Win a trip to Germany and hunt some ghosts with me!

What if I told you, you could walk a mile in Alex and Jesse’s shoes—hunting things, hitting the road to find the supernatural? What if I told you, you’d be doing that in Germany—a country known for Frankenstein Castle, poltergeist, a notorious witch history, and the exorcism of Anneliese Michel (aka the Exorcism of Emily Rose)? And what if I told you, you won’t have to spend a single dime on airfare, hotels, or travel costs? Would you like to join me then? Well, you can. Because I’m offering you a once in a lifetime opportunity to go on a ghost hunt with me in December 2017, in Germany. We will hit the road and visit some of the most haunted places. Like any good ghost hunter we will record our findings and live stream them on Facebook. Interested? Okay, so here are the rules:

  1. Anyone can enter, but you have to make sure that you can enter Germany (check visa regulations for your country).
  2. You MUST take a pic of your “Soulmates” copy (ebook or paperback) and post it on Facebook with the hashtag #SoulmatesGhostHunt. Then share the link to your post in the comments.
  3. You MUST be a liker of my page.
  4. 3 BONUS entries if you post a review of Soulmates and share the link here in the comment section.
  5. 1 BONUS entry if you share this giveaway on any social media sites (again link for tweets or IG posts must be shared in the comments).
  6. This giveaway will run on FB and IG. Meaning: you can double your chances by entering the FB and IG giveaway. Same rules apply on IG—you MUST post a pic of your Soulmates copy with the hashtag #SoulmatesGhostHunt.

 

Sound good? Great. ‘Cause I’m dying to hunt some ghosts with one of you.

 

Giveaway will be open till the 10th of May. Giveaway is international (must be able to legitimately enter Germany). Airfare, hotel, and tickets to locations are included. Facebook is not associated with the giveaway—it’s all me.

ENTER FB HERE: Facebook #SoulmatesGhostHunt Giveaway

ENTER IG HERE: Instagram #SoulmatesGhostHunt

Soulmates Chapter Reveal & Giveaway

Chapter 1

Jerking my eyes open, I’m blinded by the bright sunlight creeping through my chiffon curtains. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” Alex’s favorite Guns N’ Roses song, blares through the speakers of my digital radio alarm clock. Awesome. As if jerk-face haunting me in my dreams isn’t bad enough. The universe seems to give a shit about the deal I’d made with my ex-lover. Or why else would it torture me with those fucking nightmares?

“You’re such a slut!” Chelsea, aka the Nun, aka roommate from church-hell, yells from the living room. The walls of our three-bedroom apartment at Green House are too fucking thin.

“Oh yeah? And what are you, Jesus with boobs?” Bonnie, my best and only friend, barks.

Pressing a pillow over my head, I try to block their voices out. This isn’t how I pictured my new life at NYU, and it sure as hell isn’t what I had in mind when I’d given up my old, carefree life as a witch. I’m so over their senseless fights. They’ve been living together for a while now. They still can’t ignore each other. Granted, it’s hard to turn a blind eye to the Nun. If she isn’t demonstrating against abortion, or writing a blog post about Evil Women Who Scream Rape When They Practically Asked For It Because They Wore A Too- Short Skirt, she’s determined to make Bonnie’s life a living hell.
“That’s blasphemy, Bonnie!”
“Sue me.” The fighting continues.
That’s it! I’m going to kill ’em. With a headache from hell and still half asleep, I stumble to my door and yank it open. They’re standing in the common room, which consists of an open kitchen and a small living room. “Shut up! Both of you!”

Bonnie’s eyes almost pop out. “Did you hear what she just said?” She sounds offended.

“The whole freakin’ floor heard you guys,” I snap.

They shoot daggers at me. I don’t care. Running a hand through my disheveled hair, I walk to the fresh brewed coffee and pour some into a dirty cup. Why can’t these girls wash up?

Chelsea glares at me with an I’m-so-much-better- than-you expression, rolls her eyes, and heads to her room. The girl knows what’s good for her. Have to give her that much.

“I want her out!”

Jesus! “And I want you to stop yelling, Bonnie. I’m not deaf.”

She lowers her voice. “I’m serious. I can’t live with her.”

You don’t say? I take a drink of the black gold and pull myself onto the kitchen counter. “We’ve already tried to get rid of her, remember? But like it or not, all residence halls are full.”

Bonnie puts a hand on her hip. It’s paradoxical. Usually, I’m the one with temper issues. Lately, I couldn’t care less about bitch fights. “Did you have a good night?” I ask, trying to take her mind off the Nun. Bonnie’s pained expression fades, and she flashes me a bright smile. “I had a date with Cappuccino Guy. He was…” She pauses. “Wow. Just wow. I can totally set you up with one of his buddies. Just say the word.”

I knit my brows. “Nah. If I need a date doctor, I’ll call Hitch.” Downing the rest of the coffee, I get on my feet. “I need a shower.”

Bonnie throws her cute curls over her shoulder. Her shiny cognac eyes fill with concern. “Did you have another nightmare?”

I lean my hip against the counter and close my eyes. The vicious dream pushes through my subconscious. The images are so fucking vivid, it’s as if I’m still trapped in it.

****

The wind rattled the leaves of the massive trees as plants wove around my ankles like poisonous snakes. I looked up. The sky closed in on me. Black wings beat the chilly air. Ravens owned the firmament. Hundreds of them blocked the faint light from the crescent moon.

Quickening my pace, I reached an old, savaged cemetery. My pulse jackknifed in my neck as I stared at an inverted cross leaning against the king-sized iron gates. I moved closer and read the inscription carved into the black wood: Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate. My Italian was rusty, but I knew Dante by heart. “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” With a jarring sound, the gates opened.

Don’t do this.

Too late. It felt as if a magnetic pull lured me into the cemetery. I passed through the gates of hell.

Ravens perched on crooked gravestones, throwing spooky shadows on the burned grass. The tang of sulfur engulfed me, stinging my nostrils.

This was insane. Turn the fuck around and walk away.

Every cell in my body wanted to listen to the voice in my head. I couldn’t. The place had me under its spell.

“Amanda!”
Bonnie? I turned, trying to locate her.
“Amanda.”
Hysteria tinged my voice. “Bonnie, where the fuck are you?” Desperate, I faced one of the ravens. “Where is she?”

The bird’s charcoal eyes pierced me. Then it spread its wings and flew toward a shabby mausoleum. A single black candle burned on the steps. There it was again, the magnetic pull. In a trance-like state, I stumbled toward the old tomb and the door swung open.

“In here.” Bonnie’s honey-colored skin was wrapped in a white toga. She looked like a Greek goddess, but her beautiful cognac eyes were white and empty.

I blinked. “What the hell is going on?”

A crooked smile on her lips, she yanked the door open farther. “Come and see for yourself.”

