With Vengeance

Hearts of Metal, Book 2

Book Cover: With Vengeance

SHE MEANS BUSINESS

Twenty-three year old Katana James can shred on the guitar. Not that anyone would know, as she’s spent most of her time working on a popular news and gossip website for Heavy Metal fans since her own band broke up. But her dreams are in reach when she gets an audition to play with her favorite band, Bleeding Vengeance. Kat won’t let her gender, her anxiety disorder, or even the pranks of a malicious stalker stand in her way. The only thing to threaten her focus? A growing fascination with the group’s brilliant, mysterious bass player.

HE OFFERS PLEASURE

Klement Burke has always been the heart, soul and brain of Bleeding Vengeance. He’s the kind of rock star who stays in the shadows, a perfectionist more interested in satisfying his brain than other parts of his body. Until he auditions Katana James. At first it seemed a perfect idea, as he’s been aware of her talent for some time. But meeting her in the flesh ignites thoughts far from professional. Despite the conflict of work, the odds against her falling for a geek like him, and the secret he’s been hiding, his heart, body and soul now belong to Kat.

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All three members of Bleeding Vengeance watched Katana’s swaying hips and deliciously curved ass as she walked out the door. Klement tried not to look—it wasn’t professional—but hell, he was a guy. And she was a lot more attractive than he’d expected, with her wavy black hair, ebony eyes, and exquisite figure.

Cliff whistled. “Damn, I could hit that all night long. What do you think, Klem? Should we keep her?”

Klement nodded. “Yes, but not so you can bang her. I want to get some actual work done. Katana has all of our songs down better than our other candidates. So for fuck’s sake keep your hands to yourselves and maybe we can get this album recorded on time.”

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Cliff’s eyes narrowed, and his chin jutted out like a rooster’s beak. “You may call the shots in the studio, but that doesn’t mean I can’t fuck her brains out when we’re off the job.”

“That’s correct,” Klement replied mildly, though the mental image made his fists clench. “I don’t give a shit what you do as long as you put out a decent album and keep your nose and veins clean. After Lefty, I just can’t.”

Cliff’s competitive aggression fled as fresh grief settled onto his features like a funeral shroud. “I know, man. And I haven’t touched the dope since, I swear.”

Roderick cut in. “I miss Lefty too, but we still haven’t figured out who’s going to replace him.”

“If Katana works out…”

Cliff snorted. “Oh, c’mon, the studio is one thing, but onstage? I mean, we can’t have a chick guitarist. We’d be a laughingstock.”

Klement crossed his arms. “You’ve heard her shred. She has Lefty’s riffs nailed to the point where she sounds just like him. Are you telling me you’d rather have a substandard guitarist just to appease the more sexist faction of our fan base?”

The singer frowned. “I think more than just a faction would be pissed.”

“They’re going to be pissed no matter who we tour with, because it won’t be Lefty. I want to at least replace him with someone good,” Klement countered. “Besides, I think most fans aren’t as shallow as you’re making them out to be. Rage of Angels has been outselling us since they debuted, and they’re three chicks and a gay guy.” Klement envied the latter, in fact. The kid was an incredible bass player.

Shaking his head, he ticked off his list. “There’s also Otep, Halestorm, Warlock, and many others. White Zombie had a female bassist until Rob Zombie went solo. And don’t forget that when Kat’s friend Kinley stepped in for Viciӧus she upped their sales by twenty percent, despite all the shit-talking on Rocktalk’s site.”

“Okay, I get your point.” Cliff ran a hand through his hair. “So you think she’ll do good for us?”

“Maybe. If she can handle herself on a big stage. She’s only played small shows in clubs, but you’ve all seen the videos of her performing.” God she was so vibrant, so alive, so—

Roderick interrupted that dangerous line of thought. “Yes, she’s a talent, in more ways than one, but only on the vids. In here she resembled a bloody wax statue.”

“That’s because those songs are new to her,” Klement argued. “Not to mention the fact that this is her first time in a studio. She was too busy concentrating on playing the songs right, not on having fun with ’em, which is what we need from her at the moment. Then we can see if she loosens up enough to give a good show.” He prayed that she could. He didn’t want to audition another guitarist. He wanted Kat.

The intensity of his desire gave him pause.

Because she’s talented, he reiterated to himself.

Cliff waggled his eyebrows. “Ten bucks says she gives me a good show tonight.”

Roderick offered his hand to shake. “I’ll take that bet.”

“C’mon, Rod.” Cliff laughed. “You know they always go for the singer. Quinn got a piece of her friend. Now it’s my turn.”

