Wild Child (Rock Royalty #6)

By: Christie Ridgway

Chapter 1



Inside the music club on L.A.’s Sunset Boulevard, Brody Maddox stretched his legs beneath the table he’d scored close to the stage. The waitress slid drinks onto the table—his microbrew and the glass of merlot his date had ordered. As she lifted the rosy red liquid, his gaze shifted from her left hand to her face and back again.

His focus settled on her bare fourth finger.

I could put a ring on that.

It wasn’t a random thought. His circle of family and friends had been pairing off in the last several months. Though through his twenties he’d have sworn not a one of them was decent relationship material, now he’d begun to reconsider—as long as it was with the right type of woman.

“Tell me again who’ll be here tonight,” his date said, half-turning to face him. “I’m a little nervous.”

He smiled at her and tucked a strand of her dark brown hair behind her ear. “Don’t be, Rachel. They’ll think you’re perfect.”

They’d been dating less than a month, but Brody was nearly convinced she was perfect for him.

A kindergarten teacher, Rachel’s wholesomeness could be the antidote to the bleak moods that had been driving him to dark places with a regularity that alarmed his nearest and dearest.

“Bing will be here,” Brody said, referring to his twin. “Along with his fiancée, Alexa.”

Besides being his prospective sister-in-law, Brody considered Alexa Alessio a close friend. While he might have been able to dismiss his brother’s words of caution, when Alexa had teamed up with Bing and Brody’s little sister Cilla to tearfully confront him one morning over his erratic behavior—which included a hair-trigger temper, unexplained disappearances, and brutal hangovers—he’d promised them he’d clean up his act.

They’d caught him at the right moment to make such a vow. He’d blinked up at them from the place where he’d passed out on his entryway floor. With his belly queasy, his head pounding, and his hands shaking, he’d been forced to acknowledge that stewing in booze in unhealthy dives elbow-to-elbow with unsavory companions couldn’t erase from his mind any of his past regrets. Including the most recent—concerning a particular delicate blonde. A beautiful woman with ice eyes and a tragic air who over the course of a single night had taken him to a brilliant heaven as well as a fiery hell.

Ashlynn.

Her name whispered in his head, and her image blossomed in his imagination. He could swear he breathed in her scent of jasmine and starlight.

“Bro.” A hard hand clapped on Brody’s shoulder. He shook the dangerous thoughts from his head and shoved to his feet to face his brother.

“Bing,” Brody said in greeting, then pushed his twin aside so he could draw Alexa nearer. “Hey, girl.” His lips brushed her cheek.

“Hey, boy,” she said, smiling even as her gaze moved from him to his date who’d also risen from her chair. “I’m Alexa,” she said, holding out her hand toward Rachel.

Next, Brody introduced his brother.

Rachel exclaimed over their similar likenesses, both of them dark-haired and blue-eyed. “Identical!” she declared.

“Nonsense,” Bing said with a gleam in his eye. “Everyone knows I’m much handsomer. Not to mention sexier.”

“Well, I don’t know about that,” Rachel returned, her cheeks turning pink as she darted Brody a glance.

He found her fluster charming. Brushing a hand over her hair, he lifted a brow in his brother’s direction. Admit I’ve done good.

“She’s a teacher,” he said to seal the deal as they all sat down. “Kindergarten.”

Alexa beamed. Bing appeared as if he was holding back a laugh.

When you turn over a new leaf, Bro, his amused look said, you don’t go for half-measures.

“Who else is expected tonight?” Brody asked the new arrivals.

“Honey and Walsh should be here any minute,” his twin replied.

“Walsh Hopkins?” Rachel leaned close to whisper in his ear. “The son of Hop Hopkins?”

“Yeah.” Brody said. “More Rock Royalty.” The name Rolling Stone magazine had bestowed upon the nine collective children of the most famous band in the world.

“I still can’t quite believe it,” Rachel murmured.

Alexa, on her other side, caught the quiet words. “I know, huh? The progeny of the Velvet Lemons. The stuff of legends.”

“Unfortunately,” Bing said, “you can pretty much believe every sleazy one of them you’ve ever heard.”

His fiancée found his hand with hers and brought it to her cheek to rub his knuckles against her skin. “That life made you who you are. I wouldn’t change that.”

Brody saw his brother suck in a sharp breath. He experienced the ache of tenderness that swamped his twin as if it filled his own chest. Yeah, he could see wanting that partnership, that steadying regard of another person.

A shared affection would be a stabilizing, strengthening force that any of the kids of the Velvet Lemons could benefit from after growing up around the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll that filled their childhood days and nights.

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