Authors: Cat Mason
Copyright © 2014 by Amy Cox writing as Cat Mason
All Rights Reserved. This work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, photographic) in part or whole without expressed written consent from Amy Cox a.k.a. Cat Mason.
First Publication July 2014
Published by Amy Cox/Cat Mason
Edited by: Asli Fratarcangeli
Cover Design: IndieVention
Formatting by IndieVention
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
This is a work of Fiction. All characters, organizations, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual events, or persons living or deceased is completely coincidental
All mentions of items not limited to but including band names and their song titles or brands such as Fender, are copyrighted by their prospective parties and are used in a fictitious manner. I do not own those brands and do not claim to.
IronSound Records used with permission by Author Katheryn Kiden, from her series Save Me.
Table of Contents
Chapter One – Board Members and Guitar Strummed Eulogies
Chapter Two – Five Foot Tall and Shatterproof
Chapter Three – Being Schooled in Sin City
Chapter Four – Punch Throwers and Post Climbers
Chapter Five – Ducking Frunk
Chapter Six – #assmole
Chapter Seven – Sexual Reeling
Chapter Eight – Lube Bottles and Shit Storms
Chapter Nine – Who’s The Bitch Now?
Chapter Ten – Winky Faces but No Goodbyes
Chapter Eleven – Do You Have A Puppy?
Chapter Twelve – SaggingShaggers.com
Chapter Thirteen – Take Notes, Quiz To Follow
Chapter Fourteen – Overreactions Expected
Chapter Fifteen – Bringing A Tiger To A Cat Fight
Chapter Sixteen – Love Stories
Chapter Seventeen – More Than Just Words
Chapter Eighteen – Boundaries
Chapter Nineteen – Your Bitter Vag Is Showin’
Chapter Twenty – Shafty Shenanigans
Chapter Twenty One – Revelations
Chapter Twenty Two – It’s a douche! It’s a moron! NO, it’s Super Dumbass!
Chapter Twenty Three – Sweeten Up The Rough Stuff
Chapter Twenty Four –Important Conversations
Chapter Twenty Five – Scandalous Bitches
Chapter Twenty Six – Dick Drip Is Not A Fashion Trend
More from the Author
BoardMembers and Guitar Strummed Eulogies
“Are you done with your nails yet, Anal Annie? It’s nearly time to marry your ass off.” I shout through the bathroom door of Gray and Daisy’s suite, at my brother Aiden. Who would have thought our plan would work to get Cam back on the bus? Now, here we are in Vegas! Today, Camaron will attach her ball and chain to Aiden, Shaft style, before we start recording our new album. Once the ‘Rock For A Cure’ fest was over, Cam and Daisy were booking us a flight, just as soon as the doctors cleared them. It all happened so fast, we barely had enough time to pack a bag.
After the clusterfuck that was Cam’s first week back, we were all happy to get away. Now that Tad and his goons are locked up in their very own nine by nine cells awaiting sentencing, we can relax a bit and turn our attention to more pressing matters. First up: Aiden marrying Cam; then, I will deal with my Tiger Lily. There are too many things to clear up between us, and I am not having this conversation over the phone. I may not be hardwired for that normal relationship shit, but I at least owe her a straight up answer about it all. In person, whatever happens then, happens, I guess.
The door opens and out steps Aiden as dressed up as he gets: jeans and a t-shirt, all without rips or holes.Damn, this is almost funeral-wear for him. Funeral-wear works, because he’s killing his single life!He rolls his eyes at me before glancing at the clock. “We have thirty four minutes before we have to be at our first stop, Hunter. You do realize that in order to ‘marry my ass off,’I would actually have to be moving out or something. It’s not like our day to day routine will change much. Most important thing changin’ in a few hours, bro, is Cam’s last name.”
I chuckle, “Yeah, but I’m still pissed you wouldn’t give me time to be ordained so I could perform the ceremony myself.” His eyebrow arches at me, making me shrug. “Alright,” I surrender, blowing out a breath, “but can I at least sing ‘Here Cums The Bride’? I’ve got my guitar, it’ll be a hit.”
Aiden laughs, rolling his eyes at the suggestion. “If you sing something like that when Cam walks down the aisle, there’ll be a hit alright…”
I wince at the thought of what Cam, or even Daisy, would do to my favorite board member if taunted. “Yeah, maybe I’ll just stand there and look pretty until I deliver your eulogy.” I toss out, looking in the mirror to check my hair one last time.You don’t look this damn good by doing nothing ladies. It’s a honed skill and some good genes. The only good thing my asshole father ever gave me.
“Eulogy,” Aiden mumbles, in aggravation. “I swear if you do anything to embarrass Cam, I won’t be responsible for what she does to you while you sleep.”
Turning, I smile at him, innocently batting my lashes. “You know those ladies love me; besides someone has to pay tribute to your days as a bachelor being slaughtered.” I say, knowing I’m taunting him. “I mean, seriously, all that potential and you’re only gonna share it with one woman for the rest of your life? Such a waste bro, your hammer should pack up his sac and leave. I know I would.”
“Everyone isn’t a damn twat testing dip stick like you are Cunter.” Daisy laughs, flinging the door open. Aiden looks up at her anxiously, then behind her into the hallway. “Oh no you don’t, she’s with Chase in your suite. Down boy, it’s bad luck and you know it.”
“What the hell would you know about that tradition, Daisy? At least we’re inviting you to our wedding.” Aiden grumbles, flopping onto the couch.
Daisy rolls her eyes, “Seriously, that was months ago; suck it up and move on already.” Walking over, she nudges me with her elbow. “You guys better make it to the chapel sober, Hunter. You can all get shit faced after, but I don’t want the groom and best men looking like homeless lushes in the pictures. I’m counting on you, Hunter, to be a responsible adult here.” She says, studying my reaction.
Daisy is the only woman I let in before Camaron.Because you never slept with them, dumbass.No matter how much I tease them, I really do admire their faithfulness to Grayson and Aiden and their loyalty to Shaft and the crazy ass dysfunctional family we have grown into. Me, I could never be that way. I’m not sure if I am made for monogamy, kids, and all that lovey dovey spooner shit. Not saying I don’t wish I was sometimes, just stating the facts here people. I’ve mostly come to terms with it. Yeah, mostly.
“What are you talkin’ about baby momma; Aiden has on his rocker tuxedo.” I chuckle, applying my ‘Hunter is just fine’mask so that Daisy doesn’t see through my denial. “We will be there with bells on, once we get him inked, you’ll see.” I mutter, knowing that our first stop is for one of his wedding presents for Camaron: a tattoo done by Luke. “I’m so excited to finally meet Mitch the Bitch.” Just the mention of the guy who may have gotten Chase’s heart, makes me grit my teeth. That fuckin’ saying ‘You can’t always get what you want…’rumbles through my head, making me curse my conscience for the millionth time since I watched her leave.
Daisy rolls her eyes. “You’re going into Luke’s shop and he’s a good friend. Please don’t make a scene.” She kisses my cheek, melting my heart a little.
Even though I joke when saying it, I really do mean it when I say that I love this woman. She took us on as brothers without question, even before she married Grayson. So, it goes without saying that she puts up with a lot of shit; especially where I am concerned. Daisy, being the incredible woman she is, gives as good as she gets. All while embracing us all as a whole, not dismissing us because of the flaws we have, but embracing them. “Chase won’t be there, if that’s what you’re thinking. She’s already with us; you’ll see her at the chapel soon.”
Simply knowing she will be there is enough to get my palms sweating and my thoughts racing. That infuriating woman turned me inside out from day one. I never tap an ass for more than one night; with Chase, I couldn’t get enough of her. I fucked her three times just the first night, and countless times since. Of course we weren’t exclusive or anything; the subject never came up. Although, it is sort of common knowledge among the groupies that you won’t chain these balls up with monogamy. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know how to be committed. My Tiger Lily, though, makes me wish I could learn. Every chick I’ve ever met has bent to worship me, giving me whatever I want. Not Chase though, that’s not her style. Her name is definitely true to her spirit.
Daisy sighs heavily, so I roll my eyes in clear diva fashion making her giggle. “Alright, I have to get back to the girls before Mack does something crazy like sing ‘Here Cums the Bride’ again. Thanks to you, Mack won’t stop singing it every time Cam walks into the room.”
Aiden’s eyes meet mine, silent threats of killing me off in every way imaginable pass between us. My eyes stay locked on my brother, while I smooth over the flustered baby incubator. “Baby Momma, I wouldn’t dream of letting anything ruin your plans for today.” Leaning down, I kiss her on the cheek. “I’ll make sure everything on this end is perfect, I’ve got plenty of help.”
Her eye brow arches at me, taking in my promise. “You’re so full of shit,” she exclaims, reading me completely. “Henry and Gray should be back by now, get your asses down there and remember, Hunter,” Daisy grabs me by shirt, her eyes going hard as stone. “If you pull shenanigans of any kind today, I will get you, and not in any way that you’ll enjoy.” Releasing my shirt, she turns and walks toward the door.
“I love when you’re rough with me, honey!” Ignoring me, she slams the door behind her. Looking over, I can’t help grin in satisfaction at Aiden. “I love that woman; her feathers are so easy to ruffle.”
“You can’t fool me bro.” Aiden huffs out a laugh. “You’ve never ruffled anything, and I doubt you ever will. Daisy has your number, just like Cam, and even…” My angry glare stops him from finishing his sentence, after a minute he just sighs in defeat. “Look,”
“I don’t want to talk about it, Aiden.” I snap, ending the conversation. No, there is no way I want to discuss my motives for ending my regular fuck-feasting or how I feel about Chase with my brother. He would only try to explain to me how I can change, that I can fix this.Oh, please, someone gag me with my mic stand.I have no desire to sit and wallow in things I can’t change, while Aiden holds me and I cry in my drink. It’s a subject best left alone once I explain to Chase that it isn’t her fault, of course. How many times is the phrase ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ really believable?
Hey, if you have something better than that, ante up.I do know I can’t leave it the way I did. There is no way I can let her believe that I thought of her as ‘just another piece of ass’, because she was always so much more than that. Pasting on my best ‘front man smile’, I wrap an arm around his shoulder and walk through the door. “It’s time to hitch a bitch.”
In the elevator, Aiden is a jumble of nerves. I’m loving the hell out of it. My completely cool, calm and collected brother, who schedules and controls everything, is nearly climbing the damn walls. The door opens with a loud ping, making him nearly jump out of his skin. I can’t help laughing, causing Henry and Gray to spot us immediately. “Dead man walkin’.” I shout, following behind him. “Shall we go around the corner for your last pussy platter before you’re given your last rights?”
“Sometimes, a familiar snatch is a good thing.” Henry pipes up in Aiden’s defense. “I mean, hell, we’ve all seen some of the scary shit you’ve laid pipe in. You’re going to end up on ‘1000 Ways To Die’.Hunter Chesterfield, his dick curled up and died after rowin’ down the tainted cooch river.”
Gray and Aiden laugh, earning them both the middle finger from me. “We’ve all played a round of whack a hooch, and yes, some were on the questionable side. I’ll admit that, but can we please not bring up some of those scary bitches, I don’t think my dick can take it.” I shudder because, damn, some of them had me almost swearing off alcohol. “I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t go peggin’ every loose groupie. Not sure I even want to.”
I regret the words just as quickly as I said them. Gray’s eyes widen in amusement, “You wanna elaborate on that?”
“I’d love to, but we are running late for something, aren’t we?” I ask, trying to change the subject before this is the next thing I can’t live down. They have been dying to get more about Chase out of me. “I mean, we could stand here all day long; but, honestly, if Aiden isn’t gettin’ hitched, I’d rather hit a strip club.” I waggle my brows. “Yes, party of Chesterfield, I’ll be dining in this evening. Gimmie two double D’s in my face, hold the bra please.”
“I’m not backing out.” Aiden says defensively, shoving out the doors toward the parking lot, allowing me to put the front back in place and evade interrogation. “Let’s go, I don’t want to keep Luke waiting.”
The entire ride I try to focus on what Daisy and I secretly planned for the ceremony and not my need to pound Mitch the Bitch into the concrete when I see him. This is the man who has what I want, what I can’t have. The only thing that saves me from being completely selfish and taking what I want is the fact that I am sure he can make her happier than I ever could. He wouldn’t cheat on her, be a complete asshole and make her cry. I already did the latter, to save her from the first.
After scoping the place out, I push open the door toArtistic Pricks Ink.Luke’s eyes immediately fly up from the paperwork on the counter, “Aiden, Gray.” Luke says nodding his chin in greeting, “Aiden I’ll take you to the back and get working on the piece we talked about.” Turning to me, his face hardens. “Take a seat somewhere out of my way, pretty boy.”
“Pretty boy?” I snap out. Henry clasps my shoulder in warning. “I’ll show you pretty, fucker.”
“No need for a fight today, Hunter.” Henry scolds. “You hurt the man’s sister; he has every right to be upset.”
Luke growls at the mention of Chase. “Upset isn’t the word I would use, Big Man.” Walking up to me, his stare goes ice cold. The man looks like a damn bull ready to charge, his nostrils flare and I would laugh at his big broody ass if it weren’t for the fear that he would kill me if I did. “Stay the hell away from my sister and we’ll be aces. Chase has been through enough shit and the last thing she needs is youupsettingher further. You feel me?”
“You don’t know shit about me, man.” I bite out, angrily. “If you have beef with me, I say we take it outside and hash it out.” I shrug. “Otherwise, I suggest you get to tattin’ up my brother. I didn’t come here to talk to you about something that is none of your fuckin’ business.”
Wrong move Hunter…
Luke shoves me to the wall, grabbing me by the collar, so that my eyes meet his. Everyone, even Henry, is stock still. “Too bad, because I’m talkin’ and you’re gonna listen. I think she fell for you, hard. So you better get this through your head. I don’t give a shit about stroking your ‘I’m a Rock God’ over-inflated ego. I honestly want nothing more than to rip your throat out… Chaseismy business. All day, every day, she’s my business. You. Don’t. Deserve. Her.” His free hand clenches into a fist, so knowing where this is headed; I prepare to get knocked the fuck out.
I consider telling him I agree and that’s why I’m letting her go, as if that would help the situation. This isn’t news to me; I already know I can never be what she deserves. I don’t belong with her, because I would just hurt her worse than I already have. Letting her go gives her the chance to be happy with someone else. Someone who can be all the things that I will never be, give her the things that I can’t.
“Oh, Shit.” A loud voice echoes from the hallway making Luke freeze instead of punching me in the face. “Yo, Chase doesn’t want this, man.” A guy with black hair runs up, grabbing Luke’s arm. “We promised to let this play out, remember? You promised Chase you wouldn’t touch him.”
Luke blows out a breath, then releases me before disappearing down the hall. I take a deep breath turning to meet the guy who saved my ass. “Thanks bro, I owe you one.” I say on an exhale, reaching out to shake his hand.
His dark eyes meet mine, refusing to shake my hand. I can feel the anger radiating off of him, as he stares at me. No doubt that he wants to get a few punches in too. “I didn’t do it for you.” He admits. “I did it for Chase.” I nod while he instructs for Aiden to go on back to where Luke has already set up for him.
“Hold his hand extra tight, Gray. Pussy’s gettin’ flowers inked on his ‘rocker ass’. We all can’t wait to see if they match your new bikini.” I tease Aiden. Ever since he explained his plan to surprise Cam with a flower over his heart to match the ones she has on her side, I’ve been busting his balls.Flowers! Can you believe the shit Gray and Aiden are doing? Flower tattoos on their skin all because of some regular pussy and a ring. I’ll never tattoo flowers on this hot bod. That’s one sign you are a total pussy whipped topped anal cake.
“Next time let him get his ass beat, Big Man.” Aiden says flipping me off behind his back.
Once Aiden and Gray disappear toward the back, I shake my head at Henry. “I should’ve brought Mack. You suck at protecting me, Big Man.”
Henry’s crosses his arms over his chest, his brow arching above his sunglasses. “You deserved that, I think. Let’s just say it was a judgment call. Besides, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have let him rip your throat out.” He says with a grin.
“What the hell man? This isn’t friendship.” Walking over, I attempt to make conversation to pass the time. “So, man, you lay ink too?” I ask the guy who saved my sexy face from getting bashed in.
Looking up from his phone, he nods with disinterest. “Yeah, man, I do. Why, you want something?”
I shrug, “Yeah, been thinking about a piece. Since it’s pretty clear that it fits my life right now, there’s no time like the present right?”
“Alright, let’s get to it then.” Walking over to a dry erase board, he writes ‘Occupied’ under Luke’s name and Mitch’s.
Then it hits me, “Mitch?” I ask in shock. Now, of course, I’m analyzing everything about the son of a bitch.
Turning around he nods. “Yeah, so?” He asks walking over to his station. A picture of him with Chase taped proudly to the mirror. “Are we doin’ this or not?”
Ignoring Henry’s chuckle, I shove my shirt over my head. After shoving my jeans down my thighs, I hop up onto the table. Mitch’s eyes widen, his throat working hard to swallow. “What the hell are you doing? I’m not tatting your dick, man. I don’t have any desire to give my gun anything radioactive or fatal to everything except cockroaches.”
“You aren’t inking my deep depth finder. Why the hell would I want to prick my prick?” I explain, pointing to the center of my lower abdomen, just above my boxers. “I want a lightning bolt, right here.”
“The fuck?” Henry says, laughing outright now.
Looking over at Big Man, I flip him the bird. “Because, lightning is electrifying and exciting, oh, and it’s always followed by the less interesting thunder.” I say pointing toward the photo before winking at Mitch. His jaw ticks angrily and I wait for him to say something or beat my ass into this table. Instead, he grabs a pad and begins sketching my idea. No doubt, after all he has probably heard about me from Chase and Luke, he won’t be signing up to join my fan club any time before hell freezes over. He may have won my girl’s heart, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.
While Mitch the lucky bitch tattoos my bolt, I stare at the photo on his mirror of him wrapping his arm around my girl. Her smiling face as they sit in a booth of some restaurant, would take my knees out from under me if I wasn’t already lying here. There aren’t any pictures of us together, which is yet another thing that is mostly my fault.Ididn’t want to make things public.Iwanted privacy and no strings.Well, you’ve got that now man, and he’s got your girl.
Closing my eyes, I absorb the buzzing and the numbing burn of the gun, permanently marking me. I ignore Henry and Mitch making small talk and do what I have done every day since she left; replay memories of her in my head. I may have made the low blow joke about this piece of ink as a dig at Mitch, but it has more meaning than that. Lightning is supposed to only strike the same place once then it’s gone, leaving the place it touched forever changed. Very fitting, since the most electrifying thing I have ever felt hit me, shaking me for all I was worth, then vanished, taking all the sparks along with her.
Five Foot Tall and Shatterproof
When you look at me, of course, you see a tiny red head with a smart mouth; I am a tiny red head with a smart mouth. What you shouldn’t see is fragile, or easily broken. That, I am not. I don’t break, I don’t crack, and I most definitely do not let someone railroad my heart. Never did I want commitment, or strings. Hunter Chesterfield was supposed to be a good time. A sexy lead singer that I wanted to knock boots with and walk away. Did I expect Grayson and Daisy to walk in to Luke’s shop and pull me back in? No. Did I expect him to repeat all the amazing things he did to me over and over again, every chance we got? No.
But it happened.
What also happened were texts and phone calls that made my heart beat faster. Finding out little things that made me believe that there is so much more behind that damn mask he puts on. Things he shares with no one. Hunter comes across one way, but when he held me in Nashville that last night, something changed between us. Something earth shattering; and it made me whisper the three words I have never said to anyone other than family or Cam and Daisy. ‘I love you’ came out so fast I couldn’t take it back even if I had wanted to.
For a minute I watched the shutters go up on his face. He opened up and I almost thought he would say it back. After he asked me to go on the bus with them, I fell asleep on his chest. When I woke up, everything came crashing down around me.
“I made a mistake. You’re not going with us on the bus, Tiger Lily, it’s a bad idea. Wouldn’t want anyone thinkin’ we’re together or anything. Best thing for you to do is to go back to Vegas; it’s not going to work out.”
“What do you mean ‘it’s not going to work out’ Hunter?”
Turning away from me, he slides from the bed slowly before tossing me my clothes. “Look it was fun, but did you really think it was gonna last Tiger Lily? Go find you someone who wants forever, babe; you know me, I just want my dick wet.”
“I…but I thought this meant something to you. After everything, I thought that I meant something to you.”
His face pales at my words before hardening into his usual mask. “Hell, babe, you all mean something to me for however long it takes me to get off.” He tosses out cupping my cheek. “Have a nice flight.” Then I watched as Hunter walks into the bathroom, not even bothering to close the door behind him.
After that, I yanked on my clothes and ran from his suite to plead with Luke to leave before I did something stupid like beg Hunter to be with me. That was then and this is now, I remind myself again since I will be seeing him today. One of my best friends is marrying his brother; I can’t avoid him forever. Smoothing my hands over my dress, I shake off the nerves and decide that this is my chance to show him that I don’t need him. I don’t. He chose to let me go and that’s his loss. Chase Hanlon does not beg for acceptance or affection. I also don’t stay where I am not wanted. Blowing out a shaky breath, I take the hair pin that I need for Camaron’s hair out of my bag and walk back into the bathroom where the girls are waiting.
“You look so beautiful!” I choke out when she turns to face me. Her dress is all off-white lace, layered over white satin. It is knee length and off the shoulder, totally old Hollywood glam and perfect for Cam.
“Isn’t Aiden going to freak?” Daisy asks, finishing off Cam’s red lipstick. “I told her it’s amazing.”
“Are you nervous?” I ask, clipping the orange blossom pin into her hair.
