All of me liam and sophi.., p.1
All of Me: Liam & Sophie, page 1
All of Me
Liam & Sophie
Callie Harper Books
All of Me
Callie Harper’s Books
All of Me
(Liam & Sophie)
By Callie Harper
Copyright 2017 Callie Harper
Cover Design by Perfect Pear Creative
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All rights reserved. This book is a work of fiction. Any similarity to real events, people, or places is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without the permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations used for review. If you have not purchased this book or received a copy from the author, you are reading a pirated book.
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The author acknowledges the trademarked status of products referred to in this book and acknowledges that trademarks have been used without permission.
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This book contains mature content, including graphic sex. Please do not continue reading if you are under the age of 18 or if this type of content is disturbing to you.
Callie Harper’s Books
All In Novels
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In Deep (Chase & Emma)
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All of Me (Liam & Sophie)
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All of You (Jax & Sky), coming May 2017
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Beg For It Novels
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Unleashed (Declan & Kara)
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Undone (Ash & Ana)
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Untamed (Heath & Violet)
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Unbelievable (Colt & Caroline)
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Undeniable (Dom & Gigi)
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Unwrapped (Jack & Hannah)
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Off Limits: A Stepbrother MMA Romance
“Wear that blue dress.” My mother’s voice climbed up the stairs with acerbic vigor. “The one that makes your waist look slim.”
To the untrained ear, that statement might seem complimentary, as if my mother were suggesting a dress she thought made me look pretty. But that wasn’t it. What she meant was that I’d put on some weight in the last few months and now I needed serious camouflage.
It wouldn’t do any good to point out to her that gaining weight after having been a skeleton was a healthy thing. Professional ballerinas look like art up on the stage, light as a feather on their toe shoes as they’re lifted and thrown into the air as if they weigh nothing at all. But it took near-starvation to achieve that look, every rib poking out, hips jutting angry and sharp.
Honestly, I barely recognized my body now when I looked in the mirror. Curves! I had them! Not booming, slamming curves, but gentle, feminine curves. I’d had to buy all new bras. Or should I just say bras. I hadn’t needed them when I’d danced professionally. At my height of 5’6”, my optimal ballerina weight maxed out around 107. And I’d been all muscle and sinew, tough as nails with broken toes I still danced on with a smile.
Now that I’d quit dancing at the ripe old age of 25, the scale kept creeping up. 110. 115. If I didn’t watch it I’d hit 120, a number I’d literally never seen. Just the thought would have made me break out in hives during the apex of my career. Now I wondered with detached curiosity, what exactly would happen next in this new and fascinating world called Eating when Hungry?
I was charting a new path, making a fresh start. I just didn’t know where I was headed. Everyone around me told me I still had years left to dance. But I knew I couldn’t stand it for another day. I wasn’t injured. There was nothing wrong with me, physically at least. That meant the problem was in my head, or in my heart, because neither of them wanted to be a professional ballerina anymore.
The life of a ballerina might sound glamorous, as if it involved not much more than prancing around in tutus and ordering others about like a spoiled diva. But that hadn’t been my experience. My days had been a constant wash of grueling rehearsals, nursing/hiding injuries, and competing for roles with other, increasingly younger dancers. Every ounce of my energy had been devoted to pleasing the producer, the choreographer, the director. Every waking hour I’d twisted, shaped and forced movement from my aching body—and then spent even more time half asleep getting poked, prodded and painted into costumes and makeup.
To me, being a prima ballerina had felt a lot like being trapped inside one of those tiny figurines glued to the top of a jewelry box. I was done spinning round and round for applause. So I found myself joining the exclusive club of washed-up twenty-somethings generally restricted to teen heartthrobs, one hit wonders and injured professional athletes.
I had no idea what to do next. Not a clue. Yet. But I had to believe I’d figure it out.
Until then, I’d left New York City to come stay at our house off the coast of Massachusetts on Naugatuck Island. Because, before you start feeling bad for me—if you even had started at all—let me explain that my family has money. Loads of it. I was the original poor little rich girl, pruned and shaped like a bonsai tree to the delight of my parents. Or at least my mother. My father was as absent as a business mogul could be, which was to say very.
“Don’t make us late.” My mother’s voice wound its way into my bedroom again. “Theo’s joining us.”
Ah, of course my mother would have arranged for the most eligible bachelor in New York to be at this casual little dinner party. She was a force of nature. I’d met Theo a few times in the city, and I remembered he’d mentioned his family had a house on Naugatuck, too. About five years older than me, he had all the smooth sophistication of a CEO who knew he could have any woman in any room he walked into. I hadn’t felt a spark when we’d met before, but who knew, maybe that was because I’d been in a decidedly un-sparky funk. I’d been unhappy for a long time.
