Authors: Sandrine Gasq-Dion
A Beat in Time
To my parents, who love me unconditionally.
Ann Marie, for telling me like it is and making sure I hear it.
Robert, who makes me laugh.
Jenjo, who takes my work and makes it into magic.
Heidi Ryan for boarding the crazy train!
Amanda, who stayed my friend for all these years.
Ann, who makes my mornings!
Meg Dale, for the girl time!
Aarin, Mikey and Doug of No Other Optionfor getting me drunk and teaching me the ways of music
The Green Room
Wicked Arizona Coffee
Ferrero U.S.A., INC
Pink Floyd ‘Hey You’
‘Is there anybody out there?’
Britt Nicole ‘The Sun is Rising’
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated. This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Table of Contents
Senior Year of High School
I brushed past a group of football players as I tried to navigate the crowded senior hallway. My best friend for the last three years, Amanda, was by my side. Amanda poked me in the ribs and motioned to the staircase above us. I checked my watch and Amanda poked me again. I stopped walking and glared at her.
“There’s the guy I was telling you about.” Amanda tilted her head up and pretended to brush her hair back, all while motioning with her finger.
I glared at her. “That’s the sophomore hall.”
“Yep,” she nodded. “But I’m telling you, once you see this guy, you won’t even remember Chris.”
“Amanda.” I began walking again. “Do you know how much shit I’m going to get if I date an underclassman?”
“Since when do you give a shit what other people think?” Amanda grabbed my bicep and pulled me backwards. “Look up. Trust me on this one.”
I sighed in frustration. “I have to be at P.E. in exactly one minute!”
“Oh please! You never dress out for P.E.! Would you just look up?”
I exhaled a frustrated sigh of resignation and looked up. My heart pounded wildly in my chest as green eyes, blonde hair, and dimples stared back. Oh. My. God. A smile curved his lips and he ducked his head.
“What’s his name?” I barely whispered.
“Jensen. Jensen Pratt.” Amanda wrapped an arm around my shoulders and with a grin whispered, “I knew it!”
“He likes me?” My brows furrowed. Okay, so I wasn’t hard to look at—now. Back in middle school, my brother said I suffered from ugly duckling syndrome. Not much to look at, so much time was spent on personality.
“Yes!” Amanda practically shouted. “He came right up to me and asked if you were single.”
“And you said?” I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the guy at the top of the staircase. He was so fucking cute.
“I said you had a boyfriend, but it was on the rocks.”
“Shit.” I closed my eyes and began walking again.
“Where are you going?” Amanda ran to catch up.
“I have to get to class and then I have to talk to Chris.”
“Are you going to break things off?”
I stopped again in the hall and looked over my shoulder. Jensen was descending the stairs and seemed to be looking for me. I turned back to Amanda and smiled.
“Go to class. I’ll meet you over by the stoner wall after.”
“Are you going to kiss him?” Amanda waggled her brows.
The halls were becoming deserted as kids ran to their classes. I turned around to find Jensen right in front of me. He was a little shorter than me, but damn was he all kinds of adorable.
“Um, hi,” Jensen half waved.
“So, I’m sure Amanda told you that I, um, wanted to talk to you?”
“She did but look—”
“It’s cool.” Jensen stepped back. “I know I’m just a sophomore and stuff and—”
“I have to talk to my boyfriend and end things if we’re going to start talking.”
I had to hold back a smile. The look of utter confusion on Jensen’s face was cute. He wasn’t muscled like Chris, but he wasn’t a wallflower either. He was wearing a heavy metal T-shirt that showed off his biceps.
“Wait…what?” Jensen stammered.
“Meet me by the stoner wall after school. I have to go.” I jogged down the hall.
“You smoke pot?” Jensen called out behind me.
I tapped my pencil on the desk, staring at the minute hand on the clock. Could the day get any longer? Ever since I’d spoken to Jensen, the whole day seemed to slow down to a damn crawl. Chris stretched out his legs next to me and I inched over a bit.
“What is wrong with you? You act like I’ve got the plague or something,” Chris whispered.
“Well, since you can’t seem to call me or even show up when you’re supposed to, why should I want to touch you?”
“I had practice!” Chris hissed under his breath.
The bell finally rang and I shot out of my chair. I practically ran to my locker, hoping to lose Chris somewhere. I got to my locker and whipped the dial back and forth.
“Okay, what the fuck, Serena?” Chris sidled up next to me.
“Look, this isn’t working.” I banged my head on the locker.
“What? Since when?”
“Since you don’t call me, I hardly ever see you!”
“Jesus…chicks man,” Chris drawled.
I slammed the locker door shut and turned to face Chris. His laissez-faire attitude with the whole thing was pissing me off. I’d never been the needy type, never needed to be called every damn night, but the only time I ever saw Chris
“I’m done, Chris.” I began walking. Fingers wrapped around my bicep and I looked down at Chris’ hand. “Get your hand off of me.”
Chris pulled me towards the girl’s bathroom and pinned me to the wall. I lifted my chin in defiance as Chris leaned in and stared me down.
“Are you cheating?” he almost growled.
“No, but you are, Chris.”
I started at the voice behind us. I peered over Chris’ shoulder to see Melissa Thomas standing there. I scowled and pushed Chris back. Melissa had been a thorn in my side since elementary school, always the prettier one, and the one that put out.
“Go away, Melissa,” Chris snapped.
“I think Serena deserves to know where you were Friday and Saturday night, Chris.”
I looked from Chris’ face to Melissa’s. Chris looked like he’d just gotten punched in the gut. Melissa looked extremely happy.
“You fucked Melissa?” I asked quietly. “You told me you were in Glendale for a gig!”
