In Coming Soon, Cara faces several difficult challenges. She’s a victim of abuse, a silent cutter, and she loses her parents in the most horrific way possible. Beyond that, Cara also suffers bullying…both online and in real life. It’s enough to break a weaker person, but Cara struggles to heal herself, and with the help of her best friend, she might just be able to overcome it all.
Coming Soon was a different direction for me to take. I’d never written in first person POV. I’d never attempted a New Adult romance. I’d never tackled such dramatic topics such as sexual abuse, murder, adultery, and mental illness. For me, this work was cathartic, and I hope the close attention I paid to the sensitivity of the issues comes through. I didn’t aim for shock value, but I wanted to remain true to the storyline, so several of the scenes will be difficult to read. Even for me. Perhaps most especially for me.
I’ve always said I put a little bit of myself in each of my characters. This is doubly true when I created Cara. Although she’s had way more curveballs thrown at her than I can possibly imagine, there are events in my life that have shaped me to the strong person I am. Like Cara, I rose above them and eventually found happiness.
Coming Soon is not only a romance. It’s a celebration of being able to overcome adversity. Cara finds love and happiness in even the darkest of times. That’s all we can hope for, right?
Cara Daniels lost almost everything. Her parents. Her home. Most of her innocence. Her close friendship with Jase Whitmore is the only thing keeping her sane, but hidden secrets threaten their relationship. To escape an abusive uncle, Cara embarks on a journey to save herself.
Desperate for money, she auditions for a role in an adult film and soon discovers Jase is a leading porn producer…and her new employer. The starring role of Dagger Production’s upcoming release is hers, but how can she pretend to be a sexy vixen when all she wants is the best friend who doesn’t realize his new star is a virgin?
Caught up in a tormented web of pain and guilt, Cara learns Jase has demons of his own. His dark obsessions have the power to destroy the fragile thread holding them together if they give in to their shared desire. She’s determined to heal him, but is Jase strong enough to protect Cara from herself?
Rain misted in my hair, but I paid no attention to the damp chill. Two gray stones stood before me, a stark reminder of all I’d lost. Two parents. My home. My innocence.
The day was colder than the night I lost everything. Pumpkin spice lingered in the air then. Now the scent of pine needles and freshly baked cakes hung heavy about me, a sign the holidays were in full-swing. Unlike the two-story homes surrounding the tiny cemetery I stood in, no family waited for me. I was eighteen but felt like an old woman, broken and beaten by the curve balls life had thrown.
A friend slipped his warm arm over my shoulder, and I turned my nose into Jase’s chest. He held me as I cried, a silent presence at my side for two months, ever since it happened. He’d been the first to arrive at the house when I found my parents, making it there before the cops and paramedics, and he’d been the one who held my hand the day their bodies were lowered into the cold, damp earth.
The familiar citrus and mint of Jase’s cologne, a smell I’d always associated with my best friend, comforted me. He hadn’t started out as my friend. In fact, he pretended I didn’t exist when I’d hung out with Jackie, his sister. As we grew older, my friendship with Jackie dissolved as many pre-teen friendships did. Jase was the one who remained with me, pushing me when all I wanted to do was curl into a ball and pretend I hadn’t seen both my parents with their brains blown out against the wall of our pink stucco home.
“It’s good to cry,” Jase said, his voice deep and husky. “Let it out, Cara. No one can hurt you here.”
I opened my mouth, wanting so much to tell him what waited for me at home, but I snapped it closed. I couldn’t tell him. Jase wouldn’t understand. I had to make it work, at least until graduation in May. Five months to go.
Jase let me go when I pulled away, but with enough reluctance to prove he hadn’t tired of playing hero. I retrieved the two wreaths he’d carried from the car for me and kneeled to lean them against my parents’ headstones.
I ran my fingers over the engraved name of my mother, wishing for the thousandth time she hadn’t cheated on my father, hadn’t led him to put a bullet through her head and then his own.
What sort of legacy had I inherited? Being so consumed by love it destroyed everyone around you?
“Cara?” Jase squatted beside me. He tugged off his green and white striped toboggan and ran an awkward hand over his mussed brown curls. “Is everything okay?”
No. Nothing was okay. My parents were dead. I was alone, and I hated who waited at my temporary home.
I turned my face to the gloomy skies, the clouds gray and heavy with the promise of rain, and did what I always did.
“Everything is fine. It’s just the holidays, you know?”
“You’d tell me though. Right?” Jase prodded. “If you need anything—”
I stopped him before he made more promises. “You’ve given me enough, more than anyone. I don’t need anything.”
