Deep, p.1
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       Deep, p.1

         Part #4 of Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott
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Deep


  CONTENTS

  About Deep

  Dedication

  Acknowledgments

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Epilogue

  ABOUT DEEP

  Stay up all night with sexy rockers in Stage Dive, the epic rockstar romance series from New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott, author of Lick, Play and Lead.

  In the city of sin, you have to go big or go home ...

  Ben Nicholson is the only man that has ever made ordinary girl Lizzy Rollins feel both completely safe and crazy with desire. The problem is, Ben is the irresistibly sexy bass player for Stage Dive, and, no matter how much Lizzy may wish otherwise, he's only looking for a good time. Besides, Lizzy doesn't stand a chance - not unless she can get him to see beyond the fact that she's his bandmate's little sister.

  When Lizzy finds herself in trouble in Las Vegas, Ben is there to bail her out. But after one big mistake, the two quickly learn that what happens in Vegas, doesn't always stay there. Now Lizzy and Ben are connected in the deepest way possible ... but will it lead to something more?

  As always, for Hugh

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  With thanks to all of the readers, reviewers, bloggers, crit-partners, beta readers, friends, family, publishers, editors, assistant editors, copy editors, formatters, artists, models, photographers, promotions people, receptionists, booksellers, sales assistants, mail workers, librarians, and any assorted pets any of you might have, for taking the Stage Dive journey with me. I couldn't have done it without you. You rock.

  PROLOGUE

  Positive.

  I reread the instructions, doing my best to flatten out the creases in the piece of paper one-handed. Two lines meant positive. Two lines sat on the test. No, not possible. My gaze darted back and forth between the two, willing one of them to change. I shook the test and turned it this way and that. I stared and stared, but just like with the first one sitting rejected beside the sink, the answer remained the same.

  Positive.

  I was pregnant.

  "Fuck."

  The word echoed around and around the small bathroom, bouncing off the white-tiled walls and beating at my head. This shit shouldn't be happening to me. I didn't break laws or do drugs. Not since that blip after Dad left. I was studying hard for my degree in psychology and I behaved. Mostly. But those definite neat pink lines stood loud and proud in the pregnancy test's little window, taunting me, the evidence irrefutable even when I squinted or crossed my eyes.

  "Fuck."

  Me as someone's mom. No.

  What the hell was I going to do?

  I sat on the edge of the bathtub in my plain black underwear, covered in goose bumps. Outside, a barren limb swayed in and out of view, buffeted by the wind. Beyond it lay the endless gray of a February Portland sky. Screw it all. All of my plans and dreams, my whole life, changed at the say of a stupid plastic stick. I was only twenty-one, for goodness sake, not even in a relationship.

  Ben.

  Ah, man. We'd barely talked in months, what with me doing my best to avoid any situation where he might be present. Things had been a little awkward ever since I threw him out of my hotel room in Vegas minus his pants. I'd been done with him. Finished. Kaput.

  My uterus apparently did not agree.

  We'd had sex once. Once. A secret that I'd long since decided to take to my grave. Him never telling anyone was a given. But still, his penis went in my vagina one time only, and I'd watched him roll the condom on, god damn it. Me lying spread out on the California king-size, trembling with excitement, and he'd just kind of smiled. There'd been this warmth in his eyes, a gentleness. Given the obvious tension running through his big body, it'd seemed so strange and yet wondrous. No one had ever looked at me that way, as if I meant everything.

  An unwelcome warmth filled my chest at the memory. It'd been so long since I'd thought of him with anything other than ugh.

  At any rate, apparently someone had diddled away their shift at the prophylactics factory and here we were. Pregnant. I stared unseeing at my skinny jeans, lying discarded on the floor. Sure, they'd fit. As in, I could wiggle up the zip halfway and the button was out of the question. The pressure they inflicted upon my belly was a definite no go.

  Things were changing so fast. I was changing.

  Normally, I had more going on in the back than up front. But for the first time in my life, I actually had the makings of a rack. Not enough boobage to get me a job at Hooters or anything, but still. And as much as I'd like to believe that god had finally answered my teenage prayers, when you added up all the evidence, it wasn't likely. I had a person growing inside of me. A little baby bean-shaped thing made from equal parts of me and him.

