Rock star River Wilde brought Dahlia London back from the brink of hopelessness with his unwavering love and devotion. But their entwined history is about to test the strength of that love…
Dahlia was certain she had found true love and met her ‘Once in a Lifetime’ when she reconnected with River. But Dahlia’s world comes crashing down when someone from her past resurfaces, and all of River’s carefully hidden secrets are exposed.
River wants to show Dahlia that life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass—it’s about dancing in the rain! But how many times can one broken heart be mended? Will River and Dahlia be able to face the turmoil together or will they be torn apart?
About Kim Karr:
I live in Florida with my husband and four kids. I've always had a love for reading books and writing. Being an English major in college, I wanted to teach at the college level but that was not to be. I went on to receive an MBA and became a project manager until quitting to raise my family. I currently work part-time with my husband and full-time embracing one of my biggest passions—writing.
I wear a lot of hats! Writer, book-lover, wife, soccer-mom, taxi driver, and the all around go-to person of the family. However, I always find time to read. One of my favorite family outings use to be taking my kids to the bookstore or the library. Today, my oldest child is in college and my twins are juniors so they no longer go with me on these outings. And although I don't need to go to the actual store anymore because I have the greatest device ever invented—a Kindle, I still do. There's nothing like a paperback. So now my four year old and I make dates out of going to the bookstore--it's time I love and cherish.
I like to believe in soulmates, kindred spirits, true friends, and Happily-Ever-Afters. I love to drink champagne, listen to music, and hopes to always stay young at heart.
Connected was my debut novel and is currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble , iTunes and Kobo.
Torn is the sequel to Connected and will be released on October 1st, 2013. It is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes.
I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
I’m going to start off by saying that I was absolutely terrified going into this book. I loved Connected so much and River was my first book boyfriend. The way Connected ended and what I knew is why I was terrified. Not knowing what would happen next. River and Dahlia are my all time favorite couple. Now do you understand why I was terrified.
Dahlia has suffered so much loss and grief and River came into her life and healed so much of her pain. They are soul mates that share such a strong connection you can feel it coming off the pages.
Right when everything was going perfectly the past comes back and now it could all change. Not knowing how Dahlia would deal with this was killing me. River’s pain and anger over it all was breaking my heart.
Kim Karr reminded me why I fell in love with River and Dahlia in the first place. I fell so much more in love with them with every hurdle they jumped. I cried so many happy tears in so many parts.
There were some twists in there that I didn’t see coming and one that broke my heart. A lot of things left unanswered have now been answered and I cannot wait to see where things go from here.
I absolutely refuse to ruin this book for anyone so you will have to read it for yourself to see what happens at the end. It’s very hard to write a completely spoiler free review so I’m done. Just know that I would give this book a lot more stars if I could. It was perfect, really.
5 Heartfelt Stars!!!
1. What inspired you to write Connected and Torn?
The night The Voice premiered on NBC in April 2011, I watched it and fell in love with the show and Adam Levine. I started to think about his journey with Maroon 5 and the number of years it took him to gain fame. I had been thinking about writing a book but hadn’t come up with a storyline that intrigued me enough. For some reason, that night the story of Dahlia, River, and Ben came to mind. The name of book was different as well as character names, but the plot never veered. I always intended for these two books to be a duet and the ending of Connected was the very first thing I wrote.
2. Discuss your inspiration for Dahlia, Ben, River. How did they transpire?
Character inspiration for Connected evolved as soon as the concept of the book came alive in my mind, I knew I wanted a strong heroine and two heroes that loved her but in different ways. I created the characters from within, who they were, and then conveyed their personalities and appearances to the reader.
In my head, Dahlia had to be strong to weather the circumstances life threw her way, but I wanted her to be funny and loving with quirks and habits.
Ben’s personality, as well as his name, actually transpired from a character on a TV show I used to watch years ago. The character on the show was an avid basketball player and swimmer, but since Dahlia and Ben lived near the beach, I decided he should be a surfer. A surfer who has difficulty expressing his feelings, hasty in decision making, temperamental, and contemplative, somewhat of a contrast to Dahlia. But, Ben has true depth and sensitivity that Dahlia admires.
