Life used to be simple. I was a city girl with humble dreams. Then Dylan O’Dea broke into my flat, held me against the wall and told me to stay quiet. It was like in the movies, where the universe zeros in on a single scene. I looked into his eyes and knew he was going to change me. For Dylan, the sky was always falling. He showed me how our world is a contradiction of beauty and ugliness. How we choose to ignore the awful and gloss over it with the palatable. How you need just a tiny drop of something unsavoury to create every great scent. Pretty deep for a pair of teenagers living in a block of council flats in inner city Dublin, right? Probably. But we weren’t typical. We both had our obsessions. Mine was growing things, Dylan’s was scent. He taught me how to use my nose, and I introduced him to the magic of flowers. I had no idea that one day he’d build an empire from what we started together. But before that, there was love and happiness, tragedy and epic heartbreak… My name is Evelyn Flynn and I’m going to tell you about the crack in everything.

A Crack in Everything is Book #1 in L.H. Cosway’s Cracks duet.

Excerpt

One Inner City Dublin, Ireland. 2006. Waiting for a flower bud to open was one of my favourite things. It started out like a closed little pistachio. The next day its petals moved. The following day they spread. The day after that they spread a little bit more, and then finally the flower blossomed to its full potential. I was waiting for the buds on my pink hibiscus to open, but they still had a few days to go yet. I poured a little water into the pot with a plastic bottle then screwed the cap back on. I was just about to place it on the shelf when someone hammered on my door. It was a panicked knock, one that demanded attention. In this neighbourhood, it didn’t always bode well to open the door to knocking like this. I squinted through the peephole and recognised a boy I went to school with. His name was Dylan O’Dea, or was it O’Toole? Anyway, I was pretty sure he lived one or two floors below me here at St Mary’s Villas. Don’t let the ‘Villas’ part fool you. There was nothing villa-like about this place. St Mary’s War Bunker would’ve been a more appropriate title. Everything was grey. The windows gave the barest minimum of light and every single flat smelled vaguely of mildew, no matter how much you cleaned or aired the place. Dylan looked sweaty and desperate, and there was something about his panicked gaze that had me unlocking my door for him. Before I even had the chance to say a word, he barrelled in and slammed the door shut behind him. “What the hell!” I exclaimed, at once regretting my decision. I lived with my aunt Yvonne, but she was at work and wouldn’t be home for hours. Dylan stared me dead in the eye, his chest heaving, and raised a finger to his mouth in the universal gesture of ‘be quiet.’ I closed my mouth and a second later noise sounded from outside. People banged on doors the same way Dylan had been banging on mine. Our eyes met again, and he must’ve sensed I was going to say something because he came at me. He backed me up against the wall until his frame surrounded mine and his hand went to my mouth. I instantly struggled but then he whispered in my ear. “Please, don’t make any noise. Some people are after me. I just need to hide here for a few minutes and then I’ll leave. I promise.” I glared at him and lifted my foot to stomp on his ankle. He swore under his breath but didn’t loosen his hold. “Fuck you,” I mumbled past his fingers. “Get out!” It sounded more like, “Fup Ooo. Et oot.” “Please, Evelyn. I need your help.” My heart hammered. He knew my name. Although it wasn’t so strange since most people knew each other’s names around here. It just felt odd for him to address me so familiarly, because we’d never spoken. The sincerity in his dark blue eyes made me pause in my struggle. We stared at each other for another long moment, and goosebumps claimed my skin. His chest was wide and solid, and he smelled like cloves. “If I lower my hand, do you promise not to scream?” he asked very quietly. I nodded slowly, and his hand left my mouth. “Who’s after you?” I whispered, worried he’d brought trouble to my door. “A few lads from the McCarthy gang. They’ve been trying to recruit me. I told Tommy McCarthy to go fuck off and now they want to give me a hiding.” “Shite,” I breathed. The knocking came closer. Whoever it was reached the flat next to mine and hammered on the door. I held still, barely breathing. My eyes traced Dylan’s face, his dark blue eyes, masculine jaw, and gruff expression. He wore grey jeans, black boots and a navy padded jacket. His sandy hair was somewhere in between blond and brown, and it had a slight curl to it. It was clipped short, so the curl didn’t have much room to . . . be curly. He was very attractive, but that didn’t take away from the fact that he’d basically broken into my home. When my neighbour came out and started talking to the lads who were looking for Dylan, I whispered, “Why did you come here to hide?” He made a thoughtful expression, his brow furrowing in a way that made him look like a grumpy bear. “What?” “You could’ve gone into any flat, why this one?” There was a beat of silece, then finally he whispered back, “Because you’re the only person on this row who wouldn’t feed me to the wolves.” I arched a brow. “You don’t know that.” You don’t know me. Before he had a chance to reply, the banging started on my door. My chest seized, clutched by fear, because I knew the type of blokes who were out there. Poor. Hard. Brutal. Suddenly, Dylan was on me again, his hand on my mouth, his body holding mine in place. This time I didn’t struggle, instead I held still and stayed quiet. A shiver trickled down my spine at his closeness. I wasn’t often this close to people I hardly knew. “Answer the bleedin’ door,” a male voice shouted. “Or I’ll knock it the fuck down.” “Maybe I should answer and tell them you’re not here,” I whispered against his fingers. He glanced down at me, probably because my lips were on his skin. He tilted his head, like he found it in some way interesting, then said, “No, they’ll come in and ransack the place.” I let out an anxious breath. He was right. And I couldn’t do that to Yvonne. I couldn’t have her come home from her shift at the bar to a wrecked flat. More banging ensued. I startled when a head appeared at the window, though thankfully Yvonne’s net curtains shielded us from view. “He’s not in there,” someone said. “He probably ran down to the Willows.” The Willows was a dilapidated block of flats about five minutes away. It was where people went to drink and do drugs. If you were homeless, it was where you went to sleep. “Come on,” the same person said and the guy peering in the window disappeared. Dylan let go of me, took three strides across the room and looked out through the curtains. “They’re gone,” he said and exhaled, his shoulders slumping in relief. “Yes, now you should go, too,” I said, on guard again. I felt on edge having a strange boy in my flat who I’d never even spoken to before. Though ‘boy’ wasn’t exactly the right term. Dylan was probably about a year older than me, eighteen maybe, but he was built like a man. Soon his shoulders would get even broader, his features more defined. He’d be a sight to be reckoned with then, I was sure. He turned back to look at me, one eyebrow arching as he stared me down. He didn’t do anything for a long moment and then his attention moved about the living room. His tension faded, and something like fondness, or maybe amusement, took its place. “Big fan of New York?” he asked wryly, taking in all the posters and memorabilia. I cleared my throat. “No, my aunt Yvonne is. She saw When Harry Met Sally and became obsessed. She’s saving up to move there in a couple years.” Dylan’s mouth formed an attractive, thoughtful line. “And what about you?” “What about me?” “Will you go with her?” I shrugged. “I don’t think so. Probably not. My grandma lives in the retirement home in Broadstone. We’re all she has. I couldn’t leave her.” Dylan took this in, his dark eyes softening, then stepped to the front door. “Thanks for letting me hide here. I owe you one,” he said, ducking his head to make sure the coast was clear. “Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say. He looked back at me one last time. “See ya, Evelyn.” And then he was gone.

