Authors: Danielle Torella
Tags: #Romance, #Young Adult, #Contemporary
Copyright © 2013 by Danielle Torella
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the above author of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Interior Design by Angela McLaurin, Fictional Formats
Cover Photo taken by David Massa
Cover Models: Joe Marvullo & Sam Roman
Cover designer: Randy Potvin
To anyone who has been told they can't.
At the end of last week's drawing lesson, Ms. Sawyer, my middle-aged hippie-chick art instructor, informed us that we would have a male model to observe and paint for tonight's class. I never gave it a second thought beyond
God I hope it's someone remotely attractive after last week's lesson of trees. Like seriously, trees?
As always, I am the last to arrive. But, hey, this time it wasn't my fault. I swear my car keys had more of a social life than me and had a fling with the sneaker I couldn't find while getting I was getting ready. Rushing into class, I assumed my usual position in the corner table away from "the action," as Ms. S liked to put it. I flip past last week's assignment to an open page.
God I can't draw a tree to save my life...
I look to my right to see another student halfway through his drawing, scanning from the top of his pad down to the bottom, and that's when I notice the subject. I snap my head up so rapidly I think I got whiplash. He's sitting perfectly still on top of a table, his back to me, thank God, because I realize that my mouth is hanging open. Ms. S clears her throat and I glance at her, as she waves her hand in the direction of the model and forms her hand to look like she's hold a pencil and drawing…
yeah yeah I'm getting to work.
I take in his midnight dark short hair, casually styled as a faux hawk, then I scan to his neck, down to his toned shoulders, which adorn a collection of black and gray tattoo work, but I can't make out the detail. Man, I should have gotten my shit together and got to class on time. Then maybe I could have grabbed a seat a little closer. One of his arms is bent and appears to be holding him up. His right leg is bent and I can only assume the other is out in front of himself but stupid me—being late, I got stuck only looking at his back straight on…
so much for interesting…
I begin to sketch, and by the time I get down to the lowest part of his back, I find myself biting my bottom lip and just staring.
Come on, Tess, get your crap together if you want to finish the assignment!
"All right, everyone, class is dismissed. Next week we will continue with our model here," Ms. Sawyer announces, while winking in the direction of the beautiful creature up on display, and obviously before I can even finish. Damn
"Tess, a moment please, after you clean up," she says as I pack up. I look back up to the table for a quick look at the face of the back, but I get only a quick profile look and notice his sleek black leather jacket that hugs his slender frame.
Total damn shame…
"Tess, you have been late the last four classes, and you haven't completed a full drawing for two weeks. What is going on?" Ms. S gives me a sympathetic look, but her tone makes me feel like a child.
"I am sorry, Ms. Sawyer," I tell her. "I have been working the afternoon shift and the coffee shop filled up after classes let out and I couldn't leave." I want to add that I had requested countless times to be switched to the morning shift, but I don't.
"If you want to pass my class, you best be on time from now on. You're talented, Tess. Don't flush it down the drain." She is a strict professor but compassionate and passionate when it comes to art. I guess I should respect that and make a better effort.
Drawing, painting and photography mean the absolute world to me. Art grounds me. It makes me feel. I had plans after high school to get into art school, but lost hope over time, ever since my high school art teacher gave me crap about not letting her touch my painting, because she knew what looked "right." I wasn't going to let her change my piece like so many of the other students did. Yeah, one student allowed her to all the time, and eventually she gave him a great reference letter to a famous art academy in New York City…
And on top of that, my dad was never supportive, always telling me, "Art isn't a future. Art doesn't make the money. Art isn't a LIFE." I shut down after that point. Granted, my mom was behind me, but it's always been just me and her. She's the cool understanding mom. She made me want to stay home on weekends while the other kids were at parties or sporting events. I liked being home; my mom was and still sort of is my best friend. But as much as I love her, I needed to be out on my own. I was too shy and reliant on others to do things for me, because I wasn't comfortable with it. So I took the initiative to get a job and move out, even if that means struggling.
So my crappy grades got even worse, and I barely got my high school diploma. So here I am at a community college attempting to pay for what few classes I can afford on the double shifts I tend to fill at the coffee shop. I'll do anything to be able to let my creative juices flow.
"Yes ma'am" was all I said, and then I scurried out of the classroom.
In crisp fall night air, on my way to my car, I let out a huge sigh. Holy crap, that guy was hot! Well, I think he was, I did only get to see his back after all
and what a back it was…
Yeah, I need a drink, a big one, and I'm not usually a drinker. Christ, it takes me over a week to get through a bottle of my favorite cheap wine, and I know I only have less than half a bottle sitting in my fridge. That surely won't be enough to take the edge off.
What is wrong with me? I see a freaking man's back and I'm all tight and my stomach is twisted…in THAT way. God, I've never even had sex before and all I can think about is digging my nails into that man's back! And that's a first considering what happened that one night three years ago when I went to a concert alone. I never wanted or considered a man laying a hand on me…until now. I need a bar. I never go to a bar, but after tonight I think it calls for some rum!
Driving through the streets of Seattle on my way home, I look left and right in search for basic bar to just chill out and unwind.
Yeah, like you won't still think about the fine male specimen you were oh so lucky to stare at only twenty minutes ago!
Ah, here we go. I pull into the parking lot of the modest brick building with a dark green awning, check my face in my rearview mirror. It's about as good as it going to get, but hey, I wouldn't be here if I wasn't feeling so rough, and I can only assume it shows.
Inside, I am flooded with the smooth voice of Adam Levine singing about being sad, and I take a seat at the bar.
I order a rum and coke. The burly-looking bartender cards me.
He looks like a human teddy bear in a plaid shirt.
As he makes my drink, I glance down and notice the bar's name on a beer list in one of those clear stand-up displays:
"Welcome to Chatz. Log in. Let your inhibitions run wild."
What the hell does that mean? Before I can continue reading, a young woman plops down on the stool next to me. She's at least half a foot taller than me, with long soft red hair, and a form-fitting emerald green dress. She nods at the display.
"New here, huh?" Her voice is strong.
"Yeah, first time. What's up with the name?" I point to the sign and sip my much-needed drink.
She smiles. "'Chatz' is different from your regular bar. Do you do chat rooms?"
I give her a blank stare. "Uh … like as in a community chat room online?"
"Give me your phone." She holds out her hand. Intrigued, I reach into my purse.
Yeah, this isn't weird at all, and did I just hand over my personal phone to a complete stranger?