Cover Reveal: We, the Wildflowers by L.B. Simmons

From USA Today bestselling author L.B. Simmons comes her first Young Adult novel, WE, THE WILDFLOWERS! Check out the beautiful cover below! WE, THE WILDFLOWERS will be available on all retailers February 11, 2020!

 

About WE, THE WILDFLOWERS:

“Their strength and ferocity stem from below the surface where their roots are forever tangled, interwoven in such a way that for the remainder of time they bloom together, and when winter finally prevails, they perish as one…until spring brings them to life once again.”

Addict.

Suicidal.

Criminal.

Homosexual.

When four unruly teens land themselves at a home for troubled youths, they find solace in the unlikely friendships forged within its walls. Together they battle bullies, share the secrets of their harrowing pasts, and because of the hardships each has faced, vow to leave the world in a better place than they found it. But when unwelcome strangers enter the home, they experience the unthinkable. The bonds of friendship are tested as the four are splintered apart, only to be brought back together again to face yet another tragedy. Will they find strength enough within each other to survive? Or will their bonds be too fractured to heal them once again?

 

Add it to your Goodreads today!

 

 

L.B. Simmons Bio:

When she’s not attending a volleyball tournament, a theater performance, or a cheer competition, L.B. Simmons can be found creating characters that face real life problems. Her goal with each book is to provide fictional friends for those who feel alone or misunderstood so they may help guide readers through the challenges that will mold and shape them. She is also the author of the Chosen Paths series. L.B lives in Texas with her husband and their three beautiful girls. For her latest news, visit www.lbsimmons.com.

 

 

 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

 

Release Blitz + 5 Star Review: Out Of Focus by L. B. Simmons – Chosen Paths Series – Book 2

 

 

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OOF FOR WEB - Copy

Out of Focus

Chosen Paths Series – Book 2

By L. B. Simmons

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OOF FOR WEB - Copy*** Upper New Adult Spinoff Standalone to the USA Today Bestselling Novel, Under the Influence***

 

“Shhhh, Cassandra, it’s our little secret.”

Secrets are stubborn things when they refuse to remain hidden. They tear through your soul, clawing and lashing until the pain becomes so unbearable, you’re left no choice but to silently scream your agony. No one hears you, of course. You smile on the outside and drift through life as though your mind is at peace, but all the while, you remain your own tortured prisoner. Sealed inside the darkened, soundproof room of your conscience, deafening cries echo as you plead for someone to unlock the door and release you from your nightmares. And eventually, when no one comes, you find ways to cope. To dull the suffering the only way you know how.

But what happens when you’ve become so numb, when everything around you has become so blurred, that you begin to lose focus on the saving grace standing directly in front of you? When you’ve anesthetized yourself to the point of losing consciousness, forced to watch as his once solid image fades away, lost to your reach in the haze as it smothers you?

What do you do then?

You fight. You heal. Then you bring him back.

Well, my name is Cassie Cooper, and it’s time.

No more secrets.

This is my story.

 

***WARNING – The subject matter of this novel centers around the psychological effects due to sexual abuse experienced during childhood. For this reason, as well as sexual situations, language, and adult themes, suggested reading age is 17+.***

 

AMAZON US **** AMAZON UK

 

oofteaser1

Only twenty-three years old, and I’m so goddamn tired.

I used to be so much stronger. I somehow kept the voices at bay, the memories locked away safely, contained within the confines of my mind. But with each passing day, I feel the glow of my once-luminous strength fading. Darkness encases me now, bowing the walls of protection I put into place years ago. My past is an ever-present nightmare, repeatedly tapping, slowly fracturing the window of my sanity.

I have no doubt that it’s only a matter of time before the glass finally breaks. Blackness will eventually seep through its cracks and deliver me from the safety of my façade into a reality that will destroy me.

My reality.

I’ve done my part. I’ve kept the secrets thrust upon me with dedicated believability. My portrayal of who I am has become a blurred, hazy version of the once very distinct Cassie Cooper.

I read an ungodly amount of trashy romance novels.

I’m the overtly sexual and foul-mouthed friend who will say anything to get a laugh.

And I have exactly zero fucks to give to what anyone else thinks about my actions.

