Manipulated a rockstar r.., p.16

Manipulated: a Rockstar Romantic Comedy (Hammered Book 3), page 16


Manipulated: a Rockstar Romantic Comedy (Hammered Book 3)

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“See. No arguments.” I stood and hauled her up against me. She smiled, but it wasn’t her usual teasing kind. This one was distracted with sadness inching in. I laced my fingers at the small of her back. “All good?”

  “Yeah, of course.” Her smile brightened and a bit of the Callie I was beginning to know definitely came through. But I could tell she wasn’t all the way with me.

  We didn’t talk about personal things much. We were too busy screwing our brains out, or doing band crap. Press tours, concerts, fan club events—there was no end to the list of things we had to do on a tour. Callie even came with us to the radio stations and added a shit-ton of photos to her ever increasing catalog.

  “Shut down.”

  She sighed. “All right, Mr. Bossypants.” With a few clicks, the pictures disappeared and her screens winked out. She grabbed her coat as we left and locked up her workspace.

  I tucked the iPad under my coat and clasped her hand in mine. I drew her across the gravel strewn parking lot. People were every-damn-where. The food truck had stayed behind so we wouldn’t have to find food, and Indie was barking orders at whomever crossed her path.

  I was trying to steer clear of her wrath.

  The second bus could have gone ahead. We liked to call it the Smug Married Bus though it wasn’t only the marrieds who stayed on it, but Keys wouldn’t go ahead without us.

  The equipment trucks had continued on to the venue in Boulder. This leg of the tour was kind of a greatest hits spots. All of the best venues of our career.

  Callie’s job had been to recreate a few of the older shots, while doing new versions of her own. She was hella talented and we were lucky to have her.

  She stuffed her free hand into her coat pocket. “Remind me never to complain about sixty-degree-nights again.”

  I dragged her closer. Didn’t stop her teeth from chattering up a storm. Colorado in January wasn’t quite the same as Texas, that was for sure. I hooked a left and climbed up the track into the last truck remaining.

  “You’re not dragging me off to kill me, are you?”

  “You gotta stop watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

  She shuddered. “It was a terrible movie. I prefer straight horror, not…that.”

  I grinned at her need not to insult anything in her precious horror genre. Even if she didn’t love a movie, she respected the craft. Which was why I had her favorite movie on my iPad.

  She glanced over her shoulder. “Neal is going to kick your ass.”

  Our head of equipment was a scary guy. I glanced down at her. “You’ll protect me, right?”

  “Maybe. Depends.”

  I let her hand go and pulled out the bag of Rolos in my inner pocket.

  She snatched it out of my hand. “Definitely.”

  “That’s my girl.”

  She was already shredding a gold foiled chocolate wrapper. Damn ninja got the bag open without me even hearing a rustle.

  I brought her to the back of the truck and flipped open a trunk.

  “You want me to get in there,” she asked around a mouthful of candy.

  I nodded. “Indie can’t find us back here. And it’s warm.”

  She stepped in. “Okay, you had me at warm.” She rubbed her hands together before reaching back into the bag for another caramel. I stepped in after her and pulled down the lid. There were holes in the top of this particular trunk. It was where the leather costumes were stored. And no one wanted musty smelling leather on them. That and if someone cracked one of my leather guitar straps there would be death.

  I settled along the back of the box and hauled Callie between my legs. “Hello there.”

  “Hi.” Her voice was soft and a little hesitant.

  I shuffled her back tighter against me and wrapped my arms around her waist. “So, I have this movie you might like.” I peeled back the magnetic cover and the iPad lit up our little space. I tucked my chin into her shoulder and brought up iTunes. I’d already cued up the selection.

  She squealed as the house came into frame. A jack o’lantern glowed from the iconic house of Michael Myers. She slapped my arm. “I can’t believe you got this.”

  “It’s one of your favorites, right?”

  “Only my most favorite.” Callie turned to give me a sweet kiss. I couldn’t really say most of our kisses were sweet these days. They were usually a clash of wills to find out who could break who first.

