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Authors: Susan Scott Shelley

Love Song (Rocked by Love #2) (5 page)

BOOK: Love Song (Rocked by Love #2)
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Luke nodded. "Relax,
bud. It's cool. Try again."

And... Hugh looked at
him, took a breath, opened his mouth, and... nothing.

Luke exchanged a glance
with Ivan and frowned. How serious was this case of stage fright? "You
okay, Hugh?"

"Sorry, I guess it's
nerves." Hugh shoved his hair out of his face. "I don't usually get
like this. But you're
you
. I didn't even get this nervous when I met Rob
Hawke at his show last month."

At Rob's
name, Audrey flashed into Luke's mind. Just the mention of Rob nearly set him
off. If it weren't for Rob, Audrey wouldn't be jaded against him. He had to fix
what had happened. Right now. Luke bolted up out of his chair and two sets of
eyes pinned him in place. Much as he wanted, no needed, to make things right
with Audrey, he couldn't run out on Hugh. Not when the kid reminded him so much
of himself.

"I'm... sorry."
The young singer stood at the center of the room, shoulders hunched, staring at
the floor.

Luke murmured to Ivan,
"Cut the recording."

Setting aside his coffee,
Luke rose. Zander had recently begun mentoring a young guitarist. Luke was more
than happy to do something similar here. "Hugh, you're fine, bud. Take a
deep breath, hold it for four counts and then let it out in eight counts. And
then do it again. Do you know the words to
Cut Down
?"

One of The Fury's most
well-known songs, thanks to use in commercials and a popular video game, it had
a good beat and would suit Hugh's voice well.

In the midst of the slow
exhale, Hugh nodded.

"Cool. We're singing
it together." He queued it up in his phone, joined Hugh, and patted his
shoulder. "If you get nervous, just close your eyes. That always helped
me. Then, it isn't any different than singing in the shower."

"Do
you
still
get nervous?" Interest overtook embarrassment and Hugh looked Luke
straight in the eyes.

"Hell, yeah. I have
to do breathing exercises before every show to calm down. Hook me up with your
email address and I'll send them to you. I'll also show them to you when we're
finished for the day."

"Thanks, man. I
really want this opportunity. I don't usually get nervous, but it's
you
.
You're my idol." Hugh's grateful smile touched off one of his own. Being
able to fix something made him feel better.

When their cue came, he
started and Hugh joined in, eyes closed for several beats. The kid had a decent
voice. Halfway through, he relaxed enough to look at Luke. Luke smiled and
nodded and gave him a thumbs up. Nerves still lurked, but not enough to freeze
him. By the time the last note faded, Hugh was grinning.

So was Luke. "That
was awesome, man. Now can you sing
Lights Out
?"

Hugh nodded.

Luke returned to his seat
and gestured for Ivan to begin recording again. And Hugh belted out the lyrics
in perfect pitch.

Luke wasn't sure who was
more proud when the song finished—Hugh or him. "Fuck yeah, man. Now that's
the way to do it."

Hugh accepted Luke's
high-five with a huge grin. "Thanks, Luke. I appreciate the support. Can I
take you guys to lunch or something?"

"Lunch is good. My
treat, though." He liked Hugh and wanted some extra time to see if the kid
would mesh well with his band mates.

Throughout lunch, his
phone buzzed with message alert after message alert but none were from Audrey.
Too many times during the past few days, he'd drafted messages to her only to
later delete them. Once he got home, they were going to talk. And like it or
not, he wasn't leaving until she listened.

Chapter
Five

 

Audrey
trudged into her apartment, thoughts as dark as the clouds rolling across the
nighttime sky. The scent of impending rain hung heavy in the air. She was in
the mood for a good, drenching thunderstorm. A full Saturday spent at the
studio, without Renee, had been exhausting. Her assistant was down for the
count with a nasty head cold, and she'd been left dealing with last-minute
issues for the show, chasing down two misplaced invoices, and working a
fourteen-hour day with battered concentration thanks to a construction crew
working on the shop next door.

She cranked up the A/C,
shed her work clothes, pulled on a yellow tank top and denim cut-offs, and
wound her hair into a messy topknot. Slowly, the tension seeped out of her
system.

Sketchbook in hand, she
padded barefoot into the living room and settled onto the chair by the window
for her Saturday night ritual of sketching new designs. As raindrops pelted the
window, her pencil formed quick lines across the page. Not clothes or more logo
designs for Furious Records—a sketch of Luke's face.

He was due back from
Nashville on Sunday afternoon. She'd thought about him constantly since that
night at the club. Missing him didn't mean she should contact him, or that
being involved was the best thing for them. Best to leave their relationship
professional.

Brendan, Landry, Zander,
and Luke had all signed off on one of the logo designs. Luke had forwarded the
email to her two days earlier. She still wanted to give them a few more
options. Turning to a blank page, she sketched the name in all caps, then added
aggressive strokes underneath. Then played with different borders—squares,
circles, shaded boxes. Eventually, she'd move to the design software in her
computer. But for her, starting by hand was always best.

