MANIC: Rook and Ronin, #2, page 1
Chapter One- ROOK
Chapter Two - ROOK
Chapter Three - ROOK
Chapter Four - RONIN
Chapter Five - ROOK
Chapter Six - ROOK
Chapter Seven - RONIN
Chapter Eight - ROOK
Chapter Nine - ROOK
Chapter Ten - ROOK
Chapter Eleven - ROOK
Chapter Twelve - ROOK
Chapter Thirteen - ROOK
Chapter Fourteen - ROOK
Chapter Fifteen - ROOK
Chapter Sixteen - ROOK
Chapter Seventeen - ROOK
Chapter Eighteen - ROOK
Chapter Nineteen - RONIN
Chapter Twenty - ROOK
Chapter Twenty-One - ROOK
Chapter Twenty-Two - ROOK
Chapter Twenty-Three - ROOK
Chapter Twenty-Four - ROOK
Chapter Twenty-Five - ROOK
Chapter Twenty-Six - ROOK
Chapter Twenty-Seven - RONIN
Chapter Twenty-Eight - ROOK
Chapter Twenty-Nine - RONIN
Chapter Thirty - ROOK
Chapter Thirty-One - RONIN
Chapter Thirty-Two - RONIN
Chapter Thirty-Three - ROOK
Chapter Thirty-Four - ROOK
Chapter Thirty-Five - RONIN
Chapter Thirty-Six - ROOK
SNEAK PEEK OF PANIC
End of Book Shit
Rook and Ronin, Book Two
By J. A. Huss
Find me at
New Adult Addiction
Edited by RJ Locksley
Cover design by J. A. Huss
Copyright © 2013 by J. A. Huss
All rights reserved.
Other books by J.A. Huss
Clutch (I Am Just Junco, Book One)
Fledge (I Am Just Junco, Book Two)
Flight (I Am Just Junco, Book Three)
Range (I Am Just Junco, Book Four)
The Magpie Bridge (A Tier Novella, Book 4.5)
TRAGIC: Rook and Ronin, #1
PANIC: Rook and Ronin, #3 (October 2013)
Return (I Am Just Junco, Book Five) (December 2013)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
TRAGIC is over and Rook is ready for the future—Spencer Shrike and the STURGIS contract!
It's three months of body art modeling! That means three months of Spencer Shrike's paintbrush all over her body, three months in front of Antoine's camera, and three months of twenty-four-hour filming for Spencer's Biker Channel reality show.
Wait a minute… what reality show? Maybe she should've read that STURGIS contract a little closer? ;)
Sure, Rook's bank account is overflowing, but Ronin is angry, Clare is trying to escape rehab, Antoine is a worried mess, and Elise is just trying to hold everyone together. Rook's new family is about to fall apart before she even gets the chance to enjoy it.
Add in a mysterious man from her past, a road trip to the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and a final show in front of the entire world where all her goods are on display, and you've got Manic—a New Adult contemporary romance that will definitely make your summer sizzle!
Chapter One- ROOK
There's a cool breeze swimming up my bare legs and Ronin's feather-light touch just compounds the tickle. I try my best not to squirm, but I don't entirely succeed. I stuff my face into the pillow and stifle a giggle and I hear him sigh behind me.
"See what?" I ask, half turning. "You're doing it that way on purpose. If that was Spencer, he wouldn't be trying to turn me on."
He squints down at me. I rest my gaze briefly on his eyes, those electric blue eyes. They are amazing. Actually, all of Ronin is amazing. His chest is… perfect. He's got very little hair on it and that's something I quite like. What I like even more is the little trail that trickles down the middle of his abdomen and disappears down his boxer shorts.
I realize my fingers just walked their way down to the waistband of his shorts right along with my eyes and when I look up at him he's grinning.
"That's a naughty look on your face, Gidge."
I snicker and sit up. I'm wearing the blue nightie he gave me from the studio closet when I first came here. "You do that to me sometimes."
"Only sometimes?" He tackles me and rolls me over until I'm on top of him.
I know it's just your basic flirt, but actually, Ronin does it to me at all times. I have to take a deep breath to quiet my heart rate a little because everything about him sets me off. "Kiss me."
He does. He kisses me like he hasn't seen me in weeks. Months. Like he didn't just make love to me an hour ago. I embrace that kiss and drag my fingertips down his back. He takes the paintbrush in his hand and sweeps it slowly down my chest, making me buckle back.
He pulls me forward. "Oh, I like that," he moans in my ear. "But I don't like to think about Spencer having that effect on you at all."
"Ugh. You ruined it! I was just about ready to give in and you ruin it!"
He rolls us over again and places himself on top, in control. He holds me down by the wrists and then leans down and kisses my neck with little fluttery breaths that carry up into my ear and make me squirm. "I give! I give!"
He kisses my lips once, just a quick one, then rolls off me. "You're so ticklish, he's gonna be tickling you all up, Rook. I hate it."
