Sunday, February 8, 2015

Completed: Chapter 19

Completed: a Devoured novella
Chapter 19

Although I try my hardest to avoid mentioning my mother again over dinner, it doesn’t stop me from worrying over what Gram had told me over the next several hours. I should have known mom wouldn’t leave without wanting something, and I feel stupid for not realizing she’d ask for money before finally skulking away from Nashville. I’m just relieved that my grandmother had shot her down this time. The last thing we need is Gram getting another loan, putting herself back in debt just to appease my mother.

When I pick up Lucas from the airport, I plan to question him about whether my mom has asked for money the second I see him, but that idea flies out the window when I actually lay eyes on him. Wearing dark, slim-fitting jeans and an olive Henley with the sleeves pushed up far enough to showcase the sexy star tattoos on his muscular forearms, he takes my breath away as he slings his bag over his shoulder and heads in my direction.

“Welcome home,” I mouth, and he grins, quickening my pulse. Once he’s within earshot, I can’t help but smile like an idiot. “God, we’ve got to stop meeting like this,” I whisper in a husky voice. A powerful jolt of emotion slams into me when he pulls me to him by the first thing his long fingers come in contact with—the belt loop on my jeans—and he kisses me rough and hard.

Right in the middle of the airport.

“I love meeting you like this, Red.” I shiver as he runs one hand up the side of my body, not stopping until he’s touching my low ponytail. With a practiced flick of his fingers, he unravels my hairband and slips it into my back pocket. He backs away from me, wearing a mock frown. “But we should probably get home before I tear your clothes off right here.”

I laugh. “Yes, because your rabid fan club needs something new to hate me over.”

Our conversation on the way home is light, everything from Lucas teasing me about getting a new car—in my opinion, my old sedan is still perfectly functional—to him telling me about a huge charity event the band has agreed to play in a couple weeks.

“It’s a big deal to Sin, so that makes it a big deal for me,” he explains, as I slow my car to a stop at the red light that leads into our neighborhood. I turn to him with one eyebrow raised. 

“Did you tell Sin that?” Even though he’s in love, I can’t imagine my surly drummer friend letting Lucas get by with such sentimental words. Sure enough, Lucas chuckles.

“He told me to fuck myself.” He tilts his head to the side, and automatically, I reach out and tuck a lock of his messy dark hair behind his ear. He catches my hand and traces his lips over my palm before lifting his hazel eyes to mine. “And that you’re making me soft. I believe the term he used was pussy-whipped.”

Noticing that the light has turned green, I make a right turn. “God, that Sinjin Fields is a charmer.” I roll my eyes. “Did you tell him to go fuck himself right back?”

Lucas snorts. “Did you expect anything else from either of us?”

“Never.” Turning into our driveway, I turn off the ignition and take a deep breath. “Welcome back home, Lucas.”

“It’ll feel a hell of a lot more welcome once you’re out of those clothes and I find out why you’re so…”

I stiffen. “So what?”

“Stressed. You look stressed, Red, which tells me your mom’s been fucking with you again.”

I swallow hard. “That obvious?”

He points down at the steering wheel. “I’m surprised you haven’t yanked that goddamn thing off with the way you’re gripping it.” Then he nods at the house in front of us. “We’re not going in until you’ve told me what it is. I’m not letting that woman ruin our night.”

Inhaling, I count to ten before releasing a heavy breath and blurting out, “Did my mother come to you asking for money?” I switch on the interior light to see his face, and when there’s not even the slightest hint of confusion in his expression, I feel my heart sink. Not this shit again. “Jesus, Lucas, you can’t just throw money at people like my mom, expecting that it’ll be enough for her to just go away—”

But he cuts me off when he gets out the car. Sucking in my cheeks, I watch as he comes around to my side of the vehicle. He opens my door and tells me in a rough voice, “Turn off that light and get out the damn car.”

“Why? I thought we weren’t going inside until we talked it out.”

“Turn off the light, Sienna,” he repeats in a low voice.

When I do, he draws my hands in his. He pulls me against him, nudging the door shut with his knee. Framing my face with his large hands, he tilts my gaze up to his and stares down at me intensely. “Just because she came at me with her hand stretched out, doesn’t mean I gave her shit.” When I tremble under his touch, he growls against my mouth, “But maybe I should’ve. I fucking loathe seeing you like this. Makes me want to take you back to L.A. where I know she won’t come to bother you.”

Before I can respond, he literally sweeps me off my feet. “The neighbors are probably looking out their windows at us,” I say, but I wrap my arms around his shoulder.

“Don’t grind your teeth.” Then he shrugs and grins. “And fuck the neighbors. Just wait until I’m blasting music at midnight to cover up the sounds of your screams, Red.” He manages to effortlessly unlock and open the front door without loosening his grip on me, not putting me down until we’re in the living room.

He places me on the couch, spreading my knees apart and positioning his body between my legs. “I didn’t give your mom anything,” he tells me again, planting a hand on the couch to support himself when he bends over me. He kisses my neck, and I moan. “I’m not going to give your mother anything.” He drops his mouth lower, and my nipples harden the closer he gets to my breast. “But I’m sure as fuck going to help you take care of this situation.”

“How? When?” I whisper, but he shakes his head, tangling his hand in my hair and bringing our lips together.

“Later,” he promises. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Completed: Chapter 18

Completed: a Devoured novella
Chapter 18

“You’re leaving?” I repeat my mother’s words, stunned by the bombshell she just dropped on my brother and me. Honestly, this is the last thing I expected her to say. When she nods, I pull my brows together in a frown. “When did you decide to do this? And where exactly are you moving?” By now, I’m literally sitting on the edge of my seat, dying to know what Mom has up her sleeve this time.

She stops pacing a few feet from entrance to living room. With her back turned to us, she lifts her thin shoulders into a shrug. “Why does it matter when I decided to get the hell out of here? All you need to know is that I’m leaving a week from now to stay with friends.”

I cringe. Because the first thing that comes to my mind are the friends she used to surround herself with when Seth and I were kids. “How—” I start to ask, but Mom cuts me off by turning around and holding up her hands to stop me.

“And no, I don’t know how long I’ll be gone for, but I can’t be around this type of environment anymore.”

The irritated tone that she uses when she speaks those words, and the way she gestures around at my living room, puts a sour taste in my mouth. From opposite ends of the couch, Seth and I glance at each other. His brown eyes are narrowed into thin slits, and when he mouths, “What the fuck?” I know he’s thinking the same thing I am.

 Aggravated, I come right out and confront her. “Mom, if you’re trying to say that the reason that you’re leaving is because of us, you can stop right there.”

“Nobody said a damn thing about you being the reason, Sienna.” Sitting down on the edge of the chaise lounge by the fireplace, she combs her hands through her strawberry blond hair and sighs. “Maybe you’re thinking that way because you’re guilty.”

“Neither of us is guilty,” I retort before Seth can say a word, and he gives me a nod before turning his focus back on our mother.

“Have you told Gram about your plans yet?” he asks.

My muscles tighten in suppressed anger when Mom rolls her green eyes and lifts her shoulders again. I already know she’s going to say something totally warped, so I should just cover my ears, but I don’t.  “Why does it matter?” she asks, looking me right in the eye as she says it, knowingly baiting me.

Those four words start the argument. It’s heated and I’m sure my new neighbors can probably hear the back and forth yelling that echoes through the giant house, but I don’t care. By the time Seth leaves, taking our mother along with him, I’m shaking and my entire body is flushed because here’s the thing: I can deal just fine with Mom’s flippant attitude toward me—hell, I’m used to it—but for her not to even consider Gram’s feelings…

Well, that infuriates me.

I’m still fuming when I go out to dinner with Gram and Seth two nights later. Because Lucas is flying in to Nashville later tonight, we opt for an earlier than usual time to meet at one of Gram’s favorite restaurant in Green Hills. Since I moved back to Nashville earlier this year, we try to have dinner out at least once a month, but tonight we sit in unusual silence. It reminds me of the time we came here this last summer—right before I left to go on tour with Lucas and Your Toxic Sequel. Seth had turned dinner into an awkward situation when he’d lectured me about leaving with Lucas, even going as far as to give me safe sex advice.

Tonight, however, my little brother says nothing.

He doesn’t want to break our grandma’s heart with the news that Mom is planning on leaving without telling her, and neither do I.

By the time we get through our appetizers and the waiter brings out our main course, Gram has had enough of the uncomfortable silence. From her spot next to me, she sets her sweet tea down beside her plate and sits back in the booth. She stares between my brother and me. “Seth, when you don’t talk, I know something is wrong.” Her bright blue eyes narrow. “Tell me what’s going on.”

Seth focuses his dark eyes down at his plate, and across from him, I tap my fingers on the table. He doesn’t look up. Of course, my little brother would lose his ability to speak and leave this up to me. I release a heavy sigh. “Gram, Mom talked to Seth and me the other day, and—”

“She’s skipping town.” It isn’t a question—and there’s not even a hint of surprise in her voice. She already knows about this, and I feel my heart sink. Seth’s gaze pops up, and we both stare at her, waiting for her to continue. She takes another sip of her sweet tea. “I figured it out when she asked me for money.”

“How much?” I whisper.

“Five thousand.”

I swallow hard. Gram’s not a rich woman. Thanks to my mom, she’d lost her home at the beginning of this year. To think that she’s being played again makes me see red. “Gram … did you give it to her?” I ask in the gentlest tone I can manage.

She shakes her head, turning her attention on the half-eaten grilled salmon on her plate. A sad smile plays at the corner of her mouth. “But boy did she give me a story about wanting to start over. Sienna, Seth … I want her to start over—more than anything else, I want that for your mother—but I can’t do it anymore.”

“So, is she still planning to move?” my brother asks, not even trying to hide the hope in his voice.

“Thanks for finally contributing to the conversation,” I say under my breath, and he shoots me a dark look as my grandmother responds to his question with an unsure nod.

When Gram turns toward me, covers my hand with hers, I already know what she’s about to tell me, but I still suck in a breath through my teeth when she says, “She’s planning to ask Lucas for money, Sienna. I thought it was fair to warn you.”

“Fuck,” Seth says, and Gram presses her lips into a line, causing him to immediately apologize.

I start to tell them both that Lucas absolutely won’t give my mother the time of day, but then I vividly recall how he’d aided her before with her early release. It had been an attempt to get her off my back, but his plan had backfired when she decided to place herself directly into my life again. Lucas has said over and over again how different my mood is when Mom is around, so who knows what he’d be willing to do to make her leave.

Turning my hand, I give Gram’s fingers a little squeeze. “I’ll talk to him tonight.”

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Completed: Chapter Seventeen

Completed: a Devoured novella
Chapter 17

My head is still spinning in the best way possible when my brother texts four days later, on Wednesday, asking if he can come over. Since Gram has probably already told him all about the house Lucas gave me—I’d excitedly given her the grand tour on Monday when she stopped by before a doctor’s appointment—I message him back to let him know I’ll be home.


I swear that word is going to take more getting used to than fiancé did.

Waiting for Seth to show up, I try my best to put some order to the moving clutter in the foyer. Lucas hadn’t left for Los Angeles until yesterday evening, which had given me more time with him than I’d anticipated. Instead of spending that extra time in bed (or, you know, against a wall), like we normally would, we’d started the process of furniture shopping. Well, I picked out furniture. He’d chuckled at my excitement, telling me he didn’t give a fuck what the inside of the house looked like as long as I’m in it.

