Gillian ArcherGillian ArcherGillian ArcherGillian Archer

Excerpt: Rocked

Book 1: Tin Gods Rock Stars

Prologue

Shay Campbell

Las Vegas, Nevada

I opened my eyes and immediately regretted it. Everything was blurry, and the small amount of light in the room sent a shaft of pain straight to my brain. I closed my eyes and groaned.

Papers crinkled under me as I rolled to my back. What the hell? I wasn’t going to open my eyes again to find out what that was—my curiosity wasn’t stronger than my hangover. Raising my arms, I pressed my hands against my aching head. As the sheet fell away, I realized I was naked.

Naked. In bed. Surrounded by paper? What the hell had I done last night?

The last day or so came back to me in pieces.

Driving to Las Vegas with my cousin, Brianna, for her bachelorette party weekend.

Losing the coin flip and sleeping on the lumpy fold away bed.

Day drinking with Brianna and her horrible cronies.

The mean girl insults.

The tears.

The wedding?

It sounded insane, but I had a very vivid memory of trying on flirty wedding dresses in some boutique and holding hands with a handsome man.

Was I…married?

My thumb brushed against a ring on my left ring finger.

Oh no.

Oh my gosh!

Cue the nausea.

I leapt from the bed and ran for what I thought was the bathroom. Slamming the door open, I barely had time to take in the gleaming marble, tasteful stripped wallpaper, and luxe finishes before I was hurling the small amount of liquid in my stomach into the toilet.

My ribs aching, I flushed and sank onto the cold tile with my eyes closed. “I’m never drinking again.”

“You’re not going to make it as a rocker wife with that kinda attitude,” a deep voice purred behind me.

I froze.

I wasn’t alone.

And he’d just watched me puke.

Naked.

With a squeal, I opened my eyes and grasped for the nearest towel. When it gave with my second tug, a very nude—and amused—gorgeous man stood in front of me.

“Kinda thought you were too hungover for round three.” He chuckled and stood there naked and unashamed. “But I’m game if you are.”

Clutching the towel to my naked front, I sputtered. “I, uh… Who are you?”

“Clearly that last bottle of Krug was a mistake.” He shook his head as he grabbed another towel and twisted it around his waist. Then he bent down and pulled me and my towel into his arms. He easily carried me back into the darkened bedroom. “I’m Chase Robinson.” He waited a beat. “Your husband.”

This Adonis was my husband?

When I continued to stare stupidly at him, he scoffed and set me down on the side of the bed. “Damn, you are killer on my ego, baby girl. I kinda can’t wait to introduce you to the guys and watch you eviscerate all their egos too.”

“Guys? What are you talking about?” It felt like the room was spinning, and I was pretty sure only a little bit of that was due to the hangover.

He cleared his throat. “Uh, the guys I work with. They’re going to shit themselves when they get a load of you.”

I blinked a few times. What did he do for a living again? Did we even talk about that last night? I hadn’t even remembered his name—and apparently my new last name—without his prompting.

A dim memory of us in a bar talking about writing came back to me. So he was an author…and worked with people? I’d assumed authors worked alone. Maybe he made enough to employ some people—like an assistant maybe? I definitely remembered he’d had a bodyguard last night. Which would explain the opulent hotel suite. Was that a pool table?

Okay, so he was a successful author who could afford a killer Vegas suite. I was impressed.

The blare of my ringtone George Strait’s mellow voice rolled through the suite aka my ringtone had me scrambling for my phone on the nightstand.

“We gotta talk about that, baby girl. I cannot have a wife of mine blaring country music. I’m gonna lose all my street cred.”

His chatter fell to the background as a buzzing filled my ears.

I’d missed the call, but it was my phone’s lock screen that had my heart thundering in my chest.

I had 112 missed calls.

367 text messages.

What the hell was going on?

My phone rang again in my hands.

Mom.

I didn’t want to answer. What was I going to say to her? I was still trying to piece last night together for myself. But I had a feeling it had something to do with the gorgeous guy standing behind me and the ring on my finger.

My hand slipped on my phone’s screen, and I accidentally accepted the call. On speaker.

Crap.

Crap!

“Um, Mom? Hey.”

“Hey? Hey?! That’s seriously all you have to say to me, young lady! Are we pretending I didn’t learn from the morning news that you got married to a rock star last night?”

Morning news? I was morning news?

Wait, rock star?

My eyes swiveled to Chase, but he rubbed the back of his neck, avoiding my gaze.

