We Own Tonight (Second Time Around #1) by Corinne Michaels
I’m not a one-night stand kind of woman. I’m especially not the woman who has a few drinks at a concert and ends up in bed with my childhood celebrity crush, Eli Walsh.
However, that’s exactly where I find myself.
What’s a girl to do after a drunken mistake? Run. I grab my clothes and get away from the powerful, irresistible, and best-sex-of-my-life superstar as fast as I can. His gorgeous green eyes, rock-hard body, and cocky smile have no place in my world. My life is complicated enough.
Someone forgot to tell him that.
Eli is relentless. Pushing his way into my heart, wearing me down, proving he’s nothing like I assumed, and everything I need. But when my world shatters to pieces, he holds the broken bits together. Unwillingly, I fall desperately in love with him.
He made me think we’d have forever . . . I should’ve listened when he said we could only own tonight.
Excerpt We Own Tonight (Second Time Around #1) by Corinne Michaels
“Damn it, Heather. We’re always late because of you!” Nicole yells from outside the bathroom. She’s been my best friend since the sixth grade. You’d think by now she’d know to pad things by twenty minutes if she wants a snowball’s chance in hell of getting anywhere on time.
“The peril,” I taunt her as I finish putting my hair up.
“You drive me nuts.”
“Such is life.”
I hear her mutter something under her breath as she walks away. I don’t know why she gets so upset. We have plenty of time. With the way Nicole drives, her lead foot will have us at the concert fifteen minutes before the opening act.
Of course, I’m taking my sweet ass time getting ready. I have zero desire to be forced to put on makeup or any version of pants.
Nicole’s idea of girls’ night out and mine are totally different. I could stay home, drink a martini, and be happy. My best friend wants to paint the town red. I’m too old for that shit. I end up smelling like a garbage can and feeling like I ate a jar of cotton balls. I’d rather be comfy in pajamas than wear these jeans that I had to lie on the bed to shimmy into. I can only imagine what I looked like while I was sucking it in and bending backward to get the damn button closed. Then I did about fifteen lunges to “stretch” the pants, all the while praying I didn’t bust a seam. Nothing like a workout just to get dressed.
I make a mental note to call my trainer friend at the boxing ring.
She knocks again. “I’m leaving you.”
No, you’re not.
I open the door a smidge. “I have the tickets in here. So, you know what? Go ahead.” I stick my tongue out and then quickly close the door and lock it. If they hadn’t already left me twice before, I wouldn’t have to go to such lengths. I learned quickly that I always had to have the upper hand with my three best friends. Then again, if I had let her leave me, I could be watching Netflix and shoveling popcorn into my mouth.
Nicole may not have figured out to pad time, but she has learned I have a spiteful side, so she lets me finish without another interruption. I could stay in here longer just to piss her off, but that would mean more time staring at the pink tiles on the wall that I loathe.
My house isn’t bad, but it isn’t great, either. When my parents passed away, it was passed down to me. It’s old and probably falling apart more than I’d like to admit. Yet, I can’t get rid of it. It’s the only thing of them I have, and it’s the only place I can afford.
The mortgage is paid off, which allows me to put what little money I have left over after my monthly bills to go toward my sister’s medical care.
Once I’m happy with my appearance, I head out with a shit-eating grin.
She looks at her watch as I emerge and shakes her head. “I swear.”
The best way to keep Nicole from blowing up is with diversion. “You shouldn’t swear, it’s unbecoming of you. Are we picking up Danni and Kristin?”
“No, and I’m grateful we aren’t, because we would miss the opening band.”
She and I are the two most sarcastic and the biggest assholes out of the group. When we start to bicker, it gets bad—quick. Without our two mediators, it’s best not to engage.
“Are you sure?” I ask ignoring the jab.
“Yes, I’m sure. They’re meeting us there.”
Nicole and I walk out and get in her car. I wish she’d buy a normal size vehicle. I’m five-foot-five, and my knees mash my boobs because of how squished I am. Between my already tight jeans and this sardine can, I’m going to bust a gut.
“Please,” I say dramatically, “tell me they’re not bringing their husbands.”
She laughs. “Dickhead One and Jackhole Two aren’t coming. They’re going for a boys’ night.” She sticks her finger in her mouth and makes a gagging sound.
Thank God for small miracles. Their husbands are the worst, especially Danielle’s.
“Maybe the two loser husbands will fall madly in love with each other,” I muse while I shift to get comfortable.
Nicole smirks as she watches me. “And figure out they were never meant to be married to such amazing women like them.”
