Fame, fortune and a future paved with rock ‘n roll gold – Blaise Nolan has it all. With his brooding good looks, haunting voice and troubled lyrics of a soul gone lost, it’s no wonder his band Finding Nolan has been climbing the music charts with back to back hits. Only Blaise didn’t wind up brooding, haunted and lost by accident…
Avalon Jennison has been the girl next door since she was five. The best friend since she was eight. The band manager since she was sixteen, and the keeper of his secrets always. Ava’s been there every step of the way, helping Blaise live his dreams and keep his nightmares at bay. But the years of putting Blaise’s needs above her own are about to be over.
However, Blaise has one secret even Ava doesn’t know..and it could be the thing that breaks her heart completely, or finally puts it back together.
**CONTENT WARNING ~ ADULT LANGUAGE**
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Somewhere in the black abyss that surrounded me, I heard my phone ringing.
Silence. I sat up and blinked several times trying to wake up and adjust my eyes to the darkness.
“Is anyone there?”
I heard someone swear under their breath.
Then, “Ava? I’m lost. I need you to come and find me.”
Automatically my eyes swept the room until they caught on the bright red numerals of the standard hotel alarm clock.
“Shit, Blaise. It’s fucking four o’clock in the morning.” I was already peeling back the warmth of my comforter and swinging my legs over the side of the bed. This was so typical. “What are you looking at right now?”
“Um, there’s a big green stripe on the wall. It’s really fucking ugly.” He was doing his wheezy drunk laugh, the one I hated. On the plus side, at least I knew he was in the building. The halls of the hotel were lined with a thick olive colored band over a shimmering champagne. It was tacky as hell and reeked of expensive, but then those were the types of places we were staying in these days.
“Are there any doors around? Any numbers on the walls?” I was busy pulling on a pair of sweats more suitable for roaming the hotel at night than the boxer shorts I was wearing.
“No, no numbers.” Then he groaned loudly and I heard the distinct sound of rushing liquids.
“Are you taking a piss right now?!” I slid out of my sweats again. I knew exactly where he was.
“No.” Then the undeniable sound of a zipper followed.
“Just don’t move. I’ll be right there.” I was already making my way through the penthouse suite we were staying in and headed straight for the doors. When I pulled them open, there was Blaise looking all kinds of busted and standing right beside one of the two extremely large flower pots placed on each side of the double doors.
I glanced up at the security cameras and gave an apologetic smile before turning my attention back onto Blaise.
“You’re pathetic,” I grumbled as I held the door open and stepped aside for him to stumble in.
“You’re amazing.” He grinned sheepishly as he went by.
“Too bad you won’t remember that in the morning.” I sighed. “Come on. You need a shower. You smell like a fucking whorehouse.”
I took Blaise’s hand and started to lead the way to the bathroom. Considering he’d been standing right outside of the suite and had been unable to find it, it was highly unlikely he’d be able to locate the shower if left to his own devices.
“Careful,” I hissed, snatching away the floor lamp he had randomly selected to use as a walking stick on his way through the living room. “Keep it up and you’ll wake the guys.” After all, the penthouse suite had been booked for the entire band. Not just the lead singer.
It had all started in my garage seven years ago. This was after nearly three years of my pushing Blaise to bring his crazy brilliant talent out of hiding. When he finally did, he found three guys to do it with. Derek Sills on the guitar, Royce Lemmi on Bass and Angel Hollis on Drums. Together they made up what was now known worldwide as Finding Nolan.
The name was laughable really since it was a running joke that Blaise was always missing. Back in high school he’d get lost in thought and wander off track somewhere and wind up sitting on some bus stop bench with no recollection of having walked there. These days it was mostly due to alcohol. Either way, it seemed that as long as I could remember, I had been stuck with the task of finding Nolan. Blaise Nolan that is. People had been finding the band all on their own ever since word of their music started making the rounds back in our junior year.
Nights like tonight I wondered if fame had really been a good thing for Blaise. Music, sure. Music was a part of him, the best part probably, but celebrity and success had proven more challenging than I’d expected. Maybe because I’d foolishly believed that a future worth looking toward would keep Blaise from always facing back. I’d been wrong. If anything, his past seemed to haunt him more the closer he got to getting everything he’d ever wanted.
“Stop that.” This time he was holding a glass candle holder up to his mouth like a trumpet. I caught him just before he was about to blow. “Hands in your pockets, now!”
“I’d rather put them in your pockets.” He leered at me, his eyes dropping down to my ass.
“You’re shit out of luck. I don’t have any.” I shook my head in disgust. Booze brought out the worst in him.
