Title: LOVELY TRIGGER (BOOK #3)
Author: R.K. LILLEY
THE EXPLOSIVE CONCLUSION OF
DANIKA AND TRISTAN’S STORY
Tristan hit rock bottom, and no one felt the impact harder than Danika. She was forced to see, in the most brutal of ways, that love does not conquer all. Bruised, bloody, and broken she had to walk away.
Picking up the pieces of your life after a tragedy is a daunting prospect, and that’s considering you still own all of the pieces. But what if you don’t? What if someone else owns those pieces, and those pieces are a part of your soul?
You dig deep and work with what you’ve got.
That’s what Danika told herself and believed, every single day, for years.
Tristan and Danika’s love had failed every test that life had thrown at them. She couldn’t forget that, not for one second. And if those tests had been overly harsh, well, she wasn’t one to wallow in self-pity. The failure was the thing she had to focus on. The failure was the lesson. She had no intention of working so hard to make it out of hell without learning that lesson well.
Over six years after the night that changed everything, Danika finds herself forced to spend the weekend constantly in Tristan’s company, as they attend the wedding of two of their dearest friends. It’s been long enough that she feels they can be friendly again without it destroying her peace of mind, but just a small amount of time in his presence has her remembering something she had forced herself to forget: There’d been a reason she’d gone through hell with this man, for this man, some true good to precede the bad.
She shocks herself by quickly giving in to a hunger that she never imagined could still consume her.
Even the best intentioned denial has a breaking point.
THE HARSH REALITY
After everything that’s happened, the rise and the fall, the pain and the aftermath, can these two navigate the waters of acute regret, survive the trials of coming face to face with all that they have lost, and find the strength to try again?
This book is intended for readers 18 and up.
Have you ever read a book that was completely addicting, really moving (enough to make you cry), and almost perfect that you don’t know how to rate it?
Lovely Trigger is every reader’s dream. I felt I was given the ability to create my own relationship with Tristan and Danika, as well as take something from their challenges, their failures, and their triumphs. R. K. Lilley has officially spoiled me with rich characters; feelings that make me feel everything, intricate details, and the cool balance of romance, intimacy and complication that is dealt with so delicately and so passionately.
It is a beautiful exploration of how T&D’s choices and decisions in the past have shaped how they move forward. Their relationship has been shaken to a core in Rock Bottom. Lies, betrayals, questions left unanswered, words left unspoken and feelings left unexpressed. And this leads us to an epic and imperfect love story. In my mind, that is the best kind; because it’s authentic.
Love is never easy. Love is not without challenge. And we see the inner workings of a deep relationship from the get-go. The most intimate of details and moments are shared, and I felt like I was experiencing their relationship right alongside them; that even though I knew how it would all end, I’m still grateful I could watch how everything played out.
There’s something about Ms. Lilley’s work that makes me feel automatically at ease. Her writing feels organic, full of detail and real emotion, depicting the super highs and lowest lows of love and life. For practically all of my other reading, it takes a good chunk of pages before I’m “in it” but give me five pages of a RKL’s story and I am completely comfortable.
I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out how she makes her characters so human — flaws and all — and I come up short every single time. Because it just happens. It is so natural how these characters live and breathe on the page, even when I disagree with their actions and especially when everything becomes right in their worlds.
Lovely Trigger never feels like one character or plotline is getting ignored. Nothing feels under developed. There is not one storyline left unanswered. It made me swoon, it made me cry, and it made me feel so many things relative to my own life right now.
It’s one of those books that I was sad to finish; I noticed myself feeling more and more attached to the story as time passed. This is truly a testament to R.K.’s writing and how much her craft has grown; she’s not relying solely on a love triangle to create tension but instead has found a natural balance between family, romance, and friendships. I can’t wait to read it again and again.
Nothing in this world could have prepared me for the overwhelming amount of love I feel for this book. A gem that has solidified R.K’s spot on my most treasured author’s list.
