Friday, May 30, 2014

Four Sides of a Triangle: Review

Another 5 star review for Four Sides of a Triangle!

"I found the book very interesting and I thought that the plot line was great, it used a mixture of ideas and twisted it all together to become a really great plot.The ideas that the author came up with were really original and hooked you in right from the beginning,I also loved the relationship between the characters and you could defiantly feel as if you were in their shoes! Overall it was a very good read and I would defiantly recommend it to others!"

Thank you so much for your comments, and I'm glad you enjoyed the book!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Awaken: Review

Awaken got 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon!

"I thought that the book was overall a good read, but I did find some aspects confusing, like the constant changing of scenes and I did have to go back and re-read some parts just to double check what scenario different people were at. Although I found it quite confusing I would recommend it, I did find Heather Myers other book Four Sides of a Triangle a better read."

Thank you so much for your opinion, and I'm glad you enjoyed the read!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Catalyst: First Chapter

Here is the first chapter of Catalyst!  You can purchase the entire novel for $2.99 here.

Chapter 1

How long had it been since she had seen him?  Since she touched him?  Since he touched her…?

Keirah Shepherd swept the stray strands of dark brown hair behind her left ear before grabbing her broom and placing it into a white bucket.  As she cleaned the hall, she gritted her teeth, trying her damndest to forget him.  It was the only reason why she agreed to attend this New Year’s party with her sister.  Her mother would be out with her friends – Judy’s first social outing since Keirah’s father left – and since Judy had kicked Andie out of the house, she would otherwise be home alone, and that would be the worst.  She needed to forget the way he looked at her with those enigmatic golden eyes of his.  She needed to forget the way he could slap her across the face in one moment, punishing her for something she didn’t realize she did wrong, and caress her in that same moment, apologizing with his unspoken tenderness.  She needed to forget that tenor voice that could clip words in half or draw them out; it didn’t seem to matter what he did to them.  People listened to him anyways.

But that was probably because he was Onyx City’s most notorious criminal mastermind, the very reason for deaths of numerous innocent citizens.  He captivated people because they were afraid of him, and instead of being offended, he decided not to let that fear go to waste.  Instead, he used it against them.  All of them.  Even her.  But in the time Keirah spent with him, she felt her fear of anything, really, slip away.  It wasn’t as though she had numbed everything out, but she just didn’t see the point of wasting time on an emotion that wasn’t going to help her, only hinder her.

She really wasn’t sure about anything now.  It almost felt like waking up from a dream she wasn’t quite sure about.  Was it a nightmare, or a fantasy?  Could dreams be a mixture of the two?  Life was.

“Are you going to talk today?” a voice asked from behind her.

Keirah bit her bottom lip and managed to refrain from rolling her brown eyes.  As usual, she didn’t respond to Chad’s inquiries.  Before her initial capture by the villain, she hadn’t really been social.  Friendly, yes, but not sociable.  Now she didn’t bother with people she didn’t like.  Sure, her classmates and colleagues at Abby Ward thought she was stuck up, too quiet, or just plain weird, but she didn’t care. 

She didn’t care.

This, of course, did not mean Keirah was ungrateful.  After she had to quit her internship at Dr. Hawkins’s renowned criminal psychologist practice thanks to her entanglement with Noir, Commissioner Jarrett got her a replacement internship at Abby Ward.  She knew he still felt guilty for what had happened to her, and even though many citizens believed she was incahoots with Noir, Bonnie to his Clyde, Jarrett still had this unwavering faith in her.

Which was why Keirah didn’t want to think about how she had felt about him.  She considered her feelings to be buried deep, hidden safely away from the world and herself.  People – including both her mother and Andie – believed she was plagued with Stockholm Syndrome.  She scoffed at the idea.  Keirah had studied Stolkholm Syndrome and was a firm believer that she was not experiencing any delusions with the man (because, he was, in fact, a man).  Maybe it had started out that way, but it grew into something deeper, something more.  She loved him, as hard as that was to believe. 

She frowned at the thought, annoyed with her heart for clenching together when musing about how she had felt, as in, past tense.  She dropped the heavy mop back into the bucket, accidentally spraying Chad and herself with water.

“Watch the uniform, Helen Keller,” he told her with obvious distaste, casting her a dark glare before going back to what he had been doing in the first place; staring at her ass while she moved the mop back and forth across tile that never seemed to ever get clean.

Uniform.  Right. 

Keirah herself didn’t give a shit about the uniform she had to wear.  It was one of those ugly, dark grey jumper suits that was way too big for her slim frame.  Her hair was always falling in her face, even if she styled it for a half an hour before hand, but she had to be careful when wiping the strands away.  Rubber gloves were a requirement, but she didn’t want the bacteria collecting on them to somehow get into her eyes.  On her feet were very worn Converses, and though they were comfortable, they didn’t really offer her any arch support.

