Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Faith & Betrayal Sneak Peek

Coming Fall 2015...

Faith & Betrayal

“Tess? Do you hear me?” My beautiful blonde friend, Paige Daniels, questioned me from across her horses stall. She had just won the world championships and was on cloud nine, but she knew something was wrong with me. We have always had such a strong friendship, sometimes I think she knows me better than I know myself.
“Everything is great,” I smiled back at her trying to mask what was really going on inside of me.
“You know I don’t buy that shit,” she glared at me as she pulled off her horse’s saddle and headed down the barn aisle away from me.
I knew she wasn’t buying my brave-face act that I was putting on, but I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I didn’t want to spoil her big win tonight with the drama that is currently my life. It didn’t matter anyway. I was in a shit situation and I had put myself there. Nothing I did or didn’t do now could change that fact. There was no way out of this one, no this time I had really fucked up.
“You might as well just tell her, Tess. She is going to find out sooner or later,” Paige’s handsome husband, Cutter said tipping an eyebrow up at me.
“How do you know?” I asked shocked that somehow my dirty little secret was already out.
“I do know what TMZ is, Tess.”
“Shit, it’s on TMZ already?” I screeched.
Cutter simply nodded and left me alone to think about how I was exactly going to handle this monumental disaster.
The fact that the gossip sites had already gotten wind of what was going on was something I hadn’t expected. I thought I would have at least a few more days before the rest of the world discovered my own personal horror I had been living with for the past year.
The truth is I fell in love with the devil. I saw the warning signs early on and I did nothing to slow it down, I jumped in head first knowing it would end badly. I’m not exactly sure what that says about me, but I know it’s not good.
“So are you going to tell me yet or what?” Paige asked glaring at me as she reentered her horses stall.
“Paige…” I start but didn’t know what to say. I can’t find the words to tell her what’s happening.
“Look Tess, whatever it is we will get through it, together. Don’t you remember what a mess I was a few years ago? You helped me through that. Please just tell me what’s going on. I know it’s really bothering you,” she pleaded.
“Ash is on drugs,” I blurted out. “Coke mainly but I suspect he has used other things as well. I helped Chase and Liam check him into rehab and then I left,” I breathed a sigh of relief finally telling my best friend at least part of the hell I had been living recently. Paige looked stunned as she digested what I just told her.
It was true, my rock star boyfriend, Ashton Parker, the lead singer of the current hit band, Southtown was eyes deep in addiction. I knew it’s a fairly regular thing in the industry but for some reason I just couldn’t believe Ash would fall victim to the partying lifestyle. He was such a strong person. Sure he was wild and a rocker, but he had never been into drugs. Not until this past year when everything changed and the band became somewhat of an overnight success.
Ashton and his two best friends, Liam and Chase started the band in high school. They started off small doing local gigs at the bar scene in their hometown of Irvine California. It didn’t take long before they were invited to play in bars in Los Angeles and the boys made the move North to LA. I met Ash there. I was attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
“Tess...Tess, do you hear me? Are you ready to go?” Paige waved her hand in front of my face.
“Yeah sorry. I’m ready.”
“Babe, Tess and I are going to take one of the trucks we will meet you at the restaurant.” I watched as Paige kissed her husband goodbye and he whispered something sweet to her that had her giggling. I envied them. They had an unbreakable love. It had been tested to the absolute limit but in the end it couldn’t be broken.
“Let’s go Tess.”
I followed my best friend toward the dim lit parking lot of the Oklahoma City fairgrounds.
“Alright spill it. I know you aren’t telling me everything, I know you better than that Tess. I know you are upset Ash is on drugs but I also know there is a lot more to it,” Paige demanded.
We had only made it half way into the parking lot. I thought she would at least let me get in the truck before she confronted me. I knew she could tell I wasn’t telling her everything. I also knew she wouldn’t pry it out of me until we were alone.
“Is it really as bad as what your face says it is?” She was studying me, trying to guess what horrible thing I would tell her next, as if what I already admitted wasn’t bad enough. “Was he cheating on you? Because I swear I will chop off—”
“I’m sure he was doing that too but no, that isn’t what is wrong.” I hung my head in defeat. Not a single other person knew what I was about to say. I wasn’t worried Paige would tell someone but I was worried once I spoke the words out loud it would break me. I had been doing a hell of a job living in denial these past weeks but it had gone too far, it was time to face the truth.
“I’m pregnant.”
Paige gasped and rushed to hug me. “Oh God, Tess.”
