Royce Lemmi went from being the bullied little freak in high school to rock and roll demigod in the blink of an eye. While playing to packed stadiums filled with screaming fans night after night is a daily reminder of how far he’s come, most days Royce can’t help but see that tortured soul from before, anytime he looks in the mirror.
Kieran Hudson has never spent a day of his life questioning who he was or what he wanted. He spends his days tending to his mother’s store, but his nights are dedicated to exploring the world through the lens of his camera and exposing beauty in the most unexpected places.
When Royce and Kieran’s paths cross in a twist of paparazzi fate, they both react true to form. Royce runs to hide the weakness he fears, behind the success he now depends on, while Kieran never wavers on what he wants or who he wants to be with. And he’s going to do what he does best to convince Royce he’s right.
All Kieran has to do…is expose the beauty in the place Royce least expects to find it. Himself.
There was a knock on the door almost simultaneously to it opening.
“Royce?” It was Ava.
“What’s up, buttercup?”
“The coffee here blows. I’m going to make a store run. Need anything?”
I stared down at my legs, fully dressed in jeans, socks and shoes, then back over at the TV screen. I’d been awake, showered, clothed, and watching a Gilligan’s Island marathon since five a.m. What I needed, was to get out of this fucking hotel room.
“I’m sure I’ll think of something once we’re there.” I pointed the remote straight at the captain’s head and pulled the trigger. Thank God that was finally over.
She made a face at me. “You’re going to come?”
“I’m sorry. Is that a problem?” Not twelve hours ago she’d asked me to follow her into the bathroom to keep her company while she showered. Now seemed like an odd time to suddenly require some privacy.
Ava reached for the baseball cap hanging on the doorknob and strapped it over my head. “Not any more.” She pointed at the nightstand behind me. “Hey, grab those shades too, would ya? I really don’t feel like getting attacked by the paparazzi pre-shower and wearing my sweats.”
“You showered. I know. I was there, remember?” I slid on the shades anyway. I wasn’t in the mood for a morning mob either. I was no Blaise Nolan, but in lieu of Finding Nolan’s front man, people seemed to be happy to settle for the lowly bass player in a heartbeat.
“Um, that shower was ages ago. Do you know how much I’ve sweat in the meantime?” She led the way out the door, in spite of her apparent nastiness.
“Gross. I know we’re close Ava, but I do not need to hear about your sweaty sex with Blaise.” I reached for my wallet and room key on the way out.
“Ew! I went for a run this morning, you jackass! For the record, I don’t have unattractive, sweaty sex. I do it all nice and pretty like…you know, the way they do it in the movies. All sensual and magical.”
I nodded, even though she had her back to me. “Yeah, I hear that all the time about hetero sex. How magical it is.” Ava turned her head briefly and acknowledged the sarcasm with a dramatic eye roll and her standard half-smirk, but didn’t bother to respond. We’d had the hetero sex talk plenty of times before in the past. She knew where I stood with it. Preferably at a safe distance where I could pretend it didn’t exist.
Vaginas didn’t scare me exactly. I mean, they seemed innocent enough, and I could see the convenience of it all, one piece fitting into the other. But I’d taken sex ed. I’d seen that sweet little flower chicks claimed they were sitting on morph into monsters big enough to spit out a watermelon on a moment’s notice. Don’t tell me there isn’t something shady about that.
If straight dudes want to stick their dicks in there, I say do so at your own risk. Someday that beast may decide to swallow instead of spit, and then what the fuck are you going to do? Be fucking dickless, that’s what.
We were in the elevator going down to the lobby when I noticed Ava was still grinning.
She chuckled before she answered, “You look nervous. Thinking about penis-eating vaginas again?”
“The thing drools blood, Ava! It’s clearly carnivorous.”
The mocking grin fell from her face. “Okay, now you’re just being disgusting. And you know I can’t keep up in below the belt verbal combat before I’ve had my coffee, so that was an entirely unfair attack.”
I jerked my brow in feigned shock. “What attack? It was merely an act of self-defense. You started it. And it will count. And we’re calling it a truce.”