Review + Excerpt: Black Box by Cassia Leo

My Thoughts

One of the most emotionally raw and vulnerable stories I’ve ever read. A story of two broken people caught in the clutches of fate, thrust upon each other by circumstance and saved by a love with the power to heal the blackest recesses of our hearts.

5stars

Synopsis

black box coverA stand-alone novel about a girl, a boy, and fate.

♥️ Three fateful encounters….
♥️ Two heart-breaking tragedies….
♥️ One last chance to get it right.

From New York Times best selling author Cassia Leo, comes an epic love story about rewriting destiny.

Over the course of five years, Mikki and Crush cross paths on two separate occasions. Their first encounter changes Mikki’s life forever, but their second meeting leaves them both buried beneath the emotional wreckage of a violent attack. Mikki is left with more questions and grief than she can handle, while Crush is forced to forget the girl who saved his life.

Now nineteen years old, Mikki Gladstone has decided she’s tired of the mind-numbing meds. She books a flight to Los Angeles to end her life far away from her loving, though often distant, family.

Twenty-one-year-old Crush has always channeled his blackest thoughts into his music, but he’s never had great aspirations. He decides to fly to Los Angeles to record a demo of the only song he’s never performed in public; a song he wrote for a girl he doesn’t even know: Black Box. He has no expectations of fame and he’s never felt like his life had any purpose… until he meets Mikki in Terminal B.

When Mikki and Crush cross paths for the third time in Terminal B, neither has any idea who the other person is; until they slowly piece together their history and realize that fate has more in store for them than just another love story.

My Review

“This black box is yours to keep, to stash your troubles away. Just lock it up and call my name, and I’ll be there… always.”

Emotional. Intense. Raw. Honest. This is such a powerful book … the story line is volatile, yet is personified by such a palpable fragility. Woven together by fate with threads of pain and fear, shame and heartache, love and hope. For the intensity of the subject matter, I thought the story unraveled in an almost a quiet way … brutally honest and piercing, as we came to know more about Crush and Mikki. Who they are, who they were and how they share the most harrowing of experiences that have irrevocably shaped – and scarred – their lives. These are two tortured souls bound by fate (or luck?) and connected by circumstance. Two people that perhaps were never destined to meet, but somehow were able to save each other, time and time again, cheating death and finding a reason to live.

“Fate is for fairy tales. Luck is what happens when you’re in the right place at the right time… with the right person.”

Mikki is prepared to die. Determined to die. With the rest of her life hovering on a pin point, she’s ready to fall into the darkness and escape the painful reality that is her life. The end is just a plane flight away … an elaborate plan set into motion that would take her away from the shame and the hurt and the turmoil that relentlessly raged within. She’s been emotionally crippled by an experience that left her dead inside and almost dead physically as well. To say she was shattered is an understatement. Over the years, she fell deeper into depression, withdrew from life and wished for death to fade it all to black. So when she arrives at the airport and a storm delays her flight, she begins to panic.

But when a handsome guy meets her eye and engages her in conversation, she’s suddenly unsettled. There’s a familiarity about him. Without money and without the ability to go home, she takes this stranger – Crush – up on his offer to have coffee. Before too long, they plunge into a storm of their own making, as memories begin to take shape in an uproar, making old wounds fester and fears consume. But as Mikki begins to spiral uncontrollably, Crush’s straightforward, pragmatic and caring demeanor begins to quell the maelstrom of her emotions.

“What are you, some fucking superhero for freaks?”

Crush has fared through his own share of anguish. The tragic loss of someone he cared very much about also pushed him to a precipice, but it was that fateful night that would once again change everything in his life. Since then, he’s been a bit lost, working to get out from underneath his parent’s control, “screaming into the void,” in hopes of finding something to fill the own hole inside of himself. When he meets Mikki at the airport, and then takes her to the cafe, he too is drawn to her. She’s familiar in a way he can’t place, but he immediately feels protective of her. He is so in tune with this girl, so observant from the beginning and I just loved that about him. It’s really interesting to see their exchanges, as they get to know each other externally, they are superficial as you would expect, but underneath the words expressed, deeper thoughts flit back and forth as if their souls recognized each other.

“I feel like I’ve known you all my life … I don’t want that feeling to go away. I want to know you all my life.”

