Rock the Beat (Black Falcon, #3) Chapter 1



Releasing 10-31-13




It Will Rain
Two Weeks Prior…

For some strange reason there are socially acceptable jokes made all the time about women being late for dates, but there aren’t any for guys. Take my boyfriend, Jackson Cruze, for example. He has a face like Channing Tatum, a body that David Beckham would be envious over, and the time management skills of a well-trained baboon. The guy couldn’t be on time if it saves his life.
I check my watch again and sigh. Surely he wouldn’t forget to pick me up tonight? We’ve had this date planned for our two-year anniversary for some time now. He’s not that big of a jerk, is he?
I pull out my cell and call my best friend, Max, while I wait. Like clockwork, he answers on the second ring and I ask, “Where are you?”
Max laughs into the phone while the sounds of a wild party fill in behind him. “I’m at Paulo’s. Why aren’t you here? This is the biggest end of summer bash I’ve ever seen. You’ve got to get your ass over here.”
Paulo’s has the best Mexican food, drinks and DJs this side of the border. It’s one of my most favorite places to hang out with my friends, and it sounds a whole lot better than waiting on my date who’s already over an hour late.
I pick at my nails. “I can’t. I’m waiting on Jackson. It’s our anniversary.”
“Um, Holly, Jackson’s here.”
My nostrils flare and my brow crinkles. “What?! Why is he there? He’s supposed to be here.” This makes no sense.
“I’m not sure, baby girl, but by the looks of him, he’s been here for a while.”
Un-freaking-believable. “Is he drunk?”
There’s a bit of rustling on Max’s end. “Judging by the number of beer cans piled on the table and slight wobble in his stance, I’d say he’s hammered. Better forget tonight, Blondie, and plan on reaming his ass for it tomorrow. Come over and hang out with me. I miss you.” 
I resist the urge to chuck my cell out into the gravel parking lot in front of my house. Phones are expensive, and I don’t have an extra penny to waste. “I’m not really feeling up to it. I think I’m going to head on to bed.”
“All right. Love you. Call me tomorrow. I want to know what excuse he feeds you this time,” Max says.
He’s never been a big fan of Jackson’s, and this little incident certainly won’t help win Jackson win any favor points. I can’t count the number of times Max has encouraged me to break up with my boyfriend over the last two years. 
“Sure thing. Good night and have fun,” I tell him before ending the call.
I haul my ass out of the old, white, rocking chair on the front porch and trudge up my stairs. I can’t believe he forgot—I even reminded him today. You’d think after two years, being together with me would mean something.
I close my bedroom door and then fall onto my bed. The yellow sundress I bought special for tonight becomes my blanket as I curl my legs inside it. Tears push their way down my temples before landing in the long, mess of blonde hair spread across my pillow. I can’t believe Jackson did this to me.
Don’t I mean anything to him? You don’t blow off people you love for a stupid party.
I know he’s not been the best boyfriend in the world, but I didn’t expect for him to totally blow me off like this. I know things have been rocky between us since I came home from college this summer, but that’s one of the reasons I decided to stay home this fall. To mend what a year away at school had broken.
I close my eyes, feeling stupid for loving someone that obviously doesn’t love me back, and cry myself to sleep.
The next thing I know my shoulder is gently shaken, stirring me out of a deep sleep. “Holly. Wake up.”
It’s Jackson, no doubt still drunk off his ass and feeling guilty. I roll over and rub my eyes while trying to make him out in the dark. “What time is it?”
“It’s nearly five,” he whispers.
I sit up quickly. “Are you out of your mind coming in here at this time of night? If my dad catches you, he’ll kill you. How’d you get in here anyway?”
After blinking a few times, my vision adjusts to the moonlit room. Jackson’s sitting on the edge of my bed with his lips pulled into a tight line. I tense. I’ve seen that look before. It’s the expression he wears when he’s nervous.
His polo shirt hugs his toned body as he bends at the waist, resting his elbows on his knees while he drops his head. “The front door was open, so I let myself in.”
I sigh heavily. “Really, Jackson, this can’t wait until the morning? I know you’re sorry for standing me up. I forgive you for that. People make mistakes.”
He turns toward me and grabs my hand. “You don’t know how glad I am to hear you say that. I don’t want you to hate me.”
I don’t like the way I can sense desperation on him as he’s touching me. There’s something wrong. I’ve known him long enough that I can just feel it. “Why are you here, Jackson? Did something happen?”
Jackson runs his hand over his shaved head and shoots his gaze down at the floor. “I didn’t mean to do it, Holl. You have to believe me.”
I lean down trying to catch his gaze, but it doesn’t work. He won’t look at me and this causes my stomach to drop. “Didn’t mean to do what, Jackson? You’re scaring me.”
He takes a deep breath. He takes a deep breath. “I’ve been sleeping with someone else while you were away at school, and well, I did it again tonight, so I figured it was time you knew.”
 My breath catches at the same time my heart crumbles in my chest. I clutch my throat. There’s no air and I can’t breathe. One word keeps assaulting my mind. “Why?”
“Because I don’t think I love you anymore. If I’m being honest, I don’t believe I have for a while now. We’ve grown apart Holly and I want to date other people.” His words are barely a whisper, but he might as well be screaming them at me.
Hot tears pour down my face as I toss his hand aside. “Get out.”
Jackson stands and shoves his hands deep in his jean pockets. “I’m sorry, Holl. I’ve wanted to tell you for a while now, but I—”
I cover my ears. I don’t want to hear anything else he has to say. He’s already said enough. “Get Out!”
The sound of me shouting must’ve been loud enough to wake my dad in his bedroom downstairs. Footsteps pound up the steps and my father comes bursting in the door with a baseball bat in hand. Panic wells in my father’s eyes until he spots my boyfriend in my room, then his expression turns from fear to anger. Before Dad has a chance to scold Jackson for being in my room, Jackson runs out of my door and out of my heart for good.


