Authors: Lisa Mondello
If she was feeling even half of what he was feeling
after that kiss ... Holy smokes!
"Why not?" he asked, trying not to smile because he
knew it would only irritate her. And right now, Josie
was fired up as hot as the engine moving them down the
highway. "I thought it was kinda nice."
That was putting it mildly. His body was still feeling
the effects of holding Josie in his arms. His mouth
could still taste her, but Brock didn't elaborate further.
There were too many eyes on his back as it was and he didn't want to risk making her feel uncomfortable in
front of everyone and having no place for her to retreat.
"That's not the point," she said, glancing past him to
the front of the bus.
He could have sworn he caught her lips trembling
and his mind reeled with the memory of having his
mouth on hers just moments ago, how it completely rattled him. He thought of what it would be like to kiss
Josie on many occasions. His imagination paled to reality. "Then what is it?"
She laughed, touching her forehead with her hand
and darting her gaze up front again, then back at his
face. "I should think it would be obvious."
"Maybe to you."
"I have to live on this bus for the next month under
the watchful eyes of all of them." Sighing, she pointed
to the front of the bus.
Brock glanced over his shoulder, but thankfully
everyone seemed to be oblivious to the two of them.
Miles and Roy had moved on from sleeping arrangements and were now arguing over which fast food
restaurant had the best french fries. Will was on the
phone again, no doubt talking rings around whoever
was on the other end. Matt was sitting upright, sound
asleep on the sofa.
"There is no reason for us to keep this secret," he
said, reaching his hand out to touch her hair. He'd
thought of doing this at least a hundred times while
he'd been alone with Josie in the studio. But he didn't
dare. In the studio, he remained professional, keeping
his mind on the work they had to do. That didn't mean
he hadn't thought of her endlessly or about how it would feel to tangle his fingers in her dark hair and kiss
her like he'd just done. Her hair was thick and silky,
much like he'd imagined. A smile rose up inside him
with the discovery.
Josie shook her head, pulling back from his reach.
"Believe me, it wouldn't even work to try and keep it a
secret. Nothing we do will be a secret for long while
we're living in such close quarters. Please, Brock.
What just happened was a mistake. It can't ever happen
In her eyes, he saw that she was unsure, maybe even
as rattled by their kiss as he was. That was a good thing
because he didn't want to think that what he'd been
feeling these last few weeks was all one-sided. He'd
imagined Josie feeling those same things too.
There were times when he'd look at Josie and would
think they were both talking to each other, saying the
same things with their eyes. Only with their eyes. When
his lips had touched hers just now, he knew her
response, understood it, even though she was trying to
deny it now. She was good at pulling back her emotions. He already had that part of her figured out. He
just didn't know why.
"Brock, it was a mistake," she repeated in a rushed
He shook his head and reached for her, brushing his
hand along her hair and settling it on her shoulder.
Something warm and tingling stirred inside him with
the contact. He was infinitely glad that Josie didn't pull
"You're telling me you didn't feel a thing? Nothing
She lifted her chin in challenge but didn't say a
He sighed. "Okay. Are you telling me that what's
been happening between us is all in my head? If the
answer is yes, then I'll leave you alone. I won't touch
you again and we can forget this ever happened."
Josie gazed up at him with those unbelievably beautiful eyes. His mouth suddenly went cotton dry and the
air around him seemed to be sucked right out of his
lungs as he waited for her answer.
"No." She glanced at the ground for a brief second
and shook her head. Brock was comforted in knowing
she hadn't lied to him about her feelings. It made him
that much more determined to figure out what she was
so afraid of. Tipping her chin up with his fingers, he
forced her to look him in the face.
"Good. I was afraid this was all in my head."
Bending his head to kiss her again, he was startled
and a little disappointed as she pulled back.
"We have an audience."
He chuckled low, shock replaced by a light heart.
"I didn't figure you for being shy. Is that what's bothering you?"
"I can't believe it doesn't bother you."
Brock shrugged and moved in closer to her, mere
inches from her ear. "It shouldn't be a problem. It just
means we're going to have to be a little creative if we
want to steal a few minutes alone."
Sighing, Josie crossed her arms over her chest. "It's
more complicated than that and you know it. Twentythree cities in twenty-five days. Every waking moment
is going to be spent living and breathing the next show." Josie shook her head, biting on her bottom lip. "This
isn't the right time. We can't do this."
"We can, if we both want it."
"Every conversation we have comes back to the
band, or recording, or the show. What do we have outside of this? We don't know each other outside the band
and what we do here."
"Twenty-three cities in twenty-five days. We've got
the time to get to know each other, Josie. I want to know
all the reasons why you're looking for a blue suit. I
want to know your favorite color, flavor of ice cream,
and why you lobbied so hard to get your cat a seat on
"I told you. It may sound crazy, but I don't go anywhere without Dex."
"It means you're a loyal friend. I like that. That's a
"Is that what you want out of this? A friend?" she
asked, cocking her head to one side. "Just for the
record, I'm not in the habit of passionately kissing my
The sound of boots coming closer had Josie glancing
over his shoulder and caused Brock to turn as well. Will
was treading down the aisle toward them.
"The next stop is in about a half hour. We can all
stretch out our legs a bit," Will said. "I just set up a
photo gig. We've got to get you some shine, kid. These
clothes are the pits."
Running a hand down the front of his chest, Brock
said, "What's wrong with what I have?"
Will chuckled. "Boy, you look like you just walked
right off the pasture. You need some flash. Something that's going to make people notice you. Trust me on
this. People are going to remember the name Brock
"They're going to remember me, all right," Brock
said, standing in front of the tri-fold mirrors at the
department store. "I look like a Christmas tree bulb. I
can't wear this."