Their story is heart wrenching. Mikki is coiled so tightly, restrained by a paralyzing fear, and Crush slowly reaches her, unravels her, heals her. She’s taken aback by his kindness and his honesty and together it’s as if the cogs fit perfectly into a groove. Together is how they should be. They are so very raw and vulnerable that the emotions they feel surge and intensify every second they spend at each other’s side. But Crush must change everything for Mikki if there is to be a happy ending.

“I hate that your smile makes me want to cry and I don’t know why. I hate that you know how to look so together on the outside when you’re screaming inside. I hate that you always know the right thing to say. I hate the way that I already know what you’re thinking just by the way you’re looking at me… I hate that you saved me. But most of all, I hate that you love me because now I love you and I don’t know how to make it stop.”

One of the aspects I so loved about this story was that sense of fragility … that vulnerability that you feel so strongly throughout. It’s so honest and the pain feels so real that you can’t help but hurt for these two people. Cassia Leo has always done a masterful job of making her character’s pain feel like your pain and in caring so much for Crush and Mikki I was entirely consumed by their story, desperately hoping for a happy ending. There’s a couple of other interesting things I pondered while reading this story. The concept of fate is of course explored and in this case, fate has been both a friend and a demon. Fate has thrust them together at the times they needed each other the most, but fate was also the catalyst for the horrors that permanently marred them.

“… the world can go black in a split second.”

Secondly, the book is entitled Black Box and as you experience the book you’ll realize there is so much more to these two words. The blackness inside of us. The place where we hide our deepest fears and most profound pain. And the carrier of all that hurt that we are meant to share with others so that we can persist and survive despite of it.

This is a powerful story of survival and love. It’s difficult to encapsulate it more succinctly or expound on it any further. Beautifully written by Cassia Leo, this is a story I won’t forget. This author seems to pour her heart and soul into each of her books and I truly feel that each time. I hope that you are as affected by this story as I was, as you immerse yourself in the blackness of how the story began and revel in the bright light of the hope they fatefully found in each other’s arms.

“Fate. I used to think fate was for religious nuts and people who were too afraid to take their fate into their own hands. Now I know the truth. Fate is death. No one escapes it. But if you stick around long enough, you might find someone to help cheat fate for a while. And when you can’t cheat anymore, and fate finally catches up to you, maybe it won’t seem so scary with that someone by your side.”

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Excerpt – Chapter 6 (Mikki)

The club is tiny and very dark, but it’s warm; and not just because the heat is working. Something about this place feels … safe.

We sit down on some stools at the bar, which runs almost the entire length of the narrow room. I take off my coat and lay it across the stool next to me and Crush does the same.

“When Jimmy gets here, he’ll make you the best damn martini you’ve ever had.”

“This place has the best music and the best martinis? Sounds like heaven.”

“It is,” he replies proudly.

We sit in silence for a moment; just long enough for the dark anxiety to start building inside me again. I begin thinking of how I almost freaked out in the alley a few minutes ago and wondering when my craziness is going to be too much for him to handle.

The alley.

Don’t think about it, the voice inside my head shouts. But, on any given day, my thoughts vary between a leaky faucet and a fire-hose of negativity, drowning me or just annoying the hell out of me until I’m forced to do something to make them stop.

“What are you thinking?” Crush asks, and suddenly I notice that he’s holding a crushed penny in his hand; actually, he’s rubbing the penny between his thumb and forefinger.

“Do you think saving someone’s life cancels out taking another person’s life?”

He looks horrified by this question. “What? What do you mean?”

“I mean exactly what I said. If you kill someone, can you erase that sin by saving someone else’s life?”

He drops the penny onto the bar. “Why would you ask me that?” I wait for him to pick up the penny before I reply.

“Look, it’s just a question. No need to freak out. I didn’t kill anyone.”

“That’s not what I was implying.” He shakes his head. “Just excuse the minor spaz-out. The answer to your question is no. I don’t think saving someone’s life cancels out killing someone else.”

He casts his eyes downward after he says this; a sure sign that he’s lying or he’s hiding something. “Have you ever killed anyone?”

About Cassia

cassia-leo-croppedNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cassia Leo grew up in California and has lived in three different countries. She loves to travel and her dream is to one day score a record deal based on her awesome shower singing skills. She is the author of the Shattered Hearts series (Relentless, Pieces of You, Bring Me Home) and the Luke and Chase series.

