Authors: Melissa Toppen
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary Romance, #Love, #Erotica
The Breathless Series, Volume 1
by Melissa Toppen
Published by Daft Empire, 2013.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
First edition. December 13, 2013.
Copyright © 2013 Melissa Toppen.
Written by Melissa Toppen.
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I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my wonderful friends and family for all of their support. It means so much to me to have such amazing fans and people who support what I love to do. A special thank you to Kristina Hickman, without you this book never would have been possible!
ddison, come on girl. You can only do this for so long.” Kristina says from the doorway of my bedroom. She hesitantly steps forward and when I don’t protest she sits on the edge of my bed and turns to face me. “I know this is hard for you, really I do. But I’m worried about you. Dana is worried about you. This isn’t good for you.”
I turn into my pillow, doing my best to hide my tear stained face even though it’s no secret I have been crying non-stop for a week. When I don’t respond, she gives my forearm a sympathetic pat and stands to leave. “If you need me, you know where to find me.” She says before exiting my room, pulling the door closed behind her.
I know she’s right. Locking myself in my room and obsessing over where everything went wrong won’t solve anything. Nothing will. I’m lost, alone, and for the first time in my life I am completely heart broken. I didn’t know it could hurt this bad to lose something that wasn’t good for me to begin with.
I don’t know how I ended up here. Everything was going according to plan. Eight months ago I graduated from college, my high school sweetheart by my side. We had the world at our feet and I was so excited to see where life would take us. Four months later I packed up my entire life in Vermont and flew across the country to join Grayson in Las Vegas. I thought everything was going well. Grayson had come here to work at his uncle’s law firm. While I never saw myself ending up in a city like Las Vegas, I would have followed him to the end of the earth if that’s what it took to be with him.
Truth is I was scared to be without him. Having started dating our sophomore year of high school, Grayson was all I knew. The only constant thing that made me feel safe, comfortable. Even now I am not sure where it all fell apart. We had been growing apart for years but for whatever reason I had chosen not to see it. I chose not to acknowledge all the signs that reassured me we were heading for disaster.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I arrived home from work last week to find all my belongings packed and sitting in the living room of our one bedroom apartment. It didn’t take me long to figure out what it all meant. He was leaving me or rather he was asking me to leave him. Either way you look at it the end result was the same.
I tried to plead with him, reassure him that I could change, that things could be better. “It’s not you, it’s me.” He had said to me. Classic line. What a fool I had been. He was so cold, distant. In that moment it was like we were complete strangers.
I went to the only place I knew to go. Kristina had a little two bedroom loft and had been searching for a roommate for weeks, so I knew she would have the room. She didn’t seem surprised when I showed up on her doorstep late at night, a bottle of vodka in one hand and all my things piled on the curb.
She’s been amazing and I am so very grateful that she is a part of my life. If not for her I would be completely alone in a city that is still so new to me. Three weeks after arriving in Vegas I landed a job at R.L. Advertising. A marketing and promotions firm that works for some of the largest hotels and casinos around. It was Kristina’s job to show me the ropes. We hit it off almost instantly and she has since become one of my best friends.
I didn’t have many girlfriends in Vermont. My life was devoted to Grayson and because of this I had very little time to maintain friendships along the way. That is one regret I will always have. That I let everything in my life aside from him fall to the way side.
I am thankful that I didn’t let my career get side tracked as well. While Grayson was finishing law school I was completing my Business degree with a concentration in Marketing. I knew very early on that this was something I wanted to do. My aunt Kelly works in New York City and advertises for some of the most luxurious restaurants and hotels. I visited her one summer when I was twelve and got to see her in action. I fell in love instantly and knew from that moment on that this is what I wanted to do. She couldn’t be more thrilled that I followed in her footsteps. Never having children of her own Kelly always spoiled me rotten and to this day remains to be one of my favorite people in the world.
In the last week I have seriously considered packing up and joining her in the big apple. She would be ecstatic of course but for whatever reason I can’t stomach the idea of leaving Las Vegas just yet. I have really made a name for myself at my job, not to mention I have made some really great friends. Leaving now would be giving up. Sure, I came here to be with Grayson but in the process I have managed to establish a life for myself and I like where I am.
I love the busy city streets, the lights, the sounds, and the tourists. Everything about this place makes me feel alive. Or at least it did until seven days ago. I am determined not to lose my love for this place. Grayson has controlled every aspect of my life for eight years. I won’t let him run me out of the one place I know I am meant to be.
I pull myself into a sitting position and stretch out my sore legs. Funny how weak I feel when I have done nothing but lay in bed. I stand, making my way across the small square space to the wall adjacent my bed where my dresser and vanity sit. Technically none of the furniture is mine, but seeing how the rent comes with a fully furnished bedroom I guess I can call it mine for now anyways.
I glance in the mirror and see exactly what I expected. Okay not exactly, I look a lot worse than I thought I would. My shoulder length brown hair is ratted and knotted. The bags under my blue eyes make it look like I haven’t slept in days. I tug at my wrinkled black t-shirt trying to smooth it out with no success. I really do look like death warmed over.
