His jar of hearts a brok.., p.1
His Jar of Hearts (A Broken Fairy Tale #3),
Broken Fairy Tale Series
Dust to Dust
His Jar of Hearts
Secrets of Shadow Hill Series
Always and Forever
War of Wizards
For Jenn and Shannon
As some of you may know, music is a huge part of my writing and reading process. Any of you who are familiar with my books, know that I reference many songs in all my books.
I thought it would be fun to title each chapter of this book with a song that I listened to while writing and feel sets the mood for the story that is being told. I hope it adds to your reading enjoyment!
“Story of My Life”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned these past few years, it’s that life is short, and I plan to make the most of mine. When I watched my best friend’s life slip away in my arms, fighting with everything he had, and fail, I knew there was nothing anyone could do to avoid death. What’s meant to be is meant to be. It was on that fateful night that I decided that I was going to make my life matter and stop fucking around. I’ve seen far too many good people die, and far too many dickhead people live and have all their dreams come true. Dave’s death made me want to be one of the good people who live a life worth living. I live every day like it’s my last, drinking up every drop of what life throws at me, and doing everything I can to make sure the people I love know how important they are to me.
I throw back the last of my drink, and watch as the amber-colored remnants in my glass slide around the ice cubes. Should I have another before I head home? My buddies that I met here from the fire station are scattered around the bar, finalizing their conquests for the night. I have to decide whether I’m taking home blonde number one who hasn’t stopped eyeing me the entire night, or the sultry looking brunette, who kept pretending not to notice me. It’s been far too long since I’ve been with a woman, and I try not to think of the real reason. Tonight, I need to push that reason far out of my mind and get back to being me. Mantoloking is a small shore town in Jersey, and finding women who I haven’t already made mine is getting increasingly difficult with each year. I’m not a relationship kind of guy, and never planned to be. Spring to summer, my shore town is filled with women from all over the East Coast looking for a vacation fling, and I’ve always been ready to oblige. Tourists don’t know me as Joey McMillan, the only son of rich and famous movie producers. To them, I’m just a regular guy.
When I was young, I loved to play up who my parents were, but soon realized girls who wanted me for that reason usually turned out to be stage five clingers. I like the tourists best. To them, I’m an eligible, well-built fireman ready to show them the world in one night and not some rich dude who can support them for the rest of their lives.
Relationships have never been my thing. I don’t know whether it’s because of how I was raised, with my parents in and out of my life, or whether it’s just how I’m wired, but the thought of being with just one person, forever, has been something I’ve avoided for most of my adult life.
I like variety.
I don’t have a type other than female. Being tied down to one woman the rest of my life has always sounded like a death sentence to me. I’ve watched my best friends fall in love and stay in love their entire lives and can’t ever imagine doing the same. Sure, I could date someone for a little while. Hell, I even thought I was in love once, but soon realized my feelings for women are too fleeting. I’m either hot or cold.
There’s no in between.
Over the years, I’ve watched my friends lose love and find it again as if it was some miracle or gift. I have to admit, in Jess’s case, she almost made me believe true love could really be possible because she’s seemed to find it twice. But every time I think of giving it a try again, and to open myself up to the idea of it, I think of Kat and silently curse myself. She’s the one person who makes me question all of my feelings about relationships. She’s someone who has been tugging at my heart for years now, and I don’t like it one bit. As I sit here at the bar, all I can do is think of how much I hate what my insides do every time I see her, because it’s a losing battle.
I can never be with her.
Kat’s my best friend Jess’s cousin, and we have known each other for years. The first time I met Kat, she was maybe ten years old and was just an annoying preteen with braces and frizzy brown hair. I didn’t think much of her then, but when Jess’s parents died back in high school, Kat and her parents moved on our street to let Jess finish up high school, and that’s when that horrible tugging feeling began.
I’ll never forget when I came back from college my freshman year, and saw Kat for the first time in a while. She no longer had braces, and her frizzy hair magically turned into soft, lazy ringlets that always made me want to reach out and run my fingers through them. I knew even then I would always have a place in my heart for her, and that it would be a place that could never be filled. I have always made sure to keep her at arm’s length so she’d never know the effect she really has on me, too afraid of myself to make the leap to try for more with her.
I’ve had to remind myself on many occasions that Kat isn’t someone I’d ever be able to be with, simply for the fact I’ve been too afraid I’d break her heart if we ever were. My heart has always been fleeting when it comes to women. If I broke Kat’s heart, not only would Jess have my balls on a platter, I don’t know if I could ever forgive myself. She’s had her heart broken before, and I watched helplessly as it tore her apart. Another reason I’ve kept my distance is because I don’t even know if I would be any good at a relationship that lasted longer than a few months. My job has me away from home a lot, and when I am home, all I want to do is spend time with my friends. My desire to be with my friends has always been an annoyance to any girl I date, because they’ve always come first with me.
