Friday, February 7, 2014

Connected and Torn LOVEFEST by Kim Karr

What if a “Once in a Lifetime” could happen twice?

In Dahlia London’s world, happily ever after is a far cry from reality. Her soul has been left completely shattered by tragedy. But a surprising reunion with someone from her past is about to give her a reason to love again…

When rock star River Wilde comes back into Dahlia’s life, their super-charged connection runs deeper than either of them ever expected. The more time they spend together, the more intense their relationship becomes, and Dahlia believes at last she has found her soul mate.

But as old bonds fade and Dahlia’s grief begins to lift, her guilt and confusion remain. River desperately wants to be the one who mends what’s been broken—but with a past that refuses to stay buried, is it possible for their future to begin?

Excerpt Chapter 2 from CONNECTED (Connections #1)


Written by Kim Karr
Time is Running Out

The set ends so I walk over behind Garrett to lean my guitar against the wall. I pull

my shirt up to wipe the sweat off my forehead. It’s hotter than shit in here and I need a

drink. Garrett laughs, tipping his head back to swallow the beer he somehow already has.

“You going to grab a drink? I’ll take another,” he says as he downs the rest of his

beer. “And, dude, wear this. Seriously man, your hair looks like shit,” he says throwing

his beanie at me.

I move closer and shove him a little and put the hat on my head. “Shut the fuck up,

you should talk.”

I hop off the stage and my sister rushes over to me. “River, I need you to take me

home as soon as the last set is over. I have someone meeting me back at my apartment.”

I shake my head, knowing it must be a guy. “Yeah yeah, I will Bell, but really can’t

you get a boyfriend that has some manners? You know, like actually picks his date up

and maybe even takes her out? And at a decent hour?”

She rolls her eyes. “All guys aren’t like you, big brother. Nice beanie,” she teases

before disappearing back into the crowd.

As I walk through the jam-packed room, some brunette chick I think looks familiar

asks me if I want to grab a drink in private. I kindly refuse, telling her I need to refuel

before my next set. She’s still talking when I motion toward the bar to signal that I’m

moving away. As my eyes flash across the bar, they’re suddenly drawn to a beautiful girl

standing against it. And she’s looking directly at me.

I start walking toward her, leaving behind the brunette who is still talking. As I stare

at the beautiful girl, I think, “I want her.” Tall, slim, long blonde hair that’s pulled away

from her face. But it’s her eyes that get me—the way she’s looking at me. Shit, I’ve

talked to about a dozen chicks tonight, but she is the only one who has me interested.

As I stare back at her I’m feeling like she’s not just any girl. Not just a girl to have

sex with. I’m actually having a fucking conversation with myself. I can’t figure out what’s

going on in my own head.
I try not to smile, but I know she’s checking me out. Fuck, why’d I put this hat on? I

quickly pull it off and comb my fingers through my hair. I can’t take my eyes off her and

I feel like I want to knock everyone out of my way to get to her.

When I finally reach the bar, I stand right in front of her. For some weird reason I

feel the urge to touch her, but instead I shove my hands in my pockets. She’s smiling at

me and I smile right back. This girl is hot. Her eyes still haven’t left mine this whole

time, so I decide to break the ice by calling her out. “Were you staring at me?”

She pouts her lips and rolls her eyes. Shit, that look gets me.

“No, I was just looking for my friend while I waited on my drinks. You just

happened to be in my line of vision.”
I stifle my laugh and say, “That look was hot.” I want to say, “You’re hot,” but I

don’t—not yet anyway.

I can tell she’s trying not to laugh. If she does, I know I have her. Her phone rings

and her smile fades. “Why would you think I was looking at you, anyway?”

The person beside her walks away and I secure my place next to her. I toss my hat on

the counter and lean against the bar, my eyes never leaving hers. I answer in the most

honest way I can. “Because I was staring at you, hoping you were staring back.”

I don’t want to fuck this up so I decide to be the guy Bell always tells me I am—the

guy with manners. Then I say what I should have said first. “With all this talk about who

was staring at whom I think we forgot the basics, I’m River,” I say as I extend my hand.

She reaches hers out. Hey, I get to touch her. But she quickly pulls her hand back

before I get to grasp it and accidentally knocks a dude’s beer over. The asshole gives her

a dirty look and swears. I know I have to step in because this guy is out of line. I gently

guide her out of my way and try to control myself as I say, “Sorry man, just an accident,

but let me buy you another.” I hand him a ten, “Buy two.” I hope he takes the money and

leaves. Lucky for him he does, because otherwise I might deck him.

I turn around to find the girl smiling at me and sliding one of her beers my way. I

start to drink it and she says, “Thank you, that guy sure as shit wasn’t happy with me. In

fact he kind of acted like an asshole.” I can’t help but laugh mid-sip, almost spitting the

beer out of my mouth. Not cool.

Not able to resist any longer, I run my finger over her smooth bare shoulder and lock

my eyes on hers. “You’re more than welcome.”

She just barely shudders and steps back. I’m pretty sure she’s interested in me so I

step closer, not wanting to break our connection. “Now, where were we? Do we need to

start over?” I ask, looking into her eyes.

“We were introducing ourselves,” she says smiling.

“Okay, so let’s try again. I’m River and you are . . .?”

