- Katie Ashley
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- I am the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best Selling author of The Proposition, Proposal, Music of the Heart, and Nets and Lies. I am represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel and Goderich for all books except for Proposition and Proposal.
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- ► 2014 (22)
- 5K Likes Giveaway Extravaganza!!
- Teaser Tuesday: Like a Virgin
- THANK YOU & Chapter Two of Music of the Heart
- Teaser Tuesday from Music of the Heart: The Bet is...
- Friday Freebie: Chapter One of Music of the Heart
- Teaser Tuesday: Excerpt from NETS & LIES & Chance ...
- Eesh: Technology Suckage: Epilogue for Nets and Li...
- Chapter Two of Nets and Lies: Jordan's POV
- Chapter One of Nets and Lies--My New Adult Book
- ▼ February (9)
Monday, February 4, 2013
So, I can't seem to release a book without something technology wise being a hiccup. This morning it was the fact that the version of Nets and Lies uploaded last night was the version without the EPILOGUE!! It's from Will's POV a year later. I'm posting it here just in case you got the other version. It has been corrected and uploaded again to both Amazon and Barnes and Noble!!
Nine Months Later
Sweat cascaded down the sides of my cheeks as I sprinted up and down the gym floor of the Georgia Tech Coliseum. Pressing on, I fought the fatigue washing over me as well as the muscles that screamed in agony. I’d been busting my ass for the last half-hour, trying to prove I deserved some playtime in tomorrow’s game. Playing basketball for Tech was a dream come true—I just hadn’t imagined the hard transition that going from somewhat of a senior superstar in high school to just another player in college would be. The shriek of a loud whistle brought my torture and our Friday afternoon practice to a halt. “Okay, boys. See you back tomorrow for the game,” our coach shouted.
“Nice hustling, Thompson,” my buddy, Jared, said as we made our way into the locker-room.
I grinned. “Thanks man. You weren’t so bad yourself out there.”
“Got to stick it to the douchetard seniors, right?” he asked, his dark eyes twinkling.
“Tell me about it.”
Before I headed to the showers, I grabbed my clothes out of my locker. Glancing at my phone, I saw I had a
text from Melanie. Meet you at the car in fifteen. Xxoo. I couldn’t help the goofy grin from spreading across my lips. Everything about that girl was magic to me—even her cutesy little hugs and kisses on texts. It all meant so much more to me since we had been to hell and back, but somehow we had miraculously survived it together.
To say that the last part of the year was hell was a total understatement. Dealing with the fall-out from my father’s arrest, and Melanie’s admission of rape and her breakdown had taken its toll in more ways than one. Even though I seemed like I was dealing with everything, I was a mess. Like Mel, I hid a lot of the pain I was going through to protect those that I loved. I felt that I needed to be the man and be strong for my mom and for Melanie.
At first, there had been night terrors that left me drenched in sweat and panting to catch my breath. The dreams were always the same—I could see Melanie in my dad’s office, hear her screaming for me to help her, but I couldn’t get to her. I would bang on the door or punch out the glass with my fists, but it wouldn’t help. It was after weeks of these horrible dreams that my mom experienced one first hand. She then demanded I see a therapist, so I agreed to see Dr. Leighton with Melanie as well as submitting to family counseling with my mom.
By the time Melanie and I started to college, things were better for us both. I was more thankful than ever that I had taken Tech’s scholarship offer rather than going to Duke. Melanie and I both needed to be at the same school. Some people might’ve thought our dependency on each other wasn’t healthy, but they didn’t know what it was like to go through what we did. The tragic aspect of our past would always bond us together, but it was the strong love we had that meant the most.
Shaking myself out of my thoughts, I finished in the shower and quickly toweled dry my hair. I threw on a pair of worn jeans along sweatshirt before sending a B right there, Baby text to Melanie.
I was packing up my bag when my teammate Kyle asked, “Hey Thompson, wanna grab something from the Varsity with us?”
Even though the thought of running down the street to our favorite restaurant and Atlanta institution was tempting, I shook my head and tossed my practice jersey in the team clothes hamper. “Nah, man, I gotta get back home.”
Glancing over my shoulder, I saw the wicked gleam flashing in Jared’s eyes. “Melanie’s fine ass is beckoning you, huh? Mmm, not just her fine ass. She’s got an amazing pair of—”
I whirled around and jabbed a finger into his chest. “Watch it.”
