Title: The Quest For Perkins Vale (Legendary Rock Star #3)
Author: L.B. Dunbar
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 22, 2015
I’m not sure I know what to think of the girl I’ve searched for since I was thirteen; she isn’t exactly how I remembered her.
I’m twenty-five, a guy and a virgin. Yep, you read that right; I’m still a virgin. Why you ask? Because I met the woman of my dreams when she was still a girl and I’ve been searching for her ever since we met. I’ve saved myself for her, as I believe she saved herself for me. Why again? Because I will love her, like she will love me, when we finally meet, again. I’d like to think it was that simple, but I don’t really know if she will love me. I only hope she will. If she doesn’t, she won’t be the right girl for me, because like I said, I’ve been saving myself for the woman of my dreams. I just don’t know where she is…but I won’t stop searching until I find her. That is my mission. My quest.
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The Quest of Perkins Vale © 2015 L.B. Dunbar
“We met before. A long time ago in what I believe was your uncle’s home.”
She only nodded, waiting for me to continue. Her hesitancy told me she might not remember me, and I felt a pinch in my heart. I’d been holding onto the memory for so long. I knew it was dangerous to hope she had held the memory, as well.
“My uncle has many homes. Which one was it?”
I paused. She didn’t remember; it was obvious.
“The one near Lake Avalon.”
She only nodded in an I-see sort of way.
“And you know my uncle, how?”
I began to wonder when this became her question and answer time versus mine.
“Arturo’s father was a friend of his.”
“Arturo? Was he the guy on the other bike?”
I stopped flipping the bacon and pinched my eyebrows at her.
“Yes. Arturo King.”
She continued to look at me without recognition.
“You do know who Arturo King is, right?”
“Isn’t he the lead singer of The Nights?”
“Yeah. The band playing last night at The Round Table.”
I continued to stare at her, hesitant in my words, hopeful that she recognized the band.
“And that makes you….?”
I looked at her suddenly aghast.
“You don’t know who I am?”
“Of course, you’re…” She paused.
I couldn’t believe it. She had no idea who I was.
“You don’t know, do you? How could you get on the bike with me, if you had no idea who I was?”
I began to beat the eggs briskly before dumping them into the ready skillet.
“I…” She stopped.
I returned my surprised face to look at hers.
“Do you make it a habit of going home with strangers? Men you don’t know?”
“I…” She looked hurt suddenly, but her face changed instantly to a hard shield. “It’s none of your damn business who I go home with or not. You practically kidnapped me. Once I was on the bike, it’s not like I had a choice. Ride or die.”
“Ride or die?” I choked, a side of my lips curling upward, biting back a laugh.
“Yeah. Ride, or jump off and die.”
I returned to flipping the bacon, thoughtful for a moment.
“I would never hurt you,” I said softly, still looking at the sizzling meat in the pan.
Silence filled the space next to the crackle of frying bacon.
“Will you please tell me who you are?” she finally asked, her voice no more than a whisper. “We won’t be strangers once you tell me your name.”
Sighing, I responded, “I’m Perkins Vale.”
Although I’d heard it before, I hardly expected it from her.
“Alan Vale’s son?”
Yep. For someone who hardly recognized Arturo King, and didn’t recognize me as Perkins Vale, she knew Alan Vale?
“You know my father, but not me?” I couldn’t hold it in and laughed without humor.
“Alan Vale was one of the greatest singer-guitarists of all times. His band won Grammys when they were young and old. The Valentines are classic.”
Classic, I thought. Greatest, I almost choked.
“I didn’t know him,” I bit out. Silence filled the air again between us.
Plating eggs and bacon for her, I served her before I did the same for myself. I sat on a stool that made me perpendicular to her, so I could almost face her. She took several small bites of the food as if she was afraid it might poison her, but I devoured the meal, which I hoped prove to her it was safe to eat.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly, “about your dad.”
I took a final gulp of coffee to steel my courage and ask her questions.
“Why were you in a women’s shelter?”
“You think I…” She stopped. “How do you know my name again?” she interrupted herself, as she squinted at me.
“I know your uncle. Women’s shelter? Why?”
“We’ve met before?”
I had already concluded she didn’t remember our first meeting.
“This is not how this is going to happen, Hollister.” I needed to change the direction of this inquisition. “I have questions, then you can have yours.”
