A thousand starry nights, p.1
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       A Thousand Starry Nights, p.1

           Addison Moore
A Thousand Starry Nights

  A Thousand Starry Nights

  (Burning Through Gravity 2)

  Addison Moore



  Books by Addison Moore



  1. The Stars are Falling

  2. Carter

  3. A Wishing Moon

  4. Carter

  5. The Blush of Dawn

  6. Carter

  7. The Evolution of Us

  8. Carter

  9. The Burden of Gravity

  10. Carter

  11. Salve on a Moonless Night

  12. Carter

  13. Red Sun Rising

  14. Carter

  15. Celestial Exaltation

  16. Carter

  17. Tempest in the Night

  18. Carter

  19. Void in the Universe

  20. Carter

  21. Stellar Evolution

  22. Carter

  23. Starry Nights

  24. Carter

  25. A Note from the Author

  Books by Addison Moore


  About the Author

  Edited by Sarah Freese

  Cover Design: Gaffey Media

  Copyright © 2015 by Addison Moore


  This novel is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to peoples either living or deceased is purely coincidental. Names, places, and characters are figments of the author’s imagination. The author holds all rights to this work. It is illegal to reproduce this novel without written expressed consent from the author herself.

  All Rights Reserved.

  This ebook is for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this ebook with another person, please purchase any additional copies for each reader. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  Copyright © 2015 by Addison Moore

  Created with Vellum

  Books by Addison Moore

  New Adult Romance

  3:AM Kisses (3:AM Kisses 1)

  Winter Kisses (3:AM Kisses 2)

  Sugar Kisses (3:AM Kisses 3)

  Whiskey Kisses (3:AM Kisses 4)

  Rock Candy Kisses (3:AM Kisses 5)

  Velvet Kisses (3:AM Kisses 6)

  Burning Through Gravity (Burning Through Gravity 1)

  A Thousand Starry Nights (Burning Through Gravity 2)

  Fire in an Amber Sky (Burning Through Gravity 3) 2015

  Beautiful Oblivion (Beautiful Oblivion 1)

  Beautiful Illusions (Beautiful Oblivion 2)

  Beautiful Elixir (Beautiful Oblivion 3) 2015

  The Solitude of Passion

  Someone to Love (Someone to Love 1)

  Someone Like You (Someone to Love 2)

  Someone For Me (Someone to Love 3)

  Celestra Forever After (Celestra Forever After 1)

  The Dragon and the Rose (Celestra Forever After 2)

  The Serpentine Butterfly (Celestra Forever After 3) 2015

  Perfect Love (A Celestra Novella)

  Young Adult Romance

  Ethereal (Celestra Series Book 1)

  Tremble (Celestra Series Book 2)

  Burn (Celestra Series Book 3)

  Wicked (Celestra Series Book 4)

  Vex (Celestra Series Book 5)

  Expel (Celestra Series Book 6)

  Toxic Part One (Celestra Series Book 7)

  Toxic Part Two (Celestra Series Book 7.5)

  Elysian (Celestra Series Book 8)

  Ephemeral (The Countenance Trilogy 1)

  Evanescent (The Countenance Trilogy 2)

  Entropy (The Countenance Trilogy 3)

  Ethereal Knights (Celestra Knights)

  “Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write

  in water.”

  Shakespeare, HENRY VIII


  The Past…

  They say an artist never really appreciates the real world, that they’re too busy dreaming up an imaginary realm, creating, and hoping to get just the right shade onto canvas. I would say this is partially true. I see the world as something to be observed and then layered in bold hues, in dusty tones, in deep, visceral expressions that can only exist once a brush strokes over canvas. I need to see the universe through a palate, a wet brush, a wide blank space waiting to be tamed.

