Chapter Twenty-Five

The dark blue Jetta screeched to a halt at the parking curb in the apartment complex and Max slammed his hands onto the steering wheel. “FUCK!” he roared, gritting his teeth and punching the wheel repeatedly.

He was absolutely furious with himself for being caught. WHY hadn’t he left earlier, when he saw that her lights were off? For all he knew, she could have been asleep, and he could have left knowing she was safe and alone…but no, he had to sit there, waiting, in case a light came on and he could see her beautiful silhouette. In case her lights had been off for another reason.

It was stupid, he knew that. And it made things ten times worse now. He hadn’t expected to see the fucking cab pull up right outside her house and deposit her – telling him instantly that he’d not only been watching an empty house for a fucking hour, but that he was now sitting right in the line of fire.

He’d hoped she wouldn’t notice him. She’d only seen his car once or twice; he’d bought it about a month before she’d gone to San Diego, and they had both been too busy for many dates back then.

He knew she’d seen the car when she went up to the mailbox, but he didn’t even think about the fact that she could see someone sitting in it. And of course that would freak her out.

He’d taken his chances when she’d gone inside, hoping he could escape before she saw him outside again. He didn’t want her to call the cops. But then he’d seen her at the window as he left, and panic and rage took over.

He punched the steering wheel again, cursing under his breath. SHIT.

Trying to calm down, he grit his teeth and shut off the ignition, then got out and made his way up to his apartment. His brain worked quickly, trying to figure out an explanation for the inevitable interrogation that was sure to come within the next day or so.

He let himself into his apartment, slightly surprised not to see a blinking light on the answering machine sitting on the hall table.

A weak hope rose in him – maybe she hadn’t recognized him after all…

His eyes turned back to dark slits when the phone rang right then and there, her number showing up plain as day on the caller ID.

Max didn’t answer it, but picked up the receiver and flung it against the wall, his face hardened in rage as he watched it bounce to the floor, the ringing cut off in mid-tone.


Erin sat on her bed, the curtains drawn and her bedroom door locked, staring at the television she’d turned on to break the silence she suddenly found terrifying.

She hadn’t really expected Max to answer, but the call had dropped before the machine picked up. She considered calling his cell, but hesitated even as she reached for hers. Part of her didn’t want to talk to him – she was so freaked out that confronting him, even over the phone, seemed to require far more courage than she had right now.

Within the spanse of about ten minutes after she saw his car peal away from her neighborhood, she’d figured things out. Her line of thoughts tumbled over each other faster than she could process them, realizing with bone-chilling force that he had been staked outside tonight to watch her.


He was curious about her whereabouts. Curious who she was with. Obviously still angry about her breaking up with him.

It almost didn’t surprise her – he had the type of personality that could take a seamless turn from possessive to stalker.

The gravity of the word hit her stomach like a sinking rock.

Stalking, following, whatever. The fact remained that he hadn’t let go of her as easily as he’d pretended before. That night she broke up with him. She should have listened to her gut.

Things made sense now, when she thought back on everything that had transpired over the last few months. The way he knew she’d been with someone that weekend Jon came over for the first time…his indifference when she broke up with him…they seemed to fit together. And she was sure there was more she hadn’t noticed before. It was frightening. He’d been watching her, and she’d be willing to bet tonight wasn’t the first night he’d parked on her street.

As her anxious mind clicked and whirred in thought, she tried to figure out what it all meant. The first thing to pop into her head, of course, was Jon. Did Max know about him? If he’d been watching her, he’d undoubtedly seen Jon’s car whenever he picked her up…or stayed the night….

Jon’s car. Oh my God. Erin’s eyes widened further. Max was the one who’d sabotaged it. She was sure of it. That must have been the night he’d found out about them…and he’d slashed Jon’s tires in rage…

Just how much had he been watching her? Was it just camping outside her house? That alone was enough to make her skin crawl, but what if – God please say she was wrong – he had been literally following both of them out and about town?

Erin felt sick to her stomach.

She wanted desperately to call Jon. She needed to hear his voice and beg him to get his ass over there right this instant. She needed his strong protection, the comfort of his arms keeping her safe.

