The Hardest Set (Willow Son #4/Brothers of Rock #19) (9 page)

BOOK: The Hardest Set (Willow Son #4/Brothers of Rock #19)
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Natalie rushed away with Van
laughing.

What he didn

t know was that he was somewhat right. She had done
some crappy stuff. The second she found out the truth about Mark was the second
it all should have stopped. All the pain and anger should have went toward him.
Instead, Natalie held it in. She blamed herself. She hated herself.

Once in her bedroom, she sat on the
bed and felt her chest tighten. Here she had a sexy rockstar - who was drunk -
and he could read her like a book.


You
got a pillow or something?

Natalie turned and saw Van standing
in the doorway. He had his thumbs hooked into the pockets of his jeans.


Yeah,

she whispered. She stood and
threw some pillows and blankets to the floor. She pointed to them.

That

s all you, Van. Crash on the floor, okay?


Whatever,
sweetie.

Van stumbled into the bedroom. He
toppled to the floor and then rolled to his back. He kicked his shoes off and
put his hands behind his head. After a few uncomfortable seconds, he looked at
Natalie and raised an eyebrow.

What?


This
would be a good time to say thanks,

Natalie said.

You know, me
giving up my night and apartment for you. Making sure you didn

t end up crushed by a dump truck
or sitting in a jail cell.


My
presence is your thanks,

Van said.

Don

t be so full of yourself.


Asshole.


Ouch,
that hurt.

Natalie gritted her teeth. She
gripped the edge of the bed; staring down at Van was driving her mad. She shook
her head and then pictured herself doing something crazy. That picture was nice
to have in her mind, but then she slid from the bed, realizing she was about to
do something crazy.

Falling to her hands and knees, she
hovered over Van. The tip of her nose touched his, barely.

You really are an asshole, Van.
But
…”

Van moved up and Natalie moved
away.


What
the hell?

Van asked.


No.
This is my moment. My turn.

Natalie moved down, stealing the
space between their lips. Now she was the one in control. She was the one
kissing the rockstar. And it was damn good. Their lips parted and the kiss grew
hotter. Natalie slowly moved one of her hands to Van

s shoulder, then chest. She gently clawed at his
shirt and skin under the shirt. Van put a hand to her hair and started to flirt
with her hair tie.

Just that sensation of the hair tie
pulling at her was enough for Natalie. She broke the kiss with a gasp and
stared down at Van. He was grinning, like the cocky asshole he was.


You

re right,

she whispered.

I

ve done some stuff, okay? But
that doesn

t make me some
kind of rotten bitch.


Kiss
me again,

Van said.

I

m
not done with you tonight.


But
I

m done with you, Van.

Natalie pushed away again and
climbed back up into bed. She pulled her hair tie out and shook her hair out.

How many times did Mark do that
to me? How many times did he take my hair out and then play with it? Smiling
while he did. Making some kind of comment about my hair

Natalie blinked, not realizing she
had started to tear up.

She moved to the edge of the bed,
wanting to unleash some more on Van. Maybe beat him up with her words. Maybe
just lose herself to him. What was one wild night with a rockstar? There was
nothing wrong with it, at all.

Van

s
eyes were shut.

Natalie stared at him. She felt
deflated. Her moment had come and gone, which always seemed to happen.

Crashing down to the bed for good,
Natalie rolled up in it.


Sweetie?

a voice called out.


Van?

Natalie said.


Thanks.

Natalie wiped a stray tear from her
eye and smiled.

What a crazy night.

 

7.

 

Sometimes it felt like getting hit
in the head with an anvil, like one of those old Saturday morning cartoons.
Other times, it was just business as usual. Thankfully this morning was
business as usual. That meant Van opened his eyes and sat right up. He
stretched his neck a little and surveyed the room.

It wasn

t his room.

It wasn

t his apartment then.

There was someone in the bed, but
he wasn

t in the bed with
her.

He looked at the pillows he

d been sleeping on. Grabbing
one, he smelled it. Besides the smell of his sweat and some booze, it smelled
like a woman. That little bit of flowery soap brought back the entire night.

Taking the bottle of whiskey and
getting lost outside. Getting lost in thought and then getting into a car with
Natalie.

Natalie.

Van rose up and stood there,
staring at Natalie as she was rolled up tight in her covers. There was just a
little of her hair sticking out of the blankets, a sliver of skin of her face. Van
felt his chest pull a little.

Vanessa used to do the same damn
thing, didn

t
she? She loved to turn the AC on, make the room too damn cold, and then roll up
in a blanket. She called herself my sexy burrito.

Curling his lip, Van snuck out of
the room. He had mastered the ability to work his way around a bedroom and an
apartment without making a sound. There had been plenty of nights that turned
into mornings when Van woke up and wanted nothing to do with what he had done
the night before. Strange part, with Natalie, they did nothing. They kissed.
Twice. That was it.

Which was probably for the better.

She didn

t need his mess. And he certainly didn

t need hers. Whatever the hell
it was.

The plan was to just bolt. That was
the safe thing to do. Get the hell out of the apartment and then maybe find a
way to contact Natalie later and thank her.
Maybe not even that.
Van
didn

t need to be cordial
with anyone, especially a woman.

