We will not fulfill any book request that does not come through the book request page or does not follow the rules of requesting books. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Comments are manually approved by us. Thus, if you don't see your comment immediately after leaving a comment, understand that it is held for moderation. There is no need to submit another comment. Even that will be put in the moderation queue.

Please avoid leaving disrespectful comments towards other users/readers. Those who use such cheap and derogatory language will have their comments deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked from accessing this website (and its sister site). This instruction specifically applies to those who think they are too smart. Behave or be set aside!

Built to Fall: Chapter 5


WHAT A SHITTY, terrible way to start a new job. First, I’d been fairly certain I was about to die when my driver ran a red light and plowed into a mail truck. My life had flashed before my eyes, and it was a pitiful showing. Fortunately, I survived, only to have my self-esteem pummeled by Isabela Ruiz, my mentor. And then, the way Dominic Cantrell had dismissed me without even an introduction? Cherry on top of the shit sundae.

I guzzled back the water a pretty flight attendant had given me and chewed on a cracker. My blood pressure had slowed down to normal, and the heat in my face had cooled enough for me to check out my surroundings. Though I’d flown a lot, I’d never flown private before, and this jet was pretty cushy. There were four seats in each row, divided in half by the aisle, and they were deep and wide. Guys with piercings and tattoos and a couple men in suits filled in the available seats. It didn’t escape my notice I was one of very few women on board.

Marta, Dominic’s assistant, returned, taking the empty seat beside me. She tapped my hand. “Feeling better, kidlet?”

“Yes, much. Thank you for rescuing a complete stranger,” I replied.

Marta intimidated me. From her perfect, model-like figure to her exquisite face, raspy voice, and punky hair, she looked like a girl who would have teased me mercilessly in high school while I’d secretly want to befriend her.

“Someone had to.” She evil-eyed the men seated around us. “I still can’t fathom these dicks didn’t see you needed help the second you stepped on board and let you wander all the way to the back.”

“It’s all a blur at this point.” I smiled at her while I massaged my neck. “Have you been doing this long?”

“Years. It feels like decades working for that man.” Her words were sharp, but her smile said maybe working for Dominic wasn’t so bad for her. I wondered if they were a couple or friends with benefits.

“I take it he isn’t thrilled I’m here.”

Her smile slid into a smirk. “The only thing Dominic is pleased with is himself, and even that’s iffy half the time. I take it you read up on him?”

“I did.”

The dossier Isabela had given me had pages and pages of Dominic being surly to reporters, flipping off photographers, close calls with the law, fights that had been covered up, groupies who wouldn’t leave the next morning, dropped lawsuits from former band members, ex-employees who’d forgotten the NDA agreement they’d signed when hired. I saw why the man needed full-time PR traveling with him. He was chaos in a very fine, silver fox package.

“Then you know he might not want you here, but he does need you. As long as you do the job you were hired for, you’ll get to keep it, cranky rocker be damned.”

There was a warning in her tone, which sounded a lot like Isabela’s. Why did everyone think I was in danger of throwing myself at Dominic Cantrell? If they knew the last time I’d taken a chance on a man ended with me in the hospital with a concussion, maybe they wouldn’t be so worried. That I wouldn’t be sharing, though.

“I really need this job, so I have every intention of taking it seriously,” I replied coolly.

We both grew quiet during takeoff, and Marta scrolled through her phone until the flight attendant brought us drinks.

“To making heinous first impressions.” She clinked her soda against mine. “That’s on me—not you.”

With a half-grin, I smoothed my hand over my wild hair. “I don’t know, I’m pretty sure that’s on me too.”

Her bright eyes flicked over my face. “Girl, you nearly died. You had no control over that. Meanwhile, I’m pissing a circle around Dominic.” She held up a finger. “It’s not because I’m shagging him. Get that thought out of your mind. I’ve just gotten used to women cozying up to me to get to him and it’s tiring.”

“Yeah…well, that’s not what’s happening here,” I assured her.

“Good.” She nodded. “So, what’s your sitch?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, do you have a ball and chain at home? Single like a Pringle? A free spirit, never to be tied down?”

I laughed despite myself. “For the first time in a long, long time, I’m single…like a Pringle, I guess.”

