What would you do if the man of your dreams stood before you? Leila is shocked and dazed on discovering that the masked stranger from a Halloween party, Nikoli, is the same man haunting her dreams. A man who dreams of her too…a man with whom her connection transcends this lifetime.
Age Rating: 18+ (Child Abuse, Extreme Violence/Gore, Kidnapping, Sexual Assault/Abuse, Blood)
Dream of Me by Krystle Byrd is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.
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Leila Spark turned toward the voice. She had been shoved by someone on the dance floor into an unsuspecting person.
The girl behind her sneered, an uncomplimentary look for someone with too many piercings on her face.
“Yeah, right! I should kick your ass, bitch!”
The girl grabbed Leila’s long maroon hair, tugging painfully at the roots, and used it to throw her back into the sea of bodies.
Leila stumbled forward. Her friend reached out and stopped her from stumbling into another embarrassment.
The irony of the girl’s attitude in a dance club called “The Cathedral” did not slip by unnoticed as Leila shook off the encounter.
Perhaps, she thought, the girl had drunk too much. Maybe it was an anger problem.
Leila found herself caring less about it as the cavernous walls of “The Cathedral” reverberated with the bass of a hip-hop song.
She had been here for hours, getting lost in the crowd as she moved to the beat. Time slipped away and her stress melted from her body.
The music filled her soul unlike anything else before. Nothing in her life was as freeing as this. It was as if every time she danced, she discovered a part of her that had been missing for too long.
The world disappeared as she became one with the music. Her body glistened with tiny beads of sweat, soaking the red halter top that was clinging to her like a second skin.
Her tight black jeans molded to her body and showed off her curves nicely. Her favorite red high-top Converse shoes complimented her top and felt comfortable on her feet while she danced.
As the song ended, she opened her eyes and looked around. A slow song began playing. She saw couples swaying together and scowled at their happiness.
It wasn’t that she was against romance. Just the opposite, in fact. She just felt alone in a crowd.
Leila’s best friend, Elaine Montgomery, had run off to get drinks. Looking down at her boring black wristwatch, Leila realized it had been nearly a half hour since she last saw Elaine.
The club’s multicolored flashing lights made Leila squint. They also made it hard to concentrate.
Leila walked around aimlessly, hunting for her bestie, only to finally spot her making out with a guy on the dance floor.
They were pressed together so tightly they might as well have been Siamese twins conjoined at the lips.
Elaine did not know this guy well enough to be playing tonsil hockey with him. Leila made a face.
As she made her way through the crowd of couples, she couldn’t believe Elaine abandoned her. They were supposed to be having “girl time” this weekend, but Leila felt all but forgotten.
One day, she hoped, she wouldn’t be so invisible or easily ignored. Everyone seemed to have somebody, except Leila.
A lifetime of pushing men away left her feeling empty at times. Lonely mostly. As the couples danced, Leila realized she was ready to find her dream guy, if such a man could exist.
She had last seen him in a dream two nights ago in one of the many fantasies she wrote about in a dream journal hidden in her closet.
Every dream featured the same nearly featureless, mysterious stranger.
She had never met a man like him, which would make sense because he was nothing more than a figment of her love starved imagination at this point.
Just the thought of his silky hair falling over his eyes as he skillfully made love to her body and her soul made her wet with desire.
Even though she’d never actually seen his full face, and what she had seen of him was blurry and out of focus, there were many things about him that stood out.
She bit her lip, trying to concentrate on something else. She blushed just thinking how his fiery, passionate eyes might look and full luscious lips would taste.
She longed to hear his voice and to have it forever ingrained in her memory—was it smooth like velvet with a rich honey-like tonality? Or deep and rumbly?
How she wished she knew what he looked like. She was so lost in her head, it was as though she could feel his gentle, knowing hands touching her at that very moment in front of everyone.
“So thirsty…If people would just move,” she groaned.
Leila needed someone to make her feel again, to take away the numb feeling that had taken up residence in her heart. Leila needed it to be a possibility that they could meet one day.
The ache inside her was a constant gnaw only slightly more bothersome than the dry feeling in her mouth.
She realized she was parched and made her way through the crowd to the bar to get a drink. As she waited on the bartender to ready her drink, the twenty-three-year-old contemplated her life.
As the assistant of an assistant to a magazine owner, her job was to get coffee. For everyone. The job was fast-paced and stressful. She knew it sucked, but it paid the bills and it was paying for her drink.
Leila had goals and dreams—if she could only get out of her own way. She hadn’t just lucked into her sucky occupation. It was one of many steps toward becoming an editor of her own magazine.
It was a step that had moved her from the hustle and bustle of Denver, Colorado, to the slightly less nature of Littleton, Georgia. It was a decision she still ranked as one of her best.
Unlike Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia were green and beautiful.
Although she lived in a small ghetto known to the locals as “Little Mexico,” it was nestled on the side of a mountain, surrounded by trees.
She woke up to beautiful sunrises. The experience made up for what was missing at work. Things weren’t perfect yet, but she was content and felt at home for once in her life.
