Friday, May 28, 2021

HEARTS IN DARKNESS by Laura Kaye - 10 Year Anniversary edition!


Laura Kaye is joining us today to share the cover reveal for her 10th Anniversary edition of 



Title: Hearts In Darkness Collection

Author: Laura Kaye

Cover Artist: Tricia "Pickyme" Schmitt

Dear Readers, It’s my 10th publication anniversary & HEARTS IN DARKNESS is 10!! I can hardly believe it! This book has been such a wild, special ride and I'm so grateful that so many people fell in love with it. It's how so many readers found me and that is just incredible to think about! Thank you so so much for all the love, fun, and support over the past 10 years! To celebrate, I’ve put together a special 4-story collector’s edition volume that includes two new and/or never-before-published stories that continue Caden and Makenna’s story! Preorder the collection for a discount now before the price goes up on release day! xx Laura  

PREORDER NOW at a special price! 







Links to come: GooglePlay, paperback, hard cover

About the Collection:

"Laura Kaye has a gift for writing beautifully damaged men." ~ NYT Bestseller Tessa Bailey Two strangers. Four hours. One pitch-black elevator. And their struggle to find love in the light… This beloved, bestselling series has it all! Scorching hot chemistry. Achingly heartfelt emotion. Strangers-to-lovers, forced proximity, and opposites attract goodness. And, with “one of the most beloved couples in romance,” Caden Grayson and Makenna James will stay with you long after the last page! Plus, a brand-new story and a never-before-published epilogue. All in one gorgeous edition!   This Special Collector’s 10th Anniversary Edition Includes: Hearts in Darkness – the bestselling story that started it all! When two strangers get trapped in a pitch-black elevator, they find connection, attraction, and red-hot heat in the darkness. Lovers at Dawn – a brand-new follow-up story! In the light of the morning after, these new lovers wake up in each other’s arms. But will this buttoned-up accountant and tattooed paramedic still want what they found in the darkness? Love in the Light – the bestselling sequel to Hearts in Darkness Can a man who’s lost everyone he’s ever loved trust that he won’t crash again if he lets himself fall? Or will the pressures of commitment be more than Caden and Makenna’s love story can handle? Forever in the Light – a never-before published epilogue to the series The happily-ever-after story Caden and Makenna deserve, including their heartfelt wedding and sexy wedding night! "Passionate and poignant! This will have readers falling in love with Caden and Makenna all over again!" ~ NYT Bestseller Jay Crownover   


Amazon | B&N | Apple | Kobo | Goodreads


About the Author:


  Laura Kaye is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of over 40 books in contemporary romance and romantic suspense and has sold more than one million books in the U.S. alone. Laura grew up amid family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses, cementing her life-long fascination with storytelling and the supernatural. A former college history professor, Laura also writes bestselling historical women's fiction as Laura Kamoie. Laura lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Get VIP Reader Email Updates & Freebies


Monday, May 17, 2021

World of True North - Cover Reveals


Welcome to the Speakeasy TAPROOM I am so excited to help share the cover reveals for the upcoming books in Sarina Bowen's True North World!


Release Date: June 29, 2021

Book Description:

Sam doesn't think love is in the cards. The cards disagree.

When Phoebe Stevens' life implodes in a spectacularly public fashion, she's desperate to escape Manhattan. So the offer of a job setting up a new Vermont gastropub couldn’t come at a better time. Driving a U-Haul on winding mountain roads is Phoebe's personal version of hell. But when the caretaker of her guesthouse answers the door tousled, shirtless, and baking cinnamon rolls, her first impression of Vermont dramatically improves.

Sam Trembley believes everyone gets one true love, but he’s already blown his chance. He's spent five years avoiding relationships. Now he’s back in Colebury where sunrise tarot draws and moonlit hikes soothe his soul. But why do the tarot cards keep showing him this nonsense about soulmates? Could it have anything to do with the jaded city girl on his doorstep?

