Sugar on the Edge(3)

By: Sawyer Bennett

I can almost feel his soft, brown hair on my fingertips if I think hard enough. My favorite times were when he’d lay across my lap to watch TV, and I’d stroke his head. He’d never make it very far, often falling asleep within minutes, and then I was free to just watch his tiny chest rise and fall with every breath he took.

I miss him so bad that I ache in my bones, and it’s the main reason I turn to my good friend, Macallan, to help numb the pain.

Speaking of which, I lift the plastic glass to my lips and swallow the rest of the smoky liquor down in one huge swallow. My eyes burn in response, but then I become gloriously warm all over. Reaching for the bottle, I pour another two fingers and set the glass down, reaching instead for my laptop. I need to check my email before I get too drunk. My agent, Lindie Booth, will want a status update from me to make sure the house closing went off without a hitch. She’s been afraid that I’ll change my mind and head back to London to the life of dark debauchery that I’ve been living for the past several months.

It was actually her idea that I move here. She said my writing wouldn’t survive my lifestyle, and that I needed to get away to craft in peace. She suggested the Outer Banks, having vacationed here herself many times.

Maybe she’s right. Maybe she’s full of shit. Who knows, but here I am.

Lindie is a power hitter in the world of traditional publishing and snapped me up quickly when my last book, Killing the Tides, hit number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list. I had self-published it, having spent four years being turned down by every agency and publisher in the United Kingdom and the United States. My brand of dark, paranormal thrillers with a heavy dose of erotica was not something anyone was willing to take a chance on. But apparently, the readers knew something that the big publishers didn’t, and my book stayed on all the major best-seller lists for weeks and weeks.

Just four months after its release, I was represented by Lindie. Three months after that, and I had one of the big five offering me a huge, eight-figure deal for another two books. Even though I was drunk and high as hell when Lindie pitched the deal to me, I recognized it as the money train I had always been waiting for in recognition of my work as a writer. I’m pretty sure I was stoned out of my mind when I signed the contract. In fact, I was pretty tanked when Lindie flew to London to confront me, telling me that I needed to get my shit together, get away from the sordid lifestyle I was living, and move away from the UK so I could concentrate on saving my fledgling career. I agreed to all of those life changes without really having any good lucidity whatsoever.

And, so here I am, in a new country, a new home, with a manuscript that is just about forty-thousand words shy of completion and only two weeks left to finish it.

Staring at the bottle of Scotch before me, I know I’m going to have to set it aside starting tomorrow.

I hope I can set it aside.

I don’t want to, but I need to.

“About time you got home,” Casey says as I step inside the door to the small beach house that we share. It’s almost nine o’clock in the evening, and I’m pooped. No… beyond pooped. I’m utterly exhausted, as I’ve been working since seven this morning.

“I know,” I say, my voice laced with fatigue. “The photo shoot went much longer than I anticipated.”

“And just exactly how much of that time was spent trying to avoid the douche bag’s cheesy come-ons and lame innuendos?”

“A good thirty minutes, at least,” I answer her with a wry grin, but then I give a tiny shudder. I do some contract work with a local portrait photographer and he’s an absolute slime ball, constantly hitting on me in the most inappropriate ways. Unfortunately, I need the job desperately, having just been laid off at the newspaper where I was the staff photographer. The paper couldn’t afford me full time, thus the layoff. At least they promised to contract certain projects to me, but it’s microscopic peanuts compared the regular ones they were paying me.

Heading into the kitchen, I drop my purse on the kitchen table with a thud. Opening the refrigerator, I peruse the contents, but I’m too tired to make anything substantial to eat. So I pull out a bag of carrots and an apple. When I turn back around, Casey is leaning up against the counter with her arms crossed over her chest.

She’s so beautiful that I feel dowdy next to her, but Casey is never one to flaunt herself… at least not around other women. Sure, she’s the biggest flirt when it comes to men, and her motto has always been “love ’em and leave ’em,” but she’s one of the nicest, most down-to-earth women I’ve ever known. I’m so glad we became roommates, because without her added help with the rent, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to stay here.

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