Final Call, Chapter 1 – Ali Parker

Final Call, Chapter 1

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The book releases on Tuesday the 2nd!!

Chapter 1

Ethan

The moment was surreal.

Clayton and Frank standing at the edge of a small make-shift stage, Deza a few feet back, her eyes wide and tears running down her face. It was a moment I could never forget for the rest of my life.

Riley’s short strawberry blonde hair was matted to her beautiful face, and her lips were so red. Blood red. Sights and sounds echoed in my skull as my heart raced, my balance getting a little off as I felt so damn dizzy all of a sudden.

She needed to know that I loved her, but what if I were being set up? Clayton played some part in all that was happening, but what part? Was she his puppet?

No. Her eyes told me the truth. Somewhere along the way, she’d fallen in love with me, and not a fan-girl love. Real love. Deep, abiding love that could work to heal my wounds and save me from the destructive path I wanted to race down.

I needed something to numb the pain of being alone. Anything. I blinked a few times, coming back into the scene as she lifted her chin and looked me in the eye. Rain dripped down her beautiful face as she squared her shoulders.

“Why should I stay?” She was a goddess, my saving grace, my woman.

Mine. The only thing I wanted in my life.

“Because I love you.” I leaned down and consumed her warmth, not willing to let anyone near us until she understood fully what that meant to me. The moment broke too fast for my liking, but I wasn’t in charge.

She was.

“I need time.” She took a shaky step back and turned, reaching for the extended arms that reached up to help her down. Clayton Welms.

The asshole I’d almost called brother. He’d wedged a knife between my shoulder blades a few years back, and now he was finishing me off.

I stood in stony silence as realization washed over me. Telling Riley that I loved her wasn’t enough to fix anything. Our lives weren’t a fucking movie.

“Hey, buddy. Come on.” Frank gave me a fatherly smile and extended his hand, palm up as he motioned for me to come down off the stage.

I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe as I watched Clayton wrap a towel around Riley’s shoulders and walk her back toward the studio. He’d set me up again, but this time, it hadn’t been hard to do. Between the girl claiming I was her baby’s daddy, the viral YouTube video of me half-stripping at the club and the video of me and Deza kissing, I had one person to blame.

Myself.

“Ethan. Come down, okay? We can get-”

“Fuck off,” I barked and glanced down to find Deza standing beside Frank, her eyes filled with concern. “I mean it.”

I hopped off the side of the stage and ran my hands over my head as I followed after Clayton and Riley. The fury building inside of me needed an outlet, and if I were going to lose the one woman I loved, I was going to make sure to make a complete ass of myself in the process.

What the fuck did I care? She was a goner anyway.

My life was a joke. One dicked up scene after the next, played out on the big screen for the world to see. A sardonic laugh bubbled up inside of me. The fact that I thought opening my heart up and telling Riley that I loved her would solve anything was so typical of a fucked up love seen.

It was the moment of conflict-resolution.

Clayton glanced over his shoulder and gave me a cocky grin.

“I got yours, asshole.” I continued to follow them languidly.

“Here. Change, and I’ll take you home.” Clayton opened the door to the studio and moved back as Riley walked through without ever glancing behind her. He closed the door and turned to face me. “You know as well as I do that Riley is too good of a woman to get wrapped up with you. It would never work.”

“Well, fuck you very much for saving me the trouble of breaking her heart. Wait. You didn’t. You forced me to do it in front of everyone she works with.” I reached him and gripped the front of his shirt, punching him in the face three times before sweeping his legs out from under him.

“Ethan! Stop it!” I could hear Deza screaming somewhere in the background, but I ignored her.

Clayton’s laughter filled up the air around me, and all I saw was red. I dropped down on top of him and swung until someone tried to pull me off. I got one good stomp on his balls before Frank growled in my ear.

“Stop it. You’re turning into a monster.”

“No, wrong old man.” I jerked from him and turned to face the crew as they moved in behind him. “I’ve always been a monster. Fuck every one of you for standing by and letting this piece of shit spin his web.” I pointed to Deza and narrowed my eyes. “And fuck you for giving him ammo.”

I turned and walked to the parking lot, tears burning my eyes as rage raced through me. A black fuzziness sat around the edge of my vision, and I tried blinking it away, but it wasn’t going anywhere.

Riley called out to me, but I ignored her. There was nothing left to say. She had to think things through.

“Well, great. Have fun thinking about what we could have been.” I got in my car and slammed the door and devastation washed over me in great waves. I turned the oldies station on and cranked it up. Pulling out of the parking lot, I kept my eyes forward. There was no way I was looking back in my rearview and seeing her standing there.

She was everything I wanted in my life and so much more. I’d have given up my career, my money and every ounce of my freedom to belong to her.