Lovely Trigger is an experience. It is hands down one of the best book I have read so far in 2014, and probably in my top 5. I guarantee it is going to take a long time before I feel this strongly about another novel. Stop what you are doing and go read it now!
I didn’t trust myself Danika, I needed my sobriety. I’m nothing without it, and you were a lovely trigger for me. I knew that if you looked at me like that again, I’d hit rock bottom, and this time I wouldn;t come back for it.
I was expecting it. I wasn’t even a little bit surprised when Frankie made a point of cornering me.
She and I weren’t the type of friends that fought. We gave each other shit on a regular basis, but that little scene earlier was as good as a full-on confrontation for us.
I’d known she was going to feel bad about it, and quickly try to make it better.
The reception was still in full swing when I returned to the party. I’d have been surprised if it didn’t go until morning.
I made my way quietly to my table, very acutely aware of the fact that, though I’d cleaned up as well as I could in a hurry, I hadn’t showered. I was planning to slip away and do that just as soon as I thought it was politely possible.
Frankie joined within a minute of me sitting down. She was alone. Almost everyone else from the wedding party was dancing. Estella was currently going to town as the dancing meat in a Stephan and Javier sandwich.
“You remember that I set you two up, right?” I asked her as I met her very serious eyes. “You owe me. I brought that hot thing into your life.”
She shot her longtime girlfriend a fond glance. “I know it.” Her face crumpled slightly, not a breakdown, not tears, just screwed up a bit, as though she were in pain. She looked away. “You know I love you, right?”
It was my turn to look away. We were close friends, but not the mushy kind. Things like this were rarely said between us. “I do. I love you too. You’re one of my closest friends, and I know that your heart is always in the right place.”
“Forgive me?” Her voice had gotten very very quiet. “I overstepped back there. I know it. It’s just so hard for me to see him suffer any more, and no one can hurt him like you can. But I overreacted. I was a dick, and I’m sorry.”
“Frankie, I’m well aware of the position we’ve put you in, and how hard it’s been for you, but you’ve got to stop interfering, and you’ve got to stop thinking it’s your job to protect him, or even me. We are adults, and we don’t need a buffer, much as I might like one, may even have depended on it in the past. He and I…we need to sort our messes out ourselves.”
“Of course. And for the record, I never took his side. Or yours. You know I’m always just trying to help whichever one of you is hurting the most.”
“I know. We’re both lucky to have you.”
I considered the matter settled, and apparently so did she, as she didn’t mention it again. We sat there for a long time, just watching the revelry.
There were a lot of people in the colossal reception tent, but I could still tell that there was no sign of Tristan. He hadn’t returned yet, and I found that odd. I was sure he’d gone and cleaned up, but he couldn’t possibly need more time than I had, even if he’d taken the time to get in an actual shower, and to change.
I was so involved with this thought process that it took me a moment to realize who else was so glaringly missing. “Did James and Bianca ditch out on the rest of their own reception, already?”
Frankie laughed. “I would bet a lot of money that they’re off in the forest somewhere, having a quickie. James is a kinky fuck, but they’ll be back.”
We continued to watch the dancing crowd. “Who is that Marnie and Judith are assaulting on the dance floor?”
Frankie squinted, then started laughing. “That’s Jackie’s dad. Marnie is making it clap for him. I think Jackie was right. They’re going to give that poor man a heart attack. And get a load of Lana and Akira. They’re making out like teenagers. God, that guy is huge.”
“He’s hot,” I added.
“So is Lana. And this is the first time I’ve met her brother, Camden, but he’s smokin’. This tent is chalk full of hot people.”
“True. Some good dancers too.”
Finally I saw Tristan re-enter the tent. He stopped at the entrance, scanned the crowd, and zeroed in on me. The second his eyes touched on me, he started striding towards our table.
“Did you two, uh, work out whatever that was you two were having? Was it a fight?”
I couldn’t quite hide my wince. “Yeah, I guess we worked it out.” “So you finally had a good talk? You both disappeared for a while.” “I guess. You know how we are. It’s complicated.”
