I've got a little treat for you, something to hold you over for the next few days while I finish up "Heart Broke" (Hard Rock Roots #8)... ;) I've posted the FULL first chapter of the book below for your reading pleasure. <3 Enjoy!
HEART BROKE (HARD ROCK ROOTS #8)
Copyright 2016 by C.M. Stunich
There's a body. In a bathtub.
I close my eyes for a moment and press my fingers against my temples.
“Ronnie, why is there a dead rock star in your bathtub?”
“There's not,” he says, a cigarette hanging from his mouth, his fingers shoved into his front pockets. “There's a dead poser piece of shit in my bathtub.”
“Not helping,” I say, dropping my hands and opening my eyes to glare at him. “Not even a little.”
“Yeah, well, at this point,” Ronnie says, taking a drag on his smoke, mouth twisted to the side in a wry imitation of a smile, “it's all I got. If I don't start laughing at this shit, I'm going to open my mouth and all that's going to come out is a scream.”
I stare down at Cohen Rose's still form, blood splatters artfully speckled across his stubbled cheeks. I never thought I'd actually miss stripping. I mean, taking off your clothes for strangers? Doesn't sound all that appealing under normal circumstances.
Under these circumstances, it sounds downright fucking clutch.
Check this mental list: Beverly Hills mansions, shoot-outs, enough secrets to choke a horse … and a dead guy. In a bathtub. Sounds like a real hoot and a holler, don't it?
“I can't bloody believe this shit,” Lola says, pacing a rut into the floor behind us. Damn bathroom's big enough for an orgy, so it's not like we're hurting for room, but her nervous energy is starting to rub off on me. It suddenly feels like the space is a hell of a lot smaller than it is. “I wanted him dead. Like, really, really wanted him dead, but …”
She stops pacing and pauses between Ronnie and me.
“But now there's a dead guy in your bathtub,” I repeat again because well, I mean, I can't seem to say it enough. “A dead guy who very likely was murdered …”
“Who definitely was murdered,” Ronnie adds, blowing smoke into the quiet early morning air. It's so late it's early and I am tired as fuck. My night was a hot mess. Despite my best efforts to get drunk, I barely managed to squeak up to buzzed before sliding right back down to sober again. Can you blame me? Turner was making an ass of himself onstage while Ronnie did the dirty double dance in the back corner and Dax … Dax smoke and drank himself into a barely coherent frenzy.
Let's just say, tonight was a bust and leave it at that.
My morning … eh, it's not shaping up to be any better.
“I know I shouldn't have dragged you into this,” Ronnie begins, but I cut him off with a wave of my hand. My boys—Trey, Turner, Ronnie, Jesse, and once upon a time, Travis—they look up to me in some sort of screwed up maternal way. Might as well embrace the role. Going to see Trey in the hospital, sticking around with the guys, this was all supposed to be temporary. Instead, it feels like a never-ending nightmare. My photo shoot? Cancelled. My heart? Broke. That's right. Straight up broke. I keep following Dax around like a puppy, petting his hair back and telling him that everything's going to be okay. I barely even know the guy and I've somehow been sucked into his crap? I knew getting involved with him was a bad idea. Knew it, knew it, knew it. And did it anyway. Because I, I am Crazy Sydney.
I cross my arms under my breasts and tilt my head to the side, blonde hair cascading over my shoulder in waves. Cohen looks … peaceful. Despite the blood and the purple bruises on his face and arms, he looks like he's smiling. To put it mildly, the expression is … creepy as fuck.
“Who do you think did this?” I ask, not that I expect Ronnie or Lola knows the answer to that question.
“Well, considering Brayden Ryker was sitting on my bed when we came in, my guess is that he, at the very least, put the body here. As to who actually killed the guy? Did I mention I ran into Paulette Washington at the club.”
“The TV producer?” I ask, wrinkling up my nose as I study Cohen's raggedy denim jacket, his holey jeans, his scuffed black boots. Looking at him like this, I almost feel sorry for the guy. But then I remember how Lola mentioned he used to beat the shit out of her. Karma anyone? “What the hell was she doing at the club? Coincidence?”
“She had blood on her hands,” Ronnie says and my eyebrows go up. Way, way, way up. “Literally I mean, as well as figuratively.”
“Like … blood from Cohen Rose perhaps?”
“Maybe she was just on the rag?” Lola jokes, in a surprisingly chipper mood for somebody who's just found their dead boyfriend in their bathroom. Their swanky new Beverly Hills million dollar bathroom.
The universe really does work in mysterious ways.
“So … Paulette Washington, the super rich and famous TV producer, the woman who sold you this house, she killed Cohen Rose? And that makes sense how?”
“She's also America's sister,” Ronnie adds matter-of-factly, blowing out a puff of smoke with a smile. And then he turns around and walks away.
I should be shocked by his statement.
But I'm not.
Not one fucking bit.
& & &
“Somebody should write this shit down,” I grumble as I help Ronnie, Jesse, and Lola haul Cohen Rose out of the bathtub and onto the waiting tarp. Holy crap, this motherfucker is heavy. We all grunt and curse under our breaths as we drop the frigid corpse onto the blue plastic and stare down at him with wrinkled noses and curled lips. “Like, make a book out of it or something.”
“Like anybody would believe all of this shit? I've seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes that were more true to life,” Lola says, wiping her gloved hands on her jeans and curling her lip as she stares down at her former beau. “Trust me, nobody would want to read our story. It's too fucked up.”
“Eh, you're probably right,” I say with a sigh, running my fingers through my hair and then cringing when I realize there's a bit of dry, flaking blood on my glove. “Even if someo