“Listen, Serena—” Chris began.
“No.” I backed away from them both. “I’m done. You can have him, sweetie.”
I ran out of the building and headed for the football field. God, how stupid had I been? My independence seemed to throw guys off all the time. I wasn’t the kind of girlfriend that guys complained about. In fact, it was the opposite. I gave them freedom.
Freedom to fuck, apparently.
The stoner wall came in to view and I smiled at the sight of Amanda sitting on the wall laughing with other kids. I stepped up my pace, then almost came to as stop when I noticed Jensen and one his friends walking from the other direction toward the wall. His gaze swung toward me and our eyes met. He smiled and my legs almost went out from under me. Those dimples were a sight for sore eyes. Jensen seemed to sense something was wrong because in the next instant, he was leaning into his friend’s ear and then headed in my direction. Amanda, to her credit, had spotted us, but stayed where she was.
“Hey,” Jensen called out as he jogged over to me.
“I am now.”
Jensen’s cheeks tinged pink and he ducked his head again. I chuckled and he looked up.
“It’s so cute that you’re all shy,” I teased him.
Jensen searched my eyes and frowned. “What happened?”
“Well, I’m single.” I took a seat on the grass and crossed my legs.
“Melissa, huh?” he asked.
“How do you know?” I looked at him wide-eyed.
“I was there that weekend. My band had a set right after theirs. He was with her in the corner. Look, I wanted to say something, but then I would have come off looking like a narc. Plus, I had something to gain.”
“Is that right?” I cocked an eyebrow.
“Yes. Chris was too stupid to know what he had.”
“But you won’t be?”
Jensen turned to face me head on. “I’m not a cheater. I’m not perfect either, but I like you, a lot. You’re friends with everyone and you don’t care what other people think of you. I like that about you.”
“Wait, you said you had a set? You play an instrument?”
“Yeah. I play drums.”
“I’d love to hear you play,” I said sincerely.
“Sure,” I nodded with a grin.
“Well, um, you could come over? Would that be okay?”
“Sure. Let me just tell Amanda I’m leaving with you.”
Jensen told me about everything; his life, his parents, and the band he played in, as we walked to his house. How one day he wanted to be a rock star. I, in turn, told him all about my life; how my parents worked for the airlines and how one day I wanted to be a writer.
“What are you going to write about?” Jensen asked.
“I don’t know? Life, love, loss.” I eyed him sideways. “What kind of music will you play?”
“Heavy Metal.” Jensen grinned.
“Nooo.” I laughed.
“This is me,” Jensen gestured to the house. I let out a low whistle and Jensen smiled, unlocking the front door. He led me inside and walked into the kitchen.
“Do you want some water or something?”
“Water’s good.” I walked around the cozy living room, looking at all the pictures. “You have brothers?”
“Yeah, too many of them.” Jensen met me in the living room and handed me the glass of water.
“You all look alike. You’re the cuter one, though.”
“I think so.” Jensen tilted his head to the side, admiring his brothers. “I’m also the youngest.”
“Will you play for me?” I asked.
“Sure. Follow me.”
I accompanied Jensen to his room. Rock posters covered the walls and a drum set was set up in the corner. Jensen motioned to the bed and I sat down on the end of it. Jensen turned and I grabbed his hand.
“Um, can I ask a favor?” I asked.
“Would you…kiss me? I know it sounds weird, but I always know if—”
Jensen moved quickly, stopping any more words from leaving my lips. He captured my bottom lip, biting it softly before running a hand into my hair and tipping my head back. A hand slid up the column of my throat and a soft moan rumbled from his throat as I opened up, inviting him in. My hands trailed up his sides, fingernails brushing his skin as he lowered me to my back on the bed. The kiss became more passionate and Jensen inhaled sharply through his nose as my fingers brushed his stomach. He pulled away reluctantly and exhaled loudly.
“I…we…have to stop. My mom could come home at any minute.”
“Okay.” I shook my head. Finding anything else to say at that moment was almost impossible. Jensen Pratt had to be the best kisser I’d ever had. If I hadn’t been sitting down, my legs would have gone out the second his tongue slipped inside my mouth. He flashed those killer dimples before getting behind his drum set and twirling a stick around in his fingers.
“What would you like to hear?” he asked.
“What can you play?”
“Whatever you want.”
“Okay. Fine. Tom Sawyer.”
Jensen pulled his T-shirt off and settled behind his drum set. He waggled his brows and hit his sticks together.
I watched in complete awe as Jensen played the song like it was his. He was in his element; sweat dripping down his face and chest, his hair soaked. It was the sexiest thing I’d ever witnessed. Jensen threw his stick in the air and caught it, slamming down on the last beat of the song. I stood up, clapping as Jensen came around the drum set and hugged me. I wrapped my arms around his strong back and nuzzled his neck.
“I’m all sweaty.” Jensen tried to pull away.
“I don’t care.”
“Really?” Jensen asked in surprise.
“You looked so sexy,” I whispered in his ear.
Jensen edged back and cupped my face in his hands. Our lips met and I actually whimpered as he wrapped an arm around me, pulling me flush with his body. His dick was hard in an instant and my hands traveled up his chest. He wanted more and I
We walked backwards towards the bed and Jensen lowered me gently, keeping our lips fused together as he hovered above me on the bed. My nails bit into his back and he gasped, breaking the kiss.
“Oops, sorry,” I whispered.
“Someone likes it rough.” Jensen cocked a brow.
I wrapped my legs around his waist and dragged him back down to my lips. “We fit,” I breathed into the kiss.
“Yeah, we do.” Jensen touched my kiss swollen lips with the tip of his finger. “So, are we officially dating?”