Release Day Launch: More Than Him - Jay McLean

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

More Than This (Book 1):
AMAZON US LINK      |     AMAZON UK LINK     |     iBOOKS     |     B&N

More Than Her (Book 2):
AMAZON US LINK     |     AMAZON UK LINK     |     iBOOKS     |     B&N

More Than Him - Jay McLean
Book title: More Than Him
Author: Jay McLean
Series: More #3
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Release date: January 28, 2014

Hosted by: Forever Me Romance

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson

We live in a world of darkness and shadows,
where monsters hide and aim to ruin.
And they did.
They ruined us and turned our dreams into nightmares.
But now we're back.
And we're fighting.
Not just for us, or for each other, but for our light.

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Author Bio:
Author of Mature YA / New Adult contemporary novels, MORE THAN THIS and a soon to be released sequel, MORE THAN HER. I enjoy reading and writing books that make people laugh, cry and swoon for dreamy book boyfriends. When not doing either of those, I can be found looking after my two little boys, and trying to avoid house work at all costs.

Author Links:
Website     |     Goodreads     |     Facebook     |     Twitter     |     Pinterest

-     Jassie

Cover Reveal: Breathe Again - Rachel Brookes

Breathe Again (The Breathe Series #2) - Rachel Brookes
For Savannah Rae, the thought of living in her picture-perfect world was almost too much to comprehend. With her dream job, a family she could finally call her own, and the beginnings of the best chapter of her life, she still couldn’t shake the unnerving feeling that it was all too good to be true.

The thought of a life without Savannah was incomprehensible to Tate Connors. Never in his wildest dreams did he think he would find his girl in the form of a sassy, stubborn, beautiful Australian. Finally he had the girl and life he so desperately wanted, but he still couldn’t ignore the fear that it would crash around him.

When Tate’s past becomes his present and Savannah’s present becomes her past, the possibility of a future together collides head-on with reality.

In her darkest days, the words Just Breathe provided a peaceful comfort to Savannah from the heavens above. Now as she and Tate go down the path of new beginnings, brutal endings, and the constant craving of a happily ever after, they are anxious to learn how to Breathe Again.

Rachel Brookes is from a coastal town on the east coast of Australia where beaches, kangaroos and surfers roam free. She writes angsty love stories with a pinch of craziness, a dash of drama, a cup of romance and a spoonful of sexiness… oh and the main ingredient hot guys.
Rachel sometimes forgets to eat, sometimes forgets to sleep and sometimes can’t remember the last time she cleaned her apartment but that’s because she is in a long term relationship with her laptop and is constantly writing.
When she does step away from her laptop she can be found taking too many photos, making scrumptious cocktails, laughing at Adam Sandler movies and spending her time with her amazing family and friends.
having released Just Breathe and Breathless in  2013, Rachel is looking forward to a busy 2014 with the upcoming release of Breathe Again, the final book in The Breathe Series and many other books planned she can't wait to continue this crazy ride.

Author Links:
Website/Blog     |     Facebook     |     Twitter      |     Goodreads 

Just Breathe (Breathe #1) by Rachel Brookes


Breathless (Breathe #1.5) by Rachel Brookes


Release Day Launch: Seeking Her - Cora Carmack

Seeking Her - Cora Carmack
ABOUT SEEKING HER by Cora Carmack:

Jackson Hunt gets his turn in this Finding It prequel novella …

Jackson Hunt hasn't been out of the military for long, but he needs to get a job and find a sense of normalcy if he is going to keep his demons at bay. The job that falls into his lap, though, is anything but normal.

Becoming bodyguard (and babysitter) to spoiled rich girl Kelsey Summers isn't exactly what he had in mind, but it's a chance to travel, to get away. The catch: Kelsey's father doesn't want her to know she's being followed.

She's vibrant and infuriating, exciting and reckless, mysterious and familiar. When Jackson sees her falling into the same patterns he suffered years ago, he decides it's time to stop watching and help her instead. But getting to know Kelsey is more difficult than he thought, especially because the more he knows her, the more he wants her.

Purchase Links:
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I was going to have to find some way to cope with this. If not, I was better off calling Mr. Summers and suggesting he find someone else to take over his daughter-watch.
I felt a pang of something at that thought. It was a general kind of discomfort, and I wasn’t sure whether it was the thought of returning home or something else that made that thought so unappealing.

