by Jaine Diamond
Published by DreamWarp Publishing
Book 1 in the Players series
Fate. Destiny. Karma… She’s mine.
It all started with a broken heart. And a breakup party. Rock stars. Circus freaks. And a bachelorette party. Too. Much. Booze. An embarrassing tattoo. And a twist of fate.
Her name was Danny.
I thought she was The One. But then I lost her. And I never thought I’d see her again. Now… I’m a mess. I’ve had my heart broken—more than once. And my band's broken up. I’ve sworn to myself that I’ll never fall in love again. Time to focus on new music and my new band.
As soon as I sober up from my latest breakup party…
But then there she is. Standing in the rain, looking at me. My dream girl. My destiny… Danny. I missed my chance with her once. Maybe this time… I’ll get it right.
Hot Mess by Jaine Diamond is the first book in her Players series. It centers around Ashley Player, who has recently broken up his band, and is tryin to get over his best friend, and Danica, an interior designer. Ashley is nearing the end of one of his famed break up parties. He has officially broken up his band, and working on getting over his best friend and his girlfriend, Amber, and what better way than getting drunk and causing mayhem. All is well, until he see's Danny - the mystery woman from his past that left a mark on him that no one can forget. When she disappears, Ashley is sure that there is a reason he see's her again, and does what he can to find her. And make things right.
It took me a while, but I finally got around to reading the Players series. I'm so glad I did. If you read my reviews for the Dirty series, you know my feelings on Jaine Diamond doing Ashley Player dirty, and not in the good way in that series. I needed this book, because I needed Ashley to get a happily ever after. And he did. But not in any way I expected, which I love. Spoilers ahead, so if you haven't read it, don't read on, but I freaking love that the woman he met, had him tattoo her name on his body, and then left him without a word, was NOT the woman he ended up with. That she had an identical twin, who was the complete opposite of her. Now, Danica is not the kind of woman I would have originally pictured Ashley with. Kind, polite to a fault, and not involved in the music industry at all. No tattoos (yet). But I think that is why is works. The women and men Ashley has been attracted to in the past, was not working out for him, and it led to a lot of heartbreak. He needed a woman by his side who would love him unconditionally, and remain loyal. Who balanced out his personality, and that is Danica.
There is only one thing I didn't like about this book. It didn't feel finished. I think I know where it is going. With that hot as fuck kiss Ashley and Matt shared before Ashley and Danica got together, and the many times its been stated that Ashley wants to be shared by a man and woman, that there is going to be a throuple. Which I am ALL for. So I was expecting the next book in the series to be Ash and Danica welcoming Matt into their relationship and officially becoming a throuple. But its not! From what I can tell there is a novella at the end of the series, but come on! You don't end a book like that then move on. Ugh!
After ending the Dirty series, my heart still hurting for Ashley and his heartbreak, I am glad we are getting a while new series that centers around his happiness. I mean, YES, the other books are different couples, but this first book, and maybe the novella, spell out his happy ending, and he is building a band that he seems excited and passionate about - something I never got from him in the past with the Penny Pushers. Am I happy that it felt unfinished - no. But am I happy to be reading more of Jaine Diamond's work, and getting a happy ending for Ashley. Hell yes!
A few of us hadn’t even slept, and the party had rolled right into the morning, with a catered breakfast and a visit to a topless psychic, who told me, among other weird, useless things, that she saw a ring in my future. When Dylan asked if that was a wedding ring or a circus ring, she said she didn’t know. Fucking brilliant. Ash: “Please tell me I didn’t fuck any of you last night,”
I muttered, just as Jude and Roni walked in from outside.
Katie: “Not me,”
Katie said brightly.
Jesse: “You kissed me a couple times, but I didn’t put out.”
I groaned. Jolie: “Danica!”
Jolie burst through my office door, and I jumped. She shut the door behind herself and choked out one word.
I watched her bang on her chest with her fist, not like she was actually choking, but like she was trying to restart her heart or something.
Danica: “It sounded like you said unicorn.”
my cousin wheezed.
Jolie: “Out there. In here. In the…”
She gestured wildly toward my office window. And there stood Ashley Player. In our office. I gawked at him—like I was looking at my laptop screen or something, instead of right through my window into the reception area. It was him. In the flesh. I ducked slightly; a reflex. But he wasn’t looking at me. He was standing in front of Jolie’s desk, with his back to it, looking out the front windows onto the street. Holy shit.
Jolie: “Tell me that’s not some lucky bitch’s unicorn,”
Jolie said, hiding beside the window as she peeked out at him. And now I understood. Jolie had this ranking system for men. At the very top of the male food chain, according to her, was the elusive and majestic unicorn. The possibly unattainable magic-man, that every girl, if she was so lucky, might cross paths with once in her life. I peeked at Ashley Player.