Most of the men she met just wanted to sleep with her, or have her support them.Those men were not her type.
She wanted a man who was independent, someone she could lean on. Leila had never truly been in love.
And she sometimes had issues with sex due to a rough childhood. She didn’t much like to think about such things, though.
Leila tilted her head back and swallowed her shot, drowning not only her current sorrows but also the images that flashed in her mind of her father and his sexual abuse. It was hard for her to go there as she had never come to terms with her feelings toward it. Therapy didn’t seem to help.
It took her a long time before she was even comfortable enough to try to have sex.
Nevertheless, she was tired of feeling as though sex was work and she was tired of being with men who could think of nothing better to do with her.
The man she had been dreaming about was the man that she needed, the only man she wanted. She wanted to feel as bonded to him as he made her feel in her dreams.
She wanted to lose herself in his eyes, his gorgeous, captivating eyes. Her every dream left her with a deep ache in the core of her stomach as reality came rushing back in.
After a while, a hollowness threatened to overtake her sense of reason.
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“What’s your poison?” The ruggedly handsome bartender asked her. His dark hair, brown eyes and tan skin hinted that he was possibly of Spanish descent.
How long have I been sitting here zoning out?
“A Jack and Coke, please,” she exclaimed breathlessly.
She needed to stop living in a fantasy and wake up to her reality. She just had to take her mind off that man! He didn’t exist for Pete’s sake!
She rested her head on her hand and looked down at the wooden counter. She took a sip of her drink, her thoughts far away, a glazed look in her eyes.
Suddenly someone shook her out of her reverie and she looked up, seeing double and having trouble focusing.
“Excuse me, lovely, but are you going to pay for that or what?” prodded the flirtatious bartender.
“Oh sorry. I must have been daydreaming. How much?” she rushed out, embarrassed.
“Four even,” he said.
She handed him the money and apologized again, then proceeded to chug her drink. The bartender thanked her graciously and studied her for a long moment, as if sizing her up.
“Looks like you could use this,” he said as he poured her another. “Don’t worry, it’s on the house. My name is…,” he said as he stuck out his hand.
“What? Ray?” She shouted back at him over the music. “It’s so loud!”
“I’m Jay,” he yelled back, just as the music was switching to a slow song, causing them both to laugh. “Well that is slightly embarrassing.”
“Thank you for the drink. Nice to meet you. I’m Leila,” she said with a grin, shaking his hand firmly. He flashed her a smile so brief, she thought she had imagined it.
As he went back to helping his other customers, he left her there to wonder whether or not she really looked that desperate.
Maybe he was just being nice…
It was very likely, it was part of his job to get people to want to come back. That was probably why he had been so flirty towards her, a stranger.
She put the ice-cold glass up against her cheek. The condensation from it felt so good after working up such a sweat dancing, that she groaned in relief.
She closed her eyes and let the coolness of the glass roam over her cheeks, neck and forehead. This was her fifth drink.
Saying she was merely drunk would be a vast understatement. She slumped a little more in her chair and lay her head upon the bar, closing her eyes.
She promised herself it would only be for a few minutes…
The hair on the back of her neck stood up, alerting her to a change in the atmosphere.
This wasn’t the first time that she’d had some sort of sixth sense that she couldn’t explain. In fact, the majority of her hunches lately had turned out correct and had been growing in frequency.
She sat up quickly and surveyed the crowded dance floor. No one was looking at her, but she still had a feeling that someone was watching her.
She turned very slowly and looked around at the bar. No one caught her eye, no one looked suspicious.
Then a guy moved to the side and she saw that behind him was a dark haired man leaning against the bar. She gazed at him a moment, finding it hard to see him in the dimly lit room.
She drank in his body, his hair, the shape of his jaw. Then very slowly he turned to her, with his hand still resting on the bar. Her breath caught. Could it be? Was it him?
This is crazy!
There was a roaring sound in her ears, like the sound of the ocean, drowning out all other noises. Her heartbeat started to quicken as she felt panic rising in her chest, making it hard to breathe.
He started to walk towards her with an interested smile on his face. She stood up and tried to walk towards him, but her feet felt rooted to the ground.
It felt like time was moving in slow motion as he made his way towards her.
When he finally did reach her, all she could do was just stare at him dumbly with her mouth hanging open.
She tried to speak, but all that came out was a gurgling sound. He simply smiled and touched her cheek lovingly, sending shivers up and down her spine.
Was this another daydream? Was she losing it?
Jay, the bartender tried to get her attention by calling her name and she looked back briefly, but didn’t understand what he was trying to tell her. He nodded towards the man she was with, which confused her.
As she gazed upon his features, her knees started to buckle. It was so wonderful to actually see his face that she almost cried.
He wrapped his strong arms around her, holding her up as her vision started to blur. He tried to speak to her, but all she could hear was the music, blaring loudly.
“What?” she asked him, dazed.
