Authors: Lisa Renee Jones
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Don’t forget to click through after
Rebecca’s Lost Journals, Volume 1: The Seduction
for an exclusive sneak peek at Lisa Renee Jones’s sizzling beginning to the Inside Out trilogy
If I Were You
Available from Gallery Books
Journal 4, entry 1
Saturday, December 4, 2010
ave you ever met someone who you immediately knew could change your life? I’ve heard about this happening, but I never experienced anything near it until tonight. Tonight I met him. I don’t know this man’s name, nor does he know mine, but I still feel the impact of our brief meeting deep inside.
I know where to find him again, but he doesn’t know where to find me. I know how to figure out his name—but I won’t. There are too many reasons why that would be a mistake. I can’t allow myself to seek him out because he will, without question, lead me onto a path I know is better not taken. Already, I fear meeting him has stirred something inside me better left alone; something I crave, but know I do not dare indulge in. I can’t imagine this man not leaving his mark on many women—and most men, as well.
He owns the air around him, and yours, too. He’s strikingly male, strikingly attractive, exuding raw masculine power. He is what I think we all secretly want to be: in control of everything we are and everything we might one day be.
I’d do anything to know and understand who I truly am. And I think that tonight, that was exactly what I was looking for: me. I just didn’t realize it until I met him.
It started when I ended my shift at the bar and decided to go by the San Francisco Chocolate Factory and buy a box of chocolate to celebrate being alone. That sounds like a bitter pity party thing to write, but it’s not. It’s officially a year today since I buried my mother, and instead of letting grief consume me, I’m trying to be positive. (Something I haven’t done a lot of since then.) So . . . the positive to this day is that I, Rebecca Mason, have survived, when I wasn’t sure I would.
Somehow, though, instead of going straight to the chocolate store, I ended up two blocks away, standing outside the gallery I’ve dreamed of working at since way back when I started college five years ago. It just . . . happened. And at first it wasn’t a good thing. One glimpse inside the gallery and the past year crashed down—burying my mother, deciding my art degree was worthless for paying the bills, learning things about my life I wish I never had. It was a little piece of hell standing there, hurting for what I have lost and what I can’t have.
The worst part? I still crave my dream, to the point that I couldn’t force myself to walk away without going inside the gallery. Not tonight, though I’ve spent a year away from that obsession. Not even the horrid waitress uniform beneath my long black leather coat could stop me from entering. I just buttoned up and went for it.
I walked inside, my bargain store heels clicking on the shiny expensive white tile, the soft sound of classical music playing in the background, and I was in heaven. I just stood there, staring at the sleek glass displays of art, and I sighed inside. This was where I still wanted to be, and why I went to school. It’s been my love since I was a child, trying to create my own Picasso, only to realize I’m no artist myself. My gift is an eye for art, a deep love for it I can share with others. If only such things paid real money. How did I think I could be one of the few people who actually made a living in an art gallery?
But I did. There was a time when I thought I could. When I thought dreams were meant to be chased. That was before reality grabbed me by the throat and choked me into eye-opening revelations.
But standing there in that gallery tonight, I shoved all of that aside and just lost myself in the experience. I strolled from display to display, absorbing the gift of viewing the work of some of the most famous artists in the city and from around the world. I was enjoying myself until a salesperson, a blond and rather curvaceous woman, approached me with a snooty look that said she thought I was beneath the gallery. The bite of her attitude aroused my own fear that she was right, that I didn’t belong there. But then the old me, the one who used to fight for what she wanted, reappeared out of nowhere. After a quick smoothing of my ruffled feathers, I asked her a few pointed questions about a certain artist’s work to test her knowledge. She bristled and made an excuse to leave me alone. I’d almost forgotten I had this kind of cool composure inside me, and it felt amazing, rediscovering that part of myself.
I stayed for an hour, until they were about to close, and then I reluctantly headed to the front door. That was when he walked in, and I pretty much did the schoolgirl “weak in the knees” wilt I’d have sworn I was incapable of. But this man . . . this man was impossibly overwhelming, and not just because he was sinfully good-looking. His eyes met mine and I froze, spellbound by his stare. I was aware of him in every cell of my being, in a way that I’ve never been aware of another man in my life.
