Dirty Pleasures (Page 2)

But how do I answer that? He did spank me, and I loved it. And then the . . . other stuff. Kinky billionaire, indeed.

“He didn’t get out a riding crop, and there was no Red Room of Pain.”

Thankfully, the answer stops her tide of kinky questions.

Shaking her head, she replies, “Well, that’s just damn disappointing. So, are you just crazy? Who walks out on a billionaire with a note that just says good-bye? Oh, and doesn’t bring anything with her? That’s evidence of crazy right there, if I’ve ever seen any.”

I decide that the truth is all I can offer in my defense. “Look, you know I need to be on that bus or I’m screwed. I couldn’t wait any longer, so I did what I had to do.” I turn and look at her. “I did exactly what you would’ve done in my shoes—what was best for my career.”

“I would’ve hitched a ride on a private jet, that’s what I would’ve done. Girl, you’ve gotta learn to use what you’ve been given to your best advantage.”

Her words crack something open inside me and the truth spills out.

“Well, I couldn’t exactly hop a ride on the private jet because he forgot about me.” At her look of shock, I continue. “Yeah, that’s right. My husband forgot about me. Told me when he’d be there, and he wasn’t. And not only was he not there, he didn’t answer my calls or texts, so finally I got through to his number-two guy and basically got the blow-off speech. So that’s what happened. End of story.”

“Oh shit, honey. I’m sorry. That ain’t cool at all.” Sympathy coats her every word.

“Well, it’s not like I’m the most important piece on the chessboard he calls an empire.”

Tana looks at me sideways as we merge onto the highway. “But, honey, you’re his queen. I don’t know jack shit about chess, but is there a more important piece on the board to the king?”

A sick feeling settles in my stomach. “I guess to Creighton, he’s the most important piece on the board, and everything else can be sacrificed for the good of the king.”

Tana’s face falls. “I’m sorry, hon. That sucks big hairy balls. So I guess that means you’re not going to call him and let him know you made it, despite not having a fancy jet to fly on, huh?”

I consider it again. I mean, if I were a real wife, I’d probably tell him I made it. But honestly, what are the odds that Creighton has even noticed I’m gone yet? He couldn’t step away for thirty seconds before.

And then there’s the mulishly stubborn part of me holding on to some thin thread of hope that maybe Creighton will call me. And then what? Apologize for blowing me off? Tell me he misses me, and he’s on his way because he can’t stand to be away from me?

Each possibility seems more unlikely than the last.

Tana doesn’t ask any other questions as we navigate the traffic and finally pull up in front of my apartment. It’s a far cry from the giant mansion on a sprawling estate behind fancy gates like Tana lives in. But that’s life as a new kid on the block trying to make it big.

My contract with Homegrown might have sounded impressive when I won the show Country Dreams, but “a million-dollar recording contract” doesn’t go very far when you consider how much it costs to produce an album. For the hours I put into practicing, writing, doing press, radio spots, and everything else, I barely make minimum wage. On top of that, my cut from concert ticket and album sales is laughable.

Even though it was a rude awakening to find out exactly what I signed with such stars in my eyes, it doesn’t bother me as much as you might think. Most of the people I know who didn’t get into the business on one of those make-me-a-star TV shows lived in crappier accommodations for a time before they hit it big.

Some even lived in their cars—provided they didn’t get repo’d. Jason Aldean’s song “Crazy Town” was based in truth. You just never know when or if you’re going to “make it.” You really could be losing everything one minute and then be getting a fat paycheck the next. It’s the game we’re all playing and hoping to win. There are no guarantees for any of us.

“Thank you for the ride, babe. You know I appreciate it.”

“Of course. You sure you don’t want me to stick around?”

I shake my head. “I just need to grab a few things and find out where the bus is parked.” Glancing at the time on the dash, I realize I’ve got less than an hour. “I better get going.”

“All right, hon. You break a leg on that stage, hear me? And when that man comes crawling back to you—because if he knows the kind of woman he’s got, he’ll be doing exactly that—give him a chance.”

I swing my head to stare at her. “Give him a chance? I thought you were going to tell me to rip him a new asshole. Why—?”

Tana’s blue eyes are sympathetic. “You’ve got a lot of mistrust built up because of your ma, and you have to realize you’re not her. Your life is what you make of it, and I’m still holding out some hope that this guy is worthy of you. Give him a chance to grovel. A man’s character has a tendency to get really fucking clear when he’s groveling because the best thing that ever happened to him is on the line.”

I try to summon a smile, but I can’t quite do it. “I guess we’ll see if he comes groveling at all.” I lean over the center console to hug her. “See you soon.”

“Knock ’em dead, hon,” Tana says as I slip out of the car.