12 Months of Romance | 24 Reasons to Love: A Holiday Anthology sneak peek at Ella Banta’s As Sweet As Candy and Eris Peñaluna’s The Second One.
I wasn’t able to post for a couple of days because Halloween and stuff. So here you go! For your reading pleasure.
After having his heart broken and getting drunk, Jay Cristobal meets Cal, a gorgeous “alien” who plans to annihilate humans on White Day. An unexpected twist of fate brings an unlikely pair together. Would five days be enough for Jay to convince Cal to save humans. . . and his heart?
Is this the end? Oh, god. I’m too young to die.
Jay was shivering in fear. He didn’t know how long he stayed like that. It could have lasted a day, and he wouldn’t be sure. The light and sound pressed into his brain. Pressure started to build in his head. Jay struggled not to shout, but he couldn’t stop a pained gasp from escaping. Then everything stopped.
The pressure in his head disappeared. Everything grew quiet. Jay tentatively opened his eyes; he was expecting to see white light, but all he saw was darkness. For a moment, he thought he was blind, but as he let his eyes roam, they adjusted to the darkness before him. Jay once again saw where he was. The wall was still next to him. The ground was hard and cold beneath him. He tilted his head and glanced at the sky. Nothing was amiss. Everything was quiet.
What the hell just happened? Am I that drunk?
Without wasting any more time, he stood on wobbly legs. His ears were still ringing from the loud noise. He turned, and decided to head back inside the bar to call his friends. Hani and Kevin would be worried by now. But what if what he had just seen didn’t really happen? Then his friends wouldn’t be worried about him, would they? But what if it did happen? Then why was he standing here and not seeing anything wrong?
Shaking his head, Jay squared his shoulders and took a step toward the bar, but he didn’t get any further than that. Because in front of him, there stood a huge silver spaceship. Beside the spaceship was a large man. This man stepped toward Jay, then stopped, leaving a few yards between them. That was when Jay noticed that the man’s eyes were silver too. His eyes roved over Jay’s form, and cocked his head. Jay couldn’t do anything but blink.
“This is 2017 Earth?” the man asked, his velvety voice flowed like silk.
Oh sweet mother of heaven, his voice sounds good! Jay’s brain said. But his gaze was also taking in the wide forehead, strong chin and arresting eyes. The man’s impressive height made Jay remember important statistics associated with large-sized things. He caught himself looking past the guy’s waist. He is attractive. Jay’s alcohol-soaked brain thought. And my mom said not to talk to strangers. He decided, mentally patting his back for remembering this.
So Jay clamped the attraction down. Now was not the time to ogle strange, yummy-looking men. He could be an alien. Wait, he was an alien. His clothes were not the usual style Jay was aware of.
Right, I’m talking to an alien. He’s an alien.
Panic. He should panic. Right?
“Y-Yes. This is Earth in 2017.”
The large man nodded. “Good. I’m on the right time. What’s the date today?”
“March twelve. I’m sorry,” Jay gathered his courage and asked, “Who are you?”
Mr. Big smiled, and Jay swore angels in the heavens also smiled with him. “I’m an annihilator. In two days, this planet will be free from people.”
Jay was sure he coughed up an incredulous laugh. He saw the man’s eyes glow, then everything went black again.
There’s a period of limbo between the end of the first love and the start of the second. Lauren has been in this limbo for many years, until she meets Miguel, bright, insufferable and patient Miguel.
However, a castle is only as strong as its foundations and one can only run from the past for so long. Lauren has to confront the past, before going forward. The question is, how?
“I was too late, wasn’t I?” Javier mused, running a hand through his less-than-immaculate hair. Lauren fondly watched him, his old habit so familiar that for a split second, she saw a flash of the twenty-year-old Javi that she loved.
Lauren was about to say yes when she realized, no, he wasn’t. There was never something to chase in the first place. All of it had been done, crystalized, romanticized, and worshiped in the past like all first loves. Chasing after or hoping for something that only exists in the past is a victory no one can achieve.
Instead, Lauren shook her head and offered honesty. “No, you weren’t. There was never something to go back to in the first place.”
Something cracked inside Javi.
It was the truth he had known for a while now.
It was the truth that lightly tapped his face when he found out that her favorite ice cream flavor wasn’t pistachio anymore. It was the truth that nudged his side when he found out that she adored horror movies now, when years ago she would’ve bolted out the cinema.
Still, it hurt, but it was time to officially end a saga long overdue.
(But then, it was not true. He protested because he loved that Lauren, and he knew he was close to loving this Lauren too. Maybe he already did.)
But Lauren’s eyes were twinkling, the same way they used to for him, but this time, they were twinkling and magnificent for someone else.
“He’s good to you?”
Lauren nodded. “He is.”
And at that moment, with Javi wiping his tears and she wiping hers, she was reminded of this fact: oh, she loved this boy—so much.
She loved him the only way her eighteen-nineteen-twenty-twenty-one-year-old heart could ever love.
She loved him like this:
She loved him when she was eighteen and he was twenty.
She loved him when she was still sporting braces and he was in retainers.
She loved him with siomai for lunch because they’re broke college students.
She loved him with innocent touches and heated make-out sessions in empty classrooms.
She loved him with student discounts for movies and shared popcorn while watching downloaded films on his laptop when they couldn’t afford to watch them on the big screen.
She loved him as a fresh grad with wide naïve eyes as she waved him off the airport, and she loved him as a twenty-one-year-old clutching the phone with the world ripped from under her.
She loved him so much, so much so that it never occurred to her that it would be possible to love someone like that again. She was right, that kind of love would never happen again, and it was scary and amazing to think so that no one, nothing, would ever replace Javi and their love in her heart.
It would remain, untouchable in its innocence, and perish.
She would never love that way again, but she would love again, and she did—she was.
She was in love again.
Because this is how she loves Miguel:
She loves Miguel as a twenty-five-year-old woman, confident and strong, with straight teeth and lips painted red.
She loves Miguel in broad daylight and night lights because there’s no such thing as curfew for adults.
She loves Miguel with breakfasts in bed and eat-all-you-can Korean restaurants.
She loves Miguel with experienced hands and intimate nights in bed, his touch burning her skin.
She loves Miguel, and this is also a truth as much as the statement that she loved Javier was the truth, but this one, this one was what mattered now.
A part of her screamed—the eighteen-year-old in her screamed at her. “What are you doing? We love him! I love him! What are you doing?”
Javi nodded. “I am too.” He paused, breathing in deeply before smiling. “You’re still invited to Maggie’s graduation, okay?”
What do you think? Visit my page again tomorrow to catch a sneak peek at the stories for the month of April!
You can now pre-order your copy here! It’s on pre-sale discounted price at $0.99!