Authors: J.B. Hartnett
by J.B. Hartnett
Copyright © J.B. Hartnett 2013
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Table of Contents
From its first inception, I was lucky to have lots of fantastic cheerleaders always offering me encouragement and support along the way. So, firstly to my soul-sister Jenna Petrotta who was my very first reader; thank you for persisting and being patient through all those typos and poor transitions. To the other brave gals who “beta-read” my manuscript before anyone else: Kimberly Muresan, Kellie Catanese, Coleen Ritter-Garvey and Katy Moss; Thanks for rocking my world. A big thank you to Lisa Schilling-Hintz who not only beta-read “Inky” but provided much needed criticism to help make it even greater. And to my gal pals, Jennifer Hamori and Natasha Van Doren, big hugs to you both!
A big shout out to the awesome blog, the Rock Stars of Romance, for introducing me to some incredible books. Indie authors galore - you gals have been very generous in providing me with many a brain-vacation and I thank you dearly. A very special thanks to the woman who made me fall in love with reading and a Priest, over and over again, Colleen McCullough…truly a legend!
To my cool editor, Laurence Pollwade; thanks for making me smile every day.
To my dad, Paul; I can’t remember a single day of my childhood when you didn’t have a book in your hand.
To my biggest cheerleader of all, my sister, my true cornerstone. To my boys, may you grow up to be wonderful husbands. To my dear husband, Bubbs, best husband ever! Thanks for telling me I’m beautiful every single day!
Inky wouldn’t be Inky without her muse, her passionate devotion to music. As much as I would have liked to write down every brilliant lyric from every amazing song, I had to settle on the best titles and artists or else I could be sued for zillions. So I encourage you to check out the classics (in my mind anyway) and enjoy them right along with Inky.
To my first friend and cheerleader, Tara...I’m still thinking of you all the time.
On a personal note, I felt it important to list these sites if you or anyone you know is in need of these services.
www.rainn.org This is the rape, abuse and incest help site. They have international listings as well as a 24 hour hotline.
. This in an international service and will link you with the country you reside in.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events is pure coincidence. This story has sexual content and has incidents of child abuse that some might find unsettling.
I woke up to the blaring sound of my alarm and the smell of coffee brewing. The absence of a warm body next to me meant that Evan was already up and likely enjoying a fresh cup of Joe with my roommates, Aimes and Lisa. I was hoping that Evan was going to keep his Best Boyfriend in the World status by sauntering in with a fresh cup for me and a hot breakfast. Until then, I decided to lie there all cozy.
I fell back to sleep, not bothering to hit the snooze button. I didn’t have to be at work until the afternoon, plenty of time for a sleep-in. I’d stayed at the gallery, painting in the back studio until two last night. Evan had a late session filling in for some bass player that had broken his wrist. Luckily, my man had an ever-growing reputation as a last minute fill in and was quick to pick up subtle nuances that were vital if you were trying to mimic another musician’s style. Especially if you didn’t want anyone else with a keen ear to notice.
When he called my cell, he thought I would’ve asked Aimes to pick me up hours before but when I got in the zone, time just kind of moved around me. By the time we got back to my place, Evan fell asleep in his jeans and boots but I was in desperate need of a shower. Washing away the remnants of linseed oil and solvent, I climbed into bed with my man to sleep…but not before digging into a drawer and pulling out a t-shirt at random.
I heard the door but played the ‘I’m sexy and sleeping and waiting for you to gaze at my beauty’ game. You always see that in romantic comedies and I always imagined how lovely it would be to wake up and have your lover staring at you with nothing but adoration in his eyes.
“You’re up.” He stated.
Well, a girl could dream.
“Yeah,” I smiled as he handed me a mug of coffee. “Thanks for the great wake up.” I closed my eyes and inhaled the wonderful steamy fragrance from the cup.
“What time does your shift start?” This was a loaded question. He knew my shift at Rusty’s bar always started at four on a Friday. He sat down beside me and tucked his sexy bare feet under my pillow, facing me, his bright blue eyes staring at my boobs a little too long.
“What?” I looked down. “What is it?”
“Why are you wearing my shirt?” He hadn’t shut up about going to see this three piece Canadian band. He was lucky enough to get backstage through another musician friend. I wasn’t one of those girls that left behind the odd pair of panties or started filling up the bathroom with tampons and makeup to mark her territory; I found the one thing of his that I could burn if he broke my heart. I had actually never done anything like that, nor did I think I would ever need to with Evan but if I was going to, this shirt would be ideal.
“I loved that concert.” He went on staring off into the distance. I rolled my eyes. “It was amazing having the whole band autograph that shirt. I felt like such a douche asking, but who knows if I’d ever get that kind of opportunity again? And then, when Geddy started talking shop with me…you know, the bass player?” Of course I knew who the freakin’ bass player was. I could probably tell you his birthday and shoe size too and I knew the names of all of their kids. “You should be honored,” he said, running his hand through his blonde hair. “I've never let another girl wear it, let alone sleep in it.”
“Well, I’m not just another girl now, am I? I can take it off if you’re gonna start crying or something,” I said laughing.
