Authors: Rachel Van Dyken
Tags: #seaside, #rock star, #contemporary romance, #new adult
“Thanks.” I jumped out of the truck and slammed the door.
“Wait!” Smith left the truck on and jumped out to follow me. “I don’t feel right about leaving you here.”
“I told you, they’re expecting me.”
“Oh yeah?” He smirked. “Who?”
“My cousin,” I said evenly. “She just got engaged to Demetri—”
He held up his hand and cursed. “That jackass? Really?”
“He’s not a jackass,” I said lamely. “He’s actually pretty cool.” Wow, someone give me a medal for my lawyer skills. Lame.
“If you say so.” He shook his head and shoved his hands into the front pocket of his pants. “Can I have your number though, just in case?”
I laughed. “Just in case what? I burn the condo down too?”
He didn’t laugh.
He looked pissed.
“Listen.” He grabbed my hands. “I’m just worried about you, okay? It doesn’t even look like anyone’s home. Give me your cell number and text me in the morning so I know you’re alright.”
“Wow,” I joked. “Paramedics sure make the job personal, don’t they?”
He flinched. “As a friend.”
I sighed and fired off my number as he put it in his cell. “You want my number because you want to be friends?” My heart hammered in my chest.
He shook his head. “Hell no. I rarely have to fight the urge to kiss my friends.”
I took a step back.
He took a step forward.
The skin on my back touched the cold brick wall of the condo as he placed his hands above my head and leaned in.
Was he going to kiss me?
His lips were a breath from mine.
I was afraid to breathe.
His lips brushed against mine, but then he pulled back. “See you later, friend.” With that, he got in the truck and drove off, leaving me with my mouth gaping open at the taillights.
Spots of sunlight broke through the curtains, landing firmly on my right eye. I turned the other way, only to have that same sun burn a freaking hole in the back of my head.
Cursing, I threw off the covers and walked to the kitchen to make myself some coffee.
It seemed to take forever for the stupid machine to brew. Never a good sign when you actually sit in front of the coffee pot and watch it brew. I might as well put my head underneath the drip so the caffeine went directly into my mouth.
Finally, it beeped. I grabbed a giant mug and shuffled over to the large balcony that overlooked the beach.
The last time I was in church was when I did a commercial for fruit snacks. The entire thing had been filmed in an old Catholic church. All I remembered was the cross in front and the fact that I got a giant stomachache from eating so much.
The crisp ocean air hit me full force as I stepped through the sliding doors and leaned against the railing.
I lifted the mug to my lips, closing my eyes as I took a long soothing sip. I groaned in ecstasy. Screw tea, I just needed coffee in my life. Only coffee.
I knew I should probably be getting ready for my day in Hell. Groaning, I turned to go back in the house, only to be stopped by the air actually leaving my lungs and refusing to go back in.
Only I couldn’t, because I was actually hallucinating, and I was awake, which meant my whole nervous breakdown theory? Totally freaking accurate.
Next door? She was out on the balcony, and she looked like hell. Her face was smudged with something dark and her pajamas looked like they’d been playing with the fires of hell.
“Are you alright?” I blurted without thinking.
Then I screamed.
I dropped my coffee mug over the ledge, thankfully missing anyone who might be combing the beach for shells.
“Stop screaming!” I lifted my hands into the air in peace.
She nodded, and then her eyes narrowed. Aw, shit I knew that look. Every woman has one. It’s the look that says, “You. Evil. Bastard.”
“Jaymeson?” Her voice was low as if my name actually made her growl.
“Yes?” I said in a higher pitched voice, hoping to even the playing field.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m not stalking you.” I laughed lamely, only stopping when her eyebrows narrowed even more. Crap! I needed to get my shit together and fast.
She crossed her arms. Closing herself off completely.
“I uh…”I scratched my head and cleared my throat. “I’m here for a few months on… holiday.”
Shoot me now. Shoot me now.
“Holiday?” she repeated.
