Authors: J.A. Bailey
Roll All Night
Jazz sighed as she studied the stage
critically. “Run through it again,” she called to Len, her lighting guy.
Everything had to be perfect. She’d invested a fortune in this event. She
needed to bring some new blood into the club if she was ever going to cover the
cost of the unnecessary sound-proofing of the London club.
It had all
been fucking faked, she thought bitterly. Queen’s Rock Bar was well within
legal sound limits but just because she’d turned down the inspector’s advances,
he’d made up some bullshit about the club causing noise pollution. And now she
was seriously out of pocket after having the walls soundproofed. The club had
only been running a few years and she’d invested all her savings in it. Now she
was in the damned red and falling further. The bar did well, but not good
enough to cover the interest on her debt. If tonight didn’t bring in some new
clientele then she was thoroughly screwed.
ditch bid to save her club.
just happened to involve Jackson Wilde.
her teeth just thinking about him. How could it still hurt a decade later? But
she had no choice, did she? Jazz leaned back on her bar stool and watched the
lights play. Her ex-sweetheart, Jackson, was bound to bring in so many new
faces. Though his band had split only a month ago, the lead singer of
was still hot stuff.
Len, that will do,” she called and glanced at her watch. Jackson would be here
soon. Her stomach twisted. What would he make of her? She wasn’t the same
starry-eyed girl who spent all day listening to rock music and planning all the
amazing acts that would come and play at her bar.
allowed herself a smile as she studied the bar. Okay, so she hadn’t had any
huge acts yet but the club did rock. With a dark, clean interior, the leather
couches and stools were trimmed with studs. When she first purchased the place,
she had a graffiti artist come in and paint the walls with images of rock
legends. Slash, Freddie, Lemmy, Ozzy… they all graced the walls of her bar,
surrounded by some awesome rock memorabilia she’d picked up over the years. At
least she’d achieved this. Jackson had what he wanted out of life—fame,
fortune, adoration—and she had her bar. For how long though, was another
her stomach when it grumbled, she gave the place a quick once over and decided
to grab something to eat. She lived above the bar, so she went through the rear
doors and took the stairs up to her apartment. Jazz grimaced. It was still
pretty bare. She’d really not had the time to do anything to it. The walls were
cream. She had a couple of old rock posters on it and her blue couch was
threadbare. She still kept a big collection of CD’s in spite of mostly
purchasing music online nowadays.
a quick run past the coffee table and cleared away the discarded chocolate
wrapper and an old coffee cup, dumping them in the small kitchen. Plates still
awaited her in the sink and she scraped a hand through her hair, wondering if
she even had time to do them. Problem was, the bar was pretty much a
twenty-four hour job. By the time she finished at night, she was too tired and
if she wasn’t in the bar, she was doing accounts and paperwork or dealing with
bookings and staffing issues. Christ, what kind of a thirty-year-old woman
lived like this? Her room in her parents’ house had looked better.
she’d worry about it later. Once tonight was over and Jackson Wilde had gone
back to wherever he lived now—probably with some gorgeous blonde thing in a massive
into clean jeans, Jazz pulled on her Queen’s Bar tee. It showed off the tiniest
bit of tanned flesh at the waist. Thank God all the hours she worked kept her
stomach flat. Sliding on a couple of chunky bracelets, she went to the bathroom
to do her makeup.
Jazz sighed. Would she look ancient to Jackson? She still looked good, she
thought. Though probably not up to the standard of the kind of women Jackson
hung out with. When she’d caught him cheating, it had been with some insanely
beautiful groupie types. Jazz’s caramel skin was still line free and her dark
eyes usually looked pretty good when she slapped on some eye shadow. She nodded
to her reflection, settling for black eye shadow and eyeliner.
she didn’t have purple hair anymore. She’d grown out her short spiky do and
instead opted for the dip dyed look. Her dark brown hair spiralled into a golden
colour at the ends. It suited her. Made her look more grown up. Which was the
real reason she’d originally done it. Nobody took the little rock chick
seriously when she was trying to set up finance for the bar.
everyone has to grow up at some point, right?
on some lip gloss, she brushed her fingers over her brows to neaten them and
went back to the kitchen to debate the contents of her fridge. A half-eaten
sandwich still sat in its wrapper from yesterday.
she said, aloud but still ate it, hunger erasing her scruples.
the wrapper in the bin, she flicked her hair over her shoulder and drew in a
breath. “Here goes nothing.”
would be here in the next few hours and tonight would be the most important
night of her life. Tonight would decide whether her business would fail or
succeed. All she had to do was be polite to the guy who broke her heart. She
crossed her fingers.
damned well be worth it,” she muttered under her breath.
paused outside the club to admire it. He grinned. So Jazz had actually done it.
She’d sworn she’d buy the bar when they were kids and she’d actually done it.
But of course she had. Jackson had never known anyone as determined as Jazz.
And if anyone could match her determination it was him.
back and he was determined. By the end of the night, Jasmine Moreno would be
pushed open the door to the bar, shafts of light dazzled him. A stage sat at
one end of the club and someone was clearly testing the lights. He took a
moment to let his vision adjust and shoved his hands into his jeans pockets as
he studied the place. Damn, it looked fucking good.