River’s character didn’t transpire as much—he just happened. He is who I would consider to be the perfect guy. I took all the traits I love and admire about men and lumped them into him.
3. Did you plan for your first book to turn into a series?
Yes I did. Just as I planned Connected and Torn to be a duet, my original plan was The Connections Series would consist of three duets for a total of six books. I have since changed my mind and the remaining books in the series will be stand alones. Of course they are part of a series and all characters will appear in all books.
4. You left Connected hanging with a major cliffhanger—will you do that in your next books?
Since I wrote the end of Connected before I wrote the beginning, I don’t regret the ending. Would I do again—absolutely! Would I write another book with a cliffhanger hanging—that I’m not sure about!
5. Do you have a specific writing style?
I think all writers do. We have a certain flow and sentence structure that rarely varies book to book. I have already plotted out the remaining books in the Connections Series and I’ve written the endings for each one.
6. What book are you reading now?
I try to keep up the latest releases as well as read releases in my favorite series. When I’m writing it’s hard to read but I try to set aside at least an hour a day.
7. What current project are you working on?
I am writing Mended. This is Xander’s Wilde story and his brother does make an appearance.
8. What can readers look forward to in the future?
My plan is finish Mended then decide if The Connections Series will consist of 5 or 6 books. I am considering cutting one. The book after Mended is Frayed and I have already started that story. It was actually suppose to be released before Mended but I changed my mind.
9. Please explain the importance of music to you in books. You said something in your Author's note about how important it was to you in writing and that the chapter titles have significance.
All chapters in my books are named after songs that inspired me. Bob Marley said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” As a listener, I couldn’t agree more. As a writer, I think it’s better to say music is what feelings sound like when those feelings are written in print.
Music and writing are different, yet similar arts. They both tell a story. They both convey emotion. Yet, one can be heard and the other seen. If you can write a story and put music behind it, I believe you can convey feelings in a more impactful, raw, and emotional way. When trying to express written emotions, the tone of a certain song can allow the reader to feel the sentiments that the character is feeling.
I chose to have each chapter be titled by a song that best represented the events occurring within. My goal is that the reader will listen to the song before reading each chapter so they will feel the full impact of the scene.
In the words of Billy Joel, “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” I couldn’t agree more. Listening to the lyrics of a song and truly understanding them tells such a beautiful story. So, combining this with an emotional novel just helps bring it to life.
10. Do you have any advice for other writers?
My advice to new writers: plan out your story before you begin. It is so much easier to fill in the chapters than sit there with a blank screen trying to figure out what to write. Also, reach out, make friends, share your work, find a support group, and always have faith in your work.
With so much pain and anger welling up inside me, I know I can’t have this conversation with him right now. Feeling strangled, out of breath, I take a step back and free my hand from his. I trusted him completely—and he kept this from me. I have to calm down and figure out what that means. At the same time I can’t help looking into his mesmerizing green eyes. I can’t handle seeing my own fear and anger reflected in his eyes any longer. His stare intensifies and he’s looking at me, and I mean really looking at me, as if willing our connection to fix all of this.
I swallow a few times before forcing myself to look away. “No River, I can’t talk to you when we’re like this. I know we will both say things we don’t mean. We need time to figure our anger out before we sit down and have a conversation.”
He tries to yank me flush to his body. His voice shakes with fury. “I don’t need time to figure anything out. I get it. You left me a note. You ran here the first chance you got to see him! Was it a happy reunion or were things just getting started?”
I have never heard this kind of furious tone from him before, and, without any control, I pull back and slap him. “I told you I’m not having this conversation right now. Listen to yourself!”
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Dahlia's POV: Meeting River
Chapter 2 of CONNECTED
Connections #1 by Kim Karr
© 2013 by Kim Karr
Published by the Penguin Group
Release date: May 2013
We walked through the open door to the University of Southern California Campus Bar and Aerie pulled her tail up. “At least they aren’t playing that Halloween crap in here,” she yelled a little too loudly. As my ears adjusted, I heard a velvety soft voice singing an unfamiliar yet captivating song.
