a Seaside Novella
by Rachel Van Dyken
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.
Copyright © 2014 RACHEL VAN DYKEN
Cover Art by P.S. Cover Design
To all the Ruin and Seaside Fans,
thanks for being awesome and supporting this series!
“THAT’S CHEATING.” I POINTED to Lyss’s pink phone and sighed. “Like serious cheating.”
She rolled those gorgeous bright blue eyes and leaned in. Cherry ChapStick floated into the air, making me lose focus. Damn it! The vixen smacked her lips together and grinned. “You were saying?”
“Women suck.” I growled, snatching her phone out of her hand and thrusting it into the air. “And I don’t care that he’s cute or…” I made air quotations, phone still in hand. “…that he’s married so it’s okay.” I handed her the phone back. “Rules still apply!”
“Chill.” Alyssa patted me on the arm like I was five. “It’s not like I’m listening to JT.”
All the air rushed out of my lungs.
Yeah, the man was basically a god. So Lyss wasn’t allowed to listen to anything that resembled JT or his music. It was jealousy speaking. No matter how many records I made. How many times I’ve guested on shows and done worldwide tours. I still didn’t want my woman listening to another dude croon into her headphones. I mean, come on. I knew firsthand how emotional music could be. When I wrote love songs, it was always Lyss’s face that came to mind.
“Besides, Ashton Hyde is amazing. His newest single is ridiculous.” She pulled out the headphones and pressed play.
The guy’s silky voice floated through the car. I swore and tried to ignore Lyss as she danced all seductively in the front seat. I also made a mental note to send him a really aggressive email where I threatened his dog or something. Right, that’ll teach him, Dem.
It was the exhaustion speaking.
We were picking out wedding music.
And it was not going well.
She wanted Ashton Hyde.
I wanted John Legend.
Yeah, we weren’t meeting in the middle. It didn’t help matters that our wedding was only two days away, and we’d yet to pick out music. On top of that, Nat, my brother’s wife, was seriously ready to pop out a child any time now, and Jaymeson, the other best man, was filming a movie — meaning, his schedule was almost as insane as ours.
We’d been given a one-week break from tour to pull off the wedding and birth of my niece.
Right, like you could plan a birth. Then again, Nat was convinced she’d have to be induced.
We had one week, and then we were on the road again for another two months. At least it was the last leg of the tour.
Clearly, I hadn’t thought the time crunch through.
“How about…” Lyss turned the music up louder. That’s it! I was calling Ashton’s agent and giving him a piece of my mind for releasing a song that had my girlfriend ready to throw her bra onto a stage and proclaim undying love.
The shit was good.
Damn, if he showed his face, I would end him.
I smiled cheerfully in the rearview mirror.
See? Weddings brought out the worst in people!
Alec’s ringtone started going off. I snatched my phone from the console and answered. “What?”
“Dude, guess who’s going on tour with us for the second half?”
I had a sinking feeling I knew who.
I prayed I was wrong.
I looked at Lyssa, sweat dripping down my brow. “Who, man? Who’s coming?”
“Ashton Hyde!” Alec damn-near shouted, making my ear ring. “Isn’t that great? The cross-promotion is going to be insane for our newest single. We’re going to do a duet of his new song and lay it down for Jaymeson’s movie. This is huge!”
“So. Huge,” I said dryly. “Watch me contain my excitement.”
“He’s really nice...” Alec continued talking while I contemplated poisoning the guy. “…and he’s bringing his wife.”
“Bonus. He’s married, so he won’t steal ours.”
“Um…” Alec chuckled. “…feeling a bit insecure?”
“That damn song has been on repeat for the past seven days, so yeah, a bit insecure, man, and I’m getting married!”
Long pause and then, “You do realize he wrote that song about his ex-fiancée, right? The one that died?”
“Well, thanks for that… making me feel like shit for hating him. I can’t hate a man who does that!”
“Thought so.” He laughed. “Listen, go drink some tea.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Take Lyss out for dinner.”
I clenched the steering wheel harder.
“And if all else fails, just remember you get wedding sex in forty-eight hours.”
“Thanks.” I sighed, feeling some of the tension ease around my shoulders. “I needed that.”
“What are brothers for?”
“Later.” I hung up and looked at Lyss.
Her dark hair had grown out and twirled around her arms and past her breasts; it was silky and gorgeous. She put on her sunglasses and kept singing.
“What?” She turned down the music.
“The second leg of the tour…” Damn, was it hot in my car? “Er, um, we have someone joining us.”
“Cool.” She bobbed her head to the music. “Do I know him?”
“Well…” Double-shit. “Yeah, you see it’s…”
Alyssa’s phone rang. “Hold on.” She held up her hand. “Hey, Nat, what’s up? No. No, he didn’t tell me yet. What?” And then, swear, she screamed “HOLY CRAP!” so loud that I almost ran into a telephone pole.