But it wasn’t enough. Quite simply because we didn’t live in a movie, and happy endings didn’t exist.

 

*

 

I glanced around the empty living room at my place, hating everything I’d picked out to decorate the white walls with. Memories blasted through me. So many good times with me and Deza cutting up and acting stupid. She’d saved me from myself and had been a mother, a sister, a best friend through everything I’d been through.

Why was I pushing her away now?

It wasn’t like she’d staged the fucking kiss in front of Darren. She was hurting that day too and wanted to shove it in his big ugly face that she wasn’t alone. She had me.

The hot ball of regret sitting at the back of my throat stung, and caused tears to well up in my eyes again. I hadn’t cried off camera more than three times in my life, and I sure as fuck wasn’t about to do it then.

A knock on the front door pulled me from my thoughts. I reached out and ran my hand over the back of my couch as I contemplated what to do. If it were Riley, I’d throw her over my shoulder and haul her off to the bedroom like a caveman, suffocating her with so much passion that she had no other conclusion to come to other than the one where I loved her.

And if it were Clayton?

I wished like hell I had a gun. That bastard deserved to lose a knee. I’d have to find a way to take him out without getting my hands bloody. Maybe killing him was extreme, but mauling him would work just as well.

“Ethan. Open the door, please.”

Deza. She had to be screaming her little Mexican head off for me to hear her.

“I’m not here.” I walked to the door and screamed back. “Ethan’s on a permanent vacation. If you want to leave a message, don’t. He’s not interested.”

“Open this door before I use my fucking key.”

Fucking? Wow. She was a little emotional.

“Nope. And if you barge in, I’m naked, so good luck with that.” I was so far past distraught that I had to lean on simply being me with a mask on. The guy everyone knew and loved. He’d become a part of me so long ago that I could access him and lean on him in times of trial and tribulation.

Times like now.

“Please, Ethan. I love you. Open the door.”

I opened it and turned, walking back to the kitchen. “Had to use the fucking ‘L’ word, didn’t you?”

“Yes. Because it’s true.” She closed the door behind her and walked in, following me in silence.

“Make yourself at home. Kick off your shoes. You want a drink?” I turned and walked backward, lifting my hands to the side as if I were waiting on her response. Like serving her was at the top of my to-do list.

“No. I’m fine. I’m just worried about you.” She stopped by the breakfast bar and pressed her hands to it. “We can work all of this out.”

“There’s nothing to work out. I told her that I loved her and she walked.” I shrugged and turned to walk to the fridge. “It’s quite typical of women in my life. I mean, my mother didn’t keep me. My foster family doesn’t care. None of the women I’ve ever dated wanted anything but my dick and my money.” I turned to face her as I popped the top on a beer. “Why would Riley be any different?”

“Because she is.” Deza gave me a knowing look. “Don’t do this. Mourn the loss of what you thought you had, cry and get it out and then go talk to her.”

“Not happening.” I downed the rest of the beer and moved closer. “And let me be very clear with you. Tell Frank that if Clayton Welms is on any set that I’m on in the future, I’m walking. Where you guys see the good side of him, all I see is the bad. He’s trying to take me out, one nut at a time. He got one a few years ago, and he took another one this morning. I mean, for shit’s sake, I’m basically a very masculine looking woman now.”

“Stop it.” She glanced down at her hands as a smile played at the edge of her mouth. She looked back up, all humor gone. “He’s been fired. I don’t know exactly what he did, but he’s not the center of our film. You are. You were right. He’s teaching, and you’re still acting. You somehow won, and I’m not even sure you meant to.”

“If he shows up at any time, I’m gone. Got it? I’m going to choke the life out of him and end up in jail if I’m around him again.” I brushed my hand down my chest and forced a smile. “And you know what the boys in jail will do to me.” I lifted an eyebrow. “Huge cock and a pretty white ass?”

“Oh God.” She got up and walked around the counter, pulling me into a hug. “For what it’s worth, I’m so sorry. I really do love you like family. I would never do anything to hurt you. Not ever.”

“I know.” I wrapped my arms around her and pressed my cheek to the top of her head. “You think it’s over with me and Riley?”

“Do you?” She moved back and glanced up, her expression soft and caring.

“I hope not.” I took a shaky breath. “If it is, then I’m on my final call for love. I don’t want anyone but her, and if this shit tanks… I’m done. For good.”

  • Judy says:

    I have read every book. I just love this series. Can’t wait to see what happens!!!! A must read!!

  • Bella Gumera says:

    OMG I love it!!! Ive read the last 4 books I just need this one

  • Final cut is the only book I cannot find on iBooks and I am so wanting to finish the series, I am loving it.

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