Six months ago, Walsh Clark was the drummer of America’s hottest rock sensation, Lush. Now he’s living at the Double A Ranch in north Texas, home to cows, cowboys, and lushes—like him. He’s survived alcoholism, rehab, and the breakup of his band. But the one thing Walsh might not survive is the return of his ex fiancée Tammy DiLorenzo.
Tammy and Walsh met at fourteen, and she was with him on every step to fame and fortune—until one fateful night when she betrayed him. Now she’s back, begging for forgiveness and ready to fight for her man. But some betrayals are too painful to forget, some mistakes can’t be repaired, and Walsh is certain that he and Tammy can’t ever be together again.
But DiLorenzo women don’t back down, and Tammy always gets what she wants. In the wake of the lies and losses, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes for a second chance. She’ll give it all—for the love of a lush.
After a hearty ranch breakfast cooked by Ronny’s wife Leanne, Mike and I load up the truck with barbed wire, posts, and tools. Ronny’s got a few pickups that we use for work. I’m stoked when I manage to grab the newest of the fleet because it’s got an iPod connector. I plug in and crank up Imagine Dragons as Mike hops in and props one boot clad foot up on the dash.
Neither one of us can ride a horse worth a damn, so we’re not really cowboys. We do all the other manual labor around the place while the guys who’ve lived out here their whole lives ride the horses and get the glory. But, both Mike and me jumped on the cowboy boot bandwagon as soon as we got our first look at those bad boys. Cows may be the dumbest creatures on the planet, but cowboy boots rock.
“Christ, Wing’s work on this album is so stunted,” Mike bitches, referring to the Dragons’ guitarist as we bump along the dirt road. “The dude could do a hell of a lot more if he’d break out of his little guitar-school box.”
“Yeah, well, their sales numbers indicate a whole lot of people disagree with you.”
“I s’pose so,” he mutters.
We bounce along in silence for a few more minutes as the music shuffles through my playlist, until suddenly Joss Jamison’s voice comes rolling out the speakers, “If I could only breathe one thing it would be your air…” I lurch for the power button on the radio, slamming it to “off”, and almost weave off the road.
“Sorry, man, sorry,” I say as I rub my chin and correct the truck’s course.
“Fuck. It’s okay,” Mike answers. He sits quietly for a minute looking out the window at the rolling grazing land that goes on for as far as the eye can see. I grind my teeth, Joss’s voice still reverberating in my head, only with some of the last words he said to me, instead of the song lyrics—“It wasn’t what you think.” As long as I live I’ll never understand that. He slept with my fiancé, what other way is there to think about it? My best fucking friend screwed the woman I love while I was locked up in rehab. I shake my head silently, the memory of it burning a hole through my damn chest.
I stop dead in my tracks, a handful of steps from turning the corner into the kitchen. Everything inside of me goes boiling hot and then frigid cold in a matter of seconds. My heart feels like it’s stopped inside my chest before I bring my fist up and pound—hard—to get it to start beating again. Mike, who is a few steps ahead of me turns the corner at the same moment I halt, and I hear him say, “Oh fuck.”
There’s silence for a minute, and then Leanne clears her throat uncomfortably. “Uh, Mike, I guess you know Walsh’s friend?”
I’m breathing hard now, and I’m not sure I can keep standing. It feels like my damn heart is going to pitch itself out of my chest onto the floor. I bend over and put my hands on my knees, praying that they can’t hear my raspy breaths from inside the kitchen.
“Uh, yeah,” Mike answers tentatively.
“Is he here?” the visitor asks. I hear the hope in the voice, and the false bravado that only I would pick up on. Mike turns his head slightly to glance at me over his shoulder, but I can’t look him in the eye, I’m working too hard at being able to stand up straight and breathe.
“I’m not sure…”
“Mike, please,” the guest interrupts, that bravado slipping, and a certain desperation leaking through. Even after all this time, I can’t stand to hear that need. I’m compelled to fix it, make it better, find a way to bring the hope back.
