Return of the Bad Boy

By: Jessica Lemmon

Good times. He felt himself smile.

“I’d rather rebuild it for you.” Donovan was frowning at the fireplace again, craning his head to take in the chimney, clearly unimpressed. “I can make it work, but fixing something this shitty isn’t going to make it any less shitty.”

If there was one thing about Donny, it was that he appreciated quality. He liked to suffer for his art. To be fair, the guy had done a lot of suffering as a kid routinely abused by his late asshole father, so that the man had any values and reverence for life at all blew Asher’s mind. Asher would be lucky to have his friend fix or replace anything in his house. The man was a master.

“Don’t get your hopes up for me returning in the winter,” Ash told him. “I bought this vacation home for summer.” He was hoping to get partial custody of Hawk and take him back to LA for the colder months. God help him if Jordan wanted to fight to keep his son full-time.

“Good luck.” Donovan chuckled. “Everyone who comes here thinks they’re here for the short-term.” His eyes widened in comical horror. “No one escapes the Cove.”

So Asher had noticed. The Cove sucked them in and morphed them into family men. Evan, Donovan, and Asher’s new pal Connor had each paired off with a gorgeous woman. And now the Cove had another drop-dead gorgeous woman in its clutches—Gloria. Unfortunately, Gloria wanted Asher to drop dead, so them becoming anything resembling a pair was as unlikely as Asher grabbing a can of spray paint and decorating the library with penises again.

There was a time and place, and as much as he still wanted Gloria, he’d have to accept that their time and place had come and gone.

“Fine,” Asher answered Donny, his tone harsher than he meant it to be. “Do it. Charge me a lot. I’m drowning in money.”

“I know, I know. Celebrity.”

“Beer?” Asher strolled to the fridge.

“Of course. I can’t get a proper tour without a beer.”

Asher cracked the tops off two bottles and handed over one of them. A bark sounded at the back door and he opened it.

“What the hell is that?” Donovan stood, beer bottle in hand, frowning down at the tiny dog that scampered into the house.

“Donny. Meet Tank. Yorkshire terrier by breed, badass by personality.”

Donny abandoned his beer bottle to lower to his haunches. Tank barked, his tail moving back and forth in a cautious wag.

“It’s okay, bud,” Asher told the dog. “He’s a good guy. Got a dog of his own.”

“A big dog that would eat you up,” Donny said, scratching Tank’s chin. But she wouldn’t at all. Gertie may be a Saint Bernard mix with pale blue eyes that matched her owner’s, but Gertie would likely chew off a paw before she harmed a soul. She was a gentle spirit and the second best thing to ever happen to Donny.

Tank, on the other hand, had been left behind, and Asher, who had no desire for a toy breed that was better suited for a handbag than a lake house, ended up falling for the pup in a matter of days.

Tank allowed Donny to pick him up, licking his face with fervor. “I thought Yorkies had tons of hair,” he said, dodging the dog’s tongue.

Ash patted Tank’s recently trimmed back. “He’s not into that. Long-haired rock stars are too nineties.”

Donovan plunked Tank on the floor and the three of them resumed the tour of the inside, moving quickly through the three bedrooms, three baths, and then back to the open-floor-plan kitchen and living room where the eyesore of a fireplace stood.

“And my favorite part.” Asher stepped through the adjoining room, which took up the entire west side of the house and faced the hill and the rest of the lake. His house was private and that was great, but his favorite part was getting to set up the recording studio facing the sunset and the lake. Nothing but windows over here, and he’d had the fourth bedroom wall knocked out before he moved in to make the studio even larger.

“Nice. Soundproof?” Donovan strolled by the instruments—a few of Ash’s guitars and the computer for mixing standing next to a keyboard he often used to incorporate the bassline.


“Incredible. This place is awesome.” Donovan took a slug of his beer. “Needs a new fireplace, though.”

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