Rock My Body is the fourth and final book in the Black Falcon series and focuses on the Black Falcon bassist, Tyke Douglas.
About Rock My Body
Tyke Douglas is tired of being the glue that holds the hottest band in the world together. If the rest of the guys are out doing their own thing, then why shouldn’t he? He’s about to turn things up a notch and bring a whole new level of crazy into Black Falcon’s world.
Francine Mead is putting her sordid past behind her and is determined to help others overcome their demons alongside her. The first step in her new life is taking a job as an addiction counselor, where she can mentor others through their struggles. Francine never expected to be lured back into temptation when her first sexy celebrity client, Tyke Douglas walks through her door. The moment she lays eyes on him, she’s in trouble.
Both Tyke and Francine know a relationship between them would be a disaster, but with each session, things continue to heat up, making it impossible to deny the connection they share. Boundaries cross, attractions heighten and both of their willpower’s will be tested to the very limit.
The Prologue & Chapter One
One Year Ago…
I nod my head to the beat, glad that, for once, we are in our element in playing to a sold-out crowd.
I’m not exactly sure where everything started falling apart. Wait…that’s a lie. I know exactly when my blissful happiness began to deteriorate. It was the day Riff brought a woman on our bus for a long-term stay. A woman who fucked everything up and started Black Falcon on our downward spiral.
One day things were great—every guy in the band practically floating on cloud nine and all that shit—but somehow in the midst of our happiness and living out our life-long dream, things turned to shit. Sophie, Riff’s temporary fuck-of-the-month, single handedly drove a wedge into our foundation and rocked our ship by claiming she one-nighted Noel and was knocked up by him. For a while, I wasn’t even sure if the band would make it, but we did, ironically, with the help of two women, Lanie Vance and Aubrey Jenson. They were all right chicks at first, but eventually became thorns in my side too. Noel and Riff are so lovesick; they can’t see that their constant need to “take a break” for “family time” is destroying us.
My twin brother, Trip, used to look at the situation like I do. He wasn’t happy about the disappearing acts that both Noel and Riff insisted on pulling all the damn time. That was until my baby brother took it upon himself to seek out other interests besides the band. He not only found a dirt bike track to invest his money into, he also found a chick to invest his time into. He had to go and fall for the fucking track owner’s daughter, Holly. After that, he had a change of heart, and started empathizing with my other bandmates.
All of them.
Black Falcon might as well be a label-made band like those Embrace the Darkness douchebags who are always trying to upstage us and ride our coattails. Like them, we don’t really give a fuck about each other anymore. Seems like this band is nothing more than a paycheck, which is sad. When we all vibe well together, magic truly happens.
Trip pounds out the last few beats of the song and the crowd explodes, instantly begging for more.
This is what I love. There isn’t any other feeling like it in the world. Nothing can ever top this rush, but because our performances are so few and far between, I’ve been forced to find other things that really get my blood pumping.
When my eyes lock with my twin’s green ones, we both have the biggest grins on our face, I know he loves this, too—the euphoric energy from the crowd.
How can he not miss this?
How can he put anything above this? How can any of them?
Our band’s front man, Noel Falcon, chuckles into the mic as he stares out into the crowd. “Damn. You fuckers are insane. We’ve got one more song left for you.” He pauses, running his hand through his dark hair, giving the twenty thousand bodies here to see us perform time to respond, their screaming getting louder and louder. “I feel the love.” He readjusts his mic stand. “Since we’re all friends here, I’m gonna tell you all a little story about a girl who shredded my heart back in high school without any hesitation. It’s called ‘Ball Busting Bitch’. If you’ve ever had your heart fucked over by a woman, sing along.”
Noel smirks and the laughter in his eyes is evident. Ever since he married Lanie Vance, it’s pretty funny to see him keep up appearances with this song—even though he’s madly in love with that ball buster.
Trip kicks up the beat, and I thump away on the strings of my bass, creating our signature dark and dirty beat while we wait on Riff to join us, who makes the lead guitar scream like a woman in heat.
I close my eyes as the rhythm of our biggest hit pulses through my body. Music is the one thing I can completely lose myself in. When I’m in the moment, feeling the beat, I’m untouchable; nothing else matters but the way each note engulfs my soul, scorching itself onto me permanently, reminding me that music is what I live for. It’s what I was born to do.
I slide my fingers down the thick strings, finding the sweet spot, and slap them hard with the thumb on the opposite hand. My head rocks back and forth as I play the hell out of the song. I can’t remember a time that we’ve ever sounded better.
Surely, they’ll want to celebrate like old times after this show—the four of us together, cracking open a few cold ones and just being together.