Delicately, she placed her fork on her plate and crossed her arms under her chest, forcing her breasts to rise. It distracted me and my body reacted again to her. I had to divert my eyes from the temptation of wanting to know what it felt like to cup them, tug them with my mouth, bite her nipples to see how hard they could get, and make her scream without hardly touching her.
Her gaze on me narrowed again.
“Are you done yet? I know your reputation.”
I laughed, this time in earnest.
“You don’t know me, but you know of my reputation?”
“Who hasn’t heard of the Hands-Free Lover?”
“What?” I choked, although I had heard that God-awful nickname amongst many others.
“Hands-Free Lover. Known to make a woman scream in ecstasy without even touching her.”
“Wow. That’s powerful stuff.” I smiled.
She still held those narrowed steel eyes on me.
“Want to find out?” I added.
Her red lips opened wide in shock, and I’d gone too far again. I’d always had trouble with that, which is why I didn’t know how to communicate with women. I knew the ways of women: how to please them and make them scream, but I couldn’t talk to them. I always felt I’d say the wrong thing. I always asked too many questions, except for the right question all those years ago. My mind slipped back to my purpose with her.
“Never mind.” I straightened my back. “I need to ask you about your uncle.”
She hesitated for a moment.
The surprise wasn’t hidden on my face.
“Joseph? I thought your uncle was Roy.”
She had a thoughtful, contemplative look for a moment.
Something was off. I didn’t believe her, but I let it go for now. I felt this was going too far, too fast again. I needed her to trust me. I wanted to prove she could trust me.
“I need a shower,” I said. “Give me ten minutes and then I promise to drive you back to the shelter after we talk.”
She relaxed her shoulders and let her crossed arms slide down her stomach to form resting hands in her lap. Hanging her head slightly, she nodded to agree with me. Feeling triumphant, I jumped off of my stool, leaving the dishes, and heading for my room. Entering the bathroom, I saw her clearing the dishes and starting the sink to wash them. I had a strange flash of her doing that action again, and I smiled to myself as I entered the shower.
The trouble was I also thought of her standing in only the Swamp the Crows t-shirt, minus the leggings, minus anything else, in front of that sink; or better yet, completely naked against my kitchen counter. I envisioned me coming up behind her and covering her hands on the edge of the counter, holding her captive, while I rubbed myself against her bare ass. I imagined what she would sound like: a soft moan and a slight whimper. I imagined sliding my knee between her thighs, forcing her to spread her legs and then rubbing my throbbing length against her warmth.
I grabbed myself in the shower, unable to resist the heaviness in my hands. I had to get release to stop thinking of her that way. I needed answers first. I slipped my palm upward, jerking several times as I began to imagine what it would feel like to enter her. How tight. How warm. How wet.
I had to place a hand on the slick tile to hold my large body steady as I jerked one more time and spilled into the warm cascade of water. I could only imagine what she would feel like, because I didn’t know. I hadn’t known any woman like that. Ever. At twenty-five, I was still a virgin.
The night of the concert…
Arturo King and I rode side by side. The Ducati Monster 1200 screamed under me while Arturo steered Lansing’s red Streetfigher 848. We raced through the dark night down the short, dimly lit avenue outside The Round Table, taking a quick left in unison to be joined by two other bikes. At first, I thought it was Mel Agent or someone who worked for Mel. Not putting it past the asshole, as he had already tried to kidnap Guinevere DeGrance, Arturo’s fiancée, almost a month ago. The adrenaline rushed through my body, vibrating with anger. Mel had slipped a date rape drug into Guinie’s drink and hiked her back to his apartment, in hopes of taking advantage of her.
Firmly pulling down on the throttle, I sensed Mel’s intentions were the same again tonight toward her: the girl on the back of my bike. The girl with her small hands gripping the back of my t-shirt under my leather jacket, refusing to wrap her arms around me, despite the fact her legs were hugging my thick thighs from behind. I would have felt safer for her if she had a better hold on me, securing her arms around me, but it was bad enough I forced her out of The Round Table with me.
Glancing at Arturo to my right, he signaled with his head to turn ahead. We took the next corner quickly, but the bikes behind us kept an even pace. They were close, but not too close. Yet. Arturo King was one of my best friends. He’d befriended me when few others did in those woods around Lake Avalon. He’d been the one to offer me a place in the band. He was the one who never laughed at my awkwardness. He seemed to understand who I was and who I wanted to be. I was indebted to the lead singer and songwriter of our band, The Nights, for many things. Now, I owed him one more.
He’d helped me get away, with the girl.