“What the—” Peeking over her shoulder, words stuck in my throat. My heart stopped. “Alex?” He laid on a mortuary table.

Was he—

No! I tried to push past my best friend, but inhuman and terrifying laughter pulsated through the eerie night.

“He’s gone, Amanda,” a dark voice whispered.
An ocean of black feathers covered the ground.

Ravens croaked in agony as a shadowy figure in a dark cloak crushed them with its boots.

Dread infected my system and I had trouble breathing. I wanted to run, but the black feathers turned into rattling snakes. The creatures hissed, and I knew they’d attack if I made a wrong move. “W-who the hell are you?”

The demon laughed. “Ah, love. ‘What is in a name?’” The snakes crawled left and right, opening a path for the cloaked creature. “‘That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet,’” the black shadow said, advancing toward me.

I should have been shocked by the fact a demon quoted Shakespeare, but my gaze drifted back to Alex. “What did you do to him?”

The shadow figure stopped inches in front of me and ran its blazing hand over my cheeks. “All in good time, love.” Then Bonnie slammed the mausoleum door shut, trapping Alex’s lifeless body inside.

****


“Amanda?” Bonnie’s voice draws me back to the present. “Did you have another nightmare?”
I run an index finger over the dark circles beneath my eyes and nod. “They’re getting worse.” “Worse how?”

I trace the scar Walter’s bullet left on my chest, not sure how to describe the uncanny feeling. “They’re way too real. I’ve slept eight hours, yet I feel like I was up all night, running a triathlon.”

Bonnie grabs the coffee pot and pours me another cup. “Did you call Alex?”

Did Cappuccino Guy screw her brains out? Alex, aka jerk-face, is the last person I’d give a buzz. Twenty- one months ago, hunter-heroic barged into my life and made me believe we had a chance at happiness. For the first time, I indulged in the fantasy love wasn’t just an illusion. When the witch hunter learned I was his favorite kind of prey, things turned ugly fast. He threatened to kill me, and if it wasn’t for his brother Jesse, he would have gone through with his threat. Then, three months ago, he walked back in my life with a proposal I couldn’t pass up. His brother had gone missing, and if I helped him, he would never bother me again. We found Jesse and saved a bunch of kids abducted by a bokor and his pedophile asshole friend, Walter. Alex honored his promise and didn’t contact me again.

“Why would I call him? Jesse is safe, I paid my dues, and he hasn’t bothered me again. Everything is perfect.”

Bonnie arches a brow. “You don’t look so perfect, Amanda.”

“Really?” I grin, or at least I try. “I thought I totally rocked this American Apparel underwear.”

“Amanda.” She folds her hands over my shoulders. “We both know he isn’t just any guy. He’s the f—”

Anger rises through me like toxic smoke. “Don’t you dare,” I warn her. “You promised you’d never bring this up.”

She plays with a strand of her rebellious curls. “I’m sorry. It’s just… I’m worried. Ever since you went on that stupid road trip, you don’t date, don’t screw.” She draws a deep breath. “Fuck. You don’t even live.”

I’m so not up for this conversation. I put the cup in the sink and stalk to our tiny bathroom next to my room. “Don’t wait on me,” I hiss, slamming the door shut.
“You’re such a bitch,” she barks. I couldn’t agree more.

****


Working the dayshift at Lindy’s Diner, I refill the

sticky sugar bowls. It’s been three months since I said goodbye to my past. Two months without reading cards. One month of respectable work as a waitress, and two fucking weeks of nightmares. Goddammit, I feel like a freaking member of AA.

“Amanda!” Lindy calls from the kitchen.

Hands shaking, head thumping, I put the sugar down and turn around. “Yeah?”

Deep lines on her forehead, she raises a brow at me. “New customer. Table two.”

God, I miss my old life. I straighten my apron and grab a menu. Approaching table two with a half-hearted smile, I put the menu down. “Welcome to Lindy’s Diner.” I point to my tag. “My name is Amanda. What can I get ya?” The sentence is branded into my brain. You wanted this, I remind myself. Yeah, but back then I hadn’t known a normal life was equivalent with becoming suicidal.

“What would you suggest?” my new customer asks. He’s about twenty-five, wears a fancy black suit and expensive leather shoes. Not exactly a typical Lindy’s Diner customer.

I pull the pen out of my ponytail and reach for my notepad. “Pancakes are nice. Apple pie is great. Everything else pretty much sucks.” Joe, our Italian chef, is freakin’ amazing, but Lindy likes to keep her costs low. Even Joe can’t turn shit into gold.

The dude leans back, and his lips curve up at the corners. “Pancakes and pie it is, then.”
I jot down his order and walk to the kitchen. After handing the paper to Joe, I nibble on cookies until my phone vibrates in the back pocket of my jeans. Peeking through the kitchen door, I check if Lindy is nearby before pulling it out.

Bonnie’s name flickers across the screen. I hadn’t expected to hear from her after our little argument that morning, but the girl doesn’t just love me at my best. She also accepts me at my worst. And in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been nothing but at my worst.

Still mad? she texted.

Maybe, I sent back, not ready to let her off the hook so easily.

Suck it up. Double-date tonight nine. Dress up, he’s hot!

Has she lost her mind? I look like one of the zombie strippers. Hot on the outside, rotten and dead within. No!

Yes!

Bonnie had made up her mind, and the girl is like a pit bull when she wants something. I’m bound to lose a WhatsApp argument with her, so I decide to talk her out of it later. We’ll see.

See you in Penrose’s class?

Yes. I hit the send button and put the phone away before Lindy catches me texting.

I return to the counter and see the guy with the fancy leather shoes holding up his cup. “Table two,” Lindy snaps.

“I’m not blind.”

“Then move your lazy ass. The coffee ain’t serving itself.”

Grabbing the pot, I stalk toward him. “Anything else?” I ask, filling his cup. I don’t mean to sound like a bitch, but I just can’t help it.

He studies me with big, arctic-blue eyes. There’s something about them that gives me the creeps. I just can’t put my finger on what it is. I try to read his aura, but the colors are blurred. I haven’t had a clear reading since the damn nightmares started. I’ve tried, God knows I have, but it’s like I’m constantly glaring at a fucking rainbow. What good is it to be a witch if you can’t use your gifts?

“I’m Legend, by the way.”

Sure, and I’m Jada Pinkett Smith.

“Would you, maybe, care to join me?” He sounds casual, not pushy.

“Sorry. Can’t,” I grumble.
He holds my gaze. Chills ripple through me. Oh no. Not here. Not now.

****

The way too familiar scent of rusty iron and death hung in the air as Legend stood in the living room of the comfy family home. He’d been told by the first responding officers the scene was barbaric, but the word couldn’t adequately describe what he saw. Vicious crimson stains covered the walls, part of a liver lay on a white leather sofa, and a bloody hand print decorated the large flat-screen TV.