That’s what I miss the most.
The final notes in the song play out, ending our forty-five minute set, and Noel shouts, “You’ve all been a fucking beautiful crowd. Thank you!”
As soon as my eyes snap open, they land on my brother, tossing his drumsticks into the crowd while Noel and Riff exit the stage. And just like that, the song disappears, taking my euphoria along with it, and the warmth I was just feeling is completely gone from my heart, replaced by an arctic chill.
What’s their big fucking hurry?
I set my bass down on the stand and follow Trip off the stage. The remnants of the crowd’s energy still linger in my veins, and I’m ready to burn it off and party with my buddies.
I throw my arm around my twin’s neck as we make our way backstage. “Where are we partying tonight, baby brother?”
Trip shakes his head and smiles as his eyes drift off like he’s thinking of something else. “Can’t, man. Holly just flew in, and she’s waiting for me at the hotel.”
I sigh and pull my arm away. “You suck. Can’t you see her after we go out for a while? I need my wingman.”
“Wish I could, but I can’t let my girl down. Besides, it’s been two weeks since I’ve seen her.” He gives me a quick jab to the ribs. “Stop frowning, Sunshine. We’ll do something soon. Promise.”
I roll my eyes. “That’s what you always say, but it never fucking happens. Just go the fuck back to your girl and forget about me.”
Trip’s brow furrows. “What the fuck’s with the attitude? Are you pissed that I’m happy.”
My lip rises as my face contorts with disgust. “No, I’m not pissed that you’re happy.”
“Then what the fuck is the problem? You’ve been nothing but a drunken asshole most of the time I’m around lately, so why in the hell do you even care that I want to spend some time with my girl? It’s obvious that you’re perfectly capable of partying on your own. You don’t need me for that.”
I blow out a rush of air through my nose. Starting a fight with him wasn’t my intention. But doesn’t he see what spending all his time with his woman is doing to the band?
Do any of them see?
Jesus, it’s like we have three fucking Yoko Onos, yet no one sees the problem here except me. These women are dictating the future of this band. It’s all going to fall apart, but it’s like all of them are too fucking pussy-whipped to see it happening right before their own eyes.
Noel and Riff walk over toward us, both wearing perplexed expressions.
“What are you two dipshits fighting over now?” Riff mocks. “Can’t you assholes just kiss and make up. The tension between you two lately has been fucking ridiculous. What’s up?”
Trip shakes his head. “Nothing’s wrong. My brother is just acting like a chick here, crying about how I never spend time with him anymore.”
I scrub my hand down my face, not wanting to waste any more of my time. “Fuck it. I’m out of here.”
I can’t get into this with them. None of them will ever see things like I do, so there’s no point in even trying to reason with them.
I turn toward the exit, and I hear the guys calling my name but don’t bother to turn around. If none of them care what happens to Black Falcon then why should I?
I’m done being the goddamn babysitter of the group: keeping everyone on task and writing eighty percent of the music. It’s time I start living my life and forget I give a fuck, too.
The pounding in my skull irelentless. Holy fuck. What in the hell did I get myself into last night? The last thing I remember is being at the club that Lou, one of the roadies, dragged me to. Everything else is fuzzy as shit.
I rub my eyes as I try to remember, but a loud buzz echoes around the room and keeps me from focusing on anything but the God-awful sound.
What the fuck?
I peel my eyes open and blink hard as my gaze lands first, on a brick wall, then, a small window with bars on it. I push myself up slowly, studying the unusual window as I try to get my bearings. After my eyes slide around every inch of the room and find nothing but bars surrounding me, blocking my freedom, my heart rate kicks up a notch, and the panic sets in.
How in the hell did I wind up in jail?
I push myself to my feet and wobble a split second before I regain my balance. Whatever I drank last night is still obviously in my system. My feet shuffle toward the bars, and I wrap my fingers around the cold steel. I strain my neck to look down the long hall, but all I hear is the sound of other prisoners talking. I need some answers.
I press my head against the bars. “Guards? Hey? Guards!”
Heavy footsteps fall down the concrete hallway, each step coming closer to the small cell I’m stuck in.
A gray-haired guard dressed in a dark blue uniform that’s a size too small wears a scowl on his plump face as he sets his stern eyes on me. “You need something?”
My shoulders stiffen, and I’m instantly riled by his tone, especially considering I don’t have the foggiest idea why I’m here. “Yeah. What in the hell am I in here for?”
The guard sighs heavily. “DUI. We picked you up last night on I-95 swerving all over the lanes.”
