Published by Mischief HarperCollins
ASIN # B013AJGKF6
Publication Date: 26th May 2016
Contemporary Erotic Romance
It’s not what she wanted… but it could be what she needs.
Dani’s relationship with sexually fluid, Black Halo frontman, Xane Geist is put to the test when she agrees to allow him to explore his desire for sizzling new drummer, Luthor Albrecht. Even with strict rules in place to define what’s acceptable, Dani’s heart is never more than a step away from being broken.
As one crisis after another hits the hard rocking band, Dani must make peace with her traumatic past and overcome her trust issues if she’s to have any chance of holding onto Xane, or turning their uneasy love triangle into something stable and positive.
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER
What a fucking tip! Every time I think I can’t hate that wanker any more, he gives me another reason to cave in his skull.’
‘Totally, because if attempting to kill you wasn’t bad enough he had the audacity to trash your stuff too.’ Paul ‘Rock Giant’ Reed followed Xane into the cramped tour-bus kitchen. What had been a pristine vision of black leather and brushed steel now resembled a scrapyard.
‘Bastard!’ Xane dropped into a low squat to scoop the remains of his favourite coffee mug from the piles of detritus. Only half of the ‘Sex Maniac’ slogan remained attached to the handle. A sigh rolled off his pierced tongue as he rubbed his thumb against the brown residue of a thousand or so caffeine hits. ‘It looks worse than the old rust-bucket did after a three-day blowout. Smells worse too.’
‘Reckon the bastard pissed everywhere.’
The sickly stale reek of drying urine drifted along the central aisle from the rear of the bus. Iain Willows had a heck of a lot to answer for, and the fact that the Swedish police currently had him in custody for attempted murder did little to soothe Xane’s mood. He wanted to smash things over the bastard’s head – not primarily because Iain had nearly drowned him, but rather because he’d put Black Halo’s lead guitarist in hospital and Ash’s recovery looked as if it could be a prolonged affair.
Ash had been the one who’d supported Iain and stuck up for him. He shouldn’t have been the one to get hurt. But the world never did seem to work in the way it ought to. The bad guys rarely got their dues, and people who deserved an even break rarely got one. It ought to have been him in that hospital bed with his hands clawed and struggling to talk, but yet again he’d somehow managed to emerge unscathed. So, OK, he’d required resuscitating, but he was here walking and breathing with no more than a few aches and pains to show for it. Xane Geist – they said he’d sold his soul to the devil. Well, he didn’t remember doing so, but the evidence kept stacking up to support it.
‘Let’s get some windows opened and some rubbish sacks in here,’ he muttered.
‘You sure you want to do this?’ Rock Giant curled his hand around Xane’s shoulder. ‘Shouldn’t you be resting? You’re fresh out of hospital. I’m pretty sure they’d have held onto you if they’d realised this was your first intended port of call.’
Xane patted his friend’s hand in gratitude. Rock Giant had been the one who had given him mouth-to-mouth last night. He knew only too well how close Death’s scythe had fallen. But he wasn’t in the mood to sit idle. Everything he’d taken for granted had been upended again. He needed to create some order out of the chaos. There was nothing he could do about the tour dates they’d have to cancel, nothing more he could do to aid the police, and absolutely zilch he could do to fix Ash, who was wired to a few dozen machines having his blood filtered. ‘I need to do something, focus on something.’
‘Getting some rest, perhaps.’
His mind was whirring even if his body was tired. ‘I don’t know about you, but I can’t face the thought of a hotel at the minute. It’s too damned impersonal, and there’ll be a mob of reporters and desperate fans parked outside the moment they get wind of the fact we’re there.’ That would happen approximately three minutes after they checked in. It was the nature of things. If you were famous, and already headline news, then privacy was non-existent. Most of the time, Xane didn’t mind living in the limelight. Hell, he’d even go so far as to say he enjoyed it. Now wasn’t most of the time. Now, life had just walloped him with another curveball. He wanted silence, and the tour bus was the only place to get it. It was currently parked at the back of last night’s concert venue, cordoned off behind fencing and crime-scene tape. Forensics had already done their stuff, but the tape was helping to keep prying eyes away. Plus no one expected them to be here.
‘How did you get out of the hospital unmolested?’
‘Police escort,’ Xane explained. ‘They wanted statements, and they had fuck-off big guns to keep the crowd under control.’
‘Nice,’ Rock Giant drawled through his terse grin. ‘I gave them my run of the events last night.’ He closed the door of the humming fridge, hiding a little of the destruction and instantly halving the local noise pollution. ‘I dunno what cleaning stuff we have. The dust-buster and washing stuff’s normally in there.’ He pointed to a cupboard door that was splattered with a mixture of baked beans, ketchup and lentils.
