His name was Milton Sagar. He was an NFL quarterback who’d just been drafted to play for San Diego. I met him at a gallery showing in L.A. on a Friday night. He came to visit me in the Vegas gallery on the following Monday.
Heart-rate accelerating interested.
That hadn’t happened to me since Tristan. I wasn’t sure if I was relieved or horrified by the development.
He was very persistent. I turned him down twice.
He had huge arms, gorgeous black hair, kind blue eyes. He even had dimples. He probably flirted in his sleep.
He was just the type of guy I should avoid.
The third time he very charmingly asked me out, I said yes to having lunch with him in Vegas, on my break at work. He flew in just to see me. I had no intention of letting it go one step further than that.
“Oh please do. I would love to hear it.”
He took a few steps toward me, but I backed just as many steps away,
He looked down, taking a deep breath. “Of course, Danika. I know how you feel about that. I take it this is about Milton?”
I nodded, biting back several sarcastic things that came to mind. “Of course it is. Why else would I be here?”
I wanted to say so much more, about how my love life wasn’t his business, about how he didn’t get to kiss my sister and God only knew what else and then try to interfere in my life, but I held my tongue. It was a herculean effort, but I did it. I would not give him the satisfaction of knowing how much that bothered me, how it had kept me up at night, the doubt, the uncertainty. Had I ever even known him at all?
“I can’t believe you told him I was divorced!”
He met my eyes. His were steady, his jaw so stubborn that I didn’t know if I wanted to slap it or kiss it. “You are divorced.” His tone was chastising. “That marriage was a joke. It didn’t even count.”
He flinched, not even trying to hide it, one hand shooting up to rub at a twitching temple. “I told him that because he is not the guy for you.”
“He’s a womanizer.”
I laughed. It was so bitter that I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t change it, couldn’t keep it in. “Look who’s talking.”
“And a liar.”
I began to look around, and when I realized that I was trying to find something to throw, I knew, with absolute certainty, that I needed to leave. Every second that we stayed within each other’s vicinity was bad for my peace of mind. This little scene would haunt me for months. Just seeing him up close like this, and breathing him in, it would mess me up, set me back.
And I was wounded enough.
I pointed at him. “You stop it. Quit acting like you give a damn, and stay the fuck out of my life. You and I…we are nothing to each other. Less than strangers.”
I left, and thank God he didn’t stop me.
I went to a very public gala with Milton the next weekend. There was a red carpet with photographers. I smiled like I was having the best night of my life for those cameras, and tried not to think about the fact that I had said yes to this mostly out of spite. Tristan would see these pictures, and he would know just how much of a say he had in my life.
We’d made plans to meet that night for dinner, and I hadn’t been expecting a call from him, so my tone was a bit of a question as I answered, “Hello?”
“This is Belinda.”
“Hello, Belinda. How may I help you?” Her shaky voice sent me into auto-pilot, which for me was a sort of detached professionalism.
“I am Milton’s girlfriend,” she proclaimed, her shaky voice turning hard with anger.
“Excuse me?” I asked, completely caught off guard. How had I missed this?
“He and I have been together for nine years. I live with him. He doesn’t know that I know about you, but when he gets out of the shower, I’ll hand him the phone, and he can tell you all about me.”
It said a lot that my mind focused mostly on Tristan, and the fact that he’d been right about Milton. If I had listened to him, I’d have saved myself that embarrassment.
BOOK THREE: TRISTAN & DANIKA
Tristan hit rock bottom, and no one felt the impact harder than Danika. She was forced to see, in the most brutal of ways, that love does not conquer all. Bruised, bloody, and broken she had to walk away.
Picking up the pieces of your life after a tragedy is a daunting prospect, and that’s considering you still own all of the pieces. But what if you don’t? What if someone else owns those pieces, and those pieces are a part of your soul?
You dig deep and work with what you’ve got.
That’s what Danika told herself and believed, every single day, for years.
Tristan and Danika’s love had failed every test that life had thrown at them. She couldn’t forget that, not for one second. And if those tests had been overly harsh, well, she wasn’t one to wallow in self-pity. The failure was the thing she had to focus on. The failure was the lesson. She had no intention of working so hard to make it out of hell without learning that lesson well.
Over six years after the night that changed everything, Danika finds herself forced to spend the weekend constantly in Tristan’s company, as they attend the wedding of two of their dearest friends. It’s been long enough that she feels they can be friendly again without it destroying her peace of mind, but just a small amount of time in his presence has her remembering something she had forced herself to forget: There’d been a reason she’d gone through hell with this man, for this man, some true good to precede the bad.
She shocks herself by quickly giving in to a hunger that she never imagined could still consume her.
Even the best intentioned denial has a breaking point.
THE HARSH REALITY
After everything that’s happened, the rise and the fall, the pain and the aftermath, can these two navigate the waters of acute regret, survive the trials of coming face to face with all that they have lost, and find the strength to try again?
This book is intended for readers 18 and up.