Authors: Melissa Toppen
Tags: #Romance, #two hearts, #Erotica, #breathless series, #New York CIty, #ohio, #Sex
Two Hearts, Volume 1
Published by Daft Empire, 2014.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
First edition. April 28, 2014.
Copyright © 2014 Melissa Toppen.
Written by Melissa Toppen.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
For Emily and Jake. Nothing will ever replace the people we have lost, but we carry them with us always.
an you believe it Gracie? No more college. It seems unreal.” My best friend Emma chimes from beside me. Lowering the remainder of my bags into the trunk of my small white Prius, I turn to face her.
She beams at me through her large, black sunglasses. Her long, light brown hair blowing in the breeze. Emma has been my best friend for as long as I can remember. We were inseparable as kids and even attended the same college. It only makes sense that as we embark out into the world of life after college, that we do it together.
“I'm gonna miss it here.” I admit, closing the trunk of the car. Miami University isn't just the place where I have spent the last four years of my life but it is also a place that holds so much of my father inside the walls. Leaving all of it behind is bittersweet. I am excited about my next adventure and ready for the change but I will also miss everything about this place.
The professors, the handful of friends that I have made along the way, but I think I will miss feeling the closeness to my father more than anything. I can still see his face. His wide smile and big brown eyes. Not a day goes by that I don't miss him incredibly. It's so unfair that he was taken away from me at such a young age. Some people never get to know what it's like to have such a warm, amazing man as a father. It's just a shame I got such a limited amount of time with mine. The day he died was the worst day of my life or at least it was until.....
I shake my head, trying to rid my mind of the thoughts of Kyle. Now is not the time to go back to that place. No. Things are different now. I am leaving for New York in a little over a week and that is where my focus needs to be.
“Of course you're going to miss it Gracie. We all are.” Emma says, smiling when she catches sight of Carver making his way down the steps of our co-ed dorm.
“What are we missing?” He asks, stopping in front of us, a crooked grin across his handsome face. “You're only going to be gone a week Em, no need to cry about how much you're going to miss having me around. I'm sure you will find a way to get through it.” He smiles, leaning against the passenger door of my car and crossing his arms in front of his broad sculpted chest.
I can't help but take a moment to stare at the attractive, goofy man standing in front of me. Carver won my heart on the first day of our Poetry class together. It was the first semester of my freshman year and making friends was at the bottom of my priority list. But even I was not immune to his boyish good looks and witty charm.
We bonded over our love of literature and of course, Carver's ridiculous attempts to woo me. After that, he became one of my best friends. Sharing the same co-ed dorm as me and Emma, we all became a package deal. The three amigos.
“Don't be an ass Carv. Oxford.” She answers with a small frown. “I never thought I would become so attached to Ohio of all places but I did and now.... Well now, I am just sad to say goodbye.” She sighs, turning to face the dorm that holds so many of our college memories inside the walls.
“Not me. Hell, I for one, can not wait to get the hell out of this place.” Carver says, letting out a small laugh.
“Well it's different. You grew up here. Of course you can't wait to escape.” Emma rolls her eyes. Carver immediately starts mimicking her. It's one of his favorite things to do and it drives Emma nuts, no doubt that's why he continues to do it. Emma is a spit fire and getting her riled up is quite entertaining. Even I can admit that.
“So one week with the fam huh?” Carver pins his brown eyes on me and cocks his head to the side. “I'm not gonna get a phone call in a week saying you've changed your mind am I?” He gives me a wicked smile and I can't help my knee jerk reaction to smack him across the chest.
“Please. One week with my family and I will be more than ready for New York.” I say, leaning next to him against my car. He peers at me through a strand of his dark blonde hair that he keeps short on the sides and a little longer on the top. Not too long, but just long enough that a few sexy pieces fall just right across his forehead.
“That's my girl.” He says, elbowing me lightly. “Well I guess this is goodbye ladies. My flight leaves in just under two hours and we all know how long it takes to get through airport security. You have everything you need?” He asks, pushing himself away from the car to look at me.
“Yep, we are all set.” I reassure him, turning my attention to Emma. Her dark eyes are glistening over as she once again looks back at the dorms.
“I just... I still can't believe it's over. College is over. And now here we are. Getting ready to start our lives in New York City of all places. It's a little scary when you think about it.” She says on a shrug.
“Hey.” I say, stepping next to her to nudge her shoulder. “You are going to do great things Emma Davenport. Just you wait. New York Theater will not know what hit them.”
“Damn right they won't.” She laughs, straightening her shoulders. Even though she is only a little over five feet tall, she carries herself like she's larger than life. That is one thing I have always loved and envied about my best friend. Her confidence is something I wish I had even a fraction of.
“And she's back.” Carver jokes, pulling Emma into a hug. “I'm gonna miss you Em.” He says, planting a kiss to the top of her head. Carver stands at least a foot over Emma and with his broad frame wrapped around her very petite one, she all but disappears in his arms.