After the cooling walk earlier, and now standing under the cool, calming rush of water, it was easier to think that I could control myself, but I knew better. It always seemed easier in my head than it really was.

I wiped the water from my eyes, and tried to think of some other way to deal. There was always the hope that Kelsey would get bored. That she would mellow out. If she only partied a couple nights a week, I should be able to resist. But that seemed unlikely.

All that restless energy; the way she’d soaked up the attention from the people around her. I couldn’t see her giving that up. And it was working for her. She was still in the phase where partying made her feel good. That was the one thing that helped me stay clean. The few times I’d slipped up since I started the program had left me miserable and angry, and even more frustrated than when I started. I’d found new ways to chase the high. And maybe that wasn’t any healthier, not when one way involved being in the midst of flying bullets.

It wasn’t the same kind of rush, but it did the trick. I pictured Kelsey again, laughing with her head thrown back, her shirt falling off her shoulder and displaying the gentle curve of her neck. It reminded me of the way she’d tossed her head back that first day out in the woods.

The memory of that caused a different kind of rush in me, and I groaned, pressing my forehead into the tile. Before I could help myself, I pictured her long legs straddling that guy in the gardens. The bright green material of her bra, and the way it conformed to her perfect chest. She leaned back, her fingertips trailing from the bark of the tree to his shoulders.

In an instant, the memory shifted into fantasy, and those were my shoulders she clung to, not his.
That was my undoing. There was only so much resisting I could do in one night.

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Author Bio:
Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life – boring jobs (like working retail), fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching) and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too.

Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today Bestseller.

Author Links:
Website     |     Goodreads        Twitter     |     Facebook

-     Jassie

Release Day Launch: Savor - Monica Murphy

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Savor - Monica Murphy
New York Times bestselling author Monica Murphy concludes her sexy Billionaire Bachelors Club series with a fiery romance that refuses to be left at the office…

Bryn James can’t take much more. Smart, sexy Matthew DeLuca is everything she wants in a man, but he’s also her boss—the youngest, hottest vineyard owner in the Napa Valley—and he doesn’t see her as anything more than his shy assistant. That’s all about to change. Armed with a hot new look and an attitude to match, Bryn is determined to catch Matt’s eye… professionalism be damned.

With his winery’s grand reopening approaching, Matt is trying to stay focused, but Bryn is suddenly making it very difficult. He’s always thought her prim demeanor effortlessly sexy, but Matt can’t deny that her transformation is jaw-dropping …and going to make it very difficult to keep his hands to himself.

But when one thing leads to another and suddenly Matt is stripping Bryn bare, he’ll be faced with the biggest risk of his career—and his heart. Can he convince her—and himself—that this might just be more than a no-strings office affair?

Purchase Links:
Amazon US     |     Amazon CAN     |     Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble     |     iTunes