I looked at my reflection in the mirror. I saw blue eyes, blond hair and what most others would describe as a slender frame. But where others saw beauty, I saw imperfections. I’d had years of training in doing it, identifying flaws so they could be eradicated. I noticed the small, dark fleck in my right eye, the freckles make-up artists always caked over, the couple of hairs in my eyebrow that kicked up in the wrong direction as if on a dare. I saw everything I’d worked hard to tamp down over the years.
I was sick of tamping myself down. I’d been doing it for such a long time I’d grown quite good at it. But it was time to change.
Change didn’t happen overnight, though. I looked at the dress I had on, a simple cotton one, pretty much a long T-shirt. But my mother wanted me in the blue dress. Anything else would mean a fight.
“Why don’t you just cut a hole in a paper bag and stick it over your head!” she’d shriek if I didn’t change my outfit. So, I did as I was told. At least for one more night.
I had, after all, chosen to move back int
Margot had never met a drug she didn’t like. She’d make super best friends with whatever new one crossed her path. They’d move in together and get all absorbed in the relationship until the inevitable breakup. That was part of why I’d come back to Naugatuck, too. Margot was 32 now and had a daughter, my niece Eloise. Just five years old, Eloise was spending the summer with her grandmother on the island. It sounded picturesque, until you also added into the story line her absent father and her mother in rehab. I didn’t know much about parenting, but I figured I could maybe earn a few karmic points by being around to try to fight the endless cycle of screwing up the kids in our family. At least I could take Eloise to the beach a few times.
At 27, Ian wasn’t doing much better. He’d holed up in our crumbling ancestral mansion in Scotland. As far as I could tell, he drank the days away, a recluse. A boating accident when he’d been 14 had left him with burns and nerve damage. He’d fought like a beast for the first couple years, determined to walk again, but then something had changed. He’d given up, settled down into a wheelchair and tucked himself away where it rained and stormed and the sea almost always raged gray. He barely even took my calls anymore, and I was his beloved baby sister.
So that meant that I was the functional one, the showpiece, the successful ballerina and star of the family. Dressed now dutifully in blue, I gave a twirl in front of the full-length mirror. I sure knew how to put on a show. Painting on a smile, I tucked back into my typical role as pleaser. It would make the evening a whole lot easier.
“Whatcha wearing?” Eloise bounced in, already in her jammies. She had all the exuberant energy of her storybook namesake, Eloise of the Park Plaza hotel. And now they had another thing in common, too—absent parents. I bet my sister hadn’t planned that, though.
“Hey, bunny.” I gave her a hug. She always seemed eager for one, yet surprised when she got it.
“That’s so pretty,” she marveled, running her hands down the skirt of my dress. After the tightly nipped in waist, the fabric pooled down in graceful, asymmetrical lines. My mother did have good taste.
“Can I pick your shoes?” She ran to the closet. “You don’t have sandals?” She poked around, clearly disappointed with what she found. “Mom likes sandals with heels. And she paints her toenails to match her dress. Unless she doesn’t.” Eloise stood for a moment, seeming to remember her mom’s bad days, the days when she couldn’t quite make it off the couch.
“My toes are ugly,” I interrupted her train of thought. With any luck this bout of rehab would stick and Eloise wouldn’t have to see those kinds of days anymore. “Everyone thinks of ballerinas as pretty, but that’s because they’ve never seen their toes.”
“Really?” she asked, now fascinated by my hideous deformity currently covered in delicate silver flats. “Can I see?”
“Why don’t you pick me out some lipstick,” I offered instead. As she bounded off to take me up on my offer, my phone dinged with a text.
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Whitney: Where are you? Get here already. Theo’s dying to see you.
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Of course Whitney was on the island, and of course she’d be at the club dining with us tonight in the private room Mother had reserved. I’d known her since middle school. Whitney came from the right sort of family with the right sort of pedigree; everything that mattered in my mother’s world.
There wasn’t anything bad about Whitney. It was just that I’d known her for 13 years and still felt like we didn’t know each other at all. Honestly, it made it really easy to hang out with her and others like her. The only problem was it made me feel so numb I wanted to scream.
Eloise came running back with the brightest, most electric shade of pink lipstick I didn’t even realize I owned. After carefully applying it, we headed downstairs. I made sure she went first so I could covertly blot the neon pink as I followed.
