Bad Boy Rockers #1
Thalia is twenty-one and has just finished her sophomore year of college. Her new boyfriend, Liam, invites her to spend the summer with him and his family, so as she’s been unable to find a local job to keep her at college, Thalia jumps at the chance. Liam tells her that she can be his guest at his brother, Jack’s, wedding at the end of the summer.
Jack is twenty-five and feels as though he’s drowning. He’s engaged to Mia, against his will, because it’s always been drilled into him, family comes first. Jack’s studying for a law degree, and wants to go out on his own once he graduates, specialising in criminal law. His father wants him to accept a junior partnership in the law firm owned jointly by him and Lewis, his fiancées father, to practice family law.
Then he meets his brother’s girlfriend, Thalia, and he can’t get her out of his head. He needs her to keep her distance, because every time she smiles in his direction, he wants to carry her to his room and do really naughty things to her.
Then Saturday night arrives and Liam takes Thalia to a new bar that has opened on the outskirts of town, where she discovers Jack’s big secret. By day he’s the good looking, slightly older brother with a chip on his shoulder, who gives her hot looks, and by night he’s Phoenix, singer/guitar player for bad boy group ‘Deception’, who makes her sizzle to the core!
He has muscle. He has tattoos. He has piercings. He has a mouth that makes her panties wet every time he opens it. He is supposed to be getting married. He is also her boyfriend’s brother...
Model - Kenton Kramer
Photographer - Eric Battershell
Cover Designer - Wicked by Design
The lumps of the new sofa dug painfully into my back as I wriggled to a new position; equally as uncomfortable as the first. I would never understand how Callie had convinced me to purchase it. I hated it – from the color, a sickly brown; sienna according to the designer, to the numerous lumps and bumps that you couldn’t escape, regardless of how you were sitting on it. It reminded me of the old, beat up sofa in my mom’s sunroom. The very one my uncle had hauled out and deposited in the tree house we’d built behind the tall cottonwoods.
I smiled at the memory. My first make out session had happened in that tree house, on that sofa. Ethan. Ethan Rock; the school jock and biggest asshole. He’d sweet talked his way into the tree house with every intention of getting to third base. I’d ended up kneeing him in his junk when my father shouted me from the base of the tree; he’d frightened the shit out of us. Ethan, of course hadn’t spoken to me again, but what a memory.
“Thalia, what the hell are you grinning at?”
“Ethan Rock,” I replied to my roommate Callie, her voice shaking me from the memory.
“Huh, I don’t think I know him. You going to eat this Spaghetti Bolognese?”
I turned my head to look at her and burst out laughing. “Is there any left in the pan?” Her apron seemed to have a hell of a lot of red sauce all over it.
Callie was the world’s worst chef, and always insisted the next meal she cooked would be better than the previous one. That was so not going to happen.
“When’s it ready?”
“Ten minutes,” she said, before turning back into the small, cramped kitchen.
“Okay.” I hoped I wouldn’t regret eating what she’d made.
I’d met Callie within a couple of weeks of starting our freshman year at college, both of us studying English Literature – close to three years ago. After the summer break we’d be back as seniors. We couldn’t wait to strut our stuff around campus. Shit, who was I kidding? We had it all planned, or at least Callie did. I had no clue as to where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to do, but I figured if I had an English degree, it would open more doors for me, once I’d fully made my mind up.
All I did know was that I wasn’t going home when I graduated next year. I shuddered at the thought.
Both of my parents treated me like a child when I was home, right down to the nine pm curfew. I sighed thinking of them. I was twenty-one and, wanted to be like most twenty-one year olds; allowed to enjoy myself before I got completely snowed down with a job and other responsibilities.
Wherever I ended up, I knew that it would be with Callie, although at that thought I realized I’d have to learn to cook if we didn’t want to survive on take-out or die from food poisoning.
Dragging my carcass from the sofa, I walked the short distance to the bathroom, which was as small as the kitchen. In the tight space, I could touch the toilet, washbasin and shower and feel cramped in doing so. There was barely enough room at the sink to wash up for dinner.
Rent was cheap so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. My parents gave me a monthly allowance that covered the rent, bills and food. I even had some left over, which I put away for rainy days or when I’d finished college, along with the money from my part-time job.
I sighed, turning the faucet on, I splashed cold water onto my face. Green eyes returned my gaze in the mirror. Groaning, I realized my dark curly hair, which had been secured in a band at the back of my head, had come loose. Stray hairs were sticking up all over my head in disarray. I pulled the towel from the rail and dried my face, with an extra swipe over my freckled nose, in hope that one or two freckles would get stuck on the towel. I hated freckles! My red hairbrush was in the container to the side of the tub, so I quickly grabbed it, removed the band from my hair, and ran the brush through it, deciding to leave it hanging around my shoulders.
Refreshed, I walked into the kitchen, and took a seat at our two-person table while Callie spooned sauce on to the pasta.
She placed the plate in front of me and I couldn’t hold the grimace in as the sharp odor of unknown spices drifted from the plate. Oh boy.
“Thalia, I promise it’s . . . tasty,” she reassured me between bites. “Are you for real?”
“Okay, I’m hungry so here goes.” I picked up my fork, rolled up the long noodles dripping with sauce and placed it hesitantly into my mouth. Flavor burst on my tongue and to my surprise it was . . . edible! I glanced at Callie in surprise.
“Told you so.” She smirked.
“What happened? Why does it taste good?” That’s the thing about best friends – you could insult them without it going to heart. Callie was also honest with herself and knew she couldn’t cook.
“Well, thanks for the vote of confidence. I kept telling you I’d get it right one of these days,” Callie replied, waving her fork around in the air.
“Yeah, you did and watch what you’re doing with that fork.”
We ate the rest of the meal in silence then I poured us both a glass of wine, which we carried through to the living room along with the rest of the bottle. We got comfortable on the sofa with our feet resting up on the coffee table, the conversation and wine flowing easily between us. Before we knew it we were on our second bottle of wine.
“So who’s Ethan Rock?”
I frowned at her. “It took you long enough to ask.”
“You still haven’t answered.”
“Ethan Rock was the school jock, aka school asshole, who tried to get to third base in my tree house. It was cut short by my dad calling me,” I giggled. “I kneed him in the junk. He ended up rolling all over the floor in his shorts while I tried to hold a conversation with my dad without laughing. Ethan never spoke to me again.”
“Oh my God. How old were you?”
“Sweet sixteen,” I replied, starting to feel the effects of drinking nearly two bottles of wine with Callie.
“Nothing sweet about what you nearly did.” We fell into each other laughing.
After picking ourselves up from the floor, I walked into the kitchen for more wine and the cake I’d brought home with me from work.
“Here, share this with me.” I passed Callie a slice before sitting back down beside her.
“Why didn’t I get the job in the cake shop instead of the dry cleaners?”
“Because you have a sweet tooth. You’re skinny now; if you’d taken the job with the cakes you wouldn’t be able to walk through the door,” I teased my sulking friend.
“I thought you were my friend.”
“I am. That’s why I work in the cake shop and you don’t,” I laughed.
We both hated our jobs, which we considered slave labor, although I did have the slightly better one in the cake shop. Unfortunately, today had been my last day. The cake shop was on campus, and only opened during the college semesters, whereas the dry cleaners where Callie worked were open twenty-four-seven, much to Callie’s constant dismay.
“Before you get too drunk to think, I want to know what’s going on between you and Liam . . . and don’t tell me nothing.”
I digested Callie’s question. How could I answer when, in actual fact, I had no idea? Over the past six months we’d been on a few dates and to the movies once or twice, but there was something missing. In honesty, I think if I hadn’t been so busy with my studies I would have said something to him, about the lack of closeness between us. He hadn’t even kissed me, other than a peck on the cheek. Liam was good company and rather entertaining so I’d just gone along with him as his ‘girlfriend.’
Callie was staring at me with the patience of a saint. Her long legs rested beside mine on the coffee table and she was slouched on the couch. Her eyes half closed in a lazy manner; blonde hair falling in disarray from the ‘up do’ she had going on from the morning.
“Liam is good looking, but he hasn’t tried to get into my pants; not even once. He’s kissed me, kind of, but no other touching . . .” I hesitated before blurting out, “I’m going home with him this summer.”
Callie choked on the swallow of wine she’d just taken, the red liquid staining her white top as her eyes widened in shock. “Are you crazy?”
“Probably,” I groaned.
Callie dabbed at her shirt as she stared at me looking flabbergasted.
“Look, you know I don’t want to go home.” I numbered out the reasons on my fingers. “All the summer jobs around here have already been taken. You’re going away with your family, and I don’t want to touch my savings. I can use some, but the majority I want to save; you know that.”