I’ve been thinking about why that is. He was devastatingly handsome, but I’ve met gorgeous men before. It was more than his looks. It was definitely the edge of power and confidence he owned. The way he wore his perfectly fitted suit, rather than it wearing him. I keep telling myself his power and confidence was because he was a man, not a boy, at least a good ten years older than me. Surely that accounts for it—yet I can’t imagine this man, even at twenty-two years old, not being what he is today.
Ultimately though, it wasn’t his looks, his power, or even his mesmerizing eyes, which I thought maybe, just maybe, held a hint of male interest. It was the question he asked me: one that had enough impact to punch me in the chest and darn near level me. Such a simple question, from a man who was so not simple at all.
Did you come to apply for the internship?
I could barely process what he’d just said. I had to repeat the question in my head several times, and force calm thinking. And truthfully, I could have been insulted that he assumed my youth or something else about me meant I wasn’t there to buy art. Instead, the elation of him considering me a prospect for a job at the gallery overrode any other reaction.
Then reality knocked out the ray of hope for my career. I know how an “internship” translates into dollars, because I’d done the math last year when my mother’s funeral expenses had been a small fortune. Did I want to compete with a long list of people who would beg to work for pennies? Was I willing to work two jobs to survive? And really, how long could I do that? What was the real chance of making a full-time living at any gallery?
So what did I do? I laughed this silly, nervous laugh, and told him that working there was a dream I just couldn’t afford. Then, before I did something even sillier, like change my mind, I stepped around him and left.
And now I eat my chocolate, sick to my stomach that I didn’t find a reason to change my mind. Maybe if I eat the whole thing, I’ll be too nauseated from sugar to feel sick about my decision. I can only hope.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
went to bed thinking about the man from the gallery, and the way his silvery gray eyes had captured mine. About how I’d felt he would affect my life in some profound way when I’d met him. How would he do this if I never see him again? That was the last thing I remember thinking before I slipped into a dream.
No. A nightmare. In it, I’d been riding one of the trolleys, a cold San Francisco breeze whisking my long hair off my shoulders. Everything was vivid. The red car. The cold pole beneath my fingers. The shade of my light brown hair. The blue sky. The scent of the nearby ocean. Then suddenly my mother was there, riding with me, and she was smiling and happy in a way I haven’t been since she died. I don’t remember feeling happy in the dream, either. I remember feeling scared. And with good reason. A moment later, the trolley started to roll down a hill and it wouldn’t stop. It was flying downward, faster and faster, and I was screaming, my heart in my throat. The trolley jumped the tracks and I clung to the pole, watching the water get closer and closer. Frantically, I searched for my mother, but she was just . . . gone. I was alone as the trolley slammed into the water.
The next thing I knew I was sitting up in bed, screaming bloody murder, my hand clutching my neck. I’m not sure how long it took me to calm down, but when I finally realized I was in my bed, in my apartment, I could smell my mother’s vanilla and honey perfume, suffocating me, filling my nostrils and the entire bedroom. I swear, I felt my mother in my room.
She made me have that hellish nightmare. I’m aware that that sounds crazy and I’m not one who believes in ghost stories, but I know she did this. I just don’t understand what it means. I thought she loved me—but then, I learned so much about her in her final days; things I sometimes wish I didn’t know, but others I’m glad I do. It is only because of what I know now that I am willing to see what this nightmare might be telling me. Maybe I was always alone. Maybe that’s why my mind placed my mother in my dream state and ripped her away.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
osh, the good-looking banker I went out with a couple times last month, came into the bar tonight asking why I hadn’t returned his calls. How do you tell a guy that you dated him and had sex with him because you were lonely, and the net effect was still lonely? It wasn’t that the sex was bad; it wasn’t. I enjoyed it. I had an orgasm. I mean, that should account for something, because face it, how many first-time sexual encounters equal orgasm?
Well, maybe they do for some people, but not me. I tend to think too much the first time with a man. Not that I’ve had a lot of men in my bed. In fact, Josh is only the third. But I can just give myself an orgasm and it’s much less complicated.
He’s really a perfect guy—or he would be in my mother’s book. Good-looking, self-made, loves his parents, and all that good stuff. He has money and appreciates everything he has, because he earned it himself. I just don’t have it in me to play the relationship game right now. And maybe I can’t appreciate or deserve someone like him until I know who I am.
I ended up telling him I was working crazy hours and I’d call him next week. I shouldn’t have told him that. Why did I give him hope? I know how much hope can hurt.