My shoulders slack and I push back from the bars but still hang on and drop my head. “Fuck. Does my brother know to come and get me?”
“Doubtful. You were too toasted to make your phone call last night. You kept fighting us off you, so we tossed you in here to sleep it off. You’re welcome to that call any time. Call anyone you’d like.”
I take a deep breath. When Trip finds out about this, he’s going to flip his shit. Usually, I’m the one thinking about how things like this will affect the band, not him—hell, not any of the others. Riff is known for giving out golden tickets to chicks who hang out backstage to sleep with him. Trip never gives two shits about anything, and Noel…well, he’s no angel either. Back in the day, me getting this DUI would’ve just been something we laughed off, but now that they’re all on the straight and narrow, I imagine they’ll give me the third degree over this.
But what choice do I have? Who else can I call?
After a long moment, I push away from the bars and look the guard in the eye. “I think I’ll make that call now.”
A few hours later, I’m finally at the front desk, gathering all the personal items I had on me when I was booked.
“One wallet, a set of keys, two hundred and fifteen dollars in cash, four guitar picks, a sheet of folded up paper, and one cell phone,” the middle-aged brunette clerk says as she hands me all the items. “Sign here and here, and you’ll be on your way.”
I scribble my name in the sections she’s marked and gather my things. Before I can even turn around, I feel Trip’s eyes, judging me.
I head toward the door, Trip close on my heels. Once we’re outside, my brother clears his throat. “I called the rental car company to come pick up their car from the impound lot. Kyle is waiting around the side with the Escalade to take us to the airport.”
I raise my eyebrows. “That’s it? No big lecture?”
Trip sighs. “What do you want me to say, Tyke? Do you really need me to tell you how much you fucked up? How bad this is going to look for the band? You know better than anyone this isn’t good fucking PR, so why voice it? As long as I can remember, you’ve been the stable one. I’m sure this isn’t going to happen again. You always do what’s best for the band. It was a one-time mistake. We all make them.”
“Glad to hear you actually still care about the band.”
Trip flinches. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean? When have I ever not cared?”
I shake my head. “Come on, brother. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. No one has cared for a while now, including you. You guys spend all of your time with your women and leave all the work to me. I’m the one writing all the songs while Noel and Riff are off being husbands and fathers and you’re out there playing house. Do you think that’s fair? You guys get to fuck around and not give a shit about the future of this band?”
He licks the corner of his mouth as he huffs. “Fuck you, Tyke. Just because we settled down and found other interests, don’t think for one goddamn minute that we don’t care about the band anymore. Nothing with the band has changed. You’re the one who’s changed.”
Anger boils inside me. Is he really that blind? Can he not see how so much has changed in the year since Noel and Riff got married, and he got with Holly? I love my brother. I don’t want to lose him, but I’m not going to stand here attempting to make him see my side when I know it’s a lost cause. I’d be better off beating my head against a brick wall.
“You’re right, Trip. Things are most definitely different and are going to change even fucking more.”
Without another word, I turn on my heel and walk away from my baby brother. It’s not the best option, but it’s the only one I’ve got. Whatever it takes, I’m going show the rest of these guys that they’re letting this band die. And despite what they think, I’m the only one fighting to keep us together.
I’ve done it again.
I turn my head and survey my surroundings. Four white hotel walls and a horrible painting of a man fishing in a pond are the first things that come into my hazy line of sight. The second thing is the blonde knocked out cold next to me, her tits hanging half out her shirt.
Damn. What in the hell did I do last night?
I squeeze my eyes shut while the pounding in my skull beats continuously. Raising my hand, desperate to pinch the bridge of my nose to ease the pain, my arm stops far short of my face. My gaze snaps down to my wrists, bound at my sides with a thin rope, and I yank my arm, attempting to move my feet as well without much luck.
What in the hell?
My heart thunders in my chest as my foggy brain quickly pulls together that someone has no intentions of allowing me to leave this bed. Panic rolls over me when I can’t recall whom I came here with, or even how I got here. As much as I hate to admit it, Trip was right—some chick has finally gone all Misery on my ass.
I survey the knot tied in the rope. It doesn’t look like it’ll be that difficult to loosen, if I can just figure out a way to get my hands on it. Twisting my wrist side to side, I attempt to wiggle out, but it’s no use. It’s tied too tight.
I shift beneath the sheet that’s draped over me, and realize I’m completely fucking naked.
Shit. Being naked and tied to a bed is never a good thing. This isn’t going to end well.
