Danielle Sibarium

Tough Topics

Woo hoo, the kids are back in school. Hopefully that means more time to write. And if I have more time to write, I can blog more, yippee!!! Okay, enough celebrating. Now back to business.

 
 

It’s no secret that my TBR list has gotten extremely long. There are so many books out, and so many authors I have a hard time choosing what I’m going to read next. This summer I made a point of catching up on my never ending list. This being said, I’ve discovered some new favorite authors and developed new friendships.

 
 
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After To My Hero was released, one of my friends suggested I read Almost by Anne Eliot. Trusting this friend I put Almost on my TBR list, where it stayed for a little more than a year.
When I finally picked it up, I was immediately pulled in and intrigued. It didn’t take more than a few pages to see why my friend (and so many others), are fans of Anne’s. I loved it.

 
 
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Another book I had on my TBR list for quite some time is Easy by Tammara Webber. There were a few reviews that compared To My Hero to Easy. Once again, it took very little time for me to become invested in this powerful story. So what’s my point? Is it just to point out some great books you might enjoy? Not exactly.

 
 

The three books I’ve mentioned do have a lot of similarities. They are also each very different from the other. While all three deal with sexual assault in some fashion, each story is unique, as is the way it is told and handled. The biggest difference between To My Hero and Almost or Easy, is that in To My Hero Carly actually gets raped. I know it can be difficult to read, especially for someone that has gone through it, but it is not the act that is the focus of the story; dealing with life and moving on afterward are, as well as learning how to place the blame where it belongs and becoming empowered. When I wrote To My Hero: a Blog of Our Journey Together, I believed (as I still do) that there is a need for books like this, and that there are conversations it can be used to start. I wanted girls and women who suffered rape or sexual abuse of any type to understand they are not alone.

 
 

So why now? Why rehash something that’s old news? As I mentioned earlier, I only recently read Almost and Easy. I had thought about writing this ever since, but haven’t had a chance to. When I received a touching email from a reader last weekend I was compelled speak my mind on the subject once again. I have copied part of it below.

 
To My Hero3

I just finished To My Hero. This story,.. This book,.. Ah I’m still crying. You have no idea. I can’t even form words right now. It’s beautiful and so “true” those emotions the guilt the thinking it’s your fault, the lowered self-esteem. The unable to be touch by another.
This story needs to get out there more. Like in high schools and colleges. And in support groups. I’m sharing this one in mine. Thank you for this read more so than the first ones.
Many people can’t write this. You have become my hero tonight.
Ah still crying.

 
 

This isn’t the first email I received thanking me for To My Hero, so my point is this, there is a reason these books are out there. Rape and attempted rape happen often. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, “ There is an average of 237,868 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year.” While we might at times be uncomfortable discussing these issues, they are important. A girl’s or woman’s entire life changes after she is raped. Very often victims are left feeling hopeless, powerless and unlovable. This affects them at home, in the workplace, and most definitely in all if their relationships. In essence, it affects every part of her life.

 
 

If you haven’t read these amazing books, get on it. If you’ve been touched by any of them, share your thoughts and start a discussion. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Most of all, learn from them. Each one ends with resources for victims. If you or anyone you know has been assaulted, please reach out and assist in getting the help that is needed.

 
 

Thank you as always for your love and support!

 

25 Fun Facts About Me

Here are 25 fun facts about me. Actually I feel bad if you’re reading this looking for cool or interesting things because really I’m pretty boring. Oh look I already have one.1.

I am a boring person.

2. Technology always has and always will hate me. I am technologically challenged.

3. I am a HUGE Yankee fan.

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4. I almost always have conversations going on in my head between people that don’t really exist.

5. I believe in angels.

6. I bake awesome pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

7. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY.

8. I Love rodeo.

9. I want to go swim with dolphins.

10. The setting for Heart Waves takes place at my father’s house down in Point Pleasant, NJ.

11. I think kissing is sexy.

12. A duck currently laid eggs and is nested in my pool area.

13. I’m attempting to grow vegetables for the first time, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and celery.

14. I worked for Sister Marguerite Torre (sister of former Yankee manager Joe Torre).

15. I was told by a priest to create an interesting story about how I obtained a wall waterfall I received as a wedding gift.