But what the hell would she say? He didn’t know about Max, but she couldn’t very well just pretend she didn’t know him. Jon would have a hissy fit and call up every cop in town to track him down.

On the other hand, she could tell him the truth. Now seemed as good a time as any – even better, now that things had gotten to this point.

Erin groaned loudly and ran her hands across her face anxiously. What was it her mother had told her? Oh what tangled webs we weave when at first we deceive…


She’d be damned if she got caught further in this tangled web. It was time to clear things up.

She grabbed her cell and hit Jon’s speed dial. He answered on the third ring, a sleepy whisper that made her feel guiltier.


“Erin? Baby, what’s wrong?” his voice strengthened and turned to worry as he recognized the terror in her voice.

Erin took a deep breath, trying to steel herself. Don’t make him get out of bed for you, you’re the one who got yourself into this mess, she chided. A creak in the step outside her bedroom door made her hair stand on end, and she changed her mind instantly. She might be the worst person in the world for lying to him about Max in the first place, but it wasn’t her fault Max was a possessive psycho who was now stalking her. Who cared if he had driven away. She was scared.

She took another breath. “I really need you right now. Do you…think you can stay with me tonight?”

She heard the beep of a car alarm on Jon’s end. “I’m already on my way.”

Monday, June 15, 2009

Chapter Twenty-Four

“Oh good, here comes Captain Sunshine,” Richie nodded toward Jon when he pulled up at the guitarist’s house that Monday afternoon. Dave snickered and Teek laughed, a scratchy growl of amusement that made Richie smile in spite of himself.

He really wasn’t all that bitter – just anxious about his best friend. Jon was smart as a whip, but he was also a romantic. And the combination didn’t always balance out. One trait usually won over, and Richie was worried that the singer’s heart was blinding his brain.

“Hey guys,” Jon said good-naturedly as he let himself into the Sambora manor. “Did you start without me?”

“How could we, man?” Dave waved at the sprawling paperwork on the table. “We need you to transcribe this shit for us.”

Jon laughed and set down his briefcase. “Did Obie call yet?”

Richie pushed a chair toward him. “Not yet. He said it would be around four.”

Tico cleared his throat as Jon sat down. “So where’s the lady today?”

“At work,” Jon replied. “Said she probably had to put in overtime.”

“So when do we get to meet her?” Tico reached for his beer.

Jon shrugged. “Eventually, I guess.”

“Eventually? Sounds like you’re pretty serious about this dame, Jonny, and we gotta meet her pronto. She needs the seal of approval.” Tico winked, and David laughed.

“Yeah, she needs to pass Teek’s test before we can allow you to go any further with her.”

“Too late. Knowing Jonny, they’ve gone as far as they can go,” Richie jeered. The table erupted in laughter.

“Fuck you,” Jon retorted good-naturedly. “Hey, are we here to work, or are we here to talk about relationships like a bunch of sissies?”

“So things are really going well, huh?” Dave asked, ignoring his comment and glancing sideways at Richie.

Jon nodded. “She’s great, man. I really – I just scored big time with this one.”

Something in his voice silenced the sarcastic comment Richie had been about to make. Maybe Jon had been right about what he’d said before – just because he’d been burned, and in a big way, didn’t mean things couldn’t work out the way they were supposed to. Jon didn’t fall very easily. He’d had flings, he’d had flirts, he’d had more than his share of one-night stands.

But this…it wasn’t casual anymore. Richie could see that now. The tone in Jon’s voice, the way he’d been acting recently – it was more than attraction. This woman had him well and truly hooked.

“You love her, don’t you.” Richie said it more like a statement rather than a question, but he still waited for an answer.

Jon looked up at him, slightly taken aback. “Yeah,” he said slowly. “I do.”

Richie nodded, quiet for a moment. “Good.”

Jon raised an eyebrow at him. “Good?”

Richie nodded as he took a pull from his beer. “It means she ain’t gonna come and go. She’ll stay.”

