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Excerpt for The Book Addict by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The Book Addict

A short story by Karli Perrin

Copyright © 2018 Karli Perrin

All rights reserved.

Thank you for purchasing this eBook. Please keep this book in its complete original form with the exception of quotes used in reviews. No alteration of content is allowed. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet without the author's permission.

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely fictional. The characters and storylines are created from the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.

This book is not recommended to anyone under the age of sixteen due to strong language and sexual themes throughout.

Other books by Karli Perrin

April Showers (April #1)

April Fools (April #2)

The Gift

The Honey Trap

The Book Boyfriend

Buzz (coming soon)

Dedication

To my fellow Four Brits Book Fest ladies.

Thank you for being so wonderful and welcoming me with open arms.

See you in 2019!

Chapter One

I have an addiction.

I can’t hide it.

It’s taking over my life.

It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I go to sleep.

I should seek professional help but the truth is that I don’t want to recover from this.

I like the voices in my head.

I like being able to escape reality whenever I want to.

I like being transported to other worlds.

It makes me feel alive.

I push open the huge double doors and glance around the room at all of my enablers.

The readers.

The bloggers.

The YouTubers.

My tribe.

I get butterflies in my stomach when I spot the authors sitting behind their tables, Sharpies in hand. I like to call them my dealers. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. They provide me with the best five-star quality crack. Hit after hit after hit.

I look down at my trolley full of books and smile because I’m home.

Yes, I have an addiction.

A beautiful addiction.

My name is Halle Hennessy and I’m a book addict.

***

I’m going to faint.

Oh my god, I’m actually going to faint in front of Tiffany Reisz.

How will I ever recover from this? I’ll always be known as that girl who fainted in front of Tiffany Reisz. I’ll trend on Twitter and be the talk of our signing group on Facebook. Somebody will post photos then I’ll be forced to relive it each year when they pop up on my timeline. ‘Remember this?’ Of course I remember. Jesus, what if somebody turns me into a meme - or worse - a gif. I shudder. I must have really messed up in my past life to deserve this kind of fate.

I take a couple of deep breaths and fan myself with my laminated table plan. That’s right - I’ve protected the goods. Last year, somebody spilt an entire bottle of water over my table plan which resulted in me somehow forgetting to pick up my pre-orders for Natasha Preston. Goddamn Evian. It didn’t help that the only person to have a spare copy of it; my sister, was nowhere to be found because she was too busy falling in love with one of the cover models. Literally. They get married next month.

After a few minutes, I convince myself that it’s actually a good thing that I’m going to be out cold when I make it to the front of Tiffany’s queue because what would I even say to her? I mean, she’s book royalty. What do you say to a queen? Crap, do I need to curtsy? I don’t think I know how to. I cross one foot behind the other and slowly bend my knees while twirling both hands in a circular motion. I hear a chuckle from somewhere behind me but I ignore it and hope they’re just laughing at something else.

I practice curtsying again but this time I keep both hands by my side to avoid any unwanted attention.

“I much preferred the hand twirling,” a deep voice says from behind me.

I slowly turn around and blink a couple of times when I see who the voice belongs to.

A man.

A handsome man.

A handsome man carrying a pile of books.

Is this real life? No, it can’t be. Tiffany Reisz and hot men? Surely I’m dreaming. I must have fallen asleep reading about Zach or Søren for the millionth time.

I pinch the back of my hand but nothing happens so I close my eyes and do it again, this time a little harder. “Come on, wake up!” I tell myself.

“What’s happening?” Handsome man asks. “Are you…drunk?”

I slowly open my eyes. “No. I’m asleep.”

“Well I guess that answers my question.”

“I’m not drunk. I’m dreaming. You’re not real.”

He laughs. “I’m definitely real.”

“Prove it.”

He tilts his head to one side, looking deep in thought. “Hmmmm, I’m not sure how I can do that. Nobody has ever asked me to prove that I’m real before.”

“Exactly. That’s because you can’t prove it. I’ve dreamed you up.”

“Stop it, you’re making me blush.”

I glance around the room. “I wish that all of my dreams could be like this.”

He raises an eyebrow. “You wish that you could dream about me every night?”

“Books. Tiffany Reisz. Hot men.”

“Ah, so you think I’m hot?” he asks with a huge grin on his face.

