Changing Beats (Book 1)

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Chapter Ten

Cortney

It was the following Friday night and I was worried that Jason wouldn’t pick me up for an actual planned date. He’d come around daily, but he was quiet and didn’t say much. Maybe I’d upset him with my questions last week, maybe I offended him by complaining about Asher.

Those guys had been through so much and had obviously lost someone they loved and cared for. I was beginning to see Asher’s anger issues in a different light.

I began to tap my foot, as I sat on the couch. What was taking him so long? Leave it to me to finally find a guy I liked and push him away by being too nosey.

I kept reminding myself that he still came over and we’d still hung out a lot. This was in my head. Maybe he’d been stuck in traffic.

A knock sounded at the door and I jumped up, practically running to the damn thing. I had to force myself to wait a few seconds before opening it. I couldn’t look too eager. I had to play it cool. When I opened the door though, it was hard.

I had asked him several times where we were going, but he’d just told me to dress casual, so I put on a pair of skinny jeans, a nice black top and matching heals. Looking at him, I felt vastly out of place.

“Sorry, I’m late,” he started, “I honestly didn’t mean to be. Chris got out of the hospital yesterday, so we got some lunch today and we all went to cut our hair and then I-”

He had cut his hair into mohawk of sorts. It was buzzed really short on the sides and longer on top, but instead of sticking straight up it was messy, falling around the top of his head with a bit of a curl and the beard was coming in nicely.

He was wearing a black henley rolled up at the sleeves, to show his tattooed arms, a pair of sandalwood colored chinos and black boots. He looked tasty.

Oh lord, I never thought like that. What was happening to me?

“Hello?” He bent his knees so that his face was right in front of mine. “Cortney, you in there?”

“Yeah, um,” I shook my head to clear it, “Let’s go.”

I exited my apartment, purse in hand, closing and locking the door behind me, “You, ah, cut your hair?”

“I did just say that.” He ran a hand through it and smiled, following me out. “We all had a lady’s bonding afternoon. We went shopping and got haircuts. After hearing our newest track, our label recommended a new look for the band, more rock then metal. What do you think?”

“I like it.” A lot.

Once in his car, I looked at his clothes again and felt oddly out of place.

“Maybe I should have worn something different.”

“Nah,” he smiled at me, eyeing me, “You’re perfect.”

We drove for some time and wound up in Beverly Hills, near my parent’s house, but I didn’t say anything about it. I continued on with the flirty chit chat and happy, upbeat conversation. That was until we pulled onto my parent’s street. What was he doing?!

“Jason?” I swallowed hard.

“Yeah.”

“Where exactly are we going?” I fidgeted in my seat. If my mother saw me dressed like this she’d flip.

How did he even know where my parents lived?! Was he stalking me? Was I really in the twilight zone and just didn’t know it?

“Don’t freak out or anything,” he chuckled, “Jeez.”

“Where are you taking me?” I wanted to scream!

“We’re heading to my place,” he looked at me anxiously, “I hope that’s okay. I figured that my usual haunts would probably scare you, so I was just going to cook for you. If you don’t want to it’s cool, just don’t walk home from this area. This road is dangerous, it’s all hilly and stuff, so I’ll drive you.”

I couldn’t breathe. He lived out here?! “Jason, tell me that you don’t live on this road.”

“I do. Don’t worry though, it’s nothing fancy like these other houses. You can’t even park within 50 yards of the house. It’s got a crap load of steps to even get to it, but when the realtor showed me...” he shook his head, “You just gotta’ see it. I didn’t have to change anything. It was awesome.”

I felt all of the color drain from my face.

“Oh, Jason,” I whined, putting my head in my hands.

“What’s wrong? You look sick.” His head turned in my direction, genuinely concerned.

“Oh, you have no idea!” I looked at him pointedly.

“Do you need me to stop?” he asked.

“No!” Being in this close proximity to my parent’s home gave me goosebumps. If anyone from that house saw me here, my mother would be calling me. I moaned again.

“Okay?” He drew the word out.
He was going to think I was a head case. I needed to explain. Might as well come out and just say it. Rip off the band aid.

“Jason, you were doing so well!” I whined, “Now I can’t date you anymore!”

“What?” His big brown eyes bulged at me, “Why the fuck not?!”

“Because, Jason!” I whined, “Minus the tattoos and the band, you’re my mother’s wet dream!”

He laughed low and deep. It was sensual and sexy as hell.

“I could be your wet dream.” There was no mistaking it. He’d said it clear, as his brown eyes raked me.

“You already are.” I felt the flush in my face and turned to look out the window. He placed a hand over mine and I felt him lean toward me.

“Can I tell you something?” I turned to him, “Without you judging me?”

“Sure,” he shrugged with a smile.

“See this next gate on the right. The one with the R on it?” I watched his face, he gave a nod.

“Yeah. That’s a huge ass house,” he huffed, “Some jewelry mogul owns it. Mine is a barn compared to that.”

“That’s my parent’s house.” I scrunched my face weighing his expression.

His eyes bulged and he looked at me as I fully cringed, pulling my hand away.

“My name is Brittany Cortney Rudson,” I spit it out, almost in one word, looking down at my hands that fidgeted on my lap, “I go by Cortney because that’s what my dad and grandpa would call me when I was little.”

He kept looking between me and the road. His beautiful brown eyes were wide, with what I wasn’t sure. Surprise? Anger? Annoyance?

As we drove past the brass gates, I wanted to cry. This guy was going to dump me and I liked him so much.

“I grew up a trust fund kid, but it wasn’t what I wanted, Jason,” I tried to explain, “I’m not like them. I’ve witnessed firsthand that money can ruin people. It turns the nicest people into scum.”

He just sat there while the car moved forward, his eyes bulging as the car moved forward.

“Say something, please,” I begged.

“Fuck!” Was all he had time to say before he slowed and pulled down the drive right after my parent’s property and entered the code to unlock the gate.

“You have got to be shitting me!” I yelled, “This is insane!”

“Everything behind the white wall is my property. I assume to the right of it, behind the twelve-foot metal gate, is all your parent’s,” he spoke dryly, looking to their property. “I understand if you want to go home.”

“No,” I calmed myself, brearhing slowly, “This is okay. I want to be here. I want to be with you.”

He smiled, but it didn’t touch his eyes.

“What are you making? To eat?”

“Chicken Valentino,” he rubbed his temple, “With asparagus and sautéed mushrooms.”

“That sounds amazing.” A guy in a band that knew how to cook? I looked at my lap as I asked, “Is it your signature dish? Do you bring all the girls up here, cook for them and schmooze them?”

“I-uhm, I’ve never brought a woman up here, other than my mother and my sister.” He gave me a sideways glance and parked the car. “The guys in the band don’t date, per say.”

He got out of the car and I followed as he began to climb a long set of stone steps that were fitting for a cottage and not the vast white structure ahead on the hilltop.

The house looked ultra-modern, all white stucco and sleek black windows. The roof and balconies were cut off by similarly sleek black railings, made up of multiple rectangles.

“Why don’t you date?” I asked.

“There’s kind of an unspoken rule in the band,” he didn’t look at me as he spoke, “We see a lot of girls, in and out. At their houses or hotels, so we can, you know, leave before things get awkward. We never see anyone more than once.”

“So why didn’t you do that with me?”

“You’re different.” He stopped when we got to the front door and turned to look at me, examining me again. “You’re not a barfly or a concert chick, you’re not even a fan of our type of music. I don’t know. I can’t explain it. Chris thinks you’re my Bree.”

“What do you think?” That was a lot. Considering what Jason had told me, Bree was Asher’s light, and he was the shade.

“I brought you here. I never bring anyone here, but the guys and my mom.” He shrugged and let me into the foyer, “I think he may be right.”

“Have you ever had a relationship?” I found myself asking.

“No,” he huffed, “You?”

“I thought I did in college,” I told him, “I have this thing. I don’t trust people easily. When they find out who I am it’s all about the money. So, I didn’t tell him who I really was.”

“I’m taking it that it didn’t go over so well when you told him?” he said as he scratched the back of his head.

“Actually, I never got the chance to tell him. I found out that he was engaged to another trust fund kid the entire time and that I was the other woman.” I shrugged, “Relationship ended there.”

“Fuckin’ stupid,” Jason chuckled.

“Yeah, well, his loss,” I shrugged, “I’m glad it happened. He and his wife are both miserable and, right now I’m pretty content with my life.”

“No shit?” He gave me a smile.

I laughed.

“Look, I’m not good with words, not like Asher is,” he shrugged, “We all just stick to the beat he sets, but I like you. You’re normal. You have a kind, caring, no holds back soul. You make me want to change the beat. Do you know what I mean?”

I shook my head, “I’m not worth changing any beat over.”

“I saw your face when Chris was in the emergency room, when I told you about Bree and when you told me about your parents. You wear your feelings, you know? It takes a lot to be a nurse. My mom was one.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Once we hit it big out here my mom quit her job and I got her a place nearby. Her and I are close. I’ll have to introduce you to her some time,” he smiled with a nod and walked away down the hall, “Have a look around, I’m gonna’ start dinner.”

The whole lower level of the house was visible through wide arches and wall openings. The walls were cream colored, with cream and mahogany furniture throughout. The floors were stone, with a stone fireplace in the sitting area off of the bar.

There was a mahogany ceiling throughout the living area that tied it all together with four large sets of French doors that lead to a patio and pool. It was absolutely beautiful in its simplicity and contrast.

“Wow, Jason!”

“I told you,” he smiled widely, “Upstairs there are three bedrooms with three bathrooms. All the rooms have a separate balcony. I have a private sitting room, library and studio on this floor too.”

“Jason, this is amazing!” I smiled, looking around. This was exactly how I pictured a musician living.

He smiled, handing me a glass of wine. “Wait until the lights in the city come on. The view from the roof will blow you away.”  

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