Authors: Janna Watts
To women who aren’t afraid to ask for what they want, and to the men who can keep up with them.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
by Janna Watts
Published by Janna Watts
All rights reserved.
Photo by Nadya Lukic
Photo manipulation by B Designs
Cover by Janna Watts
“Whose pussy is this?”
Avery looked up from her cramped position and blinked
as her head cramped sideways from another ill-timed thrust. “What?”
The clean cut red head
slammed into her again, his hands hitching her legs further over his shoulders. “Whose. Pussy. Is. This?”
His face grew taut, then his whole body convulsed and he collapsed on top of her.
Avery lifted her legs to the side, massaging the pins and needles out of the back of her thighs. These stockbroker gym rats had no clue about the limitations of the human body.
“What did you say to me?” she asked, grabbing a towel and cleaning off the cum on her inner thighs.
He rubbed the palm of his hand over the curls of her pussy, probing his fingers into her. Was the female clit that hard to find? Avery slid back toward the headboard of her bed and crossed her arms.
“What did you say to me?”
He moved toward her and grabbed her chin with sticky fingers. He opened his mouth and kissed her entire face in one sloppy move.
“You liked it. You were into it.
” His breath stank like stale beer and sex. “All you actresses are the same.”
Avery bristled. “I told you, I’m not an actress. I’m a singer. Cabaret, remember?”
“Whatever. You’ve got a smoking body.” He waggled his eyebrows.
Smoking body? Good Lord, she must have been desperate to bring this one home.
“So tell me, baby,” he said and dropped his hand back between her legs. “Whose pussy is this?”
Avery took a steadying breath, lifted her leg to the side and kneed him in his flaccid ball sack. He dropped to the floor, groaning and clutching himself.
“It’s my pussy, you stupid ass. Mine.” She paused wondering if he’d get the hint. He didn’t. “Just go home and
don’t call me again.”
“You’re a cunt,” he wheezed from his crumpled position on the floor.
“That’s right. And if you’re not out of my apartment by the time I’m done washing your smell off me, I’m going to pepper spray your ass and call my brother to drag you out.”
He winced and scrambled for his clothes, cursing her under his breath.
One of the perks of having a professional strip club bouncer in the family was that most of the men she dated knew enough not to piss her off. She made a point of mentioning her brother’s job before she spent the night with anyone.
He disappeared out the door, and
Avery slipped into the tiny shower, releasing a long sigh. She should have known better than to go out with a guy whose job depended on screwing people for money. She’d had enough dirt bags and possessive assholes to sign off of men for good. Eight months of one-night stands and unreturned texts had taught her that men in New York City had the emotional commitment level of a pair of socks. She’d seen it over and over with all her friends. City guys treated their dry cleaners better than they treated their girlfriends.
When the front door to her apartment slammed shut, Avery ducked out of the shower and grabbed her water-proof vibrator. As the buzzing contraptio
n swirled around her clit, she vowed not to get involved with anything that didn’t require batteries again.
Her gut dropped at his words and she tugged on the bottom of her thin tank. This could not happen. Not then. She couldn’t deal with another crisis.
“What do you mean you can’t make the
Carmichael? That’s our biggest show of the year.” She’d finally made it to a big venue and now this?
Avery circled her
Cracker Jack box sized living room for the third time since she’d gotten on the phone with Scott. She’d been expecting the call for weeks. He’d been so flaky and distracted at rehearsals that she knew something was wrong. He hadn’t returned her messages or texts for three days. She should have been more prepared for possible bad news.
“My mom’s sick,” he said on the other end of the line and
despite his tendency toward melodrama, she suspected he told the truth. His mom had been battling diabetes for years and she had a new problem every time Scott talked to her.
She blew out a long breath and sat down on the couch.
Her fingers traced over the velvety piping on the edge. “I’m sorry, Scott. I didn’t realize she’d gotten worse.”
…” his pause was long enough that she knew he felt bad, which meant it would be really hard to give him hell over whatever left his mouth next. “I’m gonna get a job in San Francisco so I can be closer to her.”
Tears pushed at the corner of
Avery’s eyes, but she blinked them away. She didn’t have a right to be upset. His mom was sick. She’d find another piano player. Hopefully… It would go on the endless list of things she had to do.
“Okay. Call me when you get settled.”
A whoosh of relief sounded from the other end of the phone. “Thanks, Avery. I’m really sorry. If you need any help finding a replacement—.” It was a hollow offer and they both knew it. Scott was a great piano player, but in the six months she’d worked with him, he’d managed to irritate three quarters of the cabaret community with his bad habit of borrowing money and never paying people back. He’d borrowed so much from Avery that she no longer paid him for their shows at all, just applied it to his debt. She thought a two-week gig at the Carmichael would finally get them close to even.
“I’ll figure it out,” she said before the pause became even more awkward. “Just take care of your mom.”