Keirah didn’t like her internship, especially since it was janitorial work rather than criminological research, but she was thankful for it.  Despite everything she had been through, Onyx High still required she get a passing grade in her business class if she wanted to graduate in June.  Commissioner Jarrett got her this internship, even though Abby Ward didn’t offer them to high school students.  She had free reign of the ward, except for the fourth floor. Both he and the ward’s director, Caroline Abby, emphasized that her presence on the fourth floor was strictly forbidden, but to this day, Keirah didn’t know why.

The ward, like much of Onyx, was a corrupt place, but Caroline Abby really was in this line of work in order to rehabilitate those that were cast aside by society because of their wicked deeds.  She even offered jobs to those deemed most likely to successfully reintegrate back into society.

For the past month, this was how Keirah spent her days, cleaning the filth the inhabitants, the psychologists, and the guards would leave behind.  Instead of speaking to the patients or socializing with her colleagues, she spent her time daydreaming.  It was a pastime she had given up long ago in hopes that being more serious would help her get a job being a psychologist.  After the first month, it was easy to ignore the ribs and innuendos coming from both the patients and the guards.  Now, they reminded her of flies; they were annoying, but they didn’t make too much noise, and most of the time, could be ignored.

She had no idea where she was going nowadays.  She didn’t seem to have any long-term goals, and this bothered her because even when she was with the man, she all but oozed ambition.  Keirah wasn’t sure if she wanted to start dating, if she wanted to get married, have kids.  She didn’t even know if she could get a job that might lead to some sort of career because she didn’t know if she wanted to be a criminal psychologist anymore.  Hell, she didn’t know if she wanted to go to college, which was just silly.  She had wanted to go to the University of Onyx since she was seven, when she and her father watched one of the football games together one Saturday afternoon.  Andie had been out shopping with Mom so it was just the two of them.  But now…

“Hey,” Chad said, reaching out and pushing Keirah’s elbow in order to catch her attention.  She was so consumed in her thoughts that his simple touch caused her to under extend the mop and nearly slip on the wet tile.  Chad seemed amused by this because he chuckled, causing her to grumble silently under her breath.  But he wanted her attention for a reason, so when he stopped laughing, he said, “We gotta get up to the fourth floor, pronto.”

Keirah gave him an annoyed look.  “Why?” she asked, placing the mop in the bucket before placing her hand on her hip and leaning slightly on the wooden stick.

“She speaks!” Chad exclaimed in mock-surprise.  Suddenly, his pudgy face became dry once again before explaining.  “Fred called in sick and the orderlies want you to do the fourth floor before you leave tonight.” 

Keirah said nothing, but began to push the bucket towards the elevators with Chad following, muttering something about how she was being quiet now all of a sudden.  Like that was a surprise.

It was probably her fault that she didn’t remember Jarrett’s warning of not going up to the fourth floor.  Maybe she should have sensed a bout of foreboding, but she didn’t.  In fact, Keirah treated it like any other floor.

When the elevators released the two, Chad slipped in his identification card and then typed in a unique code that pertained to each patient.  13225.  Not that she was paying attention or anything, but Chad wasn’t exactly trying to hide it.  One advantage for being deemed a mute: people seemed to underestimate her.

Keirah’s fatal mistake, however, was looking into the cell before pulling her equipment in.  Standing there, arms handcuffed to his bedpost and staring at the door was a familiar set of gold eyes that still managed to make her feel as though she was nothing more than transparent.  She swallowed and immediately looked away, her focus on the bucket of dirty water.

The man smiled at this before smacking his lips together in his usual fashion.  “Well, well, well-ah,” he drawled in his normal dark velvet voice, keeping his eyes firmly on the back of the young woman in front of him.  Look who we have herrre…”

Keirah could feel her whole body freeze at his words, and the hair that encompassed her body stood erect on their own accord.  She clenched her teeth, realizing she should have prepared herself better, even though she wasn’t quite sure whether or not those rumors about him being here were true.  She knew she should have been aware that she might encounter her former lover one way or another, especially now that she knew that he was locked in the very place that she worked.  Immediately, she scolded herself silently for allowing her defenses to be dropped at such an inopportune time.  But more importantly, she hated the way her body responded merely to the sound of his voice.

The dark velvet that broke through the silence and caused spark-filled tension to consume the atmosphere between them did not go unnoticed by the young woman.  How her body longed to be consumed by that voice, that mouth, those hands that were handcuffed to his bedpost.  Just the sound of his voice caused a soft ache to penetrate her pelvis, and she could already feel herself get wet.  If she looked at him again, she knew she would be doomed.

