Blush Excerpt

©2014 Anne Mercier

“Talk about a dream, try to make it real.”
~Bruce Springsteen

Prologue

Lucy

It turns out dreams really can come true. Who would have thought a teenage crush would lead to this? Well, I suppose the crush itself didn’t do this but it was the starting point. Just… wow.

I’m officially Mrs. Jesse Kingston and I still feel like I’m living in a dream rather than reality.

Let me explain in case you don’t know the story. When I was thirteen I saw this band on one of those contestant shows where they performed and ended up winning. They were so, so good and the singer, Jesse Kingston, was seriously hot. Instant girlie crush. It wasn’t long after they won that show that they signed a contract with some big deal record company in Los Angeles. I don’t know why, but I felt as if I was part of it all.

Maybe because I was there from the start, watching and cheering from afar. Though that wasn’t really their start. They started in Chicago, not far from where I grew up. Anyway, I bought all the Falling Down posters, magazines featuring them, and anything that had to do with Jesse Kingston. My room was a fandom. I’m not too proud to admit that and my now-husband thinks it’s cute—though I never did tell him about all of it. He doesn’t need to know everything.

When the first Falling Down video came out, I, Luciana Russo, Falling Down’s number effing one fan, had a party to celebrate. Truthfully, only a few people like Sera and Jace knew what it was really for. Sera’s my cousin but we grew up as close as sisters and Jace may as well be my brother, we’re that close. We grew up together and played in a band together in high school. We ended up drifting away from the band when my mom pushed me into acting. It started out as a couple commercials and small television parts, but when I hit seventeen I landed some really great auditions and got my first big role. I can’t say I hated acting because it really was a great job. But music is my passion.

Oh, and back to Jesse. At seventeen when we moved to L.A. for mine and my brother Joey’s acting careers, we happened to run into none other than Jesse Kingston in the middle of the Chicago airport. I froze up like a moron but he was so great about it. We walked to the gate where he checked in and we had a brief moment where I felt this amazing zing flow through my body. Then they called for boarding. Jesse went to first class and we went back to coach. That was the last time I saw him—until about four months ago.

Sera and I enjoy performing in music videos so when our friend and big-time music guru Cage Nichols asked us to star in another for him, we jumped at the chance. It was one way Sera and I could connect to music. She modeled and I acted and we just needed that bonding time.

Shock of all shocks happened when we found out the band we were working with was none other than Falling Down. This was when Jesse and I reconnected. See, Sera and I were jamming out to some P!nk and then some Red using their guitar and drums when someone struck some electric chords and that sexy, sinful voice joined mine. I swear I nearly passed out. I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head like they do in cartoons. Seriously.

Anyway, that was the beginning of Jesse and me. He and the band, along with Cage, helped us reform our band, Blush, and we’ve just finished recording our first album.

We’ll be going on tour with Falling Down in two weeks.

I keep getting off track. Jesse and I had a weekend together and that weekend ended up being never-ending due to the media. Now, here we are. Married. It was surprising enough to know that my man loved me and wanted to be in a serious relationship, but now we’re married. Married.

Now it’s totally legit when I sign my name as Mrs. Jesse Kingston—not like in high school where I wrote that shit all over my notebooks.

You know how people say they woke up in Vegas married and you’re like, how the hell could that possibly happen? Who does that? Well, us apparently.

Good times.

“I’m a firm believer people don’t know what they want until they get it.”
~M. Shadows, Avenged Sevenfold

1

Lucy

There’s a knock on the door and I go to answer in my robe. Sera rushes in, eyes wide. “We need to get the hell out of Vegas like yesterday.”

“What’s going on?” I ask, more than a little worried.

“You’re freaking married for one and Grandpa Russo is in Vegas!”

“Oh shit! Jesse! We have to pack and get the hell out of here now!” I throw on some skinny jeans and a pretty white top.

“What’s going on?”

“Media for one. We need to head out before we’re swarmed,” Sera tells him, handing me my shoes.

“And the other?” He raises a brow.

“Our Grandpa Russo is in town.”

“Cool. So I get to meet one more of your family members.”

“Um, no,” Sera tells him. “There is no meeting Grandpa Russo—ever—if we can help it.”

“What’s the big deal?”

