Friday, September 11, 2015

Paper Hearts (Hearts #2) by Claire Contreras: Book Tour Excerpt & Giveaway


I lost her.

No, I didn't lose her. I threw her away.

She was my best friend.

I was never supposed to fall in love with her.

I was careless.

She was heartbroken.

I was doing fine until she came back into my life and reminded me what love was supposed to feel like.

When it's all said and done, she may not want to stay, but this time I'm going to do everything in my power to not let her go.

Click to Buy the Hearts Series on Amazon:


About the Author:

Claire Contreras graduated with her BA in Psychology from Florida International University. She lives in Miami, Florida with her husband, two little boys, and three dogs.

Her favorite past times are: daydreaming, writing, and reading.

She has been described as a random, sarcastic, crazy girl with no filter.

Life is short, and it’s more bitter than sweet, so she tries to smile as often as her face allows. She enjoys stories with happy endings, because life is full of way too many unhappy ones or ones that will scare the daylights out of her and have her looking over her shoulder at every turn. Like I said, she's very random.

Social Media Links:

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I don’t take ownership in a lot of things. I rent an apartment, lease a car, and go to

a no-contract gym. I have a wandering heart—an incessant mind. It’s hard for me

to look at something and see forever; though I had a forever once.

I let her go, not because I loved her too much to ask her to stay, but because

I couldn’t bear to hear her tell me she wouldn’t. Still, every once in a while I


And nothing is more haunting than regret.

Chapter 1

I used to wonder what I would do if I had the chance to go back in time and right

something. Would I take it? Would I look at it as a second opportunity, or would I

just let it go, knowing the experiences I went through and learned from?

Discomfort spread through me as I walked into the building of my new,

albeit temporary, job. The feeling stayed there, stuck to the lining inside of my

uneasy stomach, echoing its way into my mind until I reached the twentieth floor

of the building. As I exited the elevator and stepped into the lobby of the magazine,

a smiling brunette, who was sorting through a colorful cup of pens, greeted me.

Something about her—maybe her fidgetiness, the Lisa Loeb look she had going, or

the welcoming smile on her face—made me breathe a little easier.

“How can I help you?” she asked in a singsong voice as she swiveled

slightly in her chair.

“I’m here to see Mrs.—I mean, Dr. Zamora.”

“Fran,” she said. “She likes to be called Fran. Are you Mia?”


The girl smiled and gave me a quick onceover. “Cool. I’m Katie. Let me

make sure she’s in. Take a seat.”

I let out a breath as I placed my bag on the floor and sat across from her in a

sleek white chair, taking in the vast space filled with photographs shot by people

whose work I admired. In an effort to calm my nerves, I picked up one of the

magazines beside me and leafed through it, and even went as far as to try to

channel my inner zen, remembering what an incredible yoga session I’d had earlier

that morning. But nothing worked. That sticky feeling of what did I get myself

into? could not be soothed.

 It felt like the time I let my twin brother talk me into letting him cut my hair

so that we could “really be twins,” and I ended up looking like Peter Pan for two

months while my mother cried into her pillow every night. I fished out my phone

and contemplated sending him a text. Rob had always been the brave twin, with

words of wisdom to get me through these times. But, I’d dug my grave, and now I

had to lie in it.

When I ran into my favorite college professor months ago, a local magazine

had just published some of my pictures for a special they were circulating. The

accomplishment I felt at telling her this dwindled when she asked the dreaded

words: what next? But then she offered me the opportunity of a lifetime: to take

pictures for a huge magazine, one I probably wouldn’t have had an opportunity to

work for had my professor’s sister not been the person in charge of the project. The

catch, of course, unbeknownst to my professor or her sister, was that my

exboyfriend, The Dream Crusher, wrote for the same magazine. But I’d have been

an idiot to turn it down. Regardless of where I worked after this, to have this

experience on my resume would be incredible.

“She just got here,” Katie said, jerking me out of my thoughts. I stood

quickly, hitching my bag on my shoulder as the glass door to my right opened and

a tall woman with an uncanny resemblance to my professor—wild red hair and

bright green eyes—walked through it.