The door buzzer sounded,
jarring her out of her musing. Who would be out there at ten o'clock at night?
She set her sketch pad aside and pressed the
talk
button.
"Yes?"

"It's me."
Luke's voice rumbled through the speaker.

Her pulse jumped. Her
hands flew to her hair and met the hasty knot. Damn it, she wasn't ready.
"Come on up."

She spent the next minute
rushing around her apartment, trying to decide whether to straighten up her
place or her appearance. Too soon, a knock sounded. Heart beating fast, she
opened the door.

Raindrops dotted Luke's
blue t-shirt. His quietly assessing gaze traveled down her body and up in one
smooth move. "You're always in heels. I didn't realize how small you are
without them."

She resisted the urge to
defend her height or apologize for her super casual appearance. Though, from
the way he was looking at her, he didn't seem to mind. "I thought you
weren't coming back until tomorrow."

"I was able to get
on an earlier flight." He shifted his hold on his travel bag.

"Oh." She bit
her lip then stepped back and gestured to her living room. "Want to come
in?"

"I didn't take a cab
all the way over here from the airport just to stand in the hall."

"If you're going to
be sarcastic, you can get back in that cab and leave."

He inched
closer without crossing the threshold and loosely entwined his fingers between
hers. "I'm sorry. It's been a long day. A long several days. And a
miserable flight. I do want to come in."

She nodded and stepped
back, maintaining their tenuous connection. Keeping hold of her hand, he
followed her over the threshold and shut the door at his back.

"Can I have my hand
back now?"

"I like it where it
is." He dropped his bag on the floor and raised their joined hands to his
lips and kissed her fingers.

The sensation traveled
all the way to her toes. She couldn't give in to it. "Luke."

He opened her hand and
his lips kissed her palm and then moved to her wrist. The roughness of his
beard added to the tingling. "Your pulse is jumping."

"Maybe I'm
angry."

His blue eyes stared into
hers. He lifted an eyebrow and then gave her a half-smile. "Maybe you are.
Maybe it's something more. Maybe you want to see what it's like if I kiss
you."

Her lips parted and her
gaze fell to his mouth.

"Because I want to
see what it's like." His other hand caressed the bare skin of her forearm.

She wanted to back up,
but somehow her back was against the door, and he was so wonderfully near.
"No."

"Why not?"

"Because I
might..." They needed to talk. This physical reaction didn't solve
anything.

He shifted until mere
inches separated them. "You might what?"

Hell, she'd have to be
honest. "I might not want to stop."

***

Luke
stared into the wide blue eyes gazing up at him. Audrey's chest rose and fell
in fast breaths. He inhaled, and her subtle spicy floral scent beckoned him
closer. "I might not want to stop either. In fact, I know I won't. What's
wrong with that?"

"It's not the
answer."

"Maybe it's the only
answer."

Her gaze jumped from his
eyes to his mouth, then back and forth again. She lifted her hand to his chest
and her fingers tightened, gripping his shirt. Vulnerability swirled in her
eyes and she bit her lip. He knew that look—hesitation and consideration. He
lowered their joined hands to his side and raised his other hand to cup her
cheek.

Audrey's lips parted and
her head tilted into his palm.

He leaned down, until
they were a breath apart, and then hovered, savoring the anticipation. He'd
been waiting three years for this moment. They'd only get one first kiss.

Her hand tugged on his
shirt, pulling him in. Luke closed the distance. Audrey's lips were as soft as
silk and as warm as spiced cider. He tasted a trace of vanilla. Like his
favorite double-shot espresso coffee, she spiked his blood. When her tongue met
his, he groaned and slanted his lips, seeking more access. Wet strokes drove
his need higher, and then Audrey dragged his lower lip between her teeth. He
leaned more of his weight into her, desperate to get closer.

Her body, warm and lush,
molded to his form. With a soft sigh, she released his shirt to touch his neck,
and then dug her fingers into his hair. Her other hand traced patterns on his
back as she explored his muscles.

The light touches and
firmer holds drove him crazy. He needed more. Now.

His hand glided from her
cheek, down her side, bypassing the curves he intended to slowly uncover when
need wasn't wrecking his concentration. He found the small of her back and the
strip of skin where her waistband met the bottom hem of her shirt. A teasing
bit of skin. Soft. Warm. Sexy.

Audrey went lax when his
fingers stroked that spot. She broke the kiss and leaned her head against the
door. "So good."

He lifted his gaze from
the pulse jumping in her neck and smiled at the blissed-out ease in her
expression. He flexed his hand, fingers spread wide, over her skin, covering
more of that satin-softness. She arched her back, pressing her torso into his,
and he didn't try to hide how much she'd affected him—from the full length of
his arousal, to his shaking hands, and his racing heartbeat.

On a moan, her eyes
opened. She watched him as her hips lifted and pressed into his. He held her
there while his pulse throbbed and his blood hummed.

She'd completely rocked
his world with that kiss. Could she really walk away from their connection?
Before things went too far, he needed to make sure they were on the same page.
He eased back, until they were no longer touching anywhere except the hands
joined at his side. "We need to talk."

"We do." She
looked as dazed as he felt. "Want some wine?"

He nodded and followed
her through her tiny apartment. Audrey's space was exactly like her—understated
and elegant. An oversize open bookcase filled with tons of design books and
colored glass bowls split the room in half, dividing living room and bedroom.
Gauzy pale pink curtains surrounding the bed allowed even more privacy for her
sleeping space.

Through the curtains, the
bed, soft and white like a cloud, was covered with pale pink pillows. He
pictured them on the bed, enclosed in the sheer seclusion, as he worshiped her
body. But they'd never get there if they didn't hash out their problem here.

As his body reacted to
his horizontal fantasy, he turned his attention back to the living room.
Several dark frames in various sizes decorated the white walls. Throw pillows
dotted with sequins lined the deep brown couch. His fantasy switched to them
laying on the couch. Damn it, he could picture them together everywhere. He
adjusted his jeans and followed her into the kitchen.

The kitchenette was
one-tenth the size of the kitchen in his home. Audrey poured white wine into
two stemless wine glasses. On the counter, a large bouquet of red roses spilled
out of an overfilled crystal vase. The sweet fragrance filled the small space.

"Who sent you the
flowers? A satisfied client?" Shit. He'd never sent flowers after she'd
designed something for him. Paid promptly—always. Recommended her to others—all
the time. Extra thanks through flowers—no.

A blush crept into her
cheeks and then she frowned at the vase. "Not exactly. But it's not a big
deal."

He didn't like that
answer. Without waiting for her to offer more information, he plucked the card
from the blooms and read the note.
Love can grow. - Dante

Muscles tensed, he fought
to release his tight jaw. He dropped the note on the counter and pictured
finding the guy and shoving the thorny stems down his throat. "Why is he
sending you flowers?"

"I don't know. They
arrived yesterday. I haven't spoken to him since we broke up."

What if his actions at
the club caused her to want to run back to Dante? His gut twisted at the idea
of life without her again. But if that was what she wanted, he'd have to find a
way to let her go. "Answer me this—do you want to get back together with
him?"

She shook her head
without hesitation. "No."

The tension in his chest
eased. "Then why keep the flowers?"

"I like flowers and
it seemed a waste to throw them away."

"You don't have a
neighbor who might enjoy them?" He realized he was being a dick the second
the words left his mouth.

A frustrated sound worked
free from her throat. "Except for the day you arrived, I've been working
fourteen-hour days for the past two weeks. Excuse me for being too exhausted
for that idea to occur to me." Abandoning the wine, she stepped around him
and stalked into the living room.

He followed, and then
stopped at the sight of her sitting on the couch, rubbing her temples. She
looked exhausted. How had he missed the dark circles under her eyes? The anger
drained out of him. "I don't want to fight with you."

"Me either."
With a sigh, she lowered her hands. "I'm sorry the roses upset you. I'll
get rid of them in the morning."

That sounded promising...
He sank onto the cushion beside her. "Does that mean you've had time to
think about us?"

"With the way we
left things the other night... Even up until tonight, I really didn't know what
to do. I don't want to hurt either of us. I couldn't say much of anything at
the club because I was in front of the fans and didn't want my words splashed
all over the internet. But we're alone now. I want the man I'm with to actually
be with me. What the heck am I supposed to do if you keep putting the fans
first?"

"I should've done a
better job about keeping you with me. I also should've been better about
cutting short the time I spent with the fans. It's not an excuse, but after all
that happened on the last tour, I'm afraid of doing something that might
further strain the fans' relationship with the band." He shrugged and then
sighed. "And, I always think about how there might be one person who
really needs to see me, and how it might really matter that we talked. Fans
have told us as much, and I like feeling like I've made a positive difference,
especially when I've been in the headlines too many times for the wrong
reasons."

Hands clasped, she
studied him for a long moment. "I feel sort of the same way when someone
tells me that something I've designed makes them feel the best they've ever
felt about themselves. You do make a difference with your music. You touch a
lot of people. I don't want to stand in your way or stop you from doing what
you need to do. But I also need to feel like I'm a priority in your life. You
know what happened with Rob. I won't go through that again. "

He rested his hand over
hers on her lap. "In trying to fix my mistakes with the fans, I keep
creating more with you. You're more important than anyone else. I promise to be
better about keeping our time as our time."

"I'm going to hold
you to that. A relationship means putting each other first. Yes, we both have
demanding jobs and obligations, but we need to put each other first. If we
don't, that's a deal breaker for me."

BOOK: Love Song (Rocked by Love #2)
7.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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