  Mind-boggling.

  What I'd wear tonight was, however, the least of my worries. If only I could get out of going. He'd be there, all six foot five-worth of rugged rock star. Just the thought of seeing him turned me inside out, filling me with nerves. My stomach dived, nausea rolling through me. Puke rushed up, filling my throat and making me gag. I only just made it to the toilet in time to lose what little I'd had for lunch. Two Oreos and half a banana, going, going ... gone in a hot rush.

  Yuck.

  I groaned loudly and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, flushed the toilet and staggered over to the sink. Whoa. The girl in the mirror looked spectacularly crappy, face too pale and long blond hair hanging in straggly wet strands. What a hot mess. I couldn't even bring myself to meet my own eyes.

  That I'd dropped the pregnancy test didn't even occur to me until I stood on it. My heel pressed down, grinding of its own accord. Plastic cracked and splintered, the noise strangely satisfying. I just stamped on it, over and over, trampling the bastard, pounding it into the scuffed wooden floor. God yeah, the good vibes just flowed. The first test soon met the same fate. I didn't stop until I was panting and only wreckage remained on the floor. That felt so much better.

  So I'd been knocked up by a rock star.

  Big deal.

  Deep breath. Okay.

  I would handle this like an adult, pull myself together and go talk to Ben. We'd been friends at one time. Sort of. I could still talk to him about stuff. Specifically, stuff relating to our progeny arriving in, oh ... seven or so months.

  Yes, I could, and I would.

  Just as soon as I'd finished throwing my tantrum.

  *

  "You're late. Get in here," said my sister, Anne, grabbing my hand and dragging me through the doorway. Not that I'd been lurking outside, skulking and hesitating. Much.

  "Sorry."

  "I thought you were going to bail on me. Again." She gave me a quick, affectionate squeeze, then stole my coat off my shoulders. It got thrown onto a nearby chair already overflowing with other jackets. "Everyone else is already here."

  "Great," I mumbled.

  True enough, there was a goodly amount of noise happening within the multimillion-dollar Pearl District loft. Anne and I didn't come from money. Quite the contrary. If it hadn't been for her encouraging me to go for scholarships and supporting me financially by paying for books, etcetera, I'd never have made it to college. Last year, however, my normally sensible and subdued sister had somehow found herself shacked up with rock 'n' roll royalty.

  I know, right? How it all happened still confused me, somewhat. Between the two of us, I'd always played the role of the bubbly one. Whenever Anne got down, I'd pick her back up again, fill the s
paces in the conversations and keep right on smiling through the rain. Yet here she was, high on life and crazy in love, truly happy for the first time in just about forever. It was wonderful.

  Details regarding their whirlwind romance ranged from vague to none. But just before Christmas, she and Malcolm Ericson, the drummer for Stage Dive (about the biggest rock band ever), had tied the knot. I was now counted as part of the band's extended entourage. To be fair, they'd embraced me wholeheartedly from the start. They were good people. It was just the thought of seeing him reducing me to a jittering, nervous wreck with super enhanced puking abilities.

  "You'll never guess what happened." Anne linked her arm with mine, towing me toward the crowded dinner table.

  Toward my doom.

  A crowd of about seven sat around it with drinks in hand, laughing and chatting. I think it was The National playing quietly on the sound system. Candles flickered and small twinkling party lights hung overhead. My mouth watered despite my queasy stomach, what with all the delicious foodie scents filling the air. Wow, Anne and Mal had really gone all out for the occasion of their two-month wedding anniversary. Suddenly, my black tights and pale blue tunic (a loose-knit fabric which in no way hugged or hindered the waistline) seemed insufficient. Though it was hard to go for glamour with a plastic bag in your pocket just in case you needed to hurl.

  "What happened?" I asked, dragging my feet ever so slightly.

  She leaned in and whisper-hissed theatrically, "Ben brought a date."

  Everything stopped. And I do mean everything. My lungs, my feet ... everything.

  A flicker of a frown crossed Anne's face. "Liz?"

