Which Team Will You Choose?
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Layla Jennings is a fiery, independent and level headed nineteen year old. Always playing by the rules and doing what’s right, she has been the apple of her father’s eye and her mother’s treasure. But moving to college in Long Beach is about to turn Layla’s world upside down. With the gorgeous, pierced, guitar playing, wannabe rock star Oliver living across the hall, Layla finds herself thrown into a world of music, money, torn friendships and blood simmering sexual tension.
But on taking a job in a local coffee shop she meets the deliciously handsome Jared Garrett. Convincing herself that he is a waste of oxygen she tries to put the young successful business man out of her mind. But when he continues to show up she finds herself constantly thinking of him. Dazzled by his boyish good looks and discovering a whole new world of carnal and erotic pleasures, Layla finds herself falling head over heels in love but with Jared hiding a vital secret can she ever truly trust him?
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The Big Apple
Walking through the crowds, I gazed out of the vast window at the sparkling lights of New York. “Does he know I’m here?”
Daniel shook his head. “You asked me not to say, so I didn’t. I’m really glad you’re here though. He’s been fucking miserable since we left Long Beach. Besides, with you here, I have someone to talk to and keep me from going crazy. Things are about to get real hectic at the company. You sure you know what you’re in for?”
I gave him a puzzled look and he smiled at me. “Guess not. Well, you’ll learn.”
Daniel wasn’t just Jared’s driver; he was his friend, even if Jared didn’t realize it or choose to admit it. I felt that the two of us had also become friends. After all, he’d had my back so many times I’d lost count. When I’d been arrested, it was Daniel who’d called Jared and, as it turned out, broken several traffic laws to get to him. That awful night at Felix’s apartment would have ended a lot differently had Daniel not called Jared and warned him of our activity. I had a lot to thank him for and keeping him company during our time together, was the least I could do. I figured that it must be lonely work driving Jared around, sitting there, in the front seat, a screen between them. It all seemed awfully secluded, isolated and impersonal.
I was not going to be one of those high society girlfriends that I saw in magazines and newspapers. The ones that look as though they have caramel stuck to the end of their noses and pout a lot when people speak to them. I was definitely not buying into the hype of that lifestyle. Daniel was stuck with me now, and I was determined to have some fun.
“Do we have to go straight to the apartment? Will he get suspicious if you’re gone?”
He eyed me skeptically. “I guess not. I told him I had to run errands and he’s been so distant, he just kinda nodded and dismissed me. I could have been naked and dancing, and he wouldn’t have noticed. He’s really not himself right now.”
My heart sank. My intense, hot mess, businessman was in pain, and I was the cause. Bitch.
I was desperate to see him and put him out of his agonizing misery, but I was also determined to get to know Daniel better. I was going to be spending a lot of time with him during the next few months and aside from Jared, he was the only person I knew in New York and I hardly knew him at all.
Reaching the exit, Daniel gestured to the shiny, sleek Mercedes parked curbside. I smiled at the familiarity of it. He opened my door and ushered me inside before running around to pack my case into the trunk. He got into the driver’s seat and glanced back, smiling at me. I leaned forward and rested my hand on his shoulder. “I’m starving. Dinner?”
He gave me a look that told me he was unsure if it was such a good idea. “I don’t know. I mean, aren’t you anxious to see him?”
I shook my head. I wasn’t anxious to see him; I was freaking out from nerves and the more I worried, the harder my stomach churned. “Nope. I’m Hank Marvin and I need something to eat before I throw up from nerves.” He chuckled.
I nodded. “Yeah, you know, starving? I heard it on TV once.”
He threw his head back and laughed. “Since you put it that way, I’d be happy to have dinner with you. There’s a burger joint just around the corner, or do you want something a little fancier?”
I shrugged. “I think, a nice juicy burger sounds awesome.”
* * * *
Sitting in the booth, I scanned my surroundings. New York was a far cry from Pasadena or even Long Beach. It was almost eight in the evening, and the streets were still bustling with people.
The burger bar was quiet though. It was one of those nineteen fifties diner types and had a jukebox playing in the corner. The waitress rolled over on her skates and placed the most enormous cheeseburger that I had ever seen in front of me. The smell of greasy food and the delicious vanilla from my creamy, ice-cold milkshake was a welcome scent. Every single bite of my meal was like a taste of heaven. I really was hungry. I hadn’t eaten properly in days and I finally had my appetite back. I was definitely looking forward to my first New York bagel, too. Bagels. Coffee. Ollie.
My heart plummeted into my stomach again and I suddenly lost my appetite. My chest felt tight, and I could feel unshed tears begging to be released.
