A NOVEL OF THE ORDER, A SERIES OF STAND-ALONE NOVELS
Heartache, headache, head trip, snow
Eyeliner, Green Day, cigarette lies
—Judas, “The Girl Between”
Copyright 2021. Jillian Verne. All rights reserved.
But passing time has a way of making spirits bolder
Or life just made me older
To give me strength to travel foreign ground
And forget the twists of fate that turned me ‘round
Standing on the threshold, our restoration play begins
Doesn’t matter where we’ve been
Our sin is washed away, the past undone
Taste redemption on my lips, our battle’s won
Eclipse me with your fire, my sun, and bend me to your light
Burn me and bring me to life
Believe my vow, be the song in my soul
My truth, my muse, found in eyes of gray and gold
Before we were born something entwined our souls together
Our spirits bound forever
Feel the promise in my kiss, let it be
The only truth to guide us, my harmony
I walked a lonely road, my spirit crying for being
Then I turned around seeing
My reflection in kaleidoscope eyes
My soul exposed in words, her beautiful lies
So many things I didn’t know answered by ugly voices
While I made the wrong choices
The mystery of my life: what is love?
How can the sinner in my heart rise above?
I wish I’d never left her alone in New York City
Sold my soul, pride to pity
And ran away from sacred love to hide
The narcotic mistress who’d become my bride
I can’t remember all the empty promises I gave
Walking from cradle to grave
That kept me frozen in the bitter white
To blind me from the truth of her saving light
Addiction is hell. Love is worse.
Teodor Rey is a sinner. A rock star with a guitar in his hand and the world at his feet, Teo wants the one thing he cannot have: his harmony. The only woman who ever soothed the artist's tortured soul and satisfied the dark passions that rule him. The same woman he betrayed with a narcotic mistress. Teo conquered his addiction to drugs. Never his addiction to Eva.
Eva DelZotto is a freak. A runaway with a finger in the air and a pen in her hand, Eva finds solace in words. Secret poems about the desires of a misunderstood girl who the world refuses to love. Until a boy with a guitar steals her secrets and teaches her how to live them. The same boy who leaves her behind. The one who will always own her heart.
Judas is the savior of rock and roll. An explosive band with a bad boy reputation and bonds that run deep, Judas is on the way to international superstardom, yet their front man is far from satisfied. Teo resurrected the band's career, but without his muse, nothing can resurrect his soul. When the band takes a hiatus from touring in New York City, divergent paths cross again.
First love. Obsessive love. Lost love. Can Teo and Eva regain what they lost? If so, at what price?
Teo followed the girl out of the room.
No. He didn’t follow. He was drawn. She moved fast and smooth like a cat, her long hair a swishing tail as she prowled along the breezeway between the annex and the church. Between. That was her vibe. She did not fit with the group she just abandoned, and she did not fit in that church either. The girl was between. A very vulnerable place to be.
He caught up with her on the church steps; her escape thwarted by damp air. She was beating the crap out of a defenseless paper matchbook. He flicked his Zippo. “Light?”
She leaned in and cupped his hand, her touch surprising. And warm. Somehow he expected her to be cold. “Thanks.”
“What’s your sin?”
“Hit a guy,” she said, and a puff of smoke escaped her lips.
Pretty lips. Plump. Inviting. Dangerous on a girl her age. Given where they were, she couldn’t be more than seventeen. The other girls in the room looked like girls; this girl looked like a woman. It wasn’t the body. No boobs filled out her faded Green Day T-shirt. No curves in her black tube skirt or the long, skinny legs that ended in a pair of purple patent-leather Doc Martens. It was the eyes. Stormy, coated in gobs of black eyeliner yet somehow vulnerable. This girl had seen too much life in her seventeen or less years. Teo couldn’t stop staring.
“How about you?”
“Too many sins to name. You really hit a guy, huh?” he asked with a glance at the hand cradling her cigarette. Delicate, almost elegant, not the hand of a fighter.
Her long, thin fingers raised the cigarette to her lips, and her stormy eyes crashed into him. “The man disrespected me, but a girl with a bad history against the word of a business owner. Guess who wins that fight? The little wifey made sure of it, stupid bitch.” She sucked an angry drag and exhaled her cynicism. “So here I am, repenting. How silly of me to think blowing the boss wasn’t part of my job.”