I avoided her gaze as I reaffirmed all my reasons for going. “Liam said his parents want him to bring me home. He also said, I’ll have my own room, and I do like him, but as a friend. To be honest I think that’s what he wants, although he keeps referring to me as his girlfriend.” I frowned.
“This can only end in disaster.” Callie sat up, her gaze serious. “What are you going to do if this is all a ruse to finally get in your panties? Because I can tell you’re not into him like that; though I doubt you ever were to begin with,” Callie finished, truth ringing in her words.
“Then I’ll deal with it, if, or when that happens,” I muttered.
Callie’s hard gaze bore into me, making me shift uncomfortably under it before she stifled a yawn with the back of her hand. “I need to get some sleep and don’t forget we’re going shopping in the morning,” she reminded me as she struggled up from the sofa and stumbled into her room.
Despite her warnings, I was looking forward to going home with Liam, although I was a bit apprehensive about meeting his parents. Hopefully I’d meet a HOT cowboy there. They had cowboys in Alabama, right?
I pulled myself up from the sofa and headed to my room where I collapsed on top of my bed. I was so tired.
* * * * *
Both Callie and I were still suffering the effects from last night’s wine drinking; Callie had been sick and I’d woken up with drums beating in my head. I’d taken some painkillers about an hour ago so the drum in my head had dimmed enough that I’d stopped feeling sick, which was just as well because we were in one of Callie’s favorite stores trying on dresses.
I’d bought a pair of cowgirl boots about six months ago on a trip home with Callie to Texas for her parent’s thirtieth wedding anniversary, and I loved them. They were authentic cowgirl boots from Allen’s Boots in Austin, in soft, light brown leather. Deep brown, embroidered poppies decorated the boots making them the perfect accessory for any event. They’d set me back a bit, but I’d always wanted a pair and they were so worth it.
All I wanted were some dresses to wear them with. You see, I had it in my head that I was going to fall head over heels in love with a cowboy, but I’d worked out that ‘said cowboy’ had to fall in love with me too, hence the dresses to go with the boots. I mean what guy could resist a woman in cowgirl boots and a short dress? Flashing naked thighs!
As I wiggled into the third dress, music started blaring from somewhere close by. Oh my God! Where the hell was that racket coming from? My head was about to explode.
I could hear Callie groaning in the changing room beside mine. “Thalia, answer your goddamn phone,” she shouted.
It was me? Shit. My fogged brain hadn’t registered the fact. I grabbed my jeans from the floor where I’d thrown them in my haste to try on the white lacy dress, and quickly retrieved my iPhone from the back pocket. My stomach rolled with nausea, so after taking some deep breaths, I answered, which cut off one of my favorite songs, ‘Here Without You’ by Three Doors Down.
“Hello.” I slid to the floor, shutting my eyes, praying that everything stopped spinning.
“Thalia, dear. Is that you?”
“Mom,” I groaned, just what I needed, a lecture when I was still feeling the effects of too much red wine from the night before. “Yes, it’s me.”
“I just wanted to know when you’re going to arrive home for the summer. We need to make plans.”
“Ah . . . Mom, about that.” I took a deep breath, mentally bracing myself. “I’m not going to be coming home. I’ve been invited to a friend’s home in Alabama for the summer. So, having never been to Alabama before, I’ve accepted. I mean it’s not as though you and Dad will be there all the time, you both usually head out on a cruise.” I crossed my fingers.
“Well! Do we know this person who you prefer over your own parents?”
Ugh. Why did she always have to make me feel guilty? “No you don’t know him.” The silence on the phone was icy. I sighed before continuing, “His name is Liam. His father has a law firm which he jointly owns with another guy, so totally trustworthy.”
“Now Thalia, lawyers are not trustworthy, they’re sharks.”
Here we go again. All because one lawyer swindled Mom and Dad out of a load of money, they’re all sharks!
“Mom, I don’t want to argue. His parents are already expecting me, and I’m sorry for not telling you sooner. I’ll come and visit before I head back here to school, okay?”
“Look after yourself, Thalia. I’ll email you our schedule. Please make sure you email your contact details for Alabama.” She hung up.
I rested my head against the wall of the changing room staring at the phone. No goodbye, the guilt trip had been minor for my mom. Sighing in relief, I realized the spinning in my head had stopped, and I felt much better having spoken to my mom, a conversation that I’d been putting off.
