Rock Addiction (2014)
(The first book in the Rock Kiss series)
A novel by Nalini Singh
Her smile smashed into him with stunning force. He heard nothing of the party around him, saw no one but her. God, that smile, the way she cupped her sister’s face with such open affection before the two of them hugged. Really hugged. No fake bullshit, no playing up for the journalists in the room.
They weren’t paying attention to anyone else, happy simply to see one another.
Then she laughed as she drew back and the sound was chains around his heart, a thousand guitar strings pulling tight. It hurt and it was beautiful. For an instant, he almost forgot where he was, he wanted so badly to have that unguarded smile turned in his direction. He could imagine her warm brown eyes looking up at him as she ran her fingers over his jaw and rose on tiptoe to slide one hand around his nape to haul him down for a kiss.
When was the last time a woman had done that to him the instant she walked into a room? Never. Not even when he’d been a hormone-drunk youth. And the fact he knew she was exactly as she appeared to be, that she wasn’t out for fame or money? Yeah, that just made her sexier. No way was he leaving this party without her, the raw need to possess her a violent craving in his gut.
He didn’t believe in fantasy shit like destiny or fate or the biggest con of all—love—but he knew himself. And he knew what he wanted: to tug her to him with his hand fisted in her hair, brand her with his mouth, warn every other male in the room that she was off-limits. But the instant he did that, he’d make her front-page news when he wanted her all to himself.
No fucking interruptions.
She wanted to bite his lower lip.
Wanted to tug on the silver ring that pierced one corner of that delicious, toe-curling mouth.
But mostly she wanted to bite down with her teeth, taste the badness of him.
“Um, Molly?” A hand waved in front of her face. “Molly?”
Blinking, she forced her gaze away from the man who made her want to do bad, bad things and toward the petite form of her best friend. “What?” Her skin flushed until she wondered if her fantasies were visible to everyone in the room.
“You mind if I bug out?” Charlotte took a last tiny sip of her pomegranate martini before placing it on one of the small, high tables scattered around the room. “I want to spend tomorrow making sure all the files are in order for the new boss.”
Molly scowled, all embarrassment fading. “I thought you were trying to take it easy on weekends?” The fringe of the black flapper-style dress she’d pulled out of her closet in a moment of whimsy swirled just above her knees when she shifted to give Charlotte her complete attention. “Isn’t making sure everything’s up to standard Anya’s job anyway?” It was Anya who was personal assistant to the CEO; Charlie officially worked in the records department, but Anya had a way of treating Molly’s best friend as her own assistant.
“New boss has a rep,” Charlotte said. “I don’t want to be fired because Anya didn’t bother to do what she should.” Narrowed hazel eyes behind fine wire-rimmed spectacles made it clear Charlotte had no illusions about the other woman.
Nodding, Molly considered the cherry that decorated her nonalcoholic but very pretty cocktail. “Let me get my coat.” Disappointment whispered through her veins, but really, what would’ve happened if she’d stayed longer? Zilch. Zero. Nothing.
Okay, maybe another blush or two inspired by the rock god across the room, but that was it. Even if he, for some wildly inexplicable reason of his own, decided he wanted her, the one thing Molly would never ever do was become involved with someone who lived in the media spotlight. She’d barely survived her first brutal brush with fame as a shocked and scared fifteen-year-old; the ugliness of it had left scars that hurt to this day.
“Oh, no, don’t.” Charlotte put a hand on her arm, squeezed. “I’ll order a cab. You’re having too much fun staring at Mr. Kissable.”
Molly almost choked on the cherry, lush and sweet, that she hadn’t been able to resist. “I’d say I can’t believe that came out of your mouth”—cheeks burning, she fought not to dissolve into mortified laughter—“but you have been my friend for twenty-one years and counting.”
Charlotte grinned as she took out her phone and texted a cab company. “You know who he is, don’t you?”
“Of course. He’s only one of Thea’s most important clients.” And on the cover of every second magazine that came across Molly’s desk at the library, all sleek muscle and tattoos and a sexy smile curving those dangerous, bitable lips. If she couldn’t resist reading the articles and sighing over the photos, that was her guilty little secret.
