The Rocker That Savors Me
Terri Anne Browning
The Rocker That Holds Me
Written By Terri Anne Browning
All Rights Reserved © 2013 Anna Henson
Nook: Barns & Nobel
This is a work of fiction. Any characters, names, places or incidents are used solely as a fictitious nature based on the authors imagination. Any resemblance to or mention of persons, place, organizations, or other incidents are completely coincidental. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any other means without permission from the Publisher. Piracy is not a victimless crime. No individual/group has resale rights, sharing rights, or any other kind of rights to sell or give away this book. This is the author’s livelihood. Please respect her rights.
Table of Contents
Other books by Terri Anne Browning:
Reese: A Safe Haven Novella
Reckless With Their Hearts
From The Rocker… Series:
The Rocker That Holds Me
The Rocker That Needs Me
I would like to thank my husband, Michael, for putting up with me during the production of this book. I was moody, lazy, and a horrible wife while I put Jesse’s book together. In all honesty I was a total bitch, so thanks for putting up with me baby! Also, I want to give a huge shout out to my wonderful beta for helping to tweak The Rocker That Savors Me into its full potential. Neda, I couldn’t have done all of this without you. Love ya, girl!
It felt as if I had just fallen asleep when I heard the soft, barely there tap on my window. I knew who it was and dread felt like fists gripping my heart and stomach. Without hesitating I tossed back the worn, old comforter and moved across the small bedroom to the window. A quick glance at the clock beside my bed told me that it was just after one in the morning. I had to be up at seven to get to work—a job I only went to so that I could get Em the things she needed, like food.
Pushing back the old curtain that had been there since I was a little kid, I saw her shadow in the dark night outside. Barely tall enough to reach the window, Emmie stood on the ground in just her night gown. From the street light that illuminated the entire trailer park, I saw that she wasn’t wearing shoes.
I opened the window, trying to be as quiet as I could. If my old man heard me he would come in and God only knows what would happen next. That bastard was a loose cannon at the best of times. Tonight he was drunk so I really didn’t want to wake his ass up. As soon as I had the window down, I leaned out and gripped her thin little arms. She barely weighed anything!
I pulled her little body through the window and then carried her to my bed. She was shivering and no wonder. It was barely twenty degrees out, typical winter weather in Ohio. Thankfully it wasn’t snowing, but there was a good frost on the ground. I tucked the covers around her then moved to get a pair of my wool shocks from my dresser.
There was a scratch on her left foot, right on top. It was bleeding but I didn’t dare leave my room to get her a Band-Aid. When I had her feet covered I tucked, them back under my comforter and then and only then did I look at her face…
Her lip was busted, blood running down her chin. Her eye was already swelling and turning an unhealthy shade of blue and dark purple. I wanted to punch something! Anything! I really wanted to just kill her monster of a mother. How dare she hurt my sweet little Emmie!
Still shivering she offered me a pained smile. “Thanks,” she whispered.
“What happened?” I whispered back.
There she sat, only nine years old, way too small and beaten. But she just gave me a shrug. “She woke me up slapping me, so I don’t know. There were two men over when I went to bed. I figured she would be too busy to even think about me.”
Her mother and her addictions! The booze, the drugs, and the men. Emmie had seen so much in her young life. Her house was always littered with empty liquor bottles, crack pipes, needles, naked men, and used condoms.
One day, when the guys and I made it big with our band, we were going to take Emmie away from all of that!
But for now I pulled her close and wrapped her still shivering body in my own. “Thanks for taking care of me, Jesse.” She whispered around a yawn.
“I’ll always take care of you, Em.”
“I swear it.” She just gave me a smile and closed her eyes. “Always, Em.” I vowed to myself when her breathing evened out and she was deep asleep. For now she was safe in my arms…
I was jerked awake hours later by the sound of my old man stomping through the house. My heart started racing when I realized that he was coming down the hall toward my room. I wasn’t scared for me. He hadn’t laid a hand on me since I was thirteen and I started hitting back. No, I was terrified for Emmie.
If he saw her, here in my bed all bruised and bloody, he would think one of two things: Either I was doing unthinkable things to Emmie…or that I was protecting her from her mother. Either would get the cops called. My old man was a nasty bastard, which was probably why my mother had bailed when I was still too young to remember her, but strangely he had always been kind of fond of Emmie. I couldn’t let him see her; I couldn’t let him call the cops.
I knew that they would take her away. While I was all for Emmie getting out of that trailer and away from that cruel ass bitch, I also knew that the social service people would put her in a home where I couldn’t protect her from all the other bad things that could happen to a pretty little girl. The guys and I had decided when we first took Emmie under our wings that she was better off where she was.
Thinking quickly, I lifted her sleeping little body and laid her on the floor. Her eyes snapped open, but I put a hand over her mouth before she could speak. “Shhh,” I whispered. “Get under the bed and stay quiet. Okay?”