The bathroom door opens and I freeze, unsure of what the hell might be walking toward me. A slender brunette in a black mask with a great set of tits struts into the room wearing a tight leather outfit that wraps her body like a glove. As if the outfit wasn’t over-the-top enough, she’s also toting a black whip in her left hand, alongside an expression that screams she’s ready to inflict some major pain. I tense at the sight of her.
What in the holy fuck have I gotten myself into?
I yank my wrists, attempting to free myself, and the woman cusses at me in Spanish, clearly unhappy with my change of heart. “Hijo de puta!”
It only takes a split second for me to recognize the voice before I burst out laughing, instantly relaxing against the stark-white sheets. “Gabby, what the fuck?”
Her lip pokes out in a distinct pout as she pulls the mask off, revealing her smooth, tan complexion. Her big brown eyes complement her perfectly round face and button nose, reminding me of just how attractive she is. “Aww, come on, Tyke. I’m not done playing yet. Don’t you want to have some more fun with her? She was a good sport.”
The woman next to me continues to breathe softly, and while I’m positive that this woman provided great entertainment for Gabby and I last night, I can’t remember a damn thing about it.
There’s no time to try to remember it though, because the moment I sit up a little straighter, the sun’s harsh rays poke through the thick drapes, letting me know I’m already late. “Can’t. I have a band meeting at one.”
Gabby’s harsh laugh cuts across the room as her lithe fingers work at the knots in the rope. “Hate to break it to you, slick, but that ship has sailed. It’s nearly three.”
I sit up once I’m free and rub my wrists. “Fuck. The guys are going to be pissed. I’ve blown off the last three or four band meetings. Doing it again isn’t going to sit well with them.”
Gabby sits at the small desk in the room and fixes a line on the mirror for herself before snorting it up her nose. “Fuck ’em. Those douchebags need to learn to fend for themselves.”
“Don’t, Gabby,” I warn, not liking her putting the guys down. It’s one thing for me to do it, but someone else baggin’ on them pisses me off. They’re my brothers.
I roll out of bed and grab my jeans off the floor, quickly yanking them up on my hips. There’s no sign of my underwear, but whatever; I’m not about to waste my time looking for them. I have to get the fuck out.
The blonde rolls over onto her back, and I freeze just as I pull my black T-shirt over my head. When she doesn’t wake, I turn to Gabby. “You taking care of this one?”
She nods and wipes her nose, but a small dusting of white powder still remains. “Yeah. I’ll check her phone for any pictures and videos and then call her a cab.”
I fasten my belt and then slip my feet into my boots. “Good. No more groupies with sex tapes of us. That shit didn’t go well last time.”
She laughs. “Speak for yourself. That fucking tape got my band noticed and put on tour with Black Falcon.”
I roll my eyes. “Just check her shit before she leaves. Trip and Noel will blow their fucking tops if I keep bringing the band down with negative publicity.”
This time she rolls her eyes at me. “Whatever. I forgot what a Debbie fucking Downer you are when you sober up. You want a bump before you go?”
My nose twitches in anticipation, and while I know I should say no, I can’t help myself. Gabby puts a small amount of coke between her index finger and thumb and raises her hand to me. “You know you want to.”
I pull her hand up to my face and quickly snort every last bit of nose candy; the white powder stinging as it coats the warm, moist skin inside my nasal passages, sending me on a near-instant high in the process.
I close my eyes as every nerve in me comes alive, making me forget why the fuck I felt so anxious a few moments ago. I lean against the desk next to Gabby and she looks up at me and smiles, nodding over to the chick still sleeping in the king-size bed. “You wanna play?”
Gabby runs her hand down my torso, my toned abs flexing beneath my shirt in response to her touch. She pauses at my belt and yanks it open before allowing the tips of her fingers to rub against the growing erection inside my jeans.
A wicked grin crosses her face as she licks her lips. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
Unable to resist her, I give in and grab the nape of her neck, pulling her a little more roughly than I mean to out of the chair. I yank her slender body flush with mine. “Why the fuck do I let you do this? You’re no good for me.”
She bats her long lashes at me, attempting to look innocent. “Because you like getting crazy. Because you were bored out of your fucking skull until I came around. Because, deep down inside, you’re tired of being the scapegoat for the other guys in Black Falcon, and you’re done being their bitch.”
I flinch at her cold words. “Fuck you, Gabby. I’m no one’s bitch.”
“Except mine,” she purrs.
I shove her away. “Especially not yours.”
I refasten my belt as I turn and head for the door.
I don’t bother turning around. Good time or not, there’s no way in hell I’m going to be talked down to by a chick I’ve known for three months.
Who the fuck does she think she is?
