Authors: Andrea Smith
Limbo Series, Book One
Meatball Taster Publishing, llc
Copyright © 2014 by Andrea Smith
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locations is purely coincidental. All rights reserved. Except as permitted, under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior express, written consent of the author.
Violation of copyright, by domestic or foreign entities, is punishable by law, which may include imprisonment, a fine, or both.
This book is intended for mature audiences only.
ISBN-13: 978-0-9904522-1-8 (e-Book)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9904522-2-5 (Paperback)
Thanks to all of my Beta Readers, and my street team that totally rocks: Andrea’s Angels!
Also, thanks to my PR gals, Sharon Goodman and Melissa Saneholtz; to my daughter-in-law, Jill, who hated me for making her ‘ugly-cry’ with this story, and all of my closest and dearest friends: Janett, Jo-Jo, Eva, Tracy, Julie, Amber, Catherine, Stacie, Candi, and of course, Becky!!
I hope you like Book One of this new series, because I had a freakin’ blast writing it!!!
Cover Design: Louisa Maggio @ L.M. Creations
Editing: Mark Lucas
Formatting: Erik Gevers
West End Girls - Pet Shop Boys
Dress You Up - Madonna
Talking in Your Sleep - The Romantics
These Dreams - Heart
If You Leave - OMD
Walk of Life - Dire Straits
Don’t Dream It’s Over - Crowded House
Shattered Dreams - Johnny Hates Jazz
Promises, Promises - Naked Eyes
Careless Whisper - George Michael
Our Lips are Sealed - The Go-Go’s
I’ll Stand by You - Pretenders
All Through the Night - Cyndi Lauper
Tears in Heaven - Eric Clapton
Eyes Without a Face - Billy Idol
Broken Wings - Mr. Mister
Unchained Melody - Righteous Bros.
I fingered through my wind-tousled hair in front of the lighted mirror. I watched my forehead crease in its usual pattern whenever my frown appeared. I mentally chastised myself for encouraging premature wrinkling. It was a definite career killer in my line of work.
No doubt about it. I was going to require a complete redo of hair and makeup. It wasn’t like we weren’t already nearly three days behind on this shoot, somewhere in god-forsaken West Virginia. Leonard, my agent at the modeling firm, was going to hear about sending me out on any more shoots like this.
Hell, who was I kidding? I was
to get this assignment at the ripe old age of twenty-seven. These days, babies practically left the womb ready to stroll down the red carpet.
I’d had this assignment with Mountain-Step Ski-Wear for the past three years. It wasn’t like I could be choosy anymore. I promised myself this fall would be my last shoot for this sponsor, maybe one of the last shoots of my career.
Oh, that didn’t bother me. Not one bit. I had always known the day would come when it would be time to carve out a real career for myself, one that could take me to retirement age if I so chose. Yeah, I know—who at twenty-seven years of age really thinks and plans for retirement, right?
I was single, fairly independent, and had the type of boyfriend that understood the practicality of my being a model as long as I could get the gigs. Ryan and I had been together for three years. Maybe using the word “together” was a bit of a misnomer. Let me clarify: we were together when I wasn’t on a shoot or he wasn’t photographing cutting-edge pictures in Africa, New Zealand, Alaska, Australia, and other such far-away places. Catch my drift? Yeah, he was a top photo journalist for Global Geographic. We had met on a shoot that involved me posing with wild animals. It was for a designer fragrance called “Jungle Fever.”
Yeah. I know. Whatevs…
At any rate, Ryan was apparently attracted to my scent - whether it was my “Jungle Fever” scent, or just my plain old ‘Parrish Pheromone #5’ aroma, he was ready to mark his turf, and guess what? I had no problem with that whatsoever!
We had a great relationship: sexually and otherwise considering the amount of time we actually spent together. The important thing was that I was encouraged by Ryan. No wait. I was essentially blown away by Ryan and his eye for a great picture; along with his ability to totally capture it digitally. (What he did to me
was nothing to sneeze at either.)
I totally let him fuck me after we had dinner together the first night of the shoot.
Hey, we were in freaking Africa after all. It’s different there. I mean the whole pheromone/hormone thing is rampant in the air you breathe for Christ’s sake!