Xane deposited the remains of his mug on the draining board and gingerly inched open the cupboard. Miraculously the contents had escaped the destructive force that had whipped through the rest of the bus like a tornado.
‘Why am I not surprised that Willows didn’t know where to find the bleach and scouring pads?’
‘I’m not sure he even knew where to find the teabags.’ Rock Giant reached past him to grab a roll of bin bags and a dustpan and brush. ‘I vote for shovelling all the shit up and throwing it, unless you feel a salvage operation is necessary.’
Xane pulled his long hair back into a ponytail. ‘There’s nothing on here that’s irreplaceable. Shovel away. I’ll start on the surfaces.’ He delved into the cupboard and rose again armed with two bottles of spray detergent.
‘You’re going to need a cloth too, super-spy.’
Xane aimed the jets at the nearest defiled surface and let rip, before seeking out a cloth. Cleaning wasn’t exactly his forte, but sometimes focusing on labour-intensive tasks helped to clear the brain. In any case, if they were going to make the bus habitable again before tonight, they needed to put their backs into it, and more than likely round up a few additional pairs of hands.
‘Where did you, Spook and the girls stay last night?’ he asked after they’d been working for a minute or two.
Rock Giant stopped whistling in order to answer. ‘Apparently, Ginny had a hotel room booked, so Dani went there. Spook pulled an all-nighter at the hospital, which is why he’s crashed out like a baby now, and Elspeth and I squeezed into the motorhome with Sally and Graham. It wasn’t ideal, but we managed. I think the road crew kipped in the van, or else found themselves some accommodating young ladies to slumber beside.’
‘I’d appreciate a hug from my accommodating young lady right now,’ Xane mused. Dani had only been permitted to visit for a few minutes the previous night before the staff had insisted he needed his beauty sleep. Considering the headache, and the invisible elephant he’d had pressing on his chest, he hadn’t objected. His head was much clearer today, but his ribs still ached, especially when he twisted.
Having scooped most of the broken glass and crockery into a bag, Rock Giant paused to catch his breath. ‘Did I catch that right last night, that Dani’s agreed you can screw Luthor?’
The crudeness of the remark irritated him a little, but he let it go. Rock Giant had a knack for making his hackles rise, but the important thing was that they were a team and there for one another when they needed to be. ‘Yeah, you caught it right.’
‘How the fuck did you get her to agree to that?’
Xane shrugged. If he was honest, he wasn’t entirely sure himself. He’d done his absolute best to avoid acting on the chemistry that existed between him and Luthor, but Dani had got hurt all the same. Then right at the point when he’d been convinced he was going to lose everything, she’d announced she was prepared to give the notion of sharing a go. How it was all going to work out, he didn’t know, but with the band on an extended hiatus they had time to negotiate the details. So far all she’d stipulated was that if he and Luthor were doing anything, she wanted to know about it, because that way she wouldn’t fret.
‘You’re a jammy git, you know that?’ Rock Giant complained, as he took the brush to the seating area by the window. Both of the seat cushions had been slashed. ‘You realise I haven’t got laid since Amsterdam and that chick that tore handfuls of my hair out, but you … you get Miss Sweet Cheeks and top it off with the new drummer boy.’
‘Is my name being taken in vain?’ Luthor asked, appearing at the top of the entry steps. ‘Jeez, it smells like a zombie’s armpit in here. Looks like one too. Gross.’
‘It looked even worse ten minutes ago. Where did you disappear to?’ Xane scrubbed the last bit of ketchup from one cupboard front.
‘Graham collared me. I’m afraid you’re all stuck with me now. He insisted I sign a contract on the still warm bonnet of the taxi or he wasn’t letting me within two hundred yards of you.’
‘He better not have screwed you over.’
Rock Giant scratched his chin. ‘I’m astonished he hasn’t insisted on a full psych-evaluation.’
‘Would I be expected to pass or fail that?’ Luthor asked brightly.
‘Good point. Black Halo does consist of a bunch of screw-ups,’ Xane remarked. There was no sense in pretending otherwise.
Rock Giant scowled. ‘Speak for yourself. I’ve never had to check myself into rehab.’
Xane rolled his eyes.
‘Fine, you’re totally balanced, but the rest of us …’ He shook his head. ‘Ash is screwed up.’ There was no contesting that, seeing how he was currently occupying a hospital bed. ‘Elspeth is completely batshit crazy. I mean, she was before all the stuff with Steve happened. I don’t think I need to remind you she has a shrine in the back of this bus. And I freely admit to being a deranged, sex-addicted devil-worshipper.’
Both Luthor and Rock Giant sighed and chuckled.