16. In high school two of my teachers tried to convince me to submit work for publication.

broccoli

 

17. On a boring Friday night when I was fifteen, I did the Tony Robbins Firewalk.
18. I was an extra on the Cosby show.
19. The smokey bus scene in For Always actually happened.
20. While writing To My Hero: A Blog of Our Journey Together I had no idea what Ryan’s scholarship was for until I was almost finished writing it.
21. I’ve done a signing at Barnes and Noble.
22. A much earlier version of For Always then called A Kiss Worth Waiting For won Honorable Mention in the 2004 Southern Heat Contest.
23. I wrote the lyrics for the songs Take My Hand and Goodbye by Charlotte Doreen Small.
24. I’ve written and sold greeting cards.
25. My ultimate fan girl moment was when I met Derek Jeter.

 jeter
 

So do we have a lot in common? Anything?
 
Dont’ forget to take a look at Maria Monteiro’s 25 Fun Facts!

Maria and I would love for you to come join us for our pajama Facebook release party on June 17th. We’ll have prizes, guest authors, and a lot of fun! I hope to see you there!

Facebook Release Party.

 
Add Regret Me Not on your TBR list on Goodreads .

 

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Regret Me Not Release Countdown Begins!

I’m so excited to start this voyage with you. Today is the first day of the Regret Me Not Release Countdown. So every day from now until June 17th, I will have a new post for you to enjoy. Today in addition to an excerpt from the first Chapter of Regret Me Not, if you scroll down to the bottom you can follow the link to the first chapter Maria Monteiro’s new NA novel, Wreck Me.

Regret Me Not Synopsis-

regretmenot2 coverFor Mackenzie Green life is full of regrets; regrets from choices she made in the past, regrets for the things she’ll never see in her future. She regrets letting her grades slip while her sister was in rehab, ensuring she’ll never break away from the rumor-run, small town she lives in. She regrets breaking up with her future All American football playing boyfriend, Brayden Turner out of fear of getting hurt. Most of all she regrets every decision she made leading up to the night that changed her life forever.
 
It’s only after Brayden cuts her off completely that Mackenzie realizes how much she wants him in her life. She’s learns that losing what you love breaks you, but sometimes it’s the only way to tap into your inner strength.
 
Can Mackenzie find the courage to learn from her mistakes and move forward or will she spend her days consumed with regrets? Is it too late to convince Brayden she wants him in her life and that she’s in it for the long haul? Most of all, can she accept that sometimes bad things happen no matter how hard you try to protect yourself from them? Can she put it all behind her or will she live an unfulfilled life full of regrets?
 
 Chapter 1

The Homecoming Dance

Brayden looks at me with the same intense longing I’ve seen in his eyes all night. Every touch lasts a moment too long, making me want to taste the sweet warmth of his delicious lips. Every look smolders, bringing color to my cheeks, as he pairs a look with a stroke of my exposed skin. His hand moves from the top of my back, slowly, straight down to the bottom, pressing me against him, making my body tingle, my insides quiver. He knows what he’s doing, that he’s creating a fierce desire inside me; that’s what he’s counting on.

 

He inches in a bit closer as we move in perfect precision to the music, slow music that seems to want to keep us on the dance floor, locked in each other’s arms. Holding me close, he brushes up against me. In an attempt to escape the look in his soft brown eyes I lean into his chest, and rest my head there, bringing me right up against the warmth of his body. The familiar smell of his cologne comforts me, but only for a moment before it feeds the growing fire burning deep inside.
 
I want him.
 
Each beat of my heart, every breath, brings me closer to succumbing to this unyielding desire. Every sweet caress only serves to convince me we belong together. No matter how I try to convince myself its wrong, that we’ll only end up hurting each other in the long run, I keep getting lost in the pleasure the present promises. A soft moan passes his lips, and I hold him tighter, my fingers dig into the hard muscles beneath his clothes. I know I don’t have the strength to fight the cataclysmic pull that keeps me drawn to him, that keeps me unable to move out of his arms.
 