“Thalia, you alive in there?” Callie banged on the door.
“Yeah! Give me a minute.” I removed the dress and decided to take all five, even though I’d only tried on three of them. There was a mixture of colors: white, cream, pale lemon, pale green and pale lilac. Yeah, I liked pale colors.
My jeans were in a heap on the floor so I picked them up, shook them out before I wiggled back into them. I gathered the dresses together and left the changing rooms in search of Callie. As it turned out I didn’t have far to look. She stood talking to Liam outside the door to the changing rooms.
“Hey, Thalia.” He leaned forward, kissing me on the cheek. “Let me take those. You both finished here? I thought I’d take you and Callie to lunch.”
Liam took the bundle of dresses from me so I took his arm and let him lead me to the check out. “Lunch would be great, now that my hangover has more or less disappeared.”
“Hangover? I thought you said you were staying in last night,” Liam queried.
“Girl’s wine night at our apartment,” I replied.
“Okay. You buying all these?” Liam asked as he placed them onto the cashier desk.
“Yeah. I don’t have that many dresses, so I figured I’d add to my wardrobe as I’m going home with you.” I handed my charge card over to the sales assistant and turned to Callie. “What happened to the dress you had?”
“I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to leave you two. I have some things to do before I head in to work in a couple of hours.” Callie started to back away from us.
“Positive. I’d probably puke anyway.” She turned and headed out the store.
Liam took hold of the bags with my dresses and ushered me out of the store to a new café that had opened across the road.
I had slight misgivings about going home with Liam this summer. He . . . us . . . confused me. Was I his girlfriend or just a friend? He was gorgeous in so many ways. Tall, slim but still athletic and his blonde hair and blue eyes gave him the appearance of the All American Boy. All the girls on campus wanted his attention, but for some reason he was interested in me.
As I admitted to Callie last night, we hadn’t gotten to the hot and sweaty part of dating yet, and I wasn’t too sure I wanted to. We got along fairly well, but I didn’t get all hot and bothered in his presence. No tingles or wet panties. Even walking beside him, all I felt was the warmth of friendship.
Standing outside the Italian café in the sweltering heat we scanned the menu in the hopes that they had something worth eating. “Ah.” I slid my finger past the list of sandwiches and brought it to rest on the lasagna and garlic bread – just what I wanted.
Liam glanced over my finger and grinned, “You are feeling better if you’re looking at that.”
“I’m hungry now. What about you?” I grinned.
“I think I’ll have the same. Come on, let’s go and order.”
Liam opened the door for me and we stepped into the dim interior. A maître’d cleared his throat before he led us to the terrace out back, sitting us in the shade.
We placed our order with the server and sat back to relax while I let the breeze cool my skin. The café hadn’t been open long, so everything still looked new and fresh. Our table was beside the garden, which had a manmade stream flowing through, with brightly colored flowers along both sides of the embankment. How they’d managed to create a beautiful garden oasis in the middle of the city was beyond me.
I glanced at Liam. “Will you tell me more about your family? What to expect?”
He laughed. “It might scare you off if I do.”
“They can’t be as bad as my parents.”
“Not really. I guess.” Liam knew all about my parents. He took a sip of his water and peered at me, his blue eyes sparkling in mirth. He was obviously enjoying this. “Okay. My father is a lawyer and has his own law practice, which he jointly owns with an old friend of his, Lewis. My older brother, Jack is engaged to marry Lewis’ daughter, Mia.”
“I didn’t know you had a brother.” Surprise turned to confusion. Why hadn’t he told me before? We’d had the sibling conversation during one of our earlier dates; if that’s what you’d call them, and he never mentioned a brother.
“Yeah. They’re getting married over the summer, Jack’s twenty-five, and studying to be a lawyer. He’s been groomed since we were kids to take our father’s place at the law firm. Dad wants him to settle into life as a family lawyer, whereas Jack has always held a fascination in criminal law. He’s the golden boy because he’s studying law,” he sneered.
“I take it you don’t get along too well with him?”
“We get along well enough or at least we used to do. He seems angry all the time.”
God, did I want to head to Alabama? Yeah, I did – one word – cowboys. Besides, I liked weddings, I’d had the pleasure of being a bridesmaid at twelve weddings in my twenty-one years, so it would be fun to go to one in Alabama.
“Thalia, let’s eat and talk about something else. My stomach can’t take anymore talk about my family.”