Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Prologue and Chapter One Reveal: Invisible Love Letter by Callie Anderson

Love is fatal; a snake that slithers into your life, poisons you with its venom, and leaves you there to die.

I swore I wouldn’t be my parents.
I swore I would stay away from the limelight.

Falling in love with a musician was definitely out of the question.

Weston Carter was all kinds of wrong for a girl like me. He was musician, a womanizer, and a first class heartbreaker.

I didn't know a love like this could exist. Our love was epic, the kind people wrote stories about. We fell into it hard, unable to control our feelings.

I set myself up for a shattered heart.
A broken life.
A fucked up love story.

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You only get one true love.
That was what my mother always told me. Whenever her soft-spoken voice said those words, she’d look directly at my father. Their love was real. The kind little girls dream of having one day.
Love and Rock and roll.
That was my father’s favorite quote. As the lead singer of the band Vengeance, my father was a rock god.
They met backstage during his world tour, got married, and then honeymooned while my father travelled the globe. I was conceived in the back of a tour bus. My mother almost gave birth to me on that same bus. In fact, that bus was my first home.
My father had two loves in his life: my mother, and music. He couldn’t have one without the other. Then my mother died of cancer when I was eleven. And when I awoke on my twelfth birthday, I found my father’s lifeless body slumped over the kitchen table. He couldn’t live without one or the other.
Love is fatal; a snake that slithers into your life, poisons you with its venom, and then leaves you there to die. I swore I wouldn’t be like my parents. I swore I would stay away from the limelight. I swore falling in love with a musician was out of the question.
Lie to protect those you love most.
Love and music are a deadly combination. But impossible to avoid. I was setting myself up for a shattered heart. A broken life.
A fucked up love story.

Chapter 1

When we met . . .