“I was referring to the cover models,” I lie. The truth is that he’s hotter than all of the cover models put together. That’s how I know that I’m dreaming.

“Hey, I’ve just had a thought,” he says. “Maybe I’m dreaming. It would explain why you’re acting so weird. I do tend to have weird dreams.” He slaps his cheeks a couple of times as though he’s trying to wake himself up.

“Um, no,” I tell him. “I’m waiting in line to see my unicorn author and then a handsome man magically appears with high cheekbones and smouldering eyes. I’m pretty sure this is my dream, buddy. Get your own dream.”

He laughs. “Wait…what if we’re both having the same dream at the same time? Maybe we’re awake in each other’s dreams.”

“I don’t think that’s possible.”

“It could be. Quick, tell me your name and address before I wake up so that I can try and find you and see if you’re real.”

“Nice try but I’m not giving you my address.”

“Why not? If you genuinely believe that I’m just a figment of your imagination then what are you afraid of?”

“You could be some kind of weirdo stalker trawling through women’s dreams at night.” I pinch myself for a third time. “Ouch!”

“Wow, your imagination is on fire. You’ve obviously been reading too many books.”

“That’s impossible.” I eye the stack of books that he’s holding. “Besides, you can’t exactly talk, can you?”

Somebody coughs behind me and when I wheel around, we’re at the front of the queue. My whole body freezes as I stare at The Tiffany Reisz.

“Hello,” she says in her wonderful American accent. “What’s your name?”

My mind goes blank. What is my name? “Ha...ha...ha…”

“This isn’t the time for evil laughter,” Handsome man whispers from beside me.

I look down at my name tag. Wait, where is my name tag? Damn, it must have fallen off when I was busy curtseying. “Ha…Halle,” I somehow manage to force out as I grab her books out of my trolley.

This is ridiculous. I knew that I was going to fangirl but I didn’t realise I would forget how to function altogether. I’ve been in love with Orlando Bloom since I was ten but he would never be able to affect me in this way. Orlando might be my imaginary husband but Tiffany creates entire worlds inside of my head. Nothing can beat that – not even Legolas.

“Hi, Halle,” the Queen herself replies as her assistant takes the stack of books from me.

“Yes, hi, Halle,” Handsome man whispers.

He knows my name.

It’s getting serious.

“Are you having a nice day?” Tiffany asks the both of us.

My head slowly tilts up and then back down again in the world’s creepiest nod. Hey, at least I’m still standing. “We’re having the best day,” Handsome man answers for us. “It feels like a dream, doesn’t it, Halle?”

Cute.

“Are you guys a couple?”

“Yes, we are,” Handsome man replies.

“We are?” I ask.

“Well there are two of us, so yes, I suppose we are.”

Tiffany laughs as she continues signing my books, checking the post-it notes as she goes. “And what’s your name?” she asks him.

“Kellan.”

Forget about fainting, I almost die right there on the spot. What are the chances that he shares the same name as one of my all-time favourite book boyfriends? “No way!” I shout, drawing attention from Kate Stewart and everybody waiting in her queue.

“Way,” he says.

My eyes find Tiffany’s and she winks. “Well, well, well. It looks like you’ve found yourself a real-life book boyfriend.”

“What’s your surname?” I ask.

“Baker.”

I look at Tiffany and she laughs. “Baker, Kyle, it’s almost the same thing, right?”

“Can you sing?” I ask him.

“Can I sing? I’ve been told that I have the voice of an angel.”

“By who?”

“My mother.”

I roll my eyes but can’t stop myself from laughing. “Is Kellan your real name?”

“Yes. I’m not sure why I’d lie about it, especially with a name like mine.” He chuckles. “I swear this has been the weirdest ten minutes of my life.” He pins me with his piercing blue eyes as he adds, “But I’m so glad that this isn’t all a dream.”

Tiffany hands me back my pile of freshly signed books. “You’ll have to tweet me and tell me if he can really sing.”

“W…w…wait. You want me to tweet you? You want me to tweet you?”

“Yeah. You can’t leave me with a cliffhanger. I need to know if you’ve found your very own Douchebag.”

“You do realise that I can hear you, right?” Kellan asks.

