Without Reason contest/giveaway!

I promised myself that if I didn’t find an agent by the end of the year, I was going to self-publish in 2016.  With that in mind, I am now hosting a contest/giveaway for my newest book, Without Reason!

The rules are fairly simple.  I have four options for the cover art for the book.  I want YOUR (yes, all of you!) help picking the one you like the best.  The one with the most votes wins.  AND, from all of the people who take the time to vote, I am picking one person to win a free signed copy.

A brief synopsis can be found below the pictures.  To vote, just put in the comments section your choice — cover one, cover two, cover three, or cover four.

Thanks for your help, writing community!

Cover 2Cover 1Cover 4Cover 3

Synopsis:

It came as no surprise to Simone Perrier that she fell madly in love with Jacob Wessner. The summer before college felt different, like something big was about to happen. Just hours before she was set to move across the country, she spotted him in a crowded bar. She wasn’t looking for love, but it certainly found her, and the next ten years of Simone’s life were nothing short of a roller coaster.

WITHOUT REASON details from Simone’s point of view the highest and lowest points of her decade-long love story with Jacob, providing unique insight into a relationship between two people who just can’t seem to get it right. Simone speaks to her own indecisiveness, trying to choose between her life with Jacob, the fatally flawed man who loved her more, and Ian Colston, the man who seemed to calm the chaos Jacob caused. In the end, Simone is left with a choice between the two, but she realizes even the simplest of answers can cause the greatest heartache.

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better place

“I never knew things could be so bright.”

I turned to look at her.  She was standing at a spot in the Space Needle where the sun was brightly shining through.  She looked like an angel.  I forced myself to not think about the terrible, awful things I’d done to her.  She was beautiful, untouched.

Not even by me.

“You made everything bright again for me,” she said.  “You made my life a better place, Jake.  I can’t… it’s crazy, right?  Our relationship is so dysfunctional.  But… you made everything better.”

“I could say the same thing for you,” I told her.

“Yeah, well, you don’t say it often enough.”  I stood beside her as she looked out at Seattle.  It was an unusually sunny day in the city, but I wasn’t complaining.  It gave me a chance to take my girl out, see the sights.  We hadn’t had much time to ourselves.

I sighed.  That was my fault.

“Don’t do that.”  Her eyes never left the view.  Even without looking at me, she knew I was beating myself up.  “Don’t hate yourself because you have a job and you’re busy.”

“I heard that inflection,” I told her.  “You can get a job, Simone.  It’s not like—“

“It’s not like we’re moving back to New York in a month?”  She asked.  “What would be the point of taking a job when this is temporary?”

“We can stay out here,” I said.

She shook her head.  “I want to go home, Jake.  I miss my friends.  I miss my family.”  I saw her lips pout as she stared out at the view.  “I miss us.”

“We’re still the same people, Simone,” I said.  “We haven’t changed.  You’re still the girl I fell in love with one summer.  I’m still the—“

“The guy who put my heart back together and broke it all over again?”

“Are we having a fight?”  I asked.  “Is that what you want to do?  We can have a fight, but I’d prefer if we weren’t in public.”

“I’d prefer if I were back home, but alas, we can’t always get what we want.”

“You moved to Seattle with me, Simone,” I told her.  “I didn’t force you to come.  I told you that you could stay home and I’d be back.”

“We did the long distance thing already, Jake,” she said.  “We broke up twice.”

“Once,” I countered.

“So the day you slept with the TA for my history class was what, a break?”  She sighed.  “We aren’t Ross and Rachel.”

“I would hope not,” I said, remembering the episodes of Friends we watched together over the years.  “I don’t have the energy to chase you all the way to Paris.”

“She got off the plane,” Simone deadpanned.  “Granted, you haven’t had a movie night with me in forever, so you haven’t seen that episode recently.”

“Do you want to have it out here?”  I asked.  “I’m trying, Simone.  I’m really, really trying, and all you seem to want to do is argue.”