I look around the large, dimly lit room, but only for a few seconds. I don’t care about anything else in here, not the decorations hung on the walls, or the bubble machine chugging away somewhere on the side. I don’t care to see what the other girls are wearing, or even if they’re pretty. Not tonight. The only thing I want, the only thing my brain could wrap itself around is Brayden; Brayden’s brown eyes and award winning smile. The feel of his arms holding me against him. The fresh clean smell that hangs on him no matter the time of day or night.
 
All I know is Brayden.
 
“I miss you,” he whispers, his breath tickling my ear. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
 
I give myself the benefit of the doubt, thinking I could chance a look in his eyes and not be captivated by their intensity.
 
I’m wrong. There’s heat in his eyes. They’re smoldering.
 
Unconsciously I lick my lip before answering. “I miss you, too.”
 
He takes a chance. I knew he would eventually. He leans in, and presses his lips against mine. They’re soft and warm, as always. I don’t pull away, I want more. My mouth opens, inviting him in as my hips press against his. I want this kiss. I’ve wanted it since Brayden picked me up. I didn’t initiate it because I wasn’t sure one kiss would satiate me. I’m not sure one night will either.
 
His eyes trail from my head, down, all the way down. I don’t miss how they hesitate at the neckline of my dress. I know he wants to bring his hands there; they always seemed to gravitate to that area. But Brayden, being the perfect gentleman, resists the urge. It’s a battle apparent in his eyes. He waits and feels me out. He can read my reactions. He knows my body inside and out, almost as well as he knows my heart.
 
“Do you feel that?” He brings his mouth beside my ear and speaks in a soft, velvety tone. “Your pulse racing, the swirling of your stomach? Do you feel the heat between us? It’s a wild fire burning out of control. It’s getting bigger and hotter by the minute.” He kisses me again. This time there’s hunger and need in his kiss. One hand gets lost in my hair, the fingers on the other hand press into my flesh. He wants more. He wants all of me, and I want to give it, give in. I swallow hard, still delusional that I have an ounce of control over what I’m doing or where things are leading.
 
“Kenzie, I love you. And I want you back.”
 
That’s the final straw. It’s the reason I came. I want to make sure it’s still there. Not just the attraction, that never left, but the love, the desire, the all-out need for each other. I felt it all night. I see it every time he looks at me. But hearing his declaration, I’m lost, prisoner to his every whim.
 
 So what do you think? Do you want to read more? Mark Regret Me Not on your TBR list on Goodreads .

 
Here’s the first chapter of Wreck Me.

 
Maria and I would love for you to come join us for our pajama Facebook release party on June 17th. We’ll have prizes, guest authors, and a lot of fun! I hope to see you there! Facebook Release Party.

 

Valentine’s Surprise!

First, I would like to thank you for coming here to check out my special announcement. First, I’d like to thank all the bloggers that haven given up their time not only to read my books, but for the reviews that follow as well. I’d like to thank every reader that has ever picked up one of my books and given them a chance. And finally I’d like to thank all of my fans that have felt compelled to reach out to me. I have appreciated all of your letters, messages, and support, whether it came in an email, or just a short and sweet tweet.
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When I began this journey, I had no expectations. I had dreams and hopes and wishes, but to say I expected For Always to take on a life of its own would not be true. Since its release in October of 2011, many people have contacted me asking me if I planned to write a sequel. I thought Stephanie and Jordan’s story had been completed, but for many of you, it wasn’t enough. So because you asked, because you told me in no uncertain terms you wanted it, I am working on And Forever, the sequel to For Always. And Forever picks up where For Always ended. While Stephanie and Jordan are finally a couple, they still carry the same baggage they had before. Can their love survive the ghosts of their past and the challenges of the future?
 
I hope you are excited about this as I am. I expect And Forever to be released in July 2014. Until then, look for teasers on Facebook and Twitter. And before I go, I leave you with this, the prologue of And Forever. Once again thank you for being so amazing. Happy Reading!
 
Prologue
The scent of death lingered nearby. Always. Only I didn’t attract it, I repelled it, like a deflector shield. This was my lot in life, to extend the days of those I loved. That theory came from Jordan; the keeper of my heart, and the love of my life!
 
I sighed. I didn’t realize I did it until Jordan apologized. Again.
 
“I’m sorry Steph, I don’t want to be distracted.”
 
“I know. I understand. Promise.”
 
