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Ambrosia
Erin Noelle
Ambrosia
Published By Erin Noelle
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, copied in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise transmitted without written permission from the author/ publisher,
except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes only. This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.
This eBook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase
an additional copy for each participant.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot
are the property of the author of this story. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously
copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.
As a part of the Book Boyfriend Series, numerous characters from other books are
mentioned throughout the text. The following is a list of said characters, the books you can find them
in, and the author who owns the titles and characters. I highly urge you to read all of these books so
that you can better understand the context of the character’s personality is used.
Kiera and Kellan ~ Thoughtless trilogy, SC Stephens
Cassie & Jack F’ing Carter ~ The Perfect Game/ The Game Changer , Jenn Sterling
Trey, Ethan & Reagan ~ Double Time ~ Olivia Cunning
Jesse Ward and Ava ~ This Man ~ Jodi Ellen Malpias
Deuce ~ Undeniable ~ Madeline Sheehan
~To my girls, Gabi & Dani ~
You are the reason I live; you will never know how much I love you.
CHAPTER ONE ~
SWEET REUNIONS
I Will Possess Your Heart ~ Death Cab for Cutie
A Drop In the Ocean ~ Ron Pope
Overjoyed ~ Matchbox Twenty
SCARLETT
Wrapped tightly in Mason’s strong arms for the first time in eight long, lonely months, the
overwhelming feeling of comfort and security engulfed me both physically and emotionally. I really
had no idea how he was going to react to my sudden reappearance and public apology, but his
response was definitely best case scenario. Relief had washed over me when he had picked me up in
his arms and told me that he still loved me. His ability to forgive with ease reassured me that I had
made the right decision.
“Let’s get out of here,” Mason whispered in my ear as he placed me back onto the floor. I
nearly lost my balance on my Jello-like legs, but thankfully he still had his arms on mine, and kept me
from falling. I looked up into his smoky gray eyes and saw the same blazing desire staring back at me
that I felt in every nerve ending on my body. Oh, how I had missed the way he made me feel.
I nodded once and that was all the affirmation that he needed. Mason grabbed my elbow and
steered me towards the direction of the office while the crowd in the bar cheered loudly for our
reunion. We reached the door that led to the hallway and Mason turned around to nod his head
“goodbye” in the direction of his friends at the table he had just left. I thought about glancing over at
where Ash was just to see the expression on his face, but I didn’t. I couldn’t allow myself to care
what he thought anymore. I couldn’t allow myself to care about him anymore.
Mason led me through the door with his hand on the small of my back and a happy sigh
escaped my lips at the contact. We stopped in the doorway of the office where Marcus, Mason’s
brother, was sitting in the desk chair with his back to us.
“Hey man, just letting you know that I’m gonna head out. Think you and the guys can handle it
tonight?” Mason asked, getting his attention.
“What do you mean you’re heading out, Rat? It’s the weekend before school starts, we’re
fucking slammed,” Marcus grumbled as he spun around. He stopped when he saw me and cocked one
of his eyebrows up questioning my presence. I smiled shyly at him and the corners of his mouth tilted
up in a knowing smirk. He looked over at Mason and nodded his head, “Alright man, no worries. I’ll
see you tomorrow. Don’t forget I need you here by 4:00.”
“Thanks man, see you then.” With his hand still pressed on my lower back, he guided me
down the hallway, through his and Marcus’ small studio apartment, and out the back door.
“Give me your keys so that I can move your car up by the building. We’ll just leave it here
and you can get it tomorrow,” he said as he reached out his hand toward me.
“I can just follow you to your apartment so you don’t have to worry about it tomorrow,” I
tried to argue, but he cut me off
quickly.
“Angel, the only thing I’m gonna worry about is you running off again and that ain’t gonna
happen as long as you stay in my sight. So give me your keys and we will get your car tomorrow,
okay?”
“Okay,” I agreed without further discussion. He was scared I was going to run again, so if me
not having my car made him feel better about it, I was more than fine with it. I wasn’t going anywhere.
Not this time.
Several minutes later, my car was moved and I was climbing on the back of Mason’s Harley. I
had forgotten how much I loved to cuddle up against him while my arms were wrapped tightly around
his mid-section. I pressed my cheek up against his back, overjoyed at how the night was turning out,
as we made the quick trip to his apartment.
He pulled the bike up next to his building and helped me off. The brief contact of his hands on
my waist, making sure I was steady on the ground, caused my heart to race and my body to tingle all
over. The physical reaction that he initiated in me was incredible. My body craved his touch when I
was near him.
I followed him anxiously up the stairs and through the front door. Neither of us had said a
word since I had agreed to leave my car, and I was dying to know what was going through his head.
He led me straight through the living room, down the short hallway, and into his bedroom. A few
steps into the room, he turned around and locked his eyes on mine. I wasn’t sure what he wanted me
to say or do, but I knew that I owed him an explanation for what had exactly happened the night that I
had left him.
“Mason,” I began, looking down at the floor. “I’m not even sure where to start…”
He took one step towards me, closing the distance between us, and cupped my face in his
large hands. I can’t even describe the look in his eyes at that moment ~ he was so torn by the
multitude of emotions that I evoked in him. Before I could further analyze his intentions, his mouth
crashed down onto mine, possessively and greedily, and I submitted to him instantly. My lips parted
giving his tongue access and he took every bit I allowed him. There was nothing sweet or sappy about
the kiss, it was domineering, intense; purposeful. It was a kiss that told me that he was in control of
whatever relationship we were going to have from that point on.
“We can talk later, Angel,” Mason said as he pulled his lips a short distance from mine. “I’ve
thought way too long about what I’d do if I ever had you in my arms again, and talking isn’t a big part
of it.” He grinned naughtily and I couldn’t help but smile back at him. I reached up and ran my hands
through his short, dark hair and pulled his face back down to mine. I nibbled at his bottom lip, pulling
his lip ring into my mouth and sucking gently. Mason closed his eyes and moaned lightly. When I
released his lip, his eyes shot open and he immediately picked me up and carried me to his bed.
He laid me down on my back in the same stark white bedding that he had when I was last
there. He positioned himself on top of me so that I could feel his body pressed up against mine in all
of the right places, but not so that he felt heavy on me. He leaned down and pressed his lips to the
sensitive spot right under my ear.
“I’ve waited too fucking long for this. I can’t believe you’re really here, Angel,” he murmured
against my skin. “I need you so bad. I’ve wanted you for so long.” He continued kissing and licking
my neck and jaw line. He knew exactly what he was doing, and he wasn’t playing fair at all. It didn’t
take long for my body to respond to his attack. I could feel the heat spread throughout me, and the ache
in my core began to throb. Instinctively, I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him closer to
me while lifting my hips to grind against his.
“You know we really need to talk, right?” I managed to ask between his very distracting
kisses. As much as I would’ve loved for us to just kiss away the last eight months, I knew better than
that. Mason rose up slightly so that he could look at me.
“Not tonight, Scarlett. Please,” his eyes begged. “Can we have one night, just us, before we
have to rehash all the other shit?”
I wasn’t thinking straight, I was completely enthralled in the excitement and passion of seeing
and touching Mason again. There was no way I was denying him anything he wanted.
I nodded my head at him, “Whatever you want, I’m all yours for as long as you’ll have me.”
That was exactly what he needed to hear.
“Oh my God, Scarlett…” He lowered himself back on top of me and picked up on his
tantalizing torture. Feeling his solid body against mine, inhaling his clean masculine scent, hearing his
raspy voice say my name… the assault of all things Mason on my senses was too much for me to take.
The last thing I had planned on was to be back in his bed so soon, especially before hashing out
everything that had transpired in the previous eight months, but I simply could not resist my bad boy
rocker.
“I want you, Mason,” I whispered breathily in his ear. “I need you.”
That was all it took. Unlike our first and only other time together, when Mason was patient
and deliberate with each movement, this time he was wild and almost frantic. Clothes went flying as
we tore at each other, anxious to be skin on skin once again. Open-mouthed with teeth clashing, our
kisses were desperate and demanding. We couldn’t get enough fast enough. He attempted to move
down my body to treat my lower half to the enticing things he could do with his mouth, but I stopped
him. I couldn’t wait any longer.
“It’s gonna hurt, Angel, if I don’t get you ready,” he tried to explain.
“I want to feel you ~ hurt and all.”
Giving me exactly what I asked for, Mason reached into his night stand and pulled out a foil
packet. He quickly opened it and put on the condom, and within a minute he was back between my
legs. I could feel the head of his cock pressing against my wet slit and I whimpered in anticipation.
Resting his forehead against mine, a small smile played at his lips, “Are you ready? I’m gonna
slowly work my way in,” he explained.
“Not slow, please. I need you now.” I panted.
“If you’re sure…” I nodded my head before he could even get the entire sentence out.
Seconds later I was screaming to the heavens above as Mason did exactly what I asked him to
do. In two strokes of his hips, he had filled me completely and once again, I was connected to him the
way I had never been connected to anyone else. I dug my nails into his back and bit down on his
shoulder as the pain and pleasure rolled through me, mixing and molding, together pushing me to the
edge of a cliff. It didn’t take either of us long to find our release as our desperate pace from kissing
transferred directly into our love-making. Every muscle in my body clenched as I began my free fall,
clinging to Mason’s body as if my life depended on it.
Mason cuddled me against his chest after we had both caught our breath and stopped seeing
spots. It didn’t take long for the questions and doubts about what we had just done to creep into my
thoughts, but I quickly pushed them away. We had a lot of things to talk about, a lot of things to work
through, but right then, the most important thing was that Mason loved me and I loved him.
MASON
Lying on my back with Scarlett sound asleep on my chest, I stared at the ceiling and took a
deep breath for the first time since I saw her standing on that stage. Memories from the last time she
was in my bed came pouring through my mind, and I instinctively pulled her closer to me. I wasn’t
going to do much sleeping; the thoughts and emotions racing through me had my adrenaline pumping.
Plus, I wasn’t taking the chance that she might wake up and bolt again. Fuck if I was going to let her
run away from me again. We probably should have had a serious talk before jumping back into each
other’s arms and back into bed, but like always, the minute our skin touched, the moment her lips met
mine, I just wanted to drown in her. Even after how angry I was with her, after the hurt and pain that
she inflicted on me, after how much I once thought I fucking hated her, all it took was seeing her
angelic face in front of me and all was forgiven.
A couple of months ago I had finally accepted that I would never see her again. Of course that
was about the time that I met Bentley and everything had changed. I knew I would have to tell her
everything soon, but selfishly, I wanted to spend more time enjoying her before dropping the bomb. I
wasn’t sure how she was going to react; my stomach clenched at the thought. I couldn’t fucking
believe that she had come back when she did. When everything was out of my hands... I closed my
eyes and turned my head so I could inhale the scent of her hair. It was just like I remembered, a
mixture of coconut and pineapple and maybe some other fruity shit. It always reminded me of being
on vacation and I smiled at the thought. Hopefully I could keep Scarlett here at my apartment the
entire weekend and it would be like a little vacation before we had to face the real world. I was
dreading having to deal with all of the shit from the past, and figuring out what we were going to do in
the future, when I was gone… and she was here, with him.
CHAPTER TWO ~
RIGHT NOW
Your Guardian Angel ~
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Your Winter ~ Sister Hazel
SCARLETT
The next morning I woke up to the smell of bacon and coffee and the sound of pans banging
around in the kitchen. I could hear Mason singing along with whatever music he had playing. Either he
was purposely trying to wake me up to join him or he really sucked at quietly preparing me breakfast
in bed. I was going with option number one. Groaning, I rolled over and hopped down from the
ginormous bed. I was still naked and not really sure where my clothes had been thrown. I didn’t see
any of them around on the floor, but I noticed his black t-shirt that he had on the night before draped
across the dresser, so I just threw that on and went to find him.
The sight of Mason working in the kitchen stopped me mid-route; it truly was a sight to behold.
His back was facing me so it allowed me a few moments to gawk at this gorgeous male specimen that
I was… well, I wasn’t sure what we were. Dating? Lovers? Boyfriend/Girlfriend? Whatever he was,
this guy claimed to love me and I had spent the previous night in his arms, so I was happy with that.
You could tell by his broad, muscular frame that he spent quite a bit of time in the gym, and the ink
that covered at least half of his exposed skin indicated he spent the rest of it in a tattoo parlor. He was
standing at the stovetop, flipping what appeared to be pancakes, wearing only a pair of thin cotton
pajama pants. His back was Adonis-like and the pants sat just perfectly on the top of his ass, framing
his entire flawless physique. Holy hell.
Mason was engrossed in his cooking and singing, never even noticing my presence. I was quite
enjoying the show that I was receiving. What could be better than a sexy ass, half-naked man, cooking
me breakfast, while singing a song about never letting his true love fall and standing up with her
forever in the sultriest voice ever? Ummm… nothing, that’s what. My body liquefied and I needed to
touch him immediately.
I quietly tiptoed up behind him just as the song picked up tempo. He was really getting into it
and began moving his hips and dancing in place. Right after he finished begging for her to stay, I slid
my arms around his waist and kissed his back, directly between his shoulder blades.
“I’ll stay with you, Mase.” I whispered in his ear. Dropping the spatula, he spun around with a
huge smile on his face and pulled me against him.
“Good morning Angel.” He kissed the top of my head and grabbed my ass at the same time. I
squealed and leaned further into him. He looked down at me and brushed the pad of his hand over my
cheek. “I hope you’re hungry �cause I’ve cooked up all kinds of good stuff for you.” He leaned down
and gave me a swift peck, but quickly turned back towards the food.
“Shit, I burnt that one! It’s all your fault for distracting me,” he teased, looking at me over his
shoulder as he disposed of the black flapjack. I moved over to the side of the range and hopped up
onto the countertop, so that my legs were dangling in front of me, and I could see his face while he
was cooking. Mason looked over at my bare legs and raised his eyebrows as a devilish smirk crept
on his face.
“What?” I asked looking down at my lap and noticed that his t-shirt was just barely covering my
crotch. “I couldn’t find my clothes so I put this on. Is it okay that I’m wearing your shirt?” I halfwhined.
“Of course it’s okay, I like you in my clothes.” He turned off the stovetop and removed the
skillet from the heat before walking over in front of me. My breath caught as he placed both of his
hands on my legs and pulled me towards him so I was just barely perched on the edge of the counter.
His hands pushed opened my knees far enough that he could position himself in between my thighs.
The cool air that tickled my naked folds reminded me that I didn’t have any panties on, and then the
feel of Mason’s bare stomach pressed against my clit made me shudder and my eyelids to get heavy.
He looked down and pulled the hem of the shirt up, confirming that he felt my naked sex rubbing
against his abs.
“Oh shit, Scarlett. What are you trying to do to me?” He growled the words at me as his hands
slowly began moving from the inside of my knees up to my core. All of the liquid in my body rushed
to the apex between my legs when his fingers found their ultimate destination.
“Mason, oh God…” I threw my head back at his first caress and moaned loudly. He leaned into
my neck and kissed me under my ear at the same time he slipped one finger into me.
“Mmm hmm… I like the sound of that,” he said, not moving his mouth from my skin. He quickly
added another finger to the first and began moving them in and out of me. Abruptly he withdrew his
hand from me and dropped to his knees. The t-shirt was now bunched around my waist so that my
lower half was completely exposed, and his eyes were fixed on my wet, pulsating sex. Without
wasting another second, he leaned in and made a teasing swipe at my swollen nub with his tongue. He
tried to torment me by pulling away, but I was too quick. Somehow I managed to stay perched on the
edge of the countertop and grab the back of his head with my hands, guiding his mouth back towards
my ache. He chuckled at my shamelessness, but happily obliged my silent request. After quickly
bringing me to an orgasm with his talented mouth and hands, he slid me off the granite surface and
turned me around so that my back was to him.
“Hold on here,” he instructed me as he put my hands on the counter where my legs had just
been. I was bent over, my back arched and ass sticking up in the air as if I was presenting myself to
him. I didn’t hear him pull his pants down or grab a condom, but moments later I heard the ripping of
the package followed by the tip of his erection nudging me. His strong hands grabbed my hip bones
like they were handles and in one swift motion, he impaled himself inside of me.
“Oh God!” I cried out. I was extremely sore from the night before and my body still wasn’t used
to Mason filling me up.
“Are you okay? Do you want me to stop?” he asked, leaning down and kissing my shoulder
gently. I looked over my shoulder at him and his hungry, hooded eyes stared back at me. I loved how
much he wanted me; it turned me on incredibly.
“No, don’t stop. Please don’t stop,” I answered and wiggled my ass against him. He said
something under his breath that sounded like “Oh fuck me,” but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t have time to
think about it again because he, still grasping tightly onto my hip bones, began his relentless pounding.
It didn’t take me long to come again and I felt he hands grab me even tighter, if that was possible, as
he followed me into ecstasy.
He wrapped his arms around my waist and laid himself down onto my back. I was still using
the countertop as a brace, and his additional, unexpected weight caused me to lose my grip and we
both fell to the floor. Sprawled out, half-dressed, on the kitchen floor, our gazes caught and we both
began to laugh hysterically. Mason managed to discard the condom and pull his pants up from around
his ankles. Sitting up with his back leaning against the cabinets, he pulled me unto his lap and
snuggled into the side of my face.
“I was going to bring you breakfast in bed, but it appears you brought the bed to breakfast,” he
joked while kissing my cheek. “Now come on, let’s eat before all of the food gets cold.”
Mason and I cleaned up in the bathroom, washing our hands and brushing our teeth, before
grabbing our plates and settling down at the table. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t even been back in
town for twenty four hours, and I had already had sex with him twice and spent my first night in his
bed instead of mine. We enjoyed a pleasant breakfast talking about recent movies and music; both of
us avoided “the conversation” at all costs. It was like we were just going to pretend that nothing had
happened since the day he left to go to the music festival in Dallas last December. Evie didn’t die,
Ash didn’t completely destroy and trample on my heart and soul, and I didn’t leave Mason in the
middle of the night after giving him my virginity and telling him I loved him. I glanced down at the
outside of my left calf and saw the butterfly that was permanently tattooed on my skin. It was my daily
reminder that it all did in fact happen. My daily reminder of Ash Walker.
I quickly pulled my eyes away from my tattoo and back to my plate, hopeful that he didn’t catch
me looking at it. I knew he must know that it was somehow related to Ash since Ash had the same
design on his forearm and had apparently become a regular at the warehouse. I didn’t want Mason to
worry about any lingering feelings I had for Ash, even though I couldn’t honestly say I was completely
over Ash. I wasn’t sure if I ever would be- the magical connection I had felt with him was something
that I had only believed existed in fictional stories, I couldn’t allow myself to ever be with him. He
had nearly destroyed my already broken self once before and I’d be damned if I let him do it again.
“Are you going to the warehouse with me tonight, Angel? Jobu’s Rum is playing,” his voice
pulled me from my depressing thoughts. “I’ve got to go up there early but I figured you could hang out
and watch TV in the studio apartment there until it got busy.”
“Are you sure?” I asked meekly. “I mean I just showed up yesterday after… well, after
everything and I don’t expect you to just forgive me and insert me back into your life.”
“Isn’t that what you want?” he asked with a confused look on his face.
“Well, yeah, but what I want and what happens in real life aren’t always the same thing.” I
tucked my hair behind my ears and took a deep breath. I looked into his eyes and said, “Mason, we’re
going to have to talk about it at some point. It doesn’t have to be right now, but the longer we go
pretending that nothing happened, the more this fresh start is built on a lie.”
“I love you and that isn’t a lie,” he interjected. “And you said you love me, and I don’t think
that’s a lie either.”
“You know as well as I do that isn’t enough to make a relationship work, Mase,” I replied
softly. He pushed away from the table abruptly and took our plates to the sink.
“Why not, Scarlett?” He asked looking over the bar at me. I had tucked my knees up against my
body, his shirt was stretched over my legs to my ankles. “Look, what happened is what happened. We
were seeing each other, getting to know each other pretty well; I was starting to fall for you, I’m
pretty sure you had feelings for me too. Something really shitty happened, you came here for me to
comfort and console you, and I did. Sure, I didn’t know the pain you were in, but I did what I did
because I cared about you. You freaked out with everything and ran away. Obviously, you’ve gotten
your shit together, figured out whatever you needed to figure out, and you’ve come back to move on
with your life. You said you were sorry last night, I’m sorry too. You said you loved me, I said I
loved you. Who knows where this is going to lead, but right here, right now, this is what we both
want. So why do we need to make the past any more than it is? Leave it there; focus on right now. End
of story.”
“But aren’t you mad at me? Upset with me? Want to know why I did what I did?”
“I was mad at first, but once I found out what happened, it all made sense.” He walked back
over to the kitchen table and sat in the chair next to mine. He pulled me to him so that we were facing
each other and he was holding my hands.
“I couldn’t make you come back, Angel. You needed to do that on your own time. So I gave you
space… you know whatever that damn saying is… �If you love something, let it go, and if it’s meant
to be, it’ll come back’ or some shit like that.” I couldn’t help but smile at his attempt to use a love
quote; he never ceased to surprise me.
“You came back,” he said matter-of-factly. “Any anger or resentment I ever had towards you
was erased the minute I saw you last night. I knew then I was still crazy in love with you…” He
leaned forward and brushed his lips lightly across mine. The tingle from his touch ran from the top of
my head to the tips of my toes. “And I think we’ve done more than enough to prove that we still have
amazing chemistry.”
All of his points were valid and made perfect sense. Maybe I did need to try and focus on
moving forward a little more, and maybe Mason was the perfect person to help me do that. All I
could do was try.
“You’re right. Let’s enjoy right now,” I smiled at him and his gray eyes lit up. He glanced
behind me at the clock on the wall.
“I’ve got a little more than an hour to enjoy right now before I have to get ready, so get your ass
back in my bed,” he said pulling me out of the chair and crushing his lips against mine. He angled me
in the direction of his bedroom and swatted my ass. Giggling, I scurried along, taking off his shirt
before burying myself in the sheets.
MASON
Before following Scarlett to my room, I grabbed my cell off the bar and tapped out a quick text
to my boys instructing them not to mention our upcoming move in front of Scarlett. I wasn’t sure when
the right time to tell her was, but I wasn’t ready yet. I didn’t want her pulling away from me before
she had a chance to see how good we could be together. Then maybe, just maybe, she would want to
come with me. I wasn’t going to ask her; I couldn’t ask her to make that decision so soon after
returning, but if she asked to come with me, I’d be ecstatic.
I’d still need to handle the Bentley situation, but she could either understand it and accept Angel
or take a fucking hike. Our hookups were meaningless fucks, she filled a void that no longer needed to
be filled. Her only job now was to manage Jobu’s Rum. God, I was so glad she was back in Austin.
How awful would it have been if she’d been at the bar when Scarlett came back? I cringed just
thinking about it. I had six weeks to address that situation before she was due to come back in town.
“Mase? Are you coming?” Scarlett’s sweet voice called out. Mase… I loved hearing that come
out of her mouth.
“Yeah, just a second. I was putting some of the food away,” I answered. I opened and closed
the refrigerator door to make it sound like I had been doing what I said and then went to join her in my
bed. I needed to remind her as many times as possible why we needed to be together.
CHAPTER THREE ~
OLD FRIENDS, NEW BEGINNINGS
Hero/ Heroine ~ Boys Like Girls
All At Once ~ The Fray
SCARLETT
After Mason had showered and changed, he took me to my place to grab some clothes
and toiletries. I needed to check in with my new roommate, Tessa, anyway. I hadn’t said much to her
the day before when I had arrived late in the evening. I had basically put my stuff up in my room,
showered, gotten dressed, and left for the night. I wasn’t sure how this whole stranger roommate thing
worked. Were we supposed to tell each other when we were going to be there or not? Evie and I had
known each other’s’ whereabouts every moment of every day, but that was different.
Tessa came out of her room when she heard us come into the apartment. The sight of Mason
scared her a bit at first; she jumped back a foot when she saw him. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
I don’t think she was expecting a six-foot-something, tattooed and pierced, hottie to be standing in the
living room.
“Hey Tessa,” I greeted her warmly.
“Hiya, Scarlett,” she said to me, but her eyes were locked on Mason. I couldn’t blame her. His
presence demanded the attention of any female that shared a room with him. Once you got past his
massive size and the ink that covered his arms and neck, you saw just how gorgeous his face was and
God help anyone that got lost in those eyes
“This is Mason. He’s my, uh…” I looked up at him, wondering what I was supposed to refer to
him as. Thankfully he saved the pending awkward silence.
“I’m Mason, Scarlett’s boyfriend. It’s nice to meet you, Tessa,” he said as he reached his hand
out to shake hers. Her pale face turned a bright shade of pink as she shook his hand.
“Likewise,” she squeaked. Then, turning to me, she said, “Hey, I’m going to stay with a friend
tonight so don’t wait up, okay?”
Before I had a chance to respond, Mason answered her, “Yeah, no problem. Actually, Scarlett
is gonna stay at my apartment until Monday. Classes start Tuesday, right?” He looked over at me for
confirmation. I nodded to answer the question, but was still in shock over his announcement. It wasn’t
that I minded staying with him, but he hadn’t even asked me if I was okay with it.
Sensing my mild irritation with him, he walked up behind me and slipped his arms around my
waist. He leaned down to kiss my neck, “We’ve got lost time to make up for. Don’t we, Angel?” It
was my turn to blush and instead of embarrassing myself by trying to talk, I just nodded again. Feeling
his body up against mine, even fully clothed, caused me to tingle all over and lose my train of thought.
“Come on; let’s get your bag together. Marcus is going to kick my ass if I’m much later,
especially after I bailed on him last night.” His voice pulled me back to reality, and I looked up at
Tessa who was still just standing and staring at us.
“Okay, I’ll be fast,” I said as I spun around and gave him a quick kiss on the lips. I turned to
Tessa, “I guess I’ll be back on Monday. We can go over our schedules then and go grocery shopping
if you want.”
“Sounds good. See you both later,” she replied before disappearing back into her room.
I decided to take a nap when we got to the warehouse while Mason did whatever it was he did
to help Marcus. He woke me up a little after eight o’clock when he brought in a pizza and sat it on the
table.
“Hey there, sleepyhead. I brought you something to eat,” he said as he sat down on the bed next
to me, kissing my forehead.
“Mmmm… it smells good. But I’m too comfortable. I don’t want to get out of bed,” I murmured.
“No problem.” He got up, grabbed the pizza box, and brought it back to the bed, where he sat it
down next to me. “Now, eat up and get dressed. I’ll be waiting for you out there.” One last kiss and
he was out the door.
An hour later I was fed, showered, and changed into a pink sundress and flip flops, always my
shoe of choice. As I made my way down the back hallway from the mini-apartment to the bar, I
recognized the voice coming from the other side of the door as Noah’s. Noah meant Mina and Max! I
couldn’t wait to see all of my old friends. I stopped to say hello to Marcus as I walked by the office. I
was beginning to think that he lived in that chair He gave me a friendly smile and waved hello as he
continued his phone conversation. He was starting to warm up a bit.
I opened the door to the main bar area, and I was stunned to see how many people were there.
Holy shit, the place was packed. My eyes followed my ears and they landed on Noah standing center
stage, grasping the microphone, singing directly at Mina who was sitting by herself at 32 Leaves’
usual table. I then looked over to find Max and smiled at the sight of his messy brown hair and
youthful face. Memories of him and Evie passed through my head, but instead of getting sad, my smile
grew. Every moment Evie spent with Max she was happy, and I knew he was too. I looked over to
where Mason should be sitting, but found him walking towards me with a huge grin across his face.
He looked his usual yummy self, wearing a green and white t-shirt, faded blue jeans, and white
Chucks.
“You look beautiful, Angel,” he said as he leaned down and sweetly kissed my lips. “Come on,
let’s get you a drink.”
He grabbed my hand and led me through the crowd to his table. As we weaved in and out of the
people, I couldn't help but feel the stares of the other girls in the room. I’m sure they were wondering
what in the hell made me so special that he would choose to be with me… hell, I was wondering the
same thing!
We reached the group of tables and several familiar faces greeted me with a smile. Cruz,
Mason’s long time best friend, hopped off his bar stool and pulled me into a big bear hug.
“I’m so glad you’re back, Scarlett,” he said as he released me from his grasp. “You have no
idea how much of a whiny bitch Rat has been the past eight months. We were about to kick him out of
the band.”
“Fuck you man,” Mason retorted with a scowl on his face. “I started the damn band.”
The rest of the table laughed at the exchange between the two, but I hated knowing that I had
caused him pain and unhappiness. I stood on my tippy toes and kissed the crease between his eyes,
forcing him to relax. He pulled me to his body, and I reveled in his masculine scent.
“Scarlett MacGregor, get your ass over here right now,” a female voice called out behind me. I
spun out of Mason’s arms to investigate who was talking to me and saw Mina standing several feet
away with her arms stretched out towards me.
“Mina! Oh my God, it’s so good to see you!” I exclaimed as I walked towards her. We hugged
and jumped up and down in delight like giddy school girls.
“I’m so glad you’re back. I�ve missed you so much. You better not ever leave again. I have so
much to tell you. Are you back at Rice? Where are you living?” Her sentences all ran together.
I couldn’t help but laugh at her enthusiasm. It was as wild and spunky as the unruly blonde curls
that framed her face. “Slow down sweetie. Your questions are going to give me whiplash,” I joked.
She looked up at Mason who had walked over to us. He slid his arm around my waist and
leaned down to kiss my cheek. “Hi Mina,” he greeted her with one of his panty-dropping smiles.
“We’re up after 32 Leaves, Angel, so I’m gonna go set up with the guys. Why don’t you go over to
Mina’s table with her so you don’t have to sit here alone? I’ll meet you back here when we finish up.”
I glanced over at the table and saw that the only people left were people who I didn’t know.
“That’s a great idea. Mina and I have tons to talk about. Plus, I want to catch up with Max and Noah
too.”
He kissed me deeply before walking off to join his band mates, and I turned back to Mina.
“Well, I guess that’s one question I don’t need to ask,” she waggled her eyebrows suggestively at me.
“Oh, stop! You’re a nut!” I rolled my eyes teasingly at her.
We made our way across the room to where she was sitting. As we walked by, she looked up at
Noah who was still singing on stage. He lifted his eyebrows at her in recognition and then did the
same to me when he saw me following her. I waved and looked over at Max, hoping he was paying
attention, but his eyes were closed, deep into the song he was playing.
After getting comfortable on the bar stools, if that was even possible, and ordering our drinks,
Mina wasted no time in breaking her good news. She raised her left hand in front of my face and
wiggled her fingers so that the marquis cut rock on her ring finger glimmered at me.
“Get out! Are you serious?” I screamed. “When did he propose?”
She tucked a corkscrew curl that kept falling in front of her eyes back behind her ear and told
me the entire story of Noah getting down on one knee the previous New Year’s Eve. She said after
Evie had died, he realized that we really weren’t promised another day, so he didn’t want to waste
any time being apart. They had gotten a place together in the summer and the wedding was going to be
in the middle of December, during winter break.
“What about Max? Who is he living with now if you and Noah have your own apartment?” I
asked.
She looked down and I could see the sadness in her eyes. “Max isn’t doing too great,” she
admitted. “He got his own place; he said he really didn’t want to live with anyone else. We are all
still really worried about him. It’s getting better, but he still refuses to even talk to another girl. It’s
like he feels he’s cheating on Evie if he does.”
Hearing that made me sad too. I completely understood how he felt. I had been leery to get a
new roommate because I was worried that I would be replacing Evie too. I was still so scared about
forgetting her.
“Maybe I need to talk to him… not here or anything, but maybe we can grab a coffee and help
each other somehow,” I thought aloud.
“That would be great Scarlett. I know you are probably the only person in the world that can
even begin to understand what he is going through. It’s so easy for all of us to tell him he needs to get
on with his life, but he really thought she was the one, ya know?”
I nodded. I knew all too well what it was like to find out the person you thought was your soul
mate, wasn’t ever going to be there for you again. It felt like this gaping hole in your heart had been
torn open, and no matter how hard you or the other person tried, nothing could ever completely fill it.
My facial expression must’ve matched the gloomy thoughts crossing my mind because Mina
tried to quickly change the subject. “So, you’re back at Rice with me, right? Where are you living?
Why didn’t you call me?”
“I’m in the same apartments I was last year, just a different building. I have a new roommate,
her name is Tessa, and she seems to be pretty cool. I really haven’t said more than five words in
passing to her, so I’m not sure. It’s all kind of weird…”
Just as I was about to finish the thought about her not being Evie, large hands wrapped around
and covered my eyes from behind.
“Guess who?” Max’s deep voice said jokingly. I jumped off the bar stool and flung myself in
his arms. He held me tightly, oh so tightly, as if we were trying to communicate all of our hurt and
suffering through the embrace.
“It’s so good to see you Scarlett,” he said as we pulled away from each other. “I’m so glad that
you’re back.”
“Me too,” I answered honestly. “I’ve really missed you guys.”
Seeing Max for the first time in so long did, of course, remind me of Evie, but in all of the good
ways. He hopped up on the stool next to where I had been sitting and patted the empty one for me to
join him.
After congratulating Noah on his upcoming vows and saying hello to the rest of the band, Max
and I enjoyed casual conversation until Mason and the rest of Jobu’s Rum took the stage. Seeing him
stand up there, in all of his rocker glory, reminded me of exactly who I had spent the last twenty four
hours with. My boyfriend was a local rock god, and a mighty fine one at that. For the first time in
nearly a year, I felt happy.
MASON
Seeing Scarlett come out of the back in that flimsy ass sundress filled me with unexpected
emotions. On one hand, she was so fucking sexy that I just wanted to show her off to every person in
the bar and gloat that she was all mine. On the other, she was so fucking sexy that I wanted to tell her
to go put more clothes on so that every guy in the place wasn’t thinking about screwing her senseless;
she was mine. But overwhelmingly, I thought that she was so fucking sexy, I wanted to feel her tight
little body wrapped around my hard cock again. The last twenty four hours had done nothing to
extinguish my hunger for her. In fact, it had only increased my desire to have her with me every minute
of every day- to make her mine forever.
I knew I needed to get her out of this city. It was only a matter of time before punk-ass emo boy
showed up to reclaim her heart. The one he had already destroyed once before. I couldn't allow her to
forgive him, because once she did, she would be his again. I would NOT let that happen. I knew I
couldn't ask her to go with me after she had just come back to get settled and pick up the pieces of her
life, so I needed to convince her that she couldn't be without me, so that she would ask to come with
me. God, I prayed she would ask to come with me.. If I could remove him from the equation, I felt
confident that she and I could make this work. She had no idea how much I needed her. She was the
only one that could fill the emptiness inside me. I knew how easy it would be to go back to the way I
was before the day I met her. My life was a party ~ a little drinking, a little more drugs, and a helluva
lot more women. All of that shit was a temporary plug, but she was a permanent fix.
I had scoured the place all night to make sure he hadn't shown up. I was hoping after last night
he had gotten the point that she wasn't interested in forgiving him and he would just leave her the fuck
alone, but I knew that wasn't the case. I saw the look in his eyes when I stood there holding her, and it
wasn't the look of defeat. Luckily for me though, he had at least stayed away tonight. The more time I
had with her before he tried to weasel his way back in, the better my chance to convince her that our
love was real.
The guys and I jumped up on the stage and greeted the large crowd. I absolutely loved
performing in front of all of these people- the feeling was indescribable, an adrenaline-rush that was
unmatched by anything except being inside my angel. I had changed our usual line-up a bit, so that I
could sing the first song for Scarlett. Before we started, I looked over at her, sitting between Mina
and Max, and blew her a kiss. Laughing, she reached up and acted like she snagged it out of the air.
God, she was fucking adorable. With that, Cruz and I gave each other the look and started All At
Once. I sang for her like I had dreamed about doing for months. Her eyes were fixed on me and I
could see the desire growing inside of her. Towards the end of the song, I turned around to watch the
guys rock out the instrumental portion and suddenly, I felt the atmosphere in the room shift. I quickly
spun back around and looked over at Scarlett. She was still looking directly at me, but her eyes told
me she knew who was standing behind her. Fuck. Me.
CHAPTER FOUR ~
US
Jar of Hearts ~ Christina Perri
Sorry ~ Buckcherry
Apologize ~ One Republic & Timbaland
Sad ~ Maroon 5
SCARLETT
I knew the minute he walked in the door without even turning around. Alarms went off in my
head at an astounding rate, creating a deafening sound in my ear. I felt the second his eyes found me.
Every nerve ending on my body seared from the heat of his stare. With every step he took towards me,
my heart beat faster and my body temperature rose. By the time he was standing directly behind me,
my body was a disarray of live wires, electrically-charged and primed for detonation.
“Scarlett…” He leaned in and whispered so that I could hear him over the loud music. I kept
my eyes focused on Mason, who had his back towards me. I felt both Mina and Max straighten up on
each side of me and enter protective mode.
The combination of feeling his warm breath on my neck and hearing my name escape from his
lips sparked the fire that had lay idle for so many months. He evoked feelings inside of me that I never
knew possible. I detested him. I loathed him. I despised him. I could never erase the horrific picture
of him and that skank together the day of Evie’s funeral. I wasn’t sure I could ever forgive him; I
wasn’t sure I wanted to.
Despite all of that, I still loved him. The connection between us could never be severed… not
by any thing or any one. No matter what he did… what he said… who he was with… none of it
really mattered ~I would always love him. And for that, I hated myself even more than I hated him.
“Go away,” I replied sternly, keeping my stare forward. Mason turned back around and his eyes
were locked on us as he sang the last verse of the song, his voice never wavered.
“Maybe you want her, maybe you need her,
Maybe you had her, maybe you lost her to another, to another”
Never in the history of the universe had there been a more appropriate time or setting for lyrics
of a song. It was as if Mason had known Ash would be there at that exact moment. Seeing the
determination in his eyes and hearing the passion in his voice reminded me of why I had come back…
why I wanted to try and make things work with him.
When the song ended, Ash ducked his head down to my ear again, “Please come outside so we
can talk.”