Coming Soon

He came back to me 16 minutes and 59 seconds into Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7. We parted amid tragedy, so it seemed poetic. Dylan O’Dea, my childhood sweetheart, had once meant everything to me. Now we were strangers, and honestly, after eleven years I never thought I’d see him again. I lived in the world of the average, of getting paid by the hour and budgeting to make ends meet. But Dylan, he lived in the world of wealth and success. He’d achieved the great things I always suspected he would. The dissatisfaction he’d felt as a teenager had obviously been an excellent motivator. He started a business from scratch, pioneered a brand, and created perfumes adored by women across the globe. I was just one of the people who’d been there before. Now he was living his best life in the after. And me, well, I’d been in a dark place for a while. Slowly but surely, I was letting the light back in, but there was something missing. I was an unfinished sentence with an ellipsis at the end. And maybe, if I was brave enough to take the chance, Dylan could be my happy ending.

How the Light Gets, Cracks Duet Book 2

Coming February 6, 2018, by L.H. Cosway

L.H. Cosway

L.H. Cosway

L.H. Cosway lives in Dublin, Ireland. Her inspiration to write comes from music. Her favourite things in life include writing stories, vintage clothing, dark cabaret music, food, musical comedy, and of course, books. She thinks that imperfect people are the most interesting kind. They tell the best stories. L.H. is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.