***Disclaimer: Material may be inappropriate for some readers. May contain spoilers.***
When I started this series, I had intended on writing from multiple points of view. Over time, I made the decision to stick to one character per book, resulting in tons of leftover material. This is great news for my Danni fans, as he will undoubtedly get a minimum of two novellas from his perspective, as well as a book from Miranda’s point of view. I’ve even kicked around a book about Strut and Arielle, but that’s a ways down the line.
Somehow, Aries and Logan just didn’t wind up with the same about of material. As I dig through all these story fragments, I’ve found I still the pieces I have written from their points of view. Rather than letting them collect dust, I’ve decided to give them a home on this blog.
If you’re familiar with this series, this piece will give you a little insight into Aries’ mind as he copes with life without Maggie. If you’re new here, you can look at this outtake as a little taste of what you can find in my “Instruments of Life” series, which you can find in the “Books” tab at the top of the screen. You can also check out a deleted scene from the first book here.
I watched the woman dancing before me with nothing more than mild amusement. By all accounts, this should turn me on, but my mind is elsewhere, comparing her to someone she’ll never be.
I sipped at my beer, not caring if she could sense my boredom. At least she took direction well. Maggie had, too.
When it came to sex anyway, I recalled with a smile. In all other instances, Maggie Hawke had been insanely stubborn and driven.
God, I hate that she has his name.
I frowned and refocused my attention on the brunette gyrating in front of my bed, removing the last of her clothing. She gave me a seductive smile as she closed the gap between us, sinking to her knees and running her hands up my thighs.
I sighed and grabbed her hands, pushing her away. “You should go.”
Confusion showed on her perfectly made up face. “What?”
“Go,” I repeated.
Hurt flashed through her icy blue eyes that held none of the warmth that Maggie’s brown ones had held. She remained on the floor, sitting back on her heels as she continued to search my face. “I don’t understand.”
I shook my head and rose to my feet, reaching into my back pocket for my wallet. “Here, call yourself a cab,” I offered, handing her a few crumpled bills.
She wrinkled her nose in disgust. “I don’t need your money.”
I shrugged and tossed it on the nightstand, the grabbed my cigarettes and strode out of the room. I didn’t have time for this shit. I walked through the house and opened the back door, hoping she’d leave without a fuss. The cool air was a relief as it caressed my skin, carrying the scent of cherry blossoms from the trees I’d planted just for her.
I took a seat and lit up a smoke. I’d picked out this patio set for her as well. There had been a similar set at a restaurant we’d been to on the road, and she’d wanted to ask the owners where they’d bought them. I’d ordered them almost immediately and had a friend put them in storage. I’d wanted to surprise her when we got home. Truth be told, nearly everything in this house had been chosen with her in mind.
My thoughts turned to the girl in my bedroom. She was certainly beautiful, but she had nothing on Maggie. Like all the other girls I’d dragged home, this one seemed shallow and vacant. None of them seemed to have anything worthwhile to say, not that I wanted to keep any of them around long enough to hear it if they did. Unlike Maggie, they were all blinded by my fame. They didn’t want to get to know me, as a person. They were simply in love with an image.
I blew a cloud of smoke towards the sky. Eventually she’d come home.
I heard the door open and close and breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe I should just go inside and call Danni up and ask for his sister’s number again. He’d have to crack eventually.
I shook my head. If he hadn’t told me he’d sent her that tape, I’d have had that girl and sent her on her way. My night would have been spent wrestling with unearned guilt. It was probably better that I’d avoided that mess all together.
I let out a soft chuckle. The guilt was a fairly new phenomenon. Before I’d met Mags, I’d never given a second thought to the random women I hooked up with, even if I had a woman waiting for me at home. Now here I was, a year after she’d left and still feeling like I was somehow being unfaithful to her and relying on a veritable cocktail of mind-numbing substances to keep her out of my thoughts.
If she ever came home she’d be disgusted with what I’d become. That should be enough to force me to change, but it’s not. Knowing I’m letting her down only pushes me deeper into the hole I’ve dug for myself. All told, I deserved every ounce of this. All I could do was pray that I could one day atone for my sins.
I flicked my cigarette into the yard and rose to my feet. I’d run through these thoughts millions of times since she’d gone, sitting here ruminating on all that had gone wrong wasn’t going to change a God damn thing.
I let myself into the house and stopped at the fridge, grabbing a fresh beer before heading to my room. A quick glance at the nightstand revealed that the girl had stolen my watch. I shook my head, a wry smile creeping onto my lips. If she thought it would prompt me to call her, she was shit out of luck. I didn’t do repeats.
I sank onto the edge of the bed, where I’d been sitting just moments before. I felt just as lonely now as I did before I kicked her out. Just as lonely as I did when I was practicing with the band. I just wished it would fucking stop.
I took a large swig of my beer and sighed. Hopefully that tape had gotten through to her.
I kicked off my boots and fell back against the pillows and squeezed my eyes closed. It was still fairly early. Surely there was something I could be doing with my time. But all I wanted to do was escape.
The phone rang, jarring me out of my thoughts. I looked towards the source of interruption, not really wanting to speak to anybody. I let out a sigh and reached over, grabbing the phone off the nightstand.
“Talk to me.”
I sat upright, my heart skipping a beat at the sound of her voice. “Maggie who?” I teased, suddenly feeling lighter than I had in god knows how long.
“Shut up,” she replied. The laughter in her voice brought a sense of relief.
I chuckled. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Well..,” she answered slowly. “I just listened to the tapes you did with Danni…”
Fuck. I knew this was too good to be true.
“So this is a business call?” I asked, chastising myself for getting my hopes up.
“Air…” she sighed.
“It’s okay,” I assured her. Talking business was better than not talking at all. “What did you think?”
“I love it all…I made some notes and I was thinking…”
“You’re going to do the album,” I cut in, feeling like the weight had been lifted once more.
“Actually…” I heard her take a deep breath. “I was wondering how much more material you guys have?”
“Enough for a couple albums. I’ve been writing up a fuckin’ storm lately.” Mostly about you. If nothing else, you leaving gave me something to write about.
“Awesome. Here’s what I was thinking, I made a ton of notes and I think you should narrow down like, I don’t know, 8 or 9 songs and I’ll send the notes and have Danni do an EP real quick, just get something out there and get you back on the road.”
Pain shot through me as she spoke. How much worse could one night get?
“So you just called to blow me off? Fuck, Mags…first you fucking run off and now…”
“Whoa!” She cut in. “Listen, please. Just for a minute…get something out there to hold over the masses and I’ll figure some things out on my end and we can work on the next real album.”
I heaved a sigh of relief. I’d gotten myself worked up for nothing. Of course, she was coming back. I’d always known she would. “I won’t do a full album until you’re here.”
“But you’ll do an EP? Please, Air. Think of your career…I don’t want it fucked up and neither do you. Just throw together some acoustic tracks or something. Don’t spend too long on it, just put something out.”
“How do I know you’re not pulling some scheme?” I asked only, partially teasing. I wouldn’t put it past her to build me up just to get me back to work, with no intentions of giving me another chance.
She sighed. “I’ll be out there in a couple weeks to do a dress fitting for M and Danni’s wedding. We’ll get together then.”
My smile returned. “I’m holding you to that.”
“But we’re not…”
I chuckled. We’d been down this road before. “I know, babe.”
“I’m serious this time, Aries,” she protested.
“You always are.” I hung up the phone, knowing it would drive her crazy. Her heart was just as guarded as mine, but I always managed to get through. I doubted it would be as easy this time, but then again, I’d thought that before.
You can’t run forever, Mags…