Heartstrings (A Rock Star Romance Novel) - By Hadley Danes

Chapter One

* * * * *

For the first few moments after I awake from sleep, I lay very, very still. If I just stay wrapped up in my comforter, eye mask firmly in place, I can almost forget that the day is about to begin. I know that the alarm on my cell phone will start blaring through my ear plugs at any second, but this tiny stretch of time is all mine. Stretching languorously, I let the faintest smile play across my face as I pretend that it’s my day off, or my birthday, or any day in the history of the world that doesn’t involve a twelve hour shift at the hospital.

I groan as a cheery pop song starts blasting through my bedroom. Time to face the day. I roll across my bed and slap at my cell phone until it shuts up. Not the most sophisticated way to handle gadgetry, sure, but I’ve got no patience when it comes to alarm clocks. I pluck out my ear plugs and pull my eye mask away from my face, blinking at the ceiling. Warm, late afternoon sunlight is dappled across my bedroom walls, turning the cozy space into a little cocoon. The last thing I want to do is leave.

“Come on,” I coach myself, “One foot in front of the other...You can do it...”

Yawning, I swing my legs over the side of my bed and consult the clock. Four in the afternoon—the start of a long day. When I was younger, sleeping until four was a luxury, an indulgence following a wild night out. There were certainly some hung over Sundays in college that didn’t see me rolling out of bed for an entire day and night. But these days, my nighttime hours are hardly recreational. I landed my first job out of school as a night shift nurse, and have therefore joined the ranks of the nocturnal.

Now, my days begin at four in the afternoon and end at eight or so the next morning. I really don’t mind working nights, truth be told. The pay is substantially better, my coworkers are agreeable, and at night, there are no family members hanging around asking a thousand questions and getting upset with you on a personal level. The hospital is still far from peaceful, but there’s a sort of comfort that comes along with working nights. It’s like we’re all at a sleepover together...except once in a while, someone’s internal organs start to fail. But besides that, it can be great.

I pull myself out of bed and shuffle across the carpet. It’s late May, and from the little patch of the outside world I can see beyond my window, it looks like it was a gorgeous day. If only there was some way I could enjoy it before work. But I’ve got housework to finish and a ton of coffee to drink before I head in. The outside world will have to wait. I turn on the shower and wait for the water to warm up, shrugging off my pajamas in front of the bathroom mirror.

“Looking OK there, Julia,” I mutter, giving myself as forgiving of a once-over as possible. I just turned twenty six, and in those twenty six years, I have been fortunate enough to skirt past most of the body-hating that so many of my peers have to contend with. I’ve always been comfortable in my skin, and able to accept my looks as just another component of my overall self—rather than the defining factor. The men in my life have always referred to me as “cute” or “pretty”, rather than “hot”, and that’s just fine with me.

I run my fingers through my long strawberry blonde hair…my mane needs a good conditioning, STAT. At work, my locks are always drawn up into a ponytail or bun—I can’t even remember whether I still own a hair dryer. I let my eyes travel down, trying to determine whether there’s any truth to my grandmother’s claims that I’m “getting too skinny”. I’ve never been too skinny in my life. My hips, ass, and chest are curvy, and athletic – yes, athletically curvy. I have always loved to be on my feet and moving around as much as possible, which is probably one of the reasons why nursing was so appealing to me to begin with. I would die if I had to sit in an office chair all day long.

That was hardly the only reason I chose this profession, of course.