Read Rock Star's Ballad (White Mist Series Book 3) Online
Authors: A. P. Jensen
“That’s deliberate, baby.”
Johnny settled her on the couch and grabbed the bag of takeout. He opened all the trays and made them each a plate. She sat in the corner of the couch, her favorite spot, and took the food gratefully. They ate in silence and her eyes moved over the room again. She felt happy, sated and warm. If only she could pause her life right where it was at this moment…
“The day you came after me,” Johnny said and her attention jerked from the mason jars to his face. “I was in too deep. I knew when I married Rose it wouldn’t last.”
The warmth she felt was replaced by bitter cold.
“When you broke up with me, I couldn’t think straight. You were my best friend and the only one who supported me. That day, I not only lost you, but the only family I ever had. Your mom, she was amazing. When I came back to New York, it was home because you were there.”
Demi started to get up from the couch, but he set his plate down with a clatter and turned to her. He caged her in the corner of the couch with his body.
“We’re going to lay down our cards, Demi,” he said, voice low and threatening.
She pushed at him. “I don’t know why you’re bringing this up!”
“Because it’s our history and it hurt us both. We have to lay it out so we can move past it. You’re gonna hear a lot of shit about me. I won’t lie to you and you need to know.”
“Where my mind was at, where it’s been. I learn from my mistakes and I know the difference between mindless sex and you. So, we’re going to talk about it. All of it.”
Her eyes glittered angrily as they met his. “Fine. Talk.”
“Tell me the truth. Did you break up with me because of your dad?”
“And you love your family more than anything, so you gave me up for them.”
Her chest was suddenly tight. “Yes.”
“You should have trusted me,” Johnny said.
“I believed you’d make it, Johnny,” she said fiercely. “You know I believed in you, but I wasn’t built for a life on the road. I can’t live in a van or bus. I need a home. I needed my family. I loved you, but we didn’t fit in each other’s lives. Dad was right about that.”
“I didn’t see it coming. It nearly killed me.”
She clasped his face between her hands. “I’m here now.”
He pressed a kiss into her palm and relaxed a little. “The morning after I got married, I was thinking of you. I opened the door and there you were. You hugged me, said you loved me, that we could try again. All I could think was it was too late. I felt Rose come up behind me. She knew all about you. I called out your name in my sleep. She thought she was helping me by causing that scene. I’d done so much fucked up stuff since we broke up that I couldn’t take you back. I had nothing to offer, just like your dad said.”
She flinched. “Johnny—”
“You were both right. I did all the shit I said I’d never do. I drank myself to sleep, popped pills, slept with any woman that wanted me. I was so empty. Even when the money started rolling in, it didn’t matter. I always had money from my parents. I thought Regan was like all the rest, but she had such fire.” Johnny’s mouth twitched. “And how can I forget a woman who put itch powder in my pants? Shit. She woke me up. She didn’t care how much money I had or how many people worshipped me. If she thought I was a jerk, she told me. If I didn’t get it, she found a way to make her point.”
Demi sensed his pain. The easygoing persona was a facade. He had money, fame, looks and was one of the most unhappy people she’d ever met. Even now, he exceeded his goals, but the boy who had been abused and abandoned by his parents was still present.
“I couldn’t think of a damn thing to write for a new album. I heard about this songwriter that could work miracles. I went to New York and met Gwen. I didn’t even have to talk. She just looked at me and said, ‘So, you want to write a song about heartbreak?’ I told her I just had sex that morning and she shook her head. ‘This ache is so old, you don’t even know you’re carrying it.’ God, that burned.”
Johnny closed his eyes and sagged to his knees, his arms on either side of her. He tugged her to the edge of the couch, nestled between her thighs and rested his face on her chest.
“Gwen helped me write an album straight from my soul. I never released it because they were all ballads and they weren’t for the world. They were for you.”
“The album nearly destroyed me. Gwen didn’t ask who the songs were about and she never pushed me that deep again. She knew I couldn’t handle it. She helped me write what I told her I wanted to so I didn’t need to feel.”
“You’re killing me,” she whispered.
He tipped his head back to meet her eyes. His were stark with such vulnerability that she looked away.
“Look at me, Demi.”
She did so, blinking back tears.
“I’ve been waiting for you.”
She shook her head and his grip on her tightened.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” he repeated firmly. “There’s been a hole in my chest since we walked away from each other. When I saw you in the audience at my concert, I didn’t care about our past. I don’t care about it now. All these years, I thought you hated me and there you were, standing right in front of the stage. Nothing could have stopped me. I gambled hard that night and sang that song for you. If you were indifferent and cold, it would have killed me. Instead, you cried and I could barely finish the song. You were there and you cared even after all these years. I didn’t care if you were married. That wouldn’t stop me. The fact that you wanted a fresh start in a small town and just got out of a relationship? God gave you to me gift-wrapped. I didn’t need to tell Gwen who you were. I brought you into my home and Regan Lee did the rest. They know why I’m the way I am even though I’ve never said it out loud.”
“Johnny, stop,” Demi pleaded.
“The only place the pain went away was when I was on stage. I went on tour after tour, some lasted two years. I finished and didn’t know what to do with myself. I followed Regan here, watched her get back with her high school sweetheart and settle. She made me Chase’s godfather and the pain faded a bit. Trey finally woke the fuck up and noticed Gwen when they were on tour, made a fool of himself at the CMA’s and suddenly both of my girls were married. I wasn’t as restless when I was here, not with Regan Lee and the family. They accepted me into the fold, gave me keys to their houses, welcomed me in. You can’t live here and not think of family. I couldn’t get you out of my head. I refused to look you up. I didn’t know what I’d do if I found out you were married and had kids.”
She didn’t know what to say, so she whispered, “Johnny.”
Demi sucked in a breath as Johnny rose, brushed his lips over hers and pushed her down on the couch. He stripped off his jeans and brushed her nightgown up as he stretched out on top of her and slid a hand between her legs. She tossed one leg over the couch so he had better access and he growled in approval. He kissed her deeply, with such naked emotion that tears leaked out of the corner of her eyes. Neither of them spoke as he shifted his hips and slid inside of her.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” he whispered against her lips. “Didn’t think I had a chance.”
More tears leaked out of her eyes and he began to thrust harder. Demi broke the kiss and found him watching her, dark eyes filled with possessiveness. She clutched at him and screamed when she climaxed. Johnny followed a minute later and collapsed on top of her, face buried in her hair while they got their breath back.
“Am I too heavy?” Johnny muttered.
She still had her arms wrapped around him and couldn’t let go. “No.”
“How’s your head?”
Silence fell and she wondered if he fell asleep. She didn’t care if he had. She was going to lay here until he was ready to move and not a moment before. He bared his soul to her and it was beautiful and frightening. God, he had no fear. He lay everything out there for her to accept or reject. Well, if she tried to reject him, she didn’t think she’d get far. She understood him and even while a lot of it hurt, that was okay. They both made mistakes. Johnny’s journey made him the man he was today—driven, broken and wide open to her. Nothing he did could have healed the wounds in their past like what he just said. He meant every word.
“In case you didn’t get it, I’m all in,” Johnny said.
Demi laughed and Johnny shifted them so they faced one another. She scratched his beard and smiled at him.
“I got that loud and clear, baby,” she said.
“Good. I took you twice without a condom.”
She stiffened and he tugged on her hair to get her attention.
in,” he reiterated. “If you want to get married tomorrow, I’m down. You want to have kids, I’ll start buying things for the nursery. You want to spend all my money, go for it. You understand, Demi?”
“You have no fear,” she said, shaking her head.
“Nothing to lose,” he corrected. “Whatever you need, I provide.”