And I knew.

My stomach lurched again.

Clasping a hand over my mouth, I dropped my phone and ran for the bathroom for the second time that morning.

Chapter 1

 

Shay Campbell

Desert Island Hotel Casino

Las Vegas, Nevada

24 hours earlier

For the first time in my life proving my mom wrong didn’t give me an ounce of satisfaction. But I was right. I hated this trip. I wasn’t having any fun. And my cousin, Brianna, was still a witch.

Unfortunately, I was still on this bachelorette party trip from hell, and it wasn’t ending any time soon.

Lord give me strength.

At least I got to try day drinking. That was a first for me.

“Right, Shay?”

 Brianna’s question dragged me away from contemplating the bottom of my plastic martini glass and to the amazing hotel pool we were currently “enjoying.” Brianna sat two chairs down from me on the partially submerged loungers with Leah between us. Meaning I was hanging alone on one end, while her two other cronies, Eva and Charlotte, sat on her other side.

All of us were in matching bikinis, but somehow I still managed to look frumpy compared to Brianna and her friends.

I was wearing the exact same thing, and I still didn’t measure up.

“Shay! You’re not listening to me!” Brianna’s whine made my eyelid twitch.

“Sorry.” I bared my teeth at her in a semblance of a smile. “I was thinking about work.”

“Only you would be drinking in a pool in Vegas and still think about work!” Brianna did that husky laugh that sounded so alluring to men, judging by the way two were currently craning their necks our way.

“Sorry, Bree. I’ll try harder to be present. I’m here. I’m excited for your big day.” I tried to sound sincere, but considering Brianna’s curled lip, I’d failed.

Look, this just wasn’t my thing. I’d rather be inside curled up—fully clothed—with a good book and a Dirty Coke, preferably by myself. This trip had been an introvert’s nightmare so far. And I’d paid for the privilege of torturing myself.

Eva huffed. “We’re planning the rest of the day. Bree wants to hit that club Tidal after dinner. You’re up for that, right, Shay?”

I bit back my groan and forced another smile. Fake it ‘til you make it. “Sure. I brought some clubbing outfits.”

“Mmmmm, I’ve seen what’s inside your suitcase, Shay.” Brianna wrinkled her nose. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to veto.”

“You’re vetoing clothes I haven’t even worn yet?” I blinked. They still had tags on them. I’d bought them specifically for this trip.

Brianna pursed her lips. “They’re just not…Vegas worthy. Maybe there’s something in the boutiques here that are more appropriate.”

“Yay!” Charlotte squealed. “I smell a makeover!”

“Please, let me do her hair!” Leah clapped. “I’ve been aching to fix that mess.”

Mess? Makeover? We’d clearly entered the torturous portion of the trip. Taking a deep breath, I attempted to stand up for myself. “If my clothes and the rest of me aren’t appropriate for your bachelorette party, maybe I should just stay in the room and read a book.”

“Don’t go getting all butt hurt, Shay.” Brianna rolled her eyes. “You know we didn’t mean it like that. It’s just…maybe you’ll feel better about yourself if you let us fix a few things.”

“Like that awful side part.” Leah snorted.

Charlotte waved a hand at me. “And something to cover her shoulders.”

My shoulders? What the heck was wrong with my shoulders?

“You’ll see.” Brianna’s lips curved in a piranha-like smile—all pointy teeth and thinly veiled venom. “You’ll be gorgeous when we’re through with you.”

“I can’t wait.” I murmured, hunching my problematic shoulders. Of course, I folded like a house of cards at the first hint of push back by Brianna and her cronies.

I was so giving my mom a piece of my mind when I got home.

***

Two hours later I was regretting my need to people please.

Because nothing apparently pleased these people.

“No, not that one.” Brianna huffed as she stood in front of me, surveying the eighth outfit I’d tried on. “It’s all wrong. That hemline makes you look pregnant.”

“Sure, the hemline,” Eva muttered loudly. Leah chortled next to her.

My eyes burned, and I knew my face was bright red. “I’m done. You guys go out without me today. I’ll stay in the room with my book.”

“Aww, come on, Shay.” Charlotte pouted. “Don’t be a spoilsport. Try on one more. Please? For Bree? It means so much to your cousin, and it’ll totally ruin our numbers if you don’t come tonight. I already have everything booked, and I spent so much time planning all this.”

“One more, Shay?” Brianna blinked at me. “Please.”

And I caved like I always did. “Fine.”