If it weren’t for a groupie catching me drunk fucking Gabby after a show and blasting it all over the web, she and her band, Sex Arsenal, would still be playing small dive bar gigs with a weak-ass following. Now that bitch has the nerve to insinuate I’m a pussy? Fuck her.
I don’t need her. There are plenty of other people to party with. Her pussy isn’t made out of gold, and I damn sure never made a fucking commitment to her.
She’s a chick I like to get high with and fuck—that’s it. Nothing more. She better not have it in her head that we are more than that.
When the elevator opens up to the lobby, the full effect of the afternoon sun begins to assault my eyes and I flinch, fishing my sunglasses from my pocket and slipping them on my face. The moment I’m outside I pat my pockets, hoping to find some car keys, but I have no such luck. I obviously didn’t drive myself over here last night. Actually, I have no fucking clue where in the hell I am. Reaching into my back pocket, I whip out my phone and use the GPS feature on it.
Thank God I’m still in the right city. We play the Amway Center tonight to a sold out crowd. At least I know I can still make it there on time.
The young valet approaches me with a pen and paper in hand. The small cluster of pimples on his forehead does nothing to conceal his youth, and the eager smile on his face tells me one thing: he’s a fan.
“Excuse me? I hate to bother you, but you’re in Black Falcon, aren’t you?” he asks in a voice that’s just above a timid whisper.
I shove my glasses a little further up my nose. “Yep. Sure am.”
He stretches his arms toward me. “Can I have your autograph?”
I take the pen and small notepad from him. “Sure, kid. Can you get me a cab?”
He nods vigorously as he takes back the signed paper. “No problem!”
While he scurries off, I check the messages on my phone.
Trip: Where the fuck are you?
Trip: Goddamn it. This shit is getting old. It’s not cool to take off and not tell anyone where you are. I need to talk to you.
The final text catches my attention.
Trip: I hope you at least show up tonight.
My brow furrows at that comment. I’ve only ever missed a couple shows, and I felt like a total piece of shit for doing it. I hadn’t realized we had a few early shows and may have been sleeping off the previous night’s activities. It wasn’t like I missed them on purpose, and yet that’s all Trip ever seems to remember lately. He’s conveniently forgotten all the times I’ve saved their asses. I fuck up and I never get to live it down.
I fire back a text telling him I’ll be there and slip my phone back in my pocket, just in time to hop in the cab that’s pulled up.
The ride over to the arena is pretty quick, which sucks. It used to excite me to spend time with my boys, but now I fucking dread it. None of us are on the same page anymore. Everyone is going in different directions, and our communication is shit.
Pulling up to the arena, I text Kyle to meet me out back and get me in through the crowd that’s already building. I don’t have a scrap of proof that I’m with the band and security can be real dicks if you don’t have a pass.
“How much longer?” the cabbie asks after five minutes of me refusing to get out until I see Kyle.
“Chill, dude. I’m good for it. Trust me.” He glances at me through the rearview mirror, and I can tell he’s having some serious doubts about whether I can pay the fare.
I glance down at my wrinkled clothes and the tats that cover most of my arms. Granted, I don’t exactly give off the best first impression right now, but damn, I hate it when people are judgmental.
Shrill screams from a group of fans surrounding the back gate catch my attention in time to see Kyle pass through the crowd alone. I dig my wallet out from my back pocket and pay the fare, along with a generous tip, before letting myself out of the cab.
Fans swarm around me, practically shoving pens and pieces of paper in front of my face begging for autographs, while dozens of flashes go off simultaneously. Kyle does his best to part the way for me as we push through to the gate.
Once inside, locked away from the fans, Kyle turns to me and hands me a backstage pass. “Where the hell were you? The guys are pissed.”
I pull the lanyard over my head, adjust my sunglasses on my nose, and shrug. “What’s new? They’re always pissed at me for one reason or another lately. They’ll get over me missing the stupid meeting. They never talk about anything other than scheduling more time off. It’s not like my vote ever gets taken into consideration anyhow.”
Kyle opens the door to the arena and motions me in. “I think they notice you being absent from more things than you realize.”
I follow him through the maze of roadies, instruments, and stage props until my brother and the other guys come into view. The three of them stand there, talking quietly amongst themselves, until Riff glances up and notices me walking in their direction. He throws a swift elbow at Noel and nods toward me.
A strange vibe washes over me, and I can tell by the expressions on their faces that none of them are too happy with me right now.
Trip turns to look at me, contempt written all over his face. “Nice of you to grace us with your presence, asshole. Where were you?”
The sunglasses still covering my face shield the dramatic eye roll I’m giving him. “I was with Gabby.”
