Authors: Jolyn Palliata
Tags: #Paranormal;Romance;Rock star;Rock band;novella;Twists of Fate;Souls
“Will you excuse me for just one minute, Jonathan?”
Jonathan smiled. “Take your time, beautiful. We have all night.” She smiled appreciatively, then ducked down the hall and into the bathroom. Clenching and unclenching her fist, she elbowed the door closed and then proceeded to draw in long, deep breaths. If Rhys wasn’t already dead, she could’ve killed him!
I’m feeling a little hostility over here? What’s he doing?
He voice grew louder in intensity.
Is he copping a feel or some shit?! Kick him right in the balls, sweetheart. Don’t hold back!
Rhys, if you don’t shut the hell up, you’re the one who’s gonna end up licking the floor!
Nevermind the fact she didn’t know how she’d actually accomplish such a thing, but she was certain she could find a way.
What’s going on? You sound…different; more—I don’t know—intimate. Like you’re talking
right in my ear.
I’m hiding in the damn bathroom and talking to you in my head instead of out loud. I don’t
need Jonathan hearing me talk to myself and thinking I’m some kind of whack job.
You still talk to me out loud?
Addison sighed. The man just continued missing the point, didn’t he? Forget the fact she was hiding in the bathroom. Forget the fact she was furious with him. No, he was concerned about
she was talking to him. Asshat.
Yeah. No one else is around, so why not? It makes me feel…more normal to talk out loud.
Rhys felt a weird, hot tingling feeling that transferred to her.
I sure as hell prefer this way.
She shook off the odd sensation—it wasn’t arousal…right?—and refocused her anger to the target at hand.
Look. I agreed to keep this connection open, but you
treat me with a little
respect, you got it? I’ll not have you ruining this for me.
With all due respect, Miss…
He was quiet for a sec, and she could feel him trying to remember her last name. Thing was, he never knew it to begin with. He finally caught up and figured it out for himself.
What the hell’s your last name?
She rolled her eyes.
Calomino? Isn’t that Italian?
Yeah. And your point?
You don’t look Italian. You have those wicked turquoise eyes, and your hair—
Focus, Rhys. I have a date waiting for me.
She felt his scowl.
About that… I agreed to keep my mouth shut when you told me it was
It is just dinner. What the hell are you so bent out of shape for?
He kissed you!
She clamped a hand over her mouth to muffle her giggle.
Since when did you become the
prude in this little relationship of ours? Aren’t you supposed to be a rock star sex god or
Where did you hear that?
He sounded defensive.
I can read, ya know. Your reputation precedes you.
She couldn’t keep the censure contained no matter how hard she tried. She couldn’t explain the admonishment, but she couldn’t deny it either.
A flutter of nerves settled in her belly, and it took her a minute to figure out it was coming from Rhys and not her.
You shouldn’t believe everything you read.
She folded her arms and smirked.
So you’re not a sex god?
She knew there was no safe answer to the question, no matter how he responded. One answer was a blow to his ego, the other, to confess to something she was obviously disgusted with.
He must’ve come to the same conclusion.
I… Shut up.
shut up. That’s the whole point.
Forget it. Deal’s off. If I have to feel you kissing that piece of shit, there’s no way I’m
keeping my fucking mouth shut. So either you can deal with that, or go tell that fucker to beat it.
Rhys, if you ruin this—
You’ll what? Sweetheart, I’m already dead. There’s nothing you could possibly do to me
that’ll trump that shit.
You’re gonna pay for this, Rhys. Trust me. You. Will. Pay.
His whole being relaxed, as if he had her right where he wanted her.
gonna go tell that little prick goodbye?
She smiled; an evil, contented smile.
Nope. I hope you enjoy being on my date with me,
Rhys, because you are not scaring me away from this.
He mentally bristled.
I’m holding you to what I said before. You do this, you don’t block me.
Not once. Or you will never get a fucking good night’s sleep again.
Her smile fell and shifted into a snarl.