  But I appreciate the material world—particularly one of its finest treasures, true love—the idea of a royal we. I once dreamed I was royalty. I wore a crown and fur-lined cape and held a shiny gold scepter in my hand. I’m not royalty by a long shot, raised by my hippie mother, my narcissist of a father relegated to an observer on the sidelines. But on occasion he did seem to care—like when he got wind of the fact my mother was homeschooling me by way of daily trips to Disneyland, he insisted I was shipped to boarding school my final year of high school. That’s where I met my prince charming. I was on the homecoming decorating committee and nearly fell from a ladder and broke my neck, but it was Carter who caught me in his strong, rugged arms. That’s how we officially came to know one another—me falling for him, literally. He had an inexcusably jealous ex-girlfriend at the time, but that didn’t intimidate me. That homecoming was our first official date, our first dance, and, later that night, we shared our first kiss on the sand.

  The next semester, we starred in the school’s spring production of Romeo and Juliet, each with leading roles. It was bliss, all those hours lost in rehearsal, all those practice lip locks—those heated words rolling from our tongues in Shakespearean English. Those were the sentimental days.

  Carter’s ex-girlfriend became my roommate, and, eventually, my worst enemy. She struggled to keep him, while I struggled with the idea of letting her have him. I swore we were good friends, but she insisted we maintained a rouse to keep her fires of jealousy stoked. In truth, Carter and I were getting serious. We drove down to the beach whenever we could and built endless castles in the sand. Every night we met out on the south facing lawn, private and secluded, and we gazed up at the stars into the early hours of morning. That was our favorite amusement, lying there in the dark, holding hands, whittling away the moments watching the stars as they grew tired and tumbled down toward earth. By the time college rolled around, I was ready to let Carter know that I wanted so much more with him, but we spent two more years locked in head games, locked in a war with Cher over the terrain of Carter’s heart.

  Loving Carter was a boom of color exploding over the canvas of my heart. I saw the world through the lustful red lens of our affection. The day was dipped in violet, soothing as a field of lavender—the night in navy, the color of the velvet sky. But our love hummed a brilliant light like that of a thousand stars. We were drunk with happiness, sober at the thought of holding forever so close in our grasp.

  Then, in a turn of events that stunned even me, Carter dropped to one knee and proposed with his mother’s precious emerald ring. Of course, I said yes. Of course, it fueled a war with Cher. Of course, things didn’t end well for Carter and me.

  There was a baby. She wasn’t mine.

  There was a wedding. Carter and Cher’s.

  We went our separate ways.

  Two years later, I kissed another frog. This one didn’t turn into prince charming. This one I married in a very spiteful, fitful, ridiculous act of revenge.

  After all, there could only ever be one Carter Cannon.

  And I had already lost him.

  We were so close to forever, and, then like a shooting star, we dis
integrated to nothing.

  The Stars are Falling


  The night before her execution, Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII, spent her final sweaty hours rehearsing the manner in which she would lay her head on the chopping block. Rehearsing. That little bit of Tudor history has gnawed away at me for years. It does make you wonder. Did she want to get it right in an OCD obsessive sort of way? Was she afraid she’d flinch at the last moment, and they’d maim her shoulder? They did that on occasion. The middle ages were brutal. And if they did chop off her clavicle, they’d just yell at the poor thing and tell her to get the hell back there while she writhed about in pain. That’s what life does on occasion. It maims you then demands you lie still while it finishes the job.

  In some respects, I can relate to Catherine Howard. I’m not proud of the fact, but I too practiced—hell—I downright ruminated and obsessed about how I would walk down the sweaty aisle to marry Henry—my Henry, not to be confused with Catherine’s husband, the infamous King Henry VIII. Although, if it came right down to it, I can blame the entire fiasco of my own marriage on that one unfaithful, moody monarch who barreled through life with a turkey leg stuffed in each hand and misogynistic intent filling his greedy little heart.