I couldn’t hold back any longer. I spun around and jumped off the bar stool so I could look him
in the eye. “Leave. Please just leave. I have nothing to say to you.” I tried to keep my voice as calm as
possible, but it undeniably shook with anger. Why did he have to keep doing this?
“Well I have a lot to say to you, Scarlett.” His cloudy blue eyes captured me instantly, as they
always did. “At least give me the opportunity to say my part. If you never want to talk to me again
afterwards, I will respect that and stay away. But I at least deserve a chance to explain… after
everything between us…”
“’After everything between us’ is exactly why you don’t deserve a chance to explain!” I
shouted. Luckily the music had restarted so my outburst was somewhat muffled. Most of the people
around us had refocused their attention back to the band.
“I think it’s best if you just go man,” Max appeared on my left side in an attempt to rescue me
from the uncomfortable situation. There was an underlying warning in his tone and he stood up tall
and defensive, looking at Ash deadpan.
Seconds later, Mina had flanked me on the right and her fierce glare was fixed on Ash as well.
“I think you’ve done enough. She doesn’t want to talk to you,” she added in a bitchy voice I didn’t
know she had.
Unfazed by their words or presence, he kept his eyes on mine, torturing my will power without
saying a word. We stood still for at least a minute, all four of us silently staring. I could not allow
him to break me; I would not allow him to break me. Not again.
Just as I was about tell him to fuck off, he spoke. “At least allow me a proper goodbye to the
girl that will own my heart forever. You aren’t so cruel to deny me that, are you?” Well shit.
“You’ve got five minutes.”
I spun around to face Mason, who was doing his best to monitor the situation while putting on a
show. I got his attention and held up my hand indicating that I would be back in five minutes. He
rolled his eyes and walked over to a group of girls standing by the stage and started singing down at
them. I was hoping for a little more mature reaction, but really, what did I expect? I could only
imagine what he was thinking.
I followed Ash through the bar area towards the door, weaving in and out of people and tables.
At one point he stopped to wait for me, reaching his hand towards mine. I looked at him and
vigorously shook my head. I didn’t want him to touch me; I knew all too well how that that affected
me.
After making it outside, I followed him several more yards until we were on the side of the
building. I preferred this location to our last “talk” that occurred in the same very public parking lot,
putting on a show for everyone. Finally, he stopped walking and turned to face me. My heart was
pounding so hard that I knew he could see my pulse racing in my neck. My palms were sweaty and my
throat was threatening to close up.
“Scarlett, I don’t even know where to start,” he said, running his hands nervously through his
long blonde hair. His marine eyes were sad and pleading. “I know it sounds lame, but I’m so sorry.
I’m sorry for everything.”
“Stop, just stop,” I interrupted. That was the last thing I wanted to hear from him. “There’s
really no reason for you to be sorry, Ash. Actually, I’m the one that’s sorry.” He put his hands in his
pockets and cocked his head with a look of confusion on his face.
“I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to you when you told me who you were and to stay away from
you,” I continued, trying my best to keep my voice low and steady. “I’m sorry that I gave you more
credit for being a decent human being than you ever deserved. I’m sorry that I gave you the power to
affect me the way you do. I’m sorry that you ever told me that stupid ass story of Eros and Psyche that
gave me some false sense of hope. I’m sorry that I got this damn tattoo that reminds me of you every
fucking day. I’m sorry that I ever trusted you with anything, especially my heart. To tell you the truth
Ash, I’m really just sorry that I ever met you.”
“You don’t mean that Butterfly…” He pulled both hands out of his pockets and reached out
towards me.
“DON’T!” I took a step back and put my hand in the air to stop his advance. “Don’t you dare
call me that!” I was seething.
“And it IS true, I AM sorry I ever fucking met you!” The unwanted tears began falling and there
was nothing I could do about it, so I let them flow. I looked him dead in the eye hoping he felt every
bit of pain that I had endured. “The night I left I was devastated, so incredibly distraught, I thought my
world was crashing down on top of me. In a matter of hours, I had said goodbye forever to my very
best friend, the person who meant more to me than anything in this world, and I had walked in on you
fucking some whore in the exact spot that I used to sleep… in the bed that you told me you never
brought any of them to.
“As I drove that night, I couldn’t determine which of the two events hurt more, and then I
realized how fucking ridiculous that was. EVIE DIED! Dead… never ever coming back. You… well
you were just doing what you always did. It was just the first time I was forced to face the truth of
who you are. I hated myself for ever comparing your importance to hers. It took me months to forgive
myself for even contemplating the thought.
“I don’t know what I thought we had, Ash, but I was obviously naïve and borderline delusional.
You took advantage of me and played me for a fool… so, yay, you won. I hope you enjoy your prize
of the pieces of my shattered heart.” The tears continued to flow in a steady stream down both cheeks,
but I kept control of my voice and managed to not hyperventilate
“It sounds like you had a lot to say,” he said softly as he took a step in my direction. I backed
up again until my back was against the outside wall.
“What?” I asked incredulously.
“Inside you said you had nothing to say to me, but you obviously had quite a bit to say.” I closed
my eyes and leaned my head back; I couldn’t look at his beautiful face any longer. His voice alone
was almost enough to do me in.
“I’m finished now,” I croaked. I mustered all the resolve I had left and opened my eyes. “I don’t
ever want to see you again. I deserve better than anything you can ever offer me. This has to be
goodbye for us. Please just let me move on with my life.”
He closed the space between us instantly. I gasped as his body pressed against mine, pinning
me against the metal siding. His scent was intoxicating and his touch entranced me.
He looked me directly in the eyes, “We were made for each other, Butterfly. There is no doubt
in my mind about that. I know that I have a lot to prove to you, and I plan to do that every day for the
rest of my life. Whether you want to hear it or not, I am sorry for everything that happened. The very
last thing in the world I want to do is cause you pain. And if you aren’t ready to accept this yet, the
inevitability of us, I get that. But understand this Scarlett: it will never be goodbye ~ not for you and
me.”
He leaned down and brushed his lips ever-so-lightly across mine before backing up and
walking away. I reached up and touched my scorched lips as I watched him walk to his car. He turned
to look at me one last time before getting in. “I’ll wait forever for you, Psyche.” My heart melted a
little and then he was gone.
ASH
She let me kiss her. She didn’t argue with me when I told her that we would never say goodbye.
She smiled, just slightly but it was still a smile, when I called her my Psyche. I couldn’t focus on all
of the other things she said. I knew she was angry and hurt; she had every right to be. I had tried to
deny what she meant to me one too many times, and I was still afraid the last time may have cost me
her forever.
But finally I had something I hadn’t had in a long time ~ hope. Despite her hateful words and
lashing out, I finally felt a semblance of the peace I could only find in her presence. I didn’t know
what my next move was, but I sure the fuck wasn’t giving up. After experiencing a life without her in
it, I would never give up on her. I would never give up on us.
CHAPTER FIVE ~
WHOLE AGAIN
Near to You ~A Fine Frenzy
Pieces ~Red
You Still Love Me ~ Tyrone Wells
SCARLETT
After spending a few extra minutes outside, trying desperately to pull myself together before
facing Mason again, I walked back into the bar. He was standing with Max, Mina, and Noah in the
back of the room, and from the look on his face and his arms flailing around while he was talking, he
was not happy. Mina was the first to see me approaching, and she immediately ran to me and threw
her arms around me.
“Are you okay, sweetie? Is he gone?” she asked.
“Yes, he’s gone,” I answered softly. Even though I was answering her question, I was looking
directly at Mason over her shoulder, and I knew he could make out exactly what I said. I saw his
strained face relax a tiny bit after registering my words.
She released her grip on me and kissed me on my cheek, “I’m here for whatever you need,
hun. I gave Rat my number so that you can put it in your phone later. I think he’s gonna to take you
home now.”
“Thank you, Mina,” I said sincerely. “I will definitely be calling you. Hopefully we have
some classes at the same time and can meet up on campus.”
She and Noah walked back over to their table and I made my way over to Mason and Max,
who were both just staring at me. Max came over to me and wrapped me in his strong arms.
“I’m so glad you’re back. I hope to see you around a lot,” he whispered. “I think we can help
each other, Sam.” Hearing him say Evie’s nickname for me started the tears all over again.
“I’m sorry, Scarlett. I didn’t mean to make you cry…” he apologized.
“It’s okay… it’s just…” I tried to force myself to calm down, but I just couldn’t. I must’ve
looked like an emotional wreck to any bystander. Who was I kidding? I was an emotional wreck. I
had only been lying to myself to think that I was anywhere close to reclaiming my life. To think I
could come back and not break into pieces again was foolish.
I felt two larger arms take me from Max’s embrace, and then I was cuddled up against
Mason’s chest.
“I’ve got her man. We’re gonna go back to my place. It’s been an overwhelming twenty four
hours for her,” I heard Mason say.
“Make sure you give her my number. I want to take her to lunch one day next week,” Max
replied.
“I will. See you Thursday.”
I didn’t even care that they were talking about me like I wasn’t there. I kind of felt like I
wasn’t there, at least not mentally or emotionally. After the Ash conversation and Max calling me
�Sam,’ I just checked out ~ I had learned with Evie’s death how to allow the numbness to take over.
“Come on Angel, let’s get you out of here,” Mason said as he kissed the top of my head. I
allowed him to guide me through the back hall and out the door. I didn’t even hear him tell Marcus
goodbye.
“You okay to ride or you want us to take your car?” He asked cautiously, as if he was scared I
would break down yet again.
“The bike is fine.” Riding on the motorcycle instead of in the car allowed me several more
minutes of silence to get myself together. Not to mention, there was something therapeutic about
riding, and I could use all the therapy I could get.
A few minutes later we were pulling up to his apartment, and I had managed to calm down
and think a little more clearly. He helped me off the Harley and led me up to the third floor without a
word. His silence made me nervous. I was afraid he was going to tell me that he really didn’t want or
need to deal with my drama and all of my baggage, and I wasn’t sure I could take any more gutwrenching moments.
He unlocked the door, and I followed him in. He headed straight for the kitchen and grabbed
two beers out of his refrigerator. I sat down on the couch and waited for him to join me. I knew that
we had to talk about things; honesty was the only thing that could make this work.
After he situated himself next to me and handed me one of the bottles, I opened my mouth to
say something, but my mind drew a blank. I didn’t know how to even start the conversation. We were
both looking forward, staring at the blank television screen.
“Do you love him?” Mason asked expressionless, never turning his head.
“Yes.” I admitted.
“Does he want you back?”
“He never had me.”
He snorted and took a long pull from his beer.
“What? What was that for?” I asked.
“He’s always had you, Scarlett. I just had you on loan.”
“That’s not true!” I exclaimed. I set the bottle down and dropped to my knees, moving to
where I was kneeling in between his legs and forcing him to look in my face.
“Look, I’m not going to lie to you, Mase. I love him. I will always have a special place in my
heart for him. I can’t explain what it is between us…,” my voice trailed off. “But like I told him
tonight, the feelings I have for him are dominated by hatred and disgust. I may find it in myself to
forgive him one day, but I will never forget. I will never forget the pain he caused me, and I will
never give him the chance to destroy me again.
“I am far from being over Evie’s death or the feeling of abandonment that Ash left me with.
It’s going to be a long, tough road ahead, so I’m just warning you now. If you don’t want to deal with
all of this, I understand. I get it… really. I don’t have the best track record of making good decisions
when shit hits the fan, but I’m working on it. Coming back here was a really big step for me, and
already in one day I’ve faced some pretty serious shit. Not to mention, before yesterday, I have had
sex one time. One time… with you… that’s it… ever. I just got back, and we got caught up in the
excitement of it all. I just wanted to show you I was ready to give you everything… that I knew I had
messed up and I was so sorry that I left the way I did. But it’s all just a lot for me to take in right
now.”
I paused and reached up to hold his face in my hands. I pulled his face down towards me as I
sat up on my feet. Our foreheads were touching and our eyes lost in each other’s.
“I need a lot of work, and I really want you to be here with me through all of it. It’s not always
going to be pretty, but all I ask for is honesty. It’s the only way we are going to make this work. I love
you, Mase, and I really want this to work. ”
He tilted his head so that his lips just barely rested on mine. “I love when you call me that,”
he murmured. He then deepened the kiss, pressing his lips harder against mine, and teased my bottom
lip with his tongue.
“Why?” I asked, still not pulling away from him. He ended the kiss and backed away a little.
“Because you claim to detest nicknames, yet not only do you let me call you one, you now
have one for me.” He smiled proudly at me and I couldn’t help but do the same.
“Well, I’m sure as hell not going to call you Rat,” I teased and made a goofy face.
“Come on, let’s take a shower and get you to bed, Angel,” he said standing up. He picked me
up off the floor, and I wrapped my arms and legs around him as he walked us down the hall. I buried
my face in his neck, thankful I found such an amazing guy.
“I love you, Mase.”
“I love you too, Angel. And don’t worry, we’ll make you whole again.”
MASON
I knew I needed to tell her. I knew she was going to be so pissed when she found out,
especially after her comment about how all she wanted was honesty, but damn if I couldn’t do it in
that moment. I knew if I told her then, it would be over… we would be over. And then the inevitable
would happen. No, I had to continue with the original plan. I had just about two months to make her
realize how good we were together, and then pray that she forgave me for not telling her immediately.
It was my only hope.
I looked down at her flawless face as she slept in my arms for the second time in as many
nights. God, I fucking loved her. I had already dealt with losing her once and I knew how awful it
could be. That overwhelming feeling of emptiness was still fresh in my memory, and I wasn’t sure I
could survive that again.
Bentley’s image flashed in my mind and I shuddered slightly. I had a bad feeling that she wasn’t
going to bow out of my bed graciously, and unfortunately I needed her in my life if Jobu’s Rum was
ever going to have a shot to make it big. She and her brother, Jag, were co-owners of the Donovan
Group, one of the best-known talent agencies in the South, and she had recently made a huge name for
herself by discovering and promoting VanderBlue, the band that had won the Grammy for Best New
Artist the previous year. Even though we had agreed to a strictly physical, no-strings relationship, I
doubted that she was going to take rejection well. At least I had some time while she was touring with
Blue before I had to deal with her. I dreaded that conversation. I turned my attention back to Scarlett
and pulled her in tighter before joining her in peaceful slumber.
CHAPTER SIX ~
MEMORIES
Addicted ~ Saving Abel
Broken Bones ~ Rev Theory
Bang Bang ~ Nancy Sinatra
SCARLETT
The following morning I was woken up with something tickling my inner thigh. Enjoying the
comfort of the oversized bed, I was not even close to being ready to get up. I grumbled and swiped at
the nuisance to get rid of whatever it was. Surprisingly, my hand was met with the feel of Mason’s
hair that he kept so closely shaven to his scalp. Oh! My eyes shot open and I looked down my naked
torso straight into silver pools of lust. I was lying flat on my back and he was on his stomach,
between my legs, with his arms looped under my knees to hold them open.
“Good morning, Angel,” he said, flashing me a sly smile.
Without waiting for me to respond, he returned to his task, placing feather-soft kisses on the
insides of my right thigh, but kept his eyes focused on mine. Just before he reached the spot I suddenly
wanted him to touch so badly, he shifted his weight and moved his attention to the other leg and began
the process all over again. I could see the desire growing in his gaze as he got close to my sweet spot
once more, and I knew that my expression must have mirrored his. A warm yearning sensation quickly
flooded my body. My hand was still resting on his head and I attempted to steer him upwards to
where I wanted his mouth, but he dropped my leg and grabbed my wrist, snickering at my frown.
“You need to learn how to be patient,” he playfully scolded me. “Now keep your hands
behind your head or on the headboard until I tell you that you can touch me.”
“But you make it so haaaard.” I pouted with my lip out, but put my arms behind my head as he
requested.
“No, you make it so hard, Angel.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at his awful joke. “You’re such a dork. All of those fan girls that fawn
all over you have no idea how corny you really… oh!” He cut my thought short as he swiped his
tongue across my core.
“Shh.” He quieted me and then repeated the motion. Umm… okay.
Watching Mason taunt and tease my aching clit with his mouth led to my quick unraveling. He
expertly drug his lip ring across my opening as his tongue savored my body. In mere minutes, my body
began trembling and I could no longer refrain from touching him. My hands flew to his head as I held
his face flush against me as I exploded on his mouth. Holy shitballs.
He slowly made his way up my body, kissing and biting every so often, until we were eye-to-
eye. I was amazed by his strong, handsome features. I loved the edginess that his tattoos and piercings
added. But mostly, I was in awe of his ability to love and forgive.
As if he could read my mind, he gently kissed me. “I do love you, Angel. I never stopped.”
I closed my eyes and kissed him back, trying to hide the tears that welled up in my eyes. I didn’t
deserve someone as wonderful as my Mase. He knew that I couldn’t give him my entire heart, but he
took me anyway. I couldn’t mess this up, I wouldn’t get another chance.
Stevie Ray Vaughan’s deep voice sang out about the sky crying as the vibrating cell phone on
the night stand interrupted my thoughts and our kiss. Mason reached across the bed to check the caller
ID on the screen and put the phone back down. By the look on his face, he wasn’t happy with whoever
was calling.
“Everything okay?” I asked, curious to who would elicit that response from him. I knew I had
no right to ask, but I couldn’t help but feel something was off with the call.
“Yeah, it was Jobu’s Rum potential new manager-slash-agent,” he answered nonchalantly. He
lied back on the bed and opened his arms so that I could cuddle up against his chest.
“Isn’t that a good thing? Why didn’t you tell me y’all have a manager?”
“It is a good thing, it’s just too early to be calling on a Sunday morning.” He kissed my forehead
and wrapped his arms and legs around me so that I was trapped against him. “Sorry I haven’t
mentioned it. I’ve been a little busy thinking about other things since you’ve been back.” I felt him
smile against my hair and I snuggled deeper into his chest and fell back asleep.
Mason and I spent the rest of the weekend tucked away in his apartment. We made a quick trip
to the local grocery store to get food and drinks because apparently he did not eat anything other than
breakfast foods and sandwiches. We laughed until we were crying watching the first two Hangover
movies. I think he was a little surprised at my selection when I chose the crude comedy from his
collection, but I absolutely loved those movies. Plus, you could never go wrong with four plus hours
of Bradley Cooper. We spent the rest of the time just hanging out ~ listening to some music and
enjoying each other’s company.
Monday afternoon came too quick and I wasn’t ready to leave him, but I needed to go to my
place to get ready for the first day of classes. I still hadn’t set up my room or bathroom, seeing that I
had been at Mase’s since I came back. We took the motorcycle to get my car at the bar after we
finished brunch and a sweet lovemaking session in the shower. I hoped that we weren’t moving too
hastily with how much sex had already become a regular part of our rekindled relationship, but it all
felt so natural and so right. I also knew how much it meant to Mason that he was the only person I had
been with. Even if Ash would always have a little piece of my heart, he would never have a piece of
my body.
“Does this place have a name?” I asked as we walked hand in hand to my car. I looked up at the
gray metal building that I had never seen in daylight. “I always just think of it as �the bar.’”
“Yeah, it’s called M.T.’s for Marcus Templeton’s, but when most people say it, it sounds like
Empty’s, so that’s what most people call it.”
I laughed. “I like that… it’s a good name for a bar… a lot better than M.T.’s. He was so
creative with the name.”
“Yeah, that’s Marcus for you. I’ve always been the one with the wild imagination that gets in
trouble; he’s the boring, responsible one.”
We stopped at my car door, facing each other. I reached my hand up and cupped his cheek. “I
like your imagination and your trouble,” I said.
He groaned and turned his hand to kiss my palm. “Be careful, Angel, or I’ll take you inside
and show you just how much trouble my imagination can be.”
“Is it weird to say that I’m going to miss you?” I asked. “I mean, since I’ve only been back a
couple days and all…”
“I hope not, cause I’m sure as hell gonna miss you.” He leaned in and kissed me. I nipped at
the ring on his bottom lip, and he wrapped his arms around me and deepened the kiss. After a few
minutes, we reluctantly pulled away from one another. I needed to get to my place that I had yet to
sleep in and I was sure he had stuff he needed to do.
“I’ll call you later, Mase, and we will see each other in a few days. I just need to get settled
into a routine with my classes. And you need to call your agent back, Mr. Hotpants… so that you can
become a big rock star.”
“Mr. Hotpants, huh? I get two nicknames?” He chuckled at me.
“You only get to be Mr. Hotpants when you are playing hot, rocker bad-boy. You’re always
my Mase.”
I kissed him one last time and climbed into my car before I asked him if I could stay another
night. I needed to learn to be happy by myself. I didn’t always have to have a friend or a guy near me
to be content, and I didn’t need to fall back into the mindset of emotional dependence. The previous
eight months learning to live without Evie had been complete hell. I had never realized how much I
needed and depended on her for my sanity and happiness. It was wonderful that Mason had reinserted
me into his life again so quickly, I was overjoyed and knew I didn’t deserve it, but I couldn’t make
him my next crutch either.
The next several days were pretty rough for me. My classes were all tough, but what wasn’t at
Rice? I felt like I was behind after just the first day, so I spent every free moment reading text books.
Mason and I talked on the phone and texted as much as possible, but I missed the feel of his body
holding mine and the taste of his lips. According to him, Jobu’s Rum was having some intense
practices and they were rehearsing pretty much around the clock. They were preparing for upcoming
shows that they had booked in Austin, Dallas, and New Orleans. There were supposed to be label
scouts in attendance at each of the gigs. I was so proud of Mason and the rest of the guys. Musically
they were incredible, and it didn’t hurt that they were all pretty easy on the eyes. I knew that as soon
as the right person saw and heard them they would be well on their way to stardom. I wasn’t sure
where I really fit into that future, but I couldn’t worry about that. Whatever happened was what was
supposed to happen ~ if we were meant to be together, we would figure it out. I mean it’s how it
worked out for Kiera and Kellan, right?
The one bright spot in my first week of classes was meeting Max for coffee Thursday evening.
He had texted me that morning to see if I could meet him at The Chocolate Bar at six o’clock. I
needed a night away from Darius, Xerxes, and the rest of the damn Persians; my eyes were beginning
to cross every time I read the letter x or k. Not to mention, any place named The Chocolate Bar
couldn’t be bad.
Unsure of exactly where I was going or what the parking situation would be, I left my apartment
with plenty of time to spare. I got there about thirty minutes early, but it appeared to be pretty busy so
I went ahead inside to grab us a table. The moment I stepped through the door, I was mesmerized.
From the bright yellow walls and regal purple dГ©cor to the overwhelmingly sinful smells of chocolate
and candy and expensive coffee, I felt as if I had walked into a dreamland. The multitude of shelves
and containers of every sweet concoction you could ever fathom intimidated me so I opted to sit at a
table close to the window and wait for Max.
About ten minutes later Max walked in and I waved at him to get his attention. As he crossed
the room, I couldn’t help but notice that even though he was still incredibly handsome, something was
missing with him. I hadn’t gotten a good chance to look at him or talk to him at Empty’s last Saturday
with all of the Ash drama. Before that, the last time I had seen him was at the funeral. My heart
clenched inside my chest at the memory. I looked into his eyes as he approached the table and saw the
sadness that still loomed. I realized that seeing me probably was just as difficult for him as it was
when I saw him. I stood up and gave him a huge hug. I wanted him to know that I understood his pain;
I knew how hard it was to live without her.
“Hiya Scarlett,” he said as we broke apart and sat down.
“Hey Max. I’m so glad you texted,” I replied with a smile. “You’ve let your hair grow out, I
like it.” I reached across the table and flicked the light brown strand out from in front of his eyes. He
hadn’t shaved in several days but he pulled off the scruff nicely; and as always, he was dressed
fashionably in some crazy name brand (that I had never heard of) jeans and fitted shirt. Evie and Max
had been hands-down the best dressed couple in the city, maybe even the state. I made the mistake of
going shopping with the two of them one time, but after six hours of utter hell, I never repeated it.
“Do you know what you want?” His voice broke through my daydream. He was staring at me
like he knew that I was thinking about Evie.
“Oh no, I’m sorry. I was overwhelmed when I walked in so I thought I’d wait for you. Have
you ever been here before?”
He nodded and looked down at the table. I could see the tears threatening to spill over in his
eyes. He had brought Evie here. Oh God.
“Maybe we should go somewhere else,” I offered as I began to stand up.
“No.” He grabbed my wrist and looked up at me. He closed his eyes, sucked in a deep breath,
and then exhaled slowly. He opened his crystal blue eyes and spoke with resolve. “I need to do this. I
need to be able to go places that I went with her. I need to be able to see you because I want to be
your friend, Scarlett. I need your help getting past this. I’ve just been surviving for the last eight
months… not really living. I know that you’ve managed to get yourself together and I need you to help
me do the same.”
My heart broke for him, but I held myself together. My breaking down and telling him that I
was still a fragile mess wouldn’t do him any good. And maybe, just maybe, we could help each other
heal from the devastating loss we had endured. I had always liked Max so much; I knew how happy
he had made Evie and that was worth the world to me. We both deserved a second chance at
happiness, Evie would want nothing more than for us to be happy.
“Max,” I began, sitting back down. “I’ll do whatever I can… whatever you need. I’m far from
one hundred percent myself, but I think that being friends could help both of us. She would want us to
move on and be happy, and we both need to figure out where that is.”
He didn’t say anything for a few minutes; I had no idea what he was thinking. Finally,
breaking the silence, he said, “This is the best I have felt since the last day I saw her. Thank you.” He
offered a small smile and stuck his hand out towards me. “Let’s grab a coffee and something
ridiculously rich and sweet.”
Over the next two hours, Max and I talked about what was going on in each of our lives. We
never mentioned Evie again, but her presence was definitely felt. After we both had demolished a
chocolate covered rice krispie treats and downed three lattes, we decided we should leave. Mason
called and asked if I wanted to go to Empty’s and spend the night with him, and even though I knew
Max was going up there as well, I declined. I had class early the next morning so I told him that I
would see him the following night.
Max made sure I got to my car safely and we embraced before heading out. “I’m really glad
we did this, Scarlett. Do you think we can meet like weekly or something, just so we can catch up?”
“It doesn’t have to be scheduled, Max. Whenever you need to talk or just hang out, just let me
know. I plan on doing the same with you.” He finally gave me the first real smile I had seen all night,
one that brightened his eyes. The way I felt with Max was so different than being with Mason or Ash.
Even though he was obviously attractive and such a wonderful guy, in my mind, he belonged to Evie. I
could never look at him in a romantic or sexual way, and in an unexpected way, it made me feel even
closer to him.
“Give Mr. Hotpants a kiss for me,” I joked.
“Mr. Hotpants?” He scrunched up his nose in fake disgust. “I don’t even want to know where
that came from. I’ll tell Rat that you said hello and good night.”
“That’ll work too.” I grinned. “Talk you soon Max.”
Hours later I was lying in my bed staring at the ceiling. Ever since I had left The Chocolate
Bar, I couldn’t get Evie out of my head. I felt guilty all over again for not pressing the doctor issue
more with her. After seeing how shattered Max was, it reminded me of all of the people that were
crushed as a result of her death. I needed to talk to someone or be around someone. Tessa was out,
not that we were close or anything, and everyone else I knew in the city was either at Empty’s or
someone I really didn’t want to see. I looked at the clock, it read ten-twenty-four. I jumped up and
made a bee-line to the shower. My first class was at ten the next morning so as long as I got to bed by
three, I would be fine. I needed my Mase.
I showered, shaved completely, and lathered coconut raspberry lotion all over my body. I
slipped into a charcoal gray mini dress with a scooped neck, threw on my silver flip flops, and
grabbed my overnight bag. Exactly forty five minutes later, I walked out the door and headed towards
the person who could rescue me.
I parked my car in the back of the building next to Mason’s motorcycle. Not sure if the back
door would be unlocked, I tested it and was pleased when it opened. It saved me from walking all the
way around the building. I stopped at Marcus’ office as I passed by and said hello. He looked very
surprised to see me, but said hello in return. I opened the door and entered the main bar area. It took
my eyes a moment to adjust to the dim lighting, but I quickly began making my way to Mason. Because
of the crowd of crazy women ogling whoever the band was on stage, I couldn’t take a direct path to
the table so I walked around the back of the stage and froze.
That’s when I saw her. That’s when I saw them… together.
Mason was standing off to the side of the bar and there was a girl… no scratch that, a woman
standing next to him whispering something in his ear. His focus was forward and his arms were
crossed against his chest, but her hands were on him and he was doing nothing to remove them.
Because of how we were positioned, he couldn’t see me unless I stepped out from behind the stacked
amps, so I stood there watching them. My stomach hardened into a rock and my face was on fire.
She was absolutely stunning, dressed in a solid black, skin tight dress that showed off all of her
assets. Her heels must’ve been four or five inches tall which accented her already mile long legs. Her
strawberry blonde hair was pinned up stylishly and her face was flawless. She rubbed her palm
across his cheek and when he didn’t move, she grabbed his chin and yanked his head in her direction.
She pulled his face to hers and traced his lips with her tongue until she reached his lip ring, where she
sucked on it. Again, he had no reaction ~ he didn’t try to touch her or kiss her, nor did he try to stop
her; his arms remained locked in front of his broad chest. Her hands traveled down his chest and
when she reached the bottom of his shirt, she lifted it up slightly and stuck her fingertips inside the
waist of his jeans. I decided I had seen enough. I had two choices ~ I could either confront the
situation or I could run away again. Uniting all of my inner strength and courage, I stepped out from
behind my cover. I took two steps in their direction when Mason saw me. His eyes doubled in size
and he immediately pushed her away from him. He made a beeline towards me, ignoring her yelling
after him. He reached me in a matter of seconds and grabbed both of my arms and looked me directly
in the eye.
“Angel, it’s not what it looks like. I promise I can explain.”
You have got to be kidding me.
MASON
What the fuck? I could not believe that Scarlett picked that moment of all fucking moments to
walk in and see me. I had planned on telling her about Bentley and I had planned on telling Bentley
about Scarlett, but I just hadn’t had a chance. I didn’t want to ruin mine and Scarlett’s first weekend
together by telling her the entire story and it wasn’t something I wanted to do over the phone, so I had
planned on explaining everything to her the next time we had time to talk. And I was definitely going
to tell Bentley that she needed to back off, whatever thing we had going was over now that Angel was
back. But because I had been ignoring her calls and texts all week, she took a two-day break from the
VanderBlue tour to come and check on me. Fucking awesome. I had told her I wasn’t in the mood to
fuck around when she showed up unannounced earlier in the night, but she just kept at it… trying to
touch and kiss me. I thought she would get the picture when I refused to touch or kiss her back, but
instead of discouraging her, it gave her a night’s mission. And the more she drank, the more
aggressive she became.
When I reached Scarlett, her eyes told me that I was losing her quickly and I better do
something or our reunion was going to be short-lived.
“Angel, it’s not what it looks like. I promise I can explain.” I cringed as I heard the lame words
come out of my mouth.
“Rat, what in the fuck is your problem?” Bentley’s voice was fast approaching. I turned around
so that I would be standing in between her and Scarlett.
“Bentley, like I’ve told you all night, I. Am. Not. Interested.” She needed to understand the
warning in my voice. She could be a brutal bitch and if she said one fucking thing to or about Scarlett,
I would lose my shit on her.
“Who are you hiding there Rat?” She asked trying to get a good look at Scarlett. “Aww, did
Ratboy get him a little fangirl to kiss his feet and suck his dick on command?”
“Stop. Right Fucking Now.” I had never before in my life wanted to hit a woman, but in that
moment, I wanted to slap the shit out of her.
Surprisingly, Scarlett stepped out from behind me and grabbed my hand. “You heard him. He
said to leave him alone. He’s not interested.” I could tell by her voice that she was nervous as hell,
but I was so fucking proud of her.
“He’s always interested, Doll. Don’t let him tell you otherwise.” Bentley sneered at her.
“Angel, just ignore her. She’s trying to upset you,” I said to Scarlett. I did not like where the
conversation was leading. I just wanted Bentley to leave.
Ignoring me, Scarlett replied matter-of-factly, “It didn’t appear that was the case a few minutes
ago when you were pathetically rubbing yourself all over an unresponsive statue.”
“Pathetic? We’ll see who’s pathetic when he’s living down the hall from me in Austin in a few
short weeks. That will probably be you, Angel, since you’ll be the one here by yourself. He has told
you he’s leaving soon, hasn’t he?” Fucking shit. I felt Scarlett’s hand squeeze mine as her whole
body tensed up at Bentley’s announcement. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it most
certainly did.
“Of course he’s told me he’s moving, but how we handle our relationship while living apart is
none of your fucking business. Just keep your skanky hands off of him… stupid whore.”
Scarlett looked up at me and I could see the fury in her face. “I’m going to have Max take me to
your apartment. Take care of this now. I’ll be waiting up for you.” She stood on her tippy toes and
kissed me briskly; she then disappeared into the crowd of people. I was too stunned to do or say
anything.
Bentley walked up behind me and whispered in my ear, “You’ll be back in my bed soon
enough; until then, I’m still your fucking manager. So enjoy the next few weeks with your Angel
because after that, your ass is mine.”
CHAPTER SEVEN ~
SECRETS
The Fire ~ Rev Theory
Stay ~ Rihanna (feat Mikky Ekko)
SCARLETT
Pissed did not even come close to describe how I was feeling as I tore through the crowd to get
to Max. I could not fucking believe that Mason was moving to Austin sometime soon and he hadn’t
told me, and I didn’t even want to begin to think about what affiliation he had with that woman ~ it
obviously wasn’t someone he had a passing fling with. Why in the world did he even pretend like we
had a chance to be together? Did he just want to get back at me for hurting him? Well, if so, he had
succeeded brilliantly. I had taken the bait ~ hook, line, and sinker.
As soon as Max saw me approaching, he jumped out of his barstool and threw his arm around
my shoulders. “Scarlett, you came!” He exclaimed.
“I need you to take me to Mason’s apartment.”
“Why? What’s wrong? You just got here, right?”
I took a step back from him and looked at him dead in the eye. “I hate to be calling in the �need
a friend’ card so quickly, but I REALLY need you to get me out of here.” I was doing my best to stay
calm; my insides felt like a bomb had gone off.
“Where’s Rat?” He asked and I saw his eyes drift over my head and look in the direction of
Jobu’s Rum’s table. I knew the precise moment that he found him by the look of recognition and then
distress that crossed his face. She must’ve still been with him.
“Come on, Sam. Let’s go.” Max grabbed my hand and led me to the door, taking the path in the
opposite direction of them. Minutes later we broke out into the open air and I gasped for breath. I was
suffocating in the deceit and deception that I had just been slapped in the face with.
He continued to lead me across the parking lot to his car. We got inside and then just sat there.
Despite the oppressive heat, my body was shaking and covered in chill bumps. Max turned and
looked at me with sympathetic eyes.
“So you met Bentley, I take it?” He asked nervously.
“You know about her!?!” I yelled. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I crossed my arms across my
chest. I felt completely ridiculous that I had apparently been played for a gullible fool.
He ran his fingers through his hair and leaned his head back on the seat. Staring at the car
ceiling, he said, “Yeah, I knew about her, but it wasn’t my place to tell you Scarlett. I didn’t know
what, if anything, Rat had told you and I just couldn’t…” His voice trailed off. I didn’t say anything. I
was so terribly furious and crushed that I could not even conjure up a meaningful sentence. I really
just wanted to yell “FUCK YOU!” over and over again at anyone and everyone.
He turned and looked at me, “He wants to be with you. I know he does.” I closed my eyes and
shook my head, remaining silent. Max continued, “Rat and I became close last year and we’ve stayed
tight since everything happened… so I know what he wants. He was really starting to fall for you
when you left. It tore him up... he’s been struggling.”
“Yeah, it looks like he’s really been struggling.”
“Well what did you expect Scarlett? For him to sit around forever and wait for you to come
back? None of us have heard from you in over eight months; he had no idea if he’d ever see you again.
You just disappeared.” I winced recalling the events of that horrific night.
“No… I know,” I begrudgingly agreed. I wasn’t stupid enough to think that he’d been celibate
while I was gone; I just didn’t expect him to get into a relationship so soon. “Who is she? Why is he
moving to Austin to be near her?”
He snapped his head up and looked at me. “He’s moving to Austin?”
I shrugged. “I guess so.” The rage began to simmer and I was quickly slipping into the “I don’t
care about anything” mode. Difficult situations were much easier to handle when I turned the pain
sensors off. “That’s what she said. I don’t know; he really didn’t say anything.”
“What do you mean he didn’t say anything?”
As we continued to sit in the parked car, I gave Max the short version of what had happened. I
hoped he could share some insight or advice or anything that would make me feel just a little bit
better, but instead he played Switzerland.
“Scarlett, you and Rat have a lot y’all need to talk about; like I said earlier, it’s not my place to
tell you his story. I don’t want you to think I’m hiding things from you, so I’m going to give him his
chance tonight to tell you everything. After tonight I won’t hold back or lie to you, but I think he
deserves that.”
I just sat there, staring off into space, wondering what in the world I was doing. I knew it would
be tough returning, but I had only been back in Houston a week and I was emotionally drained. And
all of it for what? He apparently had a girlfriend or a crazy ex-girlfriend that he was about to move to
Austin to be with.
“That’s fine, Max. You’re right; it’s not your place to tell me. It’s his. Well, it was his.” It was
my turn to lay my head back on the seat. There were no words to describe what I was feeling.
The engine came to life as he turned the key in the ignition and we took off out of the parking
lot. Thankfully, Max knew the way to Mason’s place so I could just quietly lay with my head back and
my eyes closed. It wasn’t until we pulled into the parking lot that I remembered I didn’t have any way
to get inside the apartment. I forgot to ask Mason for his key.
“I can’t get in,” I stated flatly. “I didn’t even think about it. Do you mind taking me to my place
instead?”
“Rat will be here in just a couple of minutes; he left a few minutes after us,” he answered.
“What?” I asked confused. He lifted up his cell phone and smiled sheepishly. “He messaged
that he was on his way a little bit ago.”