“No, I’ve never wanted anything more.” She says so surely. “I should be asking you that.” Cam says turning to me. “I’m so glad you agreed to sing at our wedding. Olivia, the woman who owns the chapel, is so excited that we are going there. With this being the second Shaft wedding there, she said they’re going all out since we gave more notice than a half hour to prepare.” Cam teases, arching a brow at Daisy.
“Blah, blah, heard that sob story from Aiden, suck it up already.” Daisy rolls her eyes before rubbing a hand over her belly. “When exactly does that statute of limitation run out on that indiscretion?”
“When you hand me your first born or those new peep toes you bought last night.” Cam snaps playfully.
Daisy looks down at her bright pink heels and laughs. “It will be a cold day in hell before you get my shoes.”
Camaron looks at me smiling sadly, her blues eyes misty with unshed tears. I nearly start to yell at her not to cry because I know it will ruin her make-up. “Seriously, Chase, I can’t thank you enough for singing today. I didn’t want to throw together a hit-n-run wedding. This will make it so special.”
I shrug. “It’s nothing, Cam, really. I’m singing a song for you and Aiden. It’s in front of our friends, not on a stage.”
“Yeah, but with,” Cam starts before Daisy interrupts.
“I think it’s time to go, can’t have you late to your own wedding.” Daisy says, shoving us out of the bathroom, toward the door. “Mack, we’re ready!”
Mack stands from the couch, looking the three of us over. “You look gorgeous ladies.” Walking over, he grabs my hand. “Especially you, beautiful.” Leaning down, he presses his lips to my knuckles.
“Stop flirting with my friend, Dominick.” Cam scolds. “I have no problem kicking your ass in my wedding dress.”
“Wonderful idea, Camaron.” Daisy huffs, rolling her eyes at him. “While you’re at it, Mack, you can explain why we’re late on top of why there would be blood stains all over her very white dress.”
“I think I’ll pass on that.” Mack replies, opening the door allowing us to exit first.
“Smart man, you’re learning quickly.” Cam teases as we walk down the hall to the elevators.
In the limo, I start letting the nerves get to me. I don’t sing in front of people. Cam and I had drank a little too much one night when she was working for Luke and we were making disgusting parodies to songs on the radio. It quickly became her staring at me while I was singing. “Did you remember the music, Daisy? I’m not doing this thing a cappella.” I mutter, twisting my hair anxiously.
“Um, not exactly. You’ll have live accompaniment, isn’t that exciting?” Daisy replies, looking anywhere but at me.
“Really?” I ask curiously.
“Yeah and it will be done as a duet.” Cam adds, nervously.
My eyes widen, “With Gray?” Daisy and Cam say nothing, making me realize I have been duped. “I’m singing withhimaren’t I?” I lean back against the seat and close my eyes, mentally counting to ten and trying to figure out how to jump from this car without looking like I am running. “I was preparing myself for being in the same room as Hunter; not singing with him. No, I can’t sing that song with him.” I say, opening my eyes and looking at Cam. “It’s originally a solo so he will be just fine on his own.”
“You can’t back out, Chase. Please,” Cam pleads. “Do this for me, I’m begging.”
“It’s just Hunter, Chase.” Daisy adds. “I know he can be an ass, but deep down he really is a decent guy. I swear he won’t pull any shit. I made him promise earlier.”
Blowing out a deep breath, I groan. “Fine, I will do this for you, Cam. Hunter and I aren’t even on speaking terms; he can’t be any more okay with this than I am.”
“Actually,” Daisy says with a huge grin. “When Cam went on and on about your voice the other night, Hunter suggested it. He’s actually the one who chose the song and figured out how to change it around to fit both your singing styles.” My eyes widen at her admission. “Look, I know things didn’t end all that great with you two.” Daisy says, making me snort sarcastically. My eyes flit to hers, and I desperately try to push back the pain at the thought of the last things he said to me. “You’re part of this group, Chase. The two of you are just going to have to deal because we aren’t losing either one of you.”
I close my eyes in pain, pushing back the tears before looking at both of them. “Calm down, I’m not going anywhere. Hunter and I had no strings sex. A lot of sex, but no strings. It’s over now, and that’s that. Just a good thing neither of us fell in love, you know.” I shrug, getting myself unconvinced looks from everyone, including a curious smirk from Mack.
“Wait a damn minute, I’m still the new guy here people. I need a minute to catch up.” He shouts in frustration. I can see shit clicking into place in his head. “You mean I’ve been flirting with Hunter’s ‘Tiger Lily’?Shit.” Mack blurts, running a hand through his red hair. “Can we not tell Cunter about this! I would like to keep my balls. I mean, just in case someone wants to put me in a movie, write a book about me, or, hell, just play with my junk; you never know.”
“Your secret is safe with us, handsome. Until I need it for leverage.” Cam says, winking at him.
Mack claps his hands, “Oh great, I always wanted a chick to blackmail me. In my imagination I was blackmailed for sex though.”
Daisy covers her ears dramatically, “We do not discuss your sex life. Ever.”
“You mean lack thereof? The only jolt to the junk I’ve had in the last month was the Taser.” He snorts. His cheeks blush red with the realization of what he just said out loud.
“LA LA LA” Daisy squeals. “No discussion!”
The tension hanging in the air dissipates as we laugh at poor Mack’s pouting face. By the time the limo comes to a stop, even he is laughing with us. “Are the guys here yet?” Cam asks nervously.
Mack shakes his head, helping her from the car. “Not yet. Henry said they are finishing up, so they won’t be long. Better get you inside and tucked away so he doesn’t see you.”
A heavy set older woman comes out the front door of the chapel as soon as the limo door closes. “Oh don’t you all look lovely!” She exclaims. “Hello, Daisy, you definitely have that pregnancy glow! We have everything set up and ready to go, just as you requested!”
“Is everything she says an exclamation?” I mumble to Daisy, making her giggle. “She’s justsoexcited about well… everything.”
“Be nice, Chase, this is a happy day.” Daisy grits out through an enormous smile. Daisy turns just in time to hug Olivia and prevent her from colliding straight into Cam. “Thank you so much, Olivia, for accommodating us on such short notice.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way! We were so happy when you called, dear! There has been so much business since Grayson and you married here that we put up a sign and everything!” She explains, with way too much enthusiasm, if you ask me. We all look up and sure as shit there is a sign beneath the name of the chapel that says in huge black letters: ‘Shaft Marries Here’
“Happy to help.” Cam mutters, making me snicker.
“Let’s get inside and I’ll show you where Camaron can wait for the ceremony to start!” Olivia links her arms with Cam and Daisy, leading them up the walkway. “You two can go on into the chapel! There are refreshments in the bar; the place is all yours the rest of the evening! To avoid any problems with unwanted photographers gaining access inside, we’ve blocked out the entire schedule to insure privacy for your ceremony and reception.”
What? Camera hounds following the guys? That’s news to me. “Have the media been an issue lately?” I ask Mack.
“Not too bad. Compared to what we expected, it’s really been a cake walk.” He murmurs to me quietly as we step into the chapel. Everything is set up for Hunter and me to sing a love song, of all things, together. What a joke. “Though with the shit storm in Macon on top of Tad and those assholes being charged with assault and attempted murder it’s to be expected. Henry says it is safe to say the paparazzi are going to latch onto us before long.” He smiles at me, but I can’t stop my thoughts from drifting to Hunter. “Besides, they’re newly signed rock stars; of course the world will be watching to see if they can handle the pressures of stardom.”
“Yeah, I get that.” I say, forcing me to stop eyeing the mic set up with the guitar in the corner.
“Okay, let me know if you need anything, beautiful. Since all you girls are in here safely.” He says sweetly. “I’m going to wait out front for the guys.” When I nod, Mack turns making his way out the door, leaving me alone in the chapel.
Walking up to the front, I grab the acoustic guitar off the stool and sit down. I adjust the mic to my level and begin to strum. I need to warm up my voice and I’ll be damned if I will practice withhim. Closing my eyes, I enjoy the last few minutes before being forced to paste on a smile and forget the last few months ever happened. Not once in my life, have I wanted to stay with just one man. My mom jumped from man to man for years, desperate for their acceptance and love to make her feel worthwhile. The disappointment in her eyes every time they split made me swear off that shit. I enjoyed the fact of answering to no one, if I wanted something or someone I went for it. I didn’t ask for cheap, meaningless words or promises, and when we got tired of each other it was a clean break.
In my mind; sex does not equal love. Sex, if done right, equals an orgasm. In very lucky instances it can equal multiples. That has always been my way of thinking. Let feelings swirl and heart strings get pulled in a good hard bang session, and then you are just setting yourself up for heartache. Now, as I sing, I start to wonder if I have been playing the entire thing wrong. For the first time in twenty seven years, I start to wonder what it would feel like to have someone to fall in love with me.
Songs, movies, and books all paint an unrealistic version of love while we are left mildly disappointed with our results. But if what I thought I felt for Hunter is anything close to real, I want to share that with someone. My fingers stumble on the frets because although I can’t see him, I know he is here watching, somewhere. Hunter. I can feel the way my skin still heats when he watches me, the way my body is so aware of him when he is near. Taking a deep breath, I force myself to shake it off and finish the song. I’ll be damned if Hunter Chesterfield is going to see my fingers tremble, just because he walks into the room.
Being Schooled in Sin City
As soon as my tattoo is done, I pay that asshole and tell Henry I’m going to walk the three blocks to the chapel, claiming that I want to check the setup for our little serenade. I’m sure Chase is going to be pissed when she finds out that I will be the one singing with her. I mean it’s not ideal, but it is short notice. She can work with the only option we have. Me. I have to push thoughts of how well she can work me when I see Mack standing at the top of the steps.
“How did it go? I sure hope Aiden didn’t scream as loud as your mom did last night?” Mack chuckles, arrogantly.
I wince at the visual of that. “No, that’s just wrong man.” I say shaking my head. “Mom jokes have to be carefully thought out before you use them. My mom? Not a good choice.” I mutter trying not to lose my lunch. “Now, your mom? If you feel it necessary to go that route, we can review and discuss at a later date.”
Shrugging him off, I yank open the door and am nearly knocked to my knees. Across the room is Chase wearing a short blue strapless dress that makes my mouth water. Her eyes are closed while she plays my guitar, her voice echoing off the walls beautifully. My hearts leaps into my throat. “She’s amazing, isn’t she?” Mack says from behind me.
“Yeah, she is.” I agree, because it’s true. “Don’t even think about it fucker.” My eyes never leave her as I grind out my warning. Her fingers stumble on the neck, making her body stiffen, but she recovers quickly. Her voice is smooth with just a little bit of edge. Giving and bending with every chord she plays, flowing seamlessly. I don’t think I have ever been as excited to sing a damn love song as I am right now, knowing that I will be singing with her. I know I should be the bigger man and let her live happily ever after with some fucker like Mitch. But right now, I want nothing more than to run to her. I need to watch those amazing hazel eyes fill with love for me like they did in Tennessee. To be able to tell her that I have never wanted anything as much as I want to make this work with her, that I believe I could do it.
“Yeah, I get it. Just another broad that is a ‘do not open your fly zone’ for me. I gotcha.” Mack replies, bitterly. “One day, you assholes will all be taken. Then there’ll only be me left for all the sexy ladies to play with.”
Ignoring Mack’s bitch fest, I shut the door behind me and walk up the aisle toward Chase. I listen to her voice caress the song, making love to every note. Her fingers curl, sliding along my guitar reminding me how they felt on me every time she touched me. My dick jumps at the thought of driving into her heat again.Down boy, that’s not happening. Not after the way you dismissed her like she was a worthless piece of ass, thinking you were being noble.
“Hunter.” Chase deadpans, her eyes flutter open pinning me mid-step.
“Tiger Lily,” I whisper, because I really just don’t know what to say.
Her eyes change. Suddenly, they are cold and distant, giving nothing away. “I didn’t change your tuning or anything.” She says standing, before sitting the guitar on the stool. “I just wanted to warm up. Gotta go check on Cam and Daisy. You know, someone has to make sure the borrowed and blue are all tended to.” Turning on her heel, she starts around the pew and up the aisle, away from me.
“Tiger Lily,” I repeat, more insistent this time. Desperate to make her turn and face me.
“Don’t call me that.” She chokes out, stopping in her tracks. Her head droops, the gorgeous crimson hair I dream about veiling around her face, making my heart nearly stop beating. Shaking her head, Chase blows out a shaky breath obviously trying to gather her strength to tell me to go to hell. “Never call me that again. I’m not your Tiger Lily, Hunter. I’m nothing to you.” Her tone goes arctic cold.
“You can’t really believe that, Chase. I’m sorry about Nashville. I never meant to hurt you.”
In three strides I am behind her. My hands itch to touch her, feel her. I want to hold her, make her feel anything other than whatever it is going through her head right now. My fingers skim along her shoulder, pushing hair away, baring her soft skin. Leaning down, I run my lips along the base of her throat, making her shudder. “Please, talk to me.” I whisper against her ear.
Chase sways on her feet a bit. Instinctively, I slide my arm around her waist, steadying her against me. Her breath hitches as I spin her in my arms to face me, desperate to swallow all her doubt with my kiss. Even with the sky high silver heels she has on I am still probably a foot taller than her. My fingers slide along her collarbone, then higher, tipping her chin to meet my eyes. “Say something. Shit, babe, say anything.”
Her lips part and I can feel her body tremble as I wait for her to speak. “Hunter, please” she starts just as the front door to the chapel flies open making us both jump.
“Here Cums the Bride…” Mack sings with Henry, Aiden and Gray following behind him. Chase pulls away from me like I am the plague. Mack stops halfway down the aisle. “Oh, are we interrupting something?” He asks waggling his brows, his gaze drifting between Chase and me.
“No, nothing.” Chase blurts, quickly moving around them and disappearing around a corner.
I glare at them all. “Thanks a lot, assholes. I was trying to make that woman actually talk to me.”
“That’s new, Cunter. Since when do you wannatalkto Chase?” Grayson teases, plopping into the front pew.
“This is serious, peen queen.” I growl at Gray. “I don’t want it to end between us the way it did.”
“You had better cap that shit off for now.” Aiden warns. “Luke and Mitch are right behind us. Do not start a damn brawl at my wedding. Cam will remove your balls with a spoon.”
“Daisy and Cam actually said a rusty spoon.” Henry adds. “Pick your battles man, knowing when to fight and when to retreat is the only way to win the war.” He says and I swear to myself if he starts singing ‘Love Is A Battlefield’I’ll sell that slab of beef he calls a dick on EBay to someone who deserves it.
“What war is that, Big Man?” Luke asks angrily from the doorway. “I know that he wouldn’t be attempting to fight for my sister.” Mitch comes up behind him, his hands clenching into fists.
“Listen,” Gray starts, holding up his hands. “Nothing is happening here today. This is Cam and Aiden’s wedding and the last thing any of us wants is for this day to be uncomfortable for anyone.”
“Places boys!” A woman shouts, shoving around Luke. “Everyone take your seats, the bride is ready!”
I look to Luke, giving him a nod of peace. His face, however, remains stone. No doubt in my mind he is killing me over and over again in his head and pissing on my ashes. Dropping the issue for now, I walk up to the front and grab my guitar. It’s time to put on that front again, but as Chase walks up the aisle laughing at something Daisy whispers into her ear, I find it harder and harder not to just handle this shit here and now.
Walking up to me, she avoids looking at me at all costs. If she thinks, for one minute, that I believe she doesn’t want me as bad as I want her, then she is crazy.Guess you’re not ready to let her go then, are ya?My eyes drift to where Mitch is sitting, smirking at me. My middle finger drags along the frets and I smile when his eyes harden.Game on motherfucker, game on.
When the doors open I start strumming the chords lightly. Camaron starts her walk down the aisle to Aiden. My eyes glance over at my brother, and I am in awe of the look of love on his face. He sees nothing going on around him, his smile spreads across his face showing how truly happy he is to finally have this moment after all they have been through.
Cam doesn’t even make it halfway down the aisle before Aiden starts toward her. “What the hell are you doing man?” Gray asks. “She’s supposed to come to you.”
Aiden grabs her, the minute she is in reach, slamming his mouth to hers. Cam relaxes against him as he hoists her up into his arms. “That’s the last time I kiss Camaron Allen. From now on, I’ll be kissing my wife.” He explains, carrying her up the aisle to the now laughing Elvis impersonator. “For the record, bedroom titles aside, I will always meet you halfway, baby.” He adds earning him sniffles from Chase and Daisy both, as he wipes the tear from Cam’s cheek once he settles her onto her feet again.
“Damn, that was smooth, man.” Mack says from back pew. “Not even got the ring on and your divin’ face first into the pussy whip.”
“If we can get this started,” Elvis interrupts. “There’s food and an open bar waitin’.” After Aiden and Cam both nod, he continues. “Now, we are gathered here to join Camaron and Aiden in marriage. Though they’ve decided to exchange vows privately later. However, Aiden has something he wants to say, so I’ll go ahead and turn it over to him.”
“Camaron, my bass-line, the beat as constant as my own heart, I love you more than I ever thought possible. You’ve given me so much just by being by my side. I’ll never come close to expressing the depth of what I feel for you, baby, but I’ll spend the rest of my life givin’ it all I got if you’ll let me.” Reaching in his pocket, Aiden pulls out the gift he bought Cam late last night when we were supposed to be out ‘drinking’. When he holds up the choker, Cam’s eyes immediately fill with tears. “Hunter and I spent hours last night looking for just the right piece to symbolize what we are, what we have. The blue stones are you, the black are me.” He explains, “See how we hold each other together baby? How the two of us as one are stronger than we could ever be apart? Take one away from the other and we aren’t whole.”
Cam nods before turning around so that he can put it around her neck. “I’ll never take it off Aiden, I love it.” She chokes out between sobs.
The ceremony continues and I zone out, watching Chase fidget beside me. Nervously, she shifts from foot to foot and I can’t help but wonder why. My hand slides to the small of her back, reassuring her. Everyone is watching the ceremony as Aiden and Cam exchange rings, oblivious to me leaning in to Chase’s ear. It is almost innocent, since we are sharing a mic. Her breathing accelerates, but she continues to stare straight ahead. “Tiger Lily, is it me making you nervous or what we are about to do?”
Her spine straightens, and she bites her lip before answering. “You’re irritating; you don’t make me nervous, Hunter.” She mutters under her breath so only I can hear. I smile against her ear, letting my lip run along the rim.
“Then is it the fact that I’m about to sing a duet with you, or that I’m desperate to take you back to my hotel room and fuck you making you nervous at all?” I ask, making her entire body tremble. “That’s what I plan to do, Tiger Lily. Do you remember how good it is babe?” My hand slides down to her ass, her mouth pressing into a hard line as the blush spreads across her face. “You remember.” I confirm, removing my hand just as Elvis looks over to us.
“I believe you two have a song to perform for the couple, correct?” He asks.
Chase barely manages to nod before I start playing. As I start the first verse of ‘The Love I Live For’ by Hinder,I ignore the fact that everyone is watching and give everything I have to the song. Not just for Aiden and Cam, but for this moment with Chase. The more I sing about how thankful a man is for a love he doesn’t deserve, it becomes clear to me how lucky Aiden is. Not to be her first, or even her only, but because Cam wanted him to be her last.
All the others fade away. Nothing matters but what he lives for: her love. Love isn’t about being worthy; it’s about so much more than that. It doesn’t change the fact that I still don’t think it would ever work, but I can’t deny that I feel something for Chase. What’s worse; I am probably selfish enough to binge on her love until I leave her broken inside.
Her voice comes in on the chorus, floating octaves above mine. My eyes lock on hers as we sing. Luckily, my fingers know the chords by heart, because I would screw this whole thing up getting lost in her eyes. Our mouths close enough that the only thing really separating them is the mic and a few inches of air. By the time the song ends, everyone is on their feet clapping. Chase’s eyes, which seconds ago were softened and focused solely on me while we sang, are now quickly shuttered as she turns away and focuses on the ceremony once more.
“I don’t see anyone here objecting to this union.” The Chunk of Burnin’ Love says, hurrying this along so he can hit the bar and buffet. “May I be the first to introduce Mr. and Mrs. Aiden Chesterfield. You may kiss the bride.”
“‘Bout fuckin’ time,” Aiden growls, grinning like a madman. Cam leaps into his arms. Wrapping her legs around his waist, she claims his mouth. While he kisses her, everyone whoops and yells for them to get a room.
“All they really need is a dim hallway, or even better, a bathroom.” I toss out, making Aiden and Cam both flip me off. “You realize that could be the official signal for Shaft right? Batman has the bat signal, we have the Shaft signal.” I laugh, tossing my middle fingers up in the air.
Yanking the guitar strap over my head, I toss it into the case under the pew; looking up just in time to see Chase make a break for the hallway with Mitch hot on her heels. Making my way over, I kiss Cam on the cheek and pat my brother on the back in congratulations. Gray and Henry stand against the wall talking to Daisy, but eye me suspiciously. “Think carefully about the shit you got brewin’ in your head, man.” Henry says in warning.
“I know what I’m doing, mom.” I bite out. “Just stay out of it and give me some room.”
Daisy turns to face me, worry etched all over her face. “You promised me no problems today, Hunter.” She reminds me, “Starting a fight with Chase and Mitch would be a problem.”
“I’m not going to fight with anyone here, okay?” I assure her. “Everything is fine. Now, I’m going to hit the can then it’s time to party.” Walking away, I end the conversation and head into the hallway where I can hear Mitch arguing with Chase.
“I didn’t like it and I don’t want you anywhere near him. Luke nearly removed his vocal chords through his belly button earlier.” He bites out.
“It sounds like you and my brother have a problem, not me. You should know by now that no one tells me what to do, Mitch. If I want to fuck him along with half the city, that’s my business, not yours and definitely not Luke’s.”
No, not half the city, just me.I think to myself, with a bit too much excitement. The thought of bending her over a piece of furniture in that room and fucking her makes my dick throb.
