Two loves. Two destinies. Two heartbreaks. And just one Abby Dan.
Just days into a college apartment hunting trip in Santa Barbara, California, with her best friend, Sara, Abby Dan meets two very wonderful, very different men who happen to be best friends. Devin Saxon is handsome, thoughtful, charming, and sexy. Alec Ahote is sweet, caring, and intuitive; it feels as if Abby has known him for much longer than just a few days. Alec touches a part of her soul she thought had gone dormant.
But Abby, who has faced tremendous personal loss in her life and has the ugly scars to prove it, knows she can have only one of them. Her recurring dreams, a constant since the accident seven years ago that claimed her mother's life, have become more intense. Abby discovers that things are never what they seem, especially when they involve love. A shocking discovery challenges everything she thought she knew and forces her to make the hardest decision of all. Abby must choose between the love of her life and the man of her dreams.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)|
Read an Excerpt
the dream watcher
By amy lynn steele
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Amy Lynn Steele
All right reserved.
Do you ever wake up after having the best dream of your life and don't want to move because you know the second you do, you'll lose the feeling? I love those mornings. I'm one of those vivid dreamers; I feel like whatever the dream world shows me plays a part in my life. Sometimes the dreams are so real that they keep me wary until I sleep the next night.
I'd like to say most of these dreams are happy, fun, floating-on-a-candy-rainbow kinds of dreams, but they're not. The thing is, sometimes I feel like something's after me, and that's when some sort of protector comes in. Whenever I'm upset or afraid, a ... well, entity will come and whisk me away to safety. I know it sounds totally insane, but I've lived with this for almost seven years now.
I've had this reoccurring dream—more like a nightmare—for the past four years as well. I think it's how it all started. The dream starts with me blowing candles out on a chocolate frosted cake. I see the blurred faces of the people around me; the only two I can clearly identify are my mom and my best friend.
Suddenly I'm in the passenger seat of the car and it's dark outside. It's so strange because the car seems to become illuminated by an unseen light. It gets brighter and brighter until all I can see is the light. Everything stops, and tiny silver stars shower down on me ... except it isn't stars; it's glass from the windshield, and my head smashes against the side window. The car is spinning and everything is a blur except the face of the driver, my mom. I can feel the pain so clearly and see her pain that I sometimes cry out in my sleep. Lights are flashing—red and blue.
"I need you to hold still," someone tells me. I reach for my mom, and as she touches the side of my face, it burns. Our eyes lock, and I don't look away until I'm literally being cut from the car and pulled out.
"Mom ..." My voice scratches my throat as I try to open my swollen eyes.
"Abby ..." Sara's voice is close, and I search for her. When I do, the pain is evident in her eyes, which are bloodshot and puffy. "Your mom ... she didn't make it, Abby." She has to stop because she's started to cry. It must have been the combination of the shock and morphine that left me tearless. "I'm so sorry."
My name is Abigail Reese Dan, and on my seventeenth birthday, I lost my mother.
Seven years have passed since that horrible night, and I'm still haunted by it in every nightmare I have. The first months were the hardest. Tom and Diane Johnson, Sara's family, took me in. I no longer have any family of my own. I never knew my father and, like me, my mom was an only child.
The accident occurred on the driver's side, and that's why the injuries were fatal to my mother. I suffered some broken bones and a fractured hip. My mom took the brunt of the injuries and she paid with her life. My heart was the most injured part of my body, along with my spirit.
Oh. And I can't forget the nine-inch scar that ran from the top-middle of my forehead around the side of my face to the center of my chin. It was where my mom had held my face that night as the paramedics cut us from the car. I later was told that was the last thing she did before she died. Sometimes when I touch my scar, it feels like my mom is with me, like she put part of her soul in mine before she left. Of course I've never told anyone any of this—I went through enough therapy without disclosing this personal information. Anyway, my scar has begun to dictate who I am. Most people can't help but stare at it. I don't blame them, it's huge.