“Great. I can’t wait,” I said, sarcasm dripping from my voice. “This should be loads of fun.”
“Please just listen to what he has to say, Scarlett,” Max wrinkled his forehead in frustration.
He reached over the middle console and grabbed my hand, making me look in his pleading eyes.
“Look, you know I don’t want you to hurt anymore, but from what you told me he wasn’t responding
to her and then basically told her to fuck off.”
“But he didn’t do anything to stop her before he knew I was watching!” I interjected.
“She’s his manager. It’s not like he can just push her away like some stupid-ass groupie girl!”
“His manager?” His words punched me in the gut. I immediately realized Bentley wasn’t
going anywhere anytime soon. Mason would be working closely with her on a daily basis, and
apparently living near her as well. Awesome.
“Shit… see that’s why I don’t need to discuss this with you until after the two of y’all talk.” He
released my hand and rubbed his face in his hands. “All I can say is I know what you mean to him and
I know how you feel about him, and I really think that y’all are good for each other. I would hate to
see something that has real potential never really get a chance because of a misunderstanding.”
I was just about to tell him that I didn’t misunderstand the fact that Mason was moving away to
be near some bitch who was apparently his manager, but the deep growl of a motorcycle pulling into
the parking space next to us distracted me. I watched out the window as Mason got off his Harley and
approached the passenger door. He opened the door and held his hand out to me.
I turned to Max and gave him a quick hug, “Thank you for everything. Wish us luck; we’re going
to need it.”
MASON
Scarlett didn’t say a word to me upon entering the apartment. It was obviously going to be my
show, and rightfully so since I was the one with all of the explaining to do.
“Come back to my room, let’s get comfortable so we can talk,” I said to her.
“I’m good out here,” she replied in an ice-cold tone. “Will you be able to take me back to my
car when we are finished whatever it is we are doing here?”
Her words cut through me like a knife, and I hated myself for making her hurt. She had lived
through enough pain in the last year; she sure as hell didn’t need me adding to it.
“Scarlett, please give me a chance to explain. I meant to tell you… I really did. There just
hasn’t been a good time…”
“A good time!? A good fucking time!?” She shouted. “Maybe a good time would’ve been
before you brought me back here last Friday and fucked me all weekend? Or maybe when I told you
that the only way things were going to work with us is if we were completely honest? Or better yet…
maybe before you told me that you had never stopped loving me while I was gone?
“Any of those times would’ve been a good time to tell me that you’re currently fucking your
manager and about to move to Austin to live near her!!!” She was shaking with anger and I
desperately wanted to wrap her in my arms to console her, but I refrained.
Hanging my head in shame, I knew there was a good chance that I may never see her again and
my chest tightened at the mere thought.
“Angel, you haven’t even been back a week, and I meant to tell you… I really did. I’m not
trying to hurt you, I just wanted you to see that this can work between us before clouding it with all of
the reasons why it can’t,” I tried to explain.
“YOU ARE MOVING AWAY MASON! YOU ARE INVOLVED WITH SOMEONE ELSE!!
YOU LIED TO ME!!!” God, I couldn’t take much more of watching her hurt without touching her.
“Please Scarlett,” I begged. “Please just let me explain.” I could almost hear the inner struggle
in her head about whether or not to grant my request.
She walked over to the couch and plopped down. “Enlighten me,” she said flatly.
Not wasting a moment that she could possibly change her mind, I flew to her side on the
couch.
“Okay,” I began tentatively, “Last spring Jobu’s Rum played at the SXSW music festival in
Austin which is where we met Bentley and her brother, Jag. They are the co-owners of a reputable
talent agency. They fell in love with band and offered to represent us. Shortly after that, things really
picked up for us.”
“For who – Jobu’s Rum or you and Bentley?”
I turned on the couch so that I was facing her completely. “Look Scarlett, I’m not trying to
make you feel bad or say this is your doing, but I was in a pretty shitty place in my life. I was headover-heels for you and thought you were on the same page, and you just fucking disappeared. I’ve
already told you that I don’t want to relive everything that happened ~ it’s the past, we both made
some bad decisions, we both apologized, and we both want to try and make this work now.”
“It’s not that simple, Mase. You are sleeping with someone else and you are moving away,”
she argued, however she had begun to calm down a bit.
“I’m not sleeping with anyone else.”
“As of when? Last Friday? When was the last time you fucked her?”
As much as I wanted to lie to her, I couldn’t. “Last Thursday.”
Scarlett stood up to leave, but I grabbed her arm and pulled her back down next to me on the
couch. “I didn’t know if you were ever coming back. I was moving forward with my life; what else
was I supposed to do?” I looked straight into her sad brown eyes. “The minute you walked back into
my life, it all changed. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do, but it’s only been a week, Angel.
Bentley has been on tour with VanderBlue since then and I haven’t had a chance to tell her, so when
she showed up tonight, she didn’t know. Tell me you saw me. Tell me you saw that I was not
responding to her advances… not even a little bit. I kept telling her to back off but she’s not a woman
that’s used to hearing �no.’
“I promise you that I don’t want to be with her. My relationship with her has always been
purely physical. I was just trying to fill a void…”
“Oh, well that makes me feel so much better,” she retorted. “And I’m supposed to believe that
when you are living down the hall from her there and I’m living here, that you won’t get the urge to
�fill your void’ every so often? I’m not stupid, Mason. I saw the way that she was acting towards you
tonight; she’s not going to give you up easily.”
“I’ll take care of it,” I assured her.
I decided to press my luck and reach out to grab her hands. Thankfully, she didn’t tear them
from my grasp.
“When are you moving?” The anger from her voice had mostly subsided, but instead it was
replaced with sorrow and uncertainty.
“The beginning of November.”
“Do you have to go still? Can’t you do your music thing from here?”
“The entire band has made arrangements to move there; I can’t back out on them now. If it was
just me, of course, I would just say fuck it, but I can’t do that to my friends.”
“So what happens to us then, Mase?” Relief washed through me to hear her still refer to us as
“us.”
I brought her hands up to my face and kissed each set of knuckles. “I don’t know, Angel, but we
will figure it out. For now, I just want to make the best of the time we have together. I feel like this
first week with you back has been such a roller coaster, and I know that’s to be expected as we work
through everything that has happened, but now that everything is out on the table, we can move past all
of the other bullshit and focus on building our relationship. I can’t make any promises about the future
Scarlett, but I can promise you that right here, right now, I am crazy in love with you and I want to be
with you ~ just you. Please stay with me.”
She smiled softly and stared deep in my eyes. “This is your last warning Mason Templeton.
There better not be any more secrets or I’m done, no questions asked. I agree that we can figure out
November when November gets here, who knows what could happen between now and then. I’m
willing to fight for us to have a chance, so let’s see where the next two months take us. But I’m telling
you right now, I’m not afraid to tell that bitch Bentley exactly where she can go and what she can do
when she gets there if she fucks with me again. I don’t care how important she thinks she is to you;
you better tell her I come first and she best not forget it.”
Wow. Before then, I had never seen the possessive and protective side of Scarlett, and I liked
it. It turned me on like crazy knowing that she wanted to fight for me. I needed to be insider her; I
needed to remind her why we were so good together and how much she meant to me. I leaned forward
and captured her lips in mine in a forceful kiss. She responded with the same vigor and I knew that
she wanted the same thing I did.
“So you’ll stay?” I mumbled, not moving my mouth from hers.
“For as long as you’ll have me,” she whispered in response. Her words were sweet music to
my ears. I just had to figure out how to get her to move to Austin with me. I still had hope that we
could make this work.
CHAPTER EIGHT ~
Fate
Begin Again ~ Taylor Swift
Gravity ~ Sara Bareilles
Broken ~ Lifehouse
SCARLETT
Over the next several weeks Mason and I settled into a comfortable routine. He and Jobu’s Rum
continued their exhausting rehearsal schedule when they weren’t playing at the bar. I had classes in
the mornings and spent the afternoons reading and studying. Mason helped me get a part-time job in
the evenings at a local music supply store where a friend of his was the manager. I absolutely loved it
because the people I worked with all loved music as much as I did and when we weren’t busy, I got
to play both guitar and keyboard. Between school and spending time with Mason, I had very little
time for my music, so the job was perfect~ I got paid to do something I loved!
Mina and I talked to each other daily and we met at least once a week for lunch. The wedding
was approaching quickly and she was dealing with all of the final decision-making while trying to
keep up in her studies; she often just needed an ear to vent to and I was happy to oblige. She cracked
me up ~ I loved her ability to make fun of herself and the crazy world we lived in on a daily basis.
Her favorite saying was, “sane is boring.”
Max and I continued our Thursday evening gluttonous get-togethers at The Chocolate Bar. He
was thrilled that Mason and I had worked things out and were giving it a go. He was in his first year
of graduate school at University of Houston for social work, and I loved hearing him talk about how
he wanted to travel the world to help the underprivileged. The passion he had for wanting to make a
difference and to leave a positive imprint on the world was awe-inspiring and reinforced what I
already knew about him ~ he was truly one of the good guys.
After filling up on sweets and re-energizing on coffee with Max, I would head over to
Mason’s place and we would go to Empty’s together. Thursday through Sunday nights I stayed at his
apartment; Jobu’s Rum played on Thursdays and Saturdays but we would usually end up at the bar on
Friday nights as well. Friday’s were still open mic nights so occasionally I would perform something
that I had been practicing at work that week. Mase loved when I played and sang for him. He would
always get the goofiest grin on his face when I was on stage. When I asked him about it, he told me
that he was just proud of me and that he didn’t deserve me. I argued that it was the other way around,
but nonetheless, my heart filled with happiness and joy.
Jess, Meg and their crew had been at the bar a few times and when they came in, I would
spend a while hanging out and catching up. Much like when I first saw Max, it was hard to not think
about Evie when I was with them, but it got easier each time. The only awkwardness that remained
between us was the issue of their missing roommate. I wasn’t sure if it was out of respect or hatred
for me, but Ash never came with them. Everyone was always very careful not to mention his name,
and I greatly appreciated their regard for my feelings. Thoughts of him ran through my head often
enough, I didn’t need to actually hear his name to encourage my subconscious to dwell on him any
more than it did.
Things between Mason and I were going great. It seemed once everything about Bentley and
the move had come out in the open, he could completely relax and enjoy our time together. When he
had explained everything to me, I was hurt that he had kept it from me, but I understood why he had. It
was easy for me to forgive him; I believed in my heart he was being honest with me about how he felt
and what he wanted. He had given me a second chance when I intentionally kept information from him
in order to be with him, so I felt I owed him the same. I still didn’t know what would happen to us
come November, but I tried not to think about it. Mason rarely discussed the move either. I kept
hoping that he would ask me to join him at the end of the semester or the end of the school year, even
though that was months away, but he didn’t. I wasn’t about to invite myself to live with him, even
though we were already practically doing that more than half of the time.
Mason had bought me a slew of girly bath products and my own toothbrush that he set up in his
bathroom so that I wouldn’t have to bring a suitcase each weekend that I came. I had moved over
some clothes that earned their own spot in a drawer and in the closet. Every Sunday when it was time
for me to go back to my apartment, he would try different seduction techniques to get me to stay, and
as much as I wanted to do just that, I knew that we needed breathing room so that we didn’t suffocate
each other. It was extremely hard for me to say no to him, especially knowing that the days I had to
spend with him were numbered, but that was exactly why I needed to spend time without him. Soon I
would have to spend every day without him.
Bentley called and texted regularly, but Mason assured me that it was regarding work and that
she was keeping their conversations strictly professional. He told me that he had talked to her about
me and their current/ future relationship, and there was no confusion or misunderstanding about how
she was to conduct herself around either of us. I really didn’t believe that she had backed off so
easily, and even if she had, I knew it was only temporary. However, I trusted Mason and had faith that
he wouldn’t succumb to her advances. He also knew as well as I did that if something did happen, I
would find out quickly. She wouldn’t be able to wait to gloat in my face about how she was right and
she got him back.
Before I knew it, October was upon us and the dreaded November first date was quickly
approaching. The rest of the band was excited and I couldn’t blame them. Not only were they moving
to a new place, there was a really good chance that things were about to get going for them musically.
I felt guilty that Mase wasn’t looking forward to the move like they were; I knew that our relationship
was the only thing holding him back. I tried being encouraging and supportive when he did talk about
it, but it was forced from both of us.
All of the members of Jobu’s Rum had planned to go forgo practice for a few days to make a
trip to Austin to purchase furniture for their new apartments and tie up some other loose ends for their
relocation. In total they had three apartments to outfit~ Aaron and Sophie in one, Cruz and Sebastian
in another, and Mason had his own place. They were all in the same building and coincidentally,
Sophie had gotten a job in their leasing office. Unfortunately, it was the same place that Bentley lived
as well. I wanted to go with him for numerous reasons but they had gone during the week and I
couldn’t miss class or work. He promised me that Bentley would not be there, she was still on tour,
but I didn’t put it past her to make a surprise trip home knowing that he was going to be there. But
what was I going to do? Soon he’d be there all the time.
I tried keeping myself busy as I usually did studying and working the first couple of days he was
gone, but it failed miserably. Even though I usually didn’t see him on Mondays, Tuesdays, or
Wednesdays, knowing that he was hours away made them even worse. Even meeting Mina for lunch
at La Madeline on Tuesday didn’t improve my mood. By Wednesday afternoon, I was borderline
moping and decided I needed to pull myself out of my funk. After I got home from school, I grabbed a
blanket and my e-reader and went to enjoy the few hours I had before going to work in the fresh air
with a book.
I kicked my flip flops off and settled myself under a shady tree on one of the grassy public areas
around campus and lost myself in the story of your not-so-typical love triangle. I was instantly caught
up in the emotions of the threesome that they all loved each other and their struggle to find happiness.
Normally, I didn’t read books about ménages and people who claimed to be in love with two people
at once, but this book was a part of a rock band series that I absolutely loved, so I thought I’d give it a
chance. That way of thinking really never made sense to me before, but the further I read the more I
found myself cheering for all three characters to be together. It didn’t hurt that the author did such an
amazing job of writing sex scenes that got me so hot and bothered, I had to pack up early to go home
for a cold shower before I could go into the store. I could not wait for Mason to return home the
following afternoon.
Just as I was getting ready to stand up and fold the blanket, I felt a light tickle on my calf. Sitting
up to investigate, I saw a huge orange and yellow Monarch butterfly that had landed on my leg,
centimeters from the tattoo of its tribal-inspired twin. My heart began to pound and my palms got
clammy as images of Ash and the sound of his voice overwhelmed me. My chest physically ached as
my heart swelled at the happy memories and shattered at the devastating one. I was frozen sitting there
watching the beautiful creature walk up and down my leg, almost as if it didn’t even notice my
presence. Tears soaked my cheeks as I realized that I was never going to be free of the hold he had on
me. Time wasn’t healing my wounds and being happy with someone else who showered me in love
and adoration didn’t weaken the enigmatic connection that bound our hearts. Instead of feeling
blessed that I had found my soul mate, who was supposed to complete me and make me feel whole, I
felt cursed because all mine did was torment my mind and leave me feeling ruined and hopeless.
Forced to pull myself together so that I wouldn’t be late, I swatted at the butterfly forcing it to
move on and dried my cheeks with the back of my hands. I rushed back to my apartment and jumped in
the shower. As usual, Tessa wasn’t there. She practically lived at her boyfriend’s, and where at times
I missed having some company, I was glad to have the place to myself then to regain my composure
and not have to answer any questions about my splotchy face. After I was dressed and ready to go, I
shot Mase a quick text, partially out of the longing I felt for him after the numerous days apart, but
more out of guilt for my earlier thoughts.
Me (4:47PM) ~ Headed out to work, miss you terribly. Hope you are getting everything
taken care of.
Mason (4:50PM) ~ Miss you too Angel. All is done, can’t wait to come home tomorrow.
Call me when you get home tonight.
When I got to the store, I clocked in and put my purse up. I checked with my boss to make sure
there wasn’t anything that he needed me to do, but he said that all was good so I walked around doing
a quick inspection that everything was where it should be. After cleaning up some sheet music that
had been littered about, I took advantage of the lack of customers and sat down at one of the
keyboards in the side room. Still distraught over the afternoon and unable to pull my mind from Ash, I
allowed myself to sing for him for the first time in nearly a year. From the moment my fingers felt the
keys under them, I was imprisoned to the lyrics of Sara Bareilles’ Gravity. The song so perfectly
portrayed the power that he had over me~ it was a force of nature, a law of physics that couldn’t be
broken, despite how much I wanted to be free from it. I closed my eyes and poured all of my heart and
soul into my private performance, allowing the instrument and my voice to be my therapy. As I
finished the song, applause from the doorway startled me and my eyes flew open.
“Breathtaking, as always, Butterfly.”
ASH
Fate was the only possible explanation that led me to her that day. I was on my way to my
mom’s apartment for our weekly Wednesday dinner, a date I had yet to miss since she had left my dad
just a few months before, when I noticed a guitar shop tucked away in a shopping center just a few
blocks from her house. It reminded me that I needed some new strings, so I pulled in the parking lot,
fully intending to make a quick stop.
I walked into the store on a mission and quickly found the pack I needed and headed to the
register to check out. It was only then that I noticed I was the only person in the room. I did a full
three-sixty to make sure I hadn’t missed anyone possibly bending down or hidden behind an
instrument when I saw an entrance to another room. About halfway en route, I stopped mid-stride as I
heard the first few notes of the song that would unknowingly change my life. When I heard her voice
follow, I nearly dropped to my knees, overwhelmed with emotions. I quickly but quietly made my
way to the doorway; my brain needed visual confirmation that she really was there.
Thankfully, her back was to the door. I knew she’d stop if she saw me, and I wanted to savor
every moment before she realized I was there. Her performance was devastatingly beautiful,
impressively heartbreaking. I knew without a shadow a doubt she was singing for me; it was almost if
she could sense my presence. Every word… every fucking lyric tore at my soul. Piece by piece it
ripped me apart until I was left completely exposed.
When she concluded the piano solo, I began clapping and commended her.
“Breathtaking, as always, Butterfly.”
Her body tensed at the sound of my voice and at first, she didn’t turn around to look at me.
“What are you doing here?” she asked quietly.
“I just stopped in to grab some strings and there wasn’t anyone out there, so I came to check for
someone in here and I found you,” I replied. “What are you doing here? Are you going to turn around
and look at me?”
“I work here and I’d rather not.” She could be so damn stubborn. Unfortunately, that was one of
the things I loved most about her.
There were so many things I wanted to say to her. A lifetime wouldn’t be long enough to tell her
and show her how much I loved her and how sorry I was. I decided to not waste any time.
“Was that about me?” I asked.
“What do you think, Ash?” she snapped.
“You still feel it, don’t you?” I knew I was pressing my luck, but I had to ask her.
She didn’t say anything so I took advantage of the silence and poured my heart out to her. There
was nothing more hurtful that she could say that she hadn’t already said to me, so the way I figured it,
I had nothing to lose and everything in the world to gain.
“Scarlett, please listen to me. I am a mess without you in my life. I think about you all day,
every day. For the last ten months I have been a damaged, broken person just wandering through life
without purpose or motivation. You… you give me reason and hope. You make me feel like I deserve
to be loved. You weren’t the only one that lost a best friend the day Evie died, you know? I need you;
you are the key to my sanity,” I confessed without reservation.
Finally, she turned around and I instantly fell deep into those big brown eyes. Her chestnut
hair was thrown into a loose bun and she had on a pair of loose jean paired with an old Beastie Boys
t-shirt. She was undoubtedly the most beautiful creature I had ever laid eyes on.
“See, that’s the thing, Ash. Instead of being the key to my sanity, you are reason I feel insane
all of the time.” She kept her voice calm and her stare cool. “I can’t escape this hold that you have on
me and I hate it. All I want is to be able to move on, but I just can’t…”
“Then don’t,” I offered. “Let’s try and make us work. I know I was stupid before and I didn’t
treat you right. I’m so sorry, Scarlett… so fucking sorry. It wasn’t fair of me to tell you to live your
life without me, when I knew from the moment I laid eyes on you, that you were mine forever.”
As I began to walk towards her, I could see the tears streaming down her porcelain cheeks.
“Don’t cry, Butterfly. Please, no more tears.”
I reached her in three quick strides and wrapped my arms around her shaking body, pulling
her to my chest. Neither of us said anything. We stood in the middle of the room full of instruments for
ten, maybe fifteen minutes, simply holding one other. Feeling her lithe body up against mine…
smelling her sweet citrus smell… was downright euphoric. For months I had dreamed about touching
her again, and I was going to hold her as long as she would let me.
“Scarlett?” A guy’s voice interrupted our private nirvana. “Is everything alright?”
She jumped back out of my arms and nervously began straightening her clothes. “Yeah, Joe.
Everything’s fine… just an old friend.”
“Okay, well you need to get back out to the main room. There’s a girl here needing some
help,” he said. He looked me up and down disapprovingly before turning around and exiting the room.
Scarlett looked up at me and smiled weakly. “I’ve gotta go. Keep the strings… they’re on
me.” Then she walked away.
Still in shock and disbelief, I stumbled through the main area of the store. Just before I opened
the door that led outside, she called out, “Ash!”
I twisted around to see her across the room.
“I never stopped feeling it.” She smiled, a genuine smile this time, and my heart jumped in my
chest. She went back to helping her customer and I left the store with more than just hope. I had fate
on my side.
CHAPTER NINE ~
DREAMS
Sideways ~Citizen Cope
The Only Time ~ Nine Inch Nails
Only Place I Call Home ~ Every Avenue
SCARLETT
After Ash left the shop, an unexpected peace settled over me. I wasn’t sure exactly what
happened during our encounter, but at some point, I made the decision that I didn’t want to hate him
anymore. Hearing the hurt in his voice softened my outer shell, but it was when his body crashed into
mine, that all of the good memories came rushing back. As he held me against his chest, I couldn’t
help but think back to all of the nights I spent curled up next to his body, the way he smelled, the
warmth of his breath on the back of my neck when he slept, the feel of his hand wrapped around my
waist and his legs tangled in mine… all of it. I missed the nights we spent in his room ~ talking about
everything and nothing, laughing at our favorite television shows, teaching each other how to play
new songs. I had been completely consumed by the pain and feeling of abandonment, that I had
blocked out all of the reasons that made me fall in love with him in the first place. The days
surrounding Evie’s death, I lost not just one, but two best friends.
For the rest of my shift, I couldn’t get him out of my mind. I tried… Lord knows I tried, but my
thoughts kept drifting back to Ash. Right before I clocked out for the night, Joe came up to me and
said, “Make sure to tell Rat that I got the new amp he ordered. I’ll have it delivered to Empty’s
tomorrow.”
That was when the guilt began to creep in. Even though I hadn’t done anything wrong, I knew
Mason would not be happy that Ash had been there and that he would be downright pissed that I
allowed him to hold me for a good while. But I had to tell him the truth. I didn’t want to hide anything
from him; I had already decided that if we couldn’t survive on the truth, than the relationship wasn’t
meant to be.
I loved Mason, and I wanted to be with him. From the day I had met him, he had been there for
me no matter what, and I really wasn’t sure why. He had pretty much dropped his social life except
for Jobu’s Rum, and dedicated himself to me, even though I never asked him to. And even after I left
him the awful way that I did, he took me back without reservation the minute I showed up in his bar.
No matter what connection my heart felt with Ash, I knew that Mason was the better guy for me. I
owed it to him to give our relationship everything I could, and I hoped that by forgiving Ash, I could
finally move on.
When I returned to my empty apartment, I took a quick shower and changed into my pajamas.
Crawling into bed, I grabbed my phone, getting ready for a long conversation. I hit the top name in my
favorites list and waited for him to answer. Unfortunately, after just three rings his voicemail picked
up. I left a quick message for him to call me back, and then grabbed my e-reader to pass the time.
Two hours later I finished the book I started earlier that day, and I was overjoyed for the three
main characters that all ended up with their happily-ever-after’s. Sure, relationships like that didn’t
exist in the real world, at least not in my world, but that was the great thing about fictional books ~
they were meant to be an escape from reality. The damn thing also left me all hot and bothered, and
accompanied by the fact my phone still hadn’t rang, I was frustrated and annoyed.
Not wanting to call and leave another message, I decided to text Mason instead. I hoped that
maybe he had just forgotten to turn his ringer on or something and would see the text. I laid my head
down and not-so-patiently waited to hear from him. Lingering thoughts of the book characters, Trey
and Ethan, morphed into Ash and Mason in my head, and I wished that real life could be as easy as it
was in the books. I couldn’t wait for Mason to get back the next day; things were always better when I
was with him.
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I hurried up the stairs to Mason’s apartment, anxious and excited to see him. He opened the
door before I even had a chance to knock and picked me up into his arms
“Get your little ass in here, Angel. I’ve been so excited to see you all day,” he said as he
carried me through the doorway.
Instead of responding with words I claimed his mouth with mine, open and demanding. I
wasn’t wasting any time with pleasantries and “how-do-you-dos;” I needed him and had no problems
showing him just that. Fortunately, he didn’t seem to either. As soon as he closed the door behind us,
he slammed my back up against the adjacent wall and returned the desperate kisses in kind. After
several minutes of pawing at each other and tasting every inch of exposed skin above the waist, he
pulled back slightly and I growled in frustration.
“Hold on. We need to slow down… otherwise we will be finished before I give you your
surprise,” he said teasingly.
“Surprise?” The word tweaked my interest. “What kind of surprise?” I asked.
He slid me down the front of him until my feet reached the ground. I couldn’t help but wiggle a
bit as my crotch rubbed against his hard cock on my way down.
“You little tease…” he joked and swatted my ass as I walked past him further into the
apartment.
“Oh, I’m not teasing,” I replied playfully. “Now where’s my surprise?” I looked around the
living area and dining room but didn’t see anything out of the norm.
He walked up behind me and slipped his arms around my waist. Leaning down to kiss under my
ear, he whispered, “There are a few things we need to discuss before you can get it.”
“Oh-kay… ” He continued to kiss and bite at my earlobe and neck, which made it hard to
concentrate on anything he was saying.
“Do you trust me, Angel?”
“Of course I do,” I replied without hesitation. “Especially if you keep doing that with your
mouth…”
He laughed and took a step back. Grabbing my waist, he spun me around so that we were face
to face. He bent down and lightly brushed his lips across mine. “Are you okay with being
blindfolded? It’s necessary for your surprise.”
Drowning in desire, I nodded and said, “Whatever you want. I’ll do whatever you want.”
The huge smile across his face told me that I said the right words, and I had no doubt that he
would take good care of me. His next kiss was much more brash, and I felt his eagerness and
enthusiasm for whatever he had planned. He led me to the kitchen where he had a line of six shot
glasses already filled with a clear liquid. He grabbed one and handed it to me, then grabbed one for
himself. He looked directly into my eyes with a hunger that demanded my attention.
“Angel, this is all about you and everything that makes you happy. All I ever want is for you to
be completely satisfied, so tonight I’m going to try and give you just that ~ total euphoria. All you
need to do is relax and enjoy, okay?”
All I could do was nod yet again, as my mind raced through hundreds of possibilities that
Mason could have planned. I had no idea what to expect, but I trusted him and was open to trying new
things.
“The shots aren’t to get you drunk, but it will help take the edge off in the beginning. Being
blindfolded can be a bit nerve-wracking at first, especially if you aren’t used to it.
I raised the small glass in the air in a silent toast and threw the chilled liquid down the back of
my throat. Mason followed suit and we then repeated the motion twice more, polishing off the drinks.
The warmth of the liquor amplified my already elevated body temperature, as the anticipation of what
was to come had me more turned on than I could ever remember being.
He grabbed my hand and led me into his bedroom. Immediately I noticed the three strips of
black fabric lying across the bed. Confused, I asked, “Why three?”
Once we reached the side of the bed, he stopped and faced me. The yearning in his gaze made
me feel so wanted and sexy.
“One for your eyes and one for each of your wrists.”
The nerves in my stomach began to come to life when I realized that he intended to blindfold
me AND tie me to the bed. I would be completely vulnerable to anything he wanted to do to me.
Internally I was battling my brain cycling through all of the possible consequences by allowing him to
do that and my hormones screaming just how fucking hot the entire situation was. Either Mason heard
the scuffle or my apprehension was evident on my face, because he leaned down into me and fired the
winning shot with a kiss so sensual it nearly dropped me to my knees.
“Do I get a safe word?” I asked.
Laughing, he shook his head. “You won’t need a safe word, Angel. I’m not gonna torture you. If
you want me to stop, just say so and I will. Now strip for me and climb onto the bed.”
A little relieved that he wasn’t planning anything too crazy, I quickly did as he asked. Minutes
later I was lying in the middle of the bed, stark naked, and waiting for him to restrain me. My exposed
body shivered with excitement as he straddled me on the bed, still fully clothed.
“Remember, Angel, this is all about you. I’d do anything to fully satisfy you.”
“You do satisfy me…” I tried to argue, but he cut me off.
“Shh! No talking back. As a matter of fact, no talking at all… I just want you to feel.” He
stroked my cheek with the pad of his thumb, and I closed my eyes to focus on the sensation.
“I love you, Scarlett.”
“I love you, too.”
Minutes later, I could only see black and my wrists were loosely bound to the headboard. I
heard Mason �s clothes drop to the hardwood floor and then I felt him climb onto the bed and straddle
me as he had just been. Slowly lowering his body onto mine, I could feel the heat radiating from his
him, and he was obviously extremely aroused, even though the soft cotton of his boxers still separated
us.
“You are the most beautiful fucking thing I have ever seen, Angel.”
His warm breath tickled my ear and his unrefined words made me wet instantly. Instinctively, I
moaned and arched my back into him.
“Relax, baby. Let me do all of the work.”
He then began a tortuous trail of kissing, licking, and biting, starting at my hairline behind my
left ear and moving downward at a snail’s pace. When he reached my collarbone, he drug his lip ring
across my sternum to the right side of my body, where he mirrored his previous actions. Feeling that
hardness of the metal accompanied by the softness of his lips drove me crazy. I forgot that my hands
were inaccessible on several occasions and tried to move them to his head, and each time I grumbled
in frustration which Mason found quite amusing.
After a short while, I was able to completely relax and I submitted to his seduction. My
available senses were definitely in overdrive, especially touch. Every time he touched me he left a
little fire in his wake, by the time he reached my feet, I was a scorching, sweltering mess.
I thought that I heard something at one point, but Mason began doing something incredible with
his mouth and I lost myself in the sensation. A few moments later, as he was rubbing my feet, I felt
something in the room change. Mason even paused a moment, but quickly picked back up on his
special treatment. When I felt the weight of someone else climb on the bed next to me, my body froze.
“It’s okay, Angel,” Mason said soothingly. He continued to rub and kiss my lower legs and feet.
“Trust me, on this. We’re gonna make your fucking world explode.” I slowly began to relax my tensed
muscles.
“I told you this was all about you. We are gonna worship every inch of your body.”
He continued talking to me in a calming voice until he knew I was completely accepting of the
idea. The other person had not moved or said anything since sitting next to me on the bed. I am not
sure how or why or what happened, but I found myself eagerly nodding and surrendering to my sexual
curiosity and the frantic throbbing between my legs
Mason stayed where he was at the foot of the bed where he continued to kiss and rub my feet
and legs, while the other person straddled my hips and cupped each of my breasts. I wanted so badly
to have my hands free so that I could at least feel the mystery person to know sort of what he looked
like. Mystery guy used his thumbs to tease my nipples, flicking and circling them, making them harden
immediately. His touch was soft but potent, and it felt so different but familiar. He too was still
wearing boxers, but his erection was lined up perfectly with my aching clit. When he shifted his
weight once, I moaned and pressed myself against him, trying to recreate the friction. Thankfully, he
answered my request and began rocking up and down on me, driving me closer and closer to my
orgasm. A combination of being caressed, rubbed, and stroked in so many places at the same time
quickly led me over the edge of the cliff and exploding into millions of little pieces all over the
ground.
As I lay winded and breathless, still unable to see and tied to the bed, the mystery guy leaned
down and put his lips right next to my left ear.
“Watching you cum is the sexiest thing in this universe, Butterfly.”
~
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I shot up in bed as The Lumineers screamed “Ho Hey” over and over at me from my phone
snuggled next to me in my bed. I was embarrassed at the scene that had been playing out in my head
and the real-life wet panties I had on, and thought to myself that the song would’ve been more fitting
for me had it played “Hey Ho” instead. It took me a few seconds to figure out what in the world was
going on, but when I saw Mason’s name on the caller ID, I quickly answered.
“Hey Mase.”
“Hey, Angel. Sorry it’s so late. We all went out for our last night here and I accidentally left my
phone in my room,” he over-eagerly explained.
“That’s cool. I just fell asleep reading.” I had suddenly changed my mind about complete
honesty. Surely dreams that you couldn’t control didn’t count against you and didn’t need to be
discussed. I blamed my out-of-control sub-conscious on the books. I really needed to move back to
the young adult genre for a while.
“I can’t wait to see you tomorrow,” he said longingly. “I’ve missed you like crazy.”
“Hey, Rat. There you are.” I heard a female voice through the phone. “We are waiting for you
to start the shots.” My stomach dropped, and I hoped that I was about to get a good explanation for
what I heard.
I stayed silent as he replied to her, “I’m on the phone with Scarlett. I’ll be inside later; y’all
don’t wait for me.”
“Angel, I can explain,” he said when he redirected his attention to our conversation.
“Where are you?” I demanded. “And don’t fucking lie to me.” My face grew hot; I knew I
wasn’t going to like what I was about to hear.
“On the balcony of my hotel room.”
“Who is all there with you?”
“All of the guys, Sophie, the guys from VanderBlue, Bentley, Jag, and his girlfriend, Smiley.” I
didn’t say anything so he continued. “Look Scarlett, I didn’t know they were going to be here. They
came into town today because their drummer is getting married this weekend. Jag and Bentley thought
it would be good if the two bands met, so we all hung out and had some drinks. Nothing happened.
Okay? I’m telling you the truth.” His defensiveness put me on alert.
“And now they are all in your hotel room doing shots? And that was her, wasn’t it?” I was
beyond pissed.
“Yes, that was her and yes, we all just came back here. I saw my phone as soon as I got in, and
came out to call you. I haven’t had anything to drink… please don’t freak out, Angel. We are going to
have to get used to this. You are going to have to trust me, just like I’m going to trust you.” My
stomach clenched even tighter. I thought about seeing Ash in the store followed by the dream and felt
a little guilty. Then I remembered that a girl that he had slept with numerous times was doing shots in
his hotel room in the wee hours of the morning, and my guilt subsided quickly.
“Whatever, Mason. I am the one that has to get used to it… not we. You get to live the life of a
rock star while I am stuck here at school. I go to class, study, and go to work; you practice making
music- something you love, go out drinking, and hang out with a bunch of hot women including one
you know intimately.” I said with a bite in my tone. I just wanted to get off the phone with him. I
didn’t want to be psycho controlling girlfriend, but he needed to know that I was mad. “I’m tired and I
want to go back to sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Please don’t be that way Scarlett. You know I have to do this. You’ve got to be able to deal
with these situations.”
“Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of. I’m not sure I can. Good night Mase. Please just let me go to
sleep. I don’t want to argue with you. We’ll see each other tomorrow.”
I hung up the phone and turned it off and went back to sleep, hoping when I woke up in the
morning that the phone call had been a dream as well.
MASON
Five minutes after she hung up on me and turned her fucking phone off, I was on my bike headed
east on Highway Seventy-one. I was not about to let her shut down on me over this. I was not about to
let Bentley fuck this up for me. I needed her to understand that I didn’t want to be with anyone else, as
long as I had her.
Being without her for just a couple of days was about to make me lose my mind. I didn’t know
what it was about her that stabilized me, but I knew that I couldn’t be without her. Any previous
thoughts I had about breaking up with her to set her free and let her live her life like a normal nineteen
year old had disappeared after the first day without her. I was a selfish bastard and I was going to
keep her as close to me as I could for as long as I could. Whatever it took to make us work, I would
do. I didn’t care if I had to drive to Houston a couple of times a week, if that would make her happy
and feel secure.
As I flew down the highway, I cussed myself for allowing the night to play out the way it did. I
never should’ve answered the phone. I was all ready for a night in my room, relaxing and talking to
Scarlett for a while when Bentley called. Of course I couldn’t refuse the opportunity to meet and hang
out with VanderBlue, and my friends would’ve killed me if they knew I had declined the invitation. It
turned out a really good thing that we went. I hit it off with front man, Boone, and it appeared there
was a good chance for us to join their tour for the second half, which included some international
shows as well.
I knew when Bentley invited everyone back over to my room, she had ulterior motives, but
there wasn’t much I could do except un-invite them and that would’ve been awkward. Her reason for
riding back to the hotel with me was because I was the only person that hadn’t been drinking. Again, I
couldn’t say anything without looking like a complete dick in front of everyone. She thought she was
being sexy by rubbing her fake ass boobs on my back and pressing her crotch up against me, but she
was really just annoying the shit out of me. I wondered what in the world I had been thinking when I
hooked up with her.
On the walk from the bike to the room, she kept putting her hand on my arm or my back, and I
kept moving out of her grasp, hoping she would eventually get the hint. Ultimately, she worked for
Jobu’s Rum, but we all knew that we needed her a lot more than she needed us. I couldn’t be flat out
rude to her and risk pissing her off, but I wasn’t going to fuck her again so she needed to go ahead and
stop trying. I knew that she purposely came outside to say something when she knew damn well who I
was talking to. I had only mentioned no less than five times that I had left my phone in the room and
needed to call Scarlett. Bentley was a conniving, manipulative, heartless bitch, which made her great
at her job, but I had a bad feeling she was going to try and use those same qualities to keep me from
my angel. I was determined to not let that happen.