The fact that Kat happens to be one of them does make me wonder now more than ever whether I’ve been ignoring what’s been right in front of me all these years.
I motion to the bartender for another drink—anything to stop thinking of how fucking gorgeous Kat looked tonight and keep these questions about making Kat mine out of my head. Jess and Gage had taken our gang out to their restaurant, Wished Away, tonight to discuss the final plans for their wedding in a few months. I love Jess like a sister, and even though I hate wearing monkey suits, I can honestly say seeing Jess this happy, I’d wear anything she asks. She’s been through so much in her life; seeing her this happy again makes me have faith that I’ll one day also be at peace with Dave’s death too.
The only part of this wedding that makes me edgy is that I’m paired with Kat. Just thinking of dancing with her makes me excited, and I fucking hate it. I’m Joey Fucking McMillan. I don’t get excited over a girl.
Whenever the six of us get together, Kat and I are the odd ones out as the only single ones. For most of my adult life, I’ve had Holden and Gage as my wingmen. But when Holden and Cam finally got back together, and Gage was lured in by Jess’s sassy perfection, Kat and I found ourselves together much more often than ever before. She knows me well enough to know that all of our flirting and drunken make-outs will lead to nothing but heartbreak, so we’ve developed a very comfortable and flirty friendship. She’s a strong-willed, stubborn person who’s made it clear on more than one occasion that she’ll never give me more than a kiss, which I’m sure is the reason I want her so badly sometimes. She’s the one person I’ve always wanted and never had. I often think if she’d just let me get her out of my system, the thrill of the chase would be over, and I could stop having
Stop thinking about Kat.
Tonight was one of those nights where Kat’s beauty caught me off guard. We were all sitting around the table, finishing up our dessert, when she leaned into me. The others were deep in conversation. Her long brown waves tickled my cheek and set my pulse racing.
The warmth of her breath on my ear did things to places inside me that I didn’t know existed, set me on fire in the best way. I closed my eyes and memorized the feeling, saving the memory for later. “Are you going back to Jess’s or staying out tonight?” She casually leaned back, took a sip of her glass of wine and eyed the table to make sure no one noticed our discussion. She had no idea the effect she had on me.
One thing Kat and I decided long ago was we would always be a team when it came to flaking out on after-dinner drinks with the others. Neither of us cared to be a fifth wheel with those guys anymore. They’re all too whipped these days; late nights tend to get frisky, leaving us feeling awkward and out of place.
I took a deep breath, trying my best to hold my shit together and not tell her that I really just wanted to take her back to my place and show her all of the things she’s missed out on all these years. I laughed a little to myself. She’d never, ever let that happen. She’d made it clear more than once that she’d never be one of my bed buddies.
Holden and Cam were talking with Jess and Gage about the DJ they used for their wedding, oblivious of our scheming. “I’m going to meet up with some of the guys at Dukes.” My eyes were drawn to her soft lips when she bit down on the corner of her mouth contemplatively. The act drove me insane, and I couldn’t help but remember how soft they felt pressed against mine. “You should come with me...” I put my arm around her and pulled her into me as I had so many times before. “You can keep me in line. Make sure I get home safely.” I couldn’t help myself; I had to touch her face. I reached out and swept my fingers across her smooth skin and brushed a lose curl off her delicate face. Shocks of pleasure rippled through me.
She smiled up at me and blushed innocently, biting her lip again, and I knew she was fighting the same internal battle as me. “I’m sure you’ll have plenty of people who can make sure you make it home safely, Joey McMillan. You always do.” The way she patted my cheek and picked up her drink with a knowing glance before drinking the last of her wine sent a pang of guilt through me. I wished just once, she’d forget my past and say yes. No one has ever gotten under my skin like her, and I don’t like it.
Not. One. Bit.
“You’re Joey McMillian, right?” I’m broken from my thoughts of Kat when the brunette from across the bar stands so close to me, I can feel her full breasts pressed up against my arm. I notice her friends across the bar watch her as if it was a dare for her to come over and talk to me. I know one of the women is a teacher at St. Peter’s, which means they are all aware of who I am, and who I’m related to. This is when being the son of people who produced some of the most successful movies of all time comes in handy. She’s just what I need to get my mind off fucking Kat Pierce and her damn soft lips.
I throw back my drink, turn to the brunette and flash her my best panty-dropping smile. “That’s me. It seems I’m at a disadvantage, not knowing the name that goes with someone as stunningly beautiful as you.” I push out the vision of Kat that always chips into my psyche at times like these and motion to the bartender for my check.
Her smile is sultry and there’s a gleam of mischief in her eyes. She’s the perfect distraction to get me over this wall of Kat that has kept me from getting what my body so badly craves. Her conservative tailored green dress can’t hide her sexy curves that scream to be exposed. She ran her fingers along the seam of her dress across her full chest and eyes me as if she’s about to eat me alive. Little does she know that I’ll be the one making her scream for more.
I know this type of woman.
She’s probably just out of a bad relationship, heartbroken, looking to prove to herself that she’s still desirable. This is a woman who’s used to being in control, and I can think of nothing but making her lose all of it with my touch.
I have no doubt she wants the same when she slowly licks her lips and eyes me like her prey. “I’m Steph.”
I hand the bill back to the bartender and turn back to Steph, not wanting to wait another minute so that my mind doesn’t have a chance to flash back to visions of Kat. I reach out and pull her flush against me. Every part of her small frame presses against mine and I focus on her voluptuous curves and how they’ll look when she’s lying naked in my bed.
Yeah, we’ll fit together perfectly.
“Well, Steph, I was just about to go back to my place for a nightcap. Would you like to join me?” I ran my hands up the side of her waist, let my fingers trail into her long brown hair. For a second, I wonder why a woman like her would even let me touch her this way in front of her friends, but the alcohol keeps my resistive thoughts at bay when she rubs up against me in the most intimate way, leaving no question what her intentions are.
I smile when I hear her breath hitch as I trace my hands slowly back down the side of her body, careful not to drift anywhere that will get me slapped. One of her friends coughs loudly clearly trying to get her attention making us both aware of the show we’re putting on. We both look her way, and she turns back to me, looking embarrassed. “I’m sorry, I don’t usually act this way. I don’t even know you. What would you think of a woman who went home with a man she just met?”
She seems to snap back into the reality of who she actually is, and I can see that the hazy blanket the peer pressure provided—mixed with the tequila-induced bravery that caused her to approach me the way she did —dissipate. She stands back from me a little and looks flustered. I feel bad coming on as strong as I just did. I just need to get Kat out of my head.
I can’t keep letting Kat affect me this way. She’s turning me into a pussy and a dick at the same time. Even though I don’t do relationships and have had countless one-night stands, I’ve never treated a girl badly. They always know where I stand. Even in my worst moments, I always at least buy a chick a few drinks and pretend to give a shit about her life before I bag her.
I ran my hand through my short blonde hair and shake my head, trying to pull myself together and get back to being me, rather than the shell of me that I’ve turned into because of Kat. I slide my arms into my jacket, trying to gather my thoughts and remember who I am and what I really need.
“Sorry if I offended you. You’re just about the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, and I really do just want to get to know you better. But I’ve been out all night, and was thinking that there’s nothing that I’d love more than to sit out on my deck with a bottle of wine, getting to know a beautiful woman named Steph.”
I lay it on heavy because I know if Steph doesn’t come home with me, I could end up on Kat’s doorstep, playing “In Your Eyes” on my boom-box like a complete ass.
And that is not happening.
Just as I’d hoped, Steph smiles shyly and looks up at me through her long lashes. “That sounds nice, actually.” She looks over to the group of women, who all watch us intently. “Let me just go tell my friends. That way, if they find my body dead in a ditch, they know to come find you.” She laughs and walks away. I think to myself that she’s actually lucky she’s going home with someone like me who will give her the best night of her life. Someone who will worship every inch of her body, for just one night, and tomorrow, she will go on with her life with only the memory of me to dream about on lonely nights. Tomorrow, she’ll go on her way, and I’ll go on mine. I’ll keep trying every day to do everything I can to get Kat Pierce out of my head.
As if I’m sabotaging myself, I look down at my phone to see whether I’ve missed any messages while Steph is over at the table acro
Rather than question why I even give a shit, I send Kat a text. I want to make sure that I’m the last thing she thinks about tonight, even though I’m about to take Steph home to do everything I can to wash Kat from my thoughts. If she’s with another man, I better be who’s in her head the way she’s in mine.
Just as I walk through my door, I hear the telling ringtone. I fumble through my purse to find my phone hidden in a small pocket I didn’t even know existed and look at the glowing screen. I don’t need to see who the text is from. I know who it is by that ringtone. It’s Joey. He set a ringtone for himself that plays “Always in My Head” one night a few weeks ago because it’s the song he most often sends to me. I hate when he does shit like that, because it makes me think he could feel about me the way I feel about him, but I know he’s not capable of that. He’s only ever seen me as Jess’s cousin. He sees me as a friend to flirt with. Not someone he could actually have feelings for. That little fucker does nothing but confuse me when he sends me a text every single time after we spend time together that has a song title that he thinks defines the night. In some ways, it’s the cutest and most thoughtful thing, and in so many other ways it’s so frustrating that he ruins every song I like by connecting it to the fact that I have once again gone home alone, while I’m sure he’s nailing one of his one-night stands.
I look down at my phone to see his message.
Joey: Sweet dreams “Poison and Wine”