He misunderstood. It was a contented sigh. One that said I was thrilled my boyfriend was driving me to school. The sigh was a sign of how surreal sitting next to Jordan and knowing that he loved me was. How I couldn’t believe in a matter of hours he’d be leaving me alone on the college campus, and I intended to savor each minute with him. The sigh was the only chance I had of getting any of those sentiments across because he didn’t want me to talk while he was driving. I knew just being in the car together was challenging for him.
 
Jordan still suffered the after effects of a terrible car accident that left his ex-girlfriend dead. Of course he was breaking up with her at the time because he loved me, and I pushed him into making a choice between us. When he served as my unexpected prom date, I made him admit his feelings. That’s what led to his break-up with Madison, leaving him in a swamp of guilt induced quick sand when she died. But we worked through all that.
 
I hoped.
 
I didn’t bother saying anything further to try and reassure him I wasn’t upset. I’d already been warned he couldn’t concentrate on the road and to keep the radio down. The problem was he wanted it down so low I couldn’t hear the music. I glanced at his hands on the steering wheel, his knuckles were white. He held on so tight I expected his fingers to cramp up. I hated that this was so hard for him. I wished I knew how to make it better, but the only thing I could do was stand beside him and hope in time he’d heal.
 
I turned to my window, watching the never ending expanse of trees zoom by. I wished for a brief moment I’d gone in the other car with my mother and her new, at least new to me, boyfriend Eddie. I’d been clueless about Eddie, but after her health scare last week, she came clean. She wanted to see him and had been ordered to take a few days off of work. Work is where they’d rendezvous during lunch. She’d been frightened when they first told her it looked like a heart attack and realized it was silly to keep him hidden away. No way I wanted to hear what cheesy, weird things they might be talking about. I mean it was my mom, gross. Still, I was happy for her. My father died a decade ago and as far as I knew she’d never dated before.
 
I chose to ride with Jordan, because even in the deafening silence, and the tension he carried on his shoulders every time we got in a car together, there was nowhere else I’d rather be. From the first moment he spoke to me, he owned my heart. It was branded with his name. I’d tried for four years to move on, to forget him, but that wasn’t an option for me. No one could hold a candle to him.
 
“Hey,” He pulled my attention back to the here and now. “You know I love you right?”
 
I smiled. Of course he knew that would make me smile, that’s why he said it. It felt like that’s all I’d done over the last week since he found me crying on the beach. I’ll never forget the wave of relief that washed over me when I found out he’d been spared from a terrible plane crash. He never made it on the plane because I called him at the last minute in an attempt to get him to stay. Thank goodness I did. I didn’t know where he was going or why, but Maria warned me that he was leaving, and it might be forever.
 
I always believed myself to be the root cause of the bad things that happen to people around me, Jordan thought I was what kept them hanging on. I didn’t believe him, at least not yet. But having him try to convince me otherwise promised to be amazing.

So what do you think? Are you excited? Remember, your thoughts and comments keep me inspired! And now for the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A First Look

Last week I promised a teaser of one of my Works in Progress. Taking into consideration the likes and comments I had gotten from all venues, here it is, the opening paragraph to . . . I’m still working on the title, but I’m open to suggestions. This is a contemporary romance that, like most of my books, borders between mature YA and NA. And much like I did in For Always and To My Hero, I plan on taking you on an emotional journey, but one that you will end feeling thoroughly satisfied.  
 

Brayden looked at me with the same intense longing he had in his eyes all night. Every touch lasted a moment too long, making me want to taste the sweet warmth of his delicious lips. Every look smoldered, bringing color to my cheeks, as he was sure to pair a look with a stroke of my exposed skin. His hand moved from the top of my back, slowly, straight down to the bottom, pressing me against him, making my body tingle, my insides quiver. He knew what he was doing, that he was creating a fierce desire inside me, that’s what he counted on.
 
 
So what do you think? Are you interested? Want to see more? If you want more, comment, like share, all of the above.
 

 

Alert! Early Release

Alert! I decided to release Into You before Christmas. It’s live on the Kindle now! And should be available on Nook and Kobo any day. You my reader mean so much to me. Thank you to all of you that have reached out to me after reading any of my books, and for all the fun you created for me around the Heart Waves Series. I want you to know that your feedback is very important to me. I listen to what my readers say because my ultimate goal is to make you happy. That being said, stay tuned I have some big news in the new year.Final Cover Into You

 

Here’s an excerpt of Into You from Elizabeth’s POV. I hope you enjoy it!

