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Un-Sweet Dreams (BookStrand Publishing Romance), page 1

 

Un-Sweet Dreams (BookStrand Publishing Romance)
 


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Un-Sweet Dreams (BookStrand Publishing Romance)


  Un-Sweet Dreams

  Two undergrads with a love of music and medicine are swept into an insatiable love affair.

  Suzanne Foster can’t escape her dreams. She wishes they were what every other girl dreams, to find everlasting love. One tragic New Year’s Eve seals her fate, and she believes the price will be a lifetime of heartache. Seth Griffin has his own demons to control. There’s no one he can let close enough to trust with these mysteries, when he doesn’t understand them himself. Isn’t true love just a fool’s dream?

  When a campus stalker strikes, surging reality rocks their sleepy university. They must rely on one another’s gifts to end the mayhem and face the mistakes from their past. Suzanne finds a savior in Seth, but is their love strong enough to triumph over all?

  Genre: Contemporary

  Length: 64,220 words

  UN-SWEET DREAMS

  Shawn Wall

  ROMANCE

  www.BookStrand.com

  ABOUT THE E-BOOK YOU HAVE PURCHASED: Your non-refundable purchase of this e-book allows you to only ONE LEGAL copy for your own personal reading on your own personal computer or device. You do not have resell or distribution rights without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner of this book. This book cannot be copied in any format, sold, or otherwise transferred from your computer to another through upload to a file sharing peer to peer program, for free or for a fee, or as a prize in any contest. Such action is illegal and in violation of the U.S. Copyright Law. Distribution of this e-book, in whole or in part, online, offline, in print or in any way or any other method currently known or yet to be invented, is forbidden. If you do not want this book anymore, you must delete it from your computer.

  WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000."

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  A SIREN-BOOKSTRAND TITLE

  IMPRINT: Romance

  UN-SWEET DREAMS

  Copyright © 2010 by Shawn Wall

  E-book ISBN: 1-60601-833-7

  First E-book Publication: May 2010

  Cover design by Jinger Heaston

  All cover art and logo copyright © 2010 by Siren Publishing, Inc.

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.

  All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

  PUBLISHER

  www.BookStrand.com

  DEDICATION

  Thanks Erin for never having a doubt and always being the positive voice, even on the days I couldn’t.

  UN-SWEET DREAMS

  SHAWN WALL

  Copyright © 2010

  Chapter One

  “Dreams surely are difficult, confusing, and not everything in them is brought to pass for mankind. For fleeting dreams have two gates: one is fashioned of horn and one of ivory. Those which pass through the one sawn of ivory are deceptive, bringing tidings which come to naught, but those which issue from the one of polished horn bring true results when a mortal sees them.”

  --Homer, the Odyssey

  Dwight followed her again, but this time she’d get rid of him for good. Any sane person would have taken the last nine months as more than a hint. Maybe she had some fault in this. Suzanne Foster admitted to stumbling after her grandfather’s death, but she’d more than paid for one New Year’s Eve in the back of a pickup.

  He must have tracked her steps all day. She thought she was so smart, switching cars at Billy’s house. If she just had the backbone to be sly and ruthless maybe he would have already given up. She could never marry someone she didn’t love. She had already watched her mother survive three catastrophes. The problem was he knew her well and knew she still needed him. Of course, the pain still existed. It always would. She really couldn’t remember when she first gave in to it, just him holding her as he wiped her tears.

  Unlike graduation, this gravel pits bash could end up with Suzanne melting alone by the bonfire, sipping wine coolers. No one would have enough balls to speak to her, terrified Dwight would open a can of whoop ass. He actually thought he could blend in, but his football player’s stature and twenty-one-year-olds beard never could amongst these sheepish eighteen-year-olds.

  For this reason, she decided to up the ante, and when she spotted his nemesis, her heart began to race with the endless possibilities. Making eye contact, she held his gaze, and gave him a wink. Immediately, the corners of his mouth lifted with obvious satisfaction.

  “Suzanne.” Don Wakely winked back at her from across the fire. “You really should come over and sit with me.”

  "Sure, we really should get to know each other better."

  She sat on his lap, wrapped her hands around his neck, and kissed him, not a peck, but slow and long. His lips were firm and warm, and she tingled down to her toes. I really shouldn’t have drunk that last wine cooler.

  Dwight glared at Don. "Get your damn hands off her!"

  "You don't tell me what to do. She likes where she's at, with a real man!"

  Don sat her on the gravel.

  "If it’s a fight you want, you've got it. I've wanted this for a long time." Don grinned from ear to ear.

  Two punches and Dwight was on the ground stunned. His stare pierced her as he slunk away, but she’d never let him know. Head and chin held high, she plastered on a wide, smug smile. Her aim to piss Dwight off paid in spades, if peeling out in his truck was a good indication. He had left her no choice. Crushing him was the only feasible option. Nothing else had worked, not even the restraining order. He was too clever for that, but sneaking into her room last month was the last straw. Why her grandmother wasn’t furious was beyond reason, and if she’d questioned her once, it had been a hundred times. She had liked Dwight around more than Suzanne did. Staying with her since Grandfather’s death hadn’t been all bad. It was much better than living with her mom and new stepdad, and she never had any real curfew. Even this particular night, she was more than a little tipsy, but her grandmother was so naïve she didn’t notice.