“I’m not sure you need to know that information right now. I’m kind of thinking you

might be a stalker,” she teases.

I laugh. I’m all about game playing but I’m not ready to play. I really want to get to

know this girl, and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual, so I avoid dropping the canned

line I might have used on another girl and say, “You’re not serious, are you beautiful



Rock star River Wilde brought Dahlia London back from the brink of hopelessness with his unwavering love and devotion. But their entangled history is about to test the strength of their relationship…

Dahlia was certain she had found true love and met her ‘Once in a Lifetime’ when she reconnected with River. But Dahlia’s world comes crashing down when someone from her past resurfaces, and all of River’s carefully hidden secrets are exposed.
River wants to show Dahlia that life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass—it’s about dancing in the rain. But how many times can one broken heart be mended?  Will River and Dahlia be able to stay together or will they be torn apart?

Prologue of TORN

Connections #2 by Kim Karr

© 2013 by Kim Karr

Published by the Penguin Group

Release date: October 1, 2013
Close your eyes and you can imagine what it was like. Hot, sticky, crowded. Smoke,

flashing screens, and lighters flickering. Fans screaming, laughing, clapping, and crying.

Bodies pushing, shoving, trying to catch a glimpse. Everyone wanting to see the stage—

the lights, the equipment, the musician himself.

He was running back and forth singing, headbanging, and playing his guitar. The

lyrics were jumbled. His movements out of sync. The sound of the bass thumped through

the crowd so loud my body vibrated with every wrong note played. I just wanted it to


Nick Wilde had opened for the Counting Crows at the Hollywood Bowl. It was his

second chance— and he blew it. The crowd was exhilarated at the start of his first song

and he owned the stage but it didn’t last long. By the third song he was improvising,

pulling notes, and forgetting words. He was lost in his own trance, soaked in alcohol, and

no one could help him…not Xander, not my mother, and definitely not me. “Mr. Jones”

started playing before he even finished his fourth song…and he never played onstage


Music was his soul. Music was in all of our souls. When we were younger he taught

us everything he could…how to play, to sing, the right way to command a stage. We

knew every song by every artist. We traveled to concert after concert. Music was his life

and it became ours.

But he wasn’t happy just playing. He had a dream—he wanted to be famous. And

somewhere along the way his dream became an obsession. I’ll give it to him, he got

further than most do. By the age of nineteen he had been signed by a label and cut his

first album. But after a disappointing run they released him. He spent the next fifteen

years working the circuit—clubs, churches, weddings, birthday parties, as he waited for

another big break. And then, just like that, he blew his golden opportunity.

Everything in our life changed after that. The drinking got worse, Grandpa came

around more to check on us, and Mom went back to work. Every day left another kink in

his chain as he lived in his own world. I was sixteen when his plan A became my plan B

and, just like him, at a young age, I cut my first album. But unlike him I had Xander. He

wasn’t going to let me fail. The band’s album had a slow start but after a year of touring,

it started to gain popularity.

I remember the first time the Wilde Ones graced a real stage. We were restless. We

had been sitting around for hours waiting. When we were finally up we strutted

confidently across the stage like we had in rehearsal, but, really, we were nervous as hell.

The lights were much brighter and the audience so much bigger than we were used to.

When the guys started to play, soft, barely audible words flew out of my mouth so fast I

forgot to breathe. The band was drowning me out and I knew it. Looking around, I

adjusted the microphone height and took in the crowd. They were cheering me on with

such enthusiasm that my voice finally soared over them. It was the same voice I’d grown

up with, the one my dad had fostered. It was raw and present and soulful, and, in that

moment, my music came alive. The crowd went crazy and just like that my life changed


Xander struck while the iron was hot. He arranged to go on tour. That was the

beginning of the end for me. We started out small. Smaller venues, shitty hotels, crappy

food, and a lot of drinking. We opened for band after band and the relationships I

made…they kept me going, that and being up on that stage doing what I loved…it kept

me going, wanting to make my dad proud…yeah, that, too.

But touring was a constant infringement on my personal space. I hated the cramped

quarters, lack of privacy, constant strict schedule, never being in the same city for more

than two nights, people following you everywhere, people always wanting something

from you. Even the girls throwing themselves at you got old. It was the longest year of

my life, but I did it for him because somewhere along the way his dream morphed into

mine. What I came to realize was that his dream wasn’t mine—my dad thought being on

tour meant you had made it. His dream was about being famous. Mine is about the music.

As the venues got bigger so did the crowds, the fanfare, and I could see how you

could get lost in it, caught up in it—but I was determined not to end up like my father. He

was addicted to the fame. I’m addicted to the creative process. I hope that difference

between us is enough. The tour ended and we wrote, we played around LA, and as time

passed life was good. But I had managed to put off cutting another album long enough.

This time I was doing it for the band and for my brother and for me—because I love the

music. Cutting the album—that’s the fun part. It’s the promoting I dreaded, at least until

the day I saw her through the glass. The girl who inspired our song “Once in a Lifetime,”

the girl Xander always referred to as my muse, the girl who stole my heart one night and

then crushed it at the very same time.

She was as beautiful as I remembered and with one glance she took my breath away.

