Authors: Kay Harris
THE MAN YOU NEED
By Kay Harris
Copyright 2016 by the author
“I sympathize with you, Stacey. I do.” Alonso picks at the label on his beer bottle. “But I’m afraid you’ve fallen down the same rabbit hole as your brother.”
“Shit.” I lean my head up against the wall behind me. “You’re right, I’m screwed.”
He laughs, his brown eyes dancing. Once upon a time I thought Alonso was so hot. But now, he doesn’t hold a candle to the man I really want, the man I love, the man I just lost. If I’d hooked up with Alonso like I’d wanted to a couple months ago, we’d have had a fling, and in the morning, I would have walked away, happy and satisfied. No strings, and no damn feelings.
But that’s not what had happened.
“I’m not sure Sean would see it that way,” he says. “He’s one happy dude.”
After a string of meaningless relationships, my big brother had fallen in love with a park ranger. And despite the fact that I see love as a giant horrible monster at the moment, Sean certainly doesn’t see it that way. He’s been on cloud nine ever since.
“I did not want this to happen. Fuck.” I take a long swig of my strong drink. “I feel like I just my had my heart ripped out of my chest.”
I had spent most of my thirty-one years of life trying to prevent this very thing from happening to me. Hence the attempt to have a casual fling with Alonso once upon a time.
“Yeah, that sucks,” Alonso says.
“Yeah, it’s a bitch.”
“So he walked out on you?”
“Yes. He actually said, ‘have a nice life.’”
“Damn, what did you do?”
“It’s a long story.”
Alonso leans back in his chair. “I got time. And I plan to drink a few more of these,” he says, hefting his beer bottle. “Wait,” he looks around the bar, “does your brother know where you are?”
I roll my eyes. “Yes, Sean knows where I am.”
“And who you’re with? Because I do not need that kind of heat.”
“Relax, would you? I told him I was coming down here to get a drink with you. He didn’t even have a fit.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
“We’re still in the damn hotel. He can always come and check on me.” I look toward the door. But Sean is leaving me alone for the moment. Thank God.
“Okay, well, as long as you stay on your side of the table, no matter how drunk we get. I like my face the way it is. And so do the ladies.”
This is exactly why I hadn’t hooked up with Alonso when we’d first started this tour – my over protective big brother. He was the one who’d made me join him on his rock tour, and he was the one who had cock-blocked me every time I tried to hook up with one of the musicians. But he was thrilled to death when I started a thing with the man who broke my heart tonight. Thanks a lot, big brother.
“Come on Stacey, spill. What happened?”
“Okay.” I take another long pull of my drink, and then motion for the waitress. Once I order another round, I turn back to Alonso. “It started at the wedding reception.”
“Lisa and Sam’s wedding?” He asked, referring to my little brother and his wife.
“Yeah, you were there.”
“I was. What happened?”
“I met Evan Light. You know him?”
Alonso laughs. “That little punk. Sure, I know him. He’s like a puppy at Hank’s heel.”
It was true. My big brother, Sean, and his best friend, Hank, were looked up to by lots of young musicians. Evan had been no exception. He had somehow weaseled his way into an invite to the wedding reception. And that’s where I’d run into him.
“What does he have to do with this? You hook up with Evan or something?” Alonso asks.
“He’s the start of it all, the reason I came on this stupid tour to begin with. Just listen. I’ll tell you the whole thing.”
Two months ago…
I was standing in my brother’s backyard, scanning the crowd. This had to be the best wedding reception in the history of the planet. Sam, my little brother, was not a rock star himself, he was just getting into the manager’s business. But that wasn’t what had brought all of the rock gods out of the woodwork to celebrate his wedding. It was my big brother, Sean, and his best friend, Hank, who were the magnet for this group.
Sean and Hank were both very popular in the hard rock scene, and had been for over a decade. They were talented, famous, and gorgeous. But to me they were just Sean and Hank. So when there was a gathering of strangers like this, their fame hit me a little hard. I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the glitter they brought into Sam’s backyard.