He gave me an exasperated snort before draping a sweat-slickened arm across my shoulder. “Come on, Big
Willy. You know I’m not jonsing for your girl. Even if she’s hot as hell with those long ass legs, every dude on the team knows you guys are practically married.”
“Exactly,” I growled.
He grinned. “Besides that fact, she ain’t got eyes for anyone but your ugly mug.”
Jared’s words sent pulsing warmth through my chest. It wasn’t just the possessive side of me that enjoyed hearing how much Melanie loved me. It’s the fact that after everything we’d been through, there was no one else on earth she wanted to be with but me. And thank God that in spite of all the reasons why she shouldn’t love me or want me, she still did. Endlessly.
Kyle eyed his reflection in the mirror. “Yeah, it’s not just the way she looks at him. There’s also that fatass rock of an engagement ring she wears when she’s not on the court.”
I grinned as I thought back to a month ago at Christmas when I had slipped the ring on Melanie’s finger. I’d told her I’d wanted to marry her right before her breakdown. I meant it then, and I still meant it now—maybe even more than ever before. It wasn’t exactly the rock like Kyle claimed or the one that I wanted it to be. Even though my mom had offered to hock her two carat ring from my dad for me to buy Melanie’s, I refused. It would have just tarnished and tainted it to have anything associated with my dad—even the money from his ring. Instead, I’d sold some baseballs cards that my grandfather had left me. Someday I hoped to get her a bigger one, even though Melanie told me over and over again it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, and she adored it.
I slung Jared’s arm off me and cocked my head at him. “Yeah, that’s the truth. I just wanna make sure none of you douchebags forget it.”
He snorted before slamming his locker shut. “Trust me, we won’t.”
I grabbed my bag and threw it over my shoulder before following Jared and Kyle out the door. After we breezed out of the gym, I said, “You guys behave tonight. You better not be dragging in your hung-over asses for the game tomorrow!”
“Shit, don’t we always behave?” Jared asked with a smirk.
“Whatever. See you later.” I watched as they headed down the sidewalk towards the Varsity. The last thing
I wanted to do was tell Jared and Kyle the real reason why I had to get back home. Their perverted minds might’ve thought it was to have sex with Melanie, but they couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I had a hot date, but it was with my therapist.
As I strode across the parking lot to my Jeep, I saw Melanie leaned against the bumper, her fingers furiously working over the keypad of her phone. My breath hitched a little at the sight of her in a short grey skirt, black knee boots, and a body hugging sweater. She always liked to look her best for therapy while I could have given a shit less about my jeans and Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket sweatshirt.
“Hey baby,” I said.
She jerked her head up to look at me. A bright smile flashed on her face. “Hey yourself.”
I pulled her into my arms to plant a lingering kiss on her lips. For so many months, we’d fought all forms of intimacy that it was so nice when she no longer tensed when I touched her. As her tongue teased along mine, I thought about the hurdles we had overcome in the sex department. Once we were finally together that night on the beach, I thought every time would be easy, but I was wrong. Some days she was ready to pounce on me, and others her emotional and physical resistance led to some serious blue balls situations for me.
I always tried to be understanding and reassure her that it was okay. Sure, I was a horny guy who had needs, but I loved Mel too much to ever pressure her or give her shit about it. As hard as it was for both of us to admit, she was a rape survivor—that was always going to make sex difficult. But I would fight the rest of my life to make her feel loved, desired, and…normal both in and out of the bedroom.
“Ready to go see Dr. Feelgood?” I asked.
Mel quirked her blonde brows at me while sweeping a hand to her hip. “After all this time, do you really still have to call her that?”
I shrugged as I opened the truck door and climbed inside. Me making fun of therapy was what Dr. Leighton would call a ‘coping mechanism’--a way for me to save face and still feel masculine. It wasn’t easy being nineteen and in therapy because my soulless asshole of a father raped my girlfriend and was now a convicted felon rotting away in one of the state prisons I had no desire to know where he was because my resolve was still just as firm on the fact that he was dead to me. Dr. Leighton continued to have a field day with that one.
“Will, you don’t have to come to therapy with me if you won’t want to,” Mel said, staring down at her boots rather than at me. She gladly made the thirty minute pilgrimage back home twice a week to meet with Dr. Leighton while I just joined her at one of the sessions. There was also the every other week sessions I did with my mom. I was practically a therapy junkie.
As I cranked up the Jeep, I glanced over at her. “I was just teasing you. You know that, right?”
