"I dare you."
Those words would change adrenaline junkie, Alice Harrison's life forever. She's a party girl that doesn't believe in love until she meets a man that only writes about it.
Seth James escaped his overbearing father and moved into one of the James family's vacant condos, hoping to create the music he loves in peace. But the fragile calm he's envisioned shatters when a tiny woman with a world full of energy bounces out of the elevator and nearly takes him out.
With the patience of a saint, Seth seeks the dark that keeps Alice from enjoying life. He challenges her to exorcise the demons in her past in order to discover the true meaning of love. But when the walls fall down, the hidden deceptions will bare the ugly truth about a woman drowning in sorrow and a man who may not know how to be her hero.
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In the hall, arms laden with musical equipment, four large and totally hot guys fill the space—Seth James leading the pack. He stops, drops the cymbal dangling from an index finger, and stares. His too bright gaze travels down my scantily, and very sweaty, clad body and back up. When our eyes meet, he grins. “Come to help?”
“No.” I have no idea what makes me do it, but I snatch his cymbal off the floor and carry it into his apartment. I’m asking for trouble, but can’t seem to stop myself. They follow me inside, jaws still slack. Okay, so I’m cute, but not worthy of jaws dropping. I plop it down on his couch and rush back to the door. Taking on Seth doesn’t scare me, but a crew of hotties is a little much.
His strong fingers wrap around my shoulder before I make it through the walkway. It’s not controlling or holding me back. His hand is simply resting on me. “Hey, thanks. I’m sorry if we…uh…interrupted your day.”
His words sound sincere and slightly slurred, and I can’t find it in my heart to be bitchy to the first guy in a long time that has only shown me kindness. I sigh and pivot to face him. “It’s not me I’m worried about. My sister is asleep.”
He glances at his watch and frowns.
“She’s recovering from an accident. So, if you don’t mind, keep it down in the halls.”
He leans forward. “Will do and I’m sorry.”
When he enters my personal space, my heart speeds up. His eyes stare into mine. I feel this incredible connection, like he knows my pain. Like he can see my guilt.
The distance between us seems to be shrinking, and I’m not sure if it’s me shuffling closer or him.
He snags the zipper on my jacket and runs it up and down. “Is she going to be okay?”
I pluck at a button on his shirt and glance up. “Eventually.”
His friends form a half-moon circle around him and gape at me. I flick a glance at each of them. They all have a very different style of dress, which only raises more questions about the man in front of me. “Am I the first girl they’ve ever seen?”
Blondie, with the coal lined eyes, on the left snickers. “In Seth’s apartment? Hell, yes.”
Seth elbows him, but grins.
The tall guy in a kind of hot-nerd ensemble leans over and shakes my hand. “Deacon. Would you like a beer?”
I eye the leering men again. “It looks like you started without me, and I’m not into gang-bangs.” I disengage the overlong hand play with the nerd and back away from the group. “G., I’ll catch you later.”
“Hey, wait. I’ll walk you back over.”
The hotties chuckle, high-five, and rib Seth as we walk toward the hall. He shuts the door to their gazes and catches my hand before I can cross back to my apartment. “Hey, are you going to tell me your name?”
“Nah, this is more fun.”
“I think you’re used to having your way.”
He smiles. “Maybe.” He leans against his door and crosses his arms. His smile slips into a smug grin I’d seen on so many rich boys in this city. He thinks he has me. “I’d like to have my way with you.”
He’s quite the talker when he’s sauced. Good to know. It’s nice to see his thoughts. “That’s the beer talking.” I step close, arch up on tip-toe, and tap a finger to his slightly parted lips. “A few hours ago, you didn’t have much to say. I’m okay with keeping this awkward tension between us. It’s all we’ll ever have.”
He scowls at that and twists the knob back to his apartment. “Whatever.”
Mission accomplished. I’d succeeded in pissing him off. If he stayed mad at me, then we could squash this weird attraction that we obviously both feel.
I grin. “Bye, G.”
His brows dip low, and I shove the door behind me, sagging against it. My breath swooshes out from between my clenched teeth. Damn, he is going to be trouble. I feel it all the way to my pinky toe.
A soft knock against my back drives home the point. I twirl and open the door before he disturbs Molly—or maybe because I’m not ready to share him with her yet. “What?”