Unicorn, indeed… Summer: “Ash. Maybe you didn’t hear me correctly. Elle had a baby. Last night. What did you do last night?”
Ash: “Let’s see. I pondered a cure for cancer. Couldn’t figure it out, though.”
Summer: “Well, while you were pondering, Elle gave life to a brand new human being.”
I put her on speaker and let her rant while I got dressed.
Summer: “And that means you get your ass in your truck and come pick me up on your way to the hospital.”
Summer: “And it would not kill you to pick up some flowers.”
Ash: “Okay, Mom. Jesus.”
Summer: “She’s your friend, Ashley. Remember that time she talked the cops out of arresting you? Or that other time she talked the cops out of arresting you?”
Summer: “Or the time she convinced that chick you were cheating on not to murder you? I know, which one, right?”
Summer: “What was her name? The one with the gun collection…”
Ash: “Yeah, yeah. She owned like two guns. Are you done?”
Summer: “Oh, sweetheart. I’ve got way more where that came from.”
Ash: “I’m getting in my truck.”
Text: Me: I literally dont give a fuck
Danica (the hot twin): Do you understand what “literally” means?
Me: I take it back. I would literally give a fuck, if you asked me for one Ash: “At least tell me he rocked your world.”
Summer: “My world was… gently caressed.”
Ash: “Jesus. Danica: “This is so awkward.”
Ash: “I’ve never been more comfortable.”
She burst out laughing, somewhere between a giggle and a guffaw.
I smiled. Couldn’t really help it.
Ash: “I like watching you squirm.” Danica: “Well… if you do hire me—”
Ash: “I am hiring you.”
Danica: “I really prefer to keep things professional, Ashley.”
Ash: “Meaning what? I can’t hire you and fuck you at the same time?”
Her eyes met mine again.
Danica: “No, you can’t.”
Uh-huh. So that was it. She wanted to fuck me, she knew I wanted to fuck her, and she was uncomfortable with the idea of fucking a client.
Ash: “Why not?”
Danica: “Because… it’s inappropriate. I wouldn’t feel good about it.”
Ash: “Trust me. It would feel good.”
This time, she didn’t blush. Her whole face changed. I could see the heat behind her eyes. I could see her thinking about it. I could see that she’d been thinking about it. The idea of my naked body and hers getting horizontal together was not a new one. But she swallowed and said,
Danica: “Let’s just be friends.”
Ash: “Let’s not.” Danica: “DJ Summer?”
Ash: “You know her?”
Danica: “I know of her. I’ve been to some of her shows. My girlfriends and I love her.”
Ash: “Cool. I’ll let her know.”
Danica: “Oh. Um… But only if you don’t make me sound like a dorky fangirl, right?”
Ash: “I’ll be sure to specify you’re not a dork.”
She rolled her eyes.
Danica: “Thanks.” Ash: “So who do you fuck, if you won’t fuck clients?”
She coughed a little and took a sip of her cider.
Danica: “You’re very direct, you know?”
Ash: “Thanks. It’s something I’m working on.” Danica: “Thank you,”
she whispered—and stumbled back into the door. She actually walked right into it, backwards. I grinned. Then she turned and fumbled around with her keys. Eventually she got the right key in the lock. I helped her open the door, then she jetted inside.
Yeah. She wanted me. That was the second time she’d walked into a door in my presence. So… maybe she was worth just a little more effort.
Text: Summer: Where are you?
She asked before I could type out the same question.
Me: In ENGLAND
Me: Those two texts just cost me like 20 bucks Ash: "I know I’m drunk right now, but I mean it.”
Summer: “Sweetie, if I didn’t believe anything you said when you were drunk, I would’ve stopped listening to you years ago.”
Ash: “Ha ha,” Dani: “So tell him to come.”
Danica: “What? Why? It’s ladies night.”
Dani: “Yeah… In case no one’s ever informed you, the point of ladies night is to get laid. You increase your odds of that if you invite a hot guy to meet up with you.”
Danica: “That is not the point of ladies night.”
Dani: “Hey, ladies,”
my sister asked loudly,
Dani: “is the whole point of ladies night to get laid?”
several of the girls at our table shouted. Melody, who was still standing by with Carter, scowled in our general direction.
Jolie: “I mean, after we have all the lady time, of course,”
Danica: “Traitor,” Jolie: “Oh, shit. There’s a bunch of them. “I can’t even.”
Then she slid out her side of the booth and vanished. Coward. I could feel Dani smirking next to me.
Dani: “That’s your new winglady?”
Danica: “Can I have you back?”
Dani: “We’ll see.” Danica: “And after that, we can definitely hang out, and—”
Ash: “Nope. After that, I’m taking you out, you’re wearing something sexy and we’re staying out way past your bedtime.” Ash: “Calm the fuck down,”
I told my dick as I wandered into the kitchen.
