Manaconda (Hammered #1), page 1
Rockstar Romantic Comedy
Lost in Oblivion Series
About Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott
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This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
MANACONDA - Hammered Book 1
© 2016 Taryn Elliott & Cari Quinn
Cover photo courtesy of Sara Eirew Photographer
All Rights Are Reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
First ebook edition: January 2016
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My cock was going to kill me.
Or else hearing about it would do me in. One or the other.
In the meantime, I was going to sweat until I forgot the word that had somehow come to define my life.
Mana-fucking-conda. Minus the fucking in the middle, plus a few extra millimeters at the tip. Hey, gotta finish strong, right? Or start, depending where you believed the male member actually began.
Head or base? Base or head?
These were the truly weighty questions in a man’s life. At least mine as things currently stood. Or…hung.
I blew out a breath. The clank of weights snapping together, and the whir of the treadmills, elliptical machines, and stairclimbers were my favorite sounds. It didn't matter what city I was in, there was always a local gym to be found. I liked the small ones with the well-used equipment. Not the glossy gyms where people were more worried about what they looked like in their outfits than putting the work in.
It centered me, and man, did I need to be centered. And it wasn't yoga crap that did it for me. It was sweat and more sweat. I walked straight to the far corner of the room and found a treadmill, and set a course for a quick warmup.
No one knew my name in here. The outside world could Tweet about my cock, Instagram closeups of my crotch, pore over Facebook posts of interviews I’ve done. I didn’t have to think about any of it.
I was just a guy at the gym. I even looked like a bro with my long workout shorts and muscle shirt. Shaving wasn't the thing to do anymore, and that was fine by me. I'd been blessed with a pretty face, or at least that's what my momma called it.
Women didn't seem to mind, but they also liked the rough around the edges look I was sporting lately.
Actually—check that. All they noticed was my cock. And it wasn't a damn Lenny Kravitz move that I had to live down. No, this was so much worse. Epic on a scale of ridiculous that couldn’t be described.
So, hiding behind a wall of scruff and overgrown hair worked for me. I was so sick of hearing about my cock. What man actually said that?
I might as well take out a billboard with me standing legs apart, naked, with my cock at the ready.
I punched the incline on the treadmill. By the time the burn in my legs got my anger under control, I’d done five miles, and I had sweat dripping off my goddamn knees. I slowly dialed it back down, bringing the pace down to a walk so I wouldn't cramp up. I unloaded the rest of my frustration on the heavy bag next.
I beat on the damn thing until my arms were jelly, but at least I could survive the rest of the day. A promotional meet and greet for our new album was going to test all of my reserves. Hopefully I could shake off my mood by the time I got on stage. I had to slap a smile on my face and pray that the four hours went by quickly.
I didn't bother showering. I had a car waiting outside, and a deluxe hotel suite at my disposal. I preferred my house up in Malibu, but with the shit traffic of Los Angeles it was easier to stay in the city. Between the radio gigs, the shows, and the parties there would be no relaxing for the next few days. At least Ripper Records knew how to put on a spread.
They were backing us up with an impressive release party, so the least I could do was shut up and deal. And it looked like the dealing would begin closer to…now.
I slowed the closer I got to the front of the gym. There was a huddle of women in various levels of Lycra and cotton—some that definitely worked for it a little too hard, and some not enough. I had to admit, I liked a woman that fell somewhere in the middle. Enough to curl into me without causing gouges from their bony bodies, and solid enough to have fun with.
Sue me, I'm a simple guy.
"Do you think it's Photoshopped? Or is that a prosthetic?" One of the women asked.
I'd heard that way too much this week to not know what they were talking about. Considering they had to do a second print run on the damn magazine, you’d think I'd be psyched. Fuck no.
"Well, it certainly looks like my James Deen vibe. That's ten inches and girthy, girls. Do you think he had a fluffer on set? Maybe a hot photographer got him all hard and ready?” Said a blonde who had a better six-pack than I did. She sighed. “She probably got it good after the shoot."
My eyebrows shot up. A what? Why did she know that term? I pulled my beanie lower on my forehead and wished I hadn’t checked my favorite sunglasses on the way in.
Anyone who thought men talked about sex more than women hadn't been at a rock show. I'd heard plenty of versions of this conversation. Usually it had something to do with my drummer, Hudson Wyatt. He was six-foot-five and women constantly wanted to know if he was proportional.
“I don’t care if it’s real. I’m never going to get him in my bed, so my fantasy can be as real as I want, dammit,” a petite girl said. She caressed the cover of the oversized magazine.