“Well played, sinner. Bad history?” Teo asked as he lit up.
“He’s not the first guy I’ve hit.” She gave him a shrug and turned to leave. “It’s been real.”
“That’s cold, babe.”
She paused. “Meaning?”
Teo held up his cigarette. “Walking out on a smoke with a friend.”
“We’re not friends.”
“Not yet.” He took a deep drag so the glowing tip of his cigarette would light his features.
Her plump lips tilted up while her stormy eyes checked him out. A quick flash in them signaled attraction before she turned and walked away.
Hang on a that’s never happened before second. “Where you running to?”
“Somewhere. Not here,” she said without turning back or breaking her stride.
He trotted down the steps after her. “Didn’t mean to scare you, babe.”
That stopped her. Dead in her tracks. “Don’t flatter yourself, babe.”
He rocked back on his heels. “She’s got nowhere to go, and her boots can’t get her there quick enough. Sure looks scared to me.” Cue the smug smile.
She did not smile back.
“At least tell me your name. I’m Teodor.”
“If I tell you my name, are you going to hypnotize me with your red cloak and pierce me with your big sword, matador?”
A cynic with a sultry stare, the girl did a good sexy, but the come-on was a cover. Teo recognized another tortured soul and storming out on tonight’s meeting would do this one no good. He swallowed the urge to talk dirty with a kid.
“Look, you know how this goes. If you leave, you’ll get into more trouble, and you don’t look like you need it.”
“And the matador cares because?” This time her stormy eyes lingered a bit longer.
And this time his smile wasn’t innocent. “I like to play with my food.”
Shit, wrong words. Teo ran a full hand through his hair. Wrong move, but the ladies loved the hair, and yeah, he wasn’t keen on rejection.
“Seriously, Deacon Rey is my brother. Augustin’s a good man. You can trust him.” Most of the kids his brother tried to save with these counseling sessions did not have the ears to hear him, but the meetings kept the police at bay. At least for a while. Augustin was a man of God, not the streets. For the ones who mistook that as a weakness, Teo was his muscle. He’d dragged many a runner back to his brother. “I help Augustin out sometimes. In exchange, he lets me and the band practice in the church annex.”
“That’s your gig? Music?”
Ah, Stormy was curious. Hadn’t met a girl yet who wasn’t. He flashed his rock-star smile, the suggestive grin that was humble and arrogant and never failed.
Until now. “Like I said, matador; it’s been real. I’m out of here.”
Teo laid a hand on her shoulder. “I can’t let you leave, babe. You think you’re tough, but you’re not tough enough for jail. Trust me. I’ve been there.”
She glanced at his hand, then at him. “As if you can stop me.” There was snap in her voice now. No sex, definitely snap.
She spun on her chunky heels, ready to march into the rain, and he grabbed her.
The slap hit his cheek faster than lightning.
For a split second, Teo was pissed. Then he was impressed. Only one way to handle that kind of fire. He slapped her back.
Her jaw dropped with her quick intake of breath. Her nostrils flared. Storm clouds swirled in her eyes, but she did not cower.
He raised an eyebrow and a smile. “I’m bigger. I’ll win.”
Her hand twitched, but she restrained her violent impulses. A pity. He would have liked the excuse to tumble her over his shoulder when she took another swing at his jaw and pay her back with a palm to the ass.
Something of his deviant mind must have shown on his face. He barely caught the next swing. This girl was a wild one.
Squeezing her wrist with enough force to threaten, he said, “You trying to turn me on, babe? ’Cause if you are, it’s working.”
The flicker of shock made her look more her age; the dip of her bottom lip did not. Most men would want to kiss that pouty lip. Teo wanted to bite it. Holding her wrist high, he leaned into her space, daring her to challenge him, and eyed her cheek. It was pink from his slap. He knew he was about to get himself into trouble, but…
“I’ll make you a deal. If you go back, I’ll let you stick around after the meeting and listen to my band practice.”
She yanked her arm away, and he knew she was about to bolt.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” He hauled her up and over his shoulder, then gave her bottom a good hard smack for the one she landed on his face.
“What the fuck? Put me down.” His wild one sunk her teeth into his waist.
He smacked her again—just for giggles. “No can do, babe,” Teo said around a laugh. “First you’re talking with Jesus; then you’re meeting Judas.”