“It’s okay, Mike,” I say hoarsely as I finally step forward to stand next to him in the kitchen. I stop, taking in the scene, like a frozen tableau, all eyes on me—one pair waiting for me to freak the fuck out, the second questioning what the hell is going on, and the third. Ah, the third. I look into the depths of those eyes, remembering all the hours I spent lost in their velvety texture, their warmth, their love. The love I thought was mine to hold forever. Those eyes in the face of the person who committed the greatest hurt I’ve ever felt in my twenty-eight years. The eyes that looked at me every day for months on end and lied. The eyes of the woman I still, very reluctantly, love to this day.
I blink, take a deep breath and say, “Hi Tammy. What brings you by?”
As I get closer I see that he’s wearing a Nine Inch Nails t-shirt and a pair of jeans that really should have a belt, his boxers showing out the top of the waistband. I feel my breathing get faster, and I tell myself that it’s just adrenaline because I don’t want to have to talk to him, but it might also be because he’s taller then me. Like by a lot. He’s also got broad shoulders and really nice thick light brown hair. It makes me want to dig my fingers into it.
I walk toward my desk. He’s leaning with one hand on the back of my chair, talking to a dark-haired guy who’s sitting in the next row.
“Dude, I’m telling you, Joss can get us tickets, we just need your mom to drive and we’re set.”
“Excuse me?” I say, trying really hard not to sound like I give a shit if he notices me or not. “I think I’m supposed to sit here.”
He turns, and I find myself staring into the softest, sweetest brown eyes I’ve ever seen. Looking into them is like being cocooned in something warm and plush. I suddenly feel safe, and peaceful and happy, things that I don’t very often feel. He must see something interesting in me too, because we both just stand, looking at one another for what feels like hours. His soft lips turn up on the ends and his smile is as gentle as his big brown eyes. He’s not looking at my chest, he’s not looking up at me, he’s looking at me. The real me, like I matter, and I think maybe I could have him look at me that way forever. Then I hear the other boy’s voice, “Dude, she needs to sit down, move your ass.”
“I’m Walsh,” he says, cutting to the heart of it all.
“Tammy,” I reply.
He steps back as the teacher walks in and asks everyone to sit down. Walsh is assigned to the seat behind me, and for the entire class I can physically feel him behind me, like a tantalizing brush of fingertips across my back. A buzzing, warm sensation that makes it nearly impossible to concentrate on quadratic equations, which, let’s get serious, I’m never going to need to know anyway.
By the end of class I’ve decided—I have to have him. There is no doubt, no indecision or need to consider it. Walsh Clark—I learn his full name when roll is called—is the one. The problem being, I don’t know exactly how to make him mine. Since I’ve hated boys for the last three years I haven’t had much practice at getting them to like me. But, I’ve always been a “woman of action” as my dad calls it, so I figure I’ll approach it like I do anything else—make a plan, and follow it through until I get what I want.
I’m contemplating all of this as the bell rings and the teacher dismisses us. I pack up my stuff, disappointed when Walsh and his friend hightail it out of class before I can catch up. But when I reach the door to the hall, there he stands, leaning up against some lockers, a smile on his face as I walk toward him.
“Where’s you next class?” he asks, moving his books to the hand furthest from me.
“Art. Annex B. You going to walk me?”
“Yeah,” he answers as he reaches over and gently lifts my backpack from my hand.
Joss Jamison has it all. He's the lead singer for the world's hottest rock band, Lush. He's wealthy, sexy, talented...and miserable. Twelve months ago, Joss lost his finely honed control and made a mistake he can't undo. A mistake that could end up costing him his best friend, his band, and maybe his heart.
Mel DiLorenzo has it all. She's been hired to document the world tour of her sister's fiance's rock band. She's gorgeous, talented, loved...and sick of being the little sister. When she agrees to the summer job, Mel has no idea she's walking into a minefield of friendships lost and hearts destroyed. She also has no idea what it means to be the object of Joss Jamison's affections.
One hot rock star plus one life-altering mistake, add a dash of sexy younger sister and a handful of broken hearts, and you've got a recipe for fire. Life on the road can be hot, but for the boys of Lush, it's about to get a whole hell of a lot hotter.
About Selena Laurence