It's time to share Chapter 1 of Lovin' You!
We're getting closer to release and I'm so excited!!!
Stay tuned- I have giveaways, the cover & blurb reveal of book 2, and lots more coming your way leading up release day!
🎵 Lovin’ You 🎵
Releasing May 28th!
CHAPTER ONE- Subject to changes, copyright Lyssa Cole, unedited
“It’s happening, sis. There’s no turning back now,” Anthony grins at me and points to the Welcome to New York City sign above us.
I clap my hands and wiggle in my seat, my long ponytail swinging against my back. The golden brown color shines in the sun. Squeals come from some part of me, the loud high pitch noises causing Anthony to side eye me.
“What?” I feign innocence.
He just shakes his head and laughs as he takes the next exit.
“This. Is. Crazy! Ahhh! Anthony! I can’t believe we’re finally here! Or I should say, I’m finally here.” I clap my hands again as my eyes take in the sights before me. I’ve been here a handful of times before but every time feels like the first. The excitement, the sights I missed before, the pure novelty of being here. I can’t even describe the way it makes me feel.
Being on top of the world.
“You’re a big city girl now, Rai. Think you can handle it?”
“Says the boy who thinks he’s a big city man now?” I grin.
“Hell yeah I am. Los Angeles is no joke, sis.”
I laugh. “Maybe not but it’s not New York.”
Anthony rolls his eyes again. I used to tease him they’d get stuck like that. You’d think the girl in the family would be the one to roll her eyes but not in this one. “You’ll understand soon enough.”
We drive into the city and I drink it all in. My favorite song plays over the speakers and I reach forward to turn it up. “Feelin’ good, like I should…” I sing the lyrics like no one's listening.
Suddenly the music cuts out.
“Rai, I love you, but definitely stick to only writing the lyrics, not singing them.” Anthony pats my shoulder and grins.
I glare at him until we both burst into laughter. He loves to tease me about my singing. As much as I wish I sung well, it’s just not my strong suit.
“You know you’ll end up here, Ant.” My voice goes soft. I want my older brother here with me more than anything. He loves Los Angeles and wants to finish school there. Hopefully, he’ll come to New York when he’s done. I need to sell him on this city. Which means it’s time for me to become an expert.
“You never know, sis. In the meantime, how about we hit up a concert tonight after we move you in? See how the music scene really is around here.”
“What? Really? You found us a concert to go to?”
Anthony nods as he checks the GPS. We’re less than five minutes from campus. I can’t help but squirm in my seat. I’ve waited for this moment for so long. Worked so hard for it.
“Of course I did. You know I’ve got the hookups.” Anthony tosses me his famous cocky smile. The one that won the hearts of all the girls at our high school.
“Yeah, yeah. Good work, Ant. A perfect welcome goodbye.”
The word goodbye hangs heavy between us. Yeah, he’s been at college for two years already, heading into his junior year. But, this feels different. I’m away now too, leaving our parents as empty nesters, and Anthony seems even further away.
A moment later, he pulls into a parking lot and I immediately recognize the college building before me. New York University. Welcome.
“Here we are, Rai. NYU. In all its glory.” Anthony announces and I squeal again, this time even more high pitched.
“Jeez, Rai. My ears.” Anthony parks and I practically fall out of the car.
Finally. I’m finally here.
At my dream school.
In my dream city.
Pursuing my dream career.
What more could I possibly ask for?
Two hours later, we managed to find my room, unpack, and grab a bite to eat. My roommate still hasn’t shown and a part of me hopes she doesn’t. We talked a few times over the summer and while she seems normal, I’d rather have a single. “Maybe you’ll get lucky and she won’t show.”
Anthony shrugs and pours himself a shot of watermelon vodka. “Want one?” He motions to me with the bottle of liquor but I make a face. My brother rolls his eyes, surprise surprise.
“What? Shots aren’t my thing.”
“Is any alcohol your thing?”
I laugh. “At least I can say I tried.”
I remember the first time Anthony introduced me to some drinks. He filled me up on mixed drinks and alternated shots between. I thought I was cool, knew what I was doing, making myself look older in front of his friends.
It didn’t turn out the way I expected.
Instead, I made love to the toilet all night long and didn’t speak to my brother for a few days.
Since then, I’ve learned to enjoy the occasional wine cooler, or “pussy drinks” as my brother likes to say.
“Anyway, back to the roommate. It’d be sweet if she ended up not coming. I don’t feel like calling you when I need to dispose of a body.”
Anthony laughs and throws back his shot. Don’t worry. I wouldn’t hurt a fly. It’s a special type of sarcasm. One my brother understands flawlessly.
