About this book:
I never wanted to come back...
When I inherited Grandpa’s house, I had no plans to stick around. One night back home in Reckless Falls is more than enough.
But he’s in my way.
Derek Granger. The high school bad boy. The one I spent every night daydreaming about. I thought I knew what to expect with him. He was a misguided kid back then, but now?
What is he hiding?
I don’t care that Derek has piercing eyes and cheekbones that could cut glass. I definitely don’t care about his reputation for a huge… ego. Derek is an arrogant, drunken party boy. I need him gone.
But when he looks at me with those dark eyes, his voice heavy with desire, I can barely manage to whisper, “Stay.”
She’s the one who left, not me. Even though I had every reason to go. She ran away and broke her parents’ hearts.
Now, she’s back from her glitzy life and she wants something from me.
Little Miss Priss thinks she’s entitled to everything just because she’s a star. She can bat those pretty eyelashes at me. She can strut around in that curve-hugging dress and those tall boots.
She can throw me against the wall and beg me to f*ck her, hard.
She’s not kicking me out of my house.
But I just might invite her into my bed.
It had been quiet as hell around here since the old man died.
It was strange, the silence that reigned in his absence. I always thought I liked the quiet up here, away from everyone. But I guess I didn’t realize how I was used to hearing his sounds, the coughing start of his old Land Rover, the creak of the porch swing as he sat looking out over the vast estate he had no one to share with - no one except me.
I was also used to the sounds he’d make as he shuffled over to the carriage house, his rasping cough, his shuffling feet. I’d hear him and brace myself, waiting, until he knocked softly on the door…and then immediately opened it without waiting for me to reply. I supposed that was his right - since he owned the place and everything in it - so I’d grit my teeth. “Mr. Dolan, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
He’d always have some sort of grumpy complaint. The old man was an asshole, that was for certain. But that last time he came over, he wasn’t himself. He’d looked at me with watery eyes. Was the old dude crying? I checked out the window really quick. Just to make sure the sky wasn’t full of flying pigs.
“Do you remember my granddaughter?” he’d asked.
I’d squeezed my fists real quick. I’d have to be careful about telling my landlord exactly what I remembered about his long lost granddaughter. I remembered her ass, that’s for sure. And the way she moved through our high school like the spotlight was shining on her. Talented as hell, yeah, and hotter than hell too, but she was also the ungrateful little shit who’d run away and left her parents halfway between anger and grieving. So I’d just nodded. “Sure do. Aria.”
“I need you to find her.”
I’d hesitate to call that the old man’s dying wish. I didn’t want to believe he was on his way out. I was stubbornly holding on to the idea that such a formidable old geezer would never die, and moreover that I’d always be able to live in this perfectly situated seclusion.
But that’s exactly how it played out. I gave him his dying wish and I found her.
And I found her pretty fucking fast too. I could have probably tracked her down years ago. If only someone had asked me. I mean, she was hiding right there in plain sight. Bubbly little Aria Jane Dolan had turned herself into a rockstar. A few searches, a couple of background checks and I was certain of it.
She’d reemerged two years ago as the lead singer of the glitter-punk group Wrecked. When I saw the pictures, I sat back in my chair. She’d done…something to her face, and her hair was the color of a sunset on fire, but she was clearly the same girl who’d stood in the hallways of our school, planting herself right in my line of sight until I had no choice to stare at her. I’d recognize her anywhere and I meant to go tell Mr. Dolan that, right away.
But then I’d kept digging. I couldn’t help it, it’s what I do. I usually charge big money for my skills, especially for this stuff, the things people want to stay hidden. But I had a soft spot for Mr. Dolan. He’d taken a chance on me last year, allowing a former alcoholic and semi-recluse to come live on his property. He’d done me a favor. So I owed him one and tried to tease out the story of Aria Jane.
I wanted to give Mr. Dolan the whole story. After all, his granddaughter had disappeared almost seven years ago. He’d want to know what she’d been up to. So I kept to the public stuff, the interviews, clearly made up, where she’d completely rewritten her past.
But the more I dug, the more I saw him there at her side. That creepy motherfucker. Called himself Killer Ness, though a simple background search let me know that he was born Killian Varness, was well into his late thirties and had a reputation in the music business for being a complete slime ball.
I didn’t like him. I didn’t like his look, his pompous attitude in the press or the overbearing way he treated Aria. Like she was some kind of puppet only he could control. And she looked at him like he was her sole purpose in life. It made me want to puke. That wasn’t love in her eyes, it was cult-like worship. It wigged me the fuck out.
So I started really digging.
Hacking is just a matter of jiggling locks. That’s how I look at it anyway. People leave the doors to their houses unlocked all the time. May as well just be inviting people in, right? Well, it’s same with their devices too. If you’re going to leave your shit wide open like that then you shouldn’t be fucking surprised when people snoop. I feel guilty for a lot of shit I’ve done in my life, but breaking into unsecured cell phones is not one of them.
It wasn’t hard to find Killian’s cell phone and it was even easier to hack it. I was looking for the evidence that he was up to something shady.
Instead, I found his mistress.
Aria, or Jane Doe as she called herself now, which was fucking funny because there was no way a girl like her could ever be anonymous, had gone on and on in her interviews about the love she and Killer shared. They were a rock solid couple who shared everything, from their creative pursuits to their bed. And maybe I’m a fucking asshole. I mean, that’s been demonstrated pretty clearly over and over again. But when I read how fucking swindled this girl was, this girl from my hometown, my benefactor’s long lost and dearly missed granddaughter, I kind of lost it.