Ethan Richards has fought depression and a host of other demons all his adult life, and it’s caused him to lose everything—his wife, his son, his friends, and he almost loses the one thing that means the most to him—his band. He hits rock bottom and believes there is no way out. Enter Jenna McCormick, a feisty drug and alcohol counselor, a woman with her own share of troubles. She finds Ethan intriguing but keeps him at a distance while trying to help him face life without crutches. She feels a spark but denies it, knowing that a relationship with unstable Ethan could be dangerous for both of them. Ethan knows what he wants, though, and isn’t used to being told no. Jenna isn’t willing to risk Ethan losing his tenuous grip on sobriety, however, and is prepared to deny her deeper feelings to help Ethan climb out of his hole, but he learns how to let go of his pain when he finds that someone is prepared to walk with him through the shadows. Can he convince Jenna that they should take a chance on love or will they forever deny their feelings in an effort to keep Ethan on the straight and narrow?
BEST SELLING AMAZON AUTHOR ~
Jade C. Jamison was born and raised in Colorado and has decided she likes it enough to stay forever. Jade’s day job is teaching Creative Writing, but teaching doesn’t stop her from doing a little writing herself. Unfortunately, there’s no one genre that quite fits her writing. Her work has been labeled romance, erotica, suspense, and women’s fiction, and the latter is probably the safest and closest description. But you’ll see that her writing doesn’t quite fit any of those genres. You’ll have to discover Jade’s writing for yourself to decide if you like it.
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Excerpt from Rock Bottom
Jade C. Jamison
Jenna knew as soon as it started that she shouldn’t have told Ethan he could kiss her. That was it. She now wanted him desperately, and unless someone pulled the fire alarm, something serious was going to happen between them tonight.
It would probably be as hot as a fire and just as dangerous.
The second his lips touched hers, she let herself go. She kissed him back hard and wound her fingers through his hair.
She was going to break her own promise to herself, that impossible promise she’d made over a year ago. She’d known celibacy would be unlikely, but she knew she had to save herself. Now, though, she didn’t know if denying herself the pleasure of this man was salvation or torture. She knew, underneath it all, that Ethan was a good guy, but she also suspected, just from what he’d said, that he hadn’t been a nice person when he’d been under the influence. Still…he was trying now, and that meant something. It meant everything. So she wasn’t about to stop him, not now.
When he did come up for air, though, she tried not to make it obvious that he’d almost winded her. She took a deep breath and smiled. “Okay, so I guess I’ll invite you in for a while.” He smiled and cocked his head but didn’t say a word, and she turned around and opened the door.
She flipped the switch that turned on the light. One thing she didn’t like about her apartment but couldn’t change was that the kitchen was the first room when she opened the door. She didn’t like it because she felt like she had to keep it pristine at all times. She was glad the dishes were done. She would sometimes have one or two rinsed dishes in the sink, but tonight she’d made sure everything was clean before leaving. The living room was off to the left and she usually felt as though it had to constantly look nice as well. The couch created a bit of a break between the two spaces.
Unfortunately, she was thinking more about a room in the back of her apartment.
She walked toward the fridge as she heard Ethan close the front door. “Can I get you anything to drink? Should I make some coffee?”
She turned around to face him, her fingers still on the handle to the refrigerator. He had a bit of a devilish grin on his face, and she suspected she knew his thoughts. Damn, he was a good-looking guy. His longish hair framed his gorgeous face, and she knew from the videos that she’d seen that his hair often covered much of his face when he played; even if it hadn’t, he didn’t seem to notice or even care about the camera. Here and now, though, he was in the moment and looking straight at her with his intense green eyes. She felt as though he could see her every thought, her hidden intentions. Maybe that was okay, because she didn’t want to have to beat around the bush or act coy.
She could still feel his stubble burning her face from their kiss moments earlier. She wanted to feel that sensation all over her body. She felt a shiver begin crawling up her spine as she imagined it, and she almost blushed, believing he really knew what she was thinking.
Ethan took two steps closer to her. “Can I be honest with you?”
