Authors: Terri Anne Browning
The day our engagement was announced she started getting death threats. A mob of girls stood outside
headquarters in LA waiting for her for an entire month. When Harper wasn’t with me, she had a bodyguard that went with her everywhere. Especially to work.
Dallas and Axton walked ahead of us through
American Werewolf in Paris
and I couldn’t help but
laugh out loud as Dallas went up to the man in the werewolf suit when he popped his head out of a
window. She scratched the top of his head and cooed up at the scary-looking beast. “Ah, poor Jacob.
Where’s Bella, boy? Where’s Bella?”
An attendant stepped out of a dark corner. “Miss, no touching.”
Dallas sighed. “Okay. I gotta go now, Jacob.”
When she started to touch the masked man again, Axton grabbed her elbow and tugged her forward.
“Let’s go, babe.”
“Bye, Jacob!” she called over her shoulder.
“Oh Gods, Dallas!” Harper was laughing so hard she had tears pouring down her face. “I can’t take you
Jesse found us before we made it to the third house of the night and we stopped for a bag of popcorn
and a few more beers. There were seven houses total and the night was still pretty young. All right, I’ll
admit it. I was taking my time because I knew the next house was
Cabin in the Woods
and I knew that there was some fucked up shit in there.
Like the clown room where one of the clowns was lying on the floor in a bloody mess of gore. Yeah, I
was going to close my eyes as we walked through that room of the house/maze.
The first time I laid eyes on her I knew I wanted her. The first time I kissed her I knew she was mine.
It fucked with my head so bad, that I knew that it was what Nik, Jesse, and even fucking Drake had felt
when they found
. So of course I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. And of course I fucked it up like I tend to fuck up everything that seems to make me happy.
I hadn’t really realized how much I had fucked up until the end. When she offered me that sad but
completely bitchy smile and told me it was nice knowing me, but sharing wasn’t her thing. If I had been
smart I would have told her the truth then and there. If I hadn’t still been pretending to be the badass rock star that was the face I let the world see, I would have run after her.
Instead I did neither and ended up in limbo for the last two years.
She was right in front of me now, and I was determined to spend the weekend getting her back.
“Damn, it feels good to unwind.” Dallas sighed as we all sat on a bench drinking yet another beer.
Thank all those fucking Gods that Em lived by for beer. Universal Studios was party central. Haunted
houses, freaky-as-fuck rides, and plenty of beer. When Shane had first told me this was his idea of a
bachelor party I had scoffed at the whole thing. But now I was seeing exactly how brilliant it really was.
I swallowed the last of my beer and tossed it in the trashcan beside me before turning toward the hottest
chick I had ever laid eyes on so I could do the one thing I had been aching to do since I had set eyes on her earlier that day. Touch her.
I had been walking around with a semi-hard dick all night and as soon as I touched her bare back, I
became rock hard. Being in the rock business for as long as I had, fucking a different chick every night, I could honestly admit to never reacting so strongly like that to another girl in my life.
Dallas stiffened at the first brush of my fingers. She started to turn toward me but I put just enough
pressure to elicit a moan from her as I started massaging her shoulders. Her head fell forward. “Please don’t stop,” she begged in that Texas accent that went straight to my dick, making it pulse.
Her muscles were all knotted up and I dug my fingers just a little deeper. She moaned again as I rubbed
away the tension in her neck. Her hair was pulled up into a ponytail, exposing the long gracefulness of her neck and making my mouth ache to taste her skin there.
I traced my thumb over her latest tattoo. A symbol for nurse with R on one side and N on the other. I
wanted to tell her how proud I was, how much fulfilling her dreams of becoming a nurse made me want
her even more than I once had. Now the world knew what I had known—that Dallas was brilliant as well
as breathtakingly gorgeous.
“Let’s get the next house over with,” Natalie suggested, and I wanted to tell her to fuck off. I could have gladly sat on that bench rubbing Dallas’s shoulders all night. “I hate that stupid maze.”
