*** Upper New Adult Spinoff Standalone to the USA Today Bestselling Novel, Under the Influence***
“Shhhh, Cassandra, it’s our little secret.”
Secrets are stubborn things when they refuse to remain hidden. They tear through your soul, clawing and lashing until the pain becomes so unbearable, you’re left no choice but to silently scream your agony. No one hears you, of course. You smile on the outside and drift through life as though your mind is at peace, but all the while, you remain your own tortured prisoner. Sealed inside the darkened, soundproof room of your conscience, deafening cries echo as you plead for someone to unlock the door and release you from your nightmares. And eventually, when no one comes, you find ways to cope. To dull the suffering the only way you know how.
But what happens when you’ve become so numb, when everything around you has become so blurred, that you begin to lose focus on the saving grace standing directly in front of you? When you’ve anesthetized yourself to the point of losing consciousness, forced to watch as his once solid image fades away, lost to your reach in the haze as it smothers you?
What do you do then?
You fight. You heal. Then you bring him back.
Well, my name is Cassie Cooper, and it’s time.
No more secrets.
This is my story.
***WARNING - The subject matter of this novel centers around the psychological effects due to sexual abuse experienced during childhood. For this reason, as well as sexual situations, language, and adult themes, suggested reading age is 17+.***
AMAZON US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01A7HZXES/ref=mp_s_a_1_8?qid=1452034692&sr=8-8&pi=CB192198896_AA75_QL70&keywords=lb+simmons
AMAZON UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B01A7HZXES/ref=mp_s_a_1_5?qid=1452036714&sr=8-5&pi=CB192561891_AA75&keywords=lb+simmons
“You’ve been watching my apartment?”
Grady’s mouth quirks and when my eyes fall directly to his perfect lips, the heat from before resurges between us. I swallow deeply as he slowly inches forward, the warmth of his body searing my skin as he hovers near me. Then those lips pass my own to land on the shell of my ear before he whispers, “My men watch your apartment.”
He chuckles and his heated breaths fan my ear, sending a wave of goosebumps rising along my skin. “For the first time in my career, I was forced to take myself off surveillance. Because while my main objective was to keep an eye on your surroundings, all I could focus on was beautiful, irresistible you. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from you, and because of that, my involvement was compromised.”
By this point, I’m no longer breathing, so as soon as he retracts his presence and is once again relaxing in his chair, a whoosh of air enters my lungs. After drawing a long breath in and releasing it, I do the only thing I can do.
I blink again.
Then I clear my throat and break my one-question rule, again. “Exactly how long have you been watching me?”
Grady leans forward, pressing his forearms on his thighs and lacing his hands so they dangle between his knees. Then he opens his mouth and completely blows my mind.
“I’ve been watching you long enough to know something broke you. Something you keep hidden, something that weighs on your soul. You pretend, but your eyes betray you. There’s pain hidden within them, but when you smile, really smile, the pain is gone and you’re you. Not the person you pretend to be. And like I said earlier, I find that very interesting. I want to know what makes you smile, how to make you smile, and how to keep that smile a permanent fixture on that gorgeous face of yours. And more importantly, I want to know why you feel unworthy of that smile, and how to fix that too.”
He gives me a crooked grin and shakes his head. “I guess what I’m saying, is I would very much like the chance to get to know you, if you’ll let me.”
I blink, then swallow. Because once again, there is nothing I can say that could ever match that.
He laughs silently, gorgeous smile on full display, then extends his hand. “Do you trust me?”
Trust. It’s another one of those small words that carries such profound meaning.
I trusted once.
And it was that trust that broke me.
I dared to trust a second time.
And the evil hands of Silas Kincaid slaughtered that.
I don’t know if I have it in me to trust a third time. I really don’t. Not with someone who makes me laugh, or someone who makes me feel things completely unprecedented. Someone who without a doubt carries the power to completely shatter me.
Right on cue, voices slither through my mind, screaming their protest. Their warnings.
Only Spencer deserves light and sunshine.
Not you, Cassandra. Never for you.
You will always be alone.
As you deserve.
I look away to the empty chairs across the table.
The voices rejoice in their victory while the obvious fact in front of me slices another gash in my chest.
I’m all alone.
Grady’s voice is barely heard about their yelling. But soon, the soothing tenor enters my mind and stifles their screams. “Don’t get lost in that head of yours. I’m right here. Focus on me.”
I tear my gaze away from the chairs to find myself immersed in a beautiful sapphire stare, so earnest and sincere as his outreached hand remains, waiting for me to find the courage to take hold. My chin trembles and moisture coats my eyes. I swallow and allow his stare to fortify me as I attempt to will the voices away.
I’m so tired of pretending.
And maybe it’s the prolonged exhaustion, but as I root myself into those damn eyes, I find myself succumbing to their comfort.
I know I cannot fully grant his request.
Or can I?
As I search deep within myself, I find there’s just not enough courage left in my reserve.
But still, I want.
But you don’t deserve that. You never have.
But you can’t have.
God, do I want.
Inhaling deeply, I hold his gaze and after several heavy seconds, I finally release my breath. My arm reaches forward, and as his hand wraps around mine, I revel in its warmth. It travels through my body and its heat settles in my cheeks. I narrow my eyes, but decide in this moment, I will give him all I can give. “I want to trust you.”
Out of Focus by L.B. Simmons is brilliant, captivating, and gut wrenching. After meeting Cassie in Under The Influence, I never could have imagined her story would be one with such horrors and heartbreak.
I don't want to get into the nitty gritty details about Cassie's life, but I do want to talk about all the feels while reading Out of Focus. Cassie's story for me was unimaginable. Her childhood was nothing short of a nightmare. As hard as it was for me to stomach at times, I know it must have been harder to write it. L.B. Simmons is never afraid to wade into the deep end and immerse herself in waters that most would never tread. She writes with such poise and elegance. Simmons takes the unbearable details and marries them with discretion to create this balance where readers are able to grasp the severity of a situation without being completely turned off by it.
I also fell head over heels for our hero. How can you not love Grady? He's the silver lining in this immensely dark cloud. There's something beautiful about his love for Cassie. Out of Focus shows readers that love can be strong enough to wipe the dirtiest of slates clean. If you're looking for a powerful read that will leave you breathless, pick up Out of Focus by L.B. Simmons today!
LB has done it again. A story so amazing, I got sucked into the story the second I open the first page. LB gifted us Cassie’s story. Cassie is Spencer from Under The Influence’s best friend. Cassie was a huge part of Spencer’s story so to hear her voice was great.
We learn all about Cassie’s demons. We learned the hell she went through as a child that shaped her into the woman or shell of a woman she became. Cassie’s story is heart breaking and horrible. I hate some people in her life who didn’t make her feel deserving of their kindness and love.
When Grady entered her life, she started to believe she was worth something. Grady is kind, loving, patient as all hell and understanding of Cassie. Even though he had no idea the secrets Cassie kept from everyone, he loved her.
This book is about overcoming a past so dark, there is no light. The author did a remarkable job writing about such a sensitive topic. There was a perfect balance of painting a horrible picture and fading to black. One thing that I absolutely loved was LB brought back characters that I LOVED from her previous books. Not only did we get Spencer and Dalton but we got to see Aubrey from The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller.
Another great book by an amazing author. I loved every word and if you haven’t read LB Simmons yet, I urge you to. Her words are beautiful.
L.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and holds a degree in Biomedical Science. She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.