“You can’t be serious, Ladybug.” He coos to her, making me want to heave and nearly kills my hard on.
“Go get a beer and congratulate my friends, or slip out the back and I’ll make up an excuse for you. I’m not having this conversation with you or anyone for that matter.” Peeking around through the cracked door, I see Mitch pacing the length of the office in front of Chase. The office looks like an episode of ‘Hoarders’. Bookshelves filled with books, papers, and shit along the walls. Big desk, a couple leather wing-back chairs, all set off by a heavy metal door with ‘Alley Access’ painted on it in white letters.
Finally, he throws his hands up, in frustration. Walking around the desk, he shrugs. “Suit yourself then.” He mutters shoving through the door and out into the back alley.
Rage and jealousy pours through my veins. Flinging the door open with a crash, my chest heaves as I attempt to drag air into my lungs. Chase jumps, bumping into an office chair to face me. I close the door behind me, silently letting her know that I will not allow her to get past me until we talk.
“What the hell do you want?” She hisses. “I don’t have time for any more egotistical assholes expecting shit from me.” Turning she scoops up her bag and starts for the back door.
“How long you been fuckin’ him?” I blurt before I can stop it. I’ve never been a jealous guy in my life, but shit, if Mitch touching her doesn’t make me crazy.
Stopping immediately, she whips around to face me. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” Anger drips from every word as she steps closer to me, dropping her bag to the chair. “What’s the matter Hunter, afraid someone can do it better than you?” Meeting me toe to toe, she smirks. “You have no idea what’s between Mitch and me. You should stay out of what doesn’t concern you.”
“It does concern me. Don’t kid yourself, no one does it better than I do and you know it, Tiger Lily.” I grind out. My dick jerks, begging to prove it to her over and over again.Why does fighting with her always make me so damn horny?
Her hand slams across my cheek. “You’re a bastard.” She replies, fire exploding behind those hazel eyes. My cock bounces up and down like a kid at the ice cream truck.Dessert is here and it’s wrapped in a tight blue dress and fuck me heels!
Grabbing her arms, I pull her hard against me. My erection pounding against her stomach, making her struggle for breath; “That’s not breaking news Chase. Guess what else I already know? You’re a bitch with a fiery temper and a short fuse.” I growl against her ear, grinding against her.
Wrestling her hands free, Chase shoves me away. “Fuck you, Hunter.” She growls, turning to grab for her bag again from the chair.
I grin wickedly, shaking my head. “Fuck. You. Oh Babe, I have. I’ve fucked every single inch of you, over and over Chase.” I roar, angrily and more turned on than I have ever been in my damn life. Storming across the room, I shove her against the wall, knocking over the chair and her bag. My hip bangs into the one of the shelves, books and picture frames crash to the floor making her gasp, giving me my opportunity. Before she can push me away again; my mouth collides with hers, silencing her impending comeback.
My hand drifts down, stopping to cup her ass before urging her leg around my hip. Without hesitation, she wraps it tightly around me. The heel of her shoe digging into my ass as I rock against her, giving us both just a taste of what we both want. My new ink burning a little from the friction our bodies make, but it’s nothing compared to the pleasure of feeling her. Yanking my hair, she holds my lips to hers, diving into my mouth.
Sliding my hand between us, I run my finger up her thigh before tracing the line of her panties. “Hunter,” Chase moans against my mouth and I lose it. Shoving the fabric over, I thrust a finger into her pussy and let my thumb graze her clit.
Ripping my mouth from hers, I trail my tongue down the base of her throat and latch on. Desperate to savor the taste of her sweet skin for as long as I can. Her head lulls back against the wall, giving me better access. “You’re such an asshole.” She pants unconvincingly.
I smile against her skin. “That’s what they say, babe. Now, fuck yourself on my fingers.” I reply. “Then, when you come apart, I’m going to spread you on that desk and fuck you until you scream my name.” I say, leaving no question of what I want. Her walls clamping down around me when my fingers thrust back into her, making it almost impossible for me to wait.
Her hips stop moving, those eyes meeting mine head on. “That’s what this is all about, isn’t it Hunter?” She bites out angrily. “You’re jealous of Mitch. Now you gotta prove to yourself that I love fucking you? Or is it just the fact that I’m here and available since it’s probably been a few hours since the last bitch screamed your name?”
I pull my hand away, her accusation cutting me like a knife. “I get that I hurt you, but you don’t have to go for blood Chase, fuck.” Running a hand through my hair, I blow out a breath. “Let’s go somewhere and talk, just talk.”
Punch Throwers and Post Climbers
I never thought I could love and hate someone so much at the same time. While we were singing, I wanted nothing more than to pretend he was singing to me. Now all I want to do is kick his cock up into his throat. Poor jealous Hunter can’t take the possibility that I may have someone else waiting in the wings, is that it? Wouldn’t he just shit if he knew the truth? The truth is Mitch and I let everyone think what they want about us. It’s just easier than to explain and Mitch just isn’t ready to give answers to anyone. After losing the love of his life he isn’t ready to tangle his heart up with anyone else, and I don’t blame him. Being with me allowed him to go out and have fun, but without being approached by a woman. I was his security blanket. Becky was his everything. You don’t come back from a loss like that without it changing you forever.
“Please, Chase, all I wanna do is talk.” He pleads again, pulling me from my thoughts. “There’s so much I want to say, to explain.”
I can’t help but laugh a little. “Is that why your hand was just in my panties, to explain?” Hunter helps me stand to my unsteady feet. I miss the feel of him immediately. Hunter is the only person that can make me want to throw a punch one minute and climb him like a damn post the next.
He shrugs, grinning at me wickedly. “I can’t think straight when you get all mouthy.” Pulling me back against him, Hunter’s eyes soften. “You do things to me that no one else ever has, babe. Make me want more. Make me need, you.” Closing his eyes, as if he were in pain, Hunter continues. “I’ve never counted on any woman, not even Daisy and Cam. Sure, they’re great, but they aren’t here forme.”
My heart races in my chest. Hunter and I haven’t had very many meaningful discussions in person since we met. Smart ass digs and shouting each other’s names don’t really count. The only times we really talked were over a few phone calls. That was when I got to see glimpses of the Hunter no one else gets. The man he is when no one is watching and expecting the crazy antics of the flashy front-man.
Reaching up, my fingers slide along the coarse stubble on his jaw. Instantly, his eyes close as he nuzzles into my palm. “What are we doing here Hunter?” I whisper, breathlessly when he presses his lips to my skin. “I’m so dizzy from being pulled to you and then pushed away over and over again. I just don’t know what you want. Hell, I don’t even know what I want anymore.”
“I don’t know either, Tiger Lily.” He replies, opening his eyes to look at me. “All I do know is I’ve realized I don’t wanna let go of you, not yet.”
The door flies open making me jump, my head knocking into the wall. Turning, we come face to face with a very annoyed Henry, and my brother burning up the distance behind him fast. Henry’s eyes go wide as he takes in the room; chair knocked over, books and other shit scattered all over the floor. “Good to know you thought this through, bro.” He mutters in irritation.
Luke looks murderous. “I told you to stay away from my sister you son of a bitch.” He roars furiously. Henry turns, his huge frame taking up the entire doorway, holding his hands up to keep Luke from getting by. “Big Man, this has nothing to do with you. Move.” Luke growls, not taking his eyes from us.
Hunter turns, protectively shielding me behind him. “There’s no problem here. We’re just talking, man. This has nothing to do withyou.”
“Come on, Chase, we’re leaving.” Luke says commandingly, making my blood boil.
Pushing out from behind Hunter, I walk across the room. Henry looks to Luke in warning. “I’ll let you by out of respect for Chase. Don’t touch my boy, you feel me?”
Luke nods. The minute Henry moves, Luke dives forward, grabbing my shoulders to check me over. “Luke, stop it! I’m fine.” I huff, pushing at his chest. “You’re making a scene and it’s just going to upset Cam and Aiden.” I scold, hoping that his love for Cam will make him see reason long enough not to ruin her night.
Luke steps further into the room, sagging onto the sofa. Henry closes the door, and begins righting the room while Hunter just leans against the wall, watching me. Taking the seat next to my brother, I attempt to diffuse the bomb that is Luke Hanlon. My brother is a big teddy bear, until you cross him or hurt someone he loves. Right now, he sees Hunter as a dual offender and I need to fix that before everyone else hears. I hate that no matter what I do, my brother sees me as someone he has to protect. Luke still sees me as the little seven year old girl with skinned up knees. “I’m not a little girl you have to protect anymore, you know. I can take care of myself.” I admonish, arching my eyebrow. “One day, you’ll have to accept that and worry about yourself for once.”
Blowing out a breath, he leans forward, and kisses my cheek. “You know that’s not going to happen. I’ll always worry about you, baby girl.”
I roll my eyes at the endearment, but can’t help grinning. Luke’s eyes drift over to Hunter, hardening immediately. “Luke,” I warn. “Go out to the bar and get a drink, hot head. I’ll be out in a minute.”
Luke doesn’t move, just continues to watch Hunter. “What the hell are you smirkin’ about fucker?” Luke growls. Standing, he doesn’t move toward Hunter, but his hands clench into fists. Henry turns, ready to fight and I know that the three of them brawling in the office and ending up in jail is not the way I want this night to go.
“Luke, Henry, would you give us a minute?” I ask calmly, standing and steering my brother toward the door. “I need to grab my bag and then we’ll meet you at the bar, okay?”
Saying the tension is thick is the understatement of the century. The male testosterone radiating off the three men surrounding me is damn near suffocating. Luke looks at me like I have grown another head, “What the hell? Give you a minute alone with him? Sis, are you fucking crazy?” He shouts, digging his feet in. “You expect me to come in here, see you with him like this, then just walk out and have a drink like nothing happened?”
“That’s exactly what I expect you to do, Luke.” I bite out in frustration. “Please, everything’s fine.”
Luke glares at Hunter, taking my hand in his. “I’m not doing this for you, asshole.” He grounds out. “I’ll be waiting for you to fuck up and then it’s time to mop the floor with your ass,Rock God.”
Hunter smirks. “You think I’m like my brother and gonna throw a couple punches.” He asks arrogantly. “Roll around on the floor tryin’ to prove who is manlier by seein’ who can bring first blood? Then, you and I can just apologize, instantly becoming besties? Fuck that and fuck you. I have no desire to hold hands with you and sing country love songs in the moonlight.”
“Hunter shut the hell up, man. I’m not gonna stop him if you keep runnin’ that trap of yours.” Henry warns, coming around the desk between him and Luke.
“Whatever, Big Man. Let the bastard bring his big ass over here and tear into me.” Hunter tosses out, shrugging his shoulders. “Not the first time I’ll take a hit or two by someone bigger than me, and probably won’t be the last.”
“I’ll be waiting outside the door.” Luke says, squeezing my hand one last time before releasing it.
“I’ll be in the hall. I suggest you get a grip before you come out if you wanna keep your balls.” Henry says, following Luke out, closing the door behind them.
“Are you crazy or just glutton for punishment?” I ask angrily, yanking my purse up from the floor.
Hunter pushes off the wall, stepping toward me. “Tiger Lily, not everyone plays nice to avoid a fight.” He shrugs. “I don’t give a shit what he thinks of me and I have no filter stopping me from tellin’ him that.”
“That’s my point Hunter.” I reply. “Do you think I give two shits about most peoples’ opinions of me? No.” Flinging my hand out, I gesture toward the closed door hoping to make him see the bigger picture. “Those people out there love you. You should care what they think.” Taking a step closer to him, I soften my voice. “You should care if your actions hurt the ones you love.” No one may tell me what to do, but I wouldn’t deliberately hurt anyone I love.
Hunter continues to step toward me, taking in my words as he does. “And what do you think?” He asks once he finally reaches me. Circling my waist with his vividly inked arms, Hunter steers us back until my ass hits the desk. My fingers skim the word ‘Passion’running along the inside of his forearm. “I hurt you more than I’ve ever hurt anyone. Saying ‘I’m sorry’ doesn’t mean shit. Believe me, I know. Whether you believe me or not, I do care what you think of me, Tiger Lily.”
My heart is thumping in my chest frantically. I try to drag air in my lungs while tracing the letters inked on his arm, but it feels like nothing in my body is working, except my brain. My mind is on overdrive and I fear any minute smoke is going to pour from my ears at Hunter’s admission. Here is the moment, where, in a fairy tale, everything would change. I would jump into his arms, kiss him like there is no tomorrow, and we would profess our undying love. This isnota fairy tale.
Sure, I could roll with it and go back to the way things were before. Where would that get me? I would be a few more months down the road, only to be hurt again when I see Hunter splattered all over the grocery rack magazines with every piece of groupie pussy he can get hard for. Hunter Chesterfield isn’t made for just one woman. That isn’t what he wants. He has made that clear on more than one occasion and I am not about to believe I am the one to change that.
His eyes watch my fingers skim along his tattoo, inching higher and higher. I can’t see the dragon at the top of the sleeve, only the tail curling around his bicep is visible as it pokes out of his sleeve. Of all his many tattoos, it is by far my favorite. I can’t help wondering what part Hunter would play; the knight, or the dragon. He displays so many parts of each character depending on his mood. But who would end up winning the battle between the light and dark? Most importantly, where would it leave me in the aftermath?
“Chase,” Hunter whispers softly, tipping my chin up with his free hand. My eyes meet his, knocking the breath out of me. That deep brown that stole my heart, making me want so much more than I can ask him for. Yet the very ones that turned away from me; dismissing me as soon as I attached strings to our relationship. The first time I said those three fucking words to anyone other than people who couldn’t just walk away once I had. The only time I associated love with sex, because with anyone else it was about finding an orgasm, not a soul mate.
Taking a shaky breath, I do the only thing I know to do. “I think we need a drink.”
My comment takes him by surprise, giving me the opportunity to slip from his arms. Scooping up my bag, I turn and run from the room. I can’t give myself a chance to miss the feel of his touch, or take the chance that he will say anything else. I’m terrified of what would happen if I stayed in that room a minute longer. If he asks me something as crazy as to try, I would, without hesitation. And that is what I fear most; giving him my heart, only to have him crushing me because he doesn’t protect it.
The last thing I anticipated was for Chase to bolt from the room. I wasn’t expecting a declaration of love or anything, but I did plan for her to slap me with a dose of her smart mouth. I was counting on it. Nothing makes me harder than that bitchy sass that only Chase gives me. Those confident comebacks that only make me want to maul her mouth with mine, or shove my already aching dick into it. Instead, she made an excuse and ran from me like I had tried to light her tits on fire.Which I would never do, they are my friends.
After shaking off the sting of rejection, I decide to treat today like a cheap prom date and fuck it. The possibilities of missing out on the booze or the possible bacon in the bar are too tempting for me to ignore. I made my apology and if she wants to run, well she can, for now. Flinging the door open, I am met by Henry. “That seems to have gone over well.” He deadpans, giving me an ‘I told you so’ look.
“Could’ve gone better, but could’ve been worse.” I shrug. “She gave me time to apologize, but not enough to fully explain.” Walking up the hall, I see the bartender setting up shots for everyone.
“Was that before or after you fucked her against the wall?” Henry chides, disapproval dripping from his voice.
Turning my gaze to Big Man, I glare at him. It hurts that he thinks so little of me. I mean yeah, I’m the worst caliber of a man-whore, but I never treated Chase like that, did I?You weren’t going to fuck her against the wall… it was the desk you planned on, right man?“It wasn’t like that.” Thoughts of me treating her like just another damn groupie is almost enough to make me sick. Something I have never felt before washes over me: shame. I don’t like it. At all.
“Wasn’t it?” He asks, crossing his arms over his chest. Henry was never my father. He finished raising us, but was always my brother, my best friend, and above everything else the one who knew me better than anyone. Now it hurts that he so easily just assumes the worst of me, even if it is partially true.
“Well, Big Man, I guess since it’s the worst possible thing to assume of me it has to be the truth. Being the selfish, sick bastard that I am would obviously mean I have a hidden motive. I’d apologize, not out of guilt, because I have no conscience. My main goal isn’t forgiveness, it’s just to get into her pants one last time.” I bite out. “Don’t think too much of Cunter, he’ll surely let you down. I mean he isn’t possible of changing for the better. No way he would be caught doing anything noble or worth being proud of.” I add, watching Chase take a shot with Cam, Aiden, and Luke. She smiles at Cam, giggling and happy as if nothing happened only moments before.
“Damn it, that’s not what I mean.” Henry says apologetically. “Listen, it’s just,”
I wave him off, “No, I know what you meant brother. Thanks for reminding me of my place.” Turning, I make my way to the bar. Grabbing a stool on the end away from everyone, I motion for the dude to pour me a shot. “Keep ‘em comin’ man,” I murmur, lifting the glass high. I tip it to Chase in a silent toast, just between us. Her eyes meet mine, widening as they fill with concern, but I shake her off.
Swallowing it in one gulp, I feel the welcome heat of the alcohol as it goes down already beginning to numb my pain. Silently, I think how wrong Chase is. If all these people care about me so goddamn much, why don’t they expect more from me than the asshole that I have been for so long. The role I fell into, that I continue to play, even though it’s not as rewarding as it was months ago. The bastard front man that fucks anything that walks. Who isn’t supposed to care who he hurts as long as he gets his good time.Why change the appearance of a place no one would dare to occupy. My heart isn’t a place anyone wants to visit, let alone take up residence. Most importantly, no one would ever willingly let me in theirs.Even when I try to protect the people I care about, it backfires in my face, only hurting myself.
Having no one but my brother and best friends was always enough for me, until now; because, I had always thought they knew there was more to me than just the guy who makes nasty jokes and isn’t afraid to upset the ladies church group in a diner. For the first time since we started Shaft, I feel completely empty. Everyone around me is happy. Their lives are coming together, while I stand still, never moving, unchanging. My family is celebrating, while I attempt to empty the bottle of whiskey in front of me in record time.
Two hours later, the bottle is empty and the bartender decides to cut me off. Henry’s huge mit of a hand covers my shoulder before I can argue for another bottle. “Come on brother, I’ll get you back to the hotel so you can sleep this shit off.” Sliding off my stool, I wobble unsteadily. “Let’s go, I don’t want you embarrassing yourself man.” He says, grabbing my arm.
Yanking away from him, I crash against the bar knocking glasses to the ground. “Fuck you,brother.Don’t you really mean before I embarrassyou?” Looking around the room, I glare at everyone now staring at Henry and me. “That’s what you all think isn’t it?” Pushing off the bar, I stagger across the room toward the hallway. “Just placate the poor bastard because if we don’t, he will just make life harder for us. Well fuck you all, I’m tired of being forced to suffer through your good time.” Reaching the hallway, I turn and look into the shocked faces of my family taking in my drunken outburst and even though I see the train wreck my actions are causing, I can’t stop it. My eyes meet Chase’s, her hazel eyes filled with worry for me.Great! Just what I need, fucking pity.“You’re right, Tiger Lily, all the people out here love and think so much of me.” I say sarcastically, mocking her words from earlier.
Aiden’s face presses into a hard line, while shock pours from all three girls. Mack looks to Henry as if there is some hand signal to tackle the drunk idiot as if I were a damn suicide bomber.Only person going down with this ship is me dude, calm your tits.I can feel Henry’s stare burning a hole into me.
“Hunter,” Daisy pleads. “Don’t do this, not here.”
“Leave him be Wildflower, he’s only hurting himself.” Gray tosses out, only adding fuel to my fire.
“Just leave me the fuck alone until you need Cunter to prance his sexy ass on stage and woo the bitches.” I ground out. “That’s all I’m good for right?” Shoving down the hall, I have nowhere to go except the office where Chase and I were just a couple hours before.
“What the hell was that about?” Henry storms into the room, ready to rip me a new ass. “I’m not in the mood to baby your sorry ass tonight. You’ve upset everyone, not just Cam. Grow the fuck up!” He roars, making me laugh.
“I’m done with all of this shit.” My words echo loudly off the wall, making Henry wince. “I need some air along with a lot more booze. I’m not nearly drunk enough to handle the ‘Saturday Morning Special’ going on in there.” I blurt, shoving the back door open and storming out into the alley. Henry is behind me, like the goddamn shadow he is.
“Hunter, you’re going back inside if I have to drag your sloshed ass by that mop you call hair to apologize. Once you do that, we can go wherever you want.” He orders, gripping my shoulder harder this time.
Spinning around, my fist connects with his chin. As lit as I am, it doesn’t do anything more than surprise him. I am shocked I even hit the big bastard. “Piss off; I didn’t ask you to be my fucking shadow. Everyone in that motherfuckin’ room is better off without me being in there. So, no, I’m not going back in.”
Releasing me, he nods. “Okay man, I hope you know what you’re doing.” Henry says, resigned. Without another word, I walk up the alleyway and disappear into the chaos of the Vegas Strip after dark.
Deciding to follow the flow of foot traffic, I head up the street. Vegas at night is wild and full of trouble for a guy like me with no inhibitions or shame to get into. Too bad the last thing I am up for is a party like that. Any other time, I would be diving into a pair of tits right now to forget the bullshit. Scanning the awnings, I spot a run-down bar and duck inside away from the crowd.
The fact that I fucked up royally isn’t lost on me. After making a scene and taking a shot at my best friend, I would deserve it if they never speak to me again. For now, though, I’m not dealing with any of it. Let the repercussions come tomorrow along with the regret and the giant hangover.
Pulling out my wallet, I toss the stack of bills to the bar. The old man wiping down the counter raises his head, probably catching a wiff of the bank roll, and walks my way. “All my cash is yours, old timer, if you can do two things.” I say sitting on a stool. “Keep my glass full and pour my ass into a cab after the cash runs out.”
Scooping up the wad, he smiles before shoving it in his pocket. “What’s your poison?”
