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Authors: Kara Jorges

California Dream

BOOK: California Dream
7.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

California Dream
Kara Jorges


chapter one




Roddy O’Neill was a bad boy, and women loved him for it. For the past ten years, he had wooed them with his voice of liquid gravel, singing songs of lust and love, passion and pain. Women of all ages, shapes, and sizes had fallen prey to the words they were sure he had written just for them. Roddy never let them know that all their faces had begun to blur, and that there had been enough of them to create a directory the size of New York City’s phone book.

At twenty-nine, Roddy wasn’t slowing down. His tastes had become more particular over the years as his fame grew, but that didn’t seem to reduce the constant pace of the revolving door into his bedroom. Roddy was a rock star, and women came with the territory.

What had always amused him about his appeal with the opposite sex were his looks. He wasn’t classically handsome, and in his opinion, not really all that good looking. His dirty-blond hair was long and often unkempt, he did not have the soulful eyes of a poet, and did not possess perfectly-straight, gleaming-white teeth. He filled out a pair of leather pants rather nicely, though, and while not huge and buff, he worked out to keep the rest of his body in shape.

Roddy knew it was all about his renegade attitude and rock and roll wardrobe. What woman with a pulse didn’t like a rock star in leather pants? He wore his shirts unbuttoned to the waist, a bandanna usually held his hair back from his face, and he had a penchant for real snakeskin boots. The look had certainly worked for him, even if he didn’t have a pretty boy face. He knew his music was a big part of what drew the women, but it was really more about his image. Any musician, successful rock star or not, could get girls. It didn’t matter if his music was any good or not.

Supposing his birthday was making him introspective, Roddy lay back with his feet up and let his mind wander back to the early days while he drifted off to sleep on the tour bus. Success was a given these days, but it hadn’t always been that way. There had been the usual struggles, and he hadn’t been able to believe it at first when his records soared high on the charts and the money started pouring in. Of course, he had reacted in typical rock star fashion, and allowed himself to fall into a pit of alcohol and drug abuse that very nearly destroyed his career.

That was over now. He was back on top with a new number-one song and life couldn’t be better.

It didn’t bother him that he had to go onstage in Minneapolis on his twenty-ninth birthday. Screaming fans were a great way to celebrate, and he could take his pick of which one he wanted for his present. He was well past the point of picking the ones that were too young, of course, and some nights he refused them all. He was young, single, and healthy, though, so that didn’t happen very often.

Satisfied with life in general, Roddy drifted off to sleep. There would be plenty of time to think about his backstage pickings after the show. They were all the same anyway.

“Roddy O’Neill tickets! No way!” Lee Miller vaulted off her chair and flew into her best friend’s embrace.
Her best friend Debbie smiled broadly. “Jim has connections. He hates Roddy, so I convinced him to let us take the tickets.”
“Remind me to tell Jim how much I love him!” Lee said, squealing and giving Debbie another hug.

At five minutes before quitting time on Friday afternoon, it was easy for Lee and Debbie to forget themselves and proper library etiquette. A frown from their boss, Mr. Eggers, quieted them and sent them penitently back to their desks.

“What should I wear?” Lee whispered.
“Leather,” Debbie said with a shrug.
At the stroke of five, Lee and Debbie dashed out the door, ignoring the disapproving glare from Mr. Eggers.
“The concert’s at eight, so I’ll pick you up at 6:30,” Debbie told Lee before they parted ways.
“I’ll be waiting on my front steps!”

Lee vowed she would wait all night and day in freezing rain if it meant she would get Roddy O’Neill tickets out of the experience.

Thinking about Debbie’s fashion advice, Lee threw open her closet doors and glared at the contents inside. She really didn’t own a lot of leather, and what she had wasn’t very tough-looking. She owned nothing with wicked studs, but she was in possession of a lime-green biker jacket with huge buckles and lots of zippers. Though the color would have been laughed out of any local biker bar, it suited Lee and the style seemed just right for the concert that night.