  That’s initially what attracted me to my Henry—his name. I use the term “attracted” loosely. I was going through an obsessive, still ongoing, phase with Tudor history and happened to meet him one night at a party. I was desperate for a distraction from Carter, the one who took a mallet to my heart and mashed it beyond recognition. And Henry, and his almost innocent British moniker, fit the bill nicely. His grandparents were from the UK, so he missed out on the cool accent and overall air of pretentiousness that I seem to fall quite hard for. That last bit, the overall air of pretentiousness, is what slammed me against the wall when I met Carter. For him I fell like a lead vase through a glass window, spinning my way through the shards as I torpedoed toward the ground. So many gaping wounds, but a part of me knew bleeding out was inevitable the day I met Carter Cannon. A part of me thought he might be worth it. The jury is still out on that one.

  Nevertheless, I did walk down the aisle on my fated wedding day. I tried scanning the sanctuary for Carter, but I was agitated and petulant to get the ceremony over with. Life maimed me in that church, and, now, it blinds me with my wedding ring, demanding I finish the job. A marriage should never be entered into lightly. It’s one of two covenants that God himself has wisely chosen to exclude from eternity, the other being death. Strange how those polar opposite moments have both been banned from paradise, but I’m intimately familiar with the reasoning. For death it’s the unbearable separation. For marriage it’s the unbearable union. I used to believe in soul mates until my soul mate mated with someone else.

  I stop in my tracks before heading into the corporate tower of Jinx Enterprises. The entire facility is laid out like a resort masterminded by a group of fraternity brothers—volleyball courts, a race track, a selection of swimming pools each a cheap synthetic of an exotic watering hole somewhere in the world, and let’s not forget the Foosball game room, the fully equipped arcade, the hammocks strewn across miles of rolling grasslands that can double as a carnival midway. Of course, here, the fraternity brothers in question would be the Cannon brothers, as in Carter Cannon. Cannon isn’t Carter’s original surname. It was Louis, but, in a bout of familial camaraderie, Carter’s mother had the two older boys’ last names changed. Carter’s father died of a heart attack, and his mother remarried and had two additional boys to add to her brood. She disappeared not long after, and it’s been a mystery as to whatever became of her. Carter had a rough time with it for years, but who could blame him? I’ve often wondered if his mother’s disappearance had anything to do with how things ended between us. Was he too close to the fire that is love? Unwilling to get burned yet again? Or was the true pin to my ego the fact he simply wanted someone else. In the sorry end, I decided it was probably a combination of both.

  The sun gleams off that overgrown black cat sitting on top of the building. It stares down, judging silently those who roam the corporate grounds. Crawford Cannon, Ford, my sister Stevie’s fiancé, is the owner of the fifteen-foot solid iron feline with the heavy jade eyes. He owns the flesh and blood version, too.

  In the distance, over by the parking structure, I spot a man wrapped in an oversized black jacket. He has a baseball cap pulled over his head and thick sunglasses on as if hiding his identity. There’s something eerie about him, something off as he openly stares at me. With his feet planted firmly in the ground, a dull smile spreads across his face. He doesn’t fit the profile of the young, ironic combination of both surfer and hipster that seem to run amuck at this corporate fraternity. He lifts a finger and points in my direction before slowly melting into the shadows of the parking structure.

  A shiver runs up my spine as I step into the warm building, shuddering off the spring-like haze from outdoors as if it were a cold snap. February in Southern California is unceremoniously pleasant. We watch as the news feed clogs up with ominous weather reports from less fortunate parts of the country. We sit riveted, both amused and horrified, as they shovel fifteen feet of snow off rooftops in other apocalyptic parts of the country while we fire up our barbecues and jump into the pool for a swim.

  A few of the new interns say hello as we step onto the elevator together.

  Even though Stevie was promptly kicked out of Rigby for her rather abrupt foray in corporate takeovers, it didn’t stop her from extending an olive branch to the university and continuing on with the intern program.

