Return of the Bad Boy

By: Jessica Lemmon

To think a few weeks prior, he and Gloria had been in that very house, sweating out the last bout of great sex he’d had. Before the intense moment at the mansion last year, he’d truly believed he had a chance to salvage things with her. Now, well, he had more shit to worry about than fighting or making up with Gloria. He had a son who came with an uncooperative mother, an album to write, and a dog to care for, and he was now the proud owner of two houses in drastically different parts of the country.

And if what he thought just happened had happened—Glo being hesitant about meeting Hawk—then there was no hope of getting on level ground with his agent again. Asher was committed to being a part of his son’s life—a big part. To being a good father like his own father was to this day.

Gloria was right when she told Asher he’d make it work. Despite his and Jordan’s rocky past, Asher was going to make things work for his son and him. He and Jordan were a non-issue and had been since that one drunken night three years ago. Hawk was the gift Asher never could have seen coming. As long as he was breathing, he and his kid were coming outta this whole—regardless of drama with Hawk’s mother.

Asher poured Gloria’s coffee down the drain before he was tempted to finish it himself. Today was the last day of his cleanse, something he’d started so he could prep for the massive writing streak he’d have to do for his upcoming album. He wasn’t about to throw in the towel on the final day. No matter how good day-drinking and writing songs on the dock sounded.

This was a new beginning for him. Learning “how to dad” wasn’t exactly simple, and he needed to clear the decks. It was a bit of a California mind-set to start off this new chapter in life with a cleanse, but Cali had soaked into his skin since he’d become a resident more than a decade ago.

One more day and he’d be back to coffee and whiskey. He had this.

He dumped the rest of his blended shake into a glass and stepped out on the patio to look over his mini slice of paradise.

Evan was on point when he picked up with Lyon and moved here from Columbus. Evergreen Cove was in northern Ohio, right on Lake Erie. The town had a vacation feel and a family feel, and cycled through all four seasons. It was the perfect place to raise a family.

The town could at once feel traditional while not being small-time, and the Cove had the really cool vibe New York had where not every resident gaped because there was a model who lived on this block or a rock star who lived on that one. LA was a fine place to play and be and live, but with his son here, Ash couldn’t remain in California full-time. He needed to be here for his boy. Since the Cove had started collecting his friends, he figured he could crash with them whenever he came to town. Evan, Donovan, Connor—any of them would have taken him in for a few days. And, hell, Donny had a ginormous mansion Ash had crashed in several times.

But Ash didn’t want that for Hawk. He may not be here permanently, but whenever he saw his son, he wanted Hawk to feel that permanence—have his own room, his own things. Asher drank down part of the shake, chewing the larger bits and scowling. God. Coffee would taste great right about now.

His cell rang and he hoped it wasn’t Jordan again. Small doses was the only way to deal with that woman. Instead, it was Veronica, the Cove’s dog groomer. Wow. She wasn’t kidding when she said she wouldn’t be long. He’d dropped off Tank, what, two hours ago?

“Roni,” he answered.

“Oh! Hi…um…Hi, Asher,” she said with a laugh. He’d picked the nickname. She liked it. She was also a little starstruck, which he liked to encourage. “Tank is ready if you’d like to come get him.”

“Cool. I’ll be down in a few. Pick you up something from Cup of Jo’s?”

She giggled again. Veronica was fortysomething, friendly, and pretty. And married. But as flirting went, he was open to making every woman he came in contact with blush. That was his shtick and he was too good at it to stop now.

“I’m good, thank you,” she answered.

“It’s for the best. I’d be tempted to buy a double espresso for myself.” He made a face at the lumps sitting unappetizingly in the bottom of his glass. “I’ll be there in ten.”

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