I’d nearly swooned like a fool right in the middle of Restoration Hardware.

I’m in the middle of toting a couple of empty boxes to the garage when the doorbell rings. I toss the empty cardboard into the massive, empty space, and then race to the front door. Wearing a giant smile, I swing the door open and freeze when I get an eyeful of who’s standing on the porch with my brother.

My mother.

I’m going to choke my kid brother.

Seeing her so soon after our latest confrontation brings back that involuntary desire to grind my teeth, but I instead I continue to smile, which draws a hesitant, ghost of a grin from her. I don’t feel like dealing with a Rebecca-inspired headache tonight, but Gram had raised me to respect my parents, to be kind. Even though I’ve struggled like hell with that lately, I’m not going to tell my mother to go away. Not when she hasn’t done anything to antagonize me.

If and when that happens, though … well, then I’ll gladly show Mom the door.

Before I can say anything, my brother shrugs his broad shoulders sheepishly. “I was at Gram’s and she—”

“I’m standing right here, Seth, let me speak for my own damn self,” Mom interrupts, glaring daggers up at him. I bite the inside of my cheek. I haven’t even invited them inside and already she’s snippy. Turning her attention to me, one side of her mouth quirks up. “The three of us need to have a talk. And since I’ve heard Mama brag about this place for days—” She gestures widely to the house. “You gonna let us in, Sienna, or do you want your neighbors to hear everything I have to say?”

I feel every muscle in my body tighten as I move aside to let my brother and mother in. It takes every inch of self-control not to angrily slam the door because of the snide suggestion I heard in her words. Or hell, maybe I was just so used to her typical rudeness, I automatically assumed the worst. We’ve reached a point where the constant back-and-forth between us has to be playing tricks on my brain.

 Locking the front door, I cross my arms tightly over my chest and walk slowly beside my brother. My mom has wandered ahead, staring up at the high ceilings and peeking around corners, and she’s out of earshot when Seth bends his head and whispers, “Don’t be too pissed, Si. She wouldn’t back down and—”

I shake my head. “I’ll get over it, let’s just … let’s see what she wants, okay?”

When Mom disappears down a hallway, I tell Seth where the living room is and leave him behind, walking a little faster to find her. She doesn’t go far, because I quickly locate her in my new laundry room—which is state-of-the-art and gets me excited to do laundry every time I walk inside. Mom is leaning against the granite counters, staring out at the empty spots where my new washer and dryer will eventually stand.

She stays silent until I eventually walk in front of her with my eyebrow raised. I almost expect to see her eyes glazed over, but Mom was never into actually taking drugs—just selling them. She’s completely alert, completely herself, when she releases a harsh laugh and rakes her hand through her strawberry blond hair. “Lord, Sienna. You don’t give me any credit.”

I glance behind me, at the outlet box, and then turn my focus back to her green eyes, which are now narrowed. “You’re looking at a wall. Sorry, but that worries me a little.”

She laughs and I can’t decide if it’s bitter or genuine, so I hold my breath, waiting for her to talk. “When your dad and I got married, we dreamt of this.” I make a little noise, but she shakes her head. “And before you act like a smartass and ask if I’m talking about the goddamn laundry room, I’m not. I’m talking about this. This house. Well, houses like it.  Never worked out.”

“When you got remarried you had a nice place,” I point out, and she rolls her eyes.

“You love to throw that up in my face.”
I haven’t directly brought up my asshole ex-stepfather or the big house they ran their mini drug empire from since Lucas helped her get an early release, but I decide to apologize anyway. “Sorry, but it was a general statement. Wasn’t throwing anything in your face.” When she gives me a stiff nod, I sigh. “Look, I don’t want to argue. Seth is waiting for us in the other room. We should go have that talk. I have a dinner appointment with a client at eight-thirty, and I can’t be late.”