I know he hates it and he's been so perfect pretending that he doesn't. He's been supportive and understanding about the whole mess. We finished the TRAGIC contract about a couple weeks ago, which was its own little nightmare with all the nude crack-whore pictures those people wanted, then went on a little mountain vacation up to Granby Lake for a week to try and forget the whole experience. I wonder if all contracts require a vacation to put it behind you?
I really hope not. Although I don't see myself taking another contract. I think I've had my fill.
I thought this whole body art stuff with Spence would be OK, but it is what it is. Sure, I'll look like I have clothes on when he's finished doing his thing, but the reality is—I won't have clothes on. I'll be completely, one hundred percent nude.
"Ticklish isn't the same thing as turned on, you know." I smile to try and make him feel better, but honestly, he has every right to be jealous and worried. Not because I'm going to do anything with Spencer. I'm not interested in Spencer at all. But the guy will have his paintbrush all over me.
Like all over me.
And if some girl was painting my boyfriend all up for the sake of making a walking billboard, yeah, I'd be pissed.
"Just because I wiggle a bit doesn't mean I want to have sex with him, Ronin." I say it gently because I'm so in the wrong in this one. I have nothing. I take my hands to his face and rub the stubble on his cheeks softly. "I know it bugs you, and I'm pretty sure I already regret signing this contract, but it's done. They've got it all set up, it's three months, then I'm out and we can make real plans. I'll go back to school and we'll make real plans." I kiss him and he responds with a half-hearted nibble on my lower lip.
Everything he said to me that day we finally opened up to each other is turning out to be true, and I figured he was right at the time anyway, I knew that. But I never expected to regret things so quickly. Right now I have more than fifty thousand dollars in my bank account. Accounts, actually, because Antoi
I've never had one before because Jon, my psycho ex, always kept the money in his name. So even though I have receipts in a folder that say I have accounts with many thousands of dollars in them, that card carries more meaning.
Ronin was right. I don't need the money. But I had no idea that TRAGIC contract was paying so much. I really thought five grand was pushing it, but the total was actually fifty-seven thousand and it blew my fucking mind when I heard that number. Ronin got a bunch too, even Billy got some because he did that one shoot with me.
Maybe I'm not rich long-term, but I'm looking pretty good right now as far as money goes.
I laugh a little and Ronin makes a face. "What?"
"I have more money than I need, I think."
"Yeah," he sighs. "You just sock that shit away and don't touch it. Save it."
He's said this before and what he's really saying is that he's paying for everything and my money is no good here. Maybe that would've bugged me a few weeks ago, it might've felt like he was trying to control me, but Ronin's not like that. He's just trying to take care of me, and even though that was a huge red flag because of Jon's controlling ways, I think I'm coming around to it because he took care of everything during our lake trip, which was so much fun. We had this little cabin that we shared with Antoine and Elise in the forest and we rented a boat for a few days and went fishing. Which was really just everyone drinking beer and pretending we gave a shit about fishing.
Then we went to this little bar in the mountains that was famous for hosting big-name bands even though it was in the middle of nowhere. It overlooked the Poudre River though, and was a fantastic place. A local band played that night, but still, they were good and the shows were all ages, so it didn't matter that I wasn't twenty-one. There were two universities not very far away, so there were lots of college kids, and lots of underage kids like me. I watched them and wondered if I'd ever get my chance at school or if that would just remain a dream.
"For school," Ronin continues, like he's reading my mind. "UCLA is pretty expensive, but I think you'll have more than enough when this contract is up."
I'm not one hundred percent sure what this contract will pay, it depends on a few factors like total production costs. But if I got paid fifty grand for that stupid TRAGIC stuff which was less than two weeks' worth of work, then this should be a lot more. It's thirty painting outfits with thirty different bikes, plus the trip to Sturgis and the show up at some big campground venue.
"I don't have to go to UCLA, you know. It makes no difference to me where I go to film school. I mean, didn't those South Park guys go to Boulder? That's not far, right?"
"No, it's not too far to commute. I finished my degree up there after quitting DU to get away from Spencer. He transferred to Fort Collins to get away from me and I guess that's why he keeps his workshop up there. But you said UCLA, and if that's where you want to go, you should go. Don't let me stop you."
It hurts a little the way he says that. Like we're not quite in this together. Like it's just me going to LA. "Well, I have no chance of getting into any of those schools unless I put in at least two years of community college, so I guess that's a conversation for another day."
He pulls me close and kisses me on the cheek. "That's the best thing I've heard all morning. Two whole years of you in school, forced to stick around and fall in love with me."
I am so totally in love with Ronin Flynn right now, it's scary. He doesn't say the L word and neither do I, but I have never felt this way about a guy. Not even my first love, Wade.
I turn and rest my head on his chest. "This is a really good moment."
"Yeah," he breathes. "Let's go back to sleep and make it last a little longer."
My eyes close and we breathe in and out together like we're a team.
And the last thought I have as I drift off. I want us to be a team. We're not just a couple, we're a team.
Chapter Two - ROOK
Pounding on the door wakes me just as Ronin slips out of bed and rushes down the hallway to take care of things. I ignore him and the pounding. Whatever's happening, it most likely doesn't involve me. I know we have a meeting with the STURGIS people today, but it's not until four and—I pause my internal monologue to look at the clock on Ronin's nightstand— it's only five-thirty.
Oh, well. So what? Don't stars get to be bitches and come in late and generally act like assholes towards all the little people who—
"Get your ass up, Rook! You're late!"
He rips the sheet off me and I shield my eyes from the blazing-ass sun that pours into the bedroom as he lifts the blinds. "Shit, Ronin. Give me a second."
He sighs. "The producer is pissed off and honestly, I'm not in the mood to fight your battles for tardiness. You signed, now you're in. So get up and get to work. They wanted permission to install the cameras in your apartment, they've been waiting down on the terrace for almost two hours, banging on the door. Finally Elise and Antoine got back from visiting Clare and came up here looking for us."
"Well, no one told them to show up early, and—hey, wait a minute. What cameras?"
He sneers down at me as he shakes his head. "How could you not know this?"
"What cameras?" I repeat slowly.
"The reality show, Rook, it was in the contract you signed. They get to follow you around for three months."
I sit up and shake my head. "No, Spencer said the show was about the STURGIS Rally, I'm sure of it. He said they were filming the rally for the kick-off, so why do they need cameras on me now?"
"Because, Gidge, it's a two-hour pilot that follows the whole process of Spencer painting the girl, that's you, and making the bike to match her."
"Get up and get dressed." He throws me some jeans and a t-shirt from his closet. "Hurry, this guy's a dick and he can dock your pay if you screw around."
"Well, fuck. The only reason I'm doing this is for the money."
"Right, so fall in line and do what you're told." And then he disappears in his closet and gets dressed.
"Fall in line," I mutter as I watch him. "I don't like that."
"No?" Ronin asks, coming out of the closet pulling on some boots. "Well, you're in the wrong business, Gidget. Because doing what you're told is pretty much the only way to succeed as a model." He pulls me up out of bed and smacks me on the ass. "Chop, chop, my little money-maker."
"You're funny today, Larue. I will definitely punish you for that crack later."
He leans in and kisses me on the neck as his hands cover my hips and sway me back and forth a little. "I can't wait. Now hurry, if we get this meeting over quick we can go grab dinner somewhere nice. I'll meet you down in Antoine's office."
And then he's gone in a rush. Say what you will about Ronin—I mean, he's a male model, he's somewhat bossy and controlling, and he's got some very Sixties opinions on what he's looking for in a wife—but he is not lazy. The man works his ass off around here. I guess I didn't notice it much during most of TRAGIC because I was too busy being confused and defiant, but he starts his day very early.
In fact, this whole studio is filled with those driven A-type workaholic personality people who live for their jobs. Granted, most of them go home, but Elise, Antoine, Ronin, and now me, we stay here twenty-four seven.
I'm not even remotely interested in investing so much of myself and my life in this stuff. Now, maybe if my job was film school or making movies, I might feel the same way.
That brings my attention back to the whole reality show thing. I did not read that contract, I skimmed it in a fit of rage after Ronin started a fight with Spencer and then I got knocked down to the ground by accid
That makes me want to throw up.
But I totally asked for this. This was my big declaration of independence. It was a temper tantrum of Rook pointing to herself and screaming, Look at me, look at me! I'm in control now!
What a dumbass I am. Seriously, what was I thinking? Taking all my clothes off for three months of nude body painting. I must've been on some serious instability emotions that night. I sigh as I pull on the clothes Ronin left. Everything is huge, but I've made a big deal about not moving my stuff up here to his apartment so I can retain my freedom. So it's either wear the dirty clothes from yesterday, or his stuff.
I choose his stuff because it smells like him and his smell is delicious. I snicker at this as I brush my teeth and hair, then slip on my old Converse sneakers and head downstairs. The studio is empty today because they've scaled down the regular shoots for the summer. They still have a few jobs going, but no other contracts like STURGIS. They want me to have privacy so it's not weird, but that's pretty stupid since the cameras are gonna be there. My naked body will be on the Biker Channel next year.
I shudder at that.
Bikers staring. DVR-ing me.
I take the stairs down to Antoine's office slowly, listening to the conversation that leaks out. They're not saying anything important from what I can tell, but one guy who has a snooty clip to his speech sounds a little put out about me not being on time. I picture him in my head as my sneakers creep down the concrete steps. He sounds like he's wearing a suit.
When he comes into view as I turn the corner to head back to the office, I put the visual together with the voice.
Yup. He's a suit.
He watches me as I walk towards them, then Ronin, who has his back to me, turns and smiles. "There you are. See, told you, Ford, she's here, she's ready."
Ford—what a stupid name first of all—looks at me dubiously as I approach Ronin, who is now my manager. We decided this on vacation out at the lake. Elise said I had to have someone and I could either go get an agency to represent me, or hire my own manager. I hired Ronin. Of course, he's not taking money from me, but he's in charge of everything, which, yeah, sounds like I sorta just gave in and let him take control, but it's different. It's only for business.
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