—a Boomerang novel—
By Noelle August
Two aspiring musicians must choose between their careers…and their sizzling attraction for each other in the final Boomerang novel.
Good lord in a basket, it’s him all right. Grey. Illuminated by the golden lights coming on along Venice Boulevard. With suds and water sluicing off his ridiculously ripped body, cascading from his massive tattooed biceps, running down his taut muscled abdomen. His swimsuit sags dangerously low, clinging to his sturdy thighs, making, um, everything, pretty evident.
And evidently pretty impressive.
Probably, this would be a good time to actually speak some words, but even in a town full of hot, hot people, this is kind of stratospheric.
“Yep, it’s me.” Grey reaches back to turn off the shower, which breaks the spell, so I can at least avert my gaze like a decent person. Then he rubs a towel vigorously over his gleaming body and tucks it around his waist.
He has a strange look on his face—peevish, embarrassed, and it feels suddenly like we’re intruding on something. Or maybe it’s just me. I think about that moment in my trailer. His fingers on my skin. My wanting and not knowing what to want.
“Uh, so, what are you up to?” I ask in an effort to win the prize for most obvious question ever. “I mean, I can see what you were up to.” Seriously, Sky? “But, uh, were you just in the water? What brings you out here?”
“I’m crashing nearby. At the garage where my band rehearses.”
“Really?” asks Mia. “Why?”
Grey looks from me to Mia and then back to me, weighing something. Maybe whether or not he can trust us. He’s got this hot, coiled energy all the time, like he’s always holding back. Like he’s an animal caged inside a human body.
“Just staying there for a few weeks.”
“Because of your mom?” I ask. It was obvious from their interaction on set that there’s some bad blood there, though compared to my mom, she seems kind and thoughtful, whip-smart and curious without being overbearing. Which makes sense, given her offspring.
Then I remember that Grey’s not really her offspring. He said “stepmother,” and the way he said it really answers my question.
Which is good, because he doesn’t actually answer it. Instead, he gathers up his stuff—surfboard, wetsuit—and gives us a grin. “I gotta head out,” he says, as though nothing’s hanging there between us. He looks away for a second, following the path of a guy in an Obama mask as he weaves his way up the boardwalk on a ribbon-festooned unicycle. “Told some friends I’d hook up with them tonight.”
“Wait,” says Mia. “So, you’re just sleeping in a garage? Like on an air-mattress or something?”
Grey shrugs. “A couch. It’s okay.”
“And taking freezing cold showers out on the beach? That doesn’t sound great, does it, Sky?”
“No, it doesn’t,” I say, but I’m afraid of where she’s going with this.
“Can’t you stay at a hotel or something?”
He shakes his head. “Money’s a little tight right now. I’m giving Adam almost every penny to pay him back for the house, and I don’t really have…” Again, he goes silent, and I can feel, literally, the tension of him wanting to talk, wanting to say more to someone. Needing it.
“Why don’t you come stay at our place?” Mia blurts. We have that in common. The blurting thing. “I mean, I’m just about all moved out, so there’s room.”
Ay, dios. No. No.
But I can’t say anything. I can’t tell my best friend, who knows I’m talking to Brooks, starting to maybe, sort of, think about where that could go, that having Grey in my apartment, so close all the time, is a very dangerous, very bad idea.
Grey shakes his head. “Nah, I appreciate it, but I’m cool here. I promise. Thanks, though.” He takes a few steps toward a squat gray building with weather-beaten shutters and a tiny, shed-like garage in the back. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
“Hang on,” says Mia, pulling me along. She gives me a look, tipping her head in his direction, like she’s tapping me in for the debate. “You’re cool with it, right, Sky?”
“Of course.” Not. In no way. “But it seems like he’s got it under control here. So, if—”
My words disappear, though, because Grey’s pulled up the garage door, the muscles of his broad back and shoulders shifting smoothly as he thrusts the door up along its rusting track.
“See?” he says, pointing to a lumpy white couch sporting what looks like a half-century’s worth of mystery stains—a perfect complement to the funk of beer and weed and sweat potent enough to make my eyes water. “Perfectly fine, right?”
But, like me, he’s lousy at hiding his feelings. Even turned away to shove some empty beer cans into a garbage bag, his body language tells me everything.
He doesn’t want to be here in this musty space, crowded with furniture and audio equipment, the only natural light coming in from the tiny half-moon windows set into the garage door, which faces a dim alleyway.
“You should come stay with us,” I say, surprising the hell out of us both. “I mean, this is…”
“It’s fine,” Grey insists. “I don’t need much, and I’m hardly ever here.”
I think how different he is from Brooks, who says what he means, tells you—without hesitation—what he wants.
“Come on,” says Mia.
“Seriously,” he tells us. “It’s really nice of you to ask, but I’m fine. I can’t afford—”
“I paid up on the place through the end of the lease,” Mia says. “You can just chip in on food and utilities. I’m sure you can manage that, right? It’s only for a few weeks. And you’d be rooming with two awesome, super hot girls. How can you say no to that?”
He looks at me, and I can see he’s worried about the same things I am. Rooming together. Being too close, constantly one second away from making a really dumb choice. He’s young and too reckless for me. And a musician, on top of it all. He’s everything I don’t need sharing my space.
But something tugs at me, makes me put all of those concerns aside. I see it in his smoke-gray eyes, which are so alive, so deep and full of thoughts. Some pain or fear lives there. Something that makes it so hard for him to accept. To take a simple kindness. It’s not just about me but about trusting. Anything.
Seeing that, I can’t let him spend another night in this crappy place. Just…alone.
“You should come home with us,” I say. “It will be…a lot better than this, I promise.”