Lee paired the jacket with tight, faded jeans that had a tear in the left knee and a plain white tee-shirt. Her long, streaky-blonde hair was allowed to tumble in disarray down her back, as it would never be seen in the library. For shoes, she selected a pair of high-top sneakers with laces that matched her jacket.

She smiled jauntily at her image in the mirror. Complete with huge gold hoop earrings that peeped through her hair from time to time, she could pass for any age from seventeen to twenty-seven. The ambiguity seemed perfect for a Roddy O’Neill concert. For some reason, she craved an air of mystery that night.

Debbie’s remarks convinced Lee that she had chosen the right outfit, though hers wasn’t quite as racy as Debbie’s black leather mini-dress and matching boots.

Target Center, the concert venue, was packed to the gills. It only added to Lee’s excitement. She and Debbie had good seats, up front and center. Lee barely heard the opening act in her anticipation of finally being able to see Roddy O’Neill perform live, and when they finished and the fans started screaming, “Roddy! Roddy!” she added her voice to the melee.

Roddy O’Neill was Lee’s favorite rock star, and she had the same kind of crush on him that any young woman had on her favorite celebrity. She found her attraction rising a notch from the moment Roddy strutted out on stage, and by halfway through his first number, she was thoroughly hooked. His thrusting, prancing gyrations on the stage got her imagination going, and it just didn’t matter that every woman in the place probably felt the same way. It was part of his unique charisma.

Debbie had a special surprise for Lee that night, but Lee had to wait until Roddy and his band ran off stage after their last encore before it was revealed.

“Oh, there’s one more thing,” Debbie said almost casually while the girls prepared to leave.

When Lee turned to give her a quizzical look, Debbie flashed a pair of backstage passes. Lee’s mouth dropped open and her eyes went wide.

“Ohmygod!” she screamed, her feet leaving the floor.

Debbie grinned. “Come on! Quit gawking and let’s go to the party!”

Both young women garnered a lot of stares as they made their way through backstage security. They were two young beauties wearing eye-catching outfits, hoping to meet with stars. Backstage security had seen just about everything, but they still weren’t above appreciating attractive women, particularly since they often got their pick of Roddy O’Neill’s leavings.

The party room was a zoo by the time Debbie and Lee got there. Camera flashes went off almost constantly, and champagne corks seemed to pop every few seconds. There were platters of food laid out on a long table that went mostly ignored. Deep in the center of the crowd, Roddy’s band was surrounded by avid young fans, but the star himself was nowhere in sight.

His fans didn’t know it, but Roddy hated backstage parties. Even though they yielded his evening’s entertainment, he was tired of the cameras, the constant questions, and even the endless succession of women with adulation in their eyes. The action backstage was vital to his career, though. He had to keep up a constant appearance of affability if he didn’t want to see nasty stories about himself in the gossip rags. Since it was his birthday, though, he decided his appearance that night would be very brief.

He entered the room between Bart and Lester, his two burly bodyguards. A barrage of flashes immediately erupted in his face, and he gritted his teeth and smiled through it. It seemed the tabloids loved nothing more than to print unflattering pictures. If he didn’t smile, his face would appear on them accompanied by false stories of his ugly temper tantrums. Bart snatched him a glass of champagne and he started his perfunctory rounds of the room.

Eddie Brandon was Roddy’s lead guitarist. Eddie was handsome, in a bad boy kind of way, and always managed to find attractive women. He had the requisite pair of young girls waiting when he beckoned Roddy.

At least the girls looked young, Roddy mused. Something in the blonde’s eyes gave her away. Her demeanor was the same as any other fan’s, but her gaze was deep and promising. If he wasn’t mistaken, she looked a little hungry…for him. Her stare was rather predatory, actually, and not at all the adoration he was used to. Roddy also took note that it was just for him; the blonde barely even glanced at Eddie.

Roddy felt his body responding to her. Even with all his conquests, he had never seen anything quite like the way she looked at him. The woman’s eyes offered him a challenge that sent a slight shiver up his spine. He got the feeling
would be a notch on
belt. Her eyes told him she would take more than she gave, and she would expect satisfaction.