But the reality, the actuality, is this:

I read obsessively to escape my own world. To live the dreams of others when, for so long, the reoccurrence of my nightmares has been my reality. I read to fall in love and find a happily ever after, even if it is purely imagined. With each story I read, I’m able to live and love vicariously through the characters in my books. It’s the only plausible way for me to survive.

I threw away my virginity at the age of thirteen just to prove something. And when I found that proof, that vindication I was looking for, I sought it every chance I could. Sex is about control for me. Nothing more. The act will never be about making love, like it is for the heroines in my books. I will never be granted the beauty of that gift.

I use humor as a form of avoidance. I draw upon laughter to block the pain. And I smile to mask the agony of the eight-year-old soul who weeps within me.

And the fucks . . . well, that’s not entirely accurate either.

I have given two to be exact: One to my best friend of seventeen years. She knows nothing of my past, and although she so willingly disclosed the horrors of hers, mine remains hidden for no other reason than to avoid the pity she would undoubtedly cast my way if I were to ever tell her. I don’t want her pity. I would sooner die than have her look at me in any other way than with pride.

The other died with the person to whom it was given. Anthony “Rat” Marchione. He was my one allowance of naïveté. The one person I actually wanted to touch me, to hold me, to love me. He was going to rescue me from my brokenness as though I were a character in one of my books. Young and senseless, I thought he was to be my eventual happily ever after, but tragically, he was murdered five years ago.

Black coldness waits in vain to leech the void where his once beautiful existence filled the pieces of my irrevocably shattered heart. Where he temporarily healed the hurt of the innocent child and quieted the voices that tormented her.

He’s gone now. I’ve accepted that. And in turn, I have relinquished all dreams associated with finding the light at the end of this miserable tunnel.

I will keep trudging through this life . . . this sentence handed to me for someone else’s crime, my payment shackled by secrets and weighted with lies. I will continue to do so with the same fraudulent smile on my lips and play the part of the strong heroine so convincingly, that even I believe it.

It’s only a matter of time before my fictional strength wears out—when I’m no longer hidden safely inside my protective blur—and I have to face the very real and lucid image of my past.

But until that time comes, I’ll do all I can do.

All I have ever done.

I will pretend.

 

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5Star

Michel’s Review

I was quite surprised when L. B. Simmons announced the upcoming release of Out of Focus.  After reading Under The Influence, I was under the impression it was a stand alone novel.  Cassie Cooper was Spencer’s crazy BFF.  She was wild, loose, and free spirited.  The perfect supporting character in Spencer’s story.  I never thought twice about her.  But like most people, Cassie has a story.  Her story is dark and unexpected.

Cassie has always had a secret to hide.  A secret that has tormented her since she was a young girl.  A secret that has molded her into the woman she is today.  Most people look at Cassie as the life of the party.  An easy lay.  And she is all that but beneath the surface is a very frightened little girl that can’t face herself in the mirror.

When she joins Spencer in a Krav Maga self defense class, it ends up opening the door for her self awareness.  Grady Bennett, the sexy instructor, sees beyond Cassie’s facade.  He sees the little girl hiding behind the harlot.  His main goal is to make Cassie smile for herself not for others.  He wants her to see the dynamic woman she is beneath the facade.  He wants that little girl that got imprisoned in Cassie’s mind to be set free.

Cassie has a hard road ahead of her.  She wants to have a relationship with Grady but before she can do that she has to learn how to fall and let someone catch her.  She has to learn to love the image she sees in the mirror.  She has to let go of the past and run towards the future.  She needs to be whole.

Cassie’s story is heartbreaking.  She experienced horrific abuse as a child.  The kind of abuse that no one ever really walks away from.  With the support of Grady, she may be able to face her demons.  But first she has to be ready to open the door and let them out.

L. B. Simmons wrote an emotional story about a very damaged women.  It’s not pretty and it’s not an easy fix.  She allowed Cassie to reach rock bottom before she could climb back up.  Along the way she was lucky enough to find the kind of love that will always be there for her.

I highly recommend reading Out of Focus by L. B. Simmons

________________________________________________

L.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and
holds a degree in Biomedical Science.
She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years. She lives with her husband and three
daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.

Join her newsletter here

OOF FOR WEB - Copy

 

Cover Reveal: Out of Focus by L. B. Simmons

OOFcoverbanner1

OOF FOR WEB

 

 

*** Upper New Adult Spinoff Standalone to the USA Today Bestselling Novel, Under the Influence***

“Shhhh, Cassandra, it’s our little secret.”

Secrets are stubborn things when they refuse to remain hidden. They tear through your soul, clawing and lashing until the pain becomes so unbearable, you’re left no choice but to silently scream your agony. No one hears you, of course. You smile on the outside and drift through life as though your mind is at peace, but all the while, you remain your own tortured prisoner. Sealed inside the darkened, soundproof room of your conscience, deafening cries echo as you plead for someone to unlock the door and release you from your nightmares. And eventually, when no one comes, you find ways to cope. To dull the suffering the only way you know how.

But what happens when you’ve become so numb, when everything around you has become so blurred, that you begin to lose focus on the saving grace standing directly in front of you? When you’ve anesthetized yourself to the point of losing consciousness, forced to watch as his once solid image fades away, lost to your reach in the haze as it smothers you?

What do you do then?

You fight. You heal. Then you bring him back.

Well, my name is Cassie Cooper, and it’s time.

No more secrets.

This is my story.

***WARNING – The subject matter of this novel centers around the psychological effects due to sexual abuse experienced during childhood. For this reason, as well as sexual situations, language, and adult themes, suggested reading age is 17+.***

ADD TO GOODREADS

PREORDER NOW

AMAZON US **** AMAZON UK

OOFteaser1

 

 

 

 

L.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and
holds a degree in Biomedical Science.
She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years. She lives with her husband and three
daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.

Join her newsletter here

 

Happy Release + 5 Star Reviews: Under The Influence by L. B. Simmons

Under the Influence KINDLE
Under The Influence
By L. B. Simmons

Dalton,

I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk on the feeling, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would ravage me.

Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again.

I loved you.

I raged for you.

I wept for you.

And now, I’m letting you go.

Author’s Note: Under the Influence is the journey of two childhood friends that spans the course of five pivotal years in their lives. It is a story about their discovery of true friendship as it blossoms into first love, their experience of crucial sacrifice and ultimate betrayal, and their endurance of agonizing heartbreak on the way to finding lasting redemption.

 

Dalton POV:

All that remains is the orange in the sky and the sweet scent of the angel lying next to me. Nothing else.

We watch in silence as we always do until the sun finally sets, then both breathe out a long sigh before I turn to face her. “I have something for you. It’s not much, but I saw it and thought of you.”

Her eyes widen with excitement as an equally joyful smile spreads across her beautiful features. I reach into my pocket and pull out the item I spied just a couple of days ago, buying it as a gift for her birthday, but it turns out I really suck at surprises. Who knew?

Dangling the long strand of black beads in her face, an unexpected rush of anxiety races through my system. I’ve never given anyone anything. Ever. I find it extremely unnerving.

Her grin widens further as she extends her hand, uncurling her fingers and exposing her palm. I lower the bracelet and watch as it coils into her grasp. My eyes rise to meet hers and I swallow deeply, trying to rid the nerves constricting my throat. “It’s uh …They’re onyx—the beads. I read that they offer protection for the person who wears them. I just…”I clear my throat. “I wanted you to be protected even when I’m not around.”

Her smile is hindered as her teeth graze her bottom lip. I fight the urge to take that pouty lip in between mine, breaking my stare from her mouth and bringing it back to the bracelet before glancing back to her sky blue eyes.

She turns to fully face me, the bracelet still secure in her clenched hand. Her expression timid, she inquires, “Put it on me?”

I nod and slowly uncurl her grip, allowing my touch to linger on the soft pads of her fingers with each one drawn away. She shivers in response and I breathe a light chuckle through my nose, still amazed each time I elicit those involuntary reactions from her. Once the bracelet is pinched between my fingers, she turns her wrist and waits patiently as I hook the ends together. Releasing it, I watch as it slides gracefully along the skin of her arm to land across the bones of her wrist. My hand instinctively rises and my fingers trace its traveled path, raking over the bracelet as I clench her hand in mine and press a soft kiss in the center of her palm.

Her breath shudders before she whispers, “I love it, Dalton. It’s…perfect. Thank you.”