Ash: “One more day and she’ll be ours.”
And now I was having a one-way conversation with my dick, out loud. This girl was literally driving me nuts. Danica: “Sorry… I’m not used to dating a rock star. I’m not nocturnal like you. Madeleine expects me at the office at nine.”
Ash: “Sounds like torture. You need a job that lets you sleep in half the day.”
Danica: “I don’t know of any jobs like that, offhand. Rock star?”
Ash: “That’s the one,”
Danica: “Damn. I have no talent, though.”
Ash: “Too bad for you.” Ash: “Go to sleep, okay? I don’t really wanna get on your aunt Madeleine’s bad side. Get the feeling she could kick my ass.”
Danica: “She could. She’s a dominatrix.”
His arm tightened around me a little as he stirred.
Ash: “What did you say?”
Ash: “She’s what?”
Danica: “Oh… that’s supposed to be private. Oops.”
He chuckled a little under his breath. I smiled.
Danica: “Just don’t mess with her, okay? I like your balls where they are." Ash: “You got any other colorful family secrets?”
Danica peered at me between her fingers.
Danica: “Um, have you got a year?”
Ash: “To get to know you? Sure.”
I smiled at her, and finally, she smiled back. Danica: “Mireille likes to feed people. Plus, she’s probably sensitive to you being new here, and Dani and Margot and my mom being, you know…”
Her voice dropped to a whisper.
Ash: “I wouldn’t say they’re crazy,”
I whispered back.
Ash: “Just passionate. About very weird shit.” Ash: “Oh. That’s… cool.”
I tried to recover.
Ash: “That your family’s tight like that.”
It was cool. But…
Ash: “You know I’m not coming back to this every Saturday, right?”
To my surprise, Danica grinned at me.
Danica: “I’m just amazed you’d think you’d be invited every Saturday.”
Ash: “Nice.” Dani: “So, Danica told me about catching your dick in your zipper.”
Fucking fantastic. Was there no intimate detail left unturned between these women?
Ash: “Yeah? She tell you my dick length and the circumference of my ball sac, too?”
Dani: “I wish,”
Then she rolled her eyes at me.
Dani: “Relax. I don’t care about your dick. I just wish she’d tell me more, in general.”
Dani: “Let’s just look at the bright side, shall we?”
Her eyes shone with a little too much pleasure.
Dani: “You’re here, even though she made your dick bleed.”
Ash: “I am.”
Dani: “I’m gonna assume that means you like her. A lot. You know, dudes usually aren’t real happy when their dicks bleed.”
She bit the end off her asparagus and smiled.
Ash: “Not usually,” Ash: “It’s a pink flower,”
Danica: “It’s a what now? What’s that? Sweetie, I can’t hear you.”
She said that in an overly sweet way that told me she’d definitely heard me, a smile flickering over her sexy lips. She just wanted me to say it again.
Ash: “I told you. It’s between my legs, way up under my balls, where no man should ever get a tattoo. And it’s a fucking pink flower.”
She started to laugh, but bit it back.
Danica: “A flower?”
Her eyes widened, sparkling with a pure, unadulterated joy.
Ash: “That make you happy?”
Danica: “Deliriously, for some reason. I don’t know why.”
She tried to drop the smile, but failed.
Danica: “Can I see it? Please?”
Ash: “Nope. Not if you’re gonna laugh at me.”
Danica: “Oh, come on, Ashley. Please. I won’t laugh.”
Ash: “Liar. You’re a terrible fucking liar.”
Danica: “I promise. Come on. Be a man and show me the pink flower between your legs.”
I leveled her with a dirty look. She burst out in peals of laughter. Ash: “Bullshit,”
he challenged. I looked up at him.
Danica: “What’s bullshit?”
Ash: “You’d be totally fine with me screwing some other chick?”
Danica: “No. Oh, no. If you screw another woman, you’ll beg for the day when all I did was catch your dick in a zipper.”
He grinned. Apparently my threat of violence delighted him. Danica: “Mmm. Are you hungry? Should I make us more food?”
Ash: “Jesus, you’re nice.”
I kissed the top of her head.
Ash: “Don’t think I’ve ever dated such a nice girl before.”
She laughed sleepily.
Danica: “You date mean girls?”
Ash: “Uh-huh. Mean girls. Self-obsessed girls. Emotionally disinterested in me girls…”
Danica: “In summary, girls with issues…?”
Danica peeked up at me, then rolled onto her back and stretched leisurely.
Danica: “Or girls who just aren’t so nice to you?”
Ash: “Something like that. Get back what you put out there, right?”
Danica: “If that’s true,”
she said, blinking at me way too innocently,
Danica: “how come you’re with such a nice girl right now?”
Ash: “You mean because I’m such an asshole?”
Danica: “I’d never say that.”