She held up her hand for a high five, and I happily obliged. “Same. That makes this lifestyle a lot easier, I’ll tell you that.”


Her eyebrows bounced up and down. “Traveling with insanely hot musicians. Have you checked out our opening acts?”

“I read their names, but I didn’t recognize them.”

“Well,” she peered at me from over her drink, “The Seasons Change are low-key fire. If Dom lets you have five minutes, you have to watch them with me tomorrow night.”

“I’m in.” I twisted in my seat to face her fully. “This whole job happened so fast, and I had so much to prepare for, I didn’t even think about the music.”

She swiveled in her seat too, bringing her legs up. “Are you into music?”

“I have it constantly playing. Confession: I love Dominic’s early stuff, especially when he was with The Hype.”

Her pert nose scrunched. “Don’t let him hear you say that. I love their music too, but Dom and the drummer, Eric, had a major falling out a few years back. I’m not allowed to mention that era of his career. It’s banned from interviews too.”

I tapped my forehead. “Oh god, I remember that now. Jeez, I have some studying to do.”

“Forget studying. Tell me what other music you’re into.”

Marta and I spent the rest of the flight volleying favorites back and forth. Derrick hadn’t liked my taste in music and Annaliese listened more to pop, so I didn’t have anyone else to talk to about the bands I loved. On the outside, Marta and I had nothing in common, but by the time we landed in Atlanta, I was convinced our insides were plastered with the same band posters. We didn’t agree on everything, and she knew more small, indie bands than I did, but we were eerily similar in our taste.

When we disembarked the plane, a passenger bus and a limo waited for us. I headed toward the bus, but Marta stopped me.

“Ride with Dom and me to the hotel. It’ll give you a chance to really meet,” she said.

My stomach twisted in knots as I waited. It felt like I had an ally in Marta now, but who knew how long that would last. I hoped Dominic and I wouldn’t battle, but I really didn’t know him yet, not beyond the reports Isabela had given me.

Dominic was the last off the plane. He strode across the tarmac, his eyes hidden behind mirrored aviator sunglasses.

“Miss me?” Marta called as he approached.

He grunted, then completely ignoring me, slid into the car. Marta went next, and I followed, plopping down beside her. Dominic faced us, his long legs spread wide on his bench.

Marta touched my shoulder. “I’m sure you were concerned, but Claire is all better.”

He turned his head in my direction. He’d kept on his sunglasses, making it impossible to know the direction of his gaze. “That’s a relief.”

“It is. Did you enjoy your peace and quiet?” Marta asked.

“As I always do.” His face was so expressionless, I snorted a little laugh before I could help myself. “Something funny?”

“No.” I should have stopped there, but I didn’t. Maybe the sunglasses covering his gaze were making me brave, I didn’t know. “It just doesn’t seem like you really enjoyed yourself. But I could be wrong.”

With that, he slid his sunglasses off and tucked them on the collar of his T-shirt. Black-as-night eyes beneath slashes of ebony brows stared back at me.

“Did you have a nice flight, Claire?” His eyes never wavered from mine, and I was instantly intimidated. He knew exactly what he was doing, and he kept doing it.

“I did.” I worked to clear my throat so I would stop squeaking like a damn mouse. My raspy voice was one of my finest attributes, and I’d be damned if this man scared it out of me. “Marta and I talked music for most of it.”

“This woman is as much of a music fiend as I am,” Marta said proudly. “She’s been absent from the live music scene for a few years, but we’re going to rectify that.”

“Claire’s here to work, Marta.” Still, his eyes stayed on mine. My cheeks heated, but I wouldn’t allow myself to cower. He could burn me to ashes with his coal eyes, and I’d go down with my chin held high.

Marta giggled, which didn’t match her all-black exterior. “I’m here to work too, Dominic. But not twenty-four seven. I’m sure Claire will have a few chances to catch the opening acts, or, you know, kick back with me on our days off.”

He nodded, his nostrils flaring slightly. “As long as Claire’s ready to deal with shit when I need her, I guess it doesn’t matter.”

Marta opened her mouth to speak, but I was faster. “I’ve been dealing with shit for a while now, so I’ve gotten pretty adept. I doubt your shit is anything unique.”