“Manaconda” was in huge white letters just above my belt.
They may as well have drawn neon arrows to my dick.
Goddamn Rolling Stone.
The cover of my dreams had become my own personal nightmare.
I really should get that billboard. Then everyone would know for goddamn sure.
Yeah, I had a pretty big cock, but that wasn’t all I was, goddammit.
I cleared my throat. “Could I get my sunglasses?”
The woman behind the counter flushed. “Sorry. What number did you leave it under?”
“Eleven.” Inches. For my cock.
The woman had the good grace to pull the magazine off the counter. At least I didn’t have to look at it for another hour. I was sure I’d be signing an assload of them tonight.
She looked down at her magazine then back up at me.
Fuck me sideways.
“Did anyone ever tell you that yo
My face, every goddamn morning in the mirror. “Who?” I asked.
She shook her head. “That’s just silly. Hunter Jordan wouldn’t be working out here. It’s way too dumpy.”
“Not dumpy—cheap,” the scary blonde said.
She glanced down at the magazine, then at my arm. No way to disguise my tats. Definitely time to go.
“Oh my God.”
I rushed for the door and out to the sidewalk.
“That is him.”
I winced and kept on walking. Just a few more feet to the car. Our driver spotted me and hopped out of the black Range Rover with tinted windows.
“Wait!” The jacked-up blonde sprinted after me and tagged my arm just before I could get to Patrick.
Six-feet-four inches of linebacker-sized ginger came forward. “Miss, please step back.”
I sighed and held up a hand. “It’s fine.” I looked down at the woman. She was very attractive, just a little scary. “Hi.”
She thrust the magazine at me. “Could you sign this?”
Practice your smile, asshole. Tilt lips up. Yep, there we go. It must have been good enough because she beamed back at me with teeth as artificially white as she was tanned. “Sure. Do you have—”
She shoved a Sharpie at me. “To Ginny.”
“Right.” I set the magazine on the hood of the SUV. I uncapped the marker and started at the top.
“No. Down. You know, near the manaconda.”
My fingers tightened around the marker. “Right.” I scrawled my name over the huge white type and handed it back to her.
“Thank you. Your momma should be proud.” She winked and walked backwards toward the gym. “I’d be happy to give him a ride.”
Okay, first…don’t mention my cock and my momma at the same time. That was a surefire way to kill any thoughts of sex.
I gave a halfhearted laugh, hoping it didn’t look like the grimace it felt like inside my head.
“Some days I wonder if they are actually waiting for you to whip it out,” Patrick quipped.
“At least you didn’t snarl at her like that nurse yesterday.” Patrick laughed and opened the door. “Have a good workout?”
His lips twitched as he closed the door after me. He rounded the SUV and got in. “Your day just got even more fun. Indie texted everyone to meet in the hotel lobby at six.”
“Awesome,” I muttered and dragged my shades off and yanked my beanie down over my eyes. I’d never been more excited to share an album in my life, but every listening party since the release of our new album, Bronze, had ended up an ode to my cock.
Again, that seemed like something that should be perfect, and yet…not.
I circumnavigated the snaking line of people, mostly women, in the lobby. My four-inch Dior heels clicked on the black and white marble. Hundreds of people hugged the wall in a queue, but my shoes still echoed in the huge room.
My assistant had checked me into the Ace Hotel, left me a few changes of clothing, all of the research he’d gathered on the band, and a packet from Ripper Records. I unearthed the special all-access pass and hooked it onto my purse. Three guys in black jeans with black T-shirts emblazoned with the Bronze album across the front waved me through.
“Hey, how come she gets to go ahead of us?”
I ignored the shriek from an annoying voice and opened up my iPad as I entered the theater area. My heels went silent on the red brocade carpeting. I took a second to look around. The Spanish Gothic details were so ostentatious that I couldn’t not look. I’d been in the theater a few times, and still…every single time I was gobsmacked.
Number one—I wouldn’t want to have to dust it. Because holy crap there were tons of details on every little part of the stage, the balconies, and the walls. Stalagmite-like lights came out of the ceiling and lit the room in a diffused soft light. Everything was Spanish-flavored. Not a huge surprise in Los Angeles, but this was beyond the pale.
But as crazy as it was, it also gave off a warmth that no other theater could pull off in my opinion. It was perfect for this kind of day. Meet and greet with a select number of fans and then they’d give them music.
The signing would be up in the balcony area so we could control the number of people who came at the band. Security was intense—both hotel and the band’s. According to my notes, there were one-thousand people coming. They would fill the bowl of the theater.