Ash: “Because you’re so nice." Ash: “How is it I can tell you all this shit and you don’t freak out?”
Danica: “I don’t know. I feel envious, hearing you talk about other people like that. Hearing how much you cared about them. Like I missed out on something, not being there? But I want to know. I want to know you, and if I don’t know this stuff, I’m missing a huge part of you. I’m missing a huge part of your heart. And how can you truly care about someone if you don’t know their whole heart?” Ash: "I can coach you. Free of charge.”
Danica: “Yes, I want that. That would be amazing.”
Ash: “Cool. Actually, I changed my mind. I’ll take sex as payment.”
Danica: “Ah, the world’s oldest bartering system. If you can teach me to sing anything by Panic! At the Disco, I’ll give you any kind of sex you want.”
Ash: “That may be a tall order. Let’s start with ‘American Pie’ or some shit, and see how you do.”
Danica: “Whatever you say. You’re the vocal expert.”
Ash: “Hey, Danica.”
Danica: “Yes, Ashley?”
I cocked an eyebrow at her.
Ash: “Any kind of sex?”
Danica: “Yes. Any kind. Wait. Except butt sex. I think…”
Ash: “So, butt sex it is.” Ash: “Perfect. Then we have time to do whatever you want for a while first. I suggest going back to bed, but it’s up to you.”
Her blue eyes sparkled at me.
Danica: “I like that idea. But how about instead, you take me to your favorite place on this island?”
Ash: “I can do that.”
She sipped her pineapple juice innocently.
Danica: “I just hope it’s not Dylan’s bed.”
Ash: “Funny. I knew you had a sense of humor.”
She cocked an eyebrow at me.
Danica: “I’m here, aren’t I?”
Ash: “Wow. She has a mean streak after all.”
Danica: “Maybe just a small one.”
Ash: “Good. I like it.” Danica: “It’s really not fair, though. You shouldn’t do that to a girl.”
Ash: “What? Why?”
Danica: “Because doing what you just did will make a girl fall in love with you, Ashley. And you made me promise not to.” Danica: “Ohmygod.”
She glanced down at herself.
Danica: “Am I dressed right?”
Ash: “For what?”
Danica: “Um, hello. For meeting the party queen. And, you know…”
She gazed up at me.
Danica: “Your gorgeous ex-girlfriend.”
I put my beer down on the bar and slipped my arms around her waist.
Ash: “You look fit to meet any queen,”
I told her. Then I kissed her softly.
Ash: “You’re a straight-up goddess, Danica Vola.” Ash: "Are you noticing a pattern here? Every one of those stupid things was because I let myself love someone, and then I made the mistake of acting too late, or acting too fucking stupid. Honestly, I should’ve kissed you the exact second I found out you weren’t Daniella, and made you mine.”
I smiled a bit.
Danica: “I mean… Madeleine was standing right there. It might’ve been awkward.”
Ash: “Fuck it.”
He grabbed me and pulled me to my feet—and kissed me, thoroughly. Until my toes curled in my shoes and I was almost out of breath. When he broke away to catch his breath, he told me,
Ash: “I’m sick of doing stupid shit and screwing up and missing my fucking chance and pretending I don’t feel what I feel. This is what I feel, and fuck you if you don’t want it.” Danica: “I’m not leaving.”
His blue eyes locked with mine.
Danica: “I’m not leaving you. And when I say that, there are no exceptions in my heart. I’m so drawn to you… I couldn’t pretend not to want you if I tried. I don’t want you to be anything different than what you are. I’m so excited, every day, to get to know you just a little bit more. I feel like I’ll never fully understand you, in the very best way. That there’ll always be so much more of you to discover and to love. There’s just too much of you to love. I’m not leaving.” Ash: "I should really take you back to the bar before your sister launches a crusade against me.”
Danica: “You should. She’s been known to burn men at the stake for less.”
His pierced eyebrow rose.
Danica: “Metaphorically speaking. Still, not so fun for those men.” Seth: “And what’s the new band called?”
Dylan: “It’s gotta be called the Players. Obviously.”
I threw him a look.
Ash: “Have you been talking to Summer?”
Dylan: “Yes. And it’s a great name. Use it before someone else does.”
Brody: “I second that. Exuberantly. You may not like it, but you’re the face of this band, Ashley Player.”
He grabbed my face roughly in his hand, digging his fingers into my cheeks, and the guys around me laughed.
Brody: “And just look at that fucking face!”
Ash: “Jesus, you are drunk.” Ash: “If you keep being you… I might just marry you one day.”
She smiled at me. And instead of freaking out or pulling away, like other people had done when I got serious about them, Danica just held me tighter. Her eyes sparkled and she looked at me that way she so often did—like she couldn’t quite believe how amazing life was. Funny thing about life; I felt the same way when I looked at her.
Danica: “You keep being you, Ashley, I might just marry you back.”