Eyes wide, she nodded and slipped under the twin sized bed. I jumped back on the mattress and pulled the covers up to my ears. My eyes shut just as the old man opened the door to my room. “Jess!” he bellowed.
I blinked open my eyes and glared at him. “What do you want old man? I’m sleeping.”
“Get your lazy ass up. Emmie girl ran off. We got ta go look for her.” He turned away before he had even finished speaking.
I waited until he was down the hall before I moved. I reached for her hand and pulled her out from under my bed. Her big green eyes were frightened. “Momma’s looking for me,” she whispered. “She’s going to be so mad.”
“It’s okay, Em. It’s going to be okay,” I promised with a smile that I hoped would reassure her. “I’m going to go out and help. You go out the window, okay?” She nodded. “Then sneak back in your room while everyone is distracted. I’ll send Nik or Drake over to pretend to find you sleeping.”
She swallowed hard. “She’s going to beat me again.” She whispered.
Dread filled my stomach because I knew that was what was more than likely to ha
ppen, but I wasn’t going to let it! “No. I got some money.” I had been saving to get a new snare drum for a few months now, but this was more important. “I’ll give it to her. She can get her some coke or whatever. She won’t care.”
“Jesse…” Tears glazed her green eyes, and I wanted nothing more than to just lay there and hold my little Emmie. “Thank you.”
The next hour passed quickly. I found Drake and Shane already outside in sweats with flashlights. The brothers looked half asleep but there was worry in their eyes. They knew better than anyone what could happen to a pretty little girl out by herself. I gave them meaningful looks and relief seemed to wash over them.
Nik was pacing, looking more like a concerned parent than Emmie’s mother who was stumbling around instead of actually walking. I had grabbed my hidden stash of money before leaving my room, and while everyone was moving into groups to search for Emmie, I pulled her aside. She didn’t even question me when I handed her the money. She was use to one of us sneaking her some cash to distract her from Emmie. It was all I had, but I knew that it would keep Emmie off her mind for a day or two at least. By then she wouldn’t even remember this night.
“Drake, you come with me,” I told him. “Shane you and Nik go search on the east side of the trailer park.”
Nik didn’t even question me. He just headed off to get it done. Shane gave me a nod to let me know he would tell Nik what was going on. Drake followed me around the west side of the trailer park, and we pretended to search for Emmie for an hour. I told Drake about Emmie’s lip and his face turned stormy. I knew that he wanted a drink… He was nineteen and already had a problem. I worried about him, but I think I would have worried more if he didn’t have the booze to self-medicate.
Dawn was just breaking when Drake walked into Emmie’s trailer and came out with her. She had cleaned up her face, and I was sure that she had even added a little of her mother’s makeup to hide the growing bruise on her face. Everyone went back to their trailers, but we sat on the front steps of Emmie’s. Her mother was already gone; she had taken off as soon as Drake had appeared with Emmie who had been ‘fast asleep’ in bed the whole time.
“We can’t keep doing this.” Shane muttered, running his fingers through his hair. “Next time who knows what will happen.”
We just sat there, knowing that what Shane said was true…
I woke with a start. My dreams so real that I knew they had been a memory. Heart pounding, I sat up in my bed and ran a hand over my rough scalp. I hadn’t shaved in a day or so and it showed.
It took a few minutes but I finally got my breathing under control. I had to keep telling myself that Emmie was okay. She was just down the hall, sleeping cuddled up to Nik. She was safe. Her mother was dead now. No one could hurt my Emmie. I hadn’t ever told anyone, but after Demon’s Wings had taken off and we had started touring, I had had panic attacks every night. I had lived in a constant state of fear, wondering if Emmie was alright back there in that trailer park with her mother. Thankfully, she had a cell phone, and I could call her every day—sometimes a dozen times a day—to make sure she was really okay.
Muttering a curse, I tossed back my covers and headed for my connecting bathroom. It was barely dawn but I knew I wouldn’t be going back to sleep. Instead I showered, didn’t bother shaving the scruff from my face or head, and went downstairs to fix a pot of coffee that could wake the dead.
After plugging in the coffeemaker I searched the fridge for something to eat. It was pretty bare. The six bedroom Malibu beach house that Emmie had picked out from the many that the real estate agent had shown her was practically brand new. We had moved in just a few days ago, and mostly we had been living on takeout. The furniture wouldn’t even arrive until later today.
I made myself a turkey sandwich and poured a mug full of my special brew. I couldn’t survive without my coffee. I was sure that I would end up with stomach cancer one day from it, but right now I couldn’t care less.
Taking my meager meal outside, I sat on the patio and watched as the waves crashed against the beach. It was soothing, and the rest of my unease from my nightmare began to settle down. I sat there for a few hours, loving the house that was now home.