“I don’t want to argue, Jake,” she said sadly.  She finally turned to meet my eyes.  “I just… I wanted to tell you how much better things are with you, but this really is the most dysfunctional relationship I’ve ever been in, and yet it’s the best relationship I’ve ever been in.”  She leaned against me, resting her head on my chest.  I wrapped my arms around her, sheltering her as best I could – though as of late I hadn’t been doing a good job of that.  “You’re my one in ten million, and yet I can’t help but feel like you’re still looking for that.  Like I’m not enough, even though I moved out here, even though I put grad school on hold so we could be together out here.”

“I’m not,” I said firmly.  “I’m not looking for anything, Simone, outside of you.  Look, I’m sorry I keep fucking up.  I’m sorry I keep sleeping with anything in a dress.”  I chuckled bitterly.  “And I’m sorry I forced your hand to move out here, but I promise you, things are going to be different.  Things are going to be better when we move home.  You’re going to go to grad school and I’m going to be a hot detective and we’re going to rule the world together.”

She laughed.  “You sound awful sure of yourself.”

“Yeah, well…” I trailed off, searching for the right words.  “I can do anything with you.”

“Ditto,” she said.  “But… can you do me a favor and start telling me these things without me having to almost start an all-out brawl in public?”

I smiled at her.  “Why don’t you tell me?”

“No girl wants to tell her boyfriend that she wants to be appreciated,” she said.  “I just… I want you to think of you, Jake.  I want you to do what’s necessary so you can get ahead, but I want you to think of me, too.  Of us.”

I kissed her forehead, hugging her tight to me.  I remembered in the early days of our relationship when I was so scared of crushing her – how tiny she was, how fragile she looked.  But she was stronger now, full of sugar and spice and piss and vinegar.  I’d put her through hell, but she stuck by me in spite of it.  I shoved my hand in my pocket, felt the velvet box that I’d been holding for a year.  I was waiting for the right moment, wanted to do things right by her, make up for all the shit I put her through.  Now seemed as good a time as any…

“Oh!”  She squealed, releasing me.  I dropped the box, my hand flying out of my pocket.  “Can we get sushi and red vines and binge watch that new fairytale TV show?  Hadley says it’s super complex and you have to watch everything together.”

I smiled.  There would be a better moment, less public, when I could finally ask her to spend the rest of her life with me.  “Yeah, let’s get out of here.  Want to pick up sushi on the way home or have it delivered?”

She shrugged, looping her arm through mine.  “I don’t care.  Though the sushi place that delivers has those spring rolls you really like.  Hey, Hads said that Cinderella makes an appearance, too…”

I smiled as she chatted away about the new show and all the characters she was excited to see.  She was a simple girl – woman, really.  She’d grown so much since that first night on the beach, and I’d had the privilege of watching her grow.  She was beautiful then, but now… she was even more radiant, bright, full of life.

And it didn’t matter if it happened tonight or another eight years from now, I knew I would be spending forever with her.

always

“I never imagined what life was going to be like without you.”

She stops, turning around to look at me as I say the words.  I was putting it all out there, telling her some of the things I’d stopped myself from saying before.

She is my whole world.  She is my sunrise, my sunset, my twilight, my early morning pink sky.  She is a breath of fresh air in a cold world.

And I have broken her.

I have cheated on her again, gotten scared, told myself that being with her was going to take a lot of work – as if the last eight years haven’t been a lot of work.  The first year she’d been three thousand miles from me.  Once I’d moved to California, things were better – if only marginally.  We were together, but we were both firecrackers.

Fire and ice, baby.

“I didn’t have to,” I say.  “I didn’t have to think about a future without you because you were always there.  You refused to leave me.”

She’s dropping her bags to floor, making her way to me.  She wraps her arms around my waist, enveloping me as best as she can.  I want to push her away, tell her to find someone better for her.  I can’t do it, though.

Because I’m as weak as she is.  I’m not strong enough to get my shit together on my own.  She’s not strong enough to walk away.  She was barely an adult when we met, and this dysfunction has been all she’s known the last eight years.