The crop top and jean shorts I wore over my bikini did nothing to alleviate the heat. I had spent the last four hours baking in the heat of the Santa Monica beach one last time before I left. It would only be a matter of minutes before my phone began to buzz, I was an hour late, and I would be stuck in traffic for at least another hour but I didn’t care.
My oversized sunglasses covered my face and a bead of sweat dripped down my spine as my cheap rubber flip flops slapped against my heels. I tugged on the heavy glass door, the cool air-conditioned breeze brushed over my warm skin. Shoving my glasses onto my head, I stood in place and let the chilled air work its magic over my body and the aroma of coffee invade my senses. After the salt water and Los Angeles smog, it was a taste of heaven.
Starbucks was crowded, filled with the usual afternoon rush. My beach bag rubbed against my tender, sunburned shoulder as I lifted my arms to tighten the strands of my messy bun. I pushed away a few stray locks and studied the menu. The tall guy standing in front of me talked on his cellphone as I weighed my beverage options. His ass looked delectable in his washed out jeans.
My phone beeped, and I knew I couldn’t avoid my roommate Leslie any longer. She was already pissed that I was late, and ignoring her would only add to her anger. I dug in my purse for my iPhone. When I looked back up, tall guy was gone and the barista was smiling at me. I placed my order and strolled to the end of the counter. As I waited for my drink to be made, I unlocked my phone.
Leslie: Where are you?
Leslie: Seriously, Em
Leslie: We are going to be late!
With a groan, I hit the send button and called her back. It rang a few times before she answered.
“Where the hell are you?” she demanded. Last year Leslie spent a semester with me in Brazil in the university’s Business program. Now she had been my roommate for the past six months while I was in the States for my semester abroad—I thought I’d take a few courses in international business that counted towards my bachelor’s degree. We shared a two-bedroom apartment next to campus with two other girls, Kate and Monica. They were friendly, but I hadn’t bonded with them the way I had with Leslie. She was from Arizona and, like me, was majoring in international business.
I was born in the States, and though I lived there for some time when my father wasn’t on tour, I was sent to live with my mom’s sister in Brazil after he died. Coming back for a semester was a way for me to connect with my home country. Enough time had passed that I didn’t blame my father for leaving me. I understood that his love for my mother was stronger than it was for me. Which was why falling in love wasn’t on my bucket list.
Leslie and I were in the same class when she did her semester in Brazil, and unlike most students on campus, I was fluent in English. We became study partners and spent many late nights in the library prepping for exams. After she left, I emailed her about the program in the States. She told me her previous roommate had moved out and I could come stay with her if I was accepted. Not only was it a fraction of the cost of staying in the dorms, but I would also be rooming with someone I knew and liked.
“I’ll be there soon, promise,” I whispered into my phone. Her voice grew louder as she complained about the traffic she knew I’d be stuck in.
“Venti passion tea lemonade,” the barista called out.
Leslie continued to harp about my tardiness, but I ignored her high-pitched voice as I wedged the phone between my shoulder and ear and reached forward for my plastic cup. Just as I was about to claim my drink, another hand stretched forward, as well. The back of it brushed against mine, and a cool electrical shock ran through my body.
It was Him.
The tall guy standing ahead of me in line.
My breath caught in my chest, and I yanked my hand away. My eyes landed on his Nirvana graphic tee and trailed up his body. His neck was slender; his jaw chiseled and long, his smile beautiful. And holy God…
He had eyes that would haunt me the rest of my life.
They were a shade of greenish gray I had never seen before, like storm clouds on a hot summer day. His skin was tan, mocha.
He was perfection.
Jesus, apaga a luz . Jesus, turn off the lights.
The world around me moved in slow motion and everything was silent.
I swallowed hard.
I had been staring for too long, but I was frozen, trapped under his spell. His lips moved as he spoke, but I heard nothing as I continued to gaze at the most beautiful creature God ever made.
I shook my head. “I'm sorry, what was that?” My words trembled with anxiety.
“I said I was sorry for trying to take your drink.” His voice was a sweet melody, soothing my palpitating heart.
My head nodded slowly as I slid my cell phone into my beach bag. I opened my mouth to tell him he could have it when the barista placed another passion tea lemonade beside mine on the bar.
“Alrighty then,” I said. I grabbed the cup and twirled around to head for the sugar and milk counter. I needed a moment to catch my breath. A moment to wipe my sweaty palms.
Alrighty then? Who the hell says alrighty then?
Someone, please shoot me now.
I wove through the hipsters, college students, and surfers until I reached the back tables. The coolness I felt earlier was gone, replaced with suffocating heat. My phone began to ring again, but I ignored it. I was too busy locking his picture in my mind.
I wanted to remember his perfection.
