But thinking of my past perfect life was a knife in my heart, so I pushed it away. Instead, I studied Blond Guy’s chiseled face and my imagination went wild as I imagined me showing up at his house, wearing nothing but my robe and carrying my violin. He’d open the door without a word and let me inside. I’d play for him while his hands touched my skin.
Bringing me back to life.
At that, I shivered as warmth infused my skin, pooling in my lower body. I got back in bed and relaxed—effortlessly—for the first time in months and drifted off to sleep. Yet, instead of my usual nightmares about the crash, I dreamed of him. I dreamed he sat by my bed and watched me sleep, that he reached out his hand and pushed hair from my face. His touch made me tingle all over, and even in my dream, my consciousness recognized that I wanted to play again for the boy next door.
THE NEXT MORNING, I walked into Java and Me, the local coffee joint and independent bookstore where I came each morning after my run. Decorated in black and white, it was heavy on modern style and Hollywood celebrities. It was also close to my neighborhood and the local market where I did my shopping.
Coming here was my routine. Next, I’d do a slow drive-by at the orphanage on Campbell Street, the one with the lake out front with the ducks. I’d never been inside, but maybe today I’d pull into the parking lot and go inside and meet Mrs. Smythe, the director. She’d called me several times this past month to help plan a benefit gala, and I knew I couldn’t put off meeting her forever. That orphanage was mine. Part of the reason I moved here.
I got my latte and found a seat next to the window.
Blair Storm and her usual entourage took the large table next to me. With big boobs and puffy lips, she was a thirty-something starlet who’d been plucked, highlighted, and mani-pedied to perfection. Pamela Anderson from Baywatch came to mind. She tended to spend most of her time primping and checking the waddle under her neck.
I sighed. I sounded jealous. I guess she was extremely pretty if you liked white-blond hair and flashy clothes. I paled in comparison. Literally. I needed to work on my tan. I resolved to get a bathing suit and lay out by the pool. Maybe Blond Guy would want to come over and join me? No. That was crazy. I didn’t need to get involved with anyone.
A delicate hand tapped on my shoulder, interrupting my thoughts, and I turned to meet a pair of the thickest, longest set of fake eyelashes I’d ever seen. A spider could live there and no one would ever know.
“Excuse me, I’d like a refill,” Blair said sweetly, thrusting her recycled paper cup with the Java and Me logo in my face.
I blinked. Really? She’d seen me here a dozen times as a customer.
“Sorry. I don’t work here.” I indicated my e-reader and latte. “If you want more coffee, the employees wear black and white—you know, the people with aprons and name badges.” I smiled. I’d grown up with girls like her, Park Avenue Princess types who thought everyone owed them.
“Your shirt is black and white.” She nudged one of her girlfriends, and they both burst out in a fit of laughter.
I looked down at my black Ramones shirt and grimaced. Band shirts and flip-flops hadn’t always been my everyday attire. At one time, slinky and soft had been my go-to fabric. Couture even. I put my back to Blair, hoping she’d forget about me and move on. Although it was unlikely, the thought of her realizing who I was gave me hives. Literally. An itch had taken up on my back, between my shoulder blades.
She jabbed me on the arm again, this time more insistent.
I tensed and pulled as far from her as I could.
“Honey,” she said, the syllables drawn out and sugary enough to make me gag. “Don’t you know who I am? I’m Blair Storm. I just wrapped up a James Cameron movie and a Maroon 5 music video with Adam Levine.” She preened as one of the girls in her group clapped excitedly. I halfway expected her to take a bow. “I’m one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, and if you don’t know that, then you must live under a rock. Now, be a sweetie and get me a refill.”
In my head, I tapped out “Rip Her to Shreds” by Blondie on my violin.
I scowled. “I’m fully aware of your awesome magnificence. And I’m not your sweetie.”
“What did you say?” she said, straightening up in her seat, glossy lips now in a straight line. The occupants around us froze, eyes bouncing from me to her. Even the manager speared me with a glare saying, Don’t bother the talent!
Anger bubbled up, and I opened my mouth to let her have it like I would have before the crash, but I froze, blood rushing to my face. My free hand—the one that wasn’t clutching the table—twitched to tap.
She thrust her cup at me again, eyes glittering like hard diamonds. “I must have misheard you.”
I ignored her and turned my head away, tucking myself close to the window. Pretty soon, I’d be splattered against it like a bug.
“Hello? Are you deaf?” she snapped, and I knocked my coffee over as I jerked up from my seat. Brown liquid seeped across the table and dripped on the floor. I watched it spread, unable to get napkins, unable to move. Paralyzed. My gut knew a panic attack was not far behind. I took up panting and tapped my leg.
She eyed me, her gaze flicking over my hands. “Clean-up on Aisle Stupid,” she called out over a mock microphone as the rest of her group tittered.
Every eye in the place swiveled to stare and I had a flashback to the day I’d gotten out of the hospital in Dublin. Reporters, photographers, gawkers—they’d swarmed me, camera lights flashing in my face. Geoff hadn’t made it to the hospital yet, so it had been a poor, unprepared nurse who’d pushed me in a wheelchair out to a waiting car, and there wasn’t a thing she could do about the horde. I’d braced myself for a question or two, but nothing like what hit me. They’d bombarded me.