She walked my way, pulling a suitcase behind her, and my heart skipped a beat. I knew

immediately she was the one sent to interview me and suddenly any negativity I had

about doing press was gone. I couldn’t help but watch her. I wanted her unlike anyone I

had ever wanted before. I had to stifle a laugh when her briefcase fell off the top of her

suitcase and she glanced around to see who saw. I wanted to yell, “Only me and don’t

worry because everything about you is sexy as fuck.”

I rushed to grab the door for her, but she pushed it forward and fell into me—not that

I minded in the least. I’d catch her over and over. There wasn’t a thing about her that I

didn’t remember from the first time we met and even the awkwardness of the moment

brought me to full attention. When her body pressed against mine, I knew in that

instant…this time I wasn’t letting her get away so easily. I’d go on a thousand tours to

have her in my life—there was just something about her, a light in her eyes that made

everything wrong feel right. And just like my dad, I got a second chance—it was her. But

unlike him, I wasn’t going to blow it.

When she extended her hand and said, “Hello, I’m Dahlia London from Sound

Music. I’m so sorry I’m late,” I knew she had to be mine.


Chapter 1 of TORN

Connections #2 by Kim Karr

© 2013 by Kim Karr

Published by the Penguin Group

Release date: October 1, 2013
Chapter 1
A Thousand Years
A glimmer of light catches my eye through the partially open curtains across the room as I wake.

It must be dawn because the sky is turning various shades of pink, red, and orange. Before I know
it, the sky blazes with color; its as if its on firejust like my body, but I push my pain aside. Its

a glorious new day. And Im here to share it with him. I look at the gorgeous lines of his body

slumped over in the chair next to my hospital bed. Hes asleep, but not very soundly. I study him,

taking in his strong jaw, sculpted nose, and toned body. But its his soul, his playfulness, and his

amazing personality that made me fall in love with him. Hes so much more than I could ever

have asked forhes my soul mate in every sense of the word.

Carefully removing my hand from his, I try hard not to wake him. Then I slowly ease myself

up from the bed and make my way to the bathroom. When I return, the sun has fully risen and so
has he. Hes staring out the window with the curtains now completely open. I sweep him with my

eyes so that I can appreciate every little thingat just over six feet hes glorious. Strong

shoulders, a lean waist, abs that seem to flex with his every movement. Arms crossed, his head
cocked just so, his T-shirt tucked into his jeans haphazardly, and his stance so straight and sure.

The soft bluish-gray sky of the early morning is almost as breathtaking as the sight of him.

Trying to see what hes looking at, I only notice the fluffy clouds drifting by. They appear so

white against the morning sky; they make me start to smile. But I know thats not what hes

seeing right now, when a bluejay flies by and he turns around I want to erase the pain I see in his
sorrowful expression and sad green eyes.
I dont want to dwell on the events of yesterdays incident, but he seems to be preoccupied

with it. His mood has been somber ever since it happened. He calls it an attackI prefer incident.

After all, Im here alive and merely bruised. Im not going to waste my time thinking about one

bad dayId rather celebrate the good things in each new day. But he blames himself. I havent

been able to convince him that if anyone was to blame its me. Then again, a random act of

violence couldnt have been prevented and, thankfully, Im all right. I just want to leave the

hospital and go home.
Grabbing my clothes from the chair, I throw them on the bed. Im standing in front of him

on the cold linoleum floor in nothing but a hospital gown. I make a twirling motion with my
finger impatiently. “Do you mind turning around?”
Sighing, he runs his hands through his already-messy hair. “Im not turning around. I want to

help you. Seeing what he did to you cant make me feel any worse. Believe me.”

I swallow the lump in my throat and try to gather the right words to respond, and help put his
mind at ease. “River, it was not your fault. Some perverted animal, looking to get his kicks by

attacking women, that isnt your fault.”

He cant hide his shudder from my eyes. “Dahlia, it wasnt a fucking incident. You were

attacked. If I had been with you it wouldnt have happened. I shouldnt have been sleeping. Its

really just that simple.”
I stand there shocked by his tone, even though I know he doesnt mean to be so harsh. “No,

its not just that simple . . . ,” I start to argue, but he cuts me off.

His shoulders sag. He promptly diverts his eyes to the ground and shoves his hands in his

jeans pockets. “Im sorry, Dahlia. I dont mean to yell. I just cant stand that you got hurt. It kills

me to see you like this, to know what could have happened to you. It just kills me.”
Weve had this conversation twice already. I already know my reassurances will go nowhere.

So I repeat myself and contemplate making my way to the duffel bag lying next to the chair to get
my socks and shoes and then go into the bathroom to change. But I plead one more time, “River,

please turn around.”
Hes standing in front of me with only the bed between us but for some reason it feels like

were miles apart. He doesnt move toward me, but I can see the overwhelming emotion in his

face and in his eyes. Hes hurting. I can also hear it in his voice and his sorrow not only makes me

sad, it tears at my heart.
Ive never been shy around him. I just know that Im covered in bruises and I want so badly

to spare him the heartache of seeing me this way.
“No, let me help you,” he whispers. His tone is barely audible.

With a deep sigh I resign myself to his plea and pointing near the chair I ask, “Can you
please hand me that?”
Grabbing my bag, he sets it on the bed.
As I untie the ugly green gown and slide it down my arms, he watches me. But not in an Oh,

I want to see you naked kind of way, more like an Oh God, I might be sick way.