  She was getting really good at breaking me.

  We settled in and the shredded pile of candy wrappers grew as her tension ebbed and flowed. I knew she’d seen the movie a couple hundred times, but she still got into every scene. When the movie faded to black and the freaking eerie piano music filled the space, she turned in my arms.

  “I can’t believe you did this.”

  I set the iPad aside, but didn’t close the cover. I liked looking at her. “Why not?”

  “Not just anyone will sit through an old movie like that.”

  I shrugged. “I knew you liked it. We share a love of horror films.”

  She made a rude noise. “If you can call what you love horror.”

  “Saw is a very good movie.”

  “Torture porn,” she said in a snide voice.

  I laughed as I cupped her jaw. “I like seeing you smile. I knew it would do the trick.”

  She covered my hand with hers. “Not every man is like you, Owen Blackwell.”

  “Any decent man would want the same thing.”

  She let out a bitter laugh and curled into my chest. “Again, not all men.” She settled her cheek against my heart. “I’m divorced, you know.”

  I stilled. It was rare for her to volunteer information about herself. I smoothed my fingers into her hair. “Never an easy thing to deal with.”

  “No.” She touched the slice of skin between the buttons of my Henley shirt, making little circles with the pad of her finger. “I got married when I was nineteen.”


  “And no, not because I got pregnant.”

  I massaged the base of her neck when she tensed. “I didn’t say anything.”

  She sighed. “No, you didn’t. Sorry, but it’s usually the first thing someone asks. I loved him until I didn’t any longer. Until I couldn’t. He kept pushing me into this little box that he thought I should be in. I never quite lived up to what he thought I should be. My clothes weren’t right, my friends weren’t right, I wasn’t able to give him enough ins. Nor to make the cone’d expected from someone with my background.” She sighed. “My parents are wealthy, so naturally I could help him achieve his great plans by introducing him to everyone they know. Even though I don’t know them myself.”

  “He was a fucking idiot.”

  She pressed her lips against my neck. “Say that again.”

  “He was a fucking idiot.” Anger got the best of me and it came out nearly incoherent with the Irish in my voice. The light from the iPad went out as the lock screen came down.

  She straddled my legs. “I love when your Irish gets going. I mean it’s always there, of course, but when you get mad or into a song.” She caught my mouth in a slow, caramel-tinged kiss.

  “You, bunny, are full of misneach.”

  Her finger traced my lower lip in the dark. “What does that mean?”

  “Full of courage.” She covered my mouth and I held her tight to me. We were always racing for something. For laughter, for lust, for the desperate way we were together.

  But we didn’t race here.

  There was time enough for us, for a moment. I forced myself to slow down, to sip from her mouth, her neck, and nibble at her ear until she shivered. She tried to push at my shirt, fumbled at my jeans, but I just kept the slow pace until she sighed against my lips.

  Until her fingers gentled, and smoothed into my hair. Her sweet voice murmured my name between kisses. Honestly, it felt a little like an illicit make-out session from my teen years.

  I treated it as one. I stayed over her clothes. Instead of diving for skin, I
skimmed my fingers at the hem of her T-shirt. She shifted restlessly on top of me.

  Fortitude don’t fail me now.

  I slowed my teasing, taking my cues from the soft sighs in the dark. She slowly undulated against me until both of us were straining against each other. Part of me was screaming to get inside her, and yet another part of me just wanted to revel in the liquid heat that was building between us.

  When her breath stalled and her moans hit a fevered pitch, I lost it. I dug my fingers into her jeans to feel her pulse against my fingers. She gripped my arm and bit my shoulder as she went over.

  I didn’t let up. I followed her through each shuddering moment until I couldn’t breathe around the urgency created by her taste, and the lunacy that held me in a grip almost as delicious as hers.

  “Inside me.”

  “Bit of a tough space for it, bunny.”

  “Make it work,” she growled.

  I grinned against her neck. “You couldn’t be wearing one of those hot little skull skirts today, huh?”