Shane was already pulling Harper to her feet from where she was sitting on the other side of Dallas.
When Harper turned to tug Dallas up, my girl let out a whine. “But… But… I was halfway to heaven,” she
“A few more minutes and you would have been sleeping on the bench,” Linc told her as he tossed an
arm causally over Natalie’s shoulders.
Muttering a curse, I fell in behind everyone else, keeping my eyes glued to Dallas’s back as we walked
toward the next haunted house.
Jesse bumped his shoulder against mine. “When d’you got to get back to New York?”
I shrugged. “My plane leaves Tuesday, but I might leave sooner than that.” Like on the same plane as
Dallas when she goes back Monday morning. Or later, if I could talk her into checking out my apartment in
LA. Yeah, I liked that idea a lot better than having to get up piss-ass early the day after Shane’s wedding.
“I freaking hate that you and Drake are on the East Coast for Christmas. No one gets to travel this year.”
He grimaced. “Layla says it is okay, but I know that she’s going to be upset Christmas morning.”
I didn’t have to spend Christmas in New York. Normally I spent it at Emmie and Nik’s house, sleeping
over and opening presents with everyone else when the others arrived. Or if they all went to New York we
all went to Drake and Lana’s apartment for Christmas dinner and presents. The first year I spent with them
had been the first year I had really enjoyed Christmas in my entire life. Gods knew that I hadn’t enjoyed it as a kid. My parents hadn’t let me enjoy it like I was sure all the other kids got to enjoy the holiday. Waking up, excited to open presents…
I shook my head, dispelling the troubling memories of my parents. They didn’t cross my mind often,
but lately they had been there more and more. Ever since they sent that fucking letter.
“It was cool of you to tell Drake you were going to stay in New York with him and Lana and the baby.
Thanks, man.” Jesse lifted his hand and we bumped fists.
“We’re family, man.” They were all the family I had—all that I wanted. I was closer to the Demons than
I was my own band. I loved Liam, Wroth, Zander, and Devlin. But I was the outcast with them. We had all
grown up in roughly the same community, but I had been the preppy with the rich, butter-won’t-melt-in-
my-mouth family while they had been middle class or lower. If their lead singer for their band hadn’t
broken his leg in a water skiing accident, I never would have been a part of OtherWorld.
We stepped into the Front of Line Pass line and Shane turned to us. “If I throw up, don’t let Harper
Jesse and I both snickered. “Yeah, man. We’ll cover your ass.”
We were halfway through the haunted house when I realized that Dallas wasn’t in front of me any
longer. My heart lifted into my throat and I turned around, nearly knocking over the two college kids
behind me. “Dallas?” I called her name, pushing against the next group.
“Dallas!” I couldn’t see her anywhere.
Someone in black jeans and a black T-shirt, who was hidden in a corner to make sure everyone didn’t
cause trouble, came out and grabbed my arm. I shrugged the skinny man’s arm off. What the fuck was he
going to do to me anyway? My left leg probably weighed more than him. “Sir, is there a problem?”
“My girlfriend. She was with our group but I can’t find her,” I told him over my shoulder as I kept
walking, my eyes searching almost frantically for her. I didn’t know why, but I knew something was
wrong. My stomach was in knots, my heart pounding. Strobe lights were flashing all around and actors
were stepping out to scare whoever walked past.
Then I heard it and my heart actually stopped.
“Dallas!” I bellowed her name, and pushed some bulky-looking guy on the ground as I tried to get into
the next room. The scream came again and I knew if I didn’t find her in the next few seconds I was going
to throw up.
A clown holding a bloody hatchet popped out of a closet as I entered the room. Her scream cracked
open my soul and I nearly fell to my knees in relief when I spotted her. But her face was a mask of fear.