I used to be considered a beautiful girl, and now I hate looking in the mirror. Not just because of the scar, but because it reminds me of everything I lost that night. The surgeons tried, and did a pretty good job hiding the scar in my hairline. It would always stand out to me though. I believe in heaven and hell, good and evil, and so help me, I was going to believe that that part of my mom was always going to be with me in this deformity.
"Abby, are you ready to go?" Sara called from downstairs. We're leaving for Santa Barbara to spend some time in the city we will soon call home. Sara's going to get her law degree, and I'm pursuing an heirloom dream, to become a veterinarian.
"Coming!" I yelled back. My mom had always wanted to be a veterinarian, but being a single mother changed all that for her. So now I will become what she never could. Now I will pursue and become what she couldn't.
I lugged my suitcase down to the car, and it thudded as its massive weight hit every stair. Sara and I were heading to Santa Barbara for a couple of weeks before we moved there to start school. I was accepted to a small veterinarian school, and Sara was going to UCSB. We had researched some apartments that would be centrally located for both of us. The trip would give us an opportunity to look at them.
Sara's smile was huge as we loaded our bags into her new BMW, a graduation gift from her father a few years ago. Tom is a generous man and loves to spoil his little girl. As a gift to both of us, he booked a room at the prestigious Harbor View Inn and Spa for the two weeks in Santa Barbara. I've become accustomed to this lavish spending from the Johnsons, though I've never been completely comfortable with it. I was left with a decent amount of money from my mom's life insurance and the settlement of the accident, but growing up poor taught me to be tight with my money. I offered to pay my half, but Tom wouldn't hear of it.
"Be safe, girls." Diane, Sara's mom, hugged us like it was the last time she'd see us. We promised we would and climbed in the car. The sense of freedom was tangible in the small car. Sara had turned twenty-four a few months ago, and I would follow in just a few days. This was the first time we'd be spending this much time on our own, and as scary as that was, it was equally liberating.
As we turned onto Cabrillo Boulevard, the hotel was on our right and the ocean on the left. A huge Spanish style hotel stood in contrast to the cobalt blue of the sky. Only the bold streaks of clouds could compare to the white of the building's exterior. The terra cotta roof tiles glinted in the bright sunlight. Sara pushed my jaw closed and laughed at me.
"This place is ..." I couldn't find words to explain the place we would call home for two weeks.
"Perfect," Sara filled in the blank. A bellhop dressed in khaki pants and a white polo, with the Harbor View Inn logo printed above his gold nametag that sparkled in the sun, jogged lightly over to our car and smiled.
He looked like he just turned eighteen and had the surfer boy look going for him. "Good afternoon, ladies," he greeted us. Sara spoke quickly to him as he started to unload our bags. We checked in, and the bellhop followed us to our room. Already planning our night, Sara was discussing where the hot spots for dancing were. Great, I thought, dancing and I don't go very well together.
I opened the door and was stunned. The room was decorated in warm tones and wicker furniture, and the vaulted ceiling was enormous. I immediately made my way to the curtains leading to the balcony, which had been tied back revealing an incredible view of the Pacific Ocean. Holy cow, this place was beautiful! I had been lucky enough to stay at some nice places, but this had to be the most fabulous.
"All right," Sara said, pulling me back into the now. "Todd told me that there's this little place on State Street that has pretty decent dancing after the restaurant closes."
I looked at her with a blank stare. "Who's Todd?"
Sara shook her head like I was missing the point. "The nice boy who brought our bags up. Now start unpacking so we can get ready to start our summer off right."
I wanted to argue and find a reason to stay in, but curiosity got the best of me and I did want to see the infamous State Street. Luckily for us, it was walking distance.
We arrived downtown at ten-thirty. The bass from the club vibrated down the street, so it was easy to locate. We went in and found it packed with college students. We squeezed our way to the bar; the lights were low, and a colored strobe flashed in time with the beat of the music.
"What can I get for you ladies tonight?" The bartender had to raise his voice over the music to take our drink order.
