Remy shut the door to her friend’s Jeep as she adjusted the skintight jeans over her hips.
“Come on, Remy. Don’t look so nervous. They’ll think your ID is a fake,” Emma said, giving her a once-over.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” Remy admitted, squeezing her clammy hands into fists at her side.
“It’s a bar, babe. You’re acting like you’re the one who’s going to be performing.” Her friend shook her head.
“Well, I . . . I . . .” Remy tried to come up with some excuse other than she had never scribbled outside the lines before. Nothing about their night would be illegal.
“Come on, Remy. Summer is here. We survived high school, graduated—despite my odds.” She laughed, hands reaching wide as she gestured to the busy parking lot. “The world is our oyster. Let’s just celebrate life. Remy Stone, Miss Goody Two-shoes, you need to learn how to loosen up and have fun.”
“Are you done teasing me?” Remy crossed her arms.
“You’re gonna be the hottest thing in there.” Emma winked. She saw through Remy like no one else did.
Emma was the total opposite of Remy in every way. Where Emma was an outgoing performer, Remy preferred books and conversation. Emma had a fair complexion with blond hair and blue eyes, compared to Remy’s midnight tone and brown eyes.
“Do you need some liquid courage before we go in there?” Emma asked, slipping a flask from her purse.
“No, thanks,” Remy answered as her best friend took a long sip before returning the container to her bag.
“Okay, let’s do this!” Emma grabbed her hand and led her towards the neon lights of The Shipwreck.
Perhaps it was an omen—the name of the bar, mixed with the nervous butterflies filling her tummy. The hair on the back of her arms stood on end, an awareness tickling her spine. Her belly twisted into knots as she wiped her sweaty hands on her pants. She drew a deep breath.
The bouncer outside asked to see their IDs. He was a big, muscular man, covered in tattoos, with a shaved head. “How old are you?” he asked, scrutinizing her face and the plastic card.
“Eigh-eighteen,” she managed. A part of her wanted him to turn her away.
After another minute of his hard stare, he gave back her card and stamped her flesh with a large black X. “Be safe,” he said, nodding towards the door.
Remy’s mouth opened in surprise as they entered. She wasn’t sure what she had expected the bar to look like, but this surely wasn’t it. Overhead lights pointed towards the stage where Emma’s bandmates were already setting up a drum kit. Backlit fish tanks were positioned in the walls, illuminating the room in a blue glow. A skeleton with a pirate’s hat sat in one of the chairs at a table. The walls were distressed to look like they were really inside the belly of a ship.
“I’m gonna go get ready with the guys,” Emma said. “You okay here?”
“Yes. I’ll go sit at the bar.” This wasn’t as scary as she’d thought. Maybe some of her friend’s confidence was rubbing off on her.
“Look at you, being all brave.” Emma poked her shoulder playfully.
“Must be something about this place. It’s cooler than I’d expected it would be.” Remy smiled genuinely as her shoulders relaxed.
“Well, at least you won’t be alone over there. Don’t look now, but the man you have been crushing on since I’ve known you is having a drink.”
Remy’s stomach flipped and twisted with giant butterflies clamoring to get out. “Mikel is here?” She whispered his name like it was something sacred.
“He probably won’t even notice me.”
“I think it’s a little late for that. He hasn’t taken his eyes off you since you walked in. And trust me, babe, that look in his brown eyes tells me he’s definitely noticing you.”
“God, I hope so.” Oops. Did I say that out loud?
Emma smirked. “Go on. Go get your drink. I’ll see you after the show.” She kissed her on the cheek and left.
Remy turned towards the bar, glancing at the handsome man she’d grown up with. Their eyes met for a brief moment as an electric current wound around her. She quickly focused her attention on the empty stool on the opposite end of the bar to Mikel. On wobbly legs, she managed to make it to the seat.
“What can I get ya, hon?” the bartender asked. She wiped a cloth over the bar, the white tattoos weaving around her arm like delicate lacework as she moved. She tucked one of the loose raven-black tendrils of hair behind her ear as she looked expectantly towards Remy.
“Just a Pepsi, please.”
As the pretty woman filled her glass, an invisible blaze burned in Remy’s body. She tilted her head in search of a heating vent. Nothing. As her eyes swept the room, she met Mikel’s dark pools again and she was sucked in. Lost were the sounds of the mic checks and the bartender leaving her soda in front of her. Everything was a buzz in the background as she studied his handsome tanned face as he walked up to her. Rough stubble peppered his strong jaw. Mikel Evans stood in front of her—six feet of broody man towering over her. He moved one of his muscular arms onto the bar, half caging her in. Heat and yearning like she had never known overtook her body. She clenched her thighs together, embarrassed by her sudden lust. One look and this man had the power to rule her . . . or destroy her.
“Does your brother know you’re here?” he asked in his sexy gravelly voice.
She hoped to god he couldn’t hear the thundering beat in her chest. She inhaled a deep breath and channeled her best Emma. “Andre isn’t my keeper.”
His eyes flashed and the corner of his mouth turned up. She’d surprised him. She was usually the quiet shy kid who tagged along with him and their brothers, Andre and Bently. “So, if I called him right now and told him where you were . . .”
“I’m a grown woman, Mikel. I haven’t broken any laws to get in here. I came to support my friend and watch her sing her heart out. I’m not a little girl who needs you to keep an eye on her.” She wasn’t sure where her courage was coming from.
