Everything done in darkness, will eventually be brought into the light.
I ran, but all it did was keep me one step ahead of my past. I tried to start over; new name, new identity. But you can’t change your soul.
A fresh start at college was just what I needed. For a while, it worked. I was the party girl, the one that seemed confident, but it was a lie.
When guys kissed me–I felt only pain.
When they touched me–Nothing but fear.
Deep inside, every girl wants to be the beauty in the story, to find someone that will see you as their world.
But the truth? I was the beast. And as much as I wanted redemption, I wasn’t fool enough to think I’d ever get it.
Until he walked into my life.
I wasn’t prepared to fall for someone. My scars were too deep, the wounds too raw. But he offered me peace, he offered me security. I should have known it was just another lie–I should have known that falling in love with my professor was a bad idea.
But I was powerless to stop myself from falling.
And he was powerless to catch me.
Because the darkness finally caught up to me, and as fate would have it, a cruel twist almost bled me dry. But I’m stronger than I knew. I’m stronger than you think.
You think you know my story, but you don’t….after all everyone has Shame in their lives– and I’m no longer afraid to show you mine.
“Just hold still!” I yelled, holding up my phone while Gabe gave me the finger. I grimaced and dropped the camera away from my face. “Nice, thanks for that.”
“I’m a giver.” He smirked.
Saylor, his wife, smacked him on the arm and rolled her eyes.
I scrunched up my face when he leaned in and took Saylor’s mouth with his, kissing her senseless in the local Starbucks like they were doing a romance scene in a movie. I coughed.
They didn’t pull apart.
So I took a picture.
I earned another finger, but Gabe still didn’t dislodge from his wife.
“Whoa!” Wes’s voice sounded from behind me. “They been at it long?”
“Are all newlyweds disgusting?” I voiced aloud.
Wes moved around the table with his wife, Kiersten, and gave me a goofy shrug. I wanted to roll my eyes, but Wes was too nice and hot. Let’s not forget the hot part. Both he and Gabe were like walking poster boys for GQ. Both blond, now that Gabe had decided to dye his hair back to his original color. It was like staring at two really bright superstars.
Hating them was like hating the Easter bunny. Try all you want, but you’ll eat every piece of chocolate in the basket, just you wait.
“So, classes?” Kiersten leaned forward. “I heard you got stuck with that hot new psych prof.”
Wes growled low in his throat.
“Down boy.” I braced my hands on the table and laughed. “Besides he’s not that hot.”
“A girl passed out.” Kiersten’s eyebrows shot up. “Like in class.”
“Dehydration?” I shrugged, taking a sip of coffee.
“Or…” She leaned forward. “…the rumors are true.”
“Rumors…” Gabe backed away from Saylor, his lips swollen. “…are always based on truth.”
“So you really did do a naked dance in your underwear last week after getting drunk downtown at Pike Place Market?” I tilted my head and waited while Gabe rolled his eyes and popped his knuckles. “Exactly.”
He opened his mouth.
I took a picture.
With a grimace, he snatched my phone away from me. “Never thought I’d have to tell you to lay off the pictures, Miss Paparazzi.”
I slumped in my seat. “It’s for an assignment with that hot professor.”
“Aha!” Kiersten jabbed her finger at me. “I knew it.”
I pinned her with a look. “Sarcasm, friend, sarcasm.”
“Boys get girls pregnant,” Gabe offered, while Wes choked on the coffee he’d just stolen out of my hand.
Serves him right!
“Don’t date them.”
“You’re going to be a great dad.” I smiled sweetly. “What? You’re just going to lock your girls in their rooms and go—” I mimicked his voice. “—uh, you see boy parts are bad, they make girls have lots of babies, like rabbits, and you know how rabbits make dad nervous and—”
“Hilarious,” Gabe’s eyes narrowed. “And please don’t talk about kids yet…”
Saylor laughed quietly next to him then squeezed his arm.
My heart dropped.
A very long time ago, I’d wanted to be that for Gabe, then Taylor happened and well… I shuddered, blocking out the painful memories, the things I’d done, the things he’d done, the things we’d done.
“You okay?” Wes asked, his voice soft. He was way too perceptive for my taste. If I’d wanted to share, he’d be the guy I’d talk to, but I was a vault. Sharing meant admitting my guilt, and admitting meant I’d probably go insane just like he had.
“Yeah…” I straightened in my seat. “…I just don’t want to fail my class, and I need to write down nonverbal cues and take at least one picture. And pretty sure I need to ace this first assignment on account that I was late to my prof’s class, and I got in trouble.”
“He spank you?” Gabe’s eyes mocked across his coffee.
“Yes, Gabe,” I said calmly. “Because that’s how they punish bad students here at UW — with a yardstick and a smile.”
“I wish.” He whistled. “What I wouldn’t give to have Saylor—”
I plugged my ears.
He threw his head back and laughed while Saylor turned bright red and put her hand over his mouth to shush him.
“So…” Wes ignored Gabe as was his usual and leaned across the table. “…why don’t you take pictures of people here in the coffee shop? I mean, ask permission, but most people here are super interesting, right? Studying? Stressed out? Tired?” He pointed to a guy in the corner. “He looks like he’s running on five cups of coffee and one hour of sleep. Go ask, take the picture, make some notes, project done.”
“You make it sound so easy,” I grumbled.
He grinned. “I’m Wes Michels.”
I hung my head lower and grimaced.
“Phone.” He held out his hand and stood.
Within minutes, not only had he snapped two pictures for me but had taken notes on two pre-med students who had stayed up all night cramming for what they’d assumed would be a pop quiz, only to find out that they’d been in the wrong class on the wrong day.
“And that’s why I’m not pre-med.” Gabe shuddered.
“Really?” Kiersten asked. “I thought it was because big words scared you?”
“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. What now?” He nodded. “Keep talking, Kiersten, or keep walking.”
“Spell it.” She smirked.
“So this professor…” Gabe changed the subject. “If he tries anything, use the Mace or the rape whistle.”
“Right.” I nodded. “I’ll be sure to do that. In class. With a hundred other students. When he looks at me cross-eyed.”
“Good,” he huffed.
“I was kidding.”
Saylor patted Gabe’s shoulder. “Gotta let the baby birds out of the nest someday, Gabe.”
Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances.
When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and
plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir
Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing