Authors: Jolyn Palliata
Tags: #Paranormal;Romance;Rock star;Rock band;novella;Twists of Fate;Souls
The quiet growl in his words—like he still wanted her, couldn’t get enough of her—scraped away a layer of bliss to reveal how fiercely she truly loved this man. And just how little time they had left together.
Addison snuggled in. A quiet desperation had her gripping his shoulders and weaving her legs around his.
She wasn’t letting go.
I gotcha. I’m not going anywhere.
Not yet he wasn’t, but his time would come. She knew it. He knew it. And there was nothing either one of them could do about it.
An overwhelming sentiment drifted through her disjointed thoughts. And without regard to the consequences, those irrevocable words slipped uncensored through her mind.
I love you,
Realization and panic speared through her during the split-second it took him to respond.
With a squeeze and a nuzzle, he whispered,
I love you too, Addison. God help me, I do.
Addison stretched lazily, like a cat working out the kinks after a long nap.
“Is your brother typically late?” she asked Rhys, rolling on her back and letting her head hang off the end of the bed. She felt as if she’d wasted the whole morning waiting on him.
Actually, he is. The man could never manage time.
Probably the only reason he was at the gate to pick you up was because your plane was
running late. Otherwise, you would’ve been waiting on his ass. Guaranteed.
“Doesn’t that drive you nuts?”
She felt his mental shrug.
Been like that all my life. It’s to where I convert everything into X-time—Xavier time. If we’re launching our set at 10:00, we tell him 9:00 so he’s raring to go.
“Isn’t he onto your little antics by now?”
Sure, he is. But it works, so he goes with it. Hell, we’d never start on time otherwise.
Addison glanced at the clock. She flipped to the side into a solid landing and strode towards the sitting area. “So, if we’re going by X-time, he should be here any minute then.”
Hmm. Too bad, too. I was about ready to come up with some ideas to help you pass the time.
A delicious tingle coursed through her veins. “I know. Why do you think I started talking about your brother? If anything can shut a man down, it’s the thought of another man.”
And why would you want to do that?
, he asked smugly.
You can’t tell me you didn’t enjoy
last night, that you don’t crave more. I felt you, Addison. I felt all of you. And you loved every
minute of it.
She swallowed hard as she sat onto the somewhat-stiff couch. “Ahhh…I think that’s a given at this point. But tell me, Rhys, why would you want to get me all hot right before another man shows up at my room?”
She could hear the frown in his voice as he muttered,
No. Don’t want that at all.
Brother or not.
Smiling, she squirmed where she sat, squeezing her thighs together and letting him feel the sensation. “But now that you mention it…”
Oh, hell no, woman! You will not get me all tuned up and then freeze me off.
“But the payback was so much fun.” She laughed.
Shit. You’re going to be the death of me.
The comeback wiped the smile off Addison’s face. Such a common everyday saying, and yet it had such a different twist to it now.
She pulled herself from the guilt of her dark thoughts; thoughts she had blocked from Rhys.
With a great deal of effort, she tried to project some levity back into her mood. “Yeah?”
Talk to me, baby. What’re thinking?
She stared down at her hands as she snapped her fingernails together. “I…don’t think I can say.” She blinked back tears of shame as she whispered, “Oh, God. I’m a terrible person.”
I don’t buy that shit for one second. Now, what is it?
She owed him honesty, above all else. She knew that, but didn’t like it. “We’re here to help you get closure, to help you move on.”
“Rhys… Jesus. I’ll do what I can. You know I will.”
Of course you will.
“And I care about you. I…”
The words she fumbled for finally broke free in a mad rush of sound. “I love you. And I want you to be happy. You
be happy. You should get everything you could possibly want. Dammit! And I
that for you. You’re a good man. A beautiful man. A solid and caring man. Who am I to—” She snapped her mouth closed, horrified she’d already said too much.
But she hadn’t actually admitted to anything yet, had she? Coward.
“Rhys. I’m sorry. I can’t help how I feel. But I’ll do everything in my power to get you what you want.”