‘The first two are true,’ Rock Giant agreed. ‘But you must have been praising Satan awful quietly, given the amount of shit that keeps being heaped on you. I thought the point of selling your soul was it reaped you major benefits and a platinum “Get out of jail free” card.’
‘I’m alive, aren’t I?’
‘Apparently so. Hey, you missed a bit, near the handle.’
‘Spook’s not screwed up,’ Luthor muttered, his brow wrinkled in thought as he wrestled a bucket and scouring pad out of the cupboard.
Xane and Rock Giant both buckled over with laughter.
‘Why’s that funny? The guy’s totally together.’
‘Spook’s the biggest fuck-up of us all,’ Xane wheezed. Dammit, he needed a good laugh, even if it hurt like hell.
‘True … totally true,’ Rock Giant added. He levelled his gaze at Luthor. ‘Come on, there’s nothing sane about taking a vow of chastity. What sort of psycho does that?’
‘Yeah, but that’s just hearsay, isn’t it?’
‘Cross my heart.’ Rock Giant made the sign across his chest. ‘Spook is unequivocally weird. I mean, he doesn’t even masturbate. How disturbed is that?’
Xane nodded in agreement.
‘There’s a reason, though. I mean, he didn’t just decide to go without for no reason.’
‘Reasons smeasons,’ Rock Giant said.
Xane fell quiet and busied himself by squirting the next set of surfaces with spray cleaner. Sure Spook had his reasons. He wasn’t about to go into them. He might not be very good at keeping his cock in his pants, but he was a superb secret keeper. If he was told something that wasn’t meant for other ears, he was never the one to spill the beans.
Dammit! He knelt in a puddle of them, the nasty fart inducers, so he was forced to use the cleaning cloth on himself.
They fell into silence as they worked. Xane watched Luthor from the corner of his eye. Spook’s vow of abstinence predated the band, but curiously none of them had ever really questioned it, or, if they had asked why, they’d been content with an answer that told them nothing. If Luthor was actually going to dig, things might get awkward.
‘Why are you interested in Spook?’ he asked.
‘I’m not specifically.’ Luthor snapped on a pair of yellow Marigolds before dunking his hand in the bucketful of water to start mopping the more gruesome areas. ‘I just thought it was a band secret, and I might get initiated into the inner circle now I’m a fully signed member.’
‘He’s just weird,’ Rock Giant replied, saving Xane the necessity of concocting an answer that didn’t require him to lie.
‘That and someone needs to act as a counterbalance to Mr Geist here.’
‘I don’t think there’s an actual limit to how much sex the band can have overall,’ Xane said.
‘Why are we doing the clean-up?’ Luthor asked. ‘Can’t you get the roadies to do it, or a professional cleaning company?’
It seemed their new recruit was keen to leave his schlepping, dogsbody days behind him.
‘The roadies are busy sorting the gear and making sure it all gets shipped back to England, and we’re not going to find a professional cleaning company at zero notice.’ Leastways, not one that wouldn’t photograph every inch of the damage and start a black-market sale of their broken possessions. ‘Besides, what else are we going to do with our time?’
Luthor scratched his head, where a line of the blond strands had been shaved away and numerous steri-strips were now stuck over a gash in his scalp. ‘I can think of a few things.’
‘You’re worse than he is, if you can look at the state of this place and get a hard-on.’ Rock Giant looked at Luthor, and then squared his attention on Xane. ‘I’m going to start on the back room.’
‘Have fun …’
‘But not too much fun …’
Luthor straightened up from his scrubbing task. ‘I thought you’d have gone straight to see Dani.’
‘I’m not entirely sure where she is. Hopefully on her way here if my message to her got through.’
‘Does that make this a good time to talk?’
‘Us.’ Luthor removed the gloves and hung them over the edge of the bucket.
‘What do we need to say? Everything’s sorted out.’ Tension brewed in his veins as Luthor turned his hypnotic mismatched eyes upon him.
‘Is it? I’m not sure that’s true.’
‘Dani agreed it’s OK, we can …’ She’d watched them make love, got turned on by it, agreed that him wanting Luthor in addition to her didn’t have to be a problem.
‘We can what, Xane? Shag one another senseless while she watches? That’s not really what I want out of this.’ He pointed to Xane and then himself. ‘I don’t think it’s what you want either. For starters, it means I can’t dothis unless she’s standing right here.’ He slid one hand around the back of Xane’s neck and drew him forward into a kiss. A kiss that Xane more than welcomed. He opened his mouth to it and groaned in pleasure as their tongues clashed and he wrapped his arms around Luthor’s back.
However, Luthor was right: it technically wasn’t permitted. They were no freer to do this now than he’d been a little over a day ago. Though really, where was the harm in it? It was only a kiss. It wasn’t as if they were about to hump one another blind amid the detritus with Rock Giant watching them from the bedroom. He didn’t doubt that the big guy was doing exactly that. Rock Giant liked to prove his heterosexuality by watching guys make out and then proclaiming the lack of agitation in his pants. That and, like every other member of Black Halo, he was a nosy bugger.
It was just a kiss. How could Dani say it was OK for them to fuck in her presence, but not engage in any sort of affectionate or sexual behaviour in privacy? Maybe Luthor did have a point. He’d been so excited and relieved yesterday that she was happy and wasn’t going to leave him that he’d not analysed the reality of what they’d agreed to.
‘I’m not interested in just being your fuck toy, Xane. I don’t want to be the guy you call when you and Dani feel like spicing things up a little.’
‘You won’t be. Just give things a chance to settle.’
‘I’m not expecting perfection overnight. I just want to know exactly what it is I’m getting myself into, because I thought it was a relationship.’
‘It is … It will be.’ Xane fisted a handful of Luthor’s T-shirt and jerked the cotton up enough so that he could rub his other hand against the skin he exposed. Luthor was so frickin’ perfect to hold and touch, with his work-hardened physique and long slender limbs. He was damned good to look at too, and that was before you even got as far as his natural heterochromia. One sea-green eye and one tawny drank down his image.
‘Is that a promise? Do you swear it?’
Xane answered by pushing his tongue into Luthor’s mouth and initiating another round of fierce kissing. He shifted his stance so that their hips ground against one another, providing some welcome friction where he suddenly needed it.
‘I love the way your tongue stud feels.’
‘Yeah.’ Xane pushed his hands into the back of Luthor’s baggy jeans and grabbed himself a satisfying handful of firm arse. ‘Wait until you feel it caressing your cock.’
‘It has caressed my cock, and I can recall exactly how mind-blowingly good it felt. Too bad a blowjob is beyond the bounds of your accord.’
‘Don’t make this harder than it needs to be, Luthor.’
‘Am I making it hard?’ He pushed a hand between their bodies and copped a feel of Xane’s cock where it was trapped behind his zip. ‘I guess I’m making something hard.’ He squeezed. ‘You can see the problem we’re going to have, can’t you? If we spend time together, it’s inevitable that things are going to get tense, but actual relief, that’s not allowed.’
Yes, he could see the dilemma, and his mind was frantically trying to see a way around it, but, as Luthor said, there wasn’t one, other than somehow conjuring Dani out of thin air and having her just stand and watch. Even if he could do that with a simple snap of his fingers, he couldn’t see her patiently standing by and observing them even kissing, let alone screwing one another above once a week, and possibly not even that often.
Luthor was right, there were serious holes in the plan, and yet he understood why she’d insisted on those conditions. Dani wasn’t specifically trying to keep them apart, or torture them; she was trying to buy herself some security. He couldn’t snatch that from her, not when she was adapting and trying so hard to understand and give him what he wanted.
He pushed Luthor to arm’s length, breathing hard through his open mouth. ‘Stop … We have to stop … show some restraint.’
‘For how long?’
He didn’t have an answer to that question. ‘Let her get used to the idea of us. Then we can reopen the negotiations.’
‘Or I could just get down on my knees right now and suck you off.’
‘Don’t.’ Xane held out his palm to keep Luthor at a distance, but with his other hand he was toying with the fastening of his jeans. ‘Take the bucket, go and help Rock Giant.’
‘I don’t think he wants my lips around his cock.’
Xane turned his back. He didn’t know why Luthor was being like this, after he’d been so reasonable before, but piling on an additional layer of stress when he was already feeling stretched and torn wasn’t helping him keep his head clear. Sex, after all, was his drug of choice. It had ever been his method of checking out of bad situations. Flood the pleasure centres and the world became a happy place. If he was fucking, he didn’t have to think, but not thinking about this was only going to get him into trouble.
‘Did I hear you offering me a blowjob?’
Praise be for Rock Giant. That bastard had just saved him.
‘Graham didn’t actually make you sign up to that as part of your contract, did he? I enjoy getting head as much as the next guy, but I’m strictly no-dudes when it comes to my tackle.’
‘I just had to make myself available … to play,’ Luthor clarified. ‘The contract didn’t cover blowjobs.’
‘No dodgy codicils or anything.’ Rock Giant scratched his armpit.
‘That’s OK, then.’ He held up his mobile phone. ‘I just got a call from Elspeth. Apparently Graham and Sally want to talk to us all. We’re to head over to the motorhome for a conflab. Decisions need to be made about what happens next.’