I met Eric the day my world shattered, when I discovered my con-artist parents had sold my virginity to the highest bidder.
Drugged and unable to fight back, I was like a lamb to slaughter. He could have turned away and left me to my fate.
Instead he risked his life to save and protect me. I feel a deep connection to him, like we’ve known each other forever and I just need to remember. I don’t know how, but I love him. I feel like I’ve loved him for a thousand lifetimes.
I dart forward, scoop her up in my arms before she hits the ground. This is where she belongs, my body screams. Don’t ever let her go.
She looks up at me with her wide blue eyes and I’m done for. I know she didn’t sell her virginity or that she’s part of a con. She’s been used and trapped here, probably drugged to make money. A rage fills my chest at the thought of her parents setting her up to be raped, but when I see her expression change to fear of me, I tone it down to a simmering boil. I’ll have my day with them. For now, I need to take care of my girl. Because that’s what she became the instant I touched her.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I've always loved romance books and recently my favorites have become instalove romances with a strong alpha male hero…which this book definitely has 🙂
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I needed Eric to save Lana and making him the bodyguard for the monster threw in some instant conflict. Eric became real to me as I wrote the story and now, I'm editing the 2nd book in the series and starting the 3rd, whenever Eric appears I cheer because I love him so much.
Lana needed to start out as too trusting and desperate for love from her parents, which fits in with the story plot. But she reminds me of someone close to me which is how I came up with her character.
“Where is it?” I mutter to myself, as I run my hand underneath my mattress. “I put it back, I know I did.” When I reach the end, my breath quickens as my heart starts racing. My diary. It’s gone. I look around wildly, searching for it on my dresser, my floor, anywhere, even as I realize it won’t be there.
“MOM!” I yell, because it has to be her. My Dad is a jerk but my Mom is the manipulative, nosy one. For about the billionth time in my life, I wish my parents were normal.
Catapulting off my bed, I dash to their bedroom, the only other bedroom in our tiny, rundown apartment. The door is closed, and I discover, locked. I bang on the door, until I hear the lock click and I stare into the same midnight blue eyes I see in the mirror. I’m the spitting image of my mother, Helen Knight, other than the perpetual sneer she wears.
She leans against the door, her hip cocked to the side, her arm hanging lazily as she pats an open book against her thigh. It’s my diary.
“What, Lana? I’m busy,” Mom says, looking bored.
“That’s my diary,” I say, taking a swipe at it.
She jerks it away, tucking it behind her back. “Yes, but right now, I’m reading it.”
My jaw hangs open as I realize she was more than halfway through. Oh my God, she’s read so much. A blush creeps up my cheeks as my mind runs through all of the intensely personal things I’ve written in the last few months. Pain like a knife stabs through my chest feeling suspiciously like betrayal. I hadn’t realized I could still feel betrayed by either of my parents, they’d done it so often I should be used to it by now.
“It’s a real page turner,” she drawls, a smug smile spreading across her face that I itch to slap away.
But I won’t. I may be their daughter but I am NOT like them. “Give it back. Now.” I say, holding my hand out.
I startle as my Dad, laying on their bed, says, “Not yet. We’re not done reading it.”
“Tell me, Lana, why should I give this back at all when its filled with so much hatred for us? There’s so much whining about how your father and I ruined your life.” Her eyes look me up and down like I’m nothing. “You are such a child,” she spits out. “You’ve always thought everything would just fall in your lap. All I’ve tried to do is show you how to earn your way through this world.”
“I never expected anything! Well, I suppose that’s not true, MOTHER, I expected to be loved. But the only person you’re capable of loving is yourself. Whatever, keep the book. I hope you both enjoy it, even though it’s not your favorite genre being that it’s non-fiction.”
I spin on my heel, heading back to my room when my Mom says, “Are you really still a virgin? How in the hell are you eighteen and still a virgin?”
Their mocking laughter turns even the tips of my ears red. Anger or embarrassment, I’m not sure which. Maybe both.
“I’m not like you, Mother, I didn’t want to get pregnant at sixteen. And my virginity is my business, not yours,” I say, just before I slam the door.
Flopping on the bed, tears run down my face until I angrily brush them away. Grabbing my cell phone, I call my best friend, Gabby.
“Hey, Lana,” she answers. “What’s up?”