Facebook | Twitter | Author Website Goodreads

Related Reads:

Cover Reveal + Excerpt + Giveaway: Forever Ours (#0.5, Shattered Hearts) by Cassia Leo

forever ours

I have loved the Shattered Hearts series by Cassia Leo for all the emotion, the turmoil and the romance it bestowed us readers. This was a story full of heartache, but also full of hope and joy, and now, with Forever Ours, we get to see how it all began with Claire and Chris! Expected release date is April 2014. Forever Ours is a prequel, but can be read as a standalone book.

Text BOOKLOVE to 41411 to get a text alert when this book is released.

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Synopsis

Sometimes, it takes more than love to mend a shattered heart.

After eight years of being tossed around from one home to another, never forming any meaningful friendships or bonds with her foster families, Claire’s caseworker gives her an ultimatum: Behave or your next home will be a halfway house.

When fifteen-year-old Claire arrives at the home of Jackie Knight and meets Jackie’s fifteen-year-old son, tattooed guitarist Chris, she fears she’ll be seeing the inside of that halfway house soon. But Chris isn’t like any other guy Claire has ever encountered and he soon gains her trust through his music and unwavering patience.

Claire has finally found her forever home and she and Chris soon find themselves falling in love.

But Chris’s dreams of musical stardom and Claire’s need for a stable home soon put their love in jeopardy. Chris struggles deeply with his plans for the future, entirely reluctant to leave Claire behind; until Claire does something that may break their love — and the only home she’s comes to know — forever.

Excerpt

There are moments in life that you know will be burned into your memory forever. Chris calls these “movie screen moments” — where everything slows down and you know that something important is about to happen that will change the course of the story. He says that the best songs are written about movie screen moments. I don’t know if this is true. All I know is that this is one of those moments.

I can feel it in the air. And I know that when I look back, I’ll remember everything about this moment in time; the smells, the tastes, the sounds, and the touch. The touch.

Chris and I are both sitting on the carpet with our backs leaned against the sofa, our fingers woven together as MTV plays in the background. This is something we’ve done every day for the past six weeks, ever since summer break began. As soon as Jackie leaves for work in the morning, we both get up and have breakfast together. He usually makes me a bowl of cereal or I make us both some scrambled eggs. Then we hang out in the living room for a few hours until his friends come over. Sometimes, Chris plays his guitar for me. Sometimes, we sit here and pretend to watch MTV, holding hands while Mr. Miyagi lays out across both of our laps, begging to be petted. Well, I don’t know if Chris is pretending to watch MTV, but I know I am.

All I can seem to think about when I’m near Chris is whether or not this will last or if he will be just another person I have to lose. But this doesn’t stop me from enjoying these hours spent together. I’ve never been happier in all my life. Not even when my mom was alive.

I’ll admit. I was sort of hoping today would be different then all the other mornings Chris and I have hung out. Not that I don’t like this small moment of closeness we share every day. But today’s my sixteenth birthday. I guess I figured that would make today even more special for us. I was kind of hoping I might get my first kiss.

“Tristan’s coming over in half an hour and we’re going to the mall. You want to come?”

My heart sinks a little. Chris knows that Tristan and I don’t get along very well. He hasn’t even wished me a happy birthday and now he’s leaving to hang out with Tristan.

I try to let go of his hand and he tightens his grip. “What’s wrong?”

I attempt to pull my hand away again and this time he lets go. “I don’t want to go to the mall.”

“Are you okay?”

I stand up and he immediately stands with me. “I’m just tired. I think I’m gonna go back to bed.”

I take a few steps, but he grabs my hand to stop me. When I look over my shoulder at him, he’s wearing a crooked smile. “Can you take Mr. Miyagi upstairs with you?”

My shoulders slump as I turn toward Chris’s Shiba Inu where he’s lounging on the sofa.

Chris chuckles. “I’m only kidding. I’m not going anywhere with Tristan today. I’m taking you for a ride.”

“What?”

“On my bike.”

“I’m not going on that thing.”

Chris got his motorcycle license the week after he turned sixteen less than three months ago. He’s been trying to get me to ride with him on his crappy racing bike ever since the first time I let him hold my hand.

“Come on,” he pleads. “I have something I want to show you, but I want to do it alone. I don’t want to ask Tristan to take us. Please?”

I stare into his eyes for a moment and he tilts his head. His brown hair always looks calculatedly messy, the way it’s just long enough to cover his ears yet still sticks out in all the right places. His skin is so smooth; I often find myself wishing I could press my lips to his cheek just to feel the softness of his skin. And don’t even get me started on the metal stud in his tongue. The way he plays with it when he’s tuning his guitar gives me butterflies. I don’t know what Chris sees in me other than the way my hand seems to fit so perfectly in his.

He pulls me a little closer and lifts my hand to his mouth. My heart races as he lays a soft kiss on my knuckles. “Claire, it’s your birthday. And I know you probably haven’t had a whole lot of birthdays you want to remember for the rest of your life, but I want this birthday to be the one you never forget. Let me take you for a ride.”

I stare at his lips as he says these words and that’s when it happens. This is that moment; the moment where everything slows down and nothing is ever the same.

 

Reading Order, Links & Reviews

Click on cover images to purchase available books through Amazon.

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About Cassia

Cassia Leo pic_newNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cassia Leo grew up in California and has lived in three different countries.

She loves to travel and her dream is to one day score a record deal based on her awesome shower singing skills.

She is the author of the Shattered Hearts series (Relentless, Pieces of You, Bring Me Home) and the Luke and Chase series.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Cover Reveal + Excerpt + Giveaway: Black Box by Cassia Leo

black box coverI am so excited to reveal the cover of Black Box by Cassia Leo! This is such an amazing story of two people taking hold of their own fate and I can’t wait to read it all! Black Box will be out next March, so stay tuned and make sure you read the excerpt below! addtogoodreads

Synopsis

A standalone novel about a girl, a boy, and fate. From New York Times best selling author Cassia Leo, comes an epic love story about rewriting destiny. Over the course of five years, Mikki and Crush cross paths on two separate occasions. Their first encounter changes Mikki’s life forever, but their second meeting leaves them both buried beneath the emotional wreckage of a violent attack. Mikki is left with more questions and grief than she can handle, while Crush is forced to forget the girl who saved his life. Now nineteen years old, Mikki Gladstone has decided she’s tired of the mind-numbing meds. She books a flight to Los Angeles to end her life far away from her loving, though often distant, family. Twenty-one-year-old Crush has always channeled his blackest thoughts into his music, but he’s never had great aspirations. He decides to fly to Los Angeles to record a demo of the only song he’s never performed in public; a song he wrote for a girl he doesn’t even know: Black Box. He has no expectations of fame and he’s never felt like his life had any purpose… until he meets Mikki in Terminal B. When Mikki and Crush cross paths for the third time in Terminal B, neither has any idea who the other person is; until they slowly piece together their history and realize that fate has more in store for them than just another love story.

Chapter 1

JANUARY 8TH

Mikki

The moment you realize you’re going to die is nothing like I imagined it would be. I imagined a deep internal struggle coupled with a visceral physical response—fight or flight. But there’s no fighting this. I’m going to die.

It’s possible that everyone on this plane is going to die. I wonder if they feel this overwhelming sense of peace, or if the squeal of the plane engine has drowned out all their thoughts.

He grabs the oxygen mask as it drops from the compartment and he’s yelling something as he puts the elastic band over my head. He pulls his own mask over his head then he grabs my hand and looks me in the eye. There’s no panic in his eyes. Maybe he feels this same calm I’m feeling. Or maybe he just wants me to know that he loves me. Or, more importantly, that he trusts that whatever happens to us in the next few seconds was meant to be.

Fate.

I used to think fate was for religious nuts and people who were too afraid to take their fate into their own hands. Now I know the truth.

Chapter 2

JANUARY 3RD

Mikki

Please don’t look for me. You probably won’t find me. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, and please don’t blame yourselves. I’m just tired. Trying to cope…. trying to forget…. It’s not enough anymore. I just want to close my eyes and know that it will all be over soon. There’s nothing anyone could have done. You’ve all done more than enough. I hope you all find peace knowing I am no longer suffering. I love you guys. Tell Meaghan I leave her my black box.

Mikki

I tuck the note inside a plastic baggie and seal it tightly, then I lift my bedroom window an inch and lay the bagged note on the window sill. I shut the window tight to trap the note there.

Taking one last look around the bedroom, I smile as I think of how much I won’t miss this house. The pink tulip-shaped knit cap my best friend Rina bought for me in Holland sits on top of my dresser. I’ve only worn it once, the day she brought it back for me from her family vacation last summer. I was in High Point Treatment Center at the time, in the dual diagnosis unit because I’m one of the special cases that needed both treatment for attempted suicide and drug detox.

“You look awfully cheerful for someone who’s traveling alone.” Meaghan’s green eyes follow my suitcase as I drag it down the stairs, then her gaze shifts to my face. My sister is seventeen, but she’s not stupid. She knows the signs, which is why I’m trying my hardest not to exhibit the typical suicidal behavior.

I didn’t give away all my belongings. I’m not traveling light. I have tried not to appear too chipper over the last couple of days. Yes, it feels amazing to have a plan. It feels like a ten-ton slab of cement has been lifted off my chest. I can breathe. I can think about the future without the crippling anxiety and depression that comes with not knowing if the pain will ever end.

But I can’t let Meaghan or my parents see how ridiculously relieved I’m feeling. They’ve seen that behavior too many times. The last time I made plans to die, three months ago, my mom saw the signs and followed me to the hotel room where I was going to hang myself. The time before that, I swallowed a bottle of pills in my uncle’s bathroom. It was my cousin Gertie who noticed I was acting too happy. She told my Uncle Cort, “Mikki is smiling again.” Uncle Cort broke the door down and that’s when I ended up in High Point. That’s also when I swore I wouldn’t commit suicide anywhere that someone could find me.

“Cheerful?” I repeat Meaghan’s adjective as I pull up the telescoping handle on the suitcase and roll it across the tiled foyer toward the front door. “More like nervous as fuck. I’ve never flown without Mom.”

Meaghan yanks her green parka out of the coat closet and pulls it on over her hoodie. “I’ll take that,” she says as she pulls the hood of the parka over her long, brown hair and grabs my carryon bag.

I open the door and we both suck in a sharp breath when we’re blasted with a flurry of freezing winter air. The snow sticks to my face and I quickly close the front door so it doesn’t get in the house.

“Jesus fucking Christ. It’s colder than a witch’s tit out here. They’re going to cancel the flights if this shit keeps up,” Meaghan says as we carefully descend the front steps. My dad covered the steps in his special mixture of salt and sand, but it’s not foolproof.

“If they cancel the flights, I’ll come back, but they’ll have to reschedule the flight. I can’t just not show up. I saved up three months paychecks for this fucking ticket.”

Meaghan opens the wooden front gate and the cabbie scurries out of the car to help us with the bags. As he stuffs the bags in the trunk, I turn to Meaghan and she’s crying. Something tells me she knows, but she would stop me if she knew—wouldn’t she?

“Why are you crying? It’s just a job interview. I’m coming back in four days.”

“I know,” she whispers before she wraps her arms around my waist. “But I’ll miss you. Bring me back a hot actor.”

“I will.”

We hug like this for far longer than normal. It takes every bit of self-control in me not to tell her that everything will finally be okay when I’m gone.

She finally pulls away and punches my arm. “Get the hell out of here.”

“I love you, too,” I say as I slide into the backseat of the cab and my heart stutters as I look at the house I grew up in for the last time.

The driver slams my door shut and gets into the driver’s seat. “Logan?” he asks as he turns up the heater.

“Yeah, Terminal B,” I reply as I watch Meaghan scurry into the house to escape the cold.

I reach into my handbag and pull out my gloves, then I see the bottle of pills. I lay the black gloves on my lap and reach into my purse for the bottle. On the outside, this is just a normal bottle of anti-psychotic meds. On the inside, this is my self-prescribed emergency meth stash. Each capsule is carefully filled with one dose.

I quit meth last week. Something about booking a plane ticket to Los Angeles to end my life gave me the fortitude to face the world without drugs. Besides, I was never really addicted. I just didn’t want to quit because it made me feel as if I was in control. But, even though I’m technically no longer a meth-head, I brought my emergency stash in case I lose my nerve.

I’m going to Los Angeles, specifically to the Pacific Ocean, to swim out into the open ocean until I can’t swim anymore. The water is so cold this time of year, my body will be numb and exhausted by the time I reach the point of no return. I won’t be able to fight it when the water enters my lungs. Plus, I’ll be so far out in the ocean, the odds of my body being found will be slim. My parents won’t have to identify me.

The cabbie turns the volume up on the radio and Take You Higher is playing on the radio. The dance beat buoys my mood and I allow myself to smile for the first time in days. I set the bottle of pills back inside my purse and pull my gloves on as I sit back.

