King's Baby - A Bad Boy Romance

BOOK: King's Baby - A Bad Boy Romance
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KING’S
BABY

 
 

EMERSON
ROSE

 
 
 
 
 

COPYRIGHT
2016
PRISM
HEART PRESS

 

ALL
RIGHTS RESERVED

 
 

All rights
reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without
written permission from the publisher or author. If you are reading this book
and you have not purchased it or received an advanced copy directly from the
author, this book has been pirated.

 

This is a
work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the
product of the author’s imagination or, if an actual place, are used
fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business
establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does
not have any control and does not assume any responsibility for author or
third-party websites or their content.

 

EDITING:
Valorie Clifton

 

COVER
DESIGN: LJ Anderson,
Mayhem Cover
Creations

 
 
 
 
 

DEDICATION

 

I want to thank my children for putting up with the
take out pizza and five minute meals you had to eat while I was writing this
book. Shush. Don’t tell that I always give you take out pizza and quickie
dinners - it sounded good for the acknowledgments! But seriously I know you get
tired of seeing the back of my head from my office door, please remember, I do
it all for you. I love every single one of you so much.

I also want to thank my publisher at Prism Heart Press
who saw me struggling with kids a full time job and trying to write. She picked
me up, brushed me off, pointed me in the right direction and said; “Go this
way.” Thank you for believing in me and helping me believe in myself.

 

- Emerson AKA “Mama”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Prologue

 

HOLLAND

 

I
miss my baby girl.

God,
she’s not even a baby anymore. She’s three years old today. I fidget
impatiently as the musicians around me shuffle their sheet music while
preparing for tonight’s performance. Today is supposed to be a joyful day of
celebration with Barbie dolls and pink balloons, but instead, the tuning of my
colleagues’ instruments has me well on my way to a migraine. The pre-show
butterflies I feel in my tummy every year on this particular day have turned to
cement.

Focus,
I tell myself. These people are looking to you for direction and leadership.
You can’t be distracted, not even today.

The
buzzing crowd is the winner of my attention tonight. Hands down, concertmaster
or not, my mind isn’t on the orchestra tonight. It’s on my daughter.

Scanning
the audience like I do every year on this date, I pray I’ll see him sitting out
there in the dimly lit auditorium, with my daughter swinging her little feet
back and forth in the seat next to him.

It’s
a dream I’ve been having every night for three years. I’m sitting on stage in
the Lincoln Center, consumed by the music and focused on leading my string
section, when out of the corner of my eye, I see King sitting in the third row
with our beautiful raven-haired daughter, Juliette, next to him. The room blurs,
and my violin slides from my hands, clattering onto the floor in slow motion as
I stand. The members of the orchestra stop playing in waves, beginning with the
musicians closest to me, until only the percussion people are left clanking and
rattling.

A
hush falls over the room when I call out her name.

I
bolt backstage, but when I arrive at their row, the seats have been abandoned.
I turn to look up the aisle. No one is there, but there are hundreds of glaring
eyes fixated on me. I glance back at the vacant seats in disbelief and see
something glimmering where Juliette sat. If the lights hadn’t been turned up in
the house because of my unheard of behavior, I would never have seen it. I push
past patrons decked out in sequins, fur stoles and tuxedos and lurch for the
eye-catching sparkle. It’s a charm bracelet with a tiny diamond violin, a music
note, and three circular charms with the letters H, K and J stamped on them.
My
charm bracelet.
King gave it to me in the hospital after I had our baby three years ago, before
he took her and disappeared.

 
 

 

 
 
 
 

Chapter One

 

Four Years Earlier

 

HOLLAND

 

“Don’t
you dare say no,
Holland.
You don’t have much time
left.” Savannah barges into my bedroom, throwing a huge duffle bag onto my bed.
We’d just hung up. I thought she was at home, not in my driveway.

“I’m
going to Juilliard, Savannah. I’m not dying.” I shake my head. I can’t believe
she’s making me do this. She shoots me a death glare that would probably hurt
my feelings if it were genuine, but there’s a hint of a smile at the corner of
her mouth.

“Come
on, be
young
have some
fun
.”

“I
do
have fun.” I fling myself onto my
back next to the duffle.

“Um,
no. No, you don’t. Sitting in this bedroom day after day, doing homework, and
playing the violin until your fingers literally bleed is
not
fun.”

“Maybe
not for you, but it is for me.”

“You’re
having
real
fun this summer if it
kills me.” Savannah digs through her duffle bag, tossing bottles of this and
cans of that on the bed.

 
“What are you doing?”

“You
know what we’re doing. We’re going out. Put on something sexy.”

“I’ve
got a ton of homework. We have finals next week. You know, graduation and all
that.” My voice drips with sarcasm. I roll onto my belly and bury my face into
the comforter. Savannah slaps my ass and struts across my tidy bedroom to the
closet. “Hey, that hurt.” I rub my butt and get up to follow her. “Don’t mess
up my closet. Everything in there is just where I want it, and
it’s
color coded.” She turns to me with her hands on her
hips and a smirk on her lips.

