Related Books In Series: Out Of Focus
Title: Under The Influence
Author: L.B. Simmons
Series: Chosen Paths Series #1
Publisher by: Independent
Published on: May 11, 2014
Related Books In Series: Out Of Focus
I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk on the feeling, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would ravage me.
Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again.
I loved you.
I raged for you.
I wept for you.
And now, I’m letting you go.
Author’s Note: Under the Influence is the journey of two childhood friends that spans the course of five pivotal years in their lives. It is a story about their discovery of true friendship as it blossoms into first love, their experience of crucial sacrifice and ultimate betrayal, and their endurance of agonizing heartbreak on the way to finding lasting redemption.
“Love is a stubborn thing, it seems, both in life and in death.“
It’s not a secret that I am a huge fan of L.B Simmons. I love her books and I adore her storytelling and characters. I am so happy that I had the chance to read Under The Influence. The storyline is a bit of a departure from her previous stories but this story was just as beautiful, heartfelt, and emotional as her previous novels.
“You see, the day he showed up on our porch, something happened while we watched that first sunset together. I don’t know how or why or if I can even put it into words, but we were forever connected that day.”
The story centers on Dalton Greer and Spencer Locke. It’s been nearly 5 years since Dalton and Spencer first met; they met when she’s 12 and he’s 13. Dalton is a foster kid and he bounced from foster home to foster home, until he was placed with Spencer and her mom. Even though he lived with her and her mom temporarily, they quickly formed an unbreakable friendship.
From the very beginning you can tell that Spencer and Dalton are truly best friends. Their connection was deeply felt. They both shared an incredible amount of love, adoration, and respect for one another. They each had their own painful past and secrets, but they found comfort in one another. Neither wanted to ruin their friendship, but secretly they both wanted more.
“Because when I’m with her, when she smiles at me that way, it’s easy to pretend my reality doesn’t exist. That instead, I’m the person she believes me to be–believes I can be–rather than the monster I’ve become.”
Dalton felt that Spencer deserved someone better than him. There are certain parts of his life that he wants to keep from her because he wanted to protect her. He tries to hide behind a facade and he keeps his feelings in. The only other person he shares things with is his friend, Anthony aka Rat. Dalton has a dark past filled with abuse and out of desperation, he got himself involved with a local criminal Silas Kincade. He’s not proud of the things he’s done but it’s how he’s survived.
“I want you Spence, but I can’t have you. I won’t allow it. You’re too good, too pure, too innocent, and just as your presence soothes me, mine will eventually flaw you. It’s inevitable, and I care too much for you to let that happen.”
I don’t want to reveal too much of the story but I really wanted to see these two together. The anticipation and build up was so worth it. There were many beautiful moments and some that broke my heart. What I absolutely adore about L.b’s characters are that her men are protectors, through and through. I loved Dalton’s character. Even though he struggled with his past, Spencer was such a source of happiness for him, and it showed. He was sweet, caring, and would have done anything for her. Spencer was sweet, loyal, and she had so much determination and strength. I love second chances and I enjoyed the message this story presented. It presented L.b wrote this book flawlessly and it’s wonderful to see her writing grow.
Dalton’s voice is thick as he begins to speak. “I’m sorry, Spence. I know I hurt you—”
I shake my head dismissively. “You didn’t hurt me. I’m just tired.”
The corners of his mouth dip downward and he lifts his hand, placing his palm against my cheek and swiping the moisture with his thumb. My heart would typically melt at the tenderness of the gesture, but now I find it only aggravates me. I narrow my eyes and shove his hand away from my face.
“Don’t do that. Don’t do something you don’t mean.”
Channeling my sorrow, anger begins to churn as I step away and turn my back on him. My bare feet carry me to the wooden rail that lines my porch and I brace my good hand against it, leaning forward and inhaling deeply.
Dalton growls with frustration. “What the fuck? Of course I mean it. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, Spence. I’m trying to apologize here.”
I laugh humorlessly and turn to face him. “For what, exactly? For stalking me on my date tonight?”
His blue eyes now heat with a different emotion as they slice to mine. “The date in which you were being manhandled by some fucking loser who asked you out for no other reason than to get back at me?” He scoffs openly. “You should be thanking me.”
I cease the fight to hold back my tears, permitting them to flow freely as I respond. “I handled it, did I not? I don’t need you to protect me, Dalton. I can take care of myself.”
He chuckles, unsmiling, as he removes his cap and throws it to the ground, dragging his fingers through his hair in irritation. My glare hardens as I continue my rant.
“And yes, he asked me out to get back at you. Are you apologizing for that? Or are you apologizing for the fact that because of your stupid crusade against me dating anyone EVER, I was so excited to be asked out that I accepted a date with said fucking loser because I wanted to know what it would be like to actually be wanted for once?” Not entirely true, but true enough to make my point.
My breaths are heavy and my pulse is thrumming rapidly through my entire body. I angrily wipe away the tears as I inquire, “Why is that, Dalton? Why is it that you don’t want me, but no one else is allowed to have me?” I shake my head in frustration as I stumble on my words. “I just…I don’t understand.” My voice trembles and my chin quivers with the admission.
Dalton heavy boots sound as he stalks across the porch. I avert my gaze, but once he’s in front of me, he curls his fingers around my chin and pulls my face into his line of sight. His eyes burn into mine as they narrow in earnest. “You think I don’t want you? Goddamn it, Spencer,” he bites, “I want you so much I can’t fucking breathe when I’m not with you. Every single time I force myself to walk away from you, I feel nothing but agony as the anger that simmers here,” he breaks to pound his closed fist on his chest, “breaks free and chars my insides with each step I take.”
His eyes begin to glisten and his jaw tightens as he shakes his head. “I can’t fucking breathe without you, don’t you get it? I want you so much that being without you is absolute torture.”
He swallows deeply and moisture seeps from my eyes at the sight of his exposed emotion as he continues. “I want you, Spence, but I can’t have you. I won’t allow it. You’re too good, too pure, too innocent, and just as your presence soothes me, mine will eventually flaw you. It’s inevitable, and I care too much for you to let that happen.”
I watch a lone tear fall from the corner of his eye before he concludes, “But you’re right. Even thinking about you with someone else, with someone else’s arms around you as you look into their eyes the same way you’re looking into mine right now, I just…” He casts his stare downward and shakes his head. “I just can’t. So I guess I’m just a selfish, heartless prick, because where does that leave you?”
The tear finally falls free from his chin, and I watch it strike the wood beneath our feet before placing my hands on the side of his face and forcing his eyes to mine. My voice trembles as I speak. “I know you like to control things, Dalton. That’s how you’ve learned to cope and I understand that, but you don’t control me. My feelings. My heart. And even though you feel you don’t deserve those things, that they’re not yours to have, you’re mistaken.”
I tighten my grip as he tries to look away and state with emphasis, “You ask where that leaves me? Well, it leaves me right in the same place, on this same porch, as I was six years ago when I met you. The day that all of those things you think you can’t have I willingly handed over without question.”
Releasing my hold, I turn away from him, knowing his refusal will absolutely destroy me as I state into the night air, “I have always belonged to you. I will always belong to you. Regardless of what you’ve done, what you do, or what you will do, I will forever be yours. And that’s my choice to make, whether you choose me or not.”