Here All Along First Chapter AND news!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Hello lovelies!

Hope you've been enjoying reading the first chapters of my books that I've been sharing on this blog. For today's post, I will be sharing the first chapter to my story, Here All Along... after I tell you some news about the book.

"What kind of news could it be?" you may ask.

Well, I'll tell you.

Following the publication of Here All Along, I had a few people tell me that they'd love to have Hazel and Adrian's story continued. I started to write this continued story following HAA... and then stopped because I couldn't make it work. The conflict was forced and some of what I'd written felt like filler story and nothing of substance. I didn't want to publish something mediocre, dull, or boring, so I moved on to another project.

Over the last year, I've been browsing through my old writing and poetry files to see what I had worked on years ago. I came across the HAA continuation and read the first few pages... and I really liked them. It got me to thinking about how I'd love to share it with my readers, and then I had an epiphany:

Re-publish Here All Along with new chapters!

It was such a simple solution. Since I'm self-published and I have full control over what I do with my work, I can easily add to a story and republish.

After I decided to do this, I got to work on this new plan. I won't be changing what's already been published, just adding 2-3 more chapters to it to expand on what happens with Hazel and Adrian. There will also be a cover change, which will happen closer to the re-release date, which is to be decided. All of this will happen early 2018, that I can tell you for sure. The rest of the details... those aren't known yet. I have tentative dates in mind, but it's all going to depend on how quickly I can get the story written, edited, and formatted. Once I know, you'll definitely know!

In the meantime, please enjoy the first chapter of Here All Along!


Chapter One

I need a drink. Now.”

After tossing—fine, throwing—my purse and keys on the couch, I march straight into the kitchen. No more delays; it's time to forget tonight. It’s been yet another night like all the other first dates that never meet a second one. When you begin to lose count, that's when it's really time for a drink.

Adrian stands there, leaning against the counter in an unbuttoned dress shirt and dark wash jeans. He glances at me as I walk in. “How was your date?” he asks, taking a swig of his scotch.

I brush past him on my mission, opening the cupboard and moving a couple bottles around. I reiterate, “I need alcohol.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch him hiding a smile before he says, “That bad?”

My face twitches as I ignore his line of questioning. It is more like a statement he wants me to clarify, even though he already knows the answer. Instead, I ask, “I have vodka left, don't I?” I stand on my tiptoes in hopes of spotting something in the very back. Nothing.

He waltzes over and looks with me, his chin almost touching my shoulder. “I think you polished that one off after last week's date.” His voice is low right next to my ear, very nearly causing a shiver.

I let out a groan of exasperation as I recall that last drop of vodka. “Damn it!” It was the flavored kind, too. Adrian remembers everything. If he remembers the vodka, he probably remembers when I finished off the Kahlua the week before. It's becoming a trend—a very bad one.

Shutting the cupboard door, I spin around to face him, giving him a once-over for the first time since I got home. The fact that his five o'clock shadow beginning to show up more or less demonstrates his effort today. Tilting my head to the side, I ask, “What's up with this?” as I touch his jaw line with my index finger. “And this?” I pinch the collar on his shirt. “Actually, I'm more surprised you still have your clothes on.”

It's not like I walk around naked all the time.”

Almost naked.”

Hey,” he says, pointing at me sternly. “It was just that one time.”

I bite my lip recalling that day I caught him walking down the hallway in just his boxers. I’d freaked out at first, but it was a nice sight now that I think about it. Very nice. “Maybe it was.”

I'm your roommate, not your boyfriend.” He touches a finger to my chin. “I make sure I'm decent in front of you until you say otherwise.” His smile morphs into a smirk.

I smack his finger away, but smile back. “Knock it off, Adrian, or I may kick you out.” I wouldn't do that, of course. He may be trouble at times, but we've been friends for many years. When each of us had our roommates up and leave us, it practically became necessary to move in together to save money. There were other options, sure, but I liked this one best. My friends thought it would be a bad idea to become roommates with Adrian since they consider him a player and worry that being in close quarters will just make me another one of his conquests.

The reality shows how little they know because despite their concerns, he has been quite the gentleman since the move. A gentleman with a few flirtatious words and the occasional double entendre. Not that it's ever bothered me—I've always liked being able to have that one guy friend I can joke around with like that. It keeps things interesting in more of an amusing way rather than a dramatic one.

Adrian continues to smirk at my empty threat. “What would you do without me?”

Live in peace and not run out of alcohol,” I mutter, taking my brown hair out of the ponytail it is in.

I'm not the reason you drink.” He gives me an exasperated look. “Somebody's got their panties in a bunch, and not at the end of someone's bed.”

