Savaged Illusions Trilogy, Book 2
Jennifer Lyon Books (July 24, 2017)
How much will she risk for love?
Despite her dark past with a rock icon, Liza Glasner can’t walk away from the man she loves with a fiery passion—sexy rock star Justice Cade. A surprise pregnancy and marriage give Liza the family she’s craved since she was fourteen. But her love is tested when Liza’s worst nightmare—Gene Hayes—bursts onto the scene, spreading lies and smears to tear her and Justice apart. Can Liza trust Justice to choose her over fame?
How far will he go for fame?
Justice fiercely loves his beautiful and resilient wife Liza, and he’s determined to protect her from Gene Hayes. At the same time, he’s loyal to his band. The four other men in Savaged Illusions are his brothers, and together, they are battling hard to come back from a humiliating defeat. But just as the pinnacle of success is within their reach, Justice discovers a truth that will either decimate his band or destroy his wife.
Can their love survive?
Secrets and betrayals explode in a heartbreaking twist that threatens to rip Justice and Liza apart forever.
Savaged Vows is book 2 in the Savaged Illusions Trilogy, and ends in a cliffhanger.
Read an Excerpt
Liza Glasner gave in on the wheelchair and allowed herself to be rolled out into the bright sunshine. God, she detested hospitals. But she loathed the reason she’d landed there for three nights even more.
Someone had tried to kill her. A man she didn’t know had hated her that much. Nothing like an attempted murder by a stranger to make a girl feel special. Okay, not special so much as seriously pissed off. She hadn’t been bothering anyone, she’d just been walking to her car when she was tackled and stabbed.
Chill bumps splattered her arms despite the warm day in San Diego. She rubbed her palms over her biceps as her stomach knotted, and pinged her gaze around, careful not to move her head. The orderly had stopped a few feet back from the curb of the horseshoe-shaped pickup zone. Beyond that lay a road and huge parking areas. People milled around, coming and going at a brisk pace.
Did any of them want to kill her too?
Jeez, paranoid much? Liza squeezed her eyes shut, determined to get control. No one was trying to murder her here. She was fine.
“Beth.” A warm, comforting hand settled over her fingers digging into her arms.
When she opened her eyes, her world filled with the man crouched in front of her. Justice Cade’s blond-streaked brown hair refused to be tamed, and his irises sizzled an angry blue flecked with moody gray and warm concern.
“That was fast,” Liza said. He’d gone ahead of her to get the car out of the parking facility, and now the Jeep idled at the curb a couple yards away.
“I figured you’d be in a hurry to get home to your stash of candy.” He flipped up the footrests of her wheelchair.
That coaxed a smile from her. “You better not have eaten any, rock star. I don’t care if we’re living together, some things are off-limits.” She stood carefully, trying not to jostle the healing slash that ran from the center point of the back of her neck down to her right shoulder blade. Or the bruises and split lip from getting slammed to the asphalt. The pain pills helped, so she managed.
Justice wrapped an arm around her, avoiding any tender spots. At the car, he opened the passenger door, helped her in then tugged her seat belt across her.
He lifted his head, his eyes hard and his jaw unyielding. “I’ll do it. You’ll sit there and be a good girl, or all your candy will vanish.”
She could almost feel the rage, frustration and worry snapping out from his pores, yet he was gentle and caring with her. “Are you threatening me? I’ll have you know I survived a stabbing, and that makes me a bona fide badass.”
His face softened. “Definite badass and a tough-as-hell survivor.” After locking in her seat belt, he cupped her jaw. “But anyone tries to hurt you again, I’m going badass on them, and when I’m done, they’ll be bleeding on the ground. Breathing is optional.”
He hovered over her like a shield, and yet he’d called her tough. He didn’t see her as weak and reckless, but as a survivor who wouldn’t let some maniac with a knife kill her. “Lot of badass in this car.” She sank back against the seat, surprised at how tired she was just from dressing, arguing over the wheelchair and getting into the car.
Justice leaned in, kissing her on the side of her mouth to avoid her sore lip. “You’re my tough girl.” After closing her door, he slid in the driver’s side and got them on the road. “We’ll get your stuff moved Saturday from your apartment to my house. I’m borrowing a truck and rounding up Sloane and a few friends. We’ll get Emily’s stuff moved to her boyfriend’s for her too.”
“But I haven’t finished packing.” Before the attack, she’d been so busy with her internship and finals, there hadn’t been time. Now reality dropped on her like a ton of bricks. She had to be out of her apartment by the end of the weekend, and since she was injured, it fell to her best friend and boyfriend to do everything.
