About your Book:
Veronica Armatti, a hairdresser and infatuation addict, has managed to strike the perfect balance between her daily existence and her overpowering desires. Veronica’s husband, Joe, tolerates her addiction as long as he doesn’t know the details. Veronica decides to get her latest fix with Andrew, an artist she meets at a grocery store. Andrew inducts Veronica into a mysterious and hypnotic dream world, where the powerful Devan entices her into his tribe of shape shifters, and where dreams and reality mingle in a deadly, intricate dance of survival.
Targeted Age Group: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, suspense
The Book Excerpt:
The guy ahead of me in the checkout lane turns and
appraises me. The handcuffs, locked around his back belt
loop, clink against my grocery cart.
“Hey,” he says, offering a nod.
“You a cop?” I ask. I’m bored.
“Nope. Not a cop.” He smiles.
“Why the handcuffs?” I have no trouble striking up
“Hmmm . . .” he says, unlocking them. “Wanna see a magic
“Sure.” I add a bit of flirt.
He removes the handcuffs from the loop and, in a second,
locks the handcuff around my wrist, then clicks the other half
around his grocery cart handle.
“Fifty-two, sixty-five,” the cashier says to him, but her eye
is on me.
He hands her cash while I wait for the handcuff trick.
Clever way to meet people. Why hadn’t I thought of that?
The transaction is complete but instead of the magic
unlock, he quickly exits the store with his bag of groceries.
“Hey!” I call after him. “Hey! Real funny! Ha ha. Hey, you!
“What’s that about?” the cashier asks. “He your boyfriend?”
10 Robbi Bryant
“I just met him seconds ago. I asked about the handcuffs,
and this is what he did,” I say, miffed. “He’ll come back, right?”
The checkout woman shrugs.
“Do I go after him? Drag the cart with me?” I scan the
parking lot from the line. He’s nowhere. “Can you call the
“Michael to checkout three,” she says into a store
telephone. Her voice on the loud speaker reverberates around
What can the manager do? Nothing. Nevertheless, that’s
my first instinct. I’ll need to call a locksmith then sit in
Safeway for an hour, handcuffed to a grocery cart. I visualize
the phone call to my husband. “Hi, Joe . . . I’ll be home a little
later than usual . . . I’m handcuffed to a shopping cart.” And
Joe would think, “What’s she gotten herself into this time?”
A tap on my shoulder corrals my attention. Is it him? I
“Excuse me.” A small, gray-haired woman behind me
offers a wrinkled smile. “I’m supposed to give you this.” She
hands me the handcuff key along with a folded piece of paper.
“Who gave you this? Was it that guy in front of me?”
“Honey, I can barely remember my name.”
I scan the store. He must have sneaked in. I unlock the
cuffs and drop them in my purse. I stash the key in my wallet.
“That’s a cool pickup technique,” the cashier says. “Sixtyforty.”
I hand her my debit card. As she does the transaction, I
unfold the paper.
Ain’t magic grand? Phone me sometime when you’re
free. Andrew. 555-8465.
Let me say this. I’m discontent but don’t know why. On
occasion, I’m overwhelmed with such emptiness that it’s hard
to stay clean. Neither drugs nor alcohol run me. My addiction?
Infatuation. What feeds it? Sexual affairs.
It’s not that I have a ferocious appetite for sex. Or
even that I like variety. It’s just that in some odd way, I feel
temporarily sated during a tryst. I wander in the mysteries
infatuation brings and seek it out when I need a fix.
Driven by the darkness that rides my back, I’m like
everyone else who wears angst like an albatross. I’m just
trying to make it through the night. When this unquenchable
thirst began, I don’t know. I have no memories of my
childhood prior to my adoption. My adoptive parents have
always been good to me.
Many therapists have tried to convince me that I’ve
repressed molestation. I don’t remember it, and I doubt it.
I simply want someone to fill the void in my chest. This
emptiness within feels ancient.
The hunger worsens when the moon is full. My anxiety
heightens. Sometimes I pace, but often I drift into a haze
that swirls into jagged, fragmented images. A kaleidoscope
of unease. My spirit is untamed but trapped. The temporary
antidote is to escape into the arms of a lover.
“Hey, babe.” Joe barges into the kitchen. “Damn, it’s good
to be home. Nothing up this weekend which is fucking
As far as Joe’s concerned, most words start with the word
“fucking” in front of them. Everything is “fucking cool,
fucking trip, fucking drag.” I’ve told Joe that this bothers me
but he can’t seem to stop. Some say he’s passive-aggressive.
I don’t think so. Conflict is unusual between Joe and me. We
try to accept each other, flaws and all.
I stand on tiptoes to kiss him. He’s six feet tall. A giant
compared to my own five-feet-five height. Blonde haired
with blue eyes and all-American boy-next-door looks. He tries
to bad-boy his appearance by spiking his hair and wearing
mirror-lens sunglasses whenever he’s out. Lately, he’s been
talking about going platinum. Why not? He’d look fab.
We’re a great team. I’m lucky. Most of my friends live with
husbands they barely like. I find that frightening. My issue
over the word “fucking” doesn’t amount to much juxtaposed
with the unhappy marriages my friends have.
“Chinese sounded fucking great,” he says, placing two bags
on the table, “so I picked some up for us.”
I gather dishes and silverware, and we move to the family
room. He likes background noise and clicks on the TV. I call it
mental clutter but compromise.
I plow through Szechwan prawns and snow peas,
Mongolian beef, and pot stickers. My favorite part of a
Chinese dinner is the fortune cookie, which oddly enough,
I’m prone to believe. I’m not quite finished with dinner when
I break one open and unravel the thin paper. I’m a sucker for
“Looks like I’m going on a journey.” I toss the fortune on
the coffee table.
Hmm . . . I’d like to go to the forest. The sensation of
running down a trail, the scent of the trees as they bow in the
breeze, the birds diving. I love the soft moss entwined with
fragrances from large, leafy plants, bouquets of wild flowers,
streams of light filtering through the trees and the sound of
insects singing in harmony.
“Did ya have a good day?” Joe asks.
A racecar driver, Joe spends his days at the track, focused
and on target. Once home, Joe is content to fall into his big,
lush chair and relax. He’s not a forest kind of guy. My job
as a hairdresser keeps me scrambling as well, but my body
responds by riding the energy. It never seems to dissipate.
A walk in the woods suits me. Unfortunately, we don’t live
near a forest, and a walk around the neighborhood does nothing
to soothe me. Often, I’ll stop by a favorite boutique on my
way home from work. This reduces my high-speed hairstylist
mode to a calmer state. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not a
shopaholic. As long as I veer from the boutiques when I feel
driven to shop, I’m fine.
“Picked up a few things at Safeway,” I reply nonchalantly.
I doodle handcuffs and hearts on a piece of notepaper. “Look
what I found today.” I grab my purse and pull out the
“Whoa,” Joe says. “Fucking cool. Where’d you find them?”
“In the Safeway parking lot.”
“Key?” Joe says with a devious smile. “We could have some
fun with those.”
I dig in my purse, retrieve the key, and hold it up.
“Key,” I say, batting my eyelashes.
I toss the handcuffs to him and drop the key on the coffee
“See you upstairs?” I tease.
“I’m right behind you.” Sex wraps around each word.
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