Turn up the volume, grab a cold drink, and climb aboard the Black Halo hard rocking, dirty, sexy, crazy train.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “Rock star book excellence. I love this series…”
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “Just wow!!” Goodreads Reviewers.
Celibate rock guitarist, Spook Mortensen, never had trouble keeping his libido in check until Alle Hutton gate-crashed his life. Now, as Black Halo embarks upon their first official cruise, Alle’s along with him as his plus one, and not succumbing to temptation requires constant vigilance and ingenuity.
Determined to prove to Spook—and everyone else—that his deviant desires don’t make him a monster; Alle works on coaxing his secrets from him. However, when a figure out of Spook’s past returns leaving him emotionally untethered, their burgeoning relationship is pushed to its limits. When trust is compromised, only the truth will suffice. But can their relationship survive the revelation?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “I would definitely not only recommend this book but the whole Black Halo series.” Amazon Reviewer.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “Dear gods, this broke me. As in, left me ugly-sobbing and curled in a ball, with my family thinking someone had died.” Goodreads Reviewer.
Replay is the second full-length novel in a trilogy about Spook Mortensen, set in the world of goth rockers Black Halo.
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: February 25, 2020
Publisher: Incantatrix Press
Print pages: 513
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Entertainment reporter, Marshall Hutton, of Bang! Magazine, who published a damning exposé of Black Halo guitarist, Spook Mortensen’s, private life, was reportedly punched in the face by the star when he attempted to speak to him in a Cannes restaurant.
According to the local police report, a witness claimed “the journalist reached out as if to grab the star, before Mortensen turned and punched him in the face, allegedly snarling, ‘Get the f**k off me!’.” He had already asked the reporter to back off several times and requested that he “Get out of his face.”
Hutton was treated in hospital for concussion and minor injuries.
It is understood that Mortensen, a Swedish national, was initially arrested by police for assault, but the charges were later dropped. This followed earlier reports of two separate incidents three days earlier in Genoa. Following Black Halo’s arena gig, a man claimed to have been assaulted by a member of the band and security staff, and then a female reporter also attached to Bang! Magazine was showered in glass when Mortensen deliberately smashed a bottle close to her person after a fiery altercation.
Later reports emerged that the Cannes incident may have been a personal one, as footage emerged of Mortensen attending the Cannes Film Festival showing of rock biopic Stop Me If You’ve Heard It Before with Hutton’s sister, Allegra.
Ms. Hutton is a sound engineer, who previously worked with Black Halo on the re-released version of their single, Within You, following the death of the band’s former drummer, Steve Matlock, to a subdural haematoma. She was allegedly spotted outside Mortensen’s hotel room in a state of near nakedness the night before the incident.
The taxi driver was already shunting his next customer through the door as Alle Hutton leaned in the window to pay her fare. London was grey, grimy, and miserable, as only a city in the rain could be. A medley of traffic fumes and damp lingered at ground level, the sort that seemed to stick in the nostrils and cling to her clothing as she hurried into the steel-and-glass structure that housed Black Halo’s record label.
Alle shucked off her heavy coat, then immediately regretted it, the release from its weight making the pneumatic drill-like judders through her limbs more apparent. Dammit, her heart was in her mouth. This could be bad. It could be so fucking bad. And to think, a mere six days ago they’d been basking in the spring sunshine on the French Riviera, and she’d dared to believe that a glorious future together with Spook was on the horizon.
That euphoric bubble had well and truly popped, courtesy of her shit-head brother. It was a good thing that Marshall was still out of town, or she’d have torn him a new arsehole by now.
Taking a breath to ease her racing nerves, Alle settled herself into a seat. Truth was, Cannes seemed a sickeningly long time ago, and she’d spent too much of that time in a state of anxiety.
Her gums ached every time she pressed her teeth together—a by-product of gritting her teeth, and her stomach alternated between bemoaning the lack of breakfast and threatening to disgorge anything she ate.
This was worse than exams. Worse than a job interview. Worse than the interminable wait for the call from the hospice to say her dad was breathing his last.
Fuck it, she needed to know.
What if he didn’t show?
What if he came, but only to make a clean break of it?
Did she really want to hear that face to face? It’d almost killed her when he’d sent her away before. This time, it would be so much worse because she had a much clearer picture of how good it could be.
She wished she had a friend here. Someone’s hand she could hold.