Instead, she forced her attention on her task at hand: cleaning up the patient’s cell.  Because that was all he was to her, just another patient.

You know that’s not true, another voice taunted from the back of her mind.  Any other patient couldn’t make you tremble with need and ooze desire the way he does and you know it.

If Keirah’s teeth weren’t clamped together, she no doubt would have told herself to shut up.  However, they were, and instead, she let out her frustration with herself with a heavy sigh from her long, upturned nose, and lifted the heavy mop out of the bucket with the intent on getting her job done as quickly as possible.

“Aw,” he continued, his gold eyes penetrating through her body and to the essence of her very soul.  To be honest, he was quite amused at how she was trying to ignore him, but he could tell her attempt was useless.  Commendable, maybe, but useless all the same.  “Don’t pretend like you don’t um… know me, sweet-tart,” he continued.  His scar crinkled around his left eye, and his chapped lips curled up into a predatorial smile, his teeth still stained a dull yellow.  “After all-ah we’ve been through…”  He let his voice trail off, trying to get some sort of reaction from her.  He frowned when he failed to do so, and instead, refocused his eyes on her body, simultaneously trying to gauge its reaction to him while scoping out what he had been missing the past eight months.

 “Shut up.”  Chad spat from the doorway, narrowing his brown eyes at the prisoner.  “There is no way that you could possibly know Elen, not even in your fucking imagination.”

Noir threw his head back and laughed at that, causing Keirah to jump slightly.  She had yet to get used to it, and some nights, it would be the last thing she heard before slipping into slumber.

How amusing this was to him.  He couldn’t have asked for a better show.

“Is that what they’re hum… calling you now… Keirah?”

The sound of her name on his lips caused her pelvis to squeeze involuntarily and she masked a whimper with a cough.  However, she couldn’t stop the telling flush as it started to invade her cheeks, and despite her adamant orders to herself not to, she glanced over her shoulder and locked eyes with Onyx’s most notorious criminal.  Upon seeing those brown orbs of hers, he smiled lazily, and then slicked his tongue over his lips.

Chad wasn’t exactly the brightest crayon in the box, but in his time at Underwood Mental Institution, he had learned to read body language.  Maybe he wasn’t an expert at it or anything, but he could definitely see that the two shared something that he wasn’t all aware of.  His eyes snapped over to Keirah, and narrowed dangerously in her direction.

“It was you?” he asked, suddenly recognizing her.  She had always come off as familiar to him, and now he knew why.  She was Noir’s accomplice.  “You were his little partner in crime?  You were that, that slut who stood by his side despite everything he’s done?”

From the corner of her eye, Keirah noticed Noir’s eyes snap over at Chad when he heard the guard call her a slut, and they bronzed as they took in the sight of him yelling at her.  A guttural growl emitted itself in the bowels of his throat, and he pulled his lips back to bare his teeth in an animal-like threat, scowling threateningly at the man. 

“You cold-hearted bitch!” Chad continued to say, completely ignoring Noir’s warning, his anger increasing with every word he said.  You should be locked up in here with the rest of them, not free, out on the streets.”  He gritted his teeth together, his brown eyes molding into black as he looked at Keirah.  “You think you’ve seen pain?  I’ll show you pain!” 

Before Keirah or Noir could act, Chad stalked over to the young woman and grabbed her head into his hands.  Without warning, he slammed her head into the tile wall, causing pain to shoot through every fiber of her being.  She let out a pained yelp, but collapsed to the ground, overcome with dizziness.  Blinking a couple of times, Keirah tried to push herself up, doing her best to ignore just how badly she felt at that moment.  She had to get out of there before Chad did something with his uncontrollable temper he would later regret.

Chad, however, was not exactly finished with the woman.  Before she could get herself to stand, he reached down and yanked her up with her hair, causing another yelp to slide past her lips.  Though she was still dizzy and her head was still throbbing in pain, Keirah lifted her knee, and with as much strength as she possibly could, threw it into Chad’s groin area.  He cried out, immediately releasing his grip on her to aid his ailing nether region.

“Get under the bed hum… Now,” Noir ordered, his dangerous gaze still focused on the guard that could barely stand.

Keirah didn’t have to be told twice.  Noir was obviously the lesser of two evils at present and Chad seemed intent on continuing to hurt her, so as best as she could, managed to slide her body underneath the bunk bed that belonged to a sociopath.

“Get out here, Elen,” Chad said, his pale face now red due to Keirah’s infraction on his body.  He didn’t look, nor did he sound, too pleased with the young woman before him.  “Come on, you bitch, get up.  Crawl back out from underneath that bed and get up.”  His breath was ragged, and his hands were on his knees as he struggled to catch his breath.