“And then we’ll finally build that compound where the four of us can live.”
“No. We’re going to need penises. There’s no way I’m living with you people without having someone to bang. You three will drive me so far up the wall that I’ll need the release. Daily.”
“You’re damn near celibate.”
Here we go again. “Shut your face.” She whips out of my driveway so fast that I almost smack my head on the window. “Nic!” I yell as she takes another turn way too fast in this damn death trap. “Jesus! Slow down!”
“Stop being dramatic. I’m with you, and you have a badge. No one is going to ticket me.”
“I don’t care if you get pulled over.” I right myself and grab the edge of the seat. “I care about dying.”
“You’re going to die from lack of sex if anything.” She rolls her eyes and cues the ’90s station. “Listen to Four Blocks Down, and get ready to watch the boys shake their delectable asses on stage. After that, you can remove the stick up your ass, maybe then you won’t be so miserable.”
“I’m not miserable.” I slap her arm.
“Okay.” She shrugs and ignores me, which is her typical way of blowing me off.
Am I miserable? No. I’m happy . . . for the most part.
I have a great job that keeps me fulfilled. Being a female police officer isn’t easy, but I love it.
The only real downside to my job is that I come face to face with my ex-husband every day. Luckily, things didn’t end that badly. But I’d be full of crap if I didn’t admit how much it bothers me. Things with Matt are—weird. Sometimes people just don’t work or you realize the person you married isn’t what you thought. I wish I could transfer to another town, but my sister Stephanie and the twelve years invested in my pension keep me here.
Nicole belts out another round of lyrics. “Sing it with me, Heather!”
I don’t want to, but I’m taken back in time when the four of us had bangs that were so high they could cause whiplash, wore colors that no one should ever wear, and drooled over Four Blocks Down without a smidgen of shame.
Smashed in the tiny death trap posing as a vehicle, I let go a little.
We both sing along, belting out the lyrics of our first crushes. “I wish I still had my Eli pillow case,” I grin.
“I had a Randy towel. I would like to wrap myself up with him again.” Nicole sighs.
I swear this girl needs sex more than anyone I know. “Does your vibrator ever get a break?”
She looks over at me with her usual you’re-an-idiot face. “You’re going to realize very soon, my love, if you don’t use it . . . you lose it.”
“And you’re going to overuse it,” I say. She’s the only one of us who never married. Nicole lives in downtown Tampa. She has to schlep it all the way out to Carrollwood to pick me up, but she knows if she didn’t, I wouldn’t go.
Sometimes, I envy her life. She has everything she dreamed of. Opening Dupree Designs and then landing her contract with one of the wealthiest developers in the city was pure luck. She slept with him, got a few more jobs, and before she knew it—she was on top.
Then she dumped him.
We park the car at the arena, and Nicole shifts in her seat. “Listen, I know you’re hell bent on being the responsible one of us, but tonight,” she grabs my hands, “I beg you to let loose. You need a break.”
I glare at her. “I do let loose.”
“Your hair is in a bun,” she raises her brow. “You’re the definition of tight.”
I touch my hair, hating that she has a point. But this is me. I like to make good choices. Other than marrying Matt, which wasn’t bad per se . . . just hasty. Never mind that he was an asshole. And he sucked in bed.
Okay, so maybe it was a bad choice.
Moving on. “I’m not uptight, Nic.”
“I didn’t say uptight. But let your hair down. It’ll make Danni jealous since she can’t get her hair your color blonde no matter how much money she spends. Maybe one day she’ll get over herself and stop trying.” Nicole and Danielle have a love/hate relationship. This week it seems to be more on the hate side. I wish they’d get over this already and talk it out, but they both claim there’s no issues.
From what I can gather, Nicole slept with Danielle’s ex three days before she got married. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised since it is Nic we’re talking about. When I heard the back story, I distanced myself from the entire thing. No way was I getting in the middle of it, but Nicole typically has something snippy to say about her and vice versa.
Feuds aside, Nicole is right. I don’t ever go out. If I’m not being a couch potato, I’m with my sister.
I pull my hair out of the bun, allowing my blonde locks to fall around me. Thanks to the twist, it almost has curls. Nicole grabs her bag from the backseat and tosses her makeup pouch onto my lap. “Put some of that on. You know, look hot. Not like a frumpy divorcée.”
“I often question why I didn’t drop you after high school.” I grab some eyeliner and darken my brown eyes. I add a little blush and lip gloss. “Better?”