The gown puddles on the floor and I stand there completely naked in front of him. I watch as
he looks at me. He scans my body from head to toe before his eyes drift back up to meet mine and

he swallows.
In an attempt to lighten the mood, I pick up the hospital gown and playfully toss it at him.
“Your turn to play dress-up.”

His lips finally turn up in a semblance of a smile, but his eyes are still filled with sadness. “I

think Ill pass this time, if you dont mind,” he says, holding the gown up to him. “Green isnt my

Both of us smiling, I know hes looking beyond my bruises. At last. And all his love for me

is now reflected in his eyesit means everything to me.

He strides around the bed and insists on helping me put on my panties and jeans. I want to
comment on how easy it would be for him to get in my pants right now, but I refrain. But when he
ever so carefully starts to pull my sweater over my head, I cant hold back. Grabbing his hand, I

press it over my heart and look at him. “See, you can touch me. I wont break. Ill even let you

get to second base,” I say, sliding his hand down to cup my breast.
He resists at first, but eventually sighs and brushes his thumb over my nipple. A slow grin

crosses his lips. “Second base, thats it? I think I had a better chance with the pants.”

We both laugh a little and I continue to hold his hand in place. His eyes burn into mine as he
moves his hand to cup my cheek. Leaning into my ear he whispers, “You better stop it. Youre

going to get me all worked up and when Nurse Smiley Face comes in here shes going to kick me

He pulls back and I roll my eyes as he pulls my sweater down the rest of the way. I silently

wince a little in pain. My shoulder is sore, my wrist is sprained, and my body is bruised. The
doctor wanted to cut off my bracelet, the only jewelry I was wearing, because of the swelling, but
I begged him not to. Its the one thing of Bens I have left and I need it to always remind me to

live my life with no regrets.
Once Im dressed, he gently places his arms around my waist and pulls me to him. “Im

sorry. Did I hurt you?” he whispers.
“You could never hurt me,” I respond in a low, comforting voice.

Leaning back, he crosses his finger over his heart. “I promise I will never let anything
happen to you again.” The ache in his voice cuts through me and I have to take a deep breath to
prevent tears. I just want to throw my arms around his neck but my aching body wont let me, so I

settle for circling my arms around his waist instead. He, in turn, slips his back around mine and
we just hold each other. Then he kisses each of my eyelids and rests his forehead against mine.
And with each passing second I can feel our love growing stronger, if thats even possible. We

stay like this in silence until the nurse enters the room.
She clears her throat and he whispers, “Nurse Smiley Face caught us again, Im in trouble

I giggle and we pull apart. Shes nice, but she didnt like it that River stayed the night. And

once last night when I asked him to lie next to me, she came in to check my vitals and made him
get off the bed.
She takes my blood pressure one last time and goes over the discharge instructions left by

the doctorbasically rest, no strenuous activities, and if I experience headaches of any kind I am

to see my doctor immediately.
Once Ive signed all the paperwork, the nurse calls for an orderly and when he arrives he

wheels me to the door. River gets his car and we are finally allowed to leave the hospital. He

decided earlier that we should spend the night in Tahoe and head home in the morning. On the
way to the hotel, he looks over at me. “Did I tell you Xander and Caleb are here?”
I look at him questioningly. “No you didnt. Why are they here?”

He laughs a little and says, “What do you mean why? Theyre here to make sure youre

“But were going home tomorrow, they could have just checked on me then.”

Shrugging his shoulders, he answers, “I know but I wanted Xander to drive us back so I can

sit with you.”
“Oh, thats really sweet of you, but not necessary. Im fine.”

“Well even if youre fine, its not a short ride and I want you to be able to stretch out in a

backseat. I wanted to be able to be close to you. To take care of you if you need anything.”

I look at him lovingly; he really does always say the sweetest things. “Thank you. But why
did Caleb come? Do Xander and Caleb even really know each other?” I have to ask because it
wasnt so long ago that I thought River didnt care for Caleb and now his brother is riding up to

Lake Tahoe with him.
“Yeah, of course they know each other. Theyve met a few times, actually. And since I

decided yesterday to hire Caleb to install additional security in our house, I thought it would be a

good idea to discuss the upgrade with him before we get home. That way he can start on it as
soon as possible.”
“We dont need additional security at home because of what happened. River, I think thats a

bit much.”
“Dahlia, I never had the security system upgraded when I moved in, so Im just taking a

precautionary measure, thats all. Youll be coming back to LA alone during the tour so I want to

make sure youre safe.”

Shaking my head I throw in, “I didnt even think you liked Caleb.”

“I never said I didnt like him.”

“No, you didnt say it, but I felt it every time you talked to him.”

“Hmm . . . well, regardless of how I feel about him I know hes good at what he does and

when I called him he said he had time. Oh, and one more thing, Caleb or someone who works for

him will be escorting us places.”
I narrow my eyes at him. “You mean like bodyguards?”
“Well I wouldnt call them bodyguards, just additional security.”

“That sounds really awkward.”
“Dahlia, I promise you wont even know theyre around.”

“I doubt that.” I rest my head against the window and close my eyes. I find the whole ampup-

the- security thing a little absurd, but since it makes him feel better, I wont protest.