“Don’t you uh, well don’t you worry, princess,” Noir drawled, tensing his body as though he was some sort of animal, preparing to attack his prey.  “If he wants you, he’ll uh… get you.”

The next moment still left Keirah thinking about what could have happened if Chad’s patience was still intact, if he wasn’t in so much pain, and if he wasn’t dangerously mad at her.  But he was all of those things.  In fact, Chad probably wasn’t thinking as rationally as he normally would because if he had been, he wouldn’t have placed himself in such a fatal position.  Because of this, Chad did what any other enraged man would have done in his position, and that was to lunge for her, currently curled up underneath the bed.

Noir smiled, knowing exactly what Chad was planning to do, and though an amused glint shimmered in his eyes, the smile itself did not quite meet them.  He reached up, coiling his fingers around the metal bed post, preparing himself for what he had known would come.  Just as Chad threw himself across the floor in order to get to Keirah, Noir gripped the metal and locked onto Chad’s neck with his long, strong legs.

“No one touches herrrrr,” Noir growled in a rough voice.  He grinned as he heard a satisfying crunch, snapping Chad’s neck fatally between his legs.  When was the last time he had killed anyways?  It felt so… good to have done it this time.  He didn’t even look at the slain guard as he released the body onto the floor.

“You can um come out, now,” he, before he smacked his lips together.  The sound echoed off of the walls.  “Yanno, it is such a hum… pleasure to… see you again.”

Play On: First Chapter

Here is the first chapter of Play On.  You can purchase it here on Amazon for $1.99.

1.  She always knew her grandfather would die – he was eighty-two after all – but to say she was surprised to find his lifeless body crumpled to the floor of his office would be a drastic understatement.

The door closed behind her but she couldn’t hear it.  The sight before her had been a part of her worst nightmares, but now that she was confronted with the scene, she simply couldn’t see it.  It was like a staged photograph, a museum installation she was on the outside of looking into.  The connection she normally had with the old man had yet to be made; logically, she knew that she should at the very least be crying, but it was as though her brain was paralyzed which caused her whole body to be incapable of anything, even breathing.

Of course, after the initial shock, Seraphina Hanson ran over to her grandfather and tried to see if he was breathing, if there was a chance that this actually was a nightmare she had fallen into and not her current reality.  The tears started to fall now, almost in waves cascading down her cheeks.  Even so, as she spoke to the 911 operator, she managed to keep her voice surprisingly steady.

While she waited, her eyes flitted around the room.  Seraphina did not think he changed anything since he first acquired his ownership of the Newport Beach Seagulls the year she was born, save for the fact that the team photos that filled the wall behind his desk changed with each passing year.  His red oak desk had scattered papers and financial books flipped open and strewn about, completely disorganized unlike the man who occupied the office.  His computer – which he always complained about and rarely if ever transferred records from his books due to his disdain for the technology – was off, looking untouched as it usually was.  The framed photograph of Seraphina and her older sister Katella that normally rested on the left corner of the desk was on the floor, just out of reach of her grandfather’s body, cracks diluting the smiling faces.  The day’s newspaper was close to where she was sitting, crumpled, carelessly open to an article about her grandfather contemplating selling the Gulls in order to retire.  She couldn’t read it.

Her mind desperately needed something to focus on now that the first round of tears were subsiding and the sporadic hiccups that typically followed such an eruption began, and yet the options she had before her were too slippery for her mind to grasp.  Probably she should get up and leave the room, waiting for the police just outside the room – crime scene now, she suspected.  Due to her weekly “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” marathon, she knew she shouldn’t have entered the room at all.  Crime scene now.  Her grandfather was healthy for his age, and from the apparent struggle that had taken place –

But she didn’t want to think about that.

Most likely, she contaminated the office, maybe even his body, but she had to make sure that he was really –

No.  She didn’t want to say the word.  And she didn’t want to get up.  Not just yet.  She knew that once they got here, they would take his body to determine cause of death and then he would really be gone.  And she didn’t want him to be gone just yet.

