on December 9th 2014
Genres: Erotica, Romance
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The fifth book in the New York Times new adult series that began with Real. When an angry, heartbroken girl is forced to be near her rocker ex-boyfriend, only time will tell if the fire between them will consume them both.Pandora, the gothic friend of Brooke (Real, Mine, Remy) and Melanie (Rogue), thought that getting her heart broken by her bad boy rocker ex could only happen once. But now, he’s back in town with the biggest concert of the year. Pandora hates him so much that she gets Melanie to come with her and play a prank on him at his gig. But when they’re caught by security, and her ex himself is summoned, Pandora is not prepared for the feelings that seeing him again—beautiful and in the flesh—awaken in her. She’s also wholly unprepared for the conditions his manager sets in order for her and Melanie to be released; especially since these conditions only allow Melanie to return home, while at the same time, they put Pandora in perilously close contact with her ex again. The torturous physical closeness between them reignites the passion they once shared, and soon no matter how much she wants to hate him, it’s clear she’s still hung up on him. And worse: he knows it too.
Rage bubbles up inside me full force.
“Now?” Melanie keeps asking me.
“Now?” she asks again.
I loathe him. He’s the only boy I’ve ever kissed. He took kisses that meant everything to me and turned them into a joke of a fucking song. A song that turns me into some sort of Eve, torturing and teasing him to sin. He is the sin. He is the penitence, the hell, and the devil, all in one.
I reach into my bag, nicely tucked under my poncho, and grab the first thing I find.
“Now,” I whisper.
Before Mackenna knows what hit him, Melanie and I have sent three tomatoes and a couple of eggs flying through the air.
The orchestra music isn’t enough to drown out his muttered “fuck,” audible through the microphone.
His jaw clamps and he yanks the mic down over his chin as he jerks his eyes around to find the source of the attack. I feel delirious when I see the genuine anger on his face. I squeal, “The rest!” and grab the remaining things we brought and just keep throwing. Not only at him, but at anyone who tries to get in the way—like the stupid dancers who rush to protect him. One of them makes a whimpering noise as an egg hits her face, and Mackenna jerks her back by the arm so he can take the hits himself, his furious eyes trying to find us in the crowd.
Then I hear Melanie shout, “Hey! LET GO, asshole!”
My arms are yanked behind me, and I’m suddenly shoved and pulled out of my place and down the aisle.
“Let go of us!” Melanie cries, struggling as two burly guards drag us away. “If you don’t let go of me right now, my boyfriend’s going to find your home and kill you in your sleep!”
The guard yanks me back harder, and I catch my breath as pain rushes up my arm.
“Asshole,” I hiss, but I don’t even bother to struggle. Melanie’s getting nowhere and I know it.
“She knows them! She knows the band! Who do you think he was singing about just now, asshole?” Melanie kicks into the air. “She’s Pandora! Let us fucking go.”
“You know Mr. Jones?” one guard asks me.
“Mr. Jones!” I scoff. “Seriously! If Mackenna’s a mister, I’m a unicorn!”
They seem to chuckle among themselves as they lead us past more security, around the stage, and to a small room in the back. One guy starts speaking into a radio as he unlocks the door.
Melanie struggles and tries to kick out, but the enormity of what could happen starts settling on me, and I grow quiet.
Holy. Shit. What have I done?
“You don’t have to look so happy, dickface. My boyfriend will find your home too and kill you next!” she tells the other guard.
They yank a door open and shove us inside. I stumble as I take a step, fighting for some dignity as I wiggle free of his grip. “Let go,” I grit, and he finally releases me.
The radio transmitter on his hip emits a sound. A voice says something I can’t make out, but it sounds a lot like cursing.
“Remove these,” one of the guards commands, pointing at our ponchos.
I pry the plastic off my body and Melanie does the same, then we watch helplessly as they strip us of the bags we’d hidden underneath the ponchos.
Melanie groans when they set our things on a table to the side. Cell phones. Two more tomatoes. Car keys.
“Wow. You guys can’t take a little joke now, can you?” Melanie asks them with a haughty little scowl.
I close my eyes and try to quell the panic rising in me.
Fuuuuck. What was I thinking?
I haven’t done anything this reckless in years.
And it felt good.
Also wrong. Very, very wrong.
But good. Great, in fact.
Hell, I can still picture the pissed, disbelieving look on Mackenna’s face. It gave me intense pleasure. Orgasmic pleasure. But now the intense feeling I’m experiencing is more along the lines of paralyzing fear.
What if the guards call him into the room to ask if he does, indeed, know me?
What if I have to stand here in this small stuffy room and look at him from thisclose!
I feel sick to my stomach. Later, Melanie’s going to want explanations. Big-time explanations; more than what I’ve told her so far. She’s going to have to tell Greyson what happened, and he’s going to want to know everything, because these stupid security guards messed with his girl. I don’t even know if I can explain to her the kind of past Mackenna and I share. January 22: the day I unfailingly get drunk and don’t bother to even see the light of day—I’d sworn to myself I’d never discuss that day. But Melanie and Greyson? They will want me to open my box of secrets. Of me and Mackenna Jones.
Hot, wet mouths melding . . .
Him, pushing into me, stretching me, taking me, loving me . . .
The kind of hatred that’s only born of an intense, out-of-this-world love that went woefully wrong.