Playing tour guide is fun, but taste-testing her culinary creations as she shimmies her luscious hips around his kitchen is downright irresistible. Soon their chemistry burns hotter than the pub's wood-fired oven.

Has fate brought them together for a summer of love...or a lifetime of happiness?

Touchstone contains craving-inducing menu planning, a sassy white witch grandma, seismic sexy times, and tarot cards on a mission to prove soulmates are real.


Release Date: June 29, 2021

Book Description:

She needs a fresh start. He wants a second chance…

My new job as a chef in a small town was supposed to be my ticket to peace and quiet. I didn’t expect to run into the former hockey star who gave me the hottest nights of my life. And, oops, he’s sort-of my new boss. So much for keeping my past where it belongs.

Ty still thinks I’m the fun party girl. He has no idea how much things have changed. One thing that hasn’t changed: the spark between us. It’s hotter than the blowtorch I use on my crème brûlée.

I’m already keeping secrets, so what’s one more? Our tryst is forbidden, it’s fun, and it gets complicated as fast as you can say “check, please.” I didn’t expect to have a future with Ty. And I definitely didn’t expect to have a baby with him.

Some falls are harder than others. But it depends on who’s there to catch you...


Release Date: July 1, 2021

Book Description:

Who knew falling in love with my fake girlfriend could feel so real?

I don’t have time for distractions, which is a huge problem since my new next-door neighbor Rosalie Wentworth is very distracting. She’s kind, beautiful, and makes me laugh like no woman ever has before.

Unfortunately, the two of us add up to one really sad country song—I’m nursing a bruised ego following a broken engagement and she’s suffering through a messy divorce—so I vow to set my attraction aside and focus on being her friend instead.

That’s easier said than done, however, since her mom is convinced Rosalie and I are perfect for each other. When one of her matchmaking schemes goes a step too far, Rosalie and I hatch a plan of our own: pretend to date for a couple of months to get her mom off our backs.

It’s foolproof, really.

Only, what started as a fake relationship is starting to feel very real, and now I don’t know if I can go back to the way things were before. Because it turns out if home is where the heart is, then Rosalie is mine.


Release Date: July 1, 2021

Book Description:

She’s a political princess and media darling...

There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Yeah, right. Tell that to the PR firm that handles Tracy’s very prominent political family. Pushed by scandal from Boston to the boondocks, now she’s on the other side of the serving tray, dishing up beer and burgers, hoping no one recognizes her. But there’s something very familiar--and maddeningly tempting--about the new caterer at Speakeasy.

He’s a cranky recluse...

Colton was the star of the celebrity chef circuit until he wasn’t anymore. Now he lives in a remote country cabin and spends his time alone, far from the spotlight and liking it that way. Until the gorgeous new waitress at Speakeasy starts poking at his resolve and suddenly all he wants is to see her let down her hair. And spread it all over his pillow. She’s got secrets he knows he won’t like, but he can’t stay away from her.

She lives in the spotlight, and he hates attention. When her public life collides with his private one, can their love write a fairy-tale ending after all?


Release Date: August 2, 2021

Book Description:

When the prize is love, sometimes you get stung. But if you’re lucky, you just might hit the sweet spot…

Juliana Burton needs a medal at Speakeasy's beer festival to push her brand-new, woman-owned brewery into the spotlight. She thinks she knows just how to do it, too--with a beer made exclusively from Vermont ingredients. Hops, check. Barley, check. But what she really needs is the best honey in the state. Too bad the only thing standing in her way is six feet tall, smokin’ sexy, and her secret high school crush.

After a very public disaster in Boston, Riggs Lyon is home with his teenage son in tow. Riggs is taking over the family beekeeping business with an eye to offload it and start life over somewhere where "Lyin' Lyon" isn't a joke. Selling honey to Juliana doesn't make business sense. She can't afford the high prices Lyon honey fetches in specialty shops and farmer's markets. But somehow, he’s having trouble saying no to anything she asks him for, whether it’s in the hive or in the bedroom.