Seraphina and her sister Katella had always been close to her grandfather.  Ever since their parents die in a car accident, Ken Brown and his wife Jane took the girls in and raised them.  Jane died the October of Seraphina’s senior year of high school from a stroke, but even with all this tragedy surrounding the family, Ken was always the sturdy oak tree, the sap that held the family of now only three together.  Every once in a while, Ken’s two sons, Alan and Ryan would visit, but they wouldn’t stay long, and afterwards, Ken would always be in one of his rare snippy moods.  He never would tell his granddaughters as to why but Seraphina guessed he didn’t want to taint their optimistic views regarding their uncles.  It didn’t matter though because eventually, both Katella and Seraphina realized what losers their uncles were which only strengthened their affection for Ken.  To both girls, he was their hero in different ways.  While Katella admired his silent strength, always preparing, planning and yet maintaining an optimistic view on life and reveling in the spontaneous (mostly), Seraphina admired his resilience; having gone through the Depression, he literally came from nothing, worked hard, saved up, and now was a quiet multi-millionaire living in Newport Beach, living out one of his many dreams of owning a national hockey team.

Was, of course, being the key word.

Her eyes rolled down.  Before, she couldn’t see him.  Now, he was all she could see.  His short, grey hair usually covered by a navy blue sailor’s cap he wore ever since Seraphina could remember – now somewhere on the floor, a few feet away from her left leg – his cauliflower blue eyes that would never again look at her and shine the way they used to.  His false teeth that he would always pop out to surprise the girls when they were younger would never present themselves in a smile.  Quickly, her mind gathered everything she knew about him and stored those memories at the forefront of her mind; the way he smelled like aftershave and musk, the way he would throw his head back and let out an obnoxious, guttural laugh when he found something truly funny – a trait she inherited from him – the way he would stick out his tongue at her when they used to go to church, before Jane died, even though the surrounding people could see.  The way his arms always made her feel safe, and the way, no matter what, she felt everything would be okay no matter what she was going through – death, a breakup, a poor grade, girl problems, puberty – everything would be okay because he would take her hand, look her in the eyes, and tell her so.  And she would believe him without question.

She was afraid she would forget him.  Forget the coolness of his skin.  The protectiveness of his touch.  The way he laughed.  The sound of his voice.  The way he looked.  The way he smiled.  The way he smelled.

He was the only constant in her life, besides Katella of course, and now he was gone.  Taken from her by someone.

She didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.

Her mind raced back to their last conversation.  She needed to make sure there was nothing left unsaid between them, something she might have misspoken about that could have offended or disappointed him.  After a few minutes, she realized that no; in fact, they had spoken only a couple of hours ago.  He wanted her to meet him here at seven that evening because he needed to talk to her about something, something regarding the team.  He would never mention what troubled him when it came to work.  Instead, if anything, he asked her to his office once the working day had concluded and told her his dilemma.  For whatever reason, he held Seraphina’s opinion in high esteem, even when it came to something as foreign to her as hockey.  She had a feeling he needed to hear her point of view concerning the situation, whatever the situation might be.  Of course he would never tell her his decision until after he disclosed it to the people involved, but after their talk, he would usually take her out for ice cream and then they would talk about everything but business - what Seraphina planned to do now that she was a college graduate, how Katella’s event coordination business was doing, and was Matt ever going to ask Katella to marry him?

Ken had wanted to confirm that Seraphina was going to come in that evening.  The conversation was no more than two minutes.  Ken had called her his Baby Doll, his term of endearment for her, and they both said “I love you” before hanging up.  There was nothing special about it. 

For a moment, Seraphina’s mind wondered if whatever her grandfather wanted to discuss with her led to his…  Maybe she needed to fantasize in order to grapple with her current predicament, and yet the evidence, the scene before her that she was now in, had shown an obvious struggle.  And a victim was produced in the form of her grandfather.

Someone had killed him, but for the life of her, Seraphina had no idea as to who would do such a vicious act to another human being, and why they would do it to her grandfather.  He was eighty-two; sure, he was strong, and if anyone threatened his granddaughters, Seraphina knew Ken wouldn’t hesitate to protect them.  But courage did not equal strength, and while Ken could defend himself if a match between him and somebody else was relatively even, it was highly unlikely that he had a chance against his attacker if this person was a fraction faster or stronger or younger.

Ken wasn’t a bad, mean person.  He didn’t go out of his way to make someone miserable.  Yes, he had to make difficult decisions regarding his hockey team, the players, coaches, trainers, equipment managers and anyone else involved with the Gulls, but he was always direct, discreet, and fair.  If he had to trade someone, he would explain why, but he would never trade someone without warning.  He always gave people a chance to redeem themselves before making that final decision, because once that decision was made, he wouldn’t change his mind, even if it turned out that that particular decision was wrong.  He negotiated salaries not just on performance, but on a person’s demeanor and if they were a team player both on and off the ice.  Rarely if ever did he talk to the press personally; he let head coach and his close friend Henry Wayne take care of that for him.  The only people that really knew what he was thinking about were Seraphina and Katella, the former more so than the latter only because Katella ran her own business and had to focus more on that than a hockey team.  People seemed to like him, respect him, whether they agreed with him or not.  Which caused Seraphina to shake her head in confusion: who would do such a thing to her grandfather?  What could he have possibly done to warrant such a death?

