Read Love Rock'ollection: The Brutal Strength Rock Star Trilogy, books 1-3 Online

Authors: Michelle Mankin

Tags: #The Brutal Strength Shakespeare Inspired Series

Love Rock'ollection: The Brutal Strength Rock Star Trilogy, books 1-3 (87 page)



MARCUS STEPPED ONTO the plane. Avery had sent him a message through Sam telling him that the only contact she would allow would be during sound checks and at the concerts. Otherwise, he was to keep at least twenty feet away.

Eff that.

He strode across the lounge. “Get the hell out of my way!” he shouted as Trevor moved to block him.

“Let’s just settle down now,” the band manager persuaded.

“Don’t patronize me.” Marcus seethed. “Move the hell away from that door or I’m gonna move you forcibly.”

“She really doesn’t want to talk to you,” Trevor insisted.

“Boss,” Ray called, stepping between them. “Maybe it would be better if you give her some space. Let her regroup. She’s had a hard night.”

“Really?” he said sarcastically, rubbing his bruised jaw. “How the hell was her night hard? Hmm. Oh, yeah, I could see where it would be a hardship to have that walking ashtray’s tongue down her throat. Hard night or not, I don’t care.” He stepped around Ray and banged on the door with his fist. “She’s gonna talk to me right now.”

The door popped open, Avery stood there, emerald eyes flashing. “Thanks guys,” she said, allowing him access. “I’ve got it.” She took a step into the room after him and turned around, arms crossed over her chest. “Ok. You wanted to talk. Go ahead. Talk.”

He turned to shut the door.

“Oh no,” she said, moving past him and standing in the open space. “The door stays open.”

His eyes narrowed. Her pulse was beating rapidly at her neck and she was wringing her hands together like she did when she was really nervous. Was she afraid to be alone with him? Was that what all this twenty feet bullshit was about? Maybe he
give her a little space. But then how was he going to keep that asshole guitarist out of her pants? He blew out a breath and drew in a slow calming one.

“I’m sorry I lost my temper last night,” he said softly.

She glanced at him icily.

“I was kinda provoked though. Your boy threw the first punch.”

“After you kissed me.”

“I’d do it again, Ace,” he said and meant it. “Even knowing I’d get clocked again.”

“Marcus, please.” Her gaze dropped. “I can’t do this.”

“You know I love hearing my name on your lips.” He took a step closer, breathing in her familiar scent. He wanted to kiss her, but reminded himself to take it easy. He couldn’t push too hard. He had a long term goal and couldn’t afford to lose ground, not with Jackson lurking about. “But alright. If that’s what you want.”

“You’ll leave me alone?” she asked, disbelief evident in her tone.

“No.” He stroked a finger down the line of her jaw before she could move away. “But I’ll back off a little.” He showed her about an inch between his thumb and first finger. “But you gotta do something for me in return.”

“What?” Her eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“Stay away from Jackson.”

“You can’t tell me what to do.” She put her hands on her hips.

“Maybe not. But I can attempt to coerce you.” He pulled back the collar of her shirt, lowered his head and pressed his lips against her soft fragrant skin, touched his tongue to the taut curve of her shoulder and started to make his way up the column of her neck.

“Ok.” Hands to his chest, she pushed him away. “You stop crowding me and I’ll keep my distance from Bryan. For now. For the day.” Her chest rose and fell with each rapid breath. “And only because that’s what I was planning to do anyway.”



“HOLY CRAP.” AVERY shut the door carefully and went into the tiny bathroom, staring at her flushed cheeks in the mirror before splashing cold water on her face. No doubt the man was a force to be reckoned with… intense and overwhelmingly sexy. Marcus in full pursuit mode was something she’d never dealt with before, and she had to admit it was turning her on.

She sighed, flopping down on the bed and throwing an arm over her eyes. She needed to try to get some rest before they landed in Chicago. She tossed around restlessly for over an hour, finally surrendering to sleep without being any further along in deciding what she was going to do.


“Huh?” She opened her eyes to find Sam standing next to the bed.

“What time is it?”


“What?” Had she really slept five hours? She sat up quickly, also realizing she wasn’t on the plane anymore. “How’d I get here?”

“Ray carried you. You were out like a light. On the ride over from the airport, I even put my hand near your lips to make sure you were still breathing.” She studied Avery’s face. “What’s going on with you?”

“I haven’t been sleeping well.”

“Not sleeping well?” Sam’s eyes narrowed. “Or not sleeping at all?”

“Pretty much the latter.”

“I’m sorry.” The petite woman wrapped her arms around Avery and squeezed tight. “You should have told me.”

“I didn’t want anybody to make a big deal about it. I’ll get over it…him…eventually.”

“You mean Marcus, right?” Sam gave her a searching look.

After being silent a moment, she nodded.

“So Bryan’s out?”

“Yeah. I’m not sure that he was ever really in,” Avery confessed. “I think he and I were just testing the chemistry between us. After kissing both of them last night, I gotta say there’s no comparison.”

“Both in the same night?” Sam interrupted raising her brows. “Gimme details.”

“It’s not as exciting as it sounds,” she admitted. “With Bryan, I just wasn’t feeling it. I mean all Marcus has to do is look at me and my pulse speeds up. Then there’s the way he kisses… so focused.” She blushed. “I still love him. I don’t agree with what he did, but in a strange way I get it. I understand him.” She knew desperation made you do things you normally wouldn’t. For instance, dressing up like a guy to get into a band. Marcus had forgiven her for that deception. How much different was what he had done? Shouldn’t she forgive his attempt to protect her, however misguided it had been? She twisted the comforter in her hands. “I’m just afraid to let him in again.”