“My Mom is the worst,” I say, telling her what had happened.
“Let’s move out together,” Gabby says. “We can get an apartment and you’ll never have to see them again.”
“I’m totally in, but I really need to save up first, Gabs. I think I’ll be able to in a month or two.”
Gabby groans. “I don’t know how you’re going to do it, Lana.”
“I’ve been here two years already, I should be able to handle a month or two,” I say, although I think I’m saying it more to convince myself. My grandparents raised me because my parents weren’t around. They were off conning good people out of their money and didn’t have time for me.
But my grandparents died, one after the other, two years ago. My grandma went first and after that, I think my grandpa just let go. They had such a sweet love, after forty years of marriage, he just couldn’t live without her. I had to move back into hell with my parents after that.
“Okay, well, let’s have weekly sleepovers at my house to make it go faster. Sounds good?” Gabby asks.
“Heck yeah!” I say, grinning. Gabby knows how to cheer me up. I always look forward to our sleepovers. “How about one tonight?”
“I don’t work until noon tomorrow. Let’s do it!”
The following week, I get home from my evening shift at the grocery store and can’t wait to change out of my uniform. It’s a white button up shirt, a red vest and a tiny white hat that I have to pin in my hair to sit on my head. It doesn’t do much. I suppose I look cute in it though, so it’s fine.
Heading to my room, my Mom comes out of the kitchen with a plate of Oreos and lemon bars. I look around wondering if we have company, but it’s just my Dad sitting on the couch flicking through channels.
“Would you like a cookie, sweetheart?” my Mom asks.
I eye her and the cookies. She never calls me sweetheart; they must be poisoned. “No thanks,” I say, continuing to my room.
She stops me midway and says, “Lana, dear, I want to talk to you about the shifts you’re doing. I don’t like you out late at night.”
I’m baffled. My parents have never put any restrictions on me, mostly because they don’t care. “Why not?” I ask, trying to keep the contempt from my voice.
“If you’re still a virgin at eighteen, it must mean something to you. I don’t want you to lose it to some random guy in the back of his car,” she says, with a pleasant smile.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen her smile like that. Not even to my grandparents, her own parents. “I don’t think you have to worry about that, Mom, I’m not planning on sleeping with anyone anytime soon.”
“Either way, I’d like you to take day shifts only, Lana. We’d like to spend time with you in the evenings now, don’t we Mike?” she says, gesturing to my Dad.
“Uh, yeah. We do,” he says, dragging his gaze away from the TV for a moment.
“I’m good, I’m going out with Gabby tonight,” I say and push through to my bedroom.
But Mom is following me, still clutching the plate of treats. “Listen, honey, after reading your diary, I felt terrible. I realize now how we’ve neglected you all these years. We want to make it up to you. Stay home with us and we’ll have dinner and start building a better relationship.”
I can’t believe my ears. I stare at her, my jaw slack. I’ve always felt like an inconvenience to them, even when I was little. How in the world are we supposed to just forget about that and ‘build a better relationship?’ It sounds like a fantasy novel. I’ve needed so much from them for so long and I’ve never gotten it. It has to be a lie…right? But she’s looking at me so earnestly that I grudgingly say, “I promised Gabby. Can we do it tomorrow instead?”
“I’m sure you can cancel with Gabby, Lana. She’s your best friend, she’ll still be there in the morning. How about if she sleeps over here tomorrow?”
“Uh, okay,” I say, dumbly, since they’ve never wanted Gabby to sleepover. It was always me going to her house.
She smiles and lifts the plate. “Please take one, I don’t want you getting skinny on us.”
I take an Oreo before closing the door to change. All I can think is, That was weird.
Surprisingly, the night flies by. My Mom makes enchiladas and wild rice, and we play scrabble after. My Dad actually feels like he’s there, instead of just watching TV and my Mom laughs and smiles. It feels like we’re a normal family for once.
I’ve literally never had an evening with them like this. Certainly not since I moved back in and the few nights I remember from when I was little, they usually had friends over, got high, drunk, or both and locked me in my room with a reverse locking door handle, often forgetting to unlock my bedroom door before they passed out so I couldn’t go to the bathroom or eat when I woke up. And then they’d blame me for the mess I made when they woke up.
But that night, I go to bed happy, hoping this isn’t all a dream.
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