“You certainly have grown up. When did that happen?” he asked, his scorching gaze raking over her body. Was he finally noticing her as someone other than the little sister to his business partner?
Before she could give a response, he turned and walked back to his spot at the other end of the bar. Deflated, she focused on her drink and took a sip. The bubbles tickled her throat as she tried to regain control of herself. Disappointment weighed heavily on her.
“Three dollars, honey.”
Remy dug in her pocket for a five and handed it to her. “Keep the change.”
The lights dimmed. The drum kit crashed as Emma’s band began to play. Remy turned to watch the show, trying to ignore the firestorm blazing in her body. Her friend’s voice was sweet and light and full of emotion, melding with the rock music.
After several songs, the bar became packed. The dance floor was filled with bodies seductively writhing together. A flush of heat rose to Remy’s cheeks. This was her first time out by herself this late at night. The first time she had lied by omission to her parents who thought their daughter was sleeping over at Emma’s with no extracurricular activities.
“Care to dance?” A deep voice came from her side. The guy was cute. He had that boy-next-door vibe going for him.
She glanced over his shoulder. Mikel was talking to a woman in a red dress. Jealousy boiled her insides. She was only gonna live once, right? Maybe she needed to heed Emma’s advice and take some chances. Besides, this could be her opportunity to show Mikel just how grown up she was.
“Sure,” she agreed.
“Remy,” she answered his unspoken question.
He smirked and took her hand, leading her to the center of the crowd.
Feeling unsure, she found Emma’s eyes. Her friend shot her an encouraging wink.
Brad grabbed her hips and pulled her closer to him. She rested her palms on his shoulders, stiffly. He led her as they swayed, his body getting closer inch by inch. She glanced over his shoulder. Mikel stared at her again.
Brad turned her around so that her back was facing him as he ground himself against her butt. She wasn’t sure what to do. Should I move with him? Oh god! Is that his penis?
She was used to school dances with friends; Emma had been her date to the prom. Besides a few middle school boys who’d stood a foot from her, with their hands on her hips, this was the extent of her experience dancing with the male species.
His growing hardness against her backside was getting awkward fast. She tried to turn around, but his hands held her hips in place. She searched the room, nervous and anxious, no longer able to see Mikel or Emma in the wall of people surrounding them. This had definitely been a bad idea. She should just wait until the song ended and then make her escape. He had asked for a dance and she had said yes; it was too late to stop now. Wasn’t it? She didn’t want to make a scene.
His palms moved over her belly towards her breasts. She panicked—the word “Stop” stuck in her throat. She’d gotten in over her head. It was getting harder to breathe. “Stop,” finally spilled out of her mouth, swallowed by the loud music.
He released her suddenly and she turned around to apologize.
Brad was in a pile on the floor holding his face. As he lifted his palm, the blue lights illuminated smears of blood pouring from his nose, which appeared purple.
Her arm was grabbed by a blistering force that pulled her from the crowd, towards the exit. She should have been terrified, being dragged out of the bar by Mikel—The truth was, it gave her an entirely different sensation.
The cold metal of his truck met with her back as she was pressed against it. His possessiveness only added to the growing heat between her thighs. She should have feared the way his brown eyes turned black as he stared at her. She didn’t, because he was Mikel Evans—her dark angel.
She had never seen him this upset before, nor his eyes so wild. He leaned towards her, the light from the bar casting him in shadows. His mouth moved only an inch from hers, the smell of hard liquor on his breath. This was the moment she had dreamed about since she was old enough to have a crush. She wanted this kiss from him. Craved it.
He seemed to hesitate. His exhales tickled and teased her. She sensed the war going on inside him. The pained expression on his face. He wanted to kiss her, but something held him back.
Remy could be brave for him. She wanted to be everything for him. If only he would let her.
She leaned in the rest of the way.
The moment their lips met, an explosion of sensations erupted between them. Hot and cold. Dark and light. Right and wrong. He took control, sliding his tongue into her mouth. She opened for him, as if she had any choice. Her body heated with lust as his rough, calloused hands cupped her face. She wrapped her arms around him, praying this moment would never end, trapped in a vortex of fantasies come to life. This was the first kiss of the century. Fireworks of their passion sparked to life from their lips meeting.
A tiny moan escaped as she pulled him closer, hanging on to his shirt for dear life.
He jolted away suddenly, stumbling back, breaking the kiss. His chest heaved as he looked at her, shaking his head. “Fuck.” He ran his hand over his face in frustration and tugged at his black hair. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to . . . Remy, I’m drunk.”
She swallowed. He’d wanted this. She’d seen it in his eyes. Hadn’t she?
The rejection stung. Daddy had always told her that alcohol brought out the deepest truths of a person, both the good and the bad.
“I need you to drive,” he commanded, his face becoming an emotionless mask. All signs of vulnerability were gone.
She climbed into the driver’s side without hesitation. After pulling her phone from her pocket, she texted Emma while he walked around to the passenger side. Adrenaline and excitement quaked through her body. Her hands shook as she spelled out the words.
Remy: Just want you to know I’m safe. Got a ride home with Mikel. See you when you get back.
He got in and shut the door. “Let’s go.”
That’s it for this romance novel excerpt.
To read the full standalone novel, order your copy of A Fallen Star today.