I tried to sabotage it every chance I got.
One night in June, I showed up at a party that I knew Everly would be at. I was late, of course, but my eyes were instantly drawn to her the moment I walked into the house. She was leaning against the far wall, her arms folded protectively across her chest. A sea of bodies separated us, swaying drunkenly to some Black Eyed Peas hit.
Her eyes widened as I approached her. She slowly drew in her bottom lip and bit it, looking away as she blushed. Her response sent desire coursing threw my veins. I wanted to press her up against the wall and kiss her.
“Hey,” I said instead, fear keeping me in check. I was terrified that I would hurt her, in fact…I was sure I would. I knew I couldn’t give her what she needed. She wasn’t the kind of girl you could casually hook up with, and I wasn’t the kind of guy who could keep her happy. She deserved happiness. The kicker was, I had never cared about anyone’s happiness before. I had never thought about my actions before acting. I just did whatever I wanted, not caring about consequences…and what I wanted was her.
She made me feel different, she made me want to care. Just being around her, just talking to her…it made me feel more human. I was so numb to everything else, she was the one bright thing…the remaining thread between losing myself completely.
“Do you want a drink?” I asked her, smirking at her with arrogance. I knew she didn’t drink, so it surprised the hell out of me when she timidly said sure.
I was even more surprised when she grabbed my hand and pulled me out to the dance floor a little while later, the alcohol making her brave. I knew I was in trouble the moment her hand touched mine. Every hair on my arm stood up, her warmth shocking me.
Then she started to dance, her hips moving against mine, her ass grazing against my cock. Helpless against the feel of her, I couldn’t fight the arousal even if I wanted to. At that moment, I didn’t want to. She felt too good against me, my blood roared pleasantly in my ears and my pants quickly grew tight and uncomfortable. I grabbed her hips gently, moving with her.
I knew she felt it, my body’s obvious reaction to how badly I wanted her. I could tell by the look in her eyes when she spun around to face me. I kept my hands on her hips, gently squeezing with my fingers. I lowered my face to hers so that our lips were dangerously close. I wanted more than anything to close that small gap between us and kiss her senseless, kiss her until I forgot everything about my shitty life.
She would have let me. I could see it in her eyes, she wanted me just as badly as I wanted her. She rubbed against me, her lips parting slightly, invitingly. At the last moment, I chickened out. I muttered some lame parting excuse and got the hell out of there.
I kicked myself mentally the entire way home. I should have stayed, I should have told her. I should have kissed her, just once, so that I’d have that good memory at least. But I was a coward, and I knew I couldn’t be what she wanted.
Later that night, I was laying on top of my bed when my computer dinged with a message from Everly.
“I care about you…a lot. Like, more than a friend. I want to be with you, Grayson…more than I’ve ever wanted anything or anyone…”
Her words sent me into a strange, unfamiliar place. For a moment, I felt hope. It nearly blinded me, it was so bright, but it faded quickly from my grasp with the sobering knowledge that I am unworthy of her. She is too kind, too fragile. I would destroy her within seconds.
I started typing my response in the little window, but I couldn’t figure out what to say. I wanted her, more than anything…but the thought of giving in to my desires terrified me on so many levels. I was no virgin, far from it…but I had yet to blur the line between casual hookups and something that could be described as having a “meaningful” relationship. I didn’t know what it entailed, but I knew I would fuck it up…surely as the night was dark. I knew there was nothing casual about my feelings, and I knew that she didn’t deserve casual anyway. She deserved fireworks.
Each time I typed out a sentence, I would immediately erase it. None of the words I put together made sense. I wasn’t a poet, words didn’t come easily. Expressing myself properly was an improbable fleet, even when I wasn’t overcome with confusing emotions.
I closed my eyes, allowing myself a moment to picture actually being with Everly, of getting to touch her whenever I wanted…
The happy image was replaced with one of her face, the heartbreak evident on her tear-streaked face. The ultimate ending. I couldn’t help but picture her suffering from a broken heart, the same way that my mother suffered. I was just like him.