Three hours later I pulled up to her apartment and raced up the stairs. Not caring in the least
that it was four o’clock in the morning, I began banging on her front door with my fists. I didn’t stop
until the Medusa-version of Scarlett flung the door open with an evil glare. I had to contain myself
from smiling at her, not wanting her to think I was laughing at her, but she was so adorably cute when
she was mad. Actually she was fucking hot when she was mad. My dick twitched at the sight of her in
her barely-there night clothes; I wished I could screw some sense into her about this whole situation. I
wasn’t quite sure how else to tell her that Bentley had just been a convenient fuck, nothing else, and
not a very exciting one at that. I wasn’t sure that would score a whole lot of good boyfriend points for
me either.
“What are you doing here?” She rubbed her eyes in disbelief that I was at her doorstep.
“Can I come in?” I asked.
“Well, since you came all this way…” She held her arm out ushering me inside.
I followed her into her bedroom and we both sat on the bed, looking at one another. I didn’t
waste any time, I began talking immediately.
“Scarlett, I came here to prove to you that you are the most important thing to me. You told me
you wanted honesty, and that’s what I gave you tonight, but as soon as I did, you just fucking shut
down on me. What the hell was that?” I surprised myself at the anger in my voice, and I knew I had
startled her when her eyes shot up to find mine. I continued, needing her to understand how much she
meant to me. “And what the fuck do you mean that you’re not sure you can deal with it? What’ s there
to deal with? I love you. I want to be with you. I need to be with you. We are only going to be a few
hours from each other; we will figure it out. But please don’t play these immature fucking games like
turning your phone off when you’re upset with me!”
Neither of us said anything for several minutes. I wasn’t sure if I had pissed her off by raising
my voice a bit, but shit, she needed to understand where I was coming from. Finally, after what
seemed like forever, she spoke softly, “I wasn’t trying to play games, Mason. I was upset and thought
it would be best if I calmed down before I ended up saying something I would regret later. I didn’t
mean to piss you off. I just had a long day and I was tired.” She lowered her eyes to her hands in her
lap, and I had a bad feeling that she wanted to say something else... something I wasn’t going to like.
“What is it, Angel?” I asked apprehensively.
“I saw Ash today,” she replied, refusing to look at me in the face.
So much for my fucking blood pressure. I tensed up as my pulse skyrocketed and I began boiling
from the inside.
“He stopped by the shop. He had just come in for guitar strings; he didn’t know I was there. He
told me that he was sorry again and he told me that I didn’t realize how much I hurt him,” she rambled
nervously. “It really got me thinking about how much hurt everyone felt back during that time, and I
decided that I’m tired of hating him. I needed to forgive him because that’s the only way I can move
on from the whole ordeal. So, I did. I forgave him, and I’m ready to try and put all of that behind me.”
She looked up at me and I could see the struggle in her eyes. I knew that without her hate for him, all
she was left with was love.
Not really sure what to say in response, I asked, “So now what?” I studied her beautiful brown
eyes, scared it would be the last time I would see them. I had this overwhelming fear she was about to
tell me that we couldn’t be together.
“So now we figure out how we are going to make us work. Mason, this doesn’t change the fact I
want to be with you. Just because I forgive him doesn’t mean that I will ever forget what happened. It
doesn’t mean I even like him; I just don’t need to waste any more energy hating him. The entire
situation was awful for everyone involved, you included, and it’s time to just let it be. It’s the only
way I can move on.”
Her words were what my ears begged to hear, and I did feel some sense of relief at them, but I
couldn’t help but be worried. Actually, worried wasn’t the right word; scared shitless was a more
accurate description. I honestly wasn’t sure if our relationship could survive me in Austin with
Bentley and her in Houston with Ash; something or someone was bound to try and tear us apart, but I
wasn’t giving her up easily. Things in my life were finally heading in the right direction ~ my music
career had never looked more promising and I had a girl that was just as beautiful inside as she was
on the outside. I could never be half the person she was, but she made me want to be the best I could
for her. And I wasn’t about to let anyone take her from me without a fight. I needed to get her to move
in with me in Austin, I just didn’t know how to ask.
CHAPTER TEN ~
ROOM MATES AND SOUL MATES
Better Together ~ Jack Johnson
Mirrors ~ Justin Timberlake
Crazy ~ Dave Matthews Band
SCARLETT
Mason and I didn’t finish talking until after five in the morning, and I had to wake up at eight for
class. I thought he handled the Ash conversation pretty well, but what he could he really say after
what had happened with Bentley? We had some issues we needed to work through, but I had faith that
we could.
Completely exhausted, we laid down in my bed, holding one another, for the few hours I had
left to sleep, which seemed to pass in ten minutes. After hitting the snooze button twice on the alarm, I
finally rolled myself out of bed and into the shower. Mason was sitting up on the edge of my bed,
dressed and ready to go, when I came out of the bathroom. Worrying his lip ring between his teeth and
staring off into space, there was obviously something on his mind.
I padded across the bedroom with just a towel around me to my dresser to grab a clean bra and
panties. My near naked body must’ve snapped him out of his deep thoughts because as I leaned
forward to grab my underclothes, he magically appeared behind me. Pressing me against the furniture
with his muscular body, he bent down to kiss the back of my neck and a moan escaped my lips.
“You like that, Angel?” His voice was smooth and sultry.
“Mmm hmm.” I closed my eyes and leaned my head back onto his chest.
“Come back to my place today and I’ll spend all day making sure that you feel good; you can
miss one day of classes,” he proposed. My eyes shot open at his comment about making sure I felt
good and images of the previous night’s dream flashed in my mind.
“I can’t miss, Mase. You know that…” He continued kissing and nibbling on my neck and
shoulders, and het slowly began sliding the towel down my body until I was standing naked in front of
him.
“Please, Angel, we only have two weeks before I leave and I want to spend every possible
moment together.” His hands reached around to the front of me, each cupping a breast and stroking my
nipples with his thumbs. Unable to resist the pleasure he was offering, I whimpered and arched my
back, pressing my chest further into his grasp and lifting my ass up against his evident erection.
“Move in with me,” he whispered, in between his tantalizing kisses.
At first I wasn’t sure if I heard him correctly, I twisted my body around so that I could look him
in the face. “What did you say?” I asked.
Wrapping his arms around my waist, he leaned into me and rested his forehead on mine, his
grey eyes cloudy with hunger, “Move into my apartment here. We can be together for the next couple
of weeks, and then once I move, I’ll still stay in Houston once or twice a week, and you’ll be there.
Plus you won’t need to pay for this place anymore; I’m keeping my place no matter what. It just makes
sense.”
“I don’t know, Mase. Are you sure?” I was torn between excitement and disappointment. At
first I thought he was asking me to move to Austin with him, which I would’ve done in a heartbeat, but
he obviously wasn’t ready for that level of commitment. Still, the idea that he wanted me to live in his
place locally thrilled me.
“Yes, I’m sure. I would sleep better at night knowing that you were here in my bed… in our
bed.”
He slid his hands up my back and grabbed the back of my neck, threading his fingers in my hair.
Not breaking our stare, he possessively placed his lips on mine, claiming me as his. My head was
spinning with “what ifs” and “what abouts,” but between the look in his eye and the passion in his
kiss, the decision was made for me.
“Okay,” I whispered into his mouth.
He pulled away from my mouth and looked at me disbelievingly. “Really?”
Pulling my bottom lip in between my teeth, I nodded timidly, concerned that maybe he hadn’t
been serious about the offer. However, my fears were erased quickly when he returned his mouth to
mine with fervor and his hands began roaming my up and down my back.
“Do you have any idea how fucking hot you are like this, Angel?” He asked as our mouths
broke apart.
I looked down, realizing that I was standing there naked, clinging to his fully clothed body.
Slightly embarrassed, I moved back to my dresser for another attempt to grab my clothes.
“No, I’m not, and I need to get ready for class. I’m going to be so late because of you,” I
playfully scolded him.
Somehow, between his pawing at me and kissing all over my body, I managed to get dressed in
my usual school attire ~ an old concert t-shirt, jeans, and flip flops. I grabbed a granola bar and an
energy drink for each of us from the kitchen as we made our way to the front door. I walked Mason
over to his motorcycle before heading off to campus. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to bring up the
me living at his place thing or wait for him to mention it, so I just hugged and kissed him bye like I
normally did.
“I’ll see you tonight at the bar after I meet Max,” I said, confirming the day’s plans before
walking away.
“Yeah, I’m gonna get some sleep, work out, and then I’ll head up there around six. When do you
want to get your stuff?” He grabbed my belt loops and yanked me back to him, kissing my forehead.
“This weekend, we can hire movers to move your furniture and whatever else you don’t want to a
storage unit. If you want to start bringing some of your clothes tonight, we can get the rest over the
next couple of days.” The way he said we made my stomach somersault, and the reality that I was
actually moving into his apartment began setting in.
“That sounds good,” I said, trying not to sound overly excited, as I turned to walk away. “I’ll
see you tonight then. Love you.”
“I love you too, babe.” He called after me, and I stopped dead in my tracks. I could hear him
laughing. “Am I ever going to get to call you �babe?’” I smiled to myself, shook my head, and kept
walking.
After my classes I headed to the library to do research for an upcoming paper I needed to work
on. Just as I was walking through the large glass doors, Mina was walking out and we nearly collided
with one another.
“Scarlett, I’m so glad that I saw you,” she said, giving me a big hug. “I was just about to call
you with the rehearsal dinner info, in case I forgot tonight.”
Confused, I asked, “The rehearsal dinner? I thought the rehearsal dinner was just for people in
the wedding?”
“Well, it is, but… you haven’t talked to Max, have you?”
“No, I’m actually meeting him tonight for our weekly chocolate indulgence before heading up to
Empty’s,” I explained. “Why? What’s up?”
“I think he’s going to ask you to be his guest at the dinner. He didn’t know if Rat would be in
town for the wedding, and he figured that Rat wouldn’t care if ya’ll came together. Ya know, because
he hasn’t as much as talked to another female since…” Her voice faded, unsure of the right words to
say, as she looked at the ground. I wondered if talking about Evie’s death would ever get easier for
any of us.
Breaking the awkward silence, I said, “I’ll see if he says something tonight. If not, I won’t say
anything, but I’ll definitely come with him if he asks. Mase won’t mind at all. He knows that I’ll do
anything for Max and for you.” I grabbed her hand and squeezed tightly. She smiled at me and hugged
me quickly once more.
“You’re awesome, Scarlett. I’ll see you later.”
“Sounds good. See you tonight.”
An hour later, my head was spinning with an overload of information on the string theory.
There were particle spectrums and theories of quantum gravity and super-symmetry partners and a
bunch of other shit that didn’t make any sense to me. I wondered who in the world I could get to tutor
me for this, and immediately I thought of Ash. He loved theoretical physics, and used to make me
watch an endless number of coma-inducing shows on the Science channel, claiming how incredibly
interesting they were. I didn’t get it then, and time hadn’t helped any, because it still read like a
foreign language to me. However, calling Ash wasn’t a viable option. Forgiven or not, we weren’t
going to be study partners or anything else for that matter. He was now just a part of my past.
Later that afternoon, I called my mom to let her know about my move. My relationship with my
parents continued to improve; however, it was still fragile. They didn’t trust my ability to make
mature decisions and the only thing I could do to remedy the situation was to prove them wrong. I
knew they wouldn’t understand or approve of me moving into Mason’s apartment. They had never met
Mason and I had only mentioned him to them a few times, so dropping the “hey, we are moving in
together… sorta,” wasn’t going to sit well. I didn’t want to lie to her, so I opted for the limited, vague
information route and hoped a lot of questions wouldn’t follow. Luckily, she accepted the story that I
had a friend who had pre-paid for an apartment through the school year that had to move suddenly, so
I was asked to stay there and house sit.
After hanging up with her, I began folding my clothes up and packing up bags. I couldn’t believe
that I was actually moving into Mason’s apartment ~ squee!!. I plugged my Ipod in, and danced
around my room and singing “Better Together” along with Jack Johnson as I continued to organize my
things. Before I knew it, I looked at the clock and saw it was time to meet Max. After I loaded what I
could of my clothes and necessities into my car, I wondered when or how I should tell Tessa about
my moving out. The girl was seriously never at our place, so other than the money part of it, I couldn’t
see that she would care much. I left her a note to call me and locked the door. I had spent my last night
in that apartment.
Max was waiting for me at what had become “our” table at The Chocolate Bar. He already had
my gluttonous treat and vanilla latte sitting in front of my chair when I arrived.
“Hey sweetheart, how was your day?” He stood up to hug and kiss me on the cheek when I
reached the table. He had a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eye that I had only seen once or
twice in the last couple of months.
I arched my eyebrow at him, “Really? Sweetheart? If you are going to break my nickname rule,
at least come up with something original,” I teased. “And please nothing with wings…”
He tossed his head back laughing, “Damn, if you didn’t like �sweetheart,’ I was going with
�flamingo.’
“Flamingo?!?” I screeched. “Why in the world would you call me flamingo? That’s hideous!”
He was laughing so hard he could barely talk. “Because you have skinny legs and you’re
always wearing pink.” I looked down at my shirt, and sure enough, it was pink. Damn him!
I was more excited than usual for our talk because so much had happened that I needed to tell
him about. Max was definitely the closest friend I had; he knew practically everything about me, and
what he didn’t know was just because we hadn’t covered that subject yet. I found it so easy to talk to
him, and even though I knew how great of a guy he was when he and Evie were together, I had really
come to understand why Evie had fallen in love with him so quickly.
Once we were settled and ready to overindulge in empty calories and self-gossip, I blurted
out, “I saw Ash. I forgave him.”
Max cocked his head and smirked. “Not what I was expecting from you today, but go ahead…
spill. Where? When? How? What happened?”
I proceeded to relive the previous day’s events to him from the butterfly landing on my leg to
the time Ash left the music store. I told him about how I felt relieved but how I couldn’t stop thinking
about all of the good times that we had shared.
“Do you believe in soul mates?” He asked, interrupting my rambling. I sat silent for a few
minutes as I pondered his question.
“I’m not really sure,” I began. “I have a lot of contradictory thoughts and feelings about it. I
believe that some people, for whatever reason, have an immediate attraction or connection with
another person that’s physical, mental, and emotional, even though they don’t know each other… like
on a different level. But I also don’t think that God would be so cruel to just make one person on this
planet that makes you feel like that. What are the odds that everyone is going to run into their soul
mate during their lifetime? Would he really want so many people to not have the opportunity to
experience that kind of love? Maybe you have more than one soul mate. I don’t know…” My voice
trailed off. I looked into his pain-filled blue eyes and my heart broke for him.
“I know people thought that Evie and I were crazy with how fast things moved between the two
of us,” he spoke softly, looking down at his fidgeting hands on the table. “They thought we were
young and just caught up in the passion and all that, but it was so much more. It was like the moment
we met, we had known each other forever. She really was my other half. I don’t even know how to
explain it, but I knew immediately.” He looked back up with tears threatening.
“I can only hope that your theory is right,” he continued. “I hope that there is someone else that
can make me feel the way she did, but I highly doubt it. I’m afraid I will never feel that way again.”
“Don’t say that, Max. You still have so much living to do; you don’t know who you are going to
meet or what’s going to happen.”
“I’m not saying that I will never fall in love again. I believe that you can love multiple people
in your lifetime… even at the same time,” he cocked his eyebrow at me knowingly. “But I think you
have only one soul mate.” He reached his hands across the table and grabbed mine. “You said
something today that made me realize something very important. There are thousands of people,
millions even, that never get the chance to meet their soul mate and experience the indescribable
feelings of completeness and bliss that I did, even if it was for a short time. I’ve been too busy
focusing on the time that I don’t get to spend with her rather than appreciating the time I did have.” He
smiled slightly.
“She would want you to move on Max,” I said nervously, unsure of how he would react to my
words. “She would want you to love again.”
“I know. I just feel guilty. I feel like I’m cheating on her if I even think of another girl like that,”
he explained. “It is so overwhelming that I don’t even bother. I’ve been on one date since she died,
Scarlett, and it was awful. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I refused to touch her, kiss her…
nothing… I couldn’t.”
“There’s no time table, ya know? It’s okay to still feel like that, but just know that one day you
will be ready to love again. And when that day comes, don’t be scared… don’t hold back. You
deserve to be happy.” I squeezed his hand supportively.
“Do you think Ash is your soul mate?” The question caught me completely off-guard and I just
stared at him helplessly. The look in my eye and failure to respond answered what we both probably
already knew.
“So why are you with Mason?” he continued to prod.
“Because he’s good to me and he loves me and I love him. Since the day we met he’s been
there for me, and the day I came back, he welcomed me without reservation. I’m happy when I’m with
him ~ he makes me smile and laugh and think everything is going to be okay. He makes me feel like
I’m the most important thing in the world… that nothing comes before me. No matter what I feel for
Ash, I can’t forget that he never made me first. Your soul mate shouldn’t be your dirty little secret. I
didn’t deserve to be treated like that.”
“You deserve to be treated like the incredibly beautiful person you are, Scarlett. Always.”
“I think I will be.” Grinning, I told Max my other piece of news. “Mason asked me to move in
to his apartment here in Houston, and I said yes. I’m actually moving in tonight.”
Max smiled back at me. “I’m happy with whatever makes you happy, sweetheart. Now finish
up your coffee so we can get you to your new place.”
MASON
The two weeks that Scarlett and I had together at my apartment before I left, I spent showing her
how great things would be if we lived together permanently. Despite her protests, every morning
when she showered and dressed for school, I made her coffee and breakfast. I offered to take her and
pick her up from her school each day, but she usually declined saying it wasn’t necessary. On nights
we didn’t go to the bar, we would spend the evening cooking dinner together and watching movies. I
had never before thought about living with anyone. Shit, I had never wanted any girl to even come to
my apartment, I used the bed at the bar for that, but it was different with Scarlett. In just a few months,
she had me playing house like I was Mr. Fucking Responsibility... and the kicker was I wanted to.
I assumed that the guys would give me hell about always being up her ass and not hanging out
with them other than when we were practicing, but they stayed pretty quiet. I think they all got it, plus
they were excited about the move and living in Austin. They also didn’t mind that when I was with
Scarlett, I didn’t stay out all night getting fucked up and dragging my ass to practice the next day
feeling like shit. She grounded me, made me focus, and inspired me to be a better person for her.
So our living together in Houston was like a trial run ~ if it went well, hopefully she would be
open to moving to Austin. I had decided that I was going to go there on the first of the month and get
settled in the apartment. Once I figured out my routine with rehearsals and shows and shit, I was going
to ask her to move there and go to school at UT. It wasn’t Rice, but it was still a respectable school. I
felt much better knowing that until then, she would be living in my apartment… surrounded by my
things… sleeping in my bed.. our bed.
In the blink of a fucking eye, it was the day before I was supposed to leave and I thought I was
going to be sick to my stomach. We had planned on spending the day at the house just relaxing and
hanging out together, but the weight of the pending goodbye hung heavy in the air. We were tiptoeing
around each other, neither of us wanting to actually talk about it. Even though we both knew the day
was coming, we had done a pretty good job of not thinking about it until then.
After breakfast, we sat side-by-side on the couch staring at the TV, but neither of us paid
attention to what was on. The thoughts were running so rapidly through our minds, I’m sure a
bystander could have heard the brain activity just by being in the room. I repositioned myself and
reached my arm down to touch her leg and she jumped nearly two feet in the air. Realizing what she
had done, she looked up in my eyes and I could see the worry on her face.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pull away,” she apologized sincerely. “I’m just…”
I stood up abruptly and said, “Get dressed and throw on some shoes. Let’s get out of here.”
“What? Where are we going?”
Reaching down and grabbing her hands, I yanked her up off the couch and up against my body. I
wrapped my arms around her waist and leaned down to capture her soft lips in mine. God, I was
really going to miss feeling her sexy ass body next to me every day.
“I’m not sure, but it’s a beautiful day outside, and we need some fresh air. So, go get ready.” I
playfully spanked her ass as she turned around for the bedroom and I sauntered after her to get
dressed myself.
Fifteen minutes later, she was snugly pressed against my back, arms locked around my waist,
and we were heading south on the interstate. We ended up down in Galveston, where we had lunch
overlooking the water and walking around the shops at The Strand. I couldn’t stop looking at her or
touching her; it was as if I needed to fill up on her to get me through until the next time I saw her.
At sunset, we got back on the bike and headed back towards the city. I wasn’t ready to return to
the apartment. I didn’t want to go to sleep. I didn’t want to wake up the next day. I just wasn’t ready to
leave her quite yet. Unfortunately, what I wanted and was ready for, and what was happening in
reality just didn’t match up in this fucked up situation.
I thought of the perfect place to take her as we rode back, the place my grandfather used to take
me and Marcus when we would stay over at their house. I remembered the back roads well even
though I hadn’t driven them in years. We pulled up to the dead end road and I killed the engine.
Neither of us moved off the bike. I reveled in the feel of her tight little body still clinging to mine.
“Where are we?” she whispered nervously.
“You’ll see,” I responded. “Give it just a minute.”
On cue, I spotted the lights headed in our direction. “Look,” I instructed her, pointing at the
lights off in the distance. “Do you see them?” I felt her nod her head against my back as she peaked
over my shoulder to spot them.
“Actually, here, you sit in front of me so that you can see better,” I said as I climbed off to
allow her to scoot up. I took my spot behind her and looped my arms around her waist. I kissed the
top of her head and inhaled her sweet scent. Her eyes were locked on the lights, wondering what was
going to happen, but I felt her pressing her body against mine trying to snuggle up. I groaned aloud
when she wiggled her ass against my growing cock, and she giggled. The little vixen knew exactly
what she was doing.
We continued to track the lights in the sky as they grew closer. As the plane made it’s final
descent for landing, I squeezed my arms around her tightly and leaned down to whisper in her ear. “I
love you, Scarlett. Nothing will ever change that.”
CHAPTER ELEVEN ~
UNWANTED
#Beautiful ~ Mariah Carey & Miguel
Daylight ~ Maroon 5
SCARLETT
I was so glad that Mason had forced me to leave the apartment and spend the day out with him.
We were both miserable, looking at the clock as we counted our last hours together. The fresh air,
delicious food, and mindless wandering were a great distraction from the impending separation, and
it wasn’t until I was snuggled up against him that night watching the planes take off and land did the
reality of him leaving the next day hit me.
Sitting parked on the motorcycle, emotions raced through me ~ fear, sadness, anger, love… I
was an internal wreck. I needed him to hold me and tell me he loved me, to tell me everything was
going to be okay. I wondered if I should’ve just walked away the moment I found out he was moving;
if I shouldn’t have allowed myself to become any more attached to him than I had already become. I
shook my head slightly, forcing myself to block out the doubts and uncertainties I had about a long
distance relationship working.
Mason tightened his arms around my waist just as a landing plane approached us, so low it
looked like it was going to land directly on top of us, and I felt a surge of desire shoot through me. I
needed him immediately, needed him to claim me, to show me he wanted me as his. I leaned my head
back on his chest and wiggled my ass against his crotch.
Chuckling, he dropped his head to my neck and brought his mouth just centimeters from my
ear. “What do you think you are doing, Angel?”
Shivers ran down my spine all the way to my dampening core. Pressing against him again, I
closed my eyes and moaned ever-so-lightly. “I need you now.”
“Aw fuck,” he grumbled. “You’re gonna kill me. You know that?” He dipped his head back to
my neck, but this time he bit the skin where my neck and shoulder meet. Instinctively, I clenched my
legs together and arched my back, allowing lust to take control.
I knew that Mason felt the same overwhelming need to be inside of me because after gently
kissing the sensitive area he had bitten, he wasted no time in yanking my t-shirt over my head. His
hands quickly found my breasts, and he began teasing my nipples rubbing his thumbs back and forth
until they pebbled and stuck out the top of my white lace bra. Reaching behind me, my hand found the
button on his jeans and I hastily unfastened it. I slipped my hand inside his boxers so that I could feel
his skin against mine, and I wrapped my fingers around his growing erection.
With my head still resting back against his shoulder, I turned my face slightly to take in his
facial features for what felt like was the last time. Our eyes were locked on one another and it was if
we were trying to say everything we so desperately wanted to, but were afraid to.
“Now,” I whispered, and that was all the asking I needed to do.
Mason’s hands traveled south down my body as he sucked, licked, bit, and kissed all over my
neck and shoulders. His hands reached my thighs and he hiked up my loose cotton skirt until it was
around my waist.
“Do exactly what I tell you, understand Angel?” he asked kissing the side of my forehead. Still
unable to form a coherent response, I simply nodded again.
“Lean forward and put your hands on the handlebars,” he instructed. Doing as I was told, he
reached down to my ass and grabbed my matching white thong, ripping it straight off my body. Holy.
Fuck.
I heard him unzip his jeans, tear open a foil packet, and then felt him readjust his weight on the
bike. I was still leaning forward, grasping the bars for dear life, as I anxiously anticipated the feel of
Mason buried inside me. I should’ve been appalled at myself ~ half-naked on a motorcycle out in the
open about to have sex where anyone could drive up and see at any time, but in that moment all of the
reasons why I shouldn’t be doing any or all of those things, made the situation that much sexier.
I was dripping wet before his hand ever touched me, and when his fingers met my slick heat, I
just about came apart right then.
“Fuck,” he grunted. “You like being a naughty girl don’t you?”
“Mmm hmm… for you Mase… anything,” were the only words I managed to form in between
my muffled whimpers as he spread my juices all around my aching clit and swollen lips.
He grabbed my hip bones with both hands and tilted my pelvis to where I was practically lying
flat on my stomach. Moments later I felt the tip of his cock nudging against my throbbing sex.
Expecting him to gradually work his way inside of me, I screamed when he plunged deep inside of me
with his first thrust. Still holding my hips, he slowly pulled out about halfway before slamming inside
me again. Lost in the sheer ecstasy of it all, I threw my head back and yelled, “Oh my God!”
Bringing one hand up to the nape of my neck, he gathered my hair and wrapped it around his
palm. He tugged gently on it at first causing my head to jerk back a bit, and I sucked my bottom lip in
between my teeth to keep from shouting again. Sensing how much I enjoyed him being rough with me,
he continued to thrust in and out of me while pulling my long locks and squeezing my hip. Consumed
in the passion and euphoria, neither of us said another word, our panting and sensual moans were the
only audible sounds until we both reached our breaking point.
I attempted to stay quiet as my orgasm took over my trembling body, but it was impossible.
“Mason, oh please, yeessss!” I cried out at the same time as I felt his body tense up and shake as he
emptied himself into me.
Neither of us moved for several minutes as we allowed our heartbeats to return to a normal
pace and we caught our breath. I tried to wrap my head around what had just happened. One minute
we were watching planes and the next minute I was sprawled out on a motorcycle being taken from
behind. The sex was so raw and hedonistic that I felt like I had been on a date with Deuce, my
favorite motorcycle club book bad boy, himself. Snickering to myself at the thought, I closed my eyes
and waited for him to move. He finally released his grip and slowly eased out, collapsing on top of
me.
“Lets go home and get some rest, Angel. I love you,” he said as he kissed my cheek and sat up.
After we reorganized ourselves and our clothes, we headed back to the apartment for the
dreaded last night before he left. We showered together, neither of us wanting to be apart from the
other, even for a few minutes. We spent the rest of the night holding one another, our limbs
intertwined, making sweet love, but when the sun shone through the curtains in the early morning
hours, a sick feeling settled in my stomach and I was scared again of being left alone.
MASON
Cruz showed up at ten o’clock on the dot the following morning. Of all fucking times that he
decided to be on time, this was the one instance I wanted him to be late. Scarlett and I were both
exhausted from lack of sleep, but I didn’t want to waste any time with her. I could sleep in Austin
whenever I wanted. We had eaten breakfast in silence; I had just thought the day before was tough ~ it
was nothing compared to the day of the actual move. We packed my bags into Cruz’s car and he took
off towards our new home, leaving me to say goodbye to my angel.
Standing face to face in the living room, I had no idea that leaving her would be so hard. Seeing
her sad brown eyes stare into mine only added to the pain I already felt. I kept reminding myself that I
would be back in just a week to visit, and then once I figured out what was happening with Jobu’s
Rum, I would ask her to move in with me there. I hoped I didn’t go fucking insane until then.
Not wanting to prolong the inescapable, I pulled her snugly against my chest, wrapping my arms
tightly around her petite frame. I knew she was trying to be strong for both herself and for me, which
was just another reason I loved her so fucking much.
“I will call you when I get there. I will be back next Sunday for a couple of nights, okay?” I
tried reassuring her. “We will Skype every day and you can text me anytime, for anything.”
“Okay,” she murmured into my chest.
I pulled back from her a bit so that I could look at her beautiful face one last time before
leaving. I cupped my hands around her jawline and brushed my thumb over her lips. Leaning down, I
gently placed a kiss on her full lips.
“Goodbye Angel, I love you.”
“I love you too, Mase.”
And with those final words, I traipsed down the stairs and onto my bike and drove away from
my reason to live. Life was really fucking cruel sometimes.
CHAPTER TWELVE ~
FALLING APART
I Miss You ~ Incubus
One Way or Another ~ Kate Voegele
Some Nights ~ Fun
You’re the One ~ Tyrone Wells
SCARLETT
Knowing that I would need a distraction the day Mason left, I made plans with Mina to have
lunch and go shopping with her for her honeymoon wardrobe. I didn’t want to wallow around the
apartment alone and watching Mina shop was always an entertaining adventure.
As soon as I could no longer see him driving off down the road, I went back inside and jumped
in the shower. It was when the stinging hot water hit my face that I finally allowed myself to cry. And
did I ever. I stood there for at least ten minutes and just let it all out ~ my tears flowed at an
equivalent rate as the overhead spray and my sobs echoed loudly in the walls of the shower.
Eventually, my body relaxed, my breathing returned to normal, and I was able to soap up and get out. I
threw on some jeans and a pink t-shirt, slid my feet in my flip flops and went to the living room to
wait for her.
Fifteen minutes later, I was woken up by the banging on the door and heard Mina’s voice from
the other side. “Scarlett? Are you in there?”
I jumped up and ran to let her in. “Sorry, hun, I passed out on the couch,” I explained as I
ushered her inside.
“You look like shit. You’re not going anywhere looking like that,” she said as she hugged me
and walked into the apartment.
“I don’t care what I look like. I’m just going for the company.”
“Well I care what you look like so my company will suck if you look like that. Your eyes are
so swollen you look like you’ve been sitting around hitting the bong, now come on. At least put a little
Visine in and some lip gloss wouldn’t hurt either.”
“Can’t you show me a little sympathy? My boyfriend moved out of town today,” I whined and
made a pouty face.
“Nope. You gotta learn to live on your own and I’m not gonna let you sit around and feel sorry
for yourself. You knew what you were getting into with him, you knew he was leaving. You decided
he was worth trying a long distance relationship with, so now put on your big girl panties and deal
with it,” she scolded me. “And get your ass ready, Max is meeting us at Gigi’s at the Galleria in thirty
minutes.”
I knew that everything she said was the truth, but knowing and feeling were two very separate
things. However, finding that I would get to see Max made me feel a little better, so I threw on a little
makeup and threw my hair into a messy French twist to appease Mina and we left for the mall.
Lunch with my two closest friends helped pull me out of my funk, and the delicious Asianinspired plates that we all shared didn’t hurt either. Max left after we finished the meal, claiming that
even though hours of shopping with us sounded tempting he really need to do some research for his
thesis.
Pulling me in for a hug before he headed to the parking garage, he whispered, “Whatever you
need, whenever you need it, please call me. I know you feel alone right now, but you’re not. I’m
always here, okay?”
I nodded and said, “Okay, I know,” trying my best not to start crying again. I knew he was just
trying to be supportive, and I was so thankful that I had people like him and Mina to help me through
the rough patches. He kissed both Mina and me on the cheek before heading out the glass double
doors, and the two of us girls headed for the clothing shops.
The first night sleeping in the bed alone was tough. Mason and I had Skyped while I lay there
until I could no longer keep my eyes open. He had given me a video tour of his apartment and then
sang to me about how much he missed me. We promised to talk the next morning and I disconnected
the call only to find myself suddenly wide awake. Hours passed and I just stared at the ceiling, my
mind covering every topic from family to school to religion to Mason. Finally around three or four in
the morning, my body gave up and I passed out from exhaustion.
Mason came home the following Sunday as promised and we nearly mauled each other before
he could even get through the door. I never realized that you could have a physical dependence on
another person, but my body literally ached for his touch, my lips longed for his kiss. We did not
leave the bed the entire twenty four hours he was there except to shower ~ we ate there, we talked
there, we watched TV there, and we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s bodies there. I didn’t go to my
Monday classes even though finals were fast approaching, but I didn’t care. There was no way I was
missing any time that I could spend with him.
When he left the second time, it was hard, but not nearly as bad as the first. I knew that he loved
me and that he would be back soon; I just had to keep reminding myself of that when I started to feel
lonely. I really had to buckle down with my studies with less than a month left in the semester.
Between school, work, and spending time with Mina and Max, I kept myself busy. It was at night
when I was alone in the bed that I was reminded of his absence.
Jobu’s Rum had hit the Austin music scene running. Bentley had apparently set them up to play
in some of the bigger bars and they were received well and requested often. They started booking
more and more shows which was great for Mason and the guys, but meant that he wasn’t able to talk
at night nor was he able to come home to visit. Our phone conversations had been moved to my lunch
time, which was normally around the time that he was waking up from being out late the night before.
We never went a day without speaking but I couldn’t help but feel like we were growing apart. We
even missed one another over the Thanksgiving break. I had gone home to visit my family which was
less than hour from Mason’s apartment, but Jobu’s Rum was playing the entire weekend in Dallas.
I was anxiously awaiting the first weekend of December, which was Noah and Mina’s
bachelor/ bachelorette parties, but more importantly marked the end of finals week. All of the guys
were supposed to be coming home for the party, and they had given Bentley strict instructions not to
schedule anything for them that entire weekend.
That Friday I had my two final exams. I had been a complete ball of stress due to the countless
hours of reading, minimal sleep, and having not seen Mason in nearly four weeks. I hated that we
would be split up between guys and girls for most of the night, but the important thing to me was that
he would be sleeping in bed with me that night.
When I had finally turned in my last paper, I stepped outside and grabbed my phone to check the
time. At the sight of a missed call and voicemail from Mason, my stomach dropped and I immediately
knew something wasn’t right. I listened to his message which only confirmed my suspicions.
“Hey Angel, I know that you’re probably in your finals but I just wanted to let you know that
I’m not going to be able to make it tonight. I am soooo sorry, but we have an opportunity to play for
the tour manager and record label for VanderBlue and we can’t pass this up. If they like us, it could
be life changing. I am so sorry. I will be home in the morning and will stay until Monday morning. I
love you. Call me when you get this.”
A combination of defeat, anger, disappointment, and loneliness washed over me. I hurried to
my car as the tears began splashing down my cheeks. I just wanted to go home and curl up in bed. As I
approached my car, I noticed a small package slipped under one of my windshield wipers.
Momentarily forgetting about my devastation, I grabbed the small square wrapped in brown packing
paper and bound with a rubber band. “Scarlett” was written across the front in a familiar
handwriting. Not waiting to shuffle through all of the possibilities in my head, I removed the
wrapping to find a book ~ Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. Interesting. I opened the
inside cover to find the neatly handwritten words “Fly with your own wings, Psyche. You are
stronger than you think. There will be many trials and tribulations to pass before being rewarded
with your ambrosia.”
I slid down the side of my car and sat on the concrete and read those three sentences over and
over. What did he know? How did he know? Why did reading his words after not speaking to or
seeing him for months stir feelings inside of me that I thought had been buried forever? Why did I feel
like everything was falling apart?
Reluctantly, I pulled myself off the ground, got into my car, and tossed the book onto the
passenger seat. I couldn’t even let my mind go there in that moment. The first thing I had to deal with
was my non-relationship with Mason. I understood that the music was important and that he felt
accountable to his friends, but I was tired of playing second best. I needed him to do something to
show me that he wanted this to work. Words could only go so far.
When I got home, I hit Mason’s name on my call list and braced myself for what I knew was
going to be a tough conversation.
“Angel,” he answered.
“Hey, I got your message.” I said flatly.
“I’m so sorry about this, Scarlett. You know I wouldn’t do it unless it was REALLY
important.”
Afraid I would lose my nerve if I waited any longer, I unloaded on him. “When do I become
REALLY important, Mason? I haven’t seen you in over a month. You told me you would come home
every week and I have seen you once.”
“Angel, you know that I have to do these shows. Right now it’s about getting us out there as
much as possible. I miss you like crazy, there’s nothing I want more than to come home to you, but
when I agreed to commit to this with these guys, I didn’t know...”
“Yeah, I get that. I know I wasn’t around, and I really do understand, but it doesn’t change the
fact that I always come after them and the music, and I’m tired of never being first. I don’t want to
sound like a selfish brat, but it’s like you’re not even trying. You do whatever your whore of a manger
tells you to do, like her little puppet. If you turned down one show would it be THAT big of a deal in
the grand scheme of things? No, it wouldn’t, but you’re too afraid of standing up to her for some
reason, and I’m the one that gets to sit here alone. You moved me into this apartment claiming it
would be easier for us to be together the nights you stayed in Houston, but the problem is you’re
NEVER in Houston. Instead I get to look around this place and be reminded of you all the time and the
fact that you’re not here! “
“Angel…” he tried to cut in.
“Stop, let me finish. This isn’t what I signed up for, Mason. I love you and I miss you and I
want to be with you, but this isn’t being with someone. One five minute phone call a day isn’t a
relationship. I feel like you’re ready to move on with your life, and I don’t blame you for that. I know
you love your music and I really hope that you become a huge success. But I can’t help but feel like I
don’t fit into that future. You’re there and going places; I’m here and going to school.”
“Hang on one sec, someone’s knocking on the door,” he said. I rolled my eyes and sighed.
I heard him answer the door and then several male voices in the background. Mason then said
to his friends, “I’ll be right there… yeah, I know… I’ll meet you in the car in five.”
“Okay, sorry, that was Cruz. He’s ready to go.”