  As soon as her head hit the pillow, she was dreaming. She saw a man driving, winding too fast around curves, music blaring, with a half-empty bottle of Jack in his right hand. As she viewed through a haze, she didn’t recognize him at first. The truck started spinning and veered off the road, a tangled piece of metal around a tree. Then, she sat straight up in the bed and gasped so loud she woke.

  Just as reality sank in, Billy knocked on her door.

  "They found Dwight halfway down Snake Road. The officer said he was killed instantly."

  Not again.

  Her legs went limp as she crouched on the floor. Her stomach churned, and her breathing became shallow. Closing her eyes didn’t stop the tears because they came like a hard rain. Now she could feel the heat of the bonfire, and the smoke from the oak timbers burned her nose. She was there again, but the night before could never be taken back. Billy held her for the longest time and neither of them spoke.

  In spite of everything, she really did care for him, and she really did love him, just not the way he needed her to. She had killed him. She was a murderer.

  What followed was the haunting, and when she closed her eyes, she s
aw his face, which was always full of pain and emptiness. The horror of his broken bleeding body, and his anguish had swallowed her alive.

  She couldn’t stay in this little town. Her family’s plan for commuting to college had gone up in smoke. The constant stares from the townsfolk were barely tolerable, but if she were to run into his mother, that might send her over the edge. Magnolia wasn’t far from Stamps, Arkansas. At least there, Dwight wasn’t the quarterback responsible for the state championship win after a twenty-year dry spell. Here he wasn’t merely a drunk driving statistic. In Podunk, USA, he was a martyr.

  Dwight’s death devastated her grandmother, as if she didn’t have enough grief already losing a husband of thirty-five years. Suzanne knew in her heart she must tell her. The hurt would be better from her than one of those town gossips. Over an evening of dishes only a week before registration, she got up enough nerve.

  “Grand, we need to talk.” Suzanne continued scrubbing the same plate she’d already washed three times.

  “We’re talking right now, aren’t we?”

  “Yes, but this is serious.” She couldn’t look at her. “I’ve decided to move into the dorms.”

  Grandmother stopped drying the bowl and turned. Her forehead wrinkled with confusion. “Why would you do that? Everything is all arranged. You’re not being sensible.”

  “I can’t stay here and deal with all this guilt.” Suzanne left her hands in the hot dishwater. The burning let her focus.

  “We can’t afford the dorms. Our plan was to keep you from getting loans. You’re almost nineteen years old, and a decision like this will affect your future. There is no sin great enough to surmount all that debt.”

  “I caused Dwight’s death.”

  “Get that notion out of your head. Hard as it is to accept, he practically killed himself. The boy was more troubled than we knew.”

  Suzanne threw her hands in the air. Bubbles and water flew all over both of them.

  “I was cold and calculated and heartless. The night of his wreck, I made out with a guy in front of him.”

  Grandmother gasped, but no words came from her mouth. Suzanne waited, and with courage, she looked into her face. All she saw was the shame of a grandmother who knew her offspring could commit such an atrocity. Her grandmother stood lifeless for a long moment, and then awkwardly paused and grabbed her keys.

  Alone, Suzanne sat and read, not concentrating at all, and waited for her return. When she felt the cold, she knew he was there again. This time the hair on the back of her neck stood straight, and goose bumps covered her arms.

  "Honey, it is okay." Her grandfather’s voice was bold, and his silhouette appeared sitting in his assigned chair at the kitchen table.

  Was he talking to her? Well, who else was there?

  He spoke again. "Come sit by me."

  She slumped in front of him and began to sob. It was fresh again.

  "I feel so guilty, so ashamed for what I've done."

  “You will have a great love and a happy life. These dreams will not always torture you. You must forgive yourself and move on," he said.

  "I don't think I can."

  He didn't answer, and the room was warm again. Hearing his voice brought back the memory of that terrible morning. She re-witnessed the accident and watched the only father she’d ever known gasp for his last breath. It was inconceivable. She was empty again, and the scar was an open, draining wound. Love did hurt. The only love she had ever known caused pain and misery. Could she ever find a love somewhere between who she was and who she wanted to be?

  * * * *

  Southern Arkansas University was a fresh start. The meager campus consisted of about forty buildings, including dorms. Most were staggered surrounding a huge courtyard with a bell tower in the center. Registration was in the basement of Overstreet Hall, and the line drifted back to the stairwell. De Ann, one of her best friends from high school, talked constantly about all the cute boys, especially the couple of guys standing behind them in line. How grateful Suzanne was to be unnoticed, to be nobody in this place. She hoped to leave behind the nightmares. College was her only chance to forget, fill the emptiness, and find the lost pieces of her heart.