I would destroy Everly, or I would destroy myself. I didn’t like either option.
“I can’t feel that way about you,” I typed, hitting enter before I could change my mind. I knew the moment when she read it. She started to type several times, but words wouldn’t come to her either. She had never had a problem with words before.
Suddenly, she signed off without a goodbye. I stared at the gray screen, feeling very much as if a door had slammed in my face.
It was what I wanted, to push her away, to save her from the heartbreak and disappointment she would feel from actually being with me.
So why did I feel like it was the biggest mistake of my life?
* * * *
Thoughts of Everly would plague my mind and torture me any chance I sat still long enough to think. I even dreamed of her, of the way it felt to have her ass moving against me as she danced. I thought about her full, pouty lips, her tawny hair and those dark eyes that drew me in every time.
Each night, I would wait for her to sign on. She never did.
My life went from shitty to worse. Between the light of good disappearing when I blew it with Everly, and my mother nearly dying, my summer was a sobering reminder of what I fuck up I was.
Shutting it all off was my go-to coping mechanism, and always had been. Only this time, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking all those heavy thoughts. It was like a Merry Go Round of fucked up. Thoughts of Everly and what I could never be for her plagued me. Thoughts of my fucked up family, of my mom who couldn’t be bothered to put down the bottle until a court order had us dropping her off at rehab.
She had nearly died of alcohol poisoning. I found her in the bathroom one day after school, unconscious with a very slow heart beat.
When Dad found out, he put his foot down and told her that if she didn’t go to rehab and get off the booze, he would no longer pay her spousal support. He got a good lawyer, too. He was mad as hell and stone cold serious. He felt that all his hard earned money was going straight to the bottles, and it was. She hadn’t done a single thing with that money. She hadn’t even paid rent in three months. On my way home from the hospital, I came back to the apartment to find an eviction notice taped on our door and the damn locks changed.
Mom wasn’t giving up without a fight though. She tried to insist that things were fine, and she just hadn’t had alcohol in a while and forgot her limit. The betrayal that she looked at me with when I called her out on her bullshit was a swift kick to the gut.
“You’re leaving me too,” Mom had cried at me, clinging to my shirt when Dad and I dropped her off that day at the rehabilitation center the hospital recommended.
“Mom, I’m not leaving you…we lost the apartment, remember?” I told her, trying to keep my voice gentle. But it was hard, my resentment for her and how she handled herself had festered. She didn’t even remember the eviction notice on the apartment, even though I had told her about it six times. She’d been staying as an inpatient at the hospital while I’d been forced to move back home with Dad.
She wasn’t hearing it though. Mom had gotten herself into a comfortable groove of blaming everyone for her misery. It was choking me.
I blindly hoped that the rehabilitation center would somehow find a way to fix her, so that I could stop trying. I felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulder.
Still…it was weird being back home. I grew up in that house. We had Christmas mornings and birthday dinners in that house…back when Mom could breath without grasping her chest as if it hurt, back before she lived on a constant diet of booze and pills to ease her pain.
It hurt being there, and when I hurt…I acted out in anger. To make the adjustment easier for all, Dad renovated a loft over the garage for me. I could see the main house from the window across from my bed, but I wouldn’t have to be around the happy family…unless I wanted to.
The transition was surprisingly easy for me, and I felt guilty about that. Guilty that I felt as if a weight had been lifted of my chest. Guilty that I was glad to be away from that misery and heartache. I had my own space.
Plus, I would be attending the same school as Everly again. I would get to see her, maybe daily. Maybe I would even get a chance to explain what I was trying to say by “I can’t feel that way about you.”…once I figured it out, that is.
It was the first time that I had ever been nervous about starting a new school year, and it was all because I knew I would see her.
I wasn’t counting on seeing her so soon, though. I wanted to bide my time, maybe see her from afar and gage the damage.