“You two talking about me again?” Her sister’s sultry voice sounded from behind Molly, followed by her slender body—currently clad in a tight red designer sheath.
“About your raking-it-in client,” Charlotte clarified.
“That’s über-client to you.” Raising her champagne flute, Thea clinked it against the glass that held Molly’s frothy concoction. “Here’s to rock stars with voices like sex and bodies like heaven.”
Molly felt her stomach clutch, and even though she knew it was none of her business, said, “You sound like you’re speaking from personal experience,” grateful her voice came out steady.
“Molly, m’dear, you know I never mess around with money.” Her older sister’s uptilted eyes, a burnished brown, were suddenly dead serious. “And Zachary Fox, known to his gazillion and one fans as Fox, and to any woman with a functioning sex drive as hot with a capital H, is serious money. As are the other members of Schoolboy Choir.” Putting down her empty champagne flute beside Charlotte’s cocktail glass, she said, “Come on, I’ll introduce you both to him.”
Charlotte shook her head. “No thanks. You know me and gorgeous men—I turn into a Charlie-shaped statue.” Having kept her phone in hand, she now looked down as the screen flashed. “That’s a message from my cab driver. He’s downstairs.”
“You’re sure about going home alone?” Molly couldn’t help but worry about her best friend. Charlotte was fierce and strong and the only person who’d stood by her when the scandal broke, but she knew Charlie’s own past had left invisible wounds that had never quite scarred over.
“Yes—I use this driver a lot for work stuff. He always waits while I unlock the door to my place and disarm the security.” She hugged Thea good-bye before doing the same to Molly, leaning up to whisper, “Live a little, Moll. Take the hot rock star home, then tell me all about your night of wild monkey sex.”
Molly’s breath caught at the idea of it, foolish and impossible though it was. “If only.” Over an hour into the party and Fox hadn’t even looked in Molly’s direction, that’s how high she registered on his radar.
“Fox knows who you are,” Thea said after Charlotte had left. “He saw a photo of us in my L.A. office—the one from after we went through the caves.”
Molly groaned. “You mean the one where we both look like drowned rats, have giant black inflatable rings around our waists, and dented helmets on our heads?” The trip through the waters of the underground cave system had been fun, but it did not make for alluring photos. “Let’s not forget the ancient gray wetsuits that made it look like we were molting.”
Choking on her laughter, Thea nodded. “He was interested in doing the black-water rafting thing when I told him where we took the photo. I’m sure he’d love to talk to you about it.”
Molly fought the temptation to get close to him any way she could, and it was one of the hardest things she’d ever done. “No thanks,” she said, her mind awash in visions of what it would be like to meet him in a much more private setting, run her fingers over the firm lines of his body… bite down on his lip. “I’d like to keep standing over here with my fantasies.” Distance or not, the needy, achy feeling in the pit of her stomach continued to intensify, her response to the rock star across the room scarily potent.
Thea raised an elegant eyebrow.
“If I meet him,” she added through the shimmer of heat that licked over her skin when he laughed at something one of his bandmates had said, the sound a rough, dark caress, “and he’s an arrogant snob or worse, a stoned-out idiot, there go my fantasies.”
“Fox is neither a snob nor a stoner.” Thea’s lips kicked up. “The man is the whole package: intelligent, talented, and a nice human being unless you piss him off by pushing too hard about his private life—and I don’t think there’s any chance you’ll go paparazzi on me.”
“That just makes it worse,” Molly pointed out, trying not to watch as Fox bent his head to speak to a bombshell brunette in a dress the size of a handkerchief. “How can I fantasize about him ripping off my clothes in a moment of reckless passion if he politely shakes my hand and says it’s nice to meet me?”
Molly had learned her lesson about reality versus dreams as a teenager—once destroyed, some dreams could never be resurrected. And for some reason, she couldn’t bear for this silly, unattainable dream to be splintered by reality.
“If you change your mind,” Thea said with a shake of her head, “speak up soon. Fox never stays long at these things.” She picked up a cobalt blue cocktail from the tray of a passing waiter. “I’d better go make nice with the other guests.”