He narrows his eyes at me. “I thought you said you were done with that shit?”
“Not that it’s any of your fucking business, but I’m not using again.”
I hope Trip doesn’t see through the lie and figure out I’ve been dabbling a little on the white horse. I don’t need the headache that comes from dealing with him. Besides, I don’t have to report what I’m doing to him.
A harsh laugh rolls out of Trip’s mouth. “I suppose you just enjoy her fucking company. Come on, man, this is me you’re talking to. Your identical twin. Girls like Gabby Rodriguez are fast and easy; not exactly dating material. So don’t try and bullshit this bullshitter—I know the kind of shit you do when you’re with her.”
The condescending tone in his voice makes my blood boil. I don’t see where he gets off. He’s not our fucking father. I can do what I want, when I want. “Since when does what I do and with who affect you?” I swing my gaze to Noel and Riff, who are both watching our exchange intently. It’s time I let them all know how I feel. “Since when does my business affect any of you? All of you have your own fucking things going on. What does it matter if I’m out having a good time?”
Riff narrows his eyes. “It fucking matters when you miss important shit because you’re too high to remember your goddamn priorities. That’s the sixth band meeting you’ve blown off. Do you even know what the fuck is going on with the new album?”
I stare at him, the expression on my face blank. “What the fuck are you talking about? There’s absolutely nothing going on with the new album because I haven’t finished any of the fucking songs for it yet.”
“Jesus, fuck, he’s out of it now,” Riff says as he shakes his head. “Do you even know what day of the week it is?”
I hesitate and swallow hard. I start to reach for my phone to check the date because, honestly, I don’t have a fucking clue, but I stop short because doing that would just prove Riff right.
Riff shakes his head and turns to Noel with raised eyebrows. “I told you he didn’t have a fucking clue. He’s bad for business.”
I flinch. “When have I ever been bad for business? I’m the glue that holds this piece of shit band together.”
“Not anymore,” Riff replies coolly.
I shake my head, not missing the disgust in Riff’s eyes. It’s a look I remember all too well. It’s the same one he had a couple of years ago when Noel struggled with his addiction. The same look he had when he wanted us to boot Noel from the band.
I narrow my eyes at my childhood friend. “You got something to say to me, Riff, just go ahead and fucking say it.”
Riff looks from Noel to Trip and his Adam’s apple bobs as he swallows hard and then lifts his chin. “You’re out, Tyke.”
My eyes widen as every muscle inside me tenses. “What?!”
“You. Are. Out. You’ve become a liability. Noel knows it, and so does your brother. You need help. We won’t stand by and watch you destroy yourself and drag this band down with you.”
Rage rolls through every inch of me. “You’re kicking me out? I fucking started this band. You can’t kick me out.”
Trip lays his hand on my shoulder. “Tyke—”
I shrug away from his touch. “Fuck you, Trip. Don’t fucking touch me!” I level my heated gaze on the other two guys. “Fuck all of you!”
I take a couple steps back while my mouth hangs agape. I can’t fucking believe this. They’re giving me the boot, just like that? No chance to explain myself? Just out—like I’m a piece of fucking trash they can’t wait to get rid of.
They need me.
They’ll get over it.
I storm out of the arena, needing time to clear my head and figure this shit out, but before I get through the door, Kyle stops me. “Where you off to?”
“Hotel,” is all I can manage to say.
The thick cords of muscle work beneath Kyle’s skin as he pulls a set of keys out of his pocket. “Come on, I’ll drive you over.”
I follow our bodyguard to the Escalade. Kyle uses the key fob to unlock the SUV, and we both hop inside.
As I pull the heavy door closed behind me, I reconsider leaving. I should go back in there and hammer things out with the guys now. After all, I don’t want tonight’s show to be tense. But my head’s still a little foggy from the coke I snorted, and I know I won’t be able to speak to them rationally about this until I’ve had time to calm down.
I scrub my hand over my face. Tension in the band always fucking sucks—it’s even worse to be the cause of it. They blame me for it, I know, but they don’t see that all this shit started with them not caring enough. Not being committed enough. Not living for the band like they used to.
“Wanna talk about it?” Kyle asks, killing the silence that has allowed me to go deeper into my own thoughts.
I sigh. “What’s there to talk about? The guys just kicked me out. They’re pissed, I get it, but it won’t last. We never stay mad at each other. We’re brothers.”
Kyle adjusts in his seat as he stares out at the road ahead. “That would be great. Things were going so good for a while, and I hate that there’s this underlying tension between you guys. It makes things uncomfortable for us all when you guys aren’t getting along.”