I looked around. Velvet seats in a deep ruby red were impeccably kept. Not a bad seat anywhere to be found. The stage was sizable, but kept things intimate. When I got to the stage, I turned around. Another fifty VIPs would be put up in the balcony section after the signing. Those VIPs would include A-listers and a few up-and-comers on the B-list.
The entire set-up was a make-or-break situation.
This had all been set up in the last week by Lila Shawcross and Donovan Lewis. The moment Hunter Jordan had exploded with that cover, this had been the ultimate release party. I couldn’t pay to get this kind of publicity.
Luckily for Hammered, Donovan Lewis had pull and style. He knew exactly what kind of perfect storm this could be. And I owed the billionaire mogul a favor, so I was here at the last minute to make all of this work.
Juggling my workload to make time for this circus was a feat in itself, but when Donovan called in a marker, you answered.
Now all I had to do was keep Hunter together enough to get through it.
The speakers were piping out the first single from Hammered’s new album. I flicked away the itinerary to check the rankings on iTunes and scanned reviews that my assistant had gathered from the bigger music publications, as well as the very vocal fans on the music sites.
Most were surprisingly glowing. The rank I expected, but good reviews were a blessing. Usually when a band shot up the charts there were plenty of trolls out in full force. As of right now, people seemed to be excited about the album. I did a quick search for Rolling Stone’s review. They’d given it four stars.
Wow. That was like getting a perfectly buttered and salted kernel of popcorn at the bottom of the bucket at the movies. Not impossible, but damn rare.
I hadn’t gotten a chance to listen to the album all the way through. I’d gotten the assignment to maximize Hunter Jordan’s viral fingerprint at o-dark-thirty by Donovan himself. This day needed to go off without a hitch. I’d immersed myself in his background, the band’s biography—both unsanctioned, and the info they put out on their wiki page and website.
Often very different in my experience.
My reputation for spinning Hollywood’s toughest cases required constant access to social media, news, and the trades. US Weekly was still running Hunter as their top story, Music Life wanted a cover spread, and Rolling Stone had sent out a second printing to the stores. The fact that the stores were already selling out of copies again was awesome.
This was what I did.
I stopped the oncoming train of fame from crashing into the station. My job was to make sure each stop was smooth, and control the chaos into career-making brilliance. When I was done with Hunter tonight, I’d have a record-breaking third print run ordered.
I climbed the stairs to the stage. My heels clicked across the scarred wood as I set up a charity auction for two print copies of the magazine that my assistant had procured that morning. It had taken Carter driving all over the freaking city, but he never ever let me down.
It was going to a good cause, now I just needed Hunter to sign them.
I kept walking and flashed my lanyard at him.
“Miss,” he said more urgently.
I slipped my hand through the strap on the back of my iPad case and hugged it to my chest. I looked up, and then up again. Big fucker. I had memorized the
“And you are?”
I pressed my lips together. He should know. “I’m Kennedy McManus.”
“Only four people have approval for that lanyard, and you are not on the list. I don’t know where you got it, but you’ll be leaving now.” He stood directly in front of me and folded his arms.
His face was completely devoid of emotion. “Whomever you think you know, you don’t.”
My eyebrows shot up. “I applaud your attention to detail, but I was given this,” I rattled the laminated, high quality photo of Hammered’s album cover with a red and metallic bronze border, “by your boss.”
“I wasn’t advised of a change.”
I tilted my head. “Check.”
His heavy red brows snapped down, but he dipped his hand into his pocket. He took out his phone and swiped away a number of messages from what I could tell. And if it was at all possible, his brows lowered even farther. He was going to have trouble reading his screen if he kept that up.
His face smoothed and he tucked his phone away again. “I’m sorry, ma’am.”
“Don’t apologize. I need about ten more of you working for me.”
His lips twitched, but there was no outward smile. I instantly liked him.
“Has the band arrived yet?” I asked.
“Yes, they’re in the back pre-signing some merch for the auction.”
“Excellent.” I twirled once to get an idea of how many were there for the signing. I’d counted over five hundred in the lobby, and there had to be another eight hundred lined up on the far side of the theater. Already over the thousand. Good. There was a sign in, and more people in the black-on-black uniform from the lobby.
I could taste the buzz of excitement in the air.
I spotted Indiana West at the edge of the curtained off area. I waved to her and flashed Patrick one last smile before I crossed the stage. Again, I heard dissension in the crowd of people seated.
TARYN ELLIOTT SERIES:
Other author's books:
- Manipulated: a Rockstar Romantic Comedy (Hammered Book 3)Rocked
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