“Be back in a minute,” Adrian shouted to the guys. Then he escorted Annette to her car. “Make it quick. What about Melody?”
“Don’t act as if you don’t have a clue. You tell me you like her, then you write some stupid song about her and get her upset. What’s going on with you two?”
“Calm down. Everything’s fine. I talked to her after school and I promise everything is great between us.”
“You must think I’m an idiot. Why don’t you leave her alone? Forget about her first day at school and let her live without your vengeance. She’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had and she’s very sweet.” Annette tossed a glance to the girl waiting on Adrian. “She’s not like the trash you’re used to.”
“You think I don’t know that?” Adrian leaned on Annette’s car. Hell, that’s what I like about her—and hate about her.
“Then leave her alone. She’s not your type.”
He winced. Did Annette think he wasn’t good enough for Melody? That all he deserved were the chicks that hung out at the club—the ones who so easily spread their legs for him?
“Will you please stop bothering Melody? For me? You’re family, and I care about you. I care about her, too. I don’t want to see my own cousin hurt my best friend.”
“I don’t want to hurt her,” he admitted, admiring his cousin’s loyalty to her new friend. “I do like her. A whole lot, in fact. But, she doesn’t exactly fit my image, and I have a reputation to uphold.”
“Oh? And is the reputation you’re protecting more important than Melody’s feelings?”
“I don’t know.” Adrian shifted his feet as he grew uneasy with his cousin’s questioning. There were too many unresolved issues with Melody. How could he even put into words the way Melody made him feel? “I like her at times, but sometimes I’d like to slit her throat.”
“Adrian!” Annette gasped as her hands flew to her mouth.
“Come on, you know I’d never do something like that.”
Annette turned away clearly mortified by his words.
He hugged her tightly and kissed the top of her head. “Sorry, I was joking.”
She turned back to him and smacked his chest. “It wasn’t funny.”
“Forgive me?” He stared down at her, pushing his bottom lip into a pout.
“Look, I believe you’re telling the truth about liking Melody.” Annette pulled from his embrace. “I think she likes you, too.”
Annette turned to the girl who was still waiting for Adrian’s return. She was staring at the two of them, arms crossed, rolling her eyes and tapping her foot.
“Be careful with Melody. I’m serious. She’s not like these girls. She went to an all-girls private school. She doesn’t know much about guys and dating.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” Adrian scoffed. “She’s always talking like she’s been around. After the scene with her today, I almost believe it.”
He smiled wickedly. “In her car. She may not know much about guys, but someone taught her a thing or two. She kisses like a pro.”
Annette’s emerald eyes widened. “You kissed her?”
Adrian’s grin stretched wider as he thought about it. “Yeah, and it was fucking amazing.”
“Well, don’t go teaching her anything else.” Annette poked a finger into his chest. “I know you. You’ll have sex with her once, and ditch her.”
“Maybe if I did, I could get her out of my system.”
“If that’s the case, let her stay in your system.”
Adrian laughed, then playfully punched Annette in the arm.
“Hey, if I’m not mistaken—” he said, ducking the punches she began returning in his direction— “you said something about Melody liking me.”
Annette stopped the childish play and opened her car door. “She said she loved your blue eyes, and that you were good looking…in a perverted kind of way.”
“She said that? Cool!” He smiled as he strutted around like a peacock.
“I knew you’d be thrilled.” Annette rolled her eyes. “Look, I’ve got to get home. I’ll see you in school tomorrow.”
“You’ll see me.” He winked. “But I’ll have my eye on Melody.”
Annette shook her head as she eased into her car. “You’re crazy, Adrian.”
“It’s Bolt, remember?”
“Bolt? Adrian? Doesn’t matter. You’re still crazy!”
Adrian watched his cousin drive away. Melody likes me! He pumped his fist in the air, feeling victorious.
He headed back to the van, and saw that the girl was no longer waiting on him. For some reason, he didn’t care. He wasn’t in the mood for another girl tonight. It seemed wrong for him to be with someone else after the kisses he and Melody had shared.
Shit! What am I thinking? He smacked himself in the forehead. When have I ever not wanted sex? Melody is making me lose my fucking mind!
But the kisses they’d shared were hotter than anything he’d ever experienced before. He realized he needed to get his ass in gear and put the wheels in motion. No matter what Annette said, he needed to fuck Melody and be done with her—get her out of his head so he could go back to thinking straight and being his normal self again.
“Did she tell you what she did?” He turned back to her. “What my dad hired her to do?”
Melody cast her gaze downward. “Yes, she told me everything and apologized.”
He walked back over, grabbed her chin gently, and forced her to look at him. “Her hands were on me. I was hard, but I didn’t want her. She kissed me, and I turned her down.”
“She said that.”
“You never have to worry about me with anyone else. I only want you.” He sat on the bed again.
“And I only want you.” She pressed a soft kiss against his lips. “So, stop worrying about Gio.”
“I’m not worried about you wanting him…just the opposite.”
“Then there’s nothing to worry about.”
He stood again. “Damn it, Melody, you have no idea how you affect a man. You’re beautiful, kind to everyone, and intelligent. My father said you were the type of woman a man would sell his soul for. And trust me, I would. You are everything to me. So, you can’t sit there and say no other man couldn’t feel the same.”
“Gio won’t,” she persisted.
“Oh, for Christ’s sake.” He waved his arms frantically, obviously frustrated. “I’m sick of you defending him. I swear this is exactly like Ringo!”
* * * *
“Tell him, Melody.”
Adrian spun around. Gio stood in the doorway of their bedroom.
“What the fuck do you want?”
“I came to get you. We’re talking band stuff and need you. Then I hear you two arguing about me. I’m sick of it. I’m not trying to cause trouble. I’m not interested in Melody like my brother was.”
“Your brother said the same shit when I questioned his feelings about my wife. Said she was like a sister to him.”
“Melody is like a sister to me. Nothing more.” Gio stepped into the room and went to Melody’s side.
She reached out and held his hand.
“Seriously? What the fuck?” Adrian sneered.
“Tell him,” Gio prodded.
“Tell me what?”
“Gio, no. You don’t have to do this. He’ll get over this eventually. We’ve only had you in our lives a few months. He needs time.”
Turning bright red, Adrian pointed at himself. “You know I’m standing right here.”
“I should let the whole band know. I can’t keep it a secret forever.”
“Will you tell me what the fuck you’re talking about?”
He felt terrible. Dagger had warned him not to rush things with her, and yet as soon as they’d sat down on her sofa, he’d been all over her. She seemed into it at first, but as soon as he slipped his hand under her dress, she’d freaked.
She stared at the floor, unable to meet his gaze. Often, he noticed she was like that, fearful and shy, afraid of everything and everyone. But tonight, he thought they had made a connection. The football game had been a great time, and she seemed to accept the idea that he, like her, had come from humble beginnings. She had loosened up a bit, even inviting him into the house. He’d been over before, but always with Tyler here, or their friends, but never alone with her. They had shared a few hugs and kisses on the cheek, but nothing like tonight.
I went too far.
He kissed her forehead. “I should get home.”
“Are you upset?”
“Why would I be?”
“You’re used to women throwing themselves at you. And having lots of sex.”
“Who me?” He laughed, trying to lighten the mood. “I play keyboards. That’s like the nerdiest instrument in the band.”
Her gaze rose to his. “So, you are a nerd?”
“Hell no, but no one notices me. I’m in the background.”
“Didn’t Bolt call you a man whore the other day?”
“Bolt’s full of shit.” He grinned.
“Dagger said I need to be careful around you.”
Buzzy rolled his eyes. Dagger had been counseling Danielle for months. “Okay, so Dagger’s not full of shit. But I’m not someone to be afraid of.”
“I’m not afraid of you. You’re very sweet. But…”
“I’m still married, and things will be ugly when we go through the divorce. If Lyle knew where I was…or that I was with you…I don’t know what he’d do. He’s mean, Buzzy.”
Buzzy took her trembling hand. He was happy Dagger and Melody had convinced Danielle to leave her abusive nutcase of a husband. Bolt had even allowed her and Tyler to live in the house that was once his childhood home. Bolt had inherited it after his stepmother died. Danielle was safe here, and things were changing for her. She’d been working at Melody’s clinic and was becoming self-reliant. But she still came with a lot of emotional baggage. He didn’t know every detail. Dagger said when she felt comfortable, she’d open up to him. He knew it was bad, though. The day they’d met he’d seen the bruises her husband had left behind.
Buzzy wasn’t a violent person but seeing Danielle’s injuries had made him want to punch the idiot. It made him feel protective of her. Ever since they’d met, she’d been creating feelings inside him that were completely foreign. Bolt was right—he was a man whore. Until Danielle, he’d never met a woman he wanted to get close to. Traveling with the band, and then later as a studio musician hadn’t allowed him to form close bonds with women. Up until a couple of months ago, he was rarely home. Now that the band had been offered a new record deal and the chance to tour again, he’d been staying closer to home. That also meant being closer to Danielle. And the more time he spent around her, the more he wanted to see her.
“You’re safe.” He pulled her close, hugging her tight. “You’re going to get through the divorce…with me, and everyone else, by your side.”
When they parted, she smiled. “You’re all so good to me.”
“Because you’re a wonderful person, Danielle. Everyone who meets you, loves you.”
Her cheeks turned pink. “Including you?”
Damn! Why did I say love? “Yeah…you’re a great friend. And I love all my friends.”
“I like being your friend.”
“Sorry, I’m an idiot.” He smacked himself in the forehead. “I’m not used to having feelings for a woman.”
“Look, Danielle, I want to get to know you better. I like being around you…and Tyler.”
She kissed his cheek.
“And I want to make sure that you never get hurt again. I want you to be happy.”
This time it was his mouth she kissed. Her lips lingered there, and he parted her mouth, invading it with his tongue. One of her hands wandered into his hair. His lips left hers and traveled down her neck. She shivered and pushed him away again.
“I’m sorry.” She bowed her head once more. “I want to. Part of me wants to…the other part says wait.”
“I know which part I’d listen to.” He rubbed her knee.