“Emily said she’ll handle that.” He shot her a look. “You’re not going to the apartment. Reporters might be there. And you—”
“I’m not hiding.” Not anymore. She’d had enough of that before she met Justice, when she lived with her aunt. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Damn right you didn’t.”
“Tell that to my aunt.”
Justice clenched his jaw, his head snapping around. “What the hell did your aunt say to you?”
She fisted her hands at the memory of the phone call. Despite having been on morphine, she could recite it verbatim. “She said I told you something awful would happen if you kept dating that rock star. You put yourself in danger with bad choices. You have to leave Justice and stop behaving like a drunk groupie.”
He slapped his hand on the wheel. “That cold bitch. How the fuck is this your fault? Blaming the victim is bullshit.” He narrowed his eyes. “I didn’t see your oh-so-fucking-perfect aunt getting her ass in the car and coming to the hospital. You almost died, goddammit.”
His arm bulged, making the beautifully inked guitar on his upper arm swell. His shirt sleeve cut off the old-school microphone above it. The whole design was wrapped in a crown of thorns with drips of blood—the only spots of color in the intricately shaded gray-and-black tat. She loved the ink, loved the man who wore it, and she loved the way he defended and cared about her. He’d slept at the hospital to be there with her if she had night terrors.
Stroking his arm, she could feel his fury in his rigid muscles. And it wasn’t just her he was worried about. When he wasn’t at the hospital, he’d been out searching for his dad. “You haven’t found any sign of Noah?”
His jaw tightened. “No. Both he and the man who attacked you vanished.”
The worry for his dad poured off him. Had Noah been injured fighting the assailant? “He’ll turn up when he’s ready. If something happened to your dad and he was hurt, or worse, the cops would have found him.” She had to believe that.
He stroked his thumb over the back of her hand. “You’re right. And he saved you. I’m grateful to him for that.”
The sweet warmth of his words washed over her, more comforting than any of the drugs they’d given her in the hospital. This man loved her, stood by her, no matter how bad things were. “So am I.”
Justice squeezed her hand then released it to steer the Jeep around a slower car. “Let’s not worry about my dad right now. The important thing is that you’re out of hospital. We’ll be home soon, and you can rest. I had a security system put in too. You’ll be safe.”
“Home,” she repeated. “I can’t believe I’m actually doing this, not only dating a rock star, but living with him.” If she thought too much about it, her head would spin. She’d met Justice Cade and the world as she knew it shifted into a new, exciting place.
And more dangerous.
“I’m the man who’s going to keep you safe, Beth. Trust me.”
Beth. The name she’d been called for the first fourteen years of her life, until her aunt changed it, trying to erase a huge part of who Liza was. But Justice latched on to that name, making her feel whole and accepted.
“I do. And I appreciate everything you’re doing for me.” That was what her aunt and grandmother didn’t get. Justice made her feel like she mattered and supported her dreams, while they cut her out of their lives when they didn’t agree with her choices.
“I won’t lose you,” he added. “From now on, your security is my first priority. Especially with that fucker who stabbed you still on the loose.” Anger vibrated in every syllable.
Concern for Justice welled in her chest. He’d suffered this week too. “Are you and your band okay?” The four other guys in Savaged Illusions were like brothers to him.
His jaw flexed. “Yeah, the guys are in L.A., meeting with Christine and handling things. We’re not giving up.”
The cold-hearted business manager wasn’t Liza’s favorite person, but she was more troubled by the tension riding Justice. “That’s good, right?”
He glanced over at her. “Court of Rock offered us a spot on their summer tour in July. Christine’s negotiating that contract now. We need the money and exposure, but will you be okay when I’m gone?”
Was that what had him anxious? They were only a week into June now. But more importantly, this was the life she’d signed on for by loving Justice. He was a rock star—well, right now his star had taken a beating and gotten shoved into the shadows. But he and his band would fight their way to the top. He’d never once lied to her about his goal.
Darkness weighed down on her lungs, trying to suffocate her in fear-soaked memories. But Justice wasn’t her father, or the bastard her dad traded her to for a shot at stardom. She wasn’t letting her past dictate her choices, not anymore.
Lifting her chin, she said, “You have to go on this tour. I’ll be fine. I’m going to be working anyway. I wonder if Wylie will let me go back to my waitressing job?” Or would her notoriety be a problem?
“Not until the doctor clears you.”
“I can’t just sit around.”
“You can write your books. Then you can send me chapters when I’m gone. Maybe I won’t miss you so much if I can be a part of your secret world.”
