Manaconda 2: The Second Coming: A Rock Star Romantic Comedy Series, page 1
Manaconda 2: The Second Coming
Hammered Book 1.5
Also by Cari & Taryn
Lost in Oblivion Series
About the Authors
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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: The Second Coming
© 2016 Taryn Elliott & Cari Quinn
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: February 2016
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I reached for my coffee as I pulled into the parking lot of Amoeba Music. I’d slept like absolute crap the night before and I was on my fourth latte for the day. Every time I did manage to drift off I woke up reaching for him.
My body ached from his touch, and for his touch.
But more importantly, there was too much happiness. I didn’t know what to do with that. Oh, I was happy with my job and my friends, even my mom. But the relationship side of my life had always been a hot mess. I’d never even contemplated letting a man into my life.
The problem with Hunter was that he seemed to have only two settings—steamroller and sweetheart. He didn’t really give me the time to plan or think. Everything was emotion, and all of them were the intense kind.
My phone buzzed in my hand, dragging me out of my stupid brain. It had been blowing up all day thanks to the media coverage for this show. It was the last one for their release week. Three different texts flitted across the top of my screen and another call buzzed in my hand within the three minutes it took to reach the front door.
“Geeze. What the hell has everyone in a damn panic?” I opened the door. The first thing I noticed was a crowd of people blocked off by bins of records.
You know when you walk into a room and know that maybe you should just walk right back out? Yeah, that was today.
The main part of the record store was in shambles. In the center of the stage were a bunch of ornamental rugs bunched up, upside down, and one hanging off like a discarded piece of paper. A cracked black guitar lay on its side, strings fanning out like stripped branches. A red guitar was pretty much confetti. The body of the guitar was smashed eighties’ hair band metal video-style with the fret keys scattered like bullet casings. Wyatt’s drum set was askew, the high hats tipped over, a hole punched into the kick drum. By a boot?
And there, on the edge of the stage, Hunter and Reed were in handcuffs.
Why was this my life?
A slim blonde was sobbing into her hands, an officer patting her arm. The helpless and slightly panicked look on his face grew more intense as her cries increased in fervor. I frowned. What the hell did she have to cry about? My stomach dropped as I took in her outfit. White pantsuit and gold dripping from her ears and neck. I’d been in the industry long enough to pay attention to details. And this particular woman attracted trouble.
Dammit. This so wasn’t going to be good.
I was just about to wade into the fray to try to make some sense out of what was going on around me when Hunter’s voice cut through the din.
“I could trust you with anything—anyone—else but her. She’s the exception to every fucking one of my rules.”
And the blissed-out leftover buzz from the night I’d spent with Hunter after Love & Paws vanished as if it had never existed.
Hunter was struggling in his cuffs, ready to lunge again when the officer pushed him back.
“Sir, if you don’t calm down, I’m going to taze you.”
Hunter’s face was mutinous, but he sat back down. He’d dropped hints that his relationship with Victoria had been acrimonious at best, but this? God, it seemed way more passionate than it should be for an ex.
Was he still in love with her?
Shut it down.
Push it aside.
Not the time for that thought process. I had flames to put out. Huge flames.
Reed—more well known as Bats, as this little moment was proving all too well—broke away from the uniformed officer and stomped on the microphone that was on the floor between them. The feedback made everyone cover their ears.
I winced, but kept moving.
He said something to Hunter. Instead of keeping Hunter in check, it made him go crazy. The blond cop—who looked like a poster child for steroids—slammed Hunter face first into the floor. He pressed a knee between his shoulder blades as he said something into the radio clipped to his shoulder.
Wyatt jumped on the stage and pulled at cords and finally the room was dead silent.
“How could you do that to me?” Hunter roared.
The doors banged open and two more officers came in. My shoulders sagged in relief as I recognized Remy LaFontane as one of the backup officers.
He scanned the room and went right for Bats.
“How could you believe that I would?” Bats yelled back at him.
A manager-type popped out from behind the stage. “I want those two arrested. I want them all arrested!”
Remy held his hand up. “All right, sir. Are you the one who called?”
The skinny man straightened the plaid shirt he wore over a Bowie shirt that hung on his bony chest like a hanger. “Yes. I’m the assistant store manager.”
“Well, store manager—”
Remy lifted a brow. “Got it. Your name?”
“Levi, Levi Bauer.” He pushed up his dark-rimmed glasses. “They wrecked the entire stage. Just look at it.” His voice got higher with each successive word until his voice actually cracked.
