Good Girl Page 30

I say nothing.

“Are you?”


Technically true. Differentiating between oral sex and actual sex feels a bit high school, but I have zero intention of talking about what’s going on between me and Jenny Dawson.

As if I even know.

“Well, keep your dick in your pants around that one,” he says, taking a sip of coffee.

My gaze sharpens. “Why?”

“Look, I’ve got zero problem with a sexually liberated woman, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that that one’s a man-eater. The last thing you need is to get your cock tangled up with this girl when you’re still trying to untangle it from the last one.”

“I’m untangled from Yvonne,” I say wearily, wondering how early is too early for a beer. “We hadn’t had sex for weeks even before we broke up.”

He winces. “No wonder she cheated.”

I glare at him. “I didn’t cheat.”

“Because you’re decent when you’re not being an idiot,” Vaughn retorts. “Just…be smarter, okay? Make sure Jenny Dawson isn’t your rebound or balm for your wounded ego.”

“She’s not,” I all but snarl.

There it is again. That fierce, unfounded urge to protect her. To shield her from her own reputation.

“At the very least, end this idiotic charade,” Vaughn says tiredly. “Tell her who you really are.”

“She doesn’t need to know. And I didn’t lie to her about who I was. Just who you were. I really am Noah Maxwell.”

“You’re also Preston Walcott,” he snaps. “Don’t make her pay the price because your parents were stubborn idiots who gave you like twelve names, or because you like to pick and choose which name to use depending on your mood.”

“I’ve always wanted to be Noah,” I say. “Just Noah. You know that.”

“Yeah, but you’re not,” Vaughn counters. “And I, for one, don’t regret that your father dragged you into his life, because it means he brought you into mine.”

I feel a little stab of guilt. Edward Vaughn is one of the best men—the best friends—on the planet, and I’m all but spitting on our connection.

“A little more time, Vaughn,” I say quietly. “I hate having to say this out loud, but I’m…I’m reeling, man. I feel like I’ve been in an aimless free-fall for years, and this place…it’s helping. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but it’s helping.”

He searches my face carefully. “You sure it’s the place?” he asks slowly. “Or is it the girl?”

I don’t respond, but I know from Vaughn’s sigh that he already suspects the answer.

It’s a little bit of both.


Dolly wakes me up at the crack of dawn.

Apparently the bone I gave her last night was a bit too much, and the poor thing yacks up all sorts of nastiness all over the floor before I can get her outside.

By the time I clean up Pomeranian puke and get back into bed, my brain is already awake, and my thoughts are…


This is going to sound nuts, but something about my unabashed seduction of Noah Maxwell last night fixed something inside me, and I decide it’s time.

For a lot of things.

I’m on the road before six and am in a Baton Rouge Starbucks by seven, armed with my laptop and a venti caramel macchiato.

The first order of business is a no-brainer. I haven’t seen Preston Walcott since that first day at the house, haven’t had any contact with him at all except through Noah for maintenance things relating to the house. New wallpaper in the bedroom, it would seem, is apparently a bit outside the realm of what’s considered “standard maintenance.”

As I impatiently start up my inbox and wait for it to load the hundreds of neglected messages from the past couple of weeks, I debate the wisdom of what I’m about to do, only to realize that there’s really not much risk in it.

You’ve probably gathered this by now, but I’m not hurting for money. I mean, I’m not Oprah or anything, but I have enough money to buy a house. A couple of houses.

Especially one that’s in the middle of nowhere in Louisiana and that the owner clearly has no attachment to.

I want this house. Not to live in full-time, I don’t think. Although maybe someday.

But I want a place where I can go to be off the grid. A place that’s all mine. A place that maybe someday I can open up to be a quiet retreat for young musicians, just the way it was for me all those years ago.

I know the younger Preston Walcott’s not a patron of the arts the way his father was, but maybe that’ll work in my favor. The guy can’t possibly have strong ties to a property he didn’t know he owned. And based on the fact that he hasn’t been out to the house once since that first day, I can’t imagine that he’s somehow grown attached to the place.

Plus, I think as I draft an email, the worst he can say is no.

But please don’t say no.

I send the email and take a deep breath. That was the easy part of my day.

Here comes the brave part.

I check my email, knowing full well it will have messages from my label, my publicist, my agent, and, most important, from Amber, who promised to give me honest but summarized versions of what’s happening with the Shawn Bates scandal, to be read when I’m ready.

And I’m ready.

Thirty minutes later I slump back in my chair, exhausted and liberated at the same time. The bad news: Shawn’s wife is continuing to scream victim to anyone who will listen, with me as her number one villain.

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