I could only imagine how broken he was right now. I’d done a horrible thing and I’d done it over a text! It was selfish, cowardly, and I deserved whatever hate or anger he was feeling toward me. He hadn’t replied or called since, and I knew that we were not only done as lovers, but also as friends. He’d never forgive me now, and I didn’t deserve him to.
Daniel frowned at me. “You okay? You seem a little distracted. You’re not having second thoughts are you?”
Snapping out of my mood and forcing thoughts of Ollie out of my mind, I shook my head. “No. I’m just a little tired from the flight.”
He smiled and took another big bite of his burger.
Pushing my plate away, I leaned back and cocked my head to the side. “So, I guess you’ll be keeping me company while Jared works, huh? I hope you don’t mind. I promise not to be high maintenance and to make it as much fun as I can.” He grinned and pushed his plate away, cleaning his hands on a napkin.
“It’s my job to take you wherever you want to go. Jared doesn’t usually use the Mercedes unless he’s going to a formal dinner or social. He’ll take the Jag so that leaves me at your disposal. Shopping shows and sightseeing … I’m the man to take you there, with Jared’s permission, of course.”
Jared’s permission? I rolled my eyes and shook my head at the statement. The whole time we’d been together he seemed to think he could dictate where I could go, how, and with whom. Things were going to change and for the better, I hoped.
“You leave Jared to me. I want to see everything, all the sights this city has to offer, and Jared is not going to stop me from having fun. I’m an adult and it’s time he started treating me like one.”
Daniel nodded, but I could see he was conflicted. “Well, if anyone can handle him, I’d say you can. Speaking of Jared, we should probably get going. You ready for this?” I bit my lip and smiled. I was so ready I was practically giddy with anticipation. Rolling his eyes, Daniel paid for our meal, even though I’d begged him to let me and we made our way back to the car.
I sat in the back because I needed a distraction as my nerves began to swarm in my stomach. “So where’s home for you Daniel?” He looked at me in the rearview mirror. “Illinois. I moved to California when my dad got transferred to another division of his company. I was about thirteen. My mom moved back to Illinois after the divorce, though. How about you?”
He nodded and smiled. “Small town boy, small town girl, and here we are in the Big Apple. Have you ever been to New York before?”
I shook my head. “Other than San Francisco, I’ve never really traveled beyond Long Beach. You like it here? I mean, you must be here a lot with Jared and his business.”
He glanced in the mirror at me again, and I saw his eyebrows furrow. “Can’t say I hate it or love it. It’s where I am. I have an apartment here that Jared pays for and I look at it as just another place I work. It’s not like I vacation here or anything. I’m on duty all week and some Saturdays, so I never really thought about whether I like it. I hardly know it. I’ve never seen the sights or anything else New York has to offer outside of the functions I drive Jared to.”
I felt bad for him and decided then, that I would do everything I could to make his time and mine in New York more fun.
“I guess we’re both gonna have to make New York home for now. Stick with me, Dan. I intend to have lots of fun while I’m here.”
He smiled and chuckled a little. “Dan?”
“Do you hate it?” He shook his head.
“I like it. Dan. Yep. You can call me Dan, Miss Jennings.”
I grinned and leaned forward to his seat. “And you must call me Layla. Deal?” His smile widened. “Deal. Well, we’re here. I’ll get your bags and give you a minute to breathe. You look a bit flushed.”
I looked at myself in the rear view. I was beet red. Nerves were no longer swarming; they were twirling like a tornado in my stomach.
We’d pulled up in front of an impressive building. With its white brick and elegant golden window frames, it was certainly extravagant and definitely expensive. One look at the name above the golden-framed glass door told me I was right. ‘Garrett Towers.’ It was one of Jared’s for sure.
My eyes immediately darted to the top floor where he would no doubt have the penthouse. My heart did a little skip and my insides twisted.
Opening my door, Daniel smiled and held my bags in his hand.
“Ready?” Now there was a question I couldn’t answer.
Ready to go up there? Absolutely.
Ready to see Jared? Oh good God, yes.
Ready to leave my old life behind and start my new one with him? Well, that would come eventually. Wouldn’t it?
The doorman saw me exit the car and nodded at Daniel. “Layton, this is Miss Jennings. She’s here to see Mr. Garrett. Would you please grant her entry while I park the car?” The large and burly gentleman scanned me from head to toe as I stood awkwardly on the sidewalk. I bit my lip anxiously.
Opening the door, he smiled politely. “Of course. Right this way. Let me take your bags for you, ma’am.”
Daniel grinned at me and nudged my arm, immediately pulling me from my dazed state. “You gotta go in there some time. He’s going to be thrilled to see you. Go on. Get in there, girl.”