 

 I looked around at the stores and shops, most of them were closed, with metal grates covering the windows. That was something you didn’t see much of in Jersey, at least not where I lived. That and the attached stores packed so close together, one on top of the other. The stores and restaurants on the main streets tended to be close, but only for a few blocks. All of Brooklyn had this tight squeezed-in feel.

 

I’d gotten my fill. I found myself looking to get away from the noise of the cars beeping, buses screeching and music blaring. I wanted to go home. Yearning to feel my cool, crisp sheets cradle my bare skin, I walked faster, looked down at my watch, and yawned.

 

“Son of a bitch!” a male voice barked as I felt myself bounce off what felt like a brick wall.

 

I shook it off realizing there are no walls in the middle of the sidewalk. The hard object I bumped into was a man.

 

“Sorry,” I said, before even looking at him.

 

The striking young man shook his head annoyed. He looked down at his chest to assess the damage. I followed his gaze, and gasped as I made out the egg carton against his chest oozing with gook.

 

Without thinking, I reached into my pocket, pulled out a tissue and dabbed at the eggy spot on his suit jacket. I hesitated, embarrassed at the liberty I had taken. With heat filling my face I looked up, and met his eyes for the first time. My stomach tumbled. I stood frozen, mesmerized by his steely grey eyes. In an attempt to hide my awkwardness I pulled my hand away from him.

 

“Forget it,” the handsome stranger said.

 

“The yolks on you,” I recovered.

 

“Very funny,” he snapped.

 

“I didn’t mean . . .” I looked away, disappointed he didn’t get my humor. Why should he be any different than the rest of the guys I’ve come across? Especially since I left my mark on him.

 

“Yes, you did,” he said soberly. After a moment he continued. “Good thing I like my eggs scrambled,” the corners of his lips turned up ever so slightly.

 

Now back to my big news, can you guess what it is?

 

 
 

 

Cover Reveal- Waves of Love

First, I’d like to thank all of my wonderful fans for picking up my books and giving them chance. This book is truly for you, my readers, and my fans. I did my best to create a scenario that worked for all my Team Tyler people as well as the Team Reece people. I know that your allegiances run deep, so I hope you’re happy

 

I knew that even those leery of Tyler developed sort of protective feelings for him in Breaking Waves. You still don’t trust him, but he’s worn you down a little, sort of like he did with Jenna. Well, we finally get to find out what happens. Is he as bad as Reece thinks or is he just misunderstood? I’ll let you decide!

 

You know what a cover reveal means, right? Waves of Love will be released soon. How about for a Halloween treat?

 

Are you ready for the cover? Are you sure you’re ready? Here it is!

 

Waves of Love2

 

 

What do you think the cover tells you? Any predications? Any advice for Reece or Tyler? How about Jenna?

 

If you haven’t started the Heart Waves series yet, here’s your chance! Enter to win one of 3 ebooks of Heart Waves.

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
   

 

For Always on Kobo

I have some exciting news. For Always is now available on Kobo, yay!!! Web CoverIt’s also available in Paperback, Kindle and Nook formats. To celebrate, I decided to post the Prologue. It’s a coming of age story that follows the characters over a four year period, starting in YA and ending in NA. So what do you think? Don’t forget to leave a comment!
 

Prologue

I entered the world with a massive defect. I attracted death. Like a magnet. I could feel it all around me. It wrapped its icy fingers tight around my chest, leaving me no room for escape. It enveloped me, draped over my shoulders like a heavy dark shroud.
 
The day I was born my cousin died in a car accident. Eight days after my birth, while holding me in her arms my mother’s mother closed her eyes, bowed her head, and breathed her last breath. At four years of age, while sleeping at her house, my mother’s sister suffered a cerebral hemorrhage caused by an aneurism.
 
The gurgling sound of retching woke me. I opened my eyes to see my aunt on the other side of the bed, eyes open and rolled to the back of her head, vomit oozing out of her mouth. I ran around the bed and brought the small garbage pail to her bedside. I shook her shoulder trying to wake her, to get her attention. She didn’t speak or move. I called my mother. And then I dialed 911.
 
