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Authors: Mina Carter

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BOOK: Rockstar
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"Why?" One delicate eyebrow arched sharply. Realising her voice had risen to be almost shrill, she sighed. "Look JJ, I don't want to butt heads with you, I just want to get this 22

Rockstar

by Mina Carter

concert sorted out. So what will it take for these 'problems'

with the Swithland Venue to go away?"

"You. In my bed."

[Back to Table of Contents]

23

Rockstar

by Mina Carter

Chapter 2

You. In my bed
.

Zette blinked, totally surprised by the softly spoken reply.

Then she laughed, the corners of her eyes crinkling in amusement. She couldn't help it. Her in his bed? He had to be kidding.

"Oh, that's a good one," she chuckled. "You want me to sleep with you and you'll agree to hold the concert? That's..."

she trailed off, her amusement getting the better of her.

"Even for you JJ, that's taking the piss!"

But he wasn't laughing. Her smile died away as he looked at her steadily, not even a smile gracing his lips. Just that hard look on his face. A look she recognised. It was the one he wore when he'd set his mind on something, and would stop at nothing to get it.

"You're not joking. You've gotta be kidding me! What is this ... some sort of blackmail? You
are
aware this is the twenty-first century aren't you?"

"No, I'm not joking and I'm quite aware of the date thank you. But this isn't blackmail—"

She cut him off with a derisive snort. "Not blackmail huh?

Sorry buddy, but from where I'm standing it looks an awful
lot
like blackmail."

His face was like granite, his eyes unreadable.

"Not at all," he said lightly, walking around the desk and toward her. A loose limbed stride that reminded her of a big cat, poised and ready to strike.

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"Blackmail implies I haven't given you a choice." He didn't stop until he was barely a pace away. So close she could feel his body heat burning through her clothes. She looked up, refusing to back down at the subtle intimidation.

"But I haven't done that, have I Zette?" He captured her with his gaze, the direct look in his eyes mesmerising her. "All I've done is told you what it'll take to get me to ... disappear those problems. You don't have to take that offer, now do you? You can just walk away..."

She swallowed, her eyes flicking from one of his to the other. Studying the expression on his face and trying to work out what he was playing at. From arriving with so much confidence the situation had rapidly degenerated. She was out of her depth here.
Way
out of her depth.

"You used to find me attractive," he murmured, his voice weaving its own spell around her, aided and abetted by the scent of his skin-warmed aftershave. "...used to watch me from behind those books of yours."

He smiled as she stiffened, instantly cursing as she gave herself away. "Didn't think I realised? Oh, I realised all right."

Zette snorted and retreated a step to slide past him. She headed to the window, looking out to admire the view. Not that she gave it more than a passing glance, staring out into the distance. She just needed that physical distance from his overwhelming presence. Before she did something stupid.

"I was a kid. That's the thing about childhood crushes—you grow out of them."

"Prove it." His voice was a silky demand behind her. Like a lake that looked smooth and inviting on the surface but with 25

Rockstar

by Mina Carter

dangerous undercurrents. From experience Zette didn't trust his mild tone one little bit.

"What?" she asked over her shoulder, not turning just yet.

Not daring to until she'd worked out what the hell was going on. And how she was going to get out of this mess with the result she'd come here to get.

"Prove it," he repeated, his voice closer as he moved up behind her, his breath fanning over the delicate skin of her neck. "Prove you're over it ... over me. Kiss me."

A nervous laugh escaped her. "Don't be ridiculous! I don't have to do anything of the sort!" The
last
thing she wanted to do was kiss JJ. She knew all it would take was one touch, and the whole charade was going to tumble down and leave her defenceless. Defenceless and exposed to his scorn as she had been all those years ago.

"You can't, can you?" he taunted softly from behind her.

He didn't move or touch her. She wasn't expecting him to.

This game was pure JJ, an exercise in control before he got what he wanted. He'd refined it a little in the years since she'd last seen him but it was still the same basic formula, driven by sheer ruthlessness.

