Rule sold OVER 50,000 copied before the weekend was even over!!! You readers, bloggers, tweeters...all of you are just wonderful and I thank you so very much!! So here is the start of Ayden and Jet's story.....
So it begins
Ayden (one year ago)
It was totally against everything I was supposed to be doing in my new life to ask a really cute boy in a band to take me home.
There were rules.
There were regulations.
There were standards.
There were simply things I did now to avoid ever going back to being the way I was, and sticking around to wait for Jet Keller was right on the top of the no-no list. There was just something about him that, watching him wail and engage the crowd while he was on stage, turned my normally sensible brain to mush.
I knew better than to ask my bestie what was wrong with me.
She was all about boys covered head-to-toe in ink and littered with jewelry in places the Lord never intended boys to be pierced. She would just say it was the allure of someone so different, someone so obviously not my type - but I knew that wasn't it.
He was entrancing. Every single person in the packed bar had their eyes on him and couldn't look away. He was making the crowd feel, I mean really feel, whatever it was he was screeching and that was amazing.
I hated heavy metal. To me, all it sounded like was yelling and screaming over even louder instruments. But the show, the intensity, the undeniable vibe of power he was unleashing with just his voice. There was just something about it that drove me to drag Shaw to the front of the stage.
I couldn’t look away.
Sure, he was good looking. All the guys who Shaw’s boyfriend ran around with were. I wasn’t immune to a pretty face and a nice body - in fact, at one point they had proven to be a weakness that had gotten me in more trouble than I cared to think about. Now I tended toward guys who I was attracted to on a more intellectual level.
However, one too many shots of Patron and whatever crazy pheromone this guy was giving off right now had me forgetting all about my new and improved standards in men.
His hair looked like he had just shaken off whatever girl had messed it up, and it was quite a bit longer than I wore my own dark locks right now. At some point during the set he had peeled off his wife-beater to reveal a lean torso that was covered, from the base of his throat to somewhere below his belt buckle, in a giant black and gray tattoo of an angel of death. He had on the tightest black jeans I had ever seen a guy wear, decorated with a variety of chains hanging from his belt to his back pocket, and they left little to the imagination.
That might have been why Shaw and I were nowhere near the only female fans at the front of the stage.
Jet came into the bar I worked on a pretty regular basis. I knew that the eyes, squeezed shut as he bellowed out a note that was enough to have the girl to my left spontaneously orgasm, were a dark, deep brown that gleamed with easy going humor and a penchant for outrageous flirtation. Jet was the charmer of the group and had no qualms about using that, combined with his heartbreaking grin, to get what he wanted.
I felt a warm hand land on my shoulder and turned to look up at Shaw’s boyfriend, Rule. He towered over the rest of the crowd and I could tell by the twist of his mouth that he was ready to go. Shaw didn't even wait for him to ask before turning to me with guileless green eyes.
“I’m going with him. Are you ready?”
Shaw and I had a “leave no man behind” policy but I was far from ready to call it a night. We had to scream over the blaring guitars and the ear splitting vocals bombarding us from our prime location, so I bent down to holler in her ear.
“I’m gonna hang out for a bit. I think I’ll see if Rule’s friend can give me a ride.”
I saw her speculative look, but Shaw had her own boy drama to handle, so I knew she wasn't about to try and tell me any differently. She hooked her hand through Rule’s arm and gave me a rueful grin.
“Call me if you need me.”
“You know it.”
I wasn't the kind of girl who needed a wingman or wing-woman. I was used to flying solo and I had been taking care of myself for so long it was really second nature. I knew Shaw would swoop in to grab me if I couldn't get a ride home or if calling a cab took too long, and knowing she was there was enough.
I watched the rest of the show in rapt fascination, and I was pretty sure when he threw the microphone down after his final song that Jet winked at me before slamming back a shot of Jameson. Even if all the things I knew I should be doing were pounding in my head, that wink sealed the deal.
I hadn’t been on the wild side in too long and Jet was the perfect tour guide for a quick refresher course.
He disappeared off the stage with the rest of the guys in the band. I wandered back over toward the bar where everyone had been posted before the band had started playing. Rule’s roommate, Nash, had apparently been dragged home by the lovebirds. There was no way he was making it out of the bar under his own steam. Rowdy, Jet’s BFF, was busy sucking face with some random girl who had been giving me and Shaw the evil eye all night. I gave him a ‘you could do better look’ when he came up for air, and then found an empty stool by the bar.