“Come on, Kyle. Things haven’t been that bad. We’ve been through far worse.”
He sighs. “If you say so. I would just hate to see this great thing you all have going fall apart.”
“We’re not going to fall apart,” I say with a slight huff.
We’re quiet for the rest of the ride. I don’t really feel like rehashing band issues with Kyle when I’m not even sure what in the hell is going on myself. After I spend a few hours sleeping and getting my head clear in my hotel room, I take a long hard look at myself in the bathroom mirror. My shaggy sandy-blond hair is a bit shaggy, a far cry from the short buzz cut I used to sport. Lately, I haven’t really felt the need to be so clean-cut. The green of my eyes looks a little dingy, a little lifeless, but that’s not completely my fault. Anyone in my shoes who’s losing everything they’ve ever worked for would look the same way.
I rake my hair back with both hands and sigh. We just have to get back on track. I’ll go to the guys and promise to stay sober, as long as they agree to start taking this band more serious. What we need is a heart-to-heart, as brothers. We need to squash this beef between us so that we can get back to doing what we do best—making great music.
I grab my backstage pass and slide it around my neck and slip out the door. I call a cab to take me back to the arena. It’s time to get this shit back on track.
With a clear head, I set out to have a discussion with the guys about us all changing our ways, mending what the last few years have broken.
The cabbie drops me off near the back gate of the arena and with the help of my pass, I have no problem slipping into the backstage area on my own.
I pull my phone out of my pocket and check the time. It’s nearly nine, the time we are scheduled to take the stage after Gabby’s band, Sex Arsenal, opens for us. A few of the roadies nod at me as I pass by them on the way to the stage.
One roadie I’ve been partying with quite a bit lately, Lou, stops in front of me the moment he recognizes me. “Tyke? What are you doing here, man?”
My brow furrows instantly. “Why wouldn’t I be here?”
Lou’s mouth opens like he wants to say something, but he quickly closes it and shakes his head. “You’re right. Forget I said anything.”
I clap him on the back as I pass by. “All right. Catch you later.”
I shove my hands deep into my pockets as I keep pushing forward, thinking about how odd Lou’s reaction to seeing me was. I mean, why wouldn’t I be here? We have a fucking show to do. He’s obviously been smokin’ something.
The rumble of Gabby’s voice blasts through the arena. “You guys have been an awesome fucking crowd! Thanks for coming out early to hear our set. I need beer money, so make sure you pick up our newest record and buy a goddamn T-shirt out front.” There’s a roar of support from the fans. “Give it up for Black Falcon! They’re about to come out and rock your faces off. You assholes will love that shit! We are Sex Arsenal! Goodnight!”
After a couple thumps on the bass drum, the only noise left is the hum of the buzzing crowd. It won’t be long until we take the stage, so this little talk with the boys will have to wait until our set is over.
I begin tapping out the beat to “Ball Busting Bitch” with my thumbs which are still wedged in my pockets. Even though that’s one song I didn’t write, I still love it. It’s the song that put us over the top, and I’ll be forever grateful to it for our success.
I nod my head to the melody repeating in my brain, but the moment I round the corner and my gaze falls on the guys with Sergio Alvarez from Embrace the Darkness, the song drops out of my mind.
What the ever-lovin’ fuck? We hate those douchebags. Since when did we decide to get fucking chummy with their bass player? I don’t know the guy personally, but if he’s in Embrace the Darkness, then he’s got to be just as big of an asshole as Donovan and Striker.
I lift my chin and head straight for them, determined to get to the bottom of this.
Noel elbows Riff, who is busy explaining chords of some sort to Sergio while Trip looks on with a frown on his face. After Noel spots me, he nods to Trip who finally notices me, too. I hate this tension between us. I’ll be glad when we squash all this later tonight and shit finally gets back to normal.
“What’s up, guys?” I meet each one of their stares a little longer than necessary, but I’m trying to get a read on the situation.
“Sergio.” Even I can hear the tension in my voice as I greet him with uncertainty, trying to figure out why he’s here, since his band isn’t on this tour with us.
Sergio’s mouth twists as his eyebrows shoot up like he’s surprised to see me. He looks to Riff, who only shrugs at him, before he says, “I’ll give you guys a minute.”
Sergio rotates the strap on his shoulder, sliding his bass onto his back before walking away. I turn back to the guys and Noel runs his hand through his hair while Riff pinches the bridge of his nose, drawing my attention to his crazy Mohawk. I know these moves; both of them revert to their nervous tics when they are frustrated and don’t know how to handle it. I swing my gaze over to my brother, who grabs the bill of his baseball cap and adjusts it so it’s covering most of his jet-black hair.
