Almost Married(9)

By: Kylie Gilmore






Chapter Three


Griffin yawned and stretched as he slowly woke to the sound of his cell ringing. He would’ve ignored it, except the ringtone, Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll,” meant it was his manager, Bill. He ignored those calls at his own peril. He sat up, disturbing the naked woman at his side, who pushed her long blond hair out of her face and gave him a sultry smile. He gave her a slow, sexy smile back. What was her name again? Jennifer. No, Jillian. Erica?

“I’ll meet you poolside, sweetheart,” he told her before taking the call. “What’s up?”

He watched as the woman walked nude from the room, hips swaying, that sweet ass. She looked over her shoulder, caught him looking, and blew him a kiss. Bill was jabbering on about ticket sales, but all Griff could think was why the hell was he kicking this beautiful woman out of bed. Tanya. That was it. Tanya.

She disappeared from view. He headed naked to the bathroom to take a piss, phone still to his ear, as Bill bitched about sales for the band’s latest album, Griff’s cash flow, and the European tour. Blah, blah, blah. Griff had a manager so he didn’t have to deal with all that business stuff. He was in it for the music. The lifestyle wasn’t too shabby either.

He left the cell on the counter, not bothering to put it on speaker or tell Bill to hold on. The man would just talk until he had nothing left to say. Then Griff would say okay, and they’d go about their respective jobs. He took care of business, washed his hands, and caught his reflection in the mirror. Bags under his eyes, dark rings indicating fatigue, and the wrinkle in his forehead was deeper. Damn, it sucked getting old. He was thirty-five, had hit the big time finally at thirty with his band Twisted Star, but the late nights and constant partying were catching up to him.

He picked up the phone—Bill was onto some legal complication with Griff’s lawyer, Paulie D—grabbed a fresh pair of briefs, pulled them on, and headed to the kitchen for water and the frozen tea bags he used to get rid of the bags under his eyes. He stopped at the mention of Stephanie.

“What was that part about Stephanie?” he asked.

Bill let out a noisy exhale. “Were you listening at all? I heard you take a piss.”

“Yeah, yeah, I was listening. I just wasn’t sure I heard that part about Steph correctly.”

“She’s left several messages, and I know you don’t want a divorce—”

“So why are we talking about her?” Griff liked having a wife. It helped deflect women looking for a commitment. So sorry. Can’t. I’m married.

“She sounded really serious this time. She threatened to sue for back alimony. To, I quote, ‘take him for all he’s worth.’”

“That’s weird.” He grabbed a bottle of Perrier from the fridge and twisted off the cap. That wasn’t like Steph to care about money. What was she really trying to say? Did she miss him? He’d been thinking about her more lately, back there in Connecticut, wondering how she was doing. Sometimes, on a rare night in, when he was alone, he wondered what his life would’ve been like if he’d stayed. If he was still a guitar teacher. They’d probably have a bunch of kids, barely able to make ends meet. Steph always wanted kids. He didn’t. He knew what it was like to grow up poor, having the electricity shut off because your single mom couldn’t pay the bill on a secretary’s paycheck. His dad was also a musician, one that couldn’t be nailed down in one place. Like father, like son.

He took a long drink and watched the blonde lounging by the pool turn over, sunbathing topless. Gretchen? Did she have an accent? He couldn’t remember.

“Are you listening?” Bill demanded.

“Mmm,” he murmured noncommittally. He got out the frozen tea bags and headed for the long white sectional sofa.

“I said go see Stephanie. See what’s got a bug up her ass. Make sure we don’t have a money problem here.”

He stretched out on the sofa and put the bags over his eyes. “Why do I have to see her? Just wait until she takes legal action and sic Paulie D on her. He’ll take care of everything.”

“Can I be honest with you here, Griff?”

“Sure.”

“You need the publicity. It’s as simple as that. I’ve got a call in to Mandy. You’re taking the jet tonight. I’ve arranged cars for both of you. We need pictures of you with your secret wife. It won’t hurt her and, believe me, the mystery of your long-lost wife will only help you.”

Griff grunted. Mandy worked for a trashy tabloid, Stars Chronicle, and had always reported on him in a flattering light. They were friendly. And he wasn’t opposed to seeing Steph again. Their brief time together was the only time in his life he felt like part of a real family—the two of them and her younger brother, Joey. They’d lived together before he went on his first tour. He smiled, thinking of Joey. Sweet kid. Maybe he could squeeze in a visit to him too. It’d been a year since he’d last seen him.

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