Hot ticket, p.51
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       Hot Ticket, p.51
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         Part #3 of Sinners on Tour series by Olivia Cunning  
Page 51

  Author: Olivia Cunning

  “Father!”

  Jace pounded on the window, trying to rouse him. “Wake up!” He fisted both hands, and using his one-hit-knockout punch, struck the glass. It broke. A hole burst through the middle of a spiderweb patterned crack. He hit it again, widening the hole. Jace grabbed his father by his pale yellow polo shirt. “Father! Don’t die. Don’t be dead. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. It was an accident. I…”

  Someone broke out more glass from the windshield. Hands struggled to release the seat belt. The heat of the flames brought Jace back to the moment. Dave, not his father, came free from the seat. Jace took a stuttering breath and followed Sed, who was carrying Dave from the burning wreckage. A safe distance away, Sed laid Dave’s limp body on the pavement. There was something unnatural about the angle of Dave’s neck.

  Eric listened to his chest. “He’s not breathing. ” He started CPR while everyone looked on anxiously.

  Jace shook so hard his legs gave out. He dropped to his knees on the asphalt. Aggie appeared before him. His demon in black. No, his angel. His salvation.

  Her fingers stroked his hair so tenderly it made his heart swell. He didn’t understand it. What had he ever done to deserve this wonderful woman? He wrapped both arms around her waist, buried his face against her belly, and sobbed.

  “I’ve got you, baby,” she whispered.

  The pain inside was unbearable—worse than anything in his experience. He couldn’t breathe. “It hurts,” he gasped. “God, it hurts. Mercy,” he begged her, rubbing his face against her belly. “Mercy, Aggie. Mercy. ”

  “Let it go now. ” Aggie’s fingers tightened in his hair. “Just… let go, Jace. ”

  Let it go?

  Yeah. Let go.

  Oblivious to anything but the pain searing his soul, Jace cried. He released fifteen years of torment in a flood of tears and snot and sweat and blood at the feet of the woman he knew he could not live without.

  Chapter 40

  Aggie tried to picture everything Jace was showing her, but it just looked like a huge, empty basement to her.

  “You can build at least two soundproof rooms for your dungeon down here,” he said. “And a sewing room. A storage room. Whatever else you want. It’s yours to do with as you please. ”

  “Are you sure, Jace? It will be incredibly expensive to have everything done. ”

  “You know it’s really for me, don’t you?” He kissed her lips and tugged her against his chest. “Besides, my lady needs her slaves. ”

  “I don’t know a man who would pay to have the basement in his brand new house converted into a dungeon for his girlfriend. ” She hadn’t expected this when he’d asked her to move to LA and live with him. She figured she was going to have to redefine herself and give up most of the things she loved so she could make a new life with him. She’d been willing to try, but Jace didn’t want her to change. He loved her for who she was and supported her in whatever she wanted to do. He never ceased to surprise her. And she’d never stop loving him for it.

  Jace lifted her left hand and slid something onto her ring finger. “But he’d do it for his wife, wouldn’t he?”

  Aggie’s eyes widened as she stared at the sparkling marquise-cut diamond on her finger. “Um…”

  “Are you actually going to make me ask you?” he murmured into her ear. She could feel the heat of his blush against her cheek.

  She forced her eyes to his before they returned to the ring. Whoa. It was gorgeous. And huge. And sparkly. And… and… Jace had given… Did this mean… Was he asking her to… Really? Her thoughts scattered like dandelion seed. “Um…”

  “Okay, I’ll ask you properly, but do I have to do it on my knees? You’ve got men begging on their knees all the time. It seems stupid to propose that way. ”

  “Um…”

  When he started to kneel, she caught him around the neck, crushed his face into her chest, and squealed. “Oh my God. ” Aggie had always imagined herself being cool, calm, and collected if someone got up the nerve to propose marriage to her. She’d also prepared a speech on how to refuse the little worm audacious enough to ask. As with her every interaction with Jace Seymour, things didn’t go as planned. “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes!” she cried, tears flying. She kissed every inch of his face as he laughed at her enthusiasm.

  He caught her mouth with his and kissed her tenderly until her toes curled, and she clung to him in need.

  “Let’s go upstairs,” she said huskily. “Break in that new bed of yours. ”

  “You mean that new bed of ours. ”

  “Yeah. ” She couldn’t stop smiling. Lord, the man made her happy.

  The doorbell rang. Jace’s cat, Brownie, sat at the top of the basement stairs and meowed down at them.

  “We have a guest,” Jace said.

  “One of the guys?” she asked, eager to see any of them. She missed not being on tour with them, but they’d cut the Canadian leg of the tour short until they could get a new bus. And find a replacement for their live audio engineer.

  “Eric’s supposed to stop by so we can visit Dave later. He’s being moved home from the hospital today. Do you want to come with us?”

  “Of course. ”

  Doctors had told Dave that he’d be paralyzed for life, but apparently, the guy didn’t think much of their opinions. Six weeks into his recovery, he wasn’t walking yet, but a man with that much determination would not be kept down for long. “So that must be Eric then. ”

  The doorbell rang again. “You know Eric never bothers to ring the doorbell,” Jace said. “I think it’s probably someone else. ” He released a nervous laugh and ran a hand over his bleached-blond spikes.

  Someone else?

  Jace led Aggie to the front door, pressing kisses to the knuckles of her left hand. It made her acutely aware of the ring he’d put on her finger. “You are not allowed to hate me for this,” he said.