She hadn’t told anyone about her writing until she’d shared it with Justice. It had been her way of escaping her fears and feeling in control. He’d embraced it and encouraged her to write, believing she could one day publish.
Now it was their secret world.
“I had this idea about my heroine,” she blurted out. “What if she’s a groupie who falls in love with the lead singer and—”
Her cell phone rang. It took her a second to remember she’d tucked the device into the plastic bag of all her stuff that Justice had put in the car. She tried to twist to find— “Ouch.” Pain streaked out from the cut and her sore muscles.
“Don’t move.” Justice steered with one hand and reached back to grab the bag and set it on her lap.
Liza fished out her phone and eyed the screen. Her heart jumped. “The police station.” Quickly she hit the speaker button so Justice could hear, and answered, “Hello, this is Liza.”
“Miss Glasner, this is Detective Jenkins.”
Her stomach tightened. “What can I do for you?”
“I’m calling to inform you we may have a break in your case.”
Finally. The knot of anxiety in her stomach eased. “Do you have my attacker in custody?” She desperately wanted to feel safe and to know who hated her enough to try to kill her.
“Not for your attack specifically. We’ve arrested our suspect on another charge, and that led us to evidence that suggests he’s involved in your stabbing.”
She couldn’t stand it. “Who?”
Her fingers went numb. Oh my God, they’d arrested Justice’s father.
* * * * *
Justice swerved into a gas station parking lot and shoved the car into park. He couldn’t believe this. His dad arrested?
Glaring at the cell phone in Beth’s hand, he shouted, “What the blazing hell, Jenkins? My dad didn’t stab Liza, he saved her.”
Beth winced, which pissed him off more. She was in enough pain without him losing his shit.
“Detective, as you can hear,” Beth said, her gaze wide in stark contrast to her pale, bruised face, “Justice is with me. You said Noah is under arrest, but not for my attack?”
“Correct. He was picked up early this morning for an outstanding warrant. He’s failed to pay several citations for encroachment.”
Justice gripped the steering wheel to keep from punching it.
“What’s encroachment?” Beth asked.
“A way to hassle homeless people for setting their stuff on public property,” Justice snarled. “I’ll pay his damned tickets.”
“It’s more complicated than that. Mr. Cade was in possession of a jacket covered in dried blood that matches Miss Glasner’s blood type. And there’s more evidence we’re following up on.”
“Of course he has her blood on him, he tackled the assailant right off her.” He forced calm into his voice and settled his hand on Beth’s thigh. “I had her blood on me, and so did half a dozen other people.”
“It wasn’t Noah,” Beth jumped in. “I would have recognized his voice. It’s a rusty version of Justice’s.” She lifted the phone closer to her face. “Why are you doing this?”
“Because I don’t have a choice here,” Detective Jenkins said. “This story has exploded. People are scared that someone is going around stabbing college girls in our town.”
Fuck. Justice didn’t require a flashing sign to tell him that Detective Jenkins and the police department were under pressure and needed an arrest. And a homeless man with a coat soaked in Beth’s blood?
Too easy to pin the blame on him.
His head throbbed. After yanking out his phone, he checked for missed calls. “My dad hasn’t called. He gets a phone call. Are you allowing him his rights?”
“Yes, he refused to call anyone or talk at all. He stares at a wall and says nothing.”
“Don’t do this, Detective,” Beth pleaded. “Noah’s not well. He has PTSD, and you can see he’s suffered from his scars.” Her eyes filled with tears. “Don’t do this.”
“I need Mr. Cade to talk to me.” Jenkins’s frustration vibrated through the speaker. “All we have is a vague description from eyewitnesses—medium height, average build, wearing dark clothes and a beanie. I need more than that to rule out Mr. Cade, and he’s not communicating.”
Beth squeezed her eyes shut. “I didn’t see my attacker, I just heard his voice and saw the knife.” She shifted her gaze to him. “I’m sorry.”
She was sorry? For what? She’d been fucking stabbed, while Justice had been inside trying to save his career instead of making sure his girlfriend was safe. He’d failed, not her. He took the phone from her ice-cold fingers.
“I’m getting him a lawyer, and I’ll be there as soon as I can. You try to pin this on him, we’ll go to the media and let them know the guy with a knife is still on the loose while you hassle a former Marine who was seriously injured in the line of duty.” He cut the call, ready to kill someone.
Pull yourself together. Beth doesn’t need you losing it right now. Get to the police station and sort this out.
“Do you know a lawyer?” she asked.
