Author: Jayne Frost
Series: Sixth Street Bands #3
Release date: October 23, 2017
(Sub)genres: New Adult
Buy: Amazon US ~ Amazon UK
Four years ago I made an unforgivable mistake. And Anna was the price. I thought I’d forget her. Thought I’d move on. But who was I kidding? No amount of drumming could drown out my love for her.
When I see here again, backstage after one of our shows, it's clear: Anna's mine. She’ll always be mine.
One mistake. Four years of regret. Is there such thing as a second chance?
When Sean Hudson walked out of my life, he shattered me. Broke me in untold ways. And when I saw him again, I did the only thing I could: I ran.
Sean is the past. And I can't survive his brand of hurt ever again.
4 YEARS AGO
The front door slammed, shaking the walls in our small apartment. I snuggled closer to Anna’s side and buried my face in her hair.
Logan’s agitated voice cut through the fog of near sleep.
“Dude, wake up!”
Whatever mess my best friend had gotten himself into, he’d have to solve it on his own. This was one of Anna’s rare mornings off, and since we’d had the apartment to ourselves, we’d stayed up late, listening to the rain and having lazy sex until we’d passed out.
Smiling at the thought of a repeat, I grumbled in Logan’s general direction, “Go away. I don’t have any condoms. Carry your ass to the store like a normal person and leave us alone.”
His footsteps echoed in the tiny room, and then he was beside me, his long fingers digging into my shoulder as he gave me a hard shake. “I’m serious. Get up.”
A frustrated groan escaped my lips when Anna twisted in my arms. She propped herself up on one elbow, wiping the sleep from her eyes. “What do you need, Lo?”
A swift kick in the ass.
Rolling onto my back, I smothered my face with the pillow, hoping he’d get the hint. Of course, he didn’t.
Cursing under his breath, Logan rooted around under the comforter.
“Hey!” I snarled, tossing the pillow at him. “Whatever you’re looking for, I don’t have it.”
Running an agitated hand through his blond hair, Logan glared at me.
“Where’s your remote?” Anxiety laced his tone when I didn’t answer right away. “For the TV, douchebag—where’s the remote?”
Anna fumbled around on the nightstand and then handed him the clunky device. “What’s wrong with the TV in your room?”
Logan walked to the end of the bed and took a seat.
Anna sat up, scowling. “Make it quick.” She slumped against the headboard, glaring at the back of Logan’s head. “Seriously, Lo, hurry up. I have to pee.”
Logan ignored her, all his attention focused on the screen as he flipped through the channels. His shoulders sagged when he reached CNN.
Cable News? Now he had my attention. The only things Logan ever watched were MTV, VH1, or the Cartoon Network.
I popped up to see what was so important, but something told me I didn’t want to know. “What’s going on?”
“Quiet,” Logan whispered.
Buttoning my lip, I reluctantly focused on the screen where a stone-faced commentator stood in a field, fat droplets of rain pelting her microphone.
“…live footage from the scene of the tragic accident outside of Fredericksburg, Texas this morning where two members of the super-group Damaged lost their lives in a fiery crash. At this point, we’re unable to confirm the identities of the deceased. Damaged, arguably the hottest band in the country, just completed a series of shows in the Southwest and…”
The camera panned out for a wide-angle shot. Wisps of smoke rose from the wreckage, dissolving into the gray morning sky.
A gasp from Anna. “Oh my God.”
She crumbled against me, her small hand curving around my waist as she buried her face in my chest. Unable to make sense of what I was seeing, I stroked her hair with numb fingers.
After a few moments of stunned silence, Logan jumped to his feet. “What the fuck is she smiling about?”
Confused, I blinked at him. “Who?”
“The fucking reporter.” He pointed at the TV with a shaky hand. “What the hell is she grinning for?”
I shifted my gaze back to the screen, and sure as shit, the reporter was smiling. Just a slight upturn of her glossy lips.
I tightened my grip on my girl. “It’s her job, man. She doesn’t…” Emotion clogged my throat, and I struggled for breath. For words. “She doesn’t know them.”
But then, neither did we. Not really. Damaged hailed from Austin, our hometown. And over the last five years, as their star ascended, our paths had crossed on occasion.
Our band, Caged, was one of the many groups on Sixth Street that loosely followed the Damaged blueprint. Since high school, we’d been playing the same bars where Damaged got their start, hoping a little of their magic would rub off.
The news report abruptly cut to KVUE, the local ABC affiliate. Terri Gruca, the nighttime anchor, sat stoically behind the half-lit desk, her co-anchor nowhere in sight.
“Thank you, Sandy.” Terri blinked into the camera. “We’ve just got word at the studio that Rhenn Grayson, lead singer for the Grammy winning band Damaged, and Paige Dawson, lead guitarist, were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident on Highway 290 this morning.” She looked down at the copy wobbling in her shaking hand. “Rhenn’s wife, singer Tori Grayson, and drummer, Miles Cooper, were airlifted to Brackenridge Hospital via Care Flight. According to band manager, Taryn Ayers, Mrs. Grayson and Mr. Cooper are both in critical condition. The bus driver was also pronounced dead at the crash site.” Still photos of Rhenn and Paige appeared on a split screen in the background behind Terri’s head. “Our prayers go out to the families. After a brief commercial break, we’ll cut to the CNN studio for further updates on this tragedy and a look back at the lives of these two gifted musicians.”
My head pounded as a commercial for toaster strudel flickered across the screen. Smiling faces and cheery voices, touting the virtue of strawberry jam tucked inside a fluffy pastry shell. Somewhere, people were probably eating that shit.
But not Rhenn or Paige.
“They were twenty-four years old,” Logan murmured.
As he turned to face me, questions clouded his arctic blue eyes. The same questions I’d seen every day since the first time we met. About death, and why it visited some while leaving others alone. Death was what brought Logan and me together, after all. Our shared bond. Two kids whose mothers would never sit at the long table in Mrs. Varner’s classroom handing out cookies. Because our mothers had “passed.”
That’s the polite term people used when someone died. The same folks made sure to tell you they were “sorry for your loss.”
Which I always found funny, since my mother wasn’t lost. She was dead.
Rhenn’s voice boomed from the speaker on the worn-out TV. Smiling his most iconic smile, he stood back to back with Paige as he crooned the band’s latest hit.
I leaned forward to drink it all in. Because that’s all that was left now, bits of light and shadow caught on tape.
Slithering from my loose hold, Anna stumbled to her feet. “I’ve got to pee.”
Before she got away, I swung my legs over the side of the bed and then slipped my arms around her waist to pull her between my knees.
Resting my forehead against her chest, I breathed deeply, her peach scent soothing me like a balm. “I love you, Anna-baby.”
She sifted her fingers through my hair until I stopped shaking, and then kissed the top of my head. “Love you too.”
Reluctantly, I let her go, and she retreated into the tiny bathroom. Through the paper-thin walls, I heard her crying softly.
When she returned, her face splotchy and her eyes glistening with leftover tears, I gave her a soft smile and lifted the covers so she could crawl in beside me.
An hour later and we still hadn’t moved, like if we stayed here, it wouldn’t be real.
But it was.
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