“Separating
black and white isn’t considered color coding. You have to have
color
for that.”

“Black
and white
are
always appropriate.”

“Well,
we’re going for the opposite of appropriate tonight, honey. It’s time to start
breaking in these fake IDs, my friend. I paid a fortune for them, so come on!
Get dressed.” She fans the IDs in my face, lifting her eyebrows.

“I
don’t know, Savannah. I mean, I know everybody does it, but we’re only
nineteen. We don’t look old enough to be in a bar.” Savannah takes me by my
shoulders and turns me toward my full-length mirror on the back of my closet
door.

“You
have on yoga pants and a sweatshirt, your hair is in a sloppy knot on top of
your head, and you’re not wearing makeup. When I’m done with you, you’re gonna
be smoking hot.” I sigh and glance at my homework on my desk, and then at my
violin in its case on the floor, before meeting her eyes in the mirror.

“Trust
me,” she says in her thickest southern drawl, squeezing my shoulders and giving
them a quick jerk before turning back to rummage through my closet.

“I’m
supposed to practice. Mama will be listening.”

 
“I don’t understand why you have to
practice when you’re world class. You’ve been considered a . . . what do they
call it again?”

“A
child prodigy.”

“Yeah,
that . . . since you were eight, for shit’s sake.” Savannah slaps the plastic
hangers against each other like she’s disgusted, and she probably is. After a
few minutes of critiquing everything I own, she sighs.

“There
is actually not one single sexy piece of clothing in this closet.” Her arms fly
up and she drops them against her sides with a slap.

“Just
go start practicing. I’ll get ready first. It’ll give me some time to think
about what I’m going to do with you. I’ll have to work around the violin when
it’s your turn.” She spins on her heel and heads into my en-suite bathroom with
a frustrated sigh.

“I’m
good because I practice, by the way,” I call after her. I’m doomed. Savannah’s
relentless. I may as well just give in and go along with her insane plan.

“You’re
good because you were born with a violin in your hands,” she yells.

I
hear her spreading cosmetics and hair styling paraphernalia all over the
counter.

I
pick up my violin and rest it on my shoulder. All of my tension melts and flows
from my fingertips into my music. A calm washes over me, and every muscle in my
body relaxes. For me, playing the violin is comfortable and exhilarating at the
same time, like snuggling in my bed and riding on a rollercoaster. I raise my
bow and close my eyes. I don’t need the sheet music to play my favorite piece
of music, Bach’s Chaconne from Partita in D minor. At three years old, I opened
my mama’s violin case and tucked her instrument under my chin the way I had
seen her do a million times. It took her two seconds to know I was gifted. Mama
always says, “The biggest sin is to ignore the special gifts God gives you.”
She’s a God-fearing woman, and she wasn’t about to let me ignore my gift.

Both
of my parents spent every second of their lives fostering my talent after that.
They took out second mortgages on our house, worked hours and hours of overtime
to pay for lessons, practice rooms and trips out of town to listen to famous
orchestras perform, all so that I could go to Juilliard and someday realize my
dream of playing in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Savannah
is my best friend, and lately, her number one goal in life is to expose me to
all of the things I’ll be missing at a
normal
college next year. She assumes Juilliard isn’t going to be normal—and
it’s probably not, I guess—but I don’t care. I’ve never been normal
either.

Savannah pads across my bedroom until she stops directly in
front of me.
Excitement radiates from her body when I open my eyes and
gasp, lowering my bow until it dangles limply in my hand.

“Oh
my God, Savannah, you look like . . . like you’re twenty-five or something.” I
stare at my blonde bombshell of a best friend. She’s become a professional
makeup artist in her spare time, and quite possibly a hair stylist too.
Savannah isn’t Savanna anymore. She’s transformed her cute, fresh-faced,
nineteen-year-old self into one of those America’s Next Top Model girls with
smoky eyes, sexy, wavy hair down to her ass, skintight jeans, heels—no,
make that stilts—and a tank top that is so skimpy I’m almost embarrassed
to see her in it.

“You’re
going out like
that
?”

She
spins around and thrusts her hip out.

“Yep,
and so are you. Come on.” She crooks her finger toward herself. Her eyes are
full of mischief as she tries to tempt me into joining her.

“I
thought you said I could play while you worked on me.” I really don’t want to
get made up like a doll. “Mama isn’t going to be satisfied with that little bit
of practice, ya know.”

“Little
bit? You’ve been playing for like forty-five minutes. You don’t even realize
that, do you?”

“Uh
no, not really. I get lost in the music sometimes. But forty-five minutes isn’t
nearly enough. I usually practice at least two hours every night.”

“Do
you record yourself when you’re playing?”

“Yeah,
of course.” Oh crap . . .

“No
way, Savannah. If she comes up here and finds out that I’ve snuck out the
window and left my tracks playing on my computer, she will kill me.”

