BUY ON AUDIBLE:
Singer, Rockstar, Asshole
He’s the one thing from my past I’ve tried to forget.
He is famous now, a rock god. I’m happy being a nobody … and I wanted to keep it that way.
I thought I was succeeding until I came face to face with him once more.
Frosty, unimpressed, sexy as sin
She made my past bearable, kept me sane long enough to drag myself out of the hell I lived in. I repaid her by breaking her heart and leaving her behind.
But now she’s back and, even though I know I should stay away from her, I can’t.
The problem is by forcing Harper to become part of my life … it might just get one of us killed
Have you ever been to a rock concert? Felt the adrenaline pumping through your veins while you wait for the band to come on? The high you feel when they’re there right in front of you? If you’re near the stage, you might even get to touch your favourite rock star. There’s a heat, a frenzy, it’s as close to public sex as most people will ever get.
Now imagine being the one on the stage, being the one to cause all those lust-fuelled emotions. Imagine knowing how one smile, a wink, a stroke of a cheek from you has the power to make someone’s day go from mildly okay to fucking outstanding.
That’s the power we wield, and often, the power we abuse. It’s the power we use when we point at a girl, a guy, a couple. When we take them back to our hotel rooms, a dark alley, the bathroom in the back of a seedy club and make them do all the dirty filthy things they only dream about in their cold lonely beds.
They do it to be close to the power and fame. They do it to get a taste of how we live for a short time.
We do it because it’s there for the taking. It’s offered to us on silver platters. Who’s going to say no to that?
Didn’t think I’d admit that, did you?
But here’s the thing. We aren’t the only ones who abuse it, so do the fans. When you’re a member of a band as big as we are, there’s no such thing as privacy. Someone who wouldn’t dream of touching another person inappropriately in their workplace or on the street will think nothing of asking us to sign their tits, shoving their tongues down our throats, or grabbing our dicks.
We’re public property.
All the groupies, the hangers-on, the media who watch for the next screw-up, the next public break-up, the next story—in their minds, they made us. As far as they’re concerned, without them, we would be nothing. They own us—body and soul. We’re theirs for the taking.
The power musicians hold is different from that of movie stars, as far as I can see. I mean, those kinds of celebrities have their own fucked-up fans who do weird shit to get their attention. And we have ours.
Which is why when I came off the stage, dripping in sweat, the sound of the crowd still roaring in my ears, I pointed at one of the many groupies hanging around.
The girl tried to introduce herself, but I wasn’t interested in her name, just in what her mouth could do for me. It wasn’t like I’d remember who she was anyway, so why waste time with introductions? I cut off her stammering words by flashing the smile I was famous for, told her I wasn’t interested in talking and that I couldn’t wait to get her sweet, sweet mouth on my body.
While she was still gaping at me, I grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the edge of the stage, telling her I’d make her come so hard she wouldn’t be able to walk for a week. Why that line worked, I just didn’t question anymore. But it did, and I shamelessly used it. I used it so often it had become an automatic response whenever a woman fluttered her eyelashes at me.
I leaned against the wall in the hallway leading backstage where reporters, roadies and random people milled around. They were completely unconcerned or interested when she immediately dropped to her knees and wrapped her lips around my dick, while I took a joint from a roadie who walked by and inhaled.
I tipped my head back and stared up at the ceiling.
Fucking Christ on a stick, I was so bored. When did fucking become so tedious? She’d go down on me. I’d go down on her. She’d come all over my tongue, begging for me to fuck her. I’d oblige by wrapping her legs around my waist, donning a condom (because always practice safe sex!) and fucking her until she couldn’t see straight. A charming smile, a vague promise to call her in a day or so, and she’d be gone. I would have forgotten her name and her face by the time I rolled out of bed the next morning.
Another nameless fuck. Another way to pass the time. Another step along the road down into hell.
This had been my life for the past eight years. Gigs, sex, drugs and alcohol—rinse and repeat. And for what? Hopefully to finally get the one thing in my life that I actually really wanted. I’d sell my soul, whore myself out if necessary, and give up my fortune, to get what I wanted.
“Gabe? Baby?” Her soft, breathy voice snagged my attention and I angled my head down to look at her. Pouting lips smeared with blood-red lipstick, big baby-blue eyes and cleavage that wouldn’t quit—a blow-up doll with blood in her veins. Even if I squinted, her brassy bottle-red hair wouldn’t become lavender, and her eyes wouldn’t change to a unique blue so deep they looked purple.
And just like that, I’m fucking over it. I pull myself out of her mouth with a growl, shove away from the wall, and tuck my dick back into my pants.
“I’m not feeling it, babe. It’s not you. You’re gorgeous, it’s me.” Inwardly I roll my eyes at my own words. I don’t even sound convincing. “Let me get one of the guys to organise a ride home for you.” I moved to the end of the corridor before she could answer, and searched up and down for one of my security detail. They were never far away at public events like this.
“Miles?” I didn’t need to raise my voice. I knew from experience he’d be within hearing distance and, sure enough, the giant of a man appeared from around the corner, his head cocked in query. “Get rid of her for me.” I jerked a thumb back to where the girl stood, wide-eyed and disappointed, and stalked away without saying goodbye or looking back.
Where was Seth?
I strode along the corridors of the backstage area until I found the room where the rest of the band and the usual hangers-on congregated, waiting for me. It was always the same after a gig. We all came down from the high in different ways.
Luca—our drummer—spent half an hour in the shower doing who the fuck knows what. There was probably a girl or two involved somewhere in his water play.
Dex—bass guitarist—would have found a high point, where he could watch the crowds leaving the stadium and smoke a joint in peace. He always needed some quiet time to come down from the onstage energies.
Seth—lead guitarist and my closest friend—would be in front of a games console killing shit.
I swept my eyes over the room until I found Seth who, as predicted, was ignoring the woman gyrating on his lap and thrusting her tits into his face. He was completely focused on the game he was playing on the large TV screen in front of him.
“I’m getting out of here,” I announced.
The best part of ending an eighteen-month long tour in the city you had grown up in, and still lived, was that you knew all the places to get drunk and get laid without having to ask the locals. Seth and I had gone one better. We owned a nightclub in downtown L.A.
The added bonus of ending a tour in your home city was being able to go home to your own bed afterwards instead of a hotel.
Another upside? It was also home to a person I was determined to reel back into my life. My fingers found the lighter in my pocket and I fished it out, flicking it open and closed. If things had gone the way I’d planned, that should be tonight.
Seth’s head slowly swung around to face me, his dark eyes bouncing over the pants still hanging low and unbuttoned on my hips, and the way my lighter was being opened and closed in a silent rhythm.
“You’re done already?” he said eventually. “She looked like she’d go all night.”
“She probably could.” I entered the room fully and flopped down beside Seth on the lumpy couch.
He slapped the ass of the girl on his lap. “Time to go, babe.”
“Seth,” she whined.
We both ignored her.
“She didn’t cut it. I need something more tonight. Something she didn’t have.” Something I’d been craving for eight years.
“Do I know what this ‘something’ you’re looking for is?” Seth twisted sideways, reached out and took my lighter away, then trapped my twitching fingers beneath his.
“Maybe,” I said noncommittally. If he knew what I had planned, he’d put a stop to it. I raked my free hand through my hair and cocked an eyebrow at him. “You in?”
“A night of possible unmitigated chaos while you figure out how you want to get your kicks … or back to a hotel room with another faceless whore?” Seth pretended to weigh up the options. “It’s a fucking no-brainer. How can I say no to such an offer?” He tossed the games controller to one side and rose to his feet, tumbling the girl to the floor.
“It’s time for things to change, Seth. I have to do something … something unexpected.” I sucked in a deep breath and licked my lips, anticipating the night to come. “Something I should have done years ago.”
“Something unexpected.” Seth nodded. “Got it.” He grabbed his jacket from the back of the couch. “Let’s go and see what’s happening at Damnation because, God knows, Gabe Mercer must get laid tonight. Otherwise, the world might end.”
I laughed, feeling my mood lighten, and slung an arm across Seth’s shoulders. “Wouldn’t happen. If nothing else came up, there’s always you.”
“Great, I’m the consolation prize,” my oldest friend groused, elbowed me in the ribs and shook his head. “Let’s go and see if Damnation has anything for you to play with.” He didn’t ask, but I could see the question in his eyes. “I’ve seen your dick and there’s no fucking way you’re sticking that thing up my ass.”
I batted my eyelashes at him and pouted. “What about your mouth? I’ve heard you give great head.”
Seth snorted. “Unless you have a pussy hiding in your pants, you’ll never have the good fortune of finding out.”
We arrived at Damnation and slipped through the back door we’d installed back when we first bought the club. The door blended into the wall, and only Seth and I had the keys. It opened onto a flight of stairs which led up to a private entrance to the VIP floor, where you had to be God, or as close as it got, to be able to enter. It had a second entrance from the main floor, which was guarded by two hulking doormen, paid so highly that nothing got past them unless we’d given permission. Even then, they were likely to triple-question before allowing anyone up to our private sanctuary.
Our home away from home.
The place we spent our nights when we weren’t touring or recording. We even had rooms here where we could crash and fuck … mostly fuck. Neither of us wanted to take our one-night lay back to our homes, especially me. There was only one person who would ever be invited to my private space and, as yet, she wasn’t in my life. We might live large in the public eye, with our every escapade splattered across the news, but what little privacy we did have, we guarded jealously. That included no shitting where we lived.
I left Seth to make sure the door was locked and headed upstairs. I needed a drink, to score and to fuck—not necessarily in that order. It was the same after every gig we played, but when a tour ended and I walked off stage for that final time. When I knew the craziness of travelling the world was coming to an end and I’d be returning home, something always snapped. I needed to end the tour with a bang, a big one. I needed to release that final bit of energy I’d saved, kept back in reserve. Coming home made me antsy, restless and, the rest of the band would tell you, liable to fuck something or someone up.
Entering the VIP area, I went directly to the bar in the far corner. We didn’t use the bar from the main floor of the club to keep us supplied in drinks, we had our own private one in the room. If we wanted something we didn’t know how to mix ourselves, we’d bring a bartender up to do it, or there was always Google. I grabbed a bottle of whiskey, filled a glass with ice and took both over to the long couch which looked out over the floor below.
Before we bought Damnation, it had been a seedy backstreet club with a sticky floor, wallpaper peeling off the walls and a permanent stench of piss and sex in the air. It had appealed to the darkness inside of me.
It had also been called Trudy’s … fucking Trudy’s. Fucking stupid ass name.
It had been the place where local drug deals, pimps, and whores all hung out. I smoked my first joint there when I was twelve. Fucked my first girl at thirteen. I took my first sip of whiskey at fourteen and snorted my first line of coke at fifteen.
These walls could tell you a lot of the secrets I kept hidden.
Forgotten Legacy played its first gig on the shitty wooden stage, and we’d all held our breaths every time Luca hit the drums, terrified that night would be the night we’d fall through the rotten floor.
When the owner, who wasn’t called Trudy and didn’t know anyone with the name either, said he could no longer afford to keep the place open anymore, both Seth and I had jumped straight at it.
It was a no-brainer.
The place was part of our make-up, of who we are, helped shape who we became. We did it anonymously. One of those tiny bits of privacy we hoarded so jealously. Trudy’s closed down and reopened six months later, completely redesigned. Eventually, people found out who owned it, but it didn’t matter by that point. Damnation had already achieved the reputation of being the place to be seen.
Now, instead of a reject from a Western movie set with sawdust floors, it looked more like the reception room to hell—all dark walls, plush thick carpets and low lighting. The name, Damnation hinted to what you might find inside.
And people loved it. Queues circled the block an hour before we opened, full of people hoping they would pass the requirements of entry, not that anyone knew what those requirements were. Spoiler—there weren’t really any other than whatever the doormen felt like instigating. The only rule Seth and I enforced was that anyone who received a ticket always got in, no questions asked. The only people who could issue those tickets were the band members and our manager. Like any club, there was also a list of names—friends, certain reporters—who always had access, no matter what. As well as a list of those who were never allowed to set foot inside. What can I say? We’re a vindictive bunch, especially me.
I poured my whiskey and leaned on the bar surrounding the tinted glass wall, which kept the noise of the club below to a minimum while allowing us to watch every section of the floor without being seen ourselves. Seth and I may have voyeuristic tendencies. We like to people-watch.
“Anything catch your eye?” Seth asked as he entered the room. He stole my whiskey and took a healthy swallow.
“Fucker,” I grumbled. “Get your own.” But I returned to the bar and snatched up a second glass, filled it to the brim and returned to his side.
Seth cocked an eyebrow with a half-smirk and raised his … my … glass in a salute. “Luca paid someone to hand out twenty tickets to random people before the show tonight.”
“People who were at the gig?” I asked, my eyes roving over the heaving mass of bodies on the dance floor below.
