High Class In Borrowed Shoes-Part One

High Class In Borrowed Shoes-Part One by Juliana Stone

Part One:

When bad boy rocker Mace Evans returns home for a benefit concert, he doesn’t expect to run into his first love, a woman who damn near broke him. But things have changed. She’s fallen off her pedestal and it’s a long way back up. For Mace, it’s the perfect opportunity to settle a score and make her pay. And hopefully banish Ashton from his mind once and for all.

Three years ago, Ashton Breckinridge lost everything except the clothes in her closet. With her father ill, she’s willing to do just about anything to get him the care he needs. Even if it means accepting a job from a man who hates her. A man who, after all this time, still stirs her blood even when he looks at her with loathing. She thinks she has nothing left to lose, but Ash couldn’t be more wrong. Mace Evans will eventually leave, and if she’s not careful he’ll take her heart with him.

Part One

         Ashton Breckinridge should have stayed in bed. 

         Screw the job, the rain, her father…all of it.

         If she had she wouldn’t be in her current predicament—hiding in a closet like a freaking idiot, feet crammed between two pieces of hard shell luggage and her bare ass intimately introduced to Mr. Umbrella.

         That would be long, pointy, Mr. Umbrella. She shifted her right cheek and stifled a groan. There’d be a bruise for sure.

         Ash clutched her garment bag tight to her chest and peeked out through the small beam of light that fell from the crack in the door.  She heard movement and voices, and bit her bottom lip in exasperation as she tried to see through the opening.

         “I understand that, ah, Mr. Halen will be arriving within the hour?  His luggage has been stowed.”

         No shit. Ash had made sure of it.

         “The suite has been thoroughly cleaned and both the bar and kitchen stocked.” 

         Check that, light on the food and heavy on the booze.     

         Carl LaMotte’s voice rang out with authority.  He was in charge of the concierge and anal was his middle name.  The man was short, perma-tanned, with a waxed moustache and a black toupee that resembled a flattened muskrat.

         And that was on a good day.

         He was also her boss and if he found her half dressed in the penthouse suite he’d fire her ass for sure. 

         “Good. He’s tired and needs the rest.  It’s been a long haul this past week, with four gigs in four different cities in six nights. The guy doesn’t know how to say, no.”

         Okay, that sounded slightly interesting.  Ashton’s ears perked up.

         The second voice was female and Ashton caught sight of long blonde hair and even longer denim encased legs. 

         “We’ll do our best to make sure…” LaMotte paused dramatically and Ashton made a face mimicking the tic that always accompanied such grand gestures. “That Mr. Halen has all the privacy he needs.  No one will know he’s staying here.  We pride ourselves on doing whatever it takes to keep our clientele happy.”

         “His anonymity is paramount.”  The woman sounded cool and efficient, and very invested in this guy’s well-being. Whoever he was.

         “Of course, we’ll be at Mr. Halen’s disposal twenty-four seven.  I’ll leave my private number if need be.” 

       Ash rolled her eyes and shook her head.  Gawd, LaMotte was really good at kissing ass.

         “Great, maybe you can show me to my room?  I have several phone calls to make and I need to set up my laptop.” 

         Carl followed the blonde from the bedroom and their voices faded to barely discernable muted tones. Ashton waited impatiently for a few more minutes, long enough for them to exit the suite, and then cautiously pushed open the double doors.  There was no sound and she exhaled loudly as she slipped into the bedroom.

         A cramp was working its way up her right calf and her ass cheek was killing her.  She rubbed the tender spot and threw the garment bag on the bed.  She didn’t have much time and if she was going to catch her bus she needed to get her butt down to the lobby.

         On Thursdays, her time was tight and the staff room was utter chaos so close to shift rollover.  It was much easier to change after her last clean and avoid the staff room altogether, especially when she pulled penthouse duty.

         Quickly she finished dressing, slipping into tailored trousers, a form fitting jacket and a pair of heels.  She twisted her long crimson hair up into a loose pony and dug through the garment bag for some gloss. These days everything was pretty much bare bones. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d put on a full face of makeup.

         After a quick swipe across her lips, Ashton tossed her uniform inside the garment bag and zipped it shut.  She glanced at her reflection in the mirror, pleased with what she saw. The classic lines of her suit screamed money.  The clothes were bought nearly three years ago but the cut was such that she could have grabbed them off the rack yesterday.

         Her hand drifted over the soft wool blend.  You couldn’t put a price on quality.   It just sucked that she couldn’t afford it anymore.

         Ashton turned abruptly.  The clock beside the bed said it was nearly six.  She had less than ten minutes to catch the bus.

         She left the bedroom and made sure to leave the lights on in preparation for their guest. That he was a celebrity was a no brainer and Ashton wondered who he was. 

         Mr. Van Halen.