I wanted it to be a permanent mark in my brain.
If his shirt told me anything about his taste in music, we already had something in common. But his face— His appearance had caused me to tremble. His dark brown hair was buzzed short on his head, a fine line tracing his hairline. His high cheekbones overpowered his face when he smiled at me, and the dimple … Oh God, the dimple. It appeared on the right side of his cheek when he smiled at me.
“Are you okay?”
Shoving the straw between my lips—to keep from saying something stupid again—I pivoted so I could see him once more. I nodded as I stepped forward on shaky legs, but he lifted his free hand and laid it on my shoulder.
“Wait.” I looked up at his stormy eyes. “Can I have your name?”
I pulled the plastic straw out of my mouth and brushed a few loose tendrils behind my ear. “Emmy,” I responded. “My mother gave me the nickname when I was a child. She named me Emilia, after her grandmother.” I kick myself internally for babbling.
I didn’t ask his name; there was no point. I would never see him again. And if I knew his name it would haunt me for the rest of my life. It would probably become an obsession, like a grade schooler who doodles her crush’s name into a book over and over again.
The smell of coffee wafted through the air around us, but when I passed his long body and inhaled his scent, I only smelled leather and cinnamon.
“Alrighty then.”
I heard his voice through the chatter as I continued towards the exit. I pulled my sunglass over my eyes and smiled.
Alrighty then.
I drove the whole way home with a goofy grin on my face. I imagined what he did for a living, wondered whether I had passed him in the hallways at school. I had become completely smitten over a guy I would never see again.
When I walked through the door of our shoebox apartment, Leslie ordered me straight to the shower and barked that if I weren’t ready in fifteen minutes, she would have my ass. Though she bitched and rapped on the bathroom door repeatedly, I couldn’t wipe my smile away because his face was still on my mind. His scent etched in my memory. Leather and cinnamon. He had affected me so much that I applied my eye shadow three times.
“What did you put in your lemonade?” Leslie asked once I finally emerged. I looked at her through the wall mirror we had hung in our shared bedroom. She stood behind me, her arms crossed at her chest. Leslie had raven hair, curls wild and hard to tame. She was built like me, short and busty, but my hips were wider. I had my mother’s Latin roots to thank for those.
“You look…buzzed.” Her hands moved from her chest to her hips.
I shoved my makeup into my bag and tucked it in my carryon. “Nothing.” I shrugged, a goofy grin still on my face. “I just bumped into this guy at Starbucks.”
I gave myself a look over in the mirror. My auburn curls fell off my shoulder. I was dressed in black strappy sandals, white shorts and a camisole top with lace trim. It was a daring choice since my boobs looked like they would pop out at any moment, but it was my going away party since I was heading out to Brazil in the morning, so why not go out with a bang . . . or a potential wardrobe malfunction?
“Wow.” Leslie shook her head in disbelief. “You’ve been here for almost six months and you’ve never even looked at a guy. That whole love sucks spiel you’re always going on about—”
“It wasn't love. It was a physical attraction. I don't believe in love, but I’m not dead.”
“By your lack of sex, I for sure thought you were dead” She joked and I stuck my tongue out at her. “Ready?” Leslie tossed my clutch at me.
“One second, love. I need to make sure my passport is put away with my suitcase.” The last thing I needed was to misplace it hours before my flight. I wouldn’t need it for the night since I wasn’t twenty-one yet.  I was almost twenty, but my friend Axel knew the bouncer, so I wouldn’t need to show ID at the club. Of course, wearing a low cut top also helped.
Tonight I would say goodbye to my favorite pub and to all my new American friends that I would cherish for the rest of my life.
The drive to Yorks—our weekly hangout spot—was short. The hole in the wall was only a few minutes from our apartment. Tonight it was filled with musicians, college students, and groupies. The beer was cheap, the seating was abandoned picnic tables, and the music was good. Listening to the local cover bands, sipping cheap beer and saying goodbye to my friends was the best way to spend the evening.
As my parents’ only child, they had left me enough money to afford a semester abroad and be able to buy a car while I stayed here. It was an old Honda, and most days the air conditioning didn’t work, but it served its purpose.
I dangled the car keys for Leslie to see and tossed them to her. “It’s all yours.” The keys landed in her hands. I had officially passed my car over to Leslie. Gravel from the road flew over my feet as Axel sped up from behind us in his POS.
Axel Arrington was a rotund guy with milky skin. He reminded me of a polar bear with his pitch black eyes. He had come to the states through the study abroad program from England, and loved life in LA so much that he transferred the following semester. We had become friends instantly—kindred spirits. He was a drummer in a cover band and idolized everything rock, so we would sit in the courtyard after class where he would pick my brain for hours about life on the road. At first I was hesitant to talk about my parents, afraid that remembering them would cause too much pain. But once I began to tell him what it was like to shower over the toilet on the tour bus, I was reminded that as long as I spoke about my parents, they would live within me.