What am I going to say to him if I see him?
What am I going to do?
Please god, don’t punish me by making me look at him thisclose.
I pace and pray, pace and pray while Melanie studies her nails, the wall, and me, sighing with the bored confidence of someone who knows she’s getting out of here intact. If I see Mackenna, I really doubt it’ll be so easy. My stomach’s already in knots, and I’m having the most awful urge to vomit right now.
The concert seems to last forever. One of the guards comes and goes while the other opts to stand a few feet behind Melanie, standing all military-like, as if waiting for something.
Oh god, please let that something not be Mackenna.
I’m wearing off a layer of my boots’ soles when, a century later, the door swings open and a chubby man in a suit and tie steps in. My blood pools in my feet from my nervousness. Lionel Palmer, the band manager, also known as “Leo.” I saw his face and interview in this morning’s paper, but I have to say he looked much happier in that picture.
He glares at us—Melanie glaring back, me standing motionless—and his hands make meaty fists at his sides.
“Have you any idea what you just did?” he grits out, chubby cheeks blazing red. “How long we could keep you two cozy in a fucking lady prison? What kind of fucking fans are you?”
“We’re not fans,” Melanie says.
The door swings open and the twins, in all their male glory, join the melee. They look intimidating all the time, but now—with their blond hair, odd-color eyes, and perfectly pissed-off scowls—they’re a force to be reckoned with.
I can’t breathe.
“Who the fuck are these bitches?” the one with the snake tattoo demands.
“I’m getting to that, Jax,” Lionel says.
So the other one must be Lexington. He charges forward and looks at me, eyebrow piercing and all, then he looks at Melanie. He points his index finger, swinging it from her to me. “I hope you two have a lot of money, because one of our dancers is injured. If she’s screwed up for Madison Square Garden—”
“Don’t worry, Pandora, Greyson will take care of this,” Melanie says easily.
“Pandora,” Lionel repeats suddenly. He grows still, his eyes sliding back to me. “Your friend called you Pandora. Why?”
“Because it’s my name? Duh.”
I’m in the middle of rolling my eyes when the door swings open and a figure fills the space. I don’t think my heart is beating anymore. I feel like someone is strangling me and punching me on the inside.
A few feet away.
In the same room as me.
Bigger and manlier than ever.
He kicks the door shut behind him. He’s wearing aviators, so I can’t see his eyes, and ohmigod, I hate him with a passion. I came here to hurt him, but I’m so overcome by my anger, I can’t seem to do anything but stand here with my breath getting trapped in my lungs, my heart squeezing in my chest, my body trembling as all my suppressed anger bubbles up inside me.
He is tall and dark, and the remains of a red gooey liquid trickle down his chest.
But what a perfect chest, with its thin trail of hair that leads the way from his navel to his dick. Tight leather pants mold to his bulging thighs. A bulging cock too. I swear girls might think he sticks a loaf of bread down his pants, but I can assure you that fucker is real. As huge as his fucking ego, and I remember it used to get as hard as his fucking head.
Not everyone can pull off a buzz cut, or a diamond stud earring, but he has a perfectly shaped head that makes you want to curl your hands around it and trace the curves with your lips. The diamond glints almost menacingly in his right ear, and when he takes off the sunglasses with an angry jerk, I see his brilliant, furious silver eyes, and I swear that it feels like coming home.
To a home that was wrecked, and burned, and there’s nothing left, but it’s still your home.
How fucked up is that?
God, please let him not be real. Let this be a nightmare. Let him be on the other corner of the world while I hate him safely from my corner in Seattle.
“She’s fucking Pandora?” Lionel asks Mackenna.
When Mackenna’s hard jaw only tightens, Lionel turns slowly around to study me. My brain is a tangle of confusion because Mackenna is staring straight at me like he can’t believe I’m standing here.
I can barely take his steely gaze. I thought this night would give me closure. That I could make him feel in front of his fans like I felt when he left: humiliated. Instead he stands there, every inch the rock god, even with tomato puree on his chest. He owns the room, carrying that unnamable X factor that nobody can pinpoint but that he has in spades, that tells you he owns this room and everyone in it.
And that fact only serves to piss me off further.
“Lionel,” he says in a low, warning tone.
Just one word makes Lionel ease back. Now nothing stops Mackenna from staring straight at me.
My face burns as I remember how I loved him. Deep, hard, completely.
Don’t think about that. You hate him now!
“Nice hair.” He shoves his glasses into the belt loops of his pants.
His voice, oh god.
His eyes run down the length of my hair, and Melanie offers, “I suggested she add a little spirit to her hair, so at least she looks happy.”
He doesn’t even look at Melanie. He looks at me in the most intense way, specifically the pink strand in my hair, waiting for me to answer. I loathe that pink strand, but not as much as I loathe him.
“Nice tights,” I return, and gesture to his leather pants. “How’d you get into them? From the top of a building and with a pound of butter?”
I refuse to let his chuckle move me, but I feel it run down my legs as he starts approaching. “No need to use butter anymore. These pants are a part of me.” He holds my gaze helplessly trapped. “Like you were a part of me once.”
He’s coming closer, and every step affects me. My cheeks burn. The gall of him to remind me. I’m so angry. Years of hurt simmer in me. Of loneliness and betrayal.
“Fuck you, Mackenna.”
“Already done, Pandora.”