Sera looks at me and I look at her. I shrug a shoulder and wave at her to go on while Jesse and I close our suitcases.

“Yeah, our grandpa? He’s involved in some less than legal activities.”

“What?” he asks incredulously.

“See, it’s like this. Grandpa is the head of the Family or as we call it, la Famiglia.”

“Of course he is.”

“No. The Family,” she reiterates.

It takes him a few minutes.

“Get there sooner, babe. I know you’re hungover but think laundering money, drugs, illegal arms deals, putting hits out on people, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Think The Godfather.”

“Are you fucking with me right now?”

“Not even for a second. Get your suitcase and let’s go.”

“Everyone’s meeting us at the plane,” Sera tells me.

“Good. I’m guessing word of our marriage leaked overnight?”

“Uh, yeah,” she answers. “There are photos of you and Jesse in Denny’s with Elvis, you on one side and Jesse on the other, and you’re each kissing a cheek.”

I laugh and Jesse groans. “I don’t remember that.”

Sera laughs at him. “At least you remember the ceremony.”

“I remember some of it. It’s coming to me as the day goes on,” I defend.

“Mhmm.”

The elevator doors open and we rush out to the waiting car. Just as we’re hopping in, I recognize my cousin Nico getting out of a black Town Car. Clichéd, much?

“Nico,” Sera confirms.

“Who’s Nico?” Jesse asks as we pull away from the hotel.

“One of our cousins. Really great with knives,” I tell him.

“Shit, seriously?”

“Yeah. You should see our cousin Bella. She can shoot a moving target like a Navy SEAL.”

Jesse shakes his head and rubs a hand behind his neck. “You’re so fucking matter-of-fact about this shit.”

“Well, it’s normally not a big deal unless we’re somewhere grandpa is. It just so happens he’s been in Vegas on business the last two weeks. He saw the wedding ‘announcements’,” Sera tells us with air quotes, “and contacted mama and daddy.”

“Oh shit.” I’m freaking out.

“No worries. Apparently your husband there already discussed marrying you with both of them.”

“What? When?” I look over to Jesse.

He just grins. I sigh at those sexy dimples. “At the cookout your mom had.”

“So that’s where you were.”

“Yeah. We had a long talk, even though I hadn’t planned on asking, you know, now. Funny thing is, he included all the guys in the talk as well—except Jace because apparently he already knows the ‘rules’.”

I laugh. “That’s daddy for you, covering all his bases.”

We pull onto the tarmac of the airport and rush to the plane. Everyone’s already on board.

There are shouts of congratulations and hugs galore. There’s a banner hanging from the ceiling of the jet and Jesse has to practically crawl under it to get past. Xander shoots some confetti out of a toy gun then blows the barrel like he’s a gunslinger. He pulls me into a hug and grabs my ass.

“Perv,” I say, playfully smacking him.

“Hey, it’s my first Luciana Kingston grab ass. How long did you think I was going to wait?”

“Awww,” Sera sighs. “You’re Mrs. Jesse Kingston.”

“Just like it said all over her notebooks in high school,” Jace laughs.

“Again,” Jesse says, “that’s not at all weird.”

“In multiple colors,” Sera adds.

“Well, yeah. How’s it going to be special if it’s only in one color?” Celeste chimes in.

I snort. “This just goes to show that dreams do come true,” I say pointedly to Jace.

“I suppose it does.”

The fasten seat belts sign comes on and we get ready for takeoff.

Jesse whispers, “I can’t believe your grandpa’s a mafia boss.”

“Mafia boss?” Xander asks incredulously. “Are we talking The Godfather shit here? Scarface? Should I be excited or pissing myself?”

I laugh. “If you’re going to piss yourself, wait until you’re far away from me. And as far as my grandpa is concerned,” I say, sliding a look back to Sera who smirks, “he can be pretty scary but generally only if you’re on the other end of the gun.”

“Dude,” Xander exclaims, eyes wide.

Jace laughs.

“You’ve met him,” Xander asks.

“I have,” Jace replies. “The only advice I’ll give is this: just don’t piss him off.”

Sera and I both nod in agreement.

“Why is no one else surprised by this?” Xander asks.