When we get to the hotel, we learn that Caleb had our room changed and he and Xander now

occupy the adjoining room next door. I want to tease River“Yeah, we wont even know theyre

around,” but I dont.

The doctor gave me some pain pills at the hospital and theyve made me so tired that I spend

the rest of the day in bed, snuggled in Rivers arms. I must have fallen into a deep sleep because

when I wake, I look at the clock and its well after midnight. The first thing I do is reach for him

only to find that he isnt next to me. Looking around the room, Im a little disoriented at first. But

I see River huddled in the corner with Caleb and Xander, discussing something in hushed
whispers that I cant hear. When he sees me try to sit up and move to get off the bed, he hastily

rushes over.
“What do you need, baby?” he asks in almost a whisper. His face looks worn, tired, and

“I need to go to the bathroom and get some water.” I try to smile at him, but my mouth tastes
like it has a wad of cotton balls in it and my body feels completely detached from my mind. Im

not sure I can actually walk to the bathroom without falling. I also feel light-headed.

“Let me help you,” he says as he moves my legs to the floor and carefully helps me stand up.
But when I start to wobble a little, I grab his shoulder for support. I think the pain medication has

not only made me light-headed, but also unstable.

Hes already wrapping my arm around him as he picks me up. “Dahlia, let me help you.”

Xander and Caleb look over at me, appearing worried. They stand and both say good night,

disappearing through the adjoining door.
Once we reach the bathroom, River gently sets me down and removes my pants. I grip the
counter and begin to regain my stability.
“Can you grab me a T-shirt?” I ask him quietly.

“Sure, beautiful girl, whatever you need,” he replies with a smile.

When he leaves the bathroom I push the door slightly closed and frown as I take the first real
glimpse of myself in the mirror since I got home. I look much worse than I did earlier this
morning. The bruises have turned purple, my wrist is still swollen, the scrapes on my cheek from

where my attacker held my face to the ground are crusted over, and my shoulder aches from
where he shoved his knee to hold me down.
I carefully pull off my sweater and hastily wrap a towel around me. I consider a shower, but

decide against it. It seems like it would require too much energy right now. I do manage to brush
my teeth. Once I finish, I look back into the mirror and see that hes standing behind in the

doorway with such sadness in his eyes. He walks over to me as I wipe my mouth with a towel.

“Lets put this on you,” he says while pulling his long-sleeved 30 Seconds to Mars T-shirt

over my head. “It will be easier to get on and off than one of yours and it will keep you warm.”

I let him dress me like Im a small child. Happy memories of my father getting me ready for

school pop into my head. My dad would help me get dressed and drop me off at school when my
mother had to leave early for work. I loved those days. I loved every day my parents were alive.

“You alright, Dahlia?” he asks with concern.
“Yeah, yeah, Im fine.”

Then smiling, I tell him, “You dressing me now just reminded me of happy times when my
dad would let me pick out whatever I wanted to wear to school whether it matched or not. Since

my mom wasnt home to make me change I usually wore his concert T-shirts.”

He smirks, “You mean your mom, the fashion designer, didnt like it when you wore your

dads grungy T-shirts to school?”

“How did you guess?”
“Intuition,” he tells me. “Personally, I think you make everything you wear look incredible,

but I could see where your mom might have a different opinion.”
I lean into him just to feel his warmth and nuzzle his neck. “I wish you could have met my
“I may never be able to meet them, but I know them through you.”

Pulling away, I smile at him and press my palms against his chest. “That means everything
to me,” is all I can say because it does.
He nods and we stay silent for a few moments.
“I think you should lie back down.” Carrying me back to the bed, he sets me down on the

opposite side I woke up on. But I dont care which side I sleep on as long as hes next to me. I

take his hand and squeeze it. “Thank you.”
“You dont have to thank me,” he says, kissing the top of my head. “I ordered you something

to eat while you were in the bathroom.”
“Im not really hungry. Im just really thirsty.”

Pulling the covers up over my legs, he sits beside me. “You have to eat something when you
take these pills.” He opens the medicine bottle on the night table and pours two oblong, white,

horse-sized pills into his palm then sets them down next to the open bottle.

“Theres no way I can swallow those.”

He laughs quickly and then stands up and walks toward the TV. “I ordered you grilled cheese

and French fries to eat and a milkshake to swallow the pills with.” He opens the adjoining room
door and says, “Hey Xander, just bring the food over here when it comes.”
Im staring at his backside when he turns his head over his shoulder and catches me. He

throws me a wink and I smile back. We dont exchange words but we both start laughing and I

have to say, that is my all-time favorite sound. God, I love it when he laughs, its soft but husky

and oh so sexy.
I hold my bruised ribs in pain, and he apologizes for making me laugh.

“River, its okay. I want to laugh. And, really, I just couldnt resist the view.”

He stifles more laughter and I ask, “Why did you order food and have it delivered to

Xanders room?” I pause a moment before adding, “And why are we sharing a room with Xander

and Caleb anyway?”
His laughter stops and he becomes more serious. “We arent sharing a room with them. The

door closes between us, silly girl.” As if to prove his point, he opens and closes the door in a
swinging motion. Leaving it open, he walks back over to the bed and sits next to me. He cups my
unbruised cheek before leaning in to kiss my forehead. “And I ordered food to be delivered to
their room in case you fell back asleep. I didnt want the knocking to disturb you.”