“It’s a book reference,” I tell him as he hands his stack of books over to Tiffany. “Kellan Kyle from the book Thoughtless is in a band called The Douchebags.” I gesture to his books. “What’s the deal with those? Have you read them?” I hold my breath. If he says yes, I’m officially done with Orlando. I’ll gladly become Mrs Kellan Baker right here, right now. There is nothing hotter than a man who reads. Extra points for reading on public transport.

“No,” he replies. “At least not yet. I’m getting them signed for my sister.” Orlando will be relieved. “Apparently I’m her book mule. Well, I’m her slave in general but she’s a thousand times worse when it comes to books.”

I narrow my eyes. That’s nice of him - almost too nice. “And what do you get out of it?”

“I get to stand in a queue with you.”

“Smooth,” Tiffany says.

He glances down at his T-shirt. “And I get to wear this T-shirt, which I bought especially for the signing.”

My eyes shoot down but my eyebrows shoot up when I read what it says.

When I think of books, I touch my shelf.

On a scale of one to ten, how weird is it that I’m a little turned on by it? A solid ten. It’s also annoying that the song ‘I touch myself’ is going to be stuck in my head all day. “Does your sister know you’re wearing that?” I ask.

“Of course she does. I actually let her choose my outfit this morning.”

“Oh, um, that’s…nice?” More like weird.

“I gave her two options. Either I wear this…or I go shirtless.”

Your sister made the wrong choice. Selfish, selfish woman.

I swallow hard as I imagine what’s underneath his T-shirt. It’s a snug fit so it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that he’s in good shape. Great shape. My eyes shoot to his biceps. I’ve always been an arm girl and Kellan reminds me why.

Tiffany laughs. “Keep talking, I’m going to turn this into a book one day.”

I spin around to face her, almost forgetting that she existed. What’s happening to me? “Oh my god! Please write a book about me.”

“About us,” Kellan chips in.

“It’s every book lovers dream. What would happen next?” I ask Tiffany.

She winks. “You tell me. You need to write your own story.”

I can tell you what happens next,” Kellan interrupts. “I persuade Halle to give me her number but she regrets it and shoots me down because she doesn’t believe in having her own happy ending. As much as she loves reading about them, she doesn’t believe they can happen in real life.” Am I that easy to read? “A few months later, she realises that she has feelings for me but I’m dating somebody else by then.” Tiffany gasps. “I try to push her to the back of my mind so that I can give it a good shot with the other girl and everything is fine…but she’s not Halle. I can’t stop thinking about her so we decide to meet outside this hotel because it’s where we first met.”

“And then what happens?” I ask, finding myself getting lost in both the story and his eyes.

“And then we fall madly in love, obviously.”

I raise my eyebrows. “Oh, it’s that obvious, is it?”

“It is, isn’t it, Tiffany?”

She laughs. “I must say, it does seem rather inevitable.”

He turns back to me. “And we will regret not spending every single second together since that damn book signing.”

I desperately want to believe that something like that could happen to me one day. That something so extraordinary could happen to such an ordinary girl. But even though we’re at a book signing; caught up in the wonderful world of fiction, I need to remind myself that this is real life. Besides, my sister is the one who moved to America to marry her cover model boyfriend – not me.

“Well it sounds like you’re going to write your own story,” Tiffany says as she hands the stack of books back to Kellan. “Now I don’t have to write it for you. It was nice to meet you both.” She turns to me and pretends to whisper, “Please don’t shoot him down. I’m not a fan of the other girl that he mentioned. Team Kalle all the way!”

“You should definitely listen to Tiffany,” Kellan adds smugly.

I begin to panic when I realise that I may never get the chance to meet her again so before I can stop myself, I quickly blurt out, “Can I kidnap you?”

It was going so well, Halle.

I hear Kellan sigh.

“I mean, I don’t actually want to kidnap you,” I add. “I just want to keep you over here and force you to write books all day, every day. Forever.”

She laughs. “That’s kind of what I do now…just in the comfort of my own home.”

Kellan chuckles. “Can we get a photo?”

Damn, I almost forgot. Thank god Kellan is here.

“As long as it’s not some kind of ploy to kidnap me,” she says as she stands up.

“Nah, we left the rope at home,” Kellan says with a wicked gleam in his eyes.

I try not to blush as I go and stand next to my favourite author of all time. I look around the room, feeling lightheaded with excitement as I try to soak it all in. I want to remember this moment forever.

“Over here,” Kellan says, his phone camera aimed at us. He grins at me and I shoot him an even bigger one in return.

Best.

Day.

Ever.

“Say cheese!”

Tiffany slings an arm around my shoulder and whispers a spoiler into my ear.

And that’s when everything goes black.

Chapter Two

I slowly open my eyes and look up at a familiar face. “Kellan?”

He smiles and it makes me feel even more light-headed. “Yes, Halle?”

“I fainted in front of Tiffany Reisz, didn’t I?”

“No. It was all a dream. In fact, you’re still dreaming.”

“What?!” I sit up way too fast and grab hold of Kellan as my head starts to spin.

He chuckles. “Relax. I was joking. You weren’t dreaming.”

“Prove it,” I say, referring back to our earlier conversation.

“Now that, I can prove.” He pulls his phone out of his pocket and shows me two photos. On the first one, I’m standing next to Tiffany and she’s leaning in towards me. On the next, I’m on the ground.

Awesome.

I groan before bursting out into laughter. “Why is it always me?”

“What did she whisper to you?”

“A spoiler for her upcoming book.”

He laughs. “It must have been a damn good spoiler.”

“Oh believe me, it was. My mind is blown.”

There’s a pause and then, “Well?”

“Well what?” I ask.

“Aren’t you going to tell me what it was?”

“Absolutely not. My lips are sealed.”

“I wish that they weren’t,” he replies, looking down at my mouth. My cheeks betray me and I start to blush. Damn pale skin. “You know, because I love a good spoiler,” he adds.

I begin to mumble incoherently and look around the room to avoid looking into his ridiculously dreamy eyes. We’re surrounded by stacks upon stacks of boxes. “Where are we?”

“Narnia,” he replies. “Aka a store room next to the signing room.” He hands me a bottle of water. “Here. Drink.”

“A store room? Does that mean…the boxes…do they…”

“Have hundreds of books inside them? Yes.” He leans in closer and whispers. “Some are even signed.”

I gasp. “Did I hit my head when I fainted?” If I’m not dreaming then I must be hallucinating.

“No, you just kind of slumped to the floor. It was pretty gracious as far as fainting goes. Why?” His face turns serious. “Are you injured? Does your head hurt?” He reaches out and gently pushes a piece of hair behind my ear.

“No,” I reply, my voice breathy now. “I was just…the books…all of it…” I shake my head, feeling embarrassed. “It really does feel like a dream.”

He nods slowly and genuinely. “I know.” He looks down at my hand which is still gripping on to his arm. I didn’t even realise I was still touching him until now. And now…well now there’s no mistaking the fact that I am. It’s like my senses have become heightened. I feel his every movement - every tiny twitch. I feel his veins beneath my fingertips and I almost expect to feel his blood pumping through them. My breathing hitches as his muscle tenses, turning even harder than it already was. It’s arm porn come to life. When his eyes meet mine again, they’re darker. The air in the room shifts as we both silently acknowledge the attraction between us. No words are needed for this moment.

“What are you thinking of right now?” he whispers.

“Porn,” I blurt out.

He laughs and raises one eyebrow. “Oh, really?”

“No…well yes…but not real porn...your arm…” I sigh. “See. It’s always me.”

He places a hand on top of mine and my heart begins to race. “Can I let you in on a little secret?” I nod. “I like the thought of it always being you.”

I laugh nervously. “You don’t even know me.”

“I like what I’ve seen so far.”

“Then now would probably be a good time to tell you that I don’t usually look like this.”

He chuckles. “Like what?”

“I don’t usually make this much effort. I only wash my hair once a week. Last month, I didn’t wash it for eleven days straight. I don’t leave the house much but when I do, dry shampoo is my best friend. Speaking of which, I don’t have many friends. I have one childhood best friend but all my others are online friends. I’ve never met some of them in person but I’d do anything for them. Some people think that’s weird.”

“And some people,” he says, pointing to himself, “think that’s awesome.”

“I hate shaving my legs.”

He shrugs. “It’s fine. I don’t shave mine either.”

“I wear granny panties because they’re comfy.”

He closes his eyes. “Please don’t talk to me about your panties, Halle.”

“They’re huge and boring,” I continue. “No lace or silk in sight.”

He laughs. “I don’t care. It still turns me on to think about you in your underwear.”

“My comfiest pair have a hole in them.”

“Even better,” he drawls.

I nudge him playfully. “Open your eyes, perv.”

He sighs. “But you were painting me such a vivid picture.”

“Some days, I don’t leave the house. I design book covers so I spend most of my days sitting in front of a computer screen. I sit in my pyjamas all day long and don’t even take a shower. I’m gross.”

“You’re not gross. You’re human. And for the record, I love pyjama days.”

I try to push the thought of Kellan wearing pyjamas to the back of my mind. “I’m a nerd. I love computers and books and I collect things.”

“Like what?”

“Lots of things. Stamps, shells, Lego Minifigures. See, I’m a huge nerd.”

He gives my hand a little squeeze. “If you’re trying to put me off then it’s not going to work.”

“I’m just being honest with you.”

“No, you’re being harsh on yourself. Way too harsh. And for the record, all of those things make me like you even more. Now come on, I’m taking you to dinner.” He stands up and pulls me to my feet in one swift movement.

“But I have books to get signed.”

“The books can wait.”

Strike one. “No, the food can wait,” I reply and then gasp when I see an open box in the corner of my eye.

“What’s wrong?” he asks, looking concerned.

I walk over to it and peek inside. “The Honey Trap,” I whisper. “It’s one of my favourite books. I met Karli last year and just mumbled random things to her. I thought my fangirling couldn’t get any worse than that…until today.” I take a step away from the box. “Who let us in here?”

“I did. My sister is one of the organisers. Well, they like to call themselves ‘The Avengers’. I can see why - only superheroes can run book signings. It’s a lot of hard work…the organisation, the authors, the readers, the fainters.” He winks.

“Which one is your sister?”

“Holly.”

“Of course it is. Kellan Baker. I should have put two and two together.”

He waves me off. “You were too busy admiring my smouldering eyes and high cheekbones. Can we talk about that for a minute?”

I roll my eyes. “No.”

He chuckles. “Are you blushing, Halle?”

“Nope.”

“I think you are. Your cheeks are turning red.”

“You’re not playing fair.”

“What do you mean?” he asks innocently.

“When you tell a person that they’re blushing, it’s probably going to make them blush.”

“Oh, is that how it works?” I nod as I take a sip of water. “Then you’re going to kiss me.” I begin to choke on the water and almost spit it out all over him. “Well that wasn’t the response I was expecting,” he says with a smirk.

If I wasn’t already blushing, I definitely am now. “And what exactly were you expecting?”

“If telling a person that they’re blushing makes them blush then telling a person that they’re going to kiss me will surely make them kiss me, no?”

“No.”

He chuckles. “I think I see what’s happening here.”

“You do?”

“Yes. You’re playing hard to get.”

I shake my head. “I’m not playing anything.”

He winks dramatically. “Okay.”

“You’re exhausting.”

His eyes twinkle mischievously. “Oh just you wait.”

I ignore him and peek inside a different box. “I can’t believe I’m surrounded by all of my favourite books. Literally surrounded.”

“You know…this would be a great place to have a first kiss.”

My eyes widen. “Wha…what?”

He gestures to the boxes. “Amongst all of these love stories, don’t you think?”

YES. SO MUCH YES.

But what comes out is, “Oh…um…well…yes…I…yes.”

“Was that two yeses?”

“Yes.”

“Should I count that as three?” He takes a step closer to me and I suddenly don’t know where I am or why I’m even here. All I know is him and this moment. “Do you know how lovely you are?” he asks, his eyes soft now.

“Lovely?”

He nods. “Charming, refreshing, lovely. You make me feel good. I just want to be near you. Is that weird? That definitely sounded weird.”

“No,” I blurt out. “It’s not weird…unless you’re an axe murderer.”

“I’m definitely not an axe murderer.”

“Then it’s not weird,” I say with a shake of my head.

“Good,” he replies, his eyes falling to my lips.

“Good,” I agree. I don’t know how long we stay like that but it’s long enough to forget how to breathe.

The door opens and I let go of his hand, jumping backwards as though I’ve just been caught doing something naughty.

A face peeks around a stack of boxes and then shouts, “There you are!”

“My sister,” he says to me.

I nod, recognising her from Facebook. “It’s a little quick to be meeting the family, don’t you think?” I joke.

He laughs and slings an arm around my shoulder. “Life is short, Hal. Can I call you Hal?” He pulls me closer and my arm naturally slips around his waist.

Does he expect an answer? Because it may take a while. The only thing I can think about is how good it feels to be pressed up against him. “I…um…yeah…” Oh my god, his stomach is rock solid. “Call me whatever you want.”

“Okay then.” He grins at his sister. “Hey, little sis.”

“Hey, slacker.” She analyses how we’re standing and then grins. “Who’s your new friend?”

“This is Halle, she’s my book buddy.”

I begin to choke on my own spit and apparently I’m not the only one who misheard what he just said as Holly’s eyes widen. “You better be careful how you say that,” she replies. “It could be mistaken for something else.”

“Whatever do you mean?” he asks, feigning innocence.

She rolls her eyes. “Did you get the books signed?”

“Of course I did.”

“So where are they?”

“I’ve sold them on eBay. Where do you think they are?”

“I don’t know Kellan, that’s why I’m asking.”

“Maybe they’re in that huge box over by the door. You know, the one which has ‘Holly’ written in huge black letters.”

She smiles. “Good boy. I’ll tell mum to give you more pocket money.” She turns to me. “It was nice to meet you. He hasn’t had a book buddy in a while.”

I cringe as I wave goodbye to her.

“Well that went well,” he laughs.

I place a hand on my hip. “Book buddies…really?”

“You said I could call you whatever I wanted.” He raises an eyebrow. “Would you rather be something else, Halle?”

Don’t blush, don’t blush, don’t blush.

“Book buddies is fine.”

“Just fine?”

I roll my eyes. “Yes, Kellan, just fine. Distinctly average.”

“Ouch.” He holds a hand over his heart. “Nobody has ever described my booking as average before.”

Distinctly average. And get used to it.”

His eyes light up with amusement. “Oh, I should get used to it? Are you telling me it’s going to be a regular thing?”

I begin to walk away. “Find another book buddy. There are hundreds next door.”

“But you’re the only one that I want. I take this stuff very seriously, Halle,” he says as he catches up to me. “We should probably get straight down to business.”

“And what would that involve?” I ask as I push the door open.

“We need to get between the sheets.” Now it’s my turn to raise an eyebrow. “Of a book, Halle. The sheets of a book. Get your mind out of the gutter.”

I ignore him and look around for my trolley. I start to panic when I can’t see it anywhere. “Where are my books?”

“Right here,” he says, rolling my trolley behind him. “It was back there with us.”

I breathe a sigh of relief. “Thanks for looking after it.”

“Of course. So now what?”

“Now I get the rest of my books signed.”

“Dinner first?”

“No, Kellan. Books always come first.”

“Then I’ll come with you. Somebody has to make sure you don’t faint again.”

I begin to protest even though I absolutely want him to come with me. I’m not ready to say goodbye to him yet. “Where to first, milady?”

I can’t help but smile as I pull out my table plan.

Chapter Three

Kellan turns to me and grins, “I must say, Halle, I’m very flattered.”

“What?” I ask, completely confused.

“The song you were just humming. ‘When I think of you, I touch myself’.”

I roll my eyes. “That’s your fault.”

“Well, clearly.”

He laughs when I blush. “In your dreams,” I mutter as I continue walking.

“No, apparently I’m the one in your dreams, remember? I’m your dream guy.”

“You’re the one who wanted me to tell you my address so that you could come and find me in case you were dreaming, remember?”

“And you’re the one who still hasn’t given it to me…or your number for that matter.”

I sigh. “Kellan, look…today has been great but you don’t have to pretend that you’re going to talk to me again after today.”

“Pretend? There’s no pretending involved. Unless it’s you who doesn’t want to talk to me after today?”

“No,” I answer immediately. “No, I do. I really do. I just…I didn’t expect this. I can’t really wrap my head around it.”

“Me neither.”

“It seems too good to be true.”

“Good things happen to good people, Halle.”

“It just feels like I’m being Punk’d.”

“Why?”

“Because boys like you don’t usually talk to girls like me.”

“Girls like you? Have you heard yourself? You’re an absolute catch. I’m surprised somebody hasn’t snatched you up already. Oh wait…I forgot about the granny panties.”

I bump him with my shoulder. “I knew I shouldn’t have told you about them.”

He wiggles his eyebrows up and down. “Are you wearing them now?”

Holly suddenly appears over his shoulder. “Sorry to interrupt but I need your help.”

He drags his eyes away from mine and turns to her. “Of course you do.”

“Anna’s missing a box of books. Can you find it for me?”

“Can I find you a box of missing books in this huge hotel? Of course I can,” he replies sarcastically. “It’ll be easy. No problem. Tell her they’ll be with her in the next ten minutes.”

“Awesome, thanks! I’ll go and tell her now.”

“Well,” he says with a sigh. “I better go and save the books. Are you going to be okay?”

I hold my wrist up. “I still have three ticketed authors to see. I’ll be fabulous.”

He takes a few seconds to scan my entire face. “Yes, you will. Don’t leave without finding me first, okay?”

I nod and watch him walk away, wondering how it’s possible that I didn’t even know that he existed this morning.

I’ve always been a fan of plot twists but Kellan is my favourite.

***

“There you are,” a familiar voice whispers in my ear, sending chills throughout my entire body. I spin around, relieved that I get to see him one last time before I leave. “Sorry I didn’t come and find you. Holly gave me a thousand jobs to do.”

“It’s fine. I was busy making a fool of myself in front of J Sterling and Mariana Zapata.”

“Sounds like I missed out on all of the fun.” He eyes my jacket. “Going somewhere?”

“Home,” I simply reply.

“I was afraid you were going to say that. Do you have to leave?”

“I wish that I didn’t.”

“Then don’t.”

“My train is pre-booked. Tickets are so expensive.”

“When does it leave? Do we have time to grab a drink first?”

“It leaves in fifteen minutes.”

“It’s a good thing the train station is opposite here then.” I nod and we stand there in silence, not really knowing how to say goodbye when we’ve only just said hello. “You know when you told Tiffany that you wanted to kidnap her?”

I groan. “Yes…”

He chuckles. “Well that’s kind of how I feel right now.”

“You want to kidnap Tiffany?” I joke.

“I want to kidnap you.” My stomach does a somersault. “Don’t be scared.”

“You’ve just told me that you want to kidnap me…I’m a little scared.”

“Do you always make jokes when you’re nervous?”

“Yes,” I answer honestly.

“Don’t be scared of how you’re feeling,” he clarifies. “Because I feel it too.” He takes hold of my hand, sending little lightning bolts of electricity to places I didn’t even know existed. “We’re at a crossroads, Halle. Two roads diverged in a wood…”

“Wait. Are you quoting poetry to me?”

Is this real life?

“That depends on whether you think it’s cool or nerdy.”

I laugh. “Oh, it’s definitely nerdy but I love it.”

He raises an eyebrow. “Are you asking me to talk nerdy to you?”

“Well, we are book buddies after all.”

He clears his throat. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.”

And that’s all it took.

In that moment, looking into Kellan’s eyes, I decided that it was finally time to step outside of my comfort zone. It was time to stop dwelling on the past and worrying about the future and just live in the present.

It was time to take the road less travelled.

And oh, how it made all the difference.

Epilogue

One year later

“I’m going to faint.”

Kellan chuckles. “Just breathe.”

“I forget how to breathe when Tiffany’s around.”

“Have you forgotten how to curtsy too?”

I narrow my eyes at him. “Joke about it all you want but I know that’s what attracted you to me in the first place.”

“Hey!” Tiffany shouts. “I remember you guys! It’s Halle and Kellan, right?” She looks at me and grins. “You didn’t blow him off after all!”

I laugh. “No, not yet.”

“Not ever,” Kellan adds.

“I’m so glad you found your Douchebag,” she says. “And at a book signing of all places!”

“Oh, come on,” Kellan says. “Give me a break.”

“And the singing?” Tiffany asks.

“Still terrible,” I reply.

“Woah, woah, woah,” Kellan says. “Hold on a minute.” He pauses for a second and then sighs. “Yeah, I can’t even deny it. I’m terrible.”

“Well we can’t be greedy and have it all,” Tiffany says as I hand over my copy of her latest book. “What did you think of it?”

“I loved it. Of course I loved it.”

“Did you guess the twist?” she asks with a wink.

“Yes, actually. I kind of saw it coming,” I joke, referring to the spoiler she gave me last year.

“Can you sign this too?” Kellan asks, handing over a framed photograph which I knew nothing about until two seconds ago. I peer over and groan as Tiffany laughs at the photograph of me at her feet. I mean, she is my Queen...

“Shall we try it again?” Kellan asks once she’s signed it. He gestures to his phone. “You feeling okay, Hal? No light-headedness?”

I roll my eyes. “I’m fine, thanks for your concern.”

“You’re looking a bit pale,” he jokes as Tiffany stands up and walks out from behind her table.

“Just shut up and take the damn photograph, Kellan.”

Tiffany grins and takes hold of my shoulders, turning me to face her. I try not to freak out at being touched by my unicorn author. “Do you want a new spoiler?”

“Is the sky blue? Hell yes I want a new spoiler.”

She leans in and whispers, “And they lived happily ever after.”

I frown. “Wait…who? Which couple are you talking about?”

She smirks and lets go of my shoulders, looking straight ahead of her. I copy her and freeze when I see Kellan down on one knee.

“Halle Jade Hennessy, I am so lucky to call you my girlfriend but I would be the luckiest man alive to call you my wife. I know how much you love reading about happy ever afters and if you give me this opportunity, I will do everything in my power to make sure you get the one you deserve. Halle, will you marry me?”

“Yes!” I shout, not even taking a second to think about it. Kellan stands up and spins me around.

“Yes?” he asks, sounding a little shocked.

“Yes! Yes! Yes! Of course I want to marry you!”

“Well it looks like I better buy myself a hat,” Tiffany says with a huge grin on her face. “Congratulations.”

I thank her as Kellan slips the ring onto my finger. “Oh my god, am I dreaming right now? Please tell me this isn’t a dream.”

“This isn’t a dream, Hal. This is a dream come true.”

I kiss him over and over again and thank the lord for Kellan and for book signings.

And they lived happily ever after.



The End.

Did you enjoy The Book Addict? Read on for an extract from The Honey Trap which is available to purchase right now on Amazon.

The Honey Trap by Karli Perrin

Chapter One

I focus on his wedding ring right before I close my eyes. His eager lips meet mine and I can almost taste his excitement. My mind goes into distraction mode as his tongue darts in and out of my mouth.

Tonight is what we call a half trap. This is where our clients are satisfied by photographs of their boyfriends or husbands kissing another woman. We wear a wire at all times so they also receive a recording of their partners planning to go home with us. Most women believe that planning to cheat is just as bad as actually cheating but some women need more. Some women refuse to believe that their man would actually go through with it. In other words, some women are stupid.

A full trap is where we take the men back to our place. Only, it's not our place. It's actually an apartment which the Honey Trap Agency (HTA) rents. Waiting inside are their scorned girlfriends or wives and sometimes the occasional lawyer. We also have an agency bodyguard on standby just in case things get heated but usually the men are too busy begging for forgiveness.

Our safety is a priority. If it's a full trap then we always insist on ordering a cab. Our driver, who is actually another bodyguard, will be parked up around the corner. They take our call then wait for five minutes before picking us up, which is always from a public place. On the rare occasion that a man insists on driving or calling their own cab, we end the trap and only charge our client for a half trap. We make a lot of money but nowhere near enough to put ourselves in any real danger.

I finally pull away when his hands begin to work their way down my back. I open my eyes and watch him for a moment, looking for any signs of indecision or guilt but they don't come. This guy's willing to go all the way. He smirks. "Wanna come back to my place, darlin'?"

I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to take me home to talk about the weather but I ask anyway for the recording. "What have you got in mind?"

He leans closer. "Have you ever had a multiple orgasm?"

I stop myself from rolling my eyes. "No," I reply, feigning innocence. Guys love the whole virginal act.

"Then I'll be your first."

Only in his dreams. If his wife doesn't leave him after tonight then they deserve each other. I grin seductively. "Let me go and freshen up first. I'll be back in a minute." I wink at him before walking away, swaying my hips as I go.

As soon as I step inside the restroom, I reach into my purse and take out my mini bottle of mouthwash. I always use too much but I like how it burns the taste of them away. After successfully numbing my entire mouth, I remove my wire and place it inside my purse just as the door opens. One of the agency photographers walks in and checks that we're alone before stopping in front of me. "Are you okay?"

I nod. "Did you get it?"

"Of course I got it." She takes out her camera and scrolls through several photographs. The first few are close-ups of his face so he can be clearly identified. The rest are shots of us kissing.

I call my boss as we both exit out of the back. "It's done."

Stalk Karli

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