Fifty minutes later, the cab pulls up in front of Terminal B and one of the two guys working at curbside check-in rushes over to help me with my suitcase once the cab driver places it on the curb. I pay the driver and he mutters a quick thank you before he hurries back inside the warm cab.

“Holy shit,” I whisper as I pull my faux fur-lined hood over my head.

“I ain’t seen it like this in years. I bet they already canceling flights,” the guy says as he takes my carryon bag and we race toward the automatic sliding doors. He leaves me and my bags just inside the doors then he jogs back to his station outside in the freezing cold. What a terrible day to have that job.

I push my hood back and the line at the check-in counter snakes across the floor as everyone watches the TV monitors above the counter.

“Cancelled,” a voice says behind me.

I whip my head around and find a guy with dark eyes and messy brown hair sticking out the bottom of his knit cap. He’s sitting on a gray suitcase with his phone in his hand and a guitar case propped up against the wall behind him. Something about him looks familiar, though I’m pretty certain he’s the kind of guy I would not forget if we’d met before.

“You can probably still catch a cab if you leave now,” he continues as he types on his phone.

“Then why aren’t you running outside to catch a cab?”

“I’m in no hurry to go back.”

I stare at the curb outside just as another cab pulls up to drop off some unknowing passenger. I told Meaghan I’d go home if they cancelled the flight, but that’s the last place I want to go right now.

“Yeah, me either.”

The guy looks up from his phone and smiles. “Yeah, you also have to check in to get your flight rescheduled.”

“Yeah, that too.” I try not to blush. Something about his smile makes me feel naked.

postdivider

About Cassia

Cassia Leo pic_new New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time watching old reruns of Friends and Sex and the City. When she’s not watching reruns, she’s usually enjoying the California sunshine or reading–sometimes both.

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Giveaway

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Cover Reveal + Excerpt + Giveaway: Abandon by Cassia Leo

abandon-cover

 So excited to share with you the cover of Abandon by Cassia Leo!
For all you Shattered Hearts fans, this is Tristan and Senia’s story and it’s coming this January!

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Synopsis

Tristan never gave a shit about the girls he used and abandoned. His manwhore ways were ingrained in him from birth. His past has always been a mystery his conquests have wanted to crack, but no one has been able to… until now.

Senia has always fallen for the wrong guys, but this time she’s fallen for the worst of them. Her attempts to guard her heart from Tristan’s charms and sexual magnetism only spur on his pursuit. And soon, the electric energy between Tristan and Senia sparks a fire too wild to contain.

Now Tristan must decide if he will abandon his old ways or if he will stay true to his past and abandon Senia instead.

Note: This is a spin-off from the Shattered Hearts Series and can be read as a standalone.

 

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

She walks into Yogurtland with her cell phone pressed to her ear and a scowl on her face. Behind the scowl, her vulnerability shines like a fucking nuclear explosion in a dark closet. Whoever she’s talking to has stripped her bare. I find myself wishing it were me who affected her that way.

She’s digging inside her purse while balancing the phone between her shoulder and her ear; probably searching for money to get her frozen yogurt fix. What is it about frozen yogurt that makes us feel better? Maybe it reminds us of being kids, and how something as simple as a trip to the yogurt shop could turn a bad day into a great one. Whatever it is, I can see that she desperately needs some frozen yogurt. But with each passing moment that she’s unable to locate her money, I see the hope draining from her face.

“I told you to stop calling me. I don’t care if your car is in the shop. I’m not picking you up!”

She drops her purse and cell phone onto the checkered tile floor and curses loudly. “What the fuck are you staring at?!” she barks at the man who’s ogling her ass while ushering his small child out of the shop. “You’ve never seen a girl in a skirt bend over?”

She falls to her knees as she reaches for the cell phone first. She presses it to her ear and says hello a few times before she realizes there’s no one there. I walk over to her, coolly taking my time, then I kneel next to her and reach for the lipstick tube that rolled behind her left foot. I hold it out in front of her. She looks sideways at me and her mouth drops as she’s stunned into silence. Most girls are stunned when they see me. I’m used to that. But Senia has seen me plenty of times. She’s not amazed by my good looks. She’s stupefied by my impeccable timing.

Her gaze immediately falls to my lips, which are just inches from her own. Then she begins to sob as she throws her arms around my neck.

I can’t help but chuckle. “Hey, it’s okay,” I whisper into her ear as I breathe in her scent. She smells like strawberries or pineapple. Something fruity. It’s intoxicating.

