Jett Costa let her eyes open slowly. Gray light stung her retinas. Squinting against the haze, she glanced at the alarm clock on her nightstand and yawned as she read the time. It was only seven in the morning. She should still be sleeping. Groaning, she turned onto her stomach and let herself sink back into the velvety darkness behind her eyes as she tried to remember what she had been dreaming before she woke up. Maybe she’d been having a sexy dream. She snorted. Dreams were the closest she had come to having sex in the last three months. Part of her had hoped that, even though she and Koty had separate bedrooms, the condo they shared would become some kind of sex haven when they moved in together.
Gripping her pillow, she sighed. She was pathetic. She needed to remember that they were better off keeping things platonic. They had way too much work to do to waste time on each other. The band would never take off if they continued going back and forth. Still, sometimes she wished that he would come into her bedroom and crawl into bed with her. Not so long ago, he had pressed his lips to hers in a dark tour bus, back when things were less complicated—before she ruined her entire life.
She had no job. If listening to wannabe musicians carve out her eardrums all day counted as a job, she was in big trouble. She was probably wasting her time—and Koty’s, not to mention his money. They’d been holding auditions for their new band for weeks. Maybe it was time to call it off. She could probably find a job as a music teacher somewhere or, at the very least, a cashier at a record store. Separating for good would probably be the best thing for both her and Koty, she surmised.
She rolled onto her side and grabbed her phone from the nightstand. There was one missed call. Her eyes widened as she read the name on the display. Her heart beat frantically in her chest. She wanted to shut the ringer off and go back to sleep. Knocking herself out would require more Benadryl, though, and it was already 7:10. She wondered where the time was going.
Nibbling on her lower lip, she stared at the phone, unable to believe what she was seeing. It seemed impossible. She hadn’t spoken to Griff in almost five months. He was a part of her old life, and she preferred that it stayed that way. Besides, there was no reason for him to call her—unless he was apologizing for what had happened all those months ago when Perpetual Smile broke up.
She sat up at the thought. Griff had never been slow to admit when he was wrong. It didn’t make sense for him to wait so long to say that he was sorry for what he did. There had to be another reason for him to call.
As she toyed with the idea of calling him back, her phone went off in her hands. Jumping, she nearly dropped it. Griff’s name appeared on the screen. Hands shaking, she accepted the call and pressed the phone to her ear.
She opened her mouth, but no words came out. She had no idea how to answer. Neither a casual “Hey” nor a professional “Jett Costa” seemed right. She sat cross-legged on her bed, mouth hanging open.
“Hello?” Griff said into her ear. He sounded confused. “Anyone there?” Sirens blared in the background, nearly drowning him out.
Jett frowned, wondering where he was. “Yeah,” she said, voice thick with emotion and sleep.
“Jett.” He paused as the sirens flared again. When they died down, he wasted no time on pleasantries. “You’ve really fucked up this time.”
Her eyebrows shot up. Even five months earlier, when she’d deserved it, he had never spoken to her like that. “Excuse me?” She lifted the phone from her ear, double checking the name on the caller ID.
“You heard me.” More sirens whizzed by wherever he was. He raised his voice over the noise. “Either you’re crazy, or there’s something you haven’t told me.”
Jett blinked. “What are you talking about, Griff?” She glanced at the time again. It was too early for him to be drunk or stoned. Besides, it wasn’t like him to pick a fight.
“Don’t play stupid,” he said.
She scowled. “Griff, I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. Why don’t you just tell me?”
“I got an interesting phone call from a guy named Owen around three this morning,” Griff began, sirens drowning out the rest of what he said.
Jett wrinkled her nose. “Where the hell are you?”
“Don’t change the subject.” She heard the flick of a lighter and the sharp inhale as Griff lit a cigarette.
She reached for her own cigarettes. According to the homeowners’ association, she wasn’t supposed to smoke in the condo. She would just have to buy some of those fancy plug-in air fresheners. “Seriously,” she said as she lit her own cigarette, “where are you?”
“Los Angeles,” Griff said. “Are you going to let me finish, or can you fill in the blanks yourself?”
Jett sighed. “I don’t know what your deal is, dude. You’re going to have to spell it out for me.” She tapped ash into a half-empty glass of water.
“Owen says he’s the owner of a bar called the Groggy Frogg. Does that ring a bell?”
Shrugging, Jett took another drag. “Nope.”
“Jesus, Jett,” Griff swore. “Do you owe them a huge tab or something?”
Her mouth dropped open. “Low blow, bro.” Her grip on her phone tightened.
“Well, according to this Owen guy, you scheduled Perpetual Smile last year to play a show there, in three weeks.” Griff sounded smug. It made her want to punch him.
She snorted. “Sounds like a scam. Did you tell him that the band isn’t even together anymore?” She finished her cigarette and dropped it into the water. It sizzled as it went out.
“He said that he paid the band up-front, in cash, for ticket sales. Well, actually, he said he paid you.” Griff’s voice rose as he spoke.
Jett started to tell him that she was done talking to him. Then she froze. “Did he say where this bar supposedly is?”
“Boston,” Griff said. “One of the stops on the tour you got canceled.”
Gritting her teeth, Jett narrowed her eyes. “That’s not fair.”
Griff snorted. “What isn’t fair,” he said, “is that I haven’t seen you in almost six months, and I still keep having to clean up your messes.”
“You don’t get to talk to me like that,” she said. She lit another cigarette. Sliding out of bed, she paced the room. Her mind raced. “What else did this guy say?”
