Sneak Peek at Toad!
|January 28, 2018||Posted by Cambria under Uncategorized|
Sneak Peek @ Toad!
Today I am bringing you the prologue AND chapter one of my new college romance novel Toad. So if you haven’t read it yet, read the beginning below then 1-click it to read the rest!
Once you have done that enter to win a Kindle Fire!
A very slim shaft of light beamed through the otherwise inky darkness, disturbing the complete undertow sleep held me down with. It was almost as if the sliver of sunshine was a raft, suddenly appearing to pull me to the surface…
As of late, reality was entirely overrated.
I lay still for long moments, content to fool life into believing I was actually still asleep. Reality wasn’t one to be put off, however, nudging me awake regardless.
The more “alert” I grew, the more aware of my unawareness I became.
Where was I? What time was it…? And why in the world was I feeling a draft?
Goose bumps prickled my skin and chills raced across my body, leaving behind a wintry stiffness in my limbs. Defeated, my eyes sprang open, and even though it was darker in this room than it was under a sky filled with stars, it was still too bright.
Groaning, I slapped my hand over my eyes, saving them from that damned slice of daylight. The draft was still brushing over my bare skin, so I peeled my fingers away one at a time until my eyes were blinking and adjusting to the room. I gazed across the mattress. The large lump beneath a pile of blankets was clear proof I wasn’t in this bed alone.
My nose wrinkled.
Where the hell was I?
It wasn’t as strange as most might believe—you know, me waking up and being confused as to where I was. That was the life of a singer. I traveled so much, so often, that hotel rooms blurred together, and quite frankly, I was beginning to forget what the inside of my own house looked like.
I just needed a moment to shove back the heavy curtain of sleep draped over my mind. And to get another blanket! How was a girl supposed to think when she was a giant icicle?
I reached for the blankets, but all I got was a handful of a scratchy, sequined dress. Forcing my head off the pillow, I gazed down the length of my body.
Disgust shot through me. Instantly, I sat up, propping myself on one hand. No wonder there was a draft. I was half naked! Yet… also still dressed.
A dull throbbing made itself known in the back of my skull, and the idea of going back to sleep beckoned like long, bony fingers reaching up from a grave. I blinked it back because I was still trying to understand why I went to bed in my sequined mini dress, short, snug, and held up by straps barely wide enough to cover a bra. It was hardly comfortable to wear out, let alone to bed.
Currently, it was even more uncomfortable because it was bunched up around my waist completely exposing my lower half! My underwear was MIA, and I’d been sleeping on top of the blankets, not beneath them.
Strands of my hair brushed the tops of my shoulders when I turned my head to stare at the still-present lump beside me. Glancing down, I noted that my arm was completely out of one of the dress straps, while the other was still in place. The side had worked itself below one breast, the sequins rubbing rather uncomfortably against my skin and pushing up the underwire of my strapless bra.
There I was in a hotel room, freezing from lack of blankets, dress bunched around my waist, bra shoved up over one boob, and a rash forming from the scratching material that looked really good in photos but pretty much felt like sandpaper. Oh, and don’t forget the headache.
And reality wondered why I tried to stay asleep?
Sliding off the mattress, I trudged like a zombie over to the wall of curtains. On the way, I passed by a mess of magazines all spread out over the table near the window. Some were open. Some lay cover facing up… All of them boasted unflattering photos and headlines of me.
Aerie and Will Over!
Oh no she didn’t! Becky spills the tea on her feud with Aerie!
What the hell were those rags doing here? I never read that trash. Hearing about it was bad enough.
After sneering at the tabloids, I sent a few scattering off the table and continued on, stepping over them toward the heavy curtain and grasping the edge where that pesky ray of light was coming through. Bracing myself, I drew it back, recoiling from the sunshine beyond.
A very congested, very urban city stared back at me.
Like a floodgate had burst and water quite literally swept over everything, hazy memories from last night flooded my brain.
The ache at the base of my skull was instantly ten times worse. My eyes watered with the memories, the knowledge of what I’d done.
There was no way.
No way in hell. It must have been a dream. I was a lot of things, definitely a hot mess… but I wasn’t that far gone.
Standing there in the window, bathed in the sunlight of a new day, I squinted as nausea rolled over my entire midsection. I didn’t even think about the fact that my dress was still around my waist, one boob literally on display as far as the eye could see.
Shoving at my tangled hair and trying to unstick my tongue from the roof of my mouth, I took a breath and looked down. After one second of hesitation, I lifted my left hand, barely noticing how unsteady it was as I held it out.
Sun glinted off the slim silver band around my ring finger. Diamonds caught the light and reflected it back in a way that was most stunning.
My right hand slapped against my mouth, and my head shook back and forth as if the denial could somehow erase that ring. Erase what happened last night.
What the hell had happened!?
I whirled around so fast I nearly fell onto my bare ass. Before tumbling, I gripped the heavy drapes and steadied myself. Nearly slipping on the magazines as I rushed across the room, I plunged onto the bed, scurrying to the lump still facing away from me.
“Wake up!” I said, grabbing his shoulder and shaking it. His skin was very warm to the touch. It made my nausea worse.
He made a sound, then let me pull him around so he was flat on his back and I could peer down into his face.
“Will!” I said, slapping my palm on his bare chest and giving him a shake.
His body stiffened and his eyes sprang open. “Your hand is like ice,” he complained, bucking my touch.
“Will,” I said again, undeterred. “What the hell happened last night?”
His eyes opened again, this time still sleepy but with more awareness. A smile pulled his lips upward. “Morning, Mrs. Solberg.”
There was a beat of silence. The kind of silence the likes of Las Vegas had never heard before. “What did you just call me?” I whispered, hoarse.
Will groped around until he found my hand, lifted it, and glanced at the band on my finger.
We didn’t… I didn’t.
He chuckled. “Come on now, babe. Don’t tell me you forgot the most important night of your life.”
I glanced down at the ring. The wedding ring.
“We got married?” My voice was still gravelly.
“You can finally get rid of that hick last name you’ve been saddled with your entire life.”
I barely heard what he said. There was a very loud roaring between my ears. I shook it, trying to rid myself so I could think. Will chuckled and wrapped his arm around my shoulders, pulling me down so I was sprawled over his chest.
“You can believe it, babe. It’s real. It’s you and me now. Forever.”
Tears welled up in my eyes, threatening to spill across his very warm chest.
“Your skin is like ice.” I felt rather than saw him glancing down at me. “Are you still dressed from last night?” He made a sound. “I know that’s your wedding dress and all, but, babe, you really should change. You look a mess.”
Forever. The word echoed around my brain as if it were the only word in existence. The only thought inside my head.
Oh my God. I got married last night.
What the hell had I done?
Everybody wants a seat on the Nate Train.
Nonetheless, I was still here. Trudging around campus, freezing my ass off when I knew I could be in sunny L.A. selling tickets, all aboard. Well, not everyone wanted a seat on the Nate Train. Or rather, they didn’t like the destination it was heading for.
I stepped out of the music building, my last class of the day finally over. It was Friday, but I didn’t have any weekend plans. Same shit, different day. Except, of course, I could sleep in and not sit in classes that threatened to numb my brain until it was rendered useless.
I didn’t mind college… at least until lately. This semester made me feel restless. Like I shouldn’t be here, but out there. You know, in the world and stuff.
The wind blew uncomfortably, the chill stinging my cheeks. It was almost spring break, but you wouldn’t know it by the weather. March in New York wasn’t spring. At least not this year. I grabbed the black beanie out of my jacket pocket and pulled it down over my head. The second I tucked my hands into my pockets and ducked against the wind to make the trek to my car, my pants started vibrating.
After glancing at the name flashing on the screen, I answered, “What’s up, cuz?”
“Dude. You need a manager. Or an agent,” Ten said into my ear.
I glanced up, surprised, and got a nice eyeful of a frigid blast of air. “Oww!” I wailed.
“Nate!” Ten said, not at all worried about my eyesight.
“I bet it’s a nice eighty degrees in L.A.,” I muttered, offended.
“Actually, it’s eighty-five.”
I gave my cell the finger. Repeatedly.
“Stop flipping off your phone,” he said, laughter in his voice.
“I wasn’t,” I argued, even though I totally was. “I’m much more mature than that.”
Ten made a sound, as if he knew I was full of turds, and shifted the conversation. “Becca got another call for you.”
“Did she give them my email?”
“Do you even check your email?” Ten wondered.
“I would if she gave it out,” I retorted.
“Dude. Big music execs don’t just send emails.”
“Their people do,” I pointed out.
“It wasn’t their people who called her. It was the big guy himself.”
“Santa Claus owns a music label!” I said, excited.
“We’ve been over this, Nate,” Ten replied, exasperated. “Your dad is Santa.”
He was a dream crusher. I pressed an icy finger into my ear. “I can’t hear you.”
“Do you want the deal or not?”
I dropped my arm. “Hit me!”
“Rolland Solberg, as in Solberg Records, CEO of the second-most-successful label in the industry, called.”
“Second only to your label,” I said, nodding. I knew all the big players in the industry.
I knew them before my cousin Ten (the hottest thing in pop since like ever, and that’s even after he became public enemy number one) came home and we got close again. Before I started working with him on his new album and a few original songs. Now that his new album wrapped, first single dropped and hit number one, and I’d sold a couple other songs to some big-name artists, I was even more fluent in the business.
“Seriously. I hear Rolland had a serious hard-on for the top spot, but he’s not going to get it. Not with my album about to drop.”
He wasn’t even being cocky. It was just the truth.
“So what does this have to do with me?”
“Apparently, they’re about to sign Aerie Boone. How the fuck they are managing that, I have no clue, and they want her first single with them to blow up the charts.”
A little bit of adrenaline started to fill my lungs. I loved it. It was the most addictive feeling I’d ever known. Music always did that to me. I could sense the words stirring around inside me. Even though I didn’t know what words were there yet, I still felt them. I could almost taste them.
“He wants a song?” I asked, my hand tightening around the phone.
“Not just a song, a Nate Roth original.”
I pumped my fist into the air and shouted. Unfortunately, I used the fist that was clutching the phone, and it fell out of my grip and landed in a lump of snow with a thud.
Oops. My fingers dove into the cold, soft matter, causing the skin at the tips to burn, telling me they were tired of being out here.
After I scooped up the phone, I shoved it back against my ear, some of the snow dripping off the bottom and hitting my shoe.
“You still there?” I asked.
“You dropped the phone again.”
I shrugged. “I was excited.”
“They want a meeting first thing Monday morning. You gotta bring your A-game. If you land this song, a whole bunch of doors are going to open wide for you.”
“I have classes Monday. Spring break starts Thursday, though. Think we can book it then?”
“That’s not how this works, man. At least not until you are so in demand you can make your own demands,” Ten said. “You gotta show up on their time.”
I knew that. I did. It was the reason I missed classes at the end of last semester when we were working on Ten’s new album, Butterfly.
If he was pissed about it then… this is going to be worse. The thought taunted the back of my mind, momentarily rendering me speechless.
“Nate,” Ten called me back to the present.
“Yeah,” I said. “So what did Becca tell them?”
“She booked the meeting. And she’s making a bunch of noise about commission for acting like your manager. I’m telling you, man. You don’t want to deal with her. You might want to get someone to handle these calls.”
I mock shuddered. “Becca the barracuda. Hiring someone might be a good call.”
“Look, my plane is already in the air for you. Fly out tonight, and we can prep this weekend.”
“You’re sending your plane?”
“Like I’d let my cousin and my girl fly commercial.” He scoffed.
“Violet?” I asked, glancing around as though I expected her to just appear.
“I haven’t seen her in almost a week,” he intoned. “Too long. Pick her up on the way to the airstrip, okay? She knows to be ready.”
I hesitated just a fraction of a second.
“Is he going to be that pissed?” Ten’s low voice filled my ear.
I felt my shoulders sag. “I’m not sure,” I replied.
“You want me to have Becca call back and cancel?”
“No!” My answer was swift. “I’ll be there.”
“You better have extra Fruity Pebbles when I get there. Flying makes me hungry.”
Ten laughed. “Already sent my assistant out.”
Dude had an assistant to get his cereal. Lame.
“This is a really great opportunity, Nate.” His voice no longer held laughter, but was more subdued.
“Yeah,” I said solemnly. “I know.”
“Call if you need backup.”
I disconnected the call and pocketed my phone.
Remember how I said not everyone wanted a seat on the Nate Train? Specifically, I meant my dad.
He definitely didn’t want a seat, especially if it was heading to L.A.
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