Roddy suddenly forgot about his earlier plans. He no longer felt like skipping out early and going back to his room to write music until he got tired enough to fall asleep. Just then, the blonde seemed like a most intriguing option.

As he stood there gazing at her and her friend, he found his interest in her increasing. He wasn’t quite sure how, but she made him feel like she had chosen him out of a crowd instead of the other way around. He was used to being in complete control when it came to women, but he had the feeling he was out of his element that night.

Naturally, the blonde presented quite an attractive package. She had a lean, shapely body that looked like she spent a lot of time engaged in outdoor sports. He longed to run his fingers through the riot of streaky hair that tumbled down her back. Her face was breathtaking. She had huge green eyes, soft, sensual lips, a straight nose, and an almost belligerent set to her chin.

“Hello,” he rasped when he got up close. His voice was hoarse after the show. “I’m Roddy O’Neill.”
Her eyes flashed just slightly when she smiled. “I know who you are.”
Eddie sidled closer. “And I’m Eddie Brandon, guitar player extraordinaire.”
“Hi, Eddie.” The blonde gave him a smile, but it was several degrees cooler than the one she bestowed on Roddy.
It made him scowl. Eddie wasn’t used to women who ignored him, but Roddy supposed it just wasn’t his night.

The blonde turned her eyes back on Roddy. “You must be exhausted,” she said. “If I danced around like that for two straight hours, I’d be ready to drop.”

“We’re tough, we can take it,” Eddie answered for him, earning a look that was just shy of cold.

The surprise that quickly passed on Eddie’s face said he knew the score. The blonde had eyes only for Roddy.

Roddy’s behavior over the past couple of years had confused his band. He still partied and still took his backstage pickings, but he seemed to have largely lost interest in it. He no longer participated in the rock star lifestyle with as much enthusiasm as he once had. It was almost as if he half-heartedly went along with everyone else because it was the thing to do.

That was about to change. A quick glance around revealed no one else of interest in the room. No surprise there. Smiling to himself, he decided to take the blonde up on her unspoken offer.

First, though, he had to get through the social niceties.

The blonde’s friend, whom he had quite frankly forgotten, seemed willing to soothe Eddie’s battered ego. She smiled up at him and introduced herself as Debbie, then gushed on and on about how much she loved the way he played the guitar. Eddie, of course, ate it up.

As if they had known each other for years, Roddy and the blonde caught each other’s gaze and rolled their eyes. Debbie and Eddie were oblivious to the electricity between them, more interested in the chemistry they might find in each other, so Roddy smiled and took his chance.

“Wanna get out of here?” he asked.

Eddie and Debbie suddenly went silent, but Roddy and the blonde took no notice. The only thing they noticed at the moment was each other.

“I’d love to,” she said with a grin.

Lee was proud of herself for casually smiling at Roddy O’Neill like backstage parties were an everyday, boring occurrence for her, too. She was tempted to peek at her feet to see if they were still touching the floor.

A glance at Debbie showed she suddenly got the gist of what was happening, and that her flirtation with Eddie might be serious stakes. Just because Lee was ready to step outside the bounds of her life and do something irresponsible and exciting didn’t mean Debbie would. No doubt, Eddie Brandon was just a little too fast for a girl like her.

She tugged at Lee’s sleeve. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”
Lee gave Roddy a smile and allowed Debbie to pull her aside.
Debbie’s eyes were narrowed with concern. “Are you sure about this? How are you going to get home?”

Lee knew she was being wild and irresponsible, but this was
Roddy O’Neill
and she couldn’t make herself care. She squeezed Debbie’s hand and her eyes implored her to understand.

“I’ll be fine,” she assured her friend. “If Roddy doesn’t get me home, I can call a cab.”
“There’s a party at Arnie’s. You’re going to miss it.”
Lee met her friend’s gaze for a long moment. “We can compare notes tomorrow.”
She stepped back over to Roddy O’Neill and met his questioning look with one of firm decision.

A glance at Eddie revealed he and Debbie did not share the same chemistry. His eyes were already checking out other women in the room, and he almost gratefully sidled away when Roddy took Lee’s arm to lead her toward the door.

BOOK: California Dream
7.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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