“It’s Ashton Hyde,” I finished, sighing under my breath and praying the guy was five foot seven and had suddenly developed a lazy eye.
“HEY, WE’RE IN THE living room!” I heard the door slam and waited for Demetri and Alyssa to walk around the corner. My brother looked pale. I suspected it had something to do with our new tour partner and the whole getting-married thing. If there was ever a time for me to want to offer him a drink, it would be now.
“So…” I licked my lips and tried to hide my amusement at his stress. “…how’s the wedding music coming along?”
Demetri’s eyes narrowed as he pointed at me and then offered the middle finger, stomping off into the kitchen.
“He’s in a super-good mood,” Lyss said in a sing-song voice as she joined me on the couch and reached for the remote. I didn’t even fight her anymore. She was like a ninja when it came to stealing the controller. Besides, she liked football as much as I did. Granted, it had taken her a while to watch it again after all that shit that had gone down with her ex. but now she was worse than Demetri.
Swear, the girl had almost punched me in the jaw when I told her I was a Steelers’ fan.
The fact that she even liked sports made her okay in my book. My brother couldn’t be marrying a better girl. They’d met when he was doing a stint in rehab at Seaside, Oregon, and the rest was kind of history. I mean, well, technically, most of our history had taken place
“Oooo, the Seahawks.” Alyssa turned up the volume.
“How are you calm?” I asked, curious why Demetri was the one having a nervous breakdown before saying his vows and not her.
“Easy.” Alyssa shrugged. “Demetri used to use sex and drugs as a coping mechanism, so now, when things get really stressful, he projects said stress on things around him.” She paused for a breath. “He ran yesterday.”
“Tell me you’re lying.” My brother thought the term exercise was the name of a disease that made people sweat profusely and get stomach cramps.
“Nope.” She laughed. “He said, and I quote, ‘I’m going to go exercise.’”
“Hell has officially frozen over.”
“You’re telling me. The guy came back happier than he’s been in days. I think it helped a lot, but honestly, I think he just wants to make everything perfect for me. But guys are stupid.”
“Um, thank you?”
Alyssa rolled her eyes. “Not you, well, just kidding. You did almost ruin things with Nat, so sorry I’m grouping you in with Demetri.”
“I don’t need perfect. I just need Demetri.” Alyssa’s eyes filled with tears. “So I have forty-eight more hours of his stress, and then I’m going to make him forget his own name.”
“Ah, you’re going to hit him on the head with your bouquet?” I teased.
“Sex.” Alyssa winked. “His new coping mechanism now that we’ll be married.”
“Here, here.” I lifted my bottled water into the air and laughed.
“Where’s Nat?” Demetri stormed into the room and started throwing pillows off the couch.
“Um, not under the one-pound pillow, man.” I shook my head. “She’s with her mom doing some last minute shopping because she’s ‘as big as a house and wants to look sexy in her dress.’ Her words, not mine.”
“She’s not as big as a house.” Demetri rolled his eyes and glanced between me and Lyss. “You’re both smiling.”
“The commercial was funny,” Alyssa lied easily.
“Right,” I agreed. “It was the one about… Ashton Hyde.”
Demetri let out a string of curses and threw the last pillow against the couch and then started punching it with his fist.
“Dude, it’s not the couch’s fault.” I watched in fascination as my brother continued punching.
Finally, exhaustion must have set in. Demetri stopped and turned, his eyes narrowing in on me. “Where’s Jaymeson?”
“Out.” I looked away.
“When are we recording the new acoustic version of that single if we’re going right back on tour in seven days?”
I scratched my head and let Demetri connect the dots all on his own. I tried not to let myself get too amused over the fact that his eyes continued to get wider until he finally karate-chopped the pillow one last time and slumped into the chair.
“Care to fill me in?” Alyssa asked, waving her hands in the air.
“I’m cutting Alec out of my will.”
I rolled my eyes, snatched the remote, and turned down the volume to the TV. “No, you aren’t. You’ve been distracted. What did you want me to do? Tell you the truth and have you freak out to his face? Besides, I didn’t want to tell you on the phone. I mean, where’s the fun in that? Now I get to see the horror-stricken face and…” I pulled out my cell and snapped a picture. “…post it to Instagram for all to see.”
Alyssa glanced at me helplessly.
“He’s here,” I explained.
“Did someone scream my name?” a voice shouted through the house.
A grin exploded across my face before I could stop it.
Jaymeson rounded the corner and winked.
“Hey, man.” I waved.
“Sorry I’m late. I was just giving Gabe a tour of the set.”
“Who’s Gabe?” Alyssa and Demetri asked in unison.
“Hey…” Another person rounded the corner and held up his hands. “…sorry about the confusion. I don’t really go by Ashton anymore.”
“Ashton?” Alyssa started laughing. “Ashton Hyde? Now, fancy that. Look, Dem!”
“I have eyes!” Demetri all but shouted.
“He drunk?” Jaymeson asked.