Swirling around in a sea of black tulle, I stomped back to the dressing room. One more and that was it.

Who was I kidding? I didn’t even believe myself at this point.

“Try on that blue dress with the sequins!” Brianna yelled behind me.

“You’re so bad, Bree.” Eva giggled. “That one will make her ass look huge.”

Brianna’s reply was too soft for me to hear.

Why was I even doing this? I hated itchy, sparkly clothes. I hated loud music and other sweaty drunk people invading my personal space. How had I let my mom talk me into this trip?

Oh yeah. She’d played the Dead Dad Card and guilted me with how he would’ve wanted me to be close with his side of the family. He’d died before I was born so I had no memory of him, but my mom knew I still somehow missed him.

All my life I’d felt like there was a hole in my soul. A piece of me missing. Stupid of me to think Brianna would help fill it. That girl had hated me since day one, and I still had no idea why. Only back then she would take out her anger on my Barbies—coloring on their faces and cutting their hair into weird styles.

Maybe not much had changed after all.

“Um, miss?”

I turned from the dressing room I hadn’t mustered the courage to enter and found the saleslady hovering next to me with a blue dress in her hands.

“I think you’ll find this one more…appropriate.” Kennedy—I gathered from her name tag—held out the dress to me.

I frowned in confusion. “This looks like the same one I have in there.”

“Yes, but this one is your size. I think your blonde friend accidentally grabbed the wrong size.”

The blonde girl meaning Eva. She was worse than Brianna.

“Just a little friendly advice?”

I nodded, avoiding eye contact.

“Get yourself some better friends. Those girls are trouble and no friends of yours.”

“I wish I could, but one of them is family. If I just cut and run, I’ll never hear the end of it…” I smiled bitterly. “It’s just not worth it. One more night, then I’ll be free.”

She nodded sympathetically. “Family is tough. Hang in there. But first—” She twisted and snagged a flame red dress from a nearby rack. “If you can’t ditch them, make them regret bringing you here. This dress was made for a figure like yours, and with your skin tone, it will be amazing. Trust me.”

This time my smile was genuine. “Thanks.”

Kennedy dipped her head, smiling back. “Come see me if you need shoes. I’ll hook you up.”

***

Needless to say, Brianna and company did not appreciate me stepping out in my fabulous new dress and heels. And despite Leah’s pleas, I wouldn’t let that viper anywhere near my head with a pair of scissors.

I might’ve been a doormat, but I wasn’t stupid.

My sushi dinner had been fabulous despite the company, and now we were pregaming at a bar near the club we were going to later. Apparently no one showed up until ten at the earliest.

This was going to be the longest night of my life.

I was coming back from the bathroom—alone—for the second time in so many hours. Just in time to hear them talking about me.

“Why’d you even bring her?” Leah sneered. “She’s killing the vibe and won’t even let me fix her hair.”

“My mom made me.” Brianna groaned. “Apparently Aunt Rebecca called her. She’s worried that Shay doesn’t have any girlfriends. Or any kind of social life really.”

Eva gasped. “She doesn’t date guys? Is she…gay?”

“Oh my god, Eva!” Charlotte huffed. “You don’t have to whisper it like that. You can say gay.”

“I know.” I could hear Eva’s eyeroll despite standing around the corner. “But is she? You know…gay?”

“I doubt it. Aunt Rebecca’s husband is ultra conservative. Religious. The kinda religious that wouldn’t accept a gay stepdaughter.”

“Really? That’s crazy.” The fake sympathy in Charlotte’s voice made my skin crawl.

Brianna went on. “I guess they sent her to a private religious high school, and he even paid for her college as long as she attended an acceptable Christian school. That’s why she went to BYU when she’s not even Mormon. I don’t think she’s ever dated, let alone had a NCMO sesh.”

Heat flashed through my head at Brianna’s implication. For her information I’d had a Non-Committal Make Out session. Once. And I’d been on dates! Not that I said a single word or let them know I could hear them. Everything about this moment was mortifying.

“Wait, you can’t mean… You think she’s still a virgin!” Eva all but shouted.

“Seriously, Eva? You whisper gay but yell virgin?” Leah huffed. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“I’m drunk.” Eva giggled loudly. “We’ve been drinking all day. What do you accept? Accept. Expest. Whatever. Barkeep! Another round, lickety-spit. Spilt. Argh.”

“I think so.” Brianna’s harsh whisper was so loud it easily carried through the bar. “I suspect Shay is waiting for her wedding night. Like a good girl.”

