chapter one


*** UNEDITED ***

Til death do us part. It’s supposed to be that simple.

Marriages are supposed to last. Couples are supposed to be able to get through the toughest of times and have each other’s back—until one of them takes their last breath.

Problem is, that’s not reality. That was my parents’, my grandparents’, but not mine.

My marriage was a sham from the very beginning. I never loved her. I didn’t even grow to love her. Not even as the mother of my son.

That probably makes me the shittiest man on the face of earth. So be it. I’ve come to terms with that.

I sigh, breathing out a long, tiring breath, letting the documents between my fingers—two pages that outline my divorce—fall, landing on the wooden coffee table in front of me. 

It says, I’ve been divorced for three days now.

I didn’t contest much of anything. Julia wanted the house, she got it. She wanted the souped-up cars in the garages, she got those too. The condo in New York, whatever. It’s not like I cared for that place anyway. It was all just things, items that can be replaced.

The only thing in my marriage that has ever mattered to me is my son. He’s the single reason I married her in the first place. And the only reason it lasted as long as it did.

As much as I want to regret the last eighteen years of Julia Montgomery in my life, in my bed, I can’t—because of him. I have so many regrets, but Brandon isn’t one of them. I wish things had turned out differently. Hell, I wish he were someone else’s son rather than hers. But he’s not. And there isn’t a damn thing I can do to change the past.

Lies. Betrayal. A broken fucking heart is what got me into this mess to begin with. Problem is, I would have thought I’d have gotten past all that by now. 

I haven’t. 

I never will.

I pick up the longneck bottle, the condensation slipping down the amber glass and around my fingers. I down the contents, swallowing the beer, guzzling it.

It isn’t strong enough, but then again, nothing is. Not even the strongest whiskey could make me forget those deep brown eyes, long auburn hair, fingers that could strum a guitar and make me hard just watching her play. It’s her voice that used to always do me in. I’ll never get those sounds out of my head as long as I breathe. I’ve never heard anything like it. So perfect, so beautiful, so haunting.

Eighteen years have gone by and Elise Thomas still owns me like no other woman ever has—or ever will.

Eighteen years later and I still fucking hate her as much as the day she returned.

“For a man that should be celebrating freedom from the bitch, you sure do have a look of doom and gloom written all over that ugly face, brother.” I glance up, seeing Trey, my drummer, holding a beer at his side, a dark brown eyebrow arched up one side of his forehead. “What do we need to do to cheer you up?” His lips tip, already knowing my answer.

“Pussy. I want to drown in that shit.”

His lips spread, widening into a grin so big it puts the Cheshire Cat to shame. Seth—the guitarist in our band—walks up, putting his arm across Trey’s back and jerking him to him. Trey is taller, leaner than Seth, so when his body leans over, his wavy brown hair falls into his line of sight. 

“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go find us some honies,” Seth adds.

It’s not like it’ll matter. By the time I’m balls deep inside a girl, I’ll be too drunk to feel an ounce of pain or guilt, and definitely not pleasure.

My guilt is the one thing I’ve never understood. Doesn’t matter who the girl is, I always regret fucking them, yet I still do it. I wasn’t the one that left though. She was. So why is it I’m the one that’s always felt like I was betraying her, when she’s the one that screwed me over?

It’s a question to an answer I’ll never get.

The last person on this earth I ever want to see again is Elise Thomas. She’s worse than the woman I married, and that’s saying a lot, because Julia Montgomery takes the cake on being the biggest bitch I’ve ever met.

“Text Cole,” I order, knowing one of them will do it. Cole Masters is the other member of our band, our bassist and my best friend. All four of us have been friends since we were in daycare together at the age of three. It’s always been the four of us. Cole and I are best friends, Seth and Trey the same. They are my brothers even though none of us are related. They’ve always had my back and I theirs. They’ve never betrayed me, or the band. And I know they never will. “Tell him to meet us.”

We formed Bleeding Hart, our rock band, when we were in junior high, none of us knowing how to play any instrument or even how to sing a note. That wasn’t the original name of the band, but it’s what I later changed it to when I was going through a rough time in my life. We all loved music more than we loved to eat. We knew even back then we wanted to make it big no matter what it took. 

And we did. 

We bled sweat and tears, but we made it to the big league: record deals, world tours, money, fame, girls. We’ve even dabbled in drugs here and there, but we also learned that was a dead end and a fast track to lose the career we’ve worked too damn hard to achieve.

At least I can say I’ve gotten and kept one of the two things I’ve always wanted.

“Says he can’t and he’ll catch up with us tomorrow,” Trey relays. “Says to come over around noon and we’ll work on laying that track for the new album in his studio.”

“What’s more important than getting smashed with your boys and finding pussy?” Seth asks.

Trey and I both look at each other, a dry laugh coming out of my mouth. “Pussy he already has,” I answer. “Let’s hit it.”




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