Treat me, p.6
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       Treat Me, p.6

         Part #8 of One Night with Sole Regret series by Olivia Cunning
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  could play a washboard or a jug and sing like a strangled goose for all she knew.

  “Don’t put her on the spot,” Colton said. “I’ll get it figured out.”

  “So do you sing?” Leah asked.

  Amanda wasn’t sure if their friendship could survive them both dating vocalists. In her experience, front men were high maintenance.

  “I do my best to sing,” Colton said. “And I’m not bad on a guitar.”

  On second thought, Colton wasn’t anything like Jacob, who had an ego that spread across the entire state of Texas and the self-confidence to back it up. Colton was self-deprecating. But perhaps with notoriety came swagger. Jacob had plenty of both.

  “I’d love to hear you play,” Leah said. “Do you write your own songs?”

  “That I do.”

  They now knew what Colton was doing in Austin and maybe why he’d looked lost earlier, but that information still didn’t explain why he hadn’t held Leah tight on the dance floor. Her friend was definitely giving off the right signals. Perhaps the guy was blind. Or gay.

  “So was your trip to Austin a recent decision or a lifelong dream?” Amanda asked.

  Colton flushed and lowered his head to shield his face with the shadow of his cowboy hat. He reached for his beer and drew it toward himself before lifting it and taking a long swallow.

  “Don’t mind her,” Leah said. “She’s naturally nosy.”

  Nosy? Amanda preferred the term curious.

  “It’s all right,” Colton said to the froth in his mug. “I was content to stay in Miami, get married, raise a family, and work for a living, but my girl . . .”

  Leah and Amanda cringed at each other across the table.

  “. . . she broke it off with me. Said I was meant for bigger things.”

  Leah slumped in her chair, and Amanda couldn’t blame her. It was obvious that Colton was pining for the woman who’d sent him packing.

  “Why didn’t she come with you?” Amanda said, her curiosity—okay, fine, her nosiness—getting the better of her.

  “Said she wanted a settled life.” Colton took another draw off his beer. “Not with me, I guess.” He shrugged, his expression hidden in the shadows of his hat brim.

  Leah touched his shoulder. Was she willing to be his rebound girl? Amanda had to advise her against that. Maybe Leah could mend Colton’s heart—she was definitely nice enough to do it—but eventually she’d have to stop falling for these sob stories and find a man who could make her happy. Still, Amanda wasn’t sure that she was the best person to offer relationship advice these days. She was sleeping with her sister’s ex-husband, after all.

  “Someday I’m sure she’ll regret sending you away,” Leah said.

  Or maybe telling Colton he was meant for “bigger things” had been the woman’s way of getting rid of his ass, Amanda thought. She’d dated too many toads to assume any man was a prince. Leah had dated her fair share of toads as well, but she always expected them to be hiding a prince beneath the slime and warts. Leah never shied away from cleaning them up and patching them back together. She actually seemed to like doing it, no matter how many times it resulted in her heart being broken.

  “You’re awfully sweet to me, Leah,” Colton said.

  “And you’d better be sweet to her, or you’ll have me to deal with,” Amanda said.

  Leah scowled at her.

  Recognizing her limit, Amanda slid her glass to the center of the table. When she started to get combative, she knew it was time to lay off the liquor.

  “You two have been friends for a long time, haven’t you?” Colton asked.

  “Since we were toddlers,” Leah said. “Our moms made us play together even though I didn’t understand English. Amanda used to take all the toys.”

  Colton laughed. “I can see that happening.”

  “What’s that supposed to mean?” Amanda asked, giving him the evil eye.

  “I was happy to share. Amanda always sticks up for me,” Leah said. “It wasn’t easy being the only Asian in our class, you know.”

  Leah had been targeted by bullies early. She’d always been meek, and it was easy for kids to taunt someone who’d been adopted from another country. Amanda had punched more than one boy in the nose for making Leah cry.

  “Which part of Asia are you from?” Colton asked.

  “China. I was one of the first girls adopted by American parents. Before that time, foreign adoptions weren’t allowed. Many girls older than myself were abandoned to grow up in orphanages.” She closed her eyes briefly and swallowed. “Or worse.”

  Amanda reached under the table and gave Leah’s hand a comforting squeeze. Sometimes Leah still dwelled on what could have been. Amanda didn’t even want to think about what her friend’s fate might have been if the Carmichaels hadn’t brought her home.

  “Oh,” Colton said, and then after a reflective pause, added, “I bet you were a cute kid.”

  “She’s still cute,” Amanda said tersely, her combative attitude showing no signs of easing.

  “I’d say she’s beautiful,” Colton said.

  Leah flushed prettily and lowered her gaze.

  Well, okay then. Amanda wouldn’t sock him in the nose. This time.