They all cackled like it was the funniest thing they’d ever heard.

Tears burned at my eyes again. I swiped under my eyes, determined not to let any fall.

“Oh barf. What a moron.” Charlotte sneered.

“Are you sure she’s related to you?” Eva hooted. “I mean didn’t you lose your virginity under the bleachers sophomore year of high school?”

“Whatever, bitch. At least I was getting me some.” Brianna scoffed. “And now I’m getting the best for the rest of my life. Brock’s dick is…”

I didn’t stick around to hear the rest.

I’d swallowed so much crap these past few days. I’d tried to find some common ground with Brianna and her cronies despite their nastiness, but I didn’t have any more grace left inside me. It was official. I was done.

Done with their fakeness and the digs about me, my body, and my lack of experience.

Done with this whole craptacular weekend.

I spun and crashed into someone.

“Ommph.” He staggered and clutched at his stomach where my elbow had apparently collided with him.

“Oh my gosh!” I reached out without thinking and patted his very firm stomach. A zing of electricity travelled up my arm, and I gasped before jerking my hand back. “I’m so sorry. I wasn’t looking where I was going, and I just…” I trailed off as I looked up into the deepest green eyes I’d ever seen.

He was gorgeous. From his tousled short brown hair to his dark green eyes and the sexy stubble trailing up his jaw, he was easily the most attractive man I’d seen in my entire life.

Who I was still standing in front of and gaping at like a moron.

I knew the flush reddening my cheeks had nothing to do with my alcohol intake today. “Again, I’m sorry. I’m gonna start looking where I’m going. Or something. You know, I’m just gonna go now. So…thanks.”

Closing my eyes in humiliation, I ducked around him but froze when his hand clasped my elbow.

“Don’t go rushing off now, baby girl. We didn’t even have a chance to exchange information. Maybe I want to file a claim with your insurance.”

I snorted and then was immediately mortified. But still I was me, so I couldn’t help myself from replying, “Really? Does that line usually get you any traction?”

He shrugged. “Usually I don’t have to say anything.”

“Right. You just let all of that—” I gestured at his body. “Talk for you.”

He raised an eyebrow and tilted his head. “How drunk are you?”

“Not drunk enough. Clearly.”

“Huh.” He blinked a few times then a large smile spread across his lips. “Okay. Let me buy you a drink then.”

“Uh, Chase?” A tall, muscular man stepped over to my gorgeous guy’s side. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. The crowd in here is—”

My guy cut him off. “I’m sure we can find a table out of the way. In a little secluded corner.”

“Oh. Are you here for a bachelor party too? I mean, I’m not here for a bachelor party. I’m not a stripper. It’s my cousin’s bachelorette party. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a stripper. I’m just…not.”

I really had to stop babbling. Something about having his full attention just flustered me to no end.

And his husky laughter did crazy things to my nerve endings. “I can’t wait to hear more. You’re so damn cute when you start rambling like that.”

“I uh, I don’t…” I couldn’t make my brain work when he turned all his attention on me. And seriously, that was my one claim to fame—Book Smart Shay. Not so much with the athletics or the grace or…anything else really.

But no, this guy either had me losing my trail of thought or babbling like a crazy person. I had to get it together. He could be the one to—

“So? Can I buy you a drink?”

“I, uh, yes. Yes, please.”

Yes, please? Seriously, just kill me now. That was so pathetic.

“I got you a table over here, Chase,” Looming Tall Guy said over Chase’s shoulder.

“Right this way, Shay.” Chase grabbed my hand and tugged me in the direction of their table.

I tottered after him, relishing the feeling of his rough hand holding mine. This guy had some serious callouses on his hand. So freaking sexy.

Wait. He’d called me Shay.

“How do you know my name?”

He stopped next to the booth and winced as he turned to face me.

And then it clicked.

“Oh my gosh. You heard that? What they were saying about me? About my…”

“Virginity? Yeah. They weren’t being exactly discreet with their gossiping. Pretty sure most of the bar heard them cackling.”

“Oh, kill me now.” I buried my face in my hands. “This has got to be one of the worst nights of my life.”

“Really, baby girl? Even though you met me? It’s still the worst night of your life?”

I had to smile at that. Dropping my hands, I gave Chase a little smile. “Well, no. I mean it’s just…” I shook my head. “Still pretty horrible, honestly.”

“I can respect that.” He tilted his head, his eyes narrowing on me, making my heart race. “So are you? Waiting for marriage?”

Return to Rocked

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