Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1)

BOOK: Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1)
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Blurb

In small Texas towns, strangers come and go...

Left in a Stetson hat, on the steps of the local bed and breakfast, Avery Callimer came into the world on a wing and a prayer. Raised by loving adoptive parents, she’s never lacked for love ... only the knowledge of her past.

By day she works at the inn, but by night ... Avery comes alive as lead singer in a band. Life was good ... stable, until new guests blew into town.

Some strangers come with secrets and lies.

Lucas Bennett is one such stranger. Drifting from one mess to another has left him jaded. Doesn’t matter the dramas are never his doing. Giving it one last shot to make a fresh start lands him Harmony’s Echo, Texas and smack dab in front of the tantalizing Avery.

Despite his best efforts to ignore the burn Avery’s ignited within, he’s intent to keep his distance. Secrets have followed him. Secrets he doesn’t want Avery to know.

Each time they’re near the other, things heat up like a brushfire on a dry Texas prairie.

But maybe, after the dust settles and the smoke clears, love can bloom with a fresh start.

Baby Stetson

Love and Music in Texas: Book One

by

Nikki Lynn Barrett
Copyright March 2013, Nikki Lynn Barrett, First Version.
Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Epilogue

Acknowledgements

Is it really time to write these again? Wow!

Well, it’s been a great few months since the release of my first book. I am in awe of how much support I have from family and friends, and I don’t know where I’d be without you.

Now that I look back at my first set of acknowledgements, I realize I did not mention a few people. But that doesn’t mean I forgot you!

To Oma and Opa - Your peaceful, serene backyard has always been a place of escape for me, and I had many story ideas plotted in my mind while sitting on my favorite swing. Thank you for being awesome grandparents.

Peggy and Freda - I have some of my best memories of high school with you all. Thanks for all the laughs, the fun, the silly, crazy moments and your never ending support. You both have been a huge impact on my life, and I’m so glad we can still be in touch today.

Ruthie - You were one of the first people to ever read anything I wrote. You have always been a big supporter no matter what I wanted to do. I’m so glad we moved in next door to you when I was a kid, and so glad you’re in my life now.

Robert - Thank you again for the endless edits, putting up with my constant changes and my anal need to be perfect with my books. You created a beautiful, amazing cover that brings Baby Stetson to full life. Oh, and for your praise, like the “James Patterson of Romance” comment. :) Not every writer has the full support of their spouse and I’m so glad I do.

To my parents, for giving me the love of books. Christmas, when it came to books was awesome!

Thank you to my critique groups, my online friends, bloggers- really, to anyone that has love for a book and shares that same crazy idea that I do when it comes to them. To the reviewers that left wonderful comments about The Secret Santa Wishing Well ... thanks a lot! Now I have big expectations to fill with Baby Stetson! I hope you enjoy this one just as much.

Crystal Newman, Jen Berg, and Melinda Barrera - You guys are kick butt! Thanks for the beta reading ... your insight has been great and I love your enthusiasm.

Dedication

This book is dedicated to family- whether they be blood related or extended family. I have a great group of people surrounding me in life. This is for you.

Praise for books by Nikki Lynn Barrett

The Secret Santa Wishing Well

“There comes a story that when you start reading, the author gets your attention right away. Well, Nikki Lynn Barrett did this in a sweet romantic holiday theme story that will melt your heart.”
Melena’s Reviews

“This is a magical read for the holidays and I highly recommend it to all!”
Romancebookworm’s Reviews

“The perfect Christmas read about the true meaning of Christmas.”
Romance Book Craze

“This story takes you on a heartfelt journey with laughter,tears, and even frustration at times. It is a wonderful emotional ride that I enjoyed to the fullest!”
Jen Berg.

“Just what a holiday romance should be like!”
Under the Covers

“I would really recommend this book to any one that needs a little pick me up. This book will bring tears to your eyes and joy to your heart.”
Crystal Newman

Chapter 1

The house band played exceptionally well. The lead singer’s long golden hair flew behind her as she darted across the large stage, belting out a high note into the microphone. Goosebumps ran over his arms. She was phenomenal! This woman had way too much talent to be hanging around in a small town.

The smooth, sultry sound of her voice did things to him that he hadn’t felt in a long time. He scolded himself mentally. He had a mission, and being seduced by this woman’s voice wasn’t one of them.

He debated heavily on approaching her tonight.

She stood by the guitarist while he went into a solo, the woman rocking in rhythm. Beads of sweat glinted on her forehead from the spotlight following her, but it only accentuated her beauty. A true performer.

One of the band members took the microphone from her after the song finished, proceeding to inform the audience that it was her birthday. Cheers and thunderous applause filled the room as the crowd began to sing happy birthday to her.

What he wouldn’t give to be here for better reasons.

*****

“Damn girl, you
rocked
it tonight!” The reactions were all positive. The high energy still sizzled even though the concert ended fifteen minutes ago. Avery ‘Baby Stetson’ Callimer smiled and high-fived the crowd of people as she stepped offstage, aiming herself toward the bar, empty water bottle in hand. Throat slightly parched, she yearned for more water after putting her all in the last song. It felt so good to be able to have such an energy charged performance. It was a better night than usual. Avery was floating. That’s how she felt after being up on stage. It was the most amazing feeling in the world. It’s like she’d entered a whole different world. And she had. Pouring her heart into her music was Avery’s way of channeling all of the feelings she buried deep inside. Writing them into a song was her outlet, her escape.

