Vital Rejects front guy Sebastian Tate never imagined his YouTube music video would go viral, sky-rocketing him to acting success in Hollywood. Okay, maybe he did. After all, he’s a cocky dude who knows he’s hot-as-hell, and it was only a matter of time before his stars aligned.
But life in Tinseltown is never what it seems.
After being cheated on, his only rule to falling in love is simple: Keep Calm and Don’t Do It. Spying on his mysterious new neighbor with binoculars seems innocent enough, but quickly escalates into an erotic game between two very unlikely people.
Twenty-year-old Violet St. Lyons is a world-renowned violinist who’s lost her mojo on stage. She hides away in a Hollywood mansion, trying to find her way through her twisted past in order to make her future.
He’s the life of the party with girls chasing him down for his autograph. She’s the introvert with a potty mouth who doesn’t even know who he is.
When they meet, stars collide, sparks fly, and clothes come off. Yet, giving his heart to a girl isn’t Sebastian’s plan; falling for a guy who craves attention isn’t Violet’s.
Welcome to Briarcrest Academy—Hollywood style—where sometimes the best things in life are VERY TWISTED THINGS.
“Fairy dust is not real. This I know.” —from the journal of Violet St. Lyons
I, Violet St. Lyons, who once believed herself the luckiest girl in the world, was born on the same day that the Violate–Sells comet was discovered. My parents, two avid stargazers, said it was a sign of how special I was and promptly named me Violet. They claimed my life had been blessed with fairy dust.
At the very least, comet residue.
I’d foolishly believed it for eighteen years, until the moment of my death.
Which was now.
Boom! Another explosion rocked the plane and metal ripped away as a section of the aircraft to my right vanished. Luggage flew through the air. People disappeared. The mom with the baby who’d sat in the aisle across from us—gone. The redheaded flight attendant who’d been collecting trash—gone. Disembodied screams echoed from the surrounding passengers as my own scream took up most of the space in my head. Air sucked at us viciously from the outside as a tornado of people banged around the space and one by one got pulled out into the swirling abyss.
I watched, helplessly transfixed, as I sat between my parents, gripping each of their hands as the plane we’d boarded six hours earlier for Dublin spiraled toward the Atlantic Ocean. I was going to die. My mother was already dead, a twisted piece of shrapnel sticking grotesquely from her chest as her head lolled around her neck. Blood had already soaked her shirt, yet I refused to let go of her hand. She’d be okay. We were always okay. We were the St. Lyons family of Manhattan, an icon of old money wealth with deep political ties. Page six of the New York Times featured pictures of us on a monthly basis. We couldn’t die on a plane.
Reality dawned as we plummeted. The yellow breathing apparatus dropped and dangled in my face, taunting me with its pointlessness. Fire and black smoke boiled in front of us where the cockpit had been, and my mind recognized that the pilots had to be dead. Just a few minutes ago, they’d come over the intercom and announced that the plane was making its descent into Dublin Airport exactly on schedule.
Then the first explosion had gone off.
Bits of debris flew around, narrowly missing me. My elderly father grabbed my hand and squeezed, his face drawn back in a horrible grimace. Fear and then horror flickered across his face as he saw Mother, but there was no time to comfort him.
Paralyzed in my seat, we spun like a drunken top, and a part of my brain noticed the sun was rising, its pink tinge lending a soft glow, catching the reflection of clouds and making them silver-lined. The rocky coast of Ireland glittered in the distance. Mocking me. We’d been headed there to celebrate my eighteenth birthday.
Just then my violin case flew past my head from the overhead compartment and crashed against the wall of the plane. Shards flew. I shuddered and wanted to vomit. God, help us. We were here because of me. Our deaths were my fault. I spared a glance at the diamond promise ring Geoff had given me before we’d left. Would the Mayor of New York’s son go on without me?
The air was turbulent yet thin, and my chest tightened as dizziness pulled at me. I resisted. Had to stay awake. Had to be with my dad. I was younger, stronger, faster. My eyes went to the gaping hole in the plane. Had to think ahead. Plan. Water would fill up the plane on impact, ensuring we’d sink rapidly.
My fear escalated as the ocean rushed at us, its surface choppy and ominous. I took in a giant breath and braced myself. We hit at an angle, the plane a torpedo as it sliced into the sea. Daddy disappeared, ejected by the impact, and I yanked on my seat belt, unclicking it to go after him. Heart thundering, I sent a final look at my mother. I wanted to take her with me, but she was gone.
Water everywhere, bubbling and gurgling as it filled up the plane. Salt water stung my eyes. People floated by, some alive as they floundered for the opening. I kept my gaze off the dead ones. Focus. Get out. Only seconds left.
I swam from my seat and fought my way out of the large hole in the plane, lungs exploding. Burning. I’d been under too long.
Daddy! I caught a glimpse of his red shirt above me and kicked harder.
Up, up, up. Must get up. My arms moved. My legs kicked. Excruciating pain. Ignore it. Almost there. So close that I could see the daylight breaking through the water.
