Good times didn’t last forever. While Beth Hart had enjoyed being the sometimes girlfriend of Max Reynolds—the hot bass player for Black Addiction—she knew it would never be more than a casual fling. He was destined for greatness, and she cared too much to hold him back. So, before she lost her heart and her sanity, she said goodbye to the Bronx, moved to Manhattan and left her party-girl days in the past—along with Max.
Nothing made Max happier than being a success in his own right. And in the last few years, he and his band had well and truly earned it. Moving to the city and enjoying the spoils of his new lifestyle made perfect sense, and he loved his new address. It wasn’t his new huge penthouse apartment that got him excited; it was his new neighbor. The one girl he regretted letting go—Beth.
He wanted her back and would do anything to make it happen. Hopefully it wasn’t too late.
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Prologue - Beth
It was the calm before the storm.
Neither of us had spoken about it last night, both too caught up in each other to care what it all meant. He was irresistible and I saw no reason to fight the urge. No matter how many times we drifted apart, we always seemed to end up back together. Maybe it was sheer magnetism, maybe it was his amazing smile? Or maybe it was his delicious well-toned body that did amazing things to mine? It could have been any of those reasons, but mostly it was because of the way he made me feel.
Some of my best memories featured the man sleeping soundly beside me. And it wasn’t even about the sex, although . . . yeah, his talents weren’t only restricted to the stage. There was just something about him. Something bigger than what he already was, and I knew living in the Bronx and working at Staples wasn’t his destiny.
Sadly, neither was I.
International rock sensation Power Station had seen it too, signing up Black Addiction—Max’s band—to be their support act for a huge stadium tour. They’d already wowed the crowds at Madison Square Garden, the other crowds would follow too and then the world would see what I already knew.
Max Reynolds was a rock star.
We’d taken a break from each other around three months ago. No messy break up, no drama—just our lives taking us in different directions. It wasn’t a new thing for us, and in some ways, it just worked. But last night wasn’t us getting back together; last night was something else entirely.
His eyes were shut tight as he slept, completely unaware as I watched him. His perfect lips parted just slightly as the air whistled past. And I knew this would be the last time we could do this; at some point we’d stop the revolving door.
“Hey.” He slid open an eye, his trademark panty-melting grin not far behind. “You’re awake. Feeling okay?”
“Yep, I know better than to try and keep up with you and your band.” I couldn’t help but smile back. “How about you? You had a pretty serious commitment with that bottle of Jäger.” Don’t know why I asked; I’d never seen him rocking the next morning regret like most of us did.
“Never felt better.” He smirked, his fingers trailing up my side, tickling my skin until they reached my breast. His talented fingers palmed me, hinting that he had other things on his mind other than his lack of hangover. “And my only commitment last night was pleasing you. So, tell me . . . how did I do?”
God, he was smooth.
He had this uncanny ability to make you feel like you were the only woman in the room, like nothing else mattered, and even if I knew it was temporary, I loved it.
“I think you got all the confirmation you needed last night.” I grinned as I nestled into his side. “If you want your ego stroked, you’ll have to go elsewhere.”
“That’s not what I want you to stroke, Beth,” he whispered into my ear, his voice loaded with suggestion.
“I should probably go.” It’s not that I didn’t want to stay, but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know where this would end up. Sleep was not part of that equation.
“Why? Stay in bed with me.” His muscular, inked arms caged me against his body, the heat between us having nothing to do with the temperature in the room. “I’m almost positive you won’t regret it.”
I wouldn’t regret it.
I never would.
But in my heart I knew that this was the end of the road for the two of us. And as much as I wanted to keep going by his side, he had to walk it alone. How much longer could I stay? A week, a month, a year? He needed to be single. Free to do whatever he wanted to do when that spotlight finally hit him and not wonder if it would have been different without a girlfriend ball-and-chain. I wouldn’t be the source of anyone’s regrets, not least someone as special as Max. He was on the cusp of something great, and I cared too much to hold him back.
“You need sleep, you have a show tonight.” My hands moved over his chest. “We both know if I stay, there will be no sleep.” I tried in vain to free myself from his arm prison, my attempt laughable as he pulled me closer.