He started unfastening buttons, but Will moved in
front of him and stopped him.
"You look great, kid," Will said, giving him a slap on
the back. "They're going to love you."
Irritation clouded Brock's face. "I want to get out of
Josie wanted to puke. She had to agree with Brock's
assessment of himself. The red satin cowboy shirt
was a far cry from his normal attire of a simple black
cotton T-shirt and jeans. The colored boots matched
the jewel-studded jeans. Flashy, yes. But it wasn't
Brock. Or rather, it wasn't the Brock she'd come to
"I'm not wearing this on stage. I don't even recognize me." Brock laughed, but Josie could tell there was
no humor behind it. He pulled at the collar of the shirt
and at the waist where he wore a wide buckle.
The tailor came out from the back room with a small
sewing box and began pushing Brock's arms up to
make him look as if he were about to take flight.
Pulling at the red satin fabric, he stuck pins in here and
there and proclaimed himself finished.
"The clothes will be ready in a hour. Why don't you
get a bite to eat while I finish up?"
"Sounds like a good plan. We need to top it off
though," Will said, pulling the tailor away before turning back to Brock. "Don't get out of that shirt just yet.
I want you to try on a few hats."
Why Josie was sitting there witnessing this, she
wasn't sure. Brock had asked her to come along proclaiming he might need a woman's touch. There wasn't
a whole lot for her to do on the road when he wasn't
performing. And as much as she loved her cat, Dex was
more than willing to be left on his own for hours on
end. So she'd come along to observe, but gave little in
the way of encouragement when Will insisted on Brock
trying on all those gaudy clothes.
Brock glanced at her through his reflection in the
mirror. "What do you think?"
Should she tell him? "Depends on what kind of look
you're going for."
He sputtered. "Not this one."
"Then tell Will."
"You heard me. He seems to think this is going to
give me an image."
"I like the one you had," she said softly, smiling at
I'm not in the habit of passionately kissing my
friends. Had she really said that to him? Could she have
been any more obvious? They weren't more than a day
into this road trip and she'd already kissed the manpassionately, in the back of the bus. Oh, God!
Her comment seemed to please him, relaxing his
expression just a bit. "I don't want to be just friends,
Josie," he said quietly. There was no one else around them in the store and yet Josie still felt as if all eyes
were on them.
Will's sudden approach with an armful of cowboy
hats kept her from having to answer. Plopping a
matching hat on Brock's head, he said, "This is the
With a roll of her eyes, Josie said, "I'll meet you
She waited for Brock to go into the dressing room
and then turned toward the door.
"He's something else, isn't he?" Will said, walking
along by her side.
"Sure is," Josie answered, but she was sure Will saw
Brock in a different light than she did.
Although she had to admire Will for his accomplishments and for what he was trying to do for Brock, the
man knew a meal ticket when he saw it and Brock was
surely going to make him fat. She didn't think there
was a person among them that didn't believe the course
they were on wouldn't lead to a major recording contract. She wasn't sure she agreed with his style or his
vision for Brock, but it wasn't up to her to voice her
opinion with Will.
That was for Brock to do. She had a feeling she'd be
hearing him voice it loudly if Will kept up his pushing.
"He's a good kid," Will said, putting his arm around
Josie's shoulder. "It would be a shame for him if his
priorities got a little clouded."
Josie shot Will a sidelong glance. "Brock seems
pretty sure of himself. He'll do just fine."
"It would help if you had given him a little more
encouragement back there."
"I'm not going to lie, Will, and Brock can come to
his own conclusions without my help."
He gave her a hard, cold look as they reached the
clothing store door. Josie put her hands on the metal bar
to push to the outside, but Will caught her upper arm.
"Are you sure about that?"
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"I've seen the way he looks at you. You've been on
the road. You know how it works. It's important for
Brock to play to the crowd and that means the women
too. Is that something you can handle?"
Annoyance rose up like bile in her throat. She pulled
her arm from his grip. "You don't really care what I can
handle, Will. You and I both know that. You just want to
make sure I stick around and play nice until we reach
He laughed, but there was an edge to his voice that
held a warning. "This is important."
"I know." It was important to both of them.
"I can't have him losing confidence because of how
starry-eyed he gets around you. I went along with his
insistence that you work in the studio with him and it
worked out just fine. We got a fine demo. But I don't
want to lose sight of what the goal is here."
"That's not going to happen."
Will was right. She knew how it was on the road with
a band. She'd been there before. Josie wasn't going to
do something as stupid as make a scene if an overzealous new fan ran up to Brock and gave him a kiss.
She didn't come on this road trip to find a boyfriend or a musician to marry. There'd be plenty of time for finding a solid relationship once she'd settled in Nashville.
And when she did, it wouldn't be with a music man.
No. Sweet kisses and warm embraces didn't only
come from musicians. No matter how much the kiss
she'd shared with Brock had stirred her soul, she
wouldn't let it go that far between them.
"I just wanted to make sure we understand each
other, Josie. Brock wants you here and that's why
you're here." The implications of Will's words didn't
escape her and pulled an old wound open, stinging.
"You've got your agenda, Will, and I have mine.
Let's just leave things like that."
Josie pushed out the door and left Will to stare at her
back as she made her way to the bus. She wasn't about
to let him get the best of her even though her pulse
hammered at her temple and her head felt as if it was
about to blow sky high.
She was here because Brock wanted her here. In
Will's mind, it wasn't her ability or that Brock saw
something in her skills as a sound engineer that he
wanted for his music. To Will, Josie was Brock's girlfriend and in the way of everything he'd been putting in
place for his rising star.
When would it ever not be an uphill battle for her to
be seen for what she could contribute and not just an
add-on because the star performer had the hots for her?