“Oh, that makes sense. Well now that you mentioned my favoritegrilled cheese dipped in

a chocolate milkshakeI might be feeling a little hungry.”

“Have I told you how gross I think that is, by the way?” he asks, raising his eyebrows.
“Only a thousand times, and yet every time I order it you manage to steal a bite. And dont

think I havent noticed you dip it in your shake first.”

Chuckling, he pinches his thumb and index finger together and says, “Well, I might like it
just a tiny little bit.”

I smile at him and lay my head down on the pillow just as Xander brings in the tray of food.
River points to the empty spot next to me on the bed. “Thanks, man, just put it down right there.”
“Dahlia, do you want anything else?” Xander asks.
“Just a gallon of water,” I say jokingly. “My mouth feels like a desert in the middle of July.”

He grins at me and starts to pour the liter of bottled water into a glass as River takes my
giant pills, along with a knife from the tray, and comes over to the table.
“Ill take the whole bottle, please. No need for a glass.”

Xander hands me the water as River cuts the pills in half.
“Stop looking like youre going to someones funeral, Xander. Im fine. You and Caleb

really didnt have to drop everything to come up here when were just going home tomorrow

“Will it make you feel better if I tell you I came for my brother?”
I take a huge sip of water and eye him before giving him a full smile. “Since I know youd

never admit you came for me, then yes it will.”
He kisses me on the forehead. “Good night, Muse. If you werent such a pain in my ass I

might find you funny. I might even like you.” I dont mind him calling me Muse since he

repeatedly tells me the Wilde Onesclaim to fame is the song “Once in a Lifetime,” which River

wrote after meeting me that first time.
“Ill keep hoping and wishing for the day you say you love me.”

He looks at me with all trace of humor gone. “Im really glad youre okay, Dahlia. Good

night. See you in a few hours.”
Glancing over at River, he gives him a nod before closing the door. Our plan is to leave in

the middle of the night to get home early enough for Xander to get to work. River comes to sit
next to me and once I swallow the disgusting horse pills we share the tray of food and then fall

asleep in each others arms.

Moonlight cascades through the windows and the stars shine bright above us as Xander drives us
home. Lying on Rivers lap, I am listening intently to him. Hes strumming his fingers through

my hair and singing along to “Losing My Religion,” but his voice sounds sad, reminiscent of

something almost. When the song finishes I reach my hand up to caress his cheek. “I love that
song. I saw R.E.M. perform it at the Greek the year it came out.”
He takes my hand and kisses my knuckles. “I have a love/hate relationship with it myself.”

Xander snickers from the front seat. “Yeah, more like it had a love/hate relationship with
Combing my fingers through his hair, I tug on a strand and he grins. “Why?” I ask.
He slouches a little more so I can rest my head on the tautness of his abs. His fingers tap my
arm and he laughs. “When it hit the top five my dad decided I should learn to play the mandolin.
He studied hit songs all the time trying to dissect them for what drove them to the top. He took

note of anything different used in its production and Losing My Religionwas only the second

hit song ever to feature a mandolin prominently.”

Xander starts laughing so loud it surprises me. I dont think Ive ever heard him laugh like

that. River shakes his head. “Shut up, Xander.”
Rivers eyes seem to dance in the moonlight at the memory and it thrills me to see him laugh

when he mentions his father. He doesnt mention him often but on the rare occasion he does its

never with any sign of emotion. Im glad he has happy memories of his dad, like I do. I have a

sudden urge to kiss him and pull his head down closer to mine so I can press my lips against his.
“Tell me,” I whisper, tracing the outline of one of his perfectly defined pectorals.

“Dont laugh but you know the saying Its all in the wrist?”

I nod.
“Its absolutely true. Subtle, nimble wrist movements are the key to playing the correct note

on the mandolin and no matter how many times I tried, I just couldnt get it down.”

“Tell her the rest,” Xander interjects.
River rolls his eyes. “Okay, so my dad knew I was getting frustrated and tried teaching me
by using the only other hit song featuring a mandolin.”
Xander laughs loudly again. “Man, I can still picture it,” he manages between snorts.

I move to sit up but River reaches out to stop me and continues, ignoring Xander. “My dad
was teaching me how to play Maggie May,so I watched some of Rod Stewarts music videos

and Xander walked in when I was practicing Rods walk from the Hot Legsvideo. I had decided

to give up my attempts at the mandolin and decided Id rather move like Rod.”

All three of us burst out in a chorus of laughter and the vision in my head is priceless. God,
sometimes it feels like my heart will burst with love for River. Everything about him drives me

wild but especially his sense of humor.
His gaze captures mine and although were having a conversation with his brother, weve

somehow moved from playful touches to sensual caresses. His hand rests on my stomach and his

fingers are under the hem of my shirt resting on my bare skin. Im drawing lines back and forth

across each muscle of his washboard abs. The lower I get, the heavier he breathes. Leaning down,
his soft lips meet mine and I wrap my arms around his neck and press harder. We get lost in each

other for a moment and a small moan escapes my throat.
Xander clears his throat. “The windows are steaming up. Could you stop acting like a couple
of teenagers?” Then he turns the radio up.
Its shortly before dawn when Xander drops us off at home. With coffees in hand we sit

outside and watch the sunrise. Im content to sit near him quietly and appreciate the company, but

in the calm of the bright crisp morning River asks me, “Why are we waiting to get married?”