Would he hear her out? Allow her to apologise?
I don’t condone Marshall’s actions.
Please don’t end it.
I think he’s a fuckwit.
He hurt me too.
Don’t end it. Spook, please. We’re good… When it’s the two of us together, it’s so good. We shouldn’t let other people tear us apart.
Her heart rate quickened as she saw two dark shadows fill the revolving glass door. It spat them out like an invading force. They were decked out in their stage gear—smudgy eyeliner, leathers, and a lot of heavy silver jewellery. It lent an impression of otherworldliness to the moments it took them to notice her. Xane’s cats-eye contact lenses added to that.
The Black Halo frontman led the way, dragging Spook along in his wake like a blond shadow.
“Xane.” She rose uneasily to her feet. Her heart was in her mouth again, leaving her parched into croakiness. “Spook.”
Her limbs trembled. What did she do? If they began on a clinical note, wouldn’t that make everything more strained? Braving rejection, she lifted up on tiptoes and leaned into Spook meaning to plant a kiss upon his cheek, but before her lips had brushed his skin, he’d swaddled her in a tight embrace. “Alle,” he sighed into her skin. “Please don’t hate me.”
Not ever. She couldn’t.
“Spook, no. My brother is a piece of shit. After what he printed, he deserved your fist in his face.”
His blue eyes were cagey. “I hadn’t seen it at the time…” He shook his head. “I’m not going to lie about that.”
“Then I’m sure that whatever he said or did to you justified your reaction.”
He shrugged. “Maybe.”
Xane made an aggrieved noise. “There’s no maybe about it. He deserved it, and more. That’s why the charges were dropped. The police agreed. It was an appropriate response.”
The confidence of Xane’s assertion didn’t seem to convince Spook. Shadows filled his eyes. When he realised she was looking right at him, he bowed his head so that it rested against her shoulder. His arms remained tight around her waist, and he pressed close as if he wished to melt right into her skin.
He was afraid and trembling, just as she was afraid and trembling. Only in Spook’s case, it seemed like he was four breaths away from a panic attack.
Alle hugged him closer, her eyes closing in order to block out the world around them. All that existed was them. All her ears needed to hear were the whispers of his hot breath and the thud of his heartbeat. All she needed to feel was the drum of his pulse and the heat of his body.
“I worried you’d never speak to me again.” Marshall had always done his best to sabotage her relationships when they were teens.
“Likewise,” Spook murmured into her skin. He nestled his cheek against the crook of her collarbone in a way that made his long hair tickle her skin. “I should have called you.”
Alle pushed him back a little, one hand upon his firm chest, so that she could look up at him. He was startlingly beautiful. Enigmatic. His blue eyes swam with secrets. Sometimes when she looked at him, it was like all the air got sucked out of her lungs
“Yes.” He should have. Instead of shutting down, and shutting her out. “I love you, you silly man. I was really worried, and your friend here isn’t exactly forthcoming as a go-between. You could be bleeding to death, and he’d tell me there was nothing to worry about unless you specifically gave him permission to do otherwise.”
“I’m sorry, Alle. Things got seriously deranged. I wasn’t thinking logically about anything but myself. Can you forgive me?”
He didn’t even have to turn those pleading baby blues on her to reach a decision.
“Mate,” Xane huffed. “She already did. She’s angling for a make-up kiss.”
“Oh.” Spook exhaled through his nose. “Is that true?” He used his thumb to trace the line of her cheek. “Do you want me to kiss you?”
He seriously needed to ask? Alle’s lips peeled back showing her teeth. “There’s never a time when I don’t want you to.”
They were okay. It was going to be okay.
His gaze dipped to her mouth, while hers fastened on his lips. He had the most perfect lips, generous, soft, and incredibly giving. Her hand fastened in the front of his outfit pulling him closer as he pressed their mouths together.
It was soft. So gentle. It made her strain upwards for more. And caused her fingers to tighten fast around the cloth, as if she might, by pulling him closer, inspire him to deepen what was currently a flighty, whisper-light caress.
He was like glass. Like he’d been hollowed out by the week that had passed, and all that remained was a crystal shell. Strike the wrong note and he might shatter.
“Spook, I’m so sorry about everything… my brother.”
“Shhh!” He shook his head.
“It must have been frightening being arrested.”
His brow furrowed. “It certainly wasn’t an experience I’d hoped to repeat.”
