I wanted to share the first chapter of Vivian's Ring with you. You can get it free with Kindle Unlimited. You can find it Here!
Chapter One Vivian
I loved book signings. I didn’t do them often, but I loved them and my job. I shook the hands of readers and smiled brightly for pictures. However, this is a long one, and I was at the point I wanted to find a Starbucks, fire up my laptop, and go back to my writing cave. No one seemed to understand how much I loved to be alone in the world I created with my mind and words. With my successful imagination being turned into books, along came personal appearances, such as this. I was posing for another picture when I noticed my never-ending line. I shouldn’t be complaining. I was truly thankful for every book I have sold and for each fan who bought them but exhaustion was setting in. I’ve been at it for hours already. “Here.” Olivia my publicist handed me a bottle of water. “Do you want something to eat?” “Yes. A steak, baked potato with lots of butter and sour cream.” I joked. Actually, it sounded delicious and couldn’t wait to find a place to eat. I was currently in Las Vegas at the biggest book convention in the United States. I was certain I could find a restaurant to fulfill my needs. If I could ever get out of here. I took a deep breath, picked up my pen and greeted the next reader. For the next few hours, I continued smiling and listened to the readers tell me how much they loved my books, characters, and me. Who would have thought I would ever grow sick of hearing praises. “Only ten left,” Olivia whispered in my ear. Relief filled me knowing the end of the line was nearing. As the last book was handed to me, I didn’t look up. I wanted to be done because my heels were killing me. “Hi,” I said. “Hello, Vivian.” I froze. All the air left the building, and I couldn’t breathe at all. “Brent?” His caramel eyes bared down into mine. The last time I saw him – ten years ago – he wasn’t as built as he was now and his hair was longer. Now, as I studied him, his hair was shorter, and I liked the slight scruff on his face. Other than that, he was exactly the same. I remembered the first time I saw him. I was sitting in the back of the classroom trying to remain invisible when I watched him and his friends laughing and joking. I wished I had friends like him. He looked back at me and gave me small smile. It was then he stole my heart. Of course, I would never do anything or even say anything because I was fat and never had self-esteem. “What are you doing here?” The nervousness clearly came out with my question. “I’m in Vegas for a convention but I heard author V. Rush was signing and...” He shrugged. “And here you are.” I finished his sentence for him. I used to do it all the time when we were together. “Wait, you’ve read my books?” Suddenly I realized what he had said. “Yes. Actually, you’re one of my favorite authors.” He leaned a little closer to me. “Imagine my surprise when I read about Detective Brian who seemed extremely familiar.” I swallowed back the lump in my throat. “He’s just a character.” I didn’t want to admit the truth in front of him. He was Brent. I took everything I knew and loved about him and turned him into a fictional character. He was strong, determined, kind, and sweet. I knew all these things to be true of Brent because I experienced them all. He was the Alpha hero every girl wanted and hoped for. Although, I left it all behind me. “Is he?” He smirked. For a second I thought he was mad, but Brent never got mad. He was a great guy. “Hello.” Olivia poked her head in between us with her bright smile. “Hi, I’m Brent.” He stood up tall and held out his hand.
“Olivia. I’m Ms. Rush’s publicist. How do you know her?” “We go way back.” I rolled my eyes at his comment. His statement was correct, but there was much more than way back.