It’s a lie, and a horrible one at that, but my mother seems to accept it. Gesturing to the hallway, she smirks. “Well, I don’t want to keep you, Sienna. Let’s get this over with.”

When we reach my new living room, Seth is texting, sprawled out on the linen sofa like he’s lived here for years. Glancing over at us, he lazily sits up. “You and douchebag are welcome to get me a couch like this for Christmas,” he drawls, ducking when I reach out to smack the back of his head as I sit next to him.

“I’d think by now you’d stop calling him that.”

“Someday,” my brother promises, sliding down to the other end of the couch so he’s far away from my reach.

From across the room, Mom clears her throat, pulling my brother’s brown eyes and my blue ones up to look at her. She’s pacing back and forth in front of the mantle and built-in bookshelves, clenching her thin hands together. “I realize what you two must think of me by now. I know what kind of person you think I am—and you’re probably justified. I’ve brought a world of hurt into both your lives, but I was never meant to be a mother. We all know that, so there’s no use pretending.”

Beside me, Seth groans. “Mom—”

She holds up her hand. “Let me finish,” she snaps, and I sink my fingers into the cushions. Feel a sharp pang in my chest because I can’t help but wonder if the next thing out my mother’s mouth will be to tell Seth and I we shouldn’t have been born or something equally as awful. Finally she continues, “The thing is, I don’t want to change. I don’t know how.”

Her words send a hot, familiar emotion flashing through me, and I drag my tongue over my teeth before I ask her why the hell we’re having this conversation if she has no intention of trying. But then Mom’s lips part again. And what she says next immediately silences me.

“Which is why I’m leaving.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Completed: Chapter 16

Completed: a Devoured novella
Chapter Sixteen

To my relief, Gram takes me moving out surprisingly well, particularly when she finds out that the hotel I’m staying at until I can find an apartment of my own is less than a few miles from the cabin she’s lived in my entire life. When she quietly asks me if I’m okay with it—which I translate as her questioning if I think she’s choosing my mother over me—I let her know I love her and we’re fine. And I even go a step further by telling her I know she’d never do that, and vice versa.

The day my mom realizes the solidity of the bond between me and Gram, maybe things will change.

If she ever realizes it. Because right now, I can think of a thousand other miracles that’ll probably happen before my mom comes around.

With my stress-free move knocked out by Wednesday, I spend the rest of the week meeting with clients—both old and new—and trying to promote my business as a wardrobe consultant and personal shopper. When Lucas calls me Saturday night to let me know he’s just touched down in Nashville and he’ll be at my hotel as soon as he picks up his rental car, I’m ready for a break. Making up my mind to finish answering emails sometime tomorrow, I close my laptop and leave it on the coffee table before padding into the tiny bathroom to check my appearance. Dressed in yoga pants and a sweatshirt, with my long red tresses piled into a messy bun, I look a little crappy.  Okay, a lot crappy.

Even though Lucas has assured me he wanted to spend the evening at home—well, my hotel room—I still decide to change. I go for simple and casual, dark skinny jeans, an oversized sweater, and brown boots. I’m in the process of brushing the fifty billion tangles from my hair when my doorbell rings, and immediately, my heartbeat races in anticipation.

 “Good God,” I say under my breath, leaving my brush on the bathroom counter before attempting to keep from sprinting to the front door. “Less than a week away from him, and I’ve already got butterflies before the man even steps inside.”

Reaching the door, I tuck a strand of unruly hair behind my ear, trying my best to smooth it. When I fling it open, a delicious grin stretches across Lucas’ face, which instantly draws a smile from me. Especially when I take in the way he’s dressed. Like usual, he’s clad his incredibly tall, tattooed, and muscular frame in jeans and a black-and-gray long sleeve tee, but he’s wearing the same glasses he’d sported several months ago when we went to a bar together.

And trust me, the sight of Lucas in those glasses—with his messy dark hair gathered at the nape of his neck—is just about enough to make me come undone.