From her position in the room, she wasn’t quite sure how he died.  For whatever reason, her mind had already concluded that he had been murdered rather than simply killed or dead from something internal like a heart attack.  But there seemed to be bruises forming around his neck and Seraphina could feel a lump forming on the back of his head.  Her rational mind wanted to figure out just what happened, the sequence of events, the suspects. It couldn’t stop thinking even if it wanted to. 

But the pain wouldn’t allow the mind to work just yet.  All Seraphina could do in that moment was to hold her grandfather as tightly as she possibly could, his head resting softly in her lap, and try to memorize everything about him.  Her heart constricted painfully, and before she could stop herself, she started talking to his body as though he was sleeping instead of gone.  She talked about her day and how much she loved him and how he was her hero and would always be her hero and how she never properly thanked him for taking her and Katella in after their parents died and for sending her to college and for being there when she needed it.  She apologized for not attending more hockey games and for dating Billy Stanford and for getting her first and only D in science class her sophomore year of high school.

She wasn’t sure how long she sat there mumbling incoherent sentence fragments or when she started to cry again, but EMTs and police officers arrived soon after.  She didn’t remember having anyone pry his body away from her.  She didn’t remember someone helping her up and leading her out of the office.  But she remembered watching the EMTs place her grandfather’s body on a stretcher and wheel him to the elevators just down the hall.  She knew she would never see him again.

Swimming in Rain: First Chapter

Here is the first chapter of Swimming in Rain.  You can purchase the full novel here for $0.99.

Chapter 1


It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that when someone enters college in the United States, it is a legitimate reason to party it up.  But to be honest, I’ve never been much of a partier.  I don’t like the whole drinking thing, don’t like having sex with hot, possibly STD-prone strangers, and absolutely detest any type of drug.  However, I do like to dance, and during my first quarter at the University of California, Irvine, I managed to do a lot of dancing, thanks to the 18 and older clubs in the surrounding areas.  Because I don’t have a car, I have to rely on my boss – who I’ve been friends with since I was a kid - or my older sister, a fourth year who agrees to more than she should and my roommate. Luckily, the apartment we share with  Taylor is close to campus so I don’t have to walk too far because normally, I’m forced to walk everywhere.  Or if I do get overtly lazy, I can just hand over a dollar fifty to take the bus.  But interestingly enough, the more I do walk, the more I find I enjoy it.


And luckily for me, Irvine is the safest place in the nation.  And no, I’m not exaggerating.  When the cops in your suburb are known only for busting high school kids for pot and blazing the siren when they spot some Escalade pulling a bonafide California stop, you know your suburb is pulling out all the stops when it comes to safety.  It also shows that respectable officers that are sworn to protect their city fall just above Paul Blart: Mall Cop.  But at least Paul Blart is funny.  Irvine cops take themselves too seriously.


But I digress.  I have never had an encounter with the Irvine cops save for that one time I borrowed a Ralph’s shopping cart because I didn’t want to carry a backpack filled with textbooks on a fifteen minute walk home way back when I was in seventh grade.  But I never really counted that since they didn’t even get out of the car; they stayed in their seats, used a speaker radio to tell me to put it back, and then actually made a U-turn in order to ensure that I did it.  Maybe in Irvine that really does constitute as an act of rebellion.


James Dean has nothing on me.


Since then, I have stayed on the straight and narrow, ending my wild life of crime after that fifteen minutes.  Though I do find myself daydreaming that the next time I’m in the nearest Chase Bank, I’m part of a John Dillinger-esque bank robbery.  God, I am in love with that man.  And yet Irvine deprives me of such thrilling excitement.  Also that no one else would be able to pull off the charismatic bravado that Dillinger had a natural flare for which leaves me to my daydreams.


The one I am currently immersed in is one of which I went to a bit in the past couple of months.  I’m on stage with Eminem and we are dueting to his song “Crazy in Love”, a demented love song that, coming from Eminem, is pretty romantic.  We’re throwing verses back and forth, and he is  amazed at my rapping skills despite the fact that I am as white as white can get.  Hell, I even have freckles.  But anyways, we’re nearing the end of the song and there’s so much tension between us that even the audience notices it, so who are we to deny them when they start shouting “Kiss!” to the beat of the song?  And when he looks at me with those blue eyes of his, and  he cocks his head to the side and leans in and –




I blink before giving my best friend and boss the deepest, most potentially life-threatening glare that I can muster.  Apparently, my efforts are wasted on her because Kelly starts bursting out into a fit of giggles.