I brought bad luck to all around me. Pets only reinforced my beliefs. Dogs died prematurely. One suffered a heart attack at only three years of age. Another suffered smoke inhalation.

*

The candle’s flame danced and burned on the kitchen table, hold¬ing me mesmerized in front of it. I’d been drinking water and spilled some. I reached for a paper towel on the other side of the candle to wipe up my mess.
The paper towel seemed to slice right through the orange, flicker¬ing flame. I never saw anything so amazing! As if it were a magic trick that needing perfecting, I tried it again and again and again, until I felt the scorching heat move with me and the smell of fire tickling my nose. I didn’t know what to do with the paper towel. It was burning so fast and the flame kept growing.
 
I looked around quickly wondering what to do. I had only an instant to decide. My mother lay on the living room couch, napping in front of the TV. I didn’t want to wake her, afraid she’d be mad I played with the candle. I threw the blazing paper into the plastic garbage pail next to the table.
 
The fire grew and now large flames shot out of the pail. I blew on the fire, trying to put it out like a birthday candle. It didn’t help. The smoke detector sounded, chiming in a steady rhythm of loud beeps, like an obnoxious car alarm.
 
I felt arms pick me up and spin me away from the shooting flames and melting pail. My mother screamed for me to get out of the house as she ran for the hose attached to the kitchen sink. I stood frozen in place. I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t leave her to die trying to fix my mistake.
 
Once the fire was under control Mom poured huge pots of water into the garbage, and eventually picked up the pail and placed it in the sink with continuous water running over it. We didn’t even look for Lucky, our five year old pug, until well after the fire had been extinguished. She hadn’t come out at all. Not to go for a walk. Not for a drink of water. Mom called Lucky. She didn’t move from her spot under the kitchen table.
Small dog, small lungs.
 
There were others, too. We had a gerbil, Frisky. I took Frisky out and held him in my hands, petting him gently with my pointer finger while my mother cleaned his tank. I held Frisky up near my nose.
 
“Who’s the sweetest little gerbil?” I asked.
 
Frisky, living up to his name liked to move a lot. I didn’t want to drop my squiggling ball of fur, so I tightened my grip just a bit.
 
Frisky bit me. I yelped as I dropped him on the floor. Mom, squea¬mish around him to begin with, panicked and dropped the twenty gallon glass tank squarely on him. Gerbil pancake.
 
The most devastating loss of all came at eight years old. My father left for work in the morning and never came back. He suffered a massive heart attack on the train. No pain. No warning.
 
The only constants in my life were my mother, my best friend Maria, who saw past my defect, and the great black cloud of despair that ruled my world. It was the only thing I could count on to never leave me alone.
Until Jordan changed my life.
 

 

Steamy and Sexy!

In honor of the person who issued the Danielle Sibarium challenge where people were asked to find some “Hot reads” about me, I’d like to issue a different Danielle Sibarium challenge. I challenge you to find your favorite “Hot reads,” by me. Pick your top three favorite hot scenes and/or quotes written by me. All you need to do is write the name of the book, who said it, or who the scene was between then add the quote, or describe the scene.

 

For instance-
Breaking Waves- Tyler- You’re right. I do. I wish you’d climb in bed with me & do unspeakable things.”

 

Remember, the quotes and scenes, could come from any my books, you can even use teasers or bonus scenes I’ve written! Let’s see how many “Hot Reads,” we can come up with. Ready, set go!

 

 

Breaking Waves Zumba Scene

About a month ago, I received a request for the Breaking Waves Zumba scene from Tyler’s POV. Since it was a fun and popular scene in Breaking Waves I thought I’d post it, and if you like it and want it from Tyler’s POV, simply follow my on Twitter @sibarium. When I get to 2000 follower I’ll post it! Hope you like it!

 

Zumba class
The wind whipped at my face as I got out of the car. The breeze made it feel much colder than it was outside. Long gone were the hot days of summer. I pulled the zipper of my sweatshirt up as high as it could go while I scanned the parking lot for Tyler.
 
