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Rock Bottom (Tristan & Danika #2), Page 2

R. K. Lilley

  “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 himself 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 lo
ve, 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.

  “I’m just talking, Tryst. Just words, my man. Anyway, all of that pussy whipping that’s got you so salty will be worth it when you kick her to the curb and I get a revenge fuck out of her, Nat style.”

  I had his shirt in my hands, my temper going through the charts with a few sentences out of his asshole mouth.

  “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” I asked him through my teeth. “And what the fuck does Nat have to do with anything?”

  “She fucked me, not a week after you broke it off. Let me do all kinds of messed up shit to her, just to get back at you. Joke was on her. You never found out until now, when you couldn’t give two fucks about who taps that.”

  “What the fuck is wrong with you?” I was shaking with rage.

  “Oh, my bad. You still give a shit who gets inside of Nat? Good to know, man.”

  I shook him like a rag doll. I could feel how everyone had frozen around us, so my voice was quiet when I spoke. “Girlfriends, ex or not, are off-limits, and you fucking know it. It doesn’t matter what goes down, if you ever lay a finger on Danika, I will cut your dick off and fucking feed it to you. Do you understand? I don’t care if it’s ten years from now. You touch her, you’re dead.” I let him go, my fists clenching. I had to get away from him before I lost my mind and someone called the cops.

  Dean was still grinning like the crazy bastard he was. “I got your message loud and clear. Good to see that anger management is working for you. I’ll leave you alone so you can practice your zen and shit.”

  He walked away, whistling like nothing had happened.

  “Crazy fucker,” I muttered to his back. He’d been blatantly baiting me, and still, it had worked. The idea of another man so much as shaking Danika’s hand made me lose my shit, and the idea of Dean, fucking dirtball Dean, having her, made me feel murderous.

  “Tristan,” a breathless, all too familiar voice called my name softly, gripping my elbow.

  I turned, giving Natalie an annoyed eyebrow lift in question. The woman was becoming a real nuisance. We’d gone years without so much as bumping into each other, but now that the old man had dumped her, she was everywhere I turned. I didn’t think for a second that it was an accident, and I was beginning to think back on the years of no contact with genuine affection. It was becoming apparent that even though we’d grown up together, we weren’t going to be able to be friends. She was never going to let go of the idea of us getting back together, and there was a no percent chance of that ever happening again.

  “What do you want?” I asked her, ill-tempered and making no attempts to hide it.

  She smiled, unfazed. She was a sly one, and for years I’d mistaken that slyness for intelligence. It wasn’t that. Over time, I’d realized that she was nothing but a dumb bitch. “I had some things I wanted to talk to you about. Can we go somewhere private?”

  That was so crazy it was almost amusing. “Fuck no we can’t. My girlfriend hates your guts, on account of you being a fucking bitch to her, and the last thing I’m going to do is piss her off again because of you. If you have something to say to me, you can say it right here. And make it quick.”

  She touched my arm, smiling up at me. All I could think was that she wasn’t worth talking to for five seconds if it got Danika mad at me.

  “Oh, Tryst, remember how it used to be?” Her tone was dreamy. I felt suffocated by it. “Remember the chemistry? We were so hot for each other. I’ve never felt anything like it, not before or since.”

  I couldn’t help it, I laughed. It was not a happy laugh. I was too sick of her walks down memory lane to indulge her. Just over it. “That’s not how I remember it. I remember how you withheld sex to get your way. And the chemistry was nothing special. Frankly, I get better every night now. World’s better. No comparison.”

  She gasped in outrage, but I wasn’t done.

  “I hope someday you find someone you really care about, Nat, someone you really love. Then you’ll realize that what you and I had was nothing but dumb puppy love.”


  I abruptly stopped dancing as Tristan yelled something at Dean and grabbed his shirtfront.

  Not again, I thought, cringing. Those two were at each other’s throats every time I turned around. Two men had never seemed less suited to be roommates, but roommates they were. I wasn’t sure how long that could last, but I’d be more relieved than anyone when they parted ways.