  I blinked, slowly coming back to life. "Yeah?"

  "You okay?"

  "Sure. So, um, Ben brought a date?"

  "Can you believe it?"

  "No." I really couldn't. My brain had stalled, same as everything else. There'd been no date in my plans for speaking with Ben tonight.

  "I know. First time for everything I guess. Everyone's slightly weirded out, though she seems nice enough."

  "But Ben doesn't date," I said, my voice sounding hollow somehow, as if it were an echo coming from far away. "He doesn't even believe in relationships."

  Anne cocked her head, smiling ever so slightly. "Lizzy, you don't still have a crush on him, do you?"

  "No." I barked out a laugh. As if. He'd disabused me of such idiotic notions, in Vegas. "So much no my cup is overflowing and the no is spilling onto the floor."

  "Good." She sighed happily.

  "Lizzy!" A booming loud voice rang out.

  "Hey, Mal."

  "Say hello to your Aunt Elizabeth, son." My new brother-in-law thrust a black-and-white puppy straight at me. A wet little tongue swiped my lips, and warm panting puppy breath, ripe with the scent of dog biscuits, filled my face. Not good.

  "Whoa." I leaned way the hell back, trying to breathe through the urge to yet again heave. Pregnancy was the best. "Hi, Killer."

  "Give him to me," said Anne. "Not everybody wants to French kiss the dog, Mal."

  The blond, heavily tattooed man grinned, handing the fur baby over. "But he's a great kisser. I taught him myself."

  "Unfortunately, that's true." Anne tucked the pup under an arm, giving him a scratch on the head. "How are you? You said you'd been feeling sick, the other day on the phone."

  "All better," I lied. Or partly lied. After all, I definitely wasn't sick.

  "Did you go to the doctor?"

  "No need."

  "Why don't I make an appointment tomorrow, just in case?"

  "Not necessary."

  "But--"

  "Anne, relax. I'm telling you I'm not sick." I gave her my brightest smile. "I promise, I'm fine."

  "All right." She placed the pup on the ground and pulled out a chair in the middle of the table. "I saved you a place next to me."

  "Thanks."

  And so it was (with me trying not to barf while wiping dog spit off my face) that I saw him again. Ben, sitting opposite, staring straight at me. Those dark eyes ... I immediately looked down. He didn't affect me. He didn't. I just wasn't ready to face up to this. Wherein this equaled him and me and that room and Vegas and the consequences that were currently growing in my belly.

  I couldn't do it, not yet.

  "Hey, Liz," he said, deep voice calm, casual.

  "Hey."

  Yeah. I was so over him. The date thing had thrown me, but now I was back on track. I just had to compartmentalize any unhelpful lingering feelings, file them away for never.

  I took a step closer, daring a peek only to find him watching me warily. He threw back some beer then set the bottle down, swiping his thumb across his mouth to catch a stray drop. In Vegas, he'd first tasted of beer, lust, and need. The most dizzying mix. He had beautiful lips, perfectly framed by his short beard. His hair had grown out of the shaved on the sides and longish on top cool hipster cut, and honestly, he looked kind of shaggy, wild.

  And big, though he always looked big.

  A silver ring pierced one side of his nose and he had on a green plaid shirt, top button open to showcase his thick neck and the edge of a black rose tattoo. Any money blue jeans and black boots were below. Apart from Vegas at the wedding, and then later that night in my room, I'd never seen him out of jeans. Let me assure you, there's nothing bad about the man naked. Everything was as it should be and then some. In fact, he'd looked a lot like a dream come true.

  My dream.

  I swallowed hard, ignoring my perky nipples while firmly pushing the memory back down where it belonged. Buried among the Hannah Montana song lyrics, Vampire Diary character histories, and other useless and potentially damaging information collected over the years. None of it mattered anymore.

  The room had gone quiet. How awkward.

  Ben tugged at the collar of his shirt, shifting in his seat.

  Why the hell was he staring at me? Maybe because I was still staring at him. Shit. My knees gave out and I collapsed into the chair with an ever so dainty thud. I kept my eyes cast down because down was safe. So long as I didn't look at him or this date of his, I'd be fine and dandy. Dinner couldn't last for more than three, four hours max. No worries.

