Damien “D’Rey” Reynolds is the lead singer of the hottest new band in the country. He’s talented, he’s gorgeous, and he’s spinning completely out of control. His dark past is threatening to ruin everything he’s worked so hard for. When a story leaked to the press has the power to clean up his image, he doesn’t see another way out.
Mia Lee has spent the past year forgetting about the week that changed her life forever. A chance encounter brings her face to face with the man who has the power to break her heart all over again. She wants the fairytale, but Damien Reynolds is no prince.
Being famous comes with a price. The paparazzi are hungry, late nights are filled with women lining up waiting for their chance, and danger lurks around the corner. Sometimes the best security detail in the world can’t change what’s already been set in motion.
Losing what’s most important has the power to shatter the future. In a world full of darkness, can Damien chase away his demons before it’s too late? After a loss that rocks him to the core, can he take a chance on love again? Or will his past be what truly defines him?
Liquid Regret is book one in the Liquid Regret Series.
I want so much to heal your pain, the wounds, the hurt, it’s all in vain. Regret is deep and stings like rain, like an open wound Without Novocain.” - Liquid Regret
One year. Three hundred and sixty five agonizing days. It feels like a lifetime. Her emerald eyes haunt me. I dream about her on the nights I actually get to sleep. I’ve turned into a total pussy. Twelve months ago, I watched her walk away from me and did nothing to stop her. She was never mine to begin with but that hasn’t stopped me from obsessing over the next time I’ll see her. What
the hell is wrong with me? Yep, total pussy.We’ve spent the last six months on a tour bus, hopping from city to city, hotel to hotel. I’ve searched for replacements but no one has come even remotely close. Being the lead singer of the hottest band in the US right now, I have my choice of women
every night. I step off stage and there they are. It’s like a buffet that’s laid out just for me. All shapes, all sizes, I can take my pick. Each one of them offers me exactly what I want, exactly how I want it. The problem? No one can give me what I need. No one but her.
“D Rey, come back to bed.”
Tonight’s replacement looks more like Mia. Her red hair is long and straight but her skin isn’t as soft. Her eyes aren’t as green. She stretches and smiles at me. I’ve got to get her out of here. She’s stayed longer than I usually allow them to and she’s got to go. The walls are starting to close in on me. What the fuck was her name? Michelle? No, that’s not right. Melissa? No. I’m an asshole.
Don’t judge me. I’m a man. Being on stage is a huge high and there’s nothing better than losingmyself inside a woman to bring me down from that. I don’t have the luxury of having a drink or popping a pill. Those days are long gone. I’ve been clean for fourteen years. Aside from the occasional aspirin, my body is chemical free and Mia Avery Lee is my only drug. Fucking her out of my system is the cure. It hasn’t worked yet. But, eventually it has to.
A year ago, I helped my cousin propose to the love of his life. Ironically, she’d been my girlfriend first. She dumped me the second good ole Steve gave her the time of day. That’s a story I will gag through later. You should probably get to know me first.
They say your past defines you. I call bullshit on that. I’ve spent the last ten years ensuring that mine
doesn’t. I’ve lost my way lately but the last decade has seen living on the street, rolling in money and everything in between.
“D Rey, baby. Let me make you feel good again.” Time’s up. Her voice is like nails on a chalkboard. I don’t understand the whining. I don’t handle that well.
“You need to go before my manager storms through this door and rips my dick off.” I’m pleading
now but she isn’t moving. “We’re leaving for the West Coast in the morning and I need to get my shit together.”
This woman is another mistake in a huge line of mistakes in my life. Let’s get all the judgment over at once, shall we? Where should I start? I had a fucked up childhood. My dad sucked and spent
more time pummeling me than he did sleeping. I fell into the wrong crowd in high school and spent my time shooting up or looking for anything that would make me numb. My aunt and uncle saved me, got me clean, got the dealer off my back and loved me when I needed it most. Looking back, getting clean may have been the easy part. I was 16 and my hormones were everywhere. I thought with my dick. What kid in high school doesn’t? When a cheerleader gave me the time of day at a party, I jumped at it. A couple months later, she was at my doorstep with a pregnancy test that changed everything.