Jazz had spent hours designing the inside of her dream bar and he had to admit,
she’d done a good job. He could still remember her excitedly showing him the
drawings. She was so cute and funny. He could swear her determination was half
the reason their relationship survived through college unlike so many other
sank as he remembered other things too. Like the look on her face when she’d
come to surprise him when he was in New York. Unfortunately their relationship
didn’t survive his band’s success. And he’d hardly done anything to help it.
He’d never cheated on Jazz. Never. But as the lead singer and guitarist, hot
women threw themselves at him constantly. He flirted and enjoyed the attention,
never thinking how his girlfriend back home might feel when he didn’t answer
her texts or take the time to email her.
been an idiot.
guy—a stereotypical old rocker—with long grey hair tied back in a ponytail and
a faded Deff Leopard T-shirt approached, drawing him from his thoughts, and
greeted him with a grin,
Wilde,” he stated rather than asked as he offered him a hand.
Jackson took the guy’s hand and shook it firmly.
you weren’t due for a few hours yet. You’ll be hanging around for a while I’m
‘fraid. I’m Lenny, by the way. In charge of sound and lights.”
meet you.” Jackson grinned. “I thought I’d come take a good look at the bar and
maybe catch up with some old friends.”
that’s right. You grew up here, didn’t you? Jazz mentioned you knew each other.
‘Spose that’s how she managed to get an act like you here.” The old guy looked
embarrassed. “Not that Jazz doesn’t do a fine job of running this place—it’s
sure to get some big names soon—but it’s early days for the club.”
to be here.”
he was ecstatic to be here. He’d leapt at the chance to play in Jazz’s club.
She’d sent the most formal email he’d ever read and he’d responded just as
politely but inside he’d been high-fiving himself. At a loose end since the breakup
of the band, he’d been debating going home and finding her. And now she’d given
him the perfect entry back into her life.
hoped she’d have him back.
had time. Though working on a producing career, it was not like he was in any
hurry. He’d been savvy with his money from the band and he had a few
endorsements still paying out. If it took him a lifetime to get Jazz back, it
would be worth it. None of the groupies or model girlfriends had ever matched
up to his childhood sweetheart.
darted his gaze up to see an exotic woman pause in the door behind the bar. His
heart stuttered as if it forgot how to beat for a moment and his jaw probably
appeared to physically shake herself before she stepped forward, letting the
door swing shut. Coming around the bar, she approached with a careful smile on
her face and a pensive look in her eyes.
Jackson. Thanks for coming. We weren’t expecting you for…” She glanced at
Lenny, who backed away, perhaps sensing the tension.
later for sound check, Jackson,” he said before hastening away through the rear
take his gaze off Jazz. Hot damn, she’d grown up nicely. Though she’d been
twenty-one when he last saw her, she’d still had that cute thing going on. Now
she was all woman. Full breasts stretched a black t-shirt with the club’s name
in gold lettering on it. A tease of flat stomach kept winking up at him above
the waistband on her jeans and those legs… fuck, they were long and lean. He
was willing to bet her ass was just the right fit for his hands. Shit, he couldn’t
wait for her to turn around.
your hair,” he stated lamely, wanting to kick himself.
uh…” She fingered a long curl. “Needed to look professional sometimes, you
know? Business meetings and all that. I even put it up in a bun if needed.”
laughed. “Yeah, I could see that.” He shook his head at her incredulous
expression. “Actually, no I can’t. You’re still all rock chick, babe.”
a shoulder. “Not exactly but I still rock it when I can.” A slight smile crept
across her face and it struck Jackson just how Goddamned beautiful she was.
What a fucking idiot he was for ever giving her up.
was here now and he sure as hell was going to make up for time wasted. “Got
time for a drink?”
a look around the empty bar, pressed her palms down her jeans and nodded. “Sure.
We’ve got a few hours until the staff turn up. I kinda thought you wouldn’t
turn up until the last minute, what with you being a big star an’ all.”
well I don’t have much on my plate at the moment.”
strolled behind the bar. “Whisky?”
Ah, so she
remembered. “Yeah, please.”
him a generous measure and then herself one, knocking it back quickly before
leaning back against the bar to eye him. “I’m sorry the band split.”
well these things happen. It couldn’t last forever.”
have been a big blow. You guys were at the top of your game. Everyone was
pretty surprised when you announced the split.”
was all right about it now, but he had to admit it had been a blow. They had
been at the top. In some ways, he’d expected it to last forever. Thanks to guys
like the Rolling Stones, it was cool to be an aging rocker. But the break had
given him a chance to assess his life. All the touring, the constant pressure…
at some point they’d stopped doing what they loved and had become a commercial
entity. They’d always sworn they’d stay true to themselves but somewhere along
the lines they ended up just another product.
great,” he admitted, “but I’m over it now. I’m setting up as a producer.”
limelight for the great Jackson Wilde?”
a slight bitterness to her tone but he ignored it. He knew he had his work cut
out with Jazz. “Naw. I’m done with that.” He sipped his whisky as she poured
herself another. “It’s good to be home.”
rose. “You’re planning on sticking around?”
actually. I’ve been looking at studios here. I’ve seen a few that would work
murmured, half to herself by the sound if it. “Never thought you’d want to come
back here after seeing the big wide world.”
is here, Jackson. My bar, my family. Your parents left years ago. What’s the
point in returning?”
just him or was she trying to persuade him to leave? He almost wanted to laugh.
