Release Date: December 11, 2023
He has the voice of an angel, the body of a God, and I hate the very ground he walks on.
After having her heart broken, Alma Rossi made a vow: no more relationships. All she wants now is a good time with a guy who won’t try to cuddle afterward. She’s content with the new life she’s built for herself, even if all of her friends are starting their own happily ever afters. But when the man she’s tried for years to forget shows up in her town, begging for another chance, he throws her new life off its axis.
From the outside, Roan Blackwell has it all: a shining career as a country music superstar, a house that would make anyone green with envy, and more money that he knows what to do with. But after losing the love of his life, none of that other stuff seemed to matter anymore.
He would happily give it all up just for one more shot with the one who got away. He just has to convince Alma he’s worth a second chance. He’s not above playing dirty, and if that means going out of his way to charm her entire town so they’ll help in his mission to win her back, then that’s exactly what he’ll do.
PRAISE FOR VAMP:
I love everything Jessica writes. Vamp is no different a 5 star enemies to lover, second chance romance. – Diane Plourde
I found Vamp to be an easy read; it was sweet and tender, with some lovely moments between both the main characters and the sideline characters too. The way in which the relationships between everyone were written made me want to read the rest of the series. – Danielle Graves
Their second chance romance was well done. They don’t immediately jump back into a relationship and there was forgiveness and healing that needed to happen. Their HEA was well earned and I enjoyed their story. – Melena Torretta
Vamp was so good! I loved Alma and Ronan. Their relationship and chemistry were amazing. I loved the groveling and the forgiveness. – Vanessa Ramirez
A great ending to the Whiskey Dolls! – Michelle Parkerton
I have every single book this author has written. This book was amazing. I am always blown away how good these books are. The characters just become such a part of me. So good, the writing, the chemistry, everything. – Michele Del Rey
This story has a true heartache that you can feel and you will pray that everyone involved will get an HEA. – Lisa Petty
I stared out my living room windows, the gleaming floor-to-ceiling glass more than fifteen feet high, giving an unobstructed view of Nashville, wondering when the hell all of this had stopped being enough. There had been a time in my life when a view like this, a view that only came from standing inside one of the fucking ridiculously large mansions that towered over the city, was all I’d ever wanted.
I’d wanted to be able to stand at these windows at night and look down at the city lights, to be a part of the heartbeat of Nashville while still lording over it. One of the important. The elite. When I was younger, I was stupid enough to think that was all I needed, this lifestyle of flash and fame was all that mattered. If I’d had a view like this, I had really made it.
God, I was a fucking idiot.
I thought that was all it would take to give me the calm I had spent nearly my entire life searching for. The peace I’d only had once before. But as I stood there, looking out on my city, all I felt was . . . empty.
“Roan, are you even listening to me?”
I rolled my eyes at Cal’s nasally voice and turned away from the view that no longer held the same appeal it once had. My manager sat in the large, hideous wingback chair that wasn’t my taste at all but had been chosen by the interior decorator I’d hired because that was the one everyone who was anyone in Nashville used, so it made sense. I hated that fucking chair with its fucking tassels and brocade pattern, whatever the hell that was. It felt like it was stuffed with rocks.
As a matter of fact, I hated all the furniture in this house. I hated the dishes in the cabinets. I hated the colors on the walls and the bedding that had been chosen for my bedroom. I hated the art hanging on the walls—I mean, I had a framed canvas that had been painted white and had cost thirty grand hanging over my fireplace, for christ’s sake. I could have done that my damn self for less than ten bucks. And what did it say about me that I hadn’t blinked an eye at the price tag because the artist was a popular up-and-coming dude who everyone wanted a piece of.
“Of course I fuckin’ hear you. It’s impossible not to since you won’t shut the hell up.”
He gave me a flat look as he tapped the arm of the chair with the tip of his index finger, his tell for when he was anxious. I could always tell by the tap, tap, tap just how close he was to a meltdown, and lately, that tap, tap, tap had been happening a whole lot more. Especially when it came to me.
I wasn’t exactly making his job easy as of late, but for some reason, I just couldn’t find it in me to give a shit.
All the things I used to care about, used to love, seemed so insignificant now.
“All right, what did I just say?”