“No problem.” Before I knew what was happening, I could feel his cold clammy hands slide into the back of my pants.
“What the fuck, Blaise?” I spun around and shoved him hard in the chest. He lost his balance and went tumbling over the edge of the couch, over the cushions and then rolled onto the floor where his face made impact with the coffee table and brought him to a stop.
“Shit, Avalon. I think I’m bleeding.” He was cupping his left eyebrow with his hand.
“Come on.” I reached for his free arm and started dragging him to his feet. It was a fucking miracle Royce hadn’t woken up yet. He slept about as soundly as a fireman on duty.
Then, finally, we were in the master bedroom with the door shut behind us. I gently moved his hand to check his eye. He automatically went to put it back and I slapped it out of the way. “Let me take a look at it, you big baby.”
He frowned, but stopped moving long enough for me to see that it was a minor scrape.
“You’ll live. Now then, let’s get you hosed down.” I pointed toward the attached bath. It had a huge walk-in shower with multiple massaging shower heads I’d been looking forward to exploring. Only I had hoped it would be under very different circumstances.
Blaise tripped his way through the doorway, gradually stripping out of his clothes as he went. The pants came off easy enough, but his shirt wound up stuck around his head. He looked like a four year old still learning to undress himself.
“Hang on,” I grumbled as I went to yank the impromptu blindfold off of his head. I’d seen him naked about a million times, so it wasn’t the sight of his bare ass that struck me when he turned around to step into the shower. It was the long, bloody scratches trailing down his back.
“Have a good time tonight?” I asked dryly as I reached in to start the shower for him.
“Uh-huh.” His eyes were closed as he let the hot water run over him.
Now that he was standing still, I also noticed several red marks on his chest. Teeth marks. Why the hell he always sought out women who drew blood for pleasure, I’d never understand. It was an even bigger miracle that the frequent checkups he required due to his non-stop extracurricular activities, continued to come back clean. Apparently even in the midst of a drunken stupor, Blaise always remembered to strap on a condom.
Tired and wasted, his remaining energy was draining fast and he was already resting the back of his head along the tile to keep him steady.
I quickly pulled off my own t-shirt and climbed into the shower still wearing my bra and boxers. The steam and water made the materials cling to my skin almost instantly, a feeling I didn’t particularly care for.
“Hold out your hands.”
He followed orders and I squirted a huge dose of shower gel into both of them. “Alright, now wash. Start at the top.” At least that way, even if he wasn’t thorough, the soapy water would travel down and wash the rest of him by default.
While he busied himself with running his hands in small circles over his chest over and over again, I reached for the shampoo. His hair always smelled the worst after nights like these. The stale smoke from the bars, mixed with whatever rancid perfume his groupie of the night was drenched in and the traces of liquor combed into his hair via his fingers, made for a wretched combination.
I massaged his scalp and dark brown hair thoroughly, all the while checking repeatedly to make sure he was still awake. Then, after the final rinse off, we were done at last.
With a towel draped around his hips, I walked Blaise over to the king sized bed and laid him down on top of the covers. He’d get hot in two seconds flat and kick them off anyway if I bothered tucking him in. Blaise was asleep before he even hit the pillow.
I kissed the top of his head, which once again smelled like only him, and proceeded to tiptoe from the room. I had barely taken two steps when I felt his hand clasp my wrist.
“Stay,” he whispered. “Please, Ava.”
I looked down at my wet shorts and soaked bra and exhaled loudly. “Okay, I’ll stay.”
He scooted himself backward, making room for me. I reached into his suitcase closest to the bed and pulled out the first T-shirt I could find, slipped it over my head and then shimmied out of my wet bra and boxers. The wet panties I’d just have to live with.
I settled onto the bed beside him while he wrapped both arms around me tightly like I was his security blanky. Which, essentially, was exactly what I was to Blaise.
I took a deep breath of surrender and reached up to softly stroke his hair the way I knew he liked it. Then I watched as he fell into the same restless sleep that plagued him night after night.
Between both of our addictions, neither one of us ever seemed to be at peace anymore. The only question was, which one of us would get sober first? And how would the other survive when we did?
Ava. God she smelled good. Why didn’t all women smell like this? Melissa definitely had not smelled like this. Or had it been Melanie? Shit. Who fucking knew? I could barely remember what her face looked like, much less her name. But I definitely hadn’t forgotten the stench of her perfume or the cigarettes. Why did they all fucking smoke anyway?
None of that had mattered though. It never mattered. Not until after. Not until Ava showed up to clean me up again. One of these days she wouldn’t show and I knew it. Maybe that’s what I was waiting for. Maybe that’s why I was doing it.