“Yeah, I heard and please stop saying you’re sorry for everything. God, it makes me feel awful
that you’re always having to apologize to me,” I said frustrated at the entire conversation. “Look, go
do what you’ve gotta do. You’ve got people that need you. I just want you to really think about what
you want and where you see this going. I can’t do this by myself and that’s what I feel I’m doing right
now. So let me know what you want, but something’s gotta change, Mase.”
I hung up the phone without saying anything else and before he could reply. Ten seconds later it
vibrated in my hand with a text.
Mason (3:22PM): You forgot to say I love you.
Me (3:23PM): You know I love you, but sometimes that’s not enough.
Mason (3:35PM): Don’t be stubborn. I love you.
I decided to take a nap before going to Mina’s party. I felt terrible, I didn’t know what to think
about anything anymore, and I just wanted to sleep and make it all go away for a little while. I didn’t
think I was being unreasonable to want to see him more than once a month, to talk to him for one short
phone call each day, but I also knew that I was playing with fire by basically giving him an ultimatum
~ change or else. I laid my head down on the pillow and passed out within seconds.
The room was pitch black when I woke up. I looked over to the alarm clock and saw that it was
eight fifteen. Shit! I had slept way too long! I sent Mina a quick text that I was running a bit late and
would meet her at nine thirty, and began getting ready. I had never been to a bachelorette party before;
Mina was my only crazy friend getting married at twenty. I wasn’t sure quite what to wear, but I knew
that we were going to a dueling piano bar to begin the night. Mina had told me that she had a fake ID
for me, and I hoped that it wouldn’t be an issue. Nonetheless, I opted to dress up quite a bit more than
I normally did, in hopes I looked a little older.
An hour later, I was dressed in a form fitting black sleeveless dress that hit mid-thigh with
black strappy heels. The dress was very plain in the front, but the back was absolutely stunning~
completely fabric-less down to the small of my back. I applied my makeup heavier than I usually
wore it and styled my hair in an up-do with loose hanging tendrils to leave my back exposed. Looking
in the mirror, I hardly recognized the young woman staring back at me. Evie would’ve been so proud
at how I looked, but I couldn’t help but wonder what she would think about everything else going on. I
hadn’t had time to mentally revisit my last conversation with Mason since waking up from my nap,
and as the insecurities and uncertainties of where my life was going loomed over me, I took a deep
breath and put up a mental block. I didn’t have time to analyze any of that. I needed to go out and have
a good time and ensure that Mina had a memorable night. I needed a break from thinking.
At a little after one in the morning, the limo pulled up to Empty’s and all of us girls spilled out,
giggling and acting silly from way too much alcohol consumption. We had a blast at the piano bar
singing and dancing, and had ended up spending the entire night there before coming to our home
base. We were supposed to meet Noah and all of the guys from the bachelor party there for a night
cap. As usual, the guys had claimed their normal table, each sitting in the same chair they always sat
in.
Even though I knew they had seen us come in, I jokingly sneaked up behind Max and put my
hands over his eyes and whispered, “Guess who.”
“Hmmm. I bet it’s someone that’s dressed in pink,” he joked.
“Wrong. No pink at all tonight,” I said laughing as I dropped my hands and allowed him to spin
around and face me.
“Wow! Look at you girls. Impressive,” he complimented all of us standing around the table.
Mina was already in Noah’s lap licking his neck like a ravenous nymph. I couldn’t help but chuckle at
the two of them. Max slung one arm around my shoulder and joined me in laughing at the PDA clinic
being put on by the engaged lovebirds.
All of a sudden, my face got really flushed and I felt a bit nauseous. Assuming it was the
excessive amount of alcohol that had finally caught up with me, I excused myself to the restroom to
splash my face with water and cool off. While I was in the stall, I checked my phone to see that I had
missed a call and message from Mason. I felt bad for acting selfish and immature earlier in the day
and wanted to tell him how much I loved him and couldn’t wait to see him in the morning. Without
listening to the message, I hit the “call back” button on my phone and waited for him to answer
“Hello?” a female voice said into the phone, and I immediately knew who it was.
“Let me talk to Mason, Bentley,” I demanded.
“He’s in the shower right now. Can I take a message?” She asked in a fake ass sweet voice.
“Really? He’s in the shower? Where are y’all?” I had only thought my face was flushed before.
She was going to cause me to burst into flames I was so hot.
“We are at his apartment. Is this Scarlett?”
“Yes, this is Scarlett. Why are you there and why is he in the shower?” Alcohol had pretty
much erased any filters I may have normally had when speaking to her.
Giggling into the phone, she said, “We have been celebrating Jobu’s Rum invitation to go on
tour with VanderBlue and things got a little out of control so he needed a shower.”
“Who’s all there? Let me talk to Cruz or Sophie.” I spat.
“It’s just me and Rat here, Angel,” her voice morphed from sugary sweet to mega-bitch. “He
and I had a long talk tonight, and I think it’s time you just flew on along to someone else. He’s gonna
be gone for the next six months and doesn’t have time to babysit or worry about you anymore. Don’t
worry though, I’ll be sure to take good care of him. I’ve had plenty of practice and know just what he
likes.”
Just then I heard Mason’s voice in the background call out, “B? Where are you? Bring me that
towel right now!”
In a whisper, she returned to the phone and said, “Gotta go, he’s ready for round two,” before
hanging up on me.
Sitting there staring at my phone, my body began to tremble with pure rage. I could not believe
the conversation that had just taken place. He didn’t even have the decency to talk to me and tell me
he didn’t want to do this anymore before hooking up with her of all people. I couldn’t believe that had
just happened. What was I going to do? Where was I going to live? Holy shit.
I didn’t know what to do next, but I knew that sitting in the bathroom stall alone wasn’t going to
fix anything. I decided that I needed another drink, and I would just deal with all of it later. It was the
only thing I could think of to numb me to the overpowering despair that was slowly taking over.
I rejoined the party out in the bar, trying to look like nothing had happened, that my life had not
just changed with one phone call. Unfortunately, Max knew something was wrong the moment he saw
my face.
He motioned for me to go join him and I scurried over to his chair.
“What’s wrong? What happened?” he asked concerned.
“I need a drink,” I answered.
“Ok, I’ll get you a drink, but what happened? You were in such a good mood when you got
here.”
“It’s over between Mason and me. He’s with Bentley again,” I replied emotionless. Operation
shutdown was underway.
“What do you mean?” he asked unbelievably.
“I just got off the phone with �em. Jobu’s Rum is going on tour with VanderBlue and Mason and
Bentley got back together tonight,” I answered. Turning around to look at him, I pleaded with him,
“Can we get out of here? I just want to get somewhere so that I can drink until I pass out. I just want to
not think about anything for a while.”
Without saying another word, he grabbed my hand and pulled me through the bar, out the door,
and put me in his car. Luckily my car was already close to his place, since he lived at the same
apartment complex as Noah and Mina. We pulled into his parking spot after a short, silent road trip
and I followed him inside. He led me straight to the kitchen and grabbed two shot glasses from the
cabinet.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” His piercing blue eyes had just as much pain in them as I
felt.
“Pour them,” I responded.
He grabbed a bottle of tequila out from the freezer and filled up each of the tiny glasses. We
both grabbed one and held it out in the air to toast.
“To forgetting it all… at least for tonight,” he offered.
“To forgetting it all,” I repeated. We clinked our glasses together and tossed the potent liquid
down the backs of our throats, slamming the empties to the bar. I shuddered as I felt the burn down my
spine, but couldn’t help but smile a bit once it had settled.
Max held up the bottle and asked, “Another?”
Greedy to further escape the sorrow and destruction I felt, I nodded yes.
Six shots later for each of us, Max and I had moved to the couch in his living room, joking
around, flipping through the channels. I had stolen the remote from him when he had left it on a sports
talk show for entirely too long, and he lunged at me to try and get it back. I unsteadily jumped off the
couch, just out of his reach and took off running around his apartment trying to keep it from him. He
chased after me, and due to the lack of places to run and my being way more than a little tipsy, he had
me cornered quickly. We were both laughing so hard we could barely move, but instead of conceding
defeat, I made a final attempt to escape. As I tried to run by him, he slung his arm around my waist
and tackled me into the couch.
I couldn’t stop giggling as he tried to wrestle the remote away out of my hands. Lying flat on my
back with him straddling my thighs, he tried to use his weight to hold me in place. Changing his
strategy, he began to tickle me to see if I would drop the treasured item, which I did… over the arm of
the couch above my head.
“You little brat!” he joked. He stretched his body forward , hovering over mine, and reached
over the furniture to grab the remote off of the floor. As he brought his arm back over and rocked his
weight backwards, his body rubbed against mine and I whimpered. His stormy eyes shot to mine and I
swallowed hard .
He relaxed his body so that he was lying on top of me, but not crushing me with his weight. Our
faces were mere inches from one another, and I couldn’t do anything to control the pounding of my
heart or the fluttering in my stomach. He leaned his forehead down so that it was touching mine.
“Scarlett,” he breathed.
“Max,” I whispered back.
In the few silent moments that followed our names being spoken, as we looked helplessly lost
in each other’s eyes, the thought crossed my mind that these drunken tequila nights I had read about
over and over again never ended up good. But despite that knowledge, when he brought his hand to
my face and began brushing his thumb back and forth on my cheek, I closed my eyes and leaned my
face into his touch. I felt his cock jerk against my thigh and I muffled my moan.
“Look at me Scarlett,” he said quietly. I opened my eyes and looked at his handsome face.
“I wanna kiss you so fucking bad right now,” he confessed. His words made me clamp my legs
together, trying to ignore the building ache.
Allowing the tequila to block out all the reasons why his idea was a really horrible one, and
instead remembering what we had toasted to with our first shot of the night ~ to forgetting it all, I
selfishly replied, “Then kiss me.”
MASON
I had been looking forward to going home to see Scarlett since the minute I had left her the last
time. Living apart was fucking killing me; I had already decided when I went back for the bachelor
party weekend, I was going to ask her to move in with me since her semester was over. I just couldn’t
handle it anymore. My stress level when I wasn’t with her was out of control, and I had basically
become a dick to be around. I was constantly struggling internally about the right thing to do by her or
by the band, and knew that if she lived in Austin with me, I could do both.
I hated the fact that I wasn’t able to make Noah’s bachelor party, but even more because it
was one more night that I spent away from Angel. I had good intentions of going back to see her at
least weekly, but our schedule had been so incredibly busy, that all I did was eat, sing, and sleep.
However, I knew when Bentley had told me who was going to be at the show and why we had to
play, that there was no option. I had called the guys and told them about the delay and we got our
asses ready as soon as possible.
The afternoon phone conversation with Scarlett had gone less than ideal. I knew she was
frustrated with how the first month had gone, shit, so was I, but I had no idea she was as pissed as she
was. How could she even think that I didn’t see her as a part of my future? Did she even listen to me
when I talked to her sometimes? I knew that I just needed to get through this performance and then I
could get home to her to talk, and possibly fuck, some sense into her. I didn’t want to be without her
for another day.
Knowing what was at stake in that one performance ~ the opportunity to open for a charttopping band, I felt nerves in my stomach for the first time in years before grabbing the microphone. I
knew halfway through our first song that we were on and sounded good, I only hoped the people who
mattered agreed. We waited in a back room for Bentley after our set, not sure if we would find out the
decision immediately. After what seemed like hours, she walked in with a huge smile on her face and
told us to pack out bags because we were going on a long road trip.
Elated does not even begin to describe the overwhelming feeling of joy that I experienced
when I heard the words come out of her mouth. After we all congratulated one another, I couldn’t wait
to call Scarlett and tell her the good news, even though I knew she was out with Mina and the girls. I
hoped she’d at least have a chance to check her messages at some point. Hearing her voice on the
greeting brought a smile to my face and I left her a short message.
“Hey Scarlett, please give me a call when you get a chance. I’ve got something important I
want to tell you.”
I headed back to my apartment to get a good night’s rest before making the drive the following
morning. I had just gotten settled and was about to jump in the shower when I heard a knock on the
door. Assuming it was one of my band mates, I opened the door with just a towel wrapped around me
to see Bentley standing there in a nearly sheer night gown.
Her eyes roaming up and down my body, she asked, “Do you have any milk I can borrow?”
she purred.
“Milk? Really? At nearly two o clock in the fucking morning, you need milk?” Her attempts to
get me to sleep with her were borderline pathetic, and I was getting tired of telling her to leave me
alone. It also pissed me off that she asked for milk because that made me think of Scarlett and her
milk obsession, and I remembered that it was Bentley’s fault I hadn’t seen her in over a month.
Pushing her way past me in to my place, “God, you don’t have to be such an asshole. Fine, I’ll
leave you alone. You got all fucking boring anyways. What did she do to you? Suck all of the fun out?
You don’t drink, smoke, go out… nothing anymore. What kind of rock star are you supposed to be?”
Ignoring all of her ridiculous questions, I replied, “Help yourself to what you need from the
kitchen, I’m getting in the shower. Lock the door on your way out please.”
When I got out of the shower I noticed that the towel I had out was missing. That fucking bitch. I
yelled out, “B? Where are you? Bring me that towel right now!”
I climbed back into the shower to be hidden from her and a minute or so later she sauntered in
with my towel across her arm. “Oh come on Rat, its not like I haven’t seen you naked before. You
are pathetic.”
“Fuck you, Bentley. Just do your job and leave me alone. Get out of my apartment like I already
told you to do.”
Thirty minutes and a beer later I had calmed down from the B incident, but was concerned that
Scarlett still hadn’t called or texted back since my last message. Going on tour changed things quite a
bit, but that didn’t change the fact I wanted her with me all the time. I hoped she was ready to visit a
lot of new places. My biggest concern was her taking time off for school, but an opportunity to travel
like that was once in a life time and I hoped she be up for the adventure.
Crashing in my bed for what I hoped was the last time alone, I fell asleep thinking about my
angel curled up in my arms.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN ~
BAD DECISIONS
Collide ~ Dishwalla
Gone Gone Gone ~ Phillip Phillips
Scene Two: Roger Rabit ~ Sleeping With Sirens
Whatever It Takes ~ Lifehouse
SCARLETT
Max’s lips crashed onto mine as we became a needy, voracious mess of mouths and hands and
limbs. We pulled and tugged at each other’s clothes as we kissed, sucked, and bit each other like wild
animals. Moments later we were both stripped naked and I was lying underneath him, reveling in the
feel of his skin against mine. Over the next twenty minutes, our actions were completely thoughtless. I
was Kiera, he was Kellan, and all thoughts of Denny or Mason or anyone else were totally buried
under the alcohol, and the combination of our need to feel wanted and our want to feel needed.
We groped and caressed one another until neither of us could resist the desire to be intimately
connected. With our bodies glistening in sweat, our labored breaths gasping for air, and our
intoxicated minds lost a million miles away; Max positioned himself between my legs and buried
himself inside of me in one swift thrust. We both screamed out at his initial entrance as my body
stretched to accommodate him. After pulling out slightly, he plunged back inside of me, and several
strokes of his hips later, he had established a steady rhythm. We were lost in the madness of the entire
experience, eyes closed, forgetting it all.
As I felt my climax building, I wrapped my legs around his hips, holding his body close to
mine. He buried his face into my neck and my fingers ran through his hair, tugging gently.
“Oh my God, Sam, you feel amazing,” he growled into my ear.
I froze instantly at his use of Evie’s nickname for me. My eyes flew open, and I saw his
equally-panicked face staring back at me. Neither of us said a word or moved an inch for a few
moments. I sobered up immediately, suddenly aware of my surroundings and the happenings of the
previous day and night.
“I’ve gotta get out of here,” I whispered.
He nodded, and I could see the guilt wash over his face. “I’m sorry,” was the only thing he
said before rolling off of me and disappearing into the bathroom. I scurried up off of the couch and
put my clothes on as fast as possible. I rushed across the parking lot to the safety of my car. I was
definitely going to be sick, and I only hoped I could make it home first.
It was then that I realized that I didn’t have a home anymore. I obviously couldn’t live at
Mason’s place. Oh… Mason. Thinking his name made my heart and my head hurt. What had happened
since I last talked with him on the phone? I couldn’t believe that he would just make the decision to
go ahead and move forward with his life like I suggested without telling me. I should’ve demanded to
talk to him, to make him tell me that he didn’t want to be with me, but hearing her voice in my drunken
state, just ripped my heart out. Not only did he want to move on, but he had already gone back to her. I
felt stupid and humiliated.
And then more drinking… more bad decisions… Max.
I couldn’t allow myself to start to think about what had just happened. I drove to my soon-tobe old apartment just in time to lose the contents of my stomach in the toilet. After several minutes of
alternating between actual vomiting and the just-as-awful dry heaving, I cleaned my mouth out and
began moving in auto-pilot mode. I began throwing my things in bags, grabbing only what I needed.
Taking one last look around before leaving Mason’s place for the final time, I began to cry. Hard.
I flew down the stairs, retreating to my car once again, threw my bags in the back, and
collapsed into the driver’s seat. I’m not sure how long I sat there and cried, but I could see the sky
begin to lighten as the sunrise teased the horizon. My brain was moving so fast that I couldn’t focus on
any one thing. My heart was beating so hard in my chest I was afraid I was having a heart attack. I had
millions of questions and no answers. I was completely alone… like only one other time in my life.
Sobbing uncontrollably, I reached across the passenger seat to the storage compartment to get
some tissues, when I saw the book sitting there. With everything that had happened in the day, I had
completely forgotten about the package Ash had left on my car. Forgetting my original objective, I
picked it up and opened it to read the message he had written inside.
“Fly with your own wings, Psyche. You are stronger than you think. There will be many
trials and tribulations to pass before being rewarded with your ambrosia.”
I’m not sure why or how or what or anything else about that moment, but instantly I knew what
I needed to do. I grabbed my phone and made the call.
“Hello?” He answered sleepily.
“I need you.”
ASH
My phone ringing before the sun came up was never a good thing, especially on a Saturday. It
usually meant someone was in jail or in the hospital, neither of which I felt like dealing with… at any
time really. I reached over and grabbed it off the bedside table and answered without even looking at
the caller ID; I was putting ten to one odds that it was my dad.
“Hello?”
“I need you.”
Hearing Scarlett’s voice on the other side of the phone, I shot up in bed and was instantly
awake and alert.
“Scarlett? What’s wrong?” I asked, my heart pounding as I was both excited to hear from her
and fearful that something was seriously wrong.
“I don’t even know where to start,” she began, sniffling in between words. Knowing someone
had made her that upset, that she was crying and most likely alone at a ridiculous hour, filled my body
with rage. I was gonna kill whoever did this to her.
“Where are you? I’m coming to get you.” I was out of bed, throwing on my jeans and t-shirt as I
spoke. I needed to get to her as quickly as possible.
“No, you don’t need to do that. I can meet you somewhere. I just need… I don’t know what I
need… I’m a mess,” she said as she broke down again.
“Scarlett, I’m coming to get you right fucking now. You aren’t driving anywhere in that
condition. Where are you?” I demanded.
“I’m in my car at Mason’s apartment. The address is …”
I tuned her out at that point. I knew the fucking address. I had made sure she got home safely
from work enough times over the last month to know where the God damn apartment was. Ever since
he had moved away and she was living alone, I had taken it upon myself to make sure that she made it
home safely on the nights she worked late. Knowing she was driving home alone close to midnight
scared me and I wasn’t about to let anything happen to her.
Less than ten minutes later I pulled up in front of her parked car and saw her sitting inside. The
entire drive over was a blur, I was completely focused on my final destination. I didn’t even turn the
engine off in my car; I jumped out and approached the driver side door. She looked up at me through
the window with puffy, red eyes and mascara-streaked tear lines down her cheeks. I opened the car
door and didn’t wait for her to say a word. I scooped her up out of the seat into my arms, and cradled
her to my chest.
“It’s okay, Butterfly. I’ve got you now. It’s gonna be alright.” I whispered into her hair as I
walked her to my car and set her on the passenger seat. “Do have anything you need to bring with
you? We will get your car later.”
“I have my bags in the back seat,” she mumbled.
I hurried back to her car and grabbed the three large bags, loaded them into my trunk, and slid
into my seat. Looking over at her, I didn’t want to push her to tell me what was going on, but I wanted
her to get cleaned up and comfortable. From the looks of her, she hadn’t showered or slept from the
night before.
“Is it okay if I take you back to my house? I think you need a shower, a meal, and a nap and then
we can figure out what’s going on.”
I truly expected her to tell me no, to give me reasons why she shouldn’t or couldn’t, but instead
she just nodded. She was completely defeated, and my heart broke for her. No matter what her and my
relationship status was, her happiness was paramount. I would do anything to ensure that she was
content and completely enjoying life, as hard as that was for me sometimes.
Just before the sun finally became fully visible, we arrived at my house, and I looked over to
tell her that I would get her inside, to find her passed out against the window. I scurried over to the
opposite side of the car, lifted her up, and carried her inside. Of course Jess was leaving for her
morning run at the same time that I walked through the living room with Scarlett.
“What in the world are you doing up?” She stopped mid-stride on her way to the kitchen when
she noticed who I was holding. She looked up at me and smiled, knowingly and sympathetically.
“Be careful, Ash. I know how you feel about her, but I don’t want you getting hurt either.” She
squeezed my arm as she walked past me, resuming her mission to fill her water bottle.
I continued down the hall to my room, where I laid Scarlett on my bed. After retrieving her bags
from my car, I tried to nudge her to get her stir, but she wasn’t reacting whatsoever so I decided to
just let her sleep. She could shower and eat once she rested some. Not knowing what to do with
myself at that point, since I was wide awake and dying inside to know what had happened to her, I got
out my sketch pad and began to draw the face that graced my dreams on a regular basis. The face that
I was searching for before I even knew I was looking. The face that was sleeping in my bed at that
moment. The last face I wanted to see every night before going to sleep, and the first face I wanted to
see every morning.
A couple of hours and six drawings later, she rolled over and attempted to open her eyes.
Shutting them quickly and hiding her face into my pillow, she groaned. “Ugghhh… turn the lights off
please. My head is pounding.”
Unsure of how much she would remember or what kind of mood to expect her in, I approached
the bed and gingerly sat down next to her. “The lights are off Scarlett. It’s just the daylight outside,” I
said softly.
She tilted her head enough that one eye peaked out at me. “I’m so sorry I bothered you. I will
get myself together and get back to my car and be on my way.” Her voice was still shaky and
scratchy.
“Stop. Just stop,” I wasn’t going to let her run from me again. “You are gonna get up and take a
shower while I make you something to eat. You don’t have to tell me right now what happened, but I
know something did otherwise you wouldn’t have packed up all your shit from that fucker’s apartment
and called me crying in the middle of the night. Now I’ve left you some pills for your head and a glass
of water on the table. Your bags are on the chair over there but if you need anything of mine, you
know where it is. I haven’t changed anything.”
I got up and went to the kitchen, hoping she would listen. I needed to talk to Jess and Meg as
well to let them know I was going to tell Scarlett she could stay as long as she wanted. I would sleep
on the couch or whatever, but I was going to be there for her this time. I had sworn to myself I would
never let her down again, and this was my chance to show her. What the fuck had happened?
Jess and Meg were both sitting at the kitchen table as I emerged from the hall, and they
awkwardly stopped talking as soon as they saw me. I rolled my eyes at their obviousness.
“Come on, out with it,” I said as I began getting out ingredients from the refrigerator. “What are
y’all whispering about? What story have you come up with? �Cause I’m curious as hell too.”
Setting the food down on the countertop, I looked up at their faces and smirked. Just as Jess was
about to say something, I heard my bedroom door open and close followed by the bathroom door and
I smiled at the small victory. She was at least going to stay long enough to shower and eat.
“What happened? How did it happen?” Meg asked.
“Yeah, why were you carrying her in, passed out, at six o’clock this morning? Where did you
get her?” Jess added.
I continued working in the kitchen, throwing together a grilled ham and cheese with some soup,
as they peppered me with questions I didn’t have many answers for.
“She called me early this morning and said she needed me, she was in her car at her and Rat’s
apartment with her shit packed up, and from the smell of her she had quite a bit to drink. So I brought
her back here. She passed out in the car and she’s been out cold up until about ten minutes ago.” I
looked up at them and shrugged. “That’s all I got. I’ll do whatever she needs me to do.”
“Like I said this morning Ash, be careful,” Jess warned. “I don’t want you getting your hope
up for something that’s not gonna happen.”
“I want her to be happy and healthy, Jess. That’s it. If I can help her be one or both, I will do
everything I can to do just that.
“Well, I like her and want her to stay, so I’ll help keep her here Ash,” Meg chimed in, as she
folded her long, dangly legs underneath her. “Just tell me what to do.”
“Thank you, Meg, I appreciate the offer, but I’m not looking for a hostage or kidnapping
scenario here. We don’t have to keep her here, but I want her to feel welcome for as long as she
needs to stay.” I finished up the food just as I heard the shower turn off. “I’ll keep y’all updated if I
find out any more.” I turned my focus to Jess and pleaded with her, “You know what’s coming up on
Tuesday. I don’t think this is related, but when that happens, I’m scared I’m gonna lose her again.
Forever. Please.”
I knew she couldn’t tell me no when she knew what this meant to me. I also knew that it was
hard for Jess to see Scarlett because she reminded her of Evie. It had gotten easier for her as she had
gotten used to seeing her at Empty’s over the last four months. I had stopped going after she and I had
our discussion in the parking lot. I didn’t want to see her there with him, I was glad to hear that she
had seemed to be happy, but I didn’t need it thrown in my face either. Jess and Meg would tell me
when they saw her, and that was good enough for me.
“You don’t fuck this up either, you got it?” she replied.
“Yeah, I got it,” I said, chuckling. There was no way in hell I was gonna fuck this up. I put the
dishes on a food tray and took it back to my room; I assumed that Scarlett wasn’t going to be in the
mood for socializing quite yet.
She was sitting in the middle of the bed staring off into space when I walked in carrying the
tray. I didn’t like the empty look on her face one bit.
“Here you go, Butterf-.” I stopped myself before completing the word. “I brought you some
food. Do you feel better after your shower?”
“The bed,” she responded, still not looking at me.
“Huh?”
Turning her head and locking her big sad brown eyes on mine, she said, “The bed. You said
nothing had changed, but this is a different bed.”
“Yeah, I got a new bed a while back.” I hoped she would not ask anything else about the bed. I
scooted the tray in front of her. “Wanna watch TV or something while you eat?”
“Can you play me something? I think I need music therapy right now.” A half-smile played on
her lips as she took the first bite of sandwich. “Mmmm… I was so hungry.”
“Good. You look like you need to eat.” I grabbed my acoustic and sat down on the chair. “What
kind of music therapy do we need?”
“Something chill… nothing too sappy,” she said in between bites. “Why did you get a new
bed?”
Ignoring her question, I began playing for her, loving the smile spreading across her face. Hoping the
lyrics of the Sleeping With Sirens song I had recently learned would inspire her to not only open up to
me, but to remind her that she had ultimate control of her life.
The last thing I meant to do was to make her cry, but when I looked up after the last chord, the
tears were pouring down her face. I quickly set the guitar down and went to her side on the bed,
wrapping my arms around her and holding her close to my chest.
“It’s gonna be okay, Scarlett. I promise, it’s gonna be okay.” I attempted to soothe her.
“I don’t know what I’m doing Ash. Everything that I believed about my life yesterday morning
is no longer true. I no longer have a boyfriend, a best friend, or a place to live. I know damn well that
I’m to blame for all of it… I just don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know where to even start,”
she confessed. “I’m just so tired of everything. I wanted to leave town last night so fucking bad. I just
wanted to drive away… just like last time shit happened, but I didn’t. NOOOO… instead I stayed and
involved you in my mess. I’m really sorry.”
“Don’t say you’re sorry again. I’m serious- that’s enough. I’m glad you called me and didn’t
leave.” I rested my chin on the top of her head as I squeezed her tighter. “Okay, what’s first? A place
to live? You can stay here as long as you need to. I will sleep on the couch to make you more
comfortable. What’s next? Do you have any finals left?”
She shook her head, “No, I just finished yesterday. I just have Mina and Noah’s wedding next
Saturday.”
“So you don’t have anything between now & then?” I asked, the wheels in my head were
working in overdrive.
“No.”
“Do you want to go to California to my sister’s house just to get away from all of this for a
few days? Give you a chance to think about things clearly.” I offered.
She pulled away from my grasp and stared up into my face. “Are you serious?”
“Dead,” I replied, quickly losing myself in the closeness of her.
“When?”
“Today.”
“Let’s go,” she agreed.
Less than an hour later we were both dressed, packed, and on our way to the airport.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN ~
Down ~ Jason Walker
Who’s Going Home With You Tonight ~ Trapt
SCARLETT
When Ash asked me if I wanted to go to California to get away from everything for a few
days, the idea sounded perfect. I didn’t want to face anyone, I didn’t want to have the conversations
that needed to be had, I just wanted to run as far away from it all as possible. However as I sat in the
terminal of the airport, I began to have second thoughts about my hasty decision.
I had pretty much been silent for the entire day since we had left Ash’s house. He had taken
care of everything at ticketing and check-in, only asking for my driver’s license on several occasions.
I followed him around like a lost puppy, which wasn’t too far from how I felt. My life was in
shambles and I was putting my trust in the one person that I knew could drag me down even further.
Sounded like a brilliant plan.
“Do you want to talk about it anymore?” Ash asked sincerely as he turned to face me in the
uncomfortable blue chairs that we waited in.
I continued to stare straight ahead out the window at the planes taking off and landing. My
thoughts drifted off to the memory of Mason’s last night in Houston when we had sat on his
motorcycle doing the same thing. Well, we did more than just sit, but nonetheless, the planes made me
think of how happy we were together that night and how I had really thought we had a chance to make
it work. If I’d had any tears left, I definitely would’ve been crying, but instead I just sat there
expressionless.
“Whenever you’re ready Scarlett,” he said with a small smile. “No rush.”
I tilted my head slightly so that our eyes met and my stomach tightened. Once he knew what I
had done with Max, he would lose all respect for me, and I didn’t even want to think about how Jess
or Evie’s parents were going to react. I was realizing that with one drunken bad decision, I had pretty
much alienated myself from the majority of the people in my life who cared about me. I wasn’t even
sure if I would be welcome at Mina’s wedding the next weekend. Max was one of Noah’s
groomsmen, and I honestly had no idea where in the world we stood at that moment.
“Why are you helping me?” I asked him.
“I consider you my friend, Scarlett. I help my friends when they need me.” Ash shrugged and
looked away.
“So any friend that you had in need of help, you would take to your sister’s house across the
country?” I cocked my head, almost daring him to answer affirmatively.
His blue eyes snapped back to mine and without him saying a word, I knew. I needed him to
say it though.
“You know it’s different,” he said softly. “You’re different. And I let you down once; I won’t
do it again.”
Reaching his hand out towards me, he pushed my hair out of my face and tucked it behind my
ear. As his fingertips lightly brushed my skin, a tingling sensation ran down the length of my body and
I shivered in response. He quickly pulled his hand away and turned his attention back to the window.
Saved by the announcement that it was time to board, we both quickly grabbed our carry-ons and
eagerly stood up to get in line.
After we were settled in our seats, the flight attendants did their spiel about what to do in the
event of an emergency. I tuned them out as I always did ~ if the roof flew off the damn thing or the
plane landed in the ocean, I just accepted that I was a goner. When they made their final
announcement to turn off cell phones, I leaned down to make sure that mine was off but couldn’t find
it. I actually had no idea where it was, I didn’t remember seeing it after calling Ash for help.
“Do you know where my phone is?” I asked as I searched through my purse.
“Yeah, it’s at my house,” he answered. “We are going to get you away from everything, you
don’t need it.”
I stopped digging and looked up at him. “But what about my parents? Or Mina? Or …”
“I called your parents and Mina and Max and told them all that you were safe. I told them that I
was going to take you away for a few days to help you get through everything.”
Hearing him say Max’s name made me cringe. I wanted to ask about his specific reaction to the
call without seeming suspicious, but I was more worried about what he had told everyone else.
“Through everything? What the hell did you tell them?” I hissed.
He winced at my tone. “I think everyone is a little worried about you with Tuesday coming and
all. I didn’t say anything about Rat or whatever happened, but even though they didn’t ask, I’m sure
they were wondering why I called. I just figured you could tell them when you were ready.”
“Tuesday? What are you talking about?” I didn’t even bother racking my brain to figure out
what he was referring to.
He gave me an odd look and cocked his head to the side. “Ummm… the one year anniversary
of…”
“Oh my God,” I murmured as his voice trailed off. I hadn’t even realized what the date was on
Tuesday. I had been so wrapped up in me, I hadn’t even thought about the anniversary of Evie’s death.
I mean I knew when it was, I just hadn’t even thought that far in advance. I was so disgusted with my
self-centered behavior; I really thought I was going to be sick.
At that moment the plane began to take off down the runway and I pulled my knees to my chest,
burying my face in my hands. I felt Ash move the arm rest between us and move closer to me. He
wrapped me in his arms and pulled me into his chest. Rocking me soothingly as the plane ascended
into the air, I drifted off to sleep as he held me tightly.
Hours later I woke up as the plane touched down on the landing strip at LAX, still cuddled up
to Ash’s body. It had been so long since I had been that close to him, but his smell was still so
familiar and it inexplicably put me at ease. I tried to sit up to get my things together, but he tightened
his arms around me.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
“I’m okay… I just don’t know what the hell I’m doing,” I confessed.
He kissed the top of my head. “We are gonna fix you Butterfly. Whatever it is… we are gonna
get you flying again.” I wished I could believe him. I really did. Unfortunately, I didn’t even know
where to begin.
After getting our luggage from baggage claim, we went to meet Ash’s sister in the pick-up area.
I really had no idea what to expect when meeting her, but what I wasn’t expecting was a female
version of him. When I saw her standing across the room, I knew it was her immediately. When she
noticed us walking towards her, her face lit up and she began waving at us.
Once we reached her, Ash immediately picked her up in a bear hug and swung her around. I
couldn’t help but smile at their obvious love for one another. There was no doubt they were siblings
with the same dirty blonde hair, facial bone structure, and striking blue eyes. Even though I knew she
was closer to thirty, she could’ve easily passed for twenty, and her body would’ve made models
everywhere jealous. Something about her looked so familiar but I assumed it was because she looked
so much like him.
“Crys, I would like you to meet Scarlett,” he said as he set her down on the ground, and turned
his attention towards me.
I smiled and stuck my hand out in greeting, but instead she threw her arms around me .
“Scarlett! I’m so happy to finally meet you, well officially anyway,” she said cheerfully. “I’m
Crystal, but I guess you already knew that.”
I was confused by what she meant about “officially” but didn’t want to ask, so I just smiled and
replied, “It’s so nice to meet you too. Thank you so much for having us on such short notice.”
“Of course. Ash is welcome at my house anytime; he practically lives here when he isn’t in
school anyway. And any friend of Ash’s, is a friend of ours.” She quickly looked over at him and
lifted her eyebrows before grabbing my elbow and pulling me towards the door. “Come on, let’s get
home. Will is grilling steaks and the boys can’t wait to meet you.”
I looked back at Ash, and he had a silly grin on his face and chuckled. “Oh I bet they can’t.
They are gonna be all over you. They love pretty girls… Uncle Ash has taught them right.” I jokingly
rolled my eyes at him and allowed Crys to lead me to the car.
About an hour later we pulled up to the modest two story house, and before we even pulled into
the driveway, two little blonde boys came bounding out the door, with whom I assumed was Crys’
husband, Will, chasing after them. Not waiting for the car to stop, Ash jumped out of the car and went
running towards them, picking them both up, one under each arm, and took off across the yard.
His sister started laughing and shaking her head as she got out of the car. “Sometimes I think all
men get mentally stuck at the age of six.”
I shyly stood next to the car, not really knowing what I was supposed to do. Will met his wife
with a kiss and then walked over to me.
“You must be Scarlett,” he greeted me with a hug. “Welcome to our house, please make
yourself at home.” Damn if he wasn’t a blonde hottie as well. This was the nicest, best looking family
I had ever been around.
I turned to get my bags from the back of the car, but Crys grabbed my arm again and led me
toward the house. “The boys will get the bags. Come inside and relax, let me show you around.”
After the full tour of the house, she and I went to the kitchen to make drinks as the guys finally
made their way inside. The little boys came bounding into the room, both red-faced and sweaty.
“Oscar and Evan come meet Scarlett,” Crys said as she grabbed a couple of beers out of the
refrigerator.
I bent down to be eye level with them as they approached me. “Hi boys,” I smiled at their
adorable faces.
“Hi Miss Scarlett. I’m Oscar. I’m six,” the older of the two boys said. Evan, the younger of the
two, bashfully stood behind his big brother.
“It’s very nice to meet you Oscar. And you too Evan,” I said as I reached around and lightly
tickled the toddler.
“Mommy says we need to be really nice to you �cause you’re special to Uncle Ash,” Oscar said
proudly.
“Boys get out of here,” she tried to cut him off. “Go outside with Daddy.”
We both pretended that he didn’t say anything and she handed me two beers. “One for you and
Ash, I’ve got ours. Let me grab these appetizers, and we will head outside as well.”
The rest of the evening was very enjoyable. The weather was perfect for outside dining. The
guys grilled, Crys and I talked like old friends, and the boys played on their play set. For a little
while I completely forgot about everything that had happened in the previous couple of days and was
able to relax.
You could tell immediately that Crys and Will were amazing parents. Everything they talked
about revolved around the kids, and they were attentive to their needs but not overbearing. However,
I was not prepared to see how amazing Ash was with the boys. They obviously admired their uncle
and wanted to do everything like him. At one point he was chasing them around the yard, and I hadn’t
even realized I was staring at him, but he stopped mid-jog and turned and looked at me. He smirked
as if he had caught me doing something, and I rolled my eyes and stood up to get another beer. I heard
him laughing as I walked away and couldn’t help but smile myself.
No one had discussed sleeping arrangements before we headed in for the night. I had noticed
during the tour that there was only one guest bedroom, but was more than okay with sleeping on a
couch. After all, this family had taken me same day notice; I almost couldn’t believe I was even there.