I feel my face warm with her compliment, so break my eyes away from her to focus on the stars. After a couple of moments of peace-filled silence, I inquire, “If you were a color, what color would you be?”

Taking her eyes away from the bracelet, she giggles and twists to look at me. “What color would I be?”

I nod. “Yeah…”I stall, stunned with my need for honesty. “It’s just, sometimes I feel like a chameleon, you know? Forced to change my colors based on where I am in my life.”

I release a weighted breath. “Lately it feels as though I change them so often, I’m nothing more than a fucked-up version of an impressionist painting.”

Glancing to the side, my heart lurches as she crinkles her nose in confusion, my absolute favorite of her expressions. My eyes linger the light scattering of freckles on the bridge of her nose before once again seeking comfort in the obscurity of the night sky. “To those far away, I project a solid, recognizable image. But in reality, I’m comprised of nothing but a series of angry, incoherent brush strokes in every color imaginable. Disjointed.”

I twist my neck and pin her with my stare. “Broken.”

Her mouth dips at the corners before she turns on her side and tucks her hands under her cheek, her blue eyes sincere. “Do you think Renoir and Monet didn’t know what they were doing? That they didn’t purposely place each stroke of their paintbrush in order to create their envisioned masterpiece?”

She tightens her gaze. “You are a work of art, Dalton. Your own masterpiece, regardless if you choose to acknowledge it or not. Every experience that paints your picture is a stroke made just for you. Each one of them is essential in order for you to grow, to learn, and to teach.”

She shrugs her shoulders. “You ask me what color I would be? Well, I would be every single color I could because to me, those colors are emotions. Feelings. And life would mean absolutely nothing without the many colors that surround us. The many … experiences we live through that propel us forward into the people we are meant to become.”

5Star

Tracey’s Review

Dalton Greer and Spencer Locke have been best friends since they were very young, seeing in each other a safe place, the other half to each other. But Dalton is hiding the truth of his life from Spencer, a life that will ultimately bring devastation and division in its wake, and will test the love that has grown between them.

What makes a book a 5-star read for me? It has to grab me from the minute I start reading, to be a read that I can’t put down, that keeps me from doing anything else until I finish. And it will be the book that evokes emotion, that brings out all of the feels, running the gamut from joy to tears to angst. Under the Influence has all of this and more.

OMGoodness, L.B. Simmons, you’ve gone and done it. Nine percent into this book, and I was crying. You had me for the duration, and I had only made it through the first couple of chapters. I was hooked on Spencer’s and Dalton’s story from the very beginning, and it just never stopped. Both Dalton and Spencer have experienced the worst that life has to offer a child, and so find themselves irrevocably drawn to each other. But while Spencer has been able to move forward, Dalton has hardened himself, not allowing himself to love anyone.

“I find myself utterly fascinated, awestruck even, that there are people actually capable of truly loving someone without wondering when and how they will be betrayed. However, the knowledge of their existence also saddens me because the cold reality is, I will never know that type of love.”

Dalton breaks my heart. Capable of so much more than he has allowed his circumstance to dictate, he has closed himself off from feeling anything for anyone, except for Spencer, and for his friend, Rat. Just as he allows himself to admit his feelings for Spencer, he is faced with the ultimate loss, a loss that will completely alter the course of his, and Spencer’s, life. And Spencer shines, just beautifully exemplifies what true love is all about, in accepting Dalton, with all of his flaws, and loving him, perhaps more, because of them.

Under the Influence is ultimately a story about facing our demons and emerging stronger on the other side. L.B. Simmons has done an amazing job of crafting a book filled with characters that are flawed, yet redeemable, capable of love even when they don’t realize it, and stronger than the sum of their fears. This is absolutely one of the best books that I have read this year, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Filled with joy, pain, intrigue, and a healthy dose of passion, Under the Influence gets 5+ ‘I can’t put this book down to save my life’ stars from me. Do yourself a favor and add this to your TBR.

