Home > Pure Wicked (Wicked Lovers #9.5)

Pure Wicked (Wicked Lovers #9.5)
Author: Shayla Black

Chapter One

May - Austin, Texas

Wasn’t regret a bitch? In fact, Jesse McCall couldn’t remember another time in his life when it had come off its leash and humped his leg so thoroughly.

As he emerged from the modern, mostly glass hotel, flashbulbs burst in his face, blinding him. He paused as reporters shouted questions his way. Beside him, his shark of a publicist, Candia, barked “no comment” in a nonstop loop as she led him to the waiting limo at the end of the crowded walk.

Jesse glanced at the big blue sky. Late afternoon blistered. Had it already been more than twelve hours since everything had gone so wrong? Why hadn’t he asked more questions or hung around longer? Something that might have prevented this fucking tragedy…

Raking a hand through his hair, he squinted as he dragged his gaze over the surrounding skyscrapers. He was in some downtown area. Austin. Yeah. Half the time he woke up and didn’t know what day it was, what city he’d preformed in, or who the hell he was lying next to. The life of a musician was frenetic and nomadic. Jesse had sold out one stadium tour after another since age sixteen. Twelve years later, he didn’t know any other way to live.

He reached into his pocket and tossed on a pair of Armani shades, thanking god he wasn’t hung over. A year of sobriety had ensured that, but still Candia strode beside him on her usual platforms, tense and waiting to flay him alive with her tongue the second they were alone.

When the limo driver opened the door of the sleek black stretch, Jesse climbed in behind his publicist as she settled into the leather seat and smoothed back the professional twist of her dark hair. Their chauffeur enclosed them together in the back of the car, and Jesse counted down to Candia’s imminent explosion.

“Damn it, we’re still on tour. The album just dropped last week.” She tossed her gray Prada briefcase onto the floorboard and shot him a frustrated stare. “The bad-boy image has always worked for you because you’re young and hot. But the public will view this as over the line. You want to give me the whole story now?”

As if she hadn’t heard every word he’d told the pair of detectives over the last three hours. Did she honestly think he’d held back? The interview had finally ended when they’d realized he knew nothing and hadn’t been in any way involved. Then the paunch-bellied one with the scowl had asked him to sign an autograph for his teenage daughter. With a few strokes of his pen, Jesse had been out the door.

“It’s already public knowledge?” He’d hoped she could keep a lid on this until he could figure out what to do, how to process, what to say.

“TMZ and Perez Hilton are all over this shit. You even made CNN.”

So that was a yes. He sighed. “I swear, I don’t know anything else. After the show last night, Ryan caught me as I was leaving my suite. He said he’d met a girl and asked to borrow my room since he couldn’t find the key to his own. He was in too much of a hurry to get under her miniskirt to fetch another one from the front desk.”

Of course Ryan had invited him to join in, too. Girls and drugs, just like the good ol’ days. Jesse had declined and begged Ryan to come with him. No dice.

“Then you went out for a ride?” Candia asked.

He nodded. “Cruising around on my motorcycle helps clear my head after a show.”

And kept him away from the partying that had nearly ruined him over ten years of his career.

“Did you get a good look at her before you left?”

“You mean, did I know she was only sixteen? No. I barely glanced at her but I would have pegged her at well over twenty-one.” Definitely not a sophomore in high school.

“If you’d made him go to the lobby, maybe someone would have stopped him… Maybe he would have used the head up north.” She pressed her thumb between her eyebrows, obviously fighting off a headache. “Maybe… But it’s done.”

He wanted to be pissed that Candia had put this off on him, but she hadn’t voiced anything he hadn’t already thought. “At the time, I figured if Ryan was screwing some cute blonde, maybe he wasn’t getting high.”

Jesse scoffed at the terrible irony of that.

“Oh, he absolutely was. And he got her high, too.”

Yes, his bandmate and old buddy had overdosed the girl—in Jesse’s room. So naturally, everyone assumed he’d been involved.

“The press is having a field day.” At barely four thirty in the afternoon, Candia already sounded damn tired.

Jesse could guess who they’d cast in the role of scapegoat, even though he hadn’t been in the building when Ryan had pumped his jailbait hookup full of heroin and taken her to bed. Then, once his backup vocalist had realized the girl was unresponsive, he hadn’t called 911 for medical help so she might have lived. No. He’d apparently panicked and shot himself in the head, doubling the tragedy.


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