Savannah
pulls me by the arm and plops me onto a barstool in front of the mirror in my
bathroom while she grabs a brush.

“Your
mama isn’t going to kill you. For one thing, she isn’t going to find out, and
for another, even if she does, you’re going away in a couple of months to
college. She’ll understand that you had to sow your wild oats before you left.”

“Wild
oats?”

“Yes.
Oats. Now play while I straighten your hair, woman.” She flicks her finger at
the violin in my hands, dismissing the subject.

I
pull in a deep breath, fill my cheeks, and blow it out. She’s going to get me
into trouble. I know it, but I don’t have a choice. I feel so guilty for
leaving her. Savannah isn’t going to college. Her daddy left them two years
ago, and her mama has to work three jobs just to make ends meet. After they pay
the bills, there’s nothing left for higher education.

I
play while she works miracles straightening my thick, black hair. Eventually,
she forces me to put down my violin and turn on my practice recording so she
can do my makeup.

“I’m
going to look like a whore.” My eyes are closed as she brushes what feels like
a
lot
of eyeshadow on my lids. She’s
so close to my face that I feel her breath disappear in a gasp right before she
play-slaps my cheek.

“Now
why would you say something like that? Do
I
look like a whore?”

“Well
. . .” I giggle and open my eyes to a very insulted Savannah, who is just
inches from my face and biting an eyeliner pencil horizontally between her
teeth.

“Hey.”

“I’m
kidding. You just look so much older.”

“That’s
the idea, dummy. Now be still. I’m almost done.” Thank God. I never wear makeup,
and my hair is naturally wavy, so I usually just put it in a ponytail when it’s
wet. Hair and makeup just take away time that I could be practicing or
studying. Savannah says I’m obsessed with the violin and my plans for the
future. It probably seems that way to her—to everyone, actually, except
Mama. I was born to play. It’s in my bones. It isn’t a hobby or a pastime. It’s
who I
am
.

“Ta
da. You can look now.” She steps away from the vanity so I can see in the
mirror.

“Wow.”

 
“Yeah . . . wow.” She crosses her arms
across her chest and nods her head up and down, clearly satisfied with her
work.

“You’re
fucking hot, Holland.”

“Watch
your mouth. Cursing makes you ugly.”

“I
can’t help it. I did a fucking awesome job.”

I
stare at the stranger in the mirror over my bathroom vanity.

“You
should do a little of this every day. I mean, not all of it, of
course—this is an evening look—but you could be model-gorgeous with
a little effort.” The compliment hangs in the air between us. I don’t consider
myself beautiful—average, maybe—but tonight? Yeah, this is
definitely different.

“Okay,
hop up and go get dressed. I put your clothes on your bed.”

“I
thought you were looking in my closet for something.”

She
gives me the famous Savannah eye roll.

“I
was being nice. I knew there wasn’t anything sexy in there.” I narrow my eyes
and lift one corner of my professionally glossed lips with skepticism.

“It’s
not that bad. Man, getting you to loosen up is going to be harder than I
thought.”

In
my bedroom, I find a pair of jeans lying on my bed. I hold them out in front of
me and look up at her.

“What
are these, size negative zero? Did you get them in the little girls’
department?”

“Hush.”

I
tug, wiggle and hop until they’re over my hips. When I’m stuffed into the teeny
tiny jeans, she hands me an even tinier flimsy white tank top with lace around
the bottom hem. I sigh and hold the top against me and decide it’s a good thing
we’ve been working on our tans already this spring, because this shirt is going
to show a lot of skin.

“Just
put it on. You’re gonna look awesome.” She flips her hair over her shoulder
while she packs away her makeup and hair tools in the duffle bag. I make quick
work of stripping off my comfy sweatshirt and tossing it aside, replacing it
with the scrap of material Savannah calls a top. Tilting my head, I look in the
mirror again, smooth my hands over my bare belly, and try tugging the shirt
down a little. It’s useless. The lacy hem brushes just above my navel, and
that’s where it’s staying.

“Aren’t
you glad you got your belly pierced now? It looks so pretty with that shirt,”
she says, standing behind me and looking into the mirror. Another thing on her
itinerary
. . . pierce something other
than your ears. Since I was completely opposed to having any private part of my
body pierced, my belly button was the only thing left. It hurt like hell, but I
did it for her. That was the first time we put our IDs to use, although I don’t
think the guys at the tattoo/piercing shop really cared about our age. They
were more interested in pulling our shirts up and touching our tummies than
anything. Savannah could have gotten hers for free if she had asked. The poor
guy was practically drooling.

“All
right, I think we’re going to have to carry our shoes until we get off the
roof.” She holds up two pairs of ridiculously high-heeled shoes. My stomach
drops when she mentions the roof. Sneaking out is such a bad idea. I just know
my mama is going to find out, and she is going to be livid.

“Can’t
I just wear my cowboy boots?” I hold my hands together, praying she will let
me.

“No,
this is a fancy dance club. You need heels.”

BOOK: King's Baby - A Bad Boy Romance
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