Unfortunately, I had yet to hear Axel’s band perform. The excuse was that they were missing a lead singer. There were times I thought Axel was full of crap, but I loved him like a brother.
“You’re in luck tonight, love.” Axel squeezed between Leslie and me and placed his arms around us.
“Oh really? Why is that?”
I looked up into his big brown eyes and noticed the new barbell that had found its home in his eyebrow. At least it was a barbell and not a safety pin like the one in his ear. His hair was styled as a Mohawk in the front and a mullet in the back with the ends dyed blue so it cascaded like a waterfall down his shoulder.
“Your favorite band is performing tonight” He winked before leaning down and kissing my lips.
My hands slapped to his face and pushed him away. “Gross, Axel. You taste like cigarettes.” I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand.
“What? You’re leaving tomorrow and I wanted to give you a proper goodbye,” he said, his hand still coiled around Leslie’s neck.
Axel paid our cover fee and headed towards the makeshift backstage to meet up with the rest of his band mates. Leslie’s frail arms waved in the air. “Let’s get you hammered!”
I threw my head back and laughed. “Nothing like a hangover and a nine hour flight.”
“Who gives a shit? It’s your last night here, girlie, and your ginger butt needs some shots.”
Kate and Monica had arrived early enough to scrounge up some seats at the bar. Five minutes in and I had two shots, a SoCo, and a lime shoved down my throat. I wasn’t a big fan of drinking, but occasionally I’d let my hair down, and tonight was one of those occasions.
“What took you so long to get here?” Monica asked. Monica was stunning, a natural beauty. She was blonde with long, lean legs, piercing green eyes and a smile that could draw any guy in. She wasn’t vain, but she was materialistic. Her clothes were name brand, she never wore the same thing twice, and she only dated men of a certain caliber. Trust funds, country club memberships, or any man with money.
“This one over here,” Leslie jabbed her finger in my shoulder, “took forever getting home. Then she took even longer getting ready because she’s all smitten over some guy she met.”
“It’s not a big deal,” I said. My face burned as I reached for my beer.
“Not a big deal?” Monica’s Texas accent made my smile grow wider. “Emmy, you have spent your whole semester avoiding boys.”
First, I hadn’t avoided boys. I was focused on school, and what would be the point of getting involved with someone when every day was a day closer to me going home?
Second, the boys I had met were . . . well, boys. But he wasn’t a boy. Nope, he was definitely a man: tall, tan, and with a smile that would make most girls in this dingy bar drop their panties. Not to mention the sound of his voice. What I wouldn’t do to hear it once more…
“It’s seriously nothing. And besides, I leave tomorrow. What would be the point?” I lifted my beer to my cheek to cool off my heated flesh.
“It would be nice to go home with a bang. Pun intended!” Kate shouted over the emcee who had appeared on stage to introduce the first band. Her Boston accent was thick over the speakers. Kate was from Irish decent, we had that in common, and her red hair was a lighter shade than mine.
The bartender lined up another round of shots in front of us. I looked over at Leslie, who pushed hers towards me.
Why the hell not? It was my last night, after all.
The crowd roared when Nose Deaf, a local alternative band, appeared on stage. Axel’s band was fourth on the roster and the only cover band for the night. The first three bands were great, but I was excited to see Axel perform. As Flagpole, an all-female band, exited the stage, we moved from the bar to our usual table. I climbed on top of the picnic table so I could see the boys on stage.
The emcee tapped the microphone. “All right, everyone, let’s give a big welcome to Elephant Room!”
My hands burned as they slammed against each other. Kate, Monica and Leslie all followed, hollering at the top of their lungs, but then my voice trapped in my throat—like someone had squeezed my neck.
It was him.
The guy who had been running laps in my mind was now standing on stage with Axel.
“How’s everyone doing tonight?”
His voice erupted from the speakers and caused chills to run down my spine. Los Angeles was filled with millions of people. What were the chances?
“We’re Elephant Room, and tonight we have some special songs for you.”
Axel’s drumsticks rose over his head. Slamming them against each other, he counted to three.
I didn’t know his name, but when he sang it was as if I had known him all my life. His voice was soothing, yet hoarse. It pulled you in and made you focus on the lyrics. I couldn’t sing, nor could I play an instrument, but I knew talent when I heard it. He was the real deal, and soon I would be watching him perform all over the world. I knew it. I had this feeling in my gut that music executives would be lined up at his feet to sign him.  He had that look about him, the look that most mothers would warn their daughters to avoid. The look that screamed trouble.

It was a look that sucked me in. Love, music, and me; the perfect, deadly combination.

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