  The doors whoosh shut as we defy gravity and surge twenty stories into the sky. Adrenaline pulses through me like a heartbeat at the thought of attending the spontaneous board meeting Stevie called to order. It’s been weeks since I’ve seen Carter. I’ve turned avoiding him into an art, a fine ballet that I’ve struggled to master. Ironically it was my art that brought us together in the first place, my love of bringing things to life on canvas, his perverted love of watching me do it. And, then, of course, we were in that stupid play. Romeo and Juliet—lead rolls. Those were the golden days when we were still Carter and Aspen, the promise of a Technicolor future on the horizon. But, then people, places, and wedding dates got in the way and turned our rosy skies to cinder. I thought Henry could bring the color back into my life, but all he managed was to magnify this pencil-gray existence. When Carter left, he sucked the color out of my world right along with him.

  The elevator purges us onto the main floor, just a flight above where my office is located. My office. I hold back the thin smile. During the takeover Stevie crowned me the new Creative Director of Jinx Enterprises, and I couldn’t be more pleased. The original Creative Director shot at my sister with a fully loaded revolver, so, naturally, and a touch vengefully, Stevie gifted me the position.

  Jener and Arabella stand dry humping in the corner adjacent to the boardroom. Jener came with the establishment as one of Ford’s henchmen, but Arabella is Stevie’s friend from Rigby. She’s unimaginably well endowed and makes my own C cup feel about as significant as a couple of Skittles.

  The boardroom is bright, smells of fresh coffee, and all of the usual suspects are here. My brother, Lincoln, gives a brief smile, looking dapper in his Italian tailored suit, his thick blonde hair slicked back with a sheen. I offer a brief nod before turning to Kinsley, his full sister, my half. They’re both Hans Lionheart originals, as opposed to Stevie and me. And there was Claire for a while, Stevie’s twin until God handpicked her off the planet insignificant as a grape. It was the great tragedy of our young lives, Claire’s death always will be. I don’t think Stevie understood the bond we had. In Stevie’s eyes, Claire belonged to her. She owned her. She was her. In a very real way she still is.

  “I have thirteen scenes to shoot this afternoon,” Kinsley whines as she paws her powder blue leather jacket. It’s beautiful and expensive, much like Kinsley herself. She shakes out h
er blonde curls as if that simple action were able to restrain her anger. My brother and I share an amused smile. Lincoln has always been my rock. He’s made his discomfort about my marriage known on several occasions and assured me that he has a baseball bat just craving to taste Henry’s brain. I restrained myself from the obvious comeback. That bat will never have its craving met because, for one, Henry is lacking some serious gray matter. Nevertheless, my sister, Kinsley, actually likes Henry and has always been on my matrimonial side. That alone should be a harbinger on many, many levels.

  Currently, Kinsley is starring opposite Dillon Collette in The Fortune of Tomorrow, one of the last straggling soaps left to clutter daytime television. She plays the heartthrob’s sister, with whom her character, Carmen O’Neil, is having a torrid, yet very illicit incestual affair with. I groan at the thought. Dillon, the actor, is married with children in real life, and my sister, in all her matrimonial wisdom, has decided to take their on-air bedroom antics to a real-world level.

  Kinsley is sleeping with a very married man. Sometimes I wonder if there’s a person left on the planet who respects the sacred institution.

  Henry and I are married.

  I scowl at Ford without meaning to as he takes his seat next to Stevie up front. He looks so much like Carter it’s unnerving. All of the Cannon brothers share the same black hair, dark brows that hang heavy over glowing sky blue eyes. There are four of these gorgeous creatures roaming the planet, and that alone feels like a cruel trick of nature.

  Henry and I have just hurdled our second year of matrimonial displeasure. But I’m too stubborn to change marriage partners like I do shoes. I refuse to go to God with a divorce certificate in hand. I’ve seen the scars, the battle wounds the D word leaves in its wake—my own mother wedded and bedded four times, the affair with my father not withstanding (a very married man himself). It seems the world has grown accustomed to giving the finger to the institution. It’s about time someone put their foot down. If you get married, you should probably stay that way. Someone has to do it. I’ve always been known to take one for the team, especially when the task is laced with the aftertaste of revenge. I scowl at Ford again and pretend that he’s Carter.

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