(Lost in Us #0.5)
Publication date: March 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Whatever might help him forget his past and numb the pain, James has tried it all: booze, car races, fights, and then some. Especially women. College offers plenty of opportunities for everything. . . Especially when you have a trust fund to spend.
Serena spirals deeper and deeper into a hurricane of pain. But no matter how far she falls, there’s no redemption from the overwhelming guilt.
Two souls consumed by their pasts fight to learn how to survive. But all hope seems to be lost.
Until they meet each other.
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When the speech starts, something about her voice is not right. But when I look up from the
brochure, I forget about her voice altogether.
I know that look in them. Haunted and lost.
I sit up straight in my seat and tune in to her speech. I frown as I start to pay attention to what
she says. She has some kind of notes in front of her, but she’s not reading them. I don’t think
she’s saying what she’s written on them at all. She speaks of hardship, loss, and the ability to
put everything behind through hard work. I have a hunch she’s referring to something more than
what’s happening here today. Her porcelain skin gets paler with every word. Her eyes become
glassy before long, and then she tucks a strand of black hair behind her ear. I’m sure as hell she
wiped away a tear.
Someone like her shouldn’t be crying. Hurting.
I suddenly have the urge to hold her, do whatever it takes to stop what is hurting her. Make
that look in her eyes disappear, and make her smile instead.
It’s an urge I don’t recognize.
I also have another urge. I recognize this one. The urge to bite that full lower lip of hers, and
run my tongue down her neck, all the way to that sweet hollow. And then rip her shirt. Button by
button. Better, even. Rip them apart all at once and cup her breasts. Twirl my tongue around her
I’ve got to get a grip. I’m so aroused I’d like nothing better than to disappear with her into an
empty classroom. But I don’t think she’s the type. Her skirt is a few inches too long for her to be
Even if she were . . . I’d like to do things a little differently than usual.
First, I’d put a smile on her face.
Then I’d get her to beg me to take her.
When everyone applauds and she leaves the stage, I stand up and walk to the front, planning
to start the first thing right away. After she shakes the parents’ hands, and hugs one of the girls
who won, she stops in front of a guy who puts his arm around her waist and kisses her.
On her lips.
The view hits me like a whiplash. Of course she has a boyfriend. It’s not like she would wait
for me, the biggest fuck-up among fuck-ups, to make her smile. She already has someone who
can make her smile.
Except she’s not smiling. After they break from the kiss, her expression hasn’t changed.
Whatever causes her torment, the idiot she’s with has no idea how to make it better. Someone
like her should always smile. She deserves someone who can make her smile. And this idiot is
far from what she needs.
I see someone who looks vaguely familiar at the bar. She has long black hair and large round
eyes. It bugs me that I don’t remember where I saw her before. I have a good memory when it
comes to people. Especially women. And especially when they look like her.
It's only when she tucks a strand of hair behind her ear that it hits me where I saw her before,
making that same gesture—last year at the award ceremony of that math contest I sponsored. She
was the mentor. I grasp my empty glass firmly in my hand, remembering the details of that day.
It took me long enough to forget them. I look around for that rat of a boyfriend who was with her
then, but he isn't anywhere. The only person she seems to be with is the inebriated blonde sitting
next to her at the bar.
I scrutinize her, trying to understand what she’s doing in a place like this. She doesn’t belong
here. I’m not exactly sure where she belongs, but it’s not here. At any rate, she didn’t strike me
as a particularly outgoing type of girl when she was on that stage. I think I know why she’s here.
I've seen this look before in women. The hunched shoulders. The unsure gaze. Yes, she wears
the unmistakable signs of someone who's been dumped, and who’s trying, but failing, to forget
about it. These signs in women usually make me want to run in the opposite direction.
This time, it has an entirely different effect on me. It makes me want to do what I didn’t
have the courage to do last year. Walk up to her. I wanted to make her smile then. The haunted
look she had in her eyes back then isn’t as visible now, but it lingers there somewhere. Just like
it lingers in me. When it takes over again, I want to make sure she has someone who can put a
smile on her beautiful face.
And I still want to taste her lips and those delicious-looking breasts, just like I wanted back
My name is Layla Hagen and I am a New Adult Contemporary Romance author.
I fell in love with books when I was nine years old, and my love affair with stories continues even now, many years later.
I write romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world.
And I drink coffee. Lots of it, in case the photo didn’t make it obvious enough