“Don’t be so cranky. It’s okay to admit you have a thing for Bryn.” Ivy leans forward in her chair, a secretive smile curling her lips. “I have a feeling she has a thing for you too, you know.”
I do know. And I can’t act on it. Bryn James works for me. She’s my assistant. She’s by my side constantly; we spend more time with each other than probably anyone else in our lives, especially lately what with the winery’s grand reopening approaching. She’s a representative of my business. If I were to fuck around with the help and the relationship fell apart, I’d be in huge trouble. She could screw me over financially every which way by suing me for sexual harassment and I’d be left with a limp dick in my hand and a ruined business.
Yeah. Not going to take the chance. Saw it happen with my father. Not going to let it happen to me.
“It doesn’t matter. Nothing can happen.” I send Ivy a stern look. “And this conversation can never leave this office.” Glancing over her shoulder, I try to see if Bryn is at her desk but the chair is empty.
Thank Christ.
Ivy’s expression goes solemn and she holds up three fingers. “This conversation stays here. Scout’s honor.”
“You were never a scout,” I mutter, afraid she’s making a promise on an untruth. She’ll probably just blab to everyone. Or specifically Archer and Gage. I don’t need to hear their shit.
And I am worrying way too much over this.
She laughs again. “I won’t say a word, I promise. But I need to tell you something, Matt.” She leans in close, her voice dropping. “She’s got a major crush on you. You might not see it but it’s there—sounding in her voice, shining in her eyes, every time she looks at you, talks about you. The way her body turns into yours every time the two of you are together . . . it’s pretty obvious. A body language expert would have a field day with you two.”
Body language expert? What the hell is Ivy talking about? “I have no idea what you’re referring to, but office crushes are just that. Crushes. Harmless attractions no one ever acts on. Period. End of story.”
This is what I keep telling myself. I can’t pursue anything with Bryn, no matter how much I’m tempted to. Not only would it be wildly inappropriate, dating my assistant, but we come from two different worlds. She seems nice and normal, quiet and unobtrusive, and I am anything but. My life has been a circus sideshow for years.
“I get it. You’re trying to do the right thing, and I admire that. So, of course you don’t see anything beyond an efficient assistant in Miss James.”
Well. Ivy’s not too far off the mark. When I first met Bryn, she hardly said two words, kept her head bent when I spoke to her and offered lots of yes-sir and no-sir answers. She had this way of almost blending in with the walls, like she didn’t want anyone to notice her.
So I didn’t.
As we got comfortable working together though, something happened. I’m thinking Ivy had a hand in Bryn’s slow transformation. She actually makes eye contact when she speaks to me, and she’s become somewhat animated. Started to wear bolder colors as well, drawing my attention to her chest though I keep my eyes averted as best I can.
These subtle changes made me notice all of the little things—like the color of her eyes (blue), how her hair looks (like silk and I want to touch it), and the tempting fullness of her lips (they’re spectacular).
Her gaze lingers when she looks at me and sometimes so does mine. Her smile softens, her voice drops lower when she speaks, sparking my imagination. Would she sound like that right before I kissed her? Took off her clothes? Took her to my bed?
Yeah. All of those are dangerous thoughts. I almost prefer the old Miss James. The one who was like the wallpaper—boring and nondescript. Mean to say, but hell, the last thing I need is a distraction.
And she’s become the biggest distraction I’m currently facing. The very last one I need.

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Author Bio:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Monica Murphy is a native Californian who lives in the foothills below Yosemite. A wife and mother of three, she writes New Adult and contemporary romance for Bantam and Avon. She is the author of One Week Girlfriend and Second Chance Boyfriend.

Author Links:
Website     |     Blog     |     Twitter     |     Facebook
     Goodreads     |     Amazon Author page

-     Jassie


Blog Tour: Savor - Kate Evangelista

Monday, January 20, 2014

Savor - Kate Evangelista
Mature and explicit content. Not recommended for readers below 18-years-old. Yup, you've got to be that old to read my story. Consider yourself warned.

I’m Dakota Collins, a tough talking, eye patch wearing, workaholic photography student. Why am I important? Well, maybe because I get to spend an entire month with Vicious, only the sickest indie rock band out there.

You see, I needed a subject for my Spring Showcase introspective in order to graduate. During a chance encounter at a club I’d been sent to cover for the Daily Gossip, our ironically named college paper, the features writer I usually teamed up with introduced me to the band—by accident, I might add. It involved a run in with a scary, bald bodyguard. Anyway, long story short, I signed a contract to take pictures of Vicious.

I should have known their handsome yet way too serious for his own good bassist, Luka Visraya, wouldn't be able to keep his hands to himself. He’s gorgeous and all, but the way he smiles spelled trouble with a capital L. I’m in for a long month with him around.

Crazy shit happens and then some. So, if you want the skinny on Vicious and the events revolving around my stay at Lunar Manor, read my story.

Again, refer to the warning above.

My Thoughts:
I was really having a dilemma if I would post another review because ALL the time, I was thinking that ‘Savor’ was sort of a continuation of Taste. Companion novel, so to speak. IT WAS NOT. Kate, the author, posted this last January 14: The Genesis of Savor. By that time, I had already read Savor, I was a little confused but I loved every part of Luka. The thing was I could not wrap my head to write another review but I tried to close it off a few times. So for reference of Kate’s blog post:

Kate, the author wrote:
I was so engrossed with the creation of this story that I never thought about the readers connecting it to Taste. I should have added a disclaimer to the back of the book.
            Let this blog post be the official statement:
Savor is in no way connected to Taste.

Then I commented:
"Savor is in no way connected to Taste."

-> There goes my review. I was so piecing 'Taste' to 'Savor' that I was so sure it was an "Alternate Universe" (like what you said to before). After this post, I was like: Is the Savor now like the first version? "The Zhamvy are already human. Luka [...] is the last to transition. His reasoning behind this is that he’s the king. He wants to make sure his people are properly integrated into human society before taking the plunge himself." I was so thinking that Taste and Savor were interconnected that Savor happened years after and that Relish was like going to make us go back to Luka and the gang's "realm" – making it go back to its paranormal genre.