I reach up and grab her face to pull her away, so I can look her in the eye. “What flavor do you want?”

A tear rolls down her face and I wipe it away as she stares at me, still dumbfounded. “Cheesecake, with strawberries.”

“Perfect.”

I help her gather the rest of her belongings into her purse then I order her yogurt as she watches me from where she stands next to the trash bin. She watches me as I approach her with her bowl of frozen yogurt, one of her perfect eyebrows cocked skeptically.

“Don’t look at me like that,” I say as I pass her the bowl of yogurt.

“Why?” she says as she pops the first spoon of creamy yogurt into her mouth.

She licks the spoon clean and I find myself wondering what it would feel like to have those full, red lips wrapped around my cock. I lean in and whisper in her ear, “Because you’re turning me on and I can’t fuck you in Yogurtland.”

She continues to cock her eyebrow as she takes another spoonful of yogurt into her mouth. “Then maybe we should get the fuck out of Yogurtland.”

*****

In the three years I’ve known Senia, we’ve almost fucked three times. The first time happened the day I met her, after a show we played in Durham. We were interrupted backstage by Xander, the band’s manager, just as Senia was about to get on her knees. The second time was at a Memorial Day picnic. We were both pretty shitfaced and she ended up tossing her cookies all over me as I was sliding her panties off. The third time happened less than three months ago, in a pub restroom stall. She started crying and couldn’t go through with it; she was too heartbroken over her ex. I think the fourth time may be the charm for us. For some reason, this makes me really fucking nervous.

I’m not afraid I won’t be able to satisfy her. There’s no doubt I’ll make her come harder than she’s ever come before. But for the first time in my life, I’m afraid of what will come after the sex.

Senia is Claire’s best friend. Even if Claire and Chris never get back together, I know she’ll always be around. Chris is my best friend. I can’t avoid Claire and, therefore, I can’t avoid Senia. Something about this terrifies me and intrigues me; like I’m flirting with danger or, more accurately, fucking with danger.

I grab the door handle on the passenger side of my silver Audi and pause as I look her in the eye and pull the door open. “Get in.”

She smiles and shakes her head as she slinks into the passenger seat. “Please don’t bother using your manners.”

“I won’t.”

I slam the door shut and walk around to the driver’s side, tapping the trunk as I note my surroundings. It’s eight in the evening. There are only three other cars in the parking lot and at least one of those belongs to the guy working behind the counter in Yogurtland. I look up at the lamppost in front of the car illuminating the hood and shining through the windshield.

I open the door and slide into the driver’s seat. Gazing into her eyes, for a moment I’m reminded of the last time my mom took me to get ice cream, when I was nine years old. I clench my jaw against the visceral nature of this memory and Senia takes this as an invitation.

She climbs into my lap and takes my face in her hands as she crushes her lips to mine. I thread my fingers into her hair and roughly grab a fistful of her dark locks. She whimpers as I thrust my tongue into her mouth and squeeze my fist around her hair, intermittently tightening my grip then easing up. Finally, I pull her head back by her hair and her eyes widen with shock and excitement. That’s when I notice her styrofoam bowl of yogurt upended between us, the cold stickiness seeping through both of our shirts.

She smiles as she swipes her finger through the cool, sticky substance and slowly eases her finger in her mouth. “Creamy,” she purrs.

“Fuck,” I whisper as my dick jumps, trying to escape my jeans.

I grab the bowl and toss it into the backseat and she smiles as I swipe my finger through the yogurt and reach under her skirt. Her thighs are smooth and warm against the back of my fingers as I move straight for her panties. She holds my gaze as I slip my fingers under the fabric and find her clit. She swallows hard as her smile melts into a look of pure ecstasy.

“Oh, my God,” she breathes as I stroke her gently.

I grab the back of her neck and pull her mouth against mine, swallowing her moans as if they were the air keeping me alive. I shove two fingers inside her and she gasps as I curve my fingers to reach her spot. Her body curls into me as I lick the soft skin below her earlobe. Abruptly, I remove my hand from her panties. Her face is incredulous as I lift her up by her waist and place her on the passenger seat.

“Get in the back.”

For a moment, it seems as if she’s questioning this abrupt request. “This better be good,” she says as she slithers between the two front seats to get into the backseat.

