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Love Deserved (Rock N Roll Heiress Book 3) by Kelli McCracken (1)

Chapter 1

~Mia~

Five and half months. That’s how long I had until mine and Ayden’s child was born if I continued with my pregnancy. If was the keyword, and for such a small one, it had a hell of a lot of meaning. I wasn’t sure I could do this alone.

Who was I kidding? Deep down, I knew I had no other choice. I didn’t want another one. This child was my future, but Ayden . . . Yeah. Him. What was I going to do about the man I fell in love with?

“I found the perfect dress.” Glancing away from the window facing downtown Phoenix, I found Andi passing a row of dress racks. My best friend approached with swift strides, holding a beautiful pale blue gown. “What do you think?”

I feigned a smile. “Try it on. Let’s see how it looks.”

As she rushed off to the fitting room, I chuckled. She was looking forward to our annual masquerade ball this weekend. When we were younger, we always wanted to dress up like the adults and attend the Halloween party my grandfather made a tradition years ago. That same giddy feeling didn’t change through the years, at least not for Andi. She loved dressing up as much as she loved big parties.

I was just grateful the dress I found last month still fit. Peeking toward my waist, part of me was relieved that I hadn’t begun showing yet. I only had another month before Ayden returned from the tour. By then, I had to make a decision on whether to remain at Music Haven until the baby was born or leave for a while.

Tapping my phone, I opened my planner app and studied the dates on the calendar. My time was almost up. I would have to eventually tell Ayden about our child, but I wasn’t in a rush to do it.

I wasn’t strong enough, and I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to remain apart from him or reconcile. A lot of it would depend on his attitude when he returned. I hoped he would give me space and not bombard me with a million questions.

At least he hadn’t sent a bunch of texts since he and the guys left. I was sure he would, especially after he left believing I had cancer or some other serious illness. I regretted not telling him the truth before he left, but I knew he wouldn’t go if I did.

He needed this tour to finish boosting his career, and I couldn’t stand in the way of that. I wouldn’t make him choose between his kid and his dreams. I wasn’t like my sister. If Ayden wanted to be with our baby and me, it would happen because he loved us, not because I’d trapped him into a relationship.

I moseyed around the boutique that I always used to purchase gowns for the staff at Music Haven, as well as Andi and me. All the dresses became a blur as I thought back to my last conversation with Ayden. I lost count of how many times he had pleaded with me to forgive him or how close I’d come to granting it.

Had Izzy’s nurse not come to my room and informed him my sister wanted to see him, I probably would have told him the truth. Even if Ayden had followed me outside instead of doing what my sister wanted, I might have revealed the news. To say I wasn’t tempted would be a lie. It just hurt to think that he might have been right. Maybe we weren’t meant to be together.

Still, if that were the case, why did I get pregnant? Was the universe screwing with me?

“Mia, where did you go?” Andi called my name as she inched out of her dressing room. I walked closer to get a better view, and when I did, I gasped. “Wow. You look beautiful, Andi. Stunning.”

“Thank you.” She spun toward the triple mirror to observe herself. As she played with the mask on her face, she finally tugged it away. “I wish Bentley was here to see me. It sucks that he and the guys will be gone and unable to attend the masquerade ball. Bentley has been looking forward to it for the last couple of months.”

“It was out of my control this time. Chin up, my friend. I’m sure he will be around next year.”

Andi bit her lip and stared into the mirror. “I hope so.”

Her response made my face burn. Even though she wouldn’t admit it, I felt like she still blamed me for Breaking Silence being gone. Had I been managing their band, their tour dates may have been negotiable.

“So, are you going with this gown and mask?” I asked, hoping to erase the dark cloud that hung over her.

“Yes. This is the one.” Her hand glided down the dress as she did a final spin. “I’ll go get changed so they can place it with the rest of our order.”

“Sounds good. The balance is paid. All that’s left to do is find John and tell him it’s time to carry everything to the car. When you’re finished, I’ll be outside.”

Andi gave me a thumbs-up before disappearing into the fitting room. On my way out the door, I waved goodbye to the boutique owner, letting it shut behind me. Just being outside helped settle my anxiety.

The black Mercedes that brought us from the private landing strip at the airport was sitting a few parking spaces down. My driver, John, noticed me right away. He advanced in my direction to collect the bags in my hands. “Allow me, Miss Brooks.”

“Thanks, John. Andi will be out in a moment. Would you mind taking these bags to the car before you head inside to help Clarissa and her staff with the items we ordered?”

“Of course.”

“Thank you. I’m going to take a little walk and get some fresh air.”

He nodded once before he did an about-face, carrying the bags to the car. As I drew in the crisp morning air, the wind blew around me. A few leaves scattered across the sidewalk a few feet away, but I focused on the windows of the surrounding shops.

It wasn’t until I spotted cream-colored fabric in one window that I stopped. My feet seemed to become part of the concrete, denying me the ability to move them. Instead of walking away, I studied every inch of the bassinet, admiring the satin ribbons and lace woven around it. A large canopy of the same material towered above the top. It looked like it was made for a princess.

As splendid as it was, it left a kink in my heart. The bassinet was hauntingly familiar. It resembled the one from my dream, the same one I had before I found out I was pregnant.

Though part of the dream was vague now, I hadn’t forgotten how panicked I felt when I heard the baby crying from the hall. Ayden had appeared beside it, and it was apparent to me that he was upset. When Izzy showed up with her baby in her arms and forced Ayden to leave, it crushed me.