I held onto her clinging to her warmth and goodness. I hoped that my body could soak it up like a sponge. I had literally traveled through hell and felt the full weight of all of Ash’s demons stuck to me. That’s the funny thing about dealing with an addict, even if you aren’t doing the drugs with them they can still make you feel you are.
“What are you going to do?” Paige pulled back from our hug and prepared to analyze my reactions.
“I’ve decided to keep it. I just… I just couldn’t bare the thought..” My voice cracked just thinking of the other possibilities.
“Does he know?”
“Yes,” I sighed in frustration. I winced just thinking of the ugly scene that transpired between us.
“What did he say?” Paige prompted me to continue.
“He just started screaming at me that I was trying to trap him and that I was just like all the other groupie sluts.” I knew the tears would come now. I could talk about everything else without cracking but not this, not his outright betrayal to me and our unborn child.
“Oh Tess!” Paige engulfed me in another huge hug as she saw the tears slip down my face.
I just shook my head in response fighting back the storm that was brewing inside of me. I would tell Paige the entire story but not yet. Everything was just too raw and I was trying my best to keep it together. Paige understood and let me quietly try to regain my composure.  It took a few minutes but the tears finally stopped.
“What do you want to do?” Paige asked.
Most people would probably assume she was talking about going to dinner but I knew she was asking much more than that.
“I’ve decided to come home. I’m leaving school. It’s for the best.” I felt a pang of despair thinking of how close I was to finishing my degree but in reality it no longer matter. My life had changed in an instant and what I thought was going to happen would never come to pass. I just had to accept it.
“Well, I always said we should be pregnant at the same time,” Paige said smiling brightly at me.
“You’re pregnant?” I asked surprised at her confession.
“Yes, Cutter doesn’t know yet. I am waiting to tell him until tonight. If he knew before the show he would’ve hovered over me the entire time. You know that would have pissed me off,” She explained, smiling at me. I was happy for my friends, they were getting everything they wanted in life.
“Alright, we better get going before every one wonders where we are. Everything is going to be okay Tess. I promise you it will be,” She said pulling me alongside her toward her large Dodge truck.
* * *
Two more days on the road and we would be home. I watched as the desert of Arizona whizzed by the passenger window of Paige’s truck. She convinced me to ride home with her claiming a road trip would be good for me. She and Cutter had an extra truck to drive home anyways since Cutter had bought a new one while in Oklahoma. I let Paige tell Cutter what was going on and he agreed a girl’s road trip would do me some good. We would be in California in another few hours. I tried to mentally prepare for the last leg of our journey but I knew it would be hard.
Paige and I were going to stop and pack up my apartment in LA and haul it back to Washington. I didn’t really have a game plan yet but Cutter and Paige insisted I stay with them until I figured it out. I was thankful I had them.
I also had the unfortunate task of telling my father the news when I returned home. I knew he was going to come unglued. My father and I have a strained relationship, at best. My Mother always blamed it on his own strict Chinese upbringing for his coldness. Nothing I did ever pleased him. He was less than thrilled when I announced I was going to study fashion and design in California. He thought I should become a doctor or lawyer. My Mother was the only one who could bridge that gap between us. I found myself missing her more and more lately. It had been hard to deal with my father since she passed away from breast cancer a year ago. I knew I could’ve confided in her about what was happening and she would have offered support without judgment.
My father on the other hand, could always be counted on to pass judgment. He had warned me about Ash and his lifestyle. He told me dating a rock star would end badly and he was right. It not just ended badly, it literally ruined me. But how could I have known? It had started out so differently. I closed my eyes hoping to drown out my anxiety of what was to come and find comfort in the memories of the Ash I once knew, the one that made me fall in love with him.
We met my first year at FIDM. I was living in an apartment outside of Los Angeles. I was on my own for the first time in my life and loving it. Well, that is until my apartment was almost broken into in the middle of the night, scaring the hell out of me. I had been asleep and I heard something crash in my living room. I jumped out of bed in a rush and flipped on every light I could, hoping to scare whoever or whatever made the noise. I was lucky because my tactic worked and I was only left with a broken window. The responding officer that night suggested maybe it was time for me to get a dog or alarm system if I was going to live on my own. I thought about it for a few days and ended up getting a dog. I’m not sure if I really rescued him or rescued his original owner. I found him on local website claiming they needed to rehome him. Moxie, a part schnauzer part who-the-heck knows puppy came home with me that day. The girl I adopted him from was a young college student who said she didn’t have time for a puppy. At the time I thought she was just immature and couldn’t handle the responsibility of dog. I thought she was giving him because she wanted to stay out and party but couldn’t do that with a puppy. But like I said that is was what I thought at the time. I quickly began to realize I may have been mistakenly adopted a very small furry terrorist.