He tucks a hand into the waistband of my shorts and hauls me into the hall, pulling my door shut behind me. “Where did you get that?” His gaze lingers on the small bump decorating my forehead.
I reach up and touch the sore knot. “Oh, I fell.”
“How?” He raises his free hand and traces the swelling.
I don’t even feel the careful prodding. No, my concentration is solely focused on the fingers tucked inside my shorts and only inches away from becoming way too familiar with me. “Um…I was doing yoga when you guys came down the hall.”
“And?” He tugs me closer. His thumb rakes a small path below my belly button.
Oh my. “Uh…I fell out of…of…my pose and banged my head on the floor.”
His eyes darken and those beautiful lips part. I want to snake my tongue across the bottom one to find out if it is as soft as it looks.
He winces and lowers his eyes to mine. “So this is my fault?”
I grab onto his wandering hand and pull it free of my shorts. If I didn’t, I’d be asking him for a wall orgasm in less than two minutes and random teasing and fleeing was a no go for me now. “No. It was an accident. Lighten up, G.”
“I don’t want to cause you pain.”
Wow, that feels like a loaded proclamation. “Okay. Well, keep the noise down, and we should be good.”
He drops the hand that had been rubbing away my bruise. Funny, I’d totally forgotten it. “I don’t want to cause you pain. It’s a personal thing.” A deep shudder races over him, and for some reason, I don’t think he is with me anymore.
“You didn’t. I’m fine.” I lift a hand and cup the side of his face, bringing his gaze to mine. It is the gentlest moment I’ve ever had with a man, and we’ve just met. “I’m not sure what this is, but I think I should go inside.”
He glances down the corridor, takes a deep breath, and nods. “Yes, you should.”
“Go play with your friends. Be men or whatever that means, and I’ll go back to my yoga.” I was going to need it after this.
He groans and drops his head back, his hint of an Adam’s Apple bobbing down the column of his neck, begging for my tongue to taste him there. “Did you have to bring that back to mind?”
I grin. “What? Me all hot and sweaty in contorted positions? Do you like that?”
He groans, and one side of his mouth slants up. “I have things to do and don’t need no-named neighbors distracting me.”
*******WARNING** This post may be a little difficult for some people who have dealt with abuse or been a victim of assault. *******
Psychopath or Sadist
Today, we’re going to discuss E. Harrison—the villain—in Drowning. I’ll try not to let out any spoilers, but for those of you that have read the book, this should get interesting.
After doing some research on the topic, I have to adamantly declare Harrison a Sadist. Here’s why: Psychopaths have no emotion about their torture. Harrison takes immense pleasure in Alice’s pain.
You may wonder why I chose to make Harrison a sadist and not a psychopath. Well, there’s good reason. I try to write all of my characters with their own story. And even though I hate (and probably so will you) Harrison, I still wanted to create someone that we could somehow wonder about. What makes a person enjoy someone else’s pain? Is it about the control? Or the torture? Or both? And also, what kind of person enjoys hurting his own child? It’s not about child abuse for him. That’s different. This is calculated and has a purpose. Most people that are abusive are reactive and bullies. Harrison is neither.
So…although, I’d love to label him a psychopath, I can’t. And even though I know that this is a hard topic to discuss. Please understand that sexual sadism and what Harrison is are two different things. There is no form of sexual abuse in the book. He gets off on yielding the power to inflict pain on someone weaker than him. It’s about control.
My question for you is, do you know any psychopaths or have you ever dealt with a sadist? I don’t mean in funny ha-ha moments either. Have you ever had to reason with someone without emotion? How was the experience? You don’t have to name anyone. If you leave a comment for your lovely blogger here, you’ll be in a drawing for a free eCopy of Drowning.
He laughs that loud laugh that cuts down into my stomach and vibrates my breakfast to the surface. “Of course. I haven’t seen you in quite some time and thought I’d pay my baby daughter a visit. Did you get my letter?”
I can’t help the tremble that takes root in my chin and bleeds up into my tear ducts. I fight the well of salt water. Seth was right. They were a weakness to him, and he’d feed on them. “You need to go.”
“I’ll go when I’m ready. I think you should remember whose roof you’re living under and be more gracious.”