Something caught Van

s eye on the table. That brought
back another part of the night. Natalie was an artist. He grabbed some of the
drawings and looked at them. A few were just partial sketches of shapes and
objects. A few were a little more filled in. But they were really good. There
was one drawing of a tree. A large, full tree. Full of apples or fruits or
something. There were different colors in the tree, making it cool looking. But
there was one piece of the fruit on the ground. One lonely piece.

Van swallowed and put the drawing
down. He grabbed his cell and took a picture of the drawing. He then typed a
text to Harry, looking for a ride. Before he sent it, Van realized he had no
freaking idea where he actually was. Feeling like a total ass, Van dug through
some of the mail on the table. That

s
when he found an eviction notice. Of course, it had the exact address, which he
promptly sent to Harry.

Harry said a car was on the way.

Van kept staring at the notice
though. His eyes switched from the bedroom door to the eviction notice.

What kind of mess is this woman
in?

For a second he almost felt bad for
Natalie. She had been working her ass off at that catering job last night. And
here was an eviction notice. That meant she was damn broke. She couldn

t even afford to pay her rent.

Van looked at the drawing on the
table again.

She was an artist.

A starving, struggling artist.

Too bad she was like the rest of
them, right? Just like Vanessa. Cutting through some guy

s heart, taking his feelings and tossing them
aside.

Van took a picture of the eviction
notice and then tossed the paper back to the table. He wanted to feel bad, but
at the same time, he

d been
down this road before. Feeling bad for a woman and trying to help. How

d that end up?

He walked to the bedroom and opened
the door again. Natalie hadn

t
moved an inch. Her room was cool, dark, totally comfortable. Van knew he had
the chance right then to just climb into bed with her and get close. Get really
close. Finish up what had sort of started the night before.

Shit, the way she dove off the bed
on top of him. Her hands on the floor, her face almost against his. The look in
her eyes. Those beautiful bright eyes.

It pissed Van off that he thought
about Natalie like this.

It wasn

t supposed to be this way. It proved he wasn

t ready to just screw around, at
least without booze involved. All the feelings needed to be stripped away and
left somewhere else. Because they only caused bigger problems.

Van

s
phone buzzed in his back pocket. It was Harry texting that the car was waiting
outside.

Van shut the door and paused at the
dining room table.

Feelings.

He knew he was going to regret it,
but he grabbed a blank sheet of paper and wrote down his number. Nothing but
the phone number. Anything he wanted to say to Natalie he could do over the
phone or in person.

When he left the apartment, he went
to the car and told the driver to wait. Something inside Van had officially
gotten the best of him.

There was one more thing he had to
do.

 

**

 

When Natalie woke up, she felt a
little rush of excitement in the pit of her belly, like it was Christmas
morning and she wanted to see the tree to see if there were presents or not.
She rolled to the other side of the bed and couldn

t believe it.

Van was gone.

She threw the covers off her body
and stepped from the bed. She bent down and grabbed the pillows he

d slept on. Part of her didn

t want to wash them, even though
they smelled of sweat and booze. Then again, it was from Van, the bassist of
Willow Son.

What an amazing night, right?

As drunk as Van had been and as
much of a pain in the ass as he

d
been, it was still kind of nice to have that sort of distraction from
everything else. To focus on something, someone else for one night.

Natalie had hoped to wake up and be
able to actually talk to Van. To figure out why he

d gotten so damn drunk and why he

d been so mean about everything.
Who knows though, famous people were usually nothing like they presented
themselves for the camera. If Van was that much of a rocsktar that he drank
himself stupid and verbally assaulted women, he was better off being gone.

Unless he

s out in the apartment.
Making coffee or something.

Natalie smiled as she rushed from
the bedroom. Her hopes were a little crushed when she confirmed that Van was
definitely gone. The only thing he

d
left behind was what must have been his phone number scribbled on a piece of
paper. If Natalie wanted to be a real bitch she could have texted the phone
number to everyone she knew. Spread the word and let Van

s phone blow up.


No,

she whispered.

Not worth it.

Natalie grabbed the paper and threw
it out. As far as she was concerned, it was all done. The night had come and gone.
She figured nobody would believe her if she told them what happened. There was
no proof of Van anywhere, except in the bedroom. Then again, the smell of man
could have been from anyone.

When Natalie

s cell started to ring she hopelessly ran to it. Her
heart always raced each time it rang, wanting it to be Mark calling. Wanting
him to fix all that had been wrong. Wanting him to fulfill his promise to love
Natalie and only Natalie. Now that faded enough and was replaced with a little
hope that it was Van calling her.

It was Andrea calling.


Good
morning,

Natalie said.

You

re up early.


You
sound half dead. Did you just wake up?


Yeah,
I did.


Good.
I

m on my way. With coffee
and bagels.


Drive
faster,

Natalie said.

She hung up the phone.

When Andrea showed up, Natalie had
to hand it to her. She handled herself amazingly. She couldn

t imagine how late Andrea must
have gotten home last night and here she was dressed up, looking nice, as
though she

d slept ten
comfortable hours and was ready to take on the day.

BOOK: The Hardest Set (Willow Son #4/Brothers of Rock #19)
2.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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