Trust Me by Olivia Cunning

  Chapter One

  Gabe sat outside the local news station waiting for his so-called best friend to exit the building. Gabe didn’t have a plan. He had no idea what he would say to the jerk when he got the opportunity to confront him, but sitting around with his thumb up his ass wouldn’t solve Sole Regret’s problems. Every action had an equal and opposite reaction, and Jacob’s action of breaking up their band—a band in its fucking prime—was unforgivable. Thus, Gabe’s reaction to Jacob’s selfish actions could only be explosive in nature.

  Gabe had purposefully positioned his truck in the small parking lot in the front of the news station so that he had a good view of both the front entrance and the lane that led to the larger parking lot behind the building. If Jacob was still inside, Gabe would either see him leave through the front door or see his car pull out of that drive. There was no other way out. Gabe assumed the sports car owned by his band’s lead singer—he still couldn’t think of Jacob any other way even though the rash bastard had effectively destroyed Sole Regret—was parked behind the building. Gabe would have definitely noticed the sporty little car out front. Like the man, Jacob’s vehicle was impossible to overlook.

  But then maybe he’d missed Jacob altogether. Perhaps the selfish prick had left so soon after his interview—or whatever that bullshit he’d spouted on the evening news was called—that he’d been long gone before Gabe had arrived. Gabe decided to wait a while longer before trying to track him down at home. Had Jacob really moved back in with Tina? What the fuck was he thinking?

  An enormous white SUV pulled to the end of the drive, and Gabe almost ignored it—Jacob drove a Tesla Roadster—until he remembered that Jacob’s ex-wife drove an SUV just like that one, and Tina had been at Jacob’s side throughout that ridiculous news segment. Admittedly Gabe didn’t think too clearly when he was mad, and he was beyond pissed at the guy he considered his best friend—or had considered as such until he’d betrayed them all. Gabe caught a glimpse of the driver’s mirrored sunglasses just before the SUV turned into traffic. Definitely Jacob.

  “Crap,” Gabe said, starting his ignition. The blast of hot air out of the air conditioner made his T-shirt stick to his sweaty chest. The evening was stiflingly hot even by late-June-in-Texas standards.

  He turned onto the road, gunning the truck’s big engine to cut into traffic with a loud roar. He supposed he didn’t need to run Jacob off the road to talk to him. Eventually he’d stop somewhere, and as soon as he got out of his vehicle, Gabe would confront him.

  His cellphone rang, and he considered ignoring it until he saw that Adam was calling. Adam. The other jerk in his band. The one who had sent Jacob over the edge in the first place. He was currently in a tie with Jacob at the top of Gabe’s shit list.

  “What?” Gabe answered as he accepted the call over the truck’s Bluetooth connection, zooming past several slow-assed drivers until he could see the white SUV ahead.

  “Did you see Jacob’s interview?”

  “Oh yeah, I saw it.”

  “What did he say?”

  Gabe figured that Adam was in Dallas so had missed the Austin news segment Gabe had watched with Owen and Kellen not even an hour before. But there was this thing called the internet. Adam could have found a stream of the segment if he gave a damn or bothered to put forth any effort.

  “A bunch of ridiculous nonsense,” Gabe said. “Apparently he’s back with Tina and wants to live in domestic bliss with her instead of in the spotlight with us.”

  Adam snorted. “You’re joking.”

  “I wish I was. I’m on the road following him now. If he doesn’t tell me what’s really going on then I’ll . . . I’ll . . . ” What would he do exactly? Gabe admittedly had a temper, and he’d been known to use his fists when the occasion called for violence, but never against a friend. “I’ll get to the bottom of this.”

  “I should be the one there straightening this shit out,” Adam said.

  A fact Gabe would not refute, but . . . “Do you really think he’d listen to you?”

  “No, but I need to try. He probably thinks I’m using again.”

  “Aren’t you?” Gabe snapped.

  He knew Adam had vanished right before their show in New Orleans because his girlfriend had been hurt pretty badly, but it would be a lot simpler to understand how someone could run off like that without telling anyone if he were using drugs again. Especially strong, mind-altering, life-destroying drugs like the heroin Adam had once preferred.

  Adam sighed. “You’ll have to take me at my word that I’m not, but you know, it wouldn’t be any of your business if I were.”

  “Adam, you do realize that this fiasco you started and Jacob decided to finish affects more than you, don’t you? You aren’t the only one out of a job. What am I supposed to do? And what about Kellen and Owen? Did you ever once stop to think about how this affects anyone but yourself?”


  Gabe jabbed the end-call icon on the dash. He didn’t give a rat’s uncle about Madison at the moment. He was too pissed at her boyfriend to care that she’d fallen off her stupid horse and injured her stupid arm. It wasn’t as if she was in danger of dying or anything. But based on the current reckless way Gabe was zipping around traffic to keep Jacob’s SUV in view, he probably was.