“People take vacations from time to time. It’s normal, for people, to uh… vacation.”
I should just jump now and get it over with.
“Vacation.” Her teeth ground together as her jaw flexed.
“Yeah.” I bit my lip and nodded as I slowly approached the railing closest to her, we were separated by two feet, maybe three.
“My thoughts exactly,” I grumbled.
That brought a smile to her face. “Well, welcome back.” She gave a curt nod and started to walk back toward the door.
“Pris—” I yelled. “Are you okay?”
She turned, her eyebrows drew together as she pressed her lips together. “What do you mean?”
I nodded. “Your clothes, and face, you just, you look like you had a rough night, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t need to kick anyone’s ass.”
She rolled her eyes. “If you need an ass to kick just look in the mirror, Jaymeson. Make it easy on yourself.”
The sliding glass door clicked shut.
And I was left without my hot coffee and without my balls. Because clearly she still held them in a viselike grip that made me want to both bow down and run screaming at the same time.
Cursing, I stomped back into the house and grabbed my phone, pulling up our instant messaging.
Morning beautiful. How’d you sleep?
Until the fire.
I swear my heart started pounding so hard I thought I was going to have a heart attack; I started pacing waiting for her reply.
It was fine. I mean,
I’m fine. I’m going to go back to the house this morning and grab some clothes so that I have something to wear, I’ll collect my stuff, call my parents…
it will be fine.
It seemed like she was trying to convince herself that she was fine, even when she wasn’t. I knew that trick. I used it all the time. Pasting a smile on your face and saying something over and over again did not actually make it true.
What can I do to help?
Show me how to use my coffee maker? I’m at a friend’s house until I can go back to mine and everything is way too high tech.
Wish I could help but I’m in LA
Wish me luck!
I threw the phone onto the couch and stared at it. I was doing a lot of that lately. Staring at things, as if they would suddenly start talking back to me and give me advice on my crappy life.
I threw on a pair of jeans and a white T-shirt, grabbed my keys so I didn’t lock myself out, and ran over to the condo, the whole time my brain chanted,
What the hell,
what the hell
, but I told my brain to shut up.
She needed help.
I could reign in the lust.
And this didn’t mean I was proposing. I laughed aloud. I was just helping, and if I just so happened to see her smile or maybe get caught staring at her ass? Bonus. That’s all it was, a freaking bonus.
I knocked twice.
She answered, in the same smoke-stained PJs.
“Jaymeson, I have a really busy day and—”
I side-stepped her and walked into the condo. I’d gone with Demetri and Lyss when they’d picked out furniture and everything else in the place. I also knew that Lyss had an entire closet full of clothes that she could care less if Pris wore.
I made it a few steps into the house and turned. “You coming or not?”
“Huh?” She slammed the door. “You can’t just waltz into people’s houses and—“
“I didn’t.” I grinned. “Besides, it’s not your house. Now do you want help or not?”
“Stop repeating what I say before I lose my damn mind. I’m English not Russian. I barely have an accent. Do I really need to talk slower?”
She shook her head as blush stained her cheeks. Damn it. Curses, curses, lots and lots of curses. I loved that blush, I loved it way more than I loved coffee and that was saying a lot. I almost cried when I realized I was out after my cup took a leap off the ledge.
Clearing my throat, I looked away. “Follow me.”
I walked into the master bedroom like a man on a mission. The bed didn’t even look slept in. Did she sleep on the couch or the spare bedroom? Why wouldn’t she sleep in the nice room?
Shrugging, I stormed into the walk-in closet and pulled out a pair of leggings, boots, T-shirt, and grey cardigan, then made my way over to the sock drawer, and dug out a bra and panties as well as a scarf.
I heaved the clothes onto the bed and crossed my arms. “Problem solved.”
Priscilla nibbled her bottom lip. “I can’t wear her clothes, it wouldn’t be right and—”
I rolled my eyes. “AD2 brought in over twenty million on endorsements alone last year. Believe me when I say Alyssa can afford to loan you some clothes.”