Release Date: August 2, 2021

Book Description:

It’s my last night in New York. And the woman of my dreams is three feet away, expertly twirling a bottle of vodka behind the bar and making the perfect pour. I’ve never seen anyone as beautiful as Melody, with her enigmatic eyes and a gorgeous smile. All I have to do is introduce myself. And then...

I choke. And my chance for something--anything--with her is gone.

Months later, I think I’m dreaming when I see her doing bartender tricks here in Vermont. Now all I can think about is having those long, beautiful, fingers performing their magic on my body.

But I’m pretty sure she’s hiding something. It’s painfully obvious she’s keeping me at arm’s length just when I need to hold her close. She brings out my protective instincts, but I’ve got problems of my own. If I’m not careful, I’ll destroy everything I’m trying to build.

Losing her again might break me this time, because now I can’t imagine life without the light of my Firefly.


Release Date: September 2, 2021

Book Description:

He doesn’t trust women. She only trusts dogs. Why can’t they keep their paws off each other?

Darren Reade builds stone walls in Vermont--and around his heart. Women don’t stick around, so it’s better to put up No Trespassing signs and focus on raising his adopted son. Darren is willing to do whatever it takes to help the boy cope with his mother’s death. But doing it alone is a challenge.

Grace Hollings indulges her love of old-school jazz by singing nights at the Speakeasy Taproom, and spends her days training service dogs, connecting small humans with smart pooches. Of course she’d planned to be married already, but a failed engagement has taught her that dogs make better company than men.

One evening, Grace and Darren don’t exchange names, but they do engage in a single night neither of them will forget. Is once all there is? Or can they train their hearts to trust what they’ve built under the starlight?


Release Date: September 2, 2021

Book Description:

Randall Dickson is coping. Sort of. An upcoming medical eval, one that could end his military career, has him stressed and making bad choices. So when a concerned friend issues a strongly-worded “invitation” to Vermont, R.D. is all in for a change of scenery, a temporary job as a bartender, and the opportunity to shake himself out of his self-destructive routine.

Then he sets eyes on his seriously sexy new co-worker…

Lily Reynolds, an artist by day, Speakeasy’s favorite bartender at night, works hard to stay positive, unlike her surly new coworker. He may be a treat to look at, but that grumpy attitude and terse manner are not her type. So when Lily finds herself in desperate need of someone to share expenses, she convinces R.D. to rent her vacant room. There’s no way she’ll find herself falling for him.

She’d like to find the secret admirer who’s leaving her secret love notes around the bar, though. But he won’t reveal himself...

This standalone contains: opposites who definitely attract, a workplace romance, and an opinionated French bulldog.


Release Date: September 2, 2021

Book Description:

The worst kind of heartache is the kind you can’t walk away from.

Jilted. Living in a glorified closet. The world’s worst bar waitress. I just need to keep a roof over my head and make tuition payments until I can finish graduate school. Then my real life will start. But right now, long nights at the Speakeasy have me burning the candle at both ends and the wax melting all over my fingers.

When a bar manager offers me a job taking care of his adorable five-year-old daughter, it seems like the perfect solution. I get a quiet place to study. Matteo gets a reliable sitter.

There should be no complications. Except that I like my new boss a little too much. His gorgeous dark eyes humble me, and the long talks we share fill me up inside. I can’t possibly fall for him.

But the undeniable pull between us leads to a scorching kiss I can’t ignore or forget, and suddenly I’ve fallen for them both, father and daughter.

And now three hearts are at stake.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

YOU SPIN ME by Karen Grey - Guest Review



You Spin Me is the third book in Karen Grey's Rom-Com series, Boston Classics and can be read as a standalone!

You Spin Me is out now, make sure to get your copy today!  