Spotting him, I reached in and grabbed the plastic bag of freshly laundered clothes he lent me. His soft cotton t-shirt was big on me, and the sweat pants hung too low around my hips, but they’d been warm and comfortable. I hated having anything of his so intimately close to my body. I felt in a way as if he had his hands all over me. Once I gave him the clothes back, maybe I could negate that exposed feeling.
 
Tyler met me outside my gym in shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt. It was cold out, and so late in the day it would only get colder. Didn’t he realize that? Where were the rest of his clothes?

 
“So you’re really going to do it?” I asked.
 
Tyler smiled, “There’s not a challenge I’m not willing to meet.”
 
He would back out. Once he saw that he was the only guy in the class, he wouldn’t want to embarrass himself. He had to back out! I was banking on it.
 
“So what are we doing – yoga, Pilates?”
 
I smirked. Here it was the moment I was waiting for. Time to make Tyler squirm. “Zumba.”
 
He smirked. “Oh, come on.
 
Good. I had him on the ropes. I took great pleasure in the fact I’d been right. Tyler was too macho and full of himself to do something as lowly and feminine as Zumba. He was going to leave.
 
“At least yoga and Pilates might have some sort of a challenge, but Zumba? Really? It doesn’t get frillier than that. Not unless you tell me we’re going to put on tights and do ballet.”
 
“You don’t think Zumba is a workout?” I asked, offended.
 
“And here I thought you were serious.”
 
“Let’s see what you say after class, tough guy.” It was on. Even if he wanted to back out, I wouldn’t let him now. It was too late. I’d torment him, rubbing his face in the fact he couldn’t handle it. No way would he make fun of me only to be let off the hook.
 
Tyler rolled his eyes, “Okay, Jenna.”
 
I wanted to punch him in his smug face.
 
After signing him in, I lead Tyler into the Zumba studio. Already a large crowd gathered waiting for the instructor. I liked to hide out in the back when I took this class. These ladies were Zumba fanatics. They fought for space and their place in the mirror. I wondered if they did that so they could see the faces they made while working on their sexy look. Most days I’d let them have the limelight while I remained inconspicuous. Not today. Today I wanted to be front and center, with Tyler by my side.
 
We walked right up the middle and squeezed into the front of the room. Gaping at Tyler, the women parted like the Red Sea for Moses. I took a peek at him in the mirror. He was smiling! His lips were turned up into a huge, giant grin. And they were ogling him. They stared at Tyler with hunger in their eyes, like they’d been starved and I just handed them a decadent treat. My stomach started churning and suddenly my brilliant idea started looking like a giant flop!
 
Bree entered the room with her usual high energy. Good. She’d put all this craziness to a stop. I had confidence she’d set the cougars straight. They were there to work their bodies, not their libidos. I took a deep breath, knowing this sour turn of events was about to be righted.
Seeing my reflection in the mirror, Bree smiled. “Jenna, it’s so good to see you. Welcome back!”
 
Tyler took that as a cue to step closer to me. “Hey,” he said, pulling her attention from me to him.
 
Bree looked at me, her huge blue eyes questioning, “New boyfriend, Jenna?”
 
“Hell, no!” I spat out. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have brought him, he’ll be happy to leave . . .”
 
“No, no, no . . . not at all. Are you sure there’s nothing going on with you two?” Her eyes were still on me, the corners of her lips made their way up into a smile.
 
“Positive. We’re just friends.”
 
Before I even finished the sentence, Bree turned to Tyler. She circled him, looking him up and down, appraising his worth, the same glint in her eye the other women had. It reminded me of one of those movies where aliens invade the bodies of humans, and you could only tell through the gleam in their eyes. That’s the craziness Tyler stirred up. And he loved every second of it.
 
Worse of all, as Bree gave him the once over, he gave it right back to her. Of course any guy would look at Bree like that. She was gorgeous: mid-twenties, perfect body, and she probably had less than one percent body fat.
 
“Okay, good,” Bree said in a no-nonsense manner. “Take your shirt off.”
 
“What?!?” I heard wrong. I must have heard wrong, no way in hell she told Tyler to take his shirt off.
 
“Don’t be a prude, Jenna. If he’s not your boyfriend, and he wants to work out with us, he has to take his shirt off. It’s the rule, right ladies?” she called to the crowded room.
 