        Her fingers ran along paperwork LaMotte had left on the bar.  An obvious pseudonym and yet it brought a wistful smile to her face. 

         She knew a guy once, a long time ago, who’d worshipped at the altar of Van Halen.  Mace Evans.

         Something pulled at her memory then and she froze.  Ruckus had released a new CD a few months earlier.  Hell, they’d been all over the radio for weeks. Her eyes narrowed as she studied the papers and pursed her lips together.  It couldn’t be…

         Shit! Could it?  Would fate be such a bitch?

         Panic hit her hard and she jerked away from the bar.  There was no way in hell Mace Evans was here in Detroit, booked into the suite that she’d been on her hands and knees cleaning.

         Hands and knees!

         Talk about poetic fucking justice.

         Ashton grabbed the garment bag and headed toward the door, her heels tapping across the tiles in a staccato beat.  It was time for her to leave.

         Her fingers reached for the handle and she froze as the locking mechanism clicked and the door released. 

She stepped back, sweat now beading her brow, her stomach tied up in knots, as voices spilled into the suite.

         “Jason you’re down in 1625.  I’ll make sure a wake-up call is scheduled for ten.  We’ve got that mixer with the local radio station.”

         The voice was male and her fear subsided as a nervous laugh bubbled inside her chest.  It wasn’t Mace. 

         The door slowly swept across the floor and a tall, thin man stared at her in surprise.  His large eyes were magnified by clunky frames that surrounded what looked to be, an inch thick of glass. He held a briefcase in one hand and gripped a Starbucks tightly in the other.

         “Hello.”  She said awkwardly, moving to the side so that he had room to walk into the suite.  Her heart was still pounding a mile a minute and she knew her cheeks were flushed red.  “Welcome to the Meridian.  I hope you enjoy your stay.”

         His eyes narrowed and he pursed his lips.  “And you are?”  He asked bluntly, obviously suspicious.

         “Oh, sorry, I’m from the concierge.” She smiled brightly, though her cheeks felt like they were about to crack.  “Just checking to make sure that everything is in order for, um, Mr. Halen.”  The lie slipped easily from her lips.  Christ but her mother would be proud.   A liar and an actress.  The woman had taught her well.  “Please, come in.”

         His cell sounded shrilly and he cursed under his breath.  Ashton was about to slip past when he shoved his coffee into her free hand and grabbed his phone out of his pocket.

         “Hold on.”  He mouthed as he entered the suite.

         Irritation replaced the earlier fear and Ashton’s smile fled as quickly as it had come.  She didn’t have all day.

         The door slowly swung back into place as she stood there like an idiot, the garment bag clutched tightly in one hand and wire rimmed dude’s Starbucks in the other.

           “Excuse me, but I have to—”

           He held up his hand effectively cutting her off and she bit her lip, holding back a curse, though it took some doing.  Cursing was a relatively new concept for Ashton and over the past year she’d become quite adept at it.  She’d learned that the words, fuck, and shit, best described certain situations.  They were in fact verbal exclamation marks.

         She glared at the man, who totally ignored her as he carried on his conversation.

         “The benefit is a go.  There are just a few things we still need to iron out.” 

         A knock sounded at the door.

         “Can you let him in? He can never find his damn key card.”  Wire rimmed man arched a brow and nodded toward the door, instantly dismissing her as he turned away.

         The knock sounded again.  Ashton heard a muffled voice on the other side.  It was deep, definitely male.

 “Open the damn door. I don’t have all night.”

         And more than a little pissed off.

         She swallowed, glanced at wire rimmed man and then back to the door. It was the only way out. Her fingers reached for the handle and she tried to ignore the subtle tremor.  What were the odds that it wasMace Evans on the other side?  A hundred to one?  A thousand to one?  A million?

         Get over it, Ash. She was being silly.

         She gripped the handle and released the door, stepping back once more as it swung open.

         Heavy boots, denim and leather greeted her.  Slowly her eyes moved upward.  The man was tall, his physique impressive—long limbed with taut, defined muscle.  She knew this because both the black t-shirt he wore and the faded jeans slung low on his hips were sculpted to draw the eye to his lines. 

         They would be long, lean, incredibly ripped lines.

         Classic tailoring dummied down.

         His hand rose slowly and her mouth went dry as the edge of his t-shirt slipped upward to reveal hard defined abs and a tattoo that crawled across them. She knew that tattoo.  He removed the dark shades that covered his face and eyes the colour of cured tobacco gazed down at her.

         Thick, dark hair on the long side and swept across his brow, full, sensual lips, a classic jaw and a dimple to die for completed the picture.  The scowl that hung on his features however spoiled the effect.

         Ashton’s tummy rolled over, and nauseous, she stared up at him in silence. Shit.  Her odds had just shrunk to zero. It was Mace.

       And considering her reaction to him? She was so screwed.



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