Bats tried to break away again. Hunter snarled from the floor.
“This really isn’t necessary, is it?” I asked.
Steroids grunted. “He’s a bit unruly, sir.”
Remy tucked his thumb into his belt. “Not like you to hang out with troublemakers, Ken.”
“He can call you Ken!” Hunter spluttered.
I ignored Hunter. “Tensions have been running a little high between Reed and Hunter. I’m sure if we just separated them, we could get a straight answer.”
Remy scratched his head. “All right, Connolly. Let him up.”
“Are you sure, sir?”
Steroids hauled Hunter up by his arm. The young cop was as wide as Hunter, but not nearly as tall.
Bats stood and Remy shoved him back down on the dais. “All r
Behind us, Victoria was still wailing.
“Oh my God, will you just shut up!”
Hunter’s eyebrows shot up, and Remy pressed his lips together hard enough they went white. God, that was so not my inside voice.
Victoria just wailed louder. Sweet Georgia, what was wrong with that woman? The whole room knew they were wails without tears. Heaven forbid her perfect face get smudged with real ones.
Both Bats and Hunter looked at her in disgust.
That was something at least.
“Please tell me this isn’t a jealousy thing,” Remy said.
“No,” Hunter roared.
“Oh, really?” I tilted my head and walked over to Hunter. “What exactly would you call it?” I stood in front of him, dropping my voice. “I’d love to know.”
His gray eyes were positively arctic. “She’s looking for attention.”
“And look at that, she’s getting it,” I said through clenched molars. “Just look at all the phones and cameras.”
Hunter straightened to his full height. He was dressed in street clothes instead of his usual stage gear—a faded Eagles T-shirt and battered jeans with strings fraying at his knees.
His eyes went cool and flat. He stared straight ahead, not at me, not at Bats, not even the room as a whole. With his arms pinned behind his back, his chest seemed massive. And the tattoo sleeve on his arm emphasized the dangerous edge to him.
I huffed out a breath. So not helping.
I pulled out my phone and dialed Indie.
“I’m on my way,” she barked into the phone when it connected.
“Where are you?”
“Across town. I was checking out a venue they are going to play tomorrow night.”
I glanced over at Bats, who had a mutinous set to his jaw and shoulders. He was vibrating with anger, and like Hunter, his arms were bulging against the cuffs.
The manager was ranting on about the state of the stage. From what I could tell, only their instruments had any damage. I recognized the rugs that they used at many of their shows.
“All right, I’ll see what I can do.”
The fact that Indie actually sounded grateful I was there made at least one part of this clusterfuck easier to deal with.
I dropped my phone into my bag and marched over to Remy. “Excuse me.”
“I expect restitution for all of this,” the manager said.
“For what, exactly?” I asked.
“Look at that stage.”
“I am.” I folded my arms. “From what I can see, there is no damage to your property. Unless, of course, they were using your instruments.” I looked around the room. “From what I can see, this is strictly music and memorabilia that is sold in this store. Am I correct?”
Hunter’s shoulders eased.
“On behalf of the band, I’d like to apologize for the excitement, but I don’t think anyone was hurt. Well, unless you count Mr. Wyatt’s drum kit and a few guitars. Again, that would be their property. So, I can’t see any reason to arrest them.”
“Causing a public nuisance,” Levi shrieked.
I turned to Remy. “Can he do that?”
Remy bit the inside of his cheek. “Sure, we can do that if he really wants to. I’ll have to call it in, of course. Then there’s paperwork and we’ll have to take statements from everyone here. We can probably get that done in about four or five hours. No big deal.”
“Five hours?” Levi croaked.
Remy nodded. “There’s gotta be over a hundred people over there, plus the staff, and of course, everyone here. Then I’d need to see all your permits, of course. Are you zoned for concerts?”
“Uh…” The manager pushed up his glasses. “You know what? You’re right. There’s no harm to the store. Just have them clean this up.” He crossed his arms. “You will be on the black list for any future engagements at any of the Amoeba Music locations.”
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. I could actually hear the dollar signs for sales in the store. They couldn’t buy this kind of publicity. People would be coming in for days asking about what had happened at the show.
And the YouTube videos would be in the hundreds, if not thousands.
“Now if you’d be so kind as to uncuff my clients, we’ll get the instruments cleaned up.”
Remy shook his head. “Absolutely, ma’am. Anything you say, ma’am.”
I had to shove down a smile. I was pretty sure the manager wouldn’t find our friendship very funny.