“You too Carv. Do us a favor and don't get into too much trouble before we get there.” She pulls back to give him one of her striking smiles. Emma really is a gorgeous girl but not only that, she is super talented.
She spent the duration of our time at college perfecting her skills by majoring in Performing Arts. Her dream is to be on Broadway someday and I have no doubt that she will make it. She is amazing on stage and her voice, well let's just say she has no problem giving anyone listening to her goosebumps.
I went a little more practical with a degree in English. I have always wanted to be a writer and since I can do that from just about anywhere, it just made sense for me to join Emma in the Big Apple. Besides, she has been attached to my hip for so long, I am really not sure that either of us could make it without the other.
“Me, trouble?” Carver laughs. “Nah. Mike's picking me up at the airport and I plan to spend a few days getting our stuff settled before my first day of work.”
“Thank you again for doing this. I hate that you get stuck with the whole moving part.” I mean it but at the same time I can't help but be a little relieved that I get to bypass most of it. Most of our stuff is already there as Carver's uncle drove out last week to pick up everything we didn't absolutely have to have for the following two weeks.
Carver and his uncle Mike are the only reason that me and Emma can even afford to go to New York in the first place. His uncle owns his own PR business and Carver will be working for him in a pretty important role. His uncle also owns our apartment and is letting us live there for next to nothing. I haven't seen it yet but from the pictures Carver showed me, it's a pretty nice place and not a bad neighborhood either, considering it's located in the heart of the city. The only thing I know for sure is that there are three bedrooms. No way was I going to share a room with anyone after four years of living with people. I need my own space and luckily I am going to have it.
At first I rejected the offer. I didn't like the thought of having to depend on my friend's family to make my way. But at the end of the day I caved, more for Emma than anything. I know how badly she wants this and I would never forgive myself for standing in the way of her dreams. Besides, it was either live with Carver or stay with my brother Alec and that I knew wouldn't work. With how overprotective he is, I wouldn't be allowed to leave without him as my personal chauffeur.
“It's what friends do.” Carver says on a shrug before pulling me into his chest and wrapping his arms around me. “Have fun this week Gracie. You deserve it. I will have everything ready when you arrive next week.”
“Thanks Carv.” I say into his chest as I squeeze him tightly. “Love you.” I say, pulling back to meet his goofy lopsided grin.
“Love you too.” He says, releasing me just as his cab pulls up to the curb. “You girls be good. And for the love of god Em, try not to miss me too much.” He says, flashing her a wicked grin before climbing into the back of his cab. He gives us a wave as the cab pulls out into the street. I watch the car until it disappears around the corner before turning my attention back to Emma.
“Well, you ready?” I ask, making my way around to the drivers side of the car. She gives one more glance back over the campus and then nods, climbing into the passenger seat.
We settle into our normal routine as we make our way to Toledo. Emma sits in the passenger seat singing along to every song that comes on the radio while I laugh lightly next to her. God love her and her theatrics. Even in the car she's flailing her arms around and singing into a water bottle like it's a microphone. I guess performing is just hardwired into certain people. It doesn't matter what we are doing, Emma always finds a way to incorporate her love for the arts wherever we go.
Emma has accompanied me on this trip every year since we were thirteen. The lake house on Marblehead has been in my dad's family for years and we have spent the first week of every summer there for as long as I can remember.
The week together was never the same after my dad passed away when I was twelve. Knowing that he grew up there, or at least spent a great deal of his childhood there, was just as much of a curse as it was a comfort. But my mom swore to keep the tradition alive and even though me and my two brothers are now grown and out on our own, she still insists that we make time to spend that week together every year.
As anxious as I am to get to New York, I can't deny that I need this time with my family. I need a week to recover from finals, graduation, and my impending adulthood. No one can distract me quite like my brothers and only now am I realizing just how much I miss them.
Pressing my foot down on the gas pedal, the car accelerates a little faster. Emma notices, turning to me with a grin. “Getting anxious?” She asks with a knowing smile.
“Just ready to get there and have a week of doing nothing.” I sigh, switching lanes on the freeway.
“You won't hear me complain. One week of staring at Alec and Ian in nothing but board shorts. Oh yeah, a girl could get used to that.” She giggles when my hand swings out to smack her arm.
“Gross Em. Those are my brothers you're talking about.” I stick my tongue out in a fake gag. “That's just nasty.”
“Sorry girl, they may be your brothers but there is nothing gross about either of them.” She winks and then slides her sunglasses back in place before breaking into another song, officially ending the conversation.
ulling up to the two story beach house is like returning home from a long vacation. While it feels like I have been gone forever, this place still feels like home. Everything looks exactly as it did this time last year. My step dad Rob hired contractors to do some remodeling a couple of years ago and while the house is much nicer now, the foundation of the home still holds true to its original form.