Chapter 1
Closer
Holly

I lay on my bed staring up at the ceiling. It’s been two weeks since Jackson dumped me. Two weeks since my heart was obliterated. Two weeks since I basically stopped living my life. For the last two years Jackson has been my world. Without him I’m not even sure how to carry on.
A loud pounding on my bedroom door makes me jump. “Blondie, I know you’re in there. Get decent, because I’m coming in.”
“Max…” I whine. “Go away. I don’t want to see anybody.”
The door flies open and my best friend, Max, comes barreling through. He marches over to my bed and grabs my wrist, tugging me to sit up. “Jeesh, Holly, this is pathetic. Get your cute, little ass up. We’re getting you out of this house. It’s been two weeks.”
I groan and try to fling myself back onto my pillow, but Max’s hold won’t allow it. “Oh, no. No more lying in this dark room, depressed over a man that’s good riddance as far as I’m concerned. You, missy, are going out and rejoining the land of the living, whether you like it or not.”
I try to protest, but Max grabs my arm and leg and hoists me over his broad shoulders. “No, Max. Please.”
He sighs. “Holly, this is for your own good. I’m tired of seeing you waste your energy on Jackson Cruze. He’s an asshole, and I’m glad you aren’t with him anymore.”
“But, I love him, Max. I don’t know how to live my life without him,” I argue as Max carries me down the hall towards the bathroom.
Once we’re in the bathroom, Max sets me down and turns on the shower before facing me. “You need to find new happiness without him. It’s over between the two of you. I’ve already seen him with other women. Trust me, he’s not pinning away over you. It’s time to move on.”
Tears burn my eyes of how little I actually meant to him. “He’s dating already?”
Max nods and places his hands on my shoulders. “It’s time for you to get back out there too. Now get your skanky ass a shower and get ready. I’m taking you to a club.”
A couple hours later I find myself downtown with Max. It’s 90’s Nite in one of the hottest clubs in town, and I love to dance and drink. It’s the perfect combination to wipe away the memories of a man that’s done me wrong.
I glance around and survey all the men in place. Why are all the really hot men either gay or taken? I swear there’s one decent man left in Tucson. Thank God my best friend is with me. I have terrible gaydar.
“I told you this would be great,” Max yells over the music as he dances with me to the beat of a Roxette song blaring through the speakers. “You’ll be saying, ‘Jackson who?’ by the time we leave this heavenly bar filled with hot men.”
I giggle and take another sip of my Sex on the Beach—compliments of Max and my fake ID. “This is a great idea—nothing like celebrating your birthday two weeks after getting dumped by the biggest jackass in the state.”
Max laughs and his brown hair falls over the corner of his left eye before he takes me by the hand ready to spin me. “That was the best thing that ever happened to you, Holly. Trust me. He didn’t appreciate what he had.” He raises his glass of soda. “Here’s to a new start in your twenties, may they be better than your teen years.”
“I’ll drink to that!” A tingle erupts in my hands, signaling I’ve nearly hit my limit, but I’m not about to let this yummy drink go to waste. Plus, it’s hot in here. I down the last of it and hand Max the glass. “One more?” I give him the best pleading puppy-dog eyes I can manage.
I’m not ready to stop having fun yet. It’s nice to not have to think about Jackson for a change and just have fun with my friend.
He sighs. “One more and that’s it. And it’s only because you’re finally smiling for once in the last two weeks, but we’re leaving while you can still walk out of here.”
I throw my arms around his neck, leaning up on my tiptoes and kiss his cheek. “Thanks, Max. You’re the bestest friend and designated driver a girl could ever have.”
He laughs. “Remember how much you love me when you’re praying to the porcelain god in the morning and cursing me for letting you drink so much.”
“Deal,” I say as I release him and go back to rocking my hips to the beat.
I fling my hair from side to side and sing along to the song, dancing like I’m alone in my bedroom instead of at a crowded bar. Normally, I’m reserved, but tonight I’m cutting loose and living up being single. I need a break from my straight-laced life.
Half way into the song, a body presses up against my back, dancing in time with me. That didn’t take long. I tug the bottom of my little, black dress down around my thighs. The dang thing rides up every time I move and it’s getting on my last nerve.
The music pumps all around me and the faceless stranger while the amount of alcohol I’ve consumed has my head swimming. I close my eyes and lean my head back against the hard chest behind me and breathe in the spicy scent of men’s cologne. He smells mouth-watering, and I just pray that when I turn around he’s as hot as I’m imagining.
The song changes and our bodies move in sync to the erotic beat of Closer by Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor’s voice growling through the speakers about fucking causes a strange surge of arousal to come over me.