The hottest fire I’ve ever known lit in my chest. Scorching.
Air. Just want to breathe. Just get to the top. Please.
My body rebelled and I inhaled and swallowed water, the burn racing down my throat making it spasm as I tried to cough it out. I struggled but took in more and more, the cold liquid filling my lungs.
Dark spots filled my eyes. This was drowning.
My body twitched. I grew disoriented.
I let go of the fight. My hands floated in front of me.
No bright lights, no tunnel.
No heaven, no mother, no father.
No fairy dust.
Two years later
“She was music with skin.” —Sebastian Tate
I tapped my foot.
What was taking her so long?
From my backyard patio in the Hollywood Hills, I watched the odd girl next door with a pair of high-powered binoculars. She flicked on her porch lights, and a low whistle came out of me at the sexy red-as-sin robe she wore, its silky material flashing around her long legs as she moved around her patio. Her hair was down, too.
This was new. Where were the usual yoga pants? The ponytail?
She looked like she knew someone watched, but that was impossible since our outside lights were off. Even the light from the moon hit our house at such an angle that she shouldn’t be able to see us just by glancing over. She’d need a high-powered lens to know I was here.
Usually she played facing her rose garden, but this time she walked to the right side of her patio, which faced us. Weird. But she didn’t play. She just stood there without moving. Staring toward our house. Uneasiness went over me.
What was she doing?
Could she see me?
As if it were a fragile bird, she positioned the violin under her chin and began playing, arms bent and wrist poised, making the most exquisite sounds. And I don’t mean classical like Beethoven or Mozart; I mean body-thrashing, blood-thumping, hard-as-hell music that had me rooted to the ground, like she’d slapped iron chains on me.
Dark and seductive notes rose up in the air, and I got jacked up, recognizing a Led Zeppelin song, only she’d ripped its guts out and twisted it into something electric. She pushed the bow hard, upping the tempo abruptly, her movements controlled yet wild. My pulse kicked up and my eyes lingered, taking in the slightly parted toned legs and the way her breasts bounced as she jerked her arms to manipulate the strings.
Her body arched forward in a curve, seeming as if she might break into a million pieces before she finished the piece or climaxed first. Then, her robe slipped off her right shoulder, exposing part of her breast. Creamy and full, it quivered, vibrating as she moved her arms. Her rosy nipple teased me, slipping in and out of the folds of the material, erect from the cool mountain air and deliciously bitable. I pictured my mouth there, sucking, my fingers plucking, strumming her like my guitar until she begged me to—
Stop, I told myself just as an appreciative groan came out. Whoever Violin Girl was, she didn’t deserve me lusting after her while she was pouring her heart out with music.
I zoomed in as far as the binoculars would go, watching her surrender to the music as she bent and swayed from side to side with her eyes closed, black lashes like fans on her cheeks. Every molecule in my body focused on her, hanging on to each note she pulled from her instrument.
She finished and kept her head bowed for the longest time, perhaps letting the emotion wash over her like it had me. Then, she bowed to the banana trees and gnomes in her garden, waving her hands in a flourish as she rose.
The entire event was surreal, yet poignant as fucking poetry.
I let out a deep breath I didn’t even realize I’d been holding.
Who the hell plays Stairway to Heaven with a violin? She did.
Bam! She snapped her head up, her eyes lasering in on mine, making every hair on my body stand at attention.
And then …
Standing there in the moonlight, she untied her robe and spread apart the sides ever so slightly, her movements seeming almost hesitant, as if she’d had to work herself up. Unfamiliar jealousy hit me and I panned out and checked the rest of the patio, expecting to see a lover. Whoever it was, I wanted to rip him apart piece by piece.
And didn’t that thought surprise me.
My gaze searched her patio, the backyard, her upstairs balcony. Nothing. No one.
She flicked her dark hair back and stroked the lapels of the robe, her fingers lingering over the lacy material. Suddenly the evening smacked of something more than just music. Her arms moved back and forth across the front, opening the robe halfway and then closing it as if she couldn’t make up her mind.
My eyes went up, trying to read her face. Still as a statue, the only movement was her mouth as it trembled, her full upper lip resting against the pouty lower one. Tears ran down her face, but they seemed more of a defiant act, her jaw tightly set, her shoulders hunched inward as if she’d held it in too long and was giving in, but not without a fight.
Violin Girl was trapped in a cage of darkness.
It still didn’t stop me from holding my breath, silently begging her to bare herself to me. She’d already laid bare her music. Part of me needed the rest of her.
She jerked the robe closed, making me groan in disappointment.
And then she did something completely crazy.
The lonely girl next door flipped me the bird.
New York Times and USA Today best selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.
She spends her days with two small kids, one neurotic cat, and one husband. She collects magnets and rarely cooks except to bake her own pretzels.
When she’s not crafting a story, you can find her drinking too much Diet Coke, jamming out to Pink, or checking on her carefully maintained chocolate stash.
She loves to hear from readers and fellow authors.