I beamed back at him and threw my arms around his neck.
“Thank you so much, Dan. Wish me luck.” He snorted.
“You don’t need it. He’s crazy about you. I’ll catch you later. Have a good night.” Giving me a wink, he got in the car and drove away toward a large pair of iron gates, which I assumed, led to the parking lot beneath the building
Layton cleared his throat loudly. Giving him an apologetic look, I followed him inside.
The foyer was a gleaming white and the front desk was a beautiful ivory stone with gold trim. It matched the marble floor perfectly. I stood at the elevator and fidgeted mindlessly. When it finally chimed and the doors opened, I was so caught up in my thoughts; it startled me a little. I could hardly breathe as we entered, and as Layton reached for the keypad, I caught his hand in my own. “I just need a minute.” Taking a deep, calming breath, I held my nerve and nodded at him. He pressed the ‘P’ on the panel, and I hitched a breath as the doors closed and we headed, rapidly, to the penthouse. Well, here we go.
“I’ve missed you so much. When you left that day, I thought I’d never hold you in my arms, feel your body against mine, kiss these lips, or hear the sound of your voice ever again. I’ve been living in hell without you. You’re my angel, and I can’t find heaven without you.”
Talk about a triangle that will slowly pull your chest open and expose your heart to all of the elements of the poisonous world, Sheesh! This series has captured my heart and attention since I read Bound Together about a year ago! And I was so happy to see the release of Burning Up! The story of Layla, Jared, and Ollie will consume you in every way possible. I went through so many emotions reading this beautifully written sequel. I’ve been on team _____ for so long, for a whole year! And NO I won’t tell you if it was Jared or Ollie, but I will say this. I changed teams!! I never thought that I would, but Marie writes this story in such a way, that it makes both logical and heartfelt sense! And yes my heart is sort of broken, but also kind of mended at the same time if that makes any sense.
“I would never forget him. I couldn’t. I was still in love with him.”
From the minute I started this book a smile was spread across my face just for the pure fact of getting back to these three intriguing people. I knew it wouldn’t be a simple story, but I didn’t realize that it would be so all encompassing. Layla goes through so many emotions revolving around what she thinks she wants, and what is actually good for her. And I began to soften to the idea that what was good for her, was to just be alone. I knew that wouldn’t happen as that wouldn’t have been conducive to the story, but at one point I was so torn that maybe I would have accepted it. There are so many things that I want to tell about what happens!! But I just can’t for the sake of not spoiling the story!
“You hold another man in your heart, and I have to accept it and thank God everyday that you’re here with me, while worrying that it’s not where you want to be.”
So I can’t say what happens, but I will say that Jared pissed me off quite a bit in this sequel. He’s overbearing, possessive, and maybe a little crazy. And to be honest that normally doesn’t bother me, but since I have such a fondness for him, I believe I was more disappointed in him. I really feel like I know these characters, so when one does something stupid I’m really affected. And don’t get me wrong Layla has her fair share of stupid moments as well. And Ollie was just a breath of fresh air like usual. So yeah to say I was torn is a major understatement! Layla makes a choice, but obviously that choice will always be tested by her undying love for the other guy! In true love triangle fasion, and I LOVED it! Still love it! This story won’t leave my head for a while, and I’m pretty sure that by the time the ending came, I was content… I think. I mean I’m not really sure how I feel completely. HA! Well at least I know that there will be more of Layla’s story to come in 2014 with Coming Down (Bound Together #3) And I cannot wait for that!
“Don’t deny it. I saw the way your eyes gazed at me as I backed you against that wall. The way your body trembled as mine got closer and closer. Or the way you licked your lips, begging and enticing me to kiss them. You can’t hide it, Layla. Your whole body screams that you want me, even if you try to convince yourself that you don’t.”
Born and bred in Essex, England, Marie Coulson discovered her love of writing in her early teens. Beginning with poetry and song lyrics, she tried her hand at creative writing while studying for her English GCSE.
It was love at first line.
Unfortunately, Marie's career as a childcare and education practitioner soon took up most of her time and writing became something she only dreamed about.
In the summer of 2012 she quit her job and enrolled at university, ready to start a new career as a therapist. This left her with a lot of time on her hands and on August the 20th she sat down and wrote the first chapter of Bound Together.
Bound Together was a story that had been waiting three years to be written and when fingers hit the keyboard...Layla, Jared and Ollie's story was born.
Marie has since written and released two novels in the Bound Together series and a novella. Her romantic comedy novel Diary Of A Dieter has also received excellent reviews and is the debut novel in the Confessions series.
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