Katrina Underhill met me in the student parking lot. She knew I was back in town, and had known for some time now. Katrina, Kenny, Aiden and Michelle were the closest people to friends that I had, which was actually pathetic and tragic when I thought about it. I didn’t actually like any of them. Their personalities and mannerisms pissed me off more often than not. But they smoked pot, liked the same music as me, and were disconnected and isolated from the general population…for the most part. They were a bunch of regular old misfits, and hanging out with them was convenient.
They had been my convenient friends for the past several years. I had even hooked up with Katrina a few times while high and drunk at parties. It was years ago, history to me that I definitely wouldn’t be repeating. But judging by the way Katrina was looking at me…our previous relations weren’t exactly in her past.
“Grayson,” she said, smiling coyly as she let my name float between us like a caress. At one time, I thought Katrina was hot. I could tolerate her company fairly well, and she was always around. It was just a convenience thing.
Her clingy personality and the vindictive way she got when someone crossed her had always been a major turn off. Plus, the sex wasn’t that good, and Katrina had not been satisfied with my approach on our arrangement. She didn’t get that sometimes, sex was just sex. She pasted a label on what we were doing, so I bowed out. I stopped coming around for a while, until she got the hint.
I grunted in response, barely sparing her a second glance as I headed into the school, my hands in my pockets and my head down slightly. Katrina followed suit, accustomed to my brush offs. She was so used to them that they no longer phased her.
“Do you know where to go?” I stared blankly at her, raising an eyebrow at her question. I wasn’t dense, and this school was three times smaller than my last high school. “To find out who you have for homeroom. Duh!” Katrina added, rolling her eyes and shaking her head. She started to led the way, filling me in on useless updates that I didn’t care about while we walked. I was barely paying attention to a word she said, just nodding every so often.
I glanced up, and my heart stopped beating for a fleeting second when I saw her. She was standing by the cafeteria doors, beside Aubrey, Lindsay and Alicia. Everly was staring at me with a look on her face of disbelief, confusion and pain. Gone was the usual smile and blush that accompanied her shy greeting.
I momentarily lost myself in her eyes, in her very presence. Katrina’s voice cruelly roused me from my spell.
“Oh, hi Everly,” Katrina said, her smug voice grating on my nerves. I shot her a warning look, which she ignored.
“Oh, hi Katrina, sacrifice any chickens lately?” Everly’s friend, Lindsay, rushed to the rescue. If I weren’t so thrown by the hurt look on Everly’s face, I would have laughed.
Katrina responded, only I wasn’t really paying attention. I was too busy watching Everly like a deranged, starving man. I only reacted when I heard her call me babe and touch my upper arm. I shot her another, darker warning look, but before I could open my mouth and tell her off, Everly was gone, storming down the hallway with her long caramel mane flowing out behind her like a banner.
I glared at Katrina, but said nothing as we walked into the cafeteria. Katrina knew about Everly’s feelings for me. The deep attraction was obvious to even the least observant person around. I didn’t confide in Katrina about anything, she didn’t know how I felt about it…but she wasn’t dumb either. She had long since guessed that I cared for Everly. It was evident in the way that I glared at Katrina any time she said mentioned Everly’s name.
I knew it pissed Katrina off that I wouldn’t talk about Everly with her. I had never even really admitted my feelings for Everly to myself, the last person I would talk about it with was Katrina.
I headed into the cafeteria to check the bulletin boards to find out where my homeroom class was. I walked up to the “D” board, quickly finding my last name. Dixon, Grayson…History with Mr. Richardson. Room 212.
My eyes sought out Everly’s last name with complete ease, as if it was etched in red. Daniels, Everly…History with Mr. Richardson. Room 212. Inwardly, I was freaking out. Outwardly, I barely blinked. I had perfected the stoical air of indifference. I could appear calm and steady in the middle of a hurricane, even when my entire world was rattled right off it’s axles…
Add Damaged Goods to your Goodreads To Be Read list!
For more insider details, go join my fan club or like my Facebook page (or, you know, do both). I post teasers and news in those places first (mainly because I can NEVER get MailChimp to work for me…sigh).