A ruthlessness that made her shiver from the top of her head right down to her toes in the expensive leather pumps she wore.

"I'll make you a deal. Prove you can kiss me and not feel anything ...
if
you can, I'll let you have the Swithland site for your concert," he promised, his voice pure temptation. "Hell, I'll even pledge my time to help you organise it!"

26

Rockstar

by Mina Carter

Zette stood motionless, biting back the retort that sprang to her tongue. Pledges didn't usually depend on getting something in return. She kept silent, turning the offer over in her mind, examining it from all angles and looking for the trap. There had to be one, this was JJ after all, and there was no way he would cave this early. He was up to something, something she couldn't see yet.

She nibbled her lower lip. It was tempting, so very tempting. Could she do it? Could she kiss him and not give herself away? If she could, and got him onside with the concert then ... much as she hated to admit it, then
Midsummer Night Dreams
had a much better chance of success.

Finally she nodded, ignoring the small niggle of alarm in the back of her mind. She ignored it, locking it away. She could do this. It was just a kiss, surely she could keep a grip on herself for one kiss? Think of something harmless, kittens or cute puppies or something. A quick lip-lock and she'd have her venue and backup to boot! It was too good a chance to pass up...

Decision made, she turned with a casual shrug and a smile. "Put like that, sure. It'll be the easiest bet I've ever won," she said carelessly, as though she did this sort of thing every day of the week.

She turned her face up for the kiss, eyes half lidded as she waited for him to make his move. Anticipation shivered through her as she thought of his lips on hers again. No!

Think of the puppies ... shopping for shoes ... expenses forms
27

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by Mina Carter

... But he didn't move, just looked down at her, his arms crossed over his broad chest and his face implacable.

She opened her eyes, sighed and looked at him curiously.

"Okay, what's wrong? I thought you wanted to kiss me?"

He shook his head, a glimmer of amusement and something else, something hotter and darker, flickered in the depths. "No Zette. I want you to kiss
me
. Not the other way around," he rumbled, his low voice uncompromising.

She gritted her teeth, annoyed at him for the power games and herself for responding to them. A thrill of awareness shot through her at his attitude, irritating her even more. Surely she couldn't be getting turned on by his high-handed manner, by being bossed around? It was demeaning!

But he had the balance just right. He wasn't looming over her, not physically intimidating her even though at over six foot to her mere five three, he easily could have. No, he just stood there. His light eyes watching her and waiting. Waiting for her to make the choice and come to him.

Just a kiss she reminded herself, moving toward him.

Drawn toward him as though he'd cast a spell over her. Which in a way he had, but years ago when she was eighteen, rather than today. Standing on her tip-toes she reached up and just brushed her lips over his, the quickest touch she could manage and have it still class as a kiss. Even that was too much, a quickly-hidden shiver going through her at the brief touch of those warm, firm lips against hers.

She'd done it!

Triumph filled her as she stepped back and looked up at him. She'd managed it. Actually kissed him without making a 28

Rockstar

by Mina Carter

fool of herself or something else disastrous, like maybe the sky falling in.

He was shaking his head, his hands lifting to curl around her upper arms, burning through the thin layers of her clothing to brand her skin, each strong finger leaving its own tingling mark.

"What? What was wrong with that?" she protested, her voice rising in panic as he pulled her slowly closer. "I kissed you, like you said. What more do you want?"

"Sweetheart, that was not a kiss.
This
is a kiss."

His lips descended to cover hers, scattering Zette's instinctive argument like the wind clearing autumn leaves. His lips moulded to hers, tasting her with a thoroughness that took her breath away. His tongue brushed out, along the seam of her full lips, demanding entrance. He wasn't cruel, he didn't need to be to get what he wanted. Zette opened for him on automatic, moaning as he deepened the kiss, his tongue sweeping in to ruthlessly explore the silken recesses of her mouth. By the time he lifted his head, triumph and satisfaction in his eyes, Zette's breathing was ragged, her fingers creasing his shirt as she held him to her.

