Hollywood Rebel by Misti Murphy
“Welcome home, Rebel,” I mutter under my breath as the cab pulls up the long driveway to my home in the Hollywood Hills.
“Sorry, did you say something?” the driver asks.
“No, man, just talking to myself.” Months of incarceration in the finest Los Angeles correctional facility is finally behind me and all I want to do is put my bare feet on my coffee table, turn on sports on my TV, and enjoy a beer. Alone. Before the press gets wind that I was released today.
Once that happens, I won’t have a single moment’s peace. Between my friends and my brothers and my manager and the media hounding me for interviews over what went wrong and whether prison has reformed me, I doubt I’ll be able to breathe let alone enjoy the pleasure of my own company. Except, if I’m lucky, in the shower. And even there, company has a tendency of finding me. It’s why I didn’t even tell my brothers I was being released today.
I frown as I note several cars parked along the side of the drive. They thicken as we get to the end of the long, private road. Shifting in my seat, I lean forward to stare out the front window of the cab. Up ahead is a valet station where several runners are taking charge of vehicles as the owners make their way to my front door. “What the hell is going on?”
“Looks like some kind of party,” the cabbie responds.
“Looks like? Hell, it is.” My jaw muscles tighten while I take cash out of my wallet—I was surprised to find it still there when I was handed back my belongings—and hand over enough for the ride and a sizable tip. I’m not staying in this line, but he’s still going to have to wait until the traffic clears. I shove my wallet back in my pocket as I exit the cab and start toward the portico where people are lined up to get into my damn house.
I shove past a couple of small part actors I’ve partied with before, and get eye groped by a wraith that I’m fairly certain is a lingerie model.
I almost trip over Bianca Del Ray, who was my first leading lady, on the way into my house. We’ve hung out a bit since then. Had more than our fair share of good times together.
A row of shots are lined up in front of her and she’s making her way through them one after the other. She calls after me, but right now I’m on a mission. Somewhere inside is the person responsible for turning my peace and quiet into the place to be. My twin brother, Rogue.
There are so many people. Industry folk. Actors. Influencers. Doesn’t that guy play basketball for The Lakers? Damn, he does too. Anyone who is someone or wants to be someone appears to be in my house at this moment.
Inside a bar has been set up next to a dance floor. Women in leather body suits and Catwoman masks dance on temporary poles. Some guy with a name tag on his vest and a tray in his hand offers me a shot. I down the overly sweet concoction without glancing at the contents.
A band plays something I haven’t heard before, but I haven’t exactly been paying attention to the music scene while I’ve been incarcerated, so there’s that. It’s got a catchy tune though.
I slam the empty glass upside down on the first surface within reach; a glass table already overloaded with discarded drinks. Backtrack through a group of actors I probably know, so I can order a beer from the woman serving behind the bar.
“Having fun?” she asks as she pours me a drink.
She’s kind of cute. Blonde bangs and blue eyes. A smile that’s inviting. Whatever. It’s been six months and I’m probably hornier than any man has the right to be, but I have only one motivation right now and she isn’t it. I shrug. “Not really.”
“Oh,” she says, but that’s all the time I’ve got for small talk.
Carrying the bitter beverage, I follow in the wake of moving bodies until I spot Rogue through the glass doors that lead out to the pool.
My twin is surrounded by women in bikinis. He’s busy telling a story. God knows whether it’s one of his or one of mine. We’ve always been inseparable, but I might want to kill him for throwing this rager when all I wanted to do was be alone so I could acclimate. Six months is not a long period of time, but it’s long enough when you’re living life in captivity.
“Rogue,” I growl as I exit onto the decking.
Like a choreographed scene in a horror movie, the women twist their necks as one.
“It’s Rebel,” a buxom blonde in a bit of mint colored dental floss says as she tugs on the end of a side braid.
My name echoes through the group and a moment later they rush to surround me like a tidal wave of Fembots.
At least one thing always stays the same. My brother somewhat forgotten for the moment, they crowd around me. Touch me. Brandish their bikini clad cleavages in my direction like weapons.
A few of them swoon because they came into contact with Rebel Maddox, and haven’t learned how to play it cool at these kinds of parties yet.
“Oh my God, Rebel Maddox touched me.” A girl in a red string bikini squeals to her friend.
“Trust me, sweetheart, you would know if I was touching you on purpose.” I almost put my hands up in a surrender type position, but screw that, I did that the night I was arrested, and this is my house. They can all get the hell out as far as I’m concerned. I didn’t ask them to be here. I don’t want them touching me. I’m not here to play nice.
“Look who’s here, everyone,” my brother crows as I reach him, before throwing an arm around my shoulder. “The man. The myth. Your Rebel without a cause. In the house and fresh from the big house…”
“You are such a dick,” I whisper in his ear as I clap him on the back. God, it’s good to see him. Not that I haven’t seen him. He showed up every week while I was inside. Rogue is a lot of things, but a deserter is not one of them. Can’t say the same for most of these assholes.