Being someone who has always taken care of my appearance, I am not used to seeing myself in such a state. Grayson always insisted that I dress to impress. I didn’t own a pair of sweat pants, dresses were a must. Luckily Kristina loaned me a pair of comfy pants and I can’t help but feel like in some way I am showing Grayson whose boss by wearing them.
It’s silly really. I don’t know why I didn’t see him for the controlling selfish person he was sooner. And then what does that say about me? I just went along with it like that was how things were supposed to be. I didn’t go out, I didn’t drink. Now that I think about it, I didn’t do anything that wasn’t on his list of acceptable things to do which usually entailed fancy dinners where we didn’t speak and nights filled with him holed up at the office and me at home watching re-runs of Sex in the City.
He insisted we workout six days a week which was exhausting and I hated every minute of it. He always found the smallest imperfections in my body and would insist I work that much harder to have the body he felt like I should have. I guess I can’t complain too much. I have always been a sucker for the sweets and if not for him my size six figure would probably be much larger. I realize now that if he really loved me, none of those things would have mattered.
A light knock at the door pulls me from my haze. “Addie can I come in?” A soft voice calls from the other side. Kristina must have called Dana. Another friend of mine from work and one that I absolutely adore.
“Come on in.” I call back. My voice is broken and my throat dry. I realize this is the first time I have spoken in quite some time. The door cracks open just wide enough for Dana’s small figure to squeeze through the opening.
As soon as she catches sight of me a small frown plays across her lips. “My god girl. You look like shit.” She breathes out. I can’t help the small smile that forms across my face. God love her. She’s my no filter friend. An amazing quality to have and yet also very annoying at times.
“It’s nice to see you too.” I bite back not losing my grin. She leans against the door and eyes me up and down.
“Kristina has introduced you to the world of baggy t-shirts and yoga pants I see. I must say I like the look. Every girl deserves to curl up in comfy clothes and eat a shit ton of chocolate from time to time.” She says on a smile, holding up a bag of Hershey drops. One of my guilty pleasures and one that I certainly only indulged in at work.
I take two long strides forward and rip the bag of chocolate from her hand. “I haven’t been living under a rock you know. I know what comfortable clothes are thank you very much.” I say, making my way back over to the queen size bed that takes up half the space of the room and plop down in the middle of it.
I pat the space beside me and within seconds Dana joins me on the bed, my hand already in the bag of chocolate. “So are you coming back to work anytime soon?” She whines. “Work is such a bore without you.”
“I’m coming back on Monday.” I answer her with a mouth full of delicious chocolate. I didn’t realize how much better junk food would make me feel. I grab another piece and pop it into my mouth.
“Thank god!” She exclaims, throwing herself onto her back and looking up at me. Her long blonde hair fanning out across the bed. “Kristina has been driving me crazy. She’s worried sick about you ya know?”
“I know.” I answer guiltily. I feel awful that I have been in such a funk but my intention was never to make the people I care about worry.
“So how are you...? Really?” She asks, propping up on her elbows and reaching over to steal a piece of candy from the bag resting in my lap.
“I’m okay, I think. I mean I know that Grayson wasn’t the most likeable person on the planet but he was good to me. He took care of me. I am just now seeing that the Grayson I fell in love with vanished a very long time ago. I think I was just holding out hope that one day the man I used to know would come back. For all his faults he had just as many good attributes.”
“I’m not disputing that Addison. I know how much he meant to you but let’s face it girl. You are twenty-three and he treated you like you were twelve. You deserve to experience everything life has to offer including some really sexy men that I am sure will show you what you have been missing.”
“Dana!” I shriek, slapping her on the forearm. She winks at me and rolls to her side before hoisting herself to her feet. Kristina did this on purpose. She knew that if anyone could jolt me back to life it would be Dana.
“I’m just saying girl! You have only been with one person; you have no idea what you have been missing. I think we should rectify that situation as soon as possible.” She laughs. “Seriously though, next Friday. Me, you, and Kristina. A night out on the town. Trust me... It’s just what you need.” She reassures me not missing the apprehension written all over my face. “Don’t even try to get out of it, it’s already been decided. See you at work!” She calls as she skips out of my room leaving the door open behind her.
“Seriously she’s in?” I hear Kristina squeal from the living room. I push myself up quickly and make my way down the short hall where both bedrooms are and into the wide open floor plan of the living room/kitchen combo.
“I never...” I start to protest but then stop myself seeing the excitement all over the girls faces. “Fine. But if either of you try to set me up with some random guy I’m out. We clear?”
“Crystal.” Kristina says before bouncing over to me and wrapping me in a tight hug. “We’re going to have so much fun!” She exclaims, dropping her hold on me and making her way into the kitchen to grab a bottle of water from the refrigerator.
“You two wear me out. I’m going back to bed.” I say through a yawn.