All Right Now
“Unabashed sex, love and rock n roll that will make your heart melt. ”Lee Clements
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “Unabashed sex, love, & rock ‘n’ roll that will melt your heart.” Scandalicious.
After an attempt on his life leaves him with brain injuries, Ash Gore’s future as lead guitarist for British rockers Black Halo looks uncertain. Unless he can somehow regain the skills he’s lost before the band’s latest tour kicks off, he’ll be consigned to the rock ‘n’ roll scrap heap.
Ginny Walters never meant to fall for a rock god. Fate had other plans—which led to them burning up sheets in every hotel room across Europe. Now Ash is depending on her to make everything right. But Ginny has a secret—the sort of secret that could put their love in jeopardy and destroy everything they’ve built if it got out.
As the “King of Licking” and his chosen groupie embark on a rollercoaster physical and emotional journey to save Ash’s career, the past comes back to haunt them both and their love is put to the ultimate test. What happens when the person you trust most, isn’t who you think they are?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “A great read and a fitting conclusion to Ash's story. Loved it!”
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “Angst, fear, sweetness, and packing plenty of heat, this was such an awesome addition to the Black Halo series. It kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page.”
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “Ash and Ginny melt the sheets/pages together.” Goodreads Reviewers.
All Right Now is the third book in a trilogy about Ash Gore, set in the world of goth rockers Black Halo. Turn up the volume, grab a cold drink, and climb aboard the Black Halo hard rocking, dirty, sexy, crazy train.
DEEP DIVE INTO THE WORLD OF BLACK HALO:
💀XANE: (Come Undone, Come Together, Come Alive.)
💀ASH: (All Night Long, All Fired Up, All Right Now.)
💀SPOOK: (Off the Record, Reflex, Replay)
Release date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Incantatrix Press
Print pages: 380
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All Right Now
26th June. Karlstad, Sweden
“Which way now?”
“It’s right along here.”
Ginny trotted along behind Spook, keeping pace with his long-legged stride so as not to get separated from him. The complex layout of corridors appeared to have been designed to disorientate, and as she couldn’t read Swedish, the signs didn’t help.
On hearing of Ash’s collapse, Ginny had paused only long enough to snatch up her purse and scoop her wits together, before taking a taxi to the hospital. Said intellect had since leaked out of her ears. For ten minutes she’d stood outside the emergency department just staring at the place. Then the staff had refused to let her in until Spook had vouched for her. He’d been clueing her in on events and possible diagnoses as they walked, but although she heard every word, little of it filtered through the haze of worry. Fall… guitar smashed… poison… Xane’s bananas.
Well, she could see why he’d be crazy over events. Black Halo had suffered through a rough year. But then Spook was talking about actual bananas, so she was confused again. It was as if her brain couldn’t process the various inputs anymore. Instead, it was stuck on the horrid stench of the place. The reek of bleach always made her skin crawl. It brought back vivid memories of the night six years earlier when her world had veered in a distinctly adult direction. Perhaps mistaking her shivers for cold, Spook hung his leather jacket around her shoulders.
“It’s this one.” Spook stopped abruptly, so that Ginny stumbled into him. His shirt was still damp from the show, and he smelled musky and warm in the way Ash always did when he bounced off stage. “He’s sleeping right now, Ginny, but he has been asking for you.” He waved for her to go in ahead of him.
“I didn’t do anything to hurt him, Spook. I don’t know if he explained.”
Spook curled his fingers around her shoulder. “He explained enough.”
“About everything. We can talk it through later, if you like. Right now, Ash needs you by his side. You do know that Iain’s responsible, don’t you? Dani explained when she called you?”
“He is?” Her friend had babbled a whole lot of things at once, so that she’d struggled to disentangle the various threads beyond understanding that Ash was hurt, and so were several other members of the band, and that Iain Willows their temporary drummer had somehow been involved.
“It was deliberate. But don’t worry, the police have him in custody. Go on in, it’s best we don’t linger in the doorway.”
Somehow, she found a tiny smile for him. Spook would make sure everything was all right. Looking after Ash was what he did. Thank heavens he wasn’t the one who’d been hurt or the band would have been in complete disarray. Not that the current situation looked too good. One glance in the direction of the bed was enough to confirm her worst fears. Ash lay surrounded by machines. Unease churned up a storm in her innards as she gingerly approached the bed. The figure in the bed didn’t even look like him.