  She laughed. “I was cold.”

  “Not so cold right now then?” I licked salt from her collarbone.

  “Um, that would be a no.”

  “Then get these denims off.”

  “Yes, sir.” She slid off my lap and pushed the lid up enough for a little room, then she was over me again.

  Strong hands, strong thighs—fuck, I was going to finish against her damn belly if she kept this up.

  “Did you think ahead for this, Blackbeard?”

  I nipped her throat and she squeaked. “Anytime I get you within three inches of my body I’m thinking ahead.”

  “Well, then.” Her swollen slit brushed against my cock. “I’d say it’s time for a magic condom.”

  “Like this magic condom?” I dug one out of my shirt pocket.

  “Dark as a cave there, Captain.”

  “Oh, well, yeah there is that.” I took care of protecting both of us and settled her where she needed to be. Where I loved her to be. Where I craved her to be at all times lately.

  “God,” she said with a rush of breath.

  “You can call me that if you wish, love, but Owen’s fine.”

  She giggled and lowered herself onto me again, and then neither of us were laughing anymore. She was the softness to my hard, taking all of me. I fisted my fingers into her hair, dragging her mouth to mine.

  I had a damn cramp in my thigh from thrusting up to meet each of her downward strokes, but I didn’t stop. I wouldn’t stop until I heard that sound, felt that quiver.

  There. Around the ocean of blood rushing my head, I heard that little hiccup of a moan.

  When her nails hooked into my shoulders, I gave up and allowed my release to overtake me. To take me under. I plastered her to my chest, my mouth against her neck as I lost myself in her warm tropical scented arms.

  I heard the slam of the doors just about the time my brains unscrambled.

  “What was that?” Callie went still.

  Metal ground against metal and the hiss of hydraulics was the only warning before we jerked into motion.

  And not the fun kind.

  “Oh, fuck.”

  Callie just started laughing.

  “And why are you laughing? You do realize we are locked in a moving truck.”

  She just laughed harder.

  “For hours.”

  “Priceless. We hide on a truck and become luggage.”

  “I don’t find this funny.”

  She snorted and tried to stop laughing, but I could feel it building in her. For fuck’s sake, I was still balls deep inside her. She wrapped her arms around my neck. “How many hours of battery do you have on that iPad?” She rolled her hips. “Or any more magic condoms?”

  “Cal.” I groaned as she did this twist and wiggle—fuck. “I have two more.”

  “I love that you’re always prepared.”

  “Obviously not since we’re headed to Boulder in a trunk.”

  “It’s a comfy trunk. I think I sort of love this trunk.” She let out a soft, low groan as I got a little more excited about her plan. “In fact, I might have to keep this trunk for posterity.”

  “Get in line, bunny. It’s my trunk.”

  I tucked her against me and tried not to finish the rest of the statement winding through my head.

  My bunny.



  I dropped to my knees on the stage. The crowd was wild for Hunter and Bats who were running around the stage like lunatics. I looked down to find blood on my Ibanez.

  Well fuck, it was only the second time I’d actually used it on stage and it was already taking chunks out of me. Actually, more like “Hide the Scars” had worked me to the bone. We hadn’t played the song in a long time, but as with the theme of the tour, we’d been opening up the Pandora’s box on setlists.

  Keys and Hunter were on Instagram Stories daily asking for dream setlists and we’d been killing ourselves to re-learn old songs for them. It was fun, but I definitely was not twenty-two anymore. Did I have practice from jerking off or something?

  Christ, my wrist was throbbing and I’d sliced off the callous at the tip of my middle finger. It wasn’t heard of for any of us to bleed on our instruments, but it was usually more likely to be Bats.

  Then again we’d played every damn night for the last seven days. That may have had something to do with my brokenness, but the song was fucking hard to play. Bass heavy songs had been a staple of our first few albums, but times had changed.

  Hammered was a chameleon when it came to the business. We knew how to blend, and we knew how to shine. This tour was all about the shining, and it was fucking awesome.