Trace shrugs. “Most people know about the Russo and Manzini families. It wasn’t that far of a stretch even if Lucy does play on the right side of the law.”

“Goodie two-shoes,” Jace teases and I snort.

“That’s me,” I preen.

“I didn’t know either,” Jesse tells Xander.

I nod. “Maybe this is the part where I tell you to hold on—we’re in for a bumpy ride?”

Xander laughs like a loon. “And to think it’s just beginning.”

Cage groans.

Sera taps Jesse on the shoulder. “Welcome to the family, bro.”

“Thanks,” he replies skeptically.

“Don’t worry about Grandpa Russo. Lucy has the old man wrapped around her finger,” Sera assures him.

“Who doesn’t she have wrapped around her finger?” Xander asks. I smile and kiss his cheek. “Yeah baby. Mrs. Jesse Kingston just laid her lips on my cheek. I’m tweeting that—and I’m not clarifying which cheek.”

I let out a laugh. “Just add to the drama.”

“Hell yeah,” Xander exclaims, fingers flying over his screen.

“Cage, do we have Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, or St. Louis as stops on the tour?” I ask.

He nods. “All of them at one time or another.”

“Okay.”

“Why do you ask?”

“Well, since we skipped out of Vegas without seeing my Grandpa Russo, and after him finding out Jesse and I are married, it’s likely he’s going to want to meet my new husband when we get to one of those cities.”

Jesse groans and Cage laughs. “Which one?”

Sera sits forward. “Oh, we never know where he’ll show up. He just does and then summons us.”

“He’s really not that bad, Jesse. I’ve met him before,” Cage tells him.

Jesse grunts.

“Now their cousin Nico? He’s one scary fucker.”

“That’s who the old man sent for us,” Jesse tells him.

“Yeah, Giovanni’s pretty persuasive and knowing you’re all pretty big guys with bodyguards he probably thought he needed muscle.”

“Meh,” I say. “I’d have gone to meet him or have him meet us but I’m too damn hungover and I’m still trying to believe this isn’t a dream.”

Jesse smiles and pulls me close. He kisses me softly, innocently, and all too quickly it takes on a life of its own. Passion, lust, want, need are all mingled in that kiss and when Kennedy shouts, “Get a room!” we break apart grinning like idiots.

“It’s real,” he tells me.

I nod.

“Because Jesse Kingston is my husband and he is so very dreamy,” Meggie teases.

I sigh. “He totally is.”

I love this group of people so much. We’ve become family. The members of Falling Down, Blush, Celeste and Cage. The only ones missing are Spenser, Carmen, and Simone, our hair and makeup specialists. Xander’s the drummer for Falling Down and he’s the jokester of the bunch. Ben is Jesse’s brother and the lead guitarist. He’s… very direct and to the point. Ethan, the bass guitarist, is all about the facts and truth and no bullshit. Kennedy, the rhythm guitarist, is the quiet one of the bunch, not really speaking unless spoken to. When I talked to the guys about this once before, they mentioned he’s just always in his head… thinking. I think he’s some sort of genius who’s always working things out in there, solving puzzles and riddles. I bet he could solve world hunger if he put his mind to it.

Trace is the drummer for Blush. We got so lucky when Xander and Cage asked him to meet up with us for a jam session and we instantly clicked. He was the drummer for a different band but he bailed out when the other band members were more into their drugs than they were into the music. Then there’s Meggie, our rhythm guitarist. We grew up with her as well and it was just a fluke chance that she was one of the ones that Cage asked to give us a try. With having Jace, Sera, and I already in the band, we were solid and we are kicking ass.

Celeste—well, I stole her from Cage. I stole Spenser, Carmen, and Simone as well but we won’t get into that. I’d just given a press conference when we headed into Nichols Records and I spotted Celeste. I knew right then and there just from watching her, she knew her stuff and I asked if she wanted to be our assistant and PR person. She said yes, much to Cage’s dismay. I promised I wouldn’t steal any more of his personnel. I may or may not have had my fingers crossed when I made that promise. You never know who you’re going to meet next.

“They’re going to be even more nauseating than they already were,” Ben scoffs.

With that, Jesse leans in and gives me a deep kiss. I nearly moan out loud. When Jesse pulls away, he gives me a wink and gives his brother the finger.