He kisses my hair and continues, “It seems like all I was really doing was waiting for you
my whole life anyway, and I dont want to wait anymore.”

I shift so Im lying on my side and can look up at him. “Im not really sure. But, when you

put it that way, I dont want to wait either.”

“How would you feel if we charter a plane to Las Vegas and get married today? I can have it
arranged in a matter of hours. We can fly up there, get married, and be back here by sunset.”
“You dont mind if your familys not there?”

He hesitates only a moment before pulling me closer. His arms tighten around me as the
green depths of his eyes stare into mine. “I wont be satisfied until I wake up next to my wife

every morning. Dahlia, all I want is you and me forever. We can celebrate later once youre

feeling better. We can even have another ceremony here, but what happened in the hospital I
never want to happen again. So will you marry me today?”
Hes romantic, fearless, and full of life and I love every inch of him. I loop my arms around

his neck and my lips find his. Smiling at him as the sun rises and with the Hollywood sign as our
backdrop, I say, “River Wilde, I would love to marry you today.”
He groans against my mouth and the sound echoes through my skin, making me smile even

more. He kisses me. Then he kisses me again. Then some more. Once were both breathless he

moves me enough to stand up. His smile, the real one, breaks across his face. “Stay here. Ill be

right back.”
I have no intention of going anywhere, so hes safe. When he comes back he has Stella

firmly in his clutch. Joy radiates from him and theres a familiar gleam in his eyes as he sits down

at the end of the lounge chair with the guitar. The slight breeze in the air blows his hair. I move
toward him and rest my chin on his shoulder, my front to his back. His hot skin awakens all my

I peer down and watch as his hand dances over the strings and he starts singing “You and
Me.” As he plays I can feel every motion of his body as if Im the one playing. Curling my hand

around his hip I feel him shudder as heat travels through my arm. My eyes shift to his face and
its a picture of what is real, what is right in my life, and what we have . . . true love everlasting.

He sings the final verse, “The clock never seemed so alive,” into my ear and I shiver as his

warm breath grazes the skin of my neck. I could watch him play and listen to him sing a thousand
times over and never grow tired of it. Not ever. He cocks his head to mine and picks the last notes

on his strings as the sound of his music fills the air and I cant help but think how lucky I am to

get to spend the rest of my life with him.
A few hours later Im sitting at the breakfast bar having just finished up a security system lesson

with Caleb, when the doorbell rings. I know who it is before River has answered it. Aerie

screams, “There you are! How are you?”
Its only been sixty minutes since I called to tell her we were home and shes already here.

She runs over and I stand up slowly. My body aches much more today than it has since the

incident, probably from sitting in the car on the ride home. “Im okayreally! I look much worse

than I actually feel.”
“Im so sorry I didnt come to see you in the hospital. Work has been crazy,” she says before

throwing her arms around me in a tight embrace. I wince a little and she pulls away. “Oh my God,
Im so sorry I didnt mean to hurt you!” Her face is full of concernthis woman who has helped

me in more ways than I could ever count. Of course shes here now. And shes a vision of

perfection in her red shift dress and black high heels, with a matching headband.
“Im fine,” I lie so she doesnt feel bad. Ive talked to her on the phone so many times since I

was hospitalized I think she knows more about the incident than River does.

“Whats going on at work?”

Rolling her eyes she says, “The owners son decided he wants to be more involv . . . ,” but

before she can finish shes giving me a speculative glance. “Why are you dressed like that?”

“Dressed like what?” I coyly ask, trying to keep my smile from exploding.

“Youre wearing a dress! In fact, youre dressed like youre going somewhere when you

should be in sweats and lying in bed. You even have heels on. You never wear heels unless I make
I glance over my shoulder to see River standing in the kitchen with Caleb. He nods his head.

Im so excited I just blurt it out, “Were leaving this afternoon for Las Vegas to get married!”

She claps and jumps up and down with excitement then suddenly stops. “Wait a minute! You

are not eloping, Dahlia London. You cant. I want to see you get married.” She hugs me tightly

again before pulling away. “Sorry, sorry,” she says, wiping the tears from her cheeks and trying to
gain her composure.
I start to feel a little guilty, but rapidly try to push those feelings aside. “Well have a party

after the bands tour and all of us can celebrate then, okay?”

River comes around the counter and hugs Aerie before whispering something in her ear.
Pulling me into his side he says, “Well celebrate later, but we want to get married now.”

“Is it safe for you to travel?” Aerie says with concern.
Nodding my head I try to convince her not to worry. “Really, Aerie, I feel fine. I promise.”
River kisses my hair softly. “Coffee?” he asks Aerie.

“No, you know I dont drink that stuff. Its pure octane and tastes like it, too.”

Laughing, he walks back into the kitchen, mumbling, “I dont know how anyone survives

without caffeine.”
Rivers phone rings and I hear him say, “Xander, I told you Im not meeting her today or

tomorrow. I dont give a shit what she wants.” I give River a concerned glance and he nods at me,

flashing me what I know to be his make-believe smile. Once he ends the call, he turns to me.

“Dahlia, I have a few things to take care of. Will you be okay?”