Since I was really engulfed by ‘Taste’ and I was craving for the paranormal aspect in this book and I was almost disappointed but then it seemed like the ending of ‘Savor’ brewed the paranormal I was coveting for. As what I have uttered awhile ago, I really thought ‘Taste’ and ‘Savor’ was interconnected – I was really consumed by this insight and I kept on connecting the two (my excuse: I already read this before Kate made the disclaimer). So back in Taste, I knew Luka had feelings for Phoenix yet it was still the Phoenix and Demitri tandem and it was just that at ‘Savor’, Luka had a past with her. Luka was lost and couldn't move on. He was stuck on being in that trance of hoping that he could still be loved by his ex.

I LOVED (still do) LUKA VISRAYA the first time I had encountered him at Taste. So yeah, my Luka Love started more than a year ago. Hands-down. So for him to have his book? I was (still am) in ecstasy! I knew I needed to get my hands on it (seriously, ‘him)! Let me tell you, ‘Savor was hot, beyond words. Hot did not even justify it because it was more than that. It beheld attraction, desire, lust, enticement and everything was intense. The scenes and the characters surround this aura of power and something else. To be honest, this book left me speechless and words lost me. One word: Ineffable. Words failed to make me put my emotions to writing. Yet I would say, ‘Savor’ was enough to let the reader self-combust (yes, hot and bothered). A reader would be asking for more Luka. I swear.

‘Savor’ was a new series (Vicious) and was different from ‘Taste’. The characters from ‘Taste’ were the same in this story but with a new character, Dakota, and mainly focused to this new heroine.  For those who read ‘Taste’, disregard what you knew from Taste because this book should not be connected to it. And for those who read ‘Taste’, you might (or might not) agree with me but I really thought this book was a continuation and had an alternate universe from Taste and Dray completed his experiment – but this was entirely different now. And for those who haven’t read ‘Taste’, you don’t need to read that before this. But I enjoyed the paranormal at ‘Taste’ and it was very Young Adult. ‘Taste’ brought forth the characters so it made me familiar with Luka and his band mates, there were a couple of times that I really saw the ‘other side’ especially at the Lunar Manor and Demitri had his crown. But ‘Savor’ brought another level of air in this story. It was a far-cry from ‘Taste’ at times and Luka (my love) was the total opposite from his character in ‘Taste’ with a reasonable excuse, I must point out. I needed to point out that ‘Savor’ could be classified as New Adult provided the themes, setting and the characters themselves. Honestly, it was a normal NA for me but like what I had stated awhile ago, there was this feeling of something ‘more’ about this book – like a whimsical setting, of sorts? I was literally enticed by the story. The main characters had that hypnotic and intriguing side of that made them paranormal-ish.Savor’ was way different from the scenarios I had encountered fromTaste’. They were not at Barinkoff Academy anymore; there were no Kings and all those that screamed “Barinkoff Academy” and “Night-Day students”. It was another realm and in here it was the heroine's, Dakota, POV.

I would give a brief background about ‘Savor’: Dakota was a college student who needed pictures for her project, she went to Sacrifice (a bar) with her friend and found a very interesting subject – the band, Vicious. The chart-topping yet mysterious-private band enthralled Dakota. The band composed of the drummer, Dray; the lead guitarist, Demitri; lead singer, Phoenix... But mostly of bassist, Luka. After negotiating with the band's manager, Yana, Dakota was able to delve into a piece of the Vicious. The catch? Dakota would be with Vicious for the entire month at the Lunar Manor.

Luka-swoon alert:
Enthralled by the god-like features of Luka, top it off with his bass skills and smexy voice (and a lot more talent), anyone would be surely lured by this too good to be true piece of man on earth. OH MY. The BASSIST. Oh shiz, weakness. I have a crush on Lawson's bassist, so OMG. Then he can play drums so FUDGEBALLS to moon and back. :"> HELP ME. SERIOUS SELF-EXPLOSIVE TENSION BREWED. GET READY FOR SELF-LUKA-SWOONING-DESTRUCTION :D <3