It's impossible to argue there, not that I'd ever own up to that fact. This whole night has me frustrated, which is clearly evident. “I just...I just need a drink,” I say with a sigh. “I almost want to ask you to take me to the bar for drinks, but I don't feel like going anywhere now that I'm home.”

Here,” he says, setting down his drink. “Let me mix something up for you.” He places his hands on my shoulders and moves me over enough to get into the cupboard.

His gentle touch puts me at ease. I glance up, giving him a tiny smile. “Thanks.” While he pulls out a couple bottles and another glass, I begin my own line of questioning. “Why are you home so early anyway?” I'm not the only one who had a date tonight, and apparently not the only one who didn't have a good time. It has to be a first for him to be home before me. “What was wrong with this one?”

She was clingy.”

So was the last girl.”

He shrugs. “It happens.”

It's been happening a lot.” Ever since we moved in together last month, his dates haven't lasted longer than dinner and drinks. Maybe it's just because of the transition, but a month should be long enough to get back into a regular routine.

As if I'm one to talk.

He hands me the finished drink. “Do you want to talk about why you're home so early?” he asks.

I shrug while rolling my eyes. “He got too... handsy.” I shudder, reluctantly recalling Louis from earlier tonight.

Adrian freezes. “How so?”

While his concern isn't out of the ordinary, his reaction seems out of character. He's heard all my bad date stories before and this doesn't even break the top ten. I assure him by saying, “Nothing bad, just putting his hand on my leg and arm.” I swirl the drink and finally take a sip. “Oh my god. This is so good.” It's heavenly and sinful at the same time.

You like it?” He straightens and his chest puffs out a little bit.

I take another long sip before answering. “You went with the spiced rum this time.” It may not be vodka I’ve got a taste for, but it still hits the spot. Setting the glass down, I hop up on the counter and pick up the drink again. “He was pretty much a repeat of last week.” And the week before, and the week before that...

Didn't pay attention to a single word you said, only kept repeating how beautiful you are, and then he shoved his tongue down your throat?”

Cringing at the last part, I reply, “All of the above minus the tongue.”

He gapes at me. “He didn't try to kiss you?”

He tried, I turned away.”

Good for you. I don't like hearing about guys attempting to take advantage of you.” He reaches out, stroking my arm with his fingertips.

A light flutter runs through me at the simple kindness of his words and his touch. This is a new feeling. Adrian and I are just friends. Aren't we? It must be the alcohol going to my head already. More likely it has to do with the loneliness I've been feeling. Each of the men I've gone out with this month hasn't been the greatest and it's making me want to give up on my quest for love. First there was Malcolm, the sports fanatic who only talked about his favorite teams and spent half the time checking the scores. Then there was Angelo, the pumped-up athlete who spends most of his waking hours at the gym to the point where everybody there knows him. Tonight there was Louis, the self-absorbed hunk—and I use the term loosely—who spoke more about himself than I'm sure even his mother does. This isn't me stereotyping either; this is exactly how they were.

Believe it or not,” I say, “he invited me to spend the night. I may have considered it if he had been more interested in my personality than my looks. Or to put it plainly, my boobs.” I gesture to them dramatically. When I got dressed I put on a fairly low-cut top, so they have been on display all night.

Laughing, he says, “Well, they do look nice.”

Hearing him say this doesn't bother me. Just like it doesn't bother me when I catch him looking at them. He doesn't leer like every other guy; it's almost as if he's admiring them. That's pretty sweet of him now that I think about it. “Thanks,” I tell him.

I don't know how you keep getting these guys.”

It's mostly Jocelyn's fault.” Malcolm and Angelo were Jocelyn's fault. “Tonight was Anna's though.”

I thought Anna had more scruples than that.”

I smirk. “She introduced us,” I say, gesturing between us.

He hits a hand to his head. “Yeah, I guess I can't fault her for one mistake when she put together this team.” He holds out a fist and I bump it with mine.

I finish my drink, setting it on the counter. Leaning my head back against the cupboard, I say, “We're in our early twenties and home before ten on a Saturday night. We're quite the pair, aren't we?”

He smiles sweetly. “That we are, Hazel. That we are.” He tilts his head, deep in thought. “How about this.” He sets down his empty glass and takes both my hands in his. “Let's watch a movie, get drunk, and forget all about tonight and bad dates. What do you say?”

The light flutter returns with him holding my hands. His smoldering gaze would cause my knees to buckle beneath me had I been standing. I swallow. What is happening to my resolve? Sexual attraction has never been a factor for us, even though it’s been hidden beneath the surface. Something I’ve purposely keep hidden because he's one of my best friends. Shrugging off the nagging thoughts, I say, “Why not?” as I jump down, still holding his hands. It has been awhile since I've done anything fun like this. My recent dates started out with the promise of fun, but never ended up as a remotely good time.

