She’s the girl of his dreams, but she belongs to another man. Still, that doesn’t stop rock star Brian Ellis from standing by Suzi’s side when she needs him most. Or offering her a strong shoulder to lean on when her relationship crashes and burns. But will Brian get burned by the beautiful writer when Suzi goes back to the man she believes she loves?
Suzi has always had a crush on Brian, which doesn’t mean she’s ready to risk everything for the sake of a fling. Yet the more time she spends with him, helping the sexy single dad with his kids, she knows there’s more between them than simmering sensual tension. An invitation to join him in the sweet mountain town of Potterville, West Virginia, may be too tempting to resist. But how can Suzi give her heart when she’s already promised herself to another?
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Let Me Be the One
A Drawn to the Rhythm Novel
By Christa Maurice
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Christa Maurice
All rights reserved.
Suzi wiped sweat off her forehead as she searched the crowd. One would think industry parties would be more fun when the industry was rock and roll. Instead, it felt like everyone was posturing for everyone else. Or maybe she was just too hot and too ill to deal with anything today. Dodging around Nikki Sixx, she spotted Toby chatting with a couple of guys from BroRide, so she headed toward him. She needed to find Logan and go home before she finished her miscarriage. Maybe it wasn't a miscarriage this time. Maybe it was just cramps. Maybe ... maybe that spot in the sky was a pig flying overhead.
"Toby, where's Logan?"
Suzi pursed her lips. He answered far too fast. Glancing at the BroRide guys, she rephrased her question. "When was the last time you saw him?"
Toby shrugged. "I dunno."
She closed her eyes. Tears formed along her lashes. This morning she told Logan she wasn't feeling well and she didn't want to hang out long. If he hadn't insisted, she wouldn't have come at all. Of course, it might have helped if she'd told him why she didn't want to come.
If Brian were in town, she wouldn't be in this position at all. He'd have taken her back to the hotel or back to his house the minute she'd asked, which would have been as soon as they got here two hours ago. Better, she could have called him last night, and he'd have offered to let her hang out at his place instead of coming to this stupid party at all. Logan would have been okay with that. Logan was always fine with her spending time with Brian.
"Suzi, are you okay?" Duke asked. He put his hand on her shoulder. "You look pale."
"I don't feel well."
"I'll give you a ride home." Toby hooked his arm through hers.
She resisted, pulling away. Toby was nice, and she didn't want to upset him, but she wanted Logan. Her baby's father. "I'd rather find Logan and go home with him."
"Randy Mirandy!" Brett grabbed her from behind and lifted her off the ground. After the last tour, Suzi was prepared for Brett to do about anything, including bite her neck, which he did when he set her back down. She liked him, though. As much as everyone warned her he was a womanizer, he'd always been merely friendly with her.
"Brett, have you seen Logan?" she asked.
"Ten minutes ago he was over by the bar with that hobag Gillian."
Suzi thought she heard Toby, Duke, and Jerry scolding Brett for his advanced case of foot-in-mouth, but their words came from a long distance, as though she was hearing them through a tunnel. The hobag in question was very familiar. Too familiar. She'd gotten herself hooked into the tour through Duke and had worked her way through the opening band and both headline acts. When the tour ended, she had settled in with Brett. Suzi had been so proud of Logan for resisting. She used to think he was the only one who had. Until now.
"Hey, where you going?" Brett asked as she pushed her way around him.
"You know where she's going, you dick," Toby snarled. "Suzi, come on back. We'll get you into the shade, get you a drink. Duke, go find Logan."
Suzi stumbled into someone and her sorry was answered with "not a problem, love." They knew. Every one of them. How far back did it go? How long had they been covering for him? Someone tried to grab her arm, but she shook him off.
Logan stood about ten feet from the bar with his back to her. Around his shoulder, she could see Gillian's bleach-blond hair. He looked great from behind. Shaggy brown hair. Tight ass encased in black jeans with white stitching up the sides. Black shirt with the sleeves cut off to display his tattoos. The rose vines tangling up the left arm. The panther crawling down the right. Which was bent at the elbow.
Because Gillian had his fingers in her mouth.
Suzi's jaw locked, silencing the scream that bubbled up inside her throat. Her legs still worked, though. She spun around and sprinted away, ping-ponging off people and pursued by pounding feet.
"Suzi, stop." Brett seized her shoulders, halting her so fast her feet went out from under her. He pulled her against his chest. "What's the matter?"
Icy pain shot down her thighs. "Logan."
Brett glanced over his shoulder. "Let's get out of here."
* * *
"Suzi broke up with Logan." Marc squinted at the laptop screen. He had it balanced on his legs, which he had stretched across the hotel hallway.
"What do you mean Suzi broke up with Logan?" Jason asked. He sauntered over and peered at the computer. "Our Suzi?"
Brian leaned out the door of his room. His fingers twitched. What had that idiot done to make her leave him? Where was she? Was she okay?
"Jesus, she didn't just break up with him. She ran out of a party." Jason squatted to get a better view of the screen. "Look at her go."