Aerie stopped to put her devil horns on, and I glanced around the large room recognizing a lot of students, while trying to get a look at the band. I shouted directly into her ear, “They sound really good. Have you heard them before?”
She was on her toes trying to see over the crowd. I laughed at how short she was until her pointy devil horn hit me in the eye. “No, but I love their sound,” she responded, still trying to see the stage and almost falling over.
I had been coming here for the last three years and couldn’t ever remember it being so crowded. I could barely see the long wooden bar to my right, and with the mass of bodies bumping and grinding on the dance floor, I couldn’t even catch a glimpse of the stage.
“Do you know their name?” I asked Aerie.
“I think they’re called the Wilde Ones,” she hiccupped and laughed. She winked at me as she started to dance her way toward some friends on the dance floor and yelled over her shoulder, “By the way, I love them! Great name and an even greater sound.”
“I’ll get drinks and meet you out there in a bit,” I said to no one since she was already gone. When the bartender acknowledged me, I ordered two beers, one with ice and one without, and tacked on two shots to help Aerie drown her misery.
The live music stopped and typical Halloween songs were blasted through the speakers. I turned my back to the bar and scanned the crowd for Aerie. You would think she would be easy to spot in her red sequin devil costume. She said she was out for vengeance and if her outfit was any indication, she would be vindicated.
I didn’t see her anywhere but I did spot an attractive guy. He was still too far away for me to zero in on any specific feature, but something—no, everything—about him drew my attention.
I watched how he moved; his confidence captivated me. He seemed relaxed, like he knew exactly where he was going. And as he headed in my direction, I became mesmerized. Biting my bottom lip, I was unable to focus on anything but him. My head was still a little foggy from the three beers I’d consumed earlier and I was clearly not thinking straight when I made eye contact with him, and then slowly studied his body from head to toe.
As the distance between us narrowed, I could see that he was alarmingly attractive: long, lean, and muscular but not bulky. He wore a black beanie hat with his light brown hair sticking out. When I looked into his eyes, they undid me. Although I couldn’t see their color, I could feel their intensity. I almost feared that if I looked into them for too long I might never walk away. His eyes aside, the words handsome and gorgeous weren’t strong enough adjectives to describe this man.
My mind wandered to where it shouldn’t. Knowing better than to compare this guy to my boyfriend, I did it anyway. I felt incredibly guilty, but I couldn’t help myself. Ben was all surfer. He was attractive, hot, and sexy with an ego to match. This guy was equally as attractive, hot, and sexy, but there was something else—something more. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
Easing his way through the crowd, he removed his beanie and ran his hands through his hair. When our eyes connected it felt like minutes, but only seconds passed. Suddenly I felt an electric pull forcing me to keep looking at him. Everything I felt indicated he was dangerous. I knew I should look away, walk away, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. He was just too alluring.
He was finally close enough that I could tell his gleaming eyes were green. I was instantly drawn to his smile. It wasn’t a full smile, more like a half grin emphasizing his dimples. His skin was smooth with no facial hair and that made me weak in the knees. His full lips were begging for a kiss. I’d never looked at a guy like this before, not even Ben. So why was I eyeing him this way, and why was I unable to avert my gaze?
Aside from his overall sex appeal, his clothing made him even more irresistible. He wore faded jeans, a black Foreigner concert T-shirt, and black work boots. I had to laugh a little when I saw the concert T-shirt because I was wearing one, too—my dad’s U2 T-shirt, knotted on the side, hanging off my shoulder.
Having made his way through the crowd much better than I had, he was now standing in front of me. His face was breathtaking; he had a strong chin, a small straight nose, perfectly shaped eyebrows, and long eyelashes. He was a vision of utter perfection and I couldn’t help but smile.
The bar was crowded and there was no room on either side of me. Putting both hands in his pockets, he smiled back at me. Then, running his tongue over his bottom lip, he asked in a low, sexy voice, “Were you staring at me?”