Wait. Had he been arrested before? The question must have been implied by her expression. “Yeah,” he confirmed. “It wasn’t the first time, but can we not talk about it now?”
God, she wanted to know. What the hell had he ever done that had warranted an arrest? She’d have assumed a band related prank if not for his insistence they not discuss it. A prank would cause him to bristle.
“Have you been arrested before?” she asked Xane.
Flashing crooked demon’s-teeth at her, he swayed his head. “Never. You?”
“No. God, no. I’m a good girl.”
That prompted a laugh. “’Course you are.”
She bit her lip. How much did Xane know? Was he privy to all the filthy delicious things they’d got up to?
“Alle.” Spook chased a stray strand of hair away from her face. “He’s teasing you. Xane’s a wind-up merchant. Ignore him. Also, he has sex on the brain, and therefore can’t conceive of the possibility that everyone else doesn’t.”
“You’re all just in denial,” Xane drawled. “Leastways, you are.”
“I do think about it a lot while you’re around,” Alle confessed. It earned her a smile in return.
“Does that mean I can kiss you again?”
“You know you never have to ask permission to do that?”
“But I do,” he said quietly. His smile faded from the edge, sensual lips falling back into a worrisome frown.
There was a story here. Perhaps one related to Marshall’s ridiculous exposé piece, but prying the facts out of him would have to wait.
Kisses first, and with them, the reassurance that everything was going to be okay.
Besides, it was easy to let go of everything with the rasp of his tongue playing against her lips. Alle gasped as Spook delved into her mouth, tasting her with a deft, eager touch. It made her mind wander to where that kiss might have led if they weren’t in the foyer of a global corporation.
If they were alone together, then she might lean more tightly into his body. Perhaps, clasp a hand tight around his arse. Grind herself against him instead of contenting herself with an iron grip upon his shirt.
How long until they could leave here? Until they could ditch Xane and be alone together?
Xane coughed, bringing the moment to a close. “They’re waiting.”
They turned out to be two junior execs and an intern, every one of them utterly non-descript enough they could have been wearing a uniform. Nevertheless, introductions were made and handshakes exchanged, before they were all guided into the lifts and herded into a clinically dull meeting room on the fifth floor. Magnolia walls, too much glass, Formica tables, and a ghastly, not quite aubergine-coloured carpet that smelled of plastic.
Alle wrinkled her nose. It was whenever she stepped into the offices of any of the big international recording conglomerates that she remembered why she liked working for the pint-sized studios. They, at least, had personality.
“The photographer’s coming in an hour,” the intern, who appeared to be chief spokesperson, informed them. “Meanwhile, we thought you could make a start on these.” About a zillion CD cases were stacked in boxes along the back wall of the room. One had been opened, the contents piled on the table beside a selection of marker pens.
Neither man made a sound, but that didn’t mean she didn’t hear their groans.
“Company policy is that there are no hot drinks in the office space. Water only.” The female junior gave a nod in the direction of the water dispenser with its cylinder of white plastic cups. “Do please shout if there’s anything you require, otherwise, one of us will be back once the photographer is ready for you.”
“They really know how to spoil you, don’t they?” Alle said once the door was shut, leaving just the three of them again. “No coffee, not even a smile, and a room that smells of carpet glue.”
“Being left to get on with it is usually a good thing.” Xane reached for the first stack of CDs, and grabbed a silver pen. He chucked a second copper hued marker at Spook. “Box each and then swap?”
Spook nodded. He took a seat, and pulled Alle into the chair next to his. He worked one handed so he could hold onto her. That lasted until they both had sweaty palms, and then they reluctantly let go with dual sighs.
Alle watched the two men work for several minutes. The silence was uneasy. It made her anxiety prickle back to life. Spook looked desperately drawn around the eyes. At a guess, he’d barely slept since she’d seen him. He’d been plagued by nightmares even before the Marshall/Bang! debacle. She prayed the events of the last week hadn’t tipped him over into actual insomnia.
“How come it’s just the two of you scrawling signatures on things?”
“We’re the most important,” Xane deadpanned.
Alle squinted, not sure if he was serious. She found Xane difficult to read, especially when he was hiding behind his alien-esque contact lenses. In her experience, he could be dangerously irreverent one minute and deadly serious the next, and while the media liked to portray him as a super arrogant type with a messiah complex, she wasn’t convinced that was the real Xane at all. As to what was—she couldn’t pinpoint that either.
