Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1) (8 page)

BOOK: Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1)
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Who was she kidding? The excitement, the fear, the nervousness, it was all there.

Today turned out to be better than she’d imagined.

“Hey.” Lucas’s voice pulled Avery out of her thoughts. From one stranger in town to another. Lucas looked like he had something on his mind. He shifted as he stood behind the desk. Or in front of it, however one wants to think about it. Wow, her mind must really be a jumble if she contemplated which side of the desk was front or back.

Okay, anyway.

“Hi, Lucas,” Avery said breezily. What could he want now? To kiss and run, as he had the other night?

“I hope you’re not upset with me,” Lucas started.

“Why would I be upset, Lucas?”

He sighed. “You’re not going to make this easy on me, are you? For kissing you and then bolting, Avery. That’s what.”

Hurt flashed in his eyes.

“I’m not upset. A little confused, but definitely not upset.” That was the truth. Confused at how much she liked it, yet how wrong it was. How the timing could be so off for sparks like that. For the guilt she carried over Jameson right now.

“You’re not?” Why was he so surprised? Why would he expect her to be upset? That’s strange.

“Of course not. Why would you think that, Lucas?”

He opened his mouth, then shut it again, as if he couldn’t find the right words to say. “I guess I’m used to upsetting people,” he admitted and shrugged.

“That’s not something you should get used to, Lucas. That’s ... sad, actually. Did you purposely upset someone?” Avery asked. What an odd conversation. Lucas appeared very agitated about something. But what?

“Of course not!” he protested. His voice rang out, and he quieted down, frowning. “Sorry. No, I don’t go and purposely upset anyone. It’s- well, it’s just the way it’s gone so many times. I didn’t want you to wig out on me or something.”

Avery lifted her eyebrows. “What, you thought I’d come to your room in the middle of the night, a raging lunatic and demand to know why you kissed me and ran off?” The image caught her off guard, and a giggle escaped her throat.

The corners of Lucas’s lips lifted, then he looked down, chuckling. “Well, if you’d have done that, we could have finished what we started.”

Zing!
Heat brewed in her belly, sending her into a fit of odd sensations.

“I’ll have to keep that in mind.”

“Oh? Is that a threat, or a promise?” Lucas grinned, leaning closer.

“You know, you probably shouldn’t be flirting with an innkeeper’s daughter. Because if you mess with me a little too much, I may have to clog your toilet or something,” Avery teased. She loved it, but if anyone walked in right now and saw this...

Lucas reached out and clamped her hand in his. “Bring it on, and you’ll see if you won’t end up in my bed, suffering my wrath. Or enjoying it, whichever comes first.” His eyes bore into hers, an intensity so strong it gave Avery goosebumps. Lucas noticed this, took advantage and trailed a finger up her arm, only agitating the goosebumps and making them grow bigger. Avery pulled her arm away and backed up, still watching Lucas. He licked his lips, his tongue darting out as if he was trying to tease her. Oh, good gracious this man was like the devil!

“You know where my room is. Consider that an open invitation. See you around. Oh, and, glad to know you’re not mad.” Lucas made a beeline for the exit, whistling as he left.

Holy crap that man had an affect on her.

And Avery liked it!

Chapter Seven

The hours seemed to fly by fast. Avery glanced at her watch. Already five, and her shift was over. Once she found her mother, Avery let her know she was off for a little while, and that she was going to go grab a bite to eat. Hopefully, tonight wouldn’t be the night that her mom would want a family meal at home. Those were rare these days, since all three of them busied themselves with the inn, and Avery with her music, but there were still times the three sat down together to eat.

“Have a good evening, honey. I’ll see you when you get home later,” Mom said, smiling.

Alice walked in for her front desk duty, so Avery took that moment to duck out, so she could get ready to meet with Rodney.

Avery ran to the house to shower and change. In record time, she was ready. It felt good to be in comfortable shoes and jeans, instead of the slacks she wore when she was on the clock at the inn.

At least Avery didn’t have to go through the front of the inn to meet up with Rodney. Prying eyes like Alice’s would be watching, and if that girl saw her leave with an older man, the rumors would be flying. Hell, she thought by now the whole inn would know about her kisses with Lucas.

And speaking of Lucas ... how did he always end up on her radar? There he was, walking down the hallway as Avery stepped out from the elevator. His eyes lit up when he noticed her.