Her eyes were wide, with frightened tears streaming down her cheeks. No one was standing near her as she
crouched down in the corner, her eyes darting between the closest clown to me that had just popped out of
a box, to the dummy lying on the ground a few feet from her that was dressed up like a clown with guts
spilling out of its abdomen, and then to the very real clown in the opposite corner with a funny-looking
stuffed dog in one hand and a very bloody knife in the other.
“Dallas.” I breathed her name on a sigh of relief and crossed to her.
When her eyes finally landed on me she reached her arms out and clutched at me like a scared little girl.
I pulled her to her feet and she buried her face in my chest, sobbing. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
I stroked my hands down her bare back, pressing her closer to me. “It’s not real, baby,” I whispered
against her ear. “Nothing in this room is real but you and me.”
“Get me out of here, Ax. Please.” She sobbed harder. “I can’t deal with this… I can’t.”
Unable to handle the sound of her crying, I lifted her into my arms. The skinny guy was standing right
behind me and we were alone in the room except for the freaking clowns. Apparently they had stopped the
groups from entering for the moment. “Where’s the closest exit?” I demanded.
The skinny guy turned around and I followed him. Dallas wrapped her arms around my neck and
buried her face in my hair, hiding her eyes from the clowns. The next hall had an exit sign and I pushed through it with Dallas clinging to me and shaking. The slightly cool October night air greeted us and I
sucked in a deep breath. “You’re safe now, baby.”
The sobs slowly faded, but she still clung to me as her body shuddered with little hiccups. As badly as I
had wanted her to hold onto me, I never wanted it to be like this. I stroked her hair back from her face,
brushing kisses over the top of her head, down her jaw and neck. Anything to distract her from the fear that was still making her tremble.
“I didn’t know you had a phobia of clowns,” I murmured after we had been sitting there for a while.
Dallas let out a long breath, letting go of some of the panic that still gripped her. “It’s not something I share with most people. Being scared of clowns is the stupidest fear known to man…”
“What happened? What made you so scared of them?”
She scowled. “You would laugh if I told you.”
“I don’t want to talk about it, Ax.” She pushed back from me slightly and my arms tightened
instinctively. I wasn’t ready to let her go yet.
“Everyone has stupid fears, baby,” I told her. Mine were crazy and childish. I saw a shrink once and
only once, because she had told me I had mommy issues. What the fuck did that mean? I was scared to tell
people I loved them because my mother had refused to tell me she loved me? What-the-fuck-ever!
“Like what?” She raised a brow at me, daring me to tell her what my fears were.
“I have a fear of falling,” I told her.
“No way!” She shook her head, causing her ponytail to brush against my hand still stroking across her
Falling in love… But I wasn’t going to tell her that. “Crazy, huh?”
“Have you ever faced your fear?” she asked, tilting her head to the side to study me in the dim lighting
from a nearby street lamp and the glow sticks from a group of teenagers walking by.
“Once,” I nodded.
But before I could tell you how I felt, you decided I wasn’t worth your time.
I didn’t say it aloud. I should have. I should have told her right then that she was the only girl I had ever really been
love with. “Dallas…”
“There you two are!” Harper exclaimed as she came around the side of the building with Shane and the
others right behind her. “Where did you two go? One minute you were behind me and the next you
Dallas’s nails bit into my arm, and I glanced down at her. She had a pleading look in her blue eyes and I
knew she didn’t want me to tell them the truth. That surprised me. Didn’t Harper and Linc know about her
fear? Did they know the reasons behind it?
“We decided to bail and talk.”
The thumping on the door woke me. Startled, I sat straight up in bed…
A king sized bed.
What the fuck?
It took me exactly five seconds to remember where I was and how I had ended up there. This wasn’t
the room I had seen yesterday, the one I was supposed to be sharing with Natalie. This room was bigger,
though only slightly. The window facing west instead of north.
The thumping on the door came again. “Get your lazy ass up!” I thought it was Shane who was yelling
through the locked door, but it could have just as easily been Drake. “The girls are already packed and