It’s simple, sweetheart. You play nice, I’ll play nice.
Her eyes narrowed.
You ever wonder what it would be like to be with another man, Rhys? To
feel all that hard muscle up against yours? You push me too hard, and you just might find out.
You said it was only dinner.
I’ll make an exception just to spite you.
You want to test that theory?
Do you really think you know me well enough to make that assumption?
Like I said. You play nice, I’ll play nice.
She figured that was the best concession she was going to get. With a quick last glance in the mirror to check herself, Addison finally returned to Jonathan, patiently waiting in the living room right where she left him.
What a gentleman.
I want to see what he looks like,
She almost refused him, but knew it would only draw her into another mental argument. She didn’t think she’d pull it off without Jonathan thinking she was certifiable.
How do you remain pleasant-looking when you’re telling someone off in your head?
With practiced ease, she looked at Jonathan and projected the image to Rhys. She knew what he saw: a tall, lean man, neatly-trimmed dirty blond hair, hazel eyes, wire-rimmed glasses, dress shirt, slacks, loafers.
Okay, so maybe he wasn’t the hottest piece of ass around—did she just think that?—but he was classically handsome and a complete gentleman.
Rhys did not agree.
Oh, for crissakes! That’s the fucking kind of guy you go for? A pansy-ass like that?!
She heard the disgust—who wouldn’t have?—but she also thought she picked up on a hint of disappointment.
Or maybe that was coming from her. Thinking about how Jonathan looked versus how Rhys did…
Well, woman? Is it?
She cinched off the thought before it got to Rhys. Or at least she hoped she had. His lack of cocky response indicated she accomplished it, and all without having to close their connection either. Well, how about that?
“Shall we go, Jonathan?”
He held out his hand to her. “By all means.”
Clasping her hand in his, he lead her to the car. She was relieved he took the lead because she was totally preoccupied with trying to ignore Rhys’ surge of animosity towards her date.
After Jonathan closed her door, and was walking around the car to the driver’s side, she broke her mental silence.
Knock it off, Rhys.
I’m not fucking saying a word, am I?
he snapped back.
No, to his credit, he wasn’t. But she wasn’t quite sure how long that would last.
Finally going out on a date with Jonathan after a month-long hiatus—heavenly. Going out on any sort of date with Rhys in her head—excruciating.
All evening long had been akin to waiting for a bomb to go off, without the pretty flashing light, but with every horrific part of the booming noise and destructive force.
Jonathan was the perfect date; courteous, polite, flattering, attentive, and chivalrous. But even that didn’t sit right with Rhys. Whenever Jonathan placed his hand at the small of Addison’s back, leading her from the car or to their table, Rhys stirred. Each time Jonathan took her hand and gave it a squeeze, Rhys tensed. And when Jonathan brushed his fingers over her arm or paid her a particularly endearing compliment, Rhys growled.
All that, Addison could have handled just fine. No really, she could; she was becoming skilled at ignoring Rhys. But when Jonathan took her to a nearly deserted park after dinner…
That was when she lost the battle.
Jonathan pulled his Mercedes into the small parking lot by the pond. With a smile, he turned to Addison as he said, “I thought we could go for a short walk, if that’s all right with you.” Addison rested her hand on his, a flurry of nerves setting off in her belly. “I’d like that.”
What. The. Fuck.
She ignored the comment as she slid out of the car, smoothing her dress down as she stood.
“I would have gotten your door for you,” Jonathan said, coming around the car.
She smiled. “That’s okay.”
She knew Jonathan preferred to act the part of a gentleman whenever possible, but she needed a minute to compose herself. Sure, she could ignore Rhys till she was blue in the face, but she was sure her annoyance showed clearly in her expression, and that, she couldn’t have.
He held out a bent arm. Unable to stop the renewed tremble of nerves, she slid her arm around his, allowing him to lead her down the path to the water.
Addison. You’re tripping down a thin line here. A very fucking thin line. I’m talking,
anorexic thin. Wasting-away-to-shit thin. Non-existent thin. I know what you’re thinking. I can
feel that shit, so shut it down. Now!
Addison forced smile at Jonathan before looking at the water, missing everything the man next to her was saying because the voice in her head was too damned thunderous to ignore.
She only caught the end of Jonathan’s question, and turned towards him. “Excuse me?” He slowed their pace, then stopped altogether. Lifting a hand, he trailed his fingertips across her jaw. “You seem distracted.”
She glancing down, then up. “Just a little tired, I guess.” Jonathan’s gaze softened as he curled a knuckle under her chin and tipped it up. He looked from her eyes to her lips and back again, silently asking permission to kiss her. Her lips curved as she stepped closer, giving him all the consent he needed.
His lips were soft as they pressed into hers, his mouth gentle as he pulled her closer, and his tongue seeking as it slid against hers. She moaned her assent as she wrapped her arms around him.
Oh, hell no. Cut that shit out, Addison! Hey, woman! Hear me now! Cut. That. Shit. Out.
Addison jerked in Jonathan’s arms, drawing his concern. “Addison?” She shook her head and sought his mouth out again. When their lips made contact, Rhys began wailing mock guitar riffs in her head. Loud.
She pulled back and stared at Jonathan, unable to shake the stupor Afterlife Leech was putting her in.
“Addison, you don’t look so well. Do you need to sit down?” She held up a finger indicating she needed a sec as she looked down to her feet, letting her hair fall forward to hide her face.
Enough Rhys! Stop it!
His response was immediate and livid.
Do you realize how fucking disturbing it is to feel you kissing some douche bag?! I feel like
it! That’s wrong on so many different levels that I don’t even
know where to fucking begin!
Addison made a gagging sound as Rhys pushed what he was feeling into her; offended, nauseous, defiled, outraged... Like something wiggled its fingers into the depths of her soul and desecrated it, made her part of an experience she was elementally against.
She’d made Rhys feel like that?!
Totally disgusted, she blocked their link.
Don’t you dare block me!
he snapped, sounding as if it were through gritted teeth.
Dammit, Rhys! What do you want from me?!
She didn’t get an answer.
“Addison?” Jonathan tipped her head up again.
Affected by what Rhys made her feel, she failed to control her expression. What he saw couldn’t have been good; he dropped his hand, stepping back.
“You’re not into this at all, are you?” He smiled gently and gestured back towards the car when she didn’t respond; still too shocked, and pissed, to form words. “I’ll take you home.” She nodded like an idiot, allowing him to guide her back to the car—again, with Jonathan’s hand at the small of her back, and Rhys mentally bristling at the contact.
They were pulling into her driveway before she finally regained coherent thought.
“I’m sorry, Jonathan. I just…” She just what? What could she possibly say? Sorry, but there’s a rock star in my head that feels violated by your touch. “I guess I’m still not one-hundred-percent since my surgery,” she mumbled. That was the best she could come up with?
“Surgery?” His brow furrowed.
Oh, right. She’d never mentioned it. She waved her hand, belittling the situation. “Just a minor procedure.”
“Are you all right?”
“Oh, yeah. Fine. I’m just tired, is all.”
He smiled. “I completely understand. How about we give it a few weeks and try again?” Addison wasn’t sure if that would work, but maybe she could figure out something by then.
Hell, maybe Rhys would’ve moved on by then. One never knew.
“I’d like that,” she said, unbuckling her seatbelt. Before the thought or action could register, she quickly shot forward and planted an innocent kiss on Jonathan’s jaw.
Rhys was quick to belt out a short, obnoxious riff to warn her off.
Defeated, she knew her only recourse was Jonathan-avoidance. “I can see myself to the door, Jonathan. Thank you for dinner.” She got out the car with a muted sigh.
“Are you sure, Addison?”
Rhys bellowed again.
“Yes, I’m sure.”
Offering him a quick wave before going inside, Addison collapsed against her closed door.