Rock Bottom, Page 2R. K. Lilley
She had nothing for me besides a hand throw in the air and some heel stomping as she walked away. I knew men liked boobs, but I was baffled that Tristan had fallen for her. Unaccountably, dealing with her just always made me want to throw things at him.
“Why do you look like you want to hit something? What did Tristan do now?”
My mouth twisted ruefully as I turned to look at Frankie. “You know what’s infuriating? Verbal sparring with a blow-up doll and realizing that this used to be my boyfriend’s ‘type. ’”
“Ahh, Twatalie. She’d put anyone in a bad mood. ”
“I swear she’s stalking us. She’s everywhere we go lately. ”
“She wants him back. She’s making no bones about it. ”
That made my gut twist. He’d given her a ring once, and I was almost certain there were still some feelings left between them.
“It would never happen, Danika. Get that look off your face. He wouldn’t do that to you, especially not with her. ”
“I walked in on them flirting once. It was months ago, but I could tell there were still feelings between them. ”
“I bet you misunderstood. ”
“I don’t think I did. ”
“For the record, I think your jealousy is clouding your judgement on this one. They have a long history, yeah, and I think he went from resenting her to feeling sorry for her. I think she had a rough childhood, and Tristan was always trying to rescue her from it. He’s got this savior complex…”
“Savior complex…You think he’s trying to save me?”
“No. That’s not what I’m saying. What I mean is he’s a good guy, and he always sympathized with her. That’s a part of him that won’t change. He doesn’t like what Nat’s become, but he’s got a soft spot for what she’s gone through. As a matter of fact, that’s also why he’s still friends with Dean, mega-asshole that he is. I guess Dean had a tough childhood, and that’s why Tristan cuts him so much slack. ”
“Well, that soft spot makes me want throw things at him. Does that make me a bitch?”
“Not in my book. Just don’t mistake a soft spot for some kind of an emotional affair. He’ll barely talk to her now, sympathy or no, because he knows how much it pisses you off. ”
“That’s only fair, when he’d try to kill one of my ex-boyfriends if he saw them so much as looking at me. ”
“True. You make a solid point. He can never ever complain about you being jealous, since he turns into a maniac if anyone looks at you funny. ”
We tracked Tristan down in a crowd of people laughing by the pool. He was talking to Kenny, with Cory and Dean just a few feet away. The band was back together. I could tell at a glance. And the man in a suit that seemed to be kissing their ass made my gut twist.
I was about to lose him. The thought was swift and hard to shake. But something was happening here, some big move for the band that was bound to take him away from me, be it in time or distance.
He smiled huge when he saw me. I hadn’t seen him so happy since Jared died.
I wanted to throw up I was so worried about what he was going to tell me as he left the group, grabbing my hand and tugging me away.
“I need to talk to you about something,” he explained.
I followed on leaden feet, wanting to stall, or run, whatever it took to stop this thing in its tracks. I was being ridiculous, I knew, but knowing that didn’t stop the horrible feeling in my gut. “That sounds ominous,” I told him, keeping my voice steady.
“It’s nothing bad. It’s good, I think, actually. ”
He pulled me until we found a private little corner on the side of the house. He moved close, touching his forehead to mine and smiling before he began.
“We just got a record deal. ”
I’d known it, known by the happy reunion of the band, who hadn’t been together since the funeral, that this was happening. It had always been heading in this direction.
He swallowed, his eyes suddenly downcast. “It was what Jared always wanted. It’s not right that he’s not here to see it. ”
I melted, stroking a hand over his cheek, trying to offer him whatever comfort I could.
“The rest of the guys are all over it, and I’m happy for them, especially Kenny, but I’m not sure I’m up for it. The band…the entire thing is not the same for me without Jared. It won’t be at all hard for them to find a new lead singer. They’re a dime a dozen. ”
He was delusional if he thought the band would fare as well without him. Hell, I didn’t think they’d still have a record deal if he backed out, but that wasn’t for me to say.
It was a touchy question and hard for me to ask, but… “What about Jared’s spot? Don’t you need another guitarist?”
He grimaced, running a hand through his hair. “We had enough guys that we don’t technically need another member, but the record company has someone that they want us to use. I haven’t met him, but I hear he’s good. I’m happy for the guys, but like I said, I’m not sure I’m up for it. None of it would be the same for me without Jared. Just the thought of someone else taking his spot makes me feel sick. ”
I saw what he wanted from me, even if he didn’t.
He tried so hard to hide all of his pent-up frustration at life, his malcontent with the hand he’d been dealt; a talented man who was good at everything, of sound mind and exceptional body, and yet had nothing to do with it, nowhere to put it to its proper use.
He’d been raised in a world where his potential had been valued at so much less than its worth. He was ambitious. He’d never admit it, because it was a pipe dream where he came from, but his ambitions were a hot burning thing, beyond his control, and he needed this.
I buried my hands in his hair, touching my forehead back to his. It wasn’t easy, but when I spoke, I made my voice sure. “I think you should do it. Opportunities like these don’t come often, and when they do, you have to grab them. This is what Jared would have wanted. ”
“It’s just not the same without him. It never will be. ”
“No, it won’t. It will be completely different, but that doesn’t mean it won’t still be good. For the guys and for you. And for Jared. It was his dream for the band to make it, and he was not selfish. He’d be just as happy if you made it without him. But you’re never really without him. He’ll always be a part of you, right? And that part of you needs to do this, baby. ”
He hugged me to him, his face burrowing into my neck, breathing me in, making my eyes flutter closed in pleasure. “Thank you. You’re my rock, sweetheart. I don’t know what I’d do without you. You make everything better. ”
I melted into a messy little puddle at his feet. Having this man love me like he did had become my whole world.
Though he’d put up a token protest, I knew he wanted this bad, and I couldn’t blame him. I understood his need for this. I desperately wanted to amount to something too, and so I didn’t ever even consider holding him back.
My approval, or encouragement, was seemingly all he needed, and so it was settled.
I got more details, troubling details, as we rejoined the group of giddy bandmates.
They were going to start working in the studio in just over a week. And that studio was in L. A. , which was a five-hour drive away. They were required to work on the new album five days a week, and the entire process could potentially take months to complete. I wanted to throw up, but instead I smiled, and congratulated them all, and let Tristan hang his arm over my shoulders like all was right with the world.
I didn’t need another reason to hate Dean, but he always seemed more than willing to give me one.
Tristan was off talking to their new producer, leaving me alone for less than five minutes when Dean approached with a shit-eating grin on his face. I had the strong urge to literally make him eat shit.
“Out of town five days a week…How long do think it will take for Tristan to bury hi
mself in some fan pussy? I give it two weeks. Let’s make a wager out of it. If I’m right, I get to bury my dick in your pussy. ”
I glanced in Tristan’s direction, debating whether I should deck the creep or sic Tristan on him.
“Aww, you gonna tell your boyfriend that I was out of line with you? You can dish it out, babe, but you sure can’t take it. ”
I glared at him, because I’d been real good about not dishing it out where Dean was concerned. The less interaction the better, I’d learned. “I would tell Tristan what you just said to me, but then he’d kick your ass, and I don’t think it’s right to hit girls. ” I smiled sweetly as the jab hit home, and he glared at me.
In an act of supreme self-control, I walked away.
At least I’d gotten the last word.
The party had gone into full swing with the announcement of our record deal. Music started blasting and across the brightly lit backyard, I saw Danika dancing with Frankie. No matter how many times I saw it, Danika moving her hips to the beat was the hottest fucking thing I’d ever seen.
She was wearing a little tiny blue skirt, her legs toned and shown off to perfection, her little ass so tight my mouth went dry every time she turned it my way. I was standing near the pool, talking with a group of guys about the news, but I wasn’t really. In my mind, I was lifting up that tiny skirt, bending her over, and burying myself balls deep inside her.
I owned that. She was mine. Mine. That sexy as hell creature belonged to me, and the second I thought someone else didn’t seem to understand that, I lost my fucking mind.
How I knew I was a lunatic about her was that I was even jealous of her smiles, her laughs, any damn thing that brought her joy that I hadn’t caused. I just didn’t want to share her, any part of her.
She was mine.
The way she felt about me was evident with just a look. I’d never been loved like that before, not by anyone, and it did insane things to me. I’d only had one other relationship to compare this to, and so I thought of Nat, and how she’d said she loved me five fucking times a day, incessantly, until I felt suffocated by it. Suffocated, but never actually loved. Not like I felt with just one glance from those pale silver eyes. Now if I could only become halfway worthy of that love, I’d make it through all the shit life was throwing at me.
“She is beyond hot, I’ll give you that. If you’re gonna let a bitch pussy whip you, she ain’t a bad choice. ”
I sent Dean an unfriendly look. He and I had not been seeing eye to eye lately. “Knock it the fuck off, unless you’ll enjoy it when I kick your ass. ”
He just smiled his crazy smile. When we were kids, I’d loved that smile. It had always meant fun, likely trouble, but still fun, but something had changed about him over the years. I couldn’t put my finger on when it had happened, but he just wasn’t the same guy he’d been.
I cut him an ounce of slack, because losing Jared hadn’t only broken me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the change in him had happened long before Jared’s death.