Authors: Rhonda James
Two of The Not So Bad Boys of Rock Series
© 2015 Rhonda L. James
All rights reserved.
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Cover layout design by Squid Ink Studio
Published by Rhonda L. James
All lyrics are original and owned by
Rhonda L. James
part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
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information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the
author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. This book is a
work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are either products of the
author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons,
living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
This book is dedicated to Dan.
Without your love and support, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love. The sacrifices
you make while I spend my time writing do not go unnoticed, and I promise to
pick up the slack once the ideas stop flowing. Until then, I love you, and
appreciate all that you do for our family, and for all that you represent as a
loving husband, father, and friend to all who know you.
Three Months Earlier
Just put one foot in front of the other. That’s
what I keep telling myself, but someone forgot to pass the message on to my
legs. They’re rooted to the floor, as if they were concrete blocks. This is the
first time I’ve been home since she left for London. I take a deep breath and will
myself forward, through the door, into the cold and empty space that used to
feel like home. She left yesterday, but I can still smell her sweet fragrance.
An intoxicating mixture of almonds and vanilla. Permeating the air. Settling
deep within my fractured heart. This pain could have been avoided, a fact I am
well aware of. She may have made the choice to move, but I chose to walk away.
Away from her. Away from us.
had it all planned out. It may have been my birthday, but it was Brooke that I
wanted to surprise. I was going to propose, in front of everyone we loved, and
I was confident that her answer would have been yes. It was supposed to be the
best birthday present ever; her agreeing to become my wife. The timing was
right. I’d spotted her talking with mom, holding that adorable puppy she’d
bought me. I started my walk across the room, and would have reached her, if it
hadn’t been for the damn doorbell, and the man standing on the other side. If
things had been different, I would have spent the last three days in her arms,
instead of a hotel room two hours south of here.
I found out she was leaving again, I couldn’t face her. She’d just moved in
with me, had just gotten settled. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was so
angry. Betrayed was a better word. Even though I knew she hadn’t intentionally
tried to deceive me, that’s what she ended up doing. In my mind, in the heat of
the moment, the only way to deal with things had been to lash out. I never gave
her a chance to explain. I took off and shut her out. The only communication we
shared had been a few text messages before she left. Now, I’m not sure where we
stand. Three days without her has already proven to be a bad decision. I
screwed up, but then I always knew I had it in me.
stepped into the man cave, as Brooke had always called it, made my way to the
leather sofa, and ran my hand over the cool material. We’d spent hours lying
here, talking, laughing, kissing. The intimacy shared in this space now weighed
heavily on my shoulders. I sank into the cushion and beat my head against the
leather, wishing it were firmer, needing something to wake me up from the
ongoing nightmare. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to have ended.
wasn’t supposed to end at all.
pulled out my phone and flipped through photos of Brooke. There were hundreds
of them. Our times together had always been brief, so we tried to make the most
of it, making sure to capture every moment on camera. The last photo I had
taken was one of her holding Gibson, the golden retriever puppy she had given
me for my birthday. I scrolled through a few more before coming across one of her
at Nikki’s wedding. She was stunning in that purple dress. She always looked
beautiful. That day had served to confirm what I had already known. I wanted
her to be my wife. I wanted her by my side, always and forever. For me, nothing
else came before her happiness. When she chose her job over us, that choice had
told me that she didn’t feel the same way. I knew she loved me, that hadn’t
been the issue. My problem was that I selfishly wanted to be the only thing
that made her happy.
glanced over at the table, the one filled with picture frames. Pictures of us.
Lying there on the table, in front of my favorite photo, one of many taken on
the beach, was the diamond engagement ring I had left behind. I picked it up,
slipping it over the tip of my finger, and wondered if I would ever get the
chance to make things right again.
opened my eyes and looked around the room. I was still in the man cave. I must
have fallen asleep. The sound of someone pounding on the door had startled me
awake. Another round of banging sounded throughout the house, reminding me that
they were still waiting. I shuffled my way down the hall, averting my eyes from
the closed bedroom door. The pounding started up again just as I was about to
swing open the large door.
Travis greeted warmly, pulling me in for a brotherly hug. “I heard you were
back. You okay?”
I guess. Come on in,” I motioned. “I was just sleeping.” I headed to the
kitchen to grab a bottle of water.
can come back if you’re tired.” He offered, making a move for the door.