The door across the hall opens, and I meet Seth James’ bold stare over my father’s shoulder. God no. Please, don’t watch this.
He leaves the door open and steps closer. “Everything okay?”
My father lurches back and clears his throat. “Everything’s fine.” He spins and thrust out his hand, all politician’s smiles and his kissing baby’s grin on his face. “E. Harrison, and you are?”
“Neighbor. Seth James.”
I grip my towel tighter, but Seth’s eyes never stray from Dad’s. He was so wrong about being a hero. He’d just saved me from pure evil. The two men stand taller. My father is forbidding in his expensive threads. He has years of cut muscles beneath that have kept him from sagging like most men his age. Seth, on the other hand, has youth on his side. He’s all hard ridges and full of territorial male dominance.
With a deep sigh that relaxes all those tightened nerves, I ask, “Father, did you need something?”
“I came by to speak to you about something, but, perhaps another time would be better suited.” He glances back at me and sneers, but returns to sleazy smiles before he gives a nod to Seth. “Mr. James, a pleasure. I’ll be on my way.”
Seth puts a hand out and catches my father’s shoulder. “Mr. Harrison, as the owner of this condo, I feel that I should warn you against making my tenants uncomfortable.” Seth steps across the hall and drops an arm around my scarred shoulder. His thumb soothes away the shiver chasing over my collar bone. “I’m not sure of your welcome here, so please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t want to see either of these girls come to harm.”
I gasp. He spoke so eloquently. Bold and rich. I’d have never thought he had it in him if I hadn’t just witnessed it. And no one has ever come to my defense. Never. Seth James was ten feet tall and made of blue bubble gum right now. I’d chew him, blow him, and make him pop. Vulgar, I know, but there it is.
My father straightens his jacket. “Do you know who I am?”
“I do, but obviously you do not know who I am or what I’m capable of.” Seth tucks me even closer. If he’s noticed the scars stretching across my shoulders, he’s too polite to even give them a second glance, and for that, I’ll forever be indebted to him. “Don’t fuck with Alice again.”
He knows my name. And he just cussed my dad.
Harrison squints at us, and turns, clicking his heels together before stalking to the elevator. As much as I love seeing someone put him in his place, Seth James had just built me a coffin.
Fucking great. As soon as the sliding doors close on Dad, I shove Seth away from me. He’s too much right now. Everything is too much.
His brow wrinkles. “What?”
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
He steps back and glances at the floor before smirking up at me. “Being your hero.”
The White Light at the End of the Tunnel
One of my Facebook friends asked me a really great question, and I thought it’d make a great blog post. So, we’ll see.
“…give background on the white light at the end of the tunnel that drove you to push the book to get finished when you had so much going on.”
Well, so here goes. Drowning was created in my car, driving down I-35, the winter of 2011. I know, that’s so long ago. I was finishing the last of a paranormal series and needed a switch. So, I let the characters percolate.
In January 2012, I found a knot on my neck. After a couple of doctor’s appointments, a biopsy, several more doctor’s appointments, being incorrectly diagnosed and treated for whooping cough, I discovered I needed surgery. It’s now October 2012. Surgery was a success, and I was left without a thyroid. Two weeks later, I found out I had stage III thyroid cancer and would need RAI (radioactive iodine treatment.)
I had roughly 30 days from the time I found out I had cancer to the date of my treatment. And it was NANOWRIMO time. For any of you that don’t know. Every November, writers all over the world go crazy and try to kick out a 50K novel in a month.
I didn’t really know that much about my cancer or how crappy my quality of life was about to be for the next few months, but I knew that I wasn’t going to sit around and mope. So, I wrote a novel…well, most of it. I worked on Drowning until my treatment, and as soon as they let me out of quarantine and I quite glowing (joking, but only barely) I got back to the book.
I’ve been through several scans this year, and they always beat me down a bit, but I’m well on the road to recovery. And I’ll be a writing beast for a while. Writing is my white light. It’s what kept me sane when most would have lost it. It’s what brings me back from the depression that have the C word can give you.
So…that’s been my last two years of producing this book. Not that exciting, but certainly filled with emotion. And because of this, I’ll always be just a little bit more in love with this book than any others.
