Sweet Ache - K. Bromberg

Acknowledgments

This book was a labor of love that had to be completed in a very short time frame. It tested and pushed me, and there are most definitely a few people I need to acknowledge and thank for their encouragement while I wrote it.

To my family: Thank you so much for your endless support as I take this crazy ride.

For understanding when I’m frustrated or sleep deprived or for taking the kids for a bit so I can hit a word count or work through a plotline. I can’t get back the moments I missed but I can make up for it with how much I love you all.

To the bloggers: Thank you so much for all of your support to make my books visible to readers. My success is due in part to you.

To my readers: You have shown me so much love and support that I’m overwhelmed most days. Without you, these books mean nothing. Thank you a thousand times over. I race you!

To my peers: Lauren, Laurelin, Pepper, Corinne, Whitney, E.K., J.E.M., Raine, M. Pierce, Claire, B.J., Katy, Adriana, Gail—thank you for the camaraderie, the ideas, the answers to my numerous questions, and most of all the friendship. No one understands this journey better than you guys, so it is nice to have like minds to speak with. A special thank-you to C. D. Reiss for the phone call that kicked my butt in gear when this book almost broke my confidence. I owe you one.

To S. C. Stephens, Samantha Towle, and Michelle Valentine: Thank you for allowing me to use your beloved rocker boys in Sweet Ache.

To Amy Tannenbaum: Thank you for your guidance through this crazy minefield of publishing. I’m lucky to have you on my side.

To Kerry, Jessica, Erin, and the team at Penguin: Thank you for making my first foray into traditional publishing not too scary.

Prologue

HAWKIN

“If you really want someone to manhandle your ass, I’m sure I could arrange for it to happen discreetly for you.”

I whip my head up and choke on the M&M’s I just swallowed. Did he really just say that? I meet Ben’s unamused eyes staring from behind his glasses and he just raises his eyebrows. His out-of-character comment causes me to stutter, while Vince chuckles at my friend’s dig.

“You’re my lawyer—get me out of it.” I shake my head and match him glare for glare. “Earn the big bucks you charge me…. Now, wouldn’t that be something?”

I know I’m being an ass but I’m fed up with everything right now. The lyrics that won’t come to complete the album, Ben sitting across from me daring me to tell him the truth so he can scold me like the kid I was when we first met years ago, and fucking Hunter and his bullshit that has me in this predicament.

Again. But this time with a helluva lot more on the line.

“You want to be an asshole, Hawkin? I can play that part real well too in case you’ve forgotten. How about you come clean? How about you make Hunter pay for his own mistakes and you stop risking everything you’ve worked so hard for?” He leans forward, props his elbows on the massive desk, and continues our visual pissing match over his folded hands. The truth in his words hangs heavy in the air between us.

“I told you—the jacket was mine.” I grit my teeth on the lie. “I don’t know how the blow got in the pocket…. Shit, I was drunk off my ass. I set it down for a few minutes—some groupie probably stuffed the baggy of the