In a nutshell: Casey Williams has left a loveless marriage and is trying to rebuild her life. She finds that, even though you can never go home again, you can find lust again, and she finds a love interest in Scott, her coworker. She also discovers his secret, that he’s a drummer for a heavy metal band, and falls hard for him…just in time to find that, between his questionable friends and psychotic maybe-ex-girlfriend, he might not be the right guy for her. But her heart beats like a drum for him, and she finds herself willing to play with fire to get closer.
Trivia: I published this book in 2012 after giving it an extensive rewrite, but it’s actually the first book I wrote completely to the end from start to finish. That’s when I knew I was really a writer!
Cool facts: The model on the cover of the book is someone very close to me, but for many reasons, she wants her anonymity protected.
How Megan resembles Jade: Restaurant work? Been there, done that. If my familiarity with fryers seems a little personal, that’s because it is.
Casey Williams: A twenty-something artist fresh out of a divorce forced to move home with her parents and hating every minute of it.
Scott Wardell: A coworker and a drummer in a local heavy metal band, Casey finds this hot guy irresistible.
David: One of Casey’s coworkers, David becomes her new best friend…but he’s also playing matchmaker, and Casey’s not sure how to take that.
Jim: A real sleazeball who gives Casey the creeps…and maybe with good reason.
Wendy: Scott’s maybe-ex-girlfriend, a woman who seems intent on nabbing Scott for herself or–short of that–convincing Casey that Scott with his questionable past should be avoided at all costs.
I made my way through a couple of groups of people, saying an obligatory hi here and there. I spotted Jim and Scott on the couch. Scott looked…delicious. He was wearing a white shirt with a skull design on it. His short hair was mussy in a sexy way and he looked like he was feeling extra devilish tonight. There was a sparkle in his eye that I could spot across the room.
The guys on the couch were watching a video on the television and didn’t notice me at first. Jim said hi and nodded his head my way as his elbow met with Scott’s ribs. Scott looked up and beamed. He stood up. “I didn’t know if you were coming.”
I teased, acting like I was offended. “I promised, didn’t I?” The two of them made room for me on the couch.
Scott held up a bottle. “We’re drinking schnapps. You game?”
I raised an eyebrow. “I’ll take a shot.” I promised myself that I would take one shot.
These two had never seen me drink before. At one time, I’d been able to hold a lot of liquor, but anymore, it seemed, I couldn’t hold much at all. I’d have to be careful. I picked up the shot and downed it in one gulp, then chased it with a swallow of beer. The warm liquid flowed down into my chest, spreading, tingling. I almost instantly relaxed.
Jim started pouring us each another shot of schnapps, and Cassie came and sat next to him. I waved at her. It was too loud to talk with the music and the crowd. Scott held the shot glass up to my face. I drank it, already breaking my promise to myself. I said something he didn’t hear, so I cupped my hands to his ear and said, “Are you trying to take advantage of me?” Oh…that had been a bad idea. I was too close, and I could smell his musky cologne…and him. Jesus…what a heady mix. I felt a quiver run through my body. I was going crazy. I wanted to touch him. But I had to reign it in.
He turned his head, and the look on his face was one of mild amusement. “You decide,” he said and held up the bottle again.
“In a little while,” I yelled to be heard over the music, but he poured it anyway.
I started to grow too relaxed and feared that if I didn’t get up and move around, I’d pass out after the long day I’d had. I used my empty beer cup as an excuse to get up.
I walked back to the kitchen. A few people had already left, so it was getting a little easier to move through the place. It was still packed, though. When I got to the kitchen, I saw David there, but he was standing on the other side talking to a small group of people. I’d fill up my cup myself then. I bent over to fill it up and it hit me. I was already getting drunk. I was pretty damned buzzed already. So I decided not to fill my cup. I stood up to get my bearings and instead walked to the sink to rinse out my glass and then pour myself some water. I figured out then and there that I couldn’t hold my liquor like I used to…as if the last party hadn’t taught me that lesson.
No matter, I thought. I was having fun. I stopped by the restroom to check myself. Nothing seemed quite real, but my makeup and hair still looked good. If I slowed down (or completely stopped) my drinking at this point, I should be fine.
I stumbled a little bit but was feeling all right. When I got back to the living room, I saw Wendy sitting between Jim and Scott. I stood there for a second and was getting ready to move forward when I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder. I turned around. It was Lee. “Casey, right?”
I smiled. “Right. Hi, Lee.”
“Did you hear our CD earlier?”
I cocked my head. “No…what CD?”
“We’ve put together a CD and so we were playing it for everyone. How long have you been here?”
“Half an hour maybe.”
“Oh…you missed it. Maybe we can play it again later.”
“That’d be great.”
