Return of the Bad Boy

By: Jessica Lemmon

“Yeah.” Asher sipped his own beer and looked out on the lake. “I’ll be spending winters in LA, thanks. I could rent it out. Do people vacation here in the winter?”

“Oh, sure. The same way people flock to Florida for the sticky months of July and August.”


His buddy collapsed on a black vinyl sofa. With its square lines and wooden legs, it was very Mad Men. Asher picked it out online and had it delivered before he got here.

“How long you staying?” Donny asked.

“Few weeks. Month. Until we finish the album.” Ash shrugged. “Hard telling.” He sat on a stool next to a microphone stand.

“Is the band staying with you?”

“Hell, no.” He smiled and lifted his beer. “They’ll probably get a hotel and entertain the locals, if you know what I mean.”

“That I do.” Donovan leaned back on the couch, not looking the least bit upset that he was off the market. The man loved Sofie with an intensity that was enviable. Anyone who looked at them together could see the devotion between them.

Asher’s parents had that. At one point, his dad endeavored to have a career like Asher had but settled down with Elana and raised a child instead. This propelled Ash to follow his dreams all the way to the stage…and fueled his decision to not get into anything too permanent with women.

Then Gloria stole a chunk of his heart. And Jordan had his kid. Fuck if he knew what to do about either of them.

“Willing to play a gig while you’re in town?”

Asher narrowed his eyes, curious about the direction of this conversation. “What’d you have in mind?”

Donny lifted his brows. “Need a fourth groomsman. Would like it if that groomsman could also sing at the reception. Just one song.”

“‘Unchained,’” Asher guessed.

“Your big hit.”

“I’ll do both.” He’d do anything for his friends.

“I’ll get you details.” Donny nodded and tipped his beer. It was like him not to get sentimental. It was also like him to change subjects before he did. “You plan on finishing the album, you might be here until winter.”

“Nah. I’m going to churn this one out. I can feel it.” He could, too. He already had piles of notes. Notes he’d woken up in the middle of the night and written down. He kept in close touch with the band, even when they were apart. It was nothing to have an online video chat with Alfonzo “Fonz” Rafferty, his bassist, in the wee hours after his wife was asleep, while they both strummed a few chords and talked out lyrics. The other two were better by phone. The drummer, Shiff, was a damn good lyricist, and Broderick Haines—Knight Time’s newest band member, who performed backup vocals and guitar, and occasionally keyboard—came up with new songs in his sleep. Only thing was, Ricky never woke before noon. He was usually wrapped around a girl or two until then.

“It’s nice here in the winter.” Donovan stood. “I mean, if you can wrangle up someone to keep you warm. Shouldn’t be too hard for you.”

Asher snorted. “You looked around lately? The only one keeping me warm is Tank.”

Donny bottomed out his beer. Ash did the same.

“Getting married.” Ash shook his head. “I can’t believe it.” He never would’ve imagined his buddy settling down in the Cove, in the very house Donny grew up in—and hated.

Or maybe Asher couldn’t believe it because he couldn’t imagine it for himself. He was a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants rock star who was up for whatever, whenever. Granted, he’d buttoned up a bit since his boy came into his life, but he figured once they had a routine, he could be a dad when Hawk was with him and still be Asher Knight the rest of the time.

In theory, that was why things should have worked out with Gloria. She was a bit of a control freak, but he called to her wild side, and she answered by going all in on whatever idea he had. Like taking her to bed in Donovan’s mansion that fated night.


The word sparked an idea that didn’t fully form. Asher grabbed a pencil and jotted the word on a notepad he kept next to the stool for that very reason. Maybe the spark was something. Maybe nothing.

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