  “I could never hate you. ”

  He opened the door.

  On the front step, beneath the sweeping portico, stood Aggie’s mother.

  “You told her where we live?” Aggie screeched. She’d purposely not told her mother her new address, hoping that would deter her from moving in with her. Mom had not been pleased when Aggie had put her house in Vegas on the market.

  Mom scowled and reached into her purse for a cigarette.

  “No smoking in the house,” Jace said. “Come in. ”

  Mom took a deep breath and removed her hand from her purse. “I can’t stay long. ”

  Aggie rolled her eyes. She’d heard that before.

  Jace offered Mom a sad little smile. “Could you stay here for a minute?” he asked Mom. “I need to speak to Aggie alone. ”

  He took Aggie by both arms and led her into the living room off the foyer. Aggie’s eyes landed on the beaten-up piano in the corner. It had belonged to Jace’s mother. Using what little Jace knew about its whereabouts, Aggie had searched for weeks and finally found it stored in the basement of the school Jace’s father had donated it to years ago. Aggie would never forget the look on Jace’s face the first time he’d played it for her. Contentment. Acceptance. Love.

  Jace pressed Aggie onto their new leather sofa and sat on the marble-topped coffee table in front of her. Both stylish pieces clashed horribly with the battered piano, but Jace had wanted the instrument close. He played it every evening he was home. His silly cat always batted his feet as he worked the pedals.

  “I know you’re mad at her,” he said.

  “Mad? No. She makes me crazy. She’s intrusive. ”

  “She has something important to tell you. Listen to what she has to say. ” He took her hand and kissed her knuckles. “For me. ”

  “For you?”

  “I wish I’d had the chance to make amends with my parents before they went. It would have saved me years of gut-wrenching agony. You have to take this op
portunity to set things straight. Not for her. And not really for me. For you. ”

  Aggie cupped his cheek, knowing how hard it had been for him to let go of his past and forgive himself. He wanted to save her that life-crippling regret. She’d never figure out what she’d done to deserve this wonderful, caring, understanding, selfless, brave, loving man, but she’d be forever grateful that she’d found him. That he was hers. Aggie nodded, unable to refuse his simple request. “Okay. I’ll hear her out, but if she claims the spare bedroom, I’m tossing her out on her fanny. ”

  He squeezed her knee. “Do you want me to stay while you talk to her?”

  She hesitated and then nodded. The man gave her strength, and she was pretty sure she would need it to stand up to her mother and tell her no. Jace stood, kissed her gently, and went to retrieve the woman from the foyer. Aggie was surprised she wasn’t puffing on a cigarette when she entered the room. Jace directed Mom to the deep blue, semicircular chair, and then sat beside Aggie on the sofa. He took her hand in his, offering nothing but infallible support.

  “Is Maynard listening in?” Mom asked, nodding at Jace.

  “His name is Jace. ”

  “I know what his name is. ”

  “He will soon be my husband,” Aggie said. Saying it for the first time made her heart flutter with happiness. “Anything you have to say, you can say in front of him. ”

  “Oh,” Mom gasped quietly. Her eyes sought the ring on Aggie’s finger. “Marriage? Really? Well, congratulations… I guess. ”

  Aggie rolled her eyes. Was it possible for her to say anything that didn’t make Aggie want to slap her?

  “Thank you,” Jace said, blushing crimson under his beard stubble. Aggie’s heart did that warm, melty, fluttery thing it did every time she looked at him. She grinned, and he lowered his lashes over his chocolate brown eyes.

  “Gary is waiting for me at the hotel. I can’t stay long. ”

  Aggie gaped at her. “Gary? Loser Gary?”

  “He’s not a loser. We got married a few weeks ago. He’s taking me on a honeymoon. To Hawaii. ”

  “You got married?” Aggie sputtered. “How come this is the first I’ve heard of it?”

  “I didn’t think you’d approve,” she said quietly.

  “Congratulations,” Jace said and squeezed Aggie’s knee. Hard.

  She glanced at him in question, and when she met his eyes, he gave her mother a pointed look.

  Aggie sighed. “Congratulations, Mom. I hope you have a long and healthy relationship with Loser. He was one of my most well-behaved slaves. ”

  Jace choked.

  Mom lifted her gaze to Aggie’s. Aggie was surprised to see tears on Mom’s clumpy lashes. “I know I don’t make good decisions. ” Mom sighed, looking defeated. “I do love you, Aggie. You must know that. I’m sorry I wasn’t a better mother. ”

  Aggie stared at her. At least she was admitting she hadn’t been a good mother. Never the mother Aggie had wanted or needed. It was a start. Aggie took a deep breath and clung to Jace’s hand. “Apology accepted. ”

  Mom took a shuddering breath. “All things considered, you’re doing okay, kid. ” She glanced from Aggie to Jace and back again, a slight smile on her thin lips. “You have a great guy at your side who loves you. You know who you are and what you want out of life. That’s more than anyone can say about me. ”

  Mom climbed to her feet and kissed Jace on the forehead. “Thanks for looking after my baby girl. Welcome to the family, Jace. ” She kissed Aggie’s forehead next. “We okay?”

  Aggie nodded. Yes, the woman drove her insane, but she loved the crazy broad. What could she do? “We’re okay. ”

  “I don’t know when I’ll be in touch. When we get back from Hawaii, Gary wants to buy an RV and see the country. I’ll try to make it to your wedding. ” Her blue eyes darted from Aggie to Jace apprehensively. “I’m invited, aren’t I?”
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