5Star

Michel’s Review
Once again L. B. Simmons has surprised me.  After reading the synopsis for Under The Influence, I had formulated an idea of what this book was going to be about.  When I dove into the story I quickly realized that this story was much more than I expected. It was a complete surprise!
One choice, one decision, one moment in time can forever change your life.  It can send your life into a new direction.  It can lead to new opportunities or it can hold you imprisoned in a world you didn’t understand.
Dalton and Spencer have been friends since their early teens.  The two have a deep connection to one another.  Spencer is everything good.  Dalton needs her goodness. But he made choices at an early age that guarantee that his life is going to be anything but good.  To protect Spencer from his ugly life he will make choices that will break both of their hearts.
Dalton made that choice.  He never knew that choice would keep him from the woman that is the light in his world.  He never knew that he needed someone when the sun set at the end of the day.  He never knew he could love.  He never knew what it felt like to be loved.  That one choice could destroy everything.
I am not going to say much more about the book because this is one each reader needs to experience themselves. The story is captivating, emotional, and fast paced.  L.B. Simmons has once again delivered a beautiful story of love and redemption.
I highly recommend  Under The Influence by L. B. Simmons
Make sure to sign-up HERE for L. B Simmons newsletter for exclusive teasers.

 

L.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and
holds a degree in Biomedical Science.
She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years. She lives with her husband and three
daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.

 

Happy Release + 5 Star Review: Under The Influence by L. B. Simmons

Under the Influence KINDLE
Under The Influence
By L. B. Simmons

Dalton,

I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk on the feeling, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would ravage me.

Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again.

I loved you.

I raged for you.

I wept for you.

And now, I’m letting you go.

Author’s Note: Under the Influence is the journey of two childhood friends that spans the course of five pivotal years in their lives. It is a story about their discovery of true friendship as it blossoms into first love, their experience of crucial sacrifice and ultimate betrayal, and their endurance of agonizing heartbreak on the way to finding lasting redemption.

 

Dalton POV:

All that remains is the orange in the sky and the sweet scent of the angel lying next to me. Nothing else.

We watch in silence as we always do until the sun finally sets, then both breathe out a long sigh before I turn to face her. “I have something for you. It’s not much, but I saw it and thought of you.”

Her eyes widen with excitement as an equally joyful smile spreads across her beautiful features. I reach into my pocket and pull out the item I spied just a couple of days ago, buying it as a gift for her birthday, but it turns out I really suck at surprises. Who knew?

Dangling the long strand of black beads in her face, an unexpected rush of anxiety races through my system. I’ve never given anyone anything. Ever. I find it extremely unnerving.

Her grin widens further as she extends her hand, uncurling her fingers and exposing her palm. I lower the bracelet and watch as it coils into her grasp. My eyes rise to meet hers and I swallow deeply, trying to rid the nerves constricting my throat. “It’s uh …They’re onyx—the beads. I read that they offer protection for the person who wears them. I just…”I clear my throat. “I wanted you to be protected even when I’m not around.”

Her smile is hindered as her teeth graze her bottom lip. I fight the urge to take that pouty lip in between mine, breaking my stare from her mouth and bringing it back to the bracelet before glancing back to her sky blue eyes.

She turns to fully face me, the bracelet still secure in her clenched hand. Her expression timid, she inquires, “Put it on me?”

I nod and slowly uncurl her grip, allowing my touch to linger on the soft pads of her fingers with each one drawn away. She shivers in response and I breathe a light chuckle through my nose, still amazed each time I elicit those involuntary reactions from her. Once the bracelet is pinched between my fingers, she turns her wrist and waits patiently as I hook the ends together. Releasing it, I watch as it slides gracefully along the skin of her arm to land across the bones of her wrist. My hand instinctively rises and my fingers trace its traveled path, raking over the bracelet as I clench her hand in mine and press a soft kiss in the center of her palm.

Her breath shudders before she whispers, “I love it, Dalton. It’s…perfect. Thank you.”

I feel my face warm with her compliment, so break my eyes away from her to focus on the stars. After a couple of moments of peace-filled silence, I inquire, “If you were a color, what color would you be?”

Taking her eyes away from the bracelet, she giggles and twists to look at me. “What color would I be?”

I nod. “Yeah…”I stall, stunned with my need for honesty. “It’s just, sometimes I feel like a chameleon, you know? Forced to change my colors based on where I am in my life.”

I release a weighted breath. “Lately it feels as though I change them so often, I’m nothing more than a fucked-up version of an impressionist painting.”

