Expert Reveal – Exposed

Excerpt Reveal
Title: Exposed
Series: Book One of The Love Seekers Series
By: Maria Vickers
Release Date: 9/8/2016

Cover by: T.E. Black at Cover Luxe Designs
Facebook: CoverLuxeDesigns
Your twenties are supposed to be some of the best, and certainly the most fun of your life, but for Emma Taylor, turning twenty-five brought her world crashing down around her. Four years after being diagnosed with debilitating disease, her love life is nonexistent. A series of failed blind dates – courtesy of her friends – has left her depressed and defeated. Intent on turning to her best friend for a vent session, Emma sends off a rapid fire instant message, except her message ends up in someone else’s inbox. The inbox of hot Navy man, Bryan Sampson. Her friend Mel’s best friend, and Emma’s secret crush.


Bryan Sampson has only met Emma Taylor one time during a night of karaoke while on leave, but in one night, she managed to make an impression. She seemed timid and uncomfortable in her own skin, but underneath it all, he saw how strong she had to be in order to cope with her disease. So when he her message caught his eye, he opened it without a second thought, and realizes almost immediately it wasn’t intended for him. Now that he’s read it though, he can’t turn his back on her and feels duty bound to help the cause. Besides what else is he supposed to do with his free time? He vows he will help her find love never suspecting that the more he talked to her, the more he would find out about himself…the more he would think about her. 
Emma is determined to face her demons thanks to Bryan’s help, but little by little she begins falling harder for the one person who isn’t ashamed of her or her disease. Can she put her heart on the line and take the risk? Can she convince Bryan that love, her love, is worth it? 
Sometimes all it takes is one person to expose the person within.

Chapter 1

Emma


I was done! Beyond done! As I drove home, I could feel the sting of my tears as they fought to escape their sanctuary. I wanted to cry, but I refused to give into those emotions. Or at least I tried not to give in and let them fall. However, try as I might, a few traitorous ones trailed down my face, taking my eye liner and mascara with them. I knew by the time I made it home, my face would probably closely resemble a raccoon; and yet, I no longer cared.

I deserved a good cry! Damn it!

Oh God! Why couldn’t they have waited until I got home? I was only a few minutes away, and then I could wallow, punch a wall, throw my pillows, and scream my head off. Okay, maybe I’ve already screamed more than a few times, but after my night, I earned at least that much!

Men suck! That’s what I decided tonight. They sucked, and I was probably better off without them. Basically, batting for the other team began to look mighty appealing…if only I wasn’t so attracted to the opposite sex. The assholes!

Turning onto my street, I opened the garage door and pulled in. No longer would my tears be held back and they began to spill over. Sobs wracked my body as I clutched my steering wheel, my knuckles turning white with the force of my grip. I needed to go in, and yet, my body refused to cooperate. I couldn’t move.

It wasn’t fair! I had accepted tonight’s blind date with the hope it may lead to something beyond tonight; only what I found waiting for me turned into a nightmare instead of a peaceful dream.

I don’t know how long I sat in my car. It could have been a minute, or two, or ten. I sure as hell never kept score, and in that moment, I didn’t care. What waited for me inside? Just my dog. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dog, but I craved more. I wanted someone whom I could hold a conversation with, someone who would answer my questions instead of staring at me blankly as he tilts his head from side to side. I wanted someone to hold me. As much as I love Curley’s kisses, he’s not exactly the man I sought. Dogs were great, and my loveable French bull’s snorts, grunts, and licks were cute, and he had the uncanny ability to put a smile on my face; however, even though I loved him to death, he did not make the list of potential boyfriends. I wasn’t into bestiality thank you very much.

The first thing I looked for in a man was he had to be human, and of course he had to love dogs. Curley and I were a package deal, and if the prospective guy could not handle that, he needed to move on because someone else waited for him to show up. I preferred my men taller than me, not a hard feat to overcome since I was only 5’8”. Not short, but not too tall. If I described myself, I would have said average all-around. My weight – well, there I was a little thick, but I didn’t believe a size 12 could be considered too heavy. I had long brown hair and brown eyes. Average, average, and average. I don’t care what anyone said, size four was not average!

I didn’t think I was ugly by any means, but I could not claim to be a model either. My skin had a little more pink in its tone than it should, but it was healthy and clear of zits and everything else. My bottom lip stood out a little more than the top due to its fullness, and my eyes were wide with a slight almond-shape. My wide forehead was usually covered with bangs, and my teeth were straight thanks to three years of braces as a kid-something a lot of average kids dealt with.

What was not so average about me? I was disabled.

Four years ago, my life changed when I found out I had a rare disease named myasthenia gravis. A cane or walker kept me upright and balanced, otherwise I would fall over. I’ve had enough practice making the ground’s acquaintance, I didn’t feel it necessary to constantly introduce myself; but I guess my date tonight had not been informed of my “extra leg”. Bastard.

I arrived at the pre-arranged meeting place on time, and the hostess informed me my date had already arrived. Butterflies fluttered annoyingly in my stomach like usual when I met anyone new. Would this meeting go well? Not so well? Nervously, I followed her to the table, and as soon as he took one look at me, he got up and attempted to leave me standing there. Who the hell did shit like that? I tried to stop him, but his comment to me felt like a slap in the face, “I don’t do handicap, not even out of pity.”

Unable to calm down as I moved through my house, I made my way to my bedroom and patted Curley’s head when I finally sat on my bed. My tears continued to fall as I cried over my date, over my night, and over the disappointment I endured yet again. This wasn’t the first time someone took issues with my disability. Tonight, however, it cut much more deeply, and I was almost convinced no one existed who would be able to accept me and my baggage. My family and friends kept telling me that it would take someone special, that I had to be patient and wait for him, but they didn’t understand. Each time this happened, it felt like a little more of my self-esteem-my inner being-was stripped away. What man wanted to deal with someone who wasn’t perfect? Apparently no one.