The first four months I cried myself to sleep in frustration almost every night. He may have been the cutest puppy ever but he was an absolute monster. He wouldn’t let me sleep, he crapped in the house, chewed on my furniture and worse he loved to eat my clothes! I was strongly considering giving him up when the girl next door invited me to the dog park. Her name was Karson and she had the cutest wiener dog named Wilma. Mox seemed to like her and two could play for hours. I quickly learned the trick to dog ownership was taking at least one trip to the dog park a day and lots of puppy play dates.
I had tried out many of the different dog parks around LA but Mox and I seemed to like the one closest to our house the best. It was there I met Ash and Indie. Indie was a beautiful blue nosed bully pit and she had an equally beautiful owner. He was tall dark and mysterious. Most of his arms were covered in tats. He even had a few on his neck. I had never really been attracted to that type of guy but there was something about him that intrigued me. His eyes were a deep chocolate brown and they looked like they held thousands of untold stories. I was captivated by him.
It took me a few weeks of before I finally worked up the nerve to talk to him while our dogs played. I started off by asking him about his dog. He quickly corrected me and told me it was his girlfriend’s dog that he was just taking care of because she worked during the day. As soon as he said the world girlfriend my gut twisted with jealousy. I didn’t even know his girlfriend but I was instantly jealous of her ability to be close to him. There was something haunting about him and it unnerved me. I wasn’t usually the type to be affected so easily. Sure I had my share of boyfriends but none that I ever held my interest for very long. But I could tell this guy was different, he could challenge everything I thought I knew about myself and the world. 
Chapter One
Five years later…
“Mom do you have to go?” Bianca, my beautiful and demanding five year old daughter pleaded from the backseat of my Volvo. I had to go to New York City for a few days. I had a meeting with a major retailor to sell my line of childrens clothes in their stores. About a year after Bianca was born I began developing a line of kids clothes and within two years I had my very own store. I named it Bows and Ties. The store has been doing great and my clothing line has been selling out.
“Yes I have to go B. I thought you were excited to stay with Auntie Page and Uncle Cutter. You love staying the night there. Don’t you want to play with Cadence and Weston?”
“I do but I’m going to miss you Mommy,” she said smiling sweetly as I glanced back at her in the mirror.
“Alright, let’s hear it. What do want?” Although I hated to admit it, she had the charisma and charm of her father. It was undeniable. She also had his dark features. At first her dark brown eyes were like a constant reminder of the pain he had caused me, but now I only remember the good times. Regardless of the way Ashton Parker had trashed my heart he ended up giving me the best gift I could ever ask for, my beautiful baby girl.
“Well… I was hoping that I could ride with Cadence while I was at Auntie Paige’s house.” Bianca unfortunately had become horse crazy thanks to her aunt. Horses scared the hell out of me. They are huge animals that have minds of their own. I didn’t like the idea of my baby girl strapped to the back of one of them, but I knew she loved to ride.
“Only if you promise to only ride The Biz and you have to have Aunt Paige lead him around,” I negotiated my terms. I knew Paige would look after her and wouldn’t let her get hurt but I still had my mommy anxiety.
“But Mom… I can steer on my own now,” She whined.
“Those are the rules. Take them or leave them,” I said sternly.
“Fine,” She huffed and folded her tiny little arms over her chest in defiance.
I tried not to laugh at her attitude. Ever since she turned five she had become exceedingly more dramatic. I turned up the radio in an attempt to distract both of us from the horse riding topic.
It only took a few seconds before I recognized the song and quickly changed the station. It was Southtown’s newest hit, Always. Of course it was a stupid fucking love song. I’m sure Ash had written it for his super model girlfriend, Adrian Blackstone. She was the current “it” girl in Hollywood. She was tall, rail skinny and jaw-dropingly gorgeous. She and Ash’s pictures were splashed on every tabloid, the media couldn’t get enough of their romance. It personally made me sick to my stomach every time I saw a picture of them together. The worst was standing in line at the grocery store. It seemed every tabloid had some story of them on the front. The hardest ones to see were the ones claiming she was pregnant. The first time I saw one claiming Adrian was going to have Ash’s baby, I ran to my car and cried in the parking lot for a half hour. I’m better now, I try to pretend I have no idea who Ash Parker is or was.
“Mom turn it back I love that song,” Bianca requested from the backseat in total ignorance.
Of course my daughter loves the one song that literally cuts daggers to my heart, but I remind myself this is the only connection to her father she will get. So I flip the station back and pray for the strength not to cry in front of her.

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