“Yeah, I understand. I really do. You and I had a similar conversation a while back.” Sam’s brows drew together. “I think you need to get away from all the drama and clear your head. After the concert, we’ll have a girl’s night out. We can go to the Pier. We won’t talk about guys. We’ll get a Chicago dog, just be silly and have some fun, alright?”

“Sounds real good.” Avery sighed with relief, throwing back the heavy comforter. “How come no one woke me up for sound check? Marcus must have been pissed that I didn’t show.”

“No.” Sam tilted her head. “Actually it was his idea. He said to let you sleep.”

“He did, did he?”
Hmm, that was interesting

“So, I’ll meet you back here after the meet and greet?”

“Yeah,” Avery started toward the shower. “Wait a minute. Before I go get ready, I wanna get a closer look at that rock JR put on your finger!”



IT WAS ONE a.m. when she and Sam finally returned to the hotel. It’d been a fun night. They’d ridden both the ferris wheel and the swings. Underneath the quiet hum of the old fashioned light bulb marquee for the Palmer hotel, Avery leaned over and impulsively hugged the much smaller girl. “Thanks, Sam. I know you probably would have preferred to stay in with JR, but I really needed a distraction. It feels like forever since I’ve laughed so hard.”

“You’re welcome, but I wanted to go, too.” Sam smiled and squeezed Avery back. “I’d better head up though. I’ll see you in the morning,” she said over her shoulder as she entered the glass doors ahead of Avery. “New York City, girl! Your old stomping ground.”

Hard to believe
, Avery thought to herself.
Madison Square Garden.

She stepped off the elevator on the reserved floor, surprised that it was so empty. She headed to her room but slowed when she heard music. Someone was playing the piano in the room next to hers. The notes were turbulent and beautiful and vaguely familiar. She drifted into the open door without even thinking about it.


She closed her eyes and leaned against the wall of the suite, the sound saturating her senses. In the notes that he played, she heard crashing thunder, saw flashes of lightning, and felt the rain soaking her face in a torrential downpour. She knew why it sounded so familiar. It was a piece she’d heard him working on during sound checks since Seattle. The melody was so poignant and hopeful that her eyes flooded with tears.

When the last note faded out, she absently wiped her cheeks and opened her eyes.

Marcus was standing right in front of her, hands in his back pockets. “Happy Birthday, Avery,” he said solemnly.

Holy Crap
. She’d completely lost track of the calendar with all that had been happening.

“The doorman told me you were on your way up,” he confessed. “I’ve been working on the song since before we left on tour. I’d hoped you’d put lyrics to it someday, but then…” He trailed off, glancing away. His blue eyes were glassy when they focused back on her. “I thought I’d call it ‘Shelter.’”

“It’s beautiful,” she whispered. “I don’t know what to say. It’s the most incredible gift anyone’s ever given me.” She stepped forward and stood on tiptoes to kiss his stubbled cheek. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” His eyes were dark and intense as he stared into hers.

She knew she should extract herself from the situation. But she didn’t want to. She wasn’t going to fight it anymore. She wanted to press her body against his. Wanted to feel his lips on hers. She wanted…

Marcus cleared his throat.

“Huh?” she blurted, startled from her thoughts.

“I have one more gift for you.”

“The song was more than enough,” she protested, letting him take her hand.

“It’s just a little thing,” he told her, wrapping his fingers more tightly around hers, leading her further into the suite. “I just asked and well, he wouldn’t let me pay for it.”

“Holy shit!” Her eyes widened as her gaze came to rest on the red, black, and white EVH Frankenstein that was propped up on a stand with a red bow laid loosely over it. She set the bow aside and picked it up, running a finger over the signature. “It’s even signed by him,” she whispered. She turned back to Marcus, clutching the guitar to her chest, tears brimming in her eyes. “Marcus Thomas Anthony,” she whispered. “You were right. You don’t fight fair.”

“Not where you’re concerned, Ace.” He sauntered closer, eyes locked on hers. “I was an effing idiot. Let go of the best thing that’s ever happened to me. A woman like you… kind, generous, and genuine, well, there aren’t many of those around. That thing you did for the guy during the photo shoot, the way you always check on Ray’s mom, how you helped JR and Sam when they needed it. Some might think about doing things like that, a few might actually do them once in a while, but you live it out every day. Then there’s the bonus stuff. Your beauty. That irresistible body of yours.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Not being able to touch you has been an absolute living hell. I can’t even close my eyes without remembering how you feel, how you taste, how you smell, and how it
when we’re together.”

“Me, too,” she admitted, voice soft as the fade at the end of a song.

He reached out for the guitar, smiling so widely that his dimple showed. He tugged it from her possessive grip and set it back in the stand. “It’ll be safe here, I promise.”

He brushed aside the new tears that had fallen, his calloused thumbs rough but familiar against her soft skin. She leaned into him, rubbing her cheeks against his palms as he cradled her face.

“It’s tomorrow, Ace.”

“What do you mean?” she asked, momentarily confused by his cryptic statement.

“I mean, your day is up,” he whispered right before he crushed his lips to hers.


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