Read Before We Were Strangers Online

Authors: Renee Carlino

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #General, #Contemporary, #New Adult, #Thrillers, #Suspense

Before We Were Strangers

BOOK: Before We Were Strangers
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Praise for
After the Rain

“Renée Carlino’s writing is deeply emotional and full of quiet power. You won’t be disappointed.”

—Joanna Wylde,
New York Times
bestselling author


After the Rain
tore me up in the best way possible. Sexy, sweet, and sad, all woven together with an overwhelming undercurrent of hope, Nate and Avelina’s story is one that goes straight to my list of all-time favorites.”

—Amy Jackson,
New York Times
bestselling author

“I’ve come to think of Ms. Carlino’s books as medicine for my soul. Her beautifully written words are not only healing but inspiring. This story put me through the emotional wringer, but I absolutely loved it. There is wisdom in this book, and it’s an incredible talent when an author gives a reader something to think about and hold in their heart for the rest of their lives. . . . If you haven’t already, please pick up a book by Renée Carlino today—your soul will thank you.”


A Belle’s Tales

“Plain and simple, this book stole my heart. Between the compelling writing and the wonderfully well-developed characters I never stood a chance . . .
After the Rain
was an immensely touching and flawlessly written book that left a permanent mark on my heart.”


The Book Enthusiast

“A beautiful story . . . very true to real life . . . emotional, tragic, devastating, and bittersweet. . . . Be prepared for your heart to break, your eyes to tear, and your heart to quiver.
After the Rain
is an epic life story, as well as love story!”


A Bookish Escape

“Renée Carlino has this writing style that just blows me away. . . . The writing was truly wonderful. . . . The story was beautiful and emotional. . . . This is a very well-written story that I would highly recommend!”


Book Babes Unite

Praise for
Nowhere but Here

“There is a certain ‘magic’ or ‘spark’ or whatever you want to call it that really makes a book come to life as you read it. As a reader, I’m on a constant search for that special spark and I absolutely found it
here.
Nowhere but Here
was a unique and beautifully written love story. I laughed, I swooned, I wiped happy tears away, and I fell in love. This book warmed my heart and left me with the most wonderful feeling. I highly recommend it for all fans of romance!”


Aestas Book Blog

“The story just consumed me, and all I know is how I felt during and after reading it. I felt hopeful. I even had that butterfly feeling in the belly that you get when reading something truly beautiful. . . . Would I recommend this one? I most definitely would.”


The Autumn Review

“The kind of romance that gives you butterflies in your stomach, that tingly feeling all over, and a huge smile on your face. . . . If you are looking for something emotional, where you can truly experience what the characters are feeling through the beautifully written words of an amazing author, complete with a wonderful epilogue that will give you a sense of completeness, then look no further.”


Shh Mom’s Reading

“I will say this up front—almost no one writes swoony, realistic chemistry like Renée Carlino. Jamie and Kate fall in love in four days and I believed every minute of it. That’s how good Carlino is at this. . . . If you’re a fan of new adult, contemporary romance, or dare I say chick lit, you will enjoy
Nowhere but Here
. Carlino is officially on my auto-buy list, and I’d wager that if you check her out, she’ll be on yours too.”


Allodoxophobia

“This is a story that has continued to stay on my mind, and my appreciation has continued to grow. Like
Sweet Thing
, I could feel Renée Carlino’s passion for her characters and their story in every word. It’s a wonderful feeling when you find an author who can translate that passion into an experience for readers.”


The Bookish Babe

“To say that I loved
Nowhere but Here
would be a dramatic understatement. . . . I don’t know if I’ve been living under a rock or Renée Carlino has just been a well-kept secret. . . . I don’t understand how everyone isn’t shouting from the rooftops about this book! . . .
Nowhere but Here
is on my All-Time Favorites list, no question about it.”


Nestled in a Book

Praise for
Sweet Thing

“Sassy and sweet,
Sweet Thing
melts in your mouth and goes straight to your heart!”

—Katy Evans,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Real

“5 stars!!!! This is what I’ve been craving . . . one of my absolute favorites this year, and just one of my plain old favorites altogether.”


Maryse’s Book Blog

“I have a new book boyfriend and his name is Will Ryan. I’m in love. . . .
Sweet Thing
was a sweet, heartbreaking, and romantic story that kept me up reading all night! . . . A fabulous debut novel. . . . I’ll be watching out for more from Renée Carlino!”


Aestas Book Blog

“This is 5 HUGE stars—a soul-searing, beautifully written book that now owns a piece of my heart . . . this book has made my all-time FAV list. . . . I cannot wait to see what’s next for Renée Carlino.”


Shh Mom’s Reading

“Surprisingly, this is Renée’s debut novel because she writes like a pro with words flowing effortlessly and beautifully, totally hooking me from the beginning. There was something intangibly real and special about this book, which kept me reading until I finished it . . . one of my favorite stories of the year.”


Vilma’s Book Blog

“When Will and Mia’s story of self-discovery unfolds, it will fill you with love, it will crush you, it will frustrate you, it will lift you up and bring you down. You will share every heart-breaking moment and you will live every warm, tender, angry and funny exchange. . . . You will read
the end
with that warm book glow . . . you know, the one that lets you know you’ve just hung out with some wonderful characters who burrowed their way into your heart.”


Totally Booked Blog

“Sometimes—out of all the books you read—you come across one that stands out amongst all the other titles. Sometimes, you read a book that completely overwhelms your mind, your heart, and your soul. An all-consuming read that totally captures your senses and puts them into overdrive—but in the best possible way. There’s just nothing better than the completely sated feeling you get from reading it. For me, that book was Renée Carlino’s
Sweet Thing
.”