  Amanda’s phone dinged. She grabbed for it, expecting to see a message from Jacob but finding one from her sister.

  Are you busy in the morning?

  She hoped to be very busy in the morning. With Jacob. In his bed.

  Probably, she texted back. Why?

  Can you drop Julie off at her dad’s house? I have an appointment on the other side of town.

  I’m sure Jacob would come pick her up. Just call him and ask.

  I don’t even want to look at him. I sure don’t want to talk to him. Will you PLEASE just take her for me?

  No problem. What time?

  Eight.

  I’ll be there.

  Thanks.

  Amanda placed her phone back on the table within easy reach. Colton and Leah were talking and laughing about adventures from their school days. Amanda decided to text Jacob rather than try to catch the thread of her companions’ conversation.

  Is your show over yet? Tina just texted me. She wants me to pick up Julie in the morning and drop her off at your house. Do you think I’ll be able to crawl out of bed before eight?

  She set her phone down when he didn’t reply immediately. He was likely still onstage, or maybe he’d found a nice groupie to entertain him before he caught his plane home. She scowled at the thought.

  “Bad news?” Leah asked.

  Amanda lifted her gaze to meet her friend’s. “Huh?”

  “You look mad.”

  Amanda shook her head. “I’m just a little drunk. You know how I get when I’ve been drinking.”

  “She’s a mean drunk,” Leah informed Colton.

  “I figured she was a li’l spitfire,” Colton said.

  Well, tarnation! Amanda thought, but somehow she kept the taunt locked inside.

  “Tina wants me to drop Julie off at her dad’s house in the morning,” Amanda said.

  “That’s convenient,” Leah said with a laugh.

  “I know it’s selfish, but I wish it wasn’t his weekend to have her,” Amanda said.

  “What?” Leah lightly slapped the back of Amanda’s hand. “You love Julie to pieces!”

  “I do. But I’m sure it’s going to make jumping her dad’s bones a bit awkward.”

  Jacob’s response to her text dinged on her phone.

  You’d better bring a pair of crutches. I don’t think you’ll be able to walk unaided after I fuck you all night.

  At reading his words, a distracting throb pulsed between her thighs.

  Are you almost home?

  Getting on the plane now. Have to shut off phone soon.

  Ugh. She wasn’t sure she could wait several more hours to see him.

  He sent another text. What are you doing? I’m imagining you lying in my bed touching yourself while yo
u wait for me.

  Well, there was a plan she could get behind. It would sure beat sitting here at the bar with her friend and the guy she was getting to know. Amanda was glad the two had finally started talking to each other, but she felt like an unnecessary and unwanted accessory to their good time.

  That’s quite the imagination you’ve got there, she messaged Jacob. Let’s see if I can make those fantasies a reality.

  If you do, you’d better record it so I can watch later.

  I’d rather you watch in person.

  I’m not going to argue with that. Got to go. Plane is taking off.

  See you.

  Amanda sighed as she dropped her phone on the table again. “Are you ready to head for home?” she asked Leah.

  “You don’t have to stay,” Leah said.

  They had a rule about abandoning each other at bars. Especially when one of them was in the company of a man neither of them knew well. “I’m not leaving you here by yourself.”

  “She’s not by herself,” Colton said. “She’s with me.”

  Leah smiled at this, but Amanda scowled. “You know our rule, Leah. I won’t leave here without you.”

  Leah’s shoulders sagged. “I’m not ready to go yet.”

  “Okay,” Amanda said. “Let me know when you are.” She ordered a glass of water—no more alcohol for her tonight—and munched on the now soggy nachos, waiting for Leah to get bored with Colton so she could go to Jacob’s house and wait for him. It seemed she would have a long, long time to wait for Leah to be ready to leave. Especially now that Colton had found the balls to rest his hand on her lower back.

  Maybe she should call Anthony back over for a chat. He wasn’t very good at pretending he wasn’t watching her. Or maybe he wasn’t even trying. Best to ignore him, she decided. Jacob probably wouldn’t appreciate her flirting with another man. Or maybe he wouldn’t care. She wasn’t sure where their relationship was headed. Did Jacob want more than a hot and dirty fling? And if he did, what in the hell was she going to do about it? If they became an item, Tina would gut them both and tie their entrails together.

  Oddly, that gruesome thought didn’t stop her from counting the minutes until she could see him again.