Maybe it wasn’t him. Perhaps there’d been a mistake. All right, so both men had jet black hair, but Ash never combed his back like a city slicker. His constantly hung over his eyes. Also, while he favoured being pale, his skin wasn’t grey and waxy other than when his eye-liner ran.
This couldn’t be him.
There were bruises across the bridge of his nose and on his temples, plus a gash in one cheek, presumably from where he’d nose-dived off the ego-riser and landed so that his guitar smashed beneath him. That would explain the lacerations she could see on his neck, and across the top of his bared chest too. The genuine confirmation that she was indeed looking at the man she loved came in the form of the hickie she’d left upon his neck earlier that day.
“Shit!” She didn’t want to face this reality.
They’d been so happy earlier.
“What the hell happened?”
“He got spiked, Ginny.”
Yes, she had heard him say that, but she’d imagined that would be like Ash having a bad stomach bug, or overdoing it on the booze, not him lying in a sickly grey state of unconsciousness.
“I knew I shouldn’t have let you out of my sight, Ash. I sensed something bad would happen.”
Bad, but not crazy like this. Willows had spiked her with the same substance two days earlier and left a drug-induced hole in her memory, but the effect on Ash seemed to be on a whole other level.
Don’t die on me. She wasn’t ready to say goodbye to him yet. Not for a long, long time. Hell, not ever.
Why did the goddamned room have to smell like a mortuary? As if the lingering residue of carbolic wasn’t bad enough, it was overlaid with the pungent aroma of lilies.
Ginny’s attention zeroed in on the vase of flowers. She’d always hated lilies, ever since they’d been used to decorate her father’s wake. Nasty, smelly things with their big phallic yellow stamens and pungent scent that seemed to waft up her nose and refuse to ever leave.
She covered up her mouth and nose with her hand.
Nice thought, whoever was responsible for the gift. They did brighten up the dreary little space with its magnolia walls and heavy-duty linoleum underfoot, but they definitely had to go, and preferably before they made her vomit.
“Ginny?” Spook beckoned her over to the bed, where two familiar faces were already gathered.
Troels, the band’s cave troll resembling driver took hold of her free hand and gave it a squeeze. “He’ll pull through. He’s a tenacious bastard. You sit yourself here.” Troels vacated his seat for her, but Ginny stayed on her feet.
Elspeth, the band’s keyboard player, who had been occupying the chair on the other side of the bed, also rose. “I’m going to check up on Xane now you’re here. He and Luthor are being treated down the hall.”
Okay, that explained their absence from Ash’s bedside. Presumably that’s where Rock Giant was too.
Ginny held back the litany of questions cascading through her head until the door closed behind Elspeth and Cave Troll. “Why hasn’t he come round? What have the doctors said? When’s he going to wake up?”
Spook brushed a hand across his friend’s temple. “I told you, he’s drifting in and out. The doctors seemed to think that was normal under the circumstances. They’re giving him fluids, and treating him. I don’t pretend to understand how. Something to do with charcoal, I think. Anyway, they’re not expecting him to be even vaguely himself again before morning. It’s going to take time for the effects of the drugs to wear off, especially since he’s had such a high dose.”
Spook shuffled uncomfortably. “Near lethal. Not that Ash was the intended target. Iain meant to take down Xane. He confessed that much before he tried to drown him. I ought to go and see how he’s doing too. Will you be all right here if I leave you for a bit?”
She didn’t think she’d ever be all right again.
“Spook—would you take these with you?” She handed him the vase of flowers. “I don’t care who they’re from. They can’t stay here. They smell—” She wrinkled her nose. “—rotten. They make me want to puke.”
“Okay.” He glanced at the card. “I’ll think of something to say to Elspeth about where they’ve gone. Find me if you need me.”
She gave her head another nod. If only all the problems she faced could be dealt with so swiftly and painlessly, but there wasn’t a single direct action she could take that would fix the man lying in the bed in this horrid little room.
“Let’s get you sorted out, eh?” She brushed her fingers through the front of Ash’s hair, reinstating the curtain that usually masked his eyes. Even then, he remained fragile-looking, as though he might splinter into hundreds of parts if she simply knocked him too hard with her breath. There were too many wires and a whole assortment of tubes connecting him to various monitors and drips. None of it provided any reassurance. Surely if he was going to be okay, he didn’t need this much machinery involved in his care. What if the truth was that she’d only been offered that reassurance in order to give her hope and keep her calm?
What if Iain’s actions had changed things forever?