His mother and father had moved to Spain after he bought them a house out
there. But Spain didn’t have what he wanted. It didn’t have Jazz.
just say when I left, I left behind something real important.”
him a weary look and chucked back her second whisky. “Oh, yeah, and what’s
Jazz.” He leaned forward and took the glass from her hand, placing it on the
coughed. It wasn’t the whisky though. It was Jackson, leaning in toward her that
made her throat dry. God, he was even sexier in real life than on T.V. and in
magazines. His worn jeans and black shirt shaped perfectly to a toned, muscular
body. He left his shirt open enough so that she could see enough smooth skin to
make her mouth even drier. She fought the urge to play with the beaded necklace
around his throat.
eyes connected with hers and sucked the breath from her chest. He seemed so sincere.
Gone was the young, fun-loving cute guy and in its place was a serious, insanely
hot man. Well, sort of serious. His lips had quirked into a tilted half-smile.
A fucking sensual smile that said he wanted to put his lips on hers. Or maybe on
her skin. Even on her nipples perhaps that were hardening at the very thought.
wasn’t supposed to happen. The jab of a bar pump in her side jolted her. She
had a bar to run. A life to get in order. Jackson was the key to that, nothing
more. He’d do this gig and then he’d move on and she would hopefully have a
successful business. Once Jackson Wilde had played Queen’s, all the big bands
would want to play here.
her gaze over him, taking in the slightly too long dark, mussed hair and sexy
chiselled chin. Shaking her head, she pressed a palm to his chest, trying to
ignore the thrill the heat of his skin through his shirt gave her.
this is not happening. I am so not doing this.”
please… just hear me out.”
shook her head adamantly. “You had your chance and you blew it. I waited around
a long time, put off my dreams for you. I’m not doing this again. I don’t care
if you’re wanting a one night stand or whatever, but it isn’t happening.”
want a one night stand.”
Had she just totally read him wrong? Shit, was she making a total fool of herself?
you for good, babe. You and me. I want there to be an ‘us’ again.”
why did that sound so good? Probably because the times there had been a ‘them’
were the best of her life. Jackson had been her best friend, her confidante,
her lover. Everything. They’d gone through puberty together, lost their
virginities to each other, shared a deep love of music. He’d been her world.
But she hadn’t been to him. And she just couldn’t go through that again.
Because no matter what he said, she’d never be enough for Jackson Wilde.
matter how sexy the rocker was as he stared down at her, brown eyes soulful and
searching. It didn’t matter that her body ached with need. How could he
possibly have this effect on her after all this time?
on his chest, she intended to press him away but her arms wouldn’t work
properly and he inched closer, sucked the air from between them with his presence.
all a mistake, Jazz. A big fucking mistake. I should have fought for you,
should have tried harder. You were worth fighting for and I was an asshole.”
His chest now pressed into hers, pining her in place. “But I never cheated on
you. I swear.”
deflated. Could she really believe him? His gaze held hers, completely sincere.
That hurt she’d held on to for so long sputtered inside her, threatened to disintegrate.
Which was ridiculous. She’s seen him with those girls in New York. Images of
blonde, pretty girls in underwear sprawled over him swamped her, bringing back
the hurt again.
This time she
pushed him. He was too strong and it had no effect. Her throat ached with
frustration. Fuck’s sake. She’d put it behind her. This wasn’t how it was meant
to be. Jackson was meant to play the gig and fuck off back to his groupie
said gruffly. “I never cheated on you. You know I’m telling the truth.” He
reached for her chin and held it firmly, forcing her to look into his eyes. “I never
lied to you. You know me better than anyone. I fucked up and I should never
have even allowed myself to get into that situation. I was young and stupid but
I’m not now. I know what I want and what I need to do. I want you and I will
fight to get you back.”
gulped down the painful lump in her throat as her breathing grew ragged. He was
right. She had known him. Jackson never lied to her. They always understood one
another. When you grew up as close as they did, there was no point in lying to
each other. But he’d been so distant, barely responding to her texts and
sounding weird when they spoke. She’d just assumed she no longer knew her
boyfriend. So when she decided to take things into her own hands and surprise
him on tour in NY, it had all made sense when she gate-crashed a party in their
hotel room to find him lounging around with semi-naked women.
didn’t matter. It had been too long and she’d held onto that hurt, nursed it.
She couldn’t let it go now. It had driven her to achieve what she had.
It’s too late. I’ve moved on.” Her words came out barely a whisper.
her, gaze so intense it made her hold her breath. Finally he spoke, voice
gruff, “I don’t believe you.”