We head into the concert, and I can’t stop giggling to myself. Everyone is around our age—all here to see a freaking boy band. The group we all lusted over as teens is now fully grown, but here we are, ready to swoon and scream their songs.
I can’t remember how many dreams I had about Eli Walsh or how many notebooks I filled with Mrs. Heather Walsh signatures. I’m sure I’m not alone, either. There are probably a few hundred middle-aged women here tonight who had done the same thing.
Some more scantily clad than others.
“What the hell is she wearing?”
Nicole glances over and makes a disgusted face. “Dear, Lord. Someone needs to tell her that a muffin top and a mini skirt don’t mix.”
“I feel like this is our version of a high school reunion,” I cogitate while scanning the crowd for Danni and Kristin. I know we’re not spring chickens, but when did we get as old as some of the people standing in line? Sheesh.
“Heather!” Kristin waves as they rush toward us.
Even though we see each other at least every three months, I miss them. We made a promise when we graduated high school we’d have a quarterly date, and so far, we’ve all made a point of sticking to it. It helps that we all stayed in the greater Tampa area, but I think no matter the distance, we’d always be there for each other.
Some friendships are unbreakable—even if someone sleeps with someone else’s ex.
“I’ve missed you,” I say as she wraps her arms around me.
She plants a kiss on my cheek. “I missed you more.”
We all stand here, hugging it out. We’re dorks, but I couldn’t care less. Other than my sister, they’re the only family I have.
“How’s Steph feeling?” Danielle asks.
“She’s doing good, I think. I’m waiting for her to call me.” It’s so sweet how Danielle always asks about Stephanie.
“I’m glad she’s doing okay.” She smiles.
“Yeah, she should’ve called though. I should probably give her a call . . .”
Danni grabs my hand, stopping me from going for my phone. “I’m sure her nurse would let you know if there were something wrong.”
She’s right, but the worrier in me can’t help myself. I’ve spent what feels like my entire life making decisions around Stephanie. I don’t take any chances when it comes to her.
“I’m just going to check,” I explain as I grab my phone from my bra.
Danielle laughs. “I should’ve known better than to try to stop you.”
There are no missed calls or texts.
Breathe. I’m sure she’s fine, don’t overreact.
I send a quick text because I’ll never let it go.
Me: Hey, you okay? I haven’t heard from you today.
She answers right back.
Stephanie: Yes, Mother.
Me: Have you had any more tremors?
My sister suffers from Huntington’s disease. She was diagnosed at nineteen, and it took her independence before she even had time to enjoy it. I tried to care for her. I did everything I could to keep her with me, but when she started suffering from relapsing paralysis and struggling to speak, we knew it was beyond my capability.
Watching your twenty-six-year-old sister battle with early onset dementia is devastating. The last few weeks have been good, though. She’s been cognitive, alert, and even happy. Her symptoms are sometimes so mild that I forget how sick she is, but then the disease rears its ugly face again and there’s no forgetting.
Stephanie: Nope. And aren’t you out with the girls? Go have some fun, Heather. Tell them I said hi!
“Is Steph okay?” Nicole asks when she sees me typing away.
“She’s fine. I mean, you know . . .” My mood drops immediately as I think about how she’ll never experience this. Danielle touches my arm, and I force myself to smile. “She says hi.”
“Give her our love,” Kristin replies. I type out their message and tell her I love her before tucking my phone away again.
“Okay!” Nicole exclaims. “Let’s go see these amazing seats that our super-fan Kristin scored us.”
Kristin gives Nic the stink eye, which would be way more effective if she weren’t in their fan club. Yup, my thirty-eight-year-old best friend is in a fan club for Four Blocks Down. I’m positive she regretted telling us this piece of information, but it landed us front row seats, so we haven’t been too hard on her . . . yet.
“You can sit in the nose bleeds if you want.”
Nicole wraps her arm around her shoulder. “You love me too much to deprive me of Randy.” She lets out a dreamy sigh.
I laugh. “As if you’re ever going to get that close to him. And he’s married!”
I try to put Stephanie in the back of my mind. My sister’s illness is ripping me apart. I wish I could help her, but I can’t control any of it. It makes me feel helpless all the time.
Stephanie grew up listening to me blare the music and dance around like a loon, and instead, she’s stuck in a damn assisted living facility while I’m out. It isn’t fair. None of this is fair. She should be here with me.
“Hey,” Danni nudges me. “You look beautiful.”
I give her a small smile. “Thanks.” I’m no longer feeling carefree. I can’t stop thinking about how much I wish I could be doing this with her.
“I’m sorry.” Her smile falls slightly.