GoodReads ~ Amazon ~ Books2Read ~ BookBub ~ Signed Paperbacks/Audio


Some scars go further than skin deep…

1988 doesn’t end well for Jessica Abraham. In just one week she turns thirty, loses her day job, and loses the role of Ophelia to a younger actress. Rallying, she goes after a part at a theater outside of the city, but the director’s plan to hide her beauty behind hair, makeup, and wardrobe from Cosmo’s “Don't” column shakes her confidence to the core. For the first time in her acting career, she won’t be able to rely on her carefully managed physical charms. Only her craft will count. On a snowy night early in January 1989, a woman calls into DJ Callihan Alonso’s alt-rock radio show at the end of her commute. He asks her to call back the next night, and the next, just so he'll know she’s home safe. There's something about her voice that has him wanting more, but the longer they talk, the closer she gets. Compromising each and every wall he's built around his heart. If two lonely people fall in love over late-night phone calls, will meeting face-to-face make them, or break them?

In this heart-rending but happy-ending retro rom-com, it may be the end of a decade,

but it’s the beginning of a love story.

Author: Karen Grey
Publication Date:  29, April 2021
Publisher: Home Cooked Books
Series:  Boston Classics, book 3
Genre:  Rom-Com
Rating: 4 Stars

~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~ 

Katie's Review:

    At first, I had a hard time getting into this book. The story of Cal and Jess is set in the late 80s, when I was still playing with my She-Ra and Nintendo Gameboy, once I got past the time warp (for me), their story was very cute. (I don’t know why my brain has an easier time traveling back to the time of knights and dragons then to the 80s) 
   You might say this story is Beauty and the Beast with some other personal issues thrown in there. They both got the help they needed and worked through their issues. I’m just sad the story of those two ended so abruptly.
     I definitely like Karen Gray’s writing and will be checking out the other books Boston Classics series soon


Check out Karen's Spotify You Spin Me playlist 

to enjoy as you read along!



Make sure to enter Karen's giveaway for 1 of 10 signed paperback copies of You Spin Me.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


And don't forget to meet the other couples of Boston Classics:

Book 1

GoodReads ~ Amazon ~ Books2Read

Book 1.5: Signed, Sealed, & Delivered

Book 2

GoodReads ~ Amazon ~ Books2Read

Book 2.5: Like It's 1999


Meet Karen Grey:

  KAREN GREY is the pen name for award-winning narrator Karen White. A stage, screen and radio drama actor in Boston, New York and Los Angeles in the late 20th century, she started recording books in 1999. Now back in her home state of North Carolina, she shares a home with her family and (probably) too many pets, where she continues to narrate audiobooks as well as make up stories. The first three books in her Boston Classics series of retro romcoms released in 2020, with more to come in 2021. What I'm Looking For, #1 in the series is the winner of AudioFile Magazine's Earphones Award, the NJ Romance Writers' Put Your Heart in a Book contest and Hearts Through History’s Romance Through the Ages contest in the Modern History category.  

Connect with the Author:

Website ~ Amazon ~ FaceBook ~ Instgram ~ Twitter ~

BookBub ~ GoodReads ~ Facebook Group


And don't forget to join Karen Grey's Newsletter for all the most up-to-date info!


FORTUNATE SON by Jay Crownover - Cover Reveal



We are so excited to help share the cover of FORTUNATE SON by Jay Crownover with you today! 

FORTUNATE SON is part of  Forever Marked: The Second Generation of the Marked Men and it will be releasing June 22nd.

 You can preorder it now. It will go live on Amazon on release day. 

Join Jay's Group for details about all of her titles. 