He spoke again and it looked like he mouthed the words I want you but she couldn’t be sure. She shook her head and put her hands to her ear, letting him know that she couldn’t hear him.
She wasn’t feeling well, so when he pointed at the door and then to her, suggesting they go outside, she was leery of his advances, but wanted to get some air.
She couldn’t explain why she was haunted by this stranger in her dreams, but her pull to find him was always on her mind, as if she were under some kind of spell.
She nodded her head in agreement, knowing that they were in a public place and feeling somewhat safe in that knowledge. He grabbed her hand so they wouldn’t lose each other and guided her outside.
She turned her head slowly towards the exotic looking bartender, blinking slowly in her delusion, but was too weak to fight the man taking her outside.
What is going on?
When they got outside, she let go of his hand and looked up at the sky. It was so beautiful that it made the night feel unreal.
He came up behind her and held her by the waist, making her body tingle in response to his touch, resting his head on the top of her head.
She felt uneasy, on edge and she couldn’t seem to pry his hands off of her. Her movements were slow, but deliberate in removing the vice-like grip he had on her waist.
He turned her to him and she closed her eyes, trying to fight off waves of nausea, placing her hands upon his chest in an effort to push him away.
He held onto her despite her attempts at being free. He kissed her, pushing his lips against hers a little too roughly for her taste, making her cry out.
He continued trailing hard kisses down her neck.
He released her and whispered in her ear, “Baby you’re making me so hot. Do you want to go back to my place?
“Or do you want to just do it in the car out here in the parking lot?”
She pulled back, shocked that he would say such a thing after meeting her for the first time. She was in for even more of a shock when she saw his face in the moonlight.
He was blond haired, freckled and his eyes glittered a weird shade of dark green in the moonlight. He was dressed in a white jersey and blue jeans.
His dirty white tennis shoes were laced loosely and were about to come untied. He had a deep longing look on his face and was panting heavily.
He looked at her lustily, drinking her in from head to toe. She felt as if he had X-ray eyes and could see right through her. It made her feel so dirty.
“What’s wrong, baby?” he said with questioning eyes. “Don’t you want me too?”
For a minute she just looked at him, with a dumbstruck look on her face.
Am I being punked or something?
“Are we going to do it or what, sexy?” he asked her again.
“My car’s just this way. It’s a convertible, but I can put the top up if you’d like,” he said wagging his eyebrows at her suggestively.
“Uh…I’m sorry, but where’s the guy I came out here with?” she asked him, expecting it to be part of some kind of cruel joke that was being played at her expense.
“What guy?” he said looking around. “You came out here with me, baby, but we can go get another guy if you’d like. I don’t mind as long as we get to do it soon. You’re killing me here.”
“I’ve got to go. I’m so sorry, it’s all been a horrible misunderstanding. I-I thought you were somebody else!” she said, panicking a little.
“I can be anyone you want me to be, sweet ass. God you’re fine!” he said, whistling in appreciation.
She started to shake her head and push him away once more, just wanting to go home. He continued holding on to her, asking what was going on.
“Stop! Take your hands off of her or I’ll call the police!” Jay was running towards them, calling out to the man who was holding onto her, a baseball bat in hand.
The blond haired boy released her, finally, with his hands in the air and started to run, his eyes wide with fright. Jay shouted at him in anger, but he didn’t follow.
She collapsed just before the bartender reached her, falling hard onto her knees, skinning them. Tears streamed down her face in shame and fear.
She was shaking as he tried to comfort her by putting his hand on her shoulder, but it only made her shriek in surprise, her body jumping at the unwanted touch.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. Are you all right? I can call the police…”
She hiccuped, trying to breathe deep and gather her wits before she spoke.
“No. No need. Thank you for saving me…I don’t know…I don’t know what would have happened if you…if you hadn’t been there.”
“Did you know the fellow? If you don’t mind my asking.”
Leila held her head in her hands, feeling like she was spinning in circles. Had she drank too much? Or…
“I didn’t…I think he might have drugged me or something or maybe I’m drunk. I’m unsure…”
Even with her eyes closed, she felt the vertigo trying to knock her over as she tried to stand, failing miserably as her knees buckled once more, the adrenaline leaving her system and exhaustion setting in.
This time Jay caught her and held her up, his arms gentler than the stranger that had held her but a few minutes ago.
“What the hell is wrong with me? I can’t believe how stupid I am!” she cried out, sniffling pitifully.
Jay looked confused by her words, but said he would call her a cab to take her home safely.
True to his word, a cab arrived after ten minutes to take her back to her apartment. She texted Elaine to let her know that she had gone home and that she was okay, so she wouldn’t worry.
When she got home she threw her journal in the trash, giving up on the hope of finding the dream guy.
Something even more terrible could have befallen her and she wished that she had taken the bartender up on his offer to call the police.
With the way she was feeling, she could barely crawl into bed, let alone think about going down to the police station to file a report. All she wanted to do was forget it.
She finally fell into a fitful sleep, sprawled on her bed, as dawn rose above the horizon, marking the beginning of another day.
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