Life has been a roller coaster for Gabriel ‘The Saint’ Vega. From surviving a hellish childhood, to reuniting with his lost brother, only to hit the struggle of helping him battle his drug addiction. Boxing saved Gabriel’s life, and just when his career hits the fast track, he finally finds love with Salem; at least for a short time.
Social differences, obligations, and misguided good intentions tore Gabriel and Salem apart before they could ever really get started.
Will Gabriel be able to save his brother from the whirlpool of addiction that threatens to drag him under? Is Salem capable of breaking away from the ropes that bind her to doing what’s expected rather than what and whom she desires? Can Gabriel convince Salem that their mutual feelings are worth fighting for, and that together, they will be able to go the distance?
As Salem drives away, Gabriel and Jason fade into the darkness. She drives and drives, as if on autopilot, until she comes to a stop at a traffic light. She realizes that her palms are sweaty from holding the steering wheel so tightly, and each tear that hits her cheeks stings as it rolls down her face. Say, what are you doing? Turn the damn car around. Go to him. Tell him how you feel. She looks up into the rearview mirror as her inner dialogue plays through her head. No, Salem! You’re doing the right thing; you already have feelings for him, and if you continue down this road, someone is going to get hurt.
A loud honk brings her back to reality. Looking up at the traffic light, she realizes it’s now turning red for a second time. The car behind her revs its engine and pulls up next to her. “Why don’t you pay attention? You dumb bitch!” the driver yells angrily, then cuts in front of her car and runs the red light.
She’s still shaken from Gabriel’s dismissal of her. “Pull yourself together,” she wipes the tears away. “It’s not like the two of you would ever work, anyways. He did you a favor.”
The light turns green and Salem proceeds through the intersection, managing to make it home without further incident. She’s greeted by Jocelyn, who’s sitting on the couch watching an episode of Revenge. “I didn’t expect you home tonight, or I would’ve waited to watch this.”
Salem stands at the top of the stairs in silence. She’s disheveled; her typically creamy, porcelain skin is blotchy, and her puffy, bloodshot eyes are a dead giveaway that she’s been crying. “What the hell happened?!” Jocelyn kicks the blanket off of her lap and rushes to her friend’s side.
“Ugh, where do I start?”
“What did he do now? I’m going to kill him,” she sneers.
Salem lets out a heavy, staggered breath as she responds, “No Jocey, it’s not Blaine.”
Jocelyn studies her friend’s face. “Then, who? I’m not sure if I’m following you here.” She leads Salem over to the couch and the two of them climb under the blanket.
“I messed up, Joce,” Salem sighs, leaning her head onto Jocelyn’s shoulder.
“After I caught Blaine last night,” she takes a deep, calming breath, trying to build up the confidence to finish, “I ended up at Gabriel’s.”
“Well, I kind of figured that out when the three of you showed up here this morning.”
“Wait, don’t say another word.” Jocelyn dumps her side of the blanket onto Salem’s lap and scurries across the room, before disappearing into the kitchen. Salem sees the light from the refrigerator illuminating the dark kitchen, and then hears the sound of whipped cream being squirted. A moment later, Jocelyn reenters the room carrying a half gallon of ice cream in one hand and two spoons in the other. She smiles warmly, “Okay, proceed.”
The sadness on Salem’s face softens. “Thanks, Jocey.”
“It’s just what the doctor ordered,” she laughs. “And by the look of you, you needed the sundae version, not just plain old ice cream.”
“You’re so right.” Salem takes the container of ice cream and a look of guilt then appears on her face, “Yeah, well, I wasn’t so strong last night.”
“Did you sleep with him?” Jocelyn doesn’t waste any time.
Salem’s lip begins to quiver and the tears begin to flow as she nods her head, “I made a mistake.”
“A mistake?” Jocelyn blurts out. “I don’t think so, Say. I saw the way the two of you looked at each other. As far as
I’m concerned, the only mistake you made yesterday was not dumping…”
“I know you don’t wanna hear it, but I’m going to say it, anyway.”
Salem laughs through her tears, knowing full well her best friend is going to speak her mind. “Of course you are.”
