Random on Tour: Los Angeles (Random #7)
Author: Julia Kent
Genre: New Adult Romantic Comedy
Publication Date: July 19, 2015
BOOK SEVEN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING RANDOM SERIES:
I guzzled another flute of Champagne and froze, the liquid in my throat, waiting to be swallowed.
Tyler was here.
We’d met a few times before, in passing. He was the substitute bass player for the band; I was the lead guitar player’s girlfriend’s best friend. In that weird sort of social circle thing where Venn diagrams get laid over different groups, Tyler and I were bound to be in the crossover once in a while.
He looked so hot. Short brown hair. A few days of beard. Bright green eyes that were more guarded than a Russian mobster’s. He was sleeved, the colorful tattoos a tapestry, but every time I met him I couldn’t quite see them. We only saw each other in dark concert halls, or tonight, under the stars.
He gave Sam a rare smile and a hearty handshake, forearm muscles bulging. I wondered what it would be like to have those hands on me. My fingers tracing those tats. Listening to him tell me the story of his body while he forgave mine.
Forgave it for failing me.
I shook my head fast to banish the thoughts that drew me into places so dark they became black holes of the soul. The gravity of trauma had a way of sucking all the good into it, and tonight I wasn’t going to let that happen. The opposite, in fact.
Tonight I was going to sleep with Tyler.
He didn’t know it yet, but that was okay. He would. Soon.
* * *
Random on Tour: Los Angeles is the 7th book in the New York Times bestselling Random series, the ongoing story of the up-and-coming rock band, Random Acts of Crazy. When the band’s bass player, Joe Ross, gets injured in an unfortunate sex act that gains nationwide coverage, it’s tatted-up Tyler (aka “Frown”) to the rescue for their first big concert.
There’s only one problem: the morning of his flight to L.A. he wakes up to find someone’s stolen all his money, his bass, his ID, and his pride. When he shows up at Maggie’s doorstep to ask her to drive him from their hometown of St. Louis all the way to L.A., these two damaged people learn quickly that being independent doesn’t always mean being free…
Warning: This book deals with the very difficult topic of sexual assault and rape, and I’ve taken great care to address this with the sensitivity and respect it deserves.
None of the scenes in the book contain sexual violence, though the characters do tell their stories of past sexual violence. None of those descriptions is graphic or gratuitous. This book is about hope and healing, but the characters do have past trauma that they discuss.
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The chick with the multi-colored hair was giving me the eye. And the creeps. But mostly the eye. I knew that look. That was the look of a nervous but desperate woman who wanted sex.
I didn’t play that game.
I was here because Darla called me and said that I should come. I didn’t play in the concert, but I came tonight to watch and because Darla asked me to join the engagement party. Sam was a cool guy. Amy was the kind of girl who looked down on me for the three years I was in high school, but she wasn’t like that to me. She was just that kind. The kind of chick who thought she understood anything about the world she could put into a neat little box.
Eventually they learned. I guessed. I guessed they learned that the world doesn’t work that way. I didn’t know any women like that up close, so all I could do was guess.
“Hey, Maggie!” Darla called out, walking over to her with two plastic cups of Champagne. Maggie. That’s right. I sucked at names.
I didn’t suck at faces. She’d stuck in my mind since the first time we met. She was carrying a blow up sex toy doll that day.
You didn’t forget that kind of thing.
Long, dyed hair. Three or four colors. She had eyes that were so fucking blue they must have been painted on. Fake lenses. A ton of piercings and a nasty scar up one cheekbone. That made me pause. What the hell happened to her? You don’t get that kind of mark from living a pampered life like most of the people at this party.
Maybe I misjudged her.
I didn’t fuck chicks who came on to me like I was something you try on, like a dress at a store in the mall you thought it would be fun to slip into for a minute. A disguise. A distraction. I’d been offered plenty of tester pussy. Like getting spritzed at the perfume counter at the mall—here’s a sample. Check out my scent.
They liked to get their turn on the bad-boy inked-up dude ride. And then they went home to their perfect houses in the suburbs, where Mommy and Daddy paid for everything and expected them to live cookie-cutter lives.
Been there, done that, had the memories of uncomfortable looks when I asked for a second date burned into my brain like a brand.
I was the guy you fucked so you could tell your friends you had a bad boy.
I wasn’t the guy you brought home for dinner.
Maggie, though...that scar. The hair that looked like something out of a My Little Pony commercial. All those studs in her nose and ears. Women who made themselves look like that did it to filter out the world.
So did guys.
“How’s it going?” she asked. Darla handed me a beer and walked away, a satisfied smile on her face. I had a hard time with words but not with facial expressions. More than one woman here wanted to see
me with Maggie. I felt like a gazelle being watched by a pack of lions on one of those nature shows my dad left on after he passed out from his nightly twelve pack. The gazelle at the watering hole during a drought, being looked over by the pack of hungry lions.
Cougar, actually. Maggie’s a good five years older than me.
“Good.” I drank my beer in one long motion, trying not to choke. Her eyes raked over my arm as I lifted it, widening, then going back to normal. Whatever normal meant.
Leave. My internal warning system told me to get the fuck out of here. Do not engage. Do not touch. She was Charlotte’s best friend and you don’t taint the waters when your only paid gigs come from this chick’s best friend’s boyfriend’s band.
I was normally damn good at listening to my inner warning system.
It was hard to listen through that much color.
Her hand landed on my bare arm, two fingers pressing with a feather-light touch against one of my tats. The brush of her fingers made my thighs clench, my throat tighten, and my heart speed up double, as time itself slowed down.
“What’s that?” She gave me a smile so bright it lit up half the world, her eyes guarded but clear. So clear.
She poked hard with those fingers and nudged me. Making excuses to touch me. My body responded, too. Of course it did. The very small number of words my brain could hold at the same time became even smaller. She smelled like soap and sweat, like sweet wine and kisses.
I couldn’t sleep with her.
Her finger traced a slow line on the border of my tat, following the labyrinth pattern with a kind of aimless wandering. She was using any excuse she could find to touch me and to keep touching me. I looked at her face, her eyes tipped down, her upper lip tucked between her teeth as she tried to breathe nice and steady.
Her pulse fluttered on her neck. She swallowed every few seconds. I narrowed my eyes and really took a good look.
This wasn’t a bad boy fuck pass. She wasn’t slumming. If it had just been that I’d have doubled up on my no.
Damn it, she had something way deeper going on.
And so did I.
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men's room toilet (and he isn't a billionaire).
She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down.
She loves to hear from her readers by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @jkentauthor, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor. Visit her at http://jkentauthor.com
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