“Ash, will you show Scarlett where everything is in the bathroom and bedroom upstairs? I’m
gonna bathe the boys in my room,” Crys said as she finished rinsing the dishes and loading them in the
dishwasher. Will was trying to corral Oscar and Evan into the master bedroom downstairs.
“Yeah, I think we are gonna shower and get some sleep. We’re two hours ahead sis.” He kissed
her cheek and then faced me. “You ready?”
I nodded and thanked her again for having me before following Ash up the stairs. Both of our
bags were in the guest bedroom, but before I could ask, he said, “I’m gonna sleep on the couch in the
game room but keep my stuff in here. You can shower first, okay?”
“You don’t have to do that, Ash. I can sleep out there,” I offered, opening my bag to get my
pajamas and toiletries out.
“Scarlett, don’t…” He grabbed my shoulders and made me look him in the face. “You’re
sleeping in here. I want you as comfortable as possible so you can get some rest. Now go take a
shower. Everything you need is in the cabinet in the bathroom.”
Standing there, staring into his captivating eyes, a wave of desire passed over me. Desire for
him to hold me, kiss me, tell me everything was going to be okay. I was pretty sure he felt something
too but all of a sudden, he spun me around to face the door and said, “You. Shower. Now.”
I took a quick shower and got dressed for bed so that Ash could do the same. I made my way
back to the guest room and slipped into the cool, crisp sheets. The last thing I remembered before
passing out was the opening and closing of the bathroom door.
At some point in the middle of the night, I woke myself up crying from an awful nightmare
where Evie kept appearing and telling me she knew what I had done. Within seconds, the door
opened and Ash came directly to the bed. Without waiting for me to say anything, he lay down in the
bed and scooped me into his arms.
“It’s okay, Butterfly. I’m here. It’s gonna be okay,” he whispered into my hair as he rubbed my
back.
After a few minutes, I had calmed down and my breathing had returned to normal. “Sorry,” I
said softly.
“Stop. Don’t apologize. You haven’t done anything.”
I didn’t say anything for a few minutes, thinking about how wrong he was. I figured there was
never going to be a good time to tell him, so as we lay there in the dark, I blurted out, “I had sex with
Max.”
MASON
The morning after we had been offered the spot on the tour, I was on cloud nine. Things could
not be going better for Jobu’s Rum and I was headed west to see my Angel. Our sexy conversations
on Skype were no longer helping with the distance, it was just making me want her more and become
more frustrated.
I expected her to still be asleep when I got to the apartment a little before ten since she had
been out late the night before. Quietly letting myself in, I planned on joining her in the bed, but as soon
as I walked through the door, something felt off. Looking around the living room and kitchen,
everything looked normal so I continued back to the bedroom.
The sight of the empty bed made my stomach drop, and I hoped that she had just stayed out
with Mina because she had drank too much. I walked to the closet to take my shoes off before calling
her when I noticed that all of her clothes were gone.
“FUUUCCCKKKK!!!” I screamed at the empty rods. What the fuck had happened? I
immediately grabbed my phone and dialed her number. Not surprising, her voicemail picked up
before it ever rang.
“Scarlett?!? Where are you? What happened? Call me back now!” I screamed before hanging
up.
I waited about thirty seconds before calling her back and getting the same result. She
obviously didn’t have her phone on and I was about to lose my mind. My thoughts were racing. It just
didn’t add up. I needed to talk to someone that could give me some kind of answers so I called Mina.
“Hello?” she answered, obviously still asleep.
“Is Scarlett with you? What happened? Why did she take her things?” I peppered the questions
at her.
“No, Scarlett is not with me, and what do you mean she took her things?” Her voice filled
with concern.
“I don’t know! I just got home, and she’s not here and neither are her clothes! What the fuck
happened last night, Mina?!?”
“I don’t know, Rat, and don’t yell at me! She was fine the last time I saw her. We went to
Empty’s at the end of the night, and Max was making sure she got home okay. I haven’t talked to her
since, but now I’m up and worried.”
“Fucking shit! I am so pissed off! I’m gonna try and call Max; you keep trying Scarlett and let
me know if you get a hold of her.”
I hung up the phone and dialed Max’s number. He didn’t answer and I assumed he was
probably passed out from the bachelor party festivities. However, I really fucking needed to talk to
him. I headed out the door to my bike, I was going to get some answers and fix whatever had
happened with Scarlett.
Several hours later I was about to lose my mind. I still hadn’t heard from Scarlett, Max
was M.I.A., and I had a sinking feeling that the two were related. I was sitting on my couch staring at
a blank television screen, contemplating every possible explanation for her leaving, when Mina
called.
“Hello?” I answered eagerly, hoping she had heard something. “Have you talked to her?”
“Not exactly,” she responded.
“What do you mean?”
“Look Rat, I’m just gonna be honest with you. I don’t know what happened, I haven’t talked to
her, but Ash called to let me know that he had her. He said she’s pretty messed up.”
“You’re fucking kidding me! Please tell me you’re kidding me!” Why in the hell was she with
him? This was so much worse than I had originally thought. What had happened? Fury pumped
through my veins; I was going to kill that fucker. “I’m going to get her!” I was already up grabbing my
key before I even had the sentence out.
“I’m not kidding and you can’t go get her. They’re not here.”
I froze. “What do you mean they’re not here? WHERE THE FUCK ARE THEY?!? ”
“I don’t know. He just said he was taking her away for a few days and that he would call me
tomorrow. I also found Max, he’s at his parents.”
“Let me know as soon as you hear from them! Fuck!” I said before hanging up the
phone.
I don’t think I had ever been so mad in my life. There weren’t words that could express the
rage pulsating through my veins. I didn’t know what to do with myself, my mind was a fucking mess. I
knew I didn’t want to be in that apartment that reminded me of her every placed I looked. I jumped up
and headed down the stairs to my bike. I wanted to get as far away from Houston as I could. I needed
to get fucked up to the point I was numb and didn’t care about anything. I made one last call before
going back to Austin.
“Get something together for tonight, I’m on my way and I’m ready to play rock star,” was all I
said when she answered.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN ~
REVELATIONS
Belief ~ Gavin DeGraw
Clarity ~ Zedd
Blurred Lines ~ Robin Thicke (feat. T.I. & Pharell)
SCARLETT
I honestly wasn’t sure what reaction I expected from Ash when I told him about Max. For a
split second, his body stiffened and his hand stopped rubbing my back, but just as quickly as he froze,
he resumed his comforting of me, and actually pulled me tighter to his body.
“It’s okay, Scarlett. It’s gonna be okay,” he reassured me as he kissed the top of my head.
I didn’t offer any other information and he didn’t ask. I must’ve fallen back asleep shortly
thereafter because the next thing I remembered was waking up to the sun shining brightly through the
window. I groaned and went to roll over only to find my legs completely tangled in Ash’s and his
arms still tightly around my waist. I was torn between wanting to stay exactly where I was and rising
to face the reality that waited for me.
Knowing that I really needed to get up and make some phone calls, I managed to slip out of his
grasp without waking him up. I made my way to the bathroom to get ready for the day and downstairs
to try and find a phone that I could use. Crys was standing in the kitchen when I walked in, fighting
with the coffee maker.
“Good morning,” I greeted her.
Spinning around flustered, she smiled at me. “Morning, Scarlett. Did you sleep okay?”
“Yes, I slept just fine, thank you,” I replied.
“Want to join me for a cup of coffee before Will and the boys get up? This is my thirty minutes
of peace that I get each morning, so I normally sit out on the back porch and enjoy a little fresh air.”
I joined her at the counter to add the embarrassing amounts of cream and sugar that I fancied in
my coffee and then followed her to the chairs on the back porch. The weather was much cooler than I
had expected, and I tucked my legs up under my t-shirt as we sat there enjoying the silence that the
early morning offered.
“You’ve let your hair grow out,” Crys said after several minutes.
Instinctively putting my hands in my hair when she made the comment, I looked at her
questioningly. “Yeah, I have. How did you know?”
“Well it’s quite a bit longer from the first time I saw you, even in just a couple of months...”
“Wait, when have you seen me before?” I interrupted.
“The night you came back to Houston. I was at the bar with Ash. It was the day that we helped
my mom move into her new place, and we had gone out for a few beers and so that we could relax
after the emotionally draining day,” she answered.
Thinking back to the night I had returned just a few months prior, I quickly replayed the events
of that night, and realized that the girl that Ash had greeted off stage wasn’t just another one of his
blondes, it was Crys.
“Ahhh… yeah…” I could only assume that she probably wasn’t the biggest fan of mine after
that first impression.
She laughed at my lack of words. “It’s okay Scarlett. I didn’t like you so much that night, but I
get it. You were doing what you thought was the right thing for you at the time. I can’t fault that.”
I simply nodded and gave her a small smile. “Yeah… too bad I was wrong,” I muttered.
Just then, Ash came walking out the French doors to join us, still in his pajama pants and his
hair a ruffled mess. “What are you two talking about out here?”
“We were discussing the national debt bro. We’ve just about got it figured out ,” Crys
answered sarcastically as she stood up. “I’ll grab you a cup of coffee.”
Ash sat down in her chair as she disappeared back into the house. I was scared to look him in
the eye after my revelation the previous night. I fully expected him to be completely disgusted with me
after having time to think about what I had done.
“Butterfly, just stop with all of the crazy thoughts running through your head right now. As
much as what you said last night breaks my heart, I just want to help build you back up, not tear you
down any further,” he said softly as he looked in my direction.
Meeting his gaze with mine, I smiled meekly. “I don’t even know where to start. I just feel
empty inside. I don’t know where to go… who to talk to… I was gonna call Mina and my mom but
then I remembered I don’t even know their numbers.”
“Scarlett, stop. Just relax. You will figure it all out, you just need to take a step back,” he said
just as his sister rejoined us. She handed him a cup of coffee and sat down in one of the other patio
chairs. Turning to her, he continued, “Crys, I think we are gonna go out for a drive today. I want to
take Scarlett to see the canyon and then we’ll probably head to the beach. You mind if we take the
Jeep?”
“No, of course not. It’s in the garage. I think we are staying here for the day, Will has several
items on his “honey-do” list to check off,” she said laughing. “Make sure you both take a jacket, the
wind off the water is pretty chilly.”
“Ok. We’ll leave here in just a bit. I’d like to beat the car clubs out so we aren’t stuck in a
bunch of traffic on PCH,” he replied and then looked at me and asked, “Is that good with you?”
I nodded as I took the last drink of my coffee, “I’m ready when you are. I just need to grab my
hoodie and tennis shoes.”
Ash stood up, taking his cup with him, and said, “Give me ten.” He disappeared back into the
house as both Crys and I both watched him walk away. I stood up to follow but before I got to the
door, she spoke.
“Scarlett, I hope that you figure out whatever it is that you’ve got going on. I know the last
year hasn’t been easy on you, but it hasn’t been easy on him either. You are both very vulnerable right
now. You can help each other, but you can also destroy each other. Be careful.”
I didn’t turn around to respond as the tears pooled in my eyes. I simply nodded and continued
walking into the house. Forgetting my woes for a moment, my heart broke for him as I wondered what
had happened in their family in the last year. She had mentioned earlier that she had been in Houston
to help their mom get her own place, so I assumed his parents had gotten divorced, but wondered if
there was more to the story.
Regaining my composure, I rinsed out my mug and went upstairs to grab my things for the day
trip. Ash was coming out of the room just as I hit the landing, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of
how good-looking he was. He flashed me his beautiful smile and my stomach fluttered despite the fact
I tried hard to be immune to his charm.
“Meet ya downstairs Butterfly,” he said as he passed by me.
I quickly found what I needed in my suitcase and joined him in the kitchen several minutes
later. He had keys in hand, ready to go, so I followed him out the back door, off to hopefully find
some clarity.
ASH
Hearing Scarlett say that she had sex with Max literally stole the breath from my lungs. That
was definitely not anything close to what I was expecting her to say. I had assumed that her jack ass
boyfriend had cheated on her, which I figured was only a matter of time once he had moved away. But
to hear those words come out of her mouth… it was just fucking awful… for everyone involved.
I tried to put aside my personal feelings of disappointment and anger; no guy ever wants to hear
that the girl he’s in love with fucked someone else. Period. And I didn’t really give a shit that she had
cheated on Mason, but with Max? I didn’t know the guy all that well, but the few times I had met him
he seemed like a pretty cool cat. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how he felt when Evie died or how
he had managed over the last year. Surely the anniversary of her death was weighing heavy on him,
and he was probably desperate to feel loved and wanted.
But Scarlett… my poor Butterfly… what was she thinking? What had happened? I wanted to
ask her so badly, but I didn’t want to pressure her and push her away. I could only imagine the
personal torture she was putting herself through. I had caught her a few times at dinner the night
before, relaxing and letting go for a bit as she joked around with my sister’s family, but then a pained
expression would steal her smile and I knew she was thinking about whatever was troubling her. I
just had no idea what it was exactly.
I hoped a day out driving and some fresh California air would at least help her forget for a
little bit. I knew I needed it as well because I had been tense as fuck since she had called. When I had
left the book and note on her car, I really hadn’t expected to hear from her. I had thought with the
whole Evie one year thing that she would probably be struggling, and that book had helped me find
solace and support during the rough family times I had gone through recently. But to hear from her that
very night, and then less than twenty four hours later, to have her at my sister’s house on the West
Coast, was just pure craziness. I wasn’t sure what it all meant, or if it would lead to anything at all, I
just knew that I had to take advantage of the time I had with her. I had laid out my feelings for her that
day in the music shop, she knew where I stood, and I wasn’t going to push her on that. She needed an
escape, she needed someone to talk to that wouldn’t judge her, she needed a true friend… and I had
vowed to myself the day I hurt her, that I would be there if she ever needed me again.
After we were both settled in the Jeep, I turned to her and cupped her face in my hands,
forcing her to look me in the eye. “I’m not gonna pretend that I’m happy about what you told me, but I
want to try and understand why you did it. I’m not gonna judge you cause God knows that I’ve made
some pretty awful decisions, but maybe if you told me the whole story, I could give you some helpful
insight or advice. You don’t have to, but I just think it might help you feel better to get it off your
chest.” She sighed and closed her eyes, clearly in agony over the whole thing. I kissed her forehead
and released her cheeks from my grasp. “Whenever you’re ready Butterfly.” I started the engine,
backed out of the driveway, and headed to Malibu Canyon.
Neither of us said anything for the first twenty minutes of the drive, but it was a comfortable
silence. We just listened to the radio, I sang along to the songs that I knew, and she watched the
scenery passing out of the window. When the latest Robin Thicke hit, Blurred Lines, came on, I
naturally sang along with the catchy lyrics and even started dancing in my seat a little bit. I saw her
try to sneak a peek at me out of her sunglasses and hide the smile threatening her lips. Seeing her face
light up fueled the obnoxiousness of my performance, so I went all out as I sang the song for her.
A few seconds later she gave in and turned to watch me make a fool out of myself. I had
pretended not to notice that she was paying attention, keeping my focus forward as I bopped up and
down in my seat singing as loud as I could. At the part where he says, “You the hottest bitch in this
place,” I abruptly turned to her and yelled it with a ridiculous look on my face. She couldn’t hold it in
any longer, she fell over laughing. I tried to continue on, but couldn’t help but join her in hysterics
after asking her “What rhymes with hug me?”
It wasn’t until the song was over that we were both able to sit upright and breathe normally
without cracking up again. I looked over at her with a forced serious face and she nodded back at me
with a similar expression, acknowledging that we were over it.
“You know that doesn’t make sense?” she blurted out. “Fuck me doesn’t even rhyme with hug
me.”
That was all it took to get us going again. We spent the rest of the trip laughing and coming up
with phrases that rhymed with hug me. Seeing her content and carefree during those moments filled
my heart with joy. That was the Scarlett that I had missed, the Scarlett that I wanted back.
When we got to one of the top lookout points, I pulled the jeep over and parked it so we could
get out and walk out to see the Pacific Ocean. Luckily, there wasn’t any fog that early in the morning,
and we had a clear view of the beach and water. We stood side by side, soaking in the beauty of the
landscape.
“It makes me feel so small,” she whispered.
Instinctively, I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer to me. I had an
overwhelming need to take care of her that surprised even me sometimes. “Why do you say that?”
“Because it’s so big… It just reminds me of how insignificant my little self is on this big
planet. There’s billions of people that live here, each of them has their own problems, their own
worries.” She leaned her head against my shoulder and continued, “Sometimes I get so caught up in
myself and what’s going on with me, that I forget the big picture. You know that until you said
something, I hadn’t even realized that Tuesday is the one year for Evie. I mean how could I not even
have realized that? What kind of person have I become? I fucking slept with the love of her life less
than a week before that!” She twisted out of my grasp as her voice continued to get louder and louder
throughout her rant.
“Scarlett, we all get lost in ourselves, stop beating yourself up,” I tried to reason with her.
“Did you fuck your best friend’s….” she stopped mid-thought and snorted. “Never mind, I’m
asking the wrong person when it’s appropriate to fuck other people.” She turned around and began to
stomp towards the car.
“That’s fair!” I yelled at her and she stopped walking but kept her back to me. “I know I
fucked up Scarlett, and if you want to talk about it, I’m more than happy to. I’ve had to live with the
guilt and hurt for the last year too, and I thought we had gotten all of our feelings about this out, but if
you want to revisit it, we can. I don’t think that’s gonna make you feel any better about the situation
you’re in right now though. I’m here to try to help you in any way possible because I love you and it
kills me to see you in pain. All I want for you is to find happiness, even if it costs me mine.”
Slowly she began to turn around, and I prepared myself for her to lash out once she was facing
me, but instead she walked up to me and looped her arms around my neck in a tight hug. I wrapped my
arms around her waist and picked her up off the ground, holding her against me securely.
“Let’s go sit on the beach and I’ll tell you everything,” she whispered.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN ~
RECONNECTING
Come Undone ~ My Darkest Days
Collide (Acoustic Version) ~ Howie Day
Nothing ~ The Script
SCARLETT
Telling Ash everything from the first time I met Bentley up until the time I called him to come
and get me was like lifting a huge weight off of my shoulders. I didn’t feel any better about the
situation or my decisions, but I felt so relieved to have just told someone about it. He sat looking at
the waves crashing on the shore and listened to the entire story without saying a word, so when I
finished, I had no idea what to expect him to say.
“Butterfly, how do you view yourself?”
“What do you mean? About what I’ve done?” I asked disgusted.
“No, in general, you as a person,” he answered as he twisted to face me. “Who are you? What
do you want in life? What makes you happy?”
“I don’t know…” As I thought about the questions, I realized that I really didn’t have a good
response. “Music makes me happy. Friends make me happy.” I looked down at the sand where I had
been nervously tracing designs with my fingers and toes. “Sand makes me happy,” I joked trying to
lighten the conversation.
He sat looking as if he was contemplating a serious thought. “Well, than you should be Jimmy
Buffet when you grow up,” he said unable to keep a straight face.
“Shut up! Ass!” I laughed as I pushed him in the shoulder making him lose his balance and fall
into the sand.
He sat up and acted like he was going to do the same to me but instead grabbed my elbow and
pulled me closer to him. Being around him just for the previous two days had me remembering how
much I had missed the time we had spent hanging out together.
“Seriously, Scarlett. You really need to figure out the answers to those questions. I’ve had to
do a lot of growing up over the last year, and I realized that I had to focus on living my life the way I
wanted to. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be selfish, but you can’t let others dictate your
happiness. Like Aristotle said �Happiness depends on ourselves.’”
“You’re always so philosophical,” I whined.
“It what happens when you study it in school,” he retorted jokingly. “Maybe you should listen
to some of it though, most people think those guys were pretty smart for a reason.”
“Yeah, yeah. I know. I’ve gotta figure out what in the world I’m gonna do. I need to talk to
Mason, Max, Mina, everybody really. There’s not much I can resolve until I do that. I learned that
months after Evie died and I ran away. I wished so badly that I had at least said goodbye to all of you.
I wished that I had given you a chance to say whatever you wanted to say. And I felt so guilty about
giving Mase my virginity and then disappearing on him…” The words came out of my mouth before I
even realized it.
“What did you just say?” Ash interrupted. His face was stone cold serious.
“What do you mean?” I squeaked.
“You just said that you slept with Mason and then disappeared on him? So the night that you
came to my house, you gave him your virginity? Fuck Scarlett, please tell me you didn’t just say that.”
Not sure how to respond, I just sat there quietly. He ran his fingers through his hair while
shaking his head back and forth.
“After you came to my house, you went over there, didn’t you?!?” The anger was evident in
his voice. “Tell me the truth Scarlett.”
“Yes.”
“Fuuccckkk!!” He growled. I could see his jaw grinding back and forth so I reached up and
gently placed my palm on his cheek. He stopped immediately, closed his eyes, and took a deep
breath. He turned his face into my hand, kissing my palm. “I’m so sorry Butterfly.”
“I know. Me too.”
We spent another thirty minutes or so at the beach, but didn’t talk any more about that night or
my issues with Mason and Max. We changed the conversation to music and new songs that we had
learned to play. Talking about playing guitar made me miss it and made me miss playing with Ash.
From the first time we had hung out, there was always something about him that made me want to be
the best person I could be. It always amazed me how incredibly intelligent he was, not to mention the
musical and artistic talents that he had, and he hid it all behind messy, long hair and flip flops.
As we drove back to the house, he asked me when I wanted to go to back to Houston. I decided
that I wanted to be back by Tuesday afternoon, so that I could do something on my own to pay my
respects to Evie. That gave us one more full day in California and I talked him into taking me to
DisneyLand. I figured we could both use a day acting like carefree kids before going back to being
adults.
That night I wanted to ask him to sleep in the bed with me, but I was scared to… scared he
would say no and scared he would say yes. Instead I stayed up reading the book he had given me. It
was much shorter in length than I had originally thought, but much deeper in meaning than I had
anticipated. Reading about Jonathan’s journey through life and his ultimate ability to understand the
importance of self-love and forgiveness gave me hope that I would be okay when all was said and
done with this mess I had created.
The following day, after breakfast with the entire family before they left for school and work,
Ash and I made the hour long drive to the park. I had thanked him for the book, letting him know that I
had really connected with it and would definitely be reading it again. He explained that his mom had
given him the book the previous summer when he was going through a hard time. I had heard snippets
here and there about something that had happened, everyone eluding to something that had happened,
but I still wasn’t sure so I decided to ask.
“Can you tell me what happened with your parents while I was gone?” I asked hoping he would
open up to me. “I’ve heard both you and Crys say something about it, and I didn’t want to assume
incorrectly.”
He seemed a bit apprehensive at first, but after a few moments, he opened up. “Basically my
dad is a fucking dick. He always has been, but for a long time I just didn’t know any better. He
controlled my mom for nearly thirty years, not allowing her to have friends or a life of her own while
he ran around on her constantly. The stories I could tell you about him and other women…” He shook
his head in disgust. “Anyway, he asked me to pick up one of his girlfriends at the airport and I told
him no, so we got in this big argument that my mom walked in on. I just told her everything, I was
tired of lying for him; I had been doing it from the time I could remember.”
“I’m so sorry, Ash,” I said as I leaned over and rubbed his arm.
He looked down at my hand touching his skin and smiled. “It’s okay really. Things are much
better now. My mom is on her own and doing really well, and I have no contact with my dad. I
allowed him to use me as his puppet for long enough and it feels great to finally live for myself.
That’s what I want for you, Butterfly. Fly with your own wings.
“Now enough of all of that serious crap, it’s time to have fun. We are almost there. Look!” he
said as he pointed at the castle and visible rides up ahead of us.
Doing just as he said, I put everything in the back of my mind, and allowed myself to have an
amazing time. We spent all day and night there, only leaving when they were closing the gates a little
after ten o’ clock. We were both thoroughly exhausted as we walked out to the car, but had big grins
on our face. As I went to reach out for the handle of the car door, I realized that I had to pull my hand
from Ash’s. We had been holding hands most of the day, but it was at that moment that I looked down
at our entwined fingers that I realized how natural it felt and how I didn’t want to let go. My eyes
went from our hands up to his face, and I knew that he knew exactly what I was thinking. Staring into
his eyes, the butterflies in my stomach awoke, and I wanted so badly for him to kiss me.
Unconsciously, I pulled my bottom lip in between my teeth and began lightly chewing nervously. He
reached up with his free hand and pulled it loose from my bite, rubbing his thumb over it tenderly.
“Butterfly, there’s nothing I want more than to kiss you right now, but that’s only gonna
complicate things for you more. You need to settle things with the other people in your life first, and
then decide if this is truly what you want.” He took a step closer to me and leaned down to press his
forehead against mine. “The next time I kiss you, it’s forever. I won’t let you go again.”
My heart swelled with the love I had for him that I had forced to lay dormant for so long. Even
though I wanted to feel his lips against mine so badly, I also knew that he was right. I had a lot of
issues I still needed to resolve and adding to that wasn’t going to help my situation any. I smiled and
wrapped my arms around his neck, hugging him tightly.
“Thank you so much for everything Ash. You have no idea how much this all means to me.
Thank you for being exactly what I’ve needed; I couldn’t have done this without you,” I confessed.
Early the following morning, we were on our way to the airport and my stomach was in knots
as I thought about the conversations I was going to have to have when we got home. As Crys dropped
us off at the terminal, I thanked her over and over again for her hospitality. She hugged me and wished
me good luck, adding that she hope to see me again soon. I honestly responded that I hoped so too.
I was unable to sleep on the flight back, my thoughts were racing and I was nauseous from the
overwhelming anxiety and dread. I still didn’t know where I was going to live, Ash had told me that I
could stay with him as long as I needed, but I knew that I needed to find something permanent pretty
quickly. As the wheels touched down on the ground, I prepared myself for what was probably going
to be the second toughest day of my life… exactly one year after the other.
MASON
The night that I got back to Austin after finding out that Scarlett had left with Ash, I was a
fucking wreck. I probably shouldn’t have been riding in that state of mind, but luckily I made it
unscathed. After a quick shower and change of clothes, I called Cruz to let him know that I was back
and needing a night out. He told me that Bentley had already alerted all of them and we were going to
the hole-in-the-wall bar just down the street so that we could walk to and from.
I still had no fucking idea what to think about Scarlett’s abrupt leaving. I went back and forth
between devastation and downright rage. I wasn’t an idiot; I knew that he had always had a hold on
her. I knew that given the chance, he could stir up the feelings that she once had for him, which was
why I had so desperately wanted her in Austin with me, away from him. I wondered how long she had
been seeing him, was it as soon as I was gone? God the thought of his hands on her made me want to
hurl. I couldn’t fucking believe the day that I had gone to tell her that I couldn’t spend another day
without her next to me was the day she decided to leave. What was supposed to be one of the
happiest days, a day to celebrate Jobu’s Rum going on tour, ended up being one of the worst fucking
days of my life.
My phone ringing pulled me from my thoughts and I answered without even looking at who it
was.
“Hello.”
“Hey there rock star,” Bentley purred seductively. I rolled my eyes at her lame attempt to
entice me. Been there, done that, wasn’t interested in revisiting.
“Hey B, what’s up.”
“You want to stop by my apartment before we head out. I’ve got something that will make you
feel better.”
“B, we’ve discussed this. I’m not going there again, whatever we had is over. You are my
manager, that’s it. And why do you think I need something to make me feel better?”
“Hmm… well let’s see. You left to go see your precious Angel, but turned around and came
back the same day wanting to go out to get shit-faced. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out you’re
upset about something. Plus asshole, I wasn’t offering me; I was talking about some party favors I got
my hands on. But if you want to be a dick, that’s fine, more for me. I’ll see you downstairs in about an
hour,” she said before hanging up.
Frustrated, I went to throw my phone down on the bed and accidentally hit the nightstand
instead, knocking over a picture of me and Scarlett. The glass shattered on top of our faces as the
frame hit the hardwood floor. Fuck me. I went to clean up the mess and got lost staring at the photo.
Seeing her face intensified all of the feelings that I had been fighting all day. Sorrow. Anger.
Confusion. Disappointment. Hurt. Devastation. Fury. Pain. Lots of pain.
I finished picking it up off of the floor and threw it all in the trash, picture included, but not
before cutting my finger on a sharp edge of glass. Of fucking course. Not even bothering cleaning up
the drops of blood, I grabbed my phone and wallet and headed out the door to Bentley’s apartment.
Maybe I did need something to make me feel better.
Hours later, I had downed no less than ten shots and six or seven beers, not to mention the
pain killer that B had given me before we left, but I found that my thoughts kept traveling back to
Scarlett. I was finding it impossible to drink her out of my system. Actually, the drunker I got, the
more I wanted to talk to her. I didn’t know what the fuck had happened, but I felt like if I could see
her… talk to her… touch her… that I could fix whatever had happened, remind her of what we had
and what he had done to her.
Unable to resist the temptation any longer, I snuck off to the bathroom and tried calling her, but
her voicemail picked up on the first ring. Feeling defeated and hopeless, I rejoined my crew at the bar
and ordered more shots. I clearly needed more to drink because I was still able to walk without
falling over. I just wanted to drink until I remembered nothing.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN ~
FRIENDS
River of Deceit ~ Mad Season
I’ll Be There For You ~ Boyce Avenue
I Will Remember You ~ Sarah McLachlan
SCARLETT
When we got back to Ash’s house, both Jess and Meg were there waiting for us. Jess instantly
pulled me into a warm, welcoming embrace as soon as we walked through the door, and Meg
followed suit. They both told me that I was welcome to stay as long as I wanted, and that they were
both available if I needed a female to talk to about anything. We were all extremely emotional due to
the nature of the day, I thanked them and then followed Ash back to his room. He cleared out some
space in his closet for me to unpack some of my things. I tried arguing with him that I could just leave
it all in my bags until I figured out where I was going, but he insisted that I not live out of a suitcase.
When he picked my phone up off of his desk and handed it to me, I looked down at it as it was
a bomb about to explode in my hand. I didn’t even know where to start, who to call first, what I was
going to say. Ash wished me good luck and left me in the room alone, shutting the door behind him. I
sat down on the bed with a sigh of trepidation and turned it on.
I figured my parents were probably the safest bet. I didn’t have to tell them about the Max
issue, and they would think I was just upset about Evie. The conversation with my mom went exactly
as I thought it would- she told me that I needed to face my problems instead of running away from
them, but that she was happy I was okay. I didn’t tell her about my lack of a home, I figured it was
best to tackle that in a different phone call. After hanging up with her, I decided to call Mina. I was
conquering the phone calls from easiest to hardest.
Mina answered on the first ring, and after making sure that I was physically okay, she went
into a fifteen minute long lecture about worrying her and that I was giving her added stress on the
week of her wedding and that she was going to kick my ass when she saw me. I apologized profusely
for causing her additional anxiety during her wedding week, and told her that I still needed to talk to
both Max and Mason to settle some things, but that I would definitely be at the wedding on Saturday.
She told me that I could bring Ash with me if I wanted to, which really caught me off guard, but then I
realized that she knew I was with him from his phone call to her before we left. I knew that she had a
ton of questions she wanted to ask me, but held back with the interrogation, giving me the time to tell
her what had happened on my own.
The next call was going to be awful. I didn’t even know what to say to Max. Where did I
begin? What had he been going through over the past several days? Had he told anyone? Had he told
Mason? God, I had made such a mess of things. Finding his name under my favorites, I touched it and
held the ringing phone up to my ear.
“Scarlett,” he answered apprehensively.
“Max,” I replied with equal hesitation in my voice.
“We need to talk.”
“I know.”
“I don’t want to do this over the phone. I need to see you. Can you meet me?”
“Yeah, I’ve got to call Mase first. Have you talked to him?”
“No, I’ve only talked to Mina, but not about…” his voice trailed off.
“The usual? An hour?”
“Okay, see you then. It’s gonna be okay, Scarlett. We’re gonna be okay.”
I hung up the phone not feeling much better about things. Mina was still happy with me, but she
hadn’t yet found out what I had done, so that was subject to change. I had spoken with Max, but
nothing had been resolved. At least I knew he wasn’t completely disgusted with me. But the most
difficult call was the one that had my hands shaking and my chest feeling so tight I was sure I was
going to have a heart attack.
I touched the first name on my screen and waited for Mason to answer. The phone rang and
rang. His voicemail picked up after the fifth ring, and hearing his voice, even on a recording, brought
tears to my eyes. My heart broke for us… for what we had shared, for what we could’ve had, for
what we had both thrown away.
“Hey Mase, it’s me... Scarlett. I’m back in Houston. Give me a call when you can talk.”
MAX
I got to the Chocolate Bar about twenty minutes before I was supposed to meet Scarlett, but I
was so anxious to see her, to talk to her. I felt absolutely awful about what had happened and I knew
that I couldn’t put it to rest until we hashed it out. On top of that, it was the first year anniversary of
Evie’s death. All day I had been a fucking wreck… looking at pictures of us, remembering the times
we had spent together, beating myself up for what had happened with Scarlett.
I was happy to see our usual table open and I sat down, trying to calm my nerves before she
arrived. I had no fucking clue what I was supposed to say, how we were gonna fix the situation we
had gotten ourselves into. I just want to forget the whole thing had ever happened, just erase the
whole night from my memory, but unfortunately, that just wasn’t possible.
Scarlett walked in about five minutes after I did, she obviously was eager to get this
conversation over with as well. I wondered how her talk with Rat had gone, I truly felt awful for the
situation she was in. Mina had told me that he had come looking for her but that Ash had called her
saying he was taking her away… I just didn’t know what in the world was happening, but felt I
responsible for it all. I should’ve fucking known better. I should’ve never gotten so drunk, knowing
that we were both mentally and emotionally unstable.
She approached the table looking nervous and unsure of herself. I stood up and went to her,
pulling her into my arms, and giving her the biggest hug I could possibly give. I knew that she most
likely blamed herself, and I hated that she had to carry any more guilt than she already lived with.
“Scarlett, it’s gonna be alright, I promise,” I said.
“What did we do Max?” she asked.
“I don’t know, but we can figure it out. Come on sit down.”
I led her by the elbow to the chair and then sat down across the table from her. I couldn’t help
but smile at the pink hoodie that she had on… always something pink. Where Evie always had on
something red, Scarlett was always pink. Even though she didn’t realize it, she was a toned down
version of Evie, much like pink was of red.
We spent the next hour and a half talking about what had happened leading up to the previous
Friday night in my apartment. She told me about the conversation that she and Mason had shared
during the afternoon and then the phone call with Bentley later that night. A combination of her
insecurities in their relationship and the alcohol she had consumed that night had led her to assume
that Mase had chosen Bentley over her, but I wasn’t so sure that was the case.
“Have you talked to him?”
“No. I called him earlier, but I got his voicemail.”
I put my head in my hands; I couldn’t believe what a mess we had created. I hadn’t taken any of
his calls. I wanted him to talk to her first, I didn’t think it was my place to tell him, but I did want him
to know. Whatever the end result, I wasn’t a person that was cool with lies and deceit.
“You have to keep trying him. Have you thought about going to Austin?”
“No! I just got home from California a couple of hours ago.”
“California? What the hell were you doing in California?” I was completely lost at this point.
“The night after I left your apartment, I freaked out and Ash picked me up.”
“Yeah, I knew that part. Mina told me you were with him. But how does California play into all
of this?”
“He took me to his sister’s house for a couple of days to get away from everything. We just got
back today.”
“Ahhh… so you haven’t spoken with Mason since last Friday afternoon?” The more of the story
I heard, the more I wondered what all had happened between Rat and Bentley… something just
wasn’t adding up… especially after the frantic messages that he had left on my voicemail.
“No… I ran away like I always do. I just wanted everyone and everything to go away.”
“And you called Ash?”
“Yeah… I don’t know. He had left this inspirational book on my car earlier in the day to help
me through the whole Evie thing, and in the middle of my meltdown, I saw the book in my car and
called him.”
“And…” I had a bad feeling I knew where this story was heading. An already distraught and
broken Scarlett in a romantic setting with the guy who she thought was possibly her soul mate… God,
this was all my fucking fault. I knew better, I could see it unraveling in front of my eyes that night, but
I just couldn’t fucking stop it. It had been so long… and it wasn’t just because she occasionally
reminded me of Evie by the things she did or said, but because she was… well, she was just her…
sweet, beautiful, unassuming Scarlett. I knew she was hurting, that she felt abandoned by Mason…
shit, I had felt that emptiness for a year. But I should’ve stopped it before it became the fucking mess
that it had become.
“Like I said, he took me to his sister’s house where I was able to calm down a bit. There
wasn’t much I could do without talking to you or Mase, and I didn’t have my phone to call either of
you.”
“What happened with you and Ash?” I had to ask even though I was scared of the answer.
“Nothing. Nothing happened. He was just a good friend to me. We cleared the air between us
about everything that had happened, and I told him about everything that happened with Mason and
Bentley and you.”
She looked up at me with huge crocodile tears in her eyes. I reached across the table and
grabbed her hands in mine. “I. Am. So. Sorry. I never wanted to cause you any trouble. We were both
feeling lonely and needing to feel loved.”
That’s when the tears began falling fast and furiously down her cheeks. I used my thumb to help
wipe them away, but continued with what I needed to say to her. “Scarlett, look at me.”
Looking at her face broke my heart even more than it already was, I hated myself. “I do love
you. Just like I know you love me. But we both know it’s different. It doesn’t make us awful people
for what happened; it makes us human. It’s only natural for two people who adore each other as much
as we do, to want to comfort one another when we feel like we did. We took it too far. We got caught
up in the alcohol and in the moment, and we just didn’t stop it when we should have. We don’t have
to let it ruin us though. I’m still Max and you are still Scarlett and we are still best friends. I’ll still be
here for you for whatever you need, just like I know you will be here for me. Right?”
Even though she was still crying, she smiled and nodded her head. I got out of my chair and
went to her, ignoring the other people in the restaurant that were now staring at us. Wrapping my arms
around her, I allowed her to bury her head in my chest and cry out the rest of her tears. After several
minutes, she lifted her head and pulled back to look at me.
“We’re gonna be okay, Maxi,” she said softly.