The thing about heavy metal bars is that there are heavy metal guys in every corner.
I spent the next hour fending off come-ons and free drink offers from guys who looked like they hadn’t seen a shower or a razor in years. I was starting to get annoyed, and in turn nasty, when a familiar hand with black tipped nails and a plethora of heavy silver rings landed on my knee. I turned to look at laughing dark eyes as Jet ordered me another Patron, but got water for himself.
“Got ditched, did ya? The way those two were looking at each other, I’m surprised you made it halfway through the set.”
I clicked the tiny shot glass against the rim of his glass, and gave him the smile that I had always used to get whatever I wanted.
“I think Nash had a fight with the tequila and the tequila won.”
He laughed and turned to talk to a couple guys who wanted to congratulate him on the show. When he turned back to me, he looked a little embarrassed.
“I always think that’s so weird.”
I lifted a dark eyebrow and leaned a little closer to him, as I caught sight of a redhead in too-tight clothes circling.
“Why? You guys are great and obviously people like it.”
He tossed back his head and laughed and I noticed for the first time he had a barbell through the center of his tongue.
“People, but not you?”
I made a face and shrugged.
“I’m from Kentucky.” I figured that would explain it all.
“Rule sent me a text saying you needed a lift home. I have to go pull Rowdy off that chick and help the guys load the van, but if you can chill for like thirty, I’ll totally give you a ride.”
I didn’t want to seem too eager. I didn’t want to let him know how much I wanted him to give me a ride of an entirely different kind, so I shrugged again.
“Sure. That would nice.”
He squeezed my knee and I had to suppress the shudder that moved through me from head to toe. There was most definitely something up if just a little touch like that could make me quiver.
I turned back to the bar, ordered myself a glass of water and tried to close my tab. I was surprised when the bartender told me it was already taken care of and a little annoyed that I didn’t know who to thank.
I swiveled around on the stool and watched with narrowed eyes as people fought their way through a bar full of overly enthusiastic guys and overly obvious girls. I wasn’t a saint by any stretch of the imagination but I really had no respect for any girl who was willing to degrade herself, to offer herself up for a single night of pleasure, just because Jet looked hot in tight pants.
Whatever was happening to me went deeper than that. I just couldn’t name it and I was drunk enough, and missing some of my old self enough, to ignore it for now.
By the time he came back, I was faking interest in a conversation that some guy who looked like he had raided Glenn Danzig’s closet was forcing on me. He was telling me all about the different genres of metal and why the people who listened to each different kind either sucked or ruled. It was all I could do not to shove a stick of gum in his mouth to stop him from breathing heavy, boozy fumes all over me.
Jet gave the guy a fist bump and hooked a thumb over his shoulder.
“Let’s roll, Legs.”
I made a face at the nickname because I had heard variations on it my whole life. I was tall, not as tall as his six-two, but I towered over Shaw’s barely five feet and I did indeed have very long, very nice legs. At the moment they were a little wobbly and a little unsteady, but I pulled it together and followed Jet to the parking lot.
The rest of the band and Rowdy were piling into a huge Econoline van, and screaming all kinds of interesting things out the window at us while they peeled out of the parking lot. Jet just shook his head and used the control on his keys to pop the locks on a sleek, black Dodge Challenger that looked mean and fast. I was surprised when he opened the door for me, which made him grin, so I folded into the seat and tried to plan my attack. After all he was a guy used to groupies and band sluts throwing themselves at him on a daily basis, and the last thing I wanted was to be just one more.
He was nice enough to turn down the music blasting from the obviously expensive sound system and wheeled of the parking lot without saying a word to me. He had found the time to put back on his shirt and it was now covered by an obviously well-loved leather jacket, complete with metal studs and a patch of some band I had never heard of. The combination of cute rocker boy, too much tequila and the heady scent of leather and sweat was starting to make my head spin. I rolled down the window a little and watched as the lights of downtown bled by.
I tilted my head in his direction and noticed the real concern in his dark gaze.
“Fine. I shouldn’t have tried to keep up with Nash for the first hour.”
“Yeah that’s not a good idea. Those boys can put it away.”
I didn’t answer because generally I could hold my own with anyone when it came to matching shot for shot, but that wasn’t something I liked to talk about. I changed the subject by running a finger over the obviously new and pristine interior of the car.