Addi, you’re not making any—
“I don’t want this to work,” she blurted out. “I don’t want to lose you.” The tears streamed down her burning cheeks. “God! I’m totally selfish. I’m sorry, Rhys! I can’t help… But I’ll do what I can. I will. I’ll…” Her sobs choked out everything else into an unintelligible mess.
he soothed in a deep whisper.
Close your eyes, baby. Come back to me.
She knew she shouldn’t indulge, that it was even more self-serving after what she had just admitted, but she closed her eyes anyway.
His strong arms wrapped around her at once, his face nuzzling in her hair, his hot breath sounding in her ear.
Don’t cry, baby. I can’t stand that you hurt. And I know what you mean. I
want to stay with you, but…I don’t think I can.
“I know. I understand,” she said, pulling back from his strength, embarrassed for acting so ridiculous.
She was a grown woman who was strong enough to do the right thing, and to keep her damn mouth shut about it no matter what she was feeling. Of course he can’t stay. And why would she be such an idiot to think otherwise? To think he’d want the same? To think it would even work?!
Just as she was about to open her eyes and break the connection, he tightened his grip, tugging her close.
No. You don’t understand. I love you, too. I do. Hell, you
I do. And I
would stay if I could. I want nothing more at this moment than to spend the rest of my…whatever
this is—existence…with you. Loving you. Touching you.
His large hands caressed down her back.
Clutching his broad shoulders, she bit off a gasp as his hands came to rest on the swell of her ass. “But it’s not fair to you.”
It’s not fair to either one of us, sweetheart. But, the point is, I don’t think I can. Thing
is…I’m slipping. I have been a little more every day.
She stiffened in his arms. “What does that mean? Are you okay?”
I’m good. It’s just… I used to only feel a pull to you. Like I was anchored inside you, bolted
deep. Now I’m feeling another pull, and it’s growing stronger than yours.
“Is it… Are you…”
She knew if there was Heaven and Hell, Rhys was definitely on the ascension list. But was there something else out there? Something bad? Something that could trap and hold?
He must have sensed her question, even if she didn’t know how to articulate it.
is, it’s good. It’s right. And I know the day is coming…soon…where that pull is going to be
overwhelming. When that time comes, I don’t know if I can resist.
She sighed in resignation. “You probably shouldn’t.”
But I want to.
He planted a tender kiss on her temple.
I want to stay with you.
“Don’t. Not for me. It’s the natural order of things, Rhys. Who knows what will happen if you resist. You can’t. The alternative… It’s not worth the risk to find out. Not when it’s your spirit at stake.”
She felt his nod against the side of her head, and felt his sorrow in the depths of her soul.
I’m going to miss you, Addison. So much.
The knock at her hotel room door had her eyes snapping open, Rhys’ consuming warmth fading from the surface of her flushed skin. “I’ll miss you too, Rhys. But it’s time to do this.” She squared off her shoulders and straightened her spine. “Let’s get your closure.”
“Man. Sorry I’m late,” Xavier said, pushing his big body through the gap in the door before Addison barely had it open.
She quickly scrambled aside as he passed in the narrow entryway, gesturing at him as if to say ‘Come on in.’
He totally missed the sarcastic response.
“I was working on some stuff, and traffic was a bitch. Big accident on—” His brow creased when he finally zeroed in on her. “Hey. What’s up with you?” Her back braced as his tone, then something occurred to her. Her nose felt a little runny yet from crying, but a quick sniffle and a discreet swipe of her hand assured her. Nope. She was good. “I’m fine, thank you.”
He waved a pointing finger from one eye to the other. “What’s going on there?” She fisted a hand on her hip. “Just what does it look like, Xavier?”
“It looks like…” He jerked back a step, a petrified expression flashing across his face. “Are you
Rhys snickered in her head.
Oh, yeah. One thing about X…he handles crying women even
worse than I do.
Addison snickered. Xavier continued looking at her as if she were a ten-foot mass murderer wielding a chainsaw. Actually, he might have handled that better.
He glanced around—seeking a distraction?—and then tipped his head towards the couch.
“I’m gonna—” He never finished the sentence; just strode to the couch and flopped down like his longs legs simply couldn’t hold his weight anymore.
Knowing how hard the couch was, that had to have hurt his ass. And then, sure enough, he listed to the side with a grimace on his face, before shifting from one cheek to the other.
To think, all this over a woman having bloodshot eyes. She wasn’t even crying anymore!
Addison walked over and sat next to him on the couch. She nodded at his butt. “You okay there?”
“Course.” He leaned forward, elbows on his knees as they twitched back and forth.
What a Nancy,
Rhys said with a chuckle.
“You can chill out, Xavier. I’m not crying anymore.” She laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.
He jumped at her touch, voice slightly squeaky. “Who said anything about crying?” His gaze shifted to her face, then away.
“Rhys said you’re freaking out because I’d been crying.”
“Am not.” He threw a meant-to-be-casual shrug in her direction, but it looked more like he’d just had a seizure. “It’s cool.”
She snorted, shaking her head.
Ask him about Gavin. Maybe that’ll help him find his balls again.
“Rhys!” she exclaimed, clamping a hand over her mouth as if she had said the offending words, not him.
Xavier looked at her with curiosity.
Rhys said innocently.
The man either needs to grow a pair, or find the ones
retreating into the recesses of this body. Drop ‘em, Xavier! Drop ‘em!
Xavier’s eyes narrowed. “He’s making some comment about my balls, isn’t he?” She dropped her hand in surprise. He heard him somehow? “How’d you know?” He shrugged again, this one more natural, and then smirked. “I’d do the same thing to him if the shoe was on the other foot.” Blowing out a breath, he leaned back and stared at the ceiling.
“Damn women and their crying,” he mumbled.
With a roll of her eyes, Addison angled her body towards Xavier and folded her legs under her. “Rhys wants to know how it went with Gavin.”
Xavier groaned and closed his eyes. “Not well.”
“What happened?” Addison relayed, then added, “He won’t help you?”
“No. He’ll help. But he was shocked as shit that I called him. Hell, Rhys. We just had your memorial and already I’m trying to find a replacement for you. He must think I’m some kind of motherfucker.”
“He said that?” she said, clearly shocked. And this was a friend of theirs?!
“No. I said that’s what he
Gavin would never go there. He knows how close we are. If he’s asking for a replacement,
temporary or not, then he knows there’s a damn good reason behind it.
“Rhys disagrees. He said Gavin would know there’s a good reason behind it.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she mumbled at Rhys, and then leaned into Xavier. “So he got a name for you?”
“Several. I’ll start making the calls after I talk to the rest of the guys next week.” Addison arched a brow.
Xavier responded to her unspoken question. “The other guys in the band. It’s not just my decision, Rhys. It’s theirs too.”
They’re not gonna stand in his way. X is the only one who could make the call to move
forward or not. They’ll follow his lead.
“Rhys says that shouldn’t be a problem.”
Xavier nodded. “He’s probably right.”
Addison felt Rhys’ concern, although he didn’t actually say anything. “How are the other members holding up? I can tell Rhys is worried about them too.”
“They’re good. I think. They were the last time I talked to them.”
Ask him how Gavin is doing. And Kiki.
“Kiki?” she said, a touch of disbelief in her tone. Someone actually named their kid that?
It’s a nickname,
Rhys explained, just as Xavier answered her.
“He wants to know how Kiki is?”
“Yeah,” she said, “and Gavin too.”
“They’re okay. Gavin’s holding up better than…well, me. And Kiki…” He scrubbed his face with his hands. “What can I say? Kyleigh is Kyleigh, tough as ever. She’s still in Europe so she couldn’t make the memorial. Something about her apartment got broken into and they swiped her passport.” He lifted a shoulder. “I swear, trouble follows that girl.”
Yeah it does.
“Who is she?” Addison couldn’t help but ask the question. She sensed the depth of Rhys’
feelings for this Kyleigh person, and had to know what the deal was, whether it was her place to or not.