Glancing to the side, my heart lurches as she crinkles her nose in confusion, my absolute favorite of her expressions. My eyes linger the light scattering of freckles on the bridge of her nose before once again seeking comfort in the obscurity of the night sky. “To those far away, I project a solid, recognizable image. But in reality, I’m comprised of nothing but a series of angry, incoherent brush strokes in every color imaginable. Disjointed.”

I twist my neck and pin her with my stare. “Broken.”

Her mouth dips at the corners before she turns on her side and tucks her hands under her cheek, her blue eyes sincere. “Do you think Renoir and Monet didn’t know what they were doing? That they didn’t purposely place each stroke of their paintbrush in order to create their envisioned masterpiece?”

She tightens her gaze. “You are a work of art, Dalton. Your own masterpiece, regardless if you choose to acknowledge it or not. Every experience that paints your picture is a stroke made just for you. Each one of them is essential in order for you to grow, to learn, and to teach.”

She shrugs her shoulders. “You ask me what color I would be? Well, I would be every single color I could because to me, those colors are emotions. Feelings. And life would mean absolutely nothing without the many colors that surround us. The many … experiences we live through that propel us forward into the people we are meant to become.”

5Star
Michel’s Review
Once again L. B. Simmons has surprised me.  After reading the synopsis for Under The Influence, I had formulated an idea of what this book was going to be about.  When I dove into the story I quickly realized that this story was much more than I expected. It was a complete surprise!
One choice, one decision, one moment in time can forever change your life.  It can send your life into a new direction.  It can lead to new opportunities or it can hold you imprisoned in a world you didn’t understand.
Dalton made that choice.  He never knew that choice would keep him from the woman that is the light in his world.  He never knew that he needed someone when the sun set at the end of the day.  He never knew he could love.  He never knew what it felt like to be loved.  That one choice could destroy everything.
I am not going to say much more about the book because this is one each reader needs to experience themselves. The story is captivating, emotional, and fast paced.  L.B. Simmons has once again delivered a beautiful story of love and redemption.
I highly recommend  Under The Influence by L. B. Simmons
Make sure to sign-up HERE for L. B Simmons newsletter for exclusive teasers.

 

L.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and
holds a degree in Biomedical Science.
She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years. She lives with her husband and three
daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.

 

Excerpt Reveal- Under The Influence by L. B. Simmons

Under the Influence KINDLE

 

Dalton,

I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk on the feeling, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would ravage me.

Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again.

I loved you.

I raged for you.

I wept for you.

And now, I’m letting you go.

Author’s Note: Under the Influence is the journey of two childhood friends that spans the course of five pivotal years in their lives. It is a story about their discovery of true friendship as it blossoms into first love, their experience of crucial sacrifice and ultimate betrayal, and their endurance of agonizing heartbreak on the way to finding lasting redemption.

 

Chapter 1

Dalton

I am not a good person.

And I don’t pretend to be.

There may have been hope for me at one point but now, as I stare back at the hardened face and vacant eyes in front of me, there’s no denying the truth. All hope for me was lost years ago, stripped clean from my mind as they broke me. The life I’m indebted to now is one packed with corruption and polluted with lies.

I try to breathe in deeply as I rinse the freshly spilled blood from my hands, but the bitter pang of disappointment begins to compress my entire chest. It seeps along the previously etched grooves that line it, burning the hollow channels that were created with each punch to my stomach and blow to my ribs.

I rarely have these moments of weakness, when I wish I hadn’t allowed myself to be drawn into the darkened path that is this life. But right now, I find myself wishing that I had been strong enough to brave my childhood on my own. That I had been able to fend off the monsters that lurked in dark rooms and reeked of alcohol, able to protect myself from the multitude of broken bones and black eyes inflicted by the hands of those who were supposed to fucking protect me.

But I wasn’t. And now I’m stuck, hopelessly adhered to a life in which I have chosen to forgo conscience for security.

Little did I know the day I met Darius Roe, I would be making a deal with the devil. That I would be forever bound to a life from which there is no escape.

Although I started out as his lackey, I grew quickly—both physically and within the hierarchy of his organization—to become his weapon. Not only his muscle, but a tool which has many uses. His most prized possession.