As hard as that moment had been, it wasn’t the part of the dream that disturbed me the most. It was the moment I approached the crying baby when Ayden appeared again. He had asked me why I had done something to him, but I didn’t understand what he had meant.

Granted, all of this had been a dream and dreams rarely made sense. Yet now that I was thinking about it, the message was clear. At least I thought it was. Had my dream been a premonition of what was about to happen? Had some higher being tried warning me that I was pregnant and that my sister would be there to ruin everything?

You’re it for me. I’m never going to love anyone as much as I love you.

Ayden’s words haunted me. I wanted so much to believe them, but after his actions the night my sister miscarried, I wasn’t sure I could. Maybe Ayden wasn’t meant to be in my life. Maybe we were meant to cross paths so I could provide him with what he always wanted—a music career. Perhaps he came into my life to give me the same, the one thing I always wanted . . . an heir. Now I had one, and Ayden’s band was gaining success by the day. Had our purpose in each other’s lives come to an end?

No. This was just me trying to convince myself that I should keep Ayden at a distance. I still believed he loved children and he truly wanted his own. It was obvious he didn’t want to have them with my sister. He’d told me he hoped one day we would have a family, yet the question still remained on my mind.

What if Ayden didn’t want kids right now?

* * *

~Ayden~

An icy sensation covered my body as I jerked into a sitting position. Each labored breath I took did little to clear my mind. I focused on my surroundings, my eyes finally landing on a familiar face.

“Dude, what the hell?” Bentley’s brows drew together as he studied me. “You having a nightmare again?”

Nodding, I turned my back to him and sat on the edge of the hotel bed. “Where the hell are we?”

“Kansas City. We got in late. You were out of it when we walked upstairs. I told Jason you wouldn’t remember us helping you into this room.”

“Then stop feeding me alcohol after each show.”

“It wasn’t me.” Bentley tapped his chest when I turned to look at him. “Ryan’s the one who keeps refilling our drinks. If you sipped them, he wouldn’t be able to refill them as fast.”

“Maybe I want to be drunk and not remember.”

Bentley mumbled something incoherent while he dug through his suitcase. Water ran in the bathroom as steam filtered from behind the door. The clock on the nightstand said it was noon. I’d slept most of the day away again. It was becoming a habit, but it was better than dealing with the constant pang in my chest.

The sheet and comforter fell away from my legs as I adjusted my boxers and walked toward the fridge. After grabbing a bottle of water, I looked at Bentley. “You have anything for a headache?”

He nodded. Shoving his hand back into his suitcase, he dug around before he removed a bottle of pills. Then he grabbed his clothes, tucked them under his arm, tossing the bottle to me on his way past. “Just throw them back in the suitcase when you’re finished.”

“You heading somewhere before the show tonight?”

“Yeah.” Bentley set his clothes on the bathroom counter then faced me once more. “Jimmy and Alex from Dark Souls invited us for wings and beer. They want to take us to a local pub they visited the last time they were in Kansas City.”

“When were you going to tell me?”

Rubbing his face, Bentley shook his head and looked at me again. “Dude, I tried to get your ass out of bed for three hours. You missed our rehearsal earlier, but I covered for you. I told Doug his shitty take-out last night fucked up your gut. You can’t keep this shit up.”

I raised my hands to my side. “What?”

“You know what. I knew before we left for this tour that you’d be impossible. You’ve proven me right.”

I lowered my hands until they slapped against my legs. “Excuse the fuck out of me for getting my heart ripped out before we left. You still have a girlfriend. Mine doesn’t want anything to do with me, and worse, she’s sick.”

The muscles in Bentley’s face twitched. Then his nostrils flared. “Andi said it’s nothing for you to worry about because Mia will be okay, and everything will work out.”

“I can’t trust that when everything in me is screaming that something is wrong. Reverse the roles, man. What if you were in my position and this was Andi we were talking about?”

His shoulders slumped a second later. “You’re the reason Mia asked for a break. You brought this on yourself, Ayden. Now you have to deal with it.”

“Kinda hard when I keep having all these fucked up dreams.” Storming back toward the bed, I pivoted and went to the window instead. I stared at the city, doing my best to push the dream from my thoughts.

Footsteps signaled Bentley’s approach, but I didn’t face him. “What the hell are you dreaming about anyway? You still haven’t told me.”

Nor did I want to now. Still, maybe talking about it would help. Since we left for our tour two months ago, I did my best to keep what happened with Mia to myself. It was my problem, and I was dealing with it the best way I could.

“I keep having this dream that I’m in this room, and I hear a baby crying. When I find it, I try to get to it, but Mia always shows up. She blocks me from the crib and says it’s too late for us and she’s with someone else. Just before the dream ends, a guy walks out and takes the baby out of the crib. Then he pulls Mia to him, and I see his face.”

“Who is it?” The tension on Bentley’s face was evident as his forehead scrunched together. The longer he stared at me, the more pressure I felt to answer his question. I didn’t want to tell him anything.

“It isn’t just the dream that’s messing with me. It’s the fact that something was wrong with Mia before we left. She could have cancer, man, and I’m not buying Andi’s story. She knows something is wrong.”

“Ayden . . .”

“What?” The words came out in a growl.

“Who was the guy in your dream?”

Avoiding him as long as I could, there was nowhere else to turn to escape his question. I finally exhaled. Saying it would make it feel like it was true, but I did anyway and I hated every syllable that passed over my lips.

“It was Darius Stone.”

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