When I don’t say anything, he finally teases, “Don’t tell me I’ve taken your breath away.”

“Absolutely not.” I step aside to let him in. “See, I’m breathing just fine.”

“Damn, Si. Way to fuck with my ego.” But the corners of his eyes crinkle as he continues to stand in the hallway. I motion for him to come inside, causing him to shake his head. “You look too beautiful, too perfect, for me to come inside just to peel your clothes off. I’m taking you out. At least for a little while.”

I nod slowly, and when I walk backward to grab my things, he steps into the doorway, following my movements carefully. “What would’ve happened if you found me dressed in sweats? Would you have still taken me out?” I ask with a laugh as I grab my purse and keys from one of the end tables.


Returning to him, I shift an eyebrow and he feathers the pad of his thumb across my cheek. “You’re a brave man, Lucas Wolfe.”

He brushes his lips over mine, and then grins. “I swear this won’t take long and then you’ll have that night at home I promised.”

Navigating through the Saturday night pre-Christmas Nashville traffic, Lucas probes me about my week, taking care not to ask too many questions about my move from Gram’s place and focusing all his attention on my business. I’m probably a little too enthusiastic talking about clothes, but he doesn’t mention it.

A moment after he takes the exit for Brentwood—a suburb just outside of the city—he turns to me and says, “I fucking love seeing you happy, Red.”

I wrinkle my brow in confusion. “I have been happy.”

“Uh huh.” He turns into a residential area. “Bullshit.”

Frowning, I twist completely in my seat to stare at him. “What do you—?”

“You haven’t been yourself since your mom came back into the picture. Usually when I’m in town you’re moody because of her. This is the first time I’ve seen you this … this relaxed in a long ass time.”

I touch his thigh. “I’m always happy with you. You know that.”

He closes his fingers around mine, dragging my hand up a couple inches. “Careful,” he warns in a sexy growl. “You’re gonna change the course of our night real fast doing things like that.”

I start to speak, but then he pulls the rental car into a circular driveway, stopping and turning off the ignition once we’re in front of a large brick house that’s already been decorated for the holidays. I let the bright, cheery Christmas lights dazzle me for a few more moments before asking Lucas, “Another one of your colleague’s parties?” He moves his head slightly, and I worry my bottom lip between my teeth, staring down at what I’m wearing. “Should I have dressed up? It looks like we’re early, so maybe we should go back to my place to—”

He gathers my face in his, pulling me close to him, and I breathe him in. “Relax, Si. You’re perfect. You always have been.”

His response only makes me worry more as we walk to the front door together, but he gives me a reassuring smile as we step into the luxurious house. To my surprise, it’s utterly quiet. Touching his finger to my lips to quiet the question that’s on the tip of my tongue, Lucas then takes my hand in his and guides me through the house.

“I know we’ve wondered a lot about where we’d live after everything was said and done, but there’s no rule we have to live in one place, Si. We’ve got my place in L.A. and the vacation house in the mountains, but I wanted a home where your heart is too.”

“Lucas,” I start, my breath catching in my throat as we turn the corner and enter the kitchen.

He leads me closer to the center counter, where there’s a piece of paper sitting next to a couple of keys. My heart feels like it’s in my throat as he nudges me closer. I read the brief note on the paper slowly, squeezing his hand tightly.
I fucking adore you, Si. So much that I’ll probably write a hundred more songs about you before it’s all said and done. Let’s start here. Merry early Christmas, Red.

“Lucas, did you buy this house?” I question breathlessly.

“Yes,” he answers without missing a beat. “Last month, in fact. It was supposed to be a Christmas present for you, but given the circumstances, I figured you could unwrap it a few weeks early—”

I launch myself into his arms, and silently, he holds me close. Everything he said earlier about having a night in suddenly makes sense, and when I pull away from him, I can feel tears prickling the corners of my eyes.

“You didn’t have to do this,” I say, but he shakes his head.

“I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Welcome home, Sienna.”