“Whiskey. The good shit and lots of it.” I mutter. He nods, grabbing a black label bottle off the shelf and fills my glass high, ending our conversation.
“What the hell is his problem?” Aiden shouts the minute Henry walks back up the hall alone. “I should go in there and kick his ass.”
I can’t help feeling sorry for Hunter. Yeah, that was a shitty outburst and a bad place to let the dam break, but it’s all too clear that he was hurting.I wonder why that is, Chase…
“You can’t, he left.” Henry says, exhaling hard. His fists clenching tight when he sits at the table, “I got angry and didn’t handle the situation well. He bolted after takin’ a swing at me.” The thought of Hunter taking a swing at Henry boggles my mind. Henry is his best friend. Besides, Hunter knows Henry would’ve torn his ass into bits if things were to escalate.
“So you just let him leave?” Daisy shrieks. “Big Man, he’s halfway to Lushville. What if something happens to him?” She stutters, choking on a sob. Worry etched across her face, no doubt thinking back to when he was drugged in Macon. I was terrified; even though I was so hurt by his actions, I don’t want to see him hurt. Ever. “I’m going after him.”
Grayson grabs Daisy’s arm when she pushes to her feet. “Like hell you are. I’ll never let your ass get through that door, Wildflower.”
“It’s our job, Gray.” Daisy replies tearfully. “The last thing he needs is to run into any photographers, as upset as he is.”
“He’s not going to wanna see any of us right now, Daisy.” Aiden says shaking his head. “Cunter is out in full force right now and you can’t deal with him tonight. I should’ve seen it comin’. He’s been dealin’ with shit in his head for weeks now.”
“Aiden’s right.” I pipe up, standing to my feet. Everyone’s eyes meet mine, except Henry’s. His eyes are glued to his phone screen. “I’m sure he’s not proud of how he acted or the things that he said. I’ll go after him. Maybe I can talk him into going back to the hotel, if that’s not where he’s headed already.”
“No you won’t Chase.” Luke roars angrily. “I don’t want you anywhere near that piece of shit.”
I glare at my brother, infuriated at how he keeps referring to Hunter. “Hmmm, why would Hunter get so upset?” Looking around, I take in discussions about damage control and how to deal with him in the morning. “I get that he isn’t a saint, okay? He can be crazy, reckless, and an absolute pervert. He is, however, funny, loyal, honest and sweet. Yes!” I exclaim when I get shocked stares. “Hunter Chesterfield is sweet. So, the next time you call him an ass, remember the times he stood up for you, or protected you. My God, the fact that he would make a complete idiot of himself to make anyone smile was enough to make me fall in love with him.” I say, looking at a now sobbing Daisy.
Shoving my way toward the door, I let my final blow drop. “I know you love him and that this family is the best thing that’s ever happened to any of us. I love all of you. That’s why I’m sayin’ this now. For all the things that you ask of him, or just expect him to do, what does he get back? Love is a two way street and right now, Hunter is being shafted in the worst way.”
“Chase,” Camaron chokes out, and I don’t have to turn to see that I’ve struck home with all of them now. Even though Hunter left out the back, I decide since he has a head start I’ll grab a cab on the street. That way I can call him on my way back to the hotel, if he will even answer.
“While you’re all sittin’ here bitching about how, after he sang a beautiful song for you, he caused trouble, I’ll be out lookin’ for him.” I say flinging the front door open.
“Chase, wait!” Henry shouts after me. “I’ll go with you.” He announces, following me down the sidewalk. “Mack is going to get the others back to the hotel.”
Turning to face him, once I reach the street, I take a breath. I’m shaking with fury after my outburst, hurting for a man who clearly needed something that he didn’t get. Pissed at myself because all he wanted was to talk to me, then I ran because I was afraid of what I would do. “Okay, but once we find him, hang back please?” I ask, desperately. “This all began with arguing with me after all.”
Henry chuckles. “It may seem that way darlin’, but this storm has been brewin’ for years.” Looking me over, his eye brow rises above his shades. “You love him?” He asks and I can only nod. “Weather the storm darlin’. Whatever comes, the man behind the asshole he pretends to be is worth it. He’s thirty and what always worked, suddenly isn’t workin’ anymore. Hunter will have to learn to evolve and adapt. He’s not going to go easily, but he will get there.”
“How do we even find him?” I ask, realizing that trying to find one person in Vegas is like searching for a needle in a hay stack.
Henry grabs his phone, punching in a series of numbers before sighing in relief. “There he is.” Bending down he shows me the screen with a tiny blue dot highlighted on the map. “All our phones have a tracking device in them. Just an added security measure I added to our arsenal after everything the last few months. No way would I ever let him walk away without a way to find him.” Scanning the phone, he grins. “Looks like he’s a few blocks up, at a bar.”
“Okay, let’s go.” I blurt rushing to the van, hoping like hell I can deal with Hurricane Hunter.
The entire ride I try to figure out what I am going to say. A million scenarios run through my head by the time Henry pulls up outside the bar. Not many of them ending well, which is really promising. “If I need you, I’ll wave you in.” I say, opening the door.
“You women live for makin’ me do shit I’m not comfortable with.” Henry replies, exhaling loudly. His hands clench the steering wheel tightly as if he needs to force himself to stay in his seat.
Sliding to the pavement, I smile up at him. “It’s the best way Big Man, you know it.”
“Y’all say that shit too. Go get our boy.” He chuckles, waving me on. “If you’re longer than ten minutes, I’m coming in.”
Taking a breath, I hold my head up and walk into the bar. Hunter is parked on a stool, slumped over so that he is lying face down on the bar. The only movement he makes is the rise and fall of his even breathing. My feet carry me to him, as if moving on their own; taking me to where I desperately want to stay forever, by his side. Even if I know it is an impossible dream, that I am only punishing myself. I can let myself believe it if only for tonight, while I take care of him, that Hunter is mine.
“Shop washin’ me and come shit on my wap.” He slurs, making me laugh.
Unable to hide how amusing I find his slurring blunder, I hop onto the empty stool next to him. “I’m not washin’ or shitting on anything.”
Turning his face to meet my gaze, Hunter smiles at me sadly. “Tiger Lily, why’d you come? I’m assmole.”
“Because I care about you, assmole.” I giggle, sliding from the stool to help him to his feet. “Let’s get you back to your hotel, everything will be okay.”
Looking at me in disbelief, he blinks rapidly. “You’ll hate me.”
“I doubt that.” I reply. “He pay you up?” I ask the bartender, who just nods in my direction.
Wrapping my arms around his waist to steady him, I help Hunter stagger his way out to the van. “Wanna violate me in the car?” He slurs, reaching around to cup my ass. “Hump me… hump me…” I steady my grip when he flings his arms out, trying to keep us from crashing to the pavement. All while his singing a repeat chorus of ‘Hump me’has a crowd gathering on the street.
“That’s Hunter from Shaft!” A woman screams.
“Holy shit, it is.” Someone replies, “Who’s your kitten for tonight Hunter?” The man asks, making Hunter stiffen against me.Shit.
Staggering forward, we bump into the van before Henry can get the door. “Who her?” Hunter slurs, “She’s not a kitten. Chase’smyTiger Lily.” He explains as if it makes a difference to anyone staring or grabbing for a phone to snap a photo.
“Alright, time to go, brother.” Henry says, shoving Hunter into the van.
“Big Maaaaaaaaan!” Hunter sings, grabbing his arms. “Chase is gonna hummmmmmmp meeeeeeee!”
“Oh yeah, you’re shattered.” Henry chuckles, moving to let me climb in the back with our drunken songbird.
I blush ten shades of red at Hunter’s raunchy outburst, as camera phone flashes go off all around us. “We gotta get him outta here.” I say shoving into the van beside him. “He’ll be a trending topic before the sun comes up.” I say, slamming the door as Henry climbs into the driver seat and pulls out.
“Hashtag assmole!” Hunter says, sprawling across the bench seat, pulling me on top of him. “My dick wants to trend in your ass. Can I twitter your clitter?” He asks, arching his eyebrow.
The thought of himtwitteringanything with that amazing mouth of his has my entire body humming with excitement. My nipples harden against his chest. The fabric of my dress rubbing painfully against the aching points is not helping me focus on sobering him up. “Let’s get you back to the hotel Hunter, okay?” I purr sweetly. “Then I’ll help you get cleaned up before we feed you something. I’ll order bacon.”
He closes his eyes, no doubt having bacon devouring fantasies. “My penis is horny.” He mumbles before passing out, snoring loudly the entire ride to the hotel.
“Where do you want him?” Henry asks when I hold the door to Hunter’s suite open. Hunter wouldn’t walk by himself, let alone open his eyes; so Henry had to carry him in from the van. Lucky for us, in Vegas, that kind of thing doesn’t usually attract attention.
“Shower. He needs to sober up and hose that brewery smell off before he eats.” I reply, walking through the living area of the suite and down the hall in search of his bedroom. Henry follows behind with Hunter tossed over his shoulder like a duffel bag.
“You gonna handle that?” Henry asks, flopping him onto the bed. I walk into the adjoining bathroom and start the water, adjusting carefully. “I’m not getting him naked. The assmole’s penis is horny and I’m not sure that fits my job description.” He chuckles, making me smile.
“Go check on the others, let them know Hunter’s okay, and grab some food. We’ll be fine.” I reply, leaning against the door frame. My eyes scan Hunter’s sleeping form sprawled across the end of the bed.
“Alright then, boss.” He winks before disappearing down the hall. The door slams to the suite, letting me know that we’re alone now.
Kicking out of my heels, I pad over to the bed trying to figure out the best way to get his ass undressed and into the shower. I’m five foot tall; with Hunter being clearly a foot taller than me this is going to be interesting. Deciding to start off easy; I pull his boots off first, followed by his socks. Standing back to my feet, I step between his legs and undo the button of his jeans. Plastic cling wrap, like we use to cover fresh ink at the shop, comes into view as I pull the zipper down. My mind whirls with curiosity over what he could’ve gotten today at Luke’s.
Yanking carefully, I try to get his jeans down his thighs. Hunter mumbles something between snores but doesn’t move.Great!Leaning down I grab the bottoms of the pants legs to give it another try. I pull but they are stuck under his ass. Digging my heels in, I jerk the denim one last time with everything I have. Hunter’s hips lift and the jeans side from his legs as I tumble backwards.
“Son of a bitch,” I shriek. My ass hits the floor with a loud thump, knocking the wind out of me.
Hunter rolls to his side, covering his ears with both hands. “Ssh, can’t you see I’m drunk here?” He mumbles.
Rolling my eyes, I push to my feet. “I can see that.” I deadpan. “I also smell it; you need a shower. When Henry gets back with food, you can be a good boy and eat.”
Cracking open one eyelid, he grins, giving me just a taste of the gorgeous bad boy. “If I promise to be a real good boy, can I eat dessert first?” The tone of his voice very clear he isn’t talking about apple pie. “Come here.” Hunter says, crooking his finger. “I promise I won’t bite, hard.”
What the ever lovin’ hell? Wasn’t he passed out thirty seconds ago? Now he’s ready to play hide the meerkat in the borough?
“Alright lover boy,” I tease pulling on his hand. “The shower is running.”
Hunter pushes off the bed with a grunt, following me into the bathroom. “Fine, but I can’t be held responsible for your actions when you see all of this naked without an orgasm or three.”
“I’m sure I can manage.” I wink at him.
Hunter tugs off his shirt, and then shoves his boxers down his legs. “Don’t try to hurt my ego, Chase.” He teases, leaving me to take in the very hard dick pointing straight at me. Nearly blackout drunk not even an hour ago and now he’s ready for an all night ‘fuckscapade,’ as he calls it. Why should I even be surprised? “We both know you want me inside of you just as badly as I ache to be there.”
Thankfully, he steps into the shower without another word. Trying to get my mind off of the very wet, very hard man in the shower right now, I grab up a towel for him and a pair of clean boxers from his bag. Listening carefully just in case he slips and falls or something, since I know he is still far from sober.
“Come, come, come on my dick. Come on my schtick. I wanna lick your clit, Tiger Lily! Oh Tiger Lilllllly!” I hear him sing out, making me laugh.
“Shut up and wash your ass!” Henry says walking back in the bedroom door, making me jump.
“That was fast.” I say, knowing I expected him to be at least an hour.
“Aw Big Man, I’m singin’ for my dessert.” Hunter replies before starting to belt out another verse, only louder this time.
Tossing a take-out bag to the bed-side table, Henry shrugs. “I sent a text letting everyone know the assmole is unharmed and sobering, then went down and grabbed you two some food.”
“Thanks.” I say, sitting the stuff for Hunter on the bathroom sink. Quietly, I close the door behind me so Hunter can sing to himself.
“No problem.” He assures me, looking around the room. “I honestly figured you would have more trouble out of him. That’s the real reason I hurried back.” Walking toward the door, he grins. “I’m learning quickly not to underestimate you ladies. All of you seem to surprise me. I’m going to bed. I’ll be down the hall if you do need me.”
“Hunter will be fine.” I reply to his back as Henry walks out of the room, closing the door behind him.
I sit on the edge of the bed and take a deep breath, wondering exactly what the hell I am going to do when he comes out of the bathroom. My body and my brain are fighting with a plan when the door opens, and my jaw drops at the sight. Hunter stands there towel drying his hair, completely naked, and still rock hard. His new ink, a lightning bolt, centered right in the middle of ‘The V’. Those fucking perfect lines leading to both the Heaven and Hell that God put on that man just to fry my brain. Drool ditches would be a better name for them, because they make my mouth water.
His eyes follow the path of mine, locked on his cock and he grins. “Is it time to eat?” He teases, winking at me and I know I am completely screwed.
“Um,” Chase stutters, her eyes totally glued to my dick.
Dropping the towel to the floor, I step closer to the bed. “I’m totally fine with you objectifying me, but can you at least do it ridin’ my cock?” I toss out, quirking my lips up in an innocent smile. “We’re busy people and I’m a multi-tasker.”
“Don’t you think we need to talk about earlier?” Chase asks, shaking her head.
Running a hand through my hair, I pace the floor at the end of the bed, trying to shake the cobwebs from my fuzzy head. “Yeah, I know and I’m sorry. I really fucked up, okay? I just don’t want to talk about it just yet.”
“Hunter, you don’t have to apologize to me for being upset. Honey, I just want to understand.”
“So do I, babe.” I grumble. “It’s just like no matter what I do, I’m always going to be the cocky bastard that everyone laughs at until I’m just an embarrassment.” The words tumble out and even I am shocked at the honesty. “I’ve spent so much time just living for the moment without giving a shit about the next one, Tiger Lily. Now, that’s not working. That’s not who I want to be anymore. You know I contribute nothing to this group other than walking my ass on stage to sing and play my bass. I don’t write a note or a lyric. Nothing. I just don’t know how to make everyone see me differently. There are songs I’ve written that no one has seen. I have more things to contribute to the band than just my voice and dick. There’s more to me than the drunken asshole that eats bacon by the pound. I don’t want my main task, before a show, to be assessing the tits in the front row. In twenty years, I’ll be a goddamn joke.” I huff. Trying to reign in my temper, I grip my hair, pulling at the damp strands. “I guess I’m realizing that when this ride is over, I won’t have shit to show for my life and that hurts like a bitch.”
“That’s not true at all.” She argues, her mouth pressing into a hard line. “They’re your family, Hunter. You don’t need to change everything about you. Just be honest, with all of us. Hunter, everyone knows that you’ve been working shit out in your head. They all knew something wasn’t right with you, but you don’t usually do deep and serious. We don’t know how to tread the waters, honey. Don’t carry the load alone, let us in. Fuck, letmein. I want to help carry it.”
Stopping just shy of the edge of the bed, I grab her hands in mine. Her eyes drag up my body slowly before meeting mine, taking in every inch of me. The way she stares into my eyes is almost too much. It’s as if she sees something so much more than what I see when I look into the mirror. Her lips part, before her tongue darts out to wet her bottom lip. I would give my left nut just to know what she is thinking right now. “You’re so fuckin’ beautiful it hurts.”
“I, uh.” She blushes, and if nothing else about her ever turned me on, this does.
“You are, Chase. No matter what I’ve made you feel before, it’s never been just fuckin’ to me. Even that first time I think I knew you were different.” Taking a deep breath, I groan. “I’ve never wanted anything or anyone as much as I want you right now, Tiger Lily.”
The words come out in a rush and Chase is just as shocked as I am. Her eyes widen as she takes in what I’ve just said. Slowly, her fingers slide from mine. Inching higher up my arms, she leans up onto her knees on the mattress. My eyes want to close, to savor this. To take in all the pleasure I get just from her touch, but I force them open. I need to watch, to know that for right now, she is really here.
“Whiskey makes you sweet, Hunter.” She teases, leaning down to run her lips along my bicep. Her tongue running along the tail of the dragon that is the focal point of my sleeve and I nearly come down my leg. “I love the dragon.” She whispers against my skin, her breath making me shudder.
The dragon means a lot of things. To me and Aiden; when he drew it out for me it was freeing. It signifies our past. The dark villain we had to fight against growing up. The dragon was our father. Now, ever since we had visited our mother and finally know the truth, it feels like I am fighting an entirely new battle. I had protected my brother above everything else. That was always my first priority. That man could never truly hurt me unless he hurt Aiden. And the bastard knew it. The dragon became a reminder of the man I was never going to become.
Once we left Georgia with Henry, I threw responsibility out the window and said fuck it all. I had been a damn kid, taking on responsibility for my brother because our mother couldn’t take care of herself, let alone us. So, that was what I lived for: keeping Aiden safe. After Henry took us away and started over, I struggled to find my footing. While Aiden controlled the world around him to cope with what we had been through, I decided to bury it. I spent years chasing my good time and enjoying the spoils of what being the lead singer for Shaft brought me. It was nothing but hurting myself and everyone around me and the biggest part of me didn’t even care.Does that make you the dragon now?
“Hunter, please. Put your hands on me, I need you to touch me.” Her plea breaks through the swirling thoughts in my brain, and now I can think of doing nothing else.
Cupping her face in my hands, our mouths collide. I devour her like I’ve been dying to do ever since I saw her playing my guitar. My fingers slide up into her hair, desperate to keep her lips on mine.
My tongue sliding against hers makes my knees wobble and I sway unsteadily. Chase must notice, because she leans back and breaks the kiss long enough to pull her dress over her head revealing all that silky skin in nothing but a blue lace thong. My finger trails down between her breasts, circling her belly button and the tips of the lilies inked on her side that make me crazy with want. Both of us are breathing hard when my finger finally moves down tracing the top of her panties. “These aren’t your favorite are they?” I ask, ripping them from her body before giving her time to answer.
“Guess not.” She says, as I kneel on the bed in front of her. “I’m sure you’ll make it up to me with this.” Chase adds, grabbing my aching erection. Her fingers wrap around the base before sliding up so that her thumb can graze the head.
“Fucking hell!” I shout, trying hard to imagine Mack fucking my mom so that I don’t blow my load all over Chase’s tits.Aw shit, that’s not helping either because now I see Chase’s tits.
“Hell doesn’t have shit on this heat.” She smirks, releasing my dick before shoving me to my back. Inching her way up my body, Chase’s hair skims along my thighs and higher to my chest. Stopping, her face hovers above mine. “You’re fire Hunter, when I get too close I can’t help but burn.”
Chase’s lips take mine in a kiss that could ignite the whole room in flames. Her mouth hungrily moving against mine as she rubs her pussy against the head of my cock and I nearly come unhinged at how close I am to being inside her. I arch my hips, but she slides down making me nearly sob like a baby. Her mouth moves from mine, kissing my throat before nipping at my collarbone. “Said the pot to the kettle, babe.” I breathe when she runs her tongue down my abdomen stopping just shy of my new ink.
Reaching over to her bag, lying beside her, Chase yanks out a foil packet. Rising up on her knees, I watch her tear it open with her teeth and roll it down my length. Her eyes meet mine as she positions me at her entrance again, then impales herself on my dick.
“Goddamn,” I moan, thrusting my hips against her. “One day I’ll fuck you without the fire suit.” I growl, wishing like hell I didn’t have to wear this condom but the last I need is to leave her unprotected.
“You couldn’t handle me without the firewall.” She moans, palming her tits in her hands as she glides up and down, riding me. Fucking owning me with every breath, the look on her face tells me she knows it too.
My hands instantly move to her hips, my fingers digging into her flesh so that I can pump into her. Part of me wants her to feel just as swept up in this as I am. For her to slowly fall apart over and over again until all there is left is us. The other part of me wants to challenge her sassy ass and fuck her through the damn supporting wall behind the bed. “Oh, I handle you just fine babe, and we both know it.” I bite out, rolling us so that she is on her back. Grabbing her hands, I smirk at her, making her roll her eyes at me commanding the upper hand. “Now,” I say wrapping her arms around me so that her hands are firmly on my ass. “Tiger Lily, we’ve come to the part of the ride where you need to hang on tight.”
Her eyes light up with amusement, without another word, I drive into her. Hard. “Hunter!” She screams, encouraging me on. My hips slamming into the backs of her thighs, moving us farther up the bed. “Yes, Hunter, harder!” With every stroke I feel her tighten around me, as if she is determined to keep me from pulling from her body.
Burying my face in her neck, I pump into her again and again, each time harder than the last. Pushing and driving for the cliff of no return, but I don’t want it to end, not yet. At one time I would’ve bragged about fucking a groupie out of her clothes between sound check and curtain call. With Chase, I want to stay buried to the hilt and never leave. “Tiger Lily, you’re gonna come right with me. I can feel your pussy clamping down on me like a goddamn fist.” I murmur into her ear as my balls tighten and I know I am going to erupt like a fucking volcano.