“Being with you all summer makes it harder to say goodbye. Who else can I joke about dead bodies with?”
Anthony holds his second shot up to clink with my wine cooler. “Damn right, sis.”
The next day, after a delicious breakfast, we walked through Central Park before Anthony dropped me off back at the dorms.
“Stay safe, you hear me? Don’t party alone, or hell even walk alone at night. Danger lurks everywhere especially in a big city and—”
I pull my big brother into a hug, my head only reaching his chest. “I know, Ant. I got this. You taught me well.”
Anthony squeezes me tight before letting go. “See you soon, sis. You’ll rock this. Just like everything else.”
“Love you, Ant.”
“Love you, Rai.”
I wave as he pulls away, hanging his head out the window like a fool. I got used to him not being around as much since he went off to college. It was nice having him home.
Reality begins to set in as I turn and walk back to my room.
I’m alone here. In this big city.
What was I thinking?
You were thinking what an amazing city New York is. The food, the culture, the art…
I jump when a group of guys hustle past me, one of their arms elbowing me in the side. He glances back and our eyes lock for a brief second before he disappears around the corner.
My heart races, his intense dark eyes flipping my insides in circles. What?
Who was that?
I rub my arm and hurry back to my dorm. He could’ve at least said sorry.
Those eyes. So dark.
Hmm, what he’s all about?
Pushing the thoughts aside, I focus on my footsteps. The dorm building is a flutter of activity as kids and parents move about, boxes and various items strewn everywhere. I take in all the surrounding sights, the people watching in me coming out full force. My best friend, Lori, knows all about one of my favorite hobbies. I dragged her to the mall time and time again to people watch.
I find people interesting. How they love, how they interact, how they fight. I picture them in different situations and let my imagination run wild as the stories form.
Which then inspires my lyrics.
Those dark eyes flash in my mind again.
Forget them, Rai. You’re not here for boys. Love is a distraction. I learned that lesson hard in high school. Yet I still find it fascinating.
Taking the stairs to the third floor, my room looms ahead. My step falters when I realize the door is open halfway.
Shit, I know my door was closed before I left with Anthony yesterday. There’s no way my room would’ve been open all night. I specifically remember locking it. My breath catches and I clutch my bag tight.
Who could be in my room?
Did someone steal all my stuff?
Oh my god, this can’t be happening.
My knuckles turn white as I approach the room, the rough straps digging into my skin. I peek inside and my stomach drops.
Two people are making out on my bed, their hands roaming everywhere as they exchange sloppy kisses.
My mouth drops open as I stare at them, unable to tear my eyes away.
Is this actually fucking happening?
Two strangers. Making out. On my fucking bed!
I clear my throat but they don’t turn. “Um, hello?”
The girl whips her head my way looking pissed she was interrupted. “Who are you?”
I cross my arms and shift my feet. I hate confrontation and I have no clue who this girl is. But she doesn’t seem like the type to be messed with. Tattoos cover her arms and her pink hair is styled with two knots on the top of her head. I can’t picture my hair like that, never having seen that type of style before. And tattoos? While I don’t mind them, I can’t imagine getting something permanently inked on my skin. What if I hated looking at it after a year or two? I’m stuck with the damn thing forever.
I let out a sigh. I’m judging her but I can’t help it having caught her in my bed. “I should be asking you that since it seems like you enjoy having fun on a bed that isn’t yours. And if I remember right, this is my room.” I wince inwardly hoping my sarcasm wasn’t too harsh. Some people don’t get me right away and I come off as a bitch. I’m not.
She pushes herself off the guy and gives him a side glance. “I’ll meet up with you later, okay?” She pecks him on the lips and steps aside.
He grumbles the entire time. “What the fuck, Mable? You said…”
She cuts him off, her tone harsh while she speaks to him. But I don’t hear what they say. All I can focus on is her name.
That’s my roommate’s name.
Well this sure is a surprise.
Welcome to college, Rai. What did you fucking expect?
He lives inside me,
Under the walls I’ve built.
They only grow higher,
With every breath he takes.
I read the lyrics a thousand times, each read making me hate them more. My frustration gets the better of me and I rip the paper out of my notebook, crumple it into a ball, and hurl it across the room at nothing in particular.
“Raina,” Mable says but I don’t answer. A week passed and things settled down. Mable came back at me with the sarcasm and we’ve hit it off ever since. But for some reason, I can’t write. A week is a long time for me to not put words to paper.
Lyrics pour out of me every night but here? None.
I tried people watching, the city offering multiple choices for me. But nothing sparked me.
I feel blocked.
My mom tells me I’m too stressed. Anthony says I need to find my spot. He felt off when he first moved to California until he found his peaceful place.
I’m not patient enough.
I want to find my balance, my spot, and write freely.
But it’s not happening and I’m losing my patience. Fast.
“Raina,” Mable tries again.
She actually is a pretty cool person and I shouldn’t have judged first. Claiming it was simply because her bed wasn’t made, she apologized and took me out to dinner.
Her appearance throws off her actual personality. Mable is a sweet, loudmouth cussing city girl who grew up in New York City. She knows all the local spots including the best places to get late night pizza, my favorite food in the entire world. I can put back an entire pie myself. I kid you not. Anthony and I used to have competitions over it.
Mable knows the campus inside and out, having stalked the school the entire time she was in high school. She always knew she wanted to be here at the NYU, her drawings a part of her. Beautiful watercolor scenes of nature that pull the beauty out of the world so many of us don’t see.
“Bitch, you gonna answer me?” Mable laughs and I crumple another piece of paper, this time turning around to toss it at her head. Direct hit.
“What? I’m trying to write.” I grumble and stare down at the blank sheet in front of me.
“Still having trouble?” Mable asks. She comes over and sits down on my bed. Our knees touch, we’re so close, my desk snug against my bed. Her pink hair glitters in the low lights of the room. The harsh overhead bulbs were too much and thankfully Mable agreed. So we shut them off, plugged in a few soft glow lamps, and strung twinkle lights across the room. We also hung a few paper lanterns in the shapes of stars.
With my scent diffuser and lots of fluffy pillows and blankets, this room really is super cozy. So why can’t I fucking write?
“Yeah. I don’t know- maybe stress? Missing my family? Anthony thinks I need to find a sweet spot.”
Mable snaps her fingers and I jump, not expecting the sudden loud sound. “I think I can help.”
“How?” I toss my pen down as defeat settles around me. I’ve had enough for tonight. I’m ready for bed, grateful tomorrow is Friday. I’m looking forward to the weekend. We didn’t get a chance to do much last weekend due to orientation events we were required to attend as freshmen.
This weekend I plan to explore and have some fun. I’ve heard college parties are insane around here, considering the various other campuses around, the several sororities and fraternities that constantly have a steady stream of parties, and the city’s night life itself. This is the city that never sleeps, right?
“I know this city inside and out, girlfriend. There’s lots of places I could show you but I have a feeling you might just like this one place I know.”
“Is it quiet?” I ask.
Mable nods and slaps my arm playfully. “Of course. I know what you want.”
I laugh. “How do you know so much about me already?”
“You’re not that hard to figure out, Rai. You wear your heart on your sleeve and you don’t hide who you are.” Mable shrugs her shoulders. “Besides, you’ve said how important silence is a thousand times this past week. I’d be dumb not to know.”
I laugh. She’s right. I have said it. But that’s because the dorm is loud and busy. And not writing is so foreign to me. It’s thrown me off.
Ever since I could remember, I’d been writing in journals. I used to describe my day, boring shit that would make even the best book lover fall asleep. Then as my imagination ran wild, I began jotting down short stories, more so in the form of poetry with quick, short sentences. I realized after a while I was writing song lyrics out of the short stories I made up.
My writing shifted after that. I let my creativity run free, and the songs flowed out of me. As I grew older, the lyrics changed. I saw more, experienced more, had more things to write about.
When I fell in love for the first time, my lyrics turned flowery, corny, full of hope. But when he broke my heart, they grew jaded, angsty, and sad.
And now? I’m in the one place I’ve wanted to be for so long, inspiration surrounding me, yet the words don’t come. Go fucking figure.
Maybe it’s all the pressure I put on myself. The need I feel to write about this new journey I’m on. Maybe I should forget writing about a specific thing and just simply write.
I don’t know but something needs to change. Not writing is making me anxious.
“Let’s go. I’ll show you.” Mable stands and pulls me by the hand.
“Now?” I tap my phone to check the time. 9:34 pm. “It’s late, I have an early class in the morning.”
“On a Friday? How early?” She lets go of my hand and crosses her arms across her chest.
“Seven thirty.” Ugh, really, what was I thinking?
“Why in the hell would you do that to yourself? I can barely make it to a ten o’clock class on time.”
“It was my only choice for that class- Lyrical Wonders. I’m actually really excited to take it and it’s required. But yeah, the time sucks.”
“Damn girl. Okay, I’ll give you a pass tonight. But tomorrow, before we hit up any parties, I’m showing you this place.”
“What would I ever do without you?” I bat my eyelashes at her.
“Nothing. That’s what.” Mable rolls her eyes and we both dissolve into a fit of giggles.