I reach under her skirt as she crawls into the back and I yank down on her panties. “Jesus Christ, Tristan!”

“Make up your mind,” I say as I place my hand on her ass and push her into the backseat. “Am I Jesus Christ or Tristan?”

She laughs as I scramble into the backseat after her, holding onto her panties so she’s forced to leave them behind. I quickly position myself between her legs as she lies on her back and smiles. “You can be whoever the fuck you want.”

I slide my arm under her waist and lift her up so I can place her back against the passenger side window. Pushing her skirt up, I spread her legs wide open and marvel at the sight of her. She perfectly shaved with a small landing strip of dark hair that ends at the top of her slit.

“I prefer Tristan,” I say as I flash her my crowd smile.

She whimpers like a kitten in pain, her hips writhing against me as I devour her slowly and methodically. She tastes like the frozen yogurt I smeared all over her.

“Oh, Tristan,” she moans and I hook my arms tightly around her thighs to steady her as her legs begins to tremble. “Oh, my fucking God!”

I suck gently as her clit pulsates against my tongue. She lets out a loud cry that sounds like a sigh mixed with a scream. I can’t help but smile as I continue to stimulate her until she grabs chunks of my hair and yanks me up.

“Holy shit,” she breathes as she wraps her arms around my neck and pulls me on top of her.

But she doesn’t kiss me. She just holds me there and I quickly begin to feel uncomfortable with this closeness. I begin to push away, but she tightens her grip.

“Please don’t move,” she begs, and I can hear something strange in her voice—she’s crying.

I lie still with her for a while until I no longer hear her sniffling. I slowly pull my head back to look her in the face and she quickly wipes at the moisture on her cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers.

I grab her hand and pull it away from her face. “It’s okay,” I murmur as I brush my thumb over her cheekbone.

“No, it’s not,” she says, a hard edge to her voice as her hands reach down to undo the button and zipper on my jeans. “But it will be.”

She pushes my boxers down until my dick springs free and I suck in a sharp breath as it comes in contact with her.

“I don’t have a condom.”

My shoulder-length hair hangs around my face as I hover over her. She reaches up and pushes my hair back as she pulls my mouth to hers. I groan as I try to resist making such a stupid mistake. Despite the rumors, I don’t have unprotected sex. I may be a whore like my mother, but I’m not as reckless as she is.

I try to pull my face back, but Senia holds my head still. Suddenly, I’m royally pissed off. I rip my head out of her grasp and glare at her.

“This is just a fuck. Nothing more,” I insist and her eyebrows scrunch together. A sharp pang of regret twists inside my chest. “I’m sorry.”

Why the fuck am I apologizing?

“Then shut up and fuck me,” she says as she tightens her legs around my hips and the tip of my cock presses against her opening.

I slide in slowly, watching as she closes her eyes and tilts her head back. Leaning forward, I suck on her throat as I gradually ease myself further inside her with each stroke.

“You’re tight as fuck,” I whisper as I carefully work my way deeper inside.

She doesn’t respond, so I keep thrusting, slowly at first then working my way up to a steady pace. I pull my head back to see her face and her eyes are still closed. I don’t know why, but I want to see her eyes.

“Look at me,” I command, and she opens her eyes instantly, her gaze finding mine.

Her eyes are slightly red and that’s when I notice the tear tracks running from the corners of her eyes, down her temple, and disappearing into her dark hair. A strange urge overcomes me and I lean down and kiss her temple. Licking my lips, the saltiness of her tears turn me on even more. I ease my hand behind her knee and lift her leg higher so I can thrust deeper.

She whimpers as she threads her fingers through my hair and pulls my mouth to hers. I kiss her slowly, matching the rhythm of my hips to the movement of our tongues. She bites my top lip and I feel myself getting so close to blowing my load.

“Holy shit,” I whisper as I try to pull my head back, but she holds my head still and kisses me deeply as I let go inside her.

My dick twitches as I fill her with my gushing warmth. I grunt into her mouth and she continues to kiss me, swallowing my cries the way I did hers. Finally, I tilt my head back and look her in the eye. Then I ask her a question I haven’t asked anyone since I broke up with Ashley four years ago.

“Who was that on the phone?”

 

About Cassia Leo

Cassia Leo Author Pic_newUSA Today bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time watching old reruns of Friends and Sex and the City. When she’s not watching reruns, she’s usually enjoying the California sunshine or reading–sometimes both.

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