I pouted my lips and rolled my eyes. I took a deep breath as I straightened my shoulders and placed my hands on my hips, “No, I was just looking for my friend while I waited on my drinks. You just happened to be in my line of vision.”
He chuckled a little then said, “That look was hot.”
I huffed out a breath and tried not to laugh. Did he really just say that?
When the bartender brought my order and set it in front of me, my phone started ringing in my pocket, but I ignored it as I continued to stare at him. “Why would you think I was looking at you, anyway?”
As the person beside me settled her tab and walked away, he moved to fill the empty space and tossed his beanie next to my drink. His proximity caused my pulse to race and my heart to pound faster. Leaning sideways, he rested his hip against the bar. With his eyes still locked on mine he answered, “Because I was staring at you, hoping you were staring back.”
I looked directly into those powerful green eyes, so full of intensity, and I instantly lost my train of thought. With the electric pull only growing stronger between us, I feared I wasn’t going to be able to get out of this encounter unscathed.
He dragged his teeth across his bottom lip and his eyes scanned my body. The expression on his face told me he wanted to do more than just talk. I wanted to do more as well.
A moment of comfortable silence passed before he cocked his head to the side in the most adorable way and grinned. “With all this talk about who was staring at whom I think we forgot the basics. I’m River,” he said as he extended his hand with the most devilish grin on his face.
Feeling bewitched by him, I put my hand out to shake his but quickly pulled it away. Unfortunately, I also bumped into the person standing next to me and accidentally spilled his beer.
He gave me a dirty look and swore under his breath. River’s grin quickly turned into a frown, and he gently moved me away. In a clipped tone he apologized, “Sorry, man, just an accident, but let me buy you another.”
The now drinkless man with a wet shirt looked at him and nodded. River pulled out his wallet and handed him a ten. “Buy two.” The man took the money and walked away, muttering something under his breath. River immediately returned his attention to me, and I bit the corner of my lower lip and smiled at him.
There we were, standing face-to-face, with only a few drinks separating us. Sliding one of the beers toward him, I took a sip of my own even though the ice had melted. “Thank you, that guy sure as shit wasn’t happy with me. In fact, he kind of acted like an asshole.”
Taking a sip of his drink, he started to laugh, almost spitting it out. Skimming his finger over my bare shoulder, his eyes locked on mine. “You’re more than welcome.”
Quivering from his touch and intense gaze, I took a step back, fearful of where this might lead.
Moving forward, he traced my last step. He was not going to let the distance widen between us. He stared intently into my eyes. “Now, where were we? Do we need to start over?” He waited for my response as he watched me swallow my drink.
I pulled my lower lip to the side with my teeth and smiled playfully. “We were introducing ourselves.”
“Okay, so let’s try again. I’m River and you are? . . .”
“I’m not sure you need to know that information right now. I’m kind of thinking you might be a stalker.”
His eyes widened as he laughed. “You’re not serious—are you, beautiful girl?”
Unable to control my own laughter, I simply said, “Maybe I am,” but my laughter subsided when I registered the sweet name he’d called me.
Leaning toward me, he was close enough that I could inhale his fresh scent. It was a soapy, just-out-of-the-shower smell.
“What? If you’re not going to tell me your name then I get to call you whatever I want.”
Averting my eyes from his gaze, I looked down.
After taking another sip of his beer, he set the mug down. He hooked my chin with his finger and tilted my head up toward him. His touch seared my skin and left it tingling. He stared at me with his intense green eyes and chuckled. “Can we talk about you thinking I’m a Jack the Ripper type? I just want you to know, I’m definitely not. In fact, I think it’s safe to say you were staring at me first, but in no way do I think you’re a stalker.”
My mouth dropped open. I was unsure of what to say. I knew he was right. I had stared first.
“So we can get past this; let’s just say I was staring first. Not that it really matters.”