  Chapter Three

  Shade couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this excited for two days off. Unless it was his weekend to have Julie, he usually stayed in a hotel near the next scheduled venue and partied the nights away, slept most of the day, and pretended he wasn’t miserably lonely the entire time. He surrounded himself with people, but didn’t feel that any of them knew the real him. Amanda was different. And this tour was different. He’d exercised his clout so that he had every other weekend free—he would not be missing any of his scheduled time with Julie if he could help it. In the past, their tour dates had centered around weekends because many concert goers preferred shows on Friday and Saturday nights. He’d given up so much time with his little angel to make the fans happy, and his ex-wife seemed to think the court’s visitation order was gospel—weekend meant weekend, not a random Thursday—but he was through putting his daughter last. He could maintain a rigorous concert schedule and see Julie as much as the courts and Tina allowed. And if half of his eagerness to get away from the grueling life on the road for a weekend was due to a certain lovely lady he had no business sleeping with, so what? Amanda made him laugh, chased away the loneliness he could never seem to shake, made him feel good about himself, fucked him just right, and she wasn’t bad to look at either.

  Inside the small private plane, Shade reclined his seat, crossed his arms over his chest, and tried to catch a nap on the trip from New Orleans to Austin. As usual, he’d given his all to his performance that night, and he wanted to restore some energy for his night with Amanda. Plus, it was easier to ignore the band’s white elephant—was it crass to think of a pregnant woman that way—when he had his eyes closed.

  When he pulled into his driveway hours later, the house was dark. He supposed it was well after midnight. He smiled in relief when he noticed a familiar sedan parked on the street across from his house. Amanda had probably crawled into his bed and fallen asleep—hopefully naked with her hand between her legs. He parked in the garage, plugged the Tesla into the recharging bay, collected his overnight bag from the trunk, and let himself into the house, turning off several zones on his home security system so he could make his way through the house and to the back yard without alerting the local police. His dick was already half hard with wanting her. God, what the woman did to him. He peeked into the great room to see if she’d fallen asleep on the sofa, but there was no sign of life. The kitchen was equally empty. No dishes in the sink or snacks on the counter. He hoped she realized she should make herself at home in his house and not just in his bed. He had already formed a plan to wake her with passionate kisses when he entered his bedroom. His heart sank when he found the bed empty and meticulously made. Amanda wasn’t there waiting for him. She wasn’t there at all.

  He had been sure it was her car parked across the street when he’d pulled up, but it was dark outside, so maybe he’d been mistaken. Was she still at that bar? Had she picked up some other guy, deciding he was more trouble than he was worth?

  Not likely. She was probably out in his hot tub. Naked. Touching herself as she thought of all the things he’d do to her when he found her there wet and rosy skinned waiting for him. He opened the French doors that led from his bedroom to the pool area, but with the exception of the soothing trickle of the waterfall that fed the pool from the spa, nothing moved. The hot tub across the yard that was fenced for privacy was also empty. What was the point of having two hot tubs—one for relaxing in and the other privacy screened for discreet fucking—if Amanda wasn’t in either of them?

  He pulled out his phone and called her. Before the second ring, his house lit up as every light switched on and a loud siren blared from the massive structure. He raced inside and found Amanda in the foyer, poking buttons on his alarm system.

  “Shit! Shit,” she said as she squinted at the keypad. “Six seven two four, dammit! No, it’s seven six four two. Wait.”

  The landline started ringing. Jacob lifted the receiver and was greeted by the security system operator. “We have evidence of an unauthorized front door entry.”

  “Everything is fine,” Jacob said. “My girlfriend accidentally set off the alarm.” And she was adorable when flustered. He was strangely glad he hadn’t shut off the entire system when he’d entered through the garage. Amanda spun around and splayed her hands, shaking her head when she recognized she wasn’t alone in the room.

  “These things happen. We’ll cancel the call to the police and reset the system on our end. What’s your pass phrase?”

  “One day the light will fade, the end will come, his debt repaid.” It was a line from one of Sole Regret’s songs—“Darker.” He sang it almost every night, so it was easy to remember.

  The alarm stopped blaring. Jacob’s heart rate didn’t slow, however. Not with Amanda in the room.

  “Thank you, sir,” the operator said pleasantly. “Have a good night.”

  “Oh, I will,” Jacob said, his gaze drifting down the slender curves of Amanda’s bare legs.

  Jacob hung up the phone. The lights dimmed to darkness.

  “Well, that’s one way to announce my late arrival,” Amanda said.

  Jacob chuckled and approached her in the dimly lit foyer. The lights on the exterior of the house filtered in through the glass of the front doors, but otherwise it was dark.

  “I had hoped to beat you here, but I’m glad I didn’t set that thing off while I was by myself. You’d have had to bail me out of jail.”

  “I was expecting to find you naked in my bed when I arrived,” he said. “I must admit I was a little disappointed.”

  A little? Fuck, he’d been devastated.

  “I couldn’t get Leah to leave the bar. She met some guy and they really hit it off.”

  “So why didn’t you
just leave her with him to get acquainted?”

  “I have trust issues,” she said.

 
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