“Ronnie, whenever you give your quote unquote death glare, you look constipated,” Kelly tells me, placing a hand on my shoulder and shaking her head.  “How many times have I told you that?  And yet you still try.”  Here, she starts patting – yes, patting – my shoulder.  “I admire your stubbornness.”


“I like to think of it as perseverance,” I tell her, the corners of my lips twitching up.


“I’m sure you do,” she says, indulging my preference of diction like a mother would her child.  Kelly is a fourth year, just like Taylor


I don’t care though; it is still a victory in my eyes.


I work at a small mom-and-pop bookstore located in the middle of University Center, a shopping center across the street from the UCI’s campus.  Yes, I am a proud Anteater.  Okay, so maybe anteaters weren’t exactly the most intimidating college mascot, but the junior college mascot Taylor went to before transferring over here is the Lasers.  I shit you not.  The Lasers.  I’m still not sure what lasers do besides amusing junior high kids at movie theatres and annoying the hell out of me.  I’m not exactly sure if annoying is the stigma that should be attached to junior college mascots.  But then again, she doesn’t go there anymore and I’ve never been so I don’t really care.


“So,” Kelly says, eyeing the usual emptiness of the bookstore before shifting her eyes on me, “how’s that roommate situation thing coming along?”


“Ugh.”  I pinch the bridge of my nose with my finger and thumb, emitting a dramatic sigh.  Kelly tries to hide her chuckles behind her polite hand, and her eyes urge me to continue.  “Too many males applied for Taylor’s taste.  I, at least, suggested we interview the cute ones, but she’s not having the whole co-ed true college experience I keep trying to sell her on.  Luckily, we both finished up with the quarter and have more time to focus on it during winter break, but we seriously need to find a roommate or we’re fucked.  With tuition fees, rent, bills, and the fact that our parents, who happen to have three other daughters at home, can only pay for so much, we’re literally drowning, and another person helping out by living with us would really give us some breathing room.”


“Nice metaphor, Brit Lit major,” Kelly says with a smirk.  “No wonder you talk weird every now and then.”  She shakes her head suddenly, and looks at me.  “But wait.  Doesn’t your apartment only have two rooms?  Are you going to move into Taylor’s room or something?”


“Hell no!” I exclaim, offended at such a ridiculous notion.  “Do you know how long I have spent crafting my room into one of the happiest places on earth, second only to Disneyland?  Taylor is lucky to be moving into such an amazing place.  Plus, she already agreed to it, so there you go.”


“That’s right,” Kelly says, rolling her brown eyes.  “Your shrine to Joel McHale.  You do know that if a physician stumbled upon your place of worship, they’d have you in a strait-jacket before the hour was up?”


“You’re just jealous that I have an outlet for my creative energy,” I retort.


Kelly snorts.  “You do have girls applying for the room, right?” she asks.


“Yeah, we have an interview tonight with a potential,” I tell her.  “She’s a freshman like me .  Taylor tells me that she’s from England or something.  I mean, if you’re from England, why not go to Cambridge or Oxford or something?  Why UCI?”


“Don’t hate on UCI,” Kelly says automatically.  But even I can’t blame her for her pride in our school.  I’ve known Kelly since kindergarten (she was in second grade and was my mandated buddy, showing me around the school and telling me what swings were good and which ones weren’t), and she had always been one of those school pride girls that are annoyingly endearing.  Luckily for her, she can pull it off.  She’s the reason I even got the job here.  “Doesn’t this girl have family in the States?  It seems she’s a long way for being what – Seventeen?  Eighteen?”


I furrow my brow slightly as I ran my fingers through my thick, messy hair.  Rarely do I manage to get them successfully through without any kind of struggle.  “I think,” I murmur, “that her brother’s at UCLA Law School.  I don’t know.  Taylor’s in charge of all that.”  I wave a dismissive hand.


“Tell me how it goes,” Kelly says, sharing a knowing grin.


Somehow, said grin is reflected on my lips.  “Don’t I always?” I ask, and we both start to laugh.




I am late.


I am never late.  In fact, I always get to things early because I am afraid I will be late.  But then some customer comes in at 5:59 PM, completely disregarding the fact that Penguin Bookstore closes at 6:00 PM sharp.  Apparently, she can’t be bothered to drive fifteen minutes north to Barnes & Noble – a bookstore that doesn’t even close until 10:00 PM! – to look for whatever reading material she has to have that evening.  And then she gets offended by my rudeness when I tell her that we are, in fact, closed.


“I know times are tough Marion, but I really wish you wouldn’t yell at the customers,” Kelly says.