She didn’t bring up the fact that they’d been together less than a week. They both knew it didn’t matter. The link between them hadn’t weakened even though they’d been apart for thirteen years and it grew stronger every hour they spent together. Life was precious. She lost her whole family in a tragic accident and now she had her first love back, a man who would do anything for her. She thought of her siblings, of the love her parents had for her. She’d always wanted a child and one with Johnny? She never thought it was possible and now… It was within her grasp.
“If I get pregnant,” she shrugged, “it was meant to be.”
Johnny’s eyes flared and she had a split second of warning before he rolled them on the carpet. They missed the coffee table by inches and before she could catch her breath, he was inside of her, thrusting hard and going deep without the cushion of the couch beneath her.
“Johnny,” she gasped.
“I’m gonna try my damnedest to take you up on that.” His eyes burned as they stared into hers. “You don’t know how many dreams I’ve had of you surrounded by our kids. Fuck.”
She smiled and that sent him over the edge. She held him as he shuddered and lay over her, hands moving restlessly over her body.
“Does this mean we’re getting married tomorrow?” Johnny asked when he could speak.
“I need some time.” When he stiffened, she kissed him. “Johnny, I’m not going anywhere. But I think five days is a bit fast, don’t you think?”
“No, I spent thirteen years without you.”
“I just,” she fumbled when he raised his head to look at her. “Let’s at least wait another week.”
They lay there for several minutes while her hands moved soothingly over him. “What are you gonna do, Johnny?”
“You just got off of a tour, but are you going to write another album?”
“Not planning anything right now,” he mumbled into her neck.
“I’m not planning on going anywhere or doing anything that takes me away from you. That clear, baby?”
“Yeah, Johnny. Clear.”
The next morning, Johnny drove her to work. He kept their hands laced together and rubbed his thumb over her bare ring finger.
“You okay?” Johnny asked for the third time.
“I’m great,” she said.
He glanced at her and relaxed a little. “I’ll be back for lunch.”
He stopped in front of Ever After and she reached for the door handle, but he grasped her arm.
“Kiss,” he demanded.
Demi laughed and leaned over the console. Johnny wrapped his hand around her throat. It was an overly possessive hold, but she didn’t mind. The kiss lasted long enough for Johnny to start unbuttoning her blouse. She wrenched away and slammed out of the SUV. He rolled down the window, pouting petulantly.
“I need you, Demi,” he called.
Even while she giggled like a schoolgirl, she looked around but the sidewalk was empty at this early hour.
“I’ll see you after work.”
,” he barked.
“Right. Lunch,” she agreed.
“Call me if you need me. I’ll be in the studio.”
Demi blew him a kiss and walked into Ever After feeling weightless. The boutique was empty so she walked into the back room and saw Bethany working on the wedding gown. Demi peeked in the office and saw Regan wasn’t in yet. She walked over to Bethany who knelt on the floor with needle and thread.
“It looks perfect. What are you doing to it?”
“It’s the little details,” Bethany muttered as she sewed a crystal onto the skirt. “When she’s walking, the crystals will catch the light.”
Demi cocked her head to the side as she examined the gown. “What kind of bride is this for?”
“Rock princess,” Bethany said immediately.
Demi considered the dress in silence before she focused on Bethany. “How long have you been here? The shop shouldn’t even be open yet.”
Bethany shrugged. “I’m an early riser.”
“How’s your grandmother doing?”
Bethany kept her head bowed as she sewed. “Grandma Pat’s difficult. My mom has her hands full.”
“She must be proud of you for coming back to help with Ever After.”
Bethany got to her feet and stretched. “Mom’s grateful. Grandma Pat told me they don’t need my help.”
“What’s wrong with her?” Demi asked irritably, not as sympathetic towards Bethany’s grandmother as she had been a few days ago. Bethany didn’t have to come home and take care of a rundown store. Bethany even went so far as to hire Regan to see how the business was doing on her grandma’s behalf. Bethany was a hard worker. The wedding gown in front of her attested to her creativity, dedication and attention to detail.