By: Jay Crownover

Chapter 1

            Ayden, One Year Later

            I had my computer open and was working on something for my biochem class. My roommate Cora was sitting on the couch in the living room painting her nails a startling neon green before she left for work, when the door to the bedroom at the back of the house opened. I pushed the glasses I was wearing up on my nose and gave Cora the look. She swiveled around on the couch, so that her arms were dangling over the cushions.

            We waited and we watched.

            This had become our ritual over the last three months, since Jet had come to live with us. At least two to three times a week, we subjected whichever random chick he had brought home with him the night before to a (humiliating for them, hilarious for us) walk of shame.

            Cora and I had taken to ranking them on a scale of one to ten depending on how thoroughly worked over they looked the next day. So far, Jet was coming in with solid sevens or eights, but a couple of the girls had left so pissed-off at his lack of interest in a repeat performance, that we had to give them fours and fives. The one who had locked herself in the bathroom and refused to leave until Cora threatened to mace her got a one.

            This one today was pretty good.

            She was a blonde and was all big boobs and long legs. Yesterday’s makeup didn’t look so hot running down her face now, but she had a nice whisker-burn going on under her chin and she had that dreamy, lovesick look that most of them wore when they came wandering out of that room.

            I automatically upped her score because, instead of wearing her bra, she was clutching it in one hand like a lifeline. I was pretty sure her silky top was on inside-out. Her gaze shot from Cora to me and back again, and an embarrassed blush heated her face.

            I couldn’t figure out why Jet never told these girls he had female roommates. I assumed it was because he was a sick bastard and liked the fact they had to run this gauntlet when he was done with them, but he never confirmed or denied it when I asked him about it.

            “Uh, hey.” The poor thing stammered out an awkward greeting, which had Cora grinning like a lunatic. Cora was mouthy and loud on a good day; give her ammunition or show her a weakness, and she was like a piranha that smelled blood in the water.

            My roommate looked like a pint-size fairy princess; well, a princess gone punk rock for the day. Cora’s diminutive size often left the poor things that trekked through the living room unprepared for the attack she was just waiting to launch. This one was all blissed out on a postorgasmic high, and I knew it was only a matter of time before Cora unleashed all of her East Coast sass and brass.

            “Did you have a good night?”

            It was an innocent enough question, but coming from the feisty blonde with the two different-colored eyes, I knew it was anything but.

            “Sure. I’ll just, uh, be going now. Tell Jet I left my number on the dresser.”

            Cora waved a hand around in front of her. “Sure, because he is so totally calling you again. Right, Ayd? He won’t want to lose that number.”

            I didn’t like it when she tried to draw me into her verbal games, so I just shrugged and lifted my coffee mug up to my face to hide a reluctant grin. It was like watching a car accident happen in front of my eyes.

            Cora waved her arms around in a dramatic sweeping gesture and told the bewildered blonde, “I’m sure he called the redhead that left yesterday morning. I’m sure he called the brunette that stayed the entire weekend, and I’m absolutely sure he’s probably going to call you. Right, Ayd?”

            She rolled her eyes and flopped back on the couch, as if she hadn’t just demolished this poor girl’s romantic hopes and dreams.

            The girl looked at me and then back to Cora. I saw her mouth tighten before she uttered “bitch” and stomped out our front door. I upped her points even more when I saw she had her panties from the night before sticking out of her back pocket.

            Without looking up, Cora held her hands up over her head and extended seven fingers in the air. “She didn’t even have any fight in her. I would’ve given her at least an eight if she had told me to fuck off or get bent. Anything.”

            I shook my head. “You were kind of a bitch.”

            She snickered. “Gotta find my fun somewhere. What do you give her?”

            I was about to answer when another figure came out of the room. You’d think that after three months of running into him coming in and out of the bathroom we shared, or catching him running around without a shirt on while he was getting ready to go out, or even watching him dance around half naked onstage I would have built up an immunity to seeing Jet Keller’s bare chest.

            But as he made his way down the hall, pulling on a plain black T-shirt, I forgot every single thought as my mind blanked, just like it always did.

            After the disastrous incident outside my apartment last winter, we had developed an odd sort of friendship. I knew what boundaries I had to keep Jet within, and he treated me like I was some kind of virginal goddess he wasn’t allowed to mess up. That was working for us, sort of.

            When Shaw had ultimately decided to go live with Rule and Nash, Cora and I had worried about who was going to take up her share of the rent. Luckily, the girl Jet had been living with went bat-shit crazy, and dumped all of his stuff on the lawn while he was on his last tour, not mention she found someone else to take his place when she got lonely. He ended up homeless and in need of a place to crash, so here he was. I saw him every day and spent plenty of time just hanging out with him.

            But still, the sight of those abs, the ink that covered them and the twin hoops through his nipples turned all my good intentions and strictly marshaled thoughts to all things sexy and naughty, where they clearly didn’t need to be. When I looked at him I had a hard time remembering the rejection and what I should be doing and instead let his wicked grin ruin all my self-control.

            I averted my gaze and ordered myself not to inhale when he leaned over me to snag the other half of my untouched bagel. I wasn’t allowed to go around sniffing him, even if he smelled like temptation and rock and roll.

            He lifted a dark eyebrow in my direction and motioned toward Cora with the bagel.

            “What kind of havoc are you two wreaking in here? I heard the front door slam all the way from the back of the house.” He stretched his long legs, clad in supertight black jeans, out in front of me and I wondered again how he got into them. I had never seen a guy wear such tight pants, but they worked for him. I spent an obscene amount of time wondering how to get them off of him.

            “Cora was just wishing your latest conquest a safe trip home.”

            He paused before biting into the bagel and focused his eyes at the back of Cora’s head. “What did you really say to her?”

            We could see Cora’s shoulders shaking with silent laughter, but she didn’t turn her head around. “Nothing. Well, nothing that wasn’t true.”

            He took a big bite out of the breakfast treat and narrowed his eyes. They were so dark it was hard to tell where the iris and the pupil met.

            “I think you’re just pissed Miley Cyrus copied your haircut and you’re taking it out on innocent girls across the land.”

            Surprised laughter shot out of me as Cora jumped to her feet and hurled the nail polish bottle she had been using at Jet’s head. Luckily, he had good reflexes and caught it in the air before it smacked him in the face or broke all over the wood floors.

            “I’ve had this hair forever! It’s not my fault she decided to be rock and roll all of a sudden.” She huffed out of the room and I shared a grin with Jet.

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