  I half raised a hand in greeting. "Hi, everyone."

  Hey's and hi's and variations of both floated back.

  "How have you been, Liz?" asked Ev, from further down the table. She was seated beside her husband, David Ferris, Stage Dive's lead guitarist and songwriter.

  "Great." Crap. "You?"

  "Good."

  I sucked in a deep breath and smiled. "Excellent."

  "You been busy with school?" She pulled out a hair tie and bundled her blond hair up into a rough ponytail. God bless the girl. At least it wasn't just me keeping it casual. "We haven't seen you since Christmas."

  "Yeah, busy." Puking and sleeping mostly. Gestating. "School and stuff, you know."

  Normally I'd have an interesting story to tell from my psych studies. Today, nada.

  "Right." Her husband slipped an arm around her shoulders and she turned to smile at him, eyes all lovelorn and our conversation forgotten.

  Which worked for me.

  I rubbed the toe of my boot back and forth against the floor, looking left and right and anywhere but straight ahead. I toyed with the hem of my tunic, winding a loose thread tight around my finger until it turned purple. Then I loosened it. It probably wasn't good for the bean, somehow. As of tomorrow, I needed to start studying up on this baby stuff. Get the facts, because getting rid of the bean ... it just wasn't for me.

  The date tittered at something he said and I felt a stab of pain inside. Probably gas.

  "Here." Anne filled the glass in front of me with white wine.

  "Oh. Thanks."

  "Try it," she said with a smile. "It's sweet and kind of crisp. I think you'll like it."

  My stomach tipped upside down just at the thought. "Later maybe. I drank some water right before I arrived. So ... yeah, I'm not reall
y thirsty just yet."

  "All right." Her eyes narrowed as she gave me a that-was-weird smile. All too soon it morphed into a flat, unhappy line. "You look a little pale. Are you okay?"

  "Absolutely!" I nodded, smiled, and turned to the woman on my other side before Anne could grill me further on the subject. "Hi, Lena."

  "Lizzy. How you been?" The curvy brunette held hands with her partner, Jimmy Ferris, the lead singer of Stage Dive. He sat at the head of the table, resplendent in an undoubtedly handmade suit. When he saw me he gave me one of the chin tips the guys seemed to specialize in. It said it all. Or at least it said it all when all they wanted to say was Hey.

  I nodded back at him. And all the while I could feel Anne hovering at my side, bottle of wine still in hand and big-sisterly concern growing by the moment, pawing at the ground and getting ready to pounce. I was so screwed. Anne had pretty much raised me from the age of fourteen, when our dad left and our mom checked out on us--one day just went to bed and didn't get up again. Now and then Anne's need to nurture still got a little out of control. What she'd have to say about the bean didn't bear thinking about. It wouldn't be pretty.

  But one problem at a time.

  "All good, Lena," I said. "You?"

  Lena opened her mouth. Whatever she'd been about to say, however, was lost beneath the sudden thrashing of drums and insanely loud wailing of guitars. It basically sounded like hell was spilling forth all around us. Armageddon had come a-knocking.

  "Babe," Anne hollered at her husband. "No death metal during dinner! We talked about this."

  Said "babe," Malcolm Ericson, paused his head banging at the top of the table. "But, Pumpkin--"

  "Please."

  The drummer rolled his eyes and, with the flick of a finger, silenced the storm raging through the sound system.

  My ears rang on in the quiet.

  "Christ," muttered Jimmy. "Time and a place for shit like that. Try never when I'm around, yeah?"

  Mal looked down the length of his nose at the dapper man. "Don't be so judgy, Jim. I think Hemorrhaging Otter would make a wonderful warm-up act."

  "Are you fucking serious? That's their name?" asked David.

  "Delightfully inventive, no?"

  "One way to put it," said David, nose wrinkled in distaste. "And Ben already picked a warm-up act."

  "I didn't even get a vote," grumped Mal.

  "Dude." Ben shoved an irritated hand through his hair. "You'll all want to hang with your women. I'll need some people around after the show I can chill and have a beer with, so I went ahead and chose. Suck it up."

 
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