With that statement (the Luka-swoon alert), what I loved the most about this book was the idea of photographer-band member story. And the author, Kate, really focused on that plot, it never wavered. The reason why Dakota was at the Lunar Manor was fixated; Dakota never forgot why she was there and she accomplished what she needed.  As always, the details were vivid and were really clear. I liked how the author gave a picture for my imagination. Then having a background at ‘Taste’, I would say the other characters were still the same: Phoenix-Demitri, Dray was still a mad scientist, Yana was bossy with her Lolita attire and Calixta was even there! This would be where I would raise my ‘Taste-Savor’ connection: Lunar Manor had its enchanted feel though it had the feeling of normality still. There was something other than what Dakota knew – the glimpses of crest, the (some) formal utterance of word, and the place itself. Plus, I think it was not a coincidence what happened at Dakota after Lunar Manor; Phoenix back in Taste was hospitalized too – Were my hopes of having the Paranormal or the Barinkoff Kingdom resurface again? I missed the attire and the crests.

This was as much as Dakota’s story and I kept on pointing-out ‘Taste’ and ‘Savor’. I do apologize because I could not help but see the connection between the two. Okay, I should really focus on the heroine, right? Dakota was, for me, an enigma. They (Luka’s friends) said Luka was a complicated person; I say Dakota was secretive and mysterious. As much as I had glimpses of what happened to her, I wanted to know who did that to her? The eye patch, too. She was closed-off even though it was her POV. I knew her but only the things she wanted to share. Her character either focused on how she perceived other people and of course, her photography. She was confused, herself, most especially around Luka –though I loved her personality as jovial, helpful and that person who sort of held the equilibrium for Luka. Also, I admired her creativity – the photography and the concepts. I really wished there were pictures because how the author had described what Dakota captured was something really captivating. I could not help but pause and imagine it. Really, it was that beautifully-described. As much as I wanted to know more about the protagonist, Dakota really knew how to hold back, even to me (as a reader). ‘Savor’ really focused on Dakota’s career, stay at the manor and of course, knowing more about the band. It really focused on that and it worked. But ‘her’ as the character? She did not really say much about herself. That really left me greedy with anything ‘Dakota’.

Then to Dakota’s… Well, not sure what to ‘label’ him. They had this instant spark and they had a couple of what-couples-do-in-a-relationship but they were not together. Okay, just ‘Luka’. Luka was a person who was sort of lost in himself, a person who could not move on (I meant, how could you if every day was a living torture to the happiness of your past; not haunting because the past was right in front of him EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!).  He was this hottie and like what his mates described him: he was complicated. He had piercings and a tattoo! Oh gods, that tattoo was just, OH MY HEART! I was much more enchanted in him, yet I missed his fun side (from ‘Taste’). Like what Phoenix mentioned there, Luka did change. He was cocky, yes. But his playfulness side was just lost, and I understood why. I just missed the old Luka who was so flexible with his life, he was serious at the end of ‘Taste’ but he was still knew how to have fun. At ‘Savor’ he was sort of a spoiled brat with his tantrums and he was like Demitri's character at ‘Taste’ – brooding, intimidating and aggressive (at some sorts). But when he was lost in music? Was it ironic that it was the reason he lost 'her' and the reason he gained Dakota?

Luka-Dakota were a perplexing pair because they both held back significant things about themselves. They broke at some parts but it wasn’t enough. I enjoyed the part wherein they weren't coerced to be a pair. They had this lustful and another deeper connection that interlinked them. This mystery made me want to know more. I could sense how there was more to them than what was written in ‘Savor’. The epilogue was the killer. When I thought that the moments were unraveling, it boosted up questions for me and I could not wait what the next book would entail. Dreams. Theories. Chants. Mostly, Scars. Then I tortured myself to read the sneak peek, it was not a good idea, if I was killed... I was brutally murdered on the sneak peek. I WANT RELISH NOW. AS IN, YEAH ASAP!!! -.- I was so sure Luka would definitely win Dakota back. That small grin was very promising. Both were playing with fire, it was either it would ignite into something or spark off. More irony? Flames, water drained and ashes.

‘Savor’ really engrossed me from Chapter 1. I would be honest, knowing it was Luka’s book I knew I would love it. The author did not disappoint and exceeded my expectations. Though I wished the old Luka back, this book made me see another side of Luka that was hurt and lost. Yet he found another hope. The thing was that music, bass guitar, hot voice, lean muscles, God-like face and tattoo made that rugged-rocker-look that was to swoon for. Not just music but also he found another hope in a person, Dakota. Dakota held herself together as much as I was confused by her. She helped Luka and I really enjoyed her character and her journey at the Lunar Manor. And as a reader the most I could applaud an author would be, if I felt I was either a part or I had seen myself in a character’s shoe. That was what happened, not only did I felt like I was Dakota at times; I felt I was a part of it; I also managed to be an observant in the manor. I got to know more about the characters and be mystified by them. I was looking for answers, I gained new questions and it left me hanging. Yet it managed to satisfy me with its compact and gripping story!

Rating: 5 out of 5.
***Luka-bias was very much included.

P.S. I got sick during the holidays while reading this book and guess what my friend told me to cure my sore throat: Lozenges. I swear I could never ever look or think of Lozenges the same every again. Lozenges =  Luka to me. *super wink*

P.P.S. (Spoiler alert, don’t read if you haven’t read the book yet) I hoped that Dakota listened or let Luka explain. I knew how it hurts so badly but in time I would like Dakota to understand the song Poison and the tattoo. She should have taken note of the song: it was either her or Luka's past. If it was Luka's past, maybe he was accepting and getting the poison out of him little by little (more like trying to move on). Or it was her, the moment he saw her at Sacrifice and Luka did not know what to do. It was easy to jump into conclusions but I didn't know the definite answer. C'mon, Dakota, listen to Luka, please. Reading the sneak peek almost killed me, why?! I understood but I didn't mean I like what you did, Dakota. *stomps foot*

Luka's Lullaby (just posted this day: January 20 -> here):