Her back arches as she cries out. Begging and pleading all while screamingmyname. Chase’s fingernails dig into my ass, seeking more and I can’t help smiling before I shout my release. Her eyes hold mine as her climax rolls through her like a runaway train. I know in my head that if she’s fuckin’ Mitch she will be comparing him to this every damn time once I’m gone, and that will help me sleep at night. That motherfucker is dismissed in my mind with a big grin and a ‘fuck you’ as I shoot my load into the rubber.
“I’m gonna get rid of the condom.” I murmur before motor-boating her tits. “I’m leaving in like ten hours and I have to eat that pussy, eat my bacon, fuck your ass” I start ticking away my to-do list as I stroll into the bathroom to trash the condom. “With the rest of my stay all booked up like this, there’s no time to waste.” I say waggling my brows.
When I walk back to the bed Chase crooks her finger teasing me, spreading her legs just enough to flash me my destination. Kneeling on the mattress, I trace the seam of her pussy with two fingers before plunging them deep. Her back arches, hips tilting to seek more of my touch. “Like that do you?” I ask, even though I already know the answer. “Greedy as hell and I fucking love it. I sure hope the hotel has a wheelchair or medic on call.”
Regardless of the fact that I know this is so much more than just sex between us, I can’t help taunt her. The dirty talk is what we do. It’s been part of the heat between us since the beginning. Chase always gives back as good as she gets from me. No one has ever done that before. Now I’m finding it hard to live without that igniting chemistry.
Chase smirks at me. “You would look sexy on T.V. in one of those scooter commercials.” She pants when I scissor my fingers hitting her sweet spot. My thumb finds her clit and I circle slowly, knowing it drives her nuts. “Ah, just get a walker. I’ll even bedazzle your walker to match your banana hammock.”
“If you’re gonna open that smart fuckin’ mouth, do something useful with it.” I bite out playfully, yanking her up by the hips. A couple of nicely executed bedrolls and a quick flip of the feisty red head, has me on my back and her delicious ass right in my face. “Now grind that pussy on my face while you wrap those amazing lips around my dick.”
Without replying, Chase leans down running her tongue along the head before taking my erection into her mouth completely. “Fuuuuuuck!” I shout, then dive face first into her heat. My tongue driving into her like my cock had done just moments before. Desperate to hear her scream my name again, I lick her clit before grabbing her hips with both hands, yanking her down onto my face.
Moaning around my dick, Chase rolls her hips as I suck her clit between my lips. My teeth grazing the hardening bundle of nerves. Just as I knew she would; her mouth leaves my cock and she screams my name, shuddering and thrashing through her climax before collapsing on top of me, completely wiped.
After our breathing slows, I settle her on my pillow and grab the bag Henry left on the table. Sitting crossed legged, I can’t help tearing open the container and diving in like a starving Ethiopian at his first dumpster dive. Thankfully, Henry was there to back Chase up and even bring me food. The fact that anyone came after me, especially the two I took everything out on most, shocks me. I took a swing at Henry, my best fucking friend, but he never wavered. Even though I don’t deserve shit from any of them, here is proof they aren’t giving up on me.Maybe there is hope for me yet, then?Right now, saying that I’m relieved that Big Man hasn’t taken away my bacon is an understatement. That may have been the thing that drove me to do the unthinkable! Shave my head.
Oh yeah, ladies you think when the pop divas go over the edge and do that shit it’s scary. If I shaved this sexiness, I would destroy any shot at ever seeing World Peace in my lifetime. I’m making huge sacrifices on my part here. You’re welcome. Chase lies beside me boneless and sated, watching through heavy lids as I inhale my container in minutes.
“You eat like an animal.” She murmurs, sleepily.
Arching my brow, I can’t help chuckling at her comment. “Babe, you weren’t complaining when I was eating your sweet little oomph.” I grunt when her arm flies up and smacks me in the chest. “We have a serious problem.” I whisper, shoving the container to the floor and stretching out beside her. “I believe that sixty-nine was one short, that’s a goddamn tragedy in my book.” I pout looking down at my partially serviced member.
“I’ll be damned if I’m gonna to tarnish my perfect record.” Chase purrs, running her hand up my chest. Grabbing my jaw, she leans up so that our lips are almost touching. “This is the part of the ride where you need to hang on.” She teases, before sliding down my body with every intention of driving me out of my mind until the sun comes up.
I fall asleep completely exhausted and the happiest I have been in a long time. With my Tiger Lily wrapped around me, protecting me from everything I don’t want to become.
Lube Bottles and Shit Storms
BAM BAM BAM BAM
“Shut the fuck up, I’m sleepin’ in here.’” Hunter grumbles, his entire body thrashing underneath me. Lifting my head from his chest I shove my hair out of my eyes, looking down at him as the pounding on the door gets louder.
The door flies open, Daisy and Cam shove into the room followed by Henry. Giving me just enough time to slide off Hunter and cover us with the sheet. “Would you look at that,” Cam nudges Daisy. “Text Luke before he has an embolism and let him know we’ve found her. Looks like I can handle two birds with one dumbass.” She giggles, while Daisy’s thumbs go crazy clicking away on her phone.
“Oh great!” Hunter grumbles, his eyes still closed. “You lovely little spooners are takin’ time out of your sappy ever after’s to call in the damn cavalry. Can you at least ask Luke to be quiet when he kills me? Chase’s screamin’ my name all night gave me a huge headache.”
I pinch his nipple, making him wince. “My money is on that brewery you drank last night being the reason you have the headache, among other things, twitter boy. You’re obnoxious ass was hash-tagging all over the place.” Henry deadpans.
Cracking open an eye; he rests his arms behind his head, taking in the scowls from both Daisy and Cam. “You’re just jealous because you aren’t trending. Don’t worry ladies; I can twitter your clitter too, if the guys aren’t up to snuff.” Hunter teases, pumping his hips, earning him eye rolls from everyone in the room. Especially from me.
“We have bigger problems than your performance outside the bar last night, assmole.” Henry says tossing a pair of jeans to the bed. “Get dressed. Cam took a very interesting phone call from legal at the record label this morning.”
Hunter flings himself up from the bed with a grunt, kicking a pillow to the floor. A bottle of lube rolls across the carpet, stopping at Daisy’s feet. “Ew!” She shrieks, kicking it away with the toe of her heel.
“You entered the room o’ lovin’, need to be prepared for what you’ll see baby momma. Objects in here are even sexier than they appear.” Hunter says with a wink. He stands from the bed completely naked, with a used condom stuck to his thigh.
“Oh my god!” Daisy and Cam scream in unison as they stare.
Hunter looks down and grins, completely oblivious to the baby batter glove stuck to him. “Yeah, I know right?”
“Give us a few minutes and we’ll be out.” I blurt, giving them the chance to run from the room. Henry shakes his head with an enormous smile, closing the door as he goes to make sure they don’t hurl on the rug.
Hunter glances at the rubber before flicking it to the floor with disinterest. Turning to me with a wink, he uses a pre-cut piece of plastic wrapping we give at the shop to cover his new ink before shoving himself into his jeans. When our eyes meet, his face goes serious. “We have shit to talk about too, babe. So don’t think you can bolt just yet.” Walking to the edge of the bed, he grabs my shoulders and presses his lips to mine quickly. “Get dressed and come out when you’re ready.” I barely nod, before he releases me and leaves the room, closing the door behind him.
My plan to take a shower and really think about everything is shot to shit the moment I hear Hunter shout. “You’re fucking crazy!” I dive back into my blue dress from last night and down the hallway so fast my head should have spun.
Hunter paces the room in front of Cam and Daisy who are sitting on the couch. Henry is leaning against the wall looking more than amused with the scene playing out. “If you two crazy bitches think that because I was a complete douche last night that this shit is funny, you’re just sick. I said I was sorry, I’ll fucking beg.” Looking to Henry, he waits for him to crack. “Come on Big Man, this is too damn much. I’ll crawl on my knees and wear whatever crazy shit these women think up, without a fight. But if they think for one damn minute I’m gonna fall for a ba-” The breath whooshes from his chest when he sees me watching.
“I’m sorry Hunter. I wish this was a joke. Chances are she’s just some fucking troll on a hunt for green. That’s even if this baby is yours Hunter. Why else would she wait all this time unless she expects money from you? We’ll play this out carefully, and as quietly as possible.” Cam explains, attempting to pull his focus from me. “When I spoke with legal at Ironsound Records this morning, they weren’t happy, but they’re handling it as discreetly as possible. I couldn’t just keep you in the dark. They’ve even faxed me a file with photos, maybe you’ll recognize her.” She holds out a stack of papers.
Hunter leaps back as if they would burn him. Sagging into a chair, he buries his face in his hands. “Just when I thought I could get my shit together.”
Walking over, I grab the information from Cam and glance down at a list of names and dates from a law office in Alabama. Flipping through the stack, I find a picture of a platinum blonde holding a little girl with brown pigtails. The little girl’s eyes that same dark brown. In shock, I drop the stack to the coffee table. “She’s yours.” At this point I don’t know if I’m asking or telling him.
Hunter looks up from his hands, his brown eyes pained. “I don’t know.”
“We won’t know until we get back to Nashville, they’re driving up so that the proper testing can be done to know for sure. Then Hunter will have some decisions to make.” Daisy says, trying her best to hold onto her composure, her worry for Hunter is written all over her face.
“How can you all be so damn calm about this?” He shouts, making me jump.
Cam and Daisy stand. “Let’s give them a minute Henry.” Cam says, turning toward the door.
Henry nods, following them out. As he passes me, he pats my shoulder. “Hurricane Hunter has just hit land darlin’, time to bear down and hang on.” He whispers. My eyes never leave Hunter; he just looks so lost. The door closes behind us with a thud.
“Hunter, it’s not the end of the world. It’s a little girl, a beautiful little girl.” I reply softly, answering his question. “It’s not something you can just dismiss, not if she is yours.”
Pushing to his feet, his eyes turn hard. “Okay, Chase, then answer me this, oh wise one.” He snarls sarcastically. “If she’s mine, which who knows given the multitudes of pussy I’ve dove into over the last decade or more. Let’s just be realistic because I was tearing up ass long before I was at the mic.” Inching closer to me, he closes his eyes. “How do I tell my child that I don’t even remember the night I met her mother? Or would good bonding include the various sexual positions or discussions on preference of lube flavor? That’s all I’ve fuckin’ got babe. When I look at that woman on that piece of paper all I see is a bitch that I would‘ve double gloved with because she looks like she’s been plowed more than the roads of northern Maine in the winter.”
“I understand this is a huge shock, honey.” I say, attempting to keep my voice even.
Hunter just huffs out a laugh. “Yeah, it’s a real shocker alright. This just goes to show that no matter what I do, I’ll always end up fuckin’ up. On top of that, now a kid could be tangled up in my shit. That’s just givin’ me one more person to hurt who is more innocent than anyone I’ve ever met.” Scrubbing a hand over his face, he turns and paces in front of the window. “At least you guys know what you’re dealing with. This little girl… my God Chase, I can’t be somebody’s father.” He groans. Stopping at the window, he stares out at the strip.
I walk toward him, but he doesn’t turn to face me. Hunter just continues to stare out the window at the view, letting his thoughts consume him. Wrapping my arms around him, I press my lips to his back. Absorbing the warmth that is just Hunter, the heat of his skin makes me wish we were anywhere but here dealing with a situation that has him so anxious. I want nothing more than to be wrapped up in him and hear all the crazy or sweet things that come out of his mouth. Right now I am here for him; and whatever he needs, I’ll give him.
Hunter never shows his emotions. I think he keeps them locked up so that they can’t be used against him later. Right now, he is letting me see his apprehension. The fear of not being enough for anyone, especially a child. It is funny how different Aiden and Hunter are, but at the same time very similar. They have the same fears and the same painful past, but have coped in different ways. “You can do this Hunter. I believe in you enough for both of us. Before long, you’ll believe it too.”
“Why the hell would you have so much faith in me, Tiger Lily?” He asks in disbelief, “I haven’t given you any reason to believe that I’m capable of taking care of myself, let alone anyone else.”
Because you would never walk out on the ones you love, Hunter. You could never be my father.I want to tell him how I know he wouldn’t leave his seven year old daughter sobbing in the driveway begging for him to stay. That she would be cherished in his eyes so much that if she fell and scraped her knees, he would move Heaven and Earth just to make her smile. Not leave her crying and bleeding in the driveway because his new girlfriend was more important than anyone in the house he just moved out of.
“But you have Hunter. You give me those gentle moments that no one sees. Like yesterday at the chapel, last night when we talked, and just like you did right now. She will adore you, honey. You won’t be afraid to be silly with her; you will spoil the hell out of her in every way imaginable.” Knowing it’s sinking in, I go on. “On top of that if you’re her daddy and you love her that’s all that will matter to her. I love you and I know you’ll be an amazing father.” I whisper against his skin.
His hands cover mine, pressing them closer to his heart. “You shouldn’t. Loving me will only get you hurt and that’s the last thing I wanna do Tiger Lily. That’s the damn reason I sent you away in Tennessee in the first place. You should be with Mitch. He would make you happier than I ever could. You should stay right here and make half a dozen babies with him for Luke to spoil rotten. You two can have barbecues on the weekends, date nights, and he will bring you flowers for no reason. I should tell you to leave right now and never come back. If you stay you’ll just hate me in the end.”
“I’m not big on doing what I’m told.” I reply, letting him know that if he tries to push me away, I have no problem pushing back. It pisses me off that he decided the fate of our relationship without involving me. Just like Luke tries to make decisions for my life without my opinion, my God do I have ‘helpless’ written on my forehead or what? “You have no idea what I want, so stop it! You have no idea how I feel. Don’t give me that ‘you’ll hate me’ bullshit. Love doesn’t work that way and it’s time I prove that to you. No one has asked me one fucking time what I want in all of this; it’s my happiness here too you know?”
“Whatdoyou want Chase?” He asks, his entire body tensing as he waits for my answer.
“This.” Pressing my palms flat to his chest, his hands tighten over mine, holding them in place so that I can feel the racing of his heart in his chest. “I want this with you, wherever we are doesn’t matter. I don’t like barbecues and I have flowers that I paid good money for inked on my skin, because the real things are never beautiful forever. Things change Hunter; the entire universe evolves constantly to accommodate everyday life as it changes. You can too, even if you can’t see it. Hunter, you already have in so many ways. You said that you can’t do more than one night with a woman, but here I am, months after our first night. Isn’t that proof enough for you that you aren’t as horrible as you think you are? Look at me, honey, I’m right here in flesh and blood and I’m not going anywhere.”
“Thank fuck,” Hunter says, and it’s not much more than a whisper. Turning in my arms, Hunter cups my face in his hands. Staring down at me, his eyes soften so that I know I got my point across to him. “Because I have no problem admitting that I’m a selfish bastard right now, babe. I need you too much to let you walk out of my life.” His words hit me in the chest, my heart nearly exploding when he seals his mouth over mine taking my mouth hungrier than ever before.
Desire pools in my belly, making every touch as he moves his hands down my body, mean so much more than the last. Hunter’s fingers dig into the fabric around my waist, urging it up my hips. Ripping his mouth from mine, his attacks my neck; biting and sucking only to run his tongue along my overheating skin. “Come to Nashville.” He murmurs against my shoulder before pressing a soft kiss there.
“What?” I ask, shocked by his request.
“Please, I need you there. Just come meet the kid with me. We’ll go from there, and figure out how to make this work with you and me. Recording starts soon and we’ll be home-based there for at least that long, minus press shit, but it won’t be as crazy as touring. Come with me.”
Thoughts swirl in my head; how pissed that Luke is going to be, not to mention Mitch. This is going to be a fight, but as I look up into Hunter’s pleading eyes I can’t make myself say ‘no’. “Okay.”
The smile spreads across his face before he peppers my face with kisses. “You’ve made my fuckin’ week babe. Let’s get dressed and go pack you some shit.” He says, tossing a look over his shoulder. “I assume we’ll have to let Luke know what’s up. I’ll get my ass beat, but fuck it’s worth it.” His look goes completely predatory. “Please tell me you’re gonna suck my dick at thirty thousand feet.”
“Go put your shirt on honey.” I tease with a wink. “I’ll let them know it’s safe to come in now, that way they’ll stop listening at the door.” I shout just as I reach the door, yanking it open to meet two sets of misty eyes and a pair covered in shades. “Oh Henry, stop blubbering already.” I tease, rolling my eyes.
“Welcome to the craziness sweets!” Cam squeals as my two best friends pin me in a group hug and shriek their excitement into my ears.
“That’s hot as hell, ladies.” Hunter says with a groan. “I’m afraid that, unless we want Anal Annie bitchin’ like a crazy cuckoo clock, it would be best not to take the time out to fully appreciate the girl on girl on girl lovin’. It really hurts me to be the voice of reason here, I mean literally it hurts right here.” He groans, rubbing his groin. The three of us turn, giving him middle fingers in three different manicured colors. “I love you sexy women, but I’ll have to take a rain check.” Hunter starts toward his bedroom, and I can admit I watch nothing but his ass as he walks away wishing like hell it was him I was nibbling on and not my bottom lip. “Besides, as many times as Chase brought the ‘Cum Train’ into the station last night, I’m probably too dehydrated to get hard. Let alone spray all three of you with my screamer creamer.”
“I’m jackass intolerant!” Daisy spits as the door slams.
“He’s taking this situation better than I thought he would.” Henry says, scrubbing his hand over the scruff on his chin.
My eyes stare at the closed door, “Hunter will continue to surprise you at every opportunity unless you start letting yourselves see him as I do.”
“Nothing he does surprises me, Chase. I’ve been pulling the tow line for years now, waiting for this. Now I’m just gonna watch like the proud big brother I get to be.” Henry replies, crossing his arms over his chest. The more I think about how he sheltered and protected Hunter when he acted out, it makes sense and has me loving the ‘Big Man’ even more. “Just don’t go tell him that shit; his head doesn’t need to swell any bigger than it already is.”
“Listen, Chase, about last night…” Cam starts, but I put my hand up to stop her.
“I know. Last night was your wedding and was supposed to be special, perfect. Hunter and I had unfinished business that shouldn’t have been brought there. It really is what set him off. For that, I’m sorry. Hunter knows now, so you should too; I am not going anywhere. He’s going to need all of us if she is his daughter. People mess up, family forgives and loves anyway. You can’t help but love him, and he deserves it more than anyone I know.” I choke out when the door opens. Hunter emerges from the room, fully dressed, carrying my bag and shoes from last night.
Daisy and Cam both walk toward him, throwing their arms around him. “Oh, hell,” He says, letting my stuff clatter to the floor, embracing them both uncomfortably. “Are you both knocked up? I can’t deal with all the hormones around here. Chicks crying and shit, can’t we all just fuck and get along?” Hunter winks at me, the heat in his eyes making me blush. “Alright ladies…um, back up. Obviously, I amnotas dehydrated as I thought.” He adds, both girls jump back from him.
“According to Annie himself, gotta be at the airport in three hours. I’ll call for a cab to take you. Text me the address, we’ll pick you up in an hour or so. After that, I’ll call and book Chase a ticket.” Henry chimes in, pulling his phone from his pocket.
“Actually, my ride is still in the parking garage.” I interrupt, knowing that I am not leaving my baby to be dealt with by Mitch or worse, Luke. “If I’m flying to Nashville with you, we’ll need to take it back to Luke’s and park it in the garage anyway. Besides,” I shrug. “I know that any paparazzi won’t be looking for my wheels to find Hunter.”
“Sounds like a plan to me.” Hunter says, scooping up my stuff. “My shit is packed and on the bed, Big Man. See ya later.” He adds, tossing me my shoes before shoving me out the door.
Who’s The Bitch Now?
Chase is quiet in the elevator, which usually would bother me. Any other time, I would be expecting an exchange of x-rated banter before attempting to cop a feel. Not today. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the sperm that got away, among other things. Me, a father? The only thing more shocking then the fact that there is a little girl possibly running around with my DNA is that Chase has faith in me not to fuck it up. How can someone, who hasn’t even known me a year, believe more in me than I do?
When the doors open to the parking garage, I take her hand in mine. The surprise on her face, the smile that follows, has me deciding that I need to do this a lot more often. Touching her this way has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with her being my ground wire. Everything in my life spins so fast. Sometimes, it’s like being on a runaway merry-go-round, but Chase seems to slow that down. I am starting to get what Aiden means when he says that Cam is sort of a safe haven. How only Camaron can calm him in those moments he starts losing his grasp on the control he holds onto desperately.
Chase walks a step ahead of me, but keeps our hands joined. My eyes stay glued to her ass as it swishes back and forth.Hey, just because the hand holding wasn’t about sex doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it! We all do, some people are just liars. Not me, I’ll tell anyone who asks: My name is Hunter Chesterfield and I’m always thinking about sex. My mind spends most the time in the gutter on the corner of Sixty-Nine Street and Anal Sex Avenue. It’s the breast part of the trip to my favorite destination, Vagina. I would live there if I could get bacon delivered.
Tiger Lily’s delectable ass stops its rhythmic swishing torture right in front of a hot pink and black crotch rocket, stopping my lust filled haze of nibbling at every inch of her. “This isn’t your bike.” I blurt.
Walking around to the back, Chase just beams at me. “Of course it isn’t my bike Hunter, it’s my baby.” I just watch, in shock, as she removes a bag strapped down to the back. She shimmies into a pair of skinny jeans, letting the dress from last night fall back into place. Hopping from foot to foot, she trades the heels for a pair of chucks that match the damn bike. “With the bag on the back, you’ll have to crowd me some, but it’s not too far to Luke’s place.” She explains once she adjusts the bag, giving us as much room as possible.
Frozen in place, I stare at her like an idiot as she swings a leg over the side. Her fingers flex around the handlebars’ grips. Chase steadies the hot pink monster between her thighs, popping up the kickstand. With a few clicks, it roars to life. “You comin’,” She asks arching a brow at me, almost daring me to climb on behind her.