What I really needed and wanted was my best friend beside me, but since we lived in different states, I had to settle for talking to her online. Maybe she could help me gain perspective, or calm me down, because after tonight, turmoil engulfed me. Was she on a date tonight? I couldn’t recall. Gia and her husband liked to do date night every other week, and I couldn’t remember if tonight happened to be that night. Maybe if I messaged her, I’d feel better. If I texted or called, she’d feel obligated to respond right away; however, if I messaged her on FaceSpace, she could respond when she had time. I knew I had to be in a bad place if I chose not to call my best friend immediately.

I was done and embarrassed, and I wanted to quit.

And there it stood, glaring back at me. The real reason I could not bring myself to dial her number. While I did want to talk to her, at the same time I felt so ashamed of what happened to me that I didn’t want to talk to anyone.

Finally giving in, I pulled up the app on my phone and quickly shot her a message on FaceSpace.

Me: Men SUCK! I’m so done that I don’t even know where to begin. Everyone says that I’ll meet that special someone who will be able to accept everything. I call bullshit! HA! Fat fucking chance. Men suck!! I don’t want to have anything to do with them anymore. I showed up tonight and he tried to leave before I even sat down! I swear if one more person tells me I just have to wait for the right one, that there is someone out there for me who will accept my disability, I will throat punch them!

I started to put my phone away when I heard it ding. Fuck! Gia’s online right now. AKA if I didn’t answer her immediately, she’d worry, and then she’d call someone. New tears filled my eyes, replacing those I had already cried. The waterworks needed to stop because they were annoying. My date tonight was not worth a single drop of water. My love life-or lack thereof-was not worth it. Well, my love life might have been because I began mourning the fact I would remain a spinster my whole life. In fact, I was convinced of it because I GIVE UP!

My lungs expanded with my deep indrawn breath and collapsed when I released it slowly. It was only my best friend, why did I have to build up my courage? One more breath and I checked her message. OH NO! I didn’t! I couldn’t have! My eyes widened in shock and fear. I double checked to make sure I had read my screen correctly. I had. Shit!

I still prayed and hoped for the name on the screen to change. Please don’t tell me I did what I think I just did! My thumb hovered over the new message that lit up my screen, the one from Bryan Sampson. I hesitated a few more seconds before I tapped on his name to open the conversation.

Scanning the message quickly, I discovered my error. I had indeed sent my message to Bryan instead of Gia. Did I not say I was done with men? How had this even happened? Yeah, we were friends on FaceSpace because we had a mutual friend in common, Mel. And yesterday he asked me a question about a wedding gift earlier today…BUT WHY? I hardly knew him. Since he was Mel’s friend, I sent him a friend request after he came in for Mel’s engagement party, which wound up being a night of karaoke. We had only met in person once almost a year ago and I had probably only changed a couple dozen words with him. On top of that, we had only talked on FaceSpace twice. Once when I sent him the friend request and this morning. How had this happened? I had to have clicked on the wrong name by accident, and I blamed the tears for clouding my vision, but he was the last person I wanted to talk to right now.

Don’t get me wrong, the man was hot and could probably model if he wanted to, but instead, he chose to serve our nation and joined the Navy. He’s built without being overly big, and he looked sexy as hell with his clean-shaven face and chiseled jaw. His tanned skin, wavy brown hair, and hazel eyes could draw in any woman; and when he smiled, two dimples formed craters on his cheeks that could melt the panties of young and old. HOT! There was no way in hell he would even begin to understand my situation. From what I gathered-and what I saw within ten minutes of meeting him-girls threw themselves at him all the time. In other words, he got pick of the litter and could have anyone he wanted.


Bryan: Umm, okay. Care to explain yourself? Surely it can’t be all bad if you’re messaging me…a guy.
No, I didn’t want to explain myself to him. Was he crazy?


Me: Nope. I’m good.

Bryan: Yeah, that’s clear from your previous message. Or should I say rant?

Me: Harsh.

Bryan: Truth. What’s going on?

Me: And why the hell should I tell you?

Bryan: Why not? It’s not like we actually know each other. Think of me as the stranger you spill your guts to.
It’s going to be like you didn’t tell anyone.
Like a drunk confessing to his bartender.

Me: Gee thanks.

But as I gave myself a moment to think about it, he had a good point. Maybe if I vented to him and got everything off my chest, it would help. It wasn’t like I would see much of him in the future, so there was no need for me to feel embarrassed by what he thought of me or of what happened. Then again, what if he told Mel, the friend that had introduced us? Honestly, I didn’t know why we were friends on FaceSpace other than sometimes you made friends with your friend’s friends. Oh…and he was more handsome than anyone should have the right to be! And I wanted to flirt with him, which never happened because I considered him a 10 and me a plain jane. With so many girls throwing themselves at him, I couldn’t bring myself to do more than send a friend request, and when he accepted it, I completely surprised me.

Biting my lip, I decided to take the plunge and reply, but first I laid down the rules.

Me: Don’t tell Mel.

Bryan: Why would I do that?

Me: I don’t know…because you know her?

Bryan: And your point would be what? Vegas rules, baby. What happens during FS chat, stays in FS chat.

For the first time tonight, I found my lips curling upwards into a smile. I might even admit to a tiny snort as I snickered. I already felt better in a small way.


Maria Vickers currently lives in St. Louis, MO with her pug, Spencer Tracy. She has always had a passion for writing and after she became disabled, she began to use writing as her way to cope and escape. She has one novel published now and will be publishing her second novel in September 2016. Life is about what you make of it. You have to live it to the fullest no matter the circumstances.

IG:@authormariavickers

Twitter:@mvauthor

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