I moved to the wet bar in the corner of the room and poured two fingers of Lagavulin. I tossed it back in a single gulp and set up another. That one I’d sip slower, make it last. I didn’t allow myself to get out of hand anymore. I’d spent too many years making stupid fucking choices like chasing the fake relief alcohol provided, the numbness, and I wasn’t going to let myself go down that road again.
“I said I heard you, not that I was listenin’.”
Tap, tap, tap.
“I swear to christ, Roan. You’re going to give me a goddamn heart attack one of these days.”
I gave him a flat stare. “No, Cal. That’ll be from the two packs of cigarettes you smoke every damn day.” I pointed a threatening finger at him as he stood and patted at his pockets. “And don’t even think of lighting up in here. I might hate all the shit in this house, but I hate the stench of those cancer sticks even more.”
“It was only one pack a day until you turned into this surly, moody jackass.”
He pushed to his feet and came over to the bar. My jaw started to tick and my hands clenched into fists when he began to fix himself a drink without even asking. And worst, he used my expensive shit. The prick.
“You used to be so agreeable and even-tempered. What the fuck happened to that guy, huh? He never gave me angina.”
“Maybe that guy got tired of being everyone’s puppet.” I took another sip, beating down the need to chug. “Ever thought of that? Or maybe he got sick and fucking tired of doing whatever everyone around him wanted and not what he wanted.”
Instead of getting it, Cal pointed in my direction, his expression accusing as he said, “See? That right there. That’s the shit I’m talking about. What’s your deal, man? You need to get laid? Is that it? Just say the word and I’ll have a few ladies here in no time. You can take your pick. Or hell, fuck all of them if that’s what it takes to snap your personality back into place.”
My top lip curled in disgust. I couldn’t believe I’d ever actually considered this man a friend. He was only looking out for number one. Sure, he used to be supportive, but that was back when I did what I was told without any argument. Now that I was no longer the dumbass who was content to simply go with the flow, that support had flown right out the window. Like most things in my career, I was starting to second-guess whether or not Cal Stark was the right fit as my manager.
It was beginning to feel like I had outgrown everything. My label, my sound, my team. If I could, I’d wipe the slate clean and start all over. Only this time, I’d do so many things differently. But I guess that was hindsight for you.
The callous bitch.
“Look, just say what you came to say so you can get the hell out before you really piss me off and get your ass fired, yeah?”
I could practically hear his molars grinding together from across the room.
“The label doesn’t like the new material.” And there it was. I let out a dry laugh as he continued. “They feel that, compared to your older albums, the new songs are too depressing.”
“They aren’t depressing. They’re real. There’s a fucking difference, Cal.”
The music industry could be a real bitch, whether you’d already made it as an artist or not, and as a country singer, my fans had gotten used to my style, which was the fast pace, feel good songs you could dance to. There were reels all over social media of special line dances that had been created to go with my songs. I wasn’t going to lie, that kind of shit put me on the map in a big way, and now my name was being mentioned alongside some of the biggest names in country music. I had a shelf full of awards, and had walked down my fair share of red carpets.
Over the past decade, I achieved every single thing I’d set out to do. I was famous. My face was on fucking magazine covers. I was one of the most played artists on the radio. You couldn’t flip past a country station without hearing one of my songs. I played for sold-out stadiums across the country. I couldn’t go to the grocery store without people clamoring to get a picture with me, for christ’s sake.
And I was sick of it.
All of it.
For the first time in my career, I’d made the album I wanted to make. No country anthems, no ass-shaking, two-stepping beats. I wrote and recorded songs that actually meant something to me. I’d dug down deep in my soul where I’d kept all those feelings hidden for the past decade and pulled each and every one of those words out. It had been painful. But so worth it. These new songs were a part of me. They were in my blood, in my bones.
Just like she was and always would be.
Those songs were the realest thing I had ever created.
“I think I’ve made those assholes enough money over the past several years that I’ve earned a little bit of leeway in the music I make.”
I could see it written all over Cal’s face. He didn’t agree. What the label wanted, the label got, as far as he was concerned. They were the big dogs.
I took another sip, pinning my manager with a hard stare as I said, “If the label doesn’t like the new material, maybe it’s time for us to part ways. Because that’s the album I’m making. Whether they like it or not. And if you can’t get behind that, maybe it’s time we part ways as well.”
I heard his sharp intake of breath, but I’d already turned away, looking back at that view that meant nothing. In the past handful of minutes, the sun had started to lower beyond the horizon, painting the sky in deeper shades. The lights from the city below began to wink on, and, as I’d experienced more times that I could count, the clubs, bars, and restaurants were setting up for the incoming crowds. Day might have slowly been turning into night, but this city didn’t sleep.