It might be odd to some people, four rockers in one house, but we were more than just band mates. We were brothers, all of us. Besides, when Shane had suggested that we all needed to get our own places Emmie had lost it…
“Maybe we should get a house in the Hills. You know, me, Drake, and Jesse,” Shane had said over dinner. She had told us about the beach house the real estate agent had shown her and that she wanted our opinion on the place before making an offer.
We were all in the hotel dining room, and I was trying to enjoy my steak, but I had gotten use to home cooked meals all summer and nothing else seemed to set well these days. So I saw the change in Emmie as soon as the words came out of Shane’s mouth. The way she went all pale and the fear and tears that had made those pretty green eyes stick out of that gorgeous face of hers.
“Is that what you want?” She whispered.
Shane frowned. “I don’t care, Emmie. I just think that since the baby will be here in a few months you and Nik would want your own place. Having us around all the time isn’t going to be easy.”
Her chin trembled and I felt my heart crack open. I hated those tears! She was the only person in the world who could break me with a single tear drop. “Please don’t leave me!” she whispered, but she might as well have screamed it at him from the impact it had on us all. “I…I don’t want you to leave me.” Her words came out on a broken sob, and I couldn’t stay in my seat a second longer without holding her.
Nik’s fork made a loud clattering noise as it hit his plate, and he had her in his arms rocking her before I could reach her, but I still crouched down beside of her. She buried her face in Nik’s neck, sobbing brokenly while I rubbed her back. I shot Shane a glare, but when I saw his face, I looked away. He was just as broken as I was by her tears.
“Emmie, I’m sorry. I don’t want to leave you. I won’t, sweetheart. I swear. Please don’t cry, honey.” He scooted back his chair and came to crouch down beside of Nik too. He grasped her hand and tugged until she raised her head to look at him. Tears poured down her cheeks and I wanted to punch something.
“I don’t want things to change,” she sobbed. “I don’t want you to leave. You guys are all I have.”
Shane groaned and pulled her into his arms. Everyone around us was shooting us curious looks, but none of us cared. Shane dropped back into the chair beside of Nik with Emmie now on his lap. He held her tight, whispering over and over again that he was sorry. That no matter what we weren’t going to leave her…
It wasn’t just pregnancy hormones that had caused her breakdown. The four of us were her family. All that she had ever really known. For the last six years, we had all been right there, every day. I wasn’t about to leave her now.
Nik dropped down beside of me sometime later. Dressed in jeans and a smoky gray Demon’s Wings shirt he looked rested and carefree. The break from the constant touring that had been our lives for longer than I could remember had been good for all of us. His carefree attitude was because of Emmie. There was only one man that I would ever trust with Emmie’s heart, and that was Nik.
“Gods, I love it here.” Nik sighed. It seemed that like me he had gotten in the habit of saying ‘Gods’. Emmie’s little knacks rubbed off on all of us. It was something that I didn’t even notice anymore.
I nodded. “Me too.”
We sat there in a comfortable silence. Nik and I didn’t need to speak to communicate. We have been best friends since second grade. We knew each other’s darkest secrets. I was close to Drake and Shane, but Nik and me were different… Of course that hadn’t stopped me from beating his ass when I found out he had gotten Emmie pregnant. Hey, what was I to do? He had respected me more for it when I was finished stomping him.
Not that Emmie knew that.
“Nik!” Emmie yelled from inside the house. The door leading out to the patio opened, and she came out with a fierce glare on her face and a phone in her hand. “You told me you weren’t going into the studio until next week!”
He raised a brow at her, calm in the face of her fury. “That’s right. Rich scheduled it for next Tuesday.”
She waved the phone at him. “Then what the fuck is your producer doing calling wondering why your ass isn’t already there?”
“What?” He jumped up and took the phone from her. “Look, I don’t know what is going on. Rich said next week.” He put the phone to his ear and walked off, speaking rapidly to whoever was on the other end of the phone.
Emmie glared after him, dropping carefully down onto the lounger beside of me. I scooted over to make room. Her belly seemed to get bigger every day now. Seven months pregnant and she was nothing but stomach. It was crazy, because from behind you would never know that she was carrying a load up front.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Fucking Rich either told Nik wrong or Nik wrote it down wrong. You guys were supposed to be at the studio an hour ago. And I know that you guys will end up going in. Which means that I will be stuck here, dealing with the movers. Plus I have three housekeepers coming over from Perfectly Clean for interviews.” She gave me a cute little pout as she wrapped her arm around my waist.
I grimaced, knowing that she was right. Studio time was a precious commodity these days. If we wanted to get to work on our new material then we would have to go in today. I hated to leave her to deal with all of that on her own, but I also knew that she had handled worse. Fuck she has been managing our lives for years now. Movers and a few interviews should be a piece of cake compared to that shit.
“Emmie, can you wake up Drake and Shane?” Nik came back outside. He stood as far away from my lounger as possible out of safety for himself. Emmie was bound to beat his ass if he didn’t. “Jess, can you be ready in twenty minutes?”