The guy behind me feels it too. Our dance turns slow and sensual as he grinds himself into my ass. His hands run down my bare arms then rest on my hips. He jerks me against him even tighter and brushes my hair to the side. I should stop him, but it’s been so long since I’ve been touched like this, I don’t want it to end. I like it too much. The feel of his nose gliding against my neck causes my mouth to drift open and I allow myself to enjoy his close proximity.
“I want to fuck you,” the stranger growls in my ear before biting my earlobe.
Normally, this guy would be getting a fist to the face right about now, but because it feels amazing to have someone want me, plus I’ve been drinking, I’m going to allow it—if he’s cute, that is.
Hell, if he’s as hot as he sounds, I might just drag him into an empty bathroom stall and let him do exactly what he wants with my body.
I turn slowly, my eyes closed, praying to the hotness gods to take pity on me.  My gaze lands on a toned chest wearing a tight, black t-shirt, with both of his arms covered in intricate tattoos. Good so far. My eyes travel further up and I take in the light beard on his face covering his strong jaw-line before my gaze locks on his bright green eyes. The dark hair on his head is shaggy and wild, just like the look in his eyes.
Not only is he hot, and this may be just the booze talking, but he’s beautiful too. He could be possibly the hottest guy I’ve ever seen. I lick my lips and allow him to tighten his grip on my hips and mash me against his body even harder. My fingers dart out and run down his pecs before I wrap them around his neck and allow him to rock my body to the sensual beat of the song.
The devilish smirk he wears draws my attention to his mouth. No man should have lips that inviting, and I bite my own to keep them from attacking his. This man would be the perfect fling to take my mind off Jackson. I’m sure an hour alone with him would make me forget how pathetic I’ve been, pinning over a man who no longer wants me.
The beautiful stranger notices the expression on my face and, without asking permission, he leans downs and presses his lips to mine. I close my eyes and allow his greedy tongue entrance into my mouth. Every inch of my body comes alive and goose bumps erupt from my flesh as I open myself up to him.
I could do this all night—wait scratch that—I want to do more than this all night with him, not even caring that I don’t know his name. Isn’t the second person you sleep with supposed to be the complete opposite of the first? Where I’d known Jackson practically my entire life, this guy is a total stranger who seems very capable of surprising me then walking out of my life forever.
He pulls away and leans his forehead against mine. “Come home with me.” My heart thunders in my chest as his tongue darts out and licks my lips before my drunken brain even has time to process his request. “I promise you’ll love the way I fuck you.”
I sigh heavily. If his kissing skills are any indication of what sleeping with him will be like, I have no doubt I’ll love it. This is exactly what I need.
Just as I’m ready to agree, I’m jerked away, and the stranger furrows his brow, watching as I’m tugged through the crowd. Once I’m out of the hot guy’s line of sight, I turn to Max, who has taken it upon himself to pull me away from a guy I was about ready to leave with.
I jerk my arm away. “What the hell are you doing?”
Max stops in his tracks, and I stagger and fall into his six-foot frame. “I’m saving your ass.”
I throw my hands on my hips. “My ass didn’t need saving, it needs to get laid.”
Max laughs and shakes his head. “Yeah, you probably do need that. You’ve been extra bitchy lately.”
“Hey.” I smack his arm.
He wraps his arms around my shoulders and leads me up the steps to reach the bar overlooking the dance floor. Once we’re up there he turns us around so we can watch the people dancing. “When you give up your cookie again, don’t give it to a guy like that.”
My eyes search the crowd until they land on the beautiful stranger I was just dancing with who now has that magical tongue in some blonde bimbo’s mouth. I roll my eyes and wish my short legs were long enough to reach up and kick my own ass. “I’m such an idiot. Thanks, Max.”
Max squeezes my shoulder. “Of course, what are friends for? You’re too good for a guy like that. Don’t ever date another tattooed, biker jerk like Jackson. They don’t understand how special you are.”
I sigh and lean my head on Max’s shoulder. “Why can’t you be straight? You’re the perfect man for me.”
He chuckles beside me. “My life would be a whole lot easier if I was. Come on. Let’s get your drunk-ass home before I have to peel you off another huge mistake with a penis.”
We turn and leave the club. Once outside, and away from the sexy man who had me ready to chuck everything I stand for in order to have one sinful night, I feel relieved. I have no idea how this guy had so much power over me, but at least I never have to see him again. Too much time alone with a man like him would have me breaking every personal rule I’ve ever set for myself. Thank God that’ll never happen.