Lick, p.5
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         Part #1 of Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott
Page 5

  Author: Kylie Scott

  I was on my way back to David.

  My husband.

  CHAPTER FOUR

  I slept on the short flight to LA, curled up in a super comfortable chair in a corner of the private jet. It was a level of luxury above anything I’d ever imagined. If you had to turn your life upside down you might as well enjoy the opulence while you were at it. Sam had offered me champagne and I’d politely declined. The idea of alcohol still turned me inside out. It was entirely possible I’d never drink again.

  My career path had been temporarily shot to hell, but never mind, I had a new plan. Get divorced. It was breathtakingly simple. I loved it. I was back in control of my own destiny. One day, when I got married, if I got married, it would not be to a stranger in Vegas. It would not be a terrible mistake.

  When I woke up we were landing. Another sleek sedan stood waiting. I’d never been to LA. It looked every bit as wide awake as Vegas, though less glam. Plenty of people were still out and about despite the hour of night.

  I had to brave turning on my phone sometime. Lauren would be worried. I pushed the little black button and the screen flashed bright lights at me, coming to life. A hundred and fifty-eight text messages and ninety-seven missed calls. I blinked stupidly at the screen but the number didn’t change. Holy hell. Apparently everyone I knew had heard the news along with quite a few people I did not.

  My phone pinged.

  Lauren: You okay? Where r u???

  Me: LA. Going to him ’til things calm down. You alright?

  Lauren: I’m fine. LA? Living the dream.

  Me: Private jet was amazing. Though his fans are crazy.

  Lauren: Your brother is crazy.

  Me: Sorry about that.

  Lauren: I can handle him. Whatever happens, do not break up the band!!!

  Me: Got it.

  Lauren: But break his heart. He wrote San Pedro after what’s-her-face cheated on him. That album was BRILLIANT!

  Me: Promise to leave him a broken quivering mess.

  Lauren: That’s the spirit.

  Me: xx

  *

  It was after three in the morning by the time we reached the massive 1920s-era Spanish-style mansion in Laurel Canyon. It was lovely. Though Dad would not have been impressed—he preferred clean, contemporary lines with minimal fuss. Four-bedroom, two-bathroom houses for Portland’s well-to-do. But I don’t know, there was something beautiful and romantic about such extravagance. The decorative black wrought iron against the bare white walls.

  A gaggle of girls and the obligatory pack of press milled about outside. News of our marriage had apparently stirred things up. Or maybe they always camped here. Ornate iron gates swung slowly open at our approach. Palm trees lined the long, winding driveway, large fronds waving in the wind as we drove by. The place looked like something out of a movie. Stage Dive were big business, I knew that much. Their last two albums had spawned numerous hit songs. Lauren had driven all over the countryside last summer, attending three of their shows in the space of a week. All of them had been in stadiums.

  Still, that was a damn big house.

  Nerves wound me tight. I wore the same jeans and blue top I’d had on all day. Dressing for the occasion wasn’t an option. The best I could do was finger-brush my hair and spray on some perfume I had in my handbag. I might be lacking in glamour but at least I’d smell alright.

  Every light in the house blazed bright and rock music boomed out into the warm night air. The big double doors stood open and people spilled out of the house and onto the steps. It seemed the party to end all others was taking place.

  Sam opened the car door for me and I hesitantly climbed out.

  “I’ll walk you in, Ms Thomas. ”

  “Thank you,” I said.

  I didn’t move. After a moment Sam got the message. He forged ahead and I followed. A couple of girls were making out just inside the door, mouths all over each other. They were both slender and beyond gorgeous, dressed in tiny, sparkly dresses that barely hit their thighs. More people milled about drinking and dancing. A chandelier hung overhead and a grand staircase wound around an interior wall. The place was a Hollywood palace.

  Thankfully, no one seemed to notice me. I could gawk to my heart’s content.

  Sam stopped to talk to a young man slouched against a wall, a bottle of beer to his lips. Long, blond hair stuck out every which way and his nose was pierced with a silver ring. Lots of tattoos. In ripped black jeans and a faded T-shirt he had the same uber-cool air as David. Maybe rock stars brought their clothes artfully aged. People with money were a pack apart.

  The man gave me an obvious looking-over. I steadfastly resisted the urge to shrink back. Not happening. When he met my eyes his gaze seemed curious but not unfriendly. The tension inside me eased.

  “Hey,” he said.

  “Hi. ” I braved a smile.

  “It’s all good,” he said to Sam. Then he tipped his chin at me. “Come on. He’s out this way. I’m Mal. ”

  “Hi,” I said again stupidly. “I’m Ev. ”

  “Are you alright, Ms Thomas?” asked Sam in a low voice.