Ginny swallowed hard and balled her fists. Better she stayed angry than gave into her welling emotions. Only, a startled sob somehow escaped her lips.
“Gins…” Ash’s eyelids fluttered, but his blue eyes only opened for less than a second.
“Ash.” She stretched over him, hands braced either side of his head and brushed her lips against his clammy brow. “Ash, I’m right here. How are you feeling? Do you know where you are?”
“Heaven,” he slurred. “There’s a pretty angel above me, but I feel so damned sleepy.”
“That’s okay, you should rest.”
“Dreams are weird. I’m cold too.”
His teeth chattered, but his skin was burning hot.
“I’ll get the nurse.”
“No,” he insisted. “Stay here. Hold me.”
Staying she could do. The abundance of wires made the second request a bit trickier, but she managed to fold her hand around his fingers. “How many times have I told you not to lark about with a guitar in your hands?”
“Never,” he slurred. “You love my licking.”
A tearful grin stretched wide her lips. If he could flirt with her, that was surely a good sign.
“Are we talking about guitar playing, or something else?”
“Both.” He drew a few noisy breaths, as if the effort of talking had left him oxygen deprived. “I’m-screwed-aren’t-I? Stroke?”
“No, not a stroke. Iain poisoned you.”
Ginny wrapped a second hand around his. “Yes. The police have him now, so he can’t hurt anyone else.”
Just as well for him, for if she happened across his path, then forensics would be scraping him off the pavement with teeny tiny tools as microscopic pieces would be all that was left.
“Ginn… Don’t leave me.”
“Babe, I’m still right here.” She pressed another gentle kiss to his brow, then one to his lips. “I’m not going anywhere. If you need to rest, you do that. I’ll still be here when you wake up. I’ll always be here.”
Her reassurance seemed to soothe him some. Within a few moments, his breathing had settled, and the trace on the monitor above his head was displaying a steady ambulatory pace. Only then did she snag hold of the chair Troels had earlier vacated and perch on its edge. No one was moving her from that spot, and she didn’t give a rat’s arse what the hospital policy on visitors was. He’d asked her to stay, which meant she was sitting tight.
“Elspeth brought you a ton of stinky lilies, but I made Spook take them away. If you want flowers to brighten the room up, I can get some tomorrow.”
Right on cue, he sneezed.
“Hayfever, eh? Okay, scratch the flowers, maybe some chocolates, and a Penfold toy. You can cuddle it when I have to nip out to go to the loo. What do you think, Chief?” She didn’t much care for being Penfold to his Danger Mouse, but it had become a sort of running joke between them. Maybe she’d get him a Jeopardy Mouse toy instead, see if she couldn’t steer him into seeing her as more of a kick-ass heroine than a bumbling fool.
She didn’t know why she was telling him things, but maybe he found the sound of her voice comforting. Talking was helping her get the facts straight in her own mind.
He made a noise she couldn’t quite interpret, due to his voice sounding so slurred and raspy. Almost as if he’d downed one too many shots after a gig. Her heart melted at his obvious frustration, but even the fact he was trying to communicate was a boon.
“Want me to stay with you?”
At least his sense of humour still appeared to be functional.
“Good. I’m not going anywhere.” She leaned over and gently pressed a kiss to his dry lips.
“When I’m better will you wear those tiny black satin shorts and your fishnets again.”
“Just them, or should I wear something on my top half?”
His eyelids made another of those fluttery dances, and his lips quirked up at the corners.
“The push up corset thing. And heels. Way, way high heels. Sexy heels.” His mouth formed a deranged sort of smile.
Ginny found herself grinning along madly with him, while tears tumbled down her cheeks. She quickly wiped them away before he noticed.
“Anything you want, Chief. Anything at all. Is there a particular colour you’d like them to be?”
“Maybe heeled boots,” he drawled. “Long skin tight ones that come up high. I like black, or purple, or red. Mmm… and do your hair all big. And heaps of make-up and sparkles. Sparkles everywhere.”
At least he was having nice dreams.
“Maybe get some rest so that you’re in a fit state to handle all that.”
“I definitely like it when you handle me like that.”
“That’s ’cause you’re a dirty boy,” she leaned over and whispered in his ear. “A very dirty boy, with sordid, nasty dreams, but I’m gonna make every one of them real for you. All you have to do is get better first.”
“I want a Danger Car,” he burbled as he sunk back into oblivion again.
