Authors: Devon Hartford
Tags: #Romance, #Art, #Romantic Comedy, #Contemporary, #Coming of Age, #College, #New Adult & College, #New Adult, #Genre Fiction, #Literature & Fiction
Copyright ©2013 Devon Hartford
Cover Design Copyright ©2013 Devon Hartford
Cover Photo Copyright ©2013
Francesco Maria Cura/Cura Photography/BigStock.com
All rights reserved, worldwide. No part of this ebook may be reproduced, copied, or transmitted in any medium, whether electronic, internet, or otherwise, without the expressed permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, locations, and names occurring in this book are a product of the author’s imagination, or are the property of their respective owners and are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual events, locations, or persons (living or dead), is entirely coincidental and not intended by the author. All trademarks and trade names are used in a fictitious manner and are in no way endorsed by or an endorsement of their respective owners.
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“Storytelling is wakeful dreaming.
Writing is the harnessing of our dreams with words.”
To every person who reached out to me online to say hello and to encourage me to keep doing what I was doing. You know who you are, and I want to sincerely thank you, AGAIN! :-D
Without your support, I might never have finished this book on time.
Now it’s yours to enjoy!
THREE MONTHS EARLIER…
I couldn’t bear to look at Samantha. Naked heartbreak strained her face.
Because of me.
At the end of my first day back at SDU, two cops stuffed me in the back of a police cruiser right in front of her. I felt like a complete douche nugget. You can romanticize it all you want, but getting arrested fucking sucks. Who wants to go to jail, really? I’d been locked up enough times to know.
Samantha tried to catch my attention as the cruiser drove me away, but I avoided her eyes.
I felt bad, but I was too embarrassed to look at her, no matter how many points I’d scored by cleaning up the coffee cesspool in her car before the cops showed up. I grinned to myself. That shit had been rank, but enduring the smell was a small price to pay for more time with Samantha.
The cop car pulled onto the freeway, taking the Five south toward downtown. Traffic was heavy. I’d have plenty of time to mull things over.
I wasn’t sure who was pressing charges against me, but my bet was that fat red-faced fuck who’d been harassing Samantha on the way to campus in the a.m. He tries to jump me, and I’m the one hauled downtown?
Fuck that shit.
I exhaled heavily and pushed away my irritation.
For a guy my size, the back of a squad car was cramped quarters. I wanted to slouch down and get comfortable on the bench seat, but with the cuffs on, it wasn’t doable. Instead, I leaned my shoulder against the door and rested my head against the glass.
Watching the familiar landmarks sail past should’ve been comforting. The mural with the waves and surfers on the storage building in Pacific Beach was pretty nice. But my favorite was always the huge mural of humpback whales on the side of the Chevrolet dealership. Those painted whales swam in a vast emerald ocean, elegant symbols of graceful mobility and independence.
Sadly, the artsy roadside surroundings, the blue skies overhead, and the Pacific Ocean a hop-skip to my right were now an infinite distance from my grasp. They taunted me with promises of fleeting freedom, a stark contrast to my current situation.
Screw it. I wasn’t letting the cage of this squad car trap my spirit. My mind was free to roam and seek safe harbor.
A smile crept across my face as I pictured Samantha in my mind’s eye. Not the downer moment when she’d panicked at the sight of the cops cuffing me, but all the magic moments before that, since this morning.
Like when I’d bumped into her coming out of the Student Center bookstore and she laughed when I told her my name was Adonis. I think that made her the first chick who’d ever openly mocked my middle name. Most girls melted when I said it, like I was some kind of celebrity movie star. Sure, I’d gotten giggles galore and countless stripper laughs from all kinds of bar babes in the past, but not Samantha’s sour-faced disdain. I kind of liked it. She was all spark and no bullshit.
It helped she was epic hot. Too bad she couldn’t see it for herself. But it was clear as day to me. Underneath her self-doubt, she was super-nova, incendiary hot. My lips curled in my trademarked cocky smirk. I could handle it. I liked fire.
Getting burned let you know you were alive.
The funny thing about Samantha was that, even though she was a total hottie, she was a complete spaz. Her firestorm emotions constantly tore up her good looks, turning her face purse-dog ugly half the time. Like when fatty had tried to climb into her VW on the way to campus, the look on her face had been the visual equivalent of nails grinding across a chalkboard. Totally heinous. But it was only temporary.
I dug the honest flow of Samantha’s emotions. It was way better than the contrived gamesmanship of Tiffany and her loony sorority friends with their Halloween-mask sincerity.
Samantha’s naked honesty and tumultuous emotions made me want to protect her that much more. She was some kind of rare and unique truth.
When she was calm, she was undeniably the most beautiful woman on the planet. I don’t say that shit lightly. I’ve been with more than enough hotties to know.
But with Samantha, it went far beyond her looks.
I’d totally flipped for her the moment I’d laid eyes on her. Even with her funky dress and that coffee smell and her jangling nerves, something about Samantha shone right into me like a beacon. Call it her spirit, her essence, I don’t fucking know. But sure as shit, I’d never felt anything like it coming off of any other chicks I’d ever met.