Legend drew a deep breath and focused on the disfigured corpse. The weird symbol carved into his head bugged Legend a lot. Four people slaughtered, and all wearing the same mark.

“Sir,” a young officer said to him. “The coroner is here.”

“Give me a sec,” he ordered, scanning the crime scene. No sign of forced entry, no murder weapon, and he’d bet his ass there’d be no DNA or fingerprints.

The young officer glared at the corpse. His face slightly green, he looked sick to his stomach. “What animal would do something like that?”

Animal was the keyword. The rib cage of the poor bastard was torn into pieces, most of his organs removed, the body had been twisted in an unnatural way, and the victim’s face unrecognizable. “I don’t know,” Legend said. “But whatever killed him won’t stop.”

“Whatever? You mean whoever, right?”

Legend pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his jacket and went to the door. “No. I meant whatever.”

****

My knees are like jelly as the sickening vision fades. The symbol carved into the man’s head had been a sigil. In other words, a demon’s calling card. Every demon has its own. But this one, I had seen before. It had been carved into the chest of Mister Sinister, the guy who’d attacked me in an alley. The dude Alex thought I’d iced.

“Are you all right?” Legend sounds genuinely concerned.

My hands tremble. “Just a little dizzy.”

He loosens the collar of his shirt. A weird tattoo crawls over his neck. Looks like some sort of symbol. “Sure you don’t want to join me, Amanda?”

Before I can answer, Lindy shouts, “Amanda!”

For once, I’m glad my boss is a freaking tyrant. “Sorry. Gotta go.”

About Soulmates: 

Alex is a righteous witch hunter. I’m a stab-worthy witch. We loved each other once. Now, we can’t stand to be near each other. It’s my fault. We are natural born enemies, after all. I had to help him save his brother from a psychotic voodoo priest, though. What can I say? I like Little Remington as much as I pretend to dislike Alex. Besides, he promised to never bother me again after that.  

He kept his end of the bargain. I left my dubious life behind and started over. All is well. Until—  

The truth about a deal with hell is revealed. I have to choose between the ultimate sacrifice or losing jerk-face forever. One will live, one will die. Who, solely depends on my selfishness

Pre-Order Now: 

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Kobo

iTunes

Add it to your TBR: 

Goodreads

Giveaway:

Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon GC and a Kindle Fire. 

Soulmates Cover Reveal & Giveaway

I’m so happy to finally show you the Soulmates cover! I’ve been dying to share it with you guys!

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About Soulmates: 

Alex is a righteous witch hunter. I’m a stab-worthy witch. We loved each other once. Now, we can’t stand to be near each other. It’s my fault. We are natural born enemies, after all. I had to help him save his brother from a psychotic voodoo priest, though. What can I say? I like Little Remington as much as I pretend to dislike Alex. Besides, he promised to never bother me again after that.   He kept his end of the bargain. I left my dubious life behind and started over. All is well. Until—   The truth about a deal with hell is revealed. I have to choose between the ultimate sacrifice or losing jerk-face forever. One will live, one will die. Who, solely depends on my selfishness

Pre-Order Soulmates:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Kobo

iTunes

Add it to your TBR:

Goodreads

Of course, we have to have a giveaway to celebrate right?! For a chance to win a $50 Amazon GC and a Kindle Fire enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Soulmate ARC sign up form is up!

With the release of Soulmates (Drag.Me.To.Hell. #2) around the corner comes the chance to read and review it ahead of everyone else. Interested? Great. All you have to do is fill out the form. Just follow the link Soulmates ARC sign up form.

About Soulmates:

Alex is a righteous witch hunter. I’m a stab-worthy witch. We loved each other once. Now, we can’t stand to be near each other. It’s my fault. We are natural born enemies, after all. I had to help him save his brother from a psychotic voodoo priest, though. What can I say? I like Little Remington as much as I pretend to dislike Alex. Besides, he promised to never bother me again after that.

He kept his end of the bargain. I left my dubious life behind and started over. All is well. Until—

The truth about a deal with hell is revealed. I have to choose between the ultimate sacrifice or losing jerk-face forever. One will live, one will die. Who, solely depends on my selfishness.

One will live, One will

 

Soulmates (Drag.Me.To.Hell. #2) Release Date

And we finally have a release date for Soulmates. Strap in guys it’ll hit the stores on the 10th of March 2017.

Here’s the blurb:

Alex is a righteous witch hunter. I’m a stab-worthy witch. We loved each other once. Now, we can’t stand to be near each other. It’s my fault. We are natural born enemies, after all. I had to help him save his brother from a psychotic voodoo priest, though. What can I say? I like Little Remington as much as I pretend to dislike Alex. Besides, he promised to never bother me again after that.

He kept his end of the bargain. I left my dubious life behind and started over. All is well. Until—

The truth about a deal with hell is revealed. I have to choose between the ultimate sacrifice or losing jerk-face forever. One will live, one will die. Who, solely depends on my selfishness.

One will live, One will

New Adult Scavenger Hunt!

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THE HUNT IS OVER. WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON! 

Thanks everyone for participating <3

 

Hey guys! I’m Nadine Nightingale aka Dini, your hostess for this part of the hunt. I’m the author of Karma , the first book in the Drag.Me.To.Hell. series, published by the Wild Rose Press. It’s a paranormal romance about Amanda Bishop (a stab-worth, infuriating, and arrogant witch), and Alex Remington (a righteous, honest, and caring hunter). They used to have a thing, but that was before he learned she’s a witch and tried to kill her. Eighteen months later, he’s back in her life and they have a deal; she’ll help him save his brother and he’ll disappear from her life for good. But karma can be a real bitch…

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Welcome to the New Adult Scavenger Hunt ! This biannual event promotes  new adult authors and offers a great opportunity for fans to see the latest and greatest in new adult literature. At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive bonus material from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt, and a chance to enter giveaways for fabulous prices.

How to hunt: 

Pick a team! Since you’re reading this you did the right thing and picked #TeamOrange. Okay…okay…#TeamGreen #TeamPurple are equally awesome.

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Read this post! I have the honor to host the lovely Eleanor Lloyd-Jones who is going to share a sneak peek from her second novel Scattering Elephants. 

Look for my lucky number & write it down! You’ll find it at the end of this post and I’ll make sure you won’t miss it. Make sure to enter the extra Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of the page for a chance to win a $10 Amazon GC.

Click the link at the bottom of the post so you can continue the hunt within that same team. Repeat all steps until you have visited all the authors for one team. Add up the numbers that you collected from all the authors of one team (if your a mathematical failure like me, I suggest using a calculator).Visit ENTER HERE and submit your entry. You must submit your entry before Sunday, October 30th at 12 p.m. US EST.

Got it? All right, let’s hunt!  

Today, I’m hosting the lovely Eleanor Lloyd-Jones on my website for the New Adult Scavenger Hunt!

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Author Biography:

Raised in a little village in North Wales, a fierce love of books and reading was instilled in Eleanor by her parents from a very early age, and she has vivid memories of reading secretly under the blankets with a torch for hours after lights out, often getting caught! She was blown away by The Borribles Trilogy – Michael De Larrabeiti at nine years old, and it was then that she fell head over heels with idea of imaginary worlds.

A persistent and professional daydreamer, something she still prides herself on being, she spent most of her early childhood inside her own head making up stories or scenarios, climbing trees, building dens or doing anything arts and crafty. Music also played a huge part of her young life. Growing up on The Beatles, U2 and Status Quo, her obsession with Top of the Pops and vinyl twelve inches grew into a love affair with music that has only grown and expanded over time: there is rarely a moment where music is not playing in her life, and in turn, rarely a time when she is not singing, even if it is in her head!

She had always thought she would write a book some day – it has been an ambition for as long as she can remember – and has always been told that she ‘has a way with words’. Over the years, she’s dabbled in the odd piece of prose, helped friends to write letters and résumés and prides herself on her hilarious lyrical genius when composing poems for friends birthdays! Life, however, got in the way and her dream was stored on the back burner as she put herself through university and started a family. It was only when she was nearing the ‘forty’ milestone that she decided it was time she got some of the ramblings and chatterings in her head down on paper.

A creative, guitar-playing mum of one boisterous, but pretty damn cool boy, she classes herself as a Yorkshire gal now after moving to Leeds when she was eleven. Eleanor works full time as a teacher, but grabs every spare minute she can to write; be it on the train, lunchtimes at school or foregoing sleep for an extra hour or two in the evenings. Her hope for the future is for people to fall in love with her characters as much as she does. Not a big ask really!

To find out more about Eleanor, you can keep in touch with her in all of these places:

Website: www.eleanorlloydjones.weebly.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/eleanorlloydj

Facebook Street Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/eljelephant

Instagram: instagram.com/eleanorlloydjones

Twitter: @EleanorLloydJ

Pinterest: pinterest.com/eleanorlloydj

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/14242868.Eleanor_Lloyd_Jones

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Exclusive Content

 

Eleanor’s debut novel was Housing Elephants (blurb can be found on Goodreads and on her website) and she is currently working on the next book in the story, a continuation of Billy and Eve’s story. This is a work in progress, but here is a snippet of what is to come…

Scattering Elephants by Eleanor Lloyd-Jones © 2016

All Rights Reserved

Unedited and subject to change.

 

Chapter ONE

Sitting in the back of the van, Billy pulled his feet towards him, pressing the flats of his soles together, and lolled his head back against the cold metal. Guitar cases and drum sticks lay at his feet and a lazy smile pulled at the corner of his mouth. The sound of the traffic rushing past wrapped around his head and, staring out of the window, he watched the blur of coloured lights from cars and street lamps.

From somewhere in the darkness, an arm swept forwards offering him another toke on the giant spliff that had been passed around for the past ten minutes. It would be his turn to roll soon, and he wasn’t entirely sure his fingers would work nimbly enough to manage it. He reached over and took the joint, pulling on it deeply and filling his lungs to capacity holding the drug laced smoke there. This was a different feeling to that of the burning of cigarette fumes that he used to crave so badly; that burning in his chest that would whip his thoughts away for a few seconds. This feeling was smoother and ran the length of his body, oozing into every vein, every capillary, leaving him relaxed and carefree. This was the feeling he needed to forget it all, to bury every ounce of pain he was carrying around with him, every single day.

Some of it was released as he poured it all out on stage, night after night, crooning till his heart ached of lost love and painful goodbyes, but this time of day, when the rush of adrenaline had subsided and the high of the crowds had filtered into the night, this was the release that helped him sleep at night. They were on week five and there were at least three left before the tour was officially over.

Aside from his fears of alcohol and how he might react with a skin full of it, the idea of dealing with hangovers that he had witnessed his father battling with had always been enough to put him off drinking. Not anymore. The last few weeks, the heartache of home had been too painful to bear without some sort of numbing effect.

Billy had slipped into the gigging lifestyle smoothly and comfortably on the surface. He was making all the right noises at all the right times, nodding and laughing with the guys, but it was the drugs and alcohol that were keeping him afloat.

That and the performing.

The nightmares would wake him sometimes, but he was able to push them aside lazily and return to his foggy, thoughtlessness with his bloodstream bubbling with marijuana.

Leaving was supposed to fix things—to make things easier… so he continued to tell himself that, lest he crumble under his own mistake.

“Bill.”

His lids lifted heavily from his eyes at the sound of Matt’s voice. “Hmm?”

“Get rolling. We’re pulling up in a minute to get snacks before we park up for the night.” Matt handed him the tin of weed and a packet of giant Rizzla. Billy nodded and took them from him, watching in a cloud of haze as Matt and Greg jumped out of the back of the van before it even screeched to a halt.

“Get me a can of coke or something,” Billy shouted through the open van doors with little conviction, unsure if he had even been heard. As he turned his head to watch out of the window again, a vibrating in his pocket had him reaching inside of it to pull out his phone. It took him a few seconds to focus on the display, but his face contorted into a grin when he saw Dobo’s name flashing across it.

“Dobo, my man. How goes it?”

“Hey, Bill. How you doing?”

“I’m good, man. Pulling up for the night soon. Tonight’s show was fucking awesome. Rammed it was. Chicks all over the place.”

The line went quiet except for Dobo’s breathing, and Billy closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. There was no fooling his best mate: this bravado wasn’t necessary at all.

He took a deep breath. “How is she?”

There was more silence and Billy waited patiently as Dobbo gathered his thoughts.

“She’s ok, Bill. Considering. I haven’t seen much of her this past fortnight, but I know Rach has been there for her. I popped round two nights ago, but Rae wouldn’t let me in, so I just left them to it.”

Billy nodded, a pain searing through his chest as he tried to block out the images of Eve that came flashing to the forefront of his mind. There was nothing to say really, so he sucked in another breath and changed the subject. “So when are you going to get your arse down here to watch me play, eh?”

“Soon, bud, soon. I promise. How long have you got left?”

“About three weeks I think. But there’s talk of us staying longer, so who knows at this stage. If I’m honest, I am just living day to day. I’ll let you know more once we have things finalised though. You’d better book that train ticket, dude.”

“I will. Listen, I’ve got to go. Mum needs some help with the garden in the morning, we are digging a fucking pond or something. God knows why, but she’s been watching Alan Titchmarsh on YouTube and has gotten herself some crazy landscaping ideas. Need to get some sleep cos it will be manual labour tomorrow.”

Billy chuckled and smiled to himself at his memories of Mo and her kindness. “Ok, buddy. Speak to you soon. Take care and…” He trailed off, unsure of what it was he wanted to say.

“I know, Bill. I will. I promise.”

The line went dead and Billy stared blankly at the empty screen for a few moments before tucking his phone back into his pocket.

A clattering of metal and high pitched screeches had him almost screaming out as the lads came barging back inside the van, thumping their fists on the sides and howling like werewolves as they charged past it.

“You fucking idiots! Frightened the life out of me.”

They all laughed and Matt slapped him on the back as he handed him a litre bottle of coke.

“How much do I owe you?”

“Nah, call it a bonus! You’ve been awesome these last few weeks. The crowds love you, so call it a ‘thank you’ for warming them up for us.”

Billy felt himself beaming from the inside out. It was praise and moments like this that reassured him he was doing exactly the right thing for himself. And that’s what the trip was all about—it was about doing stuff for him. He’d spent so long shouldering ever other fucker, and this was his time. It was time to shine as Billy Taylor the man, not Billy Taylor the son, or Billy Taylor the carer—it was time to shine as Billy Taylor the independent man who needed to put his life back together. And that’s what he was doing. Or at least it was what he was telling himself he was doing.

The engine roared to life and the guys headed out to a spot they had been using to park up and sleep in the van. There wasn’t much room for them all in the back, but they had become accustomed to sharing the small space. It wasn’t ideal, but that was kind of half the fun. They all had sleeping bags, and the floor was lined with a couple of old duvets to soften it up a bit. They took turns to sleep in the front seats, which although were a bit more secluded, were not comfortable in the least, and, without the body heat of the others, could get really fucking cold. It was Billy’s turn in the front that night, and as he crawled out of the back, sleeping bag under his arm, his thoughts once again turned to home and in particular to Eve.

The last time he had seen her was as she ran into the station, a bunch of balloons wrapped around her wrist, her face pale and worried. He knew Dobo thought he’d already gone. Truth was, he deliberately didn’t get on the train he was originally planning on. He’d needed to gather some thoughts together and he had a feeling that she would come looking for him and needed to see her just one more time.

He’d been sitting in the window of the coffee shop that sat above WHSmiths and he’d watched as she fell to her knees.

That was the moment his heart had broken in two for real.

He’d looked on as Dobo took charge of the situation, and as soon as Rachel had appeared on the scene, he knew it was okay for him to go. It was okay for him to leave her because she would be fine. She would be loved and she would be looked after. The phone call he had just shared with Dobo only moments before was a reassurance that she was still in good hands and he hoped that would be enough to help him get to sleep for the night.

He opened the passenger side door and stood to the side as Jason slid out to join Matt and Greg in the back.

“Sleep tight, sweetheart.” Jason pulled Billy into a hug as he passed him, and the lads laughed as Billy squeezed Jason’s shoulder.

“Night, bud.”

He claimed the passenger seat, slamming the door behind him and felt down the side of it for the lever to tilt it back. It didn’t lie completely flat, but it was enough that you felt like you were at least half lying down. He glanced over at Dylan who sat steely in the driver’s seat, a cigarette hanging from his mouth, his eyes squinting at the outside. Billy was a little apprehensive where Dylan was concerned. He couldn’t quite read him and that made him nervous. He was the drummer for Eboracum Rain and he was intense. He was a man of few words and rarely got involved when the guys were goofing around or doing drugs.

“Night, dude.” Billy gave him a sideways glance. Dylan barely moved. He sucked harder on his cigarette and nodded, his eyes never leaving the windscreen.

~~**~~

Rachel sat with her legs tucked underneath her on the sofa, flicking aimlessly through the channels on the television. She’d ordered Eve to go to bed two hours before and hadn’t heard from her since so was holding out hope that she’d managed to drift off to sleep. Living with Eve in the last few weeks had become a delicate dance of avoidance tactics: avoid any discussion that might be misconstrued as molly coddling, or love, or life… or anything that wasn’t related to mundane household tasks or uni work. It was tiring, but Rachel was stubborn and decidedly determined to get her best friend back on track.

Her phone chimed and a text message from Dobo flashed on her screen.

How is she?

It was pretty much the same message as she got from him most days, and her reply would be almost identical to the one she sent him the night before.

Broken. But I’m not giving up.

Rachel and Dobo were like chalk and cheese, and if she was to be completely honest about him, he infuriated her. He was like a lost puppy half the time: a bit dopey, always there, and never with the right thing to say. If there was a way for Dobo to put his foot in his mouth, you could be certain he would find it. He had taken it upon himself to call round as often as he thought would satisfy his job role as ‘chief carer’. That’s the role Billy had given him when he left, even though Rachel was quite adamant that she was the chief and only carer that Eve would ever need. It wasn’t that she didn’t like Dobo. He was harmless. It was that he was just under her feet all the time whenever he was around.  It seemed obvious to Rachel that Dobo would be a constant reminder to Eve that Billy was no longer around, and she was getting to the point now where she felt she needed to pull him aside and ask him not to visit anymore, or at least not so often, or not for a while. She had no idea how long it was going to take Eve to heal from the shit storm that had whisked its way into her life over the past couple of months, and having Dobo around couldn’t possibly be contributing to the process.

I know. I’ll pop round tomorrow at some point. Night.

Rachel sighed and contemplated telling him there and then that it wasn’t the best idea, but she couldn’t bring herself to. She threw her phone to the end of the sofa and got to her feet, walking to the kitchen to make herself a drink.

Whilst pottering around, the sound of the stairs creaking had her watching the kitchen door for the arrival of her best friend.

Eve pushed open the door and padded across the tiles to where Rachel stood pouring hot water into a mug.

“Hey, lady. Can’t sleep?”

Eve shook her head gently and lifted her mouth into a tight smile.

“Drink?”

“Please.” She pulled her cardigan around her and folded her arms across the front, leaning against the counter as she watched Rachel make tea.

“Want some sugar in this?”

“Yeah go on. Push the boat out.”

The girls smiled at each other and Rachel handed Eve her mug. “There’s a film starting soon. A comedy I think. Fancy curling up with me? Might help take your mind off not sleeping and relax you a bit?”

Eve nodded and looked Rachel in the eye. “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry? What the fuck for?”

Eve shrugged. “Just for this. The whole thing.”

“Give over, y’lunatic. You’re my best mate. Nothing to be sorry for. Come on.” She nudged Eve and led the way back into the living room where the girls curled up on the sofa together. Eve lay her head on Rachel’s shoulder and watched the television screen as it flicked from one mindless programme to another, Rachel searching for the right channel.

The opening credits were just starting to roll and the pair of them adjusted their eyes in silence to take in the blockbuster movie that promised side-splitting laughter.

Laughter is the best medicine: that’s what they say. Well that’s all well and good if you can laugh. What if you can’t? What if your laugh has gotten lost or been locked away and you have forgotten where the key is? That best medicine isn’t available to you then, is it?

~~**~~

Eve woke up with a crick in her neck, the television still on and Rachel snoring lightly in her ear. She sat up and manoeuvred herself out from underneath her friend, trying her best to not wake her. Checking the clock above the mantle piece, she sighed, rubbing her hands over her face.

It was the same every night. It had been the same every night since that day. She would fall asleep out of pure exhaustion at strange hours of the day only to wake, alert and with her mind whizzing only a few hours later. This cyclical nightmare didn’t seem to want to stop. The more sleep she missed out on, the more exhausted she became, but the less she slept because her tired brain would play tricks on her, wake her at ungodly hours and quite frankly prolong the horrific reality of her situation.

Eve’s university lecturers had been understanding when she had made the phone call to tell them that she needed some time to herself.

Despite staying away from the place, keeping busy had been the only answer. She continued to draw at home, her art still the one thing that kept her going in all circumstances, but keeping busy with a pencil in her hand was a repetitive activity every day. The only thing she could see in front of her was Billy. All she wanted to draw was his face, his eyes, in case she forgot what he looked like. So as much as Rachel was doing her damnedest to help Eve forget about Billy and move on, all her efforts were counteracted and erased as soon as Eve put pencil to paper. One step forwards, three steps backwards. There were days where Rachel coaxed her out of the house and they would go for a walk, or grab a spot of lunch somewhere, careful to avoid places that she thought would remind Eve of him. Little did she know that Billy was the only thing that filled Eve’s mind, regardless of where they were, despite what was going on around her. Rachel in fact had no idea that Eve was reminded of Billy ever second of every day.

The truth was, Eve was a shell of her former self.

The need to run and hide was gone now. Since her mother’s revelation, everything she had ever known had fallen into place, and she no longer needed to run from the things she had forgotten. Instead, she wandered around aimlessly with no purpose. She was completely lost, and so were her emotions.

She managed the odd smile when Rachel was around, who had this uncanny ability to keep her grounded whenever she was near her, but without her, Eve would merely go through the motions of staying alive. She would remember to shower and eat, albeit only morsels. She would remember to hoover the carpets and wash the dishes. She would sit in front of the television and watch the news or stare out of the window.

Grabbing the blanket from the arm of the chair, Eve covered Rachel up and walked quietly into the kitchen to put the cups in the sink, refraining from switching the lights on so as not to disturb Rachel. At three am, the house was still dark, but Eve had done laps of the place so many times at that time in the morning, she was able to move around without a problem. Shoving her hoodie over her head, she opened the back door and stepped out into the cool night air, sitting herself down on the step.

She gripped her phone tightly in her hand as she raised her eyes to the inky sky, wishing that everything that had happened could be erased, rubbed out, like her drawings could. Glancing down, she swiped across the screen and scrolled to Billy’s name. There were voicemails and text messages from him saved, and Eve now knew them all by heart. Listening to his voice crooning in her ear was the only way she could get through each day. Reading his words that told her how much he loved her was the only way she was able to carry on going through the motions.

Every single night, she bottled out of calling his number, and every night became just another discarded and lost opportunity to try to get to him. Every single night, she closed her eyes after re-reading his letter that was now worn and tattered, and hoped that time would speed up until the day where his heart would be mended and would be ready to find hers again.

It had taken her a little while, but she understood the meaning of the whole thing now: she was at peace with it. Even though her heart burned every time she thought of him, even though she couldn’t bear her life without him, she understood… and she knew he would come back for her. It was just a matter of time.

So she waited.

And while she waited, she lived her life on the edge of something intangible, something neither here nor there. She lived in the dark with the dripping of the kitchen tap when then house was still. She woke up with the owls and took comfort in the stars, and she sang a song from her heart to Billy’s heart—a song that would eventually bring him home.

Now that was pretty awesome, wasn’t it? Well, I’m hooked.  

Congratulations! You survived my weirdness and endless chatter, got to read an exclusive excerpt from Scattering Elephants by Eleanor Lloyd-Jones, and damn well deserve a reward. And let’s be honest, what could be a better prize than a ton of books by many other awesome authors? To win them you need to know that my lucky number is 14.  Add up all the lucky numbers of the authors on #TeamOrange and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author!
Don’t forget to enter my additional giveaway of a $10 Amazon Giftcard below!!! Just click on the Rafflecopter link!!!

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Giveaway: Win a trip to the RT Booklovers Convention in Atlanta 2017

Win a trip to the Atlanta RT BOOKLOVERS CONVENTION 2017 (includes Reader Pass, US Airfare & Hotel) 

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I might be a writer, but I will always be a reader foremost. Books give us a chance to escape reality for a little while and most of us return to our favorite authors, because we know exactly what we get for our hard earned money. This giveaway is a “Thank You” to all readers who are brave enough to give a new author, like me, a shot. All entrants MUST HAVE BOUGHT A COPY OF KARMA, or gifted a copy of KARMA to a friend (e-book, or Paperback) between May 2016 and the 30th of September 2016. You don’t need to post the proof in the comments, but you must be able to provide it!
And because I truly believe in karma I will donate 75% of royalties earned between May 2016 and September 2016. 50% will be donated to Colleen Hoovers Bookwormbox and the other 50% will be donated to children suffering form cancer.

Here’s how you enter: 

 Must have bought a copy of Karma between May 2016 and September 2016. (required)
 LIKE my Facebook page. (required)
 SHARE this great giveaway. (extra entry)
 TAG some friends! (extra entry per tag)
 Leave a review on goodreads and/or Amazon (extra entry per review) 

This giveaway is US only. International entrants are allowed, but must be willing to pay part of the Airfare and any Visa costs.

Giveaway ends on the 30th of September 2016.

Giveaway originally posted on Facebook

Major Giveaway Coming Soon!

Just a quick announcement. On Sunday, I will share the details of the BIG giveaway I’ve planned. I’m thrilled and excited, because it’s a seriously awesome price. 

I’m dropping hints as to what it might be on my Facebook page. So far I can tell you this: 

Atlanta!

That’s all I’m saying for now. Make sure you check my homepage, or my Facebook page on Sunday. Trust me you don’t want to miss this!  

Dear Victim-Blamers #BrockTurner

****Warning! This isn’t book related. It’s me being pissed off!****

Dear Victim-Blamers,

I’ve been watching you for a while now—your vicious comments, your cowardly rants—all the hate you’re spreading through social media. The blame you’re putting on a girl that had been through hell and back disgusts me. Yet I chose to stay quiet. I chose to believe that some of you simply don’t know better, while others might need to conjure up excuses for their own sick fantasies. I told myself that when Emily’s letter couldn’t cure your narrow-minds than nothing ever would. So, I stayed away from the comment sections of articles about Emily Doe and the Stanford Rapist. I closed my eyes and pretended you don’t exist. All was good. Until your viciousness followed me to the real life. Until I came face to face with a bunch of you. Until I heard your kind speaking ill of a girl they don’t even know, in a public place, where I had my coffee.

“I don’t get all the fuss. She doesn’t even remember it.”

“I bet she liked it and only came up with that rape shit because she was scared her boyfriend would leave her.”

“She was wasted. If chicks can’t handle booze they should stay away from it.”

“I have a sister. I’d kill a guy if he hurt her, but if she was unconscious how did she know he fingered her?”

“Nowadays, women scream rape all the time. They need the attention. Why else would she write such a letter and put it online?”

Do you recognize your words? Those are only five quotes of your one and a half hour rant. I asked you politely to stop that shit. I tried to reason with you, though, I knew it was pointless. You just laughed in my face and kept going.

Now, I’m left with no choice. I can no longer pretend you don’t exist when you intrude my life with your hate. So, I’m writing you this letter. Again, your narrow-minded kind will most definitely ignore these words. You will pretend they don’t exist like I did with your hate. And yet I’m writing them, hoping that someone will force these words on you as you forced your hate on me and the world.

Now, before I start I’d like to make one thing clear: I have NEVER been RAPED. So, I don’t know what it feels like to walk in Emily’s—or any other victim’s—shoes. Reading Emily’s letter, I can only assume what hell she must have been through. I wouldn’t know how empty you must feel when you decide you “…don’t want your body anymore”. I couldn’t tell you how it feels when the most precious thing you have is taken from you—yourself.

But what I can tell you is what it means to be a woman.

I had the privilege to grow up with two older brothers. They had always treated me like one of their own, never told me “You can’t do that, ’cause you’re a girl.” I was six when they took me to my first kick-boxing lessons, seven when they introduced me to the world of action and horror movies. We shared a deep rooted love for superhero comics and fancy cars. They were also the ones who bought me my first skirts and dresses and encouraged me to wear whatever the hell I wanted without taking too much care of what others thought of me. I loved short skirts—still do—and tight jeans. I liked dressing up and putting on some make-up. That didn’t mean I loved the dirty looks I got when I went out with my friends. Neither did it mean that I wanted some dude’s attention. All I did was trying to be me.

How naively I was back then. Spoiled by my brothers, to believe that all men were like them. That it didn’t matter what I wore, but rather who I was. Not all men were like them, a lesson I had to learn the hard way.

“She was wasted. If chicks can’t handle booze they should stay away from it.”

When I was eighteen I worked in a sports bar, waiting tables to earn some money so I could go out, buy books and nice clothes. My boss, a woman, was tough, but fair. The day I’d started my job, she said, “If a guy harasses you, don’t hesitate, tell him to get the fuck out and don’t ever come back.” I loved her for it, because I had just quit a job in some fancy hotel where my supervisor thought it was okay for rich, old, guys to grope me. I disagreed.

A few months later, we had some VIPs at the bar. They drank champagne, had hot girls by their sides and acted like total douchebags. I was lucky, though. I got to work the pool-hall instead of the bowling lane. They wouldn’t come up and I wouldn’t go down.

Around 3 a.m. I finished my shift and came down. My best friend had come to pick me up. She waited for me at the bar, chatting with her boyfriend, who had been a waiter too. My feet ached and since they were flirting, I figured I take a seat and have a coke before I go home. I just sat when another one of my colleagues put two glasses of champagne down in front of us.

I looked at him. “What is that?”

I should have known something wasn’t right when his face slipped into a frown. “You’ve been invited,” he muttered, pointing to the VIPs.

I peeked over my shoulder. A few feet away, stood a forty-something guy—expensive suit, slimy hair, creepy eyes. The way his gaze drifted over my body made me shiver. I shoved the glass away. “No, thanks.”

Only seconds later, my boss approached me. She glared at me. “Did you just say no to that drink?” she asked, angrily.

I nodded and she started lecturing me about how important these people were and that I couldn’t treat them like this.

Remember, all I did was say no to alcohol. I wasn’t wasted. I did stay away from booze, even though I could have handled it.

Since I couldn’t argue with my boss, I politely excused myself and dragged my BFF to the restrooms. She had been so busy with her boyfriend the whole situation had been lost on her. I filled her in and by the time we reached the restrooms, we both agreed it was time to go.

The ladies room was empty. Most customers were long gone. A sick feeling crawled up my throat and for a second I contemplated to run. From what? I had no idea. But nature called and so I locked the door of the box behind me. Moments later, I heard muffled voices. I called for my friend and asked if she said something. She assured me she hadn’t.

The voices grew louder and all of a sudden I recognized them for what they were—the voices of two men. The blood in my veins froze. What were two men doing in the ladies room? Had they not seen the sign? Did they walk through the wrong door? Surely, it must have been a misunderstanding. Maybe they were too drunk to read.

My stomach twisted and I waited a little longer, hoping they’d go away. They didn’t and I couldn’t stay in there forever. When I heard my BFF’S door unlock, I walked out.

I saw him first—the guy who bought me champagne, the booze I didn’t drink. He stood in the door frame, blocking the only exit. After twelve years, I can still see the wicked grin on his face. I still remember his smug look and the scent of booze and sweat wafting my way.

My friend and I stood there, waiting for him to step aside. He didn’t. Behind me, I heard laughter. I spun and found the second voice. A tall, well-groomed man with an equally dirty look on his face. I knew right then and there that we were in big trouble. My head reeled and I started making plans—kick the one blocking the door in the nuts, gouge out his eyes, and then, RUN.

“What are you doing here?” my friend asked.

“You know what we want,” the one behind me said.

“You wanted us to follow,” the guy in the door added.

The preying look of the Champagne dude made me furious. I wasn’t going to stand there and wait till they did what they were here to do. I was going to fight them both if I had to. Now, you can be a trained kick-boxer all you want, two drunk guys are a problem. The alcohol had made them numb to pain and they were tall and well-built. We were beyond screwed. Nevertheless, I moved toward him and shoved him back. He trembled slightly and that was it.

Just when I got ready to kick, the door behind him swung open and our security walked in. He looked at us, at them. Putting one and one together, he faced me and said, “Get out. Now.”

He didn’t have to tell us twice. We ran. I needed to tell my boss what had happened. These guys were dangerous. So, I ran right to her and told her everything.

She listened patiently and then she said, “Why did you go to the restrooms? Why couldn’t you wait?”

“Why did you go to the restrooms? Why couldn’t you wait?”

All I did was refusing to drink booze, which clearly your kind believes to be at fault in Emily’s case, and go to the restrooms. I didn’t ask these guys to follow me. I didn’t smile at them. I didn’t tell them to stalk two eighteen-year-olds to the toilets. Yet I was the one who had been blamed for their mistakes.

I’ve just turned thirty and, sadly, this is just one of many stories where men thought they had the right to violate my private space. I’ve always been lucky, found a way out of these situations, but are we supposed to live like that? Does a woman have to be scared to go to the restrooms? Do we not have the right to live as we please? To drink without being terrified of what some sicko might do to us?

Being a woman means justifying yourself even though you did nothing wrong.

Why does society look in a woman’s past and say: Why did she walk alone in the middle of the night? Why did she drink too much? Why did she have to wear such a short skirt? When they should be asking: Why the fuck did he think he could attack her because she walked home after work? Why did he think that an unconscious girl would want his penis inside her? What gives him the right to touch her because she wears a skirt?

Society—that’s all of us. Even you, victim-blamers. Now, you can go on, pretending that women are at fault for everything. You can close your eyes and hide from the truth, but what you cannot do is: judge our behavior. We are free to do whatever the hell we want, without fearing for our lives. And next time you start ranting about stuff you know nothing off, remember that it could happen to you one day.

Sincerely,

The Girl From The Neighboring table.

From The Diary Of A Travelling Writer

It’s no secret that I travel a lot. I must have spent more nights at airports than in my own bed, more hours on planes than on the ground. Travelling isn’t just a part of me, it’s pretty much who I am. People often ask me if I don’t feel like settling down. You know, making a home for myself.

I always smile and say: “I have a home. It’s just a little bigger than yours and I happen to share it with 8 billion housemates.”  

The universals reaction to that reply is either the WTF look or the damn-I’d-love-to-join-you expression. 

Now, I’m not writing this blog post to brag, or anything. Hell, no. Truth is, nothing about my travelling life is glamorous. I don’t sleep in 5-star hotels, don’t dine in fancy restaurants. Instead, I tend to live with locals wherever I go, lived in Mumbai’s slums, spent a night on the beach of Cannes, and seen/experienced some bad shit.

So, why am I doing it, then? Here’s why: 

About two years ago, I waited in line at Milan/Malpensa Airport’s immigration. The queue was literally endless, dozens of families and travellers eager to get to their final destination. I’m used to waiting, but I’d been moody all day and just wanted to get to my hostel. In need of some distraction, I plugged my earbuds in, chose my favorite Iron Maiden song, turned the volume of my phone to a max, and started checking my emails.  

I fought through the mess I call inbox when someone tapped me on the shoulder. No need to say, I was expecting a mad fellow traveller complaining about my music taste, but when I peeked over my shoulder I was greeted with a brilliant smile, thick black hair and sapphire eyes. The dude—who looked like he walked right out of a rockstar romance novel—moved his lips.

And I? Well, I didn’t hear a thing. I took me a moment to realize I didn’t suffer from hearing impairment, but couldn’t hear him due to my earbuds. After standing there like an idiot, trying to read his lips I finally pulled one out. He was total flirt material but, as I mentioned, I was grumpy and when I’m in a bad mood I’m bitch incarnated. So, I cocked a brow and pretty much barked, “What?”

He held up an immigration card. “Do you have a pen?” 

I always have a pen. Searching through the mess I call a bag, I pulled one out and handed it to him. “Guess, it’s your lucky day.”

Still smiling he said, “Must be. I met you.” 

Good looks or not, I always hated cheesy pick up lines. So, I returned to my emails.

“Would it be rude to ask where you’re going?” 

I was so not up for small-talk with Mr. Cheesy, but he struck me as the kinda guy who wouldn’t just stop. “Milan.” 

“For work or leisure?”

“Work.” 

“I’m form Canada.” 

“I know,” I grumbled. 

His eyes went wide. “What? How?”

“I’m psychic.” 

The look on his face was priceless. “Really?” 

He totally believed my bullshit. I rolled my eyes and pointed at his passport. “No. I saw your passport.”  

Mr. Cheesy threw his head back and laughed hysterically. Seriously, everyone in that line turned and stared. “You’re hilarious,” he said through bursts of laughter.

I was beginning to wonder if he was on drugs. “You should fill out your immigration card,” I suggested, hoping he’d leave me alone to sulk in my bad mood. 

“And you should come with me.” 

I had no earbuds in my ears this time, but I had to have imagined that. “Come again?”

He ran a hand through his hair and moved a little closer. “Milan is just a pit-stop. I’m off to South Africa and you should come with me.”

“Sure,” I said, convinced he was joking.

He wasn’t. “I’m being serious. I know it sounds crazy—”

“Creepy, or insane would fit the bill, too.”

He shrugged. “Maybe. But hear me out before you say ‘no’, okay?”

There was nothing he could have said or done that would have changed my mind, but my curiosity got the best of me. “I’m listening.”

He pushed his bloody expensive camera to the side and straightened. “When I woke up, today, I had this weird feeling.” 

He was weird. 

“I just knew I had to pack my stuff and board a plane. So, I went to the mall, found a travel agency, and booked the next free flight. Two hours later, I boarded the plane and now I’m here with you. That’s fate.” 

Here’s the thing: I never believed in fate. “Nope, that’s you being bored.” 

He spent the whole hour—yeah, it took an hour to get through immigration—trying to talk me into hitching a plane to South Africa with him. I tried to reason with him, told him I had to work and that it was totally insane to ask a girl if she wanted to run away with a dude she barely knew. 

He wasn’t going to back down, though, and by the time we both left the airport, he had shared his whole life story with me. His name was Jay, favorite color red, single child, his mom made the best Nanaimo bar in the whole wide world (I didn’t even know what that was, but nodded politely), and his ex-girlfriend was still his best friend.

I didn’t want to be impressed, but the I-still-like-my-ex-thing kinda got to me. Of course, that wasn’t reason enough to go to South Africa with him, but I did grab an airport coffee with Jay. Turned out, he was even crazier than me. We had and amazing time and plenty of laughs. My bad mood? Long gone.

After the second Americano, I was certain about three things: Jay was weird but in a pretty cool way, he was still very much in love with his ex, and the sudden urge to board a plane was an attempt to run from his own feelings. I’m  the last person who should give relationship advice, but I told him what someone once told me. “Don’t be the guy who looks in the mirror, one day, and sees all the things he could have done. Be the guy who looks at his reflection and sees all the things he has done.” 

Jay eventually boarded his flight to South Africa—alone. And I made it to my hostel.

About a year later, I walked through Canadian immigration. Jay and I had stayed friends and he’d invited me to his wedding with his beautiful ex-girlfriend turned wife.

So, yeah. This is why I’m not ready to settle down. There are so many amazing people out there, waiting to share their stories and I intend to listen.