My eyes flick past her to Cain.
The contriteness in his expression is all the confirmation I need.
And I feel sick.
There’s commotion all around. I can hear people yelling from off camera. Piper is screaming for them to turn the cameras off.
That’s what she cares about right now.
Not me. Not the fact that my heart is being broken on live television by my cheating-ass girlfriend. But, worse, by my friend, whom I trusted. The guy I’ve known for ten years.
Ten fucking years.
My head starts to cloud.
I’m no longer on live television with an audience of people sitting there.
I’m staring at my best friend, and rage is firing in my bloodstream.
I get to my feet. “Is it true?” I say to him, my voice trembling with anger.
Cain gets to his feet, facing me. “I’m sorry,” he says.
“You’re sorry?” I laugh without a trace of humor.
Then, I punch him.
Hard. In the face.
Three Months Later
“Up and out!”
The sound of hands clapping and Jack, my manager’s, voice split through my head like an ax on wood.
Groaning, I mumble, “Fuck off, Jack. I’m sleeping.” My voice is muffled by the pillow my face is buried in.
Sunlight and warmth hit my back a second later as the curtains are pulled open.
“For fuck’s sake,” I grumble.
“Ladies, get dressed, and be on your way. A car is waiting for you downstairs to take you home,” Jack says with that no-nonsense tone of his.
I feel movement on the bed. Limbs and bodies climb over me and off the bed.
Alcohol. Lots of alcohol.
A redhead who could deep-throat like a champ and a brunette with legs that went on for miles.
Lots of it.
At the party. In the limo on the way back to the hotel suite I’ve been living in these last few months. The sofa. The bed.
Well, the usual for me now.
Stretching my aching body, I lift my head. The sunlight blinds me. Rubbing a hand over my face, I blink through the haze. My eyes meet with Jack’s.
He’s standing there, his arms folded over his chest, a disapproving frown on his face.
He wears that look a lot when looking at me nowadays.
The girls are moving around the room, picking up the debris of their clothes from last night’s activities.
“What?” I bite at him.
He says nothing. Just shakes his head.
His stare is making me uncomfortable. It’s the disappointment in his eyes that bothers me the most.
In a business filled with sharks, Jack isn’t one. He’s loyal. To me. His wife. His kids.
For all these years, I’ve stayed clean in a city full of dirt with his help and because of my family back home.
Well, I was clean. Now, I’m a helluva lot dirty.
My eyes flit to the girls as they quickly dress.
Shame spreads through my chest.
This isn’t me…
At least, it wasn’t me.
Sure, I’ve done one-night stands in the past. I’ve slept with women with no promise of more.
But this—the endless nights of drinking and fucking, and then rinse and repeat—isn’t me.
But, right now, it’s the only thing that makes me feel better.
Well, for a time anyway.
Shame has me getting to my feet and snapping out, “Jesus, Jack, stop fucking looking at me like that.” I walk my bare ass over to the closet where I pull out a pair of black lounge pants and slip them on.
“Like what? Like you’re a mess?” Jack states, like he doesn’t care that other people are in this room.
I can just see the headline now…
VAUGHN’S MANAGER CALLS HIM “A MESS” IN HEATED ARGUMENT
As I grit my teeth, my angry eyes quickly flit to the girls leaving my room. Neither looks like they heard or care about what Jack said, but you can never be too sure in this town.
My eyes meet with the redhead’s. She gives me a smile that says she wants a repeat and drops a slip of paper on the dresser before she leaves with the brunette in tow.
Sorry, love, no repeats.
Jack walks over and shuts the door behind them.
“Since when do you mouth off in front of people?” I fire at Jack.
He’s the one who always tells me to be careful what I say and to whom.
“Since you clearly don’t give a shit about your career anymore.”
He laughs. “Then, sort your shit out.”
“Give me a fucking break.”
“That’s all I’ve done for the last few months. That’s all anyone’s done. We get that you’re hurting. What they did…it was shit. But shit happens, and life moves on. You move on, Vaughn.”
“I’m moving on,” I growl.
“Yeah, looks like it.” He gives a pointed look at the empty box of condoms on my nightstand and the bottles of Jack littered around the room.
I feel ashamed again. I shouldn’t. I’m a grown fucking man, but I know this isn’t me. It isn’t what I’m about.
And I care about what Jack thinks of me. I respect him.
And I know my family is worried about me. I know I’m letting them down.
I’m letting myself down.
Sighing, I drag my hands through my hair.
“You need to get it together, Vaughn.” He reaches inside his sports coat and pulls out his phone. He turns it, showing me the picture and headline.