Family. Brotherhood. Music. Women.
That was pretty much my life. And it was one I was happy with too. Until I came across her- the one woman I knew I had no right to put my hands on, the woman who I still felt such a connection with that, even though I knew I had to keep my hands – and other body parts – to myself, I wanted to be in her life.
So I became her friend.
Except, this sweet, shy, bookworm was making being honorable a hell of a lot harder than I expected.
To be perfectly honest, that was pretty much all my life was about. And I was happy with that. I lived a thousand lives. I saw and felt things in stories I never could have otherwise.
Besides, real life was never as good as books.
Until I came across him.
He was leading man material if I ever saw it.
You know, just not for me.
He made that perfectly clear.
We were going to be friends.
That was it.
Except, maybe that simply wasn"t enough"Books in Series:The Henchmen MC Series by Jessica GadzialaBooks by Author:Jessica Gadziala Books
Another Friday night, another book boyfriend.
I stopped counting at two-hundred. Which, let’s face it, put me squarely within the parameters of a fictional slut. A shameless, insatiable one at that. I could take the hunky cowboy on the breakfast table in the wee hours of morning, followed by the surly private investigator in the stacks at the library, maybe have it soft and sweet with a marquis on the living room couch, and usually I would round that all out with a sweet-talking daddy dom in my bed before sleep would finally force my eyes away from the pages.
Oh, you know Reese; she’s the one with her nose always buried in a book.
That would be how most people were likely to describe me if they remembered I was around at all.
Most people would be offended by being as easily looked over as a generic art print purchased at Pier 1, but me, yeah, I thrived in my quiet corners. It gave me the freedom to pull a book out of my purse without being worried that someone would think I was being anti-social or rude. It would save me from the complete and utter embarrassment that came from trying to have normal interactions with people who expected me to do something as horrifying as engaging in small talk.
It wasn’t that I was an overly anxious person.
That would imply I came out of my fictional worlds long enough for real-life stressors to sink in.
Generally, I didn’t.
I guess the best way to describe me would be – socially awkward or shy.
Whether I came to be the way I am was from being shy and awkward and therefore burying inside books, or because burrowing into books made me awkward and shy is impossible to tell. I fell into books younger than I could even remember. My mother claimed I started picking up words in the books she read around two, and that by the time I hit elementary school, I was already reading at a second-grade level.
My favorite memory as a kid was my grandmother taking me with her to a library and letting me get my very own card, watching me scribble my name in all-capital chicken scratch. From there, she led me past the main desk and into a sprawling window-laden room, the sun creating specks of dust in the air as kids milled around, sneakers lighting up on the vivid purple, blue, and green carpets. She gestured to the seemingly endless, low, wooden shelves and informed me that I could take home fifteen of them at a time. Fifteen. And that once I finished those, I could return them and take out another fifteen.
It was like winning the lottery.
The harder things got at home, the louder the fights, the more Mom cried over bills, the more trouble Paine got into, the more gray hairs Kenzi brought upon all the women in the house, the more that library became my sanctuary. I would walk there after school. I would take a random book off a shelf and sit in a corner until I finished it, until, inevitably, Paine would show up and force me to come home with him before it got dark.
By the time I lifted my head enough to notice that I was a bit of a freak, an outsider, unlike most of the other girls my age who were interested in boys and lipstick and staying out past curfew, well, it was kind of too late for me. I had already lived a thousand lives. I had climbed mountains, chased down bond jumpers, fallen in love in Victorian England, learned the value of a bathroom towel in outer space, survived a war or two, rebelled within a dystopian future society, learned to tie a corset, created herbal medicine, done so many things within these books that real life seemed dull. Looking up when I was forced to, I felt like I had gone from Oz with its vivid, perfect Technicolor detail and back to Kansas in dull, low-contrast black and white.
So I just decided to keep living all my lives, keep experiencing all the things that had me sobbing into my pillow, had my heart racing, had me throwing my book at a wall in anger, had me experiencing my first real twinges of sexual awakening.
Who needed real life anyway"
Certainly not me.
Real life, in my household, was wrought with poverty that I was too young to do anything about, a broken home that was not my fault, but left me feeling oddly guilty, a sister who effortlessly stood in the spotlight, knew her own mind, and stubbornly followed it – often into trouble. Then, of course, there was my brother and half-brother.
At first, Paine was the only one to make us worry.
It was perhaps the only time in my life I truly understood the term ‘sick with worry,’ because it literally made me sick. I couldn’t sleep, thinking of him on the streets, knowing the statistics about Third Street and their members’ tendency to end up in chains or graves.