  “What the ever-loving fuck did Dean do now?” Frankie muttered behind me, tugging on my arm.

  “I should go try to break it up,” I said, the very idea just making me feel exhausted.

  “No, you shouldn’t. You should come inside with me and let them sort it out.”

  “I might be the only one that can calm him down,” I explained, but I followed her in.

  “That is a very temporary solution to a much bigger problem. That man has got to learn not to lose his temper without you as a crutch.”

  I knew she was right, but I still couldn’t stop worrying, and looking outside every few seconds, trying to gage if the situation was going to spiral out of control.

  I was beyond relieved when Dean strode through the door, whistling. He even smiled when he saw me, as though the sight of me made him happy, when it never did.

  “You,” he said, making it sound like an endearment. “I was just looking for you.”

  There was no way that was a good thing. The bastard was looking for trouble more than me, I just knew it. I crossed my arms over my chest, glaring at him. “Why? And what did you say to Tristan to get him riled again?”

  “Let’s not pretend he isn’t always riled, yeah?”

  I hated that he had a point.

  “But that out there, that was nothing. He was just having a jealous fit about Nat and me hooking up. You have nothing to worry about, though. I’m sure that doesn’t mean he still has feelings for her. Oh and look,” he pointed out the window.

  I turned to follow his stare, my body tensed up; my head messed up by what he’d said. I couldn’t shake my suspicion that Tristan still had feelings for that bitch, and what he’d said just validated it.

  Sure enough, Tristan was talking to Natalie, noticeably angry.

  “I’m sure he’s telling her off for fucking me. But it doesn’t mean he still wants her. It’s totally normal to get pissed off about something that happened years ago with your ex-girlfriend, right?”

  I hated that he spoke in my language, sarcasm, when everything he said pissed me off.

  “Just go away, you little shit,” Frankie told him.

  I was still staring outside at Tristan and Nat, watching how his face transformed as his scowl disappeared and a loud laugh escaped him that made my fists clench. She’d just said something that he thought was funny, and I hated it.

  “Just remember. I’m always here if you want to make him jealous back.”

  I ignored Dean completely until he went away, my eyes, every iota of my concentration on the couple speaking, and leaning close together outside. She touched his arm twice. I counted.

  “I say we just leave. Just get out of here. You in the mood for some In-N-Out? It’s good drinking food.”

  “Yes.” I turned decis
ively away from the window, done torturing myself with that. If he wanted to talk to his ex, he could wonder where the hell I’d gone. I didn’t particularly want a burger and I hadn’t had even a sip of alcohol, but that was not the point.

  He’d texted me five times by the time we were ten minutes away. I just watched the screen flash, not even reading them at first.

  “Let’s talk it out, girl,” Frankie drawled, shooting me a sideways eyebrow lift. “You look mad enough to spit.”

  “I think he still has feelings for her,” just sort of fell out of my mouth. I felt childish and paranoid, but I couldn’t shake the awful way it made me feel to see them talking to each other. “You don’t get jealous enough to fight somebody because they hooked up with someone you broke up with years ago unless you still care about that person, right?”

  Frankie shook her head, sighing loudly and dramatically. “I don’t know. Those guys do have a rule about that. They don’t hook up with each other’s girlfriends, ex or not.”

  “Yet they’ve slept up with the same women before. Makes no sense.”

  “I doesn’t make any sense to me either. That is definitely a guy thing. Somehow calling a chick your girlfriend changes everything.”

  My phone dinged with another message, and I had the strong urge to chuck it out the window. “I need to stop going to these stupid parties with him all the time. They’re pure drama.” If I was honest with myself, I was terrified for him to go to one without me. Twatalie seemed to be lurking everywhere, just waiting for her chance.

  “That’s not a bad idea. You have enough on your plate without dealing with Dean’s instigating ass.”

  “I could have gotten some studying done tonight, or even just helped Jerry with the boys. Anything would have been better than going out and watching my man get chummy with his ex.”

  “I know I’ve said it before, but if it helps I’ll say it again; I don’t think there’s a chance in hell he’d ever touch her with a ten foot pole.”