Aerie shoos him away. “Shell be fine,” she says and pulls me over to the sofa.

River comes over and kisses me again. “You sure?”
“Im fine. Go already,” I tell him, kissing him back.

“Okay. Caleb is in the music room if you need anything. He set up his computer in there for

now. I wont be long.”

Aerie and I talk for a while. Once she feels she has wrung every ounce of information from
me, she stands and says, “Ill be back in an hour. Dont leave until I get back. I mean it!”

“Where are you going?” I glance at the clock.
“Its a surprise. Wait for me. Please?”

“Okay, you have an hour, thats it.”

She waves at me as she rushes out the door.
With minutes to spare she returns holding a gray suit bag in one hand and a shopping bag in

the other. She leads me to my bedroom.
“Every princess has to have a wedding dress to get married in,” she says as she unzips the
bag and pulls out the most beautiful white silk dress. Simple, yet elegant. Its a sleeveless

cocktail-length dress with a deep V-neck and A-line skirt adorned with tiny pearls. Theres also

gorgeous, yet subtly patterned silk embroidery on the bodice, making it special enough for the
occasion but not overwhelmingly fancy. Its perfect.

She sits me on the bed and pulls out a simple pair of silver high heels and slips them on my

feet. “Just like Cinderella, Dahlia, you got your Prince Charming,” she says as a tear slides down
her check. She pulls one more item out of the bag for me. I look at the beautiful white band of
fabric with small blue jewels all around it as I take it out of the box. “The dress is your something

new, here is your something blue.” Its a garter and as she takes it from my hand, she slips it on

my leg and up to my thigh; I laugh at her need to make sure I follow the typical bridal wedding

Once she has powdered and primped me, covering my bruises as best she can with makeup,
she stands up and removes the pearl earrings from her ear. “And these are your something
borrowed.” They are her great-grandmothers pearl earrings, the ones Ive always loved. I remove

my earrings and insert hers, then stand to look in the mirror. Now I really look like a bride. I
throw my arms around her despite the pain shooting through me. “I love you, Aerie Daniels,
forever and always. Thank you so much!”
“You dont have to thank me. I cant have my best friend getting married in just anything.

And to be honest I was afraid you might end up in your Converse sneakers.” I puff out a laugh
and grab my camera. I hold it out in front of us and snap a picture. Shes been my best friend for

so long, I want to remember this time with her forever.
Aerie and I say our goodbyesshe has to get back to workand I find myself alone,

thinking about how drastically my life has changed over the past year. When I catch sight of my

Grammys pearls hanging on the mirror, I walk over to the dresser and pull down my something

old. As I slip them around my neck, I have an odd déjà vu feeling. Today Im going to marry the

man who turned my life around; the man who taught me to love again. I thought Ben was my

once-in-a-lifetime, but who knew a once-in-a-lifetime love could happen twice?

I feel so incredibly happy but a sudden sadness washes through me for those Ive lost and I

shift my eyes to the ceiling to say a silent prayer for each of them. I tell my mother and father I

wish they could be here with me today. I thank my uncle for looking after me and keeping me on
the right path. I think of my aunt and her mother and how they taught me that life is full of magic.

Then I whisper to Ben, the man I intended to marry who was taken too soon, that I will always
love him and he will forever hold a special place in my heart, as my first true love. I finish
looking in the mirror and take a deep breath. Im ready.

The battery in my cell phone is almost dead and I hope I have time to charge it. I walk into
the empty living room and head over to the kitchen to get my charger. Once Ive plugged it in, I

turn around and see his gorgeous silhouette framing the doorway. He walks toward me, looking

All I can do is stare at him because today I get to marry this man.
Rivers mouth slowly curves into a smile. “You look amazing.”

I return his smile and walk toward him. We meet in the middle and he gathers me close,

whispering in my ear, “Come on, beautiful, you dont need that today.”

We break apart, both of us ready to take the next step. His phone rings and he pulls it from
his pocket. I glance at the screen and see its his brother. He ignores it. Im looking up at him

while I ask, “Hey, whats going on with Xander? What was that with him on the phone earlier?”

He looks back at me and shakes his head. “You know Xander, he always wants what he
wants now.”
“And he wants what right now?”
“He wants me to meet with Ellie.”

“Whos Ellie?”

“Shes his contact for the label. Nothing to worry about now, though.”

He places soft kisses on my forehead. He pulls back and gazes into my eyes with a look of
adoration that I love. “Are you ready to become my wife?”
My legs start to quiver as I pull back to look at his handsome face. “Only if you promise to

love me forever.”
He cups my cheeks and says, “Beautiful, I made that promise to myself the first time I kissed
you. I promised to love you always. How could I not?”

My tears spill over at his heartfelt words. I love him so much. Hes hugging me, not too

tightly, but enough that I feel his love and I know he will always be mine. He kisses me again and
says, “The instant you become Mrs. River Wilde Im going to show you just how much.”

He grabs my hand and we head toward the door. “Amazing Grace” starts playing from my
phone in the kitchen just as were about to leave and I turn back. “River, let me quickly grab that.

I dont want Grace to worry about me any more than she already has.”

I drop his hand and walk to the kitchen counter to answer my phone. “Hello?”

Author Kim Karr
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1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for being a part of LOVEFEST! ~Kim xoxo