Blue eyes identical to my own laugh at me as he hugs me. “And here I thought I was being a damn sweetheart by throwing you a welcome home party, big brother.”
“If I’d wanted a party, I would have told you I was being released today,” I grumble before pulling back. “This mess is for you.”
“Listen.” His eyes soften and he squeezes my shoulder before picking up his drink. Amber liquid in a short glass. The bottle that was beside it is most likely from my private stash of Ace of Spades whisky in the basement. He tugs me away from the gaggle of women while he drains it. They follow after us like sexy little horn dogs. “You’ve been locked up for a while. You don’t have a girlfriend. You might want to mingle.”
“You want me to meet a woman?” I mean yeah, it’s been months with nothing, not even my own tight grip, to get me through those solitary nights, but if he thinks my need to get laid is going to get him out of shit for throwing this party… “You’re crazy.”
His eyes widen. “I’ve only got your best interests at heart. Your name is mud right now.”
“Yeah, looks like it.” I gesture at the crowd packed into my house like sardines in a can. “How did you get all these people here?”
“I paid them,” he deadpans.
“Bullshit.” I laugh. Somehow while I was gone I forgot what a joker my brother is.
“Some things don’t change.” He shrugs. “Women like our money and our dicks and our fame. Not necessarily in that order. Everyone else is here because they want to be seen.”
The buzz of a drone high overhead guarantees that. “Tell me you didn’t alert the media.”
“Not me,” he says. “But you knew those assholes weren’t finished with you. You don’t do what you did and not deal with the consequences.”
I turn my back to the drone and slam back the rest of the beer. He wants to talk to me about consequences. He’s not the one who spent six months in jail for beating the living shit out of a guy. The people here might not care, but there are plenty that do. Studio executives. Producers. My fans. “Do you think I’m not aware of that?”
“Look, I get why you did it.” He squeezes my shoulder so hard the bones creak. “I would have done the same.”
He presses his lips together, the words drying up between us. I might have done the time, but he had to deal with the repercussions too. You can’t be a Maddox without the infamy that comes with it.
“The whole situation was so royally messed up.”
“I’m aware.” I’ve had six long months to sit with that knowledge. To marinate in it. And I keep coming back to the fact that I don’t regret what I did.
“This would be a good starting point to rectify that,” he suggests.
I’m sure he means well, but I’m not in the mood to talk about my career or my infamy or what I plan to do next. I’ve been living the Hollywood life since I got a lucky break at sixteen, and the commodities I value the most are my privacy and space. Neither of which I have thanks to the people currently partying in my house. “That’s a job for my manager. When I contact him.”
“Chill for a bit. All these people are here for you. They want to welcome you home,” he cajoles. “Hang with them a little. Show them you’re a nice guy.”
“Since when have I ever been the nice guy?” My lips twitch. I can’t even ask the question and keep a straight face. I’m pretty sure it’s the same as asking the devil if he could choose to be an angel for a change. I’m the bigger, badder twin. The one with the devil may care attitude. I’ve lived up to my name in every way. Including several arrests and finally serving time.
“You’re right.” He grins. “I’m the one everybody likes.”
“You’re charming. I’ll give you that.” I scoff at that, because while he is lovable, he is definitely the rogue that he’s named for. He breaks hearts and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake. But people seem to forgive him a lot easier than they do me.
“Just enjoy the party.” He grins, knowing he’s won. “After all, it’s in your name. There are Victoria’s Secret models here. Have you ever wondered how easy it would be to break off an angel’s wings?”
“I’m not screwing Tinkerbell.” I chuckle. Especially not after six months alone. I want a woman I won’t break. One who will let me do a million things to her before she even tells me her name. And I want to do it with a bottle of whisky in my veins. Maybe two.
“You don’t have to.” He pats me on the shoulder. “Have a look around. There are a heap of ladies here dying to welcome you home. We could make an orgy of it.”
“You’re a pervert, brother.” I grab the bottle of Ace of Spades from the table and take a slug from the neck. Point the opening at his chest. “And if I wasn’t in the mood I’m currently in I’d probably be right there with you.”
But I’m not. I need space and quiet and to get very drunk. Alone.
“Have your party,” I say as I stalk past him into the house.
I stop at the bar to rescue another bottle of whisky from the cute bartender. Consider asking her if she wants to abandon her post for a thicker, harder one. But damn it, I’m thrown by all the people and the music and the open space that feels so claustrophobic.
I duck through the kitchen where a full catering staff are plating up things like salmon on those little puffy potato pancakes and crispy chicken and mini burgers. My belly grumbles at the mouthwatering smell. Prison food was no mini burger heaven, that’s for damn sure. I snatch a platter from one of the servers as I move through the room and march up the back stairs to the part of the house where no one dares enter without an invitation.