We were looking into each other’s eyes as the bartender passed me my bill. When I turned to pay for my drinks, our connection was broken. Handing my money to the bartender, I thanked him and told him to keep the change. This distraction gave me some time to think about how to handle this potentially dangerous situation.
I watched River as he ordered two more beers, and realized I had to work out my conflicted feelings. I pushed my guilt aside and handed him one of the shots.
“It’s a beautiful day,” he replied before shooting back the shot.
I tried not to show how turned on I was that he had just quoted lyrics from one of my favorite songs.
Setting his shot glass down, he put his hand in his pocket. “So, does this mean you forgive me?”
His voice was strong, but soft, and made him even more tempting. I found myself thinking that he was not only adorable, but unlike anyone I had ever encountered before. I knew I shouldn’t be doing this. I had a boyfriend that I loved waiting for me.
I raised an eyebrow and asked, “Forgive you? Forgive you for what?” I was having a hard time concentrating on the conversation and honestly had no idea what the apology was for.
He shifted on his feet. “You know what. Never mind,” he muttered in my ear. His warm breath brushed my neck and I wanted to feel it everywhere.
Looking me up and down, he changed the subject. “What, no costume?”
Continuing our dangerous flirtation, I glanced down, motioning with my hands from head to toe. “How do you know this isn’t my costume?”
While tugging on my T-shirt and pulling me a little closer, he seductively whispered, “If that’s your costume you’re definitely taking first place in the contest because it’s the sexiest one I’ve ever seen.”
We were silent for a minute; not even our heavy breathing could be heard. The noise from the bar and the crowd around us had quieted, but his words, his touch, they inflamed me, excited me, and sent fire through my veins.
“Where’d you get this, anyway?” he asked, tugging at the knot on my shirt, pulling me closer.
It felt like the room was spinning and I wasn’t sure if it was him, the alcohol, or the fact that he had just asked me a question I didn’t want to answer. “My dad managed the Greek and was a collector of concert T-shirts,” I said, trying to push back the emotions welling up inside me.
He seemed to understand my hesitation before nodding, clearing his throat, and once again changed the subject. “So, have you ever seen Foreigner play?” he asked, now pointing to his own shirt and grinning.
As I looked at the bold white letters across his chest, I pushed aside my sadness and refocused on our conversation. We were just two people who had a lot in common—or at least that was what I wanted to think. When our drinks were gone, he ordered another round. As I finished the shot, I accidentally slammed the glass on the bar, and the bartender glowered at me. “Sorry,” I mouthed.
River reached out and grabbed a strand of hair that had come loose from my ponytail. He very slowly tucked it behind my ear, sending shivers down my spine. Circling his index finger around my ear, he lightly tugged on my lobe. He sparked a fire in me that never before existed.
Gulping the drink I didn’t need to be drinking, I hoped to extinguish the flame. I hoped no one had seen him touch me that way. Ben would be fucking furious. He was ridiculously jealous. We had many arguments about other men, all unjustified. At least until now.
As the strobe lights started to flicker and I leaned my hip against the bar for support, he put his hand on my waist and turned me so my back was against the bar. I wondered if he noticed me almost lose my balance from the flashing lights and drunkenness. Moving to stand directly in front of me, he put his hands on either side of me and pressed his palms into the bar. He was enveloping me, but I didn’t feel trapped. I didn’t know what I felt, but I knew my heart was pounding out of my chest; my stomach was doing flips, and I became light-headed as goose bumps emerged on my skin.
I thought he was going to kiss me as he stared intently into my eyes. I closed my eyes preparing for it but I felt him abruptly pull away. Immediately, I heard a high-pitched voice squeal, “River, don’t forget we’re leaving right after the show,” and before I could catch a glimpse of the girl, she bounced away.
Smirking at me he said, “My little sister has the worst timing.”
I was going to respond when I heard a drumroll echo through the bar. Glancing around, I tried to figure out what it was for. Amused, he rolled his eyes before looking at the stage and then back to me. “That would be for me,” he laughed, leaning in so we were face-to-face. “They want me back onstage. I’ve gotta go unless you’d rather I stay and we finish what we started? Because that certainly would be way more fun.”