“What did you just call me?” I scoffed.
“Maxi… do you like it?” She was having a hard time to not giggle as she said it.
“It’s the worst fucking nickname I’ve ever heard for a guy, but if you want to call me that, I love
it,” I answered as I kissed her forehead. “Now let’s get out of here and fix the rest of this shit. I need
my sweetheart to be perfect.”
Scarlett and I left the restaurant and I took her to the reflection pool at Hermann Park. It was
one of Evie’s favorite places to go when we would hang out, and I thought it would be a perfect spot
for us to both to spend some time remembering the amazing person that was taken from our lives way
too soon. We settled ourselves under one of the massive live oaks that lined the pool, and sat silently
for a while, both lost in our memories.
After a while, I finally said, “I was scared I was going to lose you too.”
She turned to look at me and asked, “What do you mean?”
“My love for Evie was a true love… a pure love… an eternal love. I never even fathomed
that I would be without her, so when I lost her, I just went into shock. I shut down,” I admitted. “It’s
just since you’ve been back have I felt somewhat like my normal self… felt like I deserve to live
again.”
She scooted closer to me and laid her head on my shoulder.
I continued, “I need you around to remind me that I need to keep going. Seeing you persevere
and trying to move on with my life, encourages me to do the same because I know that you loved her
just as much as I did. I was so scared that I had lost you over what had happened, and I didn’t know
how I was going to be able to live with myself. I didn’t get a say in losing Evie, she was taken from
me… from us, but if I lost you over something that I directly controlled…” I shook my head as my
words trailed off.
“Well, that’s not gonna happen Maxi, so stop beating yourself up over it. The same can be
said for me, but I’m moving on and I’m not gonna let it affect us. We can’t do anything to change what
happened; all we can do is learn from it.”
“Spoken as if it came straight from her mouth.”
She laughed, “Yep, she was a pretty smart cookie. She always had great life advice.”
“Like a fortune cookie,” I joked.
“Ooh, speaking of fortune cookies…”
“We just ate dessert and you are thinking of food?” I teased her.
“I could always go for some Gigi’s.”
“Come on, you and your Gigi’s. We will stop and get some to-go food and take it back to my
place.”
“Perfect Maxi.”
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN ~
FINDING ALL THREE
Same Changes ~ The Weepies
Your Call ~ Secondhand Serenade
Heart Shaped Wreckage ~ Katharine McPhee & Jeremy Jordan
I Love You ~ Avril Lavigne
Never Be the Same ~ Red
SCARLETT
Max and I left the park, stopped to get the food, and went to his apartment where I tried to call
Mason again, but this time his voicemail picked up before the phone ever rang. I left another message
asking him to call me, hating this impending conversation hanging over my head. However it went...
whatever was said… I just wanted it over and done with. The anxiety leading up to it was going to
kill me.
We continued talking about the Mason and Bentley thing, and even though Max felt that I was
off the mark in thinking that Mason had chosen to move on and wanted to break things off, I knew
what I heard that night. I had been drinking, but there was no denying her answering his phone at two
o’clock in the morning and his voice calling out for her to bring him a towel. And for that to happen
the night after the conversation we had… it was pretty obvious to me.
We then tried to tackle my living situation issues. I knew that living at Ash’s house was not a
long term option, but thought I would be okay if I stayed for a week or so until I figured out what I
was doing. I had given up my student housing for the spring semester, I couldn’t afford an apartment
on my own, and I didn’t have any other friends that were an option. It appeared more and more that
my only option was to move back home and to try to come back in the fall. I shook my head
wondering what the admissions office at the university would think of me. I came to school for fall
semesters, and then had a mental breakdown each December that kept me from continuing in the
spring. I highly doubted they were going to go for that again.
“Why don’t we get a place together?” Max asked.
I looked up at him with what I’m sure was the strangest look ever. “What did you say?”
“I said why don’t we get a two bedroom place here? You can afford the difference of what I
pay for this. We are close friends; what’s the problem?” he answered with a serious look on his face.
“Max, after what just happened…”
“What? Do you really think either of us would allow it to happen again? I’m more sure now
that nothing would happen than if we thought of this before. We both know what’s at stake.”
“What is everyone gonna think?” I asked worriedly. It really did kind of make sense. He was
the only person other than Mina that I would even consider living with, and I knew that we would
never again cross that line, but still…
“Who Scarlett? Ash or Mason? Because the way I see it, they are the only people that have to
know about this. It’s no one else’s business. If they choose to tell other people, then we will deal with
that then. But I really don’t fucking care what anyone else thinks if it’s a situation that works for both
of us.”
I could tell he was a little frustrated with me. “Why are you upset with me?”
“Because Scarlett, you’ve gotta stop caring so much about everyone else and what they think.
You’ve gotta start doing things to make you happy.”
I sighed and slumped over on the couch. “God, you sound like Ash.”
“I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean but if he said anything that I just did, he’s a pretty
smart guy,” he said laughing.
Groaning, I rolled my eyes at him. “Okay, Mr. Parker. You’ve got a deal. You’re so sure of
yourself that this will work… have you ever lived with a female before?”
“My mom,” he retorted quickly.
“Doesn’t count.” I countered.
“Damn.”
“Well, get ready. Just remember three months from now when you’re ready to strangle me,
this was your great idea,” I warned him.
“Won’t happen sweetheart. Remember, we are gonna make you perfect.”
“I’m far from perfect, Maxi, and always will be.”
“No one is perfect until you fall in love with them. And you sweetheart,” he said as he
touched the tip of my nose, “need to learn to love yourself.”
“Okay pot.”
He started laughing hysterically as he stood up and walked across the room. “Point taken
kettle. I’m gonna call the leasing office and get you a room to sleep in.”
The next few days passed quickly as Max and I began setting up our new apartment. Ash was
none too thrilled about the living arrangements when I first told him, but after explaining to him the
conversation Max and I had shared, I think he understood, especially since my only other option was
moving back with my parents or grandparents. Ash helped us move Max’s things to the new
apartment, and both of them went with me shopping for my bedroom furniture. They got along great,
talking about music and sports, and I felt so happy when we were all together.
I still hadn’t spoken with Mason. His phone had been off permanently, and the voicemail box
was full. Max had tried calling the rest of the band mates, but none of them answered either. I tried
not to think about it much, and being with Max and Ash helped, but it was really hard at night. I
couldn’t understand how he could change his mind so quickly, just want nothing to do with me or have
nothing to say to me. I thought I at least deserved an explanation. I mean I knew that I had been no
angel… okay, that really wasn’t the right word to use… I knew that I hadn’t been the best girlfriend,
but I wanted to discuss what happened. How do you just get up and walk away from someone you
claimed to have loved so much? I knew that our relationship had been strained with the miles
between us over the past month, but he just dropped it. Dropped me. No looking back. It really
fucking hurt.
The night before Mina and Noah’s wedding, I went to the rehearsal with Max as planned.
Everyone was in an upheaval because Bentley had called and cancelled Jobu’s Rum’s gig for the
reception the day before. They were able to book a DJ last minute, but they really had wanted live
music. That’s when I had another one of my great ideas. I slipped away and called Ash, asking… no,
begging him to play an acoustic set at the wedding. After several minutes of him rattling off the
reasons why he shouldn’t and couldn’t, he finally agreed with the caveat I would sing at least one
song with him. I was so excited I skipped back into the party anxious to share the good news.
Mina and Noah were thrilled with the idea of Ash performing, and the mood of the entire
wedding party calmed immensely after that issue had been taken care of. We had a wonderful evening
eating fancy food, drinking wine, and laughing at kid pictures of the bride and groom. It had been a
week since I had last talked with Mase, and even though I was worried sick about him and still
completely heart-broken, I told myself to forget about it and to concentrate on celebrating the
weekend with my friends’ union of love.
The following day, I went to the wedding venue early with Max. He had to be there since he
was a groomsman, and I wanted to help with anything that was needed. Mina was holding up great.
She was in an excellent mood, her stress level seemed to be minimal, and everything was going just
as planned. She looked absolutely gorgeous in her form fitting Vera Wang gown, and like I did at
most weddings since I was a little girl, I couldn’t help but fantasize what my wedding would be like
one day.
I sat with Ash during the beautiful, flawless ceremony, and I could tell he was nervous about
the reception by the way he kept running his fingers through his hair and popping his knuckles. I tried
to calm him down several times by holding his hand or patting his leg, but realized it was no use.
Once he got up on the stage with his guitar, he would be fine. I was actually quite looking forward to
it; it had been a while since I had really heard him sing.
The DJ played some nice background music while everyone ate and the cakes were cut, but
right after the first dance and parent dances, Mina told him it was time. My heart swelled seeing him
sitting up on that stage. He had lost the jacket and tie from the tan suit he was wearing, and his neck
buttons were unfastened with sleeves rolled up. I knew I had a goofy ass grin on my face, but Max had
to make sure and point it out to me.
He walked up next to me and bumped his shoulder into mine. He stood there next to me and
quietly watched Ash setting up his amp and chair as well. When he was finally situated, he sat down
and looked out into the crowd. When his eyes found mine, he flashed me his charm-the-birds-out-ofthe-tree smile and winked. And the butterflies went wild.
He grabbed the microphone and began speaking, “Aristotle once said �Love is composed of a
single soul inhabiting two bodies.’ Tonight I would like to congratulate Noah and Mina for finding the
other half of their soul, and I would like to wish all of you the same fate. Because you will never
know true happiness, you will never understand immortal love, and you will never experience
absolute perfection until you do. Tonight I play for my other half, hopefully one day my better half.”
He chuckled at himself before beginning his version of Secondhand Serenade’s Your Call. I
was frozen to the floor, with my mouth open, gaping at the words that had just come out his mouth.
Max leaned into me and whispered, “See, I told you you’re perfect.” Then without asking, he grabbed
my hand and pulled me to the dance floor.
The lyrics to not only the first song Ash sang, but every song thereafter, dug deeper and deeper
into my heart. I danced a couple of times with Max and once with Noah, but mainly just sat, watched,
and listened. His voice was so serene, so tranquil… almost as if everything was a love lullaby.
I knew beforehand that he had expected me to sing one song with him, but it still caught me off
guard when he called me name over the speakers asking me to join him for the last song. I wasn’t sure
if it really was such a good idea, seeing how emotional I was with Mason’s disappearance and the
reemergence of the feelings I had for Ash that I thought I had so carefully locked away. It seemed his
voice was the key that opened it right up. However, everyone was staring at me expectantly so I made
my way towards him.
Thankfully, there wasn’t a second guitar, so I only had to sing with him. As soon as he began
with the opening chords, a huge lump formed in the back of my throat. I wasn’t sure if I was going to
be able to physically do this, but when it was my turn to join him in the duet of Heart Shaped
Wreckage, I found my voice and lost myself in the music. During my section of the second verse, he
put down the guitar and stood up next to me. We faced each other, completely absorbed in each
other’s eyes, and sang the remainder of the song acapella to one another.
“Look at this heart shaped wreckage
What have we done?
We have got scars from battles nobody won
We can start over, better, both of us know
If we just let the broken pieces go.”
At the end of the song, he closed the small gap between us, cupping both sides of my face in his
hands and kissed me like our lives depended on it. As his lips seared mine and our tongues danced in
harmony, he poured his soul into me, and I drank the ambrosia that led to all three things for me ~
happiness, immortal love, and perfection.
MASON
Despite everyone telling me to stay away from the wedding over and over again, I just
couldn’t. I wasn’t sure if she was going to be there or not, but I had to at least try. Bentley had taken
my keys so I couldn’t take my bike, even though I hadn’t had anything to drink or taken any pills since
the night before. I felt like complete shit, and I almost didn’t recognize the image that stared back at
me in the mirror. I hadn’t bothered shaving that entire week, and the circles under my eyes from
staying fucked up for seven straight days and nights were so dark that it almost looked like I had been
in a fight. Maybe I had been in a fight? I couldn’t fucking remember.
I called Boone and begged and pleaded with him to borrow his car. I told him that I needed to
get some things from my apartment in Houston before we left the next week to go on tour, and that I
obviously couldn’t bring it all back on my bike. Luckily he agreed, and I raced to get out of town
before he had a chance to talk to Bentley and tell her what I had done. She was a stupid fucking bitch
anyway. Every night during the week I had brought a different girl home with me, couldn’t tell you
what any of the looked like much less their names, but every morning she was back at my apartment,
trying to take care of me. I hoped she would eventually get the picture that I didn’t leave Angel for
her; I really wanted no piece of that craziness ever again.
I knew that I was gonna be late, but I was hoping that I could at least apologize to Noah and
Mina about the last minute cancellation, congratulate them, and of course, see Scarlett. My mother had
always told me that I had impeccable timing when I would walk in her room watching her snort a line
of coke, and it seemed my virtue of being at the right place at the right time, or the wrong place at the
wrong time depending on how you looked at it, had stayed with me. As I walked up to the outside
tent, I saw my worst fears being acted out right in front of my face ~ Ash and Scarlett singing to each
other about mending their broken love and then ending it with a kiss for the history books. Fuck. Me.
The way I saw it, I had two choices: walk away and never look back or fight for the person
loved, the only person that gave me a reason to live to be a better person. It took me about a half a
second to decide on option two. I wanted to just walk up to the fucker and punch him in his pretty boy
face, but I knew that wouldn’t help my chances any, not to mention I didn’t want to cause any more
problems with the wedding. It should have been me up there singing with her anyways.
After everyone clapped for them and all that bull shit, they got off the stage and I took
advantage of the lull. I jumped up on the stage and grabbed the mic, hoping it was still live. I tapped it
once, heard the feedback, and pulled it close to my mouth.
“Good evening everyone. I know y’all are about to call it a night, but I was hoping that I could
sing one song to the newly married couple.” Everyone stopped what they were doing and turned their
attention towards me. “I was supposed to perform at the wedding here tonight, but I let someone else
tell me that I shouldn’t. So once I realized what I needed to do, I got here as quickly as I could.” I
searched the room for Noah and Mina, and once I found them I waited for them to give me some kind
approval. Noah nodded at me and I grabbed Ash’s guitar leaning up against the amp. I fucking dared
him to come try to take it from me.
I could sing the song I really wanted to sing to Scarlett, not that it was bad or anything, but I
was supposed to be singing to the married couple, so a song about never being the same after having
my heart ripped from my chest probably wasn’t appropriate. I hadn’t really thought much about what I
was gonna do before I got up there, but as my eyes roamed the faces in the crowd it locked on hers
and I knew immediately what I would do.
One of the things I loved about Scarlett was the way she was always singing and dancing
around the apartment, no matter if she was cooking or doing laundry or getting dressed. One of her
favorite songs to sing was this I Love You song. She would bounce around the place like a little ray of
sunshine singing “La la la la la la… La la la la la…” Even though the song was actually about a
couple that didn’t make it, I doubted most people would pick up on that, but I knew Angel would
understand exactly what I was trying to say.
I stared directly at her throughout the entire song; it was so different from I was used to
singing, but I was desperate to touch her somehow, someway… to make her remember what it was
like, just the two of us, how good we were together, how much I loved her. When I finished I set the
guitar down and walked off the stage, directly out of the tent, into the fresh night’s air. I stood there
looking up into the starless sky, wondering what had happened, clueless on how we had made such a
disaster of things in such a short amount of time. I heard the footsteps approaching behind me and
prayed that it was her.
“Mase, we need to talk.”
CHAPTER NINETEEN ~
LIES & TRUTH
Take a Bow ~ Rihanna
Sad Beautiful Tragic ~ Taylor Swift
Falling Down ~ Rev Theory
SCARLETT
Watching Mason sit on that stage and sing I Love You to me, was one of the most painful things I
had ever experienced. He looked terrible. I wasn’t sure he had showered in days, and he definitely
hadn’t bothered shaving. His eyes were dull and lifeless, and his voice was so scratchy, he was
nearly hoarse. But there he was, having come all the way from Austin, to sing one song… to me.
Ash stood on one side of me and Max on the other, but he continued, unfazed by their
existence, and reminded me of our times together and why I had fallen in love with him to begin with.
He had been assertive and outspoken from day one about wanting me for me, and had never shied
away from expressing his love for me. He always knew how to make me feel cherished and
appreciated.
When he finished the song, he thanked the audience, congratulated the happy couple, and set the
guitar down as he walked off the stage and straight outside.
“Let him go,” Ash said at the same time that Max said, “Go talk to him.”
I looked back and forth between them, feeling my chest tighten with dread. I knew what I had
to do. Looking up into Ash’s eyes, I hated that I had to deal with this so soon after the moment we had
just shared, but I couldn’t run away from this situation. I had done way too much running.
“Please understand,” I pleaded. “I have to address this here and now. I’m not sure if or when
I’ll see him again, and we have a lot of things that need to be said.”
His eyes begged me not to go, but he said, “Be strong, Butterfly,” and he leaned down and
brushed his lips against mine.
I turned to look at Max and he gave me a half-hearted smile. “I’m gonna tell him. You know it
changes everything, right?”
He nodded and hugged me, “We’re right here if you need us.”
I walked outside after Mason, telling myself to put one foot in front of the other to keep myself
from turning back. He finally stopped and stareed up at the sky, as if he was looking for an answer.
“Mase we need to talk,” I said as I approached him.
He turned around quickly and a huge smile was plastered on his face. “I knew you’d come
Angel.”
He began to close the gap between us, reaching out towards me, but I put my hand up to stop
him. “Don’t. Please don’t.” He looked at me confused.
“We have a lot to talk about, Mason.”
He hung his head and his shoulders slumped. “I know we do.”
“Where have you been? I’ve been trying to call you for days, but your phone has been turned
off and your message box is full. I’ve been worried sick, and from the looks of you, justifiably so.”
He looked up at me with his overcast eyes. “I’ve had a rough week. How did you think I’d
react to hearing you ran off with him? I haven’t exactly been in the best place mentally or
emotionally.”
“Or physically,” I chimed in. “Look at you Mase. You look like shit.”
“Well I feel like shit, Scarlett! I’m a fucking mess! The person I love most in this world, the
person I live for, just up and fucking left me for the asshole that I always said she would. Am I
supposed to be happy?”
“I didn’t leave you for him Mason! I left you because after our conversation last Friday, you
made your choice. And that’s fine. Like I told you then, I felt like you were ready to move on, ready to
move forward with your career, and that I was afraid I didn’t fit into that picture. And you made it
quite obvious that I was right with your decisions last Friday, so don’t make me feel bad that I sought
out comfort from someone else. I know your bed hasn’t fucking been empty!” I tried hard to keep my
voice down, not wanting the other wedding guests to hear our argument, but I was so furious with him.
“Angel, I told you then that I had to play that show. I wouldn’t have missed coming home
unless it was really fucking important, and it ended up being our ticket to get on the VanderBlue tour. I
came home first thing Saturday morning and you were gone. You and all of your shit… just gone! I
called everyone trying to find you, and I had to find out from Mina that you left with him. You didn’t
even talk to me, you didn’t leave a note, nothing… just poof! You left… gone!”
“What was I supposed to do Mase? I talked to Bentley that night. She told me about the tour
and everything else. I was a mess… a fucking mess! I couldn’t believe I had to hear it from her mouth
and not yours; so don’t give me shit about not leaving a God damn note.”
“What the fuck do you mean you talked to Bentley that night?” He interrupted me.
“I called you back that night after the bachelorette party. She answered your phone and told
me everything. I was devastated!”
“NOOOO!” He growled as he ran he covered his face with is hands and shook his head.
“Yes!” I retorted. “I had to hear it all from that stupid bitch instead of my boyfriend, who up
until that moment, I thought loved me. I told you earlier in the day that you were ready to move on,
Mase. I knew it and I guess you realized it too. I’m just sorry I drug Max into all of this.”
He uncovered his face and looked at me. “Max? What does he have to do with this?”
I looked down at my feet and began kicking the gravel on the walkway. This was the part I
feared telling him. I hated that their friendship would most likely be destroyed because of this.
“What about Max?” He asked through gritted teeth.
Still not looking up at him, I answered truthfully, “I was really upset and I just wanted to
drown my sorrows in alcohol so he took me back to his place.” I paused for a deep breath. “I needed
someone to talk to. We started doing shots and…”
“And what, Scarlett? What. The. Fuck. Happened?” He grabbed my arm and pulled me to
where I was standing directly in front of him.
Yanking my arm out of his grasp, I lifted my chin and looked him directly in the eye. I was
still so mad at him over running back to Bentley, so hurt that he could throw away what we had. “I
fucked him.I fucked him to try and forget you. I fucked him so that you wouldn’t have the honor of
being the only person I have ever slept with. ”
He didn’t even give me a chance to say another word. He took off back towards the wedding
festivities on a rampage.
“Mason stop! Stop right now! This isn’t his fault! This is about you and me! This has nothing
to do with him!” I called after him.
He stopped and turned around. “When he decided to stick his dick inside of you it became
about him! I don’t fucking care what the circumstances were. He knew better. He fucking knew
better!”
I wasn’t sure where he came from, but all of a sudden Max was walking up behind Mason.
“You’re right. I did know better,” he said.
Mason’s head whipped around to look at him. He took off towards him. “You fucking asshole!”
he screamed as he punched him in the face without warning. Max stood there, not even attempting to
defend himself as Mason reared back to hit him again.
“NOOOO!!!” I ran to both of them. “Stop! Stop this right now!”
“Get out of the way, Scarlett,” Max said, blood trickling down from his nose and lip. “I deserve
this.”
Ignoring him, I got in between the two of them, facing Mason. “Stop it right fucking now. We
are at Mina and Noah’s wedding and we are not doing this here.” He took a step back. His hand was
still balled in a fist and his entire body was shaking. I had never seen the rage in his eyes that he had
in that moment. “This is not Max’s fault, it’s mine… actually, scratch that, it’s YOURS! You chose
Mase. You chose your music and your career and you chose her. End of.”
“I didn’t choose her Scarlett,” he said, lowering his voice a bit. “I would never choose anyone
over you.”
“Really?” I scoffed. “It sure didn’t sound that way that night I was talking on the phone with
her. She was in your apartment and I heard you call out to her to bring you a towel. Or did I just
imagine that entire scenario?”
“What? No… you don’t understand,” he tried to explain. “It wasn’t…”
“I absolutely understand Mason. I get it, okay? It’s over. We are over. We both just need to
move on.”
“I didn’t sleep with her Scarlett.”
“Don’t feed me your lies, Mason. It doesn’t matter anymore.”
“It does matter!” he said emphatically. “I didn’t fuck her that night.”
“Whatever…” I rolled my eyes. “�That night,’ huh? How about this past week? Let me guess…
you’ve been sleeping alone, pining after me. That’s the reason for the dark circles under your eyes.”
It was his turn to look down at the ground ashamed.
“So I’m right then, aren’t I?” Thinking about him in bed with someone else made me feel
completely nauseous. “Just her or others too?” I wasn’t even sure why I was asking the question, I
wasn’t sure if I really wanted to know.
“Not her Scarlett, just others,” he mumbled.
“Oh my god! Are you fucking serious? How many? How many Mason?” I demanded, again not
sure I really wanted to know the answer.
“I don’t know… I’ve been really fucked up,” he said as he looked up into my eyes pleadingly.
“I’m sorry Angel. I thought you left me for Ash, and I was hurting and I felt empty and I just wanted to
lose myself.”
When he said he didn’t know how many, I lost it. I stepped towards him and slapped the shit out
of his face. “You fucking make me sick. You don’t know how many? What is wrong with you?”
“Please don’t do this Angel. I’m so sorry. I haven’t been in my right mind. I just knew that once
you were back around him, that it would be over for us. Y’all would reconnect with all of your old
feelings and you would regret your decision of choosing me. And after what I witnessed tonight, my
worst fears were confirmed.”
“I never would’ve been in the situation to run back to him if you wouldn’t have abandoned me.
If you would’ve made an effort over the last month… if you would’ve been with me instead of her
that night like you were supposed to have been, none of this would’ve ever happened.” I could see his
eyes begin to water, but I didn’t care. I was so pissed off. “You did this. You sent me back to him.
And you are right. He and I share something that I can never explain to you. It doesn’t mean that I
didn’t love you and I didn’t give our relationship my all because I did! Right up until the point I had to
hear that bitch’s voice on your phone, in your apartment at two o’clock in the fucking morning!”
“Angel, I’m trying to tell you that…”
“I. Don’t. Care. You hear me? I don’t care anymore. It’s over. We are through. I’m done.” I
turned around to see Max still standing there, bloody face and all. He reached his hand out to me.
“Please don’t do this,” Mason begged. “I understand why you needed Max. I understand why
you turned to Ash. We can get through this. I forgive you, I just need you to forgive me and we can
save this.”
I swung around to look at him one final time. “Get off the drugs Mase. They are making you
delusional already. There is nothing left to save. Go follow your dream, I’m gonna go find mine.”
Grabbing Max’s hand, we walked away, leaving him standing there. I truly felt in my heart that I
would never see him again.
Ash was waiting for us right inside the tent. He took one look at both of us and said, “Let’s get
out of here.” Not getting an argument from either of us, we said our goodbyes and took off to the
parking lot in silence.
MASON
The drive back to Austin was the loneliest three hours of my life. I felt like I had just died. The
happiness I had found with her was my reason for living, the thought of spending the rest of my life
with her was my motivation each and every day. My actions over the last week without her was proof
that I didn’t fucking care about anyone or anything else, myself included.
I had to go there though. I had to hear it from her. I had no fucking idea that Bentley had
answered my phone that night. Her call had never shown up in the call history so I was sure Bentley
had erased it… thinking about how she had fucked up my life made me so fucking pissed off I
couldn’t see straight. I decided it was best to handle that conversation when I got back to Austin. I
needed to cool down before talking to anyone, especially her. I needed talk to the guys first, but as far
as I was concerned she was out. If Jag wanted to take over, I was fine with that, but I wasn’t dealing
with that bitch any longer.
And then the Max thing… FUUUCCCKKK! Thinking about it gave me a headache. The fact
that she ran to him because of Bentley made me even more furious. I was going to kill someone. I still
wasn’t sure how she ended up with Ash after Max or where she had gone… it really didn’t matter
anymore anyways. I needed a drink in a bad way and I wasn’t sure that was even going to make a dent
in the pain I was feeling.
After returning Boone’s car to him, I got on my bike and headed back to my apartment. It was
pretty late at this point and I hoped I could catch up with Sebastian before he and Cruz headed out for
the night. I knew he would have some party favors sure to help take the edge off. I killed the bike and
headed straight to their place.
Cruz answered the door, dressed ready to hit the bars, and I could see Sebastian standing at
the bar behind him. I didn’t say anything, I just walked in and into the kitchen and grabbed a beer.
“Yeah, come on in, fucker. Make yourself at home. Can I get you something to drink?” Cruz
said facetiously as he shut the door and followed me.
I chugged the entire sixteen ounce bottle in one drink, threw that one away, and grabbed
another. “I need something tonight,” I demanded.
Sebastian looked up from the joint he was rolling. “What? This?” He looked down at his
hands.
“Stronger,” I replied.
“Rat…” Cruz warned. “What happened man? I don’t think this is a good idea. We leave in a
couple of days…”
“Shut the fuck up. I didn’t ask for your opinion.” I turned back to Sebastian and asked, “What
all do you have?”
“I can get you whatever you want.”
I don’t remember much after that.
CHAPTER TWENTY ~
FATE WILL FIND A WAY
I Can’t Not Love You ~ Every Avenue
Kiss Me ~ Ed Sheeran
All My Heart ~ Sleeping With Sirens
SCARLETT
I rode back to the apartment with Max and Ash followed us in his car. Max and I needed a few
minutes alone to discuss the whole messed up situation.
“Are you okay, Max?” I asked.
He grabbed my hand closest to him and squeezed it tightly. “I’ll be fine, Scarlett. Don’t worry
about me. You’ve got enough going on in your head than to feel any guilt for me. I knew how he was
gonna react. That’s why I came outside. I gave you a few minutes alone to tell him, but I knew once
you told him he would come looking for me, and I didn’t want it to be inside in front of people,” he
explained calmly. “I would’ve reacted the exact same way if I was in his shoes, which is why I let
him hit me once. I deserved that one, but I wasn’t about to let him do it again. I can’t believe you
stepped in front of me. What were you thinking?”
“I was thinking I didn’t want him to hit you. You didn’t deserve that.”
“Yeah, I did,” he replied solemnly. He looked over at me and asked, “How are you holding
up? You’ve been on an emotional roller coaster today.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Okay, I guess. I’m kinda in shock, I think.”
“Well you need to get your thoughts together before we get home because Ash is gonna want
some answers.”
“Answers about what?” I asked. My head felt like it was going to explode.
“About you and him, about you and Rat, about where you all stand… I’m sure he’s just as
confused as you are, sweetheart. One minute y’all are singing love songs to each other, making googoo eyes, and kissing; the next Rat’s singing I Love You to you and you’re chasing him outside.” He
stopped and smiled slightly. “Then we return, I have a bloody face, and you have smoke coming out
of your ears. I kinda feel bad for the guy.”
Despite feeling completely emotionally overwhelmed, I couldn’t help but giggle at his
simplified version of the previous ninety minutes. It was rather crazy.
“Oh God, Max, what have I done? I’m so sorry I made you a part of all of this. I’m sorry I
ruined your friendship with Mason.”
“I said I’m fine, Scarlett. Really. I’ll be okay. How are you feeling about each of them?”
I hesitated before answering as I gathered my thoughts. “I loved Mason… I mean I still love
him, you just don’t turn off feelings like that. But way too much has happened for us to ever reconcile.
I honestly doubt if I will ever see him again, especially since he’s leaving to go on tour soon. And
Ash… well, you know how I’ve always felt. Being around him this last week has just reminded me of
why I used to feel the way I did. It was easy to not deal with my feelings for him when I didn’t just
have to see him. And after that kiss… that was just… I don’t even know how to put it into words.
Being with him feels so natural, so right, but I think I need some time to myself. I mean how would
that look going from one relationship right into another?”
“I do think you need some time to yourself, but just let it play out however it feels right.
Again, stop worrying about what other people think so much. It’s not like you and Ash just met and
you’re jumping into something new. You both acknowledge there was a connection between y’all
from the very beginning, and I know that you both loved each other. It may not have been a physical
relationship, but you were both emotionally and mentally dependent on one another. Y’all’s
relationship was severed without warning; it’s not like you stopped loving one another. You both just
got better at hiding it.”
I thought about what he said as we pulled into the parking lot. “You’re right on all accounts.
I’m just scared of getting hurt. I don’t know if I can go through it again. Between Ash the first time and
everything that has happened with Mason, I’m afraid I’m predestined for heart ache.”
“Fate will find a way sweetheart. Our happily ever afters are coming.” He turned off the car
and smiled one of his precious Maxi smiles that I loved so much.
“I like that. Fate will find a way.” I leaned across the seat and gave him a peck on the cheek.
“Thank you, Max. You’re the best. I owe you my sanity... and my entire next paycheck,” I said in an
attempt to lighten the somber mood.
We both chuckled as we got out of the car and waited for Ash to join us. I watched him as he
crossed the pavement and a calmness settled over me. He looked so different in the dress clothes
compared to his usual shorts and t-shirts or hoodies. I couldn’t help but stare at the tattoo on his
forearm, peeking out from his rolled up sleeves. The names Eros and Psyche stared back at me,
reminding me of what all they had to go through to be together. But in the end, fate found its way and
they were rewarded with her immortal love. I sighed aloud as I wondered what fate had in store for
me.
After we got in the apartment, Max went straight to the shower to get cleaned up and told us he
was going to bed afterwards. Ash followed me back to my room and sat down on the bed. I sat down
next to him and laid my head on his shoulder.
“It was awful. Absolutely awful,” I said just barely above a whisper.
He wrapped his arm around me and pulled me snug up against his side. “Whenever you’re
ready to talk about it. No rush. I know it’s been a crazy day for you.”
“No, I want to get it out while it’s fresh in my head. I know my emotions are really raw, but
after what happened between us tonight, I think we need to talk about it,” I said as I relaxed a bit next
to him.
I knew I needed to be as honest as I could so I recapped the conversation for him as best as I
could remember it. Unfortunately, it didn’t get any easier stomaching some of the words that Mason
and I had exchanged the second time around. When I finished the recap, Ash asked me how I was
feeling at that exact moment.
“Confused,” I replied. That was the best word that I could think of to describe the multitude of
thoughts and feelings that were bouncing around in my head.
“That’s to be expected Scarlett. It’s gonna take some time to process it all. I’m sorry that I
kissed you tonight.”
I pulled back away from him and looked at him questioningly. “Why do you say that?” No girl
ever wants a guy to apologize for kissing her.
“Because if I’d had known you were going to deal with all of this other stuff, I wouldn’t have
complicated things for you. You know how I feel about you Scarlett; I told you that day in the music
shop, but I don’t ever want to cause you additional stress or cause more problems. I know now is not
the right time for this… for the possibility of an us… but tonight, I just couldn’t help myself,” he said
as he ran his fingers through his long blonde hair, clearly frustrated.
“It’s okay Ash. You didn’t know that he was gonna show up,” I said as I put my hand on his
arm, hoping to comfort him. “And I was standing up there... I felt it too. I always feel it when I’m
around you. Always have.”
He turned to face me, as we both sat on the bed still in our dress clothes, and cocked his head
slightly. “Really? You really feel it?”
The ways his blue eyes bore into mine, I felt like he was looking in to my soul. Instantly all
other thoughts and memories of the night vanished from my head, and the only thing I could
concentrate on was sitting right next to me. I pulled my bottom lip in between my teeth and nodded my
head. He glanced down at his arm and I followed suit. My hand that I had put on his arm to soothe him
was rubbing the Eros & Psyche butterfly tattoo on his forearm. We both looked back up at one another
and surrendered ourselves to the moment. I couldn’t have resisted if I wanted to.
He closed the small gap between our faces and brushed his lips lightly across mine before
pulling back slightly to gage my response. Closing my eyes, I leaned towards him and was quickly
met with his mouth on mine. This time his kiss was much more firm ~ demanding and almost
desperate. His tongue teased my lower lip, tracing it, and then nibbling ever so slightly. Moaning, I
parted my lips, allowing him entrance to my mouth. Our tongues tangled together as we lost ourselves
in a kiss for the second time that day.
ASH
Kissing Scarlett at the wedding was wonderful… amazing even; however, when our lips
touched as we sat there on her bed, the voice in my head screamed so loudly, the reverberations
could be felt in the furthest tips of my toes. I had known from the moment I laid eyes on her that she
was my future… my forever… my happily ever after. Unfortunately, we both needed to conquer some
personal issues before it could be right for us to be together.
Now that I had finally dealt with the demon that was my father and his influence, I felt a huge
weight lifted off of my shoulders, and was ready to give myself to her… completely and wholeheartedly. I knew it had only been a week since the Mason bombshell had been dropped on her, but
from listening to her explain how things had been the previous month, it seemed that they had been
drifting apart with the physical distance between them.
Feeling her skin on my skin, her lips on my lips, I was aroused instantly. I knew that we were
a long way from that, if ever, but fuck if I couldn’t help myself. I had waited so long to have her next
to me, to touch her again, that at first contact I was hard. Reluctantly, I ended the kiss, knowing if I
didn’t do it quickly, I may not be able to control my actions. Even after I had pulled back from her a
bit, she kept her eyes closed, and I caressed her face ever-so-lightly. The whimper that I heard her try
to hide nearly sent me over the edge, but not wanting to ruin what we were slowly rebuilding before it
ever had a chance, I backed up a little more.
“Butterfly, let’s shower and get you ready for bed. It’s been a long day.”
She opened her eyes and I could see the desire looming her warm caramel-colored eyes. Even
though I knew we couldn’t do anything about it right then, knowing she felt it too sent me over the
moon.
“Will you stay here with me tonight?” she whispered. “Sleep with me like we used to do?”
Like there was any chance I was gonna say no to her for anything, especially not that. It was
gonna be a huge fucking test of self-control, but I was up for the challenge. “Of course. Whatever you
need or want. I’m yours.”
After we both had showered, and I had borrowed some clothes from Max, we lay down in
bed and she snuggled up next to my body like we hadn’t been separated over the previous twelve
months. I slung my arm around her waist, and pulled her closer to me. Without trying to seem too
much like a weirdo, I sniffed her hair, remembering the fruity concoctions that she always smelled
like. I smiled to myself as I settled myself onto the pillow and within minutes I was off in
dreamland.
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE ~
LOVE
Madness ~ Muse
I’m Yours ~ Jason Mraz
SCARLETT
Waking up covered in all things Ash took me straight back to the numerous nights I had spent in
his bed the year before ~ his arms holding me securely against his body, his legs tangled in mine, his
masculine scent filling my nostrils, his morning erection pressing into my back. I closed my eyes,
trying to clear my mind and to ignore the desire spreading throughout my body. I knew that I was both
emotionally and physically needy from not just the last week, but the last month that I had been by
myself; however, that didn’t stop the memory of our kiss from just a few hours prior from flooding my
mind.
Without even realizing what I was doing, I arched my back ever so slightly, pushing my ass up
against his hard cock. He groaned in his sleep and tightened his hold on me. Oh God. I lay there for a
few minutes as my id, ego, and superego battled one another on my next move. In that moment, my id
was feeling awfully dominate, and it kept chanting to me the advice that Evie had given me so many
times: Fuck it and just live. So I did.
I reached back behind me, slid my hand between our bodies, and gently grabbed his cock.
Gently, I began to stroke him on the outside of his boxers. It didn’t take him long to stir to life as he
unconsciously pressed himself into my hand. Strengthening the grip I had on him, as I continued the up
and down motion with my hand, I turned my head to where I could see his face. His eyes were still
closed but he was smiling. Wanting to give him the best wakeup call that I possibly could, I twisted
my body to where I was facing him, and began to quietly shimmy down under the covers.