“So, you took that invitation after all?” Lucas gapped the distance between them in a heartbeat. He leaned in, teasing her neck with soft kisses.

“Lucas...” Avery moaned. She wanted nothing more than to give into him. But she regained her composure, and pushed him away gently. “I didn’t come up here for you,” she blurted.

Okay, not the best way to say that. But there it was.

Lucas reeled back as if he’d been slapped. “Okay.” His voice trailed off. Damn it, there went that look of his again.

Avery sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “It’s complicated.”

“You’re seeing someone?” Lucas raised his voice.

“No! No, nothing like that.”

He looked relieved as he blew out a breath.

“I haven’t told anyone this, but my possible biological father is in town, and he wants to meet with me. He’s up on this floor, too.”

“Your biological father is in town? Do you know it’s him for sure?” His hand lingered on her shoulder. Why was it that his touch, even the lightest one, sent chills down her back?

“Well no, but we both agreed to a DNA test. I know it’s not much to go on, but I look a lot like him.” Looking like someone didn’t mean a thing, really. To some degree, everyone had some of the same features.

Her hopes were already set so high.

Lucas seemed genuinely interested in this.

He still stood so dangerously close. Avery could feel his body heat. “Did you go looking for him?”

“No. He actually sent me a letter, then showed up.”

“Ah.”

Ah? Just ah? What did that mean?

“So if you’ll excuse me ... I’m late to meet him already.” She shot Lucas what she hoped was an apologetic look.

“Why don’t I walk with you? You never know who this man could be. I just want to make sure you’ll be safe.” Lucas took her hand.

Wait. Do what? Seriously?

“Lucas, I’ll be fine!” Avery protested. His gesture was sweet, but this was something she should do on her own, right? “I don’t know you really, but yet I’ve already been kissing you and have an open invitation to your room,” she pointed out.

Lucas sighed. “Exactly. We’re strangers. As is this man. Humor me. Once I see him and get a good reading of what kind of guy he is, I’ll leave you alone. What could it hurt? I bet your mom and dad don’t know. That’s kind of dangerous, and not the smartest move, Avery.”

Wow. Who did he think he was? The nerve of this man.

What could it hurt? Lucas actually did have a point.

Still, Lucas’s attitude could stand to be knocked down a few notches.

“Lucas, I’m not a child,” Avery protested.

He silenced her, with his lips. They crashed on hers, and he wrapped his free hand around her shoulder.

Whoa.

When he pulled away, he looked into her eyes intensely. “I know you’re not a child. I just have this feeling. And though I don’t know you, you’re right, I care about you. I’m having feelings that I don’t know if I should be having about you. So, please, let me walk with you and check him out?”

“Damn you, Lucas,” Avery muttered. “I don’t understand you. You toy with me. Kiss me like that and then beg for a favor? You’re inhuman!”

Lucas smiled, kissing her full on the lips. “Yeah, I am. But I got what I wanted, didn’t I?” He cupped her face. “In seriousness, I just don’t want anything to happen to you.”

Avery pulled away and wagged her finger. “I think you’ll owe me,” she warned.

“I aim to please. What do you want?”

“I’ll make a list,” Avery said slyly. She pointed to her watch. “Now, I really don’t want to be late. I’m nervous as it is. So stop distracting me with those sexy lips and walk with me if you’re going to.”

Lucas snickered. “Sexy lips? Okay, I’ll take that.” He followed her down the hall until she stopped in front of Rodney’s door. She drew in a sharp breath. This was it.

“Are you okay?” Lucas asked, touching her shoulder gently. Avery faced him.

“No. I’m scared. I’ve wondered all my life about my birth parents, but never pursued. I didn’t want to hurt Mom and Dad. Yet, here’s a man who could be the key to my past.” She trembled.

Lucas’s gaze darted to the door, then back at her. “You’ll be just fine. Breathe.”

She did so. Lucas knocked on the door for her before she could do it herself. He took a step back and nudged her forward. “Coming!” Rodney’s voice was muffled through the door, then footsteps drew near. The door opened slowly, then wider as Rodney’s head poked out and saw her. A smile spread across his face as he reached out to hug her. Avery stepped into his embrace, a little unsure, but went with the flow anyway.

“I was afraid you wouldn’t show,” Rodney whispered in her ear, cradling her head. Then the hug was over. “I don’t want to overwhelm you. I just- I needed that hug.”