  He followed Jacob into the subdivision where he apparently now lived with his ridiculous ex-wife, and to a very familiar house. One of the garage doors at the front of the gargantuan five-bedroom brick-faced monstrosity opened, and while Jacob sat there waiting for it to lift, Gabe cut his engine and jumped out of his truck. Tina’s white Escalade rolled into the garage, and Gabe dashed in right behind it. Jacob didn’t look the least bit surprised to see him when he climbed out of the vehicle and turned to face him.

  “I suppose you’re here to kick my ass,” Jacob said.

  His sunglasses obscured his inner feelings from Gabe. Jacob had expressive eyes, and he knew of that particular weakness, hence his preference to wear sunglasses at all hours of the day and night.

  “Have at it, then.”

  Gabe stopped advancing and squinted at Jacob to make sure he was speaking to the cocky asshole who fronted one of the biggest metal bands on the planet. The dude looked like Jacob. A defeated, tired-looking version of the typically bad-assed motherfucker who had a voice loved by millions, but the man before him was unquestionably Jacob.

  “I just want to know why,” Gabe said. “Why would you just . . . just leave?” Gabe took a step toward him, his anger flaring once again. “How could you . . . How could you leave us like that?”

  Tina came around the front of the SUV to stand at Jacob’s elbow. “Do I need to call the police, sweetheart?”

  Gabe snarled at her, and her eyes widened. The model-perfect blonde shrank backward.

  “No,” Jacob said. “We need to have it out so he can move on. Go inside.”

  Move on? Gabe had no intention of moving on. They had to get this shit straightened out and get the band back together, because he couldn’t go forward from this . . . this . . . this disaster. Gabe’s past, his present, and his future all revolved around him being Sole Regret’s drummer. He didn’t have another plan. He had no idea how to proceed. He refused to give up on Jacob or the band or even fucking Adam.

  “I think I’ll stay to watch.” Tina crossed her arms over her chest and smirked at Gabe.

  He’d never in his life wanted to punch a woman until that moment. He took a deep breath and stared at the cement at his feet, trying to cool his temper. Gabe knew it sometimes got the better of him, and if he was fantasizing about knocking out Jacob’s ex-wife, his ire had obviously heated to the point that he needed to take a step back. Fighti
ng wasn’t the answer. He didn’t know what the answer was, but he knew it wasn’t violence against Tina or Jacob.

  “Daddy!” The voice of a gleeful little girl echoed in the garage. “Gramma said yous was home. Why are you staying out here for so long for?”

  “Tina, why don’t you take Julie inside?” Jacob nodded toward the open door that connected the garage to the house. “I’ll see you in a minute.”

  “Can I has a hug first?” Julie asked, her small feet pattering against the cement as she rushed to his side. “I missed you.”

  Gabe lifted his gaze in time to witness the man melt as he scooped his daughter into his arms and gave her the squeeze she’d requested. Jacob Silverton had few weaknesses, and the adorable little blonde was responsible for all of them. He blew a raspberry on her neck, making her squeal and squirm, before setting her back on her feet.

  “I need to have a grown-up talk with Gabe,” he said.

  “Hi, Gabe!” Julie said with a wave as she noticed him standing next to the SUV. “Daddy thinks I don’t know the grown-up words, but I heard them on TV. You can say them if you want to. I won’t tell Gramma.”

  Gabe couldn’t suppress a grin. “Hi, sweetie.”

  “No more TV for you,” Jacob said.

  “Come on, Julie,” Tina called from the door that led into the house. “Help me make dinner.”

  “What do you want to have, Daddy?”

  “Whatever you’re making.”

  “I think . . .” She pressed her index finger to her lip and looked up toward the garage ceiling. “Cupcakes,” she said before skipping around the car and up the steps into the house.

  “We can’t have cupcakes for dinner,” Tina told Julie as she ushered her inside.

  “Can we has eggs? You said eggs are good for me.”

  “They are.”

  “Well, cupcakes has eggs, so that makes them good for dinner, right?”

  Gabe couldn’t help but grin at her cleverness. Jacob watched until the door shut behind his family before he turned to Gabe.

  “I’m not going to apologize,” Jacob said.

  “I didn’t come here for an apology. I came for an explanation and some clue about fixing this mess you’ve made.”

  “I let the band destroy my family once,” Jacob said. “I won’t let that happen again.”

  Gabe couldn’t argue against that claim. Jacob’s stardom had strained his marriage to the breaking point. “I thought things were going well during your visitations with Julie.” Julie was the only part of his family worth saving as far as Gabe was concerned. “And aren’t you dating Amanda?”

  Jacob’s forehead tightened with what Gabe assumed was raw emotional pain. Not that he could tell for sure with those damned sunglasses Jacob was still wearing.

  “I was,” Jacob said, his voice unwavering. “She decided I wasn’t worth her trouble.” He crossed an arm over his chest and squeezed his biceps with his hand.

  “And you decided her sister was?”

  Jacob moved his hand to rub his lower jaw and muttered, “Something like that.”

  “Is Tina blackmailing you?”

  Jacob chuckled. “No. She claims she still loves me and being with her makes it easier for me to see Julie.”

  “But do you love her?”