“I hope so,” she replied in a small voice.
“You know I would do anything for you.” I leaned over and planted a tender kiss on her lips. “Besides, we both know this isn’t just for you. I need it as well.”
She ran rubbed her hand across her cheek. “Thank you.”
“For what? Being your therapy buddy?”
She grinned. “No, silly. For being you.”
“You’re welcome,” I replied with a wink. I then turned my attention back to the task of getting out of the city. As we zipped along 75 North, my cell phone rang. Glancing at the ID, I saw it was my mom. “Hey, what’s up?”
“Hi sweetheart. I just wanted to let you know that I’ll probably be out late if you came home for the night.”
“Yes, I’m having dinner with a friend.”
I gripped the phone a little tighter. This was the third weekend that she’d had plans with a friend. “Are you seeing someone?”
“Don’t lie to me, Mom!”
At my outburst, Melanie reached over and grabbed my hand in hers. Mom sighed. “Yes, I am. I’ve been dating a man named Bobby for a few weeks now. It’s nothing serious.”
I let out the breath I’d been holding in a long, exaggerated whoosh. “And why the hell didn’t you think you could tell me? I mean, after all the shit that’s happened, don’t you believe that I want you to be happy?”
“William Thompson, watch your language!” she chided.
“Don’t change the subject,” I growled.
“Fine. I didn’t want to tell you because my divorce isn’t officially final yet. I didn’t want you to think less of me, okay?”
Instantly, I felt like a giant ass. “I’m sorry, Mom. You know I could never think bad about you—you’re the most amazing mom ever.” I had never said a truer statement. Even though my dad had knocked her up when she was just twenty, she had never acted like she didn’t want me, or that I was a burden to her life. She’d always made me feel like the most special child in the world. For the past year, we had leaned on each other to get through the nightmare that became our lives.
She sniffled into the phone. “Oh sweetheart, I appreciate you saying that.”
“Well, I mean it. And please don’t cry.”
“I’m sorry. Are you sure you’re not upset about me dating?”
“Of course not. I want you to be happy—you deserve to be happy.” My comment started her waterworks again because I heard more sniffling. “Mom,” I warned.
“Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the crying.”
“Does Dr. Leighton know you’re dating?” I asked.
“Yes. She’s been waiting for me to tell you.”
“Great. I guess I know what I’ll be discussing this afternoon in our session.”
Mel squeezed my hand, and I cut my eyes from the road over to her. She gave me a sympathetic smile.
“Okay, Mom, I gotta go. Mel and I are almost to Dr. Leighton’s.”
“I love you, sweetheart.”
“I love you too.” After I hung up, I tossed the phone onto the seat beside me. “Mom’s dating.”
“So I heard. Are you really okay with it?”
I shrugged. “I guess so. I mean, she deserves a guy to make her happy—someone who can erase what all the asshole did to her.”
“Yes, she does, and I hope this guy is the one to do it,” Mel said.
“We’ll see.” I clenched and unclenched my jaw. “I just hate that she kept it from me.”
“Maybe she wanted to wait and see how things progressed before she told you?”
“Yeah, well, I don’t like the people I love keeping secrets from me. I mean, damn, I’ve had enough of that bullshit for a lifetime.”
At my outburst, Melanie shuddered in the seat next to me. Instantly, regret filled me. I brought her hand to my lips. “I’m sorry, baby. I didn’t mean it to sound like that.”
“It’s okay. I’m so overly emotionally lately.”
“Um, it’s is your period or something?”
Something about my expression amused Mel, and she busted out laughing. “No, babe, it’s not PMS. It’s the time of year—the almost anniversary.”
I cringed when I realized we were just a few weeks away from the one year anniversary of her rape. “Oh yeah. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. Dr. Leighton thinks I might need to start coming three times a week again. Don’t want to have any setbacks. Especially so close to Valentine’s Day.” She waggled her eyebrows.
I laughed. “I guess that means you’re still down for us getting that cabin in the mountains, huh?”
“Good, I’m glad to hear it,” I said as I pulled into a parking spot outside of Dr. Leighton’s familiar office. Just like always, I took Melanie’s hand and led her inside the building.
Once our session was over and the issues of the week momentarily tackled, Mel and I headed back to the Jeep. “Ready to eat?” I asked.
“Yep, I’m starved.”
“What sounds good?”
“I want to eat at Fiorenza’s tonight.”
My brows shot up in surprise. I wasn’t used to Melanie being so certain. Usually we hemmed and hawed for a few minutes about what we wanted or where we wanted to go. “Okay, Italian it is.”
We both hopped into the Jeep. When I reached for the radio, Melanie stopped me. “There’s a reason why I wanted to eat at Fiorenza’s.”
“Oh?” I asked, cranking up.
She bobbed her head. “I asked some people to join us for dinner.”
“Like JT and Lauren or some of the old crew?”
Melanie squirmed in her seat. “Um, not exactly.”
I slammed on the brakes just as I started easing out of the parking spot. My eyes widened. “Why in the hell do you want to have dinner with her?”
“Will, you know that we’re friends now and how much she’s meant to me.”
“I know that, but it doesn’t mean I have to be friends with her, does it?”
When Melanie’s hopeful face fell, I felt like an epic tool. “It’s just I’ve tried to put that part of my life behind me, Mel. I’m not going to lie that I was really stoked to hear she had moved away to Jersey. Now she’s back?”
“Just for the weekend for her mom’s wedding. We didn’t get to see each other at Christmas. And she really wants to talk to you.”
“Fucking fabulous,” I muttered.
“Regardless of how it all happened, your dad took advantage of her too,” Mel whispered.
Deep down, I knew that, and I should have been receptive to burying the hatchet with Jordan. From all the things I had seen and heard, Jordan had really been working on turning over a new leaf. “It’s just whenever I see her, it brings back all that he did—all I’ll think of is the asshole and her banging.”
“Then how can you possibly look at me every day?”
I sucked in a harsh breath. Her words made me feel like I’d been kicked in the gut. “Because I love you.
That’s why I can look at you each and every day and not think of him. All I think of is how much I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
When I tore my gaze from the road, tears sparkled in Mel’s eyes, but I knew they weren’t sad tears. I’d learned to gage her emotions almost as well as my own. Her lips turned up in a hesitant smile. “Really?”
“Yes, really. And anytime you have doubts about me, just look down at that ring. You’re not getting rid of me ever.” I shook my head harshly. “You’re the only one for me, Mel.”
Unbuckling her seatbelt, she leaned across the seat to kiss me. “I love you so very much,” she murmured
against my lips.
When her tongue thrust into my mouth, I jerked back. “Hey now, I gotta watch the road.”
Her hand slid from my hair to grip my thigh. “Later then,” she replied with a grin.
I groaned. “Let’s eat fast.”
Melanie laughed. “You’re so bad.”
Fiorenza’s was on the same side of town as Dr. Leighton’s office, and we whipped into the parking lot in less than five minutes. As we swept into the foyer of Fiorenza’s, I saw Jordan and some hardcore, tattooed guy waiting for us at the bar. When her dark eyes met mine, Jordan’s face paled a little. It was kinda surprising to see her look so scared. She was usually such a self-assured bitch. Her attire was also a lot different. She wasn’t showing off any skin or baring her cleavage. She appeared almost...pure. It was unnerving.
Melanie dropped her hand from mine before closing the gap to hug Jordan. “Sorry, I hope we didn’t keep you guys waiting.”
Jordan squeezed Melanie tight. “Nah, we were just catching up with the old crew. Surprisingly, even our old boss, Manny, seemed glad to see us.”
Melanie giggled. “Oh yes, I remember Manny.” Once she released Jordan, Melanie gave the tattooed dude a big hug as well. “Nice seeing you again, Nick.” She turned around. “Will, this is Nick Deluca, Jordan’s boyfriend. And Nick, this is my boy—I mean, my fiancée, Will Thompson.”
With a genuine smile, Nick extended his hand. “Nice meetin’ ya.”
“Same to you,” I replied.
“Glad to be back home again?” Melanie asked.
Wrinkling her nose, Jordan replied, “It’s okay. I absolutely adore Jersey. Nick’s uncle and cousins are amazing. They’re like the family I never had.”
“Or me either,” Nick joked.
The three of them laughed, and I realized I had missed out on some important knowledge. “Can you believe my mom is actually getting remarried?” Jordan asked.
Melanie laughed. “I’m happy for her.”
“After all these years, she’s settling down with some boring accountant who wears glasses. Wonders never cease, huh?” Taking Melanie’s hand, her gaze honed in on the sparkling diamond. “Speaking of, look at you, Miss Engaged!”