“Hey, Stacey, need another drink?” Hank asked me.
“I’ll get it, Hank. Chill out and hang with everyone.” I smiled at him. Over his shoulder, I could see Sam’s wife, Lisa, approaching us.
“I’m trying to escape Gloria,” Hank told me.
My mom was a major pain. I looked around for her. “Where is she?” I asked conspiratorially.
He shrugged. “I ran away from her a little while ago when she was talking about pre-marital sex.”
I laughed. Sam had knocked up his wife a good eight months before their wedding. Then Lisa had started going into labor right there in the church. They’d held the ceremony in the back of the tour bus on the way to the hospital, just minutes before she had given birth to twins. This reception was actually taking place six weeks later to make up for the one they’d missed. My mom still hadn’t gotten over it.
“She does have some opinions about that,” I said.
Lisa had reached us now. Hank threw an arm around her shoulder and gave her a little squeeze. “Hey there, blushing bride.”
“Henry, you are such a charmer,” she said, smiling at him. For some totally bizarre reason, both Lisa and her sister, Baby, called Hank, ‘Henry.’ No one else on the planet did. No one else was allowed to. I didn’t get it.
“We’re hiding out from your mother-in-law,” Hank told her.
“Don’t worry, she’s currently occupied with trying to get into Mike’s pants,” Lisa said with a smirk.
I laughed. Poor Mike, he was Sean’s publicist/personal assistant/friend whom my mom was always hitting on. Fortunately, my dad never seemed to notice. And everyone, except Sean, thought it was funny as hell.
“You okay, Stacey?” Lisa asked me.
I loved both of my sisters-in-law. And despite the fact that they shared the same genes, they were nothing alike. Baby was super sweet and compassionate. Lisa was much of a more no-nonsense, get to the point, kind of person. She’d been worried about me lately. And usually that resulted in her asking me straight-out to tell her what the fuck was wrong. I guess she was going with a little gentler approach in this environment.
“Having fun.” I grinned, to put her at ease.
“Okay, good. I have to steal Henry for a minute. There’s someone Sam wants him to meet.”
“He doesn’t stop working even for his own wedding reception. And he’s got you running his errands,” Hank complained.
“Well, he’s got both babies right now, so I’m not in a position to whine about it. Come on!” She tugged on Hank’s arm.
I watched them both walk away. I knew Sam was being his usual ambitious self. He was taking over for Sean and Hank’s manager, who was retiring at the end of the month, and he was taking his new job very seriously. Tonight might be his wedding reception, but with this guest list, it was also an opportunity.
I stared at Hank as he moved toward the house. He looked amazing tonight. It was warm in Malibu and he was wearing shorts and a light t-shirt with a pair of flip-flops. I could see the thick muscles in his lower legs, the hard pecs and abs his shirt clung to, and just the right amount of tattoos on his arms. He was a deeply gorgeous man. But he was completely unavailable. In addition to being happily married to Bell, he was also Sean’s best friend. Even when he was single, and seriously slutty, I could never get him interested in me because of that.
I went back to scanning the crowd. There were a lot of beautiful people here, musicians, actors, and models. Peppered in with them were a handful of people who stood out in the crowd, ordinary-looking people who were the friends and family of Lisa and Baby.
Baby was Sean’s wife, and I loved her to death. But she was out of place among Malibu’s rich and famous. It was weird enough that Sean had chosen an earthy park ranger to settle down with. After all, he could, literally, have had anyone he wanted. He was talented, rich and famous. Many people also claimed he was insanely hot, but I was not capable of making that assessment.
Sean had fallen head over heels for Baby when he’d met her. Then, to make things even stranger, Sam had fallen for Baby’s older sister, Lisa, knocked her up and married her. I had such a weird family.
My eyes stopped in their tracks when I caught sight of him, Evan Light. He was exactly what I’d been searching for. He was young, probably a few years younger than me. I was just out of my twenties now, and extremely unhappy about having left them behind. Evan was good-looking, too. Not Hank gorgeous, but close. He was a little shorter than I liked.
