Six Years Earlier
Something was tickling my cheek. Smiling in my half-asleep state I brushed it away and cuddled deeper into my pillows. Inhaling deeply, I filled my nose with the scent of woodsy cologne and sex. Lots and lots of sex. Shane and I had done nothing but fuck like the animals we were for the last two days. We hadn’t left the room once during that time, having ordered every item off the room-service menu and gorging on things that were decadent and bad for us.
The light brush on my cheek came again and I brushed it away. When it came again almost immediately I opened my eyes with a glare. “Shane…” I stopped when I found the bed empty beside me. Frowning I glanced around and saw a fly watching me from Shane’s pillow.
Disappointed, I glanced around the hotel room. Other than a packed suitcase at the end of the bed there was no other sign of the man I’d spent the last forty-nine hours with. A man I’d fallen in love with in less than ten minutes after he’d smiled down at me from the stage where he’d been rocking out with the other members of Demon’s Wings.
Okay, so maybe I’d been in love with him before he’d flashed that sexy-as-hell grin at me. I’d been crushing on him since I’d first seen the cover of one of Demon’s Wings CDs at the mall. It had been a toss-up on who was more drool-worthy: Shane or his older brother, Drake. The Stevenson brothers looked so much alike that at first glance they could be mistaken for twins. It was the second glance—and everyone always took that second glance—that told the truth. That Drake was older, leaner, and slightly taller. That Shane was broader, tanner—and from the tilt of his chin—a cocky bastard.
But when Shane had looked down at me two nights ago, winked his blue-gray eyes at me and blew me a kiss, I’d fallen. Hard.
He hadn’t had to try hard to get me back to his hotel room. Hadn’t had to do more than brush his lips over my neck and I was melting against him.
Now, as I stared down at the foot of the bed where his suitcase was packed and apparently waiting, I felt my heart twist. Where was he? Why hadn’t he woken me so I could go with him?
The few times we’d stopped doing naughty things to each other and actually talked, I’d asked him where he and the band were headed to next. He’d told me that they didn’t have to be at the next stop of their tour for three days and he’d even asked if I wanted to go with him. My heart had soared as I’d thrown my arms around his neck and held on for dear life and I’d assured him I would.
Glancing at the clock, I saw that it was just after nine in the morning. Checkout wasn’t until twelve. Breathing a sigh of relief, I dropped back down on the pillows. Shane was probably helping the roadies load the buses and the huge semi that hauled all of the band’s equipment and stage gear. He’d be back for his case—and me—any minute now.
I laid there for a while longer, happier than I’d ever been in my life. This was it. I’d found the man who I wanted to spend my Happily Ever After with. I knew my parents were going to be upset that it was with a rocker rather than the Ivy League asshole they thought I should settle down with, but that just wasn’t me. If they didn’t like me marrying Shane Stevenson, they could go fuck themselves. And it wasn’t like I would be throwing their money back in their faces without a dime to fall back on. Shane was a successful rock star. With his adopted sister’s help, the band was reputed to be one of the most financially stable in the industry. He had enough money to keep me happy for the rest of our lives.
Grinning to myself at that thought, I tucked the covers under my arms a little better and reached for the remote to the television on the nightstand. Before my fingertips could brush it there was the distinct sound of a keycard sliding into the door and I lifted my head, offering Shane a bright smile as the door opened.
A harassed-looking Emmie Jameson walked in with two roadies behind her. If Emmie wasn’t supposedly Shane’s adopted sister, I would have been jealous of the girl who walked into the room. With her long auburn hair, big green eyes set in a beautiful face, and a tiny body that I’d spent most of my life practically starving myself to achieve, she was definitely rival material. But since she was Shane’s family, that meant she was going to be my family, so I offered her a dimmer version of the smile I’d had ready for Shane just moments before.
“Hi,” I greeted her as I sat up in bed. I kept the covers tucked around me so as not to flash the two roadies who were already picking up Shane’s huge case and checking the room over to make sure nothing else was forgotten.
Emmie barely spared me a second glance as she moved around the room like a little whirlwind. “You’re still here?” She sighed and rolled her green eyes. “Awesome. He’s always leaving me to take out the trash.”
The bite to her tone along with her bitchy words had my spine stiffening. “Excuse me?” Who did this bitch think she was talking to? I didn’t care if she was family or not, I was not going to let this little slut talk to me like that. I was better than her in every way. Just because she was Shane’s precious little Emmie didn’t mean shit to me. I’d make sure real fast that Precious Emmie didn’t stick around for long.