“Sleep’s overrated.” The words vibrated against my ear as I closed my eyes and remembered the moment. The one that would be the last time in his arms.
“You might not be dealing with a hangover, but you can’t outrun fatigue. Sleep and I’ll see you when you get back in town.”
It was a lie, an easy one to tell, knowing that when he came back things would be different. We would be different, and I think deep down he knew it was goodbye.
“Beth.” His lips pressed against the back of my neck, my short black hair offering me little protection as his hot breath defied logic and gave me goose bumps. “We’ll always end up like this, you and me.”
Not always, not anymore.
I didn’t dare say it. More because I didn’t want to hear it even though I knew it was the right thing to do.
“You going to let me go?” I asked, his arms showing no sign of releasing me
“For now.” He kissed my neck before loosening his hold and allowing me to sit up.
“You’re going to do great on this tour; this is what you’ve been waiting for.” I didn’t have to even force the smile on my face, I was genuinely happy for him. “Your life is about to change.”
“Whatever happens, happens.” His arms flexed and anchored at the back of his neck. “I’m still going to be me, that won’t ever change.”
“Good.” I fished my T-shirt from the edge of the bed and threw it over my head. “And I’ll be your biggest fan.” It was an easy promise to make; being supportive was something that I planned to continue. And something I could do even if it wasn’t by his side.
“Just promise you won’t get all weird and start stealing my underwear to sell on eBay.” He watched me as I slid on my own and grabbed my jeans from the floor.
“So, I should put back the pair I have stuffed into my purse?” I turned back to face him as I pulled up my jeans, batting my eyes seductively for effect.
I hadn’t actually stolen a pair of his boxer briefs, but it was easier than the inevitable so-this-is-where-it-ends that needed to happen.
“Call me, Beth.” He didn’t hesitate, his eyes looking directly into mine. It was as if he already knew that I probably wouldn’t but wouldn’t push the issue either. It was a weird stalemate, so much left unsaid, but all those words not spoken completely understood.
“See ya, Max.” I allowed myself one last look at him before scooping up my shoes and shuffling out of the room. The door closed behind me giving me a resting place for a second before I walked out of his house.
We both needed this. It wasn’t just for him; this was for me too. Together neither of us would reach our full potential, and we owed each other that. I was more than just a bass player’s girlfriend. I was more than a girl with tattoos, funky hair and a short skirt. If I stayed . . . he was too easy to fall in love with.
There was no sadness when I left; my heart wasn’t breaking. I was excited about what the future held for both of us and while I’d miss him, someday we would both be thankful.
In time we would both move on, and hopefully when he thought of me, he’d remember good things.
I would always, when I thought of him.
Reviewed: June 2016.
There's something deeply satisfying for me about stand alone series, they always feel fresh and exciting and yet oddly familiar, being able to indulge in beloved characters while discovering new ones is like catching up with friends from University or old work colleagues, you spend long enough there to remember why you loved them and how much fun you used to have, and in the process get to meet partners and spouses, and hell sometimes even their children, you get a glimpse into the past and foresight into their future, you instantly see how much you have all changed, how much you've all grown in the time that had passed. When you reconnect with old friends in books you get to see all the time that passed, the leaps and bounds the characters have made, you see a lifetime of love and happiness play out before your eyes, while getting to know these new people who will soon become "your people".
Max in the previous books in the Black Addiction series seemed mostly laid back, he had the kind of swagger that makes grown women turn to mush, he had confidence, sure he could totally dominate that alpha vibe when pushed or when someone he cared about was pushed, but mostly for me he was the kind of guy girls wanted to bang like a drum and guys wanted to be like. He seemed somewhat unaffected by the trappings of wealth and rock stardom, in fact one the biggest things I loved about him and the entirety of Black Addiction was their ability to take their rise to fame in their stride. Knowing Max was seemingly unfazed by most things, I *knew* it would have to be someone pretty darn special to make him stop and take notice.
