About the Author
Katy Evans lives with her husband and their two children plus three lazy dogs in south Texas. Some of her favorite pastimes are hiking, reading, baking, and spending time with her friends and family. She is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Manwhore, Manwhore +1, Ms. Manwhore, and The REAL series: REAL, MINE, REMY, ROGUE, RIPPED, and LEGEND. For more information on Katy Evans visit her website KatyEvans.net, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter, @AuthorKatyEvans.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I’m the only person in my apartment building that still gets a newspaper. It sits on my doorstep this morning, and I love the way it smells. I love the crackling noise when I drop into my dining room chair and slap the sucker open. This sound, this smell . . . they remind me of lazy Saturday mornings reading the paper with my dad, his cologne scent engulfing me. By the time I was seventeen, he was gone. As was his morning rumple of my hair and his cologne—but not the smell of the paper. It’s been almost a decade and I still find an incomparable little joy in the smell of this freshly printed newspaper. Until now . . .
Now . . . when the headline of the entertainment section stares back at me, mocking me.
Mackenna Jones Is Back in Town! the headline says, and just reading that feels like a punch in the gut.
I squeeze my eyes shut and open them, my stomach trembling uncontrollably.
Mackenna Jones is back in town!
Fuck, I really need to stop reading that.
Mackenna Jones is back in town!
God. Still reads the same.
The name curls around me like smoke in my insides, and butterflies I didn’t even know I still carried crash into the walls of my belly. I thought it impossible that a single one of these butterflies had survived Mackenna Jones.
He’s coming to town, Pandora. What are you going to do about it?
The thought of him being in the same state makes me scowl bleakly. “Seriously, asshole? You had to come here?”
I begin reading the article about Crack Bikini, how the band has revolutionized music. How even Obama has openly said this band is responsible for turning young kids back to the music of the masters—Mozart, Beethoven. But it doesn’t end there. It’s just getting started turning up the schmooze. The reporter keeps going on and on about how this tour has sold out Madison Square Garden faster than Justin Bieber’s first show, and how it will be the concert of the year, if not the decade.
Briefly, the band’s breakout song flits through my head. For a time, this song played on every radio station in the country, and it made me loathe music with a passion—hell, the mere thought of it angers me all over again.
My hands shake as I set down the newspaper, fold it, and try to move on to another section. I live with my mother and my cousin, and I’ve always had an appreciation for my quiet time on Saturdays, when Magnolia has ballet and my mother has errands. But now, my precious Saturday—time I get our apartment to myself—has officially been ruined. Not only my Saturday, this just ruins my entire fucking year.
Mackenna. In Seattle.
My hands tremble as I go back to the entertainment section and slowly scan for the date of the concert. I find myself clicking open Internet Explorer on my phone and navigating straight to Ticketmaster. Yep, the show is already sold out. So I head to eBay, where I discover the staggering prices the best tickets command.
I don’t know why, but for a moment, I imagine myself in one of those pricey seats, calling him the world’s greatest asshole from up close so he can hear through all the noise he and his band members make.
I don’t know what I’m doing. Or maybe I do know. A cold chill is settling in my body. The show is sold out. The tickets cost a fortune. But no. I won’t miss this opportunity. It’s been almost six years since I last saw him. Almost six years since seeing that hard, perfect man-butt as he jumped into his jeans.
The first time he took me, I could almost see my V card nicely tucked into his back pocket. He told me he loved me and asked me to tell him that I loved him. He was still inside me when he asked if I wanted him to be with me. I cried instead—because something is wrong with me, and I couldn’t. I couldn’t say it back. But I know that he knew.
He kissed me harder than ever when I started to cry, and our kiss tasted of my tears. At the time, I thought it all so painful and raw, the way he kissed me. So beautiful. I trembled as he held me. I couldn’t seem to piece myself back together after breaking for him the way I did during my orgasms. I could hear his breath mingle with my breath as he soothed a hand down my spine, telling me over and over that he loved me.
And that wasn’t the only time he took me. For days and weeks and months, we made hot, fevered love. I was seventeen and he was my everything, and when he took me, I thought he wanted everything I had to give. He left anyway. Bastard.
Mackenna was a secret, you see. He was the closest I’ve ever been to a person in my life—but he was a secret nobody could find out about. Especially not my mother. He knew it. I knew it. But we always managed to see each other anyway. We lied, hid, stole out of our homes and into the night, meeting at the docks and hijacking some unsuspecting family’s yacht until sunrise. We didn’t care who our families were, or what was “best” for us.