“I didn’t fall off the wagon.” Demetri rose from the chair and stalked over to the two guys. “And you...” He pointed at Gabe. “…no flirting.”
“Uh, I’m married,” Gabe said, helplessly looking around at all of us. “But seriously, if you did fall off the wagon, no judgment.” He lifted his hands up in innocence then cracked a smile.
“I don’t like your type.” Demetri’s eyes narrowed. “And swear, if you sing one word…” He lifted his finger into the air and repeated hoarsely. “…one word to my girl, I’m going to run you over with my car.”
“He serious?” Gabe elbowed Jaymeson. “Or does he just have a really weird sense of humor?”
“He’s… special.” Jaymeson coughed.
“Screw you. I’m awesome!” Demetri yelled.
“Aw, cool.” Gabe sidestepped Demetri and pointed at the TV. “I think Wes started today.”
“I have a giant man crush on that guy.” Jaymeson nodded. “If I met him, I’d probably kiss him on the mouth. Pris would understand. He’s on my list.”
“List?” Alyssa asked.
“For people I’m allowed to kiss while being married.”
“Um…” I tilted my head. “…pretty sure that’s for females. It’s the elevator list, like girls you could sleep with while still being married.”
Alyssa crossed her arms. “Demetri, do you have a list?”
“No.” He shook his head. “I value my balls too much to even contemplate it. Jaymeson, however, doesn’t care about his balls on account that they’re the size of peas.”
“I freaking hate peas.” Gabe shuddered.
“Nobody asked you, Twilight!” Demetri snapped.
“Want tickets?” Gabe asked, completely ignoring Demetri’s odd behavior. “For the next home game? You could meet Wes and Kiersten — they’re really fun. Hey, we should all get together!”
“No.” Demetri shook his head.
Gabe kept talking. “It would be really fun. We could plan something during the Seattle stop.”
“No.” Demetri looked down at the floor.
“As a group.” Gabe nodded. “I mean, if you guys were up for it?”
“Great.” Jaymeson patted him on the back.
“Does nobody listen to me anymore?” Demetri muttered under his breath.
“Ignore him.” I moved so Gabe could sit with us on the couch. “The wedding’s in two days, and his fiancée...” Alyssa pointed at herself and smirked. “…has been listening to your songs non-stop since they’ve gotten to Seaside.”
“She throws her bra at you, and I’m—”
Gabe held up his hand. “I remember. You’re running me over with your car. Got it.”
“Good.” Demetri shuffled and crossed his arms.
“Oh, and by the way…” Gabe chuckled. “…marriage doesn’t stop the insanity, just makes it worse. I don’t even let Saylor go grocery shopping on her own because I’m so freaked out that someone’s going to snatch her out of the parking lot. I even lied and told her I’d stop following her. But I wait in the shadows and watch. I jumped on the crazy train six months ago, so it’s cool, man. I get it.”
“You get nothing,” Demetri grumbled. “But I really like your shoes.”
“Aw, he’s making friends.” Jaymeson ch
“Why are we friends?” Demetri asked out loud. “Really. I’m curious.”
“We’re brothers.” Jaymeson grinned. “Well, half-brothers, but still, you have no choice but to love me.”
“I’m poisoning your tea,” Demetri announced casually before turning around and placing a possessive arm around Alyssa.
“No more tea.” Jaymeson went into the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water. “I’m trying to keep caffeine out of the house on account that—”
With a jerk, I flipped on the couch and glared as Jaymeson’s face went completely red.
“On account?” I prompted.
“Dude.” Demetri’s face broke out into a huge grin while Alyssa covered her face with her hands, tears pooling in her eyes.
“Shit. Pris is gonna kill me,” Jaymeson muttered. “I suck at secrets!”
“Congrats, man.” Gabe pulled him in for a hug. “How long have you known?”
Jaymeson’s hands started to shake. “Yeah, I lasted… um, a week? That’s good, right?”
“She cry?” I got up from the couch, walked around, and pulled my best friend in for a hug.
“Freaking sobbed.” Jaymeson bit down on his lip. “Then accused me of knocking her up and then cried some more and then laughed hysterically.”
“Yeah.” I whistled. “Get used to those hormones. They’re fun.”
“Hey!” Alyssa threw a pillow at my legs.
I blew a kiss in her direction. “Lyss, you know I love Nat.”
“Yeah, you do!” A voice echoed down the hall. “Oh look, everyone’s here!” She clapped her hands and then leaned against the wall. “I’m so tired.”
Swear, the woman just got more beautiful every time I saw her. She was ready to pop any day. We still hadn’t told Demetri that the actual due date just so happened to be their wedding. We’d lied, or as Nat had put it, omitted. The last thing I wanted was for them to stress about one more thing.
“So…” Nat waddled over to me and kissed me full on the mouth. She tasted like mint.
I groaned and ran my hands down her face, pulling away to stare at her swollen lips for a few brief minutes before kissing them again.
“Um?” Gabe coughed. “Hi?”