Take It Off (The Exes #6) by Cheryl Douglas by Cheryl Douglas - Read Online

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Take It Off (The Exes #6) - Cheryl Douglas

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Take It Off

Book Six in the Exes Series

Cheryl Douglas

Copyright © by Cheryl Douglas

Smashwords Edition

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, including photocopying, graphic, electronic, mechanical, taping, recording, sharing, or by any information retrieval system without the express written permission of the author and / or publisher. Exceptions include brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Persons, places and other entities represented in this book are deemed to be fictitious. They are not intended to represent actual places or entities currently or previously in existence or any person living or dead. This work is the product of the author’s imagination.

Any and all inquiries to the author of this book should be directed to: info@cheryldouglasbooks.com

Take It Off © 2017 Cheryl Douglas

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Prologue

Pierce

I cheated on you.

The words seemed to echo in the spacious hotel suite, making me wish I could snatch them back. This plan sounded viable when my manager suggested it, but standing in front of the love of my life and saying these words to her… they burned like acid on my tongue.

You what? Her face crumpled as she shook her head and took a step back. No. You wouldn’t do that to me. To us.

She thought she knew me so well, but she didn’t know the lengths I’d go to for the sake of my career. I’d been writing music for other artists for years. I was finally getting my big break, and I couldn’t let anything stand in my way.

Not even a green-eyed angel who claimed to love me enough to follow me anywhere. I could see my lifestyle was making her miserable. She hated the travel, the award shows, and the constant media attention. She resented it when people tried to take pictures of us. She got jealous watching women make a grab for me during concerts. She’d even shut down her social media accounts because she was tired of strangers contacting her.

Last month in Atlanta, I said, trying to speak around the cotton ball feeling in my mouth, some chick came up to my room after the show—

She interrupted my confession with a cry and covered her ears with her hands. No! You’re lying. You wouldn’t do this. You said you’d never cheat on me.

A clean break. That’s what my manager claimed was best for both of us. He’d reminded me that Keira was a sweet small-town girl with a huge family and lots of friends who had all the support she needed to get on with her life once I was gone. It would be better for her in the long run, he assured me. Better for both of us. I wasn’t sure I believed him, but I was tired of hurting her and watching her try so hard to fit into my world when it clearly didn’t make her happy.

You need to hear this, I said, gripping her wrists. You need to understand what a selfish prick I am. So you can get over me. Fuck. I didn’t want her to get over me. I didn’t want her to stop loving me. But as my manager liked to remind me, I couldn’t have it all. I don’t deserve you, Keira. I was never good enough for you.

Her preacher father loved to tell me that I was never good enough for his baby girl. Sure, I’d had a drinking problem. I’d passed the toke more times than I cared to remember. I’d smoked cigarettes until I was nineteen, the same year they claimed my old man. I’d slept around, fought, drag raced around our small town, and even stolen a time or two from the local convenience store when I was hard up for a pack of smokes.

But being with Keira changed all that. I stopped drinking and taking stupid risks. Bypassed the drugs, slowed down, committed to one woman, and started to take my music seriously. She was the reason I was on the verge of something big now. She was the one who believed in me, who encouraged me. And how was I repaying her? By breaking her fucking heart.

Her old man was right. I didn’t deserve her.

You need to know I have no self-control. I thought I did. I thought when a hot woman dropped to her knees and offered to suck me off, I’d be able to say no every time. But I was wrong. I couldn’t. I didn’t.

She glared at me, her eyes flashing with hatred and disgust before she slapped me across the face.

She was a tiny little thing, but fiery. A Southern girl who could be sweet and polite, but cross her and look out. All hell broke loose.

You want your whores? she screamed, shoving me. Have them! I’m done with you!

I was a full foot taller than her and nearly a hundred pounds heavier. Her little outburst didn’t even budge me physically. But emotionally, it brought me to my knees. I was half a second away from telling her it had all been a lie, that I would never touch another woman.