"Now
that
was a kiss."

* * * *

Three days later JJ's knowing chuckle was still echoing in Zette's ears. She'd fled the office and his arms in a panic, of all the damn childish and juvenile things to do. She'd even left her bloody file behind, destroying what little credibility 29

Rockstar

by Mina Carter

she'd had left after that kiss had trashed her woman-of-the-world act.

She groaned and slumped back in her seat, eyeing the alternative proposals and projections spread over the desk in front of her. The change of site would mean more costs, most of which she could absorb herself and she'd need to get the literature reprinted.... It was no good, she realised. There was still the question of numbers. Simply put, nowhere else was big enough.

She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. It had started the morning in an artfully messy pleat on the back of her head, now it was just messy, the style ruined by Zette's increasing frustration and her habit of running her hand through it when she was.

Unbidden her eyes were drawn to her leather file, the one she'd left behind in her flight. He'd returned it the next morning by courier with a note attached in his bold scrawl.

She pulled it toward her to re-read it.

You need Swithland. My offer still stands—your call. You
know where to find me, JJ.

She sighed again, realising she had little choice, and reached for the phone. "Marie, put a call through to Anders Entertainment for me please."

* * * *

She was beautiful. Even edgy and uncomfortable as she was, sitting opposite him in a quiet corner of the exclusive restaurant he'd booked, she still had the quiet presence. An edge that had men's eyes following her whenever she passed.

30

Rockstar

by Mina Carter

A fact he'd discovered firsthand when she'd returned from the ladies. Nearly all the male eyes in the room had given her a once-over, several continuing to watch her after she'd sat down. Those JJ had warned off with a hard look. There was just something about the petite and curvaceous singer that made everything that was male in a guy sit up and take notice; even if his mind rebelled at granting any woman, much less this one, that much power.

He glared at the most persistent, a tall blond guy with the gym-sculpted muscles of a gym bunny and the calculating look of a model. No doubt working out a way to approach Zette. After all, being seen and photographed with the award-winning star couldn't do anyone's career any harm.

Unlike JJ's fists, which were going to be doing serious damage to the guy's face if he didn't get the hint soon. Zette was his, end of story, even if she didn't know it yet, and he'd take on all challengers with pleasure.

His cell rang, cutting off his murderous thoughts with a discreet chirp, the phone vibrating in his jacket pocket.

"Excuse me a moment." He squashed the brief stab of irritation at her relieved look, and retrieved his phone. He checked the number and flipped it open.

"Logan." He didn't bother with the usual pleasantries. Not that the guy on the other end, Logan Fyre, his lawyer and friend since college, would have expected it. The two had known each other for far too long.

"I've checked and rechecked your grandfather's will,"

Logan said without preamble, cutting right to the chase in his usual manner. A directness the two men shared.

31

Rockstar

by Mina Carter

"Okay, and did you come up with anything?" JJ leaned back in his chair slightly, phone against his ear as the fingers of his other hand turned the stem of his glass. His eyes remained locked on Zette, studying her.

"That's just the thing, no. The old boy made sure the damn thing was watertight. There's nothing for it mate, you're going to have to bite the bullet and get married," the lawyer said, his frustration evident in his tone.

JJ smiled, the smallest quirk of his lips. He'd expected this, knew Charles Jensen Sr. wasn't going to let little things like his own death stop him from having a say in his grandson's life. JJ's life.

"I suspected as much but thanks for checking it out."

"No worries mate, you know I've always got your back..."

There was a pause on the line, nearly enough to make JJ

think he'd lost the signal, then Logan spoke again. "You do realise you've only got like ... twelve weeks to find a woman dumb enough to marry you, don't you?"

JJ laughed, the rich deep sound rolling around the small alcove in the restaurant, making nearby diners and Zette look his way with interest.

BOOK: Rockstar
8.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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