I owed Jase more than I could repay as it was. Not just money, although he’d given me plenty to supplement my parents’ meager life insurance. I owed my sanity to him. If not for his steadying presence, I would’ve slipped into madness, truly curled into a ball and wished for death to take me too.
“I miss them.” My voice came out needy. Weak. I hated it. Hated them for leaving me.
Jase pulled me back into his arms. I snuggled against his hard chest and pretended I’d stay there forever.
Warm. Safe. Protected.
His breath ruffled my bangs as he pressed a gentle kiss to my forehead. “If you need me, call. I have my apartment in the city. You can crash anytime you need to.”
The offer tempted me. More than he’d ever know. “Thank you, but I’m going to tough it out here.”
Jase was twenty-one with a life of his own. He didn’t need an eighteen-year-old orphan crashing on his couch and upsetting the careful balance he’d created for himself there.
A sigh lifted his chest, reminding me of how lean and strong he’d become. Where once he’d been somewhat overweight, Jase was now a tight slab of muscle, thanks to twice daily work-outs and a strict diet regime. “I can carve out time in my schedule, make sure you get to school every morning and pick you up after your shift at the cafe.”
I held out my hand. “No. Jase, stop. I can’t ask you to. You’ve given me too much already.”
“God damn it, Cara.” His green eyes snapped with fire, a lambent heat that always appeared when I upset him. “Don’t consider it charity. You’re my friend for fuck’s sake, and I want to do something nice for you.”
“You have.” I framed his warm cheeks with my palms. “You do. Thank you.”
The fire in his gaze disappeared, replaced by resignation and sorrow. “Promise me you’ll call if you need me. I don’t care when or why. Promise me.”
“I promise.” It was a lie. I wouldn’t burden him with my problems any more than I had to. “We should go.”
Jase straightened effortlessly and reached out a hand to help me up. He towered above me, well over six feet tall to my five-four. Designer jeans, scruffy but still expensive, clung to his muscular thighs, and a distressed T-shirt covered his broad chest.
Jase was hot, if I had to be honest, something I seldom was. Life had taught me candor came with repercussions best avoided.
Jase led me away from the gravestones, his hand clutched around mine. He opened the wrought iron gate and stepped aside for me to pass through first before locking it behind us.
The Gardens was small and inconspicuous, a tiny spot nestled in the center of suburbia. Vestavia Hills was close enough to Birmingham to give us the benefits of a large city without the crowded housing and traffic.
Jase drove me to my step-uncle’s house, my home until graduation. I sat in Jase’s Hummer, staring out the tinted window, and wished I could tell him to keep driving, to take me home with him like he offered. The cheerful, yellow house and white picket fence gave the impression of picture perfect, happy domesticity, but horror awaited me inside.
A chill passed through me, chasing away the warmth from the Hummer’s heating vents. I pressed into the soft leather seat and willed my body to move, to open the door and go inside, but my muscles betrayed me.
“Cara.” Jase reached across the console and touched my thigh. Fleeting and gentle, as only a friend would touch me. “Want me to keep driving?”
More than anything, but I shook my head and forced a laugh. “No, I’m just not looking forward to getting out in the cold.”
He plucked at my thin sweater. “You need a coat. What happened to that ridiculous ski jacket you used to wear?”
I didn’t tell him it was gone, too stained by the blood I’d washed from the walls before calling him the night of my parents’ murder. I’d burned the coat in the fireplace. “Maybe if I’m good, Santa will bring me another.”
He moved his hand to my cheek and cupped it, turning my face toward him. “I’m sorry.”
He didn’t elaborate, didn’t have to. He knew how tough the first Christmas without my parents would be.
I covered his hand with mine. “Don’t.”
He tightened his fingers, but he released me without argument as I unbuckled the seatbelt. “Call me.”
“I will.” The belt slipped through my hands, and I pulled on the door handle with chilled fingers.
When my feet touched the sidewalk in front of my uncle’s house, I wished I was anywhere other than the yellow house at the end of a quiet cul de sac. I was eighteen now. Nothing or no one could force me to stay.
But where could I go?
I turned to give my friend one last look before I shut the door. “Goodbye, Jase. Thanks for coming.”
He stared at me, his silence more damning than anything he could’ve said. “I mean it, Cara. Don’t shut me out.”
I briefly closed my eyes and prayed for the strength to resist. “Merry Christmas. I’ll call you. Promise.”
I slammed the door and rushed away. My spirits sank. With Jase gone, there was no one to protect me. To save me.
To love me.
Christy Gissendaner is a paranormal and contemporary romance author who believes laughter and love should go hand in hand.
Christy lives in Alabama with her husband and three sons. She’s always hard at work on her next novel, but in her spare time she loves blackjack, karaoke, and anything resembling a vacation!
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