Everything done in darkness, will eventually be brought into the light. I ran, but all it did was keep me one step ahead of my past. I tried to start over; new name, new identity. But you can’t change your soul. A fresh start at college was just what I needed. For a while, it worked. I was the party girl, the one that seemed confident, but it was a lie. When guys kissed me–I felt only pain. When they touched me–Nothing but fear. Deep inside, every girl wants to be the beauty in the story, to find someone that will see you as their world.
But the truth? I was the beast. And as much as I wanted redemption, I wasn’t fool enough to think I’d ever get it.
Until he walked into my life. I wasn’t prepared to fall for someone. My scars were too deep, the wounds too raw. But he offered me peace, he offered me security. I should have known it was just another lie–I should have known that falling in love with my professor was a bad idea. But I was powerless to stop myself from falling. And he was powerless to catch me. Because the darkness finally caught up to me, and as fate would have it, a cruel twist almost bled me dry.
But I’m stronger than I knew. I’m stronger than you think. You think you know my story, but you don’t….after all everyone has Shame in their lives– and I’m no longer afraid to show you mine.
I am going to start off with this book is a completely different type of book than your normal RVD contemporary book. Even though the Ruin Series is about heavier subjects, this book is darker and deep about a subject that many women shy away from talking about. This is a book that needed to be written and a subject that needed to be addressed. No, Rachel is not the first to breach this subject, but the type of mental and verbal abuse that Lisa suffers from has been taboo in the past. So as a warning, from someone who has gone through this type of abuse, I want to let you know, it might be hard for some of you to take.
Lisa feels she is unworthy of love. Unworthy of the happiness her friends Gabe and Kiersten have found. She started college to run away from her past. But lately the past seems to be showing up more and more in her daily life, making her feel as if she is loosing her mind.
Then she meet Tristan. They have this connection, but the only problem is that he is her professor and so off limits!
As they get thrown into more situations together, their connection can’t be denied. But can Tristan help Lisa feel as if she’s worthy of his love, without Tristan feeling as if his own past can ruin her in the long run.
Like I said this book was hard for me to read. I had to take breaks and spent an hour crying to my best friend, reliving some of the abuse I was subject to as a teen with my own boyfriend. Even with all of that, I came out from reading this book with a new insight of what I and many other girls like myself have gone through. That there is hope and there is love and that even though the scars are still there, after 20 plus years, its ok to say, I went through this and I know it wasn’t my fault.
I love Rachel for speaking out for those of us who weren’t able to voice their pain and for showing us that love can thrive and grow and be a light after the darkness.
As I stare out the tiny window of the plane, I start rubbing my hands across the tops of my legs. Why am I so nervous about this?
“Hey, stop worrying about your interview. You got this. Piece of cake. Easy Peazy.”
I look to my best friend Jill, as she’s smiling while reading a book, in the seat next to me.
“You can’t tell me that you’re not freaking out just a bit at meeting Wes Michels? COME ON….Wes “Freakin’ Hottie” Michels! NFL Quarterback of the Year, one of the richest guys in the world, humanitarian…”
She lets out a small laugh. “And one of the nicest and most down to earth person you will ever meet. Well I hear. And of course I am…but YOU? Come on Becca, you have met just about everybody.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are making our approach into Seattle. At this time we ask that you put away all electronic devices and return your seats and trays to their upright position. It’s a beautiful day in Seattle, sunny and 76 degrees. We should be at the gate within 10 minutes.”
“Well, at least it’s not raining. My hair is horrendous in the rain and humidity!” I say with a bit of relief.
Jill just smirks and starts putting her book away, getting ready for landing.
I take a deep breath. Jill’s right. I have this. At least we have a full day before we meet up with Wes at the stadium for my interview.
I am so happy that Jill decided to come with me. She’ll keep me grounded. I have a sneaky feeling though the only reason she agreed to come so fast was because she is hoping to meet Gabe.
Once off the plane the two of us head towards luggage claim. I take a cleansing breath and am feeling much better. Looking down at my phone to make sure I have all of our reservations, “You’re right Jill. I don’t know why I am so nervous. We’ll get checked into the hotel, do a little sight seeing and…”
Jill interrupts by hitting my arm. “Hey!! What was that for?” Boy she can punch for a little thing!
“Um Becca, don’t panic but isn’t that Wes Michels standing over there with a sign with our names on it?”
I squint, looking in the direction of her glaze. “No way…why would the NFL Rookie of the year be at the airport to pick us up? There has to be another Jill and Becca right?” Now I am panicking, “RIGHT??”
As we get closer to the couple Jill practically laughs, “Well I would love to tell you no, but it looks like we are getting the best welcome wagon in the world! Oh that must be his wife Kiersten with him. She’s gorgeous!!”
As we edge our way towards the couple, that by the way, looks like they just stepped off the cover of Vogue Magazine, the biggest smiles transform across their faces.