“It’s okay. You just caught me off guard. I’m overwhelmed at this whole thing right now,” Avery admitted, her voice shaky.

“You brought someone with you?” Rodney asked, looking over at Lucas. His tone was light and kind. Warm.

“I ran into her in the hall and when she appeared nervous, I offered to walk her,” Lucas said, eyeing Rodney.

“Is this your boyfriend, Avery?” Rodney looked from Lucas to Avery with a smile.

“Oh, no!” Avery protested. “He’s not. I’ve only met him recently, too.” She moved a little further away from Lucas. She wasn’t even sure why.

“Oh? Well, the sparks between you two are very evident,” Rodney said, looking a little confused.

Sparks? Her and Lucas? Okay, that was new. She barely knew the man.

Then why would you kiss him the way you have?

Avery stifled a sigh. She really was an open book.

Rodney turned to Lucas. “Will you be joining us for dinner?”

“No-” both Lucas and Avery said at the same time.

“I don’t mind if he comes along if you don’t, Avery,” Rodney insisted.

What would it hurt? That way, if things got awkward...

Wait. They already were.

Oh well. Whatever. It still wouldn’t hurt if Lucas came along. Avery glanced at Lucas. “You’re more than welcome to join us.”

“Thank you. I’d love that.”

“Well then, shall we?” Rodney asked. “What do you suggest?”

“I know a great place within walking distance.” Avery led Rodney and Lucas to the elevator. What had she gotten herself into? She was still reeling from Lucas’s kisses, and being around her birth father... “If y’all like all-American food.”

Lucas and Rodney nodded in agreement. So that was settled.

As the elevator followed it’s downward path, Avery stood in between the two men, not sure how she ended up in the middle. Lucas’s hand touched the back rail and as he moved it, brushed up against hers. Caught off guard, she met his stare.

It was going to be an interesting night. That much was for sure.

*****

“You play in a band? Wow! That’s amazing!” Rodney said as the trio waited for their orders at Buzz Burgers. They’d chosen a booth, and Lucas squeezed in next to Avery. He actually didn’t crowd her this time. He respected her space and gave her plenty of her own. She couldn’t help but notice the glances he sent her way quite often.

“She’s got a voice like no other.” Lucas grinned. “I first met her as she bumped into me after her show. Avery blew me away.”

“Aww, thank you Lucas.” He hadn’t said that before. The tone in his voice proved he meant that. Avery grinned at him and saw the admiration in his eyes.

“No, I mean it. I was really impressed. I can’t believe you’re hiding out in a town like this.”

Avery fiddled with her napkin.

It wasn’t the first time someone had said that.

“I’d love to hear you sometime,” Rodney said.

“We’ve got another live performance coming up in about two nights. Both of you are welcome,” Avery offered, though she would be nervous to have Rodney in the crowd.

“I’d love that,” Rodney said softly. His expression was unreadable. “I can’t believe I’m sitting here in front of you right now. It’s a feeling I can’t describe.”

“I know.” Avery sat up straighter and looked back at him again.

“I wish I had known about you sooner. But I’m glad that you’ve had two wonderful parents that love you. I think you need to tell them, Avery.”

She swallowed. “I will. I thought I’d wait-”

Until the DNA test is done.

Rodney nodded, giving her a knowing look. “Okay. Fair enough. When do you want to do that? I’ve got the means.”

“As soon as possible, I suppose,” Avery said, suddenly nervous again.

“Okay. I’ll see if we can start it tomorrow, if you’d like.”

Avery nodded, not able to speak.

Lucas watched her. “What are you talking about?”

“A DNA test,” she responded.

Lucas nodded. “Oh, okay.” A shadowed expression crossed his face. Why couldn’t she be a mind reader?

“What’s the name of your band?” Rodney inquired, leaning forward.

“Baby Stetson.” Now she’d have to explain where the name came from. Ten to one, he was going to ask.

“Interesting name. Any reasoning behind that?”

Boom. There it was. The loaded question.

Avery hesitated. Now Lucas fixed his gaze on her, too. Well, here goes nothing. What can of worms would this open? Would it give insight about her biological mother? “It’s my nickname, given to me at birth, because that’s how my parents found me. I was a baby in a Stetson.”

BOOK: Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1)
13.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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