“I do refuse to leave you,” she says as tears stream down her face.  I have caused these tears.  I have reduced her to this.

walk away.

walk away.

walk away.

I can’t do it, though.  I can’t walk away from her.  I told her once long ago that I couldn’t live in a world where she didn’t exist.  I couldn’t pretend that she didn’t exist.

Because she is everywhere.

Her blue eyes are the color of the sky.  Her laughter is better than any bird’s song.  Her smile is brighter than the sun.

She is my world, and she is everything.

“You’re everything, Jake.”

I hold her close, sink to the floor with her, rock her back and forth.  I tell myself to let her go.  I tell myself she deserves better.

Much better than you.

But I just…

“I can’t.”

I can’t walk away.

“I can’t walk away from you.”

I can’t let her go.

“I can’t let you go, Simi.”

I want her to have better.

“You deserve better.”

But I can’t leave her.

“Please don’t leave me.”

Please don’t go, Simone.

Her name means ‘one who hears.’

She has heard me.  She has heard me call out for her so many times.  She has heard my plea for her to stay, and has been faithful.

She is mine.

“Jake…”

I brace myself, wait for her to tell me that she’s going to leave.  I wait for those words that I know will eventually come – even if they do not come tonight, as we sit on the floor of our apartment, shards of glass from her coffee cup on one side, a photo album opened to a picture of us from her friend Hadley’s wedding on the other.

The good and the bad.

The better and the worse.

I refuse to marry her until I am better.  I refuse to promise to her that I will be faithful to her until I can really be faithful to her.

She’d marry me in this moment if I told her that was what I wanted.

“I’m here, Jake.”

I release my breath.  I hold her close.  I scoop her up into my arms and cradle her.  I kiss her face and tell her that I’m sorry.  I apologize all over myself.

“I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry I’m not good enough.

“I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry I keep straying.

“I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry I won’t marry you.

Loving her was the easiest decision I ever made.  But so was hurting her.  Each time, it’s happened by chance, easily, so easily I don’t realize it’s happening until after it’s already happened.  She deserves so much better.

But instead she chooses to stay with me.

“It’s okay,” she tells me.

it’s okay that you hurt me.

“It’s okay.”

it’s okay that you stray.

“It’s okay.”

it’s okay that you won’t marry me.

And then she says the words she always says, the ones that bring me the most comfort when I am not sure where she stands.

“More.”

This is her vow, even though she can’t make vows to me.  This is her plea, her way of asking me to stop straying, to stop hurting her.

I tell myself this time is the last time as I carry her to bed.  I tell myself that this is all I need – this bright, beautiful girl who brought life back to my world.  I tell myself that as long as there is Simone, there is no pain.

There will always be Simone.

“Always.”

you’ll never know

You look across the room and smile at the man who’s been your entire world for more than a decade.  He looks up, just knowing you’re looking at him, too, and winks.

“Well you’ve certainly done well for yourself.”

You don’t know the name of the man standing in front of you, but he’s some higher up with some firm at a competing company, and your best friend told you to play nice.  He hasn’t made the comment out of turn.  He is genuinely complimenting you on your accomplishments.

“Thank you, sir,” you tell him, offering him one of your dazzling smiles.  “It means a lot coming from someone as talented as you.”

“Simi.”

Jake greets you with a kiss on the cheek.  He wraps an arm around your waist, greeting the man you’re speaking to with a handshake.  “Nice to meet you,” he says.  “I’m Jacob Wessner, Simone’s husband.”

The man lights up then, and inundates you with questions.  Where did you meetHow did you meetHow long have you been married?

             Montauk.

             It’s actually a funny story.

             She cornered me.

             I sought you out.  I just couldn’t see you and not introduce myself.

             I’m glad she did.

             Married about six months now.

The man laughs along with you, taken in by your story.  It’s rare to see two people so obviously in love.

The two of you share a look.  Your husband’s wedding ring catches your eye and you are, not for the first time, completely taken aback at all that has happened, all that has transpired.

