Home > Combust (Everyday Heroes #2)

Combust (Everyday Heroes #2)
Author: K. Bromberg

The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men.

—Henry David Thoreau



“Whoa. Wait a minute. What do you mean, I have to pretend?”

“Your contract has a penalty for not finishing the songs on time.” My agent’s calm, coddling voice comes through the line but has the opposite effect of what she’s hoping for with it.

“Finishing the songs on time—which I’ll do—is not the issue. It’s you telling me I have to pretend to still be dating Jett; that’s the problem. You know,” I say with a voice dripping with sarcasm, “the Jett I found screwing Tara-Perfect-Tits in our bed.” My words hang on the line with so much conviction, yet my heart is imploding.

“Yes, that Jett.” Her voice is quiet now. Resigned. “I know I’m asking a lot of you, Dylan. I know it’s going to be hard, but you know how hesitant the label executives were to sign him on for another album with his history.”

“History?” I laugh. “You mean trashing clubs and being unbearable to work with in the studio? That history?”

“Dylan.” She sighs my name. “They know he’s on his best behavior, but they also know it’s him. The change from bad boy to good guy has never lasted long for him in the past.”

“And his crappy reputation is my problem . . . why, exactly?” I cringe, already knowing the answer.

“Because you’re the only reason they signed him on again. You’re the only person who could calm him down. You’re the—”

“Jett whisperer,” I mumble, hating the term I once thought cute. Now I realize it made me look like a naïve fool. Silence falls as I pinch the bridge of my nose. How am I supposed to make this work?

“I know it’s only been a day since it happened, but maybe once you calm down—”

“I’m pretending I didn’t hear you say that, Ava. There’s no way you just insinuated that I should overlook what Jett did because he’s Jett Kroger. That I should stand by and suck it up. Tell me I’m wrong.”

“That’s not what I said.”

“That sure as hell is what it sounded like.”

“Look, Dylan . . . both you and Jett are my clients. I want the best for both of you, even though I currently want to kick Jett in the balls for what he did . . . but what is best for you is to finish this album.”

“Like I said, that’s not the problem—”

“And to do so without the label knowing you’re not together anymore.”

“But why?” I throw my hands up as a frustrated tear slides down my cheek.

“Because it will make them nervous. Nervous executives might delay or even table the album for another singer who’s more of a sure thing, because let’s face it, as successful as Jett has been for them, he’s a pain in their asses. And them delaying the album—”

“Means I don’t get paid,” I finish for her, thinking of my mom and her mounting bills. Just one more piece of the fucked-up puzzle added to this chaos my life has become.

I blow out a breath and roll my shoulders, hating every single thing about my life right now.

“It won’t be easy. I know that. But think of it this way . . . finishing the songs, pretending you and Jett are still a team . . . it will keep you in a favorable light with the label. I’ve already been working with them on expanding your writing collaborations outside of working with Jett, so it’s in your best interest to bite the bullet for a bit.”

I sink into my couch, close my eyes, and tighten my hand on the phone at my ear. She’s right. I know she’s right . . . but hell if I want to admit it. And hell if I want to have to sit face to face and write songs with the man who just broke my heart.

“Fine.” There’s a bite to my tone. Every part of me revolts against what that word agrees to.

When I open my eyes, Jett is everywhere despite his side of the closet being empty and his house key sitting on the credenza by the front door where he left it. His Dodgers hat he forgot hangs on the back of the kitchen chair. The odd-shaped coffee mug he swears makes coffee taste better is beside the Keurig. The rumpled throw on the couch is where he left it from the last time he fell asleep there.

His cologne lingers. The strum of his guitar still echoes. His laughter still fills the halls.

“Dylan?” Ava’s voice snaps me back from thoughts I shouldn’t be having. From the ache in my heart, I’d give anything to go away. From the ridiculous thoughts edging my mind that maybe it was a mistake when I know full well it wasn’t. “What do you have to lose?”

My dignity.

“I’m good. Fine. You’ll get your songs, but I have to go.”


I shove up off the couch and head to the one room I’ve been avoiding. The bed is bare—mattress without sheets, pillows on the ground from when I threw them in a fit of fury—and I head to my closet for my suitcase. As I grab its handle, I dial my brother.

“Hey stranger.” His voice breaks the dam against the floodgate of tears I’ve been trying to hold back.


“What did that bastard do to you?”

“I need your help.”



I awake disoriented and lost in the silence. It feels weird without the usual sounds—the loud honking of cars and music floating up from the dance studio across the alley. It feels like I’m naked.

Just absolute and complete silence.

Then I hear the giggle. A thump against the wall. A swear following the thump.

And I know he’s finally home.


This isn’t how I planned on meeting him, but what am I going to do? Hide away in this bedroom and pretend I’m not here when my car is clearly parked on the left side of the driveway?

I scramble out of bed and throw on a robe, pull the sash on it as tight as it can go, and prepare myself to meet my new housemate. Of sorts.

There’s another giggle. A murmured sound of satisfaction. Both make me cringe to open my bedroom door.

But I do. Curiosity gets the best of me.

I’m blinded momentarily as the sun from the open front door reflects off one very sexy, slinky, and daring silver sparkly dress. A pair of sky-high strappy heels is in one of her hands. Her other is threaded through the hair at the base of the neck of the man whose back is to me.

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