Yours CompletelyBy: Joya Ryan
A Reign Novel: Book 2
To The Cupertino A Team
Harry, Mark, Dave, Rog, Xabi, and Art
Thank you for your unmatched wisdom and awesomeness. This book wouldn’t have been the same without you! By the way, remember that one time I saved you from a fire?
Thank you Anna, Grace, and the amazing team for all your hard work on this book. Thank you Jill Marsal for being the best agent in the galaxy. Thank you E-book formatting fairies for the wonderful edits. Thank you to my incredible family and friends for supporting me.
I took a deep breath and sipped my soda. It was in a red plastic cup, so the party patrol, aka my best friend Harper, wouldn’t know that I, once again, wasn’t partaking in the festivities. This was the third social gathering she’d dragged me to in two weeks, and though I appreciated her help of “trying to get my ass in gear and out of this depression,” I still wasn’t happy.
Jack had left a month ago. Actually, it was four weeks and three endless days ago, and no matter how many times I was told it would get easier, it still hurt to breathe past the pain. Sometimes I held my breath as long as I could, just to escape the jagged edges of my heart tearing through my chest. But tonight was supposed to be different, a distraction, Harper had promised. It was Halloween, the one time of year people get to make believe they’re someone else. Someone stronger or faster or sexier or smarter—or braver. Someone whole. Despite the red cape and title of Riding Hood, I couldn’t escape the devastating fact that I was still me…And all the baggage that came with.
“Lana!” Harper shouted, shimmying toward me through the massive amount of people. I could hear her sexy police officer costume squeaking and squishing as she approached. “Isn’t this place great?” she said, standing by me and adjusting the cuffs at her hip. She took a drink from her own cup. Judging by the smell, it was only partially soda—the more dominant part was tequila.
“Yeah, it’s a really nice house.”
Rhett Simpson was one of the firefighters who worked at the station across the street from our house. He’d had his eye on Harper for a while. Though she was relatively secretive when it came to her dating life, I’d managed to figure out that Harper had a couple firemen on her hook, but I had no idea if she was actually into any of them. She was the queen of casual and always had a backup guy, a safety line to keep her from ever getting close enough for a real relationship. Advice she’d once given me and I should have taken. Maybe then I wouldn’t be standing here, surrounded by people, feeling completely alone. Out of place.
The house was packed with people in costume, most of whom either worked for or frequented the firehouse, and Harper was getting a lot of looks.
“Did you come as a police officer just to piss off the gaggle of firemen you know?” I asked.
She flicked an invisible hair from her costume and shrugged. “Might have.”
Police officers and firemen apparently had their own ideas about which branch was better. And Harper was great at playing the devil’s advocate. She was the kind of woman a man had to work to get. I loved her. I wished I had whatever gene she carried that was encoded with charisma.
I took another drink of my soda, wishing there was something stronger in it.
“So…” she smiled and danced a little. The tequila was obviously working well for her. “Are you having fun?”
“Mmm hmmm,” I said with a forced smiled. “I don’t think I’m going to stay too late, though. I have a meeting with my thesis advisor on Monday, and—”
“And it’s Saturday night.”
“I just want to go over a few more things on my proposal.” I was presenting the rough draft for my project the day after tomorrow, and school was the one thing going well in my life. Sure, I had to maintain a high GPA to keep my scholarship, but it was more than that. Throwing myself into this project kept my mind busy and my goals in sight.