  Jacob shrugged. “I love Julie.”

  Gabe had figured as much. “And the band? Do you care about any of us?”

  Jacob bit his lip, his attention fixed below Gabe’s eyes. “I won’t lose Julie,” he said. “Not for the band. Not for Amanda. Not even for myself. Adam’s disappearance was only one part of my decision to leave. Finding a new direction for myself was inevitable. I hope you can find your own new path.”

  Gabe didn’t want to find a new path. He was perfectly satisfied with the one he was on.

  “Maybe you just need a break,” Gabe said. “Take a few days, get your head straightened out—”

  “My head is clearer than it’s been in years. And that horrible weight on my shoulders? It’s gone, Gabe.”

  What weight on his shoulders? Jacob’s job was to have a great time doing what he loved. How could he possibly consider that a burden?

  “I’m not giving up just yet,” Gabe said, though he took a step back. Jacob had lost his way and needed a nudge to get headed in the right direction again. Figuring out what would steer him true would take a little thought and planning on Gabe’s part, but Gabe would come up with a solution. He’d always been good at solving complex problems—even ones as incomprehensible as Jacob Silverton.

  “Save yourself the headache,” Jacob said. “There’s nothing you can do to change my mind.”

  Perhaps, but Gabe knew someone who might be able to.

  Gabe drove by Jacob’s house on his way to Amanda’s and stopped long enough to yank the For Sale by Owner sign out of the yard. He tossed it into the back of his truck and forced himself not to allow his driving to match his aggressive mood as he drove off. A residential neighborhood was no place for burning up the pavement.

  Amanda’s car wasn’t in her driveway, but he parked on the street in front of her quaint cottage and went to the door. His knock went unanswered—not that he was surprised—so he returned to his truck, tore a corner off a defunct paper map, and wrote her a short note. He tucked it under her doorknocker, hoping a gust of wind didn’t send it flying down the tree-lined street. He left his number and asked her to call or text, saying it was urgent that he speak to her in person but giving no details. She’d probably guess he wanted information on Jacob, but if she’d really broken up with him, she might be unlikely to talk. Best to leave her wondering, he decided.

  On his way home, he stopped by the vet and picked up his dog. His parents had planned to get Lady and take care of her at their house while he was on tour, but now that he didn’t have a tour, or even a band, he’d told them not to bother. His sweet yellow Lab was so excited to see him that her tail wagging toppled her over. Her balance was a bit off due to her casted broken leg. She licked his face the entire time he carried her to the truck. Cringing, Gabe tried turning his face this way and that to escape her tongue bath as he struggled with the door handle and finally escaped her doggie breath when he settled her into the passenger seat. He gave her a belly rub, and she thunked him repeatedly with the exuberant wagging of her thick tail as she stretched out to give him free access to her tender underside.

  “Good girl,” he crooned, reaching into the truck to pat her head. “Are you ready to go see Beau? He’ll probably drown you in slobber.”

  Lady released an excited whine, tail producing a rapid beat that any metal drummer would envy.

  “I’m sure he misses you too.” He gave her one final scratch before shutting the door and rounding the truck to climb into the driver’s seat.

  He supposed there was one good thing about being off tour; he could spoil his girl while she recovered from her injuries. Gabe wondered if the drunken teen who’d hit Lady with the truck he’d stolen had learned his lesson. Moron.

  When Gabe pulled into his driveway, he scratched his head as he stared at the melon-orange VW Bug sitting in front of his house. Wasn’t that Nikki’s car? He’d ridden in the nauseatingly cute thing once with Melanie behind the wheel, but why would Nikki be visiting? He sure as hell hadn’t invited her, though he knew from experience that the woman had no qualms about inviting herself.

  Gabe climbed out of the truck and lifted Lady, carefully setting her on her feet and watching closely to determine if she could hobble to the house or if he’d need to carry her. A full-grown yellow Lab wasn’t exactly lightweight, but he could manage if she needed help.

  The front door opened, and Beau leaped clean over the wide porch to land at the bottom of the steps before racing toward his companion.

  “Easy,” Gabe warned as Beau danced around Lady in wide leaping circles. “You can’t be rough with her.”

  The black Lab gave Lady’s cast an interested sniff and then licked her face, whining and w
riggling as if he didn’t know whether to be overjoyed to see her or sad that she was hurt. A figure emerged from the large A-frame wood cabin he called home and crossed the porch to stand on the top step. All the clouds of anger and betrayal, of desperation and uncertainty, evaporated beneath her sunny smile. The door behind her framed her gorgeous body—long legs, curvy hips, slender waist—and her waist-length brown curls were as untamed as the woman was in bed.

  “Surprise,” Melanie said.

  And what an excellent one it was.

  Chapter Two

  Melanie hadn’t been sure that arriving at Gabe’s place unannounced was a good idea until she saw his face break into a relieved smile. Even his parents, who she’d talked into letting her in, had said he might not be up for company. He’d had a rough few days. So had she, to be honest, but seeing him made all her troubles less important. The only matter important to her at that exact moment was feeling his strong arms around her.

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