I fold my arms over my chest. “All right, fucking out with it. What aren’t you telling me?”
Trip puffs his cheeks and blows a rush of air out through pursed lips. “We just didn’t expect you to show up, that’s all.”
I scrunch my brow. “Where else would I be? We have a show—of course I’m going to be here.”
My twin licks his lips carefully and then swallows. “The thing is, Tyke, we thought we were pretty clear earlier—”
I don’t even give him a chance to finish. “You mean about throwing me out of the band?” I wave him off dismissively. “You guys were pissed, and I get why you said it, but we can sort all that out after the show. I’ve already forgiven you guys.”
They exchange expressions bordering on surprise and sadness.
“Look, Tyke, we—”
My brother throws a hand out to stop Riff from saying anything else.
“Let me,” Trip says, turning to me. “Tyke, we love you, man, but you need help. I know you believe you have a handle on all this partying you’re doing, that you’re in complete control, but the truth is you don’t, and you aren’t. I’m not sure what’s going on with you because you won’t talk to me—or any of us—but whatever it is, you need to figure it out.”
I don’t know whether to be excited that we’ve finally come to a point where a discussion about this band and my issues with what’s happened to it is finally going to happen, or to get pissed that my own brother can’t tell that I don’t have addiction issues. I’m in complete fucking control.
“I’m so glad that you’ve finally seen there’s a huge problem with the dynamics of the band and are ready to fix them. After we play tonight, I’d love to sit down and talk about adding more dates to the tour.”
“No, Tyke.” Trip shakes his head. “We’ve tried talking with you before, and no matter what we say to you, I know you aren’t going to stop partying.”
I roll my eyes. “I can stop any time I want. I just choose not to. I don’t see what that has to do with the band.”
“We can’t have you with us while you’re using,” Noel chimes in. “I know more than anyone how easy it is to get out of control. If it weren’t for you guys being by my side while I went to rehab—”
“Jesus Christ, are you fucking serious? Rehab? I don’t need fucking rehab.” Just where in the fuck do they get off? I’ve never been as bad as Noel was. Okay, so maybe I missed a few shows where he never did when he was using, but it was only a few times.
I scrub my hands down my face. This is so fucking stupid, but I know they won’t let me get out of rehab if they’ve made up their minds that I need treatment, so I might as well give in and get this over with.
“Fine. You want me to go to rehab? I’ll go as soon as we wrap up the tour.”
Trip takes a step toward me and starts to put his hand on my shoulder but hesitates, then shoves it back into his pocket. “You can’t wait until after the tour, Tyke.”
“Of course I can.”
He shakes his head. “No, you can’t. You can’t resist Gabby, and she’s on the rest of the tour with us. We think it’s best if you went now.”
“Now?” I question. “But, who will—” I stop myself because I don’t even need to ask the question. I’ve already figured out the answer. “You assholes already replaced me? Before I get a fucking say? Sergio Alvarez? You’ve got to kidding me. He couldn’t hold a fucking candle to me on his best day.”
“Come on, man. Don’t be a dick,” Riff says. “Sergio’s a good dude.”
I lick the corner of my mouth. “A good dude, huh?”
Just because someone’s a nice person, it doesn’t mean they’ll work in the band. These assholes will find out soon enough that I’m not replaceable. Hell, I’m going to teach them a lesson. Leave them high and dry, not giving them the satisfaction of kicking me out.
“You know what? You don’t have to worry about me anymore because I fucking quit. Have fun keeping this piece of shit band together without me because none of you will put in the work like I do.”
I turn and head away from them, listening for them to call my name and beg me to stay and work things out, but it never comes. I sigh and shake my head. Before long, they’ll be begging for me to come back. It’s only a matter of time.
The rest of the night is a hazy blur…
Going to a bar downtown with Lou…
Lots of women…
An assortment of pills…
A bottle of Jim Beam…
Getting behind the wheel of the Escalade I borrowed from Kyle. Driving down the road, drinking straight from the bottle, wondering how my life got so fucked up. Feeling lost. Unwanted, and unloved.
Seeing a concrete wall blocking a housing development and thinking it would be better if I weren’t around anymore. After all, who would fucking miss me?
The last thing I remember is mashing the gas pedal to the floor.
Unlatching my seatbelt…
Michelle A. Valentine is a Central Ohio nurse turned New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of erotic and New Adult romance. Her love of hard-rock music, tattoos, and sexy musicians inspired her erotic BLACK FALCON series.
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