I really hadn’t heard anything he said, but everything seemed to finally make sense. He was the voice I heard when I came into the bar. He was so charming, so captivating, and so aware of me. I was pretty sure I was drunk because I was feeling things I should not have been feeling. As I stared into his powerful green eyes, I knew I should’ve been trying to escape them.
Before I could say anything in response, he moved his head slightly back, lifted my hand, and slowly kissed it. Then he leaned into me and whispered in my ear, “Guess not. Not yet, anyway.” My hand was on fire, my ear scorched.
That same drumroll rumbled through the sound system again and he quickly turned his head back to look at me. “I gotta jet.”
He was still holding my hand, as he looked straight into my eyes. “You’ll wait for me until after the show.”
It wasn’t a question. It was a statement. And then motioning between us, he added, “Because this isn’t finished.”
At that moment I realized that what had started as harmless flirting had turned into a situation that had gotten way too dangerous.
He placed his hands back on the bar and waited for a response. Since he hadn’t asked a question that I wanted to answer, I just smiled and said, “If you’re in the band you’d better go, you shouldn’t leave your fans waiting.”
He gave me one last heart-stopping grin and then leaned in and kissed me. My body reacted strangely; a rush of something I couldn’t identify surged through me. At first he only lightly touched my lips with his then for a few short seconds he pressed a little harder before pulling away. I didn’t kiss him back, but felt light-headed.
“I hope you’ve become a fan,” he said, winking at me before grabbing his hat. Then he turned and walked away.
I brought my fingers up to my lips and watched as his silhouette disappeared through the crowd. I became vaguely aware that “Superstition” was playing, but my mind was focused on him.
I shook my head, trying to rid myself of the thoughts that shouldn’t be there. I knew I had to leave, or I would end up doing something I would regret. I loved Ben, and Ben would fucking kill River just for looking at me the way he did. And then there was the kiss; yes, Ben would certainly kill him.
Knowing these things, I wondered why I hadn’t walked away in the first place. For a moment there, I felt as though I believed in love at first sight, which I didn’t. And how could love at first sight even exist when you were already in love with someone else? I didn’t want to keep thinking about what happened because I was confused as hell, and I knew the meaning of it all wasn’t what I wanted it to be.
I smiled about our encounter. He definitely was not a stalker. He was adorably charming and utterly charismatic, a guy who had a simple ease about him that I really liked, and a guy I didn’t ever need to see again. This I knew for certain.
With thoughts of River swirling through my head, I made my way through the crowd to the dance floor where I found Aerie with some kind of pink drink in her hand. “We have to leave. Now!” I shouted at her while pulling her off the dance floor.
“What? Why? Are you sick?” she asked, struggling for words.
Then she turned and pointed to the stage. “Because if you’re not, I want to see that hot guy sing first.”
I turned to see where she was pointing and sure enough it was him, River. I then realized I’d never even told him my name.
Pulling Aerie through the crowd under protest, I heard the audience chanting, “River Wilde, River Wilde.” I glanced up to the stage just in time to see him grab the microphone. Before the live music started we exited through the door, and Aerie started yelling obscenities at me. As we walked away I found myself thinking I had just had the most magical encounter and might never be the same because of it.
River’s POV: Meeting Dahlia
Chapter 2 of CONNECTED
Connections #1 by Kim Karr
© 2013 by Kim Karr
Published by the Penguin Group
Release date: May 2013
The set ends so I walk over behind Garrett to lean my guitar against the wall. I pull my shirt up to wipe the sweat off my forehead. It’s hotter than shit in here and I need a drink. Garrett laughs, tipping his head back to swallow the beer he somehow already has.
“You going to grab a drink? I’ll take another,” he says as he downs the rest of his beer. “And, dude, wear this. Seriously man, your hair looks like shit,” he says throwing his beanie at me.
I move closer and shove him a little and put the hat on my head. “Shut the fuck up, you should talk.”
I hop off the stage and my sister rushes over to me. “River, I need you to take me home as soon as the last set is over. I have someone meeting me back at my apartment.”