“Any minute now,” I mutter. Walking over, I adjust my throbbing erection and climb on behind her. My hands wrap around her middle once I am settled on the seat. Just the thought of pumping into her from behind, while straddling her bike, makes my balls tighten painfully begging for release. Chase rolls her ass against my crotch, instantly I hiss out a breath.
“Ridin’ bitch on my ride makin’ you hard, huh Hunter?” She taunts me then revs the engine.
Leaning down, I let my teeth graze her earlobe. “If we had the time, I’d bend you over those handlebars and show you who’s the bitch, babe.” I growl, over the sound of the engine idling. Chase rolls against my aching crotch once more, releasing the brake as I moan. The bike roars forward, making me tighten my grip on her waist as we zip out of the garage and onto the street.
The morning traffic of Vegas doesn’t faze Chase in the least. When my body tenses at the closeness of the vehicles, she weaves through the hectic cluster of cars and trucks. Mere inches separating our unprotected bodies from having our asses scraped into body bags as she makes her way down the strip.
She’s completely in her element, and it’s hot as hell. There is something so sexy about the confident way she leans into each turn as if she and the bike are one. Her free spirit isn’t cocky like I come off most times. Chase is sure of herself, unafraid to admit what she wants in life, going after her dreams. Chasing the hell out what she wants with everything she has. I shouldn’t be surprised she has a bike, every ounce of this woman screams ‘wild and reckless’ and yet she is centered and stable at the same time.
Zipping into a driveway, Chase ducks into a garage, and kills the engine. “So, was it good for you?” She purrs, angling her head to look at me over her shoulder.
Pulling her back against my chest, I grind my dick against her ass so she can feel howgoodit was for me and take her mouth with mine. The sigh of pleasure that comes from her mouth nearly makes me blow my wad in my jeans. My brain starts short circuiting; all it can think of is how many more of those little noises I can pry from those lips before I have to take her on the garage floor.
The minute I decide to hell with the recording session and the plane tickets being non-refundable, I hear a male throat clear. “Get your groupie infested mouth off my sister.” Chase pulls away, her eyes snapping angrily to Luke who stands at the door beside Mitch. “Seems to me you’re hard of hearing, Cunter.” Luke bites out, his fist clenched at his sides.
“I hear just fine, actually.” I reply confidently, climbing off the bike. “Just don’t really give a rat’s ass about your opinion.”
Luke looks ready to charge, but Chase snaps instead. “Enough, both of you.” Hopping from the bike, she removes the bag. “I’m packing a bag and going to Nashville for a while; consider this my extended vacation. I’m due for some time.” She adds, shoving past Luke and Mitch, disappearing into the house.
“You’re doing what?” Luke roars, turning to follow her inside.
Mitch pins me with a stare, letting me know that I am not exactly invited in for a beer. “Yeah, I’ll just call for our ride.” I mutter, heading out of the garage into the driveway.
“She doesn’t just care about you, ya know?” Mitch says, making me stop mid-step. “Chase is in love with you.”
“Yeah,” I nod in agreement. “So, you knew that and yet you still went after my girl?” Jerking around to face him I square my shoulders, knowing he could easily rip my ass apart. I, at least, want to see the look on his face before he comes at me. “You’re a rotten bastard.”
His eyes widen in surprise. “It wasn’t like that.” Mitch bites out defensively. “Chase and I, we’re friends. She’s been there for me when I needed her. That won’t be changing any time soon; you’ll get used to havin’ me around.” Stepping toward me, he sizes me up.
“I’m supposed to believe you don’t wanna fuck my girl? That you don’t want her for yourself?” I ask, remembering the texts on her phone in Nashville. The dull ache of hurt and the pang of jealousy I never expected to feel for any woman returns full force. My chest tightens at the thought of her leaving me again for this dickhead after everything she said back at the hotel.
“No. I don’t care if you believe me.” He shrugs, his finger presses into my chest. “Chase,” Mitch says, being sure to drive his point home. “You should believeher.She’d never betray the ones that she cares about; especially not you.” Looking back toward the house quickly, Mitch’s eyes go dead serious when they hit me again. “Luke would fuckin’ pound my ass if he knew I was saying this to you. He wants no part of this life for Chase and I can’t say that I blame him. I don’t know what she sees in you, but all I want is for her to be happy. Right now, you’re doing that. I saw how she was looking at you when you sang together. She deserves to have that, so don’t fuck it up again asshole.”
I start to say something, but he turns away without another word. Mitch ‘maybe not such a bitch after all’ disappears into the house. Waiting until the door slams behind him, I blow out a breath of relief that I didn’t get the fist to the jaw I know he wanted to give me. Pulling my phone from my pocket, I text Big Man the address on the mailbox. Just to be on the safe side, I include for him to hurry the fuck up because I don’t want to push my good luck too far.
Winky Faces but No Goodbyes
Shoving my way through Luke’s house, I angrily stomp down the stairs to my room to change clothes and pack. The huge split foyer Luke bought five years ago is like a shell, not even a picture on the walls upstairs. The basement is different though, that has been all mine for a while now. Since I have been crashing here since mom moved in with lucky man number eleven, I have subtly been trying to make it more of a home.Hey, one more and they’ll stamp her ‘frequent fucktard lover’s’ card, earning her a free car wash.
After Derek, Eric, or whatever his name is moved in; I peaced out. Originally, I thought my mother was adopting a senior for the day. Awkward! Needless to say, finding out that they were burning through the blue pills quicker than it takes his toupee glue to dry was something I didn’t need to hear, let alone see.
My mother is fifty three, but doesn’t look a day over forty. Why she feels the need to date men older than her dad, I will never understand. Her need for love and approval from anyone who will give it to her makes me sick. I live three blocks from her now, but we talk over text weekly. I haven’t seen her since I moved out months ago. Gotta love those priorities. She has no love her herself, just drains it from everyone around her. Eventually, they all get sick of it; basically, she drives them away. That’s how it’s been since I was seven. Dad went M.I.A., Mom became desperate for affection, while Luke held us together.
Once I change into a tank top, I start shoving things inside my rolling carry on case. Mentally ticking off items as I grab them and digging through drawers all while trying to hurry so we don’t miss our flight. Whatever I forget, I can always buy later right?
“Chase,” Luke yells, barreling down the stairs. “You can’t be serious with this shit. Taking off with no notice, just on a damn whim?” Stopping in the doorway, Luke’s hands clutch the doorjamb so tight his knuckles turn white. “This is a mistake and deep down you know that.”
“Then it’s my mistake to make.” I reply, trying to leave no room for argument. My mind is made up, I am going. Grabbing up my phone charger and other stuff from my shelf, I shove them into my purse. “Luke, I love you, but it’s time you live your own life.” I choke out, zipping my case closed. I can’t help being angry at him though, as if he expected me to change my mind all because he is unhappy with this decision. “You’ve got to stop treating me like a damn kid, I’m nearly thirty.”
The anger in his expression dissipates. Hurt flashing across his face, breaking my heart a little. “I don’t mean to baby girl, I’m just used to taking care of everything.” Defeated, Luke walks in and sits on the bed. “Chase, I can’t bear for you to be unhappy or hurt. Hunter, I see causing both. A lot.”
“You’ve taken care of me since you were fourteen years old, Luke. It’s time for you to let me go do my thing. You’ve got to find your happy honey, because I think I’ve found mine.”
Burying his head in his hands, he exhales roughly. “I have been.”
I can’t help laughing at him, earning me a loud bear grumble from his chest. “Don’t give me that line of shit, I know you better than you think, brother dear. Cam was safe. Everyone knew there was no real chemistry there. As for…” I stop, knowing better than to rip open old wounds.
“I get what you’re sayin’, Sis. I still remember what that feeling is like. Damn, I even remember how much it kills you to give it up. But can you honestly say he’s really it for you? Is Hunter really that man?” He asks, meeting my eyes. The expression on his face crushes me. I realize that Luke isn’t just scared of me getting hurt; he is scared to put himself out there too. When I leave, he has no one left to take care of; that is scaring the hell out of him.
“I think so, yes.” Reaching down, I grab his hand. “Luke, I’m going. I won’t know for sure unless I do.”
Luke pushes to his feet. Towering over me, he leans in, pressing a kiss to my cheek. “Alright, then go do this. You know that I love you more than anything, Chase. I may not agree with your choices, but I’ll always try to support you in them.” He tucks the hair behind my ear, and leaves the room without saying goodbye.
I watch the empty doorway for minutes after, but I know he won’t be back. Luke and I heard enough goodbye’s in our lifetime, so he won’t use the word. It’s too final.
My phone goes off, alerting me to a text message from Hunter.Van is here.
Where R U?I text back, nervously. When shit got heated and I staged my Hanlon walk out, I left Hunter alone. With Luke. Who obviously left him alone, with Mitch.
Hunter texts back almost immediately.Outside where no one wants to kill me for letting you touch my penis.
I tell him I’m coming, only to earn me a reply.Not yet but you will be ;)
I can’t help giggle at the fact that he just sent me a winky face. Guys don’t use emoticons do they?
Luke, just as I figured, is nowhere to be found when I walk out the front door. With Mitch’s truck being gone from its usual spot in front of the house, I figure they left for the shop. Both of those six foot whatever inches men chicken out of goodbyes.
Mack walks around the van, grabbing my case to throw in back. “Welcome to the madness, beautiful.” He says with a wink.
“Thanks.” I reply, with a grin for the impossible flirt making him blush.
“I’ll get you my number once we get in the van. That way, if you need anything at all, you can just text me. Day or night, beautiful, I’m always available for you ladies.”
“If she needs anything I’m not already givin’ her, I’ll text you myself.” Hunter interrupts. Walking up, he shoves Mack playfully before opening the van door for me. “I’ll need to get a ‘Servicing Hunter Only’ sign for you to wear around your neck. At least Big Man is too old to get it up. He won’t flirt with my woman.” He teases, smacking the back of Henry’s seat once we are settled.
“I’d be more than happy to whip it out and show youold, but I’d hate to take out half of Vegas on our way to the airport. World wars are fought over a valve like mine, motherfucker.” Henry says, glaring at Hunter in the mirror.
“And, there’s no bleaching my brain to remove that nasty image from my mind.” Hunter shudders.
Daisy and Grayson are engaged in a full on make-out session in the back seat, while Aiden and Cam cuddle contently next to them. “Good to know that isn’t contagious.” I tease Cam, pointing to Daisy and Gray who are oblivious.
“Oh, it’s not just contagious; it’s spreading like goddamn wildfire.” Mack says, climbing into the passenger seat. Henry chuckles, backing the van out into the street. Before I know it, we are hauling ass on the highway toward the airport. “Those two newlyweds are going to be the death of me.” Mack exhales, continuing his rant. “It sure wasn’t Daisy or Gray I caught half naked last night in the hallway outside their suite.”
Grayson and Daisy stop their lip lock and stare at Aiden and Cam, with the rest of us, waiting on them to say something. Cam blushes, “I wasnotnaked.” She argues.
“Aiden’s shirt doesn’t count.” Mack tosses back.
“How was I supposed to know that a quick trip across the hall to the soda machine, while Aiden was in the shower, would become so…complicated? If I remember correctly, it’s all becauseyouleft me the wrong door key in the first place.”
“Wow, that wasn’t pre-meditated at all.” Gray says with a knowing grin. “Did you check his phone for incriminating video?”
“Son of a bitch, I said it was an accident. How was I supposed to know you’d come up for air while I was gone? My penis is a restricted area, remember? I couldn’t sleep, so I went down stairs, grabbed some grub and played a few hands of blackjack.” Mack huffs, facing forward again; he crosses his arms over his chest. “Payback’s comin’ isn’t it?”
“Yep, you better believe it, and it’s gonna be a bitch.” Daisy giggles from behind me. “I can see Aiden already plottin’.”
Hunter laughs, wrapping an arm around the seat behind me; I cuddle into his side. I listen to the banter exchange between Aiden, Mack, and Cam while everyone else throws in a joke or two. Everyone except Hunter and me, we are completely content just sitting here the entire ride to the airport.
Between parking the van back at the rental company and getting through security, we make it to the terminal just in time to board. I have no idea how they managed to get all of us seats in first class on such short notice, but I am not complaining. Curling into the large, plush seat beside Hunter; my lack of sleep last night hits me hard. Cam laughs loudly at Aiden and Hunter while they conspire across the aisle what I can only assume to be ‘Shaft style’ shenanigans with Mack’s name on them. I fall asleep shortly after takeoff, with not only a huge smile on my face, but Hunter’s hand in mine.
“Get ready, according to the text I just got there’s a shit ton of press waitin’ on us outside security checks.” Cam announces, preparing us for when the plane lands. “I don’t know how anyone managed to find out we were coming back today, of all days.”
My eyes meet Aiden’s, who just smirks at me. “What the hell did you two do?” I ask, stretching my arms above my head.
Both guys turn and bat their eyes at me, making me roll mine. “What would give you the idea that we have done anything, Tiger Lily?” Hunter says, feigning offense to my accusation.
“Yeah, all we’ve done since we boarded the plane was play with the photo app on Cam’s tablet while you ladies napped. Editing a few photos that have been taken in the last couple weeks and maybe made a post on the fan page.” Aiden shrugs, grabbing his duffel from the overhead compartment. “We didn’t have Wi-Fi, much.”
“You had it enough that you posted.” Cam scolds, scrolling down the fan page. “It shows our location when we post anything from a mobile type device!”
“Oh shit.” Hunter and Aiden say in unison.
Cam points at both of them, her face pressing into a hard line. “I’ll deal with you two later.”
“Can we please get off the plane now?” Mack grumbles, shoving up the aisle toward the exit. “I need a damn vacation after that vacation.”
“Quit bitchin’ princess, I haven’t had a day off from these crazy asses in years.” Henry replies, his eye brow arching over his sunglasses.
“Isn’t he cute when he pouts that lip?” Gray asks, once we are all off the plane. Reaching up, he pinches Mack’s cheek. “Let’s kiss and make up sweetie, we really should show you more affection.”
“I don’t get down like that, Gray.” Mack bites out, cocking his head sideways at Cam, and me. “Although, if you ladies are feeling generous…”
Wrapping my arm around Cam’s neck, I make kissy faces at Mack. Cam rolls her eyes, but joins in on the fun. “Aw, Mack, you’re sweet. I would never forgive myself for all the ways I could ruin you.” I tease, winking at him. His eyes roam my body, obviously thinking about some of those ways in vivid details.
Daisy wraps an arm around my waist, laughing at the blush staining Mack’s face. “Poor Mack. Stop it, Chase, you’re embarrassing him.”
“She’s not embarrassing me at all.” Mack says, rearranging his duffle with an uncomfortable grunt, before leading the way toward the parking garage.
Hunter wraps an arm around me, dragging me away from the girls to catch up to the now blushing bodyguard. “Looks like we’ll need to have that special talk, now that your body is changin’.” He teases, patting Mack on the shoulder. “Your first hard on is so special. Too bad I’ll have to kill you for it.” Hunter’s elbows the bag, making Mack groan as it slams into his groin.
“Fuck you.” Mack says, but it holds no anger.
“Studies have shown that I do prefer redheads.” Hunter scratches his chin, as if contemplating, but quickly shakes his head. “Gotta pass though, I’d bet my bacon you’re clingy after.” I can’t help laughing at Mack’s shocked expression as his eyes dart between Hunter and me, like he expects me to say something. “Yep,” Hunter nods. “You’re a total spooner.”
Walking out into the main hub of the busy airport, the flash bulbs start going off like strobe lights. “Did the band have a nice getaway in Vegas, Hunter? Congratulations, Mack, on your announcement. Stand proud.” A guy pointing a camera shouts. “Who’s your friend? Did you get married too?” Another photog asks, making my body go rigid.
“My what?” Mack asks in confusion, eyeing up the crowd that is beginning to gather.
Hunter leans into my ear. “Don’t let go of me, no matter what.” He commands, wrapping his arm around me tighter. “This could get ugly.”
“No comment.” Cam replies instinctively before anyone can respond. “We’re in town to begin recording Shaft’s new album after signing with Ironsound Records. That’s all I have for you at this time.”
“Well fuck your mother.” Henry mutters, catching up to us. “Looks like the vacation is over, Princess.” Giving a signal to Mack, they group the six of us together moving flawlessly to get us from the crowd. Henry and Mack shove people back two and three at a time, shielding us as best they can from the constant flashing of cameras, trying to get us out of there without being trampled. Now that the people passing by us know who the cameras are here for, they’re trying to get looks and snap some shots on their phones.
“There they are, the post was right!” A group of girls exclaims, running toward us.
“What the fuck is this?” Aiden asks, huddling Cam against him. “They’re acting like we’re some fuckin’ teeny boppin’ boy band.” He adds, when a girl screams his name.
“We’re not the next British Invasion. We’ve already hit puberty thank you, ladies.” Gray shouts, when someone gets shoved into him, nearly knocking both him and Daisy over.
“I wanna be Shaft Approved! Hunter, pick me!” Another chick screams, shoving against Mack’s chest.
“Crazy bitches, back the hell up.” Mack grunts, shoving back another handful of people.
Airport security guards approach finally, helping to disperse the crowd enough for Mack to go after the black Suburban Henry drives when he isn’t driving the bus. By the time we are all huddled to the pick-up and drop-off lanes, Mack is barreling to the curb. Most of the photographers leave in a rush toward the parking garage, giving us time to load up.
“Gotta hurry Mack, they’re boltin’ for their cars to follow us.” Henry says, slamming the door. “Cam, get on the phone with I.S.R. make sure the house is ready for us and that they’re preparin’ for this shit.”
Cam yanks out her phone, calmly making calls while Henry goes on the offense. Barking orders to Mack about direction changes in an attempt to lose the damn procession of vehicles behind us before we make it to the rental house. “Are you okay?” Hunter whispers, squeezing my hand tighter.
“I’m fine, honey. Have to get used to it sometime I guess.” I whisper, giving him a smile. I realize now that he hasn’t let go of me since the terminal. It’s so new for Hunter to be this way, tender. We usually spend our time heating the sheets and tossing playful banter, not holding hands. Something to get used to, but yet it’s familiar somehow. These little things he is giving me without even thinking, and I don’t even think he realizes how much they mean to me. That is something I plan to work very hard on, if needed, for him to see.
After nearly an hour of ducking into neighborhoods, or jumping from one highway to another; Henry finally tells Mack to head toward the rental. “This wouldn’t have taken so long if I were driving.” Henry complains, looking in the mirrors to make sure we aren’t being followed. “You drive like you’re drivin’ an ice cream truck.”
“Hunter, call that piece of tail of his to meet us at the rental. I’ll gladly pick her up if she will fuck the ‘tude from Big Man.” Mack rants, exiting the highway. “He’s moodier than preggers back there. Oh, and will someone please tell me what I was being congratulated on back there?”
“I’m only moody with you, precious.” Daisy replies, snuggling closer to Gray. Mack gets a few chuckles from everyone but Henry, who takes his sunglasses off long enough to deliver a stare that has me cringing for Mack’s happy parts if he falls asleep before Big Man tonight.
“She’s not mean to me, she loves me.” Hunter teases and blows her a kiss. “Mack, we’re all so proud of your post on the fan page earlier. It takes real pride to admit you’re only attracted to the silver haired crowd.”
“Hang on,” Mack shouts in confusion. “I what?”
“I may love you a little bit, Hunter.” Rolling her eyes dramatically, Daisy just grins while Mack bitches from the driver seat about revenge. “You know you gotta handle your shit right?” Daisy adds.
Hunter nods, no doubt reflecting on the last twenty four hours. “Yeah, I know.” Looking around the cab of the vehicle, Hunter blows out a breath. “I fucked up. I’m admitting that and I hope y’all forgive me. Last night was not the time or place for me to lose it. I’ve got shit to sort through, but that doesn’t mean y’all gotta walk on eggshells. Call me on my shit, don’t let me coast. This is my band too, my life. I should have more to do with it than manning the stage and shit.”
“Nothin’ to forgive man.” Gray says clapping him on the shoulder. “Family, bro.”
I want to say something to encourage him to go on, but I don’t. That was Hunter saying he is tired of not contributing more to the band and I don’t think anyone caught on to it. If they did, they aren’t saying anything. I’m unbelievably proud of Hunter for putting himself out there. For him, this was a huge step. Finally, he is speaking up about wanting to be seen differently. I know this isn’t easy for him to put himself out there like this. Talking about how he feels is more intimate than rocking a stage or fucking a groupie to Hunter. He will gladly tell a concert arena about the shades of lipstick rings on his dick, but letting anyone know he doesn’t think he is pulling his weight has been a no-go.
“It’s Shaft against the world, bro.” Aiden says in agreement, bumping Hunter’s fist just as we pull up to a big set of black iron gates with a keypad.
Do You Have A Puppy?
The rental house that the record company booked for us is massive. Since we are going to be in Nashville for a while recording and then after as a home base, it was just easier than hotels. It will be weird as hell to have a house for the first time in years. For us, it was the Big Bitch or a hotel, if we were lucky. This, however is not a house, the fucker is a mansion. Three bedrooms upstairs with full en-suite bathrooms, three more nearly identical on the first floor, and what looks like an entire two bedroom apartment in the basement.
Once everyone runs around the house looking at all the rooms, I make my play. Tossing Chase over my shoulder, I turn to everyone, “We’re takin’ the basement. I’d hate for all our forkin’ to upset the spooner balance upstairs.”
“Can we lock him there?” Henry asks. “I vote Hunter gets the basement on that reason alone.”
“I think locking Hunter in the basement is a good thing.” Daisy chimes in. “Take the basement.”
“Whoa wait a minute. Life’s not nearly as entertaining with me locked up.” I snap out. “You spooners love me long time.” Gray and Aiden chuckle, but Cam scowls at me.
“There’s not any time for forkin’, asshole.” Cam says, looking at her phone. “Apparently, your baby momma couldn’t wait until tomorrow. She and the little bundle should be here anytime now, to meet us. Ironsound Records’s legal department has arranged for a private company to do the test today as well. Gotta swab your cheek. Since we want your D.N.A., not Chase’s, you’ve gotta keep it clean for now.”
“I don’t know the meaning of the word clean, Camaron.” I huff, slapping Chase’s jean clad ass, making her yelp. “It’s like you don’t even know me.” Turning on my heel, I stomp to the basement door. “Fine, I’m going to put our shit downstairs, Madame Cockblocker.”
Chase grabs my ass, holding on for dear life as I snatch up one bag and thump down the steps. “What’re you doin’? You don’t even have all our stuff!” She shrieks. I shove through the door to one of the bedrooms, tossing her to the bed.
“I don’t have time to unpack my shit, Tiger Lily.” I say with a wink. “There’s more important things to do right now.”
Chase’s brow shoots up, “Does it involve taking off your pants?” She grins. The moment her eyes heat my dick starts his countdown to launch preparations.Stand down, there’s plenty of time to prepare our flight plan.
“Wow, and they call me a pervert.” I reply, sitting down beside her on the bed. I would be more than happy to spend my entire night naked with her, only sober this time. Later though. That will come later and so will she. “Just wanted some time before all this shit starts, you know?” Lying back on the bed, I fling my arms over my face and blow out a breath. “I don’t know what to do here, Tiger Lily.” I blurt honestly. “Upstairs there’s gonna be a little girl that I may be responsible for and I’ve got no idea what I’m doing. How did this happen?”
“Honey, life happens and you can’t run from it.” Chase says, running her fingers along my cheek, soothing me more than anything ever has in my life. Moving my arms, I find her staring at me. Those eyes of hers so full of love, that it’s making it hard to breathe. “It’s always a step ahead, waiting for us to catch up.”
“I don’t know what it is about you, babe. You seem to see me differently than everyone else does.” I murmur, running my thumb along her bottom lip. “You don’t judge me for all the shit I’ve done, or do. Which is a good thing because, let’s face it babe, I’m not taming anytime soon.”
“Too many people on this Earth think it’s their job to go around judgin’ everybody else. If people judge you, the pieces they’re disgusted with are the ones of you they see in themselves.” She shrugs. “Either that, or the fuckers are just jealous.”
“I don’t know about that.” Thoughts of the conversation in the ‘Burban on the way here play through my head. My comments about playing more of a role in everything were avoided completely.
As if reading my mind, Chase glances toward the staircase and back to me again, those hazel eyes softening. “No one upstairs is placing any labels on you, Hunter. You’re hard enough on yourself. So what, you want to take more responsibility in Shaft, do it.” She says, sounding so sure. “Stop hiding behind the frontman persona. By doing that you’re only keepin’ all the best parts of you locked up because it’s better than the pain of getting hurt.”
“Were you in the damn ‘Burban babe? I spoke up, they didn’t even blink.” I ground out in exasperation. What will it take for them to see that I can be more than the guy who sings the songs and makes the groupie bitches throw bras and panties on stage?
“So, you walk into the recording session and put it out there. Hell, Hunter, go upstairs and deal with the paternity thing, then call a meeting. I hate to say it, but you have to make them see you and not Cunter.” She explains. “If you believe in it that much, if you want it that much, fucking fight for it.”
“So you’re sayin’ you don’t like Cunter, huh?” I ask playfully, my lips closing in on hers.
“I saw through him, almost immediately.” Chase answers, pressing her lips to mine.
Instantly, my fingers fist in her hair. Chase nips my bottom lip, before diving hungrily into my mouth. Grabbing her hips, I pull her on top of me, desperate to deepen the kiss. Those soft fingertips of hers run up my jaw, into my hair. “Babe, you’re makin’ it really hard to remember I’ve got shit to handle upstairs.” I growl, ripping my mouth from hers. “Nothin’ I want more than to dive between those legs and give us both what we want until you can’t walk tomorrow.”
“Me?” She gasps, innocently. “I have no control over you and that unquenchable need to fuck me stupid.”
“You carry all the power baby, right between your thighs.” I mumble running my tongue along the hollow in her throat. “Later tonight,One Erectionwill be performing for your pleasure and if you’re really good babe, there will be several curtain calls.”
She giggles, as the door opens at the top of the stairs. “Hunter, I just opened the gates for your company.” Henry yells from the steps.
“Alright, on my way, Big Man.” Rolling us over, I nuzzle into Chase’s neck, kissing down to her collarbone. “Time to face this.” Before I can climb from the bed, Chase stands and kisses me softly.
“Whatever comes, from here on out, we face together.” She says, taking my hand in hers. “If we’re really gonna do this Hunter, that’s how it has to be. No secrets, no lies, and no hiding behind ‘Cunter’ when you’re with me.”
Right here, is the moment when I should say it. I should tell Chase that I love her. What do I do? I squeeze her hand, giving her a nod before we walk up the steps. Although the words are somewhere lodged in my chest, I think.
“Tell him to knock the groupie off his dick so we can get on with this!”
The screeching of a woman echoes through the house, making me wince when Chase and I get upstairs. “In the dining room, Hunter.” Henry says, with an eye roll.
“Is the kid here?” I ask nervously.
Henry nods, “Test is really a formality, bro. Looks just like you, ‘cept she’s a lot cuter.”
Chase and I walk into the dining room and see Camaron. Sitting on the other side of the long oak table, isher. The supposed mother of my child; bottle fuckin’ blonde, classic ‘Groupie Frisbee’ as I like to call them, and here she is tethering me to her with a child we made. The problem is; I don’t even remember her name.
“Hunter, it’s nice to see you again.” Blondie says, rising from her chair. “This must be Chase; the internet sure has latched on to you two and your good time.” She smiles, but sarcasm drips from those bright red lips.
Chase looks shaken, but recovers quickly. “Nice to meet you, um you are?”
The shock Blondie’s face is priceless, “I’m Xandra. Hunter can fill you in on everything after we catch up.” She replies, dismissing Chase.
I slip my hand from Chase’s only long enough to pull her against my side. “Chase stays. This includes her too.”
“Whatever you want, sweetie.” Xandra tosses out, sitting back in her chair. “Let’s get on with it then. I’d like for you to deal with the paperwork as quickly as possible. You’ve already missed out on too much.”
I sit on the opposite side of the table, Chase taking the chair beside me. “That’s an interesting point, Ms. Marshall. Why are you just now coming forward with this information?” Camaron says, scribbling something on a notepad. “Obviously, Hunter isn’t very hard for you to find if you’re keeping up with his love life online.” Cam sizes Xandra up, watching her reaction carefully. “This wouldn’t be an attempt to extort funds from Mr. Chesterfield or Ironsound Records would it, Ms. Marshall?”
Xandra glares at Cam, “Of course it isn’t!” She shouts, jumping to her feet. “I was married when Hunter and I had, um, slept together. Up until a few months ago my ex-husband had every reason to believe that Jasmine was his. Ever since Patrick and I had gotten married, he was mostly stationed out of the country. So, I lied about my due date and was able to make it work. When he was home on leave, he found some paperwork proving she couldn’t be his. Well, let’s just say he wasn’t very happy about it.”
“I assume he wasn’t happy about being lied to.” I huff. “What makes you thinkweshould believe you now? Obviously, you knew she was mine all along but never once bothered to contact anyone.”
Xandra turns to face Chase and me, “Swab the kid so we can get on with it. Yeah, I could’ve contacted you, but at the time you didn’t seem like you were ready to be saddled with a kid.” She growls, making my blood boil. “You tend to come across irresponsible.”
“A couple of hours and a quick fuck doesn’t give you shit to judge me with.” I argue. “We’ll see where things lie, but I’ll tell you this lady.” I stand, walking over to Cam. “I’ll take care of my child, no matter what. I don’t want to miss more of her life. But get this one thing straight, my life is none of your business.” I say carefully.
“Whatever you want, sweetie.” She replies again, my comment not fazing her at all.
“How soon can we get the test done?” I ask, eager to get rid of this bitch.
“We can have that done now. There’s a man waiting in the front room with Henry and Mack. I should have the results back in the next day or so if we rush it along.”
“Perfect.” I reply before looking to Xandra, who is completely glued to her phone.
“She’s in the kitchen with Grayson and Daisy. They went looking for a snack.” Cam chimes in, when Xandra doesn’t even acknowledge me.
“Wait a minute.” I say, trying to wrap my head around this. “You just walk in here, trusting your kid with complete strangers? Do you not even care if she’s scared? Hell, she doesn’t know any of us. I probably should wait until the test comes back before I even meet her, just to spare her confusion just in case she isn’t mine. Hell Xandra, has she even been swabbed yet?”
“That’s nothing but a fucking formality. She’s yours Hunter, I’m not a complete whore.” Xandra bites out, still not meeting my eyes. “Besides, they’re yourfamilyso they shouldn’t be strangers to your daughter. Should they?”
“Says the groupie who boned the rock star, whilemarried.” I huff out a sarcastic laugh. “You’re a wealth of trust and virtue, Xandra.”
“What do you want from me, Hunter? Take the test, then we can all move on.” She bites back at me, finally meeting my eyes. Cam and Chase both hiss out a breath.
“I don’t want to be just more shit for a four year old to deal with.” I say throwing my hands up in frustration. “Just sayin’ it’s a sensitive topic, that’s all. This shouldn’t be about you or me; this should be all about her. I’m glad that the irresponsible one of us is watchin’ out for the bigger picture here.”
Without another word, I take Chase’s hand and walk from the dining room, heading straight into the kitchen. “Yummy.” The little voice stops me in my tracks the minute I enter the room.
Sitting on the counter with a tray of cookies, is a little girl in a frilly pink tu-tu with zebra print Converses. Long brown hair is pulled up in pigtails with pink ribbons, her face covered in icing. “Hi, Hunter.” Daisy says, with a sweet smile, a frosting covered apron now covering her blue sundress. “We arranged for groceries to be delivered earlier, so Jasmine and I were fixing a snack. Gray’s just eating.” Gray rolls his eyes, but the asshole is grinning. He is loving this shit.
Jasmine’s eyes fly up from the tray, deep brown like mine, and they knock the wind out of me. Chase squeezes my hand, encouraging me, silently, to get closer. “Hi Jasmine, my name’s Chase. I love your outfit.” Chase coos to her. “You look just like a princess.”
“I am a princess.” Jasmine replies, matter of fact. I can’t help chuckling at her smart ass. Looking up, she cocks her head studying me carefully. “Hi.” Is all I manage to get from her while she continues to figure me out.
“Hi, I’m Hunter.” I say nervously. “Did your mom tell you about me?” Still staring at me, Jasmine nods her answer.
“She’s so fuckin’ adorable it’s hard to believe she’s yours isn’t it?” Mack teases from behind me.
Both Chase and Daisy eyes go sinister at his comment, making me thankful I hadn’t said anything other than what I did. “Watch the language around the kid, man.” Gray grumbles angrily. “I’ve already been hit with the d-a-m-n frosting spoon.”
Daisy turns, smacking him with it again in the chest. “Spelling them is still saying them.”
“This is bullshit, I’m fucking leaving!” Xandra’s voice echoes from the next room.
“I guess somebody didn’t get the memo.” Gray shrugs, earning him another slap from Daisy. She looks at me, her eyes filling with concern.
“Why don’t we go see what’s goin’ on with mommy?” I ask, releasing Chase’s hand and hold out my arms for Jasmine. Thinking that, maybe, Xandra will calm down if maybe we go back in there.
Instead of taking my hands, she leaps into my arms, successfully covering the front of my shirt in pink frosting. “Do you have a puppy?” She asks, wrapping her legs around my waist before licking the rest of the frosting from her fingers.
“Nope, we just have Mack. He’s worse than a dog.” I deadpan, walking around the over six foot tall poutin’ puss. Chase follows us out, patting Mack’s shoulder while everyone else laughs.
“I’ve taken care of that kid for over four years with no help from him. Now, you expect me to drop everything I have planned to wait on shit? This is not my problem!” Xandra roars again. “Jasmine, we’re leaving. Now!”
“You better calm the hell down.” Aiden’s voice is stone cold.
“Chase, get Mack and take Jasmine downstairs for me, huh?” Looking into those sweet innocent eyes of the little girl in my arms, I force a smile. “Go see if there’s anything to play with downstairs, huh? I’ll go talk to your mommy and then be down soon.” I say, hoping to sound convincing. I’ve known this kid five minutes and I’m asking her to trust me over the only person in this house she does know.
“Don’t call her mommy.” Jasmine scolds, pointing her finger at me. A crease forms across her forehead, as she squints her eyes to drive the point home. “Xandra’s not that old.”
“Okaaaay,” I reply, not knowing whether to smile at the cute as hell kid, or be pissed that she can’t call her own mother ‘mommy’. “I’ll just go talk to Xandra, then I’ll be down to check on you and Chase, does that sound good?”
Luckily, Jasmine nods, going into Chase’s arms without a second thought. Mack must have heard, because he’s already waiting in the hallway. My eyes meet his, “They don’t leave your sight.” I mouth, getting a simple nod in return.
“Where’s Jasmine?” Xandra shouts, the minute she spots me. “You can’t leave the room and let that bitch start tellin’ me how this will go. It should be you and me discussing this.”
“You need to have some respect for the people you’re talkin’ to.” Aiden growls, wrapping his arms tighter around Cam.
Looking at Camaron, who seems to be ready to tear through my brother to get to Xandra if needed, I put up my hand. “Well shit, I’m just wingin’ it here.” I shrug when Xandra glares at me. “I just didn’t think the kid witnessing your melt-down was such a great idea. Just trying to be the responsible one for once that’s all. What exactly is the fuckin’ problem in here? If it were up to me, we’d be swabbin’ and dealing with this shit. you wanna argue instead of doin’ that?”
“Ms. Marshall wants to discuss some thingsbeforethe test even comes back. I was trying to explain that it’s in the best interest of all parties to wait: then we would figure out a way to handle everything fairly.” Cam spits angrily. “She’s nothing but a piece of rabid pussy that got lucky enough to get a piece of one of you.”
Xandra comes around the table toward me, grabbing my arm. “Hunter, I have a life to live. You can’t expect me to bend like this when…”
“When what, exactly?” I ask gritting my teeth, trying not to lose my temper. “You don’t want to figure out what’s best for your daughter; possibly our daughter? Why is that Xandra, she not worth it?” Her eyes widen, but I continue. “Oh, I get it. You were hoping I would pay you to go the fuck away. Maybe give you a quick, hard goodbye fuck during nap time? Well that’s not how this is gonna go.” Yanking my arm away from her, I pin her with a stare just as her phone rings in her pocket.
“That’s not it at all, Hunter. I just,” she stops midsentence when her phone goes off again. Yanking it from her pocket, she turns away from me thumbing a message.
Patience gone, I yank it from her fingers to scan the screen. “You’ve gotta be kidding me.” Walking around the table, I have to remind myself that I can’t shatter this damn phone against the wall. “She wants to leave her with me.”
“What?” Cam and Aiden both look at me in shock. I hand the phone over to Cam, and nod while they read the same text I read:Dump the kid already. The clubs are open soon.
“Huh, how about that, brother,” I laugh, “a mother who doesn’t give a shit.”
“I’ve been dealin’ with this for years, all while you’ve been busy livin’ the high life.” Xandra argues, as if that makes her abandoning Jasmine okay. “It’s time for you to handle this shit so that I can live my life for once.”
“Your priorities are amazing, I’ll give you that much.” Daisy snaps, stomping into the room. Gray hot on her heels, but he is not fast enough. “Sick, manipulating bitch.” Daisy lunges at Xandra, slapping her across the face. “That little girl doesn’t even know who Hunter is, and you want to drop her off like this is a fucking kennel!” Gray and Henry grab her, as she continues her rant, hauling her to the other side of the room before Xandra can hit her back. “What kind of mother are you?”
“One that lost everything, all because of one stupid mistake. You’ll see soon enough too.” Xandra says pointing at Daisy’s belly before glaring at me. “All I wanted was a few drunken flings, I didn’t ask for this. I’m only twenty seven years old. I deserve to have my fun too. You’re out partying every night, living your life while I’m at home taking care of a toddler. I get to see photos of your drunken ass, buried in tits, splattered all over every magazine in the check-out lane.”
“What is it that you didn’t ask for, slut?” Daisy roars, trying to get free of Henry and Gray’s hold on her. “We all know you were beggin’ for any scraps you could get from the guys. That ended up giving you an adorable little girl that you don’t deserve, because you’re too worried about yourself. Selfish bitch.”
The fact that she would dismiss her own child over something so self-centered, hits home. Not that our mother dumped Aiden and I off on someone so that she could chase free drinks and dicks, but the sting is just as painful. Hell, my mom may have not been perfect, but I guess she did the best she could, given the circumstances. Anger rushes through my veins at the thought of Xandra referring to Jasmine as ‘one stupid mistake’. Would my mother have referred to Aiden and me as mistakes? Regrets? Hell, I was shocked and freaked out, but shit, even I would never call a kid amistake.
Looking around the room, I throw up my hands. “Swab me; then draw up something for her to sign. I want my ass covered just in case.” Looking at Xandra, I bite back my disgust. “You gonna be able to sleep at night knowin’ you’re dumpin’ your kid into the arms of damn near strangers?” She shrugs, giving me my answer. “Fine. Not my problem that you’re a bitch, that’s all on you. Once that test comes back tomorrow sayin’ she’s mine, you can hit the bricks for good.”
Xandra nods, but stays silent, along with everyone else in the room as an old, bald man takes a sample from inside of my cheek with a couple long ass Q-tip looking swabs. Once he sticks it into a tube and marks it with my name, he does the same to Xandra. “Jasmine’s downstairs, I’ll take you down so you can get hers.” I clarify, and start to go down the hall, stopping only long enough to grab our bags and tell Henry to show Xandra out once she has signed the appropriate paperwork to leave Jasmine with me. There is no way I am letting her leave with that woman again if I don’t have to, not even for tonight.
Once we get downstairs, I use a towel from the kitchenette to clean the icing from Jasmine’s hands and face. “There that’s better.” I say with a smile.
Jasmine jumps off the chair, and runs around the room looking at everything. Our downstairs digs are a pretty great set-up. Way better than the cramped up bus the guys are used to and more cozy than a hotel. There’s a living room with a kitchenette, two bedrooms¸ with an adjoining bathroom. Hunter had told me he hadn’t had a ‘home’ in years, so I am glad they have this now, even for a little while.
“I want more cookies!” Jasmine exclaims, running around the counter. “Cookies!”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, kid. You’re already runnin’ around like a crack-head.” Mack harrumphs, collapsing onto the couch. “How ‘bout a nap?”
“When you’re this many.” Jasmine explains, holding up four fingers with purple nails. “You don’t have to take naps.”
“Mack, why don’t you find something on television for her to watch?” I ask, looking around, knowing that there is nothing for her to play with.
The door flies open, making me jump. Hunter thumps down the steps with our stuff followed by an older man. “Hey, Jasmine.” Hunter says dropping the bags in the corner. Walking over, he swoops her up into his arms, making me melt a little at the sight of him holding her again. “This guy is sorta like a doctor. Once we’re done here, how about we go get some stuff for you?”
Jasmine’s eyes light up, “Toys?”
“Yeah, alright.” Hunter replies, plopping her onto the counter. “We’ll be here for a while, so sure. Whatever you want.”
Once Hunter and the doctor, are dealing with swabbing Jasmine, I make a getaway into the bedroom. A minute to think things out and clean up a bit is just what I need. Yesterday, all I wanted was Hunter to see things differently. Now that he does, everything is changing so fast I can barely keep up. I can handle everything that comes along with him, and I plan to. Just wish I could breathe in-between bombshells.
“You okay?” Hunter’s voice pulls me from my thoughts.
“Yeah, I’m fine honey.” I answer, walking out of the bathroom just in time to see him closing the door behind him. “How’d that go?” I ask, but pretty much have an idea that it didn’t go as he expected.
“Xandra only came to dump her off on me.” Hunter blurts, tugging his icing covered shirt over his head and tosses it to the floor. “Says that this ‘mistake’ has kept her from all the fun she could be having. That it’s my turn now.”
My heart breaks over Hunter’s recap of everything I missed upstairs. I hurt for the little girl who was abandoned by the only parent she’s known, up until now. Who is too concerned with getting to something they considered more important than their own child. More than anything, I would love to get my hands on that bitch and give her a couple ass beatings for tossing away her little girl, like my father had done with me. Luckily, I didn’t get forced from my home; plus, Luke was always there for me. Even when my mom put us on the back burner, he always took care of me, but Jasmine is different. She has been dropped into this life, with people she doesn’t even know, and is just expected to trust us all immediately. Poor kid, I would have been terrified.
“So what happens now?” I ask him.
Hunter walks across the room, running his hands up my arms. “I’m doing this. Test will be back tomorrow or whatever, but anyone can tell by looking at her that she’s mine. Xandra abandoned her, I won’t do that. Ever.”
My heart expands, as if I could love this man more. Pushing up on my toes, I kiss his lips tenderly. “I love when I’m right, you know?”
Hunter smiles, against my lips. “Really? What would you be right about?” He asks, wrapping his arms around my waist, pulling me to him.
Our bodies pressed together, frazzles my thinking a little. I struggle to gather my thoughts. “You’re a lot better man than you give yourself credit for, Hunter.”
Instead of a reply, his mouth covers mine. The kiss is sweet and slow, as if he is savoring me. The warmth in his touch, something that Hunter has never given me before. Our tongues slide along one another, teasingly. His rough fingers slide up, cupping the back of my head. Effectively holding my body against his, as if he is worried I would run. A sigh escapes my lips, making him groan in desperation. “Can’t.” He says pulling back, but I’m not sure if he is talking to me or himself. “Let’s go grab dinner; we can pick up some stuff for the kid.”
“Sure,” I reply, walking with him toward the bedroom door. “What does Jasmine need?” I ask, not knowing what Xandra sent for her or if he even knows himself.
“Looks like Xandra didn’t leave shit. Didn’t even mention wanting to say goodbye to her own kid.” Hunter whispers, angrily. “I feel like shit. If I’d known…” He trails off. Grabbing a clean shirt, he yanks it over his head, covering most of the ink I love so much.
“Well you didn’t; that’s on her, not you. Nothing you can do about it but show Jasmine you’re here now.”
Hunter swings open the door and both of us burst into laughter. Mack is on all fours, while Jasmine steadies herself on his back. Riding him through the living room like a horse, “Go faster, Uncle Mack.” She commands between giggles, hanging onto his ponytail. Her face lighting up when he moves around the chair toward us.
“All the ladies around here are so bossy.” Mack snaps, bouncing to make Jasmine jiggle. She squeals an excited cackle, as he fumbles across the carpet on his hands and knees.
“Uncle Mack, huh?” Hunter asks, “That was fast.”
Mack rolls his hips, causing Jasmine to tumble onto the couch. “Well, I figure if I bribe her with enough cookies and fun shit, maybe one woman around here will give me kisses.”
“Language, cuntbiscuit.” Hunter snarls.
“I don’t kiss boys! Eww.” Jasmine huffs in shock, crossing her arms over her chest. She scrunches her nose in disgust, the same way Hunter does. “I only kiss princes.”
“I bet you’re hungry, huh Jasmine? After we eat, we can go shopping.” I say, grabbing my purse off the chair.
With that Jasmine leaps off of the couch, grabbing both Hunter’s hand and mine. “Bye Uncle Mack.”
Hunter laughs when Mack rolls his eyes before standing to his feet. “I’m goin’ too, beautiful.”
Looking between Hunter and Mack, I nod shakily. Even though we lost the cameras earlier, any time the guys go out in public now it’s pretty certain there will be chaos. Their faces are plastered all over the magazines and every social media site, now. It’s what they always wanted: fame, recognition. “Price to pay for everything, babe.” Hunter whispers against my ear, almost as if reading my thoughts. They are being recognized for being as talented as they are, but the price is privacy. Grabbing hoodies and sunglasses from our bags, we attempt to be incognito, and head upstairs.
Everyone else is gathered around the table diving into pizzas and chicken wings. Daisy eyes light up when she sees Jasmine between Hunter and I. “We’re goin’ out spooners! So you’ll have to find a way to enjoy your night without us to spice it up.” Hunter says, scrunching his nose up at Daisy’s salad. “I’m allergic to that healthy shit.”
I bite back a giggle at the look on his face, since it was the same look Jasmine made just minutes ago. “I’m going shopping.” Jasmine says, bouncing in place.
Henry looks up from a pizza box, expectantly. “Mack already volunteered to go with.” Hunter answers, before Big Man says anything.
“Should be fine, I suppose.” Big Man agrees, while dousing a slice in hot sauce. “I plan on eatin’ my dinner, plus Katheryn’s on her way.” He grins, the fact that Henry is relaxing enough to focus on anything other than protecting everyone is shocking. Though it’s about time.
“The pizza joint has an ‘Inferno Pie.’” Aiden explains. “Pepper Jack Cheese, they even use hot sauce instead of pizza sauce, and top it with every meat and pepper available.”
“The heat is so bad they wear goggles while bakin’ it.” Cam adds making Hunter’s eyes light up.
“Share the wealth Big Man.” Hunter says, inching toward the box. “Is there bacon on it? I could be persuaded to eat a slice if there’s bacon.” Henry slams the box closed, shaking his head.
“Go take the ladies shopping, be sure to buy Mack a new purse for his bridge game at the Seniors’ Center.” Gray says, slapping the table, unable to hide his amusement.
“Yeah,” Aiden chimes in. “He’s a real ladies’ man. Got ‘em swoonin’ between sewin’ circles. Hell, I bet he can get a mic stand full of bras at Bingo Night just as fast as Hunter can at any show.”
“You two are such assholes.” Cam scolds, rolling her eyes. “Don’t worry Mack, the post on the fan page was only seen by a few thousand before I got it taken down. It wouldn’t have been that many if someone hadn’t linked it to every senior dating page in the Tennessee Valley.”
“You posted what?” Mack shouts, looking between Hunter and Aiden. Instantly, Jasmine’s hand tightens around mine. A tremor runs down her body, as she scoots behind me to hide.
“It was a joke man. Just a little necessary pay back. We made you a little profile on the site too, with a photo shopped pic. Real classy like.” Aiden defends.
Everyone is going about their business. Eating, talking, and making fun of Mack as he explodes about being in the running for ‘Hunk of the Month’ on SaggingShaggers.com; completely missing the little girl freaking out over here. Memories flood my mind, making me way too emotional. The things I’ve spent years pushing back come flooding to the front. Desertion, rage, hurt, and resentment all churn in my veins. What I thought didn’t exist in me, feelings that I thought I had let go of long ago, stand front and center now. All because of this sweet little girl that has been put through more in just the time that I’ve known her than any one deserves. Right now, I would give anything to be judge, jury, and executioner for Xandra, my father and any other worthless parent out there who has higher priorities than their own children.
I don’t, of course, blame Hunter. Too much. He’s just coming into the realization of having a child. Just like everyone in the group, they are used to being loud as hell, and not afraid to toss out insults and argue about trivial shit. None of it matters, tomorrow they will be on to the next stupid prank, but all Jasmine knows is they are yelling. Loud. Which, by the way Xandra acted earlier, I assume Jasmine has seen a lot of fighting.
“Hunter,” I mutter, trying to get his attention.
“It’s not so bad, man.” He keeps talking. “You’ll make a nice pension kept bitch.”
“Hunter, you need to-” Daisy says, taking notice of Jasmine and then no doubt, my look of panic.
“I’ll get your ass back for this, both of you.” Mack roars, interrupting Daisy. “What if my grandmother sees that?”
Jasmine whimpers, and I lose it. “Hunter!” I explode. Everyone stops mid-sentence, all eyes on me. Releasing her hold on Hunter, Jasmine grips my hand with both of hers now. Obviously just as shocked at my outburst as everyone else in the room who are now waiting on an explanation. However, the last thing I am going to do is go into a wounded tirade. “You know what, never mind. We’ll be out in the ‘Burban.” Lifting Jasmine into my arms, I hurry from the room; ignoring Hunter and Cam pleading for me to come back. My only thought is to get Jasmine out of there.
Take Notes, Quiz To Follow
“What the hell? Is she that excited to go shopping?” Mack asks, scratching his head.
“Do I look like a mind reader?” I snap, staring down the hallway as if it held the answers. Chase just exploded, storming out with the kid to the car.
“Nope, but it looks like you need to buy a clue while you’re out shopping.” Daisy snorts. The entire room goes quiet again, except for Cam clicking her tongue in agreement with Daisy. “Better take notes, because you’re messin’ up Hunter.”
“Big time. Jasmine was huddled behind Chase like a wounded pup.” Cam explains, while Daisy just nods, her face sad. “Chase, noticing the fear running through that poor, sweet, baby girl, went into protective mode.”
“Momma bear.” Daisy says, nodding in agreement again.
“Scared?” I mutter before blowing out a harsh breath. “Shit.” I could kick my own ass, and Mack’s. “Jasmine doesn’t know us, so our joking and shouting scared her, didn’t it?” When I get nothing but a few shrugs from the peanut gallery, I grit my teeth in frustration. “Here it’s supposed to be me reassuring her that she doesn’t have to be scared, and I can’t even get that right.”
“It’s an adjustment, for all of us.” Cam says standing to her feet. Walking over she pats my shoulder. “Don’t be so hard on yourself, Hunter. That’s the great thing about love, there’s so much room for learning and forgiveness. Nothing’s built in one night.”
“She’s right, Hunter.” Daisy says, tearing up. Oh shit.
“No tears, baby momma, please.” I beg, making the guys chuckle. “I love you ladies like my damn sisters, but I’m man enough to admit that if you start up the waterworks, I’m gonna act like a broken rubber and head out.”
“Get the hell outta here already.” Henry says through a mouthful of pizza. “Katheryn and I plan to makerealgood use of my easy night since it’s just the ‘spooners’ here.”
“Alright, let’s go Mack.” I groan, starting down the hall.
“I prefer to think of myself as more of a sporker…” Mack says, opening the front door. “I can be soft and supportive like a good spooner should be, but I come packin’ a helluva fork when the time’s right.”
Ignoring Mack, I hurry down the walk to the ‘Burban where Chase sits with the door open, cradling Jasmine in her arms. “I’m sorry.” I whisper softly, once I reach them. I don’t know who I’m apologizing to more, but the tear stains on both sets of eyes level me to the ground.I don’t do tears. Yeah, I say that a lot too. Let me buy you ice cream, give you anything you want, just don’t cry!
“Hey, beautiful.” Mack coos to Jasmine, who just huddles closer to Chase, burying her face in her chest. “Let’s get buckled up, huh?” Grabbing the only thing Xandra did leave, a raggedy ass booster seat, from Mack, I wave him off.
“I got it, man.”
“Alright.” He replies, walking around the car.
“Hey baby girl, don’t cry.” I soothe, when I touch her arm and feel her tremble. “I’m sorry, no one’s used to havin’ a little girl around. We’ve all gotta adjust, but I promise any one of us would rather cut off our arm than hurt you. No one will raise their voice at you like that, ever.”
Jasmine’s eyes peek at me over Chase’s arm. “What do you want for dinner?” I ask, when she sniffles.
“Anything?” She asks, perking up instantly. I realize, in this moment, that I’d give anything to put this look on her face every day of my life. To see the smile that looks so much like mine did growing up. Brown eyes that are the exact same color as Aiden’s and mine, lighting up with excitement at the suggestion she gets to choose where we go. She’s a piece of me, not dark and fucked up, but innocent. How could one night of meaningless sex result in something so priceless?
Pride, joy and love, real fucking love, for both the women in front of me, overwhelms me. Before today, I never thought about having kids. It just wasn’t in the plans. Why would I want to mess up a kid with the craziness that is my life? Here she is though, a four year old child and now I am responsible for her every need. Part of me is scared shitless, afraid of losing them; letting them in only to be hurt in the end. The other part, the Hunter that I’m not used to being, is standing ten fucking feet tall and feeling bulletproof.
“Anything you want.” Chase says, snapping me from my epiphany.
“Can we have bacon?” She asks, pouting her lip.
Snatching her up off of Chase’s lap, I smile like a kid on Christmas. “One thing you’ll learn about me is I’ll never say no to bacon, Jazzie.”
Leaning down I brush my lips over Chase’s. “I’m sorry, babe.” Chase moves over, so I can shove the booster into the back beside her, a sweet smile spreading across her face. Once Jasmine is buckled in, I hop up front with Mack and we start toward the gate, passing Katheryn’s enormous truck barreling down the driveway on our way out.
Half an hour later, I am sitting next to Mack at a diner with Chase and Jasmine. The girls sit coloring on an extra placemat the waitress brought out with crayons when we came in. I can’t help staring at the two of them together. “Can her hair be pink, Chase?” Jasmine asks, pointing to the dog Chase drew on the back of the page.
Chase’s smile spreads, “Absolutely, is there a better color than pink, Jazzie?”
“No!” She exclaims, bouncing in her chair. “Pink’s the bestest!”
The girl has the Chesterfield mentality, that’s for sure. Her moods change quickly, going from one extreme to the other. Aiden and I were like that; we adapted quick, and reacted quicker. Whether it is genetics or survival instinct that has her acting this way, I figure it’s best to find out. Tomorrow, I’ll find out if we can dig a little bit into how things were for her. Nothing I can do about it now, but doesn’t stop the fact that I need to know how Xandra treated her.
Jasmine may not be upset anymore, but Chase is a different story. Tiger Lily’s eyes never leave Jasmine or the paper. Not even when we order; do her eyes meet mine, or anyone else’s for that matter.
In case you hadn’t guessed, I don’t fucking like it.
“Mack,” I blurt, nudging him in the arm. Yanking out my wallet, I thrust some bills at him. “Take this and let Jazzie win somethin’.”
Jasmine’s eyes fly up from the page to the claw machines lined up on the wall. “Can I really?”
“Yeah, knock yourself out ‘til the food comes.” I manage to get out before she leaps from her chair and grabs Mack’s hand.
“‘Mon Uncle Mack!”
Once Mack has her attention on the machine, I slide my chair around closer to Chase. “Wanna tell me what’s up with you, babe?”
Chase continues scribbling on the paper. “Nothing. Everything’s fine.”
“Bull-shittin’ the king bull-shitter is a bad idea.” I say just above a whisper so that Jasmine doesn’t hear. “The kid gettin’ upset fucked with your head. That much I can tell without even askin.’ What I do wanna know is why, babe?”
“Fine.” She huffs, finally meeting my eyes. Leaning back in the chair she crosses her arms over her chest, pushing her perfect tits up against the top of that tank top. “If you know so much, then you tell me.”
“Not how this is gonna go, babe.” I reply, knowing that she’s just baiting me into an argument to keep from feeling what she felt earlier.I’m the king of spinning shit around to keep the emotions at bay too.A well placed joke or smart remark will get you out of a lot, but not this time.“I just assumed when you said: ‘If we’re gonna do this Hunter, that’s how it has to be. No secrets, no lies, and all that stuff.’” I shrug, mocking her voice. “Kinda just assumed that was gonna go both ways, is all. What happened to figurin’ out shit together?”
“Don’t throw that shit back at me, Hunter.” She bites out, standing to her feet. “One day of bein’ in a relationship doesn’t make you an expert.” Turning on her heel, Chase heads toward the bathrooms.
Any other time, I would sit here ‘til the bacon comes or find a bitch to blow me while I wait. Up ‘til now, drama would make a chick off limits. I’d simply turn to another of my ‘Three B’s’ and move on. Which usually consisted of; inhaling a bunch of bacon and diving into a bottle of booze, only leading to more and more nameless bitches. Eat, drink, fuck, rinse and repeat, pretty much the story of my life. Vicious cycle, I know. But, until now, it didn’t bother me. Hell, at one time those moments were all that got me through when I wasn’t on stage. No one gave a shit about anything I had to say being meaningful, unless I was singing.
Pushing from the table, I walk by Jasmine and Mack. Jerking my head in the direction of the bathroom, I let him know where I’m heading. My plan is to stand outside the bathroom and wait for Chase to come out before I call her on her shit again. That is until I hear her crying through the door. Hoping to hell there is no other chick in the bathroom, I fling the door open. Chase stands at the sink, not moving to face me.
“I’m not running from this and you’re not takin’ the easy way out of a hard conversation.” I say matter of fact. “Talk to me, Tiger Lily.”
Jerking around, she crosses the floor toward me. Her face is tear stained, the thought that I helped cause that stings. The only time I’ve felt worse was in Nashville when I lied. I watched from the bathroom while she grabbed her shit crying just like this. I wish that I had gone after her then; maybe she would trust me more now. Her eyes flash with anger, pain, and fear; slashing me to the bone.
“What do you wanna know Hunter?” She snaps, shoving my chest with both hands. Feisty woman is tiny as hell, but I wobble with the force. “That I was Jasmine? Because my dad wanted his good time more than he wanted a family. I look at that little girl and see myself. He left me in the driveway after I clung to his leg begging him to stay.” She pushes against my chest again, a sob rumbles up from her chest. “It hurts to be abandoned. To think you aren’t loved by the ones that should love you no matter what, Hunter. Being so afraid because you don’t know what’s gonna happen now; Jazzie doesn’t deserve that!”
I can’t take the distance anymore. Grabbing her shoulders, I pull Chase into my arms, hugging her tightly against me. “Neither did you, babe.” I reply, because shit, that’s the last thing I ever expected to hear.
My entire childhood, I prayed for my father to leave us and never come back. I didn’t know what it felt like to have anything like a family until I was thirteen years old. Henry started it all by taking Aiden and me in when he didn’t have to. At the time, I remember thinking I would have run like hell at what Henry embraced without a second thought.
“We all have our pasts Chase; those things make us who we are now. The good, the bad and the totally fucked up, all mix together. You gotta embrace it all, and let it go. It’s no secret that my childhood was horrific, but it’s the past and I don’t let myself live there anymore. If I did, the anger would consume me. What he did to me, to Aiden, it should’ve broken me. I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. That bastard never got one fuckin’ tear from me. No one ever has.”
“We sure are a pair, you and me.” Chase admits. “At least we can say we’re better people than they were, huh? I couldn’t just walk away from my own child. I don’t think you could either. It means too much.”
Explaining how I feel about everything Aiden and I went through is something I don’t really do. I have no problem with people knowing what happened, it wasn’t my fault. But how it affected me; that’s a topic that I’ve never talked about. I’m a pro at skirting around the tough subjects. Toss out a joke, shrug it off, and move on. “Yeah.” I murmur.
“God, you must think I’m crazy.” She laughs uneasily.
“Nope, but I do feel sorry for your dad, and any other asshole who’s stupid enough to miss out on any of this we’ve got goin’ on babe.” Tipping her chin up, I meet those hazel eyes, rimmed with red. My chest tightens, squeezing my heart like a fist. Any other woman would have me running the other way if she teared up. Here I am, wanting to kiss away every goddamn tear Chase has ever cried. What the fuck is happening to me?
Pushing the feelings that are so close to pouring out back down to deal with later, I cup her face in my hands. Chase stunned me, the pain she keeps hidden was the last thing I expected to hear. I came in here expecting to get my ass ripped for scaring my kid, or being a prick at the table. Instead, she gave me a piece of her that I can tell she doesn’t freely give to just anyone. It means something to her, which makes it important to me.
I can feel the strings tying me to her, linking our hearts and our lives to each other. Right now, we’re more vulnerable than I’m okay with. This moment is going to change everything, whether I like it or not. I’m falling hard for Chase Hanlon, and I’ll probably never be able to tell her. Tossing it out at Cam or Daisy is nothing special, but saying and meaning it, that’s something I’ve never done. Chase deserves to hear the words. She deserves for me to mean them.
Right now, in a shitty diner bathroom, I have a decision to make. I can keep running after the life I thought was making me happy, endless pussy and booze that only ends in an empty bed and hangover… Or, I can embrace the possible happiness that has been chasing me for months. I can start trying for a chance to be satisfied with my life. Not just with the kid, or even Chase, but the band too. Fight for my place.
Bending down, I do what I’ve wanted to do since I walked into the bathroom; I crush my mouth to hers. The taste of her lips, wet from her tears, is enough to fucking unman me. The words she said earlier coming back, hitting me square in the chest.‘If you believe in it that much, if you want it that much, fucking fight for it.’Looking beside the obvious; being with Chase and raising the kid, taking my place with the band comes to mind again. To be more than just the damn voice, yeah it’s important. I believe in it, I want these things more than I’ve ever wanted anything. Singing a song on stage that I’ve written, giving the crowd a piece of me that they have never seen. The real me. Yeah, it’s being vulnerable in a way I never have been, they could hate it.
Later, I will talk to the guys. If necessary, fight for the shot to prove myself. But right now, I kiss my girl with everything I have. Knowing that it’s her faith in me shining the light on what I kept locked away in the dark for so long. I tend to come across as a cocky bastard when it comes to my voice or my dick, but other than that, I was playing it safe. Not anymore. Looks like it’s time to shit or get off the damn pot.
Once again Hunter leaves me speechless. One thing that drew me to him was his ability to shock and awe me at every turn. Though, I’ll admit when my emotions went into a tailspin, I expected him to just let me be. Needless to say, I didn’t know how to react when he came barreling into the ladies room. Now with his lips pressed against mine, my knees go weak beneath me. Hunter wasn’t just kissing me; it was as if he was claiming ownership.
“Oh, damn babe,” Hunter groans against my mouth. “You’re vibrating with need.”
Pulling back, I shove him. “That’s my phone.” Rolling my eyes, I fish it from my pocket. “Hello?” I say into it once I see Luke’s name on the screen.
“Good to know that if my sister doesn’t call me to let me know she lands safely I can always look her up online.” He grounds out through the phone. “Chase, seriously, they have shit here in Vegas of you helping that drunk asshole to a van. Then don’t get me started on the video from the airport. What the fuck is going on?”
“Careful Luke, you’re not getting away with talkin’ bad about someone I love.” I growl out, making Hunter’s eyes widen. “The band is getting bigger, Luke, it comes with the territory.” I reply, brushing it off even though I don’t like it at all.
“Yeah, whatever. I’ll bet it does. Listen, there’s this page called ‘stroketheSHAFT.com’. Some ladies were in here earlier talking about it. Pictures, video, whatever they can find on any of them, even the girls. Some of this stuff is pretty bad. Hell, Sis it’s a site dedicated to ‘exposing the worst’ of them. I mean that’s not hard with pretty boy, but you better watch yourself.”
“Hunter and I will have a look, thank you Luke.” I say, making Hunter’s eyes meet mine curiously.
“You need me; I’m there in five hours baby girl. No questions asked.” His voice softens. No matter how much of a commanding asshole my brother tries to be, it’s only because he is trying to protect me. It’s what he’s always done. “I love you Chase.”
“Love you too, Luke.” I reply, but he’s already hung up.
“What the hell was that about?” Hunter asks, taking my hand and walking toward the door.
“Not good news.” I answer. “Let’s get back out there; we’ll look while we eat.”
By the time we get back to the table, Jasmine has a half dozen stuffed animals surrounding her while she eats. Mack looks up from his burger, a scowl on his face. “Seriously, that’s just mean.” He huffs. “Saddle me with the kid, while you take a ‘potty break’. I thought we were friends, Hunter.”