Priscilla’s eyes widened.
I was being rude, curt, direct. Normally I was smooth but being smooth with this girl? Yeah, it meant me not keeping my pants on. And I really, really needed to keep my pants on lest she find a sharp knife and end my future.
With slow movements, Priscilla reached for the clothes and felt them between her fingers as if she’d never felt clothes before in her entire life.
“They don’t feel like mine,” she whispered.
I rolled my eyes. “I know they don’t feel like yours but you have to wear something. You can’t walk around in your smoke-damaged PJs.”
“No.” She laughed softly. “I didn’t mean that. I just meant they’re softer than mine, you can tell they’re expensive.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. I really had no words, because I’d never actually been in a position where I was wearing any type of clothing that wasn’t expensive. It made me feel like an ass — a regular occurrence around Priscilla.
She stared at the clothes like they were precious.
Nobody had ever stared at me like that — nobody but her. And I’d broken her heart. Clearing my throat, I scratched my head and started backing out of the room. “Take a shower, put on the clean clothes, and I’ll see about getting you some breakfast.”
“What?” She whirled around so fast I thought she was going to pull a muscle. “What do you mean breakfast?”
“Glad you asked.” I smirked. “Breakfast is a derivative of the idea to break one’s fast —considering all night you fast and then—”
“Still an ass, aren’t you?”
“You said ass.” I chuckled.
“Make me breakfast.”
“Oh, so now she wants breakfast,” I teased.
“Better than an etymology lesson,” she said sweetly.
.” My smile hurt it was so big. “I’ll just be in the kitchen… breakfasting.”
“And a verb, nice,” she called back as I danced into the kitchen. It took me an entire five minutes to settle down and another five to remind myself who I was and why I was there.
She’s not for you.
My brain reminded me.
And my heart, once again, went on lockdown.
I’d slept on the couch, so the hot shower did wonders for my sore muscles. I’d felt guilty sleeping on their bed or even in the guest room. Everything was so white and pristine — I hated to ruin it with my presence. It just felt… wrong. And they were nice enough to let me stay.
Unfortunately, Jaymeson did have a point — curse him. I needed to put on some clothes. As it was, I was already going to have to call a taxi or walk back to my house so I could grab my car. I hated to do that in PJ’s that looked like I’d just survived a building collapse.
How did he know it was smoke, anyway?
I wrapped the towel around my body and grabbed my old PJ’s and sniffed. Yeah they reeked of smoke. No wonder. He probably couldn’t stand the sight or smell of me. How great. One of the most famous movie stars in the known world had not only rejected me with disgust but had now seen me at my worst.
Shaking, I leaned against the sink and looked into the mirror.
Big brown eyes stared back at me. They looked afraid. I felt afraid. Honestly, Jaymeson freaked me out more than the fire. I was alone with him and he was… cooking. It just… it seemed weird. He didn’t strike me as the hero type, which meant that this was his way of apologizing or he was trying to get into my pants. Again.
I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths. I could do this. I could put on clothes, walk out of the bathroom, and face him.
My entire reaction was stupid. On the outside it seemed like he didn’t affect me, I did it on purpose because he was the type that looks for a chink in someone’s armor. Jaymeson appeared like a goofy player just out for a good time, but he was way too perceptive for his own good. If he saw weakness, even a brief weakness, he’d pounce. And I’d somehow end up rejected again — especially when I didn’t give him what he wanted — sex.
I toweled off and quickly, threw on the clothes, then finger combed my hair. I searched a few drawers and finally found a hair tie so I could put the wet mess into a ponytail.
When I was finished I stared at the door for a good five seconds.
I’d always believed myself to be really calm and collected. I think everyone assumes that when they meet a movie star or someone famous — that they won’t lose their heads and go crazy, but it’s hard. Especially when someone like Jamie Jaymeson was standing in front of you.