Yearning to Live
Shirley Anne Edwards
(Finding the Strength, #4)
Publication date: July 24th 2022
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, New Adult, Romance
A self-proclaimed ordinarily average girl meets the one larger than life person who will make her yearn for so much more.
Natalie Benton has nursed enough heartbreak in her twenty-one years. But she doesn’t like to complain even though her parents’ marriage might be falling apart, and she’s still mourning her brother, who committed suicide five years ago. On top of that, she was recently ghosted by her lover, an emotionally detached tattoo artist who ran off to California. She’s ready to graduated college in a few months but she’s not sure what her next steps will be. For now, she’ll take each day as it comes, which has become her mantra as an ordinary, average girl in Albee, Pennsylvania where nothing exciting ever happens.
But fate has other plans for Natalie, when a very not ordinary average girl enters her life. It’s the larger than life Gem Grove, one of the most popular singers of the past decade. Gem’s been hiding out in Albee while she also tries her best to take each day as it comes, but her addiction to bigger fame and fortune could lead to her downfall. The public may think she’s entitled and spoiled but she’s ready to prove them all wrong. She’s more than just a singer who performs on demand. She wants to create art with her songs and gain the respect she has always wanted.
Natalie and Gem shouldn’t fit together but they do. The ordinary average girl and the larger-than-life diva might be destined for more, but only if they can achieve it together.
“How did you know I’d be here?” I finished my juice with a loud pull on my straw.
She tapped her now painted silver thumbnails together. “Yesterday morning I went back to your work to check on the dog but then I saw you get in a car with some guy. I, ah, followed you home. After your boyfriend dropped you off and you walked inside your house, I was going to ring the doorbell, but I didn’t want you to think I was a stalker.”
“Israh’s not my boyfriend. He’s my best friend and next-door neighbor who—” I shut up before I told her too much about him, and me. “But you knowing I’m here now isn’t being a stalker?”
She stopped fidgeting with her fingers and stared out the window. “I drove away and decided to stop by your house again this morning. But then you were walking on Main Street, and I saw you come here.” She turned back to me with a confused expression. “You really do like to walk instead of driving?” Her eyes widened dramatically. “Unless you don’t have a car? But you live in a nice neighborhood in what I would say is an expensive house for this type of small town.”
The front door opened, and the bell rang. She slouched in her seat and tugged down her hood. She looked nervous, and even though I should have been offended by her rambling speech, I grew concerned. She was too twitchy and perhaps scared? She was really paranoid about being spotted.
“You’re that worried someone might recognize you and rat you out to the press? Why do you think it would happen here, in such a small town like Albee?”
“I’ve been hounded by the press since Gio and my first album was released. It’s been nonstop for twelve years.” She hugged herself and glanced out the window again when Savannah came over.
“You and your friend ready to order?” She focused on me first, not appearing to recognize Gem.
“I’d love another juice. My friend is still deciding what she wants.” I expected Gem to face me, but she kept staring out the window.
“Sure. Take your time.” She grabbed my glass and left.
Gem exhaled and gave me her attention.
“See? Savannah didn’t recognize you. This is a safe place.” I tapped her shoe with mine.
“Guess so.” She stared at the meu. “What’s good here?”
“The pancakes.” My stomach growled, but Gem didn’t seem to notice.
“Too many carbs and too much sugar.” She turned the menu over. “I ate breakfast already, but I’d kill for a chai tea.”
“Sorry, only regular coffee here.” I thanked Savannah when she brought my juice.
“I can’t sit here while you eat and I don’t.” She held up her hand as I started to speak. “I can’t drink any type of coffee. I have standards.”
I paused in taking a sip of my juice, afraid it would go down the wrong way or I’d spray it on the table or on Gem.
“Unless you have something important to tell me, I’m staying and enjoying my banana pecan pancakes I have every Sunday.” She might be used to people doing what she wanted, but I was sticking to my routine.
She checked behind her when the door opened, and a group of six girls around my age came in. She cursed under her breath and turned back around. “I want to explain why I left so suddenly after the phone call Friday night, but I’m really not comfortable talking here. Can we go somewhere more private? Please?”
The pleading tone in her voice, and her use of the word please, which I had a feeling she rarely used, stopped me from telling her no. But I was curious, well more than curious.
A waitress brought over the meals to the table nearest us. I watched the couple dig into their breakfast, and I sighed.
Gem curled her fingers around mine holding my glass. “Pretty please?”
“Not many people say no to you.” I finished my juice, even though she kept her hand on mine. I should have told her to let me go, but having a celebrity like her touch me was something I’d never expect in a million years.
“I can’t remember the last time I was refused something I wanted.” She pressed my hand and let me go.
Shirley Anne Edwards is a Northeast girl who first found her love for books when she read Nancy Drew’s The Secret of the Old Clock Tower at thirteen. Shirley found her love for writing at a very young age, and since then has let her imagination run wild by creating quirky characters and vast worlds in her head.
Shirley lives in New Jersey and works in the entertainment industry in New York City.
In the immortal words of Mark Twain: “Life is short, Break the Rules. Forgive quickly, Kiss SLOWLY. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably and never regret ANYTHING that makes you smile.”