Goodreads ~ Barnes&Noble ~ Apple ~ Kobo 

Book Description:

Ry Archer and Bowe Keller are as different as night and day. But that doesn't stop the childhood frenemies from reconnecting whenever one of them needs some help tackling any of life's major puzzles, like figuring out why getting what you always thought you wanted isn't living up to all the hype. They might constantly rub each other the wrong way (except for the times when they rub each other the really-really right way), but there is no denying they've always made one hell of a great team. They manage to balance each other out… when they aren't driving each other crazy. For Ry, he thought he had the perfect girl, the one who was going to run headfirst into a methodically planned future. He was going to marry young and have the same kind of legendary, life-long romance his parents did… or so he believed. His girl was going to stand by his side as he chased his dream of being a professional football player all the way to the NFL. He was wrong. Now, Ry's gotta figure out the difference between a bruised heart and a broken one, and the only person who can teach him the difference is Bowe. Bowe always felt like she had to run before she learned to walk to keep up with her father's musical legacy. He's her hero, and she wants nothing more than to make him proud. Bowe's about to figure out that maybe she wasn't meant to be in a rock and roll band and that it is possible she let her father's success cloud her idea of what making music should be. Bowe needs to find her own path to fame, and there's a good chance she wouldn't be brave enough or bold enough to start over if Ry Archer hadn't charmed his way back into her life when she least expected it. Some days they're enemies. Other days they're lovers. For a while, they were strangers. But now, it feels more like they might have always been soulmates. Eventually, Ry and Bowe realize that letting go of an old dream and creating a new one is much easier to do with the right person by your side.



  Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, The Point Series, Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.

  Connect with Jay:

Website ~ Facebook ~ 


Sunday, May 2, 2021

RUNAWAY TRAIN by Lee Matthew Goldberg - Guest Review



We are thrilled to be sharing RUNAWAY TRAIN by Lee Matthew Goldberg with you today!

RunAway Train is a heartfelt, laugh-out-loud YA and we can't wait for you to read it!


GoodReads ~ Amazon


They told me I was an out-of-control train about to crash…

Everything changed when the police officer knocked on the door to tell me – a 16-year-old – that my older sister Kristen had died of a brain aneurysm. Cue the start of my parents neglecting me and my whole life spiraling out of control. I decided now was the perfect time to skip town. It’s the early 90’s, Kurt Cobain runs the grunge music scene and I just experienced some serious trauma. What’s a girl supposed to do? I didn’t want to end up like Kristen, so I grabbed my bucket list, turned up my mixtape of the greatest 90’s hits and fled L.A.. The goal was to end up at Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle, but I never could have guessed what would happen along the way. At turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and laugh out loud funny, Runaway Train is a wild journey of a bygone era and a portrait of a one-of-a-kind teenage girl trying to find herself again the only way she knows how.

“Realistic and shocking, hopeful and satisfying, Runaway Train will keep readers turning the page." — USA Today Bestselling Author Rebecca Forster

Author: Lee Matthew Goldberg

Publication Date:  29 April 2021

Publisher: Wise Wolf Books

Series:  Runaway Train

Genre:  YA

Age Recommendation: DEFINITELY FOR 17+, NOT YOUNGER!!!!!

Rating: 4 stars

~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~ 

Content warning: Mention of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, loss of a loved one, drugs, swear words.

Katie's Review:

This book was an emotional rollercoaster. Nico is a troubled teenage girl who loses her sister. In a drug and alcohol induced bender, her friends suggest they runaway and complete a bucket list Nico has had in her backpack. They later back out and Nico goes out on her own under the guise of staying at her friend Winter’s house. She sets off on this adventure of self discovery or self annihilation. In some ways, I wish I had done some of the things she did, such as go camping alone, climb a mountain, learn to surf, but she does it from this drug and alcohol fuel fog that she can’t really appreciate.

Nico is also not a character everyone can love. She is so angsty and grunge that she definitely wouldn’t be a person I would want to hang out with back then and in the same respect, I wouldn’t have picked up this book to read on my own.

The music spoke most to me in this book. These were all the songs that I listened to when I was a teen, as well as the songs Kristen would play to get Nico mad.

Along the way, Nico does learn some things about herself and that she knows what she wants to do for the rest of her life. She also learns that she doesn’t have to survive on the drugs and alcohol alone. 

