Authors: Jasinda Wilder
Rock Stars Do It Dirty
Copyright © 2013 Jasinda Wilder
Rock Stars Do It Dirty
Jamie heard Chase’s feet behind her, heavy boots smacking the concrete. She ducked her head, doing her damnedest to pretend she didn’t hear him. To pretend she didn’t know what would happen if she turned around.
Jamie didn’t turn around. She made it to Dale’s car, clutching the leather strap of her purse in a white-knuckled grip. A part of her wanted to haul around and deck him. Another part wanted to turn around and kiss him, then take him somewhere,
, and finish what they’d started.
She was tugging futilely at the locked car door when he caught up to her. His hand wrapped far too gently around her upper arm, near her armpit, his knuckles brushing her breast. She dragged a deep shuddering breath in, placed her palm on the window, refusing to turn around.
“What do you want, Chase?” Jamie hated how quivery and breathy and damned
her voice sounded.
“You.” His voice was raw, growling, as if the admission had been dragged out of his chest.
“Well, you can’t have me.”
“I know, but…” His grip tightened on Jamie’s arm, and then he let go with a long, expelled breath. “That doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop wanting you.”
She clenched her teeth and squeezed her eyes shut; the visceral pain in his voice tore at her heart.
“Chase…” Jamie could feel the intensity radiating off him, and she just
to turn in place to see his eyes. “God, you think I want—you think I don’t—”
“Then why can’t we make this work? Anna will be okay. She has Jeff. I’ll be okay around her, if I have
Temptation raged through Jamie. “That’s like…it’s so wrong. I can’t. I can’t. It’d be ripping open wounds every time you two are in the same room.”
She was standing against his chest, her hand curled up between them. She wasn’t sure how that had happened, but it felt so right. And so wrong.
“It would get easier. Time heals all wounds, right? You heal the hurt inside me. You make it all go away.”
Jamie blinked hard and bit her lip until it hurt. “
stop. It would be a betrayal of Anna. My best friend. The one person I have in this world who’s like family. I can’t.” The admission of her own feelings for Chase were on the tip of her tongue, and she choked them back. “I’m sorry. I’m
She stepped away from him, and the hurt in his eyes deepened until Jamie thought she might be seeing the raw material of his very soul gleaming in the cracks of his heart, visible through his eyes. She felt a tear dragging down her cheek. Jamie knew this was the correct decision, but it still felt so wrong, so terrible. Chase was already hurt; she was only driving the dagger deeper.
She watched his eyes harden, watched as the shutters slammed down between them, between him and the world.
“Fine. I get it. You’re right. She’s your best friend. Your family. I’m just…some guy, right? I wish you all the best, Jamie.” His voice was dead and cold, his words like stones. He turned and walked away.
“Chase, no, it’s not like that. You’re not just some guy, you’re—”
He spun around so fast it startled her. “
, Jamie. Don’t mitigate it. Okay? You can either heal me, or hurt me. Not both. That’s not an ultimatum, it’s just facts. I’m not going to try to make you choose between me or her.”
“But that’s exactly what you
“You’re doing it, not me. I think it would work. I think it would be tough, but eventually, it would be okay.”
“No, it wouldn’t!” She slumped back against the door of the car, struggling for breath, for control. “Why do you have to make this so much harder on me?” Jamie slid along the side of the car, away from him; his nearness was intoxicating, suffocating. “What do you want to hear from me? Yes! I want you! Is that what you want to hear? But this
! I can’t betray my best friend like that. Not even for you.”
Chase backed away, his eyes dark, fathomless chasms. “Message received, Jay. Loud and clear. I won’t bother you anymore.” And then he turned away again.
He walked back into the building, shoulders tense, palm scrubbing frantically over his scalp. Jamie let him go, the hurt she could feel from him as powerful as the hurt inside herself.
He’d called her “Jay.” No one but Anna ever called her that.
After Chase was gone, Jamie texted Lane, begging him to get her home. Lane appeared a few minutes later with Dale’s keys and drove Jamie to her car. He didn’t ask her any questions, didn’t say a word the entire drive from Harpo’s to Lane Bryant. He just drove, one hand on her knee. When he pulled up next to her car, he unbuckled his seatbelt and leaned over to hug her. She clung to his neck and choked back her tears, focusing on breathing until she had control over herself again.
He nodded and kissed her cheek. “You know I love you, sweetie, and you know I’m here for you.”
“I know.” She pulled away and opened the car door, swung a leg out. “I’ll call you later and we’ll talk, okay?”
Lane smiled. “No worries, kitten. Just take care of yourself?”
She made it home without breaking down, somehow. She made it into her bed before unleashing a torrent of tears that didn’t stop until she was simply too exhausted to weep anymore.
Anna showed up. “Jay?” she called from the kitchen. “Something told me you needed company.”
Jamie didn’t answer. She felt Anna’s weight on the bed next to her, then fingers brushing curls away from her eyes.
“What happened, Jay?”
Jamie could only shake her head. “Just…life sucks.”
Anna sighed, an irritated huff. “Jamie. Why aren’t you talking to me? There’s something big going on with you, and you’re holding out on me. I’m starting to get mad.”
“I can’t tell you, Anna. It’s complicated.”
“Meaning you’re afraid.”
Anna didn’t answer right away. When she did, her voice sounded distant. “Okay, well, I can’t make you talk to me. You know I love you. You know I’d never judge you.”
Jamie sat up and faced Anna, working her feet beneath her into a cross-legged position. “Anna, please. Listen. It’s not that…I don’t know…it’s not that I don’t trust you or that I want to keep things back from you. You know I tell you everything—”
“Except the one thing that I’ve ever seen make you cry on a regular basis.” She gestured at the bed they both sat on. “I’ve found you here, in your bed, bawling, more times over the last few months than in all the years I’ve known you. And we’ve been friends forever.”