I laughed when she winked at me. After she hired me for this job, we started

following each other on any social media that allowed for stalking.

“It’s like we’ve been friends forever.”

“Social media will do that,” she responded with a laugh as she turned on her

heels. “Let me show you around.”

If Fran were a car, she’d be in fourth gear at all times. By the time she

finished showing me around the place and we got back to her office, my legs felt

like they were on fire. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the heels I was wearing, or

because I had to take four strides to her two. Being short could be a bit of a curse.

“We already got the clearance from W Magazine and are keeping the title

‘What Would You Do With Your Second Chance?’ I’m sure they told you

already,” she said as we each took a seat.

They hadn’t told me anything. Not that it mattered. I’d taken pictures for an

article with a similar name, but it was for a small, local magazine, nothing of this

“I hope your friends don’t mind that we’re stealing their limelight,” Fran

added with a smile. She’d become completely fascinated by the fact that the couple

on the cover of the magazine, my best friend and her now-husband, were a second

chance love story.

“They definitely don’t mind,” I replied with a laugh. “They wanted to kill

me when they saw the magazine in our grocery stores, so replacing it will be a

good thing.

” She laughed. “Were they uneasy because they weren’t an official couple

“Basically. Her brother wanted to kill Oliver … the guy,” I paused to clarify

before continuing, “when he found out about the whole thing.”

“But it’s so romantic,” Fran said, letting out a deep sigh.

“I guess it is.”

“Oh, don’t tell me you’re one of those girls!”

“One of what girls?”

“The ones who are all ‘I don’t need a man’ and ‘I hate romance.’” She rolled

her eyes, but I could tell she was biting back a smile as she said it.

I shrugged. “I’m not any kind of girl. I don’t need a man, but I don’t hate

romance. I think I’m kind of obsessed with romance, really, which is probably why

I’m still single.”

Fran laughed loudly. “Funny how that works, right? I’ll tell you what, had it

not been for Match, I would have never met mine. I’m sure you don’t need any

help finding a guy, though.” She waved the length of my torso as if she was

presenting me to someone as some kind of trophy.

“Finding a guy isn’t a problem. Keeping a guy is a problem, and finding the

guy is a complete catastrophe.”

Fran nodded in sympathy. “Yep. I’ve been there. But alas, you’ll find the

one. You’re young, adorable, funny, talented, and smart. Hell of a combination.”

I smiled and looked away. “One day.”

“Anywho, enough about boys. Let’s talk about work. As I stated in the

email, you’ll be taking your headshots today. You don’t need to come into the

office every day, but feel free to use our facility for anything you need. I sent you

the contact information for the couples you’ll be shooting so that you can schedule

their test shots first, and after that, we’ll let you know who we narrowed it down to.

We only want to select four couples to feature: two young, and two older. They all

have different stories, anyway, so that’ll be fine.”

She paused for a breath as I nodded, taking mental notes. “And … oh yeah,

here are the names of the writers working on the special. Carlos and Deborah are

regular staff; the other two are freelance, but work with us often. I wrote down

their emails and will send them yours now so they can contact you. Sometimes

they like to go along for the shoots and do their interviews there.”

My eyes scrolled down the list as I nodded. I stalled when I saw his name.

Just words on a page, but they made my heart flip once, twice, and finally nestle its

way into the pit of my stomach. I was prepared for this.

“You should meet us for drinks on Wednesday,” Fran said, pulling me out of

my thoughts. I was so not prepared for this.

“So I only see them on days that I shoot?” I asked, waving the paper slightly.

“Well, that only happens if they want to interview the people in their

element. Otherwise, we only see each other during meetings, and we don’t have

many. We’ll be having one this Wednesday over drinks, though, and then again to

lay out the final plans.”

I swallowed loudly and nodded. “Okay.”

“It would be great for you to come on Wednesday and meet them,” she said

again. I felt like I was on a downward spiral, moving here, knowing this job would

mean I would be insanely close to him, secretly hoping that I was, while reminding

myself of the reasons I’d avoided him in the first place. I took a breath and braced

myself for the inevitable fall.

“Sure. Drinks sound great.”

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