I will say that this could be a coming of age story, but I would not be letting my 14 year old ready it. I don’t understand how this was called a “laugh out loud YA novel. ” I did see that Nico’s story will continue in Grenade Bouquets, and I will be looking forward to that this summer.



Check out the Spotify Playlist for RunAway Train!

Spotify Playlist

And then head over and enter the GIVEAWAY for 1 of 3 paperback copies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sex Type Thing – Stone Temple Pilots

Forget what anyone tells you about the bus in L.A. Even though I’d been given Kristen’s old car and got my license at sixteen, a car is no bueno when you’re high as the sky; but the bus has oodles of various souls from all over the city mashed together on a highway moving a mile every ten minutes. I love the feel of all these strangers forced to associate with one another, something that barely exists due to L.A.’s isolated car culture. We travel in boxes here, shut-in and refusing to connect; I’m the poster child for this anti-social behavior. And since I’d never risk getting a DUI and losing my teal blue Hyundai Excel—my lifeline, my means of escape if ever need be—the bus becomes my primary transport when inebriated. So I leave Winter and Jeremy flailing around in the alleyway by the Viper Room because I’m jonesing for a sandwich, have nil cash with me, and want to go home and blast some STP Core with the new CD I’d pilfered from the local Sam Goody.

Reaching home in the middle of a Tuesday when I should’ve been at school, Laurel Canyon has an eerie quality of a Sci-Fi tale where a UFO zapped up all its suburban citizens. Not that the neighborhood is a pillar of action normally, but during the week it’s deader than dead, dead, dead. I check my eyes in my compact mirror to make sure they aren’t mega bloodshot, then take a sniff of my Alice and Chains T-shirt in case it smelled of pot. I realize I’m being stupid, since the ‘rents are both at work. Honestly, they’d even be clueless if they caught me swimming in a pool filled with vodka.

When I step inside, electricity tinges in the air, the sensation of a television being left on. I make my way into the kitchen and throw together a salami and American cheese sandwich, heavy on the mayo like my thunder thighs need it. I shovel the sandwich in my mouth, practically forgetting how to chew as I kick off my Doc Martins and leap up the stairs like I’m a kid playing hopscotch. Walking down the hallway, I keep my eyes away from Kristen’s room immortalized by my folks, the door firmly shut. The last time I’d been inside was that Halloween day Kristen died, never summoning up enough courage to re-enter.

A squeaking sound echoes down the hallway. At first, I think it’s a mouse, but the squeaking gets louder, followed by moans and a cringe-inducing oh God, oh God, oh Godddddddddddd that couldn’t belong to anyone but my mother who had the low bass voice of a sportscaster. Do my parents seriously meet up for lunchtime quickies when they figure I wouldn’t be around? The thought makes me want to gag my salami. I immediately want to tell Kristen; we only bonded in making fun of the ‘rents, but I quickly eject that solemn idea. It makes zero sense that my parents could be copulating, since they barely say boo to one another. Since Kristen’s passing, my dad spends even more time at work, sometimes sleeping on a cot in his office. We’d been to family therapy a bunch where Mom and Dad argued about how much they reminded each other of Kristen, since she’s a combination of both their features: Mom’s long, snooty nose and luscious hair, Dad’s wide-set eyes and strong chin. Hello, I want to say, what about me? I’m still here and if you two would get your heads out of your asses for one freaking second, you’d realize that I just lost someone too!

So it couldn’t be Mom and Dad bumping uglies. Then I imagine Mom alone with a vibrating friend, too disgusting to even picture for one second. I start to back away when I hear, “Luanne, Luanne, Luanne,” from a voice that’s Definitely. Not. My. Father’s!

“Oh Roggggggger,” my mom shrieks, reaching a climax as she cooes the barfy name of our sad sack, duck-footed, pot-bellied, comb-over neighbor Roger Ferguson who always has food stuck in his teeth and would ask me to pull his finger at backyard grill-outs. Ferguson’s divorced, has two little shits that only live with him on the weekends, and a giant chow chow named Shirley who resembles him and takes dumps the size of small logs on our front lawn.