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For Sam and Tony, whom I’m blessed and lucky to know

Life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

—KHALIL GIBRAN

FIRST MOVEMENT:
RECENTLY
1.
 Do You Still Think of Me?

MATT

Life was passing me by at high speed as I sat back with my feet up, rejecting change, ignoring the world, shrugging off anything that threatened to have meaning or relevance. I categorically disagreed with all things current. I despised the use of emojis, the word
meta
, and people who talked on their phones in line. Don’t even get me started on gentrification. There were twenty-one Starbucks within a three-block radius of the building I worked in. Recording studios, film labs, and record stores were dying, if not already vacant corpses turned cupcake shops or blow-dry bars. They had stopped playing music videos on MTV and had banned smoking in bars. I didn’t recognize New York anymore.

These are the things I pondered while sitting in my four-by-four cubicle at
National Geographic
. It hadn’t felt National or Geographic since I had taken a desk job there a few years before. I had come out of the field, where I had seen everything, and I went into a hole, where I saw
nothing. I was in the middle of the city I loved, back in her arms again, but we were strangers. I was still hanging on to the past and I didn’t know why.

Scott smacked me square on the back. “Hey, buddy. Brooklyn for lunch?”

“Why so far?” I was sitting at my desk, fidgeting with the battery in my phone.

“There’s a pizza place I want you to try, Ciccio’s. You heard of it?”

“We can get good pizza on Fifth.”

“No, you have to try
this
place, Matt. It’s phenomenal.”

“What’s phenomenal, the pizza or the staff?” Since my divorce a few years ago, Scott—boss, friend, and eternal bachelor—had high hopes that I’d become his permanent wingman. It was impossible to talk him out of anything, especially when it involved women and food.

“You got me. You have to see this girl. We’ll call it a work meeting. I’ll put it on the company card.” Scott was the type who talked about women a lot and about porn even more. He was severely out of touch with reality.

“I’m sure this qualifies as sexual harassment somewhere.”

He leaned against the top of the cubicle partition. He had a nice-looking face and was always smiling, but if you didn’t see him for a week, you’d forget what he looked like.

“We’ll take the subway.”

“Hey, guys.” My ex-wife walked by, sipping a cup of coffee.

I ignored her. “Hey, Liz,” Scott said and then stared at her ass as she walked away. He turned to me. “Is it weird to work with her and Brad?”

“I’ve always worked with her and Brad.”

“Yeah, but she was your wife and now she’s Brad’s wife.”

“I honestly don’t care anymore.” I stood up and grabbed my jacket.

“That’s a good sign. I believe you. That’s how I know you’re ready for some strange.” I often ignored these types of comments from Scott.

“I need to stop by Verizon first and get a new battery,” I said, waving my phone.

“What
is
that?”

“A cell phone. Pretty sure you’ve seen one before.”

“First of all, no one says ‘cell phone’ anymore. Second, that’s not a phone; that’s an artifact. We should ship it to the Smithsonian and get you an iPhone.”

On the way out, we passed Kitty, the coffee cart girl. “Hello, gentlemen.”

I smiled. “Kitty.” She blushed.

Scott said nothing until we got into the elevator. “You should tap that. She totally wants you.”

“She’s a child.”

“She’s a college graduate. I hired her.”

“Not my type. Her name is
Kitty
.”

“All right, now you’re just being mean.” He seemed minimally offended on Kitty’s behalf.

“I’m fine. Why is it everyone’s mission in life to set me up? I’m
fine
.”

“Clock’s a-tickin’.”

“Guys don’t have clocks.”

“You’re thirty-six.”

“That’s young.”

“Not compared to Kitty.”

The elevator doors opened and we stepped into the lobby. A giant print of one of my photos ran the length of a wall.

“See that, Matt? That gets women wet.”

“It’s a picture of an Iraqi child holding an automatic weapon.”

“The Pulitzer you got for it, genius, not the picture.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “That was a good year for you.”

“Yeah, it was. Professionally, anyway.”

“I’m telling you, you have to use that to your advantage. You have a moderate amount of celebrity because of that photo. It’s worked in my favor.”

“How did it work for you, exactly?”

“I might’ve borrowed your name for a night. Once or twice.”

I laughed. “That’s disgraceful, man.”

“Kitty’s into you. You should give that little hottie what she wants. You know there’re rumors about her.”

“Even more reason to stay away.”

“No, good rumors. Like she’s crazy. A little animal.”

“And that’s good how?”

We made our way outside and headed for the subway station on West 57th to catch the F train. Midtown is always congested at that hour, but we were nearing the end of winter. The sun beating down between the buildings drew even more people out onto the street. I weaved in and out of the masses while Scott trailed me.

Right before we reached the station entrance he spoke loudly from behind.

“She’d probably be into anal.”

I stopped and faced him at the top of the steps going
down. “Scott, this conversation is wrong in so many ways. Let’s just end it here, okay?”

“I’m your boss.”

“Exactly.” I trotted down the steps toward the turnstiles.

There was an old woman playing a violin at the bottom of the steps. Her clothes were dingy and her hair was a gray, matted mess. The strings on her bow were hanging off, like floating foxtails, but she was playing Brahms flawlessly. When I threw five bucks in her case, she smiled. Scott shook his head and pulled me along.

BOOK: Before We Were Strangers
12.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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