Romance

Rosaline

Lauren Chow

Rosaline Sinclair is desperate and on the run. When she stumbles into a job at a high-end strip club in New York, she meets Damon Cohen, a dark and dangerous stranger with a deeply protective streak. Can he help her...and can they keep themselves from getting far too close to be safe?

Age Rating: 18+ (Kidnapping, Violence Against Women, Violent Death)

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Rosaline - Book cover
Romance

Rosaline

Lauren Chow

Rosaline Sinclair is desperate and on the run. When she stumbles into a job at a high-end strip club in New York, she meets Damon Cohen, a dark and dangerous stranger with a deeply protective streak. Can he help her...and can they keep themselves from getting far too close to be safe?

Age Rating: 18+ (Kidnapping, Violence Against Women, Violent Death)

1: Chapter 1

ROSALINE

It’s freezing!

The harsh New York winds blew past my shivering figure. Teeth chattering, I scurried to my door, pulled out my new key, and fiddled with the reluctant lock until it opened.

I ducked inside and quickly shut the door behind me, making sure all three locks were secure.

I rubbed my hands together in a lame attempt to warm them. Even though my apartment was warmer than outside, the heater wasn’t efficient. It only brought the room up a few degrees.

Exhausted and cold, I tossed my keys carelessly onto the cracked counter. I looked around the room and tried not to cringe at the living arrangements.

The apartment was a disaster.

It was a small place, basically one room for the kitchen and a bed. The bathroom was tiny, almost too cramped even for my slender frame.

The walls were chipped and the carpet was stained and worn. I examined the stains and tilted my head. I wondered what possibly could have gotten stuck on the carpet. Some of it was crusty or molding.

I scrunched my nose in disgust before walking to the bed.

When I rented this apartment, I didn’t care about the conditions. The only thing that I cared about was finding a roof to cover my head.

I refused to sleep out on the streets. I didn’t know much about New York City, but I knew enough from living in Los Angeles that you didn’t want to be on the streets alone at night.

Looking at my new home, I almost regretted my decision. But it was too late now. I had already paid rent for the next few weeks and I was too scared to talk to the landlord.

He creeped me out when he was showing me the place, his yellow teeth on full display as he eyed my body in a way I didn’t want to think about.

Sitting on the worn-down mattress, I rubbed my face in exhaustion and frustration.

I didn’t get the job—again.

This was my fifth interview. I had applied at local stores and restaurants, but each one rejected me. You would think in a big city like this there would be multiple job openings…wrong!

I’d pleaded with staff members, but they claimed there were no available jobs. I was getting desperate.

Tears of frustration started to build and I quickly wiped them away. Now was not the time to cry like the baby I was. I would have to do it later tonight.

I was also running low on money, which only increased the load on my shoulders. I already paid a lot for my plane ticket and apartment. That didn’t include the bills, food, and personal items I needed.

I didn’t have a lot of money to my name. My parents had me when they were older and had passed away two years before.

I didn’t have many friends because I was too shy and even if I did, I wouldn’t have asked for help. This was my mess to solve.

Maybe you wouldn’t be in this mess if you’d just stayed away.

I shook my head. This was my fault, after all. If I hadn’t closed the shop early, I would still be in at home Los Angeles, reading a book in bed.

But that Rosaline didn’t exist anymore. This Rosaline needed to stay clear of any trouble.

I just needed to find a stupid job first.

Sighing once more, I made my way to the kitchen and grabbed the only thing in my pantry—Instant Top Ramen. I added some water before putting it in the microwave.

While it cooked, I went to the bathroom to freshen up. Washing my face, I looked up into the mirror. I furrowed my brows and cringed at the unfamiliar girl reflected there.

She looked so…drained. Her dark locks looked oily and flat as they went over her shoulders. Unhealthy pale skin glowed underneath the lighting and her face looked a little sunken.

There were dark circles under her eyes, showing her exhaustion and stress. I stared into their haunted brown depths for a few moments before closing my eyes tightly.

It hurt to know that that girl was me. The once carefree and happy Rosaline was missing, only to be replaced by this withering ghost. I was going to dissolve into nothing if I didn’t take care of myself more.

My depressing thoughts ceased as I heard the microwave beep. Wanting to get away from the reflection, I gratefully went back into the kitchen.

After finishing my Top Ramen, I put on my worn-out pajamas, added my heavy jacket, and climbed into the bed. I tucked the covers tightly around my curled body to ward off the cold.

I closed my eyes tightly, hoping to dream about the warm California sun instead of the cold dark night.

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