In fact, it was gearing up while all I wanted to do was strip down to my underwear, crawl into bed, and watch ESPN highlights in the dark until I passed out with the remote in my hand.
And, christ, but that thought made me feel old as hell.
“You know what? I don’t think this is the right time for this conversation,” Cal stated magnanimously. Like the prick was doing me some kind of favor. “Clearly you’re in a mood, so we’ll table this discussion for the time being, come back to it when you’re feeling more yourself.”
I let out a snort as I brought the glass back to my lips. What the bastard failed to realize was I was feeling more myself than I had in years. The real me was a miserable, unhappy asshole now that all the shitty decisions I’d made in my youth were coming back to bite me in the ass.
“Whatever you say, Cal. You can go ahead and see yourself out.” I held up the glass, dismissing the man without even turning back to look at him.
I didn’t turn around as I waited in silence for the sound of my front door opening and closing. Once I heard it slam harder than necessary, I reached into the back pocket of my jeans and pulled out my cell, scrolling through my contacts. I hit Call the instant my thumb landed on the number I’d been looking for.
It only took three rings for him to pick up. The moment the familiar voice carried through my ears, the corners of my mouth curled ever so slightly in the closest thing to a smile I’d felt in days, or hell, even weeks.
“Well I’ll be. If it isn’t Roan Blackwell. It’s been a while, man.”
“Lincoln. Good to hear your voice, buddy.”
I’d met Lincoln Sheppard several years ago, back when my career had just shot off. I’d been playing a set one night at the Bluebird Café, and when I got home, I discovered an overzealous fan had not only climbed over the privacy fence that surrounded my old house, but she’d also managed to pick the lock and get inside. I found her naked in my bed.
The whole thing had been a huge mess. The cops had come to haul her ass out of my house, and she sure as hell hadn’t made it easy for them. By the time they finally got her out the door, both officers and I were sporting fresh scratch marks and she’d managed to break a mirror, a glass end table, a lamp, and a coat rack. It was so bad they’d had to taser her.
I’d asked around for the best security company in the business and got Lincoln Sheppard’s name. He owned an operation over in Virginia and was usually booked months out. His firm, Alpha Omega, did a hell of a lot more than install security systems, so getting an appointment was damn near impossible.
It just so happened to be a lucky coincidence that he’d been a fan, and when I told him the situation, he made an exception—after charging me double the already astronomical cost—and set me up with a system that was completely impenetrable.
When I bought this place, he’d come out again to do the same—and again, charged me through the fucking roof, knowing his work was worth it and I had more than enough money lying around.
“How are things down in Nashville treating you? Don’t tell me you’re moving again, brother. That last place I set up for you was a fucking beast. What more could you want in a house?”
I let out a low chuckle. “Nah, nothing like that. I actually have something else in mind. Tell me, how good are you and your team at finding people?”
He made a sound of offense. “Shit. That’s what you’re calling for? I was hoping you’d at least give me a challenge. What’s the name and date of birth? I’ll have an address for you in no time.”
I quickly rattled off a name I hadn’t said in nearly ten years, but one I’d thought about every hour of every day. I still had her birthday memorized, along with so many other things about her. She was as much a part of me as my music was, living in my very soul. There wasn’t a single thing about her I would ever forget.
“So you want to call me back once you’ve tracked her down?”
“No need. I can tell you where she is right now.”
My chin jerked back in shock. “Look, man. I get that you’re good and all, but you aren’t psychic. You couldn’t have possibly already figured out her address in the past thirty seconds.”
He chuckled good-naturedly. “Don’t need to be psychic when your girl’s not only living in my town, but part of my wife’s crew. Though, if you’re female and in the tri-county area, you’re part of my wife’s crew, so I don’t know if it’s so much a coincidence than an inevitability.”
“Wait.” I squeezed my eyes closed and pinched the bridge of my nose, trying to wrap my head around what he’d told me. “You’re telling me she lives in Hope Valley?”
“Sure does. Alma Rossi’s a bit of a celebrity around these parts. So you want her address? Hell, I won’t even charge you.”
“Hell yeah, I do. And I want you to tell me everything you know about her.”
I was going to need every single advantage possible if I had any chance of winning back the love of my life.