He walked away.  You walked away.

You came back.  He came back.

Wash.  Rinse.  Repeat.

It took ten years and one failed marriage, but you finally got it together.  He finally married you, after he came out of surgery and went to rehab and testified in court and waited for the guy who shot him to be sentenced to twenty years in prison with the possibility of parole in fifteen.

It took a village, as your other best friend said to you the day you married him.  You were married in Montauk, in the exact same place he kissed you when you were seventeen, before you were even old enough to know what love was.

Exactly eleven years to the day after he kissed you on the beach, he married you.

It took a village indeed.

The man you were talking to excuses himself and you turn to look at your husband.  He’s in his nicest suit, wearing a green shirt you bought him on your most recent trip to Texas to visit your stepsister and take care of things with some new talent signed with your label.  You’re wearing a green dress, too, loving that the two of you selected your outfits without even consulting one another.

             Great minds, Simi, he’d said to you.

“Few more schmoozes and I think we’ll be good to go,” you tell him.  You straighten his tie and smooth your hands over his shirt.  He looks amazing.

“You look even more amazing,” he says to you, and you blush, still not accustomed to him showering you with this much affection.

He really did change, though, after you left him, after you married someone else, after you told him that he needed to get his act together or lose you forever.

He follows you around the room as you kiss up to the executives your best friend didn’t want to face tonight.  He is the doting husband, though he isn’t playing a part.  He is genuinely happy for your success, proud of your accomplishments, listing them off without even having to look at a piece of paper to remind him of what you’ve done.

He knows you.  He’s always known you.  You wonder for about the thousandth time why he picked you, why he stayed.  You don’t need an answer to that, though, because he asks you the same thing every day, and your answer is always the same.

”More,” you say to him after you both settle into the town car waiting for you after the party.  He is watching you, having just asked you for the billionth time what you see in him.

You will always see more.  You will always love him more.  You will always choose him, even if, as you’d put it so many years ago, the Queen herself showed up.  He is yours.  You are his.  There is no question.

And he leaves it at that.  He does not push you for any more details.  He doesn’t ask you if you’re sure – though you know he will at some point in the coming days.  He accepts your explanation the way he’d accept it if you told him the sky was purple.

Because he loves you just as much – if not more so, you realize as you both make your way to your bedroom later in the evening. After all, he was the one who waited for you while you were married to someone else.  He allowed you to see what else was out there.  He didn’t push you then – though he certainly doesn’t mind doing it now.  You don’t mind, though.  He pushes you, and you push right back.

             Fire and ice baby, he’d said to you long ago.  You both run hot and cold, but you both know there isn’t anywhere else in the world you’d rather be than with each other.

The New York City skyline is visible from your bedroom and you thank him again for having the presence of mind to get this place when it was available – even though the two of you weren’t together at the time.

“Of course,” he replies as he comes up behind you and wraps his arms around you.  You lean into him, relishing the feel of his arms around you.  He is your one in ten billion.

And you are his everything.

“My reason for existing,” he whispers to you before kissing your cheek.

You stand and look out the window a few minutes more before climbing into bed.  You snuggle close to him, and he envelopes you.  He is all over – and always will be.  He will always be what you want.

And while the thought would scare a normal person, it doesn’t frighten you.  Eleven years later, and he still gives you goosebumps, makes your insides gooey.  He still gives you butterflies.

             Mine, mine, mine, you whispered to him the first night of your honeymoon.  Tonight, he repeats the sentiment, and tells you that he’s so proud of you.

You tell him you’re proud of him, too, and that you’ll never love anyone else.  He is your forever.  He is your safe haven.  He is yours, and you tell him that the greatest feat you ever accomplished is not the numerous journalism accolades you’ve received over the years, but the fact that you have the love of this man.  You can’t imagine what your life would be like without him.

“You’ll never know,” he says to you as you drift off to sleep in his arms.

             You’ll.

             Never.

             Know.