“Course you do.” She patted the blanket covering his chest. “That one might be a little trickier to sort out. But leave it with me.” It was something she could work on, though she might be saving up for a zillion years. Even a toy replica would stretch her budget.
Ginny watched the rise and fall of his chest, until exhaustion tugged her own eyelids downwards. She woke startled, with a stiff neck an indeterminate time later. The machines were all quiet, and the hand held within hers was ice cold. “Ash… Ash…” She shook his shoulders gently, but got no response.
One of the machines began to wail, instantly summoning a nurse, who bustled over to the bed and hit a button on the nearest monitor, silencing the horrid bleat.
“Is he all right?” Ginny asked in alarm.
“Bra. He’s okay. The monitor lead has come loose.” The woman, a matronly type with bright gold hair, held up what looked like a strip of sticky tape attached to a red light connected to one of the many wires, then secured it around one of Ash’s fingers again. “Maybe you’d like to go and get some proper rest, and come to see him again in the morning.”
“I’m staying,” Ginny insisted. They’d have to get security to carry her out if they wanted her to leave. She wasn’t going of her own free will. “In case he wakes, and gets distressed.”
The nurse gave her a sceptical look, and added something in her native tongue.
“Yeah, I don’t understand.”
“It’s not really policy to let you stay overnight.”
She rose, expecting to have to stand her ground, but the woman busied herself with the chart, only looking at Ginny again once she’d finished. Then she handed her an open-weave blanket much like the one covering Ash.
“It can get cold during the night. I’ll overlook you being here tonight, but tomorrow you need to go home.”
With any luck Ash would be going home tomorrow too.
“Okay. I agree. Tomorrow.”
Not that they had a home as such to go home to, unless you counted the tour bus. She wasn’t sure the medical staff would consider that an appropriate place to recuperate. Maybe Spook would help her sort out a place for them both to go until they could fly back to England. She guessed Ash had a home there somewhere, and if not, there was always her flat.
His words seemed even more stretched out than earlier.
“Where? Can’t feel you.”
She was still holding onto his hand. Ginny gave his fingers an extra tight squeeze, but his expression suggested he didn’t recognise the pressure.
Ash raised his other hand to blindly seek her out, which set off another alarm. “Let me touch you.” He brushed a curled finger against her cheek, before his limb sagged back to his side, as if the war against gravity were too much.
The nurse bustled over to the bedside again, and reset the machine. “If you’re going to stay, you need to let him rest.”
“I didn’t do anything. He lifted his arm. I’m not sure he can feel his fingers.”
The nurse patted her kindly on the back, and guided her back down into her seat. “He’s very disorientated at the moment. I wouldn’t pay too much heed to what he’s saying. It’s common for patients to ramble when they’re drifting in and out of sleep like this.”
“He’s slurring his words too.”
She shrugged. “He got spiked, right? It’ll be the lingering effects of the drugs in his system. The consultant will come to see him in the morning. Let him know then if you’ve still got concerns, but I expect he’ll be fine once he’s properly awake.”
Ginny wasn’t nearly so confident that was the case. Slurring his words kind of made sense as a side-effect, but being unable to tell she was gripping his fingers hard enough to whiten the skin didn’t strike her as terribly normal. But then, as the nurse said, maybe he was just disorientated and come daylight he’d magically be back to his normal charming self.
“It won’t do you any good to fret. He’ll want to see you smiling when he wakes up, not frazzled from worry.”
Ginny settled in the chair, and stayed quiet until the woman left. She needed to talk this all out with someone, but it’d have to be someone she could trust.
“You’d better be all right like she says you’re going to be, Ash. You have to be all right. Do you hear me? You have to be. Your band needs you. I need you. Your family too.” Had anyone even let them know what had happened? Spook had probably called. He was good like that; so strong in his own quiet, unassuming way. She needed to be strong now too in order to help him through this.
The worries she thought she had got pushed onto the back burner. There were some things she needed to tell him about her past, but now wasn’t the time to strip the rosy tint from his gaze. He needed to put all his energy into recuperating. Her ancient history could wait until he was well again.
She sniffled, and tears trickled over her cheeks. “God, woman, since when were you such a leaky bucket?” Ginny chastised herself.
She’d never been one for pointless bubbling. Besides, Ash would need her to be there for him to lean on. She didn’t want him wasting energy being concerned for her well-being. “I’m here for you, Ash.” She dried her eyes. “Whatever the future holds, I’m right here, you need never doubt that.”
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