She wasn’t even paying attention to me though. “Pock, take the case down and put it on the bus. Make sure Shane knows I’m not happy.”
The roadie named Pock chuckled. “Sure thing, Emmie.” Sh
ooting me an amused grin, Pock lifted the heavy case and headed out the door.
The second roadie stood by the still-open door, looking menacing as he glanced from me to Emmie and back again. I glared at him, daring him to say a word.
Something landed beside me on the bed and my eyes went straight to whatever it was Emmie had just thrown at me. A wad of cash. At least three hundred dollars was now scattered around me across the bed. Confused, I lifted my head, turning my glare on the other woman once more. “What—?”
Before I could say more, Emmie was already speaking. “That should cover your cost, yeah? You don’t look like you would charge more than that for a few nights in his bed.”
“How dare you?” I sputtered. Was she really calling me a whore? For real? I’d gone to Yale. I had a degree in journalism and my parents could buy and sell this girl a hundred times over. She had no right to insinuate I was a whore. “As soon as I tell Shane what you just said to me, you will be gone. Do you hear me? Gone. I won’t put up with having you around, little girl.”
Green eyes narrowed but she surprised me when she started to laugh. “Yeah, I’ve heard that one a time or ten. Go ahead. Try. I bet you every dime I just handed over that he doesn’t even remember your name.”
“Where is Shane?” I demanded, so angry I was starting to shake. “I want to talk to him. Now.” He would put Emmie Jameson in her place and then she would be sent packing back to wherever the hell the stupid little bitch had come from.
Emmie pulled out her phone and waved it at me. “He’s probably on the bus by now. He stank to high heaven of nasty skank so I made him shower.” She pushed something on her phone’s screen and then hit connect. When I heard the ring of the phone, I knew she’d hit the speaker. My hands fisted in the sheet tucked around me as I waited for whomever she’d just called to pick up.
“Em?” Shane’s deep voice filled the room and made my tummy do that silly summersault it always did whenever I heard it. “Everything okay, honey?”
“Hey. Did you forget to take your trash out again?” Her voice was cool, but I saw the spark in her eyes. The affection shining out of those green depths made my hands start to sweat.
No, he wouldn’t. She couldn’t be right. He loved me as much as I loved him.
He loved me.
He. Loved. Me.
“Ah, fuck. Em, I’m sorry. I completely forgot the bitch was still there. I thought she would have hit the road by now. Sorry, sweetheart.” He blew out a tired breath. “Can you get rid of her for me? I’ll love you forever.”
Emmie smirked. “Sure. No problem. See you soon.”
“Thanks, Em. Love you.”
“Love you, too.” That evil smirk was still on her lips when she disconnected and lifted her eyes to mine. “Good thing you didn’t take my bet.”
I shook my head, in complete denial. It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be. Shane loved me. He loved me.
It was this bitch’s fault. Rage boiled in my blood. Yes, it was Emmie Jameson’s fault. Shane loved me. He loved me and she was trying to make him give me up. Well, I wasn’t going to let her. I’d never let her. Shane was mine.
A scream filled the air as I jumped from the bed, not caring that I was completely naked, and swung my hands at the redhead. My nails were long—fake, but long. I’d used them before in a fight and my father had had to pay the other girl’s plastic-surgery bills because I’d scratched her pretty face up so bad. I would do the same to Emmie. Her beautiful face wouldn’t be the same once I got done with her.
Strong arms wrapped around my arms, locking them against my body. The second roadie held me without trouble while Emmie stared dispassionately at me. “Well, good talk. See you never.” Tossing her long hair over her shoulder, she turned and walked out of the room as if I didn’t warrant another thought.
The roadie held on to me for several minutes without saying a word. Once he’d given Emmie enough of a head start, he pushed me down onto the bed and followed after her. I sat there, staring at the closed door, hating Ember Jameson more than I’d ever hated anyone in my life.
One day she would pay for taking Shane away from me.
Four Years Later
“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr. and Mrs. Shane Stevenson!”
I sipped my glass of champagne while around me the lights went out and a spotlight shone on the dance floor. I pressed my lips together as Shane Stevenson pulled his new wife into his arms and the first notes of John Legend’s “All of Me” filled the air. I watched with a roll of my eyes as Harper Stevenson’s chin trembled before her husband pulled her close and they danced their first dance together as man and wife.