Samantha was in a class of her own.
She had a calming effect on me, like everything in the world had fallen into place at last, and the human race could kick back and sip Mai Tais into eternity. This was a unique experience for me. Ever since my mom had left my dad, my life had been a scattered vortex of recklessness. Peace and calmness were strangers to me. Daily disaster and emotional chaos were my resting state.
memory of perfect calmness that I cherished, and I turned to it whenever my head was spinning out of control. It reminded me of the calmness my life
have, if only I could figure out how to hold onto it for longer than a minute or two at a time.
It’d happened two or three years ago, on a surfing trip down in Baja with Jake and some of our buddies.
We’d camped overnight on the beach, and I’d hit the waves first thing in the morning, before everyone else was awake. They were sleeping off the cases of Coronas everyone had pounded the night before. For whatever reason, I’d gone easy on the brews and was ready for an early start.
After I’d paddled out for the seventh time, I’d been sitting on my board in meditative silence, alone, lolling on a glassy ocean, waiting between sets, feet dangling in the tropical water while a perfect sunrise soaked the horizon. The entire world had felt like everything was as it should be, the way nature intended. For the first time since my mom had left my dad, I’d felt perfect, total calmness. For a fleeting moment.
Then it was gone.
Samantha had brought that peaceful feeling back ten times over. I’d felt it continuously since meeting her, and it spiked whenever I was in her presence. Too bad the cops trashed my vibe the second they took me away. Fucking five-oh. I shook my head.
I needed more of her. I was hooked. I mean,
hooked. She gave me something I couldn’t give myself, no matter how hard I’d tried.
Bouncing around inside the rolling jail with the two cops sitting in front of me suddenly yanked me painfully out of my private reverie.
Bars, handcuffs, no escape.
I struggled to keep my feelings for Samantha protected from my grim predicament. I didn’t want my current situation tarnishing my memories of her in any way. After taking a deep, calming breath, I dove back into comforting reminiscence.
I recalled Samantha’s surprise when we’d first locked eyes in Life Drawing class. Watching her struggle not to stare at my package while she’d been drawing me naked was probably the comedy highlight of my year. She’d been ready to boil over with embarrassment.
Despite her nearly perpetual awkwardness, I totally dug her, no matter how off-kilter her mood.
Stalking her at the Eleanor M. Westbrook art museum was probably the calmest I’d seen her. The deserted museum was a quiet and relaxing cocoon, making it easy to let your guard down. I’m sure Samantha was so busy marveling at the paintings, her worries had fallen away. I knew the experience well. I felt it every time I went to a great art museum myself, and slid into the colors and shapes of the paintings, escaping my own inner turmoil for brief moments.
While Samantha had stood mesmerized in front of my grandfather’s painting, Shrouded Paradise, I witnessed her truest beauty come out of hiding for the first time, like some timid field mouse sniffing the air for danger. That crazy beauty was such a fragile, fleeting thing, like a snowflake or a perfect sunset. You could only appreciate it if you stopped yourself and really took it in before it was gone, maybe forever.
I wanted desperately to protect Samantha from whatever haunted her because I knew her insecurity ran deep, just like mine. The only difference between me and her was that I hid it, and she didn’t.
I couldn’t decide if she was the bravest person I’d ever met, or the craziest.
It didn’t matter.
I wanted to wash away her tears and fears so that the amazing young woman I sensed beneath her teenaged anxiety could finally emerge.
I already knew beyond all doubt that I would do anything to help Samantha find her way in life.
The fact I was parked in the back of a squad car because of her, ten hours after we’d met, was living proof.
I sighed heavily again, my heart accelerating while my chest tightened around it. Man, I knew Samantha was going to be trouble for me. Maybe even more trouble than where I was heading in this black-and-white. I grinned to myself. The good news was, this shit was temporary.
I looked forward to finding out how much trouble Samantha could be the second I got out of whatever steaming mess I’d tripped into with the cops.
Because whatever was brewing between me and Samantha felt permanent.
I still couldn’t get over how hot Christos was. His tattooed arms flexed hypnotically and his body gyrated only inches from mine.
“Oh, it’s so wet,” Christos said.
“Can you get it in all the way?” I asked nervously.
“It’s so tight. I don’t know if it’ll fit.”
“Push it in all the way. Go deep.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’ve waited long enough. Just do it.”
“Okay, but I’ll go slow, just in case.” He eased it in. All the way.
“Oooh, yeah,” I purred, “I think that’s going to do it. Just like that. Smooth and easy.” I totally needed this. I’d been waiting for what seemed like my entire life.
“You like it when I do this, don’t you?” he smirked.
“Why wouldn’t I?” I grinned back.
“I don’t know, I thought maybe you were afraid it would ruin things. You want me to go faster?”
“Yes. Do it, Christos. I trust you. As fast as you can.”