Rock the Beat Page 1

Two Weeks Prior…

For some strange reason there are socially acceptable jokes made all the time about women being late for dates, but there aren’t any for guys. Take my boyfriend, Jackson Cruze, for example. He’s stunningly has a face like Channing Tatum, a body that David Beckham would be envious over, and the time management skills of a well-trained baboon. The guy couldn’t be on time if it saves his life.

I check my watch again and sigh. Surely he won’t forget to pick me up tonight? We’ve had this date planned for two-year anniversary for some time now. He’s not that big of a jerk, is he?

I pull out my cell and call my best friend, Max, while I wait. Like clockwork, he answers on the second ring and I ask, “Where are you?”

Max laughs into the phone while the sounds of a wild party fill in behind him. “I’m at Paulo’s. Why aren’t you here? This is the biggest end of summer bash I’ve ever seen. You got to get your ass over here.”

Paulo’s has the best Mexican food, drinks and DJs this side of the border. It’s one of my most favorite places to hang out with my friends, and it sounds a whole lot better than waiting on my date who’s already over an hour late.

I pick at my nails. “I can’t. I’m waiting on Jackson. It’s our anniversary.”

“Um, Holly, Jackson’s here.”

My nostrils flare and my brow crinkles. “What?! Why is he there? He’s supposed to be here.” This makes no sense.

“I’m not sure, baby girl, but by the looks of him, he’s been here for a while.”

Un-freaking-believable. “Is he drunk?”

There’s a bit of rustling on Max’s end. “Judging by the number of beer cans piled on the table and slight wobble in his stance, I’d say he’s hammered. Better forget tonight, Blondie, and plan on reaming his ass for it tomorrow. Come over and hang out with me. I miss you.”

I resist the urge to chuck my cell out into gravel parking lot in front of my house. Phones are expensive, and I don’t have an extra penny to waste. “I’m not really feeling up to it. I think I’m going to head on to bed.”

“All right. Love you. Call me tomorrow. I want to know what excuse he feeds you this time,” Max says.

He’s never been a big fan of Jackson, and this little incident certainly won’t help win Jackson win any favor points. I can’t count the number of times Max has encouraged me to break up with my boyfriend over the last two years.

“Sure thing. Good night and have fun,” I tell him before ending the call.

I haul my ass out of the old, white, rocking chair on the front porch and trudge up my stairs. I can’t believe he forgot—I even reminded him today. You’d think after two years, being together with me would mean something.

I close my bedroom door and then fall onto my bed. The yellow sundress I bought special for tonight becomes my blanket as I curl my legs inside it. Tears push their way down my temples before landing in the long, mess of blonde hair spread across my pillow. I can’t believe Jackson did this to me.

Don’t I mean anything to him? You don’t blow off people you love for a stupid party.

I know he’s not been the best boyfriend in the world, but I didn’t expect for him to totally blow me off like this. I know things have been rocky between us since I came home from college this summer, but that’s one of the reasons I decided to stay home this fall. To mend what a year away at school had broken.

I close my eyes, feeling stupid for loving someone that obviously doesn’t love me back, and cry myself to sleep.

The next thing I know my shoulder is gently shaken, stirring me out of a deep sleep. “Holly. Wake up.”

It’s Jackson, no doubt still drunk off his ass and feeling guilty. I roll over and rub my eyes while trying to make him out in the dark. “What time is it?”

“It’s nearly five,” he whispers.

I sit up quickly. “Are you out of your mind coming in here at this time of night? If my dad catches you, he’ll kill you. How’d you get in here anyway?”

After blinking a few times, my vision adjusts to the moonlit room. Jackson’s sitting on the edge of my bed with his lips pulled into a tight line. I tense. I’ve seen that look before. It’s the expression he wears when he’s nervous.

His polo shirt hugs his toned body as he bends at the waist, resting his elbows on his knees while he drops his head. “The front was open, so I let myself in.”

I sigh heavily. “Really, Jackson, this can’t wait until the morning? I know you’re sorry for standing me up. I forgive you for that. People make mistakes.”

He turns toward me and grabs my hand. “You don’t know how glad I am to hear you say that. I don’t want you to hate me.”

I don’t like the way I can sense desperation on him as he’s touching me. There’s something wrong. I’ve known him long enough that I can just feel it. “Why are you here, Jackson? Did something happen?”

Jackson runs his hand over his shaved head and shoots his gaze down at the floor. “I didn’t mean to do it, Holl. You have to believe me.”

I lean down trying to catch his gaze, but it doesn’t work. He won’t look at me and this causes my stomach to drop. “Didn’t mean to do what, Jackson? You’re scaring me.”

He takes a deep breath. He takes a deep breath. “I’ve been sleeping with someone else while you were away at school, and well, I did it again tonight, so I figured it was time you knew.”