"You did just right," I said softly, remembering how Connor had looked when he was laying on the floor. "I don’t think he’ll be bothering me again—not for a long time, anyway."

The Xanax bottle rested near my hand, and I realized I still hadn’t taken one today. I twisted the bottle between my fingers, thinking about the pills inside and set it down again.

Chapter Twenty-One


I woke up, startled by a strange sound. Sunlight beamed through the window, and I saw that I was in Jax’s room. The strange sound came again, except louder. This time, I could tell it was a moan. Seeking out the comfort of Jax’s arms, I rolled over and realized that it was him moaning, deeply and painfully, his face strained. His eyes were squeezed shut and his head was flopping back and forth over a damp halo of sweat on his pillow.

"Jax," I said softly to him, unsure what what to do. "Jax, it's okay, everything's okay."

I gently rubbed my hand on his tense arm, hoping I could calm him down.

He went silent. I brushed aside his damp hair and faintly kissed his temple. I whispered into his ear and continued rubbing his arm gently until his body relaxed down into the bed and his breathing returned to normal. If this is what happened when he slept, I could see why he didn't get much of it.

I studied Jax’s face. He seemed peaceful now, as if whatever nightmare he’d experienced never happened. I flopped onto my pillow, relieved.

Judging from the light streaming through the window, I could tell that it had to have been close to noon. It was unusual for me to sleep in so late but yesterday's incident had been exhausting, both mentally and emotionally. I looked at Jax snoring quietly, and then slipped out of bed to wash up.

The bus was parked, and I couldn't hear any of the constant music, video games, laughing, or partying that I was growing accustomed to while on tour. The band appeared to be out, and even Bernie was gone too.

I peeked out the blinds and discovered that we were in a vast parking lot. Past rows of cars and behind a tall privacy fence, bursts of water shot up twenty feet into the air and I could make out the tops of what looked to be waterslides and lifeguard towers. I realized that we were stopped at a water park, which was probably where the rest of the band was having fun.

It was a gorgeous day out, and I was eager to join them, but I still wasn’t sure what they thought of what happened yesterday at the music video shoot. Jax told me after our talk that the band didn’t think much of it. He had said that when he went back to the soundstage he just told the band that some random creep was bothering me so he got rid of the guy. Even though Jax was convinced that they bought the story, I was still worried about what the band might think if they realized that Jax and I were becoming more than just friends. The last thing I wanted right now was to create drama or make things awkward on the bus.

Still, I couldn’t avoid them forever, and I knew I'd be kicking myself for weeks if I missed out on all the fun in the sun. So I exhaled deeply and made my decision.

I went into the bathroom and slipped into my bathing suit. I found myself grinning from ear to ear remembering how this bikini top initiated my post-concert kissing ritual with Jax. I left the bathroom and checked to see if Jax wanted to go, but he was still sleeping peacefully. I was tempted to wake him but felt he deserved a good rest after clocking out my ex and then listening to me unload my baggage all night. Poor guy.

After giving him one last peck on the cheek, I left the bus and headed for the park. At the gate I discovered that it was a pirate-themed water park named Blackbeard’s Lagoon, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the band had already paid for my admission. That was thoughtful of them. I figured they'd probably expensed it to the band's account, but these tickets were a far cry from thousand-dollar flutes of champagne, so I was more than okay with their decision, even if it did make some extra work for me.

Inside, as I strolled the place seeking out the band, I noticed fountains sculpted like pirates standing on open treasure chests everywhere. Most of the staff sported eyepatches and bandanas. People were laughing and screaming as they slid down twisty slides and walked plank-like diving boards into a huge pool with plastic vines and foliage designed to resemble a lagoon. Next to the pool, rowdy teenagers manned controllable water cannons from inside a pirate ship and they fired attacks at unsuspecting parkgoers. After passing the same peglegged pirate fountain for the third time, I still saw no sign of the band.

I considered stopping under a lone palm tree for a break, when I heard "Riley! Over here!"

Turning sharply, I saw Kev waving me over to the rest of the band sitting around a wooden picnic table partially hidden by a big umbrella.

"Found you guys!" I said, approaching them and trying to act like nothing was on my mind. "Thanks for buying my ticket."

Sky, dressed in a polka-dot string bikini, shot me a bright smile. "No problem. We saw this place and just had to treat ourselves after our long day of filming. I figured you'd be down once you woke up and left the Fortress of Solitude."

Chewie jumped off the table. "Riley, awesome, now we can do it."

"Do what? Don't tell me you need me to make more buttons."

Chewie laughed and pointed a futuristic raygun at me. He made machine gun noises with his mouth, pretending to shoot me. "Fuck buttons, we’ve got more urgent needs, like a water gun fight! And now that you're here, we've got even teams."

I brightened. It was exactly the type of fun I needed to take my mind off of yesterday. "Sounds like a blast, and a good way to cool off today, count me in."

"Excellent!" Chewie squirted his raygun at the concrete right in front of my feet, trying to intimidate me.

"Watch it, Chewie," I said, smiling devilishly. "I grew up playing Duck Hunt, so I’m an excellent shot."

"Well, go grab a gun and let’s put those skills to the test." Chewie cocked his raygun. "They rent the guns out right over there. We'll be waiting here, locked and loaded."

"Alright, I'll be back," I said, doing my best Terminator impression, and then I headed over to the water gun stand to wait in line. It occurred to me that this was the first time I was really hanging out with the rest of the band. Most of the tour I’d been either working by myself or hanging out with Jax.

A firm hand gripped my elbow. Surprised, I yanked my arm away and spun around. "What th—"

"Riley, there you are," Jax said, with concern etched into his face. "I've been looking everywhere for you."

Tags: Priscilla West Forever Billionaire Romance
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