OMG! Let's kick of this release day madness with the final photo quote for the week.
That Alex, he's just too much sweetie pie in one hot package. And because music is such an important part of my writing. Here's the song that accompanies this quote....
Chapter 1 ~ Lost and Found
I knew the streets would be dark and this was a bad side of town, but something kept pulling me here. I had dreamt about this street for weeks. There was supposed to be something here, something important. I glanced at my watch, almost 7. I really should be heading back to the bus stop, but I don’t want to give up just yet. I still haven’t found what I was looking for. If only I knew what that was. Maybe I can come back tomorrow.
The last the few rays of sunshine diminished as I turned to find the closest bus stop.
“Hey, lady! You lost or something?” a gruff voice called from the alley.
Great. This is exactly why I needed to get out of this place. I ignored the calling.
Another heckler, “Heeellllo! Honey, this ain’t no place for a girl like you after dark.”
I kept my body straight and my head focused on the end of the dark street. I could see the well-lit safer part of town a few blocks ahead. I was not about to wait for the bus here.
“You better get her before someone else does,” another voice calls. He is much closer.
I wonder what that means. Why didn’t I ever take self-defense class or buy some pepper spray? That’s right—because I suck at anything that involves minor coordination, which means in all likely scenarios I will trip and accidentally Mace myself.
“Excuse me, miss,” a low soft voice whispered as he placed his hand on my shoulder.
I whipped around expecting the worst—ready to attempt to flee if necessary.
“Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. Can I walk you to the bus stop?” In front of me stood the most sincere set of bright blue eyes I had ever seen. Honestly, the last thing I expected to see was this gorgeous blond-haired, blue-eyed angel. No, I was expecting a more rough-and-tumble type, possibly with tattoos, piercings, and an eye patch. His face was as warm as his touch. His tousled dark blond hair framed his freshly shaven face perfectly, making him quite breathtaking. He looked so out of place here in the rough downtown part of Aria.
“I’m Alex. I think it would be a little safer for you if you let me escort you.” He wanted to make sure I got out of the streets safely. He seemed to mean me no harm and I had this irrational sense of safety with this stranger. He must have mistaken my prolonged silence as apprehension.
“So? Is that alright all right with you?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. That's fine. I seemed to have gotten myself a little lost.” My cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
He placed his hand on the small of my back as we walked. “Little lost? You a tourist or something?”
“No, actually I live uptown. I’m a student at Aria U.” It’s strange how at ease I was with him—it seemed almost artificial.
“Then you should know better than to be around here after dark,” he wagged his finger at me.
“I should. I mean, I do.” A smile spread from ear to ear. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a man this freaking attractive. His stature seemed to add to his illusion of “instant safety.” Alex is definitely one of the few men that I have met who is actually taller than me. Being 5’11” makes that pool slim pickings. Don’t get me wrong, short guys are cool, I just have a hard time getting over my own insecurities. I have this innate insecurity with height. It’s hard to feel feminine when you are towering over someone. Not that it matters. Back home there weren’t many men to choose from anyway. Small town in the country made for a tiny high school where we all were brothers and sisters. Not a lot of room for romance in a graduating high school class of thirty.
His voice startled me out of my thoughts. “We’ve just got a few blocks to go.” He paused. “Can I ask you something?” His eyes twinkled under the streetlights.
“Anything.” Anything? You sound like a love-struck thirteen-year-old girl. Get a grip, Hailee. He’s just a Good Samaritan.
“Why were you down here, anyway?” His voice soft and warm.
“I was looking for something.” How am I going to explain what really brought me here without sounding like a whack job?
“Maybe I can help you then. What were you looking for?” He gazed seriously into my eyes.
“Not quite sure.” I looked at my feet and then back up into his sapphire eyes. I’m a horrible liar, so I might as well give him the crazy truth. “Have you ever had a feeling or a hunch that you just can’t shake? You can’t explain why you feel that way, but you just know that you have to take a chance on figuring it out?”
“Maybe.” A smirk pulled at his face.
“I’ve been pulled to this place for weeks. I was hoping I could find whatever it was before dark, but the sun raced away before I even had a chance to get a good look.” He stopped walking and stared at me for a moment, analyzing my words. Great, he thinks I’m a whacko, not that I should care, but still. I prefer to be that nice, quiet girl who nobody notices, not psycho crazy chick.
“Are you always so profound?” he teased.
By now we were just mere steps from the bus stop. “No, I’m actually a pretty simple girl.”
He smiled and my heart stopped for a second. Alex is definitely the most handsome man I’ve ever conversed with. It has been nice to have some human interaction. I’d been missing that being away here at school. I’m not good at making friends. I always come off needy or weird, so I just stick to what I know—myself and my family that just so happens to be four hours away.
The bus clamoring down the street reminded me this encounter was about to end.
“You know, I didn’t get your name, simple girl.”
“Hailee. My name’s Hailee.” I said my name twice, just to be sure I remembered it. I don’t know why I was feeling like a self-conscious thirteen-year-old version of myself all of a sudden. He just asked for my name.
“Hailee, the next time you come around make sure the sun is shining.” He looked toward the sky.
“Next time?” What makes him think I would be back here?
“You didn’t find what you were looking for, did you?”
“I don’t know. I guess not.” Or did I? Was I looking for this guy? I think that is just wishful thinking.
“Well, if you happen to be back around the block, stop by Bill’s Deli. I’ll make you a sandwich.” He just told me where he works. Should I take that as an invitation to visit?
“Will do. Thank you, Alex.” The bus door screeched open. Time to go.
“Have a safe trip home, Hailee.” As I boarded the bus, I looked over my shoulder one last time at the amazing stranger on the sidewalk. I don’t know what it was about him, but he was incredibly intriguing. I’m sure his attractiveness and benevolence only added to that allure.
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And by the way, you're cordially invited to the Soul Survivor Release Partay starting tomorrow! They'll be music, book fun, and your chance to win a signed paperback of Soul Survivor! See ya there!