“Look, we both know I’m not a fan of Blaine’s. Actually, I despise the man. He’s a fucking scumbag and I’m not sure why you can’t see it.”
The two friends get quiet and Salem begins to eat the ice cream.
“Do you think you don’t deserve to be happy?” Jocelyn breaks their silence, scooping a heaping spoonful of whipped cream.
“I can be happy with Blaine.”
Jocelyn shoots her friend a look. “Are you happy right now?”
“No,” she lets out an exasperated breath, “but, I can get us back to where we once were. I know I can.”
“Why do you want him? Help me understand.”
“I’m not sure you will understand. You’ve never had…” Salem stops herself.
“Never had, what?”
“Jocelyn,” she sighs, “you’ve never been in a serious relationship.”
“You’re absolutely right, and do you know why?”
Salem shakes her head.
“Because, I haven’t met a man worthy of me and I’m not going to settle, like you have.” Jocelyn sees the wounded look on her friend’s face and immediately regrets what she’s just said. “I’m sorry, Say. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but it’s the truth. I’ve sat around and watched my best friend being treated like a doormat for years. I know exactly what not to look for; and as for you, you’d rather settle for someone who treats you like shit than to be alone.”
“No, it’s my turn. I’m going to tell you how I see it. I think you felt something last night with Gabriel.” Jocelyn studies her friend’s face, hoping to get a glimpse of something. “All these years, you’ve gone through the motions of being the good girlfriend; thinking that would be enough, that he would change. Yet, here we sit.”
“You’ve got it all wrong, Jocey.”
“Do I? Would you like me to remind you of all the nights I’ve lain next to you, while you’ve cried yourself to sleep because that asshole stood you up? Or how about the time he showed up drunk and reeking of another woman’s perfume?”
Salem’s shoulders sink down. “He doesn’t want me,” her voice is all of a whisper.
“Who doesn’t want you?”
“Gabriel. He said what happened last night can’t happen again and he pushed me away.”
“And let me guess; you being you, just walked away?”
“What was I supposed to do?”
“Geez, I don’t know… stay and fight?”
“Stay and fight for what, a man who doesn’t want me?”
“Oh, I don’t think it’s a matter of him not wanting you, Say. I think it’s more like the fact he knows you’ll probably end up breaking his heart.”
“That’s just it. I told him the first night we went out that I wasn’t what he needed. I think he sees that now.”
“And now your feelings are hurt by this?”
“It would never work, anyways. We come from two different worlds,” Salem tries to brush it off.
“So, what difference does that make?”
“Oh yeah, sure, can you see him at one of my parents’ dinner parties?”
“Yeah, actually I can. And he’d probably liven it up a little!” Jocelyn laughs.
“You’re not helping.”
“I’m not sure what you want me to help you with. I’m certainly not Team Blaine, and I’m not going to sit by and let
him continue to treat you the way he does. What’s got you so scared?”
“The future?!” Jocelyn exclaims. “Don’t you think you may be jumping the gun a little here?”
“Jocey, I’m graduating next spring. The next step in my plan is marriage, then a house, and then kids.”
“Screw your plans, Say. Why do you need a damn plan, anyways? You’re young, beautiful, and you’re going to be one hell of a lawyer. This is the time you should be out experiencing life. You have your whole life to worry about getting married and having babies.”
“But, it’s what I’m supposed to do.”
“Says who, your parents?”
“It’s what I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid.”
“Salem, when are you going to realize it’s not your dream?” Jocelyn repositions herself on the couch so that she’s directly facing Salem. “This life you’re living, is your parents’ dream. You need to wake up and be your own damn person, not the person your parents have molded you into or who Blaine wants you to be. Where’s that girl I once knew? The one who snuck out of boarding school with me and went to college frat parties. Where’s the girl who got wasted on cheap beer and sang karaoke all night long with me?”
“I am my own person, and ‘that girl’ is still right here,” Salem insists.
“Tell me one major decision you’ve made on your own lately.”
Salem sits quietly.
“You can’t think of one, can you?”
“Actually, I can,” she bites back.
“Bullshit,” Jocelyn purses her lips together.
“I’m not going into corporate law,” Salem spits out.
“You heard me. I’m not going into corporate law. I’ve decided to be a guardian ad litem instead.”
