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About the author:
S.M. Brooke is an artist, writer, and author of the new novella "Entangled", the first book in "The Spider King" trilogy. A lifetime lover of BDSM and kink, she mainly writer steamy romances in these genres. S.M. considers herself a lifelong learner and first became interested in the topic due to an ever-present intellectual curiosity in taboo subjects. However, she became further entranced by the subject due to the emphasis placed on safety and consent within the community. Fascinated by the contrast between the dark, compelling subject matter and the sweet, nurturing way in which it is executed, her writing tends to reflect her interests.
Here is a short sample from the book:
It seemed as though Kayla Matthews has just barely laid her head on her pillow and closed her eyes before the loud ‘THUD-THUD-THUD’ of bass pumping through the speakers of a home entertainment system began shaking her bedroom walls, rattling her picture frames and creating even more distracting noise. As per usual, Kayla tried to ignore this, she really did, but also as per usual, the longer she lay there the more she felt the tension and annoyance building within her to a crescendo and soon she had little choice but to give up and roll out of bed, cursing her upstairs neighbor all the while.
She hobbled over to her cell phone, wondering what time it was. Eleven oh-eight PM. The ass hole was right on schedule then. Every night this week had been the same, some cocktail of loud music, the heavy footfall of party goers, drunken laughter, and what sounded suspiciously like moaning filtered through the floor into Kayla's sparsely decorated one-bedroom apartment.
She knew there was little point in trying to fall back asleep, if her annoying neighbor kept to his usual pattern the noise would continue until about five or six AM. She also knew there was little point in trying to contact the police to file a noise complaint, she knew from personal experience that cops never bothered to show up to noise complaint calls in the area she lived. That was the downside to living in an area close to the university, she supposed. The rent was dirt cheap though, so she knew she wouldn't be leaving any time soon.
She sat back down on her bed, rubbing at her eyes with her palms. It wasn't as if she had anywhere in particular that she needed to be that she'd need to be up at a reasonable hour for, though. She mostly did freelance work from home to earn her income. Not the most profitable of work, but she knew how to live cheaply enough that money was never an issue. Mostly she did it for the flexibility in her schedule, until recently she hadn't cared when she'd eat or sleep. She'd eat when she got hungry and sleep when she got tired. She rarely left the house except to go out to eat, or to go swimming or hiking, she mostly preferred solitary activities. There were a couple of people in her life she made small talk with, but no one she was particularly close to.
She sighed again remembering how it had been her disorganized schedule that led her into thinking she needed a change. Kayla often felt like a piece of driftwood being dragged around by the powerful current of life’s icy rapids. She felt aimless, and like she was merely surviving rather than living. In other words, she was stuck in a rut. Lost as to what to do about it, she’d consulted a few self-help books. She learned two major things that she needed to fix about her life through doing this: firstly, her lack of organization and planning was making her feel unproductive and unaccomplished, secondly that she needed a support system in her life.
It got to her at night especially, that she didn’t have anyone close in her life to share her worries with. Something about looking out the window and seeing nothing but darkness really brought to her attention how utterly crushingly lonely she was. Which was part of the reason she felt so insistent about sleeping nights. She bit her lip and stared at the clock; it was now 11:30. She wondered if she should just go upstairs and talk to the guy, go and see if there was anything they could do to work things out. But gosh it was hard to open up and talk to others.
In the end she decided to go, reasoning that if she couldn’t pluck up the courage to do something like this, she’d never be able to break out of her shell. She spent several minutes gathering the nerve to do it and imagining what she’d say to him once she got there. Finally, she decided she’d just have to wing it and strode determinedly out her front door, long brown hair swaying languidly behind her as she climbed up the stairs, walked over to her neighbor’s door and knocked. A rather attractive guy with chestnut colored hair, glasses and who looked to be around her own age answered the door with a goofy grin.
“Hey cutie, how can I help you” he said winking at her and then raising his eyebrows when he caught sight of what she was wearing.
Kayla blushed, realizing for the first time she’d forgotten to get changed out of her pajamas before heading out. She decided to continue on, despite being embarrassed “Um, so…this is awkward but…hi I’m Kayla Matthews, your downstairs neighbor. I’ve been having trouble getting to sleep over the past week or so because of how much noise you’ve been making.”
“Okay…” he said slowly frowning slightly “I understand that that sucks and everything, but I don’t understand what you expect me to do about it. I pay just as much rent as you do and have the right to do whatever I want in my own space.”