"Two vodka tonics!" I yelled back. He smiled at me and looked at Sara as he made our drinks.
We wandered the small area before we found a little table to sit at. Sara and I loved to people watch, and in a crowd like this, the options were endless. I felt fidgety because Sara insisted I wear one of my shorter skirts and you could see one of the scars that ran down my leg. From across the room, two guys were making their way to our side of the club.
"Two hotties at nine o'clock," Sara said with a cocktail straw between her teeth. I tried to see who she was talking about without being obvious, but once they saw me look in their direction, they headed straight toward us.
Through the dim room and flashing lights, I could easily tell that they were good-looking guys, tall with dark brown hair and light brown eyes. It was obvious that they were brothers, maybe even twins, and this was confirmed when they smiled with identical dimples. As they approached, the guys leaned in to talk to each other and smiled again, then stood next to our table.
"Would you mind if we stood here for a minute, ladies?" The one closest to me tilted his head to speak directly into my ear. Mom Rule: never talk to strangers. My mom taught me many things over the span of eighteen years to make me paranoid ... thus the joke about Mom Rules that have influenced my life.
With this in mind, I looked up into his milk-chocolate colored eyes. "Okay," I answered. His smile was expectant. He knew I wouldn't say no.
"I'm Robbie," he said, his deep voice rumbling in my ear. "And that's my brother Roy." I took a drink from my almost empty glass and tried to act nonchalant. Okay, this guy is very handsome and flirting with me.
"I'm Abigail, and this is my friend Sara." Sara and Roy were already knee-deep in flirty conversation. Robbie lifted the now empty glass from my hand and smiled.
"Let me get you another ..."
"Vodka tonic." My words flowed out as easily as the vodka had gone in. Robbie smiled again and turned to head back to the bar.
"I'll go with you," I said, getting to my feet slowly. Not only was I wearing a tight and short skirt, Sara insisted I wear the four inch heels that went with it. I'm only five-foot-five, so wearing and managing the extra height was hard to get used to. We ordered fresh drinks, and I put cash on the counter to pay for mine.
"Drinks for beautiful girls are on me," Robbie said, pushing the cash back toward me. With my hand on my hip, I examined Robbie as I slid the money back to the bartender. "I don't let strangers buy me drinks." Mom Rule: date-rape drugs are common and slipped into drinks, so always buy your own. Robbie nodded and let me pay for my drink, and then he took a step closer.
"Then let's not be strangers," he said. His finger lightly brushed my shoulder. Alarm bells were going off in my head, and other bells were going off a little lower. I've made my fair share of mistakes that have led to bright morning walks of shame, but I learned from those mistakes and try not to make them anymore. At the same time, I'm human and have needs.
Robbie was evaluating my silence. "I was merely suggesting that we go outside and talk where it isn't so loud."
"I really should get back to my friend," I said. I know it's a lame excuse, but it was the best I could do on the spot. Robbie's head bowed in agreement, and I was surprised when he walked back to the table with me.
"Abby, finish your drink so we can dance!" Sara yelled over a loud guitar rift. Sara knows better than anyone what a bad dancer I am. Not only am I bad, it actually causes pain in my hip and leg to dance, so I avoid it.
I lifted my glass. "I just refilled, so don't wait for me." I prayed that she would get the hint. She did.
"Come on, Roy." Sara took him by the hand, bee lining to the dance floor. Robbie slipped into Sara's vacated seat and leaned across the small table.
"Tell me about yourself, Abigail." He was trying to sound sexy, but the effect was lost as he had to raise his voice over the music. I took a big swallow of my cold drink.
"Well, Sara and I are moving up here at the end of the summer to go to school. I'm going to become a veterinarian, and Sara's studying to be a lawyer."
"Tell me about you," he insisted. His eyes were warm, and they reminded me of the dark brown M&Ms. Fine. You got it, buddy.