I handed him a bottle. “I was just sitting in the other room thinking.” I gave
my head a light shake. “I must have dozed off. I’m good.”
you talked to her yet?” He asked, as he unscrewed the cap.
I’m not even sure what to say. I screwed up man, I know that. I was just so
pissed. I had everything all worked out, and that was never part of the plan.”
I dropped into a recliner and sank my head into my waiting hands. Travis came
over and placed a firm hand on the center of my back.
this doesn’t have to be the end. You two can get past this. Look,” he pulled an
ottoman over and sat in front of me. “She’s going to be over there for nine
months, tops. We’re on tour five of those months. Either way you were going to
be apart. When the tour is over, go stay with her, spend some time in London.
You don’t have to be in this house to make your plan work.”
the same thing she said. Man, I’m so stupid. I was so blinded by anger. Ever
since I went into rehab, I’ve had this awareness, this overwhelming need to
have control over my life. When I met Brook, I was able to be myself. She
needed me, and she let me take care of her. That was the best therapy for me.
When she stayed with me, she brought me back to life. She gave me a sense of
purpose. She filled a void. Now, I’m afraid of becoming that person again. This
whole thing has helped me realize that I needed her more than she needed me.”
My body convulsed as unwelcomed tears poured out. I never allowed myself to
break down, not even after the accident. I mean, yeah, I cry sometimes. Who
doesn’t? But this felt different. These sobs wracked my whole body, and
whatever control I had managed to hold onto these past three days seemed to
vanish as I gave in. Travis pulled me tight against him, rocking me back and
little brother, I am so sorry you're hurting. I wish I could carry this burden
for you, but I think you’re wrong. You both need each other. She’s a strong,
independent woman. You love that about her, I know you do. Natalie is the same
way. There are days when I swear that woman would get along fine without me,
and then she kisses me, and it reminds me that we complete one another. You
need to talk to her. You have to let her know how you feel, but you also have
to listen to how she feels. I know you say that you love her, and I believe
you, but love isn’t the only thing that makes a marriage work. You also need
trust, intimacy, and support. She needs to know that it’s safe to share her
dreams with you, even when you don’t agree with them. This is what she wanted,
Sebastian, long before she met you. That doesn’t mean you are less important. She
just needs to prove something to herself. Give her that chance.”
sighed heavily and wiped my eyes with my palms. “What if I’m too late?”
it wasn’t meant to be.” He replied, honestly. I could always count on Travis to
be completely honest and level-headed. I knew he was right. If my running away
had pushed Brooke over the edge, beyond forgiveness, then I would have to move
forward in life without her. I hoped that was still possible.
Sebastian, I know that you’re crazy about her. I remember what it was like
before proposing to Nat. I also get that your head is pretty messed up right
now. That’s understandable. I’m just concerned that maybe you’ve allowed your
feelings for Brooke to become your new drug of choice.”
the hell would you think that?” I shrank back. “You seriously think I’ve traded
one dependency for another? I spent ninety days cleaning out my body
my mind. I left everything there, Travis. My dependency on Brooke never
diminished me, or led me to make bad choices. If anything, she made me better.
She made me strive for more.” I hung my head, shaking it slowly. “I can’t
believe you would say that to me.”
sorry. I’ve just seen changes in you over the past seven months, and they are
good changes, but there’s also an obsession that borders on the unhealthy.” He
held up his hands in defense. “I’m just calling it as I see it.”
would disagree with you. She thinks my behavior is indicative of true love. So,
does Nat feel the same way? The guys too?” The slight edge in my voice doesn’t
I’m not here to pick a fight. I’m just here because I love you, and we’re all
worried about you. We don’t want to see you crash and burn again. If you feel
like you’re starting to reach that point, let one of us know, we’ll help you
get through it. Okay?” The brotherly tone returned to his voice, and I knew
that he was only saying this because he cared.
know. I hear what you’re saying. I’m not going to lie, I fell hard and fast for
Brooke. We’re meant to be together. I feel it in here.” I brought a fist to my
heart and bumped it against my chest a few times. “I just need to give her some
are you going to do that?” Travis snorted. “Three days have practically sent
you over the edge.”
me, I know, but I’m hoping the tour will help keep my mind preoccupied.”
tomorrow baby!” Travis fist bumped me.
here we come!” I announced, suddenly looking forward to the distraction.