What had he seen in that plain little nobody? It was a thought I’d had more than once in the last two years. In fact, from the moment I saw that first picture of the man I loved with his ‘first girlfriend’ as the paps had said. With her caramel hair that was more on the blond side, her thin body, small chest and fat ass, she was definitely not the usual type Shane went for. That was probably the appeal then, I figured.
The paps, like always, had gotten it wrong though. I had been Shane Stevenson’s first girlfriend, his first love. If it hadn’t been for a certain conniving little bitch, Shane and I would have still been together, and Harper Jones—Harper Stevenson now—would never have been in the picture. This would have been my wedding. That would have been me out there in that too-beautiful dress being sung to by the drop-dead sexy rocker, his deep voice mixing perfectly with John Legend’s.
My glass was empty before the song was even half over and I took a fresh glass from a waiter who had paused while the bride and groom danced. If you asked me if the wedding had been beautiful, I couldn’t have told you. No one but close family and friends had been invited to the actual ceremony. The reception, however, was the party of all parties.
I hadn’t been surprised when I’d gotten the invitation in the mail. I’d known from the moment Shane had announced to the world he was marrying his plain mouse of a girlfriend that I would get that little piece of mail. As punishments went, marrying someone else to get back at me was pushing the line, but I could forgive him. Had forgiven him. Hell, I could have forgiven him anything and he knew it. He, however, had yet to forgive me for marrying someone else.
But he would.
It wasn’t like I’d had a choice in the matter, after all. My parents had been ready to disown me before I’d finally given in and agreed to marry the man they deemed worthy of becoming their son-in-law. It was either marry the man or find a job, and God knew I wasn’t the working type.
Shane had been angry. Hadn’t returned any of the letters I’d sent him explaining why I’d married Reginald Brennen. He’d gone wild two years ago when I’d announced my engagement. The tabloids and more reputable weekly magazines had shown him getting drunk on a nightly basis and then getting into a fight at a nightclub. That same night he’d been spotted with Harper Jones, so I had only myself to blame for their relationship and hadn’t been upset when the two had become a couple. I’d known he was just trying to get back at me.
Which was exactly what he’d done today, by marrying the little nobody gold-digging slut.
Once again, I reminded myself I had no right to get mad or feel hurt, but of course I was.
Like I knew my own marriage wouldn’t last, I was sure that Shane’s marriage to Harper wouldn’t either. My marriage to Reginald was just to pacify my parents until they died…or he did. Then I would divorce the man and marry the one I really wanted—the one I should have been with all along. Shane would do the same when he knew I was free.
Then we would finally be together.
Like we were supposed to be four years ago.
The lights came back up with the last strings of the song and my gaze went past Shane and his bride to the redhead standing just behind them on the sideli
nes. Emmie Jameson—now Emmie Armstrong—stood with a bright smile on her face with her husband and daughter. For the first time all day my anger started to bubble up and I clenched the delicate stem of the champagne glass hard, nearly breaking the expensive crystal.
Time after time precious little Emmie had kept me from being with Shane. She’d blocked my every attempt to see or even speak to him. It was her fault Shane and I weren’t together now, and I would never forgive the conniving little bitch for stepping in our way. Once Shane knew how his adopted little sister had stood in our way, once I was free and told him how she had kept us apart, I knew he wouldn’t forgive her either.
That smile would be gone forever from that little cunt’s beautiful face. I would never let Shane see her again, not that he would want to once he knew what she’d done to us.
“You are thirsty this evening, aren’t you, darling?”
I forced a smile to my lips as I tilted my head back to look up at Reginald. My husband was a very good-looking man with dark eyes and a slightly sun-kissed complexion. He worked out religiously or I never would have been able to stand for him to touch me, but it was his money, and only his money, that had tempted me when my parents had started making noises about disinheriting me.
“I am, my love,” I murmured with a small smile that I knew looked adoring. I’d stood in front of my mirror until that particular look was perfected. The more Reginald thought I loved him, the more money he spent on me. “Do you mind?”
He stepped closer and pressed a kiss to my temple. “Of course not, darling. Drink as much as you want. Stevenson has pulled out all the stops for Harper.”
For the next few hours I drank as much of the expensive champagne as I could get my hands on and danced with my husband as well as several other guests. I was even gracious enough to pause long enough to congratulate the happy couple.
“Thanks for coming,” Harper said to Reginald as she kissed his cheek. “This means a lot to me that you and your wife would be here for us today.”