The drummer frowned. “Hey, now, some of the ladies pick me first. They lovemy accent. You can’t compete with that, Yank.”

Klement rolled his eyes at both of them. “I’ll see you guys at my place. When you get there, just come in. I got a tech support call.”

Cliff shook his head in bemusement. “I don’t know why you still bother with that shit. It’s not like you need the money. What are you worth now, twenty-six million?”

“I’ve been working with some of these clients for years,” Klement answered over his shoulder, already heading out the door. “It doesn’t feel right to ditch them. Besides, we probably won’t be famous forever. Eventually we’ll go out of style—or, if we’re lucky, just get too old. I like having something to fall back on.” Okay, his client base had been pared down to his sisters and one lonely website, so it wasn’t exactly making him money anymore, and he really didn’t need anymore money, but whatever.

The door closed on Cliff’s response.

Klement crossed the parking lot to his ’58 Suburban, fighting off annoyance. He knew Cliff would probably win his bet and seduce Katana. He’d seen the way she’d looked at the singer, and he hated the sinking feeling he’d gotten when he saw it. He wasn’t supposed to care. The last thing he needed was to get involved with their new recording guitarist.

Besides, at thirty-five he, was probably too old for her, and with all of his issues, he wasn’t suited for a relationship anyway.

At least he didn’t have much to worry about in that respect. Cliff was right. Theyalways went for the singer first. It had gotten to the point where it wasn’t even satisfying to hook up with the groupies, knowing they were just settling for him. He wasn’t usually too bothered, but for some reason Kat’s crush on Cliff stuck in his craw. She’d even listed Cliff as #1 on her website list of Top Ten Hottest Rock Stars. He himself hadn’t made the list.

Klement’s stomach knotted. Quinn had been at the top of Kinley’s list. Now those two were together. Was it an omen?

The flatlands gave way to pine trees, cliffs, and hills as he left Denver. His Suburban rallied up the treacherous terrain. The winding roads seemed to match his vacillating thoughts.

None of us should be fucking her, anyway. That’ll cause us even more problems that we don’t need. I’m just glad she nailed her audition so I didn’t have to break her heart by telling her she couldn’t be part of the band.

Besides, at least I have a good friendship with her, even if she doesn’t know it.He wondered what she’d do if she found out exactly who had been providing tech support for Metalness.com ever since the site first went live.

Shortly after passing a sign that read Welcome to Dark Score, population: 130, his Suburban climbed a steeply inclined driveway. Pressing the button to open the gates at the top, he pulled up in front of his five-car garage. There he couldn’t help but wonder if Katana had a vehicle able to make the same trek as she’d need to do to come over later.

He set his keys on the cluttered kitchen counter and made coffee before heading into his giant office with a view of the Rockies. Firing up his computer, he logged in as administrator to Metalness.com and assessed the problem. Yup, their comments section was under attack by spammers again.

Turning his phone to speaker, he dialed the website owner’s number. When she answered, Kat’s soft voice seemed to caress him.

“Hi, IT Guy.”

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Elizabeth Ramsay on The Romance Reviews wrote:

What happens when your big break brings you true love?

Katana James runs the heavy metal blog Metalness but her dream is to be in a successful band. When Bleeding Vengeance contacts her with a chance to audition for lead guitar, it's a dream come true. She has a shot at being a star and being near her idol, lead singer Cliff.

Klement Burke is the bassist for Bleeding Vengeance. He also has a connection to Kat and knows that her music is just what his band needs to pull them out of their slump. If only he didn't have to constantly remind himself that Kat is a colleague, not his girlfriend, everything would be perfect. After all, there's no real point in putting the moves on her when she's always had a thing for Cliff, is there?

Kat knows within three seconds of meeting Cliff that some men are better admired from afar. Klem, however, gets better the closer she gets to him. When she accidentally ingests a "special" cupcake and it gives her panic attacks, Klem is there for her. He also saves her car after someone puts sugar in the gas tank. Kat can't help comparing Klem to her last boyfriend and thinking how much further ahead he comes out. When they finally let their feelings take over everything seems perfect, but someone doesn't want Kat to be happy. Can Klem protect his girl or will he lose her just as he's finding her?

WITH VENGEANCE explores the importance of building trust within relationships. Klem and Kat each have issues in their past that they have to overcome before they can find each other. Brooklyn Ann paints a believable picture of Kat's PTSD. She also gives enough background for her characters that they read like real people. It is nice to read a book where characters have histories and hobbies as it makes them more realistic. The snippets where the story is told from the stalker's point of view let the reader understand his motivation and enhance the storyline.

The novel grabs you from the first line and doesn't let you go. A stay up all night read.


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