February 21, 2017
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Falling in love with her cousin's rock star ex-boyfriend was definitely not part of the plan.
As the drummer of a now-famous rock band, Mike Madden could have any girl he wants. He's sweet, funny, romantic, talented--and the only guy that's ever made Hailey's heart do cartwheels in her chest. The more she gets to know him, the harder she falls, but Hailey knows they can never be more than friends… because Danica wants him back, and she'll fight dirty to win.
Mike is falling for Hailey too, but Danica's threats and his rock star life-music video shoots, international tours, obsessed fans-could tear them apart before they've even begun. Hailey isn't sure she's the one for him, but Mike's waited years for a girl like her… and he'll do anything to prove it.
At a door near the back corner of the room, my fun-loving cousin marches right up to the first security guard she sees, who also happens to be approximately five zillion times her size, with muscles made of stone and a face to match. “Who do I need to talk to to get backstage?”
At her bossy tone, Muscle-man lifts an eyebrow. “The Easter Bunny?”
“No one’s allowed backstage.” The arms he crosses over his chest warn that he isn’t messing around.
“I’m with Mike,” Danica lies, and after studying her for a moment, Muscle-man laughs.
“Sure you are.”
When Muscle-man just smiles at her like she’s a petulant child, Danica resorts to acting like one. She demands to see his boss and threatens to get him fired. When that doesn’t work, she resorts to curse words. And when those have no effect, all hell breaks loose.
She’s torpedoing her finger into his chest and shouting something about his inbred gene pool when I try to pull her away from him. But Danica is on a rampage, and all my efforts get me is a hard shove that nearly knocks me on my ass. At five-feet tall, one hundred and three pounds, I’m not exactly in a position to throw my weight around, and I don’t make a second attempt to try. I’m rubbing my tender collarbone when the security guy picks my assailant up off her feet, and I helplessly follow as he carries her outside.
After serving as an armrest for a sweaty gigantor inside the club, after obliterating my eardrums in front of the world’s biggest speakers, after getting knocked around like a bratty child’s toy all night, all I want is to take a hot shower and crawl into my own bed to sleep for a week straight. Instead, I stand on the sidewalk outside of Mayhem, frowning at the furious look on Danica’s face as she glares at the big metal door the security guard just shut behind him.
She came here for one thing, and I know she’s not leaving until she gets it.
“You didn’t have to push me,” I mutter, and her eyes flare.
“You should’ve had my back!”
“And done what? Bite his ankles?”
In her four-inch wedge boots, Danica towers above me. I stare way up at her, trying to remember the girl who played dolls with me up in my parents’ hay loft. But she’s lost somewhere behind fake lashes and fifteen years of getting everything she's wanted.
“You’ve been nothing but a bitch this whole time,” she snaps, and I sigh and pull my shirt away from my skin again, letting the cool night air dry the sweat beaded on my lower back. There’s no point in trying to defend myself. In Danica’s mind, she’s always simultaneously the victim and the hero, and as her non-rent-paying roommate, I’ve learned to just accept that.
I appreciate everything she’s done for me. I do. If she hadn’t been the little voice in her father’s ear, persuading him to fund my schooling and begging him to make some calls to get us enrolled, I’d be home mucking stalls, not following my dreams. Her dad pays all of my bills—my tuition, my insurance, my living expenses, all of them. And while I suspect that Danica’s sudden interest in my life wasn’t entirely genuine—she’d flunked out of college before, and I think her dad was only open to the idea of her going back if she was living off-campus with a responsible roommate, AKA her boring farm-girl cousin—I owe her. I owe her the roof over my head and the massive student loan debt I don’t have.
When her phone rings, she wastes no time dismissing me to answer it. “Katie?” she says. “Guess who just got kicked out of the fucking club. Yes! Because this asshole bouncer wouldn’t let me backstage.” She gives me a dirty look. “Just stood there doing nothing. I know! No, she didn’t even try. Getting a place with her was stupid.”
An icy chill slithers up the back of my neck, and I chew the inside of my lip. Because of my uncle’s insistence that I focus all of my energy on school right now instead of also finding a part-time job, I have no income. My only “job” is not pissing off his daughter. And it’s a job that I’m learning I am very, very bad at.
With my mouth shut, I slink away before my mere presence can enrage Danica further, and when she asks where I’m going, I make up the lamest excuse ever. “To read this flyer over here.”
My writing process always involves a lot of deleted scenes, but this is part of one that I hated to let go. In early versions of my first draft, I had Hailey’s friends, Rowan and Dee (the heroines in MAYHEM and RIOT), meddle much more to get Hailey and Mike together (so that Mike would ditch his horrible ex-girlfriend, Danica, who only wanted him for his newfound fame). Ultimately, I scaled back the outside interference since I wanted Hailey and Mike’s relationship to develop much more organically, but I have to admit those interfering scenes were pretty fun (and hilarious!) to write!
In this scene, which would have happened early in the book, the entire cast of characters is at a dance club, and everyone’s favorite meddler, Dee, is trying to convince Hailey to dance with Mike.
“You should dance with Hailey, Mike.”
“Excuse me?” Danica snaps, and Dee rolls her eyes.
“Oh come on, Dan. Don’t tell me you’re so insecure that you won’t let him dance with your own cousin.”
Mike plants a reassuring kiss on Danica’s cheek and teases, “I’m sure I’m not even her type.”
And I don’t know what comes over me—probably the three and a half neon-pink drinks I’ve had tonight—but I open my mouth and say, “Right. Because ‘hot rock star’ isn’t a universal type or anything.”
I’m not sure whose eyes go wider—Dee’s, Rowan’s, or Mike’s—but the moment the words fall out of my mouth, I clamp my jaw closed and tense all over. I’m pretty sure I’m about to do that terrified goat thing—where my muscles all seize up and I flop to the side. My brain is scrambling for some way to recover from the nine layers of awkwardness I just careened into, when Joel bursts out laughing. He throws his mohawked head back, and just before I goat-flop onto the floor, he grabs my hand and yanks me toward the crowd. “Come on, Hailey, I’ll dance with you!”
A resident of South Central Pennsylvania, Jamie Shaw's two biggest dreams in life were to be a published author and to be a mom. Now, she's living both of those dreams and loving every minute of it. When she's not spending time with her husband and their young son, she's writing novels with relatable heroines and swoon-worthy leading men. With her MS in Professional Writing and a passion for all things romance, her goal is always to make readers laugh, cry, squirm, curse, and swoon their pants off, all within the span of a single story. She loves interacting with readers, and she always aims to add new names to their book boyfriend lists.
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