  “Yes, Sam. Thank you very much. ”

  He gave me a polite nod and headed back the way we’d come. His broad shoulders and bald head soon disappeared among the crowd. Running after him and asking to be taken home wouldn’t help, but my feet itched to do so. No, enough with the pity party. Time to pull up my big girl panties and get on with things.

  Hundreds of people had been packed into the place. The only thing in my experience that came close was my senior prom and it paled significantly. None of the dresses here tonight compared. I could almost smell the money. Lauren was the dedicated celeb-watcher but even I recognized a few of the faces. One of last year’s Oscar winners and a lingerie model I’d seen on billboards back home. A teen pop queen who shouldn’t have been swilling from a bottle of vodka, let alone sitting on the lap of a silver-haired member of … damn, what was that band’s name?

  Anyway.

  I shut my mouth before someone noticed I had stars in my eyes. Lauren would have loved all this. It was amazing.

  When a woman who most closely resembled a half dressed Amazonian goddess side-swiped me, Mal stopped and frowned after her. “Some people, no manners. Come on. ”

  The sluggish beat of the music moved through me, reawakening the dregs of my headache and putting a taint on the glitter. We weaved our way through a big room filled with plush velvet lounges and the people draped over them. Next came a space cluttered with guitars, amps and other rock ’n’ roll paraphernalia. Inside the house the air was smoky and humid, despite all the open windows and doors. My top clung beneath my arms. We moved outside onto the balcony where a light breeze was blowing. I raised my face to it gratefully.

  And there he was, leaning against a decorative iron railing. The strong lines of his face were in profile. Holy shit, how could I have forgotten? There was no explaining the full effect of David in real life. He fit in with the beautiful people just fine. He was one of them. I, on the other hand, belonged in the kitchen with the waitstaff.

  My husband was busy talking to the leggy, enhanced-breasted brunette beside him. Perhaps he was a tit man and that’s how we’d wound up wed. It was as good a guess as any. Dressed in only a teeny white bikini, the girl clung to him like she’d been surgically attached. Her hair was artfully messed in a way that suggested a minimum of two hours at a top-notch salon. She was beautiful and I hated her just a little. A trickle of sweat ran down my spine.

  “Hey, Dave,” Mal called out. “Company. ”

  David turned, then saw me and frowned. In this light his eyes looked dark and distinctly unhappy. “Ev. ”

  “Hi. ”

  Mal started to laugh. “That’s about the only word I’ve been able to get out of her. Seriously, man, does your wife even speak?”

  “
She speaks. ” His tone of voice made it obvious he wished I wouldn’t, ever again. Or at least, not within his hearing.

  I didn’t know what to say. Generally, I wasn’t after universal love and acceptance. Open hostility, however, was still kind of new to me.

  The brunette tittered and rubbed her bountiful boobs against David’s arm as if she was marking him. Sadly for her, he didn’t seem to notice. She gave me a foul look, red mouth puckered. Charming. Though the fact that she saw me as competition was a huge boost to my ego. I stood taller and looked my husband in the eye.

  Big mistake.

  David’s dark hair had been tied back in a little ponytail with strands falling around his face. What should have reeked of scummy drug dealer worked on him. Of course it did. He could probably make a dirty back alleyway seem like the honeymoon suite. A gray T-shirt molded to his thick shoulders and faded blue jeans covered his long legs. His black army-style boots were crossed at the ankles, easy as you please, because he belonged here. I didn’t.

  “You mind finding her a room?” David asked his friend.

  Mal snorted. “Do I look like your fucking butler? You’ll show your own wife to a room. Don’t be an asshole. ”

  “She’s not my wife,” David growled.

  “Every news channel in the country would disagree with you there. ” Mal ruffled my hair with a big hand, making me feel all of eight years old. “Check you later, child bride. Nice to meet you. ”

  “Child bride?” I asked, feeling clueless.

  Mal stopped and grinned. “You haven’t heard what they’re saying?”

  I shook my head.

  “Probably for the best. ” With a last laugh he wandered off.

  David disentangled himself from the brunette. Her plump lips pursed in displeasure but he wasn’t looking. “Come on. ”

  He put his hand out to usher me on and there, spread across the length of his forearm, was his tattoo.

  Evelyn

  I froze. Holy shit. The man sure had chosen a conspicuous place to put my name. I didn’t know how I felt about that.

  “What?” His brows drew down and his forehead wrinkled. “Ah, yeah. Come on. ”

  “Hurry back, David,” cooed Bikini Girl, primping her hair. I had nothing against bikinis. I owned several despite my mom believing I was too big boned for such things. (I’d never actually worn them but that was beside the point. ) No, what I minded were the sneers and snarly looks Bikini Girl shot me when she thought David wasn’t looking.
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