“Okay. And good luck. I know you’ll do great at the show.”
clicked off and stared at the grated bars of the fire escape out her window. She
have done great if she had a piano player. The last two years of endless voice training, incessant self-promotion, and seedy gigs in nightclubs across the United States all in an effort to make a name for herself in the cabaret community had withered into a pile of rubble with one phone call.
She stood up and examined her reflection in the large pane of the window. Her pale skin was still flawless and most people who met her thought her to be five years younger than she actually was. And thanks to good Irish genes and the miracle of Pilates, she didn’t have an ounce of fat anywhere. She reached up and fingered the bird’s nest of hair on top of her head. She poured thousands of dollars into her hair and still every stylist she’d ever worked with declared it too thin, too course and completely unmanageable. The only thing that helped at all was a daily dose of prenatal vitamins.
Prenatal vitamins for a woman who’d just sworn off of men.
Her phone buzzed from between the cushions of the couch. She glanced at the name and heaved a sigh.
Nelson. Leave it to her booking agent to know she was screwed before she even had time to figure out what to do. She bit her lip and clicked the ignore button. She’d been through hard times before. And she wasn’t about to listen to Nelson suggesting she bail on the Carmichael. She’d just have to find a new piano player. A really good one. Who could learn the show in two weeks.
“Son of a bitch,” Dan said again as he pounded the steering wheel of his car. His dog Nelli, short for Minnelli, nosed him from the back seat. He rubbed his fingers under her chin and sighed. “Sorry, girl. I didn’t mean to scare you. We’ve had a change of plans.”
A big change of plans. He shook his head. He’d given up everything for this New York job. He’d sold his house. Packed up everything he owned and piled it all in his Jetta for the promise of finally getting out of the small rural town in
South Carolina to do something real with his music.
But he should’ve known it wouldn’t work out. His life
never worked out. Big chances like the opportunity to compose a Broadway musical didn’t land in his lap. He was one of what felt like thousands of smart, qualified men and woman, all going after the same thing.
constantly hustled since getting out of Berkeley. He’d spent years gigging, living paycheck to paycheck, playing weddings and background keyboards in dog food commercials. Finally, he’d accepted a job teaching music at a small community college. He thought he’d be happier not having to move from place to place or work so many crazy hours. Instead, two years after he’d accepted the position, he was in a major depression.
Then he’d gotten a call from a friend of a friend at Berkeley. He was producing a musical and they needed a composer. And suddenly,
Dan’s life had meaning again. For almost three weeks.
Nelli nuzzled his cheek and he absently raked his fingers through her soft fur. The idea of returning to
South Carolina and asking for his job back nearly choked him. New York was not an easy place to live as a piano player. The competition was fierce. He couldn’t believe they’d even considered him to compose a musical in the first place.
His phone buzzed in his lap. Unknown number. He pressed ignore and looked at the dingy gas station he’d pulled into. A large trucker in a too tight pants and a flannel
shirt lumbered toward the bathrooms in the back. Dan’s phone buzzed again. He grumbled.
“Dan?” a voice said through too much background noise. “Thank God I reached you.”
Nelson. The friend who’d introduced him to the producer of the now non-existent musical.
“Yeah, I already got the call. The musical isn’t going forward. Thanks for thinking of me,” he answered, ignoring the punch in the gut the words elicited.
“You haven’t turned back yet, have you?”
Dan sighed. “I was just about to.”
“Well, I got you another gig. In New York. It’s cabaret, but I think you’ll like it. It’s sort of funny cabaret. But you need to get there yesterday. Your first show’s in two weeks. At the
opened and closed his mouth. “Two weeks? What the hell? I can’t prepare a show in two weeks.” But the Carmichael. Big venue. Big enough to get him noticed…
“The show’s already prepared. You just need to play
it. I got this client. She lost her piano player and she needs you.”
“She lost her piano player or she fired him in some sort of diva fit? That’s not
what I need right now, Nelson.” He’d seen singers burn through their piano players before and he wasn’t about to be some girl’s doormat for two weeks before she dropped him for some new guy. He’d rather go back to South Carolina. Maybe. But maybe two more weeks in New York was two more weeks in New York and that alone would be enough.
Dan. It’s not like that with this one. She’s different. Funny. Smart. Just got into cabaret. Her piano player had to back out because of a sick mom.”
“So it’s just the
“Maybe. Depends how it goes. She’s spectacular so it may be more long term.”
Dan laughed. It was all becoming clear. “Are you just selling me on this chick because she’s desperate and you don’t want to lose your commission?”
Nelson chuckled. “The commission’s good, but this girl really is a star.”
Nelli lapped at his face and nudged him. He patted the top of her head. “Okay. I’ll be there tomorrow. Where should I meet her?”
“She’s got rehearsal space in Greenwich. You can meet her there. And
“Don’t get involved with this one. She’s worked hard for what she’s got and she doesn’t need romantic complications.”
smarted. “Jesus, that was ten years ago. I’d just gotten out of school. It was one mistake.”
mistake that almost wrecked your career.”
grunted. “Believe me, I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll never get involved with a singer again.”