I watched him hesitate for a moment, weighing his options but he decided - and rightly so – that he liked me in his shirt. “How about you keep it on for a little while longer?" I watched him eye me again, almost like he wasn’t sure which part of me he wanted to ravage first.
“In answer to your question, I don’t have to be in until four. Did you want to do something today?”
“Aside from you?” he grinned. I took a nice long sip of coffee, knowing full well I wasn’t going to get to finish it. He pulled the mug from my grip, setting it on the bedside table, brushing his long calloused fingers over mine. “Look at this naked hand. I’m gonna have to get you a ring soon.”
Oh yeah. I still hadn’t gotten used to the fact that I was engaged. Evan and I had been ‘Evan and I’ for about five seconds. Actually more like a few months. I dated other guys but Evan had this funny habit of always telling me how, if he was my boyfriend, he would treat me like a princess and, God help me, but I just couldn’t resist him. He would come into Rusty’s with friends, sit at my end of the bar and flirt with me. As soon as he showed an interest, I’d either cheat on the guy I was with or drop him like a hot potato. I would find a way to let Evan know I was now a free agent which was also usually when he would explain the timing was all wrong, or that I needed to be alone before I just jumped into another relationship. I took the occasional booty-call he gave me and pretended like it was no big deal, but it hurt me more than I ever let on. I was too afraid I would never get a real chance with him if I complained or pushed him for something more. It was a terrible pattern for me emotionally but I still did it and that patience (or self-destructive behavior, as Aimes put it) had paid off. We never discussed it but I think he just wasn’t ready.
He must’ve known that when we did finally make a commitment, it was going to be the forever kind.
“How about you take off those sweats and get back under the covers with me,” I demanded! I didn’t have to ask twice.
While he pushed his sweats to the floor, I scrambled out of bed to the stereo, hit play and locked the door. Not that anyone would’ve come in. The loud music was our roommate equivalent of the tie on the doorknob. With three (previously) single girls living together, none of us with our sights on marriage or babies, our house had seen a fair amount of foot traffic. I wouldn’t say any of us was slutty, but we made no apologies for having a good time either.
When I settled back into bed, Evan’s hand began to wander under his sacred t-shirt on a journey to my breast while my mind began to wander right out the door. Not because I wasn’t enjoying myself, I was. But now there was a definite shift in our household and it was totally fucking with me. I was going to be the first out of the three of us girls to settle down and it didn’t seem like everyone was happy about it. My roommates, Aimes and Lisa, liked Evan and they liked us even more as a couple. Still, I suppose an adjustment period was expected.
Aimes, or Amelia as her mother called her, had been my best friend since junior high. We’d always been like sisters and never had an unkind word between us. This was made easier by the fact that we had polar opposite tastes in the one thing that usually ended friendships - men. The benefit of living near the military base was the constant stream of no-strings attached sex for Aimes. She was a sucker for a uniform. She didn’t care about his childhood sweetheart back in wherever he was from. All she cared about was the fun she was going to have with him until his leave was up or he was deployed somewhere. In her eyes, she was doing her patriotic duty by giving the boys a little distraction on their way to the unknown.
I was the only one privy to the fact that she’d had her heart broken in high school. He was popular. He snuck around with her, took her virginity and then pretended like she didn’t exist. It’d been years but the damage was done. As soon as we turned eighteen, she made herself a fixture at a Sports bar in San Diego with her sights set on any Marine who would buy her a drink. Aimes was barely five foot, with long dark hair and sultry features, making her appear older than she actually was. She didn’t really need me as her wing-man; I spent most of my time in the car waiting for her to finish whatever or whoever she was doing. Unlike Aimes, I always looked young for my age…another reason
I spent most of my time in the car. By twenty-one, we could get into bars which made it easier to pick up older guys. I did my best to work with what I had: pale skin, dark brown hair that came just past my shoulders, decent sized boobs (I’ve never had complaints) and average height. In fact, everything about me was average.
Our other friend and roommate was Lisa. Beautiful, gorgeous and stacked (and not because she’d had work done). She was a bona fide, blonde hair, blue-eyed Californian girl who also kept her love life very private. I’d only heard her door open in the middle of the night a handful of times. Aimes and I tried different tactics to find out who she was dating but she would never, ever tell us.
Because of her secrecy, I guessed he was some kind of public figure, a senator or a famous actor. Aimes thought it was an ex-professor of hers that frequented the bar. Whoever he was, he remained a mystery. Unfortunately, it seemed like all that beauty was being wasted on whoever this dickhead was because she seemed sad, even more so recently. Maybe it was wrong of me, but I wanted my gal-pals to find love too. We’d all started at the bar around the same time. Lisa’s roommate was moving across country and Aimes was more than ready to get out of her parents’ house. I think her exact words were, “I need a place to fuck freely.” I was a keen saver so I’d been renting rooms from strangers for a while but that was getting old. The place we found to rent was perfect: three bedrooms, two bathrooms (Aimes and I shared) and close to the beach and Rusty’s where we all bartended. Perfect!