As far as I was concerned, he was it for me, and I for him.
He was my best friend too.
My world broke when I heard he left Seattle.
He didn’t even say goodbye.
The last thing he’d said to me was that he loved me.
Now. I. Hate. Love.
I thought that with his absence, the wound would heal. But the wound is still there. It’s festered and bubbled up and grown.
I gave the motherfucker everything that was in my young, stupid heart to give, and he ruined me.
Well, fuck him.
Next week he’s in Seattle. He and his mashers are in town and everyone is going. I call them mashers because there’s no other group like them. They mash their songs to someone else’s—to real music. Bach, Chopin, the masters. The result is a rock band symphony that runs through your body and curls your toes. And if you add in his vocals . . .
Hell, I don’t even want to talk about his vocals.
People choose to fall in love because it makes them feel good. Love makes them feel protected, safe. Not me. I choose hate. It makes me feel good. Protected and safe. Hating him is all that keeps me sane. Hating him means what he did to me doesn’t matter. I can still feel something. I am not yet dead, because I can feel this hate corroding me. He’s ruined me for other men. Stopped me from being the woman I could have been. He’s broken every dream of a future with him I had. He was my first love and my first everything, including my first heartbreak.
Even after he left, all I’ve been aware of is him, and what he left me with, and what he took from me.
The tickets are expensive. I spend most of what I make helping my mom care for Magnolia. But three little clicks on eBay is all it would take. Three little clicks and I can go up that last notch of debt on my credit card and see this asshole again, in the flesh.
Totally worth it, I decide, and go online and buy two of the most expensive tickets eBay has to offer.
Opening my calendar, I find the day and mark it with an X.
Get ready, asshole. Your Seattle concert won’t be considered a success. Not if I can help it.
? ? ?
I DIDN’T USED to like black so much. I liked red, and I liked blue, and somehow really liked yellow. Hot pink and purple were good too. But then colors began making fun of me. They felt too happy. Too sweet. Black was safe and neutral. It didn’t remind me of things that made me sad. It didn’t try to be anything other than black. Right after Dad died, I stopped trying to be anything other than what I really was. I stopped trying to fit in. Trying wore me out, and it only made me more aware that I didn’t belong.
I became black and black embraced me. Tonight I blend with all things sinful and dark. It’s a dark day, and mine is a dark life. Even the sky is cloudy because Mackenna is in town. In fact, there’s a thunderstorm. The stands are wet. The fans are wet. Everyone except the band, who’s ensconced backstage until the rain stops, will be solidly on NyQuil soon.
When the rain finally stops, Melanie and I hear the announcement that the SHOW IS ABOUT TO START. And there will be NO OPENING ACTS DUE TO THE DELAY. Just like that, the shot of vodka I had drunk in a toast to my courage leaves my system, and knees that had felt like they were made of steel minutes ago start feeling like jellyfish.
“Stop looking like you have a gun in your bag. You’re going to get us searched, you dodo!” Melanie tells me.
“Shh! I got this, be quiet,” I scold her as we head back to our seats.
Reaching nervously around my neck, I pull the hood of my poncho over my wet head and tug Melanie behind me as we wind through the crowd to our seats at the front of the stadium. She looks even fatter than I do. Turns out this rain was a blessing—Melanie and I don’t appear nearly as voluminous as we really are, loaded with goods under our ponchos. Goods for the band members. One in particular.
Even when my hair is hanging wet down the sides of my face, I think I look good. Intimidating. Black nails, black lipstick, black poncho, black hair—well, my hair is mostly black except for a stupid pink streak Melanie dared me to dye one drunken night, and I can never refuse a dare. Still, I’m going for my usual Angelina Jolie look, and my black high-heeled boots scream, “Men, come near me only if you want to end up without nuts!”
Melanie, on the other hand, looks as happy as a Barbie.
Her boyfriend probably just fucked her brains out.
Lord, why do my friends get the horniest boyfriends?
“I can’t believe we haven’t reached our seats yet! We’re way up front, we’ll be like breathing them,” she tells me with a big grin.
Um, yeah, breathing Mackenna is the last thing I want or need. But the stage keeps getting closer and closer, looming larger as we approach. It almost feels like every step closer to our seats, a year of my life drops away. Until I can clearly remember the way my stomach flipped inside my body as he looked directly at me with those icy gray eyes and watched me take his cock inside me. Motherfucker.
“I still can’t decide,” Melanie says as we finally sit down, “if I want to get married in a traditional white gown with a big red flower attached to the train, or a simpler pink dress. I’ve got both on hold until Monday. Maybe I should let Greyson see . . .”
