Love Me: Cover and Excerpt Reveal


          When everyone else seems to think your life is perfect from the outside, is when you know it’s collapsing on the inside. Even though I moved to the East Coast with Owen, giving us a fresh start, and somehow landed a new job working in a gallery and have an upcoming exhibition in Lower East Side, her texts nag at me. A stranger’s texts.
                    He almost strangled me to death.
                    I don't want anything to happen to you.
          This woman claims that Owen is dangerous—as in, attempted murder dangerous. Her chilling proof makes me question my own judgment, even when Owen is the only man I’ve ever truly trusted.
          And if it couldn’t get any worse, I’m pregnant. The creation of art is something I know—molding, twisting and breaking, running my hands along each piece of material until it’s just right—but the creation of a human being? It’s an act I’ll have little control over. Owen says he’ll protect me with everything he has, but can he do the same for a child? His child? Can I trust him not to leave us for his career, like my father left my mother? And how do Owen’s dark needs fit into parenthood?
          I know I have to protect this child, even if it means sacrificing our relationship, and that includes the stranger’s warning.
          On the outside, everything is perfect.
          On the inside, everything is shattered glass.




Chapter 1
          A soft bell chimed on the overhead speakers. I flinched, but it wasn’t like we had been caught. The flight attendants had been overly helpful—like banging on our private room to ask if we wanted more champagne even though they had refilled our flutes ten minutes ago—so I had almost expected them to walk in right then. Owen knew better. He licked his lips and grinned.
          “As we prepare for our descent, please…”
          Owen cut off the announcement: “As you were saying, Miss Glass?’
          He had been turning those words into moans. The sparkle in his eye highlighted his complete amusement by making me blush in public yet again. Public? That was stretching it. But I shoved his arm and straightened my skirt and underwear anyway. It’s not like we had done anything—well, not much. But I still wasn’t as confident about public play as he was, regardless of the fact that we were in a private room of the plane, lying on a king-size memory foam mattress, with a Do Not Disturb light activated on the door. But like I said, we had extremely polite and zealously helpful, borderline nosy, flight attendants.
          After I gathered my composure, we returned to the lounge area. The sun was setting outside of the plane, casting the industrial ground below us in a golden glow. I imagined what the condo would look like; sleek and modern decor, a fireplace, tufted furniture, my art displayed throughout the rooms, a large window overlooking the city. We took our seats and I continued my thought from earlier.
          “I’ve never done this before,” I said again. At least this time, he was strapped to a seat and couldn’t make me turn into a pile of mush with his mouth. I played with my choker, a fidgety habit I had developed when I felt insecure about something. Owen faced me with questioning eyes. “You know… Move across the country.” I paused, my finger dangling around the diamond. “With someone,” I added.
          “Nor have I,” he said.
          I sank back into the chair. “It’s a huge commitment.”
          “Does it scare you?” he asked quietly. I nodded. He squeezed my hand. “I’m glad we’re here, together.”
          The captain spoke about the weather conditions of the city over the speaker, but my mind ran over those words: we’re here, together. It made me think of what he had said when he had first asked me to move: I’m not leaving without you. I couldn’t imagine him traveling back and forth like that, to opposite sides of the country, in order to maintain a relationship with me. But I also couldn’t picture Owen saying anything he didn’t mean.
          Owen had bought the condo a few years ago when talks first started about expanding to the East Coast. It was sophisticated like I had imagined, with seven rooms, four baths, a large living area, and a kitchen. The building across from us—I couldn’t tell if it was a hotel, or for businesses, or whatever—had a sign that touted Salon de Thé Patisserie, a French bakery, and the smell of fresh bread and decadent pastries was so strong, I could smell them, thirty-six floors up. I could get used to that. Despite the late hour, the people on the street below wandered back and forth like ants in a farm, hurrying to worship their queen. It wasn’t that far off from San Francisco, I recognized that, but living in the city proper? I had always lived on the outside, in suburbs looking in. It was different to look out from the center of everything.
          “What do you think?” Owen asked. He had caught me staring at a wall of windows, the room I knew would be my studio.
          “It’s amazing,” I said. I forced a smile. If it didn’t feel like home, it could become a home, and I had already stressed the importance of finding our place together to Owen; this condo was temporary. There wasn’t anything to complain about though. So why did I feel scared? Owen put his arm around me. “If you concentrate hard enough, you can smell the bread.” I nodded across the street.
          “I’ll pick up sandwiches,” he said.
          “Is it even open?”
          He shrugged. “I’ll find out.” A smirk crossed his face, making me think he was being mischievous, planning something in his mind.
          “What?” I asked.
          “I was thinking about what I’m going to do to you once we’re home,” he said.
          I blushed. I was wearing black pants, a black tank top, and a black button-up shirt over it—I wanted to blend in today, like a crevice in an alleyway. But it amazed me that Owen was still attracted to me even when I was trying hard to be invisible. “We are home,” I said.
          He inched closer. “Is that an invitation?” he whispered. I sucked in my breath, trying not to give in, but he snaked a hand behind my neck, gently caressing me, playing with the gold strand choker, tickling my skin. “We have to break the rooms in, you know.”
          A tiny gasp escaped my lips at the thought of the rooms. Not one, but seven. He was insatiable, and I loved knowing how he always wanted me. I sank into his arms. Those green eyes meant so much to me. Even if the condo didn’t feel like home yet, Owen did.
          As I waited for him to return from the bakery, an uneasy feeling settled in my stomach, whispering to me that I was alone in New York. Everyone I knew was thousands of miles away, and I had followed a man to the other side of the country. My phone buzzed; a text from Misty, Clay’s girlfriend. It was like they both somehow knew that I was feeling anxious.
          How many rooms do you guys have? Like a thousand, right? the text read.
          Seven, I replied.
          I’ll take one of those seven, she sent.
          Oh really? I sent.
          I have an internship on Broadway, she explained.
          I smiled to myself. Misty was like that, inserting herself into any situation like she had always belonged there. I wondered how Owen would take a possible roommate; it didn’t seem like something he would welcome with open arms. He valued his privacy and enjoyed his space. But right now, it was our condo, wasn’t it? I had insisted on helping with the utilities even if Owen vehemently disagreed, until I had stressed the importance of what it symbolized, shared responsibilities in a joint life. Which, I told myself, meant I could also make decisions about our space. And at least knowing that Misty would be coming to join us soon eased my anxiety. At least someone I knew would be nearby.
          I leaned against the wall, underneath Owen’s painting, and sank to the floor. Moving to New York meant a fresh start for both of us. I didn’t know anyone or have any connections, and I was thousands of miles from my mother. It was frightening. But I told myself to focus on the good: we had a fresh start, without our screwed up pasts following us; there was no angry mob to defend myself against at the university, no disbelieving faculty to seek the approval of, no erratic and jealous fling to watch out for, and no psycho ex-fiance. It was just us; we were here, together. But I still twiddled the choker between my thumb and forefinger, wondering if this fresh start was the right thing. If it was worth it.



The final book in the Dreams of Glass series, Love Me, is set to release on September 3. If you'd like to join my ARC team, please email me at audreyrushbooks@gmail.com as soon as possible.