I heard Scott’s voice. “Casey!” I looked over, and he was motioning for me to sit where he’d been next to Wendy. I looked over at Lee. “Hey…see you later, okay?”
He grinned, white teeth gleaming. “Sounds good. Nice to see you again, Casey.”
When I walked over to Scott, I asked, “You sure you want me to take your seat?” He nodded. “So I missed your CD, is that right?”
He smiled. “Yeah. I’ll give you a copy and then you can listen to it whenever you feel like it.” I smiled back. That would be f*cking awesome.
As I sat, I gave the expected hi to Wendy. She gave me a look I couldn’t quite figure, but I supposed she wasn’t very happy with me. Scott sat next to me on the arm of the couch. He asked, “You ready for another one?”
“No way. I need a minute or two.” He didn’t seem affected by the alcohol at all. Before I knew it, his hands were on my shoulders, squeezing them.
“You’re tense, woman.”
“Maybe so, but I don’t feel tense.” Maybe I was nervous. No, it was probably sexual tension.
He kept massaging my shoulders, and it felt like my bones were melting out of my body. His hands felt so strong on me and yet so gentle. “Wow–that feels incredible.” I let my head lull forward, relaxed. But I was aching for him. I wanted him to touch me all over, but I was going to enjoy the moment.
Wendy said, “Excuse me,” and got up, heading to the kitchen. Yep…just as I’d thought. She’d just been trying to scare me off so she could have Scott all to herself. I wasn’t that easy to scare, though. Now that she’d vacated my old spot, I moved over, and Scott slid off the arm of the couch next to me. I noticed that one of his arms was still on my shoulder, so I leaned into him a little.
Jim was playing a prank on someone across the room, laughing loudly enough that we could hear him over Slayer, the music that was blasting through their place. Scott said in my ear, “Come with me. I want to show you something.” I looked at him, curious. He grinned. “My new stereo. You like music, so I figured you’d appreciate it. It’s up in my room.” I chugged the rest of the water in my cup and then he grabbed my hand to lead me through the crowd. We headed up the stairs. I slipped on a step and then starting giggling uncontrollably. “C’mon, you nut.” I kept laughing but managed not to trip again.
We entered his room. I immediately noticed how much quieter it was once he shut the door. Sure, I could hear the music from the living room, but we’d actually be able to talk without yelling in here. His stereo, on the opposite side of the room, was decent size, but the f*cking speakers took up half of one wall. They were pretty impressive. I was drawn to it. “Looks great,” I said. My eyes took silent mental stock of his room. There was a bed (a double—thank God), a chair, a desk, some books and trophies. Tons of CDs. A small drum kit in the corner, but not the one he’d been playing at the party where I’d first seen him in action. All in all, it was pretty tidy for a guy’s room.
Scott was showing me different buttons on the stereo. Boys and their toys. My eyes wandered to the rows of CDs below and next to it and started looking at all of them. He had a lot of CDs of bands I liked and some I only knew by name, but I spotted Lamb of God’s Wrath, a personal favorite, and pulled it out of its place on the shelf with my index finger.
I handed him the case. “Oh, so you like these guys?” I nodded. “Yeah, there’s definitely hope for you, Casey Williams.” I giggled.
He put the CD in the stereo and turned it up–not too loud, but loud enough to drown out the noise below. The delayed guitar riff to “The Passing” started playing, sounding crisp and clear from those gigantic speakers. Scott leaned over and pressed the forward button so it skipped ahead to the next track, “In Your Words,” a heavier song that would better show off the capabilities of the stereo. I could feel the demanding music in my abdomen, in my heart. It was a visceral feeling that grabbed me deep inside and incited the beast within. “Sounds fantastic,” I said, closing my eyes to concentrate on the music.
I felt his hands slide around my waist from behind, and my abdomen, my thighs, my neck tensed in response. Oh, sh*t…I eased out a deep breath. He whispered in my ear, “You like it?”
Like what? The stereo or his hands on my body?
A shiver charged up my spine as my nipples hardened. I swallowed and forced my voice to stay calm. “Yeah. Great stereo.” My voice was coming from my throat–hoarse and gravelly. I got my composure and turned around, his arms still wrapped around my waist. He backed up a little to give me room, but we were close. God…the heat coming off him. I tried not to shudder. I was feeling playful, though, and I asked, “Are you coming on to me?”
He smiled back but kept his distance. “Maybe.” Then, “Why?”
“Because if you aren’t, I’m going to turn back around and listen to this CD. But if you are, I’m going to kiss you.” Holy s*it. Had I actually said that? My heart started beating more rapidly.
He stood there for a second, the smile on his face fading into something else. I saw his pupils grow darker as I sucked in a deep breath. “Then kiss me,” he said.