Hunter’s jaw muscle jumped as Officer Steroid released him. He brought his hands forward and rubbed at his wrists once before folding his arms over his chest.
I glanced around the room. Wonderful, now I had a row of posturing males. My most favorite thing in all the world—said no woman ever.
Once Reed was released, he immediately went over to Victoria. She threw herself into his arms, and the sobs turned to a purring, “Take me home.”
Hunter moved to follow and I grabbed his arm. “How about…no. I just managed to get you out of those cuffs. Let’s keep it that way, okay?”
“Yeah, that was a neat trick.” He leaned down until his cheek brushed mine. “Just what is Officer LaFontane to you, Kenny?”
I pulled back and dropped my hand away. “You really want to go there, pal?”
Everything that came out of my mouth was wrong. I knew it even as it was flying off my tongue like I didn’t fucking own it.
I knew Kenny was a step away from bolting with her cop—no, not her cop. At least it better not be her cop. The guy was giving me the goddamn stinkeye, and there was another group of people cataloging every single word and gesture.
And the night had started off so well.
Jamming to great songs.
Fans that actually gave two shits about our music and not a crotch shot—at least not more than any usual female fan that had their sights set on me, or my fellow bandmates. That part I could handle.
Hell, I had no problem using what the good lord gave me. I’d been born for the stage. It was the only place I felt at home.
Besides in Kenny’s arms.
And that was exactly why I was ready to rip the building apart.
Everything was going so well. Then there’d been a murmur in the crowd. I’d watched from the stage, even missed a cue from Owen for the next verse because I’d spotted her.
She tried to play it off that she wasn’t there to cause trouble. But she brought in her entourage from her television show. The trio of women who lived only to be mentioned at the best and most exclusive parties. The fact that they’d disappeared as soon as they figured out there wasn’t enough media exposure here was enough to prove there was a master plan at work.
There always was.
What I couldn’t figure out was why she was still here. And why Bats was hanging out with her and constantly standing up for her. For fuck’s sake, he’d been the first to urge me to get rid of her.
Now he was in her corner?
Lately, he was always sneaking off without telling anyone. When I called him on any of it, we ended up at each other’s throats.
I didn’t want to think he was stupid enough to get pulled in by her, but Bats didn’t exactly have the best track record with picking women. And what exactly could I say on the subject? She’d snowed me for two years.
I glanced over Kenny’s shoulder and my fists tightened. Vic was curled against him like my goddamn guitarist was the only shelter in some crazy contrived storm. What the hell did she have to cry about?
Kenny moved over a step and tilted her head. “Really?”
“Can you believe this?”
“No, I can’t.” One brow arched high enough that I got a bad feeling. The kind that ended with a fight. I didn’t need that on top of this mes
I focused on her. “What? I’m protecting one of my best friends.”
She moved around me and I grabbed her hand. She twisted out of my hold and crossed the room. I caught her trajectory and growled before following.
The blond cop was gone, and the hipster-douche manager was MIA. Remy was talking to Wyatt, an easy smile on his face, hands animated.
She walked right into his arms and wrapped her arms around his middle. “Looks like I owe you this time.”
Remy pressed a kiss to her forehead. “You know I’m going to collect.”
Yeah, I was going to have to kick some more ass tonight. Maybe I was going to end up in a holding cell for a second time this week after all.
She stepped back. “So, what will it be this time?”
She laughed. The sound was delighted and free. Nothing like I usually got. Her smile was even brighter.
What in the fuck?
“The one thing I can cook. Okay, you got it.”
“I should expect that this weekend?” he asked with waggling brows.
I stepped up behind Kenny, my hand at her hip. She shied away toward Wyatt. “Care to tell me what happened?”
I stayed where I was, hoping that the searing anger building inside me didn’t actually cause vital organs to explode from my chest. “You could ask me.”
Her amber eyes flashed. “I’m asking Wyatt. Impartial witness.”
Wyatt was my best friend. What part of impartial did she think she was going to find?
“Vic walked in, stole all the attention, and Hunter threw a tantrum.”
“What?” I pushed his shoulder until he faced me.
Wyatt’s face was stony. “Am I lying?”
“I was right there in the back—you know, with the perfect view—and you threw the first punch.”
I growled. That was technically true, but there had been no surprise on Bats’s face when he spotted Vic. I couldn’t fathom the stupidity of him getting involved with her. Then seeing her big doe eyes on him, I’d snapped.
TARYN ELLIOTT SERIES:
Other author's books:
- Manipulated: a Rockstar Romantic Comedy (Hammered Book 3)Rocked
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