After handing the phone back to Beth, he put the car in gear and drove while mentally ticking off what he needed to do. “No. I’ll call Sloane once we get to the house. He manages MMA fighters now, and a few of them have gotten into trouble, so he knows a reputable law firm.” But he couldn’t leave Beth alone to work on getting his father out of jail. “Can you call Emily? See if she’ll come stay with you?”
While Beth made the call, he eased around a corner. He lasted five seconds before he asked, “Is Emily answering?”
“Not calling Em, I’m— Sloane, hi, it’s Liza.”
Justice jerked. “What are you doing?”
She held up a hand. “The detective on my case called…” She summed up the conversation, then asked, “Do you know any good criminal lawyers who can get over to the jail right away and try to get him released today?”
Justice gripped the wheel as he heard Sloane’s deep voice answering, but he couldn’t make out the words.
She sank back against the seat and closed her eyes. “Thank you.” She held the phone out to him.
He stared at her for one heartbeat. This was why he loved her so damned much. She was in pain and miserable, yet here she was helping his dad. He took the phone but said to her, “You’re amazing.”
“We have to get Noah out of there. I saw him after being in the auditorium for less than five minutes, and he looked bad. I don’t know how he’s handling being dragged to a police station, interrogated and arrested.”
Her very real concern for his dad eased his own anguish, outrage and frustration. He didn’t have to handle this alone, he had Beth. Putting the phone to his ear, he said, “Sloane.”
“I’ll contact the firm I use and have a lawyer call you in the next hour.”
Justice headed into the decades-old track of homes. “I don’t know if my dad will talk to the lawyer. Sounds like he’s not talking to the cops.” Had his dad shut down entirely? Or was he having panic attacks? He rubbed his chest to ease the crushing anxiety and regret.
“He’ll talk to me,” Liza said softly. “I’ll go with you to the police station.”
Oh hell no. She was too weak and sore, and the doctors had been clear—total rest for a few days, and no lifting. The police station surrounded by chaos, desperation and germs wasn’t the place for Beth right now. “You’re going straight to bed.” This was one thing he’d do right—take care of Beth.
Justice turned on his street and hit the brakes when he spotted at least a dozen media vehicles in front of his house. “Goddamn it.” Tossing the phone, he threw the Jeep in reverse, shot back up the road and spun around. Flooring it, he glared at the mirror.
Had any of the reporters spotted them? No one seemed to notice.
“Oh crap,” Beth blurted out. “Why are they at your house? No one knew I was being released.”
Frustrated fury pounded in his head. He couldn’t leave Beth there with the media vultures circling. “I don’t know.” He sucked in air to calm down and took in her pale face, bruised eyes and scabbed lip. “Hang on, I’ll figure something out.” Seeing her phone where it’d landed in the cup holder after he’d pitched it, he remembered Sloane. Picking up the device, he switched it to speaker. “Sorry, Sloane, reporters are swarming my house.”
“The news that they arrested your father is breaking all over social media and TV. They’re calling him a suspect in Liza’s attack. They’re saying a cop found a bloodstained jacket.”
“But we just found out,” Beth said. “How did they…?” She dropped her head back. “It doesn’t matter, they know.”
Exactly. He needed to get her somewhere safe where she could rest. “I’m going to take Liza to her friend’s house. I’ll call you back.”
“Can’t,” Liza cut in. “Emily’s at work.”
His neck muscles bunched as he tried to think of an alternative.
“Go to my penthouse suite at the Opulence Hotel,” Sloane said. “It’s secure, quiet and big enough that Liza can rest in one of the rooms and you can meet with the lawyer in the living space after he finds out the situation with your dad.”
It was a good solution, and if he had to leave, she’d be safe and comfortable. He glanced over at her. “You okay with that?”
The utter fatigue in her voice stabbed him with guilt. She’d hit her limit. “Thanks, Sloane.”
Liza said goodbye and cut the call. “What a mess.”
He’d done this to her—coaxed his way into her life, and despite her warnings, exposed her past. Her aunt wasn’t wrong. If Liza wasn’t with him, no one would have paid any attention to her. Beth would have blended in as just another college girl in a college town. He really was a fuckup.
Beth’s warm touch settled on his arm. “It’s going to be okay. We’ll get your dad out.”
He took Beth’s hand in his, keeping his hold gentle around her scabbed fingers. She looked like hell.
And never more beautiful to him.
It was the love and trust in her green eyes that pierced his heart. She’d chosen him over her family, and even after he’d lost Court of Rock and she’d been stabbed, she hadn’t left him.
As bad as this week had been, she was the one person who made it bearable, made it feel like together they could handle anything.