Like my father and brothers, I was insanely tall. They still towered over me, Sam at a couple inches above six feet and Sean at a staggering six foot six. I was just under six feet, making me a giraffe of a woman. So I took that into consideration when I chose a man. I required him to at least be able to look me in the eyes. Evan just barely made the cut.
But the looks and the height took a backseat to the most important thing. Evan was a rocker. He played guitar in a four-man band and tried to sing. He wasn’t very good, and fortunately for his band, the bass player was a little better and often sang the tunes. But he had that look about him – the tattoos, the hardened stomach peeking out from under his shirt when he took a sip of beer, the cocky spark in his blue eyes. It was like Crack to me.
Evan caught my gaze and held it. I licked my lips and winked at him. He started to make his way over to me. I watched the whole time. He even had a cocky walk. I was eating it up.
“Hi. Stacey Rush, right?”
Luckily my dad was across the yard talking to Lisa and Baby’s dad at that moment. He was crazy about the name thing. Technically Sean, Sam and I had the last name ‘Rushton.’ But when Sean had started making rock albums, he changed his name to ‘Sean Rush.’ I liked the name, it sounded edgy. So when I got a starring role in my first off-Broadway play, I made my name ‘Stacey Rush.’ Even though neither of us had legally changed our names, that’s what the world knew us as. Well, the whole world knew Sean that way, and a handful of people in New York who’d seen my plays knew me that way. My dad didn’t really get all worked up about it until Sean became stupid famous. After that they started to refer to all of us as Rushes, Sam, me, and occasionally, when they were mentioned in articles about Sean, my parents. And now their daughters-in-law and their grandkids were saddled with the made-up name, too.
“Yeah, you’re Evan.”
“You heard of me?”
I almost rolled my eyes. He was up-and-coming, not super famous, but I knew my music. My brother was a rock star for crying out loud. “Of course.”
“I had no idea Sean had a hot sister.”
He really needed to work on his lines.
“So, Evan, are you a friend of Sam’s?”
“No. I came here with Leroy, Sean and Hank’s old manager. He’s trying to talk Sam into taking me and my band on as clients. He figured this would be a good way to introduce me. So I jumped at the chance to hang out with Hank and Sean.”
He realized too late that he was acting star-struck in front Sean’s sister. I was used to it, to be honest. Sean was famous by the time I was entering college. I hadn’t had a single boyfriend since who wasn’t awed by him.
“I mean, you know, I think me and the guys are a good bet. Or just me. I might go solo like Hank and Sean.”
Good luck with that.
“I, uh, haven’t actually met Sam yet, is he around?”
I wanted to roll my eyes again. I was standing right in front of this guy, looking pretty cute in a revealing pale blue silk dress, totally making eyes at him, and he was thinking about his career. Which was stupid, because there was no way Sam was taking him on. Sam only intended to have two clients, Hank and Sean. He didn’t need the money, the punk was independently wealthy thanks to a bunch of smart investments he’d made as a kid. And his only ambition was to take care of his big brother’s career. Plus, with twin babies and a wife he was obsessed with, Sam wasn’t interested in extra work. I had no doubt that Evan would be a lot of work.
“He’s busy right now. But you’ll get your chance.” He was looking around the yard, so I grabbed his chin and turned his head toward me. “However, I’m right here in front of you.”
His mouth parted, his eyes got wide. And suddenly, he remembered that he was a man. “Yes, you are.”
“Why don’t you tell me about yourself, Evan,” I said in a breathy voice.
“My band just finished making a new album,
Ice Cold Hot Matches
, you heard of it?”
It was the dumbest name for an album I’d ever heard. But, yeah, I’d heard of it, listened to it once, too. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t terrible, either.
“Yeah, it’s pretty hot,” I lied, while at the same time using a pun I was pretty sure Evan didn’t get.