While I found her announcement mortifying, it seemed to make everyone else happy. Very happy. The hoots and whistles carrying through the electrified studio made it feel more like a strip club than a gym. Tyler ate it up. He turned to the ladies, raising his hands up in the air for them to increase the volume. As the claps and calls of “Take it off,” grew to an obnoxious level, Tyler pulled his shirt overhead, swung it around, and tossed it to the corner of the room where Bree stood preparing the music.
 
Bree looked up slowly through her thick dark lashes and smiled at Tyler salaciously, as if that were an invitation to play and they were the only two in the room. I could feel the electricity between them as Tyler flexed his muscles showing off his incredible biceps and sculpted body. No wonder the way he worked out. He posed in various positions, showing off his front and back. The room went wild with applause.
 
I watched, feeling sick, as if he were a terrible accident on the side of the road and I couldn’t stop myself from looking. I wanted her to start the music. The sooner we started the class, the sooner it would be over.
 
“You’re right, Jenna,” he leaned over and whispered, “this promises to be one amazing workout.”
 
“Oh shut up,” I snapped.
 
He laughed at my response and then talking was over. The beat of the music traveled through the room like a living, breathing pulse. I could tune him out, forget all about him if I concentrated on the music. At least
 
I thought I could.
 
It worked. At least for the warm up. I forced myself to keep my eyes on Bree’s feet and off of Tyler. It was the same song Bree used to warm the class up before my extended absence so I knew it pretty well without needing too much guidance.
 
After the first song, the music changed. At first it was subtle, the dirty versions of everyday songs played on the radio, and then I thought I entered the Twilight Zone. Throughout the class, Bree made adjustments to the music. I swear she changed the playlist because Tyler was there.
 
Every song contained strong sexual implications. Like every lyric of every song was focused on sex! And the moves matched the words.
Yes, Zumba is supposed to be sexy and a little dirty, but this was x-rated. Nothing but shaking boobs, gyrating hips and thrusting in every direction. And she never had us spank ourselves before. At one point, she was so focused on Tyler I thought her plan was to tell us to grab a partner so they could spank each other.
 
Tyler partied on.
 
I couldn’t help but peek at him in the mirror. He moved surprisingly well, with a confidence that added to his sex appeal. Sex appeal? Since when did I think of him like that?!? Was that why I was getting so angry at the unusually giddy laughing and the lusty looks he continued to get throughout the class?
 
Towards the end of the class, Tyler’s body glistened with sweat. His overgrown hair, shiny and damp, clung to his face. And every time a line about having sex blasted through the studio, his eyes would meet mine in the mirror. First, for a fleeting moment, but then the moments grew.
 
Tyler’s eyes locked on me until I’d find the strength to look away. My stomach felt funny, and a strange desire began to course through my body. I felt like he was seducing me with his eyes. The more he’d see me respond, the longer and deeper his stares grew, until I became his main focus.
 
Finally the cool down began. The beat of the music slowed a little and a song I never heard before blasted through the studio. I knew once I made it through this last dance the class would end; I needed to hold it together for just a few more minutes.
 
I tried to keep my eyes glued on Bree, following along the same patterns of swaying my hips from side to side with my arms extended up in the air above my head. While the moves were less in your face and guttural than many of the others, the words spoke of stripping and clothes dropping to the floor leaving only a naked body to be ravished and enjoyed.
 
I couldn’t help myself, I looked at Tyler in the mirror. His eyes were glued to me, transfixed. I watched his tongue trace his bottom lip, desire ripe in his eyes. A longing I’d only felt once in my life swelled up inside me and took over my thoughts. As if he could tell what was happening to me he mouthed the words to the song, his lips parted, eyes closed as if he were imagining . . .
 
I couldn’t take anymore. I ran out of the class, straight for the bathroom. I needed a minute away from him. I stood in front of the mirror and stared at my red face. Not only did I feel overheated, I looked it as well. Because of my frustration at everyone’s reaction to Tyler, I pushed myself harder than I should have, matching Bree’s intensity move for move, hoping like yesterday, I could work off the anger and aggression.
 
Somehow it only seemed to make it worse. Unsatisfied by this joke of a class, my body still longed for a physical release. Add Tyler to the mix and I didn’t want to give my mind the chance to put those two things together.