When she crossed the room to get her suitcase, I thought about following her, crawling after her, begging, crying, anything to make her stay. Instead, I stood there like an idiot and watched her walk out of my life. But not before she threw my engagement ring back in my face.

***

Keira

I just can’t believe he would do this to us. I was crying in my big sister’s arms. The sobs still racking my body. It had been three days and I still couldn’t wrap my head around the fact my fiancé had cheated on me. Why? Hadn’t I been enough for him?

Forget about him, she said, soothing me as she stroked my hair while she held me.

We were in my bedroom, the same bedroom I’d had since my parents brought me home from the hospital. I’d grown up in this old farmhouse with seven siblings, and it had always felt so full of love, like it could protect and shelter me from anything the world might throw at me. But I was wrong. Nothing could protect me from the havoc he’d wreaked on my life when he pulled the rug out from under me.

We were supposed to be getting married next year, and I was finally going to be Mrs. Pierce Eason. I wasn’t proud of that name because of how well-known he was with his platinum records and countless awards for his contribution to country music. I was proud because it belonged to the only boy I’d ever loved and it was something he wanted to share with me. His name.

I didn’t care about the money or the awards. I didn’t care about the fame or that his songs seemed to be on every time I turned on the radio. I didn’t even care that he’d introduced me to a bunch of famous people over the past couple of years. I only cared about him. Making him happy. Helping him see his dreams come true.

God, what an idiot I’d been.

I reached for a tissue and blew my nose, disgusted with myself for crying over a man who’d had so little regard for me and our relationship. You know what? Fuck him!

Sssh, Connie whispered, darting a glance at the closed bedroom door. Daddy’s home. You don’t want him to hear you.

I was twenty-three years old and still wasn’t allowed to swear. Sometimes being a preacher’s daughter really sucked. Like when you needed to vent.

I’m done! I reached for another tissue, swiping it roughly over my face. I am done crying over that man. I hate him. I hate what he did to me—to us—but I refuse to let him break me.

Good for you, Connie said, gripping my shoulders. You’re beautiful and smart. She winked. You could even be sexy with a little help from me. There are dozens of men in this town who would love to help you forget him.

She was right. That’s all I needed. Just a little help to forget him.

Chapter One

Pierce

You’ve got a lot of work to do, Son.

I wasn’t his son, and I was done taking his shitty advice. A year ago, he’d told me to break up with my girl, and now he was telling me to rework the album I wrote to help me get over the pain of losing her? Fuck him. I wasn’t changing a single word on that album.

I disagree. I reached for my bottled water. I was sick of tasteless shit that did nothing to soothe the beast raging inside of me, but I knew if I slipped back inside another brown bottle I’d never crawl out. Then I’d have thrown away the best thing that ever happened to me for nothing.

Music was all I had left. I woke up every morning telling myself it still mattered, but every night I fell asleep convinced it didn’t. Nothing mattered to me anymore. So much so that I’d even written a song about it. Another sad country song about a dumbass guy who fucks everything up and watches the woman he loves walk out the door.

I usually didn’t write shit like that. My music was sexy, edgy. It was that cross between talking and singing to my audience that country music fans had been eating up ever since they heard my unique sound.

Well, the label wants you to change it. And you know we got to make them happy.

I didn’t care about making anyone happy. Except for Keira. I’d do just about anything for a chance to make her happy again. As soon as I’d realized what a huge mistake I’d made, I tried calling. Texted a dozen times a day. Sent her emails with attachments of the songs I’d written for her. I’d even been stupid enough to hop on a plane and show up at her house. Her big brother—the cop—came out wielding a billy club and told me to get off their property before he hauled my ass downtown. But for all my efforts, I never heard a word from her.

I make the music I want to make or I find another label. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought of pushing my label, but now I was the hottest ticket in Music City and had labels beating a path to my door. I wasn’t being arrogant, but I knew the deal. They