“No,” Seth snorted. “I think he sent the guy out to beat the streets and see what caught his fancy. Who the fuck knows what will turn up.”
I felt my lip curl up into a smile. Twenty tickets out in the wild, which meant forty newcomers to the club and, if Luca had followed my instructions, one of which would have landed in the hands of someone who would fulfil the craving I’d had for forever. When I’d told Seth I was in the mood for something more than what the groupie at the gig had offered, what I really meant was that it was time to set the final stage of a plan I’d been preparing for since one night eight years ago.
In the meantime, I needed something to take the edge off. My eyes swept over the club again and fell on two blondes gyrating together on the edge of the dance floor. I pointed toward them with my glass.
“Get Ken to send them up.”
“I thought you had plans for something more tonight?” Seth opened the door, which led down into the club itself, and murmured to the man standing outside it.
“I’m working up to it. Besides, what I want hasn’t arrived yet.” She hadn’t actually turned up in the entire five years we’d owned the club, no matter how many tickets I sent to her. But tonight … tonight something told me there was a really good chance she’d be here, and I was salivating at the thought.
You’d think after performing for two hours at a sold-out live concert in front of seventy thousand plus people, then heading to a club until the early hours of the morning, I’d be tired and ready to sleep.
Sadly, I wasn’t.
Oh, mentally I was exhausted. I was physically drained but ready to sleep? No, not anywhere near ready to close my eyes. I couldn’t do that until I’d reached the point where exhaustion would make me blackout—no dreams, no thoughts, just unconsciousness.
That could take a day or two.
The two blondes I’d brought up from the dance floor had crashed and burned less than thirty minutes after arriving. One was asleep across the couch, the other was still half-sprawled across my lap, a line of coke neatly balanced on her thigh. I wasn’t a big user of coke, or any other drug really and our manager was really hot on ensuring none of us became addicts, but on days like today when my adrenaline levels were too high for me to manage and my mind wouldn’t quit, I needed something to take the edge off.
I admired the clean line it made against her California tan, then plucked a hundred-dollar bill from my money clip—just as a nod toward my decadent rock star lifestyle—rolled it, and inhaled the pure white powder in one long sniff.
I let the drug do its thing, and dropped my head back against the couch’s headrest, idly patting the girl’s thigh before pushing her off me. I rose to my feet and moved to the glass wall to press my head against it and looked down over my domain.
And there she was.
There … She … Was.
Looking completely out of place in the hedonistic setting of my club with her lavender hair and a summer dress which reached her knees. I licked my lips, already tasting her skin on my tongue. I didn’t even need to see her face to know who it was, to know she’d finally taken the bait, to know my years of patience had paid off.
I patted my pockets, searching for my cell, fished it out and called down to the bartender. Lazy, I know, but I owned the fucking place. I can do things exactly how I want them. Bren answered almost immediately, his face lifting to look in my direction.
“What’s Lavender Hair drinking?” I asked, and watched as he glanced down the bar to where my primary obsession stood.
Was she barefoot?
I pressed closer to the glass, squinting down at her. She fucking was, her shoes placed neatly beside her.
“With what?” I saw Bren shrug.
“Fucking lemonade?” She’d been a vodka and tequila girl when I knew her … not that she’d been legally allowed to drink the last time I’d seen her, but that didn’t stop her.
“Well,” Bren drawled down the line. “She’s not fucking it that I can see, more taking the odd sip and muttering about her friend being dead to her.”
I laughed. “Still feisty, then. Give her a vodka for me.”
“She’s drinking lemonade, Gabe,” he repeated like I was a fucking idiot. Newsflash—I’m not, although I can behave like one sometimes.
“So? Vodka is just as clear as lemonade. It just has less fizz.”
I heard Bren sigh down the line. He knew how this game played out. “Fine. Is there a message to go with the vodka?”
“No message.” I wanted to see how she responded to the drink.
She refused it, shaking her head and pushing it away from her. That made me grin. It meant she wasn’t easy and I was going to have to work for it. That, or she no longer drank vodka. Wait … what if she didn’t drink at all? I dismissed that as idiotic—who didn’t drink alcohol? I sent Bren a text.
Give her gin.
I could see his eye-roll from where I stood, but he knew better than to argue and a few seconds later he placed a second glass in front of her. Her hair rippled with her headshake.
A third glass was placed in front of her, and a third refusal was given. She didn’t even look around to search out who was sending the drinks. I found that the most interesting thing of all.