And now here I am at eighteen years of age, long since graduated from errand-boy. I watch the familiar streaks of someone else’s blood swirling around yet another porcelain sink. Someone who also made a deal with the devil but didn’t deliver on his end.

I always deliver.

After drying my hands, I curl my fingers over the lip of the sink and place my palms flat on the cool ceramic surface, silently watching the reflection in the mirror. Cold, dead eyes stare back at me. Not a spark of life left in them.

Not anymore.

In fact, the only bit of humanity I permit myself is that of Spencer Locke. She’s the one thing, the one person whose mere presence provides some sort of sense of relief from the constant feeling of asphyxiation that encompasses me.

She is my reprieve.

My air.

Spencer Locke is the one slice of happy I have in this shit pie I call life. Darius Roe is a ruthless motherfucker.

The two will never cross paths.

I would, with absolutely no hesitation, lay down my life to make sure that never happens. Spencer’s safety has been and will always be my concern—no, my priority. And in order to assure that safety remains, she must never know the real me. The cold, calculated, hardened criminal that I am. She will only know the Dalton Greer I permit her to know.

Just like everyone else that I come into contact with.

To Rat, I’m the entertaining best friend. To Spencer, I’m the overprotective big brother. And to Darius, I’m the lethal weapon.

None of them truly know me.

Because the truth is, there’s nothing more frightening in my world than those who know you—who really know you. The ones who know your deepest, darkest secrets. The ones who know what you’re going to do before you do it. The ones who know not only what buttons to push when they seek your attention, but also the ones that can be used to completely incapacitate you.

They can be your strength.

But they can also be your weakness.

And just as a chameleon changes color to blend for protection, I’ve learned to evolve into the person I need to be in order to survive the situation at hand, all while keeping people at arm’s length.

Yet sometimes I can’t help but wonder what my true colors would have been had I not been subjected to this life. I question what it would be like to just let someone in, to tell them all of your unforgivable truths and discover they still love you in return.

I find myself utterly fascinated, awe-struck even, that there are people actually capable of truly loving someone without wondering when and how they will be betrayed. However, the knowledge of their existence also saddens me because the cold reality is, I will never know that type of love. I will never know the freedom to just be with someone, without pretense or fabrication, without the endless lies and untruths.

Maybe that’s why I keep holding onto Spencer when I know I shouldn’t. When all my instincts scream for me to let her go, to cut those ties and just let her be.

I can’t.

I’m too selfish.

Therefore, I will plaster on my over-protective, big-brother face so that I can see her again, just to get my fix on the relief she provides. And in turn, I will continue the lies.

I will continue telling myself the only reason I insist on my frequent visitation is because I want to see to her protection.

I will continue convincing myself the things I say to her are merely pretenses which accompany my façade.

But in this rare moment, I will also concede that like a moth to a flame, I’m drawn to her.

To her innocence.

To her kindness.

To her ability to love…

To all the things I wish I was capable of but have sacrificed in order to survive.

Because just seeing her demonstrate those capabilities with me and willingly share them with others, the knowledge that the ability to do so actually exists in a world outside of mine somehow frees me—no matter how temporarily—from the chains that bind me here, in this suffocating place.

Yes, Spencer Locke is indeed my air.

I just hope the immorality I’ve chosen to bury deep within my soul doesn’t one day pollute her very essence.

undertheinfluneceteaser6

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L.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and
holds a degree in Biomedical Science.
She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years. She lives with her husband and three
daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.

Under the Influence KINDLE

 

Cover Reveal : Under The Influence by L. B. Simmons

 

 

Under the Influence KINDLE

 

 

 

 

Dalton,

I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk on the feeling, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would ravage me.

Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again.

I loved you.

I raged for you.

I wept for you.

And now, I’m letting you go.

Author’s Note: Under the Influence is the journey of two childhood friends that spans the course of five pivotal years in their lives. It is a story about their discovery of true friendship as it blossoms into first love, their experience of crucial sacrifice and ultimate betrayal, and their endurance of agonizing heartbreak on the way to finding lasting redemption.

 

 

 

 

Make sure to sign-up HERE for L. B Simmons newsletter for exclusive sneak peaks into

Under the Influence and a first look at Chapter 1.

 

L.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and
holds a degree in Biomedical Science.
She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years. She lives with her husband and three
daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.