  I hauled myself to my feet. The glint of a lens in the dark held me in place. Damn that woman. Most of the photographers who got passes for shows only got the benefit of the first five songs. When bands weren’t exhausted and wrecked. Those were the pictures that the outlets wanted. The Getty’s and the Music Life’s, the occasional mention in Rolling Stone.

  They wanted the rockstar, who was exalted. Not the musician who had poured every ounce of sweat—or this case blood—into a song and had been left wrung out. That was for the fans.

  And for Callie who captured it all.

  My Callie.

  My little bunny who wasn’t rabbiting away from me so much anymore. And tonight I’d see just how far we’d come. Nerves churned in my gut as she smiled up at me and caught another shot.

  Her smile faded as her fingers curled at the edge of the stage. Her eyebrows lowered in worry. I waved her off. That lens of hers—or her eye, whichever—always caught the truth.

  I was definitely not looking my best. And a steady stream of blood dripped over the marbled white of my bass. I raced after Bats, a last burst of energy driving me forward into the home stretch.

  One more song.

  One more song and I’d have Callie tucked away into my Thunderbird to follow the winding trail to my house by the cliffs. We were playing for our home state of California and our fans poured on all the love.

  The show had been nothing less than amazing, but I was beyond done. I needed this long weekend. Four days of no one and nothing but a naked Callie in my space. I wasn’t entirely sure I was even going to allow her to bring clothes.

  She probably wouldn’t go for it, but it was a thought.

  When the last wail of guitar and pounding of drums echoed into the crowd, I tugged the monitors out of my ears. The roar of the crowd gave me the strength of will to drag my tired ass toward the front of the stage for the last bows.

  On the way, I saw Keys stumble from her dais. I caught her around the waist and swung her into my arms. “All right there?”

  “Whoa. I didn’t know you had it in you.” She squeezed my arm, pressing her cheek to mine so I could hear her over the screams. “All sorts of wiry muscles under there.” Keys waved to the crowd. “Thanks, I’m not entirely sure I wouldn’t have stayed on my feet there.”
  “I could literally drink a lake of water.”

  She hugged me tighter. “Yes. Cold water. Just let me stand under one of those coolers.”

  I grinned down at her. The burn of want was curiously absent. I’d been so focused on Callie for the last month, that I hadn’t noticed the pining lessen. In all actuality, I wasn’t sure there’d ever been more than a little what-if tugging at me.

  It paled in compared to the way I felt around Callie.

  My gaze drifted down into the photo pit. She stood frozen, with her camera in front of her chest. I winked down at her, but she didn’t move. Her expressive face went blank as her gaze darted me and Keys.

  Suddenly her camera was back up and she was flying up and down the length of the stage. It was too dark to know if I had been seeing things or not. Especially when Callie’s smile was back in place and wide as hell for Wyatt and Bats hamming it up for the crowd.

  She’s just doing her job.

  The lights finally went dark and we found our way to the side of the stage where Quinn was coming at me like a bull. “Easy. She’s fine. Just needs a bit of water.”

  Quinn lifted Keys out of my arms. “Are you fucking bleeding?”

  “What? No.” Keys glanced down at herself and the splotch of red on her white jeans.

  “It’s me.” I held up my hand. “Bass bit me.”

  Quinn scowled.

  “Relax, Warden.” Keys rolled her eyes. “He won’t be happy until I’m on my own pins.”

  “Dressing room,” Quinn growled.

  “Thanks, Owen. You’re the best.”

  I gave her an exaggerated bow. “Anything for you.” I caught Callie out of the corner of my eye. “Hey you.”

  She frowned at me, then backed up.

  “Cal?” I jogged after her.

  “I was worried about you, but evidently, it was unnecessary.”

  “I need nursing.”

  “Oh, yeah. I could tell.”

  I followed her down the hallway. “Keys almost took a header off her riser. We were all gonzo at that point, bunny.”

  “Well, aren’t you the pirate in shining armor to sweep her off her feet.”

  “And into her husband’s arms.”

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