Speaking of which, we’d better get the fuck out of this car and into her house before one of those tour buses stop by and the lucky bastards end up with photos worth way more than the chump change they paid for the tour.
I reluctantly pull away from her, loving the sound of the whimper I hear before I throw the door open and slam it shut. I run around the car to help her out and lead her toward one of the few places where we will be safe from prying eyes. We both move quickly, ducking our heads in a now natural response, even when there aren’t any cameras around.
Taryn already has her keys in hand and opens the heavy wooden door. Thank the fuck she has an alarm system at least, which she turns off while I close the door behind us. As soon as the door clicks closed, I turn toward her and I have no doubt that the look in my eyes as they meet hers would be described as predatory. But instead of looking like frightened prey, I only see pure lust emanating from those staggeringly beautiful eyes. I’ve always thought Taryn’s eyes changed color depending on her mood and now I’m sure of it. Right now, they look like they’re on fire, with gold flecks bursting through the wild and intense green, a forest on the verge of erupting in uncontrollable flames.
I stalk closer and she backs up against the foyer wall, where I cage her in, my hands beside each of her shoulders. I lean in, bypassing her lips and moving mine toward her ear. Although her eyes are telling me one thing, I need to hear what her mouth says.
“Do you want me?” I whisper. She leans her head back against the wall, further exposing her neck, and I take the opportunity to trail kisses from her ear down to her collarbone. I kiss across the delicate area, which judging by the sounds she’s making, is also an erogenous zone for her. Then I proceed to kiss my way back up her neck before whispering in her other ear, “Although I like that answer, I need to hear you say it, sweetheart. Do. You. Want. Me?” I ask, nibbling on her earlobe with each word spoken.
“Yes, dammit, I want you,” she says forcefully and reaches down to pull my shirt apart, ripping the buttons, before tearing it off me. That’s all the answer I need.
The limo driver opens my door and just as I’m about to swing my legs out, I catch a glimpse of the guy who snaked my award. He and his entourage are working the carpet, though instead of keeping their distance from the masses who are screaming his name, they’re actually hugging and kissing everyone they come in contact with. You have got to be kidding me. “Ridiculous,” my mom says, the distaste evident in her voice. “Couldn’t they have more class?”
Ignoring her, I continue to carefully exit the vehicle, and soon the crowd collectively starts to holler my name. After waving, I start my walk and can’t help but notice he stops just outside the doors and turns around. Obviously disappointed the crowd is no longer all about him. I happily sign a few autographs while feeling his gaze on me from the corner of my eyes. Trying to ignore it, I continue signing, waiting for him to make his way inside. “That’s enough,” my mom tells the young girl holding her paper and pen to me. Shooing her hand off the paper, I smile and sign anyway, handing it back to the girl. Her ecstatic yelling and jumping is enough to make me giggle.
My mom, not willing to take any chance of me disobeying her again, firmly places her hand on my elbow and leads me back up the carpeted walkway. My laughter quickly quiets and my smile turns down when I spot him still standing there, staring directly at me. Other than his two bodyguards standing at either side of him, no one else is around. Those mesmerizing blue eyes bore into me the closer I get. Swallowing hard, I will my heart to calm down before I reach him.
He places his hand on the door handle and opens it for me. I quietly give him my thanks and enter with my mom following close behind. When the doors shut, he comes alongside me. “I just wanted to say congratulations on the award.” He holds his hand out for me to shake and when I place my hand in his, I’m amazed how soft his hands feel. I guess if I wasn’t plucking guitar strings all day, that’s how my hands would feel too. Unexpectedly, he pulls me into him and his lips brush against my cheek as he whispers, “But it should have been mine.” With a chuckle, he walks away, once again leaving before I have a chance to respond.
My guitarist, huh? I can’t help but wonder what else he is to her. Considering his close proximity and the adoring way he’s looking at her, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what he wants to be. Question is, what does she want? Or rather, who? And why the hell do I care anyway?
“Trace?” I snap out of my ridiculous thoughts to see both Taryn and Ryder staring at me. I also don’t miss the curious look her mom is shooting my way, arched eyebrow included.
“Nice to meet you,” I say, using my most polite voice. It’s a good thing my boys aren’t listening in or they’d be giving me shit for sure. “You must be a hell of a guitar player to get to back up this girl.” Okay, that was a dig I just couldn’t help.
“I do what I can,” he says with a smirk, and I have the unexpected urge to knock that grin right off country boy’s face. My label would love that, me starting a fight right here at the home office. “Oh, and congrats on the win, by the way, even if you did beat my girl here. Then again, she did take home the grand prize so it’s all good, right?”
If Taryn was a fire hydrant, he just pissed all over her. Yeah, I better get the fuck out of here and fast. “Yeah, we’re good. Look, it’s good to meet you, but I gotta jet...literally,” I say and notice the way the corner of Taryn’s perfect pink lips turn up at my words. “Tour starts tomorrow.”
“I heard about your tour,” he says and I raise my eyebrows. This should be interesting because I know this redneck doesn’t listen to my music. “What’s it called again?” he asks, and I see his eyes shift to the right where there is a newly-released tour poster covering half of the damn wall. The words “This is Me, Motherfuckers” are emblazoned across a life-sized version of me giving two middle fingers to anyone who sees it. Ironically, this poster doesn’t really represent me at all, but this asshole doesn’t need to know that. I’m not sure why exactly, but he is definitely trying to make me look bad in front of Taryn. Well, two can play at that game.
“I guess they don’t teach you how to read down where you’re from, huh?” I ask, indicating the poster. I don’t miss Taryn’s mouth drop open in shock at my words. So much for being polite, I think.
“Actually,” he says, the ever-present smirk still firmly in place, “our home state is known for its high literacy rates.” And there he goes pissing again.