  Bussey Hall was not a coed dorm, and her room on the third floor was a neon pink box. The room was musty with two twin beds on opposite walls and no bathroom. Strict curfew hours were supposed to be enforced for signing in boys, but that wasn’t a concern. The RA was a junior, and it didn’t take much to realize she was a party girl. It was late afternoon, and she had two blenders full of tropical delights. The entire floor was party central with music blaring from more than one room and a commotion in each corner.

  The next Monday was the first day of the semester, and she only had two classes with De Ann, Algebra and Psychology. The remainder of the schedule she was on her own. Her last class before lunch was Comp I. She’d decided to sit in the center row about halfway back hoping maybe no one would notice her. The room was similar in size to her high school classrooms, and there couldn't be more than twenty-five desks.

  As class was filling, she got out her pencil and began doodling carelessly on the cover of her notebook. Then, she recognized a boy who had stood behind her in the registration line. When she viewed his full profile, he took her breath away. An untamed lock of his dark brown, tousled hair fell over his forehead. His eyes sparkled with the deepest ocean blue she had ever seen, and his face was strong but slightly rounded. He was no mere boy. He was a man, with every bit of sexual masculinity all wrapped up in one nice package. Every girl in the room watched as he leisurely took his seat, but he didn't seem to notice. Shaking off the intense warmth she felt deep inside, Suzanne turned away and stared at the chalkboard until she could regain her sanity.

  Class quickly began, and Professor Whiteman introduced himself. He was a tiny man, probably in his fifties, with dark glasses as thick as Coke bottles. He started with some fundamentals and asked random questions.

  She prayed he didn’t call on her.

  The blue-eyed boy had sat on the row to the left of her, one seat up. Professor Whiteman had corrected a student, and this boy raised his hand. He told the professor he meant no disrespect, but he was incorrect and explained his reasoning, not arrogantly, just extremely confident.

  Professor Whiteman cleared his throat. "It seems I was wrong. You are correct, young man. What is your name?"

  "Seth Griffin," the boy said.

  "Well, Mr. Griffin, I will be keeping my eye on you.”

  The professor didn’t call on anyone else for the remainder of class. Who was this boy? Who did he think he was, correcting a professor on the first day of college? Toward the end of class, Professor Whiteman said he wanted to try something new. He told the class to get out a sheet of paper and write their name at the top. Everyone was to list three things about themselves, and then pass the paper to the student on their right.

  This should be simple enough. No one else seemed flustered over the task. She hesitated and decided perhaps she was making too big a deal out of the whole thing. Without another thought, she put pencil to paper and began to write.

  1) Favorite all time music—sixties and seventies rock

  2) Dream of being a nurse

  3) Dream of being happy again

  Should she leave that last one? It was the first thing that came to her mind. Oh well, she passed her paper to the right. Down the row, each person read aloud the paper of the student to their left. When Suzanne’s paper was read, Seth stared right at her. Her cheeks were warm, and she knew she had blushed. The student in front of her read Seth's paper.

  1) Aspire to become a doctor

  2) Like listening to indie and alternate rock

  3) Favorite pastime—going to concerts

  After class, she gathered her books and backpack, and then headed toward Overstreet Hall. She had Anatomy and Physiology in thirty minutes and knew she needed to find the class. All this sprinting across campus was going to take some getting
used to. Then she heard someone call her name.

  "Suzanne."

  She turned, and he towered close to a foot over her, resting a hand on the wall above her head.

  "Your name is Suzanne, right?" His voice slipped around her, grabbing her.

  "Yes, and you’re Seth.”

  "Hey, I've got a video of Jimi Hendrix live at Woodstock. Do you want to watch it sometime?" He oozed with confidence. Leaning in so close, she could smell the woodsy musk of his cologne.

  "Where would we watch it?"

  "My dorm room of course," he responded like the answer should have been obvious and scanned her from head to toe.

  Her first thought was of a tamed lion. She was sure he could be dangerous if he wanted. Suddenly, her stomach felt as if it was full of butterflies flying in circles, and she was certain every nerve ending in her body had been ignited like a fireworks show. She couldn’t forget the consequences something outrageous like this could cause. She pretended to think.

  "Err, is that supposed to be a line?”

  "Would it work if it was?" He spoke with a half-crooked smile.

  “No, probably not.” Did she really look that easy?

  “Guess I’ll see you around.” He smirked.

  * * * *

  So that’s what it feels like to be shot down. He was sure it wasn’t the only new experience university life would bring. She was more than hot, and he was sure being with her would be sweet. He really did want to get to know her, not many girls were into sixties music. Ah hell. He was like every other red-blooded, eighteen-year-old male on campus. He’d never been a one-night stand kind of guy, but she could stop a man cold. She had a tiny frame, but every curve was perfectly proportioned in the exact place it should be. Her eyes were blue with a hint of gray that seemed to flicker while she was thinking. Likewise her mouth, she had luscious lips that begged to be kissed, and add the sadness in her face with all that red hair, she was irresistible.

 
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