Ryan totally got that I wasn’t into posing for glamour shots for the rest of my life—or even into my thirties for that matter.
He schooled me in the art of photography and damned if I didn’t catch the fever right along with him. We probably spent as many hours in the dark room as we did in our bedroom in New York. It was epic—both rooms, I mean. Yeah, I know, everything is digital these days but not with Ryan. Maybe that’s why his photos are so passionate because his own craft goes into them from shoot to show.
Ryan was thirty-one, just a few years older than me. He was my rock in all respects. He got me. I got him. We hadn’t made long-term plans because we didn’t need to. He had a passion for his career; I had a passion for his career. So much that I was ready to leave the modeling world and start working as his assistant on assignments; until I was ready to fly solo, that is. Ryan supported me on that 100%. I hadn’t been excited about anything like this, well…ever…
Just then, Mark, the producer, knocked on the aluminum door of my trailer.
“You decent?” he called out in his loud, brusque voice.
“No,” I hollered back, “but I have clothes on if that’s what you’re trying to find out.”
“Smart ass,” I heard him growl as he opened the door to my trailer and poked his bald head inside. “Shoot’s over for the day, technical difficulties with Mother Nature. We were supposed to have snow and it’s been momentarily delayed. Be back here tomorrow at 7 a.m. sharp. Luck is with us, a snow storm is blowing in as we speak. Should have some significant accumulation by dawn.”
“Whatevs, Mark,” I sighed, glad that I didn’t have to fuck with hair and makeup any more today.
“The limo’s ready to take you back to your hotel,” he continued. “Same limo will be there at 6:30 tomorrow morning to bring you back out here.”
“Got it,” I said, grabbing my handbag and coat. “See you then, doll.”
“Have a good evening, Parrish,” he replied, giving me one of his geezer winks.
I was restless once I got back to my room. I was staying at one of the best hotels in Chester, West Virginia, the Mountaineer Inn. To say it was rustic was an understatement. The walls were paneled in frigging knotty pine.
Yeppers! It was fairly depressing.
I had no desire to spend what was left of the evening holed up inside, with barely a bar-and-a-half on my cell. The calls back and forth between Ryan and me were brief at best because of the poor reception in this neck of the woods.
I quickly changed into a comfortable pair of jeans, a pullover sweatshirt and my sweater boots. I grabbed the keys to my rental SUV and headed out. I’d heard some of the key grips talking about a club on the other side of the mountain that had fantastic home brew and the best deep-fried fish this side of the Mississippi.
Hell that was good enough for this home girl.
The weather front had already started. The wind had picked up considerably and the sleet was coming in sheets, hard and deliberate. Snow was supposed to follow within a few hours, but I’d be back safely in my knotty pine room at the Mountaineer Inn before it got really bad.
The road leading over the mountain was two lanes, steep and twisty with a whole lot of narrow berm on the one side which didn’t sit well with my fear of heights. (I also had a fear of expansion bridges - but that’s another story.)
The evening darkness was already seeping in and it was barely five o’clock.
I had finally reached the crest of the steep incline and was slowly cruising down the other side that had a definite ‘S’ curve going on when I heard Ryan’s ring tone from my cell.
I hadn’t talked to him today and wanted to; so against all published warnings and my own common sense, I reached over to where my handbag rested on the passenger seat, and started rummaging through it, taking my eyes off the road for just one split second.
As I glanced back to the road, an eighteen-wheeler was rounding the bend on the incline and taking up part of my lane in the process. I quickly turned the wheel and hit the brakes, sending my rental car into a slippery, sliding, fishtailing path on the ice-glazed road.
My hands clenched the steering wheel tightly, as I continued pumping the anti-lock brakes, which of course, simply felt as if they were frozen up and doing nothing to prevent the never-ending skid I was into.
My vehicle left the road, careening over a ditch, bouncing fiercely enough that my head hit the roof of the vehicle with surprising velocity. Instinctively, I shut my eyes, feeling multiple points of impact as I took out a fence and hit several concrete tombstones. I heard and simultaneously felt the explosion of the air bag as it deployed thunderously against my chest and face.
Fuck. I’m dead…
I wasn’t sure how long I had sat inside of my vehicle, dusted with the white powder from the deployed air bag, in a hazy fog.