Trying not to wake him yet, I managed to get slip his erection out of his boxers. My heart was
pounding out of my chest; I had fantasized what it would be like to be with Ash every night I had slept
in his bed from the day I met him. I didn’t allow myself a chance to second guess I was about to do, I
just went with what I was feeling. I wrapped my hand around the base of his cock and he jumped
slightly and the unexpected touch. I waited a moment as he relaxed his body, and then began to slide
my hand up and down his bare shaft. After wetting my lips with my tongue, I ever-so-lightly touched it
to his head and began swirling it around the tip, increasing the pressure slowly. Continuing the
stroking with my hand, I parted my lips and wrapped them snugly around his rock hard cock.
I wasn’t really sure at what point he was fully awake and aware of what was going on, but as
I slid my mouth down his length, he moved his hands, threading his fingers in my hair. Any fear or
hesitation I had that he would tell me what I was doing wasn’t a good idea was erased. Matching the
same rhythm as my hand, I began moving my lips over his dick while running my tongue along the
underneath.
“Scarlett,” he moaned as he tightened his hold on my hair.
Hearing him say my name and knowing what I was doing to him, drove me crazy. I could feel
the butterflies come alive not only in my stomach but deep in my core as well. Fueled by a yearning
over a year old, I devoured his cock, sliding it in and out of my mouth, sucking hard on the tip, and
then burying it deep into my throat.
“Scarlett, oh my God, that’s incredible,” he said in between breaths. “Come here.”
He tugged my hair in an upwards motion and I pulled my mouth off his shaft, making a popping
noise as the suction released him. I moved back up his body until we were face to face. We both just
lay there for a moment lost in each other’s eyes, looking deep into each other’s soul, knowing that
once the line was crossed, our destiny would be fulfilled. Fate had determined this inevitable long
before I knew who Ash Walker was.
No words were necessary and none were said. I knew exactly what he was thinking, just as he
did me. Our mouths collided feverously, craving one another’s taste, and our hands began a frenzied
exploration of each other’s bodies as we ripped away the clothes separating us. Within minutes, we
were both stripped free of the barriers, both physically and mentally, that kept us apart.
He pulled me onto his lap so that I was straddling him. His eyes roamed over my body, and
instead of feeling any apprehension, I was completely comfortable as he took me in.
“Butterfly, you are most beautiful thing I have ever laid my eyes on,” he said as he reached out
with one hand and stroked my cheek.
I leaned forward and brushed my lips across his as I ran my hands over his chest. As I sat back
up, he grabbed both of my wrists and swung my arms around to my back, and held them there with one
hand. He used his free hand to rub over my breasts and to pull on each nipple. I arched my back into
his touch and felt his cock twitch under me, and reactively I wiggled my throbbing pussy to where he
was positioned directly against my clit.
“Ash, oh please…” I moaned.
He grabbed me and quickly flipped us to where I was flat on my back and he was hovering over
me. He began kissing my neck and nibbling on my earlobe as his hand traveled down my stomach
until it found my hot wet cunt.
“Ah, fuck Scarlett, you are drenched. I want to feel you so bad,” he admitted.
“I want you inside of me love,” I replied, drunk with desire and passion.
His fingers slid between my slick folds and he began massaging my sex, building the needy
ache deep inside of me. My body was starving for his, my soul desperate to make that connection to
him.
“Please…” I begged. “I need you.”
Hearing the intensity of my plea, he lifted his body and lined it up with mine. His eyes fixed on
mine, there was nothing else in the world that mattered in that moment than him and me and our need
for each other. He plunged deep inside of me with the first stroke, and I screamed out. He pulled back
until he was almost completely out of me, but right before that, he slammed inside of me again. And
again. And again. It didn’t take either of long to reach our breaking point; we had both thought about
this moment for way too fucking long.
“Ash, I’m gonna cum,” I somehow managed to say, at least I think I did.
Close to his own orgasm, he did not let up, pumping in and out of me, until we were both ready
to jump together. As I felt the explosion begin to erupt deep inside me, I held onto him tightly,
clenching my pussy around his cock until I felt him join me in the free fall and collapse around me.
I don’t know how long we stayed just like that. Our exhausted, sweaty bodies, pressed against
each other and our breaths in sync with one another I would love to say that our first time together
was tender and gentle and caring and sensitive, but it was a far, far cry from any of those. The only
thing that mattered was that it was perfect. Earth-shattering, life-altering, soul-fusing perfect.
ASH
Waking up to Scarlett’s mouth on my cock was the best surprise… ever. I had wanted so badly
the night before to further that kiss, but I was afraid that it wasn’t the right time, it was too soon.
Despite our history together and the connection we had always shared, truth was she had only been
broken up with Rat for a week or so, and the argument they had left her emotionally vulnerable. I
wanted her as mine more than anything in the world, but I had faith it would happen in due time. She
would always be my Psyche. However, I also knew it was important for her to find her own strength,
to learn that she could fly with her own wings. She didn’t need to be my butterfly or his angel or
anyone’s anything to love herself and find true happiness.
All that being said, there was no way in hell I was going to stop her once I woke up and
realized what she was doing. I had fantasized about being with her so many times, it was truly a
dream come true. When I pulled her up to my face and looked into her eyes, it was in that moment I
knew she had realized that us being together was inescapable… unavoidable… predetermined. She
owned me ~ body, mind, and soul.
I had wanted so badly to make sweet love to her the first time we were together, but once I
touched her, I couldn’t control myself. She was so fucking beautiful and I had waited so long to have
her. I almost came immediately when I first thrusted inside her sweet, tight pussy. Calling it heavenly
wasn’t even doing it justice. It was completely indescribable and more powerful than anything I had
ever experienced.
As we lay there afterwards, struggling to catch our breath and to wrap our heads around what
had just happened, I couldn’t help but ask her, “Did you call me �love?’”
She giggled and shook her head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Laughing at her stubbornness, “I think you know exactly what I’m talking about. You called me
a nickname… �love’ of all things too.”
“You’re delusional. I think the hormones racing through your body must’ve affected your
hearing,” she attempted to say with a straight face.
I started tickling her and she began squirming around underneath me, trying to control her
laughter. “Really? Because I’m pretty sure your exact words were “’I want you…’” She clamped her
hand over my mouth so that I couldn’t say anything else, so naturally I licked her hand to get her to
move it.
“Ewww… that’s gross,” she squealed as she pulled her hand back.
“I want you inside me love,” I managed to say in my version of a female voice before dying in
laughter. She slapped my arm and I grabbed her around the waist and pulled her on top of me. “Say it
again.”
“Say what again? That I want you inside of me?”
“Well, that’s not what I was talking about, but if you want to say that again, I can
accommodate your wishes,” I teased.
She rolled her eyes and tried to act mad, but couldn’t stop the smile that tugged at her lips.
“Come on love, let’s get out of bed. I need to shower and I’m hungry.”
As she climbed off of me, I swatted her ass and she squealed. “I need a shower and food too,
ya know. God, what kind of hostess are you?”
“Well come on then, love.”
I sat up and watched her walk across the room naked. What a sight she was.
“Stop looking at me like I’m an animal at the zoo. Are you gonna take a shower with me or
not?”
She needn’t ask twice; fuck yeah I wanted to take a shower with her. I wanted to do everything
with her. I was up and out of the bed in seconds, following her to the bathroom. “Are you gonna cook
me breakfast after we are all clean?”
“This isn’t a bed and breakfast,” she said laughing. “We can go get some food… and you
some clothes.” She looked me up and down as I stood there just as naked as her. Our eyes met and I
wanted to say it so bad, and I knew it wasn’t the time, but damn if I didn’t love her so much.
“I know… me too,” she said and then turned and walked into the adjoining bathroom.
CHAPTER TWENTY TWO ~
MOVING IN DIFFERNENT DIRECTIONS
Butterfly (She Flies Alone) ~ Journey
Lego House ~ Ed Sheeran
When the Drugs Don’t Work ~ Ben Harper
SCARLETT
Over the next couple of weeks, Max and I worked our way into a comfortable routine. Classes
were out for winter break, so we had quite a bit of free time around our part time work schedules.
After that first incredible morning together, Ash expressed his concern that I needed space to heal
from the breakup and that he wanted me to be sure that a relationship with him was what I wanted. I
knew without a doubt what I wanted, but I agreed to take things slowly.
Max and I worked perfectly as roommates. Thankfully, there was never any awkwardness
about what had happened between us because I wouldn’t have known what to do without him in my
life. He made me talk about my feelings quite a bit, claiming that I needed to get it all out or I would
allow it to get in the way of my happiness. We talked about Mason and how I felt about the breakup.
Even though I did love Mase very much, our relationship wasn’t strong enough, or we just weren’t
mature enough, for it to withstand the distance between us. Sure, there had been some
miscommunication issues, but the fact was he was moving forward with his music and Jobu’s Rum
and I was a twenty year old college student with a lot of growing up to do. Being my first love… my
first relationship… my first everything really made him very special to me and I would always hold a
special place in my heart for him. I didn’t begrudge him the decisions he made, and I truly wished him
all of the happiness and success in the world. Maybe one day when he was rich and famous, I could
say I knew him when.
Ash and I talked and texted every day, but true to his word, I only saw him a couple of times a
week at first. He would take me out on dates ~ dinner, movies, we even went to a musical ~ and then
afterwards we would go back to one of our houses and hang out with our respective roommates.
Being with him was the most natural thing ever, I could just be me all the time. For better or worse,
he knew everything about me, the good and the bad. And for the most part I knew everything about
him. Sex with Ash was nothing short of spectacular. It was always different, sometimes it was slow
and sweet love making while other times it was nothing more than hot and sweaty fucking. It was a
given on the nights we spent together that we would, but he was also very spontaneous. Any time we
got where we were at one of our houses alone, it became a game of what room he would pounce on
me in.
Before I knew it, the week of Christmas was upon us and I was very excited because I was
spending it with Ash’s family. Crys, Will, and the boys were flying in for the holiday, and I was
looking forward to seeing them all again. My parents had gone on a Mediterranean cruise for two
weeks and my brother and sister-in-law were going to visit her parents on the East coast, so my
grandparents had decided to not have a big dinner. They had told me I was welcome to come to their
house, but they understood if I had friends that I wanted to celebrate with. Jess and Meg had both gone
to their parents’ homes so we used Ash’s house as the place for the festivities. His mom’s apartment
could’ve worked, but there was much more space and the kitchen was much more functional at his
house.
I spent Christmas Eve night with him helping clean up and prep the food. As we were standing
in the kitchen cutting up veggies for the different casseroles, we talked about childhood memories of
Christmas Eve’s and what not. Somehow we got on the discussion of our older siblings and as he was
talking about Crys, a question that I was curious about for a long time popped in my head.
“Can I ask you something about while I was gone last year?” I asked, scared of what the answer
was going to be.
“Of course, what’s up?”
“So I know that the day I came back and saw you at the bar, you were there with Crys, but what
did you do while I was gone? I mean we’ve never really discussed those eight months…” I let my
voice trail off, unsure of how he was gonna take the question.
“You mean who did I do while you were gone, right?” He stopped what he was doing and
pushed the cutting board aside. He turned to look at me and raised his eyebrows, waiting for my
response
The one bad thing about us knowing each other so well was he that he knew exactly what I
meant when I asked something like that. I didn’t stop peeling the potatoes nor did I look up at him,
instead I just nodded my head.
“Right after you left Scarlett, I was devastated. I didn’t leave my house much for a few weeks.
I blamed myself, and rightfully so, for why you left. Soon thereafter, I went through my angry stage. I
was mad at you for leaving, for running away and not letting me explain.
I thought that returning to the way I was before you, before I cared about anyone would help me get
over you… “
I knew I had no right to be mad, but still hearing that he had gone back to that lifestyle pissed
me off and I could feel my face getting hot. He took the two steps it took to get to me and grabbed my
wrists, making me stop what I was doing. I looked down realizing I was destroying the potato with
the peeler. I dropped both in the sink and turned my face to look at him. His face was serious but
reassuring.
“Scarlett, after the first week or so of acting like a fucking jack ass, I stopped. I just couldn’t do
it. You were all I could think of. I knew, I just knew that you’d come back or somehow we would end
up back together, and I didn’t want to have this exact conversation with you. I didn’t want you to be
disappointed in me again. I swore that I’d never let you down again.”
“Really? So up until we were together the first time a few weeks ago, you hadn’t been with
anyone since a few weeks after I left?” I found that pretty hard to believe.
“Yes, I know you are having problems believing that, but it’s the truth. Shortly after that
everything happened with my parents and I got the new research assistant job. My life just got so
crazy that I didn’t really have time to think about it. I mean don’t get me wrong, I watched a shit load
of porn and took care of myself plenty, but I wasn’t with anyone else.”
I knew by the look on his face and the calming feeling in my stomach that he was telling the
truth, and I relaxed my shoulders that I didn’t even realize were tensed up. “Okay, sorry, I just had to
ask.”
“Anything, Butterfly, anything you ever want to know… you ask me. I don’t there to ever be a
problem between us because of miscommunication or assumptions.”
He let go of my wrists and stepped behind me pinning me in between his body and the sink.
Sweeping all of my hair over one shoulder, he began kissing the exposed shoulder, moving his mouth
tantalizingly slow towards my neck with kisses and light love bites. I closed my eyes and I moaned as
his touch brought me wet panties instantly.
As he continued moving up my neck with his mouth, his hands grabbed and tilted my hips so that
my ass was pressed up against his erection. “Do you know how sexy you are when you get jealous
and possessive?” he growled in my ear. Fuck yes.
I shook my head no and closed my eyes. Not moving his hands off of my hips or his mouth off
my throat, he began bunching my skirt up in his hands.
“Do you need me to remind you how important you are to me?” he grumbled.
His question reminded me of something Jesse Ward would’ve asked Ava. “You mean a
reminder fuck?” I asked with a cheeky grin.
He chuckled at my sassiness. “Exactly like a reminder fuck.”
Not waiting for me to respond, I felt him release my right hip and I then heard his pants being
unbuttoned and zipped. Not even bothering to take off my red lace panties, he pulled them to the side
and plunged two fingers inside of me. “Ahh fuck, Scarlett, you’re drenched. You like thinking about
me giving you reminder fucks, don’t you?”
He began rubbing my juices all around my entire swollen lips and throbbing clit. Instead of
answering, I arched my back even more offering myself up to him. Seconds later, again without
warning, he thrust his hard cock deep inside of me. I cried out with pleasure as he buried himself in
me. With both hands holding my hips tight, he began pumping his cock in and out of me at an almost
frantic pace. It didn’t take long at all for me to feel my orgasm coming on. The entire act was just
incredibly fucking hot, and when he leaned into my ear and ordered me to cum, that was all it took. I
exploded all over him, my pussy weeping with happiness. Moments later I felt his body tense up and
his thumbs dig into my hip bones as he emptied his hot cum into me and cried out, “Fuuuuccckkk!”
His body slumped over onto me, and he wrapped his arms tightly around my waist. Snuggling
his face back into my neck, he whispered into my ear, “That’s your reminder that I love you. Always
and Forever. You’re my Psyche and I’m your Eros.”
I knew he loved me, just like he knew that I loved him, but we had yet to start saying it to one
another. If you would have asked me before if that’s how I wanted him to express his eternal love to
me ~ leaned over the kitchen sink with his semi-hard cock still inside me, as the remnants of our
reminder fuck began to run down my inner thigh, I would’ve laughed at you. But just like everything
else with Ash and I, his saying I love you happened exactly it was supposed to, exactly the way it was
supposed to.
“I love you too, Luv, but what happens if I forget again? Something like this?” I teased. “Cause
if that’s the case I think I may have already forgotten again.”
“You little brat! I’m about to show you what a retribution fuck is…”
“Ooh, that sounds like fun too!” I wiggled my ass against him.
“Stop it, Scarlett,” he said laughing. “We need to get the rest of this stuff ready for tomorrow.
Now come on, let’s go clean up real quick.”
The following morning I was woken up with a sweet �I love you’ love making session before
we rolled out of his bed ready to attack the day. His family all arrived around three in the afternoon
and I was so happy to see Crys again. We had begun chatting daily via texts just about life, and I
considered her one of my good friends. The guys were in the living room watching some football
game on TV, his mom was sitting on the floor playing a board game with Oscar and Evan soaking in
her grandmother time with the adorable little blondies, and Crys and I were putting the finishing
touches on the meal.
Just before we were going to sit down for dinner, I heard my phone ringing back in Ash’s room
so I hurried back there to answer it. Being that it was Christmas day, I assumed that it was my parents
or brother calling to wish me a happy holiday, so I didn’t think much about the long distance are code.
“Hello! Merry Christmas!” I answered cheerfully.
“Scarlett? Is that you?” a familiar male voice said on the other side of the line, but I couldn’t
place it immediately.
“Yes… who is this?”
“It’s Cruz.” The minute he told me who it was my stomach sank and I began to grind my teeth. I
wasn’t sure why he was calling, but it couldn’t have been for a good reason.
“I, uh… I don’t know how to say this…” he danced around whatever it was.
“Just say it. What’s going on Cruz?” I hadn’t seen nor heard from Mason in several weeks when
we said goodbye at Mina’s wedding, but I had a bad feeling.
“Rat OD’d last night.”
MASON
I woke up the day after the wedding on the bathroom floor of Cruz and Sebastian’s apartment. I
had no idea what I had done or how I had gotten there. I felt like I had been run over by a train ~ my
head was pounding, my vision was blurry, my ribs were sore, and I had the worst case of cotton
mouth ever. What in the fuck happened? I stumbled out into the living area where Cruz was playing
video games and eating some cereal.
“Dude, what the fuck happened to me?” I asked him.
He looked up at me and shook his head. “You lost your damn mind last night, Rat. I don’t
know what that girl did to you, but you need to get a hold of yourself before we leave.”
Just the mention of Scarlett brought all of the memories from the prior day to the surface. I still
couldn’t believe it what had happened. I needed to talk to Bentley ASAP, I needed to ask about being
reassigned to Jag, and I needed to tell that bitch to fuck off for good.
I managed to get myself together as much as possible and made my way to my apartment.
After a shower and a cup of coffee, I began to feel about twenty-five percent drag so I decided to
make the phone call. Instead of dealing with Bentley’s craziness, I called Jag direct and told him the
situation. He agreed and told me that he would take care of his sister and that I didn’t need to worry
about it again. I felt much better that issue had been resolved.
Despite feeling like complete dog shit that morning after partying the night before, I decided it
was a good idea to party again that night with all the members of Vander Blue and their groupies. I
called Sebastian to make sure he was bringing party favors for us to partake in, and then I got ready to
go not give a fuck.
Once we left to go on tour, I thought that I would be able to straighten my act up a bit. I kept
telling myself that my going out in Austin every night before we left was just my mini-farewell tour of
sorts. However, the exact opposite happened. The women, alcohol, and drugs multiplied tenfold.
Every day and night it was thrown in our fucking faces and I after losing my Angel, I just wasn’t
stable enough mentally or emotionally and I got lost in the easy, temporary fixes.
Christmas Eve night was particularly crazy. We had played a show in Miami the night before,
and we were off on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to relax a bit before the European tour
started. The boys and I decided to go see what all the fuss over Miami Beach’s party life was all
about. Making sure that I had a nice feeling running through me before we got started, I grabbed a
mirror and a straight edge to cut up a few lines of coke that Sebastian had gotten me the night before.
Snorting a line in each nostril, I took a deep breath and waited for the tingling feeling to creep up my
nose, and then begin the slow drip in the back of my throat. Once I recognized the undeniable taste in
my mouth, I wet my finger with my tongue, ran it across the mirror to pick up any leftover granules
and then rubbed it on my gums.
Within minutes, I was alert and ready to go, hoping that I was headed out for a Christmas Eve
night that I would never forget.
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE ~
SAVED BY AN ANGEL
I Won’t Let You Go ~ James Morrison
The Great Escape ~ P!nk
SCARLETT
“What did you just say?” I asked Cruz, hoping I didn’t hear what I thought I did.
“It’s Mason, Scarlett,” his voice cracked. “He’s in ICU in critical condition here at the
University of Miami hospital. They aren’t sure if he’s gonna make it. They said the next twenty four
hours are crucial. I know its Christmas and all; I’m really sorry to have to make this call, I just
thought you would want to know.”
“Of course I want to know. I’m on my way. What hotel are you staying in?” My mind begin
racing on what all I needed to do to get there as soon as possible.
“We are at the Bentley Hotel South Beach.”
“Are you fucking serious?” Really? Of all the hotels, that’s where they were staying? “Let me
guess, she booked that one…” I knew I shouldn’t be acting bitchy with the seriousness of what was
going on, but damn if I didn’t despise that bitch.
“No, Scarlett. Rat fired her before we came on tour. Jag’s here with us.”
“Oh, okay” I didn’t have time to think about the implications of what that meant; I needed to get
to Miami quickly. “Well, I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“You don’t have to do that. I know it’s Christmas,” he said. “I just wanted you to know.”
“No, I have to be there. I’ll call the airline as soon as I hang up with you. I’ll let you know
when I get there.”
I hung up the phone and did just as I said I would, I called the airlines and booked a seat on the
next flight out which was in an hour and a half. I didn’t even bother to stop and think about Ash and
his family in the other room. Luckily, I kept some clothes over his house so that I wouldn’t have to
always bring a bag back and forth. I began frantically throwing enough for a few days into a bag and
mentally going through what all I needed for the flight. As I was going through my purse checking for
my driver’s license and cash, Ash walked into the room with a confused look on his face.
“Is everything okay, Butterfly? Why are you packing a bag? What’s going on?” He was looking
around the bed trying to figure out what was going on.
I knew that he wasn’t going to be happy that I was bailing on him and his family and this meal
that we had prepared for Mason, but I had no choice. I had to go to him.
“Please don’t get upset, but Cruz just called. Jobu’s Rum is in Miami and Mason overdosed last
night. He’s in bad shape at the hospital. They aren’t sure if he’s gonna make it Ash.” It wasn’t until I
had to say the words out loud that the tears came. “I just booked a flight. I leave in a little over an
hour. Please understand that I have to go.”
The disappointment showed all over his face, but instead of giving me any grief, he nodded his
head. “Okay, Scarlett, whatever you think you need to do.”
“I’m so, so sorry love. If he doesn’t live, I would never forgive myself for not going. I at least
need to see him.”
I walked over to him and wrapped my arms around his neck, pulling him close to me. I knew he
was frustrated with the situation, but being the person he was, he tried to hide it for my sake. He slid
his arms around my waist and kissed my forehead.
“Go do what you need to do. I’ll explain it to my family and I’ll be here waiting for you when
you get back, okay?”
I nodded my head, trying to keep more tears from coming for saying goodbye to him. I leaned up
and kissed him hard on the lips. He returned the kiss with just as much force, sliding his tongue into
my mouth, rolling it against mine. It almost felt as if he was claiming me with the kiss, or reminding
me that I belonged to him, since a reminder fuck wasn’t an option at the moment. We reluctantly
pulled away from one another.
“I love you, Ash; I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“I know, Butterfly. I love you, too. Call me when you get there so that I know you arrived
safely and let me know how he is. No matter what history I have with him, I never want anything bad
to happen to him.”
On my way to the airport I called Max to let him know what was going on. He was angry that I
didn’t call him immediately, saying that he would’ve come with me, but I explained to him that this
was something I needed to do on my own. At some point I had to stop relying on other people to be
my crutch when dealing with tough times. Having dependable family and friends to support and
comfort me was a blessing, but it was time I flew with my own wings. An hour later as the plane
ascended into the air, I did just that.
Walking through Miami International Airport at nearly nine o clock on Christmas evening was
like walking through a ghost town. All of the restaurants and gift shops were closed and the airport
staff was minimal. I think I only passed maybe five or six other travelers in the entire building.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to go to baggage claim since I only had my one carry on, so I followed the
signs to the taxi pick up. Every minute I got closer to seeing Mason, the anxiety and fear continued to
build. I had no idea what to expect, what he would look like, if they would even let me see him.
I first called Cruz to let him know that I had arrived and to see if I should go to the hospital or
hotel first. He instructed me to meet him at the hotel because it wasn’t visiting hours again at the
hospital until eight in the morning. I had completely forgotten to call and book a room, but he told me
not to worry, that I could just stay in Mase’s room. I then called Ash and Max to let them know that I
had landed safely and was headed to the hotel.
The entire taxi ride to the hotel I beat myself up over being partly to blame for Mason’s
condition. I had dropped a huge bomb on him at the wedding that night, not only did I completely
reject his plea for a chance to work things out, I also told him I had slept with one of his good friends.
I wasn’t sure what to believe exactly about the phone call I had with Bentley that night, but after his
reaction to what I had assumed was his choice to be with her, I was pretty sure that nothing had
happened. That made me feel even more responsible for the downward spiral that had led to this
awful outcome.
If I had just demanded to talk to Mase that night, or even waited until the following morning
when he was coming home to talk to him, and get his side of the story before making unfounded
assumptions… If I had not got so drunk that I couldn’t keep myself from making senseless decisions…
If I had not been so hurtful and ugly to him when he came to the wedding… If I had checked on him
after leaving him in that state, I knew by just looking at him he was probably close to self-destruction.
As the taxi pulled up to the hotel and all I was left with was a bunch of “what-ifs.” I had
become a true believer in fate and destiny and everything happening for a reason. Once Ash and I had
gotten together, I realized that he truly was the other half of my soul, and the undying, eternal love that
we shared was the key to my happiness. But it didn’t make it any easier knowing that a man I loved, a
man that played a huge role in making me the person who I had become, was lying in a hospital bed
on the other side of the city fighting for his life… and that I was most likely one of the main reasons
he was there. With a defeated sigh, I opened the door and climbed out of the car after paying the fare
and adding a nice tip.
The outside of the hotel was beautiful, a four-story, white trendy building, located oceanfront
and right in the middle of what seemed to be the tourist area of the beach. It was dark outside when I
arrived, and the outside lighting rose from the ground, illuminating the two large palm trees outside as
well as the name spelled across the top floor: Bentley Hotel. Staying here was actually a blessing in
disguise, as it reminded me that I wasn’t the only contributor to this horrible situation. I walked into
the luxurious lobby hesitantly, unsure of where I should go exactly. I walked over and sat my bag on a
large chair in a lounge area in order to call Cruz when I felt two strong arms wrap around me from
behind.
“Scarlett, I’m so glad you’re here,” Cruz said as his voice cracked.
I turned around to face and hug him properly; when I saw his swollen red eyes and tear stained
cheeks, I nearly lost it. Hugging him tightly, I tried to comfort him, “Oh Cruz, it’s okay. It’s all gonna
be okay. Whatever happens… I promise.”
After a few moments, he pulled back from me and grabbed my bag out of my chair. “Come on,
Scarlett, it’s late. Let me take you up to the room so that you can rest. Tomorrow’s gonna be a long
day.”
We took the elevator to the top floor and he ushered me into a one bedroom suite that was
absolutely gorgeous. Mason’s clothes were thrown about on the unmade bed and an empty bag of his
favorite jalapeno chips was on the counter. Seeing his things caused a huge lump to form in my throat.
“Well, make yourself at home; I know Rat would want you to,” he said, trying not to breakdown
again.
After I gave him another hug, thanked him for everything, and promised him I would call if I
needed anything at all, he went down the hall to his room. At first I just stood there, not really sure
what to do. I didn’t really want to go through any of his things, but I needed to put my bag away and
order some room service, seeing that I hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast. In the bedroom I
found the dinner menu and quickly called down to order a BLT and fries. I figured I had time to take a
quick shower and get comfortable before the food arrived, so I hurried into the bathroom.
Twenty minutes later, I was clean and changed and waiting for my dinner. I sat down on the
couch to watch some mindless television when I saw Mase’s guitar propped against the end table. I
scooted over to grab it, hoping that some musical therapy would help much like it did after I lost
Evie, when I saw the sheets of paper with music and lyrics scribbled all over them spread out on the
table next to a mirror and razorblade.
I knew that I probably should’ve left everything exactly where it was, but curiosity got the best
of me, and I picked up the papers to see what he had been working on. Reading the words that he had
poured out from his heart into that song broke me. Complete. Devastation.
Need you, like the air I breathe
My Angel, that’s what you are to me
Watching you fall is tearing me apart
When you leave there won’t be much left of my heart
Drawn to him
Pulled to him
You just can’t stay away
I know the end is near,
Getting closer every day
Your happiness is my happiness
Simple but it’s true
That’s why I can never clip your wings
Could never stop you
Because you are
Drawn to him
Pulled to him
You just can’t stay away
I know the end is near,
Getting closer every day
So go to him
Be with him
Set your soul free
I only wish instead of him
It had been me
My perfect angel
That’s what you’ll always be
Yeah, that’s what you’ll always be
There is not a word that exists that could do justice to the way I felt after I read those
words. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt as if I was going to internally combust with the
emotions pumping throughout my body. I picked up the small square mirror that he had obviously used
for his drugs and chunked it across the room, shattering it against the wall. That didn’t make me feel
any better. I continued to just sit there in the deafening silence , until I was startled by someone
knocking on the door.
“Room service,” a voice called out on the other side of the door.
I jumped up and walked over to let him in, even though I suddenly had no appetite at all. After I
signed the ticket and the guy left, I put the food on the table, grabbed my purse and sweater, and went
to catch some fresh air. I walked at a snail’s pace down Ocean Drive, looking at all of the hotels,
restaurants, gift shops, and tattoo parlors that lined the street. Everything was closed since it was
nearly midnight on Christmas night; the serenity and peacefulness of what I was sure normally hectic
and chaotic helped calm my manic state.
A little ways down the street, I saw two seagulls walking side by side almost as if they were
humans out for a stroll. I sat down on the curb and watched them waddle down the sidewalk towards
me, every so often looking at each other as if they were talking. Seeing them made me think of
Jonathan Livingston Seagull and reminded me of the lessons of self-forgiveness and courage he was
forced to learn. As they got just in front of me, they stopped walking and stood for a split second, both
looking right at me. They then took flight, flying off back behind me. I turned to watch them take off
into the night’s sky when I noticed the building I had set down in front of: Eternal Truth Tattoo Shop.
Knowing exactly what I needed to do, I jumped up and headed back to the hotel. Once in
Mason’s/ my room, I began cleaning up the broken mirror from earlier. I then cleaned his room
completely and searched the internet until I found the perfect thing for the project I was going to tackle
the following afternoon, anything to keep myself busy until I could get to the hospital. I finally fell
asleep around four in the morning, but I had no problems getting up when the alarm clock went off
three hours later. I was so anxious to see him. I needed to see him.
Once I was ready to go, I called Cruz to let him know, grabbed Mason’s guitar case, and went
to meet him on the lobby. As soon as he saw me get off the elevator, he hurried over to me and picked
me up in a tight embrace. His eyes were still swollen but he looked much better than the night before.
“Good morning, Scarlett,” he said borderline cheerfully while looking down at the guitar.
“Morning, Cruz. Did you get some sleep?” I asked.
“Yes, I did. I’m feeling much better. I have such a good feeling about you being here to see him.
I can’t wait to get you to the hospital. So you are planning on playing music for him?”
“Cruz,” I warned as we walked towards the door. “I’m not here to get back together with him,
and I can’t promise that I’m gonna make anything better. I’m here because I love him as a person and I
want him to get better for himself. And yes, I’m hoping that some music might help.”
“Perfect, that’s all I can ask. Now come on.”
On the ride to the hospital, Cruz gave me the background on what had happened. It was hard to
hear the details, but I knew that I needed to know. He had told me that ever since they had gone on
tour, that both Mason and Sebastian had unraveled out of control at an alarming rate. He said their
music was already suffering from it because they were out all night doing who knows what and who
knows who, and would then show up for practice strung out and looking like warmed over death.
Christmas Eve night everyone had gone to some party at a producer’s house in South Beach, and
Mason disappeared with some girl into the house. Hours later when everyone was ready to leave,
they went searching for him. Smiley finally found him unconscious in a bathroom with a bunch of
drugs and paraphernalia surrounding him. No one knew where the girl was but when they couldn’t get
him to wake up for anything and his body was burning up hot, they took him straight to the ER.
The taxi dropped us off at the front door, and I allowed Cruz to lead the way. We found out that
they had moved him out of ICU because his vitals remained normal overnight, but he still had not
woken up. We found our way to his new room, and Cruz insisted that I go in first by myself. He told
me to take as long as I needed; he was going to go find some coffee.
Walking into that room, seeing him hooked up to the IVs and machines, was harder than I
thought it would be. I took a deep breath and walked towards his bed to get a better look at him.
Setting the guitar down on the floor, I stood there for a minute just taking him in. He was pale and his
face was thinner than normal. They had taken his lip ring out and his shaggy hair hadn’t been cut
recently. It looked like him, but it didn’t. I reached out and gently rubbed my thumb over his cheek
several times, but he did not react.
I sat down in the chair next to him and got the guitar out of the case. I had searched all kinds of
music the night before trying to find the right song to express my feelings and hopes for him. The first
time I heard P!nk’s The Great Escape, I knew it was perfect.
“Hi Mason, it’s me Scarlett. I’m here,” I began, feeling a bit awkward talking to an unconscious
person. “I’m not sure if you can hear me or not, but I just want to tell that I came as soon as I heard
what happened.” I took a deep breath trying to keep my cool and not break down crying. “I’m so upset
with you doing this yourself. What are you thinking? Ugh… I may just kill you myself when you wake
up,” I joked.
“No, really, I’m not even sure what to say. So, I’m doing what all musicians do; I’m gonna sing
to you how I feel. I really hope you can hear this…”
Mindful that I was in a hospital and that there were people in the next rooms, I closed my eyes
and quietly strummed my guitar, singing my heart out to the lifeless body that lay several feet from me.
Through the lyrics I told him that I wasn’t going to allow him to escape this life; I was going to help
him use the emotions that he was fighting to get rid of to give him a reason to be a better person; I
wasn’t going to let him run away and take the coward’s way out like I had done so many times. I had
learned through my own stupidity that wasn’t the answer, and how he had helped me build myself
back up when I came back, I was going to do the same for him.
Tears flooded my face, as I put every bit of feeling I had in singing the final lines to him. I
opened my eyes and took a deep breath. Staring back at me from the hospital bed were the beautiful
gray eyes that I had come to love so much.
“Am I in heaven now, Angel?”
EPILOGUE
A Twist in My Story ~ Secondhand Serenade
SCARLETT
Sitting in the chair at the tattoo shop I had sat in front of the day prior, I closed my eyes
as the hum of the needle worked steadily across my left shoulder blade. I used the time to collect the
thousands of thoughts running through my mind and to plan my next move. There were two things I
knew for sure: One, the love I had found with Ash was a timeless, eternal love that only came along
once in a lifetime. When I was with him, I truly felt complete. Two, I still loved Mase very much; it
was a different kind of love, but love nonetheless. I could not allow him to destroy his life, especially
when I felt an enormous amount of guilt as the primary cause for his downfall.
I now had to figure out how to incorporate both of these men into my life without making a
bigger mess than I already had. I had up and left Ash and his family on Christmas Day for my exboyfriend who had overdosed, and even though he seemed okay with it at the time, I was sure that
discussions would ensue when I returned. If the roles had been reversed, I would’ve been furious.
However, Mase needed me. He needed my help, love, and support to get his life back together. There
was no way I was turning my back on him after the way he took me back when I had returned to
Houston. He had helped me to learn to love myself by loving me, and I wanted to do the same for him.
I owed my happiness to both of them. One taught me how to fly like an angel ~ to free my spirit,
to accept forgiveness, and to love without restraint. The other had taught me to fly like a butterfly ~ to
embrace change, to celebrate innocence and vulnerability, and to open up my soul. Together, they had
both given me the courage and the strength to fly with my own wings.
The tattoo artist tapped me to wake me from my daydream, and held up a mirror so that I could
see the fresh ink on my back ~ the words Alis Volat Propriis with birds flying out of a feather off my
shoulder. I smiled and nodded my head; it was perfect. Even though I wasn’t sure how it would all
work out, I had faith it would. Fate would find a way.
“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your
understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”
― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
The End
Continue to follow Scarlett, Ash, Mason, & Max in
Euphoria (Book 3 ~ late 2013)
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
There are so many people that have helped me throughout this process that I could write a separate
book just in naming & thanking them. I am so blessed to be surrounded with such incredible people in
my life.
My amazing family ~ I couldn’t do it without each and every one of you. Thank you so much for the
love and support.
Tracey ~ you have no idea, Sissy. I love you always, Lenora.
My betas ~ you ladies rock! Thank you for the encouragement and always keeping me on track.
My original book club ladies from Maryse’s boards ~ it all started with you! Even though I haven’t
been an active part of the group, you are all always there for me whenever I need you.
The bloggers ~ huge thanks to the wonderful women who run the blogs for their support; you are the
primary reason for my success. I could never name them all but to name a few: Sugar and Spice Book
Reviews, Book Boyfriend Reviews, Becca the Bibliophile, Three Chicks & Their Books, My
Fictional Boyfriend & Book Whore Page, Wolfel’s World of Books, The Secret Book Brat…
seriously, I could go on & on!
Hang Le ~ in Meta’s acknowledgements I called you a genius, I now think you are of Mensa status.
Your vision and ideas for the cover are top-notch and your help with everything else is much
appreciated.
Toski Covey ~ the bestest photographer in the world! Thank you not just for the cover but for all of
the teasers and everything else
Elizabeth Moffitt ~ my Scarlett! Thank you so much for being the face of my girl.
Finally, all of these people are so very special to me, not just in having to do with the book, but in my
life. You all know the role you play (in alpha order, of course): Angie, Ass, Brandi, Carrie, Cel,
Cheri, Christina, Crys, Dee (x2), Ela, Jackie, Jaclyn, Jennifer, Jody, Kaci, Kirsten, Lee, Lisa, the
�Lissas, Lizzie, Marisa, Nicki, Nina, Ricky, Sandie, Shannon, Traci, & last but certainly not least, my
mafia princess, Trina Marie.
MUSIC CREDITS:
Scene Two: Roger Rabbit
Performed by Sleeping With Sirens
Released June 25, 2012
Copyright 2012 Rise Records
All at Once
Performed by The Fray
Released September 13, 2005
Copyright 2005 Sony Music Entertainment
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