Bringing Home the Bad Boy

By: Jessica Lemmon



But that summer in particular, Evan had met two guys who had been more bad news than good. Donovan Pate was one of them, Asher Knight was the other, and arguably, both were still more bad news than good.

Donovan was the scrappier of the two and enjoyed a good fistfight. The day Evan met the taller boy with ink-black hair and ghostly silver-blue eyes, Evan had stood his ground and earned the bump on his nose he still sported. They were still close. Go figure.

Asher was far less intense, leaning more toward mischief than meanness. Proof in the fact they’d sneaked out one night to the library and covered the brick walls in anatomically correct graffiti. He’d never forget the newspaper headline that weekend: PENIS BANDITS STRIKE! Or the combination of terror and joy he’d felt when he heard his mother gasp, followed by the laughter she and his dad hadn’t been able to repress.

Evan hadn’t seen much of Ash since Ash had made something of himself, but out of nowhere, a call came from fellow Penis Bandit turned “rock god”—Asher’s words—that his band, Knight Time, had an upcoming show nearby.

He hadn’t hesitated inviting his buddy over.

Within thirty seconds, they were back where they were years ago, recanting the past while Evan touched up a tattoo for him. When Evan mentioned his recent foray into illustration, Asher admitted he’d been entertaining the idea of writing a children’s book.

Evan’s response had been, “You?” He’d watched Ash on stage, screaming his lungs out, and the turnstile of women he’d been seen with since his rise to fame. “Kid-friendly” didn’t exactly describe his buddy. “The hell do you know about children’s books?”

“What the hell do you know about illustrating?” Asher had shot back, followed by the very valid point of, “You can’t write for shit. I write songs for a living.”

That’s when The Adventures of Mad Cow had started. Over the next two days, they conceptualized a story and Evan dug in on the concept. A badass bovine was born.

Mad Cow longed to break free from the farm before he became a double cheeseburger, and they’d matched him with a troupe of oddball, big-hearted animals who agreed to help.

When Gloria laid eyes on Mad Cow, his leather collar decked out with a row of cowbells, a ring through one nostril, gauged ears, tattoo of a weather vane on one bicep, she was sold.

Lucky for them, so was the publisher.

The book hit shelves in spring, surprising no one more than Evan by climbing the best-seller lists, which prompted the publisher to ask for a second book.

Asher was due to arrive in Evergreen Cove soon to help conceptualize the new book, which he’d explained to Evan was a revamped Batman and Robin situation. Mad Cow was getting a superhero sidekick.

Swine Flew.

But of course.

Unfortunately, Swine wasn’t coming together as easily as his counterpart. Evan groused down at the pile of papers, unsatisfied.

Like. At all.

Well. Hell. He’d have to hit it again later. His stomach was rumbling.

Lifting from his chair, he crossed the studio and paused to look out the windows. He took in the lapping shore, sand, and trees. Gorgeous here. Peaceful, quiet, and since it was summer, had the enviable location of being close to the water.

He pulled in a breath, vowed to get back to work after lunch, and started to step away when his eyes caught sight of one very curvy blonde lying on the dock, sunbathing.

Damn.

A long, narrow staircase led down the hill to the shared dock between his and Charlie’s house. The dock was supposed to be private, only used by Evan, Charlie, or their mostly absentee neighbors. Neighbors he hadn’t met. Neighbors, he was told, who were in their sixties.

The chick on the dock was not in her sixties.

Here he’d thought there wouldn’t be any hot, available women in this vacation town. Given they were on a private beach, that must mean the gorgeous creature sunning herself not far from his window lived around here.

One could hope.

Before he could head to the kitchen, an exuberant seven-year-old entered the scene outside, running out to the dock to greet her.

“Ah, shit.”

His boy knew not a stranger.

Evan slipped on a pair of flip-flops before rushing out the door, down the beach, and to the dock to retrieve his kid. Lyon was jabbering away about something, his voice carrying on the wind.

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