Random on Tour:Los Angeles (Random Series #7)

By: Julia Kent

Prologue


Maggie


Liam began banging a plastic fork against a plastic Champagne flute. “Again! Again!” he cried out as we imitated him, the dull sound of plastic on plastic making me laugh.

I was with the band, Random Acts of Crazy, on the rooftop of the building that housed the concert hall where they’d just played, and the band’s drummer, Sam, had just proposed to his girlfriend, Amy.

She’d said yes. We greeted their resulting kiss with cheers and catcalls, more alcohol and lots of cake. So much cake.

Liam’s girlfriend and my best friend, Charlotte, had invited me to the concert and I’d come up for this after-party, reluctant to be around human beings this day of all days. It was an anniversary of sorts for me.

One I’d like to never celebrate.

But it celebrated me, like it or not.

Seven years ago, to the day, I was gang-raped by three men on my college campus.

Seven years ago I was torn into tiny little pieces of Maggie. It had taken a lot of glue over the last seven years to make those pieces fit together again and make up something resembling a whole.

Watching Sam kiss Amy so tenderly, her engagement ring sparkling in the glow of lights on the rooftop, I smiled. It was a real smile, one filled with mirth and appreciation and a little too much Champagne, perhaps. Getting drunk might not be the most responsible thing to do right now, but I didn’t much care.

“Someday, you,” Charlotte said to me, her own voice a little loose.

“You first,” I said, my eyes flitting over to her boyfriend, Liam. They’d reunited after years apart, a simple misunderstanding finally cleared up after fate stepped in and made them see each other again. We were outside on this fine, clear evening, a few stars shining through the obscured city sky, the bright lights and teeming activity on the roads below us a reminder that we were in a tiny little cocoon. Just a bubble.

The world outside us went on, oblivious to the massive shift that had just taken place for Sam and Amy. When the world is so big, what feels like a tectonic plate shift on a personal level is nothing more than the movement of a hair in the larger sense.

I guzzled another flute of Champagne and froze, the liquid in my throat, waiting to be swallowed.

Tyler was here.

We’d met a few times before, in passing. He was the substitute bass player for the band; I was the lead guitar player’s girlfriend’s best friend. In that weird sort of social circle thing where Venn diagrams get laid over different groups, Tyler and I were bound to be in the crossover once in a while.

He looked so hot. Short brown hair. A few days of beard. Bright green eyes that were more guarded than a Russian mobster’s. He was sleeved, the colorful tattoos a tapestry, but every time I met him I couldn’t quite see them. We only saw each other in dark concert halls, or tonight, under the stars.

He gave Sam a rare smile and a hearty handshake, forearm muscles bulging. I wondered what it would be like to have those hands on me. My fingers tracing those tats. Listening to him tell me the story of his naked body while he forgave mine.

Forgave it for failing me.

I shook my head fast to banish the thoughts that drew me into places so dark they became black holes of the soul. The gravity of trauma had a way of sucking all the good into it, and tonight I wasn’t going to let that happen. The opposite, in fact.

Tonight I was going to fuck Tyler.

He didn’t know it yet, but that was okay. He would. Soon.

“Maggie?” Charlotte handed me another drink and gave me a half-smile. “You look like you’re a million miles away.”

I ran one hand through my orange hair and drank some more courage. Not too much, but not too little. The only action I’d seen in five years involved my own hands and devices with batteries, and that had been torture. I didn’t quite count a few kisses with guys in bars on dance floors that smelled like sour alcohol and bleach. Those furtive attempts to prove I could let someone touch me sexually had been more like mini therapy sessions than anything arousing.

Tyler was definitely arousing.

“I’m ready,” I whispered, willing the shake to leave my voice.

Her already-big eyes widened, like white globes with brown pools in the middle. Charlotte’s dark, straight hair was cut with bangs that were so perfect they were like a blade.

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