“When I told him that Perpetual Smile broke up, he said he didn’t care. He said that he paid for a show, so he expects a show. Jett, what the hell were you thinking?”
She sighed. “I was thinking that I was almost out of money. I told him that we could sell out the place, and he agreed to send me the money as soon as it did.” She turned and began another circuit around her bedroom. “It was supposed to be a special show. I told him we would play our new album straight through.” She chewed on the inside of her cheek.
At first, Griff said nothing. Several heartbeats passed. Jett paced faster. She cringed, waiting for him to start yelling at her. Finally, he sighed. “The show is supposed to be in three weeks. I tried telling him it’s not going to happen, but he was pretty insistent. You might want to call him.” Without another word, he hung up.
Jett stopped pacing and stared at her phone. The time read 8:15. Sucking in a deep breath, she tossed it onto her bed. Then she burst out of her bedroom and into the hall.
Bare feet pounding on the carpeted floor, she crossed the small landing to Koty’s bedroom.
“Koty,” she called as she marched into the room. She passed a row of guitars and an unmade bed. The door to his bathroom was closed; she could hear the shower running. She called his name again. Without waiting for an answer, she yanked open the bathroom door and stepped inside. She flung the shower curtain open. “We have a problem.”
Koty turned, fingers massaging shampoo into his hair. Frozen in place, he gaped at her. Soap ran down his chiseled torso and thighs in rivulets. For a moment, he just stared at her. “Don’t you knock?”
“I did,” she said. Her eyes followed the soap streaming down his body. It’d been months since she’d even seen him naked. She gazed at his anatomy. Her eyes remained riveted to the hardening ridge between his legs. Warmth pooled in her belly. Her fingers twitched. Swallowing hard, she resisted the urge to reach out and touch him.
“I’m naked,” he said.
She jerked her gaze back to his face. Forcing herself to focus, she waved a hand. “So what? Listen, we need to get a band together, pronto.”
“Isn’t that what we’ve been doing?” He dipped his head under the stream of water, rinsing his black hair.
Her breath caught in her throat. For a moment, she wondered what would happen if she shed the T-shirt she had worn to bed and climbed into the shower with him. Her feet remained rooted to the floor, though. She needed to stay professional. Let him make the first move, if the time came. “Sort of,” she said, thinking of the last few open auditions they’d sat through. “We need to do it faster, though.” Taking a deep breath, she plunged forward. “I sort of scheduled a show that I forgot about. We need a band ASAP. I can’t get out of it. I already spent all of the money they paid me.” She swallowed hard.
He lifted an eyebrow but didn’t say anything. Lathering up a bar of soap, Koty began washing his body. Hot water and soap sluiced down his arms, legs, and back. “We could have a band by now,” he said, “if you weren’t so picky.”
She narrowed her eyes. “You were at the sessions. You heard how bad they all were.” She put her hands on her hips.
“You’re too critical.” He put the bar of soap on the ledge of the tub and rinsed off. Water sprayed Jett, wetting her T-shirt. She remained frozen in her spot, the shower curtain clutched in one hand. “Can I finish my shower in peace?”
Jett tightened her grip on the shower curtain. “No,” she said. “We need to figure out what we’re doing.”
Koty took a deep breath. He locked his blue eyes on her brown ones. Jett’s thighs clenched. She swallowed hard and forced herself to meet his gaze. “Do you know what you should be doing right now?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Buying myself a vibrator?” she mumbled.
“You should be getting ready for practice tonight.” He squirted face wash into the palm of his hand and massaged it into his face. His fingers grazed the light beard he had grown. Electricity rocketed through Jett.
Taking a deep breath, she shook her head. “What’s the point of practicing?” She threw up her hands. “We need a band, Koty.”
“We won’t be able to play any shows if we lose our edge,” he said. He stepped under the stream of water once more. Turning in a slow circle, he rinsed off completely, giving her a 360-degree view of his body.
“I hate you right now,” she said between gritted teeth.
“Why?” He shut off the water. “You always tell me to practice every day. In fact, you never stop telling me to practice. Just because I started off in a boy band doesn’t mean I can’t play guitar. You know how I play—”
She held up her hands, releasing the shower curtain. “Okay, I get it.”
He stepped out of the tub and onto a bath mat. She took a step back. Beads of water ran down his skin and dripped onto the floor. “If you’re going to stay in here, hand me that towel.”
Rolling her eyes, she grabbed the towel on the counter. Avoiding looking at him, she passed it over. She wished that she could go back in time, to before she answered Griff’s phone call. Then again, she had wanted to quit before she even got out of bed.
She needed to remember that starting a band wasn’t easy. When she and Phillip Hilton started Perpetual Smile ten years ago, she mused, it had taken a full year to find the right musicians. The thought of his name sent a searing pain through her. She bit down on her lip to hold back the tears. Even a year after losing him, it still hurt to know that he was gone forever.
“Are you all right?” Koty asked. He stood with a towel wrapped around his waist. His eyes searched hers.
Jett nodded. “I’m fine.” She crossed her arms. “I’m just thinking.” She turned from the small bathroom. She should probably let him have some privacy while he got dressed.
“Do you know what you’re going to do?” he asked.
She glanced over her shoulder at him. “Of course,” she said. Panic ate at her insides. Stepping out of the bathroom, she padded into his bedroom. Her stomach clenched. Wrapping her arms around herself, she headed toward the hall.
She had no idea what she was going to do.
Jett might be sober, but she can’t kick her addiction to Koty.
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