Had I not been high, I might’ve kept backing out of the house and not confronted the filthy act happening a few steps away, but instead I march into my room, throw STP’s Core into my stereo system and crank up “Sex Type Thing” loud enough to shake the walls. Screams follow from my mother’s room and then I meet the two gross lovebirds outside in the hallway: Roger Ferguson trying to cover up his unmentionables with a floral blanket and failing, and my mother in my dad’s goddamn bathrobe, the picture-perfect image of a true homewrecker.

“Nico!” she screeches. “What are you doing home?”

“Oh no,” I snap back. “I am not the one in trouble here. What are you doing home, you jezebel?”

She slaps me across the cheek, the sting a throbbing reminder of her infidelity. We stare at each other in shock, both amazed at how cruel we could be. Ferguson slips around us, clearly wanting no part of our tête-à-tête.

“And with Mr. Ferguson!” I yell, loud enough so he could still hear, as his flabby body huffs and puffs down the hallway. “He looks like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man minus the ascot.”

“Turn down that music, Nico, those awful, awful sounds.”

I follow her into my room where she jabs at the stereo buttons to no avail. Finally, she lifts the system from the table and launches it to the floor.

“What the hell, Mom?”

A crack develops down the center as the music murmurs to a sad finish.

“That’s like five hundred dollars, you crackhead.”

She goes to slap me again, but I block it, clearly stronger. Mom’s kinda skinny with tiny baby wrists.

“I will not have you talking to me that way,” she says, crying now, her face the color of a red pepper.

“Does Dad know?”

She pulls at her graying hair that she’d given up dyeing since Kristen’s death. She chomps her teeth that she’s taken to grinding. Her eyes are red, her face washed out and lifeless. I should hug her right there. I should’ve hugged her months ago when Kristen died, but I don’t want to be comforted by her, or by Dad, or by anyone. I’ve wanted so much space that I create a fortress. At least to her credit, she respects that.

“Nico,” she says, quietly. “You don’t understand. I…”

Her body begins heaving like the scene in Alien when the alien bursts from the guy’s body. She sits on the edge of my bed and closes Dad’s bathrobe to her neck.

“Your father and I haven’t been doing well, as I’m sure you know.”

“That doesn’t mean you should spread your legs to the neighborhood fatty!”

She cuts me with her eyes, too exhausted to silence my foul mouth. But I enjoy being deplorable. The more terrible I act, the less chance anyone else might try to console me.

She cries more, fat gobs that plop on her thighs.

“Nico, I…”

“Save it,” I say, charging out of the room. I don’t want to deal with her. I need Winter and Jeremy, the only people in my life that didn’t make me want to smash my fist into the wall.

I could hear her calling out my name, desperate for reconciliation, but I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction. Dad may have been a ghost, but he’s her ghost, and he never hid his desire for financial success. He pays for our Laurel Canyon four bedroom, and for their BMW, and gives Mom anything she wants to justify his absence. He’s cold and distant, but he’s never been any different. She thought she could change him, but guess what lady? Men don’t change. I’m just sixteen-and-a-half and I could already tell her that. Jeremy is gay and no contact with my vagina was ever gonna change things. Dad is aloof and would be until the day he dropped. That doesn’t mean you go and screw around on him with the first penis that bounces your way.

I don’t have time to wait for the bus and Winter’s house is only a mile or so away so I get in Kristen’s car and drive, high and mighty, breaking all speed limits, practically begging for a cop to pull me over and put me out of my fucking misery.

Meet the Author:


 Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE ANCESTOR, THE MENTOR, THE DESIRE CARD and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. His first YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN is forthcoming in 2021 along with a sci-fi novel ORANGE CITY. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at   

Connect with Lee: