Charlotte Chronicles, Part Two – Episode XXXVI

Part Two


I pull on the t-shirt Reece threw to me and ask, “Okay, how do I look? Slutty bartender?”
“Not really. More I slept too late and I’m too lazy to do anything about it.”
“Thanks. That’s really nice, Reece.”
He shrugs one shoulder. “That’s what girlfriends are for. Who was it on the phone?”
I look. Unknown caller.
“Must’ve been a telemarketer.”
“What time do you have to be at Stack’s?” Reese asks me, pushing up from the sofa where we’d both fallen asleep. We’d been up all night massaging the belly of his pregnant horse. My fingers felt stiff and sore.
“I’m opening it up. Lainey has her ultrasound at three. I’m wondering whether I’ll even be able to grip a glass.” I raise my hands and flex my fingers wincing at the ache.
“You look like you’re auditioning for cat woman,” Reese jokes. “More jazz hands.” His fingers waggle obscenely at me.
“No thanks.”
“You should take that cool drink of water home with you tonight,” he advises lying back on the sofa. Obviously he has no plans on getting up.
“Who’s that?” I ask absently checking to see that I have everything I need. Keys, credit card, ID. Bag full of notebooks. Phone.
“The head bartender. Martin? Maxwell? Mysterious Man?”
“You mean Michael?”
“Yeah him.” Reese growls low in appreciation.
“Michael is…” I pause because I’ve never really noticed Michael. I have a vague memory of someone dark haired and tall.
“Tall, built, hot. Did I mention built? Did you not see him at the flag football game last week? We were sitting right next to each other!” Reese is completely affronted.
“There were a lot of nice chests on display.” I say weakly. I remember the flag football game or at least I remember going to the park with Reese and Lainey but I was making out my schedule for this week.
“It’s all those professional athletes you know,” he accuses. “You’ve become numb to ripped bodies. You think everyone has them.”
“I don’t,” I protest but maybe he is right. There’s no shortage of sculpted abs and amazing physiques in my circle. Maybe I have become desensitized to them.
“Get out of my sight,” he says throwing a pillow at my head. “I can’t be around someone who doesn’t drool over a good man chest.”
“I promise to work on my drooling. I’ll even try to sexually harass Michael during work. In the meantime,” I throw the pillow back. “Will you please double check my schedule and plane tickets? I’ve got a million and ten things to do when I get to San Diego tomorrow.”
“I liked you better when you were a romantic!” Reese calls out after me. “When you cried at soda commercials and tampon ads.”
It’s not until after the door closes that I answer him. “I didn’t,” I say to the empty stairwell.
When I was a girl I used to think writing letters, for example, was super romantic. But after years of writing and receiving almost no response, years of waiting only to be left alone time and again, I woke up finally and realized that romanticism is simply a cover used to conceal decay and sickness.
Men cheat on their girlfriends. Girlfriends cheat on their boyfriends. At least some guys know that they can’t be in a relationship because they’re too busy sampling every type of woman as if God created the female in a buffet form just for their pleasure.
It’s not that I don’t believe in love. I just don’t believe it’s for me. I had my one great chance at love but when it was exposed to a few harsh conditions, it collapsed like a shitty ass umbrella in the Windy City.
I believe in friendships like the one I have with Nick and Reese and Lainey. I believe in the love of my parents. God knows they’d do anything for me. I believe in long walks in the park, the surprise pleasure of a warm summer rain, the rotation of the spiral pass, and the glory of the no hitter. I believe in a lot of things but I don’t believe in love.
When I arrive at Stack’s, the doors are propped open. The summer heat is baking into the concrete, loosening the odor of the Las Colinas streets. For a swanky neighborhood, sometimes the smell of all that progress stinks.
“Why do you have the doors open?” I ask Filmore, the manager of Stack’s.
“Smelled like someone died in here last night,” Filmore explains.
“It’s awful out there.”
“Was worse in here.”
Seeing that I wasn’t going to win this battle, I stick my purse under the bar and tie my apron on. “Should I cut the limes first?”
He nods. “When’s Lainey coming in?”
“Appointment is for three. She’ll come after.”
“I’m going to be in back counting bottles. When Michael comes in tell him to record the opening bank and then he can come back and finish up inventory.”
“Got it.”
“Gonna miss you,” Filmore says reaching over the bar to pat me awkwardly on the shoulder. “Seems like it was only yesterday, you plopped down here asking me about all the good places around the Mustang’s training facility.”
“A good bar owner knows everything,” I say affectionately.
“You should reconsider. You know you’re going to be heartsick without all of us hassling you.”
“Maybe so, Filmore, but there are these things called high speed trains and airplanes. I can be here in a couple of hours.”
He cuffs me on the shoulder on more time and heads to the back whistling. Looking around I take in the wide oak paneled walls, circular wooden tables and cheap stage that has been my home away from home for three years and sigh. Maybe I’m still a teensy bit romantic because this rundown joint looks beautiful to me. When I came here three years ago, I was heartsore and running away from home trying to find myself. Here I found Lainey, a bar waitress with one kid, a bad boyfriend, and a big heart. And Reese, a man child looking for love in every conceivable wrong place but still smiling no matter how many times the guy of his dreams turns out to be a cheating bastard.
I’d started a business and found comfort in new friends and a good career. On most days, this is good enough. I’m only feeling nostalgic because I’m leaving. When Nick got drafted by the Mustangs, I came with him to ensure the transition from college to pros went as smoothly as possible. I bought groceries for him, made sure his clothes were cleaned, paid his bills, and generally made it so all he had to do was concentrate on football. Oh, and women. He had plenty of time for women. I was the buffer between him and everyone who wanted something from him. Every rookie he came into contact envied him.
When he won the Super Bowl his second year out, my little business expanded from one player to ten and then from ten players to twenty nine.  Now Forget Me Not, orF’Me as my players like to call it, aids the transitions of professional athletes in nearly every major city and for every major sport as they are drafted or traded. Each athlete is handled by one person.
I find them places to live close to the training facility along with restaurants, grocery stores, schools, nannies, dry cleaning, and churches. And I take care of all the details back home—getting a house sold, making sure all the bills were taken care of, finding that lucky pair of shoes that was left behind. All the player has to do is pick up his bag and leave. I, or one of my employees, takes care of all the details.
And because I am scattered brained I have to write things down. I have written lists, electronic lists. I keep a master list of my lists. I used to have my own players and I kept track of them by assigning them to a single notebook, color coded according to their new team colors. Because of the expansion, Lainey, Reese and I are the fallback people. If there’s an emergency or something falls through the cracks one of the three of us take care of it.
And tomorrow I’m flying out to San Diego to take patch one of those cracks. A baseball player, Christian Glass, has just been traded from the Royals to the San Diego Arrows. This is his second trade in two years and his family is going crazy. I promised Christian I’d come out personally and help with the transition.
This is a big deal for me, even though Christian doesn’t know it, because I never, ever go to San Diego. That’s where Nate is stationed, part of the West Coast SEAL teams. Despite San Diego being a huge city, I always worry about seeing him in some random place—like a shopping center or a bar or a grocery store. In every scenario he has his arm draped around a woman and I know if I ever see that, whatever is left of my childhood will be crushed. As I told him in my last letter, I will always love him.
I just don’t want to.

Charlotte XXXV – The Letters

Dear Nate:

It’s been weird being back at North Prep. I feel like I don’t even know anyone here anymore—that I’m disconnected with it all. If it weren’t for Nick, I think I would ask my parents if I could go somewhere else. You may have heard that Greta transferred before the fall semester started. She originally enrolled at St. James Academy but I guess word had gotten out about what happened with you and she had to drop out.  The last I knew she was going to public school. No one here talks about it anymore. There’s new scandals, like the substitute chemistry teacher who got caught having sex with Alison Morrisey. Do you remember her? Really quiet girl? Long, curly auburn hair. Her hair was gorgeous and apparently the chem teacher couldn’t keep his hands off her.

He’s getting prosecuted. Poor Allison claims she loves him. It’s a pretty big mess. Speaking of messes, everyone is upset with Nick and I because we ruined prom. Some girl—I don’t know who as she hasn’t fessed up to it—nominated Nick for prom king. He threatened to quit the team if anyone voted for him. There were several write ins but his threat was effective enough to see that he came in a distant third. He wanted me to go with him but I didn’t feel up to it so he decided to stay home. Word got around that he wasn’t going and half the team ended up at your place which made all the folks at the dance furious.

Somehow this is my fault, of course, rather than Nick’s. He tries to solve this problem by glaring at everyone which only makes matters worse. I seriously cannot wait for school to be done. This probably sounds stupid and dumb to you as your traipsing across the jungle or whoever you are currently but that’s the boring stuff that’s going on at home.

Love and miss you,


<<< >>>

Dear Nate:

Is paper in such scare supply that you had to rip off the bottom of my letter to write your little message? I don’t even know if it even counts as a letter. “Fuck em, keep writing” barely exceeds the length of your greeting. I think in the days of the telegraph people exchanged longer dispatches. I’m sending you this book of letters between John Quincy Adams and his wife Abigail so that you have a better idea of what a real letter looks like. You could send me a message over the web, you know. Even a picture. We couldSkype even. I know. I know. That’s an irrational suggestion because in this day and age of technology where there’s virtual reality eyewear on every street corner, why would we ever try something like that out.

Your mom told me that when she and your dad wrote to each other they pledged only to write letters rather than send electronic messages. At the last Sunday dinner, I asked her what they wrote about and she said the weather and that your dad complained about how hot it was. Your dad smirked and said that it was always very hot around your mom. Nick gagged and your dad playfully cuffed him. It’s adorable that your parents are still so in love with each other. I want that, though. I want what your parents have and what my parents have, don’t you?

Nick and I got in a huge fight the other day. He got a full ride scholarship to Notre Dame for football, which I’m sure you already know. When I told him I hadn’t even applied, he totally lost it. He’d said that I ruined it. It being all of his plans. I’ve decided not to go to college. It’s just not for me. I’m barely eking by right now and it’s taking everything I’ve got. I don’t even want to think about how horrible college would be where I’d have to read a thousand pages a night and then be able to spit it out the next day in some coherent fashion. And then there’d be the students who read Tolstoy and Dostoevsky for fun! I had to look up how to spell those names by the way.

I’m going to stick close to home. I tried to explain to Nick that even if I had applied, I wouldn’t have gotten in. And did he think we would just room together? He’d have to live with the football players and I’d live in my tiny apartment surrounded by people smarter than me. I’m tired of being around people who are all smarter than me.

He came around. Did he tell you we’ve been playing video games together. It’s good therapy for my hand/eye coordination according to the docs. One of these days I’m going to beat his ass. If you were here, you would be impressed. I miss you. I wish you were here. Write me longer letters next time.

Love you,


<<< >>>

Dear Nate:

I’m sorry I asked for longer letters. I didn’t realize it was going to make you stop writing at all. I’ve enclosed a full sheet of paper for you in case you don’t have any of your own. Now that Nick is gone, it’s so quiet around here. Your mom and dad drive over for every home game. I’ve taken to going with them because it’s like a tomb at home. I think we should get a dog or something.

I got a job. Dad said that I could work for him so I started as as an assistant to his assistant. He’s really disorganized. Mom says that my scatterbrained behavior comes less from the radiation and mostly from genetics. My day consists of getting up, going to his office trailer and filing. I had no idea there was so much paperwork when it came to building things. I can safely say that I’ll be looking for another job soon. I’ve never been so bored. Ever.

Nick is loving college but we are both worried about you. He said he hadn’t heard from you in months. And while that is disturbing, it also made me feel good because at least I know that you weren’t just ignoring me. I’m still waiting for you, just like I promised.

Miss you a thousand times more than the last letter,


<<< >>>

Dear Nate:

I’ve come to the conclusion that letter writing is cathartic. It’s the only rational reason I keep writing despite the fact that you never respond. Did the paper I sent you get destroyed? You better not be writing anyone else on my paper. Ha ha ha! Just kidding. Actually I’m not kidding. What are you doing with my paper? You certainly aren’t sending it to me.

I don’t mean to be nagging or negative, but what is going on? I feel like I’m writing into the void.

Speaking of void, I’ve been filling my time with community college. Mom said if I was bored doing filing that I should learn a trade. I’m enrolled in City College downtown and I confess that I kind of love it. I’m not sure what I want to do so I’m taking a bunch of weird courses, trying a little of everything. I took a welding course which was pretty neat. This one guy, Paul, like an artist. His welds are so perfect  and hardly need any grinding which is like sanding with the metal disc. He helped me with my own poor technique.

We got to go to a job site and Paul stuck with me the entire time, making sure no one tried anything funny and helping me perfect my welds. I told him that I wasn’t interested in welding as a career, but it fit him perfectly. I introduced him to Dad to see if there were any jobs for Paul after he was done with his apprenticeship and classes.

I think you’d like Paul. He’s a straight up, no bullshit kind of guy. I asked him what it meant when a guy told you he loved you, promised to love you forever, and then took off without ever saying goodbye. Paul said that the guy wasn’t interested any longer and didn’t know how to tell me. Or was a coward. But I know you aren’t a coward. You’re fearless. He doesn’t know you like I do.

More likely you are busy, doing something dangerous and you just can’t write back. Right? I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss you.

Write back. Please.

Love your loneliest girl,


<<< >>>

Dear Nate:

OMG really? You can’t write me one letter in return but you sic poor Nick on me? He came driving down from Notre Dame in one day because he had to check out some asshole named Paul. I cannot believe you. Seriously. Paul is married with two kids and a gorgeous wife. He’s also like ten years older than me.

I’m not even in welding anymore. I told you that I was trying out a bunch of different classes. Just FYI, I’m taking floral design and my instructor Neil is fucking amazing.



PS Don’t you dare send Nick again. He’s not your errand boy.

<<< >>>

Dear Nate:

“I’m sorry?” That’s all you’re going to write? I don’t even know what you are sorry about. Sorry that you don’t write to me? Sorry that you can’t bring yourself to break it off? Sorry that I’m too dumb and too stubborn to give up on us?

I was out with my co workers from the vet shop and my supervisor, Emma, kept asking me why I never dated anyone. I guess I had too many beers because I spilled the whole story about us. About how we grew up together and that after I was diagnosed with the tumor, you told me that you loved me. You made me promise that it would always be “only you.”

Emma said that I was a fool and I was wasting the best years of my life. You will be happy to know the other girls at the table said if a Navy SEAL really could hold his breath for like ten minutes straight, I should at least give you one chance to make me see heaven before I got shot of you for good. There are so many people that keep telling me that I’m too dumb for words to be spending my evenings writing letters to you when I get nothing in return.

I’d like to say that they don’t know you like I know you but honestly? I don’t know if I do know you anymore. It’s been years, Nate, and in all that time, I’ve received a handful of responses from you. I still love you but I need you. I need you to tell me you love me too.



<<< >>>

Dear Nate:

I’m sorry I was so pissy in my last few letters. I don’t know what came over me. Please forgive me. I just miss you so so much.

Love you,


<<< >>>

Dear Nate:

I think this is going to be my last letter to you. I can’t take it any more. The years of your absence is literally killing my heart. I feel myself being diminished every day. I kept hoping, thinking that if I just gave you time, you’d come back to me like you promised. “It will always be Nathan and Charlotte,” you told me once. I held on to that for years now but as each week, month, year has passed, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m the only one that still believes in that concept anymore.

These things on my letter aren’t tears. They are splotches made by this soda can — oh what the hell. Of course they are my tears. I’ve shed what seems like a million of them. Seeing you at the rare holiday and never being able to touch you. Hardly ever getting a response from you despite the fact that I’ve written my damn hand off. All of those things eat away at me as if tiny insects are nibbling at my skin, sucking my blood until one day I wake up a hollow shell.

And I don’t get it. I see the longing in your eyes. I know that look because I see it every day in my mirror but you keep rejecting me, pushing me away. I can’t take it any longer. When I had to have my shunt replaced, I know that was you in the room. I felt you. You were gone when I woke up but I didn’t need to ask my parents or yours who it was that sat with me through the night. I SMELLED YOU even in my sleep. Yet why you left? Why you never even spoke to me once? Why I haven’t felt the touch of your hand or the press of your lips against me? I don’t have the answers to these questions and they haunt me. You, our love, our past, is haunting me.

My friends say that it’s completely unhealthy for me to be hung up on you. I think even Nick has given up hope that you’ll ever come around. He’s not even apologizing or explaining things away anymore. Like Nate’s on a mission or he talks about you all the time or just give him space.

I’ve waited so long for you. And for what? To be given what reward? To turn twenty two and not have you around? It’s been six years! Six. I’m so dried up I don’t even remember what it is to interact with other guys. I’ve turned away men in the prime of my dating life because I believed in your words “It will always be Nathan and Charlotte.”

I’m just done, Nate. Done.

I love you. I will always love you but for my sake and probably for yours too, I have got to move on.



<<< >>>

She signed it “yours” not “love”. For the first time in six years, Charlotte had ended a letter to me without expressing her love. It’s been three years since I received this letter. The paper is crumpled from my reflexive anger when I first received it. It was anger directed at myself. But it’s also worn due to the many times I’ve read it and re-read it. I know it by heart. I know all her letters by heart. I’ve written her back a thousand times in my head but only a few words have ever made it to the page. I couldn’t describe to her what I felt like in those early days. How much I hated myself. Greta. Women. Everything.

I trace the splotches, her tears, like a morbid tic tac toe. I’ve started so many letters to her and wanted to kiss her so many times. It was torture to see her and not touch her. As she grew older and more beautiful, each visit home was more painful than the torture they did in Special Forces to prepare us for capture. So I went home less and less until I just stopped visiting altogether.

I stayed away telling myself it was better for her to find someone else. That she’d be happier. That the whole “Nathan and Charlotte” thing was a child’s dream. I thought that over time, she’d give up but she never did. She held on so long and the longer she held on, the more amazing she showed herself to be, the more I realized I didn’t deserve her no matter how much I wanted her.

It’s been almost two years since I last saw her in person. Mom and Dad and Nick have learned that if they want to see me, they come to me because I can’t go back to Chicago. By mutual agreement, no one brings up Charlotte anymore. It’s too painful for all of us.

I pull up her profile on my phone. It’s still the first entry. Every new phone I’ve ever gotten, I’ve punched in her number first and added her picture. I’ve got recent ones that Nick furtively sends me. They are still good friends, maybe even best friends, but Charlotte would be so angry if she knew that 99% of the pictures of Nick took of the two of them are for my eyes.

“Who’s the hottie, Sergeant?”

Some new lance corporal peers over my shoulder at Charlotte’s smiling face. I turn the phone screen face down and give him a glare that has new seamen crying in their boots.

“Don’t even look at her. He’ll kick your ass,” calls Howe. He’s a teammate of mine. I can’t wait until we get off this fucking ship. Most of the time we fly in and out of these carriers but right now we’re cooling our heels, waiting on orders to see whether we’ll be going in to rescue some rich guy and his wife who were kidnapped in the Mediterranean.

“She looks like she’s worth an ass kicking or five.”

“Move the fuck along,” I bark.

The lance corporal hesitates but when I start to rise from my seat, he scuttles off.

I shouldn’t call her but I can’t help it. Not after the last mission. Not after spending another evening reading through all of her letters. I have a lot of sorries to say, a lot of fences to mend. I have a lot to make up for but after spending nine years running, I’m ready finally ready to face her and tell her that I still believe in Nathan and Charlotte.

With a deep breath, I press send and the phone rings once, then twice.

“Hello?” A man’s voice, a sleepy man’s voice is answering Charlotte’s phone in the middle of the fucking day.

“Is Charlotte there?” I bite out.

There’s a rustling and then the sleepy voice says, “Charlie, someone’s on the phone for you.”

Charlie? This guy, who’s sleeping close to her phone has a fucking nickname for her? It takes superhuman effort not to crush the phone in my hand.

“Who’s it?” I’d recognize her voice in hell. I feel like I’m already headed there.


“Oh my god, is it two? I need to go. Where’s my shirt? Reese? Don’t go back to sleep. Help me find my shirt!”

The phone lay forgotten on the …bed? Bile rises in my throat.

“I can’t go without my shirt. Get out of bed, you bum, and help me find it.”

“Here it is. It was under the bed.”

“I must have tossed it there last night.”

“Can you do up my skirt in the back? I can never get that hook. I think my hands are broken from all the rubbing you made me do last night.”

I hang up before I can hear another word. Dropping the phone to the table, I take deep, gulping breaths to corral my burgeoning rage but concentrated breathing isn’t doing a thing for me. With a roar, I shoot to my feet and grab the side of my table and with one heave, flip it over. Plates go flying and the guys on the other side look at me shocked and pissed off, but I don’t give a goddamned. I start throwing around chairs, benches, anything I can get my hands on. People are shouting and running but I’m in full Hulk mode now. Destroy. Destroy. Destroy. Four hands grab at me, two at each arm and they drag me backward out of the room. It’s Howe and another teammate, Cabby.

“Whoever she is, she’s not worth it,” Howe says as we clear the door. They drag me all the way to head and shove me into the shower. I get in a punch on one of them before the cold water hits my head and the shock of it snaps me out of my rage fueled mania.

“Not worth it.” Howe repeats.

“No pussy ever is,” Cabby agrees.

As the water drips down my face into the tiny drain, I lean back against the hard metal wall. Regret swarms me like locust and I stare at the two of them who look back at me with concern and disbelief. Rubbing that left area of my chest where my heart once resided, I told them the shitty truth. “She was and I fucked it up.”

Pick the cover for “Undressed”

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Last year, I released a short story in the holiday anthology Snow Kissed with authors Jessica Clare and D.S. Linney. My novella, “Undressed”, continues the story of college student Grace and her MMA fighter boyfriend Noah.

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“Undressed” Summary

Noah and Grace’s happy ever after hits a stumbling block in the form of one shady professor threatening Noah’s scholarship eligibility. Noah is given the choice of throwing his New Year’s MMA fight for a big payoff or accepting that the true meaning of love isn’t measured by the thickness of his wallet but the depth of Grace’s big heart.


Charlotte XXXIV

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“Are you sure?”

I nod, refusing to look up. Dad exhales heavily. He’s frustrated with me and casts a beseeching expression of help toward my mother. He wants me to say it out loud but my mouth is sealed shut. I’m afraid of what will come out if I open it. But she’s not going to convince me to change my mind. The sadness and fucking pity on her face is the exact reason I’m sure of my decision.

“You’re going to miss Switzerland.” He makes a last ditch effort to change my mind. What he doesn’t get is that he’s barking up the wrong tree, chasing the wrong ball, whatever wrong metaphor there is, he’s doing it.


There. I’ve said her name. Acknowledged her existence. The piercing agony that slices through me as the vowels and consonants reverberate through my head is less this time than the last. I’ll keep saying it until I can’t feel anything any longer. Not pain, humiliation, shame, over even…love. I just want to stop feeling.

Because if I went to Switzerland and the first thing I see on Charlotte’s face is the expression my mom is currently wearing I’d…well, it wouldn’t be good.

We sit there in silence, waiting. I’m waiting to be dismissed. Dad’s waiting me to say something, anything. I’m hollow inside. I retched out every ounce of liquid in me earlier today when I woke up nearly bare assed in my bed with only gauge memories of what happened the night before.

I dry heaved for half an hour after Nick anxiously recited how he found me in a room on the third floor of Juliette’s house starring in my very own personal porno.

After I kicked Nick out, I sat in shock and horror watching the video while texts from Charlotte came in, first cheerful and then worried. After my continued silence came the calls and the unlistened to voicemails.

The sounds echoed in the bathroom and I turned the volume off to shut out the barf inducing fake porno sighs from the two girls in the video. One of the girls I hadn’t ever seen before. She’s kissing me or at least her face is on top of mine. I look dead. My mouth was slack and my eyes were closed. Greta was grinding on top of me. It looks like they were fucking a corpse. Nick swears we weren’t fucking. That it was all for show.  I don’t even care at this point. What I know is that someone took something precious from me. Charlotte’s trust.

What could I say to her? No matter how many times everyone said it wasn’t my fault, I knew that wasn’t true. I could have made different choices. Like staying home and not going to Juliette’s. Or walking away when the fuckhead challenged me. Or paying more attention to Nick’s warnings about Greta.

“You’re not at fault,” Dad says gently as if he can read my mind. Maybe he can. And if that’s true it’s just another reason to get away. I don’t want to be here where everyone knows me and can tell every little thing I’m thinking. Where everyone looks at me with pity. “You’re the victim.”

I fucking hate that word. I’m over six feet tall. Over two hundred pounds. “I’m no victim,” I bite out.

Mom sucks back a sob which tears at me. I should have protected all of us. That’s my job. But I let everyone down and now I’m weak and used up. Worse, the guys at school are acting as if I’m some kind of fucking hero. The texts they’d sent? All congratulatory with a whiff of jealousy. No, no one would believe that I’d been done wrong, no matter that I was drugged. No matter that I didn’t want it.

Man, you got some at JW’s. Major props.

We’re not worthy!

Shit man. 2 at 1 time. Your getting your bucket list done.

Charlotte would have made me text back It’s you’re you dumbass. I didn’t respond to any of them.

No one is going to believe that I had been forced to do something against my will. No one would believe I was…I can’t even say the word in my own head.

Dad sighs again. “Okay, hoss. You’re going to have to come to your own conclusions. But let me repeat my words. You didn’t do anything wrong. Not by going to the party. Not by fighting some asshole. Not by drinking. No one deserves what happened to you. Not a female and not a male. With time, you’ll come to that realization too. I called Gray. He’s expecting you at the beach house where you’ll spend time with Sam and him and the kids.”

I open my mouth to protest, but Dad shakes his head. He’s talking. “Only for a week. No arguments or you don’t get to go there.”

I sit back in my chair. It’s a compromise I can live with. “We done?”

At his nod, I rise and walk toward the door. As I’m leaving, he says, “I’m proud of you. Proud that you’re my eldest. You’re a good boy, Nathan, and you’ll be a good man. Don’t listen to the rest of the shit that’s swirling around your head. We love you.”

He draws my stiff body into a hug and I’m tempted to lean into him like I’m a child again, but right now, I don’t deserve it. Mom is next. “You think you see pity in my eyes, but it’s not. It’s anger. You can be angry too. You have the right to be angry about what happened but don’t hold that inside you. Let it out. We love you so much honey.”

I squeeze her back because shit, I can’t help it. She’s my mom. But the hug is all I can give.

Nick comes in while I’m packing. “Charlotte texted me. Said she was having problems connecting.”

Unspoken is the question of when I’m going to call her. “Yeah, I just…” I run a hand through my hair. “You gotta take care of her now, Nick.”

His return gaze is somber and he allows me to leave without another word.


Dear Nate,

I’m sorry you weren’t here for the birthday party. We had ice cream cake and the restaurant served limoncello which Dad encouraged me to drink. It was so awful! I hated it and everyone at the table laughed including our waiter who brought it. Dad says that all liquor is that awful and I should stay away. It’s like he thinks I’ve never snuck sips of his brandy with you. 😉

Your mom gave me a writing set which is why you are getting this handwritten letter. It’s beautiful paper isn’t it? I already ruined about ten pages trying to write in a straight line. How do people write without lines? This time I’m using a ruler and it’s working out better.

Anyway, she said that your dad and her used to write letters when he was in the Marines. Isn’t that cool? I had no idea. I can’t see your dad writing love letters. He gave me a weird look the other day asking if he had some leftover dinner on his nose which he didn’t. But I couldn’t stop staring at him because you know he seems so imposing and well, a little uptight at times. Don’t get me wrong. I totally adore Uncle Noah but Daddy is so much more easy going and I could totally see him writing my mom corny love letters. When I asked Daddy if he wrote to Mom, he said no. That he couldn’t bear to be away from her long enough to write a letter. That and he didn’t know Mom while he was in the military.

Your dad told me that you were joining up, though, because you wanted to be a Navy SEAL which seems both awesome and dangerous at the same time. I wish you would have told me but I guess I understand why you didn’t. I probably would have begged you not to go and because I was sick or whatever, you might have changed your plans. I didn’t realize what a selfish girl I’ve been! It’s so easy to get caught up in my own problems like the stupid things about losing your hair or your eyebrows! Who needs eyebrows???!! No one, right. They are like…the appendix. Unnecessary things. My new resolution in life is to stop worrying about stupid things. I’m going to save my energy and worry about big things like…when am I going to see you again. I miss you so much.

Is that selfish of me to say that? I hope not. Because I tried not to say it but it spilled out here at the end and now that I’m almost done, I don’t have the will to try to write another version tonight. I know that I’ll just end up saying the same thing. I can’t keep it inside. 

I love you and miss you but I’m trying to understand that our lives are both changing and that you just need a little space. I get that. Okay, I don’t really get that but I’m trying to. I’m including a picture that Colin took of the family. I should be going home in three months. 

I hope you’ll be home then. Your Dad wasn’t sure of your schedule. Let me know, though, so I can keep sending you this letters. Wow, this pen is really awesome. Your mom picks out great stuff.  

Love and miss you a thousand times.


Charlotte XXXIII


His smooth palm, pink and white, almost babyish, sits between us like the apple in the Garden of Eden. And part of me is tempted. Colin is clever and sneaky and vengeful. He probably has a whole book on how to mete out retribution. But what would be the point?

“No.” I shake my head. “Hurting him doesn’t make me feel better. And I don’t want to contemplate exactly how I’m supposed to exact revenge. Sleep with you?”

“If that’s how you want to play it.” He gives me a fake leer.

“What happens? We videotape it and send it to him?” I shudder. “No thanks and no offense, that’s not my thing.”

“Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it,” he responds lightly. But despite his smug words, his eyes show a hint of relief. I don’t think that was his thing either.

I push my hands through my short hair in utter frustration. “I don’t get it. I can’t believe he’d do this to me. You know, he never dated North Prep girls before.”

“How come?” He’s genuinely curious.

“His brother says you don’t shit where you eat.”

He purses his lips together and nods slowly. “Makes sense. His brother live by that rule too?”

This makes me laugh. “No, Nick sleeps with everyone. That way no one’s feelings are hurt.”

“Damn that’s smooth.”

We share a grin as I briefly forget what is sitting on my computer but my memory loss isn’t long lasting. The scene nags at me. The whole setup doesn’t feel right. Nate having sex at a party. Nate sleeping with a girl from North Prep. Nate videotaping this. Nate cheating on me. None of it makes sense.

“And with Greta. He doesn’t even like her.”

“Hate to tell you this but if he cheated on you by having sex with a girl he a) doesn’t have to like her and b) that’s not dating.”

“But his girlfriends have all been either older, like college, or other schools. Like Jefferson West or something.” I try to understand.

“CC, he’s not dating. It’s not his girlfriend. It’s a hookup. A shag. A fuck.” He emphasizes the last graphic word as if I don’t know what the meaning is.

“I know.” I whimper and I can’t stop crying which embarrasses me to no end. I shove my palms hard against my eyes as if the pressure can stop the river of tears but they keep coming.

“Oh fuck. I’m sorry. It’s none of my business.” He dabs his sleeve on my face. “Shit, please just stop crying.”

“I’m sorry,” I blubber. “I’m trying.”

He stands up abruptly. “Come on.”

“Where are we going?” I ask. His swift change of subject jerks me out of my self pitying episode.

“I’m watching this stupid video.” He marches out of the room and I trail behind.

“What number?” he demands as we exit the common room.

I tell him our suite number.

“Nice, I’m a floor above you.”

We take the elevator up in silence and are down the hall in no time.

“I heard the elevator,” Dad explains as he opens the door.

“Hey Mr. Charlotte’s Dad.” Colin offers his hand and Dad shakes it, his eyebrows raised.

“Don’t worry. I’m a eunuch. The radiation kills my equipment. We’re going to watch a movie,” Colin lies.

Dad frowns, his gaze drifting south briefly and then jerks his eyes back up to Colin’s. Clearing his throat, Dad gruffly directs us to my room and wanders off.

“Is that really true?” I whisper as we scurry into my room.

“Nah, I made that up so he wouldn’t stand there with the door open. I’m guessing you don’t want him to see this.”

No I did not want my dad to see the video. Colin sits down at my desk, acting as if he owns the place. Flipping open the cover, he watches the video as I lay on the bed with a pillow over my head. He watches it a couple of times without sound and twice more with sound. The pillow does nothing to mute the voices or the moans.

“Shit, this guy is totally passed out. You kill Greta’s cat or something?” He says.

I bolt upright, the pillow still clutched in my hands. “What do you mean?”

“This, what’s his name, Nate? He’s not even moving.” Colin gestures with disgust toward the screen.

“He moved his hand all over her breast,” I protest.

“No, she held his had against her tits.” He says these words slowly as if I’m too dumb to comprehend and maybe he’s right. I lean forward as he explains, “He isn’t moving even once. And if a guy’s got two hot chicks grinding their pussy all over him and he ain’t moving, guy is dead or passed out.”

“Why would they do this?” I argue. I want to believe him but I’m afraid.

“Revenge. What’d you do?”

“I didn’t do anything,” I cry. “I’ve been here. And before I was sick. I didn’t go to parties or anything.”

“So it’s him. Did he do something to one of them?”

“I don’t even know the guy or the girl. Just Greta and…” I stop. “He mentioned to me that he’d had a run-in with her but I wasn’t there at the time so I don’t really know what went down.”

“Meh. This isn’t even good porn.” Colin kicks out his legs and folds his hands behind his head. He’s officially over the video.

“Thank god.” I guess I can be done too. Although I’m still feeling hollow inside. I don’t know if it’s relief or the remnants of fear. I son’t I’ll be whole again until I talk to Nate.

“What? We can’t be friends without having watched porn together.”

“You watch porn with all your friends?” I give him a skeptical look.

“Not the guys cuz that would be weird.”

“I’m not watching porn with you.”

“You are such a killjoy Miss C.”

I do not want to talk about porn with Colin but I recognize his act. He’s trying to make light of something to feel better which is actually kind of nice, porn references notwithstanding. “What do you think I should do?”

“About this?” He jerks his head toward the computer. I nod. “Call your boy. Tell him you love him and get back at Greta.”

“Why are you being nice to me?”

“Eh, why not? Being an asshole to you takes effort. You’re too nice. It’d be like kicking a kitten.”

“There was a compliment in there somewhere.”

Colin rises and stretches and then ambles over to give me a kiss on the top of my forehead. “It is. Wish I had a girl like you Miss C. I’ll see you tomorrow. Let me know how it goes.”

I ring Nathan almost before Colin has left. He doesn’t answer.

I hang up and dial again. It would be early evening there. It rings several times.

I get on the computer but he’s not available on Skype.

I text him.

Love you babe. Miss you.

Nothing back.

I text Nick next.

Hey miss you. Hope to be home soon. What’s happening.

He responds immediately. Miss you too. You shouldn’t have left. We’re a mess without you.

I haven’t heard from Nate. He okay?

There’s a long pause.

Yeah. Why?

I decide to confess. Got the video.

Shit. He did not cheat on you. He was totally out of his head. They drugged him.

Colin was right. Greta?

Yeah and this guy from Northwestern that Juliette Waite brought. She set us up so we’d fight them then bc the asswipe got his pants kicked, he decided to get back at Nate. N would never do this to you.

No, I know. I figured it out. I don’t mention that I needed help. But I texted him and called him.

He’s sick. He’ll call you promise.

Okay. Tell him I love him. Give him a kiss for me.

Yeah, not doing that. But love you too. Take care of yourself. Hurry back. 

And with that, a few of my hollow parts fill out.




First up, I want to give a giant virtual hug to everyone who is following Ian and Tiny’s journey. From the readers who signed up for the newsletter to everyone who has purchased the book — THANK YOU! Your neverending support is amazing. And a double hug for those readers who have left a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple and all of the other online book e-tailers. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you share your thoughts about Ian and Tiny.

Next goes a huge note of thanks to the ladies at The Rock Stars of Romance who have launched the book and spread word far and wide. There is still time to enter the giveaway for the KINDLE FIRE as part of TRSOR’s release day blitz.

losing control release day banner

And finally, to all of the bloggers who blitzed Losing Control’s release — I heart your help. Your love of romance and tireless efforts to bring great reads to the masses is an inspiration. Let’s hear what these bloggers have to say about Ian and Tiny:


Ana from The Book Hookup enjoyed the trials and tribulations of the “imperfect” characters. As well as the “explosive…hot…sexy!” relationship between Tiny and Ian.

Victoria and Ian both have a desperate need…her, to help her mother…him, to avenge his family. These are huge situations that are all consuming for them and that constitute more than just the average baggage characters normally bring with them into a story. And I liked that these situations were written that way…that, even as we enjoyed the romance part of the book, we were never allowed to forget these themes.  This story wasn’t just about the relationship, there was more to be dealt with.

Ana ends her review saying that she misses Ian already… no worries Taking Control will be out soon!

Jessica at Lovin’ Los Libros loved Ian and Tiny’s “intense” romance romance.

When Jen first offered me this for review, how could I pass it up? I love that it is unlike any of her previous books, thus showing us her versatility as an author. It is a steamy, sexy read that has some very serious undertones and you can’t help but admire and feel for the main character, Tiny.


Christine at Read More ~ Sleep Less gives Losing Control 4.5 Tiny Bunny Stars. For Christine, this story is all about Ian!

[Ian] propositions [Tiny], she refuses and the chase begins! 
Ian, is hot, demanding and oh so adorable! He also has a bit of potty mouth and has a great sense of humour! I feel like I’m promoting a product over here, but it’s all true! He’s character was like a blend of the boy next door and a possessive neanderthal!

He’s drawn to Tiny right from the beginning but not in an insta-love sort of way. He was possibly one of the most caring and sensitive alpha’s I have ever read! I always worry that one character trait will over power the other but, Ian was perfect!

Court’s $0.02 at Love N. Books about Losing Control: “Jen Frederick just keeps outdoing herself with each book!!” This reviewer loved the “strong, opinionated heroine” and the “mysterious” Ian.

The sexual tension between Tiny and Ian is off the charts hot!!! Tiny is quite the spitfire and Ian battles her back with his intelligence. The dialogue between these two is very entertaining. Jen does a fabulous job of building both Tiny and Ian’s worlds with such a huge contrast between the two. The build up of their characters is very interesting and just really sucks you into the book.

Losing Control has a great twist and unique plot. I absolutely love how Jen has written this book and look forward to reading Taking Control!!

MinnChica at The Book Pushers questioned the connection between Ian and Tiny saying that something seemed “missing”. But what was clear, was the heat between the H/h.

Ian and Tiny have a very physical relationship, and they don’t shy away from the dirty talk and even dirtier actions. I thought their chemistry was great, and although I didn’t always understand the attraction from Ian’s perspective, I did enjoy the way they explored and enjoyed each other. It was very sexy, very hot, and very dirty!

Sandy at Somewhere Only We Know gives Losing Control 4 stars.

Likeable, different characters. The plot that was interesting, not entirely original, yet not overdone. I loved that Losing Control didn’t have the characters making stupid decisions at the 70% mark just to create some kind of conflict. As a matter of fact, I really enjoyed the entire last 30% of the book just as much as the beginning. And I’m looking forward to checking out Taking Control, book 2, as soon as I can!

Wednesday from Busy Bumble Bee Book Reviews is new to my books, but she really liked the “raw and real” emotion she found in Losing Control.

I would like to say, this was a really good read. It was unique, dark, sexy, and you know you will want to check out the next book in the Kerr series. Overall I think 4.5 stars is a perfect fit for this book. And I can say I have become a new fan of Jen Frederick’s.

Many thanks for these reviews!

Losing Control is available today!


Losing Control is out today. Buy it at your favorite retailer!

Apple |  AMZN US | AMZN UK Smashwords | Nook

Why buy it? Take a look at what Christine says at Read More ~ Sleep Less


Rich billionaires and damsels in distress are a dime a dozen and I find myself tired of it all. But then along came this book. I felt really connected to the characters, which made the story more realistic and in my opinion very enjoyable.

[Ian] was possibly one of the most caring and sensitive alpha’s I have ever read! I always worry that one character trait will over power the other but, Ian was perfect!

Losing Control, was a highly enjoyable read. I love sexual tension, probably more that the actual sex in a book and this book had sexual tension in spades! The sex scenes were hot, Tiny and Ian’s relationship progressed awesomely. Tiny, was an awesome heroine! She’s quirky, sensitive but she’s also loyal, she’d do anything for the people she loves! So what I’m getting at is that I really enjoyed this story!

Charlotte XXXII


The video makes me sick. Literally. I watch it once and then again before running to the bathroom to puke up my fruit and yogurt breakfast. I shouldn’t watch it again but I can’t help it. I return to the computer with a sore throat and the taste of acid in my mouth. The freeze framed image on the still video is of Nate sprawled out on a bed with Greta and another girl I don’t know on top of him.

His jeans are down around his thighs and his shirt is off. There’s a white substance painted on his chest and I think it must be whipped cream by the bottle in the unknown blonde girl’s hand. Nate’s head is positioned away from me. I can’t see his eyes. I want to see them. I want to know what he’s thinking at that point. Does he even remember I exist?

The tears come now. Or maybe they’ve been flowing the whole time and I’m just now feeling them. The salt and the acid mix in bitter harmony inside my mouth. I guess that’s what heartbreak tastes like.

I press play one more time and watch the whole three minute video. It’s dark and the video is shaky. I don’t know who’s holding the camera. By the sounds of the harsh breathing and the barking laugh, I know it’s a male. Not Nick though. He comes in later.

For now it’s just Greta. She climbs onto Nate’s prone body, straddling him. She’s holding his hand as he reaches up to cup her breast over her shirt and then she seems to help him remove her shirt.

“Fuck yeah.” It’s the camera man urging her on. Greta’s actions spur the other girl and she takes off her shirt and then her bra. She sprays her tits with whipped cream and leans over to offer one decorated tip to Nate. His face is turned away but she when rises, the whipped cream is smeared. Bile threatens again. I press my thumb against my inner wrist, a technique I learned in treatment, to make it subside. It works about a quarter of the time and I still feel sickness sitting at the base of my throat.
I force myself to watch the rest.

“Come over and give me a taste,” the cameraman orders. Greta flicks him off but the other girl obeys. The camera dips to the floor and I hear the moans and pants of what sounds like a hundred people. I dash the tears away because they’re blurring my vision.

“You’re fucking up,” Greta hisses. There’s no action on the screen. Instead there’s a blurry blot like the guy has pressed his camera phone to the back of the girl he’s snacking on.

“Fuck you,” he drawls but then rights the camera.

When Greta and Nate come into view, she’s got her skirt rucked to her waist and she’s hovering over Nate’s face, a leg on either side of him. “Don’t get my face in it,” she orders.

“Whatever bitch,” the camera guy mutters but positions the camera so it’s just Greta from the neck down.

“Marie, come over and get some,” Greta says.

Marie, the other girl, goes over and takes up Greta’s old position, straddling Nate around his crotch. His boxers were still on but that means nothing. Greta rearranges herself so that she’s facing Marie and she pulls Marie’s shoulders until the two girls are almost touching each other. Nate is motionless this entire time except his hands creep up to stroke Marie’s legs and knees lightly once or twice before falling away.

Nothing that is going on in this video fits the Nathan I know. Nothing.

“I want to see fucking tongue ladies,” the camera guy says gleefully. “Pinch those titties.”

“Shut up and film, asshole,” Greta snaps. And he does. The camera is readjusted to cut off the heads of the girls and then there’s a full minute of gyrations and moaning and wet sounds of sucking.

My head pounds and the skin around my face is stretched so tight it hurts to keep my eyes open. I press my lips together tightly to keep the whimpers in but oh my god the pain in my chest is like a knife wound. It hurts worse than all the times I’ve had to stab myself with a needle to administer my daily cocktail of drugs. It hurts worse than the post surgery after they split my brain open to remove the tumor.

It hurts so bad that I wish the tumor had taken me because at least then I wouldn’t have to see this. Oh Nate, why?

At the end, Nick bursts through the door. He shouts something and the camera is knocked to the floor and the video cuts off. But it’s too late at that point for Nick to save me because it’s already been captured.

“Charlotte baby?”

It’s Daddy. He’s here with me this week. I slam the laptop lid down and wipe away the tears as best I can. I’m tempted to tell him, to climb into his lap and bawl my eyes out but I’m afraid if I do, he’ll take the first plane back to Chicago and beat Nate bloody. And while I want to see Nate suffer, I know that telling Daddy about this will ruin everything. It won’t be the Jacksons and Randolphs together as a unit. There’ll be a rift and I don’t know if anything would be able to heal it.

I’m not going to be the one that destroys everything good in life. I’ll leave that to Nate.

“Yeah, Daddy?” I answer.

“You okay? I thought I heard you getting sick in the bathroom.” The bedroom door is shut and he won’t come in because mom had a long talk with him about the importance of me having privacy now that I am older.

“Yup,” I say as cheerfully as possible. I get up and grab a few tissues. My face is blotchy and my eyes are red. Mom would know I was crying for sure. Daddy? I’ll tell him that I watched a video about kittens being rescued.

“You been crying baby?” he asks with concern when I open the door.

“Just watching a kitten video.” I wipe my eyes. “I can’t stand to see those animals hurt.”

“Oh honey, I know.” He pulls me into his arms and I rest my head against his broad chest. There’s no place safer in the world than your Daddy’s embrace, I think. I allow him to hold me for a long time until the warmth of his love seeps into my bones and chases away a little of the chill. But the images from the video play out in my mind on an endless loop. I need to occupy my mind with something else.

“I’m going down to the commons to watch television,” I say pulling away.

He tucks a finger under my chin and lifts my head to search my face for clues. “All right then. You go down and when you’re ready to talk about what had you crying your eyes out in your room I’ll be right here.”

He doesn’t believe it’s kittens. My lip quivers and the whole story is on the verge of spilling out but I manage to give him a weak smile. “Okay.”

He kisses me on the top of my head. “You and your momma. You’re the most important things in my life. You remember that baby.”

I nod because if I open my mouth I’ll start bawling and I’m just not ready to cry again.

Down in the commons room I find two young kids watching cartoons in French. It’s mindless entertainment and just what I need. I’m so engrossed in trying to translate the idioms that I don’t even notice that Colin is sitting next to me until he lets out a laugh at the mouse grabbing the cheese from a trap before the cat can catch him.

“How long have you been here?” I ask.

“Long enough to wonder what your asshole boyfriend did.” He pops a nut into his mouth and then shakes the bowl toward me in offering.

I turn him down. I may never eat again. “Why do you ask that?”

“You have the look.”

I remember then his earlier story of how his girlfriend cheated on him when he was sick the first time around. Hotness prickles at the backs of my eyes but I clench my jaw hard to keep the tears in. Last thing I want to do is cry in front of him.

“I guess you’d know,” I retort.

Instead of being offended Colin just shakes his head in amusement. “I don’t understand how you’re so soft Charlotte. You gotta build up your defenses or you’ll just be a rug by the time he’s done with you. Flattened out and matted down.”

“He’s not like that.” The protest comes automatically.

“Right. Because good guys always cause their girls to look like they’ve been to a funeral. You’re at a crossroads here. You can either forgive him which will teach him he can treat you like shit time and again or you can get revenge.”

“Those are my only two options?”

“The only good ones. So what’s it going to be?”

And then he places his hand palm up between us.

Charlotte XXXI

Warning. This may be triggering.


“I love you two. I want you both to come to Northwestern.” Juliette throws out her arms and nearly smacks Nick in the face. He ducks, still holding her tight against his chest.

“I can make plays for you right here, sweetheart.” He winks at her.

She rolls her eyes slightly but doesn’t make any move to get Nick to release her. “It’s because you won can you say those things.”

“We can both be winning in about five minutes.”

“You’re too young to be this smooth.” She runs a hand down his chest clearly enjoying being held up in the air and being pelted with bad lines.

“I have a lot to learn. If only there were someone willing to teach me.” He adopts a pitiful air and dips his head slightly so she can run her fingers through the bottom strands of his hair.

Juliette giggles. “I’ve been known to give some private lessons.”

He whispers something to her that makes her flush and her eyelids slide to half mast. He doesn’t need lessons, at least not the kind that she’s able to teach but whatever he’s said has Juliette ready to abandon her party. She points upstairs and he strides off to find some privacy for them both.

After the two leave, someone brings me another drink and there’s a steady stream of North Prep kids along with some others who come out to give me a high five. Nick and Juliette are gone for a long time. Long enough for the clothes to start coming off and the pool lights to dim. There are couples in different stages of undress and coupling all along the pool’s edge and in the water itself.

Jason Milhouse has Stephanie Stanton pinned to his chest and from the way she’s rhythmically bobbing up and down it doesn’t take much to guess exactly what’s going on. Another guy on the basketball team is leaning against the pool’s edge and his girlfriend is eating his face off. In the hot tub that’s below me and to the left, there are two big chested girls who I don’t recognize double teaming this year’s homecoming king.  One is kissing him and the other has her hand down under the water. His face isn’t visible but it’s hard to imagine he’s unhappy.

On a night like tonight riding high from excess adrenaline, with a little too much alcohol, and enough pheromones in the air to make a virgin spread her legs, I’m feeling Charlotte’s absence keenly.

My dick is getting hard at watching the soft core porn taking place around me. In a couple of hours it will probably be triple x rated if Juliette has anything to say about it. The couples won’t be going at it under the water. No, they’ll have moved inside and be making out and out right fucking in her media room. It’s happened before and tonight has all the hallmarks of another debauchery.

Abruptly, I sit up. I should go. It’s not that I’d cheat on Charlotte but being here, feeling aroused and alone doesn’t make for a good situation.

Nick can stay here and I’ll pick him up in the morning. If he’s not entertained by Juliette all night, there’ll be someone else that will occupy his time. I text him that I’m heading out.

“Hey man, good fight.”

It’s the college guy that I knocked out—the one who was vying for Juliette’s favor and lost. I look at him warily but he’s got a guileless look on his face. Maybe he isn’t a bad sort. I shake the hand that he’s holding out.

“You too.”

He knocks the side of his forehead. “Got me good here with a roundhouse. Nice.”

“Thanks.” I throw him a bone. “My ribs are pretty sore.”

“No hard feelings,” he says and offers me a drink.

“Thanks but I’m heading out.”

“You can’t leave now or I will be offended. Come and have a drink.”

He gestures toward the living room. I see his crew sitting with…oh fuck, is that Greta? It is. She’s sitting on the lap of the guy that Nick dropped and looking pretty friendly. His hand is up her shirt and she’s looking pretty happy. I don’t like her much but I can’t leave without making sure that she’s there because she wants to be not because she’s too drunk to be able to say no. With a sigh, I take the drink. “Lead on.”

“Buck Morrison. Sophomore at Northwestern.”

“Nate Jackson. Senior, North Prep.”

“You planning on fighting professionally?” Buck asks as we drop down into chairs next to Greta and her new friend.

“Doubtful,” interjects Greta pulling her lips away. Her man starts mouthing her neck but Greta appears uninterested and, more importantly, not very drunk. “His dad owns a huge hedge fund. Don’t you plan on taking over?”

There’s a snideness to her voice, almost an accusation that I have too much. I don’t know where it comes from given that her family is well off. Maybe not as well off as my parents, but they aren’t hurting.

“Not right now,” I say but I’m not interested in talking about my future with this girl. I haven’t even had that talk yet with Charlotte.

“Nice.” Buck nods his head. “Daddy Warbucks paving your way.”

I bristle at this statement. I’m not interested in people measuring the size of my dick based on who my dad is.  It’s exactly why I’m going to join the military but I’m not going to share that with these fools. “Sure,” I respond impatiently.  “You okay Greta? I didn’t know you knew any guys at Northwestern.”

She rolls her eyes. “Not everyone’s interested in fighting.” Her friend squeezes her boob and Greta releases a fake moan. At least it sounds fake to me but Buck grins like it’s a hot sound.

“Drink up man. You can’t knock me out and then not share a drink together after. That’d be bad sport.” He knocks his cup against mine.

The dark liquid appears to be some cola mixed with rum. He’s right. Dad would think poorly of me if I just walked out but that’d mean I’d have to wait another hour to make sure I’m okay to drive. I guess after this I’d head upstairs and find Nick and Juliette. There’s got to be a small room in this place where I can chill out by myself.

I swallow half the glass. It’s a really shitty drink mix. Greta’s watching me avidly as if I’m the most interesting creature she’s ever seen. Her man is mauling her now, hand between her legs, another up the back of her shirt, but he could be caressing a stone for all the response he’s generating. No, it’s me she’s fixated on in some weird way.

I down the rest of my cup to show Buck that I’m a good sport, barely able to conceal the wince as the last of the bitter contents drains down my throat. Greta leans forward, satisfaction thick in her voice and evident on her face. “Remember this. You’re only getting what you deserve.”

Her face is chilling. I swing my gaze to Buck and he too looks smug but I’m no lightweight. I stand up and head immediately for the bathroom. I’m going to stick my finger down my throat until it all comes out. But before I can make it, Buck grabs me from behind and places an arm around my neck. I struggle but the effects the alcohol and the drug are hitting me. The arm at my windpipe is making my vision fog.

I stumble and careen into a hallway wall. Buck grunts behind me as he takes the brunt of the hit. Thrusting my head backward, I try to knock him out. There’s a curse and then a prick at my waste. Greta is there and she’s holding something long and metallic. And then…it’s all a blur. My head is heavier than an anvil. My ears are blocked and I can’t open my eyes but I sense movement. I try to lift my head up to see where I’m going but it’s too heavy and my eyes are glued shut.

At one point I’m on the cusp of awareness. I can hear noises around me like the rustling of clothes. There’s a tug at my waist and then the denim of my jeans gives way. Am I home? I try to roll my head to the side but there’s a hand preventing me from moving. It must be a really powerful hand because my entire body feels immobile. Struggling against the bonds does me no good. A coolness hits my groin and chest, as if both are bare. The voices in the room sound tinny and far away.

“God, he’s huge.”

“Shit and he’s not even erect.”

“He’s wasted on that girlfriend of his. She probably only knows how to do it missionary style.”

“I’d let him take me anyway he wants.”

“Get on with it.” That voice sounds like Buck, the guy I beat up.

“You’re a dead man,” I say but it comes out slurred. In the small recesses of my brain, I figure it out. He’s drugged me. They’ve drugged me. Him and Greta. I don’t know who else is involved. I hold on to one thought. No matter what happens to me, I’ll make them pay. It won’t end well for any of them.

Losing Control – How to find missed episodes & additional thanks to bloggers

We are up to Chapters 12 and 13 with tomorrow bringing us close to the halfway point. Several people have not been able to receive their most recent serial installments. If you miss one, the first step is to check the spam folder. I might be stuck in there.

If that doesn’t work, go to a past issue and click on the link in the upper right hand side that says “view this email in browser.” It will open a browser window and at the top right there is an option to view “past issues.”

I don’t want you to miss even one episode.

Special thanks to the following bloggers who helped make the release blitz of the serial a big success:

New Adult romances for all ages