I panicked. Can you blame me? Her parents were self-important and couldn’t stand to be embarrassed. She told them I had raped her. Who are you going to believe? Claire, the honor roll cheerleader or Damien, the recovering drug addict? I begged her to tell the truth and when she saw the beating my dad had given me that night, she admitted she’d lied. It was too late. The damage had been done. Dear ole dad said he was going to take things out on mymom. Hearing her crying that whole night was too much for me. He hadn’t laid a hand on her but the verbal abuse was enough to make me want to kill him. I thought the only way to save her was to disappear. So, that night, while the rest of the world was asleep, I packed the few things I owned and took off.
I kept in touch with Claire and was able to sneak into the hospital and get a glimpse of my son the night he was born. If you think parenthood doesn’t have a profound impact on a teenager, think again. Suddenly, everything made sense. Xander Bennet changed everything. I learned some important lessons that night. The dick that had been labeled as my father wasn’t even worth
pissing on had he been on fire. How anyone could hurt a child was something I would never understand. Claire became my family forever, whether I wanted that or not. And I learned how much I needed and missed my cousin and my insane group of friends.
Still, going home wasn’t an option. My dad had gotten sick and he blamed the cancer on me and my
mom. No way was I adding to that hell storm. I kept moving, finding shelter, food, whatever else I needed. I refused to give up. I met Griffin while I was living on the street. He was only a year older but his story was similarto mine. He let me sleep on his ripped up sofa in the shit smelling apartment
he was able to afford. He and his girlfriend, Della, became my family. We bonded over music and
Griff and I started to form what later became Liquid Regret. He’s known to the world as Harley. It’s a long story that involves the paparazzi and his motorcycle but that’s his story to tell. Della is now his wife. He’s a lucky son of a bitch. They inspire me to find that for myself. They’ve been married for two years but have loved each other since the beginning of time.
I won’t deny that I’m the playboy of the group. I suck and I know it. But I need sex like I need to breathe. Sure, I traded one addiction for another but the only way I can get through this crazy life out here on the road is to find one thing that’s the same in every city. Without a doubt,
that’s the women. So what if I find myself on the front of every gossip rag? I’ve been called a womanizer, a cheater, a playboy, you name it, they’ve said it. It’s not 100% true but it’s pretty fucking close. I’d trade it all for Mia but I don’t see that happening. The person my lifestyle hurts the most is Xander. I don’t get to see him anymore. Claire said I’d have to give up touring and women
and settle down. It makes me a douche that I won’t do it but it’s the only way I can support my son and give him the financial security he deserves. Once I’m back in LA, shit will change. For now, he’s better off with his mom.
See? I’m a fucked up mess. I have no one to blame but myself. Life happened so quickly, I didn’t know whether to hold on tight or jump off before my sanity was completely shot. I fought so hard for fame that when I got it, I didn’t know what to do with it. Our first big gig was the LA Music Awards and a tour as opening act for Ripping Pages. That lasted all of ten shows before our managers realized that the venues were selling out and we were their meal ticket. I’m not complaining. Liquid Regret is the hottest group in the US and being out on tour is everything I dreamed it would be. But somewhere in my dreams, I had imagined sleep and fast cars and so much money I could wipe my ass with it. I have the money, I just don’t have a minute to myself to spend it. What I don’t send to my son and the devil that won’t let me see him, I’m stashing in hopes of settling down in LA near my family.
The Lee sisters were my ultimate undoing. I dated Lily for what amounted to less than a minute in the grand scheme of things. She was gorgeous and did things to my heart that no one else had. But, it wasn’t ever quite right. There was always something missing. Little did I know that missing piece was her sister, Mia. She’s fucking beautiful. Her skin smells good, her red hair reminds me of flames and I want to spend every second of my life worshiping her body.
The second I saw her, I took the first deep breath I’d taken in years. They say that “the one” is supposed to take your breath away. That’s crap. Mia walked in, took one look at me and smiled. I was done. I felt calm, I felt centered, I felt whole. Being in her presence made me realize that I hadn’t been fully relaxed since I was a kid. The weight of the world shifted off my shoulders. She was it for me and I was too much of a pussy to realize how much that meant.
Lily noticed right away. She’d taken me home to meet her family. Not because we were a serious item but because she didn’t want to travel cross country alone. I didn’t have anything else going on so I jumped at the chance to spend that time with her. I was a fill in for my cousin, Steve. I was ok with that. She was hot and I was horny. When she saw the way I looked at Mia, she busted my balls
relentlessly about being too scared to make a move. She was right. I was on the brink of my first tour. I didn’t need anything serious if I was leaving. But I kissed her that trip and I felt it all the way to my toes.
My second trip home with Lil was different. We tried the dating thing, both of us looking for someone to fill the void. She was smarter than I was and let me down easy. I rushed into her Georgia apartment hoping Mia would be there. She was. Her loser ex-boyfriend greeted me too. That didn’t stop me from tangling her hair around my fingers while I kissed her like a man on a mission. I spent
the rest of that trip staring at her and following her around like a crazy stalker ready to kidnap my next victim. We had a couple great nights together. She was definitely too good for me and we kept things PG. But it was hard to walk out the last morning.
I promised I would leave two tickets for her at every show on the East Coast. She hadn’t used any of
them. I’d like to be a macho man and tell you that I didn’t give a shit. I’d be lying.
“Shit.” The pounding at my door is one of two people. Either my dick of a father got through security or my manager is pissed. Marie. That’s it. I knew I’d figure it out. “Marie, get dressed.”
Looking through the peep hole confirms what I already knew. It’s Joshua Seymour, kick ass manager and resident pain in my balls. It’s not entirely my fault that he’s pissed. In all fairness, I didn’t want to do the meet and great backstage. It’s also not my fault that Marie was more into me than her burly boyfriend. It was a case of bad timing. She jumped into my arms and stuck her tongue down my throat before I even knew what the hell was happening. I was simply trying to defend her honor when I laid his ass out for charging at me. Sure, those vultures with the zoom lenses got some shots of me being the hero. Sue me. OK, don’t. That’s probably what ole Josh is worried about. I wasn’t going to let him kick my ass in front of my fans.
“Welcome. What brings you by this late at night?” Think my innocent act will work? Probably not, judging by the look on Mr. Seymour’s face. It certainly won’t work with the security detail he brought along.
“You.” He points his finger right at Marie, who hasn’t made one attempt to remove herself from my
bed. “Get your shit. Time to say goodbye.”
“But..” Marie stutters as she searches the room for her other shoe.
“Gentlemen, please show Mr. Reynolds’ guest out.” Joshua pushes past me and points at me. “This is bad, Damien. Your reputation can’t take much more of this. Her boyfriend wants to press charges. The paparazzi got shots of you two doing more than just innocent kissing or whatever that last bullshit story was about.”
“So spin it. Like you’ve done all the rest.” I swear I’m not trying to piss him off.
Joshua huffs before he sits down and presses his fingers to his temples. “Damien, we need to change your image. I don’t know how, but the label says that I’ve got two options. Calm your ass down or find another face for Liquid Regret. We both know they’re nothing without you."
Well this is a kick in the nuts. “I’m their cash cow, J.”
“Maybe so. But I’m exhausted. Can we play by their rules for five minutes? Every single member of this band would leave the label before they let you go. We’re talking breach of contract and uprooting family and God knows what else. I’m begging here, Damien. I’ll spin this story but you may not like it. I need you to get your shit together.”
I can’t help but be scared shitless about how he might spin this but I’ve got to trust him. He’s never
done me wrong. “Spin away.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
MJ Carnal is a USA TODAY bestselling author who lives in South Carolina with her husband, gorgeous daughter and two loving and super furry dogs. Her true passion is written word. When she isn't writing, you can find her watching episodes of The Walking Dead with her hubby, having tea parties with her princess, Singing karaoke for anyone that will listen and reading just about anything she can get her hands on. Her first book series, The Moretti Novels, are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Kobo and Scribd.
She loves to hear from readers, fellow writers and book lovers. Find her online at www.facebook.com/mjcarnalauthor, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @mjcarnalauthor.