It would have been easier to maintain my cool front if the man across from me wasn’t so gorgeous in a completely unexpected way. I’d never found a man with salt and pepper hair attractive, but Dominic made it work. Because I had been a fan for a long time, I knew he’d gone gray prematurely. The hair on the top of his head was almost white, and his beard was streaked with silver and the same black of his eyebrows. That contrasted with his smooth, deeply-tanned skin and the tight muscles in his arms and chest beneath his fitted shirt.

Marta clapped and let out a whoop. “You tell him, Claire. If you bust his balls, I’m here for it.”

Dominic let out a low rumble from his chest. “I’d advise you not to take Marta’s advice to heart. She has somehow wormed her way into becoming my friend on top of being my employee, so she thinks she’s allowed to do and say whatever she wants. The same doesn’t apply to anyone else.”

“No problem.” I glanced down at my lap, unable to keep up my ruse any longer. I only had so much bravery in my tank and I’d used a good deal facing certain death on the way to the airport.

Dominic sniffed, and if a sniff could be judgmental, his was. Against my better judgment, I glanced up to find I was still in his sights. He cocked his head, making a slow, rough perusal of me, and I wondered what he thought. I wasn’t anything like Isabela, or even Marta, but I had my own vibe. When I left the house this morning, I’d felt almost hip in my rose gold oxfords, skinny jeans, and pinstripe button-up. My hair was much worse for wear, and my makeup had long since abandoned ship, but I wasn’t too shabby…at least in my opinion.

Dominic sniffed again when he had completed his full sweep of me. It seemed he didn’t share my opinion.

Instead of letting his misogyny fly, I perused him, starting at his green suede Adidas sneakers, moving up his long, long, denim-encased legs, over his flat stomach and tattooed arms and hands, to his burning black eyes, and snowy, shorn hair. My eyes flicked back to his, and with precise intention, I sniffed.

My nose wrinkling probably took some of the bite out of it, but no matter. Dominic got the message.

He covered his mouth to hide the upturn of his lips, but I couldn’t miss the crinkling around his eyes. My stomach flipped on itself enough to make me nauseous.

Marta jerked her head up from her phone, where she’d been typing away. “What did I miss?”

“Nothing,” I rushed out. My bravery was a fragile thing. It came and went as easily as the wind.

Dominic slouched in his seat, stretching his long legs in front of him until his shoes grazed the toes of mine. I refused to draw my legs back, so I left them there as he watched me with interest.

“Just how young are you, Claire?” he asked.

“I’m twenty-six. How old are you, Dominic?” I volleyed back.

“Did you not read my file?” His toes pushed against mine a little more.

“I did, but I must have missed that particular detail.” I waved him off, unwilling to bend myself to whatever angle he was headed. “If it comes up, I can always Google. It’s not important.”

He tapped my toe. “I’m forty-two.”

“But a spry seventy at heart,” Marta said, wearing her signature smirk.

“That’s right.” He tapped his chest. “It’s all shriveled up and dusty in here.”

She stage-whispered to me, “He’s so cranky, just like my grandpa.”

His dark brows slid together in a solid slash. “I’m beginning to think I shouldn’t allow you to influence poor Claire here. Hell, I think you’ve corrupted me in the time I’ve known you.”

I wouldn’t have minded being corrupted a little. In fact, I loved the idea. I’d been the good little wife for so long, and look where that had landed me. Maybe if I were the bad little single girl in my time off, I’d like the view better.

Marta grinned back at our boss. “Groupies have written books about the kind of debauchery you’ve partaken in. You have ticked every box on the list the bouncers keep at the gates of hell. It’s impossible to corrupt the corrupted.”

Dominic hummed, then slid his glasses over his eyes again. “You might have a point,” he murmured.

Marta rolled her eyes at me and mouthed, “Cranky.”

Her plan had been for Dominic and me to get to know one another better, but the only thing I’d learned from this car ride was that Dominic Cantrell made my stomach feel like it was in free fall when he turned the full force of his attention on me—and that he didn’t mind being challenged in unexpected ways.

I was still scared and nervous beyond all reason, but like my tiny closet bedroom in my sister’s apartment, I could almost taste the freedom I’d be enjoying for the next few months. And after leaving a disaster of a marriage, freedom had never tasted sweeter.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode