Just a tiny taste….

Most of you know that I’ve been working on multiple projects since Nanowrimo when I did my #4novellas4weeks. While I only completed two novellas (one of which may never see the light of day) I discovered that my creativity flows better when I dedicate a specific amount of time to a project then move on to the next–wash, rinse, repeat. This week I’m writing Agostina and Julian’s story, On Her Skin. Julian is the sweet, not-so-shy guy Yves hooks up with in the beginning of In Her Closet. Agostina is all new and I must say, I’m really beginning to fall in love with Aggie and her twisted, pervy, tattooed group of friends, a couple of whom starred in another novella of mine Best Laid Plans (which I will be releasing independently). This story is definitely shaping into more of a traditional romance. No kinky bits. Just regular old sweet romance…with my usual peppering of angst because it makes it more interesting for me to write and hopefully for people to read. 

Also, I’ve decided to make some major changes as far as this series is concerned. I’ll fill you all in when I have all the particulars in order but for now, send happy thoughts my way.

Here’s a little excerpt of Agostina and her friends Dexton and Zuli:

From the day I turned thirteen and snuck out of my mother’s house, I’ve been frequenting the bars on South Street. I’d been kicked out of more than I can remember. Banned from quite a few too. So it was no surprise that the moment that I hit the pavement bouncers and patrons called out to me. They hugged me and wondered where I had been. Filled me in on the latest shenanigans of the usual suspects–that’s what we called our crew. It was hard to say no when they offered to by me a beer. The sweet smell of hops and barley floated out to me on the street and every part of me called out with a thirst that I’d never felt before. I nearly gave in. But then I saw a familiar face standing on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. A pretty, scrawny, little tattooed hooligan with his mouth crooked into a smile. He dodged out into traffic to get to me. Before I could even say hello his mouth was smashed against mine.

Dexton…

In our crew of Unusual Suspects, Dexton, Zuli, Lennox and I were the tighter than the laces on a punk kid’s Chuck Taylors. Dex was a tattoo artist who worked at the same shop and Zuli was his best friend turned lover or…something like that. Lennox was my boyfriend. We were a rag tag bunch but the three of them were the closest thing to family that I had. 

“Agostina Malone! Where have you been? Zuli’s across the street. Hey Zuli!” He waved over a curvy, brown-skinned beauty. Her face broke into an instant smile.

“Aggie!” She dashed out into traffic just as recklessly as Dexton had and threw her arms and legs around me. I oof’d then laughed and hugged her back.

“Goddamnit, I missed you, you sexy devil! When did you get out?”

“Two days ago. I’m staying in a halfway house out in West Philly.”

“Two days? Why is this the first time we’re hearing from or seeing you?” Dex asked a frown creasing his dark brow. 

I shrugged. “You know…I just…”

“It’s fine,” Zuli interrupted. “You look good,” she said with a nod. 

“She always looks good.” Dex kissed me on the temple and threw an arm around my shoulders. “Come on, let’s go back to the shop. Everyone has been asking about you.”

“Uh…I don’t know–“

“Everyone misses you, Aggie. Just pop in to say hi–“

“Dex–“

“She’s not ready for that, Dexton,” Zuli interrupted, her voice steely. She looked me in the eye, squeezed my hand. “Have you talked to Ox?” 

Just the mention of his name took me right back to that night. The confusion, the panic, the all consuming terror I felt when I came to with my car wrapped around that telephone pole and him…in the snow motionless, bleeding–

“No, I haven’t. I wrote him when I was locked up. Sent him some money. All the letters came back. Return to sender. They never accepted my calls…I don’t think he wants to see me.”

“You know that wasn’t him. His mother never liked any of us. She’s probably the one who sent back those letters.”

“Why would she do that? She knows how much I love him–“

“I suspect that’s why.” Zuli touched my cheeks, wiped away tears that I seemed to be crying without even trying. “He asks about you all the time.”

“He does? You’ve seen him? How is he?”

“He’s good. I mean, he’s better. Not like he used to be but, yeah, better.”

Dexton squeezed my shoulder. “You should go see him, Aggie.”
I nodded. “I know. I will.” 

“So what are you doing down here? Have you eaten yet?” Dex asked. He was probably the skinniest guy I know. He even borrows my jeans sometimes but, I swear, he could put away more food than the Eagles’ offensive line.

“No, I actually need to hit up the thrift shops. My stepfather packed up my condo and well, long story short, a lot of my stuff is damaged beyond repair so…”

“So great!” Zuli looped her arm through mine. “Let’s head down to Retrospect!”

I spent the rest of the afternoon hanging with my friends like it was old times. Zuli helped me put together a few looks–she was a pro at digging up secondhand gems and could make a twenty-five cent shirt and a two dollar skirt look better on me than anything I could have bought new. We stopped by the art supply store where I bought drawing and coloring pencils and a sketchbook of good heavy paper. I even bought a bike. A big red and white Swinn with a basket on front and everything. It all felt good and normal and I almost forgot about that everything that happened last year. Almost. Then Dex suggested we grab a quick bite at The Village Whiskey in Rittenhouse Square. 

The Village Whiskey was one of those secret places known and frequented by locals where you could get a good, juicy gourmet burger and fries fried in duck fat that wasn’t so pretentious that they frowned on the likes of us. Not to mention the fact that they had an extensive whiskey selection. We loved the place. It was next to impossible to get a table but we managed to eat there at least once a week.

My belly rumbled and I could nearly taste the combination of a juicy burger and a good full bodied whiskey on my tongue. Dex was already hailing a cab. I fought the urge to climb in behind them when one pulled up to the curb.

“Well, come on, gorgeous. You know how hard it is to get a table. It’ll be gone if we take too long.” Dex beckoned me with an outstretched hand.

God, it was so tempting and so fucking easy. I could climb in the cab with my friends, pass the hours with drinks and good times. But how long before I ended up right back where I started?
I backed away and shook my head. “No…you guys go ahead. Hope House has a curfew…I really should be getting back.”

“Fuck that curfew–“

“Dexton!” Zuli exclaimed, lasering him with a look that would make the burliest, bodybuilder wet their pants. She climbed out of the cab and pulled me into her arms. I melted into the embrace. Zuli understood. “I’m proud of you,” she said then gave me a soft kiss. “You call me okay?”

“I will.”

Zuli gave me another quick squeeze and jumped in the cab. I stood there after the car pulled away. The craving crested in me, making me feel weak. “I’m stronger than this.” But was I?

I dug through my bag until I found the business card Lorna Ruiz had given me. The line barely rang before she picked it up.

“This is Lorna Ruiz,” she chirped. 

“Lorna…it’s Aggie. What time is the next meeting?”




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