For years, I’ve been bound by sleeplessness and sorrow.
His voice threatens to set me free.
Insomnia. It’s part of the penance I pay for my greatest mistake. But when an ill-timed doze behind the wheel of my car nearly introduces me to a pole, I know something has to change.
Sleep with Me, a locally-made meditation app, promises a cure. I don’t expect it to work. Nor do I expect to become enthralled by the voice of its creator, Sam Stephenson. His ability to coax forth my nightly surrender is unnerving. I have to meet this man and learn the secret behind his techniques, so I can evict him from my head—and still get a good night’s sleep.
In person, the quiet and reclusive Sam is his own kind of complicated. He needs my business skills as much as I need his meditation skills and we forge an unlikely partnership. But the attraction between us soon flares into passion and, as we grow closer, I start to long for more than my guilty conscience will allow.
I have no right to love, not after the damage I’ve done. How can I give Sam all he deserves, when our chance at a happy ending was ruined before we even met?
“You sound different than you do on the app.” The quiet words break the silence, bringing the spiral of thoughts in my head to a grinding halt.
My cheeks warm. I’m well aware of the wide vocal chasm between Siren Sam and my usual bumbling self. I put it down to the hour or so I spend preparing before I even begin recording a meditation for my app. Meditation takes me to another place within myself, a place where I’m grounded and peaceful. It’s quite the opposite of how I feel in my everyday life. Especially today, when I’m sitting in a public place with adrenaline spiking in my veins and Dreamy McDreamface watching me from across the table.
“Is that bad?” I ask. If he wanted to meet Siren Sam, he’ll be disappointed. It’s nothing more than a name someone else created and plonked on top of me, like an ill-fitting costume.
“No.” Tristan shakes his head. “I like your voice.” He blinks at his own words, and then it’s his face gaining colour. “I mean, both voices are nice.” That doesn’t seem to work for him either and he makes a sound of frustration. “I mean, they both have the same effect.”
My eyebrows lift and for once I don’t feel like the most awkward person in the room. “Does that mean you’ll fall asleep if I talk too much?”
“What? No. I didn’t mean—” The sentence cuts off as he rubs his hands over his face.
I can’t help but grin. Tristan Whitmore is delightful.
“Let me start again,” he says with a shadow of a smile. “I’ve gotten more sleep in ten days of using your app than I have in years. That’s why I wanted to meet you, to learn more.” He gestures towards me. “As well as provide help in return.”
My chest expands as I take a deep breath. I may not be good at much, and my weaknesses outweigh my strengths by an embarrassingly large margin, but Tristan’s words are proof I can still make a difference in the world. They fill me up in a way I don’t experience often. “I’m so glad my work has helped relieve you of your burden.”
The shadow smile, barely there though it is, snuffs out. Tristan’s face shutters and his gaze drops. He leans back in his chair, increasing the distance between us. Whatever energy connected us from the instant he walked up to the table, it’s gone now.
I have no idea what I did wrong.
Frozen in my chair, I watch Mr Nguyen bring Tristan his coffee. He thanks the older man before reaching into his backpack for a big, black notebook and a blue ballpoint pen.
“Let’s get started, shall we?” His tone is clipped now, formal. The smile he pulls onto his face is rigid and fake. “How about you tell me about your business, and we’ll see what we can do to give it a jump start.”
My hands clench tightly in my lap as I try to refrain from squirming. It turns out Tristan has two types of voice as well. I don’t find them equally appealing and they definitely don’t have the same effect on me.
“What about—” My throat closes up and I swallow before trying again. “Your sleep?”
“We can get to that later.” Opening his notebook to a fresh page, Tristan clicks the end of his pen several times in quick succession. “For now, I’d prefer to focus on you.”
But I don’t want to focus on me. That’s not what we agreed on. This is supposed to be a mutual thing; we’re supposed to be helping each other.
My gaze darts between Tristan’s face and his ready pen. He actually expects me to spill my financial guts while he gets to stay locked up tight for reasons unknown. Beneath the silent chaos of knotted fingers and twitchy limbs, my jaw clenches. That’s not going to happen.
His fake smile drops into a genuine frown at my continued silence. It’s an improvement, I’ll give him that, but it doesn’t change my mind. It took a great deal of mental effort for me to show up here today. If he can’t respond in kind, this will never work. I’ll leave empty-handed if I have to.
Granted, I’ll probably feign sickness and make a run for it before he has time to object, but the outcome will be the same. I’ll never have to see him again, so the humiliation of my exit should only haunt me for, I don’t know, a decade or so.
With a mental shrug, I look towards the cafe entrance. Who needs financial stability, anyway?
I’ll be honest. This book surprised me. Rebecca Raine was a traditional romance (male/female) writer who made the jump into gay romance. This is her third book in the genre. The first two…well, better left unsaid.
I was intrigued by the premise of this one. It wasn’t something I had read before and wanted to give it a go. I’m glad I did.
Tristan has been plagued by insomnia since a family tragedy years before. He has tried it all. A coworker suggests an app that was created by a meditation teacher his wife goes to. He finally decides to try it and is surprisingly lulled to sleep by the voice on the app.
Sam is the ultimate introvert. Except when he is leading his meditation classes. But his meditation classes aren’t quite enough to pay the bills- even with the app he has. So when Tristan has a proposal, business advice for how to fall asleep advice, Sam is wary but knows he needs to do it.
Tristan is a MESS. As his story begins to be told and you see why he is a mess…it is just heartbreaking. But even so, he is drawn to Sam. He wants to help him and take care of him. Which goes against how Tristan normally is.
But Same needs the help. His mother died leaving him alone in the world as she was his only family. He is afraid of his introvert nature becoming agoraphobia like his mother. He also needs help with his business as he has no other means of supporting himself.
Once Sam got to know Tristan and trust him, I loved how aggressive he got. Like most introverts, once he trusted Tristan, Sam’s real self came out They played well off of each other, the fit well as a couple. Watching them each open up was wonderful.
The one this that really bothered me was the lack of therapy for either of them. But especially Tristan. After what he went through, he should have been in therapy for years. As well as Sam. And it didn’t seem as though either one was avoiding it as there was never mention of it.
The resolution was well thought out and it was a very satisfying conclusion to the story.
And there was a lovely epilogue.
4 pieces of eye candy
Rebecca is a long-time lover of all things romance. Whether it’s a book, movie, or real life, she will always have more fun if there’s a love interest thrown into the mix. She lives in Queensland, Australia with her very own hero husband, two quirky kids and one big, black dog. Other than reading and writing books, her favourite things include loud music, enjoying a glass of wine on the patio, organising everything in existence, and spending too much time on the Internet.
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