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Title: A Taste of Utopia
By: L. Duarte
Publication Date: January 4, 2016
Seth Phoenix knows how it feels to have lost it all. Which is why he worked so hard to gain it all back. As one of the best male escort in the country, he has it all—money, looks, and the greatest job description: to pleasure women. He wants for nothing in life. Until one day, completely captivated by a beauty and innocence he had never seen before, he marries one of his clients.
Charlotte “Lottie” Cahan is a student at the prestigious Yale. As a self-professed geek, she wears thick glasses and her nose is always buried in a book. But on her 21st birthday, her best friend convinces her to go to Vegas for a night of fun. Despite her insecurities and unworldly innocence, at a whim, she marries a man she just met. What she doesn’t know is that this man was hired to give her 21 orgasms on her 21 birthday.
This steamy relationship seems to be destined for forever. But the world is a smaller place than they both believed and secrets, long forgotten and abandoned, will resurface to haunt them. Can they survive? Or is this fated to be just a taste of utopia?
Most people celebrate their birthdays. Not me. I celebrate the anniversary of my death. That’s the date I did the one noble act of my shallow life: I died.
They say memories aren’t as accurate as one would think. But I clearly remember that day. It’s etched in my brain, encoded and stored in my mind, and promptly ready for retrieval.
I still remember the stench of melted plastic and burning wood. I can feel the warmth irradiating from the crumpled structure. I can perfectly picture the smoke curling up in the sky, resembling snakes rising upward under the influence of a snake charmer.
I approached a firefighter holding a metal clipboard. He was making notes and assessing the damages.
“Excuse me, what happened here?”
He glanced up from the clipboard. His brows furrowed, silently asking me if I was seriously asking him this question.
“A fire,” he finally responded with the impatient tone of someone stating the obvious.
“But… but what happened?” I scrunched up my face.
“Too early to determine. We do know, however, that the fire started in a stove. It appears it was some sort of explosion.”
“Did anyone get hurt?” My heart threatened to come out of my mouth. Were Mom and Luna okay?
“Two fatalities. A female and her teenage son,” he said, turning his back to me and resuming his notes.
Though sluggish, my mind processed the information. Mom. Female body. Her son. Mom was dead. I clenched my teeth to avoid the tears burning the back of my eyes from falling.
Subsequently, it hit me. They assumed the guy’s body to be me. Me. But why? A flash of Jerry placing my probation bracelet around his ankle crossed my mind. Of course. They assumed his body was mine.
That’s when I should have called the firefighter back. Informed him I was not dead. Asked if he’d seen my cousin Luna. But the words lodged in my throat and I couldn’t bring them out.
Petrified, I stared at the house for what could have been hours. It was destroyed. In its place were a charred skeleton and a pile of ashes.
When I finally snapped out of my stupor, I decided I had to find Luna. Explain everything. Tell her I was alive, that they had misidentified Jerry’s body as mine.
Altered voices caught my attention. I circled the house. That’s when I saw Caleb, my Cousin Luna’s boyfriend. The guy I was sure was the love of her life. He was arguing with an older man. Immediately, I recognized the man. He was Caleb’s dad. Also, he was the judge presiding over my drug-related case.
As I approached, I heard Caleb saying, “Nothing will keep me away from Luna now, Dad. Jake’s dead. You can’t use him to separate us anymore.”
I took a few steps back. Caleb’s dad was using my pending case to blackmail Caleb and separate him from Luna.
I fled without them noticing my presence. I went back to the blue bench at the beach where I had passed out from drinking. I sat there for hours, thinking. I realized, I was unconsciously destroying Luna’s shot at happiness.
But there was a way I could avoid further damaging her life. If I were dead, there would be no more blackmailing. Caleb and Luna could be together. Free from me. Free from my baggage of screwed-up decisions.
When night fell, I hitchhiked a ride and skipped town.
And I never saw my cousin Luna again…
More Books by L Duarte
I have found that there is only one thing better than reading, and that is writing. I’m always torn between the two. I’m also frequently torn between chocolate and coffee. However, I emphatically don’t like the month of February, lies, and flies. For me, bravery is defined by the courage to do what we fear the most. I live in Connecticut with my husband and two children. Drop a few lines. I would love to hear from you.
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