Jenna hoped her voice wouldn’t give her away. She had to be the cool, direct professional Ethan knew. “Haven’t we always been?”
His smile lost its little boy quality and looked ravenous as he took another step toward her. It was then that she realized, taking in a breath, that she couldn’t hit the bottom of her lungs. He’d taken away her ability to breathe. He said, “I told you a few weeks ago that I wanted to fuck you and now…I don’t.” She felt her breath catch in her throat again as her heart sank. She knew she wasn’t letting it show on her face and that was good, but he continued. “Well, okay, I guess that’s not entirely true. I do want to…but I’m not going to be satisfied with just a quick lay. I want to try you every way you’ll take me.”
Rock Bottom Alt POV scene
Jade C. Jamison
Brad had tried cheering up Val again earlier that afternoon, but there wasn’t much he could do about her mood. She felt dejected whenever Chris would spend the weekend with Ethan. By the same token, she would get angry when Ethan didn’t get Chris. He understood. They’d talked about it. Val didn’t much care if Ethan was going to have visitation or not, but she wanted consistency in Chris’s life. If Ethan was going to take Chris every other weekend, then she wanted him to do it faithfully. Otherwise, she felt like Ethan was jerking on his son’s heartstrings.
Based on what Ethan had hinted at the last time, though, he was having a pretty bad time. He’d explained that he didn’t think it would be good to have Chris around him. Val had agreed but ragged him out and then ranted about it after they hung up. She didn’t want her son to be heartbroken. But she and Brad made sure Chris never noticed. They baked cookies, watched movies, and read lots of books to him. He didn’t remember that his real daddy wasn’t there as planned. Truthfully, it bothered Val more than her son, so Brad tried to keep her mind off it too.
This afternoon, though…this was going to be the first time in over a month Ethan was going to see his son. Val had already made a comment that morning in bed, though, saying she wondered what excuse Ethan was going to conjure up this time.
Brad didn’t say a word. He knew Val had a lot of anger to work out when it came to her ex. She’d stood by his side faithfully until the time he’d hurt her and scared her out of her mind. She believed to this day that Ethan had almost killed her. It might have been true, but Brad had known Ethan a lot longer than Val had and couldn’t imagine his friend trying to kill the woman he loved. Ethan was good inside, but he didn’t know how to act like it. Brad kept wishing, hoping…but it had finally been time to just walk away, let his brother sink or swim.
He’d sunk at first, but Brad thought maybe now Ethan was floating and finding his way to the surface. Or at least he hoped. He and Val were expecting Ethan around five o’clock, and his arrival would be a good sign. Val had said, “I’m not even going to pack Chris’s stuff until I know he’s coming for sure.”
Brad had been sitting on the couch next to her. He squeezed her knee. “He’ll be here, Val. He promised. You’ll feel like an ass when he gets here and you’re not ready. Then who’ll be the bad guy?” Considering it was ten minutes to five, he hoped she’d decide to do it.
She sighed and gave him a dirty look which quickly melted into a smile. “I hate when you’re right.” She kissed him and then got up, walking out of the living room.
When the doorbell rang a few minutes later, Brad said, “Come here, kiddo,” and scooped Chris up off the floor where he was playing with plastic blocks. “I think that’s your dad.”
Brad nodded. “Uh-huh.” He walked to the door, Chris in his arms. When he opened it, Ethan and Jenna both stood outside.
Chris leaned forward. “Daddy!”
Ethan looked a little worn down, not as good as he had last time. He looked a lot like he had during certain periods in high school when he’d disappear for days at a time. Brad wasn’t sure what to make of it, but Ethan started smiling when Chris reached for his father. Ethan took him in his arms as his child held him close around the neck.
“Chris, my buddy.”
Brad stood back. “Come on in.” The cold air from outside was rushing in, and he wanted them to come inside where it was warm. He shut the door and turned around to see Ethan and Jenna standing side by side.
Ethan kissed Chris on the cheek and looked at Brad. “Can I talk to you about business sometime?”
Brad was silent for a moment. This had been a moment for which he’d been waiting for quite some time. The fate of Fully Automatic rested in Ethan’s hands, and it could go one of three ways: the band could stay together and continue making music; Ethan could leave and they could make do without him (or hire another second guitarist if they felt they needed to); or (the option Brad dreaded but also expected the most) they could disband. It told him, though, that Ethan had been able to find some clarity and knew now what he wanted. As much as Brad selfishly wanted Ethan to stay (clean and sober, of course), he would support his friend if he walked away. He didn’t want to give his thoughts away or put any undue pressure on Ethan, so he didn’t plan to give away what he was thinking. “Have you thought about it?”
“Yeah. I can’t walk away. I’m in.”
Brad nodded. He was grateful and happy to hear it. His friend—and his band—would be whole again, and that was huge news. Before he could say anything, though, Valerie walked in. Either she was done packing or had heard them talking. She said, “Ethan. Glad you could make it.”
Brad loved his wife, but her timing at this particular moment had been shitty. He needed to know for sure what Ethan had in mind. He wanted to clarify a few things. He needed to talk to his brother, man to man…and he needed his girlfriend to stop coiling up like a rattlesnake every damn time she got near her ex. So he said, “Hey, Jenna, would you mind helping Val get some drinks for all of us? Ethan has some business matters to discuss with me.”
Ethan looked surprised. “Now?”
“What better time than the present?” They hadn’t done anything as a band in over a year. He didn’t want to wait, so he motioned Ethan into the living room. He could tell Val wasn’t too happy about what he’d done, but he’d explain it later. She’d understand then.
Val smiled at Jenna and said, “Come with me to the kitchen.” Oh, yeah. He saw the look. She wasn’t happy with him at all. She’d understand, though.
The women left and Brad and Ethan went into the living room. Both sat on the couch and Chris said, “Daddy, frain?”
Ethan furrowed his brows. “What?”
Brad smiled. “He’s talking about his train.”
“Oh, you have a train?”
“Choo-choo frain, daddy. See it?”
Ethan looked over at Brad but then said to his son, “Do you want to show it to me?”
Brad said, “Why don’t you bring it here so daddy can see it?” He just couldn’t bring himself to call Ethan Daddy Ethan, even though that’s what Val had taught the child. He had to admit he didn’t mind being called Daddy Brad, but Ethan was the kid’s real dad and deserved the original title. Chris nodded and toddled off in the direction of his bedroom.
“So what’s your decision?”
Ethan nodded. “I’m all in, man. I can’t…I can’t not do it. It’s just been hard…and I needed time.”
“I get that. I know you’ve had it rough.”
“Yeah, but no excuse. You guys have been carrying the load without me.”
“Not really. We’ve been thinking of it as an extended vacation. It’s all good. I’ve been writing some. You?”
“I just started.” Ethan ran his hand through his hair. “It feels pretty good.”
“Yeah…it does. So…are you ready now?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“So…why don’t we plan on getting together after Christmas? I’ll call up Nick and Zane, and we can start writing together, sharing what we’ve got, practicing…maybe record in the spring. Dean’ll be glad to hear that.” No way was Brad going to tell Ethan that their manager Dean had initially tried to talk the other band members into dropping Ethan like a fashion designer drops last season’s creations. His friend didn’t need to hear that.
“Yeah. Dean’s been chewing my ass a little too, but I haven’t heard too much from him in a while.”
“Well, there’s no pressure. We have a little bit of time. There’s no hurry. But…January sound good?”
Chris came out of his room, a chunky-looking plastic train engine in his hands. It was mostly red, but it was trimmed in white and yellow. The smokestack was red and the wheels blue. Chris was grinning from ear to ear walking toward his dad. “Frain, daddy.”
“Very cool, buddy.” Chris stopped at the coffee table and started pushing the train around on its wheels, showing off his toy.
Brad said, “He’s a good kid.”
Ethan nodded. “I miss him.” Ethan tousled his hair and the men sat in silence watching Chris push the train around. The only sound in the living room was the noise of the plastic train’s wheels gliding across the wood of the coffee table.
That is, until they heard Valerie’s voice coming from the kitchen. “Look…I know you’re feeling some sympathy for Ethan. I get it. I’ve been there. But I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t warn you. He’s poison. He’s charming and irresistible. He makes you feel like you’re the only woman on the planet…until he makes you feel like shit because he’s off screwing someone else. Or he’ll tell you he’s clean but the next thing you know, he’s high as a kite. Ethan is good looking and he’s charming and he knows it. It took me years to realize that Ethan’s only concern is himself.”
Oh, shit. Brad couldn’t believe Val had actually said that. Okay, that wasn’t true. He could believe it. He knew how badly she’d been hurt. Her timing again sucked, though. He wanted to disappear but that wasn’t an option. He and Ethan looked at each other at the same time. He could hear Jenna saying something back to Val, but he couldn’t tell what she was saying. What the hell could he say? Not much. “Sorry, man.”
“No. It’s fine.”
Chris walked over to the other side of the coffee table and got up on Brad’s lap. He grabbed the plastic blocks on the table and started pushing them together. He looked at Ethan again and said, “Blocks, daddy.”
Brad was grateful for the distraction because he hadn’t felt this awkward in a long time. Ethan smiled again at his son and said, “We have some like that at my house too, remember?”
Chris held a yellow block out to Ethan. His father opened his hand and let Chris place the block on his palm. A few seconds later, Val and Jenna came in the room with lemonade and glasses. Val started pouring lemonade in a cup for Chris and Brad was trying to think of a way to break the ice. Before he could, though, Ethan leaned forward. “Val, I overheard part of your conversation in the kitchen with Jenna…purely by accident.” Brad nodded at Val to confirm, in case she had any doubts. Ethan continued. “I know you’re probably never gonna trust me, but I’d appreciate it if, from now on, you could keep that to yourself. I am better and I have changed. I know it’s not easy for you to understand that, but it’s true. You’re still clinging to your old beliefs about me, and if that works for you, great. But my son is getting old enough that he’ll start listening to you and believing every word you say. I start using again…you take him away from me. Get full custody. Get a restraining order. Move and don’t give me your forwarding address. I don’t give a rat’s ass. But for now—when I’ve actually made those changes—give me a chance, would you?”
Val didn’t miss a beat. “Why now, Ethan?”
Ethan was looking at his son but made eye contact with his ex before speaking again. “I guess it’s because I finally hit rock bottom. There was no hope, no future, and I was being swallowed by my addictions…and more. I have a lot of mental shit going on that fueled a lot of it, and I’m just now becoming aware of it.”
He closed his eyes for a moment in confirmation before continuing. “Jenna’s helped me see how it feeds into the destructive behavior I tend to lean toward, and I’m learning new ways of coping with it.” Ethan made a gesture with his index finger and thumb to indicate a tiny space. “I’m this close to happiness, Val, something I’ve never been…ever. And, whether she wants to admit it or not, Jenna is a big part of it. I’m not a slave to the shit I took anymore. I’m free, and now I just want to try to live a normal life.” He smiled at Jenna. “I know that doesn’t mean I’m on easy street now, but it does mean that I want to live, and I want to live a good life.”
Val’s eyes filled with tears as she said, “Sorry.”
Ethan stood and stepped close to Val…and then he said something Brad had thought he would never hear from his best friend. “You don’t need to be sorry, Val. I’m sorry…I’m sorry for the hell I put you through. I know I don’t even know half of what you went through, but I know you did it because you believed in me, and I let you down. I don’t do all the twelve step stuff, but I do think it’s a good thing to apologize for what I did when I was consumed by all that shit.” He looked over at Brad for a moment. “That goes for you too, Brad. I don’t expect you guys to forgive me or trust me, but I hope I can prove myself over time. I just ask that you let me see my son. He’s the world to me.”
Val started crying in earnest as she closed the gap between herself and Ethan. She hugged him and said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize how hard it had been for you. I was just feeling my own pain.”
And now, finally, Brad thought, Val could begin healing as well, something she’d needed to do for a long time. He let out a slow breath and hugged the child in his arms. It might not have started out that way, but today was winding up to be the best day he’d had in a long time.