Jon eyed him, trying to figure him out. The sudden change from rejection to acceptance of Erin was confusing. “What does that mean?”

“You haven’t loved a woman in ages, Jon. They’ve all been in and out of your life - faster than you could blink sometimes – because they weren’t serious enough for you. They never fit the bill. This one obviously does.”

Jon glanced over at Tico and Dave. “He’s right, Jon,” the Cuban said in his low, gruff voice. “We haven’t heard you talk about a woman like this one in God knows how long. If she’s really everything you think and say she is, I’m happy for you.”

The table quieted again and Jon distractedly sunk into thought.

For some reason, his friends’ approval seemed to cement the fact that he’d fallen in love with Erin. And they hadn’t even met her yet. He was an independent, fly-on-his-own man, and always had been, but the introspection his bandmates showed on his behalf was uplifting. He wasn’t crazy. They knew him better than anyone in the world, and if they could notice a genuine difference in him, and have sincere faith in his newest venture, then he must be doing something right.

Feeling like a crazy teenager, he looked up and grinned. “Thanks, boys. Now fuck this girl talk and let’s get down to business, shall we?”

The guys laughed and Jon reached for the nearest folder on the table.

“Sambora – gimme a beer.”


Erin massaged her neck in the back of the cab on her way home. It was past eleven; she’d worked later than she had in weeks. Call after call, meeting after meeting, it never seemed to end. And she had to be back there in the morning, 8 o’clock sharp. With any luck, she’d catch a few hours of sleep after scarfing down something for dinner. She could already foresee several cups of coffee in the morning.

On nights like these, she wished she had a car. It would be so much easier – and more comfortable – to just hop in and drive herself home. But she didn’t plan on living in New Jersey forever, and she lived within walking distance to work; it would have been a waste of money. Although with the way the next few weeks looked, she’d probably shell out the equivalent of a down payment for cab rides.

The cabbie turned onto her street and she absently looked out the window. Same old suburban neighborhood – nothing out of the ordinary. Tiny, square, manicured lawns, porch lights glowing at every front door, the residence parking spaces filled with the cars of everyone home from work, hours earlier than she was. Not a thing out of place.

“This one, ma’am?” the cabbie slowed in front of her townhouse.

“Yes, this is it, thank you,” Erin pulled out a ten and leaned forward to hand it to him, glancing briefly through the windshield. A car a few houses ahead was parked along the sidewalk, and she absently marked her disapproval as she got out of the cab. Can’t park on the street, idiot, she mumbled to herself grumpily, you’re gonna get a ticket. She opened her purse to get her keys, fumbling around as she walked over to her mailbox.

She located her keyring and grabbed the small pile of letters and junk catalogs, thrusting them under her arm to close the mailbox door. As she did, she looked up, the parked car in her direct line of vision. She could just make out a dark silhouette through the back window, and she realized someone was sitting in the driver’s seat.

She froze. What the…?

Suddenly uncomfortable, she closed and locked the mailbox, then made her way up the walk to the front door quickly. She let herself in and locked the door behind her, slightly apprehensive.

It was probably nothing to worry about, she tried to tell herself, but living alone rendered her nervous about any suspicious activity in the neighborhood. And someone sitting in a parked car was definitely suspicious.

Without turning on the light, she set her stuff down on the table and made her way over to the window to reassure herself that it was just some lost out-of-towner, checking his map to see where he made a wrong turn.

And had parked his car.

And was sitting in the dark.

The car was still there, but as she watched, she heard the muffled sound of an ignition firing, and the brake lights flashed on.

The car looked oddly familiar, and Erin furrowed her brow. If it wasn’t eleven at night, she’d think someone was paying her an unexpected visit and had gotten the wrong house. She squinted, trying to make out the driver, but it wasn’t until the car pulled away from the curb and made a u-turn, firing down the street with a squeal of acceleration, did she register the curly-topped head.

Her eyes widened and she let out a gasp of surprise, her heart skipping a beat as she realized where she’d seen the car before.

And who the driver was.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lie To Me - Wordpress Themes is proudly powered by WordPress and themed by Mukkamu Templates Novo Blogger