To have a chance at winning an eCopy of Drowning, I’d love to know what brings you back from the dark. Is it your kids? Hubby? Knitting? Please feel free to share. Let’s get some good conversation going.
Drowning or Sinking?
Hi everyone, thanks for having me on the blog today! I feel very honored to be here. I’d love to take a moment and talk to you all about what we’re all here for—reading the next great book!
Before I began writing five years ago, I was an avid reader. I promised myself that I wouldn’t ever stop reading and I haven’t. I think I’m at like 150+ books read this year alone. That’s crazy, right? What is it about stories that just keep drawing us back in?
For me, it’s the break I get from being: mom, wife, boss, employee, woman. I can sink into a good book and be just about anything I want to be. I can forget all the worries and the stress of everyday life. That’s a really great feeling, right?
But are you drowning or sinking in a great book? I’ve read some of both. Some drown me in their dark depths, holding onto me and never letting go. And then there are books that just allow me to float for a while until I’m weighted down and I sink. Both are usually a good thing, but one is harsher and a little more aggressive. I’ll let you decide which one you think Drowning is. J
But for your task today…if you’ll tell us the name of the most recent book you felt either had your drowning or sinking and why, you’ll be placed in a drawing for a free ecopy of Drowning. J Good luck and I can’t wait to see what you’ve been reading.
Writing to Music
Hi everyone! Thank you for having me on the blog today and letting me share a little about my writing process.
I think most creative minds enjoy music, so it’s not a big surprise to hear that “another” author wrote a book to a song…or a group of songs. Here’s a link to my Drowning playlist if you’d like to hear the inspiration to the words. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqwJvVojAxIx9zWY3Nq3p24xr0JAand4E
There’s one song that really hit home for this book. Apex Predator by Otep. Wow, what a powerful piece. It’s twisted and dark and scary. During a scene with Alice and her father, I listened to this song on repeat. It’s definitely the perfect mood setter for some of the darker parts in this novel.
And when I really needed to pull myself out of the evil that underlies the base of my plot, I turned to Volbeat for their Cape of the Hero to remind me that there would be a HEA. Seth is what I consider a normal hero. He doesn’t have super hero powers. He’s not good with guns or knives. But like the father in the video, he wants to be there for Alice, even when he’s physically not.
And Pink’s, Just Give Me a Reason is the perfect balance for Seth and Alice’s love story. He’s pretty straight forward about his interest, but she’s always in her head. It’ll take a lot of patience and a lot of love to get them past her pain. But he knows she’s worth it, and he has to try.
So…that’s just a few songs on my playlist that I loved to use while writing this book. I’d love to find out your favorite song…or one that inspires you in life. So, for a chance to win an eCopy of Drowning, name your “go-to” song.
Oh, and thanks for stopping in today! J
After years of writing adult romance, why did I pick New Adult? Well, probably because I finally found a niche for my voice. Maybe because I miss my twenties. It could be due to my fresh and youthful personality.
Or it could be because guys in their early twenties are damn hot and I’m at that age where COUGAR is no longer a big cat. J Yeah, that’s probably it.
My very first novel could be arguably a New Adult Paranormal Romance—before NA was popular—but that’s not the way it was marketed. I like writing young heroines that are spunky and full of sass. I love writing heroes that are full of testosterone and make tons of alpha mistakes.
NA is just fun. What is there not to like about it? Some will argue that all the angst is hard to get through. Well, I’m in my mid-thirties, and I can honestly say that I’ve never felt more alive than when I was in my early twenties. Everything is vibrant and new and wild. Sex is better. Drinking is better. Mistakes are easier to get over.
My thirties have brought me worries over my kids, worries over my career, worries over my future… mostly worries. I don’t remember the fate of life being so strained in my late teens/early twenties. So yeah, NA was a no brainer. J
Answer the following question as a comment below and you’ll be in a drawing for a free eCopy of Drowning—picked by your blog host. So… what exactly do you like about the NA genre?
About the Author:
Rachel Firasek spends her days daydreaming of stories and her nights putting the ideas to ink. She has spent a dull life following the rules, meeting deadlines, and toeing the line, but in her made up worlds, she can let the wild side loose. Her wonderful husband and three children support her love of the written word and only ask for the occasional American Idol or Swamp People quality hour.