Letting go of my hands, he grabs the bottle of rum and his glass. “All right, let's do this,” he says hurrying to the living room.

Somebody's enthusiastic.” I pick up my own glass and follow him. I come to a stop on my way and ask, “Are we going to turn this into a drinking game?”

He glances back at me, grinning. “We could make it into one if you'd like.”

I shake my head. “No, let's just drink.”

Works for me.” He sits on our leather couch, patting the spot next to him with a wink.

As I sink back into the cushions, a calm comes over me. I almost smile but then it hits me: it's being near Adrian that has created this calm. But is it just gratefulness for our friendship or the way his touch is making me feel tonight? It didn't feel that way before, that... fluttering. Like nervous butterflies parading around where my organs should be. Maybe tonight I can find out what this is. Between work and nights out with friends and dates, we haven't been alone for longer than half an hour since moving day. Well, aside from sleeping in our beds at night. Separately. Unfortunately.

Where did that come from?

Did you want to change into something more comfortable?” Adrian asks with a raise in his eyebrows, breaking me out of my train of thought, but not away from naughty thoughts.

I smack his knee. “I'm comfortable, but I know you're not.” He doesn't mind dressing up, but on most days I see him in casual clothes like screen-printed tees and hoodies.

You're right,” he says, tapping my knee lightly, standing up. As he walks toward the hallway, he slips his shirt off the rest of the way. I can't look away from the sight, even if it is only from the back. Damn. What is happening to me? Have I gone mad?

Before I can tear my eyes away from him, he turns around. Judging by the look in his eyes, I've been caught. I have so been caught. Damn again. I didn't want him to see me practically drooling. It's too late for that now.

He smirks. “You know, I could spend the rest of the night just like this.” He places a hand to the hard muscles of his chest.

I clear my throat, trying really hard not to imagine my hand in place of his, and say, “If I'm wearing clothes, you're wearing clothes.”

So if I'm not wearing clothes...” I grab a coaster from the coffee table and fling it at him. He catches it in his hand. “Just remember, all you have to do is say otherwise.”

I put a hand on my hip. “Well, I haven't said otherwise yet.” The last word slips out before I can stop it. It would be great if I could understand what is happening to the spot in my brain that filters my thoughts, words, and actions properly.

He winks. “I'll remember that.”

When I can hear that his steps are far enough down the hall, I let out a long breath. This is getting out of hand. What is causing me to lose all control? I can keep trying to tell myself it's the alcohol, and perhaps a little bit of it is, but it's only intensifying the effect. The effect meaning that he has one over me. Adrian Williams, of all people.

But how? And why? And why now? It's not like I haven't had ample time before to feel this way. The sudden discovery has me nervous as hell. I'm not even sure how to act around Adrian now. Especially when I can't keep my eyes off his body. His exceptionally toned body, with sinewy muscles, and those gorgeous green eyes...

Hazel Bell! Snap out of it! I kick off my shoes and lean back into the couch, attempting to relax. Just when I'm starting to, Adrian walks back into the living room, donning a half-zipped gray hoodie. It shows off a little bit of his chest as a tease, making me wish it wasn't just a tease. It's hard to relax when all you can think about is your roommate being shirtless again.

He plunks himself down right next to me, an arm going behind me. “So what's it going to be?”

What's what going to be?” His nearness is causing my brain to short-circuit.

What movie?” He leans forward, picking up the bottle of rum and pouring a generous amount in each of our glasses.

I lean toward him with my elbows on my knees. “I want to say romantic comedy but I don't think it would be right to torture myself.” Maybe not so much torture but depress considering how unromantic life really is.

Well, you know I would be fine with it.”

I smile. Adrian is one of the few men I've come across who can sit through a chick flick and not be bored. “Okay, let me see what I can come up with.” I stand up, crossing the room to our shelf of combined DVDs. We put both of our collections together in alphabetical order since that would make it easier to find what we're looking for. There were only a couple duplicates, but that's because we always knew what movies the other had. Why buy a movie when you can borrow it from a friend?

I settle on Northanger Abbey. While it's not a romantic comedy or a chick flick—okay maybe kind of a chick flick—it is Jane Austen. I hold it up for him. He says, “I've never seen it.”

Good,” I say, putting it in the DVD player and press play. When I sit back down, I accidentally end up closer to him than I had been a moment ago. Part of me wants to scoot over—just a teeny bit—back to where I was before. The other part tells me not to. I don't want him to think I don't feel comfortable being close to him. On the other hand, I don't want him to think I want to be closer to him for another reason. Although...

Brushing off the thought, I relax where I am and focus my attention on the television screen.

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