We cornered a turn again at the third left; not bothering to downshift to slow, and immediately sped through the alley. Arturo hit the throttle, making the engine of Lansing’s bike scream down the narrow space, clipping a trashcan to spill behind us, knowing that the two bikes were truly following us. The sound of a racing engine and the crash of tin cans on cement made a ruckus in the otherwise quiet area. I sensed Arturo’s plan to outrun our followers, and I kept a steady pace next to my partner. We barely downshifted as we reached the first crossroad off the alley, zipping across the, thankfully, abandoned street, with little more than a glance left or right. The girl finally slid her hands around my abs. For a brief second, I thought her hands might have lingered as they slipped around me, feeling the hardness of my stomach. Her palms were flat for a moment, and then she gripped my dark t-shirt in her small fists again as we bumped out into another cross street.
“They’re after me,” she yelled over the roar of the fierce engine.
I couldn’t be positive she was right, but I didn’t doubt it either. If these were Mel’s men, they wouldn’t stop until they got what Mel wanted. If he wanted the girl, he would do anything to get her.
“Drop me off,” she yelled.
Fuck no. I wouldn’t lose her again.
In a last minute decision, we turned again with Arturo twisting his neck to look behind us as we raced toward the thoroughfare near Central Park. Giving a quick nod to me, I looked over my shoulder, as well, to see the first biker skitter into the street before correcting himself. We took one more turn and I was convinced we might lose our pursuers. We hit the larger boulevard and collectively cranked our respective throttles, speeding over eighty miles per hour through the steady crowded New York City streets. Within seconds, I heard the sound of the approaching motorcycles.
“They’re gaining on us,” the girl yelled into my ear.
I glance d at Arturo again, who nodded his head for us to separate. I barely noticed that Arturo slowed slightly as if allowing me time to speed ahead and save the girl.
Continuing through the late night traffic, I downshifted to a more legal speed, as I noticed the other motorcycles followed Arturo. They hadn’t wanted the girl, after all, and were probably paparazzi of some type. Arturo King was good at dodging them, so I had faith in my fellow bandmate that he’d outrun the guys chasing behind. I turned the Ducati off the boulevard around Central Park, moments after our separation from Arturo, and headed toward a less reputable part of the city. The girl behind me had grown quiet after we separated from Arturo. If it weren’t for the solidness of her pressed against my back, I might have thought I was alone.
I sped the large bike down a side street that had the street sign stolen by some kids a week or two ago. On the right were several two-story buildings that housed some type of daytime business; the left side was an expanse of several low buildings, once warehouses, along the river’s dwindling bank. I didn’t bother to know what the business across the street from my building did during the day. Something that required people from nine to five was all I knew. But on my side of the street, one warehouse had been converted into a pet shelter. The other building was vacant. Then, there was my building in between.
I punched in a code to open the service-garage-looking door, with blackened windows, and rode the Ducati into the large industrial space. It was a statement of automotive art inside this garage. Pristine motorcycle parts dangled from the ceiling near a large black Cadillac SUV. A second Ducati Streetfighter, similar to the one Arturo rode that belonged to Lansing Lotte, was parked next to the shiny vehicle. A classic 1950 motorcycle, named The Black Shadow that belonged to my long ago mentor, was the pivotal statement to my love of bikes. This wasn’t an automotive shop or a bike garage; this was the place of honor to house my collection.
I pulled the Ducati Monster next to the red Streetfighter and cut the engine. I paused for a moment as the girl still sat astride behind me. Thinking I needed to help her off the bike before I could swing my large leg over the seat, I twisted slightly to look at her over my shoulder. Her head was moving slowly from side to side, taking in the space around her before her eyes met mine, or what I thought were her eyes meeting mine, as she still had on the helmet.
“I live in the back,” I offered, to assure her that we weren’t staying in a cold garage for the night.
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” she snipped, then slid her leg over the seat to stand to the side of the bike. Removing the helmet I’d given her to protect her, midnight black hair tumbled out of its confinement and cascaded over her shoulders. She wore an oversized army issue jacket, which I sensed was two sizes too big for her. Her shapely legs were covered by the length of the coat to her knees, but tight black leggings peeked out underneath. Those legs were strong, despite her average height, and matched my firm thighs as she sat behind me on the bike, clenching occasionally as we flew through the city streets. Black female combat boots that were meant to be stylish were scuffed and worn on her feet.