She shrugs. “I made reality come crashing into our big fun night of no worries.”
“Stop! Don’t feel that way.” I wrap my arm around her shoulder. “My reality never leaves me. My sister is dying. It’s just the way it is.”
Danielle’s smile falls completely now. “I’m so, so sorry, Heather.”
I know she didn’t mean to bring me down. I wish I could be more like Nicole. No responsibilities, sex with random strangers, nothing to worry about . . . but that isn’t how my life goes.
Nope. Mine is a series of tragedies. While my friends were partying in college, I was working full time. My nights and weekends weren’t filled with formals or trips to the beach, they were consumed by doing homework with Steph. I’m not bitter. I’m actually grateful in some ways. It forced me to cherish life and the people in it. Every day I have with Stephanie is a gift.
I shake my head. “You have nothing to apologize for. Let’s act like idiots and pretend there are no problems in the world.”
“You want to party like it’s 1999?”
“Yeah, just like that. If only we had our Four Blocks Down dolls.”
“They are collectable memorabilia,” Kristin corrects before blushing scarlet and mumbling about needing to go find our seats. Nicole, Danielle, and I laugh hysterically as we follow her inside.
I wave to two of the guys in my squad, who are apparently working overtime detail as security as we pass them. Shit. I didn’t even think anyone from my squad would be here. Usually, it’s the other district that handles the MidFlorida Amphitheater. They look thrilled to be here—not. I make a note to behave so my entire department doesn’t find out that I came to see my favorite boy band. However, knowing them, they’ve already texted everyone. I swear, cops are worse than teenage girls with their gossip.
I’ll never live this down.
Music plays from the two opening acts. I sing along because . . . their songs were my jams when I was a teen. I would blare their screw men anthems through my speakers, windows down, singing off key, and belting every note because they were my idols. I owe many of my breakups to them telling me that I didn’t need to take it.
“Ah!” Danielle squeals after the second band finishes. “FBD is next! I had the biggest crush on—”
“Shaun,” Nicole cuts her off. “We remember you licking his poster.”
“Oh my God!” I giggle. “I remember that. She straight made out with it.” I guzzle the rest of my beer and shake my hair around.
“I wanted him to be my first kiss,” Danielle explains.
We all did. Hell, I may have had multiple fantasies with Eli, but I wouldn’t have kicked any of them out of my bed. They were everything when we were younger. I think somewhere in my mind we’re all frozen in time.
“Want another beer?” Kristin yells.
I’ve had three already. I’m halfway to drunk. I shake my head no.
“Yes, she does,” Nicole answers for me. I look at her with my mouth open. “I’m driving. You’re having fun.” She turns back to Kristin. “She’ll be drinking all night.”
“Oh,” Danni laughs, “this is going to be epic.”
“Shut up, I’m a good drunk.”
In my mind.
“You’re good for a laugh,” Danni tacks on.
The lights go out, and the mood shifts. All of us start to scream and hold hands. This is Eli and Randy’s hometown, so it’s extra special. Their homecoming concerts are always louder and longer.
“Are you ready, Tampa?” PJ’s voice booms.
We all yell louder.
“We said,” Shaun’s voice comes through this time, “are you ready?”
I bounce with Nicole, unable to control myself. I allow the energy of the room to fill me. I’m probably the loudest of the four of us. I don’t give a shit, either. “Hell yeah!”
Kristin looks at me with a huge grin. So unlike me.
“That’s it, Tampa!” Randy’s face flashes on the screen on the side of the stage. “The Walsh brothers are home. And we want to hear you!”
Eli’s face. I sigh. “Did you miss us?”
“Fuck yeah I did,” I scream.
“Good.” The screen displays both Eli and Randy. “We missed you, too. And you’re about to see a whole lot of us. FBD is back, and we’re ready to blow your minds.”
The arena goes black.
And slowly, I see something rise out of the stage.
I stand mesmerized.
The light shines in my eyes, blinding me, but when I can see again, I would swear that Eli Walsh is staring right at me.
Emerald-green eyes pierce through me. His dark brown hair is cut short on the sides and the top falls errantly around his forehead. I take in every ounce of his perfect body. The way his arms pull against the fabric of his shirt, the pants that hug his perfect ass, and the span of his broad shoulders, makes me want to climb him like a tree. Then, with our gaze connected, he winks and throws a wicked grin my way.
I stand there and gaze back at him like a fish with my eyes wide and mouth open. He looks away, but it happened. Eli Walsh smiled and winked at me. I just died.