Spook looked up and caught her eye. “We were the ones available. The rest of the guys had better things to do.”
“Really? But what better thing could they possibly have to do than signing ten thousand CDs while being deprived of coffee?”
She received two glares in response to her sarcasm.
“Watch it, Hutton,” Xane snipped. “Your boyfriend’s mean when he’s deprived of his caffeine drip.”
“Hm.” Usually Spook drank herbal or green tea, not coffee.
“Don’t believe me?” Xane hitched his pierced eyebrow. “Yup, he’s got you well and truly fooled. Bet you’ve never seen him mainlining cheesy puffs either.”
“Knock it off.” Spook set down his pen. “I hate cheesy puffs.”
“Yeah, like you hate sex.” He threw a meaningful look at Alle.
“It’s us because the others are genuinely busy,” Spook elaborated. “Ash is on his honeymoon.”
“He and Ginny finally got hitched?”
“Yesterday. Took us all by surprise. I barely had my speech prepared.”
“Was it Danger Mouse themed, like they threatened?” she asked.
“It was something.” Xane replied, as he and Spook exchanged nods and secretive smiles. “And get this. You’ll appreciate it. Bang! aren’t even aware of it.”
“And the only photographer there was Xane’s cousin Ric, and Bang! won’t pay his prices, even if he could be convinced to sell.”
Ric—Ric Liddell, she recalled was the photographer responsible for most of the Black Halo album covers. Also, the unreleased erotic art book of the band that was supposed to have accompanied their second album. He was something of a legend. And a virtual recluse if she recalled correctly.
“I’m surprised he agreed to photograph a wedding,” she said.
Xane nodded sagely. “He loved it, but it’ll be a unique wedding album, that’s for certain. I doubt Ash is ever gonna let anyone look at it. I’m certain there are at least a few pictures in which his bride was seriously underdressed.”
“Maybe we can sneak a peek while he’s skinning Ric for taking them. In any case, it’s nothing Paul and I haven’t seen before,” Spook said. He picked up his pen and signed a few more cases. “Actually, I think he’ll be more concerned over the photos in which he’s seriously underdressed. I swear your cousin took more photographs of people getting ready than he did during the whole of the ceremony and aftermath.”
“Drunkenness isn’t sexy,” Xane said, making air quotes with his fingers. “Ric likes to be different. You know that. There’ll be a handful of formal shots to please Ash’s folks, and the rest of the album will be supremely arty and triple-X-rated.”
The talk of the wedding continued on for a while, as they scribbled more signatures, and eventually exchanged piles of CDs. Alle set herself the task of stowing the albums with both men’s signatures on them away in a different box. She stacked them by the water dispenser.
Her tension was easing, but the air in the room still wasn’t entirely settled. They still needed to talk it all through in detail, but this wasn’t the time or place to poke at those feelings.
“So, that’s Ash, but what about the rest of the guys?”
“Luthor’s drumming for another band,” Xane said.
“And Paul’s in a field somewhere, probably getting rained on, and enduring lectures about artificial fibres and sustainability from his folks while ostensibly celebrating another year on the planet. Really, there’s some massive, backslapping, look at all us old-timers still going strong folk event on, that his parents have convinced him he has to attend. Probably so they can haul him on stage with them, sing happy birthday, and make him play the lute.”
“It’s not a lute,” Xane interjected. “It’s a mandolin.” He burst into song. “I’m the storyteller, and my story must be told. Do-do-do-do-da-da.”
They both started chuckling, so Alle figured she’d missed a joke somewhere that neither man was about to explain. They were both still sniggering, occasionally humming the same tune, and making references to scrumpy and mushrooms when the intern came back to tell them the photographer had arrived. Despite feeling left out of the conversation, the smile on Spook’s face made it worth it. She held his hand as they walked down to the make-shift studio together, hopeful that by the end of the day, her brother’s journalistic firestorm would no longer be between them.
By the time the guys were finished with the photoshoot and the seemingly endless boxes of CDs, the sky outside had turned black. Spook nipped off to the toilets leaving Alle waiting with Xane in the foyer. He called a cab.
“What now?” she asked.
“Now? I’m picking up Dani and then we’re going to rescue Luthor from the recording studio and take him somewhere we can fuck his brains out for the night.”
“Oh! You’re not sticking with me and Spook, then?”
His lips stretched into a crooked smile. “Is that what you were hoping?”
“You never entertained that fantasy?” He steepled his fingers. “You. Me. Him. A very large bed and a box of condoms?”
A rush of blood filled Alle’s cheeks. “Never,” she gasped, not entirely truthfully. She’d been a Black Halo fan long before she’d met any of them.
“That makes one of us.”
Her mouth dropped open.
Xane smoothed his middle finger over his lips, grin broadening, while his gaze remained fast upon her. He laughed, and nudged her shoulder. “I’m ribbing you. I don’t think you need anything green and prickly getting in the way tonight, do you?”
She shook her head, mouth still agape, and heat still sizzling in her cheeks.
“Just be gentle with him. He’s had a rough week, and he’s fragile at the minute.”
She could see that. No warning necessary. “I know. I will.”
“I’m trusting you.” Xane began to pace back and forth before the main doors.
“I swear I’d wring Marsh’s neck if I could.”
Xane stopped pacing and sighed. “Your brother’s a whisper in the wind. He’s a bastard, but he’s hardly the root of the problem. Just promise me you’re not in contact with him, and that you haven’t passed anything on.”
“God, no. The lousy bugger put me in an article. His own sister. If he pokes his head up, the only thing I’ll be doing is ringing his scrawny neck.”
Xane tilted his head while he slowly rotated the ring through the centre of his lower lip. “Siblings suck,” he sighed, before startling her by placing a kiss on the top of her head. “That’s my cab beeping.” She hadn’t even registered the tooting horn. “Laters. Say goodnight to Spook for me. Tell him I’ll call tomorrow. And Alle, take care of him.”
“I will. I promise.”
He nodded, then darted out into the heavy rain and dived into the waiting vehicle. Alle watched the vehicle lights scintillate like a million tiny rainbows in the water droplets clinging to the building’s glass frontage as the taxi pulled away. The air around her seemed weightier now Xane was gone, like he’d been keeping the fiercest, darkest shadows at bay.
Fuck it; her anxiety levels were climbing again, meaning she had to mindfully stretch her jaw to alleviate the ache. She had to get a grip on herself. They were okay. A little examination of the facts wasn’t going to explode into a drama. They were on the same side in this.
“Dinner?” Spook pulled her into an embrace from behind.
Alle sank into the welcoming haze of his aftershave. “My stomach certainly likes that idea.” It gurgled as if the emphasise the point. She’d been running on fumes for too long now.
Spook pressed a hand to her tummy in response to the sound. “Sounds like you’re up for eating an elephant. So, do you just want to nip into somewhere and grab something, or shall we clean up and go out for dinner?” He still had on his stage clothes and make-up from the photoshoot. The eyeliner smudged across his lower lids was making the blue of his irises hypnotic.
She stood staring at him for so long he leaned in and kissed her. “Alle, is everything okay?”
“Fine.” They needed to talk, that was all. Properly talk. And that wasn’t something they could do over dinner in a restaurant full of other people who were likely to gawk at them. In any case, she’d packed for utility not a fashion parade.
“Where are you staying? Could we eat there?”
Spook gave her a coy smile. “I’m not in a hotel. Actually, I’ve a place here.”
“Like a house place?”
“An apartment. It’s just off Oxford Street. Nice and central. Not that I’m there very often.”
That was now two homes she knew of, one here in London, and the other on a private island in Sweden, away from prying eyes, and well, everyone as far as she could tell.
“So, is that an offer to show me your pad?”
If this had been any other relationship, they’d have been in and out of one another’s houses and beds multiple times by now, and met one another’s families, but it wasn’t, and maybe it would never be. Hell, she hadn’t even seen his berth on the tour bus yet. Didn’t know the names of his sisters. And, well… the less said about his encounter with the one of her four brothers he’d met, the better.
Even though they definitely had to talk about it.
“Does this mean you’re offering to cook, too?”
He pursed his lips. “I’m not sure I’ve a whole lot in, but if you’re content with chicken and mushroom fricassee, I can probably manage that.”
Anything whipped up by him sounded good. “Will there be wine?”
“That I can also manage.”
By now, she couldn’t help the smile stretching her lips.
Spook returned her grin. “Come on then, Ms Hutton. Let’s go brave the tube.”
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...