“Can I get a water, please?” Avery called to Dylan, the middle aged bartender working the place tonight. He nodded in response and went to grab one. She pulled out her wallet to pay, but Dylan waved his hand dismissively as he brought the bottle to her. “On the house, for my favorite performer. Oh, and Happy birthday!” He winked, slid the bottle over to her, and moved away to help another customer before she could protest.

Avery shrugged and hoisted herself on the barstool. She uncapped the bottle and lifted it to her lips, desperate for each drop. The cool liquid soothed her throat. Avery drank half of the contents before setting it down again, satisfied.

A large hand clapped on her shoulder. Before Avery could turn around, Jameson, the lead guitarist, shifted his body around to stand before her, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her toward him. He had a lopsided, but happy grin on his face, and he leaned in for a kiss. “That was amazing tonight, Baby Stetson,” he said sweetly in her ear, giving it a gentle nibble. “The chemistry up there could have set this place on fire.” His hands moved lower, down her back suggestively. “Speaking of chemistry, you sure light my fire. Are you having a good birthday?”

Avery kissed him back, and she knew he sensed she didn’t put her all into it, because he pulled away, watching her with his questioning eyes. “I thought we were okay.” His smile disappeared, disappointment taking its place.

No. They weren’t okay. They hadn’t been for a long time now, and each passing day that Avery allowed things to continue this way, the worse it became.

“Jameson, it’s going to take awhile before things are okay again,” Avery replied. Jameson had been her best friend for years, even before they started dating. Avery had loved him, thought maybe one day they would live a life together making music, but a big bombshell from Jameson six months ago changed things. Changed Avery. Jameson knew it, but they’d been trying to reconnect. For Avery, it wasn’t that easy, and it wasn’t working, though she just wasn’t ready to give up yet. She didn’t want to lose him if she couldn’t stay anymore. It pained her that she felt like this, but no matter how much she tried, the glue that held them wasn’t as strong anymore.

“I’m sorry, Avery. I know I’m being pushy. I just, I don’t want to lose you.” Their gazes locked. Jameson removed his arms from around her and placed his hand over hers instead. That gesture used to send chills down her spine, but now...

I don’t want to lose you either.

She fought the urge to cry. She really needed to sort out her feelings. Jameson was so hopeful. It wasn’t right to keep him hanging in the balance like that. Not when in her heart, she knew her romantic feelings had evaporated. She cared for Jameson, she always would, but the passion that had once ignited her had burnt out. It killed her to feel this way, and she felt bad, but the truth had to be spoken.

“I’m sorry, too.” She took his hand and squeezed it, avoiding his stare.

“This isn’t the time or place to talk about this. Let’s not be taken down on such a great night. How about we meet for lunch tomorrow?”

“No more shutting me out, okay?” Jameson took his hand from her grasp. He stuffed his hands in his pockets.

“Okay. Thanks for your part in an amazing show.” Avery smiled, though halfheartedly. She hoped he couldn’t see the expression she must have worn, as she fought the tears that wanted to fall. He knew. She could tell. This was it for them.

Tomorrow’s lunch wouldn’t be a happy one.

She downed the last of her water. The adrenaline high from the performance was beginning to wear off. Avery wanted to get out of there before it did completely, otherwise she’d be a heap of a mess, crumpled on the ground in tears. What was wrong with her lately? It was more than just the dread of her birthday. Most people looked forward to their birthdays. Not Avery. It wasn’t even about getting older. She didn’t care about that.

She crushed the plastic bottle as her hand gripped around it tighter and tighter, choking the air from it as if it would relieve the pressure of hurt that managed to stay suppressed for so long.

You’re one hot mess!
The whirlwind roller coaster she rode lately was getting to be too much. Maybe it was about time to confront the ghosts she held at bay, allow the feelings and words she needed to say to come out.

She slid off the stool, hoping to get out of Catered Whims before anyone else saw her. She slammed into a body. Masculine. Definitely well built. Hard.
Whoa.

Where did he come from? “Oh, I’m so sorry!” She winced in embarrassment. The man was at least eight inches taller than her five and a half foot frame. He nodded, waved a hand in acknowledgement. Avery bolted before anything else could be said.

The air outside was stagnant and calm. A warm breeze greeted Avery, caressing her skin. She took a deep breath, attempting to relax the tension in her body. She exhaled deeply. Leaning against the side wall of the club, Avery took a few minutes to just breathe.

“Are you all right?” a deep, rumbling voice asked, coming from behind her.

Avery let out a yelp. Heart racing from the scare, she whirled around to face the owner of that deliciously sexy voice. She glanced up into the face of the man she’d bumped into moments before.

“Don’t you know not to scare a woman on a late night?” Avery scolded. As her heartbeat returned to normal, her stomach flip flopped while staring into the man’s gaze. He watched her intently, those dark eyes giving her a once over.

Even in the dim light, she saw him wink. “Don’t you know it’s not safe to be standing in the dark on a late night?”

Avery shrugged his words off. “Please. It’s a small town. The world is crazy, but I still feel safe here.”

He stepped back, and leaned against the brick building. “You should never let your guard down, especially when you look so upset.”

BOOK: Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1)
10.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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