The idea of a famed celebrity or Rockstar falling for the girl who got away certainly isn't new, in fact it's the second chance romance of it all that has me practically begging the author for an early release date, but what happens when the 'one who got away' didn't really get away at all, when there was no messy break up, no broken hearts strewn across the continent, no big angsty 'I hate you because I'll always love you' moment? Oh the adultness of it all.... in the case of Stand by Ms Gephart it was refreshing and exhilarating.
I've often spoken about my distaste for the oh no we didn't communicate properly despite being adults and being in an adult relationsip but we're still pining for one another and will eventually do the hate/love dance when we meet again plotline, in all honesty that overused trope often leaves me feeling mildly stabby, here in Stand there was none of that, if you get that all consuming I want to shake my kindle feeling like me - you can sigh with relief because you are safe. Instead Gephart effortlessly delivered a story about two people who once meant something to each other, two people who were more than just lovers, more than just friends, something that was infinitely more and yet both were too young and naïve to realise it, who found each other again as more adultier adults, two people who set out to create something bigger than the life they were living back when they called the Bronx home.
"We are not high fiving over sex, Jules....We didn't turn into frat boys last time I checked."
Everything about Stand drew me in, incredibly funny, sexy as hell, with heartbreakingly tender moments that made me swoon with delight, earlier tonight I was discussing books with those 'oh my god' moments, you know the ones...the ones that have that huge shock value scene that you sit there questioning long after you've turned the last page, sure at the time I have that 'whoaaa what did I just read moment' but often what I'm truly after is a story that I can just read, I can sink into, I can escape into, one that makes me giggle, makes me blush crimson, makes me SMILE, books that are solid from beginning to end, the ones that just grab me on the first page as if to say 'hey you, get comfy because you're not going to want to put me down'. Gephart did that, from the very first line of the prologue I was captivated, I didn't care what else hit my kindle while I was reading because I was so invested in Max and Beth that I didn't want anything or anyone else clouding my Black Addiction haze.
"I'd heard those lyrics a hundred times before, and they'd never meant as much as they did at that moment. I loved him. I'd always loved him. And even if it didn't last forever, there would never be a moment I'd regret it."
T Gephart once again had showing all the signs of a happy book nerd, uproarious laughter, sly smirks, knowing smiles, happy sighs... her writing absolutely reminding me how much I adore her work, my trip back to the boys and girl of Black Addiction, my little dalliance with Power Station made me eager for a reread of the entire two series, when your reading time is limited and reviews are mounting in your diary, you know just how big of a statement that is. It was bittersweet reading Stand, because I knew that once I finished I'd have to say goodbye to these characters I'd come to love, until I remembered that that's the beauty of reading, that your friends are only a reread away.
About T Gephart:
T Gephart is an indie author from Melbourne, Australia.
T’s approach to life has been somewhat unconventional. Rather than going to University, she jumped on a plane to Los Angeles, USA in search of adventure. While this first trip left her somewhat underwhelmed and largely depleted of funds it fueled her appetite for travel and life experience.
With a rather eclectic resume, which reads more like the fiction she writes than an actual employment history, T struggled to find her niche in the world.
While on a subsequent trip the United States in 1999, T met and married her husband. Their whirlwind courtship and interesting impromptu convenience store wedding set the tone for their life together, which is anything but ordinary. They have lived in Louisiana, Guam and Australia and have traveled extensively throughout the US. T has two beautiful young children and one four legged child, Woodley, the wonder dog.
An avid reader, T became increasingly frustrated by the lack of strong female characters in the books she was reading. She wanted to read about a woman she could identify with, someone strong, independent and confident and who didn’t lack femininity. Out of this need, she decided to pen her first book, A Twist of Fate. T set herself the challenge to write something that was interesting, compelling and yet easy enough to read that was still enjoyable. Pulling from her own past “colorful” experiences and the amazing personalities she has surrounded herself with, she had no shortage of inspiration. With a strong slant on erotic fiction, her core characters are empowered women who don’t have to sacrifice their femininity. She enjoyed the process so much that when it was over she couldn’t let it go.
T loves to travel, laugh and surround herself with colorful characters. This inevitably spills into her writing and makes for an interesting journey - she is well and truly enjoying the ride!
Based on her life experiences, T has plenty of material for her books and has a wealth of ideas to keep you all enthralled.
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