He and I were together all throughout high school. He was my knight in shining armor. Well, really it was my knight in cowboy boots and driving a big ol’ truck. At the time, I loved it. “Oh.” Olivia glanced at me and then back to Brent. I scribbled my name on the book and handed it to him. “Here you go. Have a great day.” I put on my best fake smile. “May we talk for a moment?” he asked softly. My head nodded before I could verbally answer. I knew he wasn’t going to just take the book and leave. “She’s all done here.” Olivia chimed in and pushed on my shoulder. “I’ll clean up and meet up with you later.” “Sure. Right. Okay.” I muttered and stood up. My body was on autopilot. I gathered up my purse and cell phone. Brent walked by my side as we strolled out of the convention hall and into the lobby. “Would you like to grab a coffee?” He suggested. “Fine.” I didn’t know why I agreed. I’ve not talked to or seen him in ten years. I didn’t owe him anything. Although, the nosy part of me wanted to see what has become of his life. I’ve made this conversation up in my head a million times, but I never knew what was real or not. Brent was a good guy and I hoped he was still an equally good man. I knew he was going to have a lot of questions and I didn’t want to answer any of them. There was a coffee shop down the block. We ordered our drinks, and Brent paid for the order. I went to protest but gave up. It’s built into his southern DNA to be chivalrous. I take our drinks and was able to find a table in the corner away from the blasting Jazz music and loud laughter. He sat across from me and neither of us spoke. It reminded me of our first real date when we were fifteen. We had been friends for a long time before our first date, and it made it a bit awkward. I cleared my throat. “How’s your family?” Maybe keeping the topic light and easy would get this over with more quickly. “They’re fine. And yours?” I shrugged. “I guess they’re okay. I’ve not really talked to anyone since I left Billings.” “You were never close to them.” He gave me a sad smile. He knew – better than anyone – my home life was horrendous. I didn’t have the worst family, but my parents had always pushed me into school and being independent. Now, I relied on myself and no one else. My parents didn’t seem to miss me, and I was okay with it. I liked being by myself and lost in my imagination. “Did you graduate college?” he asked. I nodded. “Yes. I was able to finish in three years. It almost killed me.” I half joked. It was rough on me, but I wanted my degree and to start my life. “You look great, Viv.” He commented looking me over. I glanced down at myself. I knew what he was thinking. He’s wondering how much weight I lost. “Thanks. I got rid of all those fat rolls.” “You were never fat.” His voice was sincere. He would always tell me how beautiful I was and how great I was. I never believed him. I was very overweight as a teenager.
We stood in his barn and brushed the horses. He had asked me for the tenth time today and I sighed. “I can’t go.” I shook my head, stepping away from the horse and crossing my arms. “And you can’t make me.” “You’re right.” Brent came over and hugged me. “I can’t make you go to prom with me. However,” he stepped back, “I can bring the prom to you.” I furrowed my brow and looked at him. “What?” “I can set up everything here at the ranch. I can get the CD I burned for you with all your favorite songs and order our favorite pizza. It’s just like prom, but without all the people around.” I loved the idea, but he didn’t understand – I didn’t want to wear the dress. I was seventeen and overweight. I couldn’t fit into anything at the store and didn’t even dare to look at a magazine. My self-esteem would plummet. “Brent, I can’t.” “Why? Talk to me.” He looked deeply into my eyes and comfort washed over me. “I’m too fat for a dress.” “No, you’re not.” He kissed me. “Besides at our prom, jeans, boots, and t-shirts are the only acceptable attire.” I smiled. He always had the best plans. He brought me the greatest joy.
The day after I left Billings to go to college, I made promises to myself. One, I would lose weight. Two, I would graduate college with no one’s help. Three, I would be happy. Three was the toughest one and wasn’t there yet. Overall, my life was great, but there were times I missed having friends. Not all the time but sometimes. Brent had been my best friend and leaving him was hard, but it had to be done. I knew if I told him where I was going he would have followed. “What made you read the “Love to Death” Series?” I changed the conversation to something I was more comfortable with. “I picked it up in an airport,” he said. “I was hooked after the first chapter. I never thought it was you though. Imagine my surprise when I saw you at the table.” “I’m certain it was shocking.” I tucked my curly hair behind my ears and looked out the cafe window. He couldn’t imagine the shock I felt seeing him. I hoped I hid it well enough, but he knew me too well. “To say the least.” He muttered. We fell into silence, and I knew what was coming. Brent never beats around the bush when he wanted an answer about a topic. I knew the question was coming. “Why did you leave me?” And there it was...