My eyes travelled back up to her face, and steel gray eyes looked into my dark brown ones. Nervously, I ran a hand over my nearly shaved head, feeling the soothing sensation of the short-cropped hair. Thinking of her comment, I didn’t respond as I swung my own leg off the bike and pointed in a direction for her to walk. I strolled behind her then reached around her to enter another code and open the solid security door to my living space.
I played the drums and they were the first things she could see as we entered my large open room. They were the focal point of my life. I’d purchased the warehouse because I couldn’t live anywhere else and practice at my will. An apartment had neighbors too close. A neighborhood wasn’t my thing. I could have built a house further outside the city, but I didn’t want to. I’d grown up in seclusion. I didn’t want to be alone again. The irony was I was alone in my warehouse home.
The drum set was the centerpiece to a room furnished with an oversized couch facing the kit and a large screen television on the wall behind the set. A workout bench, with weights, was slightly hidden behind the dark couch. Two large darkened windows were the only hint to outside. My kitchen was open to this living space with a large island being the only thing separating the two areas. There was no table for dining, but stools stood around two sides of the island. There was only one bedroom off the kitchen, which held a king-size bed and a tall dresser. I lived simply, sparsely, as if I could pack up and move in a matter of hours. But it was more than that. I didn’t need much. I liked life simple, compared to my upbringing. It was a strange combination of what I had and didn’t have.
“The bathroom’s over there.” I pointed toward a door that had a window of etched glass on the upper half. “If you want to clean up.”
She stood in my living area, still holding the motorcycle helmet against her middle as if a shield, protecting her from me. I knew I frightened her, despite her sharp tongue. My size alone was a lot to take in. I’d lost the baby fat I had as a young adolescent when I eventually went to high school. The taunting words of other children were cruel to a boy too large at a young age, and their insults inspired me to lose weight. Tristan Lyons, the fourth and final member of the band, was also a positive force in motivating me to work out daily. Tristan had the face of a male model and a body to match. He got girls instinctively, while I didn’t understand women at all. My experience with them was severely limited, despite the notoriety of my fellow band members. I had a reputation, though. One I didn’t think I quite deserved.
“So that’s it? I should freshen up, before…” She waved her delicate hand to motion between the two of us.
I was taken aback at her meaning for a moment until realization hit me, my face giving away my own embarrassment.
“You think I brought you here to…” I trailed off like she had, copying her hand gesture between us.
She nodded in response.
“Uhm. No,” I added after my face relaxed, and one side of my lips curled up in a crooked smile.
She was thoughtful for a moment, squinting those powerful gray eyes at me, before she replied,
Again I was shocked. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with her in that way. Hell, I’d been dreaming of her for years, almost thirteen to be exact. But tonight wasn’t the night for that fantasy to play out.
“Would you like something to eat? Drink?” I asked, shifting the awkward conversation as I brushed passed her to the kitchen area and opened the industrial fridge door. I didn’t have much as I lived alone: a few beers, a couple bottles of water, a sports drink, and some orange juice.
“You’re offering me something to drink?” Her voice displayed her sheer puzzlement at my question.
Agreeing to take a water, I reached for two, unscrewing the cap on hers before handing the cool bottle to her. Her fingers brushed mine when she yanked the bottle from me, rather forcefully. My eyes jumped to her face, which showed no reaction to our physical contact. I, on the other hand, felt an electric spark travel directly to a body part I couldn’t control. I remembered the sensation from being around her before. It was an instantaneous response to her aggressive stance.
“So…what’s going on here?” she said, looking around the sparsely furnished room again.
“I live here…and you’re staying here tonight. To be safe.”
“Safe?!” she choked loudly on the word. “You just kidnapped me.”
“I…I did not,” I stammered, taking in the disgusted look on her face. Had I kidnapped her? Taken her against her will?
I stood there recalling quickly what had transpired in the bar before I had her on the back of the bike.
About The Author
L.B. Dunbar loves to read to the point it might be classified as an addiction. The past few years especially she has relished the many fabulous YA authors, the new genre of New Adult, traditional romances, and historical romances. A romantic at heart, she’s been accused of having an overactive imagination, as if that was a bad thing. Author of the Sensations Collection, Sound Advice, Taste Test, Fragrance Free, Touch Screen, and the upcoming Sight Words, she is also author of the Legendary Rock Star series, beginning with The Legend of Arturo King. She grew up in Michigan, but has lived in Chicago for longer, calling it home with her husband and four children.