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Authors: Christie Ridgway

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Wild Child (Rock Royalty #6)

BOOK: Wild Child (Rock Royalty #6)
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WILD CHILD

 

Rock Royalty 6

 

 

By

Christie Ridgway

Also Available

In the Rock Royalty series

 

Light My Fire
(Rock Royalty Book 1)

 

Love Her Madly
(Rock Royalty Book 2)

 

Break on Through
(Rock Royalty Book 3)

 

Touch Me
(Rock Royalty Book 4)

 

Wishful Sinful
(Rock Royalty Book 5)

 

Wild Child
(Rock Royalty Book 6)

 

Who Do You Love (Rock Royalty Book 7) Coming soon!

 

Rock Royalty Boxed Set – Books 1-3

 

 

WILD CHILD

 

Years ago, Rolling Stone magazine dubbed the nine collective children of the most famous band in the world “Rock Royalty.” Now all grown up, the princes and princesses are coming back to L.A.’s Laurel Canyon to discover if love can be found among the ruins of a childhood steeped in sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll
.

 

Brody Maddox promised his fellow Rock Royalty he was giving up his self-destructive ways, which includes forgetting about the haunting and beautiful blonde from L.A.’s Topanga Canyon and their searing one-night stand. Now he’s on the lookout for a good woman to steady his life. Thanks to a successful construction business and family and friends who are settling down too, that’s all he needs to stay on the straight and narrow. But then one rainy night, across a crowded music club, he sees a familiar face that rocks his world and undermines all his good intentions.

Ashlynn Childe’s life turned upside-down after a recent tragedy. Now she’s responsible for running the family establishment, Satan’s Roadhouse, and she doesn’t have time for anything else…including a second encounter with the rugged, sexy man who once set fire to her sheets. But a rainy night and a lost ride bring them back together and Ash must muster all of her strength to pry him out of her heart. Except Brody isn’t going anywhere…

 

WILD CHILD

Published by Christie Ridgway

© Christie Ridgway 2016

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

ISBN: 9781939286215

 

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

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Chapter 1

 

Inside the music club on L.A.’s Sunset Boulevard, Brody Maddox stretched his legs beneath the table he’d scored close to the stage. The waitress slid drinks onto the table—his microbrew and the glass of merlot his date had ordered. As she lifted the rosy red liquid, his gaze shifted from her left hand to her face and back again.

His focus settled on her bare fourth finger.

I could put a ring on that.

It wasn’t a random thought. His circle of family and friends had been pairing off in the last several months. Though through his twenties he’d have sworn not a one of them was decent relationship material, now he’d begun to reconsider—as long as it was with the right type of woman.

“Tell me again who’ll be here tonight,” his date said, half-turning to face him. “I’m a little nervous.”

He smiled at her and tucked a strand of her dark brown hair behind her ear. “Don’t be, Rachel. They’ll think you’re perfect.”

They’d been dating less than a month, but Brody was nearly convinced she was perfect for
him
.

A kindergarten teacher, Rachel’s wholesomeness could be the antidote to the bleak moods that had been driving him to dark places with a regularity that alarmed his nearest and dearest.

“Bing will be here,” Brody said, referring to his twin. “Along with his fiancée, Alexa.”

Besides being his prospective sister-in-law, Brody considered Alexa Alessio a close friend. While he might have been able to dismiss his brother’s words of caution, when Alexa had teamed up with Bing and Brody’s little sister Cilla to tearfully confront him one morning over his erratic behavior—which included a hair-trigger temper, unexplained disappearances, and brutal hangovers—he’d promised them he’d clean up his act.

They’d caught him at the right moment to make such a vow. He’d blinked up at them from the place where he’d passed out on his entryway floor. With his belly queasy, his head pounding, and his hands shaking, he’d been forced to acknowledge that stewing in booze in unhealthy dives elbow-to-elbow with unsavory companions couldn’t erase from his mind any of his past regrets. Including the most recent—concerning a particular delicate blonde. A beautiful woman with ice eyes and a tragic air who over the course of a single night had taken him to a brilliant heaven as well as a fiery hell.

Ashlynn.

Her name whispered in his head, and her image blossomed in his imagination. He could swear he breathed in her scent of jasmine and starlight.

“Bro.” A hard hand clapped on Brody’s shoulder. He shook the dangerous thoughts from his head and shoved to his feet to face his brother.

“Bing,” Brody said in greeting, then pushed his twin aside so he could draw Alexa nearer. “Hey, girl.” His lips brushed her cheek.

“Hey, boy,” she said, smiling even as her gaze moved from him to his date who’d also risen from her chair. “I’m Alexa,” she said, holding out her hand toward Rachel.

Next, Brody introduced his brother.

Rachel exclaimed over their similar likenesses, both of them dark-haired and blue-eyed. “Identical!” she declared.

“Nonsense,” Bing said with a gleam in his eye. “Everyone knows I’m much handsomer. Not to mention sexier.”

“Well, I don’t know about that,” Rachel returned, her cheeks turning pink as she darted Brody a glance.

He found her fluster charming. Brushing a hand over her hair, he lifted a brow in his brother’s direction.
Admit I’ve done good.

“She’s a teacher,” he said to seal the deal as they all sat down. “Kindergarten.”

Alexa beamed. Bing appeared as if he was holding back a laugh.

When you turn over a new leaf, Bro
, his amused look said,
you don’t go for half-measures.

“Who else is expected tonight?” Brody asked the new arrivals.