“This is a super nice ride. I had no idea screaming into a microphone paid so well.”
He snorted a laugh and gave me sideways look.
“You need to branch out from cookie-cutter Country, Ayd. There are all kinds of great Indie Country bands and even some amazing Americana bands I bet you would totally dig.”
I just shrugged.
“I like what I like. Seriously, is your band famous enough that you can afford a car like this? Rule said you guys were popular in town, which was clear after tonight, but even with that crowd it doesn’t seem like you would make enough to live on just playing music.”
I was prying, but it had suddenly occurred to me I didn’t really know anything about this guy other than he was making my heart race. He was also making my head create all kinds of interesting scenarios that involved both of us and a whole lot less clothing.
He was tapping out a rhythm on the steering wheel with his black tipped fingers and I couldn’t look away.
“I run a recording studio here in town. I’ve been around a long time so I know a bunch of bands and guys in the scene. I write a lot of music that other people end up recording and Enmity is big enough that I don’t ever have to worry about starving. Lots of people make a living just playing music. It’s just hard and you have to be dedicated to it, but I would rather be broke and do something I love than be wealthy working a 9 to 5 job any day.”
That was something that just didn’t make any sense to me.
I needed security and craved a future that was finically solid, with a foundation rooted in safety and very little change. I wanted to know that I was going to be able to support myself, that I would never have to rely on anyone else for life’s basic needs. Happiness had nothing at all to do with it.
I was going to ask more questions but the apartment I shared with Shaw was quickly coming into view, and I hadn’t even tried to let him know that I was interested in more than a lift home.
I turned my entire body in the seat so I was fully facing him, and plastered my best ‘do me’ smile on my face. He lifted an eyebrow in my direction but didn’t say anything, even when I leaned over the center console and put my hand on his hard thigh. I saw the pulse in his throat jump, which made me grin. It had been a long time since I had been so overtly interested in anyone and it was nice to know that he wasn’t immune to me either.
“Want to come up and have a drink with me? Shaw is staying with Rule, so I’m sure she’ll be out of commission for at least a couple days.”
His dark eyes grew even darker with something I didn’t recognize, because we really were strangers, but he put his hand over mine and gave it a gentle squeeze.
I wanted to inhale him, I wanted to get inside of him and never come back out. There was just something there, something special about him that pulled on all the strings I thought I had neatly trimmed away when I had left my old life behind.
“That sounds like a bad plan, Ayd.” His voice was low and had undercurrents floating through it I didn’t understand.
I sat up straighter in the seat and turned his face to look at me with my other hand. “Why? I’m single, you’re single, we’re consenting adults. I think it sounds like a fabulous plan.”
He sighed and took both of my hands and placed them back in my lap. I was watching him carefully now because, while I might have undergone a dramatic life change over the last few years, I was still smart enough to know I was way better looking than most of the bar trash who had been circling him all night. That, and NO guy ever turned down no-strings sex.
“We have friends who are dating. You drank half a bottle of tequila tonight, so let’s be real, you are not the type of girl who takes a guy she barely knows home for the night. You’re smart, ambitious and you have no fucking idea what that southern drawl does to me. You’re just a good girl all around.
Don’t get me wrong. You’re beautiful and in the morning when I re-live this conversation over and over in my head, I’m going to absolutely want to kick my own ass, but you don’t want to do this. Maybe if I knew for a fact we would never have to see each other again, never have to spend time around each other, I could do it with a clean conscience, but I actually like you Ayden, so I choose not to mess that up.”
He was so very wrong.
I totally wanted to do this, to do him, but something about him thinking he knew what kind of girl I was shocked my libido like a bucket of cold water. I jerked my head back so hard that it hit the passenger window and the car suddenly felt like a coffin. I scrambled to open the latch and bolted out. I heard Jet call my name, heard him ask if I was alright, but all I needed to do was get away from him. I jabbed the security code into the door and practically ran to the apartment.
It wasn’t until I had the doors locked and had a hot shower pouring over me that I realized how close I had come to letting everything I had worked for unravel around me. Whatever it was that Jet made me feel, it was far too dangerous to try and act on as I had tonight. Not only had it ended in humiliation and panic, but I had risked all of the things that mattered to me now, and I just couldn’t allow that.
Jet Keller was going to have to be locked in the box where I kept pre-Colorado Ayden. Only now, I was going to make sure that the lid was on so tight, there wouldn’t ever be a chance of it coming off.