I wince.  I can always tell when Kelly is upset or disappointed with me because she uses my full name.  Her three years on me in age always shows in moments like this one; it’s like she’s my best friend, my mother, and my boss all rolled into one.  Right now, she is a mixture between my boss and my mother, a decidedly deadly combination, and my least favorite among the choices.


“I’ll try,” I promise as I flip the sign hanging from the door so it reads Closed.


“I’ve heard that one before,” Kelly says softly, and though I overhear it, I don’t think I’m supposed to.  And then a funny feeling like guilt settles in my stomach.




“Kelly, I’m –“


Kelly’s hand is thrust up and practically in my face, which prevents me from finishing my apology.  “It’s okay,” she assures me as only she can, and even goes to the extent of nudging my shoulder with her own.  “I understand.  Now, I know you like to walk everywhere, but can I give you a ride home so you can make your interview?”


But even with Kelly’s gracious ride, I am still late.


I fumble with my keys before bursting through the door.  “I am so sorry I’m late –“  I begin but feel my own mouth cut my thoughts off when I catch sight of Taylor and a girl who looks nothing older than eighteen staring at me.  She looks younger than me, and that’s saying something.  The interview already seems to be in progress, and the smile on my lips looks nothing short of sheepish.  I straighten, wishing at that moment that I had a chance to shower and change so I look presentable instead of feeling icky.


I catch sight of Taylor’s dark eyes, and though they look firm, they also look forgiving, as they usually do.  God blessed me with a patient, temperate older sister.


I drop my bag to the floor and head into the small dining room attached to our small kitchen.  “Hi,” I say, extending my hand to her.  “I’m Marion Bixby, Taylor’s younger sister.  You must be…”  I let my voice trail off, realizing I should probably know this girl’s name.


“Hannah,” she says before Taylor can whisper the name to me.  “Hannah Shawe.”


“Hi Hannah,” I say, and once we shake hands, I take a seat next to my sister.  “I’m so sorry I’m late.  Work was ridiculous, as usual.”  Taylor’s eyes tell me that now would be a good time to get on with the interview, and I obey them as I usually do.  Another sheepish smile taints my face and I clap my hands together.  “So,” I say, looking between both women.  “Let’s continue the interview then?”


Surprisingly enough, the interview goes a lot smoother than I have originally anticipated.  Hannah Shawe is the quintessential roommate; she is soft-spoken and seems almost demure – shy – which is really what we have been expecting since she’s my age and is moving across the Atlantic and three thousand miles of land.  She seems so… mature for her age that it forces me to put my personality on trial.  Maybe I need to calm down a little.  Maybe I need to grow up.  Maybe I need… I sigh.  I know I get too much sometimes.  But this is college and college means being an adult, and to be honest, the thought of growing up and being responsible scares the shit out of me.  So I indulge in my quirky side because I want to avoid that process as much as I can.  I know that once it happens, there’s no going back.  But I guess and I can attempt to tone it down a bit.  I can at least try.  But there is something in those blue eyes of hers that show, at least to me, once we get to know her and she gets to know us, she won’t be as quiet as she is now.  There is a mischief maker just waiting to reveal her true colors so maybe she’s not as sophisticated as she seems.


At least that’s what I think.  When I tell Taylor my hypothesis once Hannah has left after she finished signing a couple of contracts and handing over the first and last month’s rent, my beloved sister laughs in my face.


“Right, Taylor,” I murmur, hoping my face looks sinister and dry instead of constipated.  “I make an observation and you laugh right in my face.”


“I’m sorry,” Taylor says, and for my sake, only speaks after she has gotten a hold of herself.  “I’m sorry, but you do have to admit that you want everyone to have some sort of mischievousness in them so you can inspire them to indulge in it.”


I allow myself a flattered smile.  “That’s why I never wanted to be a goddess, Tay,” I say, using the nickname my dear sister absolutely hates but would never actually tell me she hates it because she’s that nice.  “I always have been and always will be a Muse.”


“I got you,” Taylor says, feigning seriousness.  She glances down at the envelope in her lap, her dark eyes still housing surprise.  “I cannot believe we have this.  Her family must be incredibly wealthy.”


“One can only imagine,” I reply before leaning back in my chair and taking a sip of my Irish green tea.  “I mean, if she has a brother in UCLA’s law school, plus the out-of-country fees, the housing…”  I let my voice trail off.  “I can’t imagine being so rich.”  I make a face.  “At least she’s, like, a nice rich person, though, and not one of those airhead characters straight out of Gossip Girl.  She seems to have her head on straight.”


“Of course she does,” Taylor says, her own eyes resting on the surface of her hot chocolate.  Her lips touch the side of her Tigger mug, the ends tugging up into one of Taylor’s brilliant smiles.  “She’s English.”