She has a philosophy about love. It must devastate or it isn’t truly worth loving. She hopes that you all find your devastating love and cling to it with all your heart!
Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
Rachel: I’m a thirty-ish Texas native who corals two teens and husband that puts all of my heroes to shame. I have a sprawling spread of Mesquite trees and sheep in a hidden country community of Central Texas. I’m a switch. Sometimes I like paranormal, horror, or just a sweet romance, but it’s always romance. When I stumbled upon NA Contemporary romances, I just knew I’d found a home.
When and why did you begin writing?
Rachel: I started writing when I was a teen, but lost time and interest in my early twenties. When I hit thirty I decided to dig back in and to try to make a go of this gig.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Rachel: A writer or an author? I’ve always been a writer, but I considered myself an author when I signed the contract on my first sale, Piper’ s Fury.
Tell us your latest news?
Rachel: Well, you know that I have Drowning out. But…prior to Drowning, I worked with two great authors to write and produce a Halloween Anthology that ended up hitting best seller lists! I think that’s pretty awesome news. Oh, and I’m still going to try to make it to RT14! Who else is going?
What inspired you to write your first book?
Rachel: Well, my first book ever was a 98 page short story due for an assignment in my 9th grade English class. It was a historical fantasy with a heroine named Amethyst (that of course had purple eyes, because that’s what color eyes I wanted) and a white steed. Now the horse didn’t belong to the knight, oh no, that was Amethyst’s ride that she used to save the knight who was locked in a tower. J Yes, there was even a touch of the feminist in me back then.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Rachel: Almost all of my stories have a “get over yourself” theme. I’ll explain: When things happen in our lives that are difficult to overcome, we have two options: Get over it and move on, or wallow in whatever pity party that’s happening at the moment. I want to find the way to dig out of the party even when everything seems to want to keep you there. So, mostly that’s my themes.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Rachel: I read for entertainment, not for self-growth so I don’t know that any book has had a huge impact. I write for my therapy, but I do know that even though everyone moans and groans about the Twilight series, I’ve read it 8 times. Take away the creepy age gap, the dead and alive elements, and the weird lack of parenting, and it’s a truly innocent story meant to make us fall in love with romance again.
What are three things that always make you smile?
Rachel: My hubby, my kids, and my happy readers…notice—I said happy. J
Just for fun, who would you single out as your number one celebrity crush, and what would you like most to do with/to them?
Rachel: Johnny Depp. I adore his versatility. I'd have him dress up as Sweeny Todd and sing and dance with me in a ratty bakery. *cackles maniacally*
If you could live a day in the world of someone else's story, whose would you choose, and why?
Rachel: Oh, I'd live a day in Alice's world. Doesn't Wonderland look like a fab place to play.
What do you hope readers take away from Drowning?
Rachel: I want them to be moved. I want them to be jerked out of their comfy beds with soft pillows in the middle of the night and remember that sometimes, somewhere, there’s a child doing the same thing…only it’s not a nightmare they’re living through—it’s their life. I want everyone to realize that we’re all a pile of mistakes waiting to happen. It’s okay to take a wrong turn as long as you find the right way home. But most importantly, I want everyone to know that love does conquer all when the will is strong.
What do you love most about your hero?
Rachel: I love that he’s a little messed up. He makes bad calls and doesn’t always fit the typical hero profile…but then again, most of my heroes don’t. J Oh… and he plays drums…and is damn hot…and he writes music…should I keep going?
What about your heroine:
Rachel: Alice? Let me tell you… There’s not one thing that I don’t love about Alice. She’s so twisted. She’s a tease. She’s a strong person. She’s weak. She’s humble. She’s hot. She’s. Just. Like. You. &. Me.
Why did you create Drowning?
Rachel: It’s not often that I’ve stepped out of the box. But, my very first editor told me once to take the dark inside me and turn it into something. Well…that’s what I did. No, I’m not Alice…but I’m close. I know that pain…that terror…and I know what it’s like to overcome it…as much as anyone that’s lived through abuse can. (No, E. Harrison is not my father. I promise. But there was someone like him in my life once.)
Rachel: Well, I’m working on book 2. Burning and hope to have it out Spring of 2014. I’m also working on a new Contemp NA titled Something After. It’s not quite as dark as Drowning, but almost as twisted—if not more so.
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