Home > Nashville Nights (Music City Lovers #2)

Nashville Nights (Music City Lovers #2)
Author: Julie Capulet

Chapter One



 I wake up to the sound of birds chirping.

 Where the … ?

 My head is pounding hellishly.

 A vivid image of my mother’s face fringes at the edge of my awareness. Her dark hair and her green eyes. I love you, Vaughn. It’s the very last thing she ever said to me.

 My eyes are suddenly wide open.

 Her image fades but it’s jarring. The heaviness of the loss of her is as raw as it ever was. It never seems to soften or fade out.

 I look around.

 I’m in a barn, sleeping in a goddamn pile of hay.

 Which is surprisingly comfortable.

 I crashed out after an all-nighter with my brothers, I remember now. We wrote three complete songs.

 And drank a lot of whiskey.

 Too much whiskey, if my hangover is any judge.

 The place is huge, with dusty beams and an old-timey, rustic vibe. Morning sunlight streams through thin gaps in the wood, painting the whole place in stripes of … beauty, maybe. The kind that makes you feel deeply, fully inspired, I realize as I lie here. Absorbing it.

 You’re a beautiful soul, Vaughn. Don’t be reckless. Don’t throw it all away.


 Having my mother speak to me knowingly from beyond the grave is not something I had on my bingo card this morning.

 But I’m feeling it. Too deeply, as always. It’s a pain I do my best to numb whenever the need arises. I slide my flask out of my back pocket and check its contents. Hair of the dog and all that. But it’s empty.

 I look almost eerily like my father did but people used to say my mother and I had the same personality. She was fun and enchanting to be around but there was a pronounced vulnerability to her character that was all about her kindness. She cared too much.

 I don’t see those similarities in myself at all. Unfortunately, my habits mirror all my father’s worst tendencies. No matter how much I wish I wasn’t, I basically am my father. And it’s this realization that makes me want to self-medicate like nothing else does.

 Whatever. I don’t feel like analyzing my personality flaws this early in the morning. Or ever, more accurately.

 I’m covered in straw and I’m dusty as fuck but the slant of the sunlight feels different today. Soft and colorful. Almost magical.

 I must be really hungover.

 I climb out of the hay and try to brush some of it off my clothes but to hell with it.

 When I step outside into the daylight, the world is basically on fire with blazing sun, blue sky and green, rolling landscape as far as the eye can see. I have to shield my eyes for a few seconds from the glaring brightness of it all.

 There’s a pond in the distance.

 Now there’s an offer I can’t refuse.

 I take a few seconds to adjust to the sunlight and to make sure my equilibrium is more or less intact, then I walk down toward the pond, half-amazed at how scenic this place is. I’ve spent too much time in the city lately, on tour buses and in hotel rooms. It’s good to get away from all that.

 I’m running commando so I strip down and wade into the water, which is clear and clean-looking, and dive under.

 Damn, it feels good.

 I swim for a while and wash off the dirt and the sweat.

 It’s been a crazy few months on tour. I’ve overindulged in every way it’s possible to overindulge. I’ve played my heart out and squeezed every last drop out of each day and—even more—each night.

 It’s just how I happen to live my life. Fast. Hard. Might as well make the most of the more-money-than-I-could-spend-in-this-lifetime, the whiskey on tap, the God-given gifts I happen to appreciate the hell out of. I have blue eyes and black hair. I’m 6’3’’ and built as fuck—in every regard. Women give me whatever I want whenever I want it. I thank my lucky stars for all of the above by enjoying the ride every chance I get. Why wouldn’t I?

 I’m famous, not just because I was recently listed among the top five drummers in the world but also because I tend to make headlines for a variety of reasons.

 I prefer to let my fire burn bright.

 I’m borderline out of control, maybe, but who isn’t?

 Anyone who tells me they’re in control is full of shit, I figure. Even if such a thing was possible, it wouldn’t be something I would aspire to. I have zero interest in living my life by a set of arbitrary rules that might be considered “acceptable.”

 To who?

 No one I happen to know or care much about the opinion of, is what I’ve come to realize.

 Even so, I can admit I feel sort of wrecked. Not just physically, from all the insane excesses. Those are easy enough to bounce back from. I’m 24 and brimming with virile energy and blazing lust. It burns hot and borderline feral, all the time, so if I don’t use it I feel like I might spontaneously fucking combust.

 It’s the existential exhaustion that hits harder. Sometimes it dawns on me that it would actually be nice to care about what other people think of me.

 But all those impulses died on one particular stormy night, years ago now. Its effect still has the ability to exhaust me from time to time. Lately the memories have felt like more of a black cloud than usual. Having my mother revisit me in a surprisingly realistic hallucination out of the blue makes me realize how jaded I am. Maybe I’m closer to the edge than I thought.

 The cool water feels nothing less than miraculous, like I’m somehow in the process of being reborn.

 After a while, I walk up the sandy beach and grab my clothes but I don’t bother putting them on. I’ll dry off in the sun. There’s no one around. I happen to be a person who’s intensely comfortable in my own skin, with good reason. I don’t know if I’m arrogant or just secure enough to know from experience that I happen to look like a guy who can show a girl the time of her life on around ten different levels. And then deliver on each and every one of those promises in spades. At least for one night.

 That’s just the way it is.

 I notice, up a slope, there’s a cottage situated in a small grove of trees. Travis mentioned that there were two or three of them, along with the main house and the barn. Part of the property he bought only days ago. He wants me to move into one of the cabins for a while.

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