"I was orphaned, and Sara's family took me in," I admitted, not breaking eye contact. "I was in a car accident, a very bad one, and it killed my mom." I let this information hang in the air. Either he would see me as damaged goods and find a way to leave or he would be intrigued and not put off by my baggage. Either way, it was all out on the table.
Robbie reached across the table and took my hand in his. I let him. "I'm sorry," he said, and it felt authentic. For the first time in a while, I relaxed.
Chapter TwoThe Date
The music in the club is vibrating through me and into my bones. I'm dancing pretty well. My back is pressed into a muscular chest, and I raise my arms and press myself harder into the man behind me. His hands run down my sides and stop on my hips. I spin and can't make out the face in front of me. I squint and try to see through my blurred vision. His mouth lightly brushes against my throat, and I shudder with anticipation.
"Abigail ..." his breath is hot, and I swallow hard. I bring his mouth to mine, and the club and music fade until all that exists is the man in my arms. I pull back and try to identify him. His features are blurred, and I squint to see through the veil hiding him. Suddenly his face turns into Robbie's. He tries to pull me back into our intimate embrace.
"No," I splutter. Not because Robbie is there, but because the mysterious man is gone.
I sat up and blinked at the bright light that was filling the room. Though the curtains were thick, sun still streamed into our dark room beckoning us to come outside. Since my accident, my dreams had become so sensory that I started writing them down. Some of the themes were reoccurring and some, like this one, took me by surprise. I scribbled down what I could remember before the memory was lost.
Sara groaned and pulled the covers over her head. "Make the light go away."
"Did someone drink too much last night?"
She sat up. "Never," but her smile gave her away. "Let's eat and head to the beach."
We decided we needed to soak in all the vitamin D that we could get. I put my bikini on in the bathroom. It's never a fun experience for me to be this exposed, which wasn't always the case. I was on my way to becoming a model before the accident changed everything. Not just my mom, but the body that was making me money. No one wants to capture a body covered with scars. I was naive to think that airbrushing would take care of the flaws.
"Men don't want to look at Frankenstein," my agent told me. "You're already pushing your luck being much shorter than the normal model. Your figure was the only thing going for you." That day, something changed in me. I went on a man binge to make myself feel better, sleeping with anyone who showed interest. Their desire temporarily took away my shame for my body. When I crawled out of the gutter, I had to live with the mess I had made. Now, it's rare if I sleep with someone even after months of dating.
"Are you about done in there?" Sara asked from outside the bathroom. I took a deep breath and opened the door. She smiled with encouragement and took me by the hand. "You look great." I doubted that I looked as good as she did.
Sara is a hair shy of being five feet tall, but her personality makes up for what she lacks in height. She is loyal and spontaneous—everyone who meets her can't help but fall in love with her. I squeezed her hand and was overcome by how grateful I was for my best friend.
"Oh, by the way, I might have mentioned to Roy that we would be at the beach in front of the hotel today." Her dark eyes widened in innocence. Though things didn't go wonderfully with Robbie, they didn't go horribly. He had asked for my number, which I reluctantly gave him.
Excerpted from the dream watcher by amy lynn steele Copyright © 2011 by Amy Lynn Steele. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a wonderful book- well written, thoughtful, and entertaining. The characters are well conceived and interesting, with depth and color. The plot holds the reader's focus till the very end. Awaiting the next book by this wonderful author!
The warmth of the romance took me in deeper each chapter. I definitely recommend this book
Highly recommended. I enjoyed getting lost in Abby's emotions. Can't wait for more from Amy Steele!!
Right from the beginning I was caught up in the suspense. The brilliant mixture of passion, drama & suspense kept me wondering just enough that I did not want to put the book down. Loved it!! I can't wait for Mrs. Steele's next book.
This well-written story grabbed my heart and held it captive from cover to cover! If I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it and anxious to find out more! Great award-winning story! Hope Ms Steele plans to write another - I must discover what happens next!
I loved this love story! Very easy to get caught up in Abby's emotions and struggles. Hope there's a sequel coming very soon! I'm not done with this love story! Well written