“Becca, Jill, welcome to Seattle!” Wes greets me with an outstretched hand, while Jill is being pulled into a hug by Kiersten.
“We are so thrilled you are visiting us” as Kiersten pulls at me next.
“She’s a friendly one!” I laugh while still looking at Wes.
“Forgive her, she’s just a bit excited about this weekend.” He says, his eyes light with laughter himself.
“We really weren’t expecting y’all to come and get us. This is such a pleasant surprise and was really unnecessary.“ I say while looking at my best friend from the corner of my eye, seeing Jill with the biggest smile ever.
We walk toward the carousel to pick up our luggage. Jill and Kiersten are talking off to the side, acting as if they are life long friends. I guess since they are the ones that set this entire weekend up, they do know each other a little better.
Snapping me out of my mini daydream. “Kiersten said this was your first time to Seattle?” Wes asks me with a smirk across his lips. Yeah he totally caught me staring at him.
“Oh, um, yeah. I totally jumped at the opportunity to come and do this interview. Two birds with one stone, kinda thing. I get to interview the great Wes Michels and knock another state off my bucket list. I’m trying to hit all 50 states and only have Washington, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska left.”
“Impressive! Although I’m not too sure about the interview part. Nothing special here really.”
“I beg to differ but thanks.”
We walk out to their SUV and start down the road towards Seattle.
“We thought we would take you girls to dinner and do a majority of the interview tonight since tomorrow is a game day and I’m not too sure how much time I will have to actually sit down to talk. I didn’t know how extensive of an interview you wanted to do. Just take it easy on me.” Wes says with a wink while talking to me through the rearview mirror. “This is my first interview for a book blogger.”
“Sounds good to me. It’s fairly informal and I’ve done my research, so I’m good to go. And don’t worry about me, I’m fairly harmless.” Feeling my nerves settle. Wes and Kiersten are so easy, albeit gorgeous, that this weekend is looking better and better with each minute we head towards Seattle.
“GET. OUT. OF. TOWN!!” Jill exclaims from beside me. Lost in my own little world trying to make sure I have all my questions in order, I look out the window to see us up pulling up to the Space Needle.
After making sure neither of us is afraid of heights, we all jump into the private elevator to the top, for a spectacular dinner overlooking Seattle.
“Wow, this feels like a dream.” Jill sings, while looking at the view. Turning to Wes, “You really didn’t have to bring us somewhere so fancy.”
As Wes goes to pull out our seats for us, tucking us all in nicely before sitting himself, “We wanted to give you the full Seattle experience.”
After a few pleasantries and ordering, Jill and Kiersten dive into a conversation of their own as I start some of my interview questions with Wes.
First off Wes, thank you so much for letting us tag along this weekend and for granting me the interview. I know you don’t get a lot of requests for these types of interviews…well, romance blog interviews. But I felt like the two of yours story has really captivated women across the country. So what better place to talk about it, than here!
Hey anytime I can talk about Kiersten, I’m all over it.
I’ll ease into it and start with something a little more confortable for you. Let’s talk a little football. You were named NFL Rookie of the Year and Quarterback of the Year, which is quite the accomplishment since a Quarterback has only won the Rookie of the Year, seven times in the past 35 years. You had 115 Completions totaling 1305 yards. Your longest pass was 80 yards with a total of 13 complete touchdowns with 1 sack all year. That is quite the impressive resume.
Jill laughs from across the table as I look with wide eyes at her not to spill the beans. Too Late.
“That’s a rich question Becca! This from the girl who was a football cheerleader and didn’t know what first and ten do it again meant!”
Ok *flames burn across my face* Busted! Let’s just say Google is my friend. But even for not knowing too much about football, I do know that those are some impressive numbers! Was is hard fitting into the team, when you were already so well know before entering the NFL?
Yeah, it’s kind of like starting freshman year all over again only this time everyone knows who you are so they already have this pre-conceived notion about you or perception about how you’re going to act. You either have to live up to peoples expectations or blow them completely out of the water. Luckily, I know firsthand how short life can be so I just take one day at a time.
Jill pipes in with her own question. – So do you “Hallmark” the guys on the team, like you do your friends?
Hallmark? Haha..ah I see you’ve been talking to Gabe…hilarious, that kid lives for my words of wisdom…don’t be surprised when he busts out a Wes Michels tattoo…I tend not to offer advice unless it’s truly needed in the situation and I would never offer advice to someone before first being the person they trusted with the information, does that make sense? I guess I think it’s kind of harsh to offer advice when someone hasn’t even trusted you with the issue first.
Wes you are pretty well known for your philanthropic ventures and I heard you have a new project that you are starting up with your friend Lisa. Is there anything you can tell us about it?
Of course….as you know things have been kind of hard for Lisa this last year with her ex-boyfriend, I won’t get fully into it because it’s her story to tell and not mine. But, because of the emotional and physical abuse she received as well as the bullying she was part of, we’ve decided to start an online campaign against bullying.
I’ll take you off the hotseat Wes, and ask Kiersten some questions if you don’t mind.
A majority of your courtship with Wes was based on your “list” that Wes helped chip away at. Now that the list is complete. Have you started a new list for the two of you to work on?
Actually…I did write a list the other day..*looks at Wes, he blushes and looks down* It had the word baby on it…So I guess you could say our list has evolved a bit.
How exciting!! Well, now that you are back in school full time and have a NFL superstar as your husband, how do the two of you keep your life balanced?
Wes is the type that he’s always asking me questions…as if he’s constantly trying to get to know me…I mean we’ll be sititng down at night watching a movie like Pride and Prejudice and suddenly he wants to know who my favorite character is, why they are my favorite, who I identify with most, do I want to go to London some day? Etc…he’s constantly trying to find new things about me which is so romantic, it’s how we stay normal, how we stay grounded, constantly exploring each others lives as if it’s the first time and the last, because you just never know. Like yesterday I discovered that he hates roses but still gives them to me because he knows I love them…
Ok this question is for the two of you. How have your lives changed now that you each have been given a second chance at life? How do you tackle it as individuals and as a couple?
Life doesn’t necessarily change, it just alters a bit, suddenly your goals are different, your moments mean more. You cherish every little thing and learn not to complain about the small things. Yesterday I freaked because our coffee maker broke and Wes gave me the “look” haha he was right, why freak out? Because the coffee maker broke we ended up going downtown Seattle for the morning, drinking Starbucks and hitting up Pikes market, it was so wonderful and all because of an inconvenience.
After a small moment of silents Jill breaks in with a loud clap. “Wow, that truly beautiful but I think that’s enough business for today. We have the entire weekend to talk and get this interview in. What I’m interested in is when do I get to meet Gabe?”
I closed my eyes and leaned my forehead against hers. A shaky breath escaped her lips. “I’m going to kiss you now.” “Are you trying to prepare me or ask permission?” she whispered, her voice beckoning me like a siren’s call. “Both.” My lips hovered near hers.
“I figure it’s only fair.” “Fair?” She pulled back slightly. “How so?”
“Ten thousand.” I angled my head and watched the pulse jump on her neck. “That’s how many nerve endings, on average, are in your lips. Consequently, when your body anticipates pleasure, the build-up is the best part. Imagine, those ten thousand nerves are swelling, allowing blood to surge through them in anticipation of… what?” I swept my tongue across her lower lip and whispered, “Of being touched. I ask permission, not because I’m being a gentleman. It’s actually the complete opposite. I ask permission so your brain anticipates the pleasure before I’ve ever even touched you.” I tasted her lower lip again and abruptly dipped my tongue into her mouth. Then just as quickly retreated. “The human body is an instrument. Know how to master it… and well…” I let my voice drop as I moved my hands slowly to her shoulders and tugged her body flush against mine.
Our mouths met softly at first. I deepened the kiss, memorizing her taste, knowing I wouldn’t experience a kiss like this again in my lifetime. The way her scent, her soft moans destroyed my body, wrecked me from the deepest part of me, was nothing short of life-altering. And I’d like to think I’d kissed a lot of women. I’d studied the psychology of sexuality. I was an expert in pleasure. But she was schooling me, absolutely wreaking havoc on every logical thought as her soft whimper cascaded over me. Blood surged through my body as it tightened with awareness at her proximity. She pulled back, her lips swollen.
“That was… not a good enough warning.” Laughing softly, I cupped the back of her head and gently drew it toward mine and kissed her again, angling my lips differently, searching her, consuming her, drawing pleasure from her lips as if it was my life goal to discover every single secret she owned. Her arms wrapped around my neck. She was shy; she didn’t push against me, didn’t wrap her legs around me or moan into my mouth like I was having sex with her rather than kissing her. My hands moved down her corset to her hips, and I lifted her into the air and walked her backward toward the brick wall. The whole time, our masks collided. In frustration, I ripped hers off, then mine.
The shadows of moonlight hid our faces as I kissed her harder, losing myself in her. Her nails dug at the back of my neck as she jerked my head harder. Groaning, I let her fall to the ground as I placed my hands on the brick wall to keep myself from ripping the dress from her body.
Shouting started from the ballroom. “Ten, nine…!” “Eight,” I whispered against her mouth. “Seven.” “Six.” She sighed, her breathing labored as her tongue found mine again. “Five.” “Four, three.” I pulled back and trailed kisses down her neck. “Two.” We broke apart, both breathing heavy. “One.” People burst out onto the balcony as the fireworks started, lighting up the sky.
And our faces.
And the only thing I could say as she gasped in horror was “Oh, shit.”
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill.
She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at www.rachelvandykenauthor.com