A glowing smile spreads across Jocelyn’s face. “Holy shit, Say! I’m so proud of you.”
Salem tries to hide her smile, but it finally shines through.
“Your parents are gonna shit a brick,” Jocelyn laughs.
“When do you plan on dropping that bomb on them?”
“After graduation,” Salem says slyly.
“Oh, to be a fly on the wall when your father hears this.”
“You and Gabriel are the only people who know.”
“You told Gabriel before you told your best friend?”
“I feel comfortable with him.”
“Clearly, since you gave it up to him,” she nudges Salem’s shoulder.
Salem’s hands cover her face in embarrassment.
“How was he?”
“I’m not like you, Jocey. I don’t kiss and tell.”
“I’m not asking you to tell me how he kisses. I want to know how he is in bed.”
“No way,” Salem replies adamantly.
Not caring about the objection in her friend’s voice, Jocelyn continues on. “Is he strong? Did he go all ‘Dom’ on you like the guys in some of my trashy romance novels? Is he big? I bet he’s big!”
Salem remains tight-lipped. “I’m not telling you, Jocelyn.”
“Come on, give me a little something? Okay, fine,” she relents on the more risqué questions, “just tell me if he’s a good kisser then.”
The corners of Salem’s lips turn up as a smile appears and she hugs her knees.
“I’ll take that as a ‘yes,’” Jocelyn chuckles and keeps on going with her interrogation. “How are his hands, are they rough and callused from fighting?”
“Surprisingly no, they’re very soft and his touch is gentle.”
“Gentle?” Jocelyn’s face scrunches up. “Hmmm… I wouldn’t have figured him for gentle.”
“Me either,” Salem utters.
“You okay, Say?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. It’s just…”
“It’s just, what?”
Salem’s face turns a light shade of pink. “I can’t,” she laughs, embarrassed.
“Look, if you can’t tell me, who can you tell?”
Finally, Salem gives in to her friend’s coercion. “He made me feel so wanted, like I was the only woman in the world.
And the way he looks at me…”
Salem’s heart instantly drops into her stomach at the thought of Gabriel’s eyes on her; how his hands danced over her skin, how his soft lips grazed her neck, then her breasts, and finally down between her legs. Closing her eyes, she tries to shake her arousal and regain her composure. If Jocelyn catches wind of it, she’ll never leave her alone. The questions will go on all night long.
“Um, if I’m not mistaken, that’s how your man is supposed to make you feel,” Jocelyn mocks.
“Yeah, well, I’ve never felt that way with Blaine.”
“Well, that’s because Blaine is a douche and wouldn’t know a good woman if she bit him in the ass. And don’t you dare bite him in the ass!”
“You don’t have to worry about that.” Salem shoots Jocelyn a look, and they both begin to laugh uncontrollably.
“Thanks, Jocey,” Salem snuggles up to her best friend, “you always know how to make me feel better.”
“Say, I don’t want to be that person.”
Salem is taken aback by what she just heard and her head jerks away from Jocelyn. “What?”
“Oh Say, I didn’t mean it like that,” she frowns. “What I meant was, I want you to have a man in your life that can comfort you and make you laugh, like I can, not one that makes you cry.”
“Oh, okay,” Salem sighs in relief. “I thought…”
“Don’t you dare even say it! You’re stuck with me, Say.”
“Good, because I don’t want you going anywhere.”
Born and raised in New England, Christa is a married mother of three. She began writing her first book, Broken, in October 2012, as a love story to her husband, Frank. During the writing process, Christa managed to keep her book a secret from the majority of her family and friends, including her mother. She finally revealed that she had written a book on her personal Facebook page just two weeks before Broken was released.
Broken was released in February 2013, and within twenty-four hours of its release, it was on Amazon's Movers and Shakers list as well as in the Top 20 Erotica. Christa released her second novel, On the Ropes - Book One in the Down for the Count series, in February 2014. On the Ropes has also climbed the charts on Amazon, hitting the Top 10 Sports Fiction and the Top 20 Romance Sports Fiction lists. Book Two, Going the Distance, is slated to be released in the summer of 2014.
Christa also has several other novels in the works, with no release dates announced at this time.