“I get that” she said quickly not wanting to start a feud over this. Things could get frustrating if she got into a war of pettiness with a neighbor. “It’s just that it’s been every night this week, and it continues on so late, you know? It’s a long story but I’ve been trying to get more productive by keeping to a regular sleeping schedule, and this is kind of interfering with that.”
Luckily, her neighbor looked more sympathetic than angry “Sounds complicated. Listen, since you’re up anyways do you want to come in and talk a little about this? I promise me and my friends don’t bite.” He gave her another somewhat dorky smile.
She couldn’t help but be somewhat charmed by his friendly, easygoing attitude and before she knew it, she was smiling back at him and replying “Sure. Sounds good.”
After that, she ended up spending several hours there. Leon’s friends were also pretty friendly, and the party hadn’t exactly been the wild affair she’d been picturing inside her head this entire time, it was just some friends hanging out, drinking beer and playing video games.
She’d especially had a good time with Leon, the two of them going off by themselves at one point and talking long into the night. She’d talked at length to him about her desire to change, and he’d been really supportive. She’d learnt a lot about Leon as well, it turned out he was actually a year older than her at 24 and was a law student at the local university. He was on a scholarship and had a part time job at a convenience store, so he had to work extra hard during the school year to keep up his grades and make enough money to live. That’s why he’d been kicking back so much, or, as he’d put it, “Work hard, play hard.”
Eventually, a compromise was reached. He agreed to cut the party off at 2 AM if she agreed to come over and join them. Leon’s a good guy, she thought to herself later as she lay in bed, still smiling. Even his “condition” benefited her because it got her out of her self-imposed isolation. She wondered if he’d somehow been able to tell how lonely she was, something told her he had. That night, she’d slept better than she had in years, knowing somehow that she’d just made a lifelong friend.
Over the coming months, the two of them became inseparable. At first, their relationship was a little one-sided, because his presence benefited her much more than hers did him. Eventually, however, they’d grown closer and he’d been able to confide in her more than he could with his other friends, who were mostly people he could have fun with rather than have earnest conversations with. Her heart had warmed when he’d told her this. She’d come to think of him as her best friend, and upon hearing this, wondered if he felt the same. She hoped so.
They didn’t just hang out at his place. One night she asked him where his favorite place to eat around there was and was befuddled to learn that he just ordered whatever was closest. The first thing she’d done when she’d moved to the big city was scope out where to find all the best food. She was a bit of a dining out connoisseur. After that, they’d gone out nearly every night as she showed him the ropes of the local cuisine. His friends appreciated the recommendations as well, since they’d often purposefully order extra so they could try some as well.
Socializing everyday had somehow become a part of her new normal. As was going to bed every night at 2:00, not exactly the time the books had recommended to her. But she couldn’t bring herself to care, not when she realized for the first time that she was pretty content. According to Leon, however, she could still be doing a lot better.
“You never try anything new.” He was saying to her presently. “Sure, you’re socializing regularly, but it’s only ever with the same people. You also only go out to places you’re familiar with. You may be in a new kind of rut, but it’s still a rut.”
“But I’m happy,” she protested “isn’t that what’s most important?”
“I think” he said, frowning thoughtfully “that a person should never stop trying to challenge their own comfortableness. Like, for instance, right now you’re happy, because it’s still fresh to you, but I think if you just continue this same pattern, this will eventually become boring to you as well. And that’s why you should keep continuing to try new things.”
She was silent for a long while. She couldn’t deny the truth to his words. She did have a way of falling into patterns and then getting stuck in her ways. She supposed she’d gotten that way from her parents, who’d been very traditional people. It was funny, when she’d been younger all she’d wanted to do was be wild. Because she’d known that was the opposite of what her parents wanted. It had been the same when she decided to move away from the country into the big city. But then, three years ago they’d died in a car crash, on their way home from their regular weekly night out at their regular restaurant. And then, in reaction, she’d stopped going out and trying new things as well, falling into old patterns the same way her parents did, the way she’d been taught growing up.
In a way, it probably wasn’t that surprising that this had happened. She’d been so eager to get away and be different than what they’d wanted her to be that she hadn’t even considered the fact that if she was intentionally doing things just to spite her parents, then she was still revolving all her decisions around her parents instead of figuring out what she wanted. They were still the center of her world, so when they’d died, she’d been lost and miserable. They aren’t around to blame anymore, my decisions are all on me, she thought wryly. It was high time that she should start living her own way.
“So…what did you have in mind?”