He’s a household name. Posters of his tattooed body are plastered across bedroom walls from San Francisco to Singapore. Women want to be with him. Men want to be him. He’s brash, bold, and bossy as hell, and he is about to become my employer and my step-brother, which wouldn’t be so bad; except …
He’s already been my lover.
Attempting to change his public image as a kinky, womanizing pig, hasn’t stopped his wayward ways. I should know.
He played me his music. He played with my body. And he played with my heart, leaving it tattered in tiny painful pieces, nearly broken beyond repair.
I was finally putting the pieces back together, when his mother and my father decide to blindside us. They’re getting married!
Could things get any worse? The answer to that question is a resounding yes.
Pushed by my dad to replace Shag’s former PA, I find myself working for the one man who lives to torment me. He won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and he always gets what he wants. This time he wants me back in his bed, at least until our parents say, ‘I do.’ I have to resist. There is no way I can handle another heartbreak.
If only he hadn’t earned his silly nickname because of his ‘shagging’ skills, resisting would be so much easier.
Warning: This book is for mature audiences and contains sexual situations, language, and subject matters some readers may find offensive. If you like dark, damaged bad boys, you’re in the right place.
Excerpt from Bad Beats © C.L. Riley 2016
The lights on the small stage explode to life, revealing the band. I don’t waste a second looking at anyone but Shag. He’s all I see, bathed in a blue spotlight and looking like the rock god he’s been referred to so often.
“Welcome winners!” he yells, as if he’s on massive stage, in a stadium of thousands, not a room with three hundred people.
The audience cheers their approval.
“Let’s fucking rock this ship right out of the water!”
And they do.
For the next hour, Shag and his band weave a web of musical madness that’s impossible to resist. Shag’s the spider, luring us in with his dark and dangerous persona. He’s an impeccable front-man, giving the audience everything they could possibly want and then some.
More than once his smoldering gaze finds mine and he grins. Another time he winks. There is no hiding his interest. Shag Steal may be entertaining everyone else, but he’s enticing me with a personal performance that has my heart racing and my panties damp.
Just so you know, I’ve read more than a few romance novels where the heroine refers to her wet panties. I always discarded the over-used reference as an exaggeration specific to the genre.
Now I know the books were right and I was wrong. Damp panties are real, and I’m wearing them.
I’m also positive I am not the only one in desperate need of a cold shower, especially with Shag looking like he does. His bare chest and six-pack glisten with sweat, drawing my gaze to his body-hugging leathers, a different pair than he wore during the Portland concert. They lace up the front, reminiscent of David Lee Roth’s signature eighties style.
But what makes the pants so hot is the way Shag fills them. He’s packing some serious size beneath those laces. The drool-worthy bulge is even bigger than I remember from that first, hometown show. Considering at this venue his crotch is just a few feet from my face, it’s no wonder he seems larger than life.
Two songs ago, he tossed me his t-Shirt, and I’m clinging to the sweaty garment like it’s my life preserver. Every few seconds, his uniquely male scent drifts up from the shirt, adding to my desire. It takes all my self-control to resist the insane urge to bury my nose in the cool cotton.
Robin isn’t helping matters. She keeps passing me straight shots. I don’t do straight shots. At least I didn’t use to.
Because of those shots, I’ve surpassed the tipsy phase, something that’s happened more in the past week than in the last year. The night we used our gift cards to shop for the cruise, I was buzzed. By the pool today, I was feeling no pain. And now…now I’m ready to seduce Shag and worry about the emotional price tag tomorrow.
So much for my stance on limiting any self-indulgent behavior…I’m failing miserably in that regard and can’t make myself care. What I do care about is the man who owns the stage and perhaps even a tiny piece of me.
His next words lodge in my heart, like an arrow from Cupid’s bow, sending a surge of heat spiraling through me. I lean into Robin, and she nudges me, a mischievous glint in her eyes.
“I’d like to play you a song I wrote while most of you were enjoying a kick ass meal. My band doesn’t know about it yet, and I don’t have a title. I hope you’re cool with an acoustic version of what I believe is a future hit. Did I mention I’m turning into a certified cat lover?”
Robin pokes me. “Cat lover, huh? Whatever could he mean?”
I take the shot glass from her and throw back my head, letting the bitter liquid burn a fiery trail down my throat. “Maybe he likes felines,” I tease back.
She raises her brow and I stick out my tongue.
Someone from Shag’s crew brings him a stool and hands over a guitar, putting an end to our banter.
The room quiets and chairs shuffle as people sit. Robin pulls me down with her, giving my thigh a pat. I sink into the cushions, keeping my gaze trained on Shag. He adjusts the instrument, his expression thoughtful.
After what feels like forever, he looks up and shoots us his trademark smirk. It doesn’t matter that he’s about to premiere a song he wrote while I was napping and everyone else was eating, he appears cool and utterly confident.
He fixes his gaze on me and strums his fingers across the guitar’s strings, launching into a soulful rock ballad that makes my arm hairs stand up and take notice. Goosebumps trail over my skin and I’m immediately lost in the lyrics.
The song is about a man longing for a woman so bad it hurts. He refers to the woman as Cat and makes use of several clever word plays to insert some petting and purring references into the story. Rather than being cheesy, the cat contrasts add a hint of humor to an otherwise serious song of seduction and bring a unique twist to a tale about a tormented man desperate for a torrid affair with a woman he should leave alone.
Mentions of emerald eyes and a red halo of hair…his very own Tabby Cat, eliminate any mystery about who he’s longing for.
He. Wants. Me.
He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s going to get me.
Just the thought of us together sends a coil of heat through my core. I shift, trying to relieve the pressure and refocus my attention on the lyrics not the ache between my legs.
The verse that touches me most describes how the woman he wants is out of his league and explains he is no good for her, and then goes on to clarify that in the end he will corrupt her, destroying her innocence.
Had the lyrics been lacking, it wouldn’t have mattered, because Shag’s voice is intoxicating, like the finest wine, aged to perfection. It wraps around me like a lush fur blanket, caressing my soul and making me realize how much I want to be corrupted, as long as it’s Shag doing the corrupting.
The man has far more going for him than simple charisma and charm, and he’s not just talented, he’s undeniably gifted. He shines brighter than any star and easily makes the sun pale in comparison to the energy that emanates from him. As for sex appeal, he has it in spades, no one could ever question his shameless sensuality, but it’s more than that.
I’ve seen sexy, talented men before but none who have affected me the way Shag Steal is affecting me now. I feel like I’m the only woman in the world who can satisfy his insatiable appetite, and I’m convinced he alone is the one man who can quench my thirst. It’s as if I’ve been wandering in the desert and he’s the oasis, a place of refuge and release.
There is no denying that whatever this thing is between us has me spellbound. I can’t explain it and I don’t want to. The mystery adds to the magic, making me tremble all over. If I sit here another second, I’m afraid I’ll melt. Robin will have to scrape me off the floor.
Not sure how to handle the tsunami of sensations, I bolt from the loveseat, desperate to find a safe harbor where I can compose myself in the midst of the storm.
The women’s restroom is the closest sanctuary I can think of. So I make a beeline through the audience, trying not to step on any feet along the way. Sadly, I’m not successful. I stumble, and someone, thank God, keeps me from a face plant.
Mumbling an apology, I keep moving, determined to escape what now feels like a room full of vultures eager to pick me to pieces.
When I finally enter the hallway that leads to the bathrooms, my legs turn to JELL-O. Slumping against the wall, I struggle to stay upright.
Rough hands grab my shoulders and I’m yanked against a hard body. At first I think its Shag, but the smell is all wrong. After spending time practically snorting his shirt, I’m confident in my ability to recognize his scent.
This man smells like whisky and musk, a combination that turns my stomach.
“Where are you running off to? We’ve got unfinished business.”
“What…?” My mind is foggy and doesn’t compute his comment, thanks to all the shots.
“Poolside, this morning. Your friend chased me off before I could tell you how much I like women like you.”
Placing my palms against his chest, I push. “Women like me?”
“Full-figured, sexy, and trying to pretend like they don’t want it.”
The fog clears just enough for me to process his words, and I’m pissed. I know I should be afraid, considering he has me pinned against a wall, but instead I’m seeing red. This asshole just called me fat and accused me of cock-blocking.
I do what any insulted woman would, knee him in the groin.
Only problem, I miss. Now he’s angry and running his mouth.
“You little bitch. You think that rock-star likes you. Please. You should feel lucky I want to fuck you.”
This time, I stomp on his foot. I don’t miss and he yelps, releasing me.
Before I can think to move, Omar, Shag’s security guard, the one who walked me to my first ever meal onboard, is between me and Mr. Stalker, shoving him back.
A second later, a shirtless blur appears.
My vision is tunneling and I’m not sure what’s happening. I think the blur is Shag, which makes no sense since I still hear music. Closing my eyes, I try to fight the dizziness that I suspect is a result of the booze. I’ve lost count of how many shots I swallowed down.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to throw up.
Yep. I am.
Unable to stop the inevitable, I bow over and spew out the cause of my distress.
With my stomach empty, I slide down the wall and land on my ass, right before the world goes dark.