Life sucks and then you die.
At least that was how I felt at the moment. And I was a rock star, for fuck’s sake.
Only I was the band’s drummer. The Ringo to our band’s Paul. That meant in the end I was pretty much filler. And the fact that I even thought that, when I knew I was one of the luckiest sons of a bitches on the planet, made the nickname I’d been given way back in high school—Tucker the Fucker—completely justified.
I was a fucker. A selfish prick who had money, women, and fame, all the things a guy could want, and I was still pissed my best friend, Liam Collier, lead singer of Point Break, had decided to risk everything for a girl.
I’d been tight with Liam for years. Together, we’d started the band in a basement (we weren’t good enough at the time for garages), and it had been our baby for seven damn years. Now we’re one of the hottest bands around but thanks to Liam that might not be true for long. We’d just completed an encore show at Madison Square Garden, finishing the North American leg of our first world tour, and now it was over before it had barely begun. And all because Liam was in love. Earlier in the tour, he’d rekindled his fiery passion with his cute little Asian Persuasion, aka Abby Chan, the band’s back-up cellist, but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that he’d dropped the bomb, wanting to postpone the international leg of the tour to think things over but mostly to spend time with Abby here in New York.
Me? I was headed back to Southern California, even though I had fuck all idea what I was going to do there. Our future really was up to Liam. If he decided after a few months of R&R with Abby that he was done with the rocker lifestyle, then I wasn’t sure that Point Break could go on without him. Sure, we could get a new front man, we could change the band’s name and rebuild everything from scratch, but it wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t be as fun. Chances were it wouldn’t be as successful.
I was twenty-three, a high school dropout and I could beat a mean lick on drums.
Just like a billion other dudes on the Sunset Strip.
Without the draw that was Liam and his songwriting skills, I was afraid we might be cooked.
As if all that wasn’t enough, now I was stuck in a huge ass line checking in my luggage for my evening flight. It was a pain in the balls to be stuck in a line a mile long anytime, but especially when I was nursing a hangover—and I’ll admit, I was always nursing a hangover. Admittedly the First Class line I was in was way shorter than the coach lines, but still. Too bad that even as huge as Point Break was, we weren’t huge enough to have our own private jet.
If Liam pulled his head out of his ass? Who knew. But for now, nothing beat the fun of looming unemployment like being stuck in line with a shitload of cranky people while praying no one recognized me. I loved our fans, I truly did, but I was tired. Hell, I was fucking depressed. I just wanted to get on the plane, order a drink, and go to sleep.
Twenty minutes later, as I reached the front of the line, I had to admit Lady Luck or God or the Universe was at least throwing me one small bone. At the check-in counter to my right, I’d just spotted a woman that was very easy on the eyes. Tall. I’m about six feet and she looked to be about the same. She had curves that went on for days, especially a firm little ass that I’d love to wrap my hands around, and a mane of curly red hair. I couldn’t see her face from where she was talking to the desk staff, but somehow I knew it was as epic as her body.
Tapping my foot and pretending to play with my smart phone (there are incognito ways to check out babes, and guys who can’t just aren’t trying hard enough), I took a good long look at her luscious ass then gulped at the boots she wore. I was going to have to scratch that “she’s tall” theory. Nope, she just had massive boots. They weren’t chunky or army style. They had six or seven-inch heels, were made of red leather, and laced up the back. They forced her onto her toes, like those fancy ballet shoes. It was some extreme footwear, but the girl owned it and moved as fluidly as if she was wearing sneakers.
She was getting more interesting by the second.
The woman finished her business. She was just about to walk past me when I “accidentally” stepped forward and bumped into her.
“Whoa,” I said, reaching out to steady here even though she didn’t really need steadying.
“Sorry, I didn’t even see you,” she said, removing huge bug-eyed sunglasses from her face.
It should be a crime for women with blue eyes that gorgeous, that much like a crystal mountain lake, to keep them covered. Her face was pale with a perfect cupid’s bow mouth and thick, red-lined lips that I already wanted around my cock. She wasn’t just a ten from behind.
She was off the charts at all angles.
“Well, it’s hard to see in the dark,” I said, smirking down at her feet. “Nice boots.”
“These aren’t even my A-game,” she mused, winking at me. “Gotta go,” she said. She slipped her glasses back on and walked away, presumably headed to the security line.
I rushed through my own check-in as fast as I could and double-timed it over to the spot next to her in security, and yes, that involved apologetic smiles and cutting to get there. She was talking in French of all crazy things to someone on the phone or, at least, that’s what it sounded like. Don’t quote me on it. All I know about French comes from a few Pepe Le Pew cartoons. I wished she was still available to flirt with, but I settled for watching her.
I wondered what her story was. Clearly she had some fashionista taste in footwear and she was very polished. She was a man-eater if ever I’d met one. Still, that didn’t answer the big questions like who she was or whether I had a chance in hell of getting her into bed.
She finished up her conversation and juggled through her purse, taking out her wallet and…hello. A passport? Obviously she wasn’t heading toward LAX and the sunny beaches of the City of Angels.
She finished going through TSA, even that damn machine that shows off everything. I hate those fucking things, but I’m not fond of having random dudes in blue latex gloves touching my junk either. I was also rabidly jealous of whomever was reading the scanner. Any extra glimpses at Little Miss Hard Body would be appreciated.
As she rushed to whatever far flung locale she was headed for, though, she dropped a piece of paper. The voluptuous redhead didn’t notice and started pounding down the tarmac toward her gate. She took the turn toward the International Terminals so at least my Sherlock deductions over her passport had been accurate. I made my own small talk with the agents, shoved my phone and tablet into the tray and took off my shoes. As I was reaching down to slip off my left boot, I made sure to discreetly sweep up the paper the redhead had dropped.
It was her baggage ticket, but before I could read it, a now-familiar squeal caught my attention.
“Oh my God! It’s Tucker Benning!” someone screamed.
I groaned inwardly. As much as I loved the fans, and as scared as I was that it wouldn’t be like this for much longer given Liam’s love connection, this was not the time. I had a hot honey to track down and didn’t need the Tiger Beat brigade slowing down my game. Still, this came with the job and the territory.
Turning around, I gave the three girls wearing Point Break concert shirts the biggest megawatt smile I could. Looked like they’d come to New York for our big (and possibly last) show at Madison Square Garden. The tallest girl looked Hispanic with long brown hair and big brown eyes. Her friends were shorter, one was blonde and the other a brunette with braces. They were probably no older than fifteen.
“Hey, did you come see our show?”
The three of them looked at each other and burst out giggling. I tried not to recoil overly much at the amazing pitch and frequency. I’d built up a tolerance over the years in screeching amphitheaters but standing only five feet from it is an in-your-face experience.
“Can you take some quick pictures with us? We tag this on Instagram and everyone’s going to be following us!” the tall girl added.
“Yeah, this is going to make everyone back in Illinois so jealous.” The braces girl—her words whistled a bit through the metal as she talked—clapped her hands.
I nodded and kept my smile planted tight. It was always “on” time, always another chance for good PR. In this world of tweets and instant media, you couldn’t afford to be rude to any fans or it’d be on the news in under an hour. Besides, it was just polite. Sometimes I’d ask for privacy if I was out eating with friends or something, but my flight wasn’t coming up soon, and they were nice enough kids.
Offering up a trademark smirk, I wrapped my arms around the girls and posed for selfies. Predictably, we attracted attention and I had to pose to take other pictures. Then the questions started.
When is your next album?
What’s your favorite song to play?
Did you ever want to sing?
I played nice for a few minutes and eventually the crowd dispersed, leaving me with my three teenage fans. Then tall girl asked a question that bit right into me.
“So,” she asked, pushing a thick braid behind her ear. “Is Liam Collier here too? He’s so cute. It was so adorable how he ended the concert on stage with him and the cello girl.”
My smile fell and the girls seemed to notice my change in mood as they got more quiet and reserved too. “He’s not. He’s taking some hiatus time, but I’ll let him know the fans are thinking about him.”
If the prick gets his head out of the love nest long enough to answer some damn texts…
“That’s good,” the blonde replied then eyed her cellphone. “We have to go or we’ll totally miss our flight. Thanks so much.”
“No prob,” I said, glad they scattered once the big Liam question came up.
I had to stop thinking about Liam’s actions as betrayal or the end of the band. He couldn’t help who he fell for and Abby was good for him. I was happy to see my bud happy, but I just wanted my band to be standing at the end of it. That didn’t seem like too damn much to ask. Did it?
Flipping over the baggage claim ticket was enough of a distraction for me.
Hmm, some lucky lady was flying to Charles De Gaulle.
Paris. Nice. I’d been there once, years ago, and had always wanted to go back. So the insane thought hit me—why not?
It would be a crazy thing to do, but a little crazy was exactly what I needed at the moment. It’s not like I had plans. And hell, I had loads of money thanks to what Point Break had been raking in the last few years. If I wanted to divert to Constantinople or Tokyo for a few weeks, I could.
That settled it. I was booking my fine ass back to the counters, buying a First Class ticket, and rerouting my luggage. I had the money, I had the time, and I had one amazing and sexy woman to track down.
* * *
The beauty of the set up at LGA was that the First Class lounge for international flights was swank and spacious. I was pretty sure I’d find her there. Her clothes, especially her couture boots, screamed she was definitely not a coach kind of girl. I almost patted myself on the back when I found the buxom beauty sitting in a leather seat and sipping pre-flight champagne. She was thumbing through her phone and I wondered if she was the workaholic type or just bored and playing Angry Birds.
I was going to find out.
Tucker Benning, intrepid explorer, was so me especially if it was the digits or address of a lovely lady I was looking for.
I coughed to get her attention. She looked up and frowned back at me.
“Hi, I’m Tucker Benning and you’re the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen.”
She arched an eyebrow and her frown melted into a small smile. “Are you stalking me?”
“No way,” I answered, hoping I was playing it all off as well as I wanted to. “I’ve got a friend in Paris.” Well, I could make one, anyway, so not that big a lie. Groupies were everywhere. Besides, I’d always wanted to check out Morrison’s grave. Paris would be a kick. “However, you did manage to drop your baggage ticket, uh, Dominique Lorenz.” I held it out to her and she took it with a huge sigh of relief.
“You just saved my life. You have no idea how big a favor you did me. Not that I necessarily need the ticket, but you can never be too sure. I’m carting precious cargo, and I really need this to go off smoothly. Come on, sit. You’re like my white knight in leather and cut off sleeves.”
I laughed and, maybe just a little, flexed my biceps to accentuate the tribal tattoo on my arm. It seemed to drive women crazy. The blush on Dominique’s face told me right off that she wasn’t immune to my charms.
“I’ve never been called anyone’s white knight before.” It was true, and I found I liked the moniker.
She nodded. “Well, I’ve rarely been called Dominique. That’s what Mom calls me. I’ve never liked it. I’ve been Nikki since I was a kid,” she said. She extended her hand and I shook it, just barely refraining from kissing her knuckles. I couldn’t be that predictable. “So Tucker, what’s your story?”