My life ended the day I answered the door and found out James had died. Writing has become my only release and secluding myself from the people who constantly judge me for my way of grieving has made me famous. I'm not ready to love again, in fact it's not even a thought. Someone needs to tell that to Liam. He's breaking through all of the walls I've worked so hard to create. How can one man be so intriguing? He just gets me, maybe a little too well.
These bags are extremely heavy. I should've asked Michael to help me, but I'd hate to inconvenience him and his new wife. There really isn't anyone else to call for help since they've all stepped out of my 'crazy' world; the sudden changes I made scared everyone off. I can still hear their comments about how unstable I am. 'Who quits their job to write a book?' Yeah, well bitches, I did. I've written five novels in a series and I have plans for so many more, but none of them know that. They seriously think I sit here in my apartment and grieve.
I didn't become a New York Times bestselling author by crying myself to sleep at night. I don't have time for tears; there are places to go and people to meet. I'm headed to a book signing in
. It's a privilege to even be invited to this
event. A part of me is excited and
another is dreading this day. New York City
I just wish I could have one more day with him. I'd love to show him that I'm doing it, even though our friends and family have zero faith in me. He always believed in me and supported me in everything I set out to do. Very few people find a person who truly comes through for them when they have off the wall ideas. You know, like work as an accountant for six years and then one day decide you'd like to write a book. I guess it didn't help that I decided to do that exactly one month from the day he died.
He would’ve been one hundred percent behind me, but he's not here, so I go it alone. Don't get me wrong, I miss him like crazy, but that won’t bring him back to me. As for everyone else, they stepped away from me when I needed the support the most. They got off this crazy train and it doesn't circle back around to pick up passengers who jump ship. Michael’s the only one who has had much to do with me since I 'went crazy'.
To be honest, my emotions were so out of control that it took me spilling it all onto paper for me to be able to cope with everything. I miss him so much and everyone wants me to 'talk' about it. I just can't and it's easier to work through my demons on my own.
I finally work my way past airport security after checking my luggage. Obviously, security isn't getting any easier to pass through because I had to be scanned separately from the others. It's probably because they sense the 'crazy' that the others speak of. This loneliness is partly my fault, but it would've been nice for them to believe in me a little.
The flight is full of people and should be interesting. I haven't been in a crowd of people since the funeral almost a year ago. This is a big step for me, though. A book signing in
is huge for an author to
attend, never mind the fact that I've always wanted to go there. James and I talked about traveling there
together many times. New York City
I sit in my window seat and hope for the peace I need to stay focused on my inner strength to get through this weekend. My ear buds begin to blare one of my favorite Hinder songs and I pull my magazine out of my bag to stay entertained for the non-stop flight across the states.
The passengers keep piling in and I begin to wonder just how large this airplane is. I paid extra money to fly First Class in hopes of staying under the radar of any chatty passengers and kids that don't mind their parents.
I’m trying to stay focused on my article while someone is reaching over my head to load his luggage, completely distracting me. I really should’ve purchased the seat next to me. Why didn't I think of that before now? Even with the help of the flight attendant he has to force the bags into the compartment. How the hell much stuff does he have?
I purposely don't make eye contact with him after he flops into the seat right beside mine. His leg pushes against mine a few times and he seems extremely restless. I'm not sure if it's intentional, but it seems that way.
We begin to prepare for take off so I pull out my ear buds to hear all of the safety information. Watching and listening to the flight attendant give her instructions kind of overwhelms me, but I'm sure it'll all come to me in case of a true emergency. It's not like we'll survive if this huge bird has a real emergency anyway.
I slip the buds back in for take off and begin to read again. It isn't until he presses his leg into mine again that I begin to get irritated. His posture is slouched and he's noticeably oblivious to the fact that he's invading my space with his huge legs spread open like that.
"Excuse me." I yank out an ear bud and let it fall against my chest while I use my hand to gesture toward his leg. I'm sure my face is telling him exactly how I feel, because it never lies. I have a very shitty poker face.
"No worries. You're not bothering me." The shock on my face from his audacity has him smiling.
"You're bothering me. So if you don't mind, please move your leg." I sit back in hopes of him doing as I ask and grab the ear bud to reposition.
"Nah. I don't mind. Sorry, ma'am." Ah HELL NO. He did NOT just call me ma'am. That makes me feel so damn old. I choose to attempt to ignore him and move to plug my ear again, but hell if it doesn't bother me. His stare begins to heat my skin—you know, like the weird feeling you get when you can tell someone is watching you. I shift so that I'm turned more toward the window and try to enjoy the view of the landscape below. The feel of his leg brushing up against mine again causes me to pull further away from him. I notice the touch of his finger on my shoulder and everything inside of me wants to stand up and scream for this creep to get off of me. My head whips around to glare at him when I notice the attendant staring at me in the aisle.
"Would you care for something to drink?"
"Yes, I'll take a water, please."
"One water, one Jack and Coke. I'll be right back." Why do I let it shock me that this character is drinking at 8:30 in the morning? It really shouldn't shock me at all.
"Don't you think it's kind of early to be drinking like that?"
"It's okay. I drink Coke any time of day!"
"Right.... Well, good luck with that."
"You're pretty stiff. You could probably use a drink like that yourself!"
"I'm not stiff, so keep your comments to yourself, if you don't mind."
"I think you are stiff and you have to live a little, but I’ll work on keeping that to myself." Who does he think he is? He doesn't get to judge me after only sitting beside me for a couple of minutes.
"You have no idea what I'm going through, so don't try to judge me based on the few minutes you've seen me today."
"Touché. Let me apologize and maybe we can start over." I wait for his actual apology and find myself waiting too long. My impatience grows wild and I can't believe I'm letting this guy really get to me. He enjoys my silence a little longer before he finally speaks.
"I’m truly sorry for calling you stiff. Please accept my apology and let me buy you a drink." He watches my face very closely and must finally get a clue that he’s pissing on a ticking time bomb. He extends his hand in an introduction-like stance.
"Liam Bryant." The disgust on my face has to be obvious as I refuse to shake his hand or willingly touch anything of his. His sexy as hell grin flashes across his face and damn if my eyes don't betray me. Those lips are the kind you want to watch someone run their tongue over. There is an awkward silence before I begin to reach out to accept his introduction.
"Olivia Drake." My eyes get caught up in his gorgeous baby blues for a few seconds before I realize our hands are still touching. I pull back slowly and shift back in my seat.
"Olivia Drake, what has you headed to
?" Telling a stranger any more about myself is completely out of the question, so I
quickly decide to be as vague as possible. New York City
"Me, too. Do you travel there often?"
"No, this is my first time."
The drinks arrive and he immediately asks for a second drink of the same. "The lady will have what I'm having." His persistence is such a pain in my ass. This flight is going to be torture if I continue to let him get to me so I send the flight attendant a smile in agreement.
He leans back in his seat in such a relaxed state next to my very straight, upright and uptight posture. Taking note of that makes me realize I am stiff and tense. I prefer to call it focused and driven, but those words don't really explain my posture.
I try to relax a bit by leaning the seat back and decide to prove to myself that I'm not stiff. He offers me the Jack and Coke just as I have this epiphany, so I gladly accept his challenge.
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About the Author
Hilary Storm lives with her high school sweetheart and three children in Enid, Oklahoma. She drives her husband crazy talking about book characters everyday like they are real people. She graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University with an MBA in Accounting. Her passions include being a mom, writing, reading, photography, music, mocha coffee, and spending time with friends and family. She is the international best selling author of the Rebel Walking Series.