Beaming, Melanie turned back to me. “Will proposed at Christmas time. It was so romantic and beautiful under all the Christmas lights.”
Jordan glanced up from the ring to smile at me. “It’s gorgeous. You have really good taste.”
“Thank you,” I replied, tersely.
Tension hung heavy in the air. Nick cleared his throat. “Come on, Mel, why don’t you and I go get us all a booth?”
“Sounds good,” Melanie replied. She gave me a pleading look before following Nick to the hostess stand.
Jordan cocked her brows at me. “Wanna step outside for a minute?”
“Do you really want me to answer that question?” I asked.
Jordan sighed. “Please, Will. For Melanie?”
With a frustrated grunt, I threw open the door and stepped back out into the darkened night. When I turned around, Jordan was rubbing her arms against the cold or her nerves. “Look, I asked Melanie to dinner because I wanted to see her, but more importantly it was so I could apologize. To you.”
I shoved my hands in my coat pocket. “Seriously?”
Jordan bobbed her dark head.
“Why do you even care what I think or need my forgiveness?”
“Because I do…and because I want to be able to put this all behind us.” She took a tentative step toward me. “In AA, they teach you to achieve true clarity and peace you need to find all those you have wronged in the past and make it right.”
Okay, that’s not exactly what I was expecting from her. “Since when did you become an alcoholic?”
“I didn’t. Nick is a recovering addict and alcoholic.”
“And he knows all about you and my dad?”
“Of course he does. He knows every deep and dirty aspect of my past. We don’t have any secrets.”
I crossed my arms over my chest. “I see.”
Jordan’s dark eyes took on a haunted look. “Will, for the last eight months, I’ve been working my ass off to be the person that Nick sees me as. When no one else did, he saw there was goodness within me, and I don’t ever want to let him down. All I seek is redemption and repentance for my past. You’re one of the last people I need to make things right with. Well, you and your mom, and I figured you would be the easier of those two.”
Jesus, she actually contemplated talking to my mother? Had she lost her mind? The last person on earth my mother ever wanted to see was Jordan. I mean, she had a hard enough time looking at Melanie sometimes knowing what my dad did. Even though she’s tried to get past it, sometimes Mom got an expression of both horror and disgust on her face when Melanie came over. Thankfully, it was only a fleeting moment, and so far Mel had never seen her do it. Part of me hated Mom for thinking anything negative about Melanie. I mean, she couldn’t help what my dad did, and she had been shattered by him even more than Mom had.
When I glanced up at Jordan, the corners of her lips were quirked up in a small smile. It was as if she could read some of my prior thoughts. “Like I said, I just wanted to have the opportunity to say how very sorry I am that I had an affair with your father. It was selfish and stupid to do that with a man who had a wife and family.”
Cocking my head, I sized her up. While the old Jordan Solano was a fake phony, everything was genuine about the girl in front of me. She truly wanted my forgiveness—she needed it desperately. And who was I to deny her? I exhaled, watching my breath fog in front of me. “Okay, Jordan, I forgive you. Or at least I’ll work on forgiving you.”
Her brows shot up into her hairline. “Really?”
“Yes, really. For your sake and Mel’s…and I guess my own.”
A beaming smile filled her face. “Oh, thank you so much, Will!” Before I could stop her, she threw her arms around me and squeezed. “I understand that it’ll take time. But I appreciate you’re willing to try.”
“I am,” I replied as I pulled away from her.
Tears glistened her dark eyes. “Not that she doesn’t already know it, but Melanie’s a really lucky girl.”
I chuckled. “Thank you.” Motioning for the door, I said, “Come on, I think we’ve left the loves of our lives long enough, don’t you?”
She giggled. “Yes, we have.”
As we swept back into the restaurant, Jordan had a definite bounce in her step. She practically sprinted to the booth where Nick and Mel sat munching on breadsticks and chatting. They both glanced up expectantly at us. Jordan and I looked at each other and smiled before sitting down. No words were really necessary to convey what had just happened. Forgiveness was about more than just words—it was actions and feelings.
As I slid into the booth next to Melanie, she leaned over and kissed my cheek. Gazing across the table, Jordan whispered into Nick’s pierced ear, causing a pleased look on his face. For the rest of the evening, we didn’t focus on the past. Instead, we talked about marriage, college degrees, and the restaurant Nick was going to run.
Among the four of us sitting around the booth, the past held a darkness that blotted out the sun. But the
future…it was so bright.