Authors: M. Leighton
Tags: #romance, #love, #adult, #sexy, #contemporary, #standalone
Copyright 2013, M. Leighton
Cover photo by Riaua
Cover Work by Matthew Bagley
Cover Work by “Mr. Cates”
All rights reserved. Except as permitted
under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication
may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any
means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the
prior permission of the author.
This ebook is licensed for your personal
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This book is a work of fiction. Any
resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or
occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and storylines
are products of the author’s imagination or are used
How could I ever forget you?
A Note to
To those who will ask if this is
autobiographical, the answer is no. The story idea came to me as a
result of so many people asking me questions about whether or not I
get material for my books from my real life. I know you’re curious
about the life of a romance novelist. For the most part, it’s not
all that glamorous. Many of us spend our days in pajamas (aka, work
clothes), dreaming of beautiful, flawed people. But I didn’t want
to bore you with reality. I wanted to spin you a delicious, yet
completely fictitious tale.
I hope you enjoy reading this story as much
as I enjoyed writing it. And if you’d like to read more about how
it came about and what to expect, you can do so on my blog post
If music enhances your reading experience,
you can enjoy the playlist for Alec and Samantha on Spotify
In love, sometimes what you fear most is
exactly what you need.
Laura Drake is an author. She writes
bestselling paranormal romances that continue to top the charts.
She is sharp. She is confident. She is in control.
And she doesn’t exist.
Samantha Jansen is the woman behind the wig,
the woman most of the world doesn’t know exists. She is shy. She is
insecure. She is nothing like her main character
alter ego. She is scarred—deeply scarred—by a past she can’t let go
of and a present she can’t make peace with.
Samantha’s dreams are consumed by one man,
the broken hero from her books. Mason Strait is both her wildest
fantasy and her most terrifying nightmare.
When Samantha meets Alec Brand, a corporate
consultant, it is as though Mason has come to life. Alec is
handsome to a fault, as elegant as he is arrogant, and more intense
than any man has a right to be.
Samantha is soon sucked into a world that
mirrors the fiction she writes. Just like her main character, Daire
Kirby, Samantha finds herself unable to resist the forbidden lure
of Alec. And just like Daire, she also finds that she is faced with
taking a chance on a man who could either set her free or destroy
The scale tilts toward destruction when
Samantha finds out that Alec is as much a work of fiction as Mason.
And he has scars of his own, scars that could ruin them both.
**This book may be read as a stand-alone, as
the story of Alec and Samantha comes to a conclusion in this
CHAPTER ONE- Samantha
I sit at the desk in my hotel room, staring
at the blinking cursor on the screen. In my head, I’m Daire Kirby,
my main character, enthralled as she stares into the pale green
eyes of Mason Strait, the man of my dreams. Literally.
Writing about him always consumes me.
Although he’s nothing more than a product of my imagination, he’s
both my wildest fantasy and my most terrifying nightmare.
It’s my greatest passion,” he says in his
husky voice, “the education of girls like you. Watching desire
darken your eyes, tasting sweat as it beads on your skin, feeling
your body squeeze mine like a tight fist.”
I feel lost in his eyes, hypnotized by his
words. I know I should run. But I can’t. As crazy and stupid as it
sounds, I have to see this through. This relationship, this
endeavor, this…man will either make me or completely destroy me.
The only thing I know for sure is that I have to take the
The alarm sounds on my phone. I sigh. I’d
much rather continue exploring Mason, but it’s time to log on for
my therapy session.
“Let’s see what vague, intrusive questions
you have for me today, Dr. Ruth,” I say to my keyboard as I log
onto the encrypted network that my psychiatrist uses.
My sister, Chris, badgered me into doing
this. She had already set up everything when she so graciously
notified me of my first appointment.
Dr. Buraquinho, or Dr. B as I call her (when
I don’t refer to her as Dr. Ruth, that is) practices psychotherapy
in an unusual, very unorthodox manner—online. Normally, she meets
her clients first and then they continue their sessions online for
a period of time, meeting in person intermittently. But, with me,
Dr. B agreed to start out online, partly in deference to our
geographical separation (me in South Carolina and her in
Washington) and partly in deference to my identity. She knows that
she is treating my public persona, Laura Drake, and that I want to
keep it that way for a while.
Laura Drake is an author. She writes
paranormal romance novels, most notably about vampires. She’s had a
moderate amount of success and has some loyal fans that keep her
busy in her work. She is calm, cool, collected and bears little
resemblance to me.
And that’s just the way I like it.
Samantha Jansen is withdrawn and insecure and
very…well, she’s damaged. Deeply, deeply damaged.
