Aw, fuck. My head hurt like someone had cut it open with a broken bottle. Maybe someone had? I brought my hand up, tentative. Nope, everything intact. Just my skull in the grips of a massive, relentless hangover. Nothing new. Then why did I feel like something new had happened? With a groan, I shifted my weight on the bed and swung my legs over the side. Slow and steady, that’s how you won the race. Or moved your aching, hard-partying body the morning after an epic night of tearing through Vegas. Much like the night before and the night before that. People expected nothing less from hotter-than-hell rock god Ash Black. Trashed hotel rooms, run-ins with paparazzi, X-rated scenes with starlets, I did it all while strutting around in leather pants and no shirt, my world-famous muscles and tats on full display. I always delivered. But something else had happened last night. My mouth tasted like soot and my head felt stuffed with cotton balls, the scratchy, cheap kind. I couldn’t remember. What was it? Behind me, a feminine grunt emerged beneath wrinkled sheets. Strands of dark hair splayed across a pillow. Mandy Monroe, America’s sweetheart aka my plaything at the moment, had blonde hair. Huh. I thought we’d been hanging out last night. Like a goddamned chainsaw, my goddamned phone buzzed with an incoming call. All the goddamned way across the hotel room. No way was I going to make it that far. Down on the floor between my feet I spotted a tied-off used condom. So there was that. Wasted as I got, I used protection on autopilot. The world already had its hands full with just one Ash Black. No one needed any little Ashes running around. My cock got out and played each and every night, but procreation? Not going to happen. The mystery woman next to me snorted in her sleep. What was she doing still in my bed? I liked my fun over and out—as in out of the room by the time I woke up. I pulled the sheet down. Ah, yes, I remembered those tits, as big and gorgeous as only a plastic surgeon could shape them. I remembered them bouncing up and down as she rode me last night. I usually liked to dominate, play games of control, but last night I’d been too wasted to do more than let her climb on and ride me like a rodeo bull. Tugging the sheet down some more, I swatted her lightly on the ass. “Up and out, Buttercup.” Groaning, she opened her eyes. Her mascara had smeared down like a Halloween costume of a zombie prom queen. “You got to get going.” I pointed toward the door. I didn’t even try to make up an excuse, something lame about needing to take care of something. I didn’t ask for her phone number as she fumbled around and found her skimpy dress, pulling it on and zipping into her thigh-high boots. I was Ash Fucking Black. I didn’t give out my digits. “So, thanks,” she mumbled. “If you ever want to, you know—” “Yeah.” I gave her my signature wink. Class dismissed. And what did she do when I was such an asshole? She giggled and blushed, like they all did. I could get away with anything. And I took full advantage of it. I was 26 now, but I’d been famous since I was 19 and my band charted its first number one hit. People called us the harder-driving, U.S. version of Coldplay. We had some Green Day in us, some Fun once you cranked them up. Some compared us to the Sex Pistols or Guns ‘n’ Roses. Whatever you called it or compared it to, we made music that made you jump up, dance your ass off and bang your head against the wall. No ballads, no whining, we made screw-the-consequences, fuck-it-all-I’m-going-for-it RAWCK. There were lots of benefits to my status. Touring the world, VIP access to anything anytime, but at the top of my list had to be the constant supply of pussy. It wasn’t as if I’d been hard-up before I’d gotten famous. My father was Richard Kavanaugh, billionaire real estate mogul and investor. I’d learned early that being rich and handsome opened up all kinds of doors and legs. But it was when I picked up a guitar as a teenager that girls really started getting crazy. Waiting for me naked in my bed. Texting me videos of them making out with their girlfriends or playing with themselves as they thought of me. By now, I’d gotten so used to the whole sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll routine it was almost boring. I was almost tired of it. Almost. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t playing a tiny violin of pity for myself. I was having the time of my life. Every night. That was it, though. With the exact same shit every different day, every now and then in the midst of the wild and crazy carnival I’d have a whisper of a doubt. I’d look around and think, is that all there is? Then I’d do a show and get wasted and fuck groupies and nothing would matter all over again. I’d been the bad boy for a long time now, my whole life really. I’d started off the black sheep in my family, doing nothing right in my father’s eyes, dark in my perfect older brother’s chip-off-the-old- block’s shadow. Then as the rocker, I’d become the poster boy for devil-may-care defiance. I’d spent years riding that long wave of adolescent rebellion while I proudly held up my middle finger. Sometimes I wondered what it would feel like to stop. Get off the crazy train. Be still and silent for even a moment. When media darling Mandy Monroe and I first got together a couple months ago, I’ll admit it, I’d been curious about her. Everyone knew her story, the daughter of a coal miner from West Virginia discovered on American Idol. Seventeen years old and singing her heart out with those big, brown eyes and long blonde hair, the world had fallen in love with her. I’d wondered, maybe it would be different with her? She’d certainly grown up outside the bubbles I’d lived in my whole life. Maybe she’d be real? I didn’t know what kind of person Mandy had been at 17. But at 22, the Mandy I got to know was as vicious and shrewd as they came, always angling for the right PR shot, constantly scheming about how to stay on top of the headlines. It hadn’t taken me long to realize her sugary image had nothing to do with her sour reality. The only reason things had dragged on as long as they had between us was we were never in the same place at the same time. Until last night. We’d gone out to dinner here in Vegas. Hadn’t we? My phone buzzed again. With a deep down-to-the-bones groan, I stumbled across the room to retrieve it. I still didn’t get there in time to pick up. The screen announced that I had 15 missed calls, 10 from my agent, four from my PR firm, one from my older brother. Uh-oh. My big brother never called unless it was to give me shit. I’d done something to screw up. What was it? My phone rang again in my hand. My agent. With a sigh, I picked up. “Yeah?” My voice creaked out, gravelly and hung-over. If words came across visually, his would be bright red and all caps. “WHAT THE FUCK? YOU’VE FUCKED UP ROYALLY THIS TIME!”
Callie Harper writes contemporary romances so hot they may melt your ebook. You’ve been warned.
She is powered by coffee, wickedly sexy bad boys, and all things funny, intentional or otherwise. She is the author of OFF LIMITS to be released 12/15 and the BEG FOR IT series which will start being released in January 2016.
She lives in the gorgeous Bay Area with her family.
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