“There you are.” In a slim black pantsuit with a clutch purse, my mother waited, poised and ready, on a settee in the entry. She was breathtakingly good at lacing even the simplest of statements with nuanced guilt. She really should write a handbook, The Guide to Passive-Aggressiveness in a slim pocket volume to be kept on hand at all times.
“Can’t I come?” Eloise whined. She clearly hadn’t learned yet that a “no” from grandmother meant “no.”
“Nanny’s about to put you to bed,” Mother explained firmly, looking curtly to the woman waiting in the shadows. Help changed so frequently that my mother had the habit of calling them by their function. The name of this particular nanny in no way was actually Nanny.
I kissed Eloise good night, grabbed a wrap and we drove over to the club. Or, rather, Ronald drove us over to the club. He’d been driving our family on the island for twenty years. After ten, you got called by your first name.
Mom and I didn’t speak on the way over, which was fine with me. I’d always been comfortable with silences, sometimes more so than with conversations. I’d never been good at small talk and that was all most people I knew seemed to want to have. Not that I was dying to have heart-to-hearts, either. In my limited experience, trying to share everything in a truthful, soul-bearing way made most people uncomfortable. They wanted the final dish, not all the nitty-gritty that went into making it. Everyone liked sausage, but they didn’t want a tour of the factory.
The club looked exactly like it had seven years ago, the last time I’d set foot on Naugatuck. Impeccably groomed, the grounds glowed with lit topiaries. My mother lunched there frequently and planned to have my wedding there one day in the not-too-distant future. All that was missing was my groom. Margot had nearly driven her into an early grave by having a baby without getting married, and who knew when Ian would emerge from his darkness. All her hopes for the society wedding of the season, New York Times announcement and all, were now pinned on me.
In through the lobby, past the politely nodding heads of staff and the polished smiles of family acquaintances, we arrived at a private room set with a table for twelve.
“It’s the prima ballerina!” One of my mother’s friends gave me a brittle hug and two air kisses. I made my way through the group, mostly remembering their names, until finally reaching Whitney and Theo standing at the back. Whitney looked skinnier than ever in a tiny, gold lamé sleeveless top and black palazzo pants. I bet she could cut a tomato with her wrist.
Theo looked like he could have a magazine spread on him, and he had. He was running a hot new hedge fund, adding millions to his family’s millions. As one of the young and fabulously elite of Manhattan, he’d been featured in many pieces on “movers and shakers” or “ones to watch.” He had coiffed blond hair, a cleft chin and an undeniable air of wealth and power. He smiled at me in greeting, but before he could get in a hug Whitney swooped in between us.
“Look at you, you fatty!” Whitney snorted at her own joke, making herself laugh as she gave me a hug. “What are you, like 110 pounds?”
“I don’t know.” I shrugged, uncomfortable as ever with Whitney’s weight obsession. She’d been competing with me since the day we met. Only that didn’t seem like the right description since it took two to compete, and the only goal I had was dance. Or used to have. I was going to eat dessert tonight.
“How lovely you look.” Theo leaned in and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
“Good to see you.” I smiled at him, meaning it. Maybe he’d be fun to spend some time with this summer. I’d just have to make sure my mother didn’t find out about it. One whiff of romance between the two of us and she’d book the club for ou
We sat and ate. Or at least I ate. Few of the other women did, preferring to push around their courses with the real silverware. I could still remember the day I’d found a book on my mother’s shelf by the inimitable Helen Gurley Brown. She’d advised no more than 1,000 calories a day and always eating alone. With others, you could drink or nibble enough to be social, but not actually eat. It seemed everyone was following Helen’s advice.
Except for me. As I actually ate a few bites of filet mignon, so delicious it melted in my mouth, I swear I got some dirty looks. And a few admiring ones from Theo.
“So, are you planning on spending the entire summer on the island?” he asked, sounding hopeful. “I’ll be out here almost every weekend.”
“I think so.”
“And then will you head back to the city again once the summer’s over?”
“I don’t think I’m moving back there.”
“Really? Are you going to join another dance company?”
“I’m not sure.” I focused on my plate, the fork, the window beyond the table. I had no answers and clearly hadn’t prepared the pat responses to cover.
“Well, it’ll be nice to see more of you this summer.” Theo let me off the hook, and I relaxed a little. “You know, I’ve gone to see you dance. Quite a few times, actually.” He looked down into his dinner plate, a flash of something passing over his face. Shyness? From the brash hedge-fund manager who’d taken Manhattan by storm? Couldn’t be.
by Callie Harper have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes