It was the blare of the fire alarm that woke me. I jumped out of bed and tripped, hitting the floor hard. My knees throbbed as I got up.
“Grace!” I raced to my front door as someone thumped on it. “Grace!” Maggie was in her nightdress. “Fire,” she said when I opened the door. She left, not waiting for me. Good to know she cared. I turned grabbed my plant and left the building, as well. In total, only six apartments filled the building. I did a headcount; my guy and the old man who lived downstairs weren't out. I gnawed on my lip, clutching my plant. Maggie, and the other woman with the ‘dy’ name, came over to me and we huddled together. I was freezing already. I had no footwear on, and was just wearing shorts and a t-shirt. “Anyone know what happened?” I asked while staring at the door, hoping someone would walk through it. The blare of the fire alarm still rang.
“Not a clue. Where is Derek?” Maggie said as she watched the door anxiously as well.
“Who?” I asked and both of them stared at me like I had asked a stupid question. The couple that had lingered near the cars came over to us. They were both in their late thirties. I never really saw them around.
“Any idea what happened?” they asked the same question we all had.
“No,” I said as the apartment building door opened. “Oh, thank God, Derek is fine,” Maggie said. I smiled to myself. So, his name was Derek. Derek looked like a God leaving the building. His dreadlocks weren’t tied back, and they fell below his shoulders. His tight t-shirt and baggy jogging pants had me drooling. How did he look so good? I looked at his feet; he had shoes on. At least he had the common sense to grab a pair. I glanced at everyone else’s feet and realized they all wore shoes. While I was grabbing my plant, they all grabbed their shoes. I was the only one with no common sense. Derek nodded at everyone. We were all watching him.
I tried to act casual as he glanced at me, then at my plant, he looked slightly confused. My hands tightened around my plant, and he looked back at me with that same confused look. I blushed under his intense stare, my blush spread down my neck as Maggie giggled and nudged me like we were ten years old and in a freakin’ playground. Yeah, I was dying here.
The fire brigade arrived; the wail had everyone looking away from my burning face. All except Derek, who was now staring at my bare feet. Under his scrutiny, my toes wriggled on their own accord. They knew they were being stared at. Derek’s eyebrow slightly rose, and he looked away to the scene in front of us.
I felt bad when an ambulance arrived ten minutes later and the old man who lived downstairs was taken out of the building. I had forgotten about him. He was alive, thank God, but an oxygen mask covered his face.
“Can we go back into the building, Mr. Fireman?” Maggie was clutching her nightgown but smiled at Mr. Fireman as he passed. He gave her a smile back, and I felt sorry for him; she would take that as an encouragement to continue flirting with him.
“No Ma’am, we need to make sure the building is safe.” The word Ma’am had her smile wiped clean, and she shuffled back into formation with the rest of us. My lips were trembling, I was that cold. I moved my plant to my other arm; my fingers were losing circulation. The movement caught Derek’s eye. He looked at my feet again. I wanted to say something, but he spoke first, to my amazement.
“We can wait in my car,” he said while taking the keys out of his pocket; he moved away, clicking the beeper. I snapped out of my stunned moment and followed him. It wasn’t a car but a large, black jeep. It looked brand new. I climbed into the front seat, Maggie and her friend moved behind me. Maggie was like the cat that got the cream as she climbed into the back. I didn’t close my door as I looked at the couple. We couldn’t just leave them.
"There’s no room," Derek said noticing my hesitation. He started the jeep, the hot air almost instantly flooding the space. I closed the door and put my feet in the warm air. Derek had changed the flow to blow on our feet. That was really considerate.
"The building is burning down, and you grab your keys,” I said. I wasn’t really complaining since I was warming up nicely. It was just an observation.
Derek looked at me. "You grabbed a plant." He made me sound stupid. "A dead one," he added.
"It’s not dead. It’s asleep." On cue, one of the brown leaves broke off and landed on my lap in an act of betrayal. God damn it. Derek didn’t say anything, he didn’t have to.
The silence was pretty awkward with Maggie and … (I had to figure out her name) in the back.
“So, Derek, you go to college?” Maggie asked. For the first time, I was willing to listen. I must have shifted slightly as Derek glanced at me before looking in the rear-view mirror at Maggie. One of his hands rested on the gearstick. I studied his strong fingers. I’ve never really noticed someone’s fingers before, but his were strong-looking and tanned, like the rest of him. My eyes roamed up his well-defined arm, that was clean—no tattoos.
“Yes,” he answered.
“Where?” Maggie added.
“Same as us,” Maggie said I could hear the glee in her voice. My eyes crossed his wide chest and then to his blond dreadlocks.
“What do you study?” I smiled at Maggie’s interrogation. His jaw was clenched as he answered. “Engineering.” My stomach tightened as my eyes met his. The lines of tiredness still visible under them. I looked away, my face burning at being caught checking him out for a second time.
“You want to be an engineer?” Now I turned and looked at Maggie. ‘What?’ She mouthed. I wanted to say ‘no he wants to be a hairdresser’.
“Yes.” His one-word, uninterested answer had finally discouraged Maggie. It must have been his intent, but now I was in Maggie’s firing line.
“Grace goes to Clarke's College too.” She announced. No one said anything. “She studies business,” she added. Oh, this was awkward.
“Okay,” Derek said, he was watching the firemen in front of us. “I’ll see what’s happening.” He left the jeep running.
The moment he closed the door I swung around to Maggie. “Could you please leave me out of this?” She was seriously embarrassing me.
“I am just being friendly.” Maggie tightened the belt of her nightgown. “But, if you two want to sit in silence, that’s fine. You’re both unsociable creatures. I was just trying to help.”
I frowned. I wasn’t an unsociable creature. Just because I didn't tell them everything about myself didn’t make me unsociable.
“Well don’t.” I said while swinging around. Derek was coming back. My plant had lost three more leaves. Only two remained, one still half-green. I cursed this night.
“Fine." Maggie added as Derek got back in. He glanced at Maggie who was staring out the window with a stone face. He looked at me and then closed the door.
“Ten minutes and we can go back in,” he said. He didn’t ask what had happened when he had left. The next ten minutes were painful. No one spoke; Maggie cleared her throat so many times that I found myself clearing mine. Then, to my relief, the fireman appeared at Derek’s window and I relaxed slightly. This just might be over soon.
“All clear, you can go back into the building,” he glanced at us all and smiled. Thankfully, Maggie exited the jeep with her friend in tow. “What happened?” I asked.
“A cigarette. You’re all lucky to be alive.” My stomach tightened. One person could have caused all our deaths. I cursed the little old man and his stupidity.
“Will he be okay?” I had to ask.
“Yeah, he was lucky. Like I said, you all were.” The fireman left and packed up his stuff. Derek rolled up the window and knocked off the ignition.
“Stay here,” he said and got out and opened the boot. I watched him in the side mirror, but glanced away as he opened my door. The pair of sneakers in his hand caused a lump to form in my throat. What was wrong with me? Ashamed, I took them and thanked him without looking up. I was feeling way too emotional over nothing. He didn’t say anything. Once I was out, he locked the jeep. We walked to the building in silence. He looked at my plant and then at me a few times as we climbed the stairs. Knowing he was probably wanting an explanation, I pretended I didn’t notice. He reached his door and opened it; he stopped before going in. “Goodnight, Grace.”
I nearly dropped the plant when I heard him say my name. I smiled like a fool. “Goodnight, Derek.” He didn’t return my smile, but nodded. I was still smiling after he closed his apartment door. My hands went to my pocket for my keys. “Oh, no, no.” My keys were inside. I stood like a fool for two minutes. I had no phone to ring anyone.
When Vi Carter isn't writing contemporary romance books, you can find her reading her favorite authors, baking, taking photos or watching Netflix.
Married with one child, Vi divides her time between motherhood and all the other hats she wears as an Author.
Vi's main goal is to give readers the same emotional ride that she got from reading Colleen Hoover and Jennifer L. Armentrout books.
What inspired you to write this book? My life to be honest. All my books have a common thread and that is that they are inspired by my life events.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Saving Grace? Grace is the main MC, and she’s private and hurting from a loss. Her way of coping is locking out the world. She only lets one person in who is Amber, she’s her best friend or like they call each other their soul sister. I loved writing Grace. She’s the type of person who’s funny without knowing it. She’s super kind and at times her own worst enemy. But when she meets Derek (Who is super-hot) she has to face her past. Derek on the other hand is been blackmailed to take care of Grace, by her brother Emmett. Derek is tied to Grace’s past, but he takes the job without meeting her to clear a debt that his family owes to Emmett. Once he meets Grace things start to get complicated. It’s a sad yet fun story that has some steamy sex scenes and in my opinion very laired characters.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? Everyone of them are based of real people. Amber is my sister and the relationship she has with Grace, is the relationship me and my sister have. So I could pull on personal experience with that. I always watch people and I might take a trait or their looks and use that in the story and then add in the rest. So each person is based of a real person but they do have lots of add ons or changes.
Have you written any other books that are not published? Yes I have a few more. Claiming Amber Part Two in this series. It’s about Emmett and Amber and will release on the 22ndof November. Also Taking Laura Part Three in this series. It’s about Craig and Laura and will release on the 13thof December. I also have two more books written and they will be released in 2019.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
This is such a fun one.
Dare you to
I‘m going to start cheating now, I have too many. I’m sneaky. J
Anything by Tijan
Anything by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Anything by Kelley Armstrong
Fear me not
How long have you been writing?
I started back in 2012 writing fantasy/paranormal/romance. I wrote what I loved but didn’t understand the market correctly. Since I had my daughter contemporary Romance novels are pouring out of me so that’s the genre I’m focusing on now.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
It really depends. One I am writing now, the main character has like amazing knowledge of random facts and is pretty intelligent. So I could spend an hour each night researching for that.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, that is the hope. I hope that in under a year I will be a full-time author. That’s the dream.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
It’s a tough one. There is so much to learn, but if you’re willing to learn and constantly work on your craft, you can make a very good living from it.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
Noise. I have a play list that I set up for writing time. I add to it every once in a while; I don’t blare it but I have it in the back ground, it also helps with some bleak topics I tackle, like addictions, child abuse, rape and mental abuse. They are pretty heavy topics but ones that I feel if written well can still make a powerful read.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
Only one, I can only focus on one book. Even when I’m reading its one book at a time, or my brain would explode. LOL
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