Savor Exclusive Excerpt

“Dakota Collins!”
            I lowered my camera. The use of my full name never came with good consequences. I blinked my vision back at her even if I wanted to spend the rest of the night taking his picture. Sweat rose over my upper lip. I may just have found my subject for the Spring Showcase.
            The only problem?
            I had to find a way to convince him to be in my project. Something told me this wouldn’t be easy. By the way my heart beat in my ears, drowning out the music and Silvia having a fit in front of me, I wanted it too much. I wanted him too much.
            “This the guy you were saying?” I showed Silvia the picture I’d taken. This seemed to pacify her because she sidled closer, mesmerized like a moth to a flame.
            “Luka Visraya,” she said with a moan like she’d just tasted the most luscious chocolate before taking a long gulp of her cocktail. The name didn’t register. Silvia must have noticed my blank expression because she continued. “He’s the bassist for Vicious.”
            Still no pings of recognition in my head.
            She slapped her thigh. “Where have you been? It’s weird that you haven’t heard of them. Their songs are on the radio like every second.”
            Of course I hadn’t heard of them. I liked listening to country and I hardly kept up with current events.
            “Name one?” Okay, I had a name. Luka. Exotic. A bassist. Part of a band I should know about. So he’s famous. I slowly felt my chances of asking him to be my subject slip from my grasp. If he was someone famous, fat chance he’d say yes to a graduating photography student like me. I just about deflated when Silvia mentioned one of their songs. “Oh, I know that one!” By accident. It played in the radio of the cab I rode in to Sacrifice. I stared at the picture of him then lifted my gaze to where he sat. “He’s gone.”
            “What?” Silvia whipped around in time to come face to face with a wall of man. “Whoa!” She pushed at him. “Watch it, buddy!”
            “Give me the camera,” he said in a threatening tone.
            Big. Beefy. Bald. The three Bs that made up the quintessential bodyguard.
            I clutched my DSLR closer to my chest and looked up at him with my good eye. “And why would I do that?” The patch didn’t seem to intimidate him because he just reached out. So much for my Bond villain aspirations. I moved away from his grubby hand. No one touched my camera but me.
            Despite her size, Silvia came between me and the mountain. “We’re here to cover Sacrifice for our college paper. You don’t have the right to take away my colleague’s camera.”
            Yeah! You give it to him, Silvy.
            Not that I couldn’t take care of myself. But if Silvia wanted to play hero, I wouldn’t stand in her way.
            “What seems to be the problem here?” a soft, authoritative voice chimed in.
            The bodyguard moved aside to reveal the Gothic Lolita. She stood at just about the same height as Silvia, but she possessed an older aura even if she seemed to be our age.
            “She’s been taking pictures,” Baldy said.
            Lolita’s kohl eyes landed on me then shifted to my camera.
            “As I was saying to the big guy,” Silvia explained. “My colleague and I are covering the opening of Sacrifice.”
            “For what paper?” Lolita asked without taking her eyes off me. I clutched my camera like an extra appendage. In some ways it was. After losing half my sight, I relied on my camera like an extra eye, seeing the world through its lens. I would rather die than lose it.
            “The Daily Gossip,” I said before Silvia could answer just to relieve some of the awkward tension building in me under her gaze. “We study at Wexler U.”
            She tilted her head, crossing her arms.
            “Okay,” I quickly stammered out. “I get that the name of our paper sounds like a tabloid, but the Daily Gossip is a cool campus paper.” The last part maybe only I believed since Silvia raised her eyebrow at me, but Lolita and the mountain didn’t have to know that.
            No one spoke after that. Even in a noisy club, the silence in our group rang in my ears. Not waiting for the situation to get any more awkward, I plowed forward with my own selfish intensions.
            “You know Luka.” I said it more as a statement, but it came out like a question.
            Lolita nodded.   
            “I’m Dakota Collins and I’m graduating this spring. I was wondering if Luka would be interested in—”
            “What would I be interested in?” a smooth voice joined our group.
            The walls of my throat closed, chocking the rest of what I had to say. All eyes turned to Luka. Silvia dropped her empty glass. It bounced off the bodyguard’s shoe and landed in a clatter but didn’t break. Even with my height, I still had to look up at him.
            “What are you doing here?” Lolita admonished. “You should be backstage.”
            One side of his lips came up. God. Without the scowl, his face lit up. I had to stop the urge to lift my camera and start snapping away. And his eyes were piercing blue. The kind that stretched over my mother’s farm in the summer. Damn.
Seeing him up close, I knew I’d give any one of my kidneys for a chance to take his picture in a formal shoot.
            “We have five minutes. Chill, Yana.” He tugged at one of her pigtails.
            “Luka,” Silvia managed. “I’m a big fan. Will you sign my chest?”
            Bypassing my petite colleague, Luka’s intensely blue gaze studied me. He reached out and I flinched back. His fingers almost grazed my patch. What the hell was the matter with him? Trying to touch my eye patch was tantamount to poking a bandage over a wound and asking the person if it hurts.
            Gothic Lolita—Yana—yanked Luka’s arm down. “I’m so sorry!” Her whole aura changed. She went from all business to panicky. “My brother sometimes forgets his manners. He didn’t mean anything about touching your…” She bit her lower lip, maybe trying to keep herself from saying the wrong thing.
            That little faux pas cleared my head of the Luka haze and spurred me into action. “Luka, will you let me take your picture for my final project?” I didn’t know where my courage came from, but I knew if I didn’t take this chance, I’d regret it. I had to have him as my subject.
            Still not removing his gaze from my face, like my patch transfixed him, he tilted his head to one side very much like his sister did earlier.
            “Luka, don’t!” Yana said, but from the consideration on Luka’s face, she was too late.
            “You’re a photographer?”
            “Yes.” I nodded, in case the word wasn’t enough.
            “And you’d like me to be the subject of your project?”
            God yes! This time, I could only nod. I didn’t want him to see how eager I was. And I couldn’t live with myself if I embarrassed myself further.
            I waited with baited breath.
            It seemed everyone in our group waited with baited breath for what the golden god had to say about my brazen request. I soon realized when Luka spoke, everyone listened. The way he pronounced every word precisely yet still spoke so smoothly, like butter on warm toast, captured everyone’s attention. To say he captivated us was an understatement. Something in me certainly wanted to hear him keep speaking. He could read from an accounting textbook in that voice and no one would get bored.
            “I need to know that you’re good,” he finally said.
            Something about his words seemed to hold a different meaning. I must have missed the alcohol in the soda Silvia had given me. Maybe I was drunk and this was all a blackout dream.
            “What are you saying?” Yana faced Luka all the way now, her petite form all rigid.
            He unleashed a full on megawatt smile my way. I almost had to cover my eye from it. At my side, Silvia gasped. Her long nails dug into my arm. Like staring at the sun, I couldn’t take my gaze away from him no matter how bad it was for me.
            “We’re about to perform. I want you to take several pictures then send them to Yana. If she approves, we’ll see about your request.”
            Then, like smoke, he disappeared into the crowd.

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Author Bio:
When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master's courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today she lives in the Philippines and writes full time.

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-     Jassie