AX: PROLOGUE                                                                                                                                                                                           Busted Hearts

Portland, Oregon

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Busted Hearts

“You dirty, disgusting, repulsive pig!”

I held the phone away from my ear, wincing.

“Baby. Baby, for Christ’s sake, listen—you gotta believe me. I didn’t do anything! That actress, she was just some fuckhead shutterbug’s well-paid bait. That girl wasn’t with me, babe. Jesus, I never even laid eyes on the bitch! I don’t know what kind of lowlife was behind this shitshow, but I swear to fucking God… The whole thing was nothing but a huge, made-up stunt to screw me ov—”

Iris interrupted with an impassioned yowl.

Liar! Am I not a ‘fuckhead shutterbug’ myself? Please. I know what I saw, Mister, and those photos were the real deal. Don’t even try to pawn them off as some kind of sophisticated set-up. Nice try, you snake in the grass. God! You… You… lying, piece of shit, hound dog cheater!”


Across the vast US of A, the hurled phone exploded like an IED in my eardrum, followed by a throbbing, diabolical silence. My frantic forefinger hit redial, but I already knew it was a lost cause. Just like all the other times, Iris had gone and shut her cell off. Or, alternatively, smashed the fucker into lots of pretty, hot-pink pieces.

I groaned, gripping my skull.                                                                                                                                                                Busted Hearts

Motherfuck me… Was I really such a no-good, lost-cause, irredeemable sonofabitch? Undeserving of peace, happiness, or at the very least, a fair fucking hearing? Was the Big Guy in the Sky seriously laying this heinousness on me right now?

Unclawing five fingers from messy hunks of hair, I slumped forward, grabbing my latest sidekick: Mr. Johnny Walker, sporting his shiny gold label. My unsteady grasp sloshed another few inches of fast-evaporating firewater into fancy hotel crystal, right up to the brim.

Glug… glug… glug…                                                                                                                                                                            Busted Hearts

I slammed a mouthful back, staring out the darkened windows at Portland’s twinkling skyline. Goddamn, I wanted to heave that big flat-screen right through the fuckers and howl to the humanity below. Teetering on the verge of an epic meltdown, I swore bitterly, enraged that I was trapped in this tree-hugging town, so far away from my stubborn, gossip-believing girl.

Shit. If it weren’t for the fact I had to speak in the morning, and all those bigwigs were waiting to hear me, hands in their deep pockets…

Yeah, tonight I was stuck here, but I’d be on that jet the second the last dollar sign was out of my mouth. Back in New York by early evening. Back to Iris.

If I could find the woman.

Jaw jumping, I glowered at the stack of glossy news stock strewn on the coffee table, then at the sordid image duplicated in miniature on my cell screen, thrown atop the filthy pulp.

Obviously into self-torture, I unhinged my other hand from my head, snatching up the phone with the fingers not on the verge of squeezing my glass into dozens of razor-sharp splinters. Squinting blearily, I moaned anew.

Jesus Christ, it did look pretty bad. Fuck my life, if it was me who had clocked Iris in that position…                                                Busted Hearts

A black haze descended at the heinous thought of some random guy lip-locked to my baby’s sweet, puffy mouth. Sweat stung my brow as my chest burned, suffocatingly tight.

God, no. Fuck, no. I’d do murder in less than half a heartbeat.

Steeling myself, I brought the screen closer, forcing my cringing eyes to study every last computer-altered, repulsive pixel.

I winced, bile rising.

Okay, it was worse than bad. Holy hell, it was evil incarnate. Talk about convincing. Even Iris, a virtuoso of the craft, was fooled. Jesus, what kind of online course did those vile cocksuckers sign up for, to master such elaborate cut-and-paste villainy?

Fuckin’ slimebucket camera clowns.

Well, at least I could rest assured whichever jackwads were responsible for that sleazy headline trickery were never gonna work in this toddlin’ town again. Or in L.A. Or in freaking Timbuktu, for that matter. Slamming down my glass, I cracked knuckles that longed to smash into something solid, preferably flesh and bone.

Goddamn right, those phantom fuckheads weren’t gonna be clicking their Nikons. Seeing certain individuals on my payroll could be extremely… persuasive when it came to “Time to rethink your career, buddy,” type conversations.

Particularly when it was their Bossman’s ass that was showcased in the seedy spotlight.

My itchy fists curled into rocks. Yeah, forget Timbuktu. After Jimmy S. and Crew got finished with them, those snap-happy asswipes wouldn’t be able to document a kid’s pony party on the friggin’ moon.

I flung the thing facedown, ruminating again on how much God hated my ass. Hated? Ha. More like loathed, abhorred, despised. In light of recent events, there was no doubt I was tops on the mighty dude’s shitlist, no doubt at all.

How the hell could there be?

Seriously, it was not to be believed. Last Sunday, I was sweating under my bedsheets with Iris, pounding into her phenomenal little pussy with to-the-root strokes, enjoying a protracted session of eye-crossing, mind-blowing, utterly sensational, “I’ll see you in five days, baby,” sex. Complete with a sweet send-off bonus for me at the end, of the oral variety.

I groaned hoarsely. Lord, my girl could be so damned generous that way…

Licking whiskey-soaked lips as I revisited Iris’s spectacular pair suctioned tight around my surging flesh, I went solid.

“Oooh, Axel… You taste so good. Mmm, does that feel nice? You like it like that? How about like this? Or this? Do you want it a little bit hard—”



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