“Complicated. Now there’s an understatement of epic fucking proportions.”
I had to laugh. She wasn’t wrong.
And that’s how Tristan found us as he approached, laughing and relaxed. The relaxed part went a bit south as he sat right next to me, and I instinctively started to tense up.
“If you’ll excuse me,” Frankie told us with a grin. “I have some freaking to do on that dance floor.”
“Who the hell calls it freaking?” I called to her back, but she just kept walking.
It wasn’t easy, but I made myself turn and look him in the eye.
I’d likely be mortified in the morning over what we’d done, but I thought the entire thing was too new for my shocked mind to react appropriately. His face was sober. “We need to talk.”
That surprised a laugh out of me. “We just tried that. Didn’t exactly work out.”
“I wouldn’t say that. I’d say it was cut short. I’d like to try again.”
I couldn’t stop laughing. “I bet you would!”
Finally, his solemn face cracked into a smile. I had to clench my fists to keep from touching one of those calamitous dimples. “Well, yes, of course I would. God, Danika, I’ve missed you, even just to see you laughing again.”
I looked down at my hands, the laughter dying a bit. “I think you’re right. I think you’ve always been right. We should be friends. I miss that, too. I know you’re worried that I’ll never speak to you after this—after that little scene back in the forest, but you don’t need to worry. That was insanity, and it does not need to happen again, but we can be adults here. I…won’t be a stranger when we get back to town. I’ll give you a call. We can sit down for coffee, or, you know, something.”
There was a very long pause on his end, and I wondered which part of what I said was eating at him.
He didn’t address that though, instead said, “Do you mean it this time, or are you just blowing me off, like last time?”
I sent him a rueful smile. I hadn’t meant it last time, and I had blown him off. But I found that, shockingly, I’d had a real change of heart. “I mean it this time.”
I did mean it, but, while I didn’t avoid him for the rest of the weekend, I also made sure our contact was limited. It was necessary. I needed time to think, to have a battle plan before we started to transition into this friendship idea.
We’d been at war for way too long for me to delude myself that a battle plan wouldn’t be necessary, even when we were playing nice.
I was packing to leave for home, the happy couple already having ditched the party and jetted off to God knew where, to do God knew what kind of kinky shit, when I noticed something odd.
My perfume was missing. I did a quick search of the bathroom, but there weren’t that many places it could have gone, and I’d thought the small bottle was sitting right on the counter.
I was annoyed. I loved that perfume, and it wasn’t cheap, but I shrugged it off. Some lost perfume was really the least of my problems.
Tristan managed to corner me one last time before I took off.
The wedding’s location was remote, and so all of the guests had been flown to the nearest airstrip, and driven in limos the rest of the way. I couldn’t even wrap my mind around how expensive that must have been, but there was no doubt that James could afford it.
Even so, people were sharing rides to the airstrip, and planes to their various destinations. It only made sense.
Tristan and I hadn’t flown or driven in together, even though we’d come from the same place.
He could not understand why we couldn’t share on the way home.
He’d actually come to my room to talk about it, and charged into the space, sprawling out on the room’s only chair like it was the most natural thing in the world.
I supposed it was better than the bed.
I stayed by the door, determined not to do anything stupid for the five minutes it would take me to get rid of him.
“Stop being pushy,” I told him, arms crossed over my chest. It felt surreal to be talking to him as though no time had passed, but it was happening so naturally. “See, this is the problem. I give an inch, you take five more. Knock it off.”
He grinned, leaning forward in his chair. “C’mon. It will be fun. We can play some road trip games. Remember all of our games?”
I sighed. Of course I remembered. “Not this time, Tristan. I need a few days to think. Like I said, I’ll call you. Now if you’ll excuse me.”
“No,” he said casually, his smile dying. “I do not excuse you.”
He stood, and moved so close to me that I backed away. “I’ll give you a few days, but if I don’t hear from you, I am coming for you. This is fair warning.”
I glared at him. “Dramatic much? I said I’d call, I’ll call. I said I needed a few days, give me a few days.”