Title: Chasing Stars
Author: L. Duarte
Release date: July 13th, 2013
Genre: New Adult, Romance
Tour: Irresistible Reads Book Tours
As a pampered Los Angeles teen, Portia McGee once created a bucket list with her best friends Tarry and Niki. Though falling in love topped their list, it was the last thing she could ever imagine doing. Through the rejection of her parents, Portia learned early in life that love is elusive.
Now a famous and frivolous A-list actress, Portia has a Hollywood pedigree sealed in gold by a celebrity actress mother and New York mogul father. When Portia’s latest role requires an elaborate temporary tattoo, she meets Will, a gifted tattoo artist with a tortured past. The attraction is electric and immediate, but Will refuses to take the encounter to the next level—a decision Portia associates with the ring he so clearly wears on his wedding finger. Those old, familiar feelings of rejection take hold, and Portia now realizes that she must face the past in order to forge a new future. As their deep bond ignites in Portia an unexpected spirituality, can she finally free herself to once again chase the stars of her early days?
Before I cross the street, I stand at the sidewalk and wait for the ongoing traffic to dwindle and allow me to go to him. He is handsome sitting in his beat-up burgundy Jeep, gleaming. He waves to me. The silver band on his left finger catches the glare of the pale afternoon sun and shines brightly. I smile, waving back, and my heart somersaults with the anticipation of his touch.
The screech of tires skidding on the black asphalt demands my attention. I wrench my eyes away from him and my lips involuntarily cry his name. A car swerves off the road, and like a serpent ready to strike, slithers my way. I want to run, but before my legs receive the brain command, I feel the impact of the cool and hard surface of the car colliding against my body. My vision goes black, erasing all the surroundings. For a brief moment, my mind tries to retain the memory of his lovely face. Then he also disappears and an ocean of black nothingness replaces his vivid green eyes.
I heard once that our days on earth are numbered. I’m not sure what it means or who is keeping tally, but just in case it is true, I’ve tried vainly to live life to the fullest.
Then, one day, I find my lungs trying to inhale that next breath of air and I catch my heart desperately waiting for that beat that sends oxygen through my bloodstream and maintains the delicate balance of what we casually refer to as life. On that day, most of my desires, disappointments, dreams, and goals became irrelevant. Survival became crucial.
Niki, my best friend, has always been adamant that in life we need to live to make it worthwhile. Anything else is a waste of a breath. To me it all seemed confusing and too profound.
Long ago, Niki also said that for our life to be memorable we had to either fall in love or die young.
Well, for the length of one second, I held both love and death in my hands. It was a true tragedy. Because when all I wanted was for love to rescue me from not living, the grasp of death tried to rob me of love.
Somewhere in between then and now…
With a shriek of terror, I wrench the covers away, and sit stiffly on the edge of bed. I gasp for air, and my fingers clasp the sheets. My breath comes shallow and labored, and a sheen layer of sweat covers my body.
A dream, that’s all it was, a repeated nightmare. However, the blurred face, begging for rescue, is burned on my mind and I can’t expel it.
Knowing I won’t be able to sleep, I stumble to the kitchen. My hand shakes as I prepare a large pot of coffee. It’s 3:00 a.m. I don’t sleep much. Never have. Sleeping, I found early in life, can get you in trouble.
It’s a warm night, too warm for a May evening, and the place has turned into a boiler. I switch on the AC, but the damn vent has been acting up again and it became so cold, I had to shut it off. Now it is hot as hell. Though I know I won’t bother, I make a mental note to have the AC fixed before summer arrives.
While the coffee is brewing, I trudge to the bathroom and scramble under a jet of cool water. I sprawl my hands on the cold tile, close my eyes, and allow the stream to massage the knotted muscles of my shoulders.
Stepping out of the shower, I barely dry my body, scramble inside a pair of faded blue jeans, and fasten a brown leather bracelet to my right wrist. I wipe the steam from the mirror and hastily brush my teeth. I rub my hand over my stubble and decide to shave. It is not every day I work with a famous actress. This morning, Portia McGee, who has won an Oscar, is scheduled for a temp tattoo at my shop. The thought is unnerving.
My mind recalls the Internet and magazine pictures I have seen of her. Celebrities do not bewilder me. But men—including myself—are not immune to this woman’s alluring beauty.
I spread shaving cream over my face and reach for the razor, when I hear the shop’s bell ring. “Shit. Her entourage is here.” I wipe the shaving cream off my unshaved face, and stride toward the tattoo shop.
The actress is not supposed to be here until five, but her people probably came to make sure there are no hidden cameras and to do whatever else they do to accommodate the ridiculous demands of her brand of people.
The bell rings again. It irritates me. “Coming,” I mutter.
I open the door. A warm breeze embraces me, instantly reminding me I am shirtless and barefooted.
Damn it, I am not looking very professional. Double damn. Standing by the door is Portia McGee herself, and she is the personification of a goddess.
“You are early,” I blurt out. I look behind her, but she is alone.
“Sorry?” she mutters. Her vulnerable eyes widened, and then she looks at me.
“Please come in,” I finally say, ushering her inside the shop. I realize I am being rude, but how can a man stare at those rosy cheeks and parted lips and think straight?
For a moment, I examine her and take in the whole of her incredibly magnetic presence. She is so much prettier than she appears in the pictures or movies I have seen. Her long hair, which is pulled in a ponytail and dyed red, contrasts with her cobalt blue eyes. The workout outfit she wears molds perfectly to her proportioned curves. Shaking my head slightly, I try to clear my scrambled thoughts as I close the door behind her.
“I am sorry, I wasn’t expecting you this early.” I point apologetically to my half-naked body. I have the impression that my state doesn’t faze her.
“That’s OK. I decided to jog here, since I don’t live too far. When I realized how early it is, I thought for sure the place would be closed. So I am relieved you are already here.” She smiles and gazes up at me, before shifting her attention to my exposed chest. I think I see a hint of amusement in her stare, but I ignore it.
“I need a few more minutes.” My eyes search hers and the vulnerability I saw earlier is gone.
“There is a pot of coffee in the back. Please help yourself to it.” I gesture to the back door.
“Oh my, a view and coffee.” Her eyes are fixed on my naked chest, “Unexpected threats.” Her luscious lips turn into a sensual and slow smile.
I turn on my heels, and beckon for her to follow me.
Her voice is sexy and smooth as velvet. And, yes. My jeans suddenly get a little snug. Oh shit, this is going to be a long day.
I have found that there is only one thing better than reading, and that is writing. I am always torn between the two. I am also frequently torn between chocolate and coffee. However, I emphatically do not like the month of February, lies, and flies. For me, bravery is defined by the courage to do what we fear the most. This conviction is reflected in my debut work of romantic fiction, Chasing Stars. I live in Connecticut with my husband and two children. Drop a few lines. I would love to hear from you.