Lick (Stage Dive #1)(8)


by Kylie Scott

“Yes, Sam. Thank you very much.”

He gave me a polite nod and headed back the way we’d come. His broad shoulders and bald head soon disappeared among the crowd. Running after him and asking to be taken home wouldn’t help, but my feet itched to do so. No, enough with the pity party. Time to pull up my big girl panties and get on with things.

Hundreds of people had been packed into the place. The only thing in my experience that came close was my senior prom and it paled significantly. None of the dresses here tonight compared. I could almost smell the money. Lauren was the dedicated celeb-watcher but even I recognized a few of the faces. One of last year’s Oscar winners and a lingerie model I’d seen on billboards back home. A teen pop queen who shouldn’t have been swilling from a bottle of vodka, let alone sitting on the lap of a silver-haired member of … damn, what was that band’s name?

Anyway.

I shut my mouth before someone noticed I had stars in my eyes. Lauren would have loved all this. It was amazing.

When a woman who most closely resembled a half dressed Amazonian goddess side-swiped me, Mal stopped and frowned after her. “Some people, no manners. Come on.”

The sluggish beat of the music moved through me, reawakening the dregs of my headache and putting a taint on the glitter. We weaved our way through a big room filled with plush velvet lounges and the people draped over them. Next came a space cluttered with guitars, amps and other rock ’n’ roll paraphernalia. Inside the house the air was smoky and humid, despite all the open windows and doors. My top clung beneath my arms. We moved outside onto the balcony where a light breeze was blowing. I raised my face to it gratefully.

And there he was, leaning against a decorative iron railing. The strong lines of his face were in profile. Holy shit, how could I have forgotten? There was no explaining the full effect of David in real life. He fit in with the beautiful people just fine. He was one of them. I, on the other hand, belonged in the kitchen with the waitstaff.

My husband was busy talking to the leggy, enhanced-breasted brunette beside him. Perhaps he was a tit man and that’s how we’d wound up wed. It was as good a guess as any. Dressed in only a teeny white bikini, the girl clung to him like she’d been surgically attached. Her hair was artfully messed in a way that suggested a minimum of two hours at a top-notch salon. She was beautiful and I hated her just a little. A trickle of sweat ran down my spine.

“Hey, Dave,” Mal called out. “Company.”

David turned, then saw me and frowned. In this light his eyes looked dark and distinctly unhappy. “Ev.”

“Hi.”

Mal started to laugh. “That’s about the only word I’ve been able to get out of her. Seriously, man, does your wife even speak?”

“She speaks.” His tone of voice made it obvious he wished I wouldn’t, ever again. Or at least, not within his hearing.

I didn’t know what to say. Generally, I wasn’t after universal love and acceptance. Open hostility, however, was still kind of new to me.

The brunette tittered and rubbed her bountiful boobs against David’s arm as if she was marking him. Sadly for her, he didn’t seem to notice. She gave me a foul look, red mouth puckered. Charming. Though the fact that she saw me as competition was a huge boost to my ego. I stood taller and looked my husband in the eye.

Big mistake.

David’s dark hair had been tied back in a little ponytail with strands falling around his face. What should have reeked of scummy drug dealer worked on him. Of course it did. He could probably make a dirty back alleyway seem like the honeymoon suite. A gray T-shirt molded to his thick shoulders and faded blue jeans covered his long legs. His black army-style boots were crossed at the ankles, easy as you please, because he belonged here. I didn’t.

“You mind finding her a room?” David asked his friend.

Mal snorted. “Do I look like your f**king butler? You’ll show your own wife to a room. Don’t be an ass**le.”

“She’s not my wife,” David growled.

“Every news channel in the country would disagree with you there.” Mal ruffled my hair with a big hand, making me feel all of eight years old. “Check you later, child bride. Nice to meet you.”

“Child bride?” I asked, feeling clueless.

Mal stopped and grinned. “You haven’t heard what they’re saying?”

I shook my head.

“Probably for the best.” With a last laugh he wandered off.

David disentangled himself from the brunette. Her plump lips pursed in displeasure but he wasn’t looking. “Come on.”

He put his hand out to usher me on and there, spread across the length of his forearm, was his tattoo.

Evelyn

I froze. Holy shit. The man sure had chosen a conspicuous place to put my name. I didn’t know how I felt about that.

“What?” His brows drew down and his forehead wrinkled. “Ah, yeah. Come on.”

“Hurry back, David,” cooed Bikini Girl, primping her hair. I had nothing against bikinis. I owned several despite my mom believing I was too big boned for such things. (I’d never actually worn them but that was beside the point.) No, what I minded were the sneers and snarly looks Bikini Girl shot me when she thought David wasn’t looking.

Little did she know he didn’t care.

With a hand to the small of my back he ushered me through the party toward the stairs. People called out and women preened but he never slowed. I got the distinct feeling he was embarrassed to be seen with me. Being with David, I sure caught some scrutiny. Any money, I didn’t fit the bill of a rock star’s wife. People stopped and stared. Someone called out, asking if he could introduce us. No comment from my husband as he hurried me through the crowd.

Hallways spread out in both directions up on the second floor. We went left, down to the end. He threw open a door and there my bag sat, waiting on a big king-size bed. Everything in the sumptuous room had been done in white: the bed, walls, and carpets. An antique white love seat sat in the corner. It was beautiful, pristine. Nothing like my small, cramped room back at the apartment I shared with Lauren, where between the double bed and my desk, you had just enough room to get the cupboard door open, no more. This place went on and on, a sea of perfection.

“I’d better not touch anything,” I mumbled, hands tucked into my back pockets.

“What?”