Jamie didn’t know what to say. She fidgeted with a loose thread on her comforter. “Anna—god. I want to tell you. You’re my best friend. You’re the only one I’ve ever been able to tell everything to. But this is…it’s fucked up, Anna.”
“Are you in some kind of trouble?”
“No, it’s nothing like that. It’s just…”
“What? Just what?” Anna jerked the ponytail holder out of her hair, untangling her blonde locks with her fingers before smoothing it back and retying it. “I’m not gonna ask again, okay? If you won’t tell me, fine. I get it.”
Jamie flinched at the hardness in Anna’s voice. “Why does this feel like a turning point between us? Like if I don’t tell you, things won’t be the same between us?”
Anna shrugged, a tiny lift of one shoulder. “I’m not trying to make demands or ultimatums or whatever. I just…I guess I sense this somehow has something to do with me, and I’m worried.”
Jamie sighed, a frustrated expulsion of breath. “God. I need vodka.”
“No, I mean for real. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to need vodka.” Jamie wiggled off the bed, wiping her face.
“Tell you all of this.”
Anna twisted to watch Jamie scrub the smeared makeup off her face at the
bathroom sink. “You’re going to tell me?”
“I guess I have to. It does concern you. And…if I’m going to lose him over you, I might as well tell you, right?”
A pregnant pause, and then the question, in a low, tense voice: “Him?”
Jamie shook her head. “Vodka first.” The two women went into the kitchen, and Jamie pulled a bottle of Grey Goose from her freezer. “I’ve been saving this for an emergency. I think this qualifies.”
She poured two generous measures into a pair of juice glasses, then a hint of orange juice over them. She knocked hers back immediately and poured a second while Anna sipped hers more slowly.
“Jeez, Jay. Don’t get drunk without me.” Anna tried to laugh, but the worry in her eyes had Jamie swallowing the last of her second shot and pouring a third.
Jamie poured juice over the third measure and leaned back against the kitchen counter across from Anna. “Not drunk. Just tipsy enough to be able to get this out.” She sipped, and then set the glass next to her. “Just remember when I’m telling you this, that nothing actually happened, okay?”
Anna frowned. “Okay…?”
“In Vegas, when you left the casino…the Six Foot Tall show. You gave me the backstage pass. I’m not sure what I intended to do, but…I ended up in Chase’s dressing room. You should have seen him, Anna—well, I guess I’m glad you didn’t. He was so broken up. I just…I hated seeing him hurt. I mean, you could see how upset he was from the audience. I just wanted to make sure he was okay, you know?”
“It was like…being hit by a bus. Something about him just struck me, deep inside. You know? It was more than his looks or charisma. I remember how you talked about him. Like he’s got this magical presence. You just can’t help yourself when he’s around—he just takes over a room.”
Anna’s voice was quiet. Too quiet. “I remember.”
“Well, this was more than that. It was…something totally different.”
“Are you in love with Chase, Jamie?”
Jamie sucked down vodka, coughing before answering. “Maybe. I don’t know. I haven’t let myself think that far.” She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “We kissed. In Vegas, backstage. I’ve never felt anything like it in all my life, Anna. I’m sorry. I can’t even pretend to know how this is making you feel, but you wanted the truth.”
“I’m not sure this is what I was expecting.”
“Yeah, how could you, right?”
“How could I expect it? Or how could you do this to me?’”
Jamie shrugged, looking at Anna over the top of her glass. “Both?”
“I honestly don’t know. Maybe I
thinking both. Keep going.”
“Well, it was like that one kiss was more…I don’t know…more intimate, or meaningful than
thing I’ve ever shared with another guy in my entire life. Like that one kiss was…a promise of everything he and I could have, and god…it was like an earthquake, it was so intense.”
“Yeah. Damn. But then I remembered who it was I was kissing. I ran. I mean…of all the people in the world for me to finally feel a real connection with, it had to be
? Of course it did.”
“So that was it?”
Jamie snorted. “Not hardly. I told him I couldn’t do it, couldn’t let anything happen between us. You’re my best friend, and he’s your ex. No way. Taboo, right?”
“Right.” Anna’s voice was oddly strained.
“So I managed to get away from him, which was like ripping out a chunk of my heart. We had your wedding and went home, and I worked my ass off, got the promotion. I tried to forget.”
“And then you got drunk and had an accidental threesome with a pair of neanderthal potheads.”
“Yeah. Fucking awful. Especially since it didn’t help. It just made it worse. And not just because they weren’t Chase, which was bad enough, but because even though we weren’t together, I still felt like being with those two gumps was like cheating on Chase. Stupid, but it’s how I felt, and it was rotten.”
Anna rubbed her face. “God, Jay. No wonder you were so upset that night.”
“Yeah.” Jamie finished her vodka and poured a fourth, seeking oblivion, even though she knew it would never come. “I managed to bury myself in work enough to almost feel like I was moving on, and then Lane and the gang showed up after work tonight and dragged me out with them.”
“Yeah. They had an extra ticket to a show. They didn’t tell me who was playing and I didn’t ask, ’cause why should it matter, right?”
“Right. But let me guess. It was Chase.”
“Bingo. So he brought me backstage this time, and we had another moment. It was all tortured and angsty and shit. We kissed again, and it was just as epic as the first time, only more so. I can’t even put it into words. I never wanted to stop. I…” Jamie set the glass down and rubbed her face with her hands. “Anna, I swear, I never meant for this to happen. I don’t know how it
happen. But I can’t get him out of my head, no matter how hard I try.”