"What are you watching?" Brian asked.
"YouTube video," Marc said.
"What happened?" Bear walked from down the hall and peered over Marc's other shoulder.
Brian bit the inside of his cheek. They made it easy for him to get info without having to ask.
"According to this, she came running out of the American Music Awards party, got into Brett Cherney's car, and took off."
"Brett Cherney." Brian's teeth clicked as he snapped his mouth shut. Still. Brett Cherney? Suzi — Randy Mirandy — had always been faithful to Logan, no matter how bad he screwed up. Now she was with Brett Cherney who had his furniture cleaned weekly because of bodily fluid?
"Didn't Savitar just finish that tour with BroRide?" Jason asked.
Bear shrugged. "A couple of months ago."
"I'm sure she spent a couple weeks on the road with them. You don't think she and Cherney ...?" Jason's lip wrinkled.
"Suzi?" Bear asked. "Nah. Give her credit for a little taste."
Marc tapped at his laptop keyboard and studied the screen. "Man, this must have been ugly. Logan's beating on the car as they're driving away. Whoa. Now he's fighting with Toby and Duke from BroRide."
"Start that again," Bear said.
"Poor Suzi." Jason shook his head.
"You say that like you're sure it was Logan," Marc said.
"Hmm." Jason held out his hands like scales. "Suzi cheating on Logan. Logan screwing up with Suzi." He dropped one hand to the floor and cocked an eyebrow at Marc.
"Just because it's unlikely doesn't mean it's impossible. Maybe she wised up," Marc said.
Brian retreated into his room and pulled out his phone. He didn't want to watch a video of Logan freaking out because he finally found the straw that broke Suzi's heart. And here Brian was on the other side of the world while she was alone. Worse than alone. With Brett Cherney.
Subject: Call me.
We're in Japan on tour, but if you need me, just call. You've got the number, don't you? Call the office if you don't. I have a house sitting empty right now. Sandy will give you a set of keys and the security system code. Or I can fly you here if you'd rather, but we're only going to be here about three more days. Or whatever you want. Just let me know. I'm so sorry. Let me know what you need. The other guys are worried about you too.
He hit send and checked the time. It was the middle of the night in California. Hopefully, she was asleep. He didn't want to think about her sleepless and in pain. He also didn't want to think about her sleepless and with Cherney. Pulling up YouTube, he found the video of her on the front page. It had been posted less than twelve hours ago and already had a couple million hits. At the beginning of the video, she darted out the entrance. Cherney grabbed her by the arms, and she almost went down. The camera jogged as it zoomed in. She was wearing a crimson T-shirt and a black miniskirt but had lost her shoes someplace. Once the zoom settled, he could see her face was pale. Cherney whispered something in her ear, and she clutched him. Cherney picked her up and carried her off camera. The video ended, and the next suggestion was Logan, so he clicked it. This one showed Logan pounding on the trunk of Cherney's car as it peeled out of the parking lot. Duke and Toby had a couple of choice words with Logan that the camera didn't pick up.
Didn't it fucking figure Logan would screw up when Brian wasn't even in the right hemisphere?
* * *
Shit. Shit! Logan threw his phone across the room. Her voicemail was full. With messages from him. He'd driven past Cherney's, but there wasn't anyone home. He'd also tried every one of her old haunts and a couple of Cherney's. No real good reason she'd be in a strip club, but if Cherney managed to get her drunk ... shit, if Cherney managed to get her drunk....
Logan rubbed his hand through his hair. What the fuck had he been thinking? Suzi told him she didn't feel good. He'd only planned to make an appearance. Somebody from one of those bullshit pop bands was telling her how much he liked her books. She was being polite and gracious like she always was. Gillian wanted him to walk with her to the bar. Walk her to the bar? What kind of moron fell for that shit? Logan turned, catching sight of himself in the mirror over the dresser. That kind of moron. He'd avoided that slut for sixteen months on tour just to fuck up once he got home. She wasn't even that hot, but everybody said she was amazing in bed.
Which was just another good reason to stay the fuck away from her. Everyone had gotten some of that. Suzi — Suzi loved him.
Suzi had loved him.
He walked across the room and grabbed the phone to dial her number again. The voicemail was still full. Not answering her phone. Not checking her messages. What about her email? Would she check her email?
His phone chimed. He answered without looking. "Suzi?"
"No, fuckhead," Greg snarled. "We looked fucking everywhere. She's gone. Nobody at Cherney's. She isn't at any of her hangouts or any of his or any of the other places we stopped at in between. Jude has called every bookstore in Southern California, and she isn't in any of them. Duke said Brett isn't answering his phone, either. He's probably fucking her brains out right now. You're a dick, you know that?"
Logan bowed his head. He'd rather Greg just came over and pounded on him for a while. Snapping his phone closed, he walked to the mirror. In the reflection, he traced the thin, spidery letters around his neck. Three months after he met her, just before they recorded Succubus with Jason and Brian, he'd had her pen name tattooed around his neck like a collar. Suzette Miranda Bazian. She'd been so pleased.