She trails off when an awed silence falls over the crowd. One bright light from above narrows and fixes straight at the center of the stage. My heartbeat starts racing against my will. Furious, I breathe in through my nose for five seconds, hold it for five, and let it go for five—some shit I learned in Anger Management.
The light remains focused on the empty center of the stage, and violins start playing in the background. Just when the violins seem to take control of the rhythm of your breathing, the drums start joining in to take over your heart. Ugh, bastards. It’s like the music is overtaking me. The music builds, builds, and builds to a crescendo until the lights shut down.
Gasps erupt from the crowd as complete darkness descends.
In the shadows, he walks out.
I know it’s Mackenna Jones.
His swagger. His shoulders swinging, his hips rolling, and his long, thick, muscled legs. Hands at his sides, a microphone strapped to his ear and discreetly curled around his rocklike jaw, he approaches the public, and us. His chest is bare. He’s wearing black leather pants. And his hair is bright fuchsia today, spiky and standing high. It’s a shock to see that color against his tan skin. The smooth muscles of his torso glisten, as do the dark little bricks of his abs.
Through the light of the moon, I can see every bit of the six feet of him, and he’s so hot I think my clothes just dried. I try to find something to hate in the way he looks, but there’s nothing. I can’t even say I hate that little gleam in his eye, which screams, Bad boy, bad boy, I’m a fucking bad boy and I’m going to fuck with your life.
I liked it.
I used to like it so much.
Until he did what bad boys actually do, and it turned out that his being a bad boy has been the least fun I’ve ever experienced in my life.
A dim light flickers over him. The orchestra in the background begins playing. The light intensifies as he grabs the pink wig on his head and throws it into the stands, yelling, “Hel-fucking-lo, Seattle!”
Seattle screams in return, and he laughs this outrageously sexy chuckle as a group of girls try to leap out of the pit onto the stage, fighting like hellcats for the wig he just threw.
I’m not looking at the catfight; I’m looking at him. The fucking asshole who shouldn’t even deserve to live, much less look like he does. I can’t help but notice the dark, sexy buzz cut curving around the beautiful shape of his head. This only makes his lips stand out more and his nose stand out more and his eyes stand out more . . . the guy is not hot—he’s supernova. He’s got full, beautiful lips and a sleek nose that flares naturally with each breath—then there’s his smile, which makes me angry enough to boil a horse. Hurt and betrayal coil and churn inside me as he flashes that smile at everyone.
“Looks like we have a feisty crowd tonight. Excellent. Excellent,” he rumbles as he walks from side to side on the stage, scanning the crowd. Mel and I are so close, he’d need only look down to see me. But he’s too almighty to look down—and I can do nothing but keep looking up, even if I can no longer see his face because of the big bulge of his cock.
I swear I haven’t had sex in so long, I’ve been revirginized. I can’t even remember what feeling good feels like. I haven’t wanted to. I like feeling fucking bad. So I look up now, and I see him, and the memory of that big, thick cock slides and ripples through me.
I dislike the tingly insecurity it gives me. I dislike it a lot.
He sweeps the crowd with one long, long stare. “You all want some music tonight, huh?!” he asks in a low voice, the question as intimate as if he’d whispered it to each of us.
“KENNA!!” Women are sobbing beside us.
“Then let’s hit it!” He lifts one fist in the air, and a drum beats in the background. He starts pumping his fist high, the drum following an identical answering sound. He rolls his hips and lifts his head to the cloudy sky, making a slow humming noise from deep in his throat that sounds like . . . sex.
While the orchestra noise begins building again, the symphony gathers momentum. From slow and melodic, it heads toward something noisier and crazier. My pulse is somewhere in the stratosphere by the time the rhythm feels absolutely wild, when suddenly two men pop up on a platform from under the stage, striking their electric guitars to an explosion of lights that simulate fireworks. They’re the other two lead members—Jax and Lexington. Daddy’s boys, and identical twins. They got the funding for their first performance from their own Daddy Warbucks, and now the three leads need nothing from anybody.
Mackenna starts singing in a voice that is low and raspy and sexy as fuck. I hate him. How fluid his muscular body is. How it oozes testosterone. How dancers join the three men onstage, dressed in formal black-and-white men’s suits. I even hate the way they tear off their suits to reveal their black-painted skin that makes them look sleek as panthers.
Melanie is so enraptured; her lips are parted and she’s gaping. I swear, the electric, primal, and animal way these three men move up onstage is something to behold; the three are being irreverent with their b...
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