“Honey and Walsh should be here any minute,” his twin replied.

“Walsh Hopkins?” Rachel leaned close to whisper in his ear. “The son of Hop Hopkins?”

“Yeah.” Brody said. “More Rock Royalty.” The name
Rolling Stone
magazine had bestowed upon the nine collective children of the most famous band in the world.

“I still can’t quite believe it,” Rachel murmured.

Alexa, on her other side, caught the quiet words. “I know, huh? The progeny of the Velvet Lemons. The stuff of legends.”

“Unfortunately,” Bing said, “you can pretty much believe every sleazy one of them you’ve ever heard.”

His fiancée found his hand with hers and brought it to her cheek to rub his knuckles against her skin. “That life made you who you are. I wouldn’t change that.”

Brody saw his brother suck in a sharp breath. He experienced the ache of tenderness that swamped his twin as if it filled his own chest. Yeah, he could see wanting that partnership, that steadying regard of another person.

A shared affection would be a stabilizing, strengthening force that any of the kids of the Velvet Lemons could benefit from after growing up around the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll that filled their childhood days and nights.

Marriage was sounding better and better, though he’d stay far from the string of women he’d hooked up with during his disreputable binges the last couple of years. He wouldn’t make any one of them a good partner, and vice versa—they’d been as desperate and adrift as he.

“Has Brody taken you by the compound?” Alexa asked Rachel now.

“Not yet,” he answered for her. “Maybe the next Sunday brunch.”

The Laurel Canyon compound wasn’t far, as the crow flew, from where they sat, but the bucolic atmosphere of the eucalyptus-filled canyon was nothing like the city streets. There, Mad Dog Maddox, Hop Hopkins, and String Bean Colson had each built houses on acreage that included luxury amenities—perfect for their hedonistic, party-all-the-time lifestyle. Each of their children had left the place at eighteen, having had their fill of benign neglect and secondhand—and not so secondhand—debauchery. But when Ren Colson came back to Southern California months before and found his heart hijacked by Brody’s sister Cilla, the two of them had made it their mission to bring the Velvet Lemons kids back together.

To create a tribe. A real family.

With their fathers on a years-long global tour, Ren and Cilla had also insisted on reclaiming the compound and making it a place of happier memories. While they often gathered in one another’s homes and often came to clubs like this one to hear Cami Colson sing and play, they tried to get to the compound every couple of weeks.

Brody had been surprised by how much he enjoyed bolstering his bonds with his siblings as well as forging ties with the other Rock Royalty and the significant others they were bringing into the circle. Guilt had festered inside him since he turned eighteen, but he now had some hope that his friends and family could help him heal. With their help he’d overcome it.

Ashlynn.

The name whispered in his head once again.

Damn it, he’d overcome the memory of her, too.

Walsh and Honey arrived, and Brody welcomed the distraction of a second flurry of introductions, drink orders, and small talk. Once strictly a platonic boss and secretary, a recent business trip to a resort in Mexico had transformed the pair’s relationship.

Honey proved it by showing off the elegant engagement ring Walsh had custom-made to replace the gaudy, discount store version he’d wooed her with. With a sheepish smile, the honey-haired admin pulled on a chain around her neck to show she still wore the original rhinestone ring close to her heart.

Brody might have teased her about such sappy behavior, but Walsh—a proprietary arm around Honey’s shoulders—wore such a smug expression that Brody decided against poking at the new couple. Then Ren and Cilla slipped into the remaining seats at the table, and there was only time to sketch waves as the house lights dimmed and a spotlight trained on the stage, illuminating a pair of wooden stools.

The crowd applauded as Cami Colson strolled out, an acoustic guitar in each hand. She wore broken-in jeans and a gauzy tunic along with battered boots. Taking a seat, she propped one instrument against the free stool. The other she cradled in her lap as she looked into the audience.

“Hey,” she said in her throaty voice. “Glad to see you.”

Her gaze flicked to their table. “Family’s in the house,” she added, lifting her chin in their direction. “Thanks, guys.”

Then she directed her attention to her guitar and began singing one of her signature songs, a standard that had been covered by dozens of country and blues artists.

 

Motherless children have a hard time

When the mother is gone

Motherless children have a hard time

When the mother is gone

 

Motherless children have a hard time

There's all that weeping and all that crying

Motherless children have a hard time

When the mother is gone

 

As usual, Cami sang it with a voice drenched in melancholy. Brody exchanged a glance with his twin, and then they both looked at their little sister Cilla. She had her cheek against Ren’s shoulder and as they watched the man pressed a kiss to her hair. Their own mother was long absent, killed in a tour bus accident after she left her children and the compound to follow another band, and the loss had left its mark. Brody’s own final memory of the woman who’d borne him was etched deep into his bones. While the fathers of the Rock Royalty had given little thought to the fostering of their sons and daughters, their mothers—all either dead or mostly disinterested—had never nurtured them either.

No wonder they were all fucked up in one way or another.

As if he’d read Brody’s mind—and he likely had—his twin leaned close.

“Avoid going down that dark road tonight,” he advised in a low voice. “You’ve got a nice woman with you. Don’t blow it.”

Because the gesture was expected, Brody shot Bing the finger, but he glanced at pretty Rachel in her dark jeans and soft blue sweater and thought, yeah, the kindergarten teacher could turn out to be his salvation by pulling him off the self-destructive road he’d been traveling.

BOOK: Wild Child (Rock Royalty #6)
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