He got it because he wanted her, and everyone else, to know he belonged to her. Her fidelity he'd never doubted. When Touchstone decided to record in England while he was stuck on tour a couple of years ago, he'd been thrilled that they'd invited her to visit. She could go hang out with those guys for a few weeks and drag them to all those weird castles. Even when she told him about the Trivial Pursuit drinking game, he hadn't been worried. That had more to do with trusting the guys in Touchstone than Suzi, though. When she was drunk, she was ...
Jesus, what if Cherney got her drunk?
Shit, so what? It didn't matter what she did on her lost weekend as long as she came back.
He crossed the room to the table by the window. He should have just left her at the hotel this morning, or better yet, he should have left her back home in Rochester. Then if he'd wandered off to the bar with Gillian, it wouldn't have mattered. He wouldn't have brought Gillian home.
What Suzi didn't see didn't count.
Oh hell yes, it counted. He wasn't smart enough to get away with cheating on her. She'd figure it out. She was way too good for him. Way too good.
Her laptop sat on the table beside her computer bag. On the other side was the legal pad she used to make notes on her work in progress. Didn't matter where she went, she took her office with her. Any second she might walk in, sit down, and start creating more nightmares.
Please let her walk in, sit down, and start creating more nightmares.
He fired up her computer and opened his email account.
Subject: I am really fucking sorry.
Suzi please please please. Just listen. I'm a fuck up. I know that. Give me a chance. I need you. I want you. I love you. Please come home. I don't know what I was thinking. I got stupid. Nothing nothing nothing matters but you. Just please come home.CHAPTER 2
Five years ago
Logan parked on the circle in front of the house. Suzi peered out the car window, smoothing down her skirt. She was overdressed. Not for the house. For the crowd. The large ranch house had a vaulted entryway with a second story window. Through the window shone a star-shaped light. Was that supposed to be symbolic?
At least with the house, she fit in perfectly. This could be the set for a nighttime soap opera. The meeting Touchstone part? Not so much. They had been famous when she was little. In high school, the other kids had made fun of her for liking such an old band.
Logan opened the car door and held out his hand, leaving her no other option but to get out. Trapped between equal chances to be overdressed and underdressed, she had opted for a black velvet skirt, a purple mock turtleneck, and black heels, a tried and true first-meet outfit. She had on an unstructured white sweater against the evening chill. Hopefully, nobody would try to take it away inside so she could wrap it around herself like a security blanket. She clutched the bottle of wine in front of her.
Charity slithered out of the car parked behind them. She threw her head back, shaking her long blond hair into position, and started for the door. Greg hooked his arm through hers, glancing over his shoulder at them. Suzi wasn't sure if the look was hurry up or help me. She voted help me because after three months around Charity, that was her own desire.
"You okay?" Logan asked, closing her door.
As good as I can be when I'm in over my head and swimming against the current. She nodded and hoped she could get through the evening without puking on her shoes. The high heels were supposed to make her feel more confident. Instead, she felt like that eight-year-old girl who'd danced around her living room to "Lucky Charmer" with her mother.
At least they didn't make her look like a whore. Charity had overdressed, too, but in the other direction in a fire engine red minidress and matching heels. When Suzi questioned her about the choice, she'd said it was a rock and roll party. Suzi was certain the email had said dinner, not orgy. She hoped she was right. If not, she was going to do more than puke on her shoes.
A car door slammed behind them, and Suzi glanced back. Toby and John had followed in their own cars. She shook her head. Arrival by motorcade was a Los Angeles thing she'd never get used to. Last semester she'd crammed nine friends in her car for a McDonald's run because she was the only one on campus with wheels.
Greg rang the bell, and the door opened. Suzi's vision blurred for a second before she could focus on the man who'd answered. Jason Callisto, guitarist for Touchstone, her favorite band ever.
Jason beamed. In person, his hair was black as sin, and he'd had it trimmed shorter and shaggier than he'd been wearing two years ago. Maybe this was his version of the mommy cut. He and his new wife had just had a baby girl. How old was she? Nine months?
"Good, you made it. You must be Greg." Jason shook Greg's hand. "And this must be your girlfriend."
"I'm Charity!" Charity said, bouncing. "I'm so excited to meet you. I've been a fan of yours forever."
"Thank you. And you're Logan." He held out his hand to Logan.
"Nice to meet you." Logan shook his hand and eased Suzi forward. "This is —"
"This is Suzette Miranda Bazian," Jason said.
Suzi watched her hand disappear into Jason's and hoped she wouldn't keel over backward. If she did, Toby was behind her. He'd probably catch her. Jason Callisto knew her name. Her whole name. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Callisto. Suzette Miranda Bazian is my pen name. Please call me Suzi."
"And you can call me Jason."
Excerpted from Let Me Be the One by Christa Maurice. Copyright © 2015 Christa Maurice. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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