Sweet Temptation (Players #3) by Jaine Diamond

Chapter One





Summer





“I’m here, bitch!” I announced. “Let the party commence.”

“Summer!” Elle swept me into a welcoming hug.

Of course, the party had already started, long ago.

I was late.

You might think I’d enjoy showing up as fashionably late as the next diva, but in reality, I was anal-retentively punctual for work related events. Professionalism was one of my hallmarks, along with my sass, my liberal flirting, and my ability to musically kick ass.

The last twenty hours or so of my life had been a total shit show, so the lateness wasn’t completely my fault. But I’d tried to make up for it with smiles, strategic compliments, and a lavishing of hugs as I swept through the room.

Now that I’d reached my destination—my longtime friend, Elle Delacroix—I could stop faking it, at least.

“Where’ve you been?” she asked me. “I thought you were coming at ten.”

“I was.”

I dropped my purse on the hightop table she was standing at, right next to a gorgeous, well-dressed couple; Brody Mason and his wife, Jessa. They were turned away from us, talking to some people, and hadn’t noticed me yet.

The music was loud. The restaurant was packed, pretty much standing room only here in the lounge. VIP guests were mingling and broody security guys were casually hovering.

Including Elle’s bodyguard, Flynn.

Ugh. I’d glimpsed him hanging out in the shadows across the room, keeping a vigilant eye on her. She was, after all, a rock star.

I’d come alone. I still had the luxury of doing that, if I wanted to. I wasn’t nearly as famous as Elle was. Yet.

I glanced around. The entire upscale restaurant had been booked out tonight for this party, a listening party for the debut album from a local pop singer who’d been “discovered” on a reality show, scored herself a record deal, and was about to explode out of the music scene here in Vancouver. I’d heard she was a real spoiled princess (i.e., brat) in person. She was here tonight, and I’d given her a hug on my first pass through the room in search of Elle, but I honestly didn’t care about that.

I was here for Elle. She’d been invited to sing guest vocals on one of the tracks on the album; Brody, incredible manager that he was, had set that up. And while Elle was at home, taking care of her new baby, she’d managed to squeeze it in—like the superstar she was.

“When’s your song playing?” I asked her, dreading the answer. But things in the rock star world were always late, right? Maybe I hadn’t missed it.

“You missed it,” she said. “They played it at exactly ten-fifteen, as promised.”

“Shit.”

“It’s fine. You’ve already heard it. And you’re here now.”

All true. But that didn’t make me feel any better. This was a shining moment for Elle—a rock star who didn’t get to rock this year because her band, Dirty, was on a massive world tour without her, while she was home on mommy duty.

“I’m so sorry I missed it, babe. Was it fun?”

“It was so fun. Everyone loved it.”

“Of course they did. Where’s Ashley?”

“He came and went. With Xander.”

“Seriously? I missed your song and my band?”

“Well, Brody’s still here,” she offered.

I glanced over at him. Elle’s manager was now also my manager, and while I knew Brody would appreciate that I’d put in an appearance, even late, I would’ve actually liked to be here with the members of my new band—the Players. This party was supposed to be one of many public appearances that Ash, Xander and I would be making together before we went into the studio next year to record our first album.

Looking around, though, I could see why they’d ditched this event as quickly as they’d arrived. Wasn’t really their scene. My boys were rock ’n’ roll, and this party was not.

I sighed and focused on Elle. Long, platinum-blonde hair and short silver dress. Slick makeup. Fabulous manicure. She’d brought her A game tonight, as usual. She’d had baby Emma only five months ago, and other than the increase in breast size, you’d never know it.

This woman put the rock into rock star mommy.

“I don’t even have the will to tell you how good you look right now,” I informed her. “Please don’t make me.”