I shake my head, knowing it must be a guy. “Yeah yeah, I will Bell, but really can’t you get a boyfriend that has some manners? You know, like actually picks his date up and maybe even takes her out? And at a decent hour?”
She rolls her eyes. “All guys aren’t like you, big brother. Nice beanie,” she teases before disappearing back into the crowd.
As I walk through the jam-packed room, some brunette chick I think looks familiar asks me if I want to grab a drink in private. I kindly refuse, telling her I need to refuel before my next set. She’s still talking when I motion toward the bar to signal that I’m moving away. As my eyes flash across the bar, they’re suddenly drawn to a beautiful girl standing against it. And she’s looking directly at me.
I start walking toward her, leaving behind the brunette who is still talking. As I stare at the beautiful girl, I think, “I want her.” Tall, slim, long blonde hair that’s pulled away from her face. But it’s her eyes that get me—the way she’s looking at me. Shit, I’ve talked to about a dozen chicks tonight, but she is the only one who has me interested.
As I stare back at her I’m feeling like she’s not just any girl. Not just a girl to have sex with. I’m actually having a fucking conversation with myself. I can’t figure out what’s going on in my own head.
I try not to smile, but I know she’s checking me out. Fuck, why’d I put this hat on? I quickly pull it off and comb my fingers through my hair. I can’t take my eyes off her and I feel like I want to knock everyone out of my way to get to her.
When I finally reach the bar, I stand right in front of her. For some weird reason I feel the urge to touch her, but instead I shove my hands in my pockets. She’s smiling at me and I smile right back. This girl is hot. Her eyes still haven’t left mine this whole time, so I decide to break the ice by calling her out. “Were you staring at me?”
She pouts her lips and rolls her eyes. Shit, that look gets me.
“No, I was just looking for my friend while I waited on my drinks. You just happened to be in my line of vision.”
I stifle my laugh and say, “That look was hot.” I want to say, “You’re hot,” but I don’t—not yet anyway.
I can tell she’s trying not to laugh. If she does, I know I have her. Her phone rings and her smile fades. “Why would you think I was looking at you, anyway?”
The person beside her walks away and I secure my place next to her. I toss my hat on the counter and lean against the bar, my eyes never leaving hers. I answer in the most honest way I can. “Because I was staring at you, hoping you were staring back.”
I don’t want to fuck this up so I decide to be the guy Bell always tells me I am—the
guy with manners. Then I say what I should have said first. “With all this talk about who was staring at whom I think we forgot the basics, I’m River,” I say as I extend my hand.
She reaches hers out. Hey, I get to touch her. But she quickly pulls her hand back before I get to grasp it and accidentally knocks a dude’s beer over. The asshole gives her a dirty look and swears. I know I have to step in because this guy is out of line. I gently guide her out of my way and try to control myself as I say, “Sorry man, just an accident, but let me buy you another.” I hand him a ten, “Buy two.” I hope he takes the money and leaves. Lucky for him he does, because otherwise I might deck him.
I turn around to find the girl smiling at me and sliding one of her beers my way. I start to drink it and she says, “Thank you, that guy sure as shit wasn’t happy with me. In fact he kind of acted like an asshole.” I can’t help but laugh mid-sip, almost spitting the beer out of my mouth. Not cool.
Not able to resist any longer, I run my finger over her smooth bare shoulder and lock my eyes on hers. “You’re more than welcome.”
She just barely shudders and steps back. I’m pretty sure she’s interested in me so I step closer, not wanting to break our connection. “Now, where were we? Do we need to start over?” I ask, looking into her eyes.
“We were introducing ourselves,” she says smiling.
“Okay, so let’s try again. I’m River and you are . . .?”
“I’m not sure you need to know that information right now. I’m kind of thinking you might be a stalker,” she teases.
I laugh. I’m all about game playing but I’m not ready to play. I really want to get to know this girl, and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual, so I avoid dropping the canned line I might have used on another girl and say, “You’re not serious, are you beautiful girl?”