I log onto the secure server and open the
chat dated for today. The beginning question seems innocuous
enough. But, then again, they always do. It’s later on that she’ll
get into all sorts of grisly, personal questions.
(Buraquinho_Dr): You said you never knew
your father, what was your mother like?
What a loaded question!
I think as I
tap out my answer on the keyboard.
(LauraDrake): She was a lot like a teenager.
She was fun and liked to party.
Dr. B’s response is quick. As always. When
it’s time to work, she’s always armed and ready to go.
(Buraquinho_Dr): Describe a typical day with
I think back to the years I spent with her,
to how many days went on in exactly the same way.
(LauraDrake): Most of the time, I would get
up early so I could fix us breakfast. I would sneak into her room
and wake her up without disturbing whoever she was in bed with.
Most of the time I could. She would come out and eat breakfast with
me and wish me a good day at school and then go back to bed.
This is when the lags happen. As Dr. B
digests my response, she formulates her next question. Sometimes
that can take a while, which makes our sessions slow in the way of
progress. But that’s fine with me since I’m only really doing this
to get Chris off my back anyway.
My mind drifts back to Mason as I await the
next question. When it comes, it irritates me. I’d much rather be
writing than getting my head shrunk.
(Buraquinho_Dr): What about the evenings?
After school? Did you take care of her then, too?
I would like to type a simple “yes,” but I
know she’ll just ask me more questions if I do. She doesn’t like
single word answers. I guess no psychiatrist really does.
(LauraDrake): For the most part, yes. She
did some of the things that I couldn’t do, like grocery shopping
and signing things, but otherwise, yes. I pretty much took care of
After a few minutes, the next question comes
in. I know when I answer her where the conversation will go. It
makes me very happy that I have to cut short today’s session in
order to make it to a book signing. It signals the end of my
“trip,” which really isn’t a trip at all. I’m still at home in
Charleston, but the world at large thinks Laura Drake lives in
The lengths I go to for you, Laura
I tell my alter ego. I stay in hotels when I’m in the
area, just so there’s no way to trace Laura Drake back to me.
Didn’t she work?
Oh yeah, she worked all right.
(LauraDrake): Yes, she worked.
(Buraquinho_Dr): What did she do?
(LauraDrake): She was an escort.
A long pause.
(Buraquinho_Dr): An escort? Or a
(LauraDrake): Depends on who you ask.
(Buraquinho_Dr): How would you describe her
I think about that before answering. Some
nights were better than others. On the good nights, I would’ve
called her an escort. But there were some bad nights…
I can’t stop the shiver that quakes me to my
(LauraDrake): I really don’t know.
It’s an honest answer, just not one Dr. B
(Buraquinho_Dr): How much did you know about
your mother’s occupation?
More than I should have. More than I ever
But that’s not the answer I give.
A hauntingly familiar and unwelcome tightness
grips my chest, just like it always has when I think of how much I
know about my mother’s work. And, even though it’s not technically
time for me to put on Laura Drake, I end the conversation with Dr.
(LauraDrake): I’m sure you’d like to further
explore this, but I have to prepare for this afternoon’s
appearance. Can we continue this at our next session?
I hope she forgets, but I know she won’t.
(Buraquinho_Dr): Of course. We can pick it
up right here on Thursday.
Why did I ever agree to two days per
(LauraDrake): Great. See you then.
Without waiting for a response, I sign off
and head for the hotel bedroom.
I fold my hands demurely in my lap and await
the next question. This part of the signing is a Q&A for fans,
which isn’t that unusual. There are five other authors present, so
it turned out to be a fairly large affair. What makes this
particular event more stressful is that it’s televised.
It’s odd, the comfort that I feel in the wig,
glasses and heavy makeup. My Laura Drake get-up is much more than a
disguise, it’s a shield—a protective barrier that keeps the world
out and the tender Samantha Jansen (the
As my eyes drift through the crowd again,
they’re drawn to the back of the room, to a latecomer. I feel my
jaw go slack and, slowly, the earth stops spinning, grinding to a
halt. For a moment, it’s as though the entire world is as
breathless and reverent as I am.
My first thought is that someone has managed
to find the
image I have of Mason Strait, the one
that’s only ever been in my head and in my darkest dreams, and send
him here as a publicity stunt.
Even from this distance, I can see that his
eyes are a soft, pale green. They’re framed in thick, jet-black
lashes that match his jet-black hair. It’s cut much like I imagined
it would be—business short. It’s a little mussed at the moment,
like he’s run his fingers through it a few times, but that just
makes it look even more like Mason’s.
His lean face is tan and his cheeks are
covered in a light dusting of five o’clock shadow even though it’s
still early afternoon. His lips are perfectly sculpted and his jaw
is square. He even has that engaging dimple in his strong chin.