Lick, p.12
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       Lick, p.12
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         Part #1 of Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott
Page 12

  Author: Kylie Scott

  “This is so mortifying. Why couldn’t you have forgotten too?”

  He just looked at me. The smirk was long gone. For a long moment he held my gaze captive, unsmiling. The air in the car seemed to drop by about fifty degrees.

  “I’ll be right back,” I said, fingers fumbling with the seatbelt.

  “Sure. ”

  I finally managed to unbuckle the stupid thing, heart galloping inside my chest. The conversation had gotten crazy heavy toward the end. It had caught me unawares. Knowing he’d stood up for me in Las Vegas, that he’d chosen me over his friends … it changed things. And it made me wonder what else I needed to know about that night.

  “Wait. ” He rifled among the collection of sunglasses, pulled out a pair of designer aviator shades and handed them to me. “You’re famous now too, remember?”

  “My butt is. ”

  He almost smiled. He fit the baseball cap to his head and rested an arm on the steering wheel. The tattoo of my name was right there, in all its glory. It was pink around the edges and some of the letters had small scabs on them. I wasn’t the only one permanently marked by this.

  “See you in a bit,” he said.

  “Right. ” I opened the door and slowly climbed out of the car. Tripping and landing on my ass in front of him must be avoided at all costs.

  I saw to the necessities then washed my hands. The girl in the restroom mirror looked wild-eyed and then some. I splashed water on my face and did a little damage control on my hair. What a joke. This adventure I was on was undoing any and all attempts at keeping control. Me, my life, all of it seemed to be in a state of flux. That shouldn’t have felt as strangely good as it did.

  When I got back he was standing by the Jeep, signing an autograph for a couple of guys, one of whom was busy doing an enthusiastic air guitar performance. David laughed and clapped him on the back and they talked for a couple of minutes more. He was kind, gracious. He stood smiling, chatting to them until he noticed me hovering nearby. “Thanks, guys. If you could keep this quiet for a couple of days I’d appreciate it, hey? We could do with a break from the fuss. ”

  “No worries. ” One of the guys turned and grinned at me. “Congratulations. You’re way prettier in person than in your pictures. ”

  “Thanks. ” I waved a hand at them, not quite knowing what else to do.

  David winked at me and opened the passenger door for me to hop in.

  The other man pulled out a cell phone and started snapping pictures. David ignored him and jogged around to the other side of the vehicle. He didn’t speak till we were back out on the road.

  “It’s not far now,” he said. “We still going to Monterey?”

  “Absolutely. ”

  “Cool. ”

  Hearing David talk about our first meeting had put a new spin on things. That conversation had aroused my curiosity. That he’d chosen me to some degree that night … I don’t think the possibility had occurred to me before. I’d figured we’d both let tequila do the thinking and somehow fallen into this mess together. I was wrong. There was more to the story. Much more. David’s reluctance to answer certain questions made me wonder.

  I wanted answers. But I needed to tread carefully.

  “Is it always like that for you?” I asked. “Being recognized? Having people approach you all the time?”

  “They were fine. The crazies are a worry, but you handle it. It’s part of my job. People like the music, so …”

  A bad feeling crept through me. “You did tell me who you were that night, didn’t you?”

  “Yeah, of course I did. ” He gave me a snarky look, his brows bunched up.

  My bad feeling crept away, only to be replaced by shame. “Sorry. ”

  “Ev, I wanted you to know what the fuck you were getting into. You said you really liked me, but you weren’t that keen on my band. ” He fiddled with the stereo, another half smile on his face. Soon some rock song I didn’t know played quietly over the speakers. “You felt pretty bad about it, actually. You kept apologizing over and over. Insisted on buying me a burger and shake to make up for it. ”

  “I just prefer country. ”

  “Believe me, I know. And stop apologizing. You’re allowed to like whatever the hell you want. ”

  “Was it a good burger and shake?”

  He gave me a one-shoulder shrug. “It was fine. ”

  “I wish I remembered. ”

  He snorted. “There’s a first. ”

  I don’t know what exactly came over me. Maybe I just wanted to see if I could make him smile. With a knee beneath me I pulled out a length of seatbelt, raised myself up and kissed him quick on the cheek. A surprise attack. His skin was warm and smooth against my lips. The man smelled so much better than he had any right to.

  “What was that for?” he asked, shooting me a look out of the corner of his eyes.

  “For getting me out of Portland and then LA. For talking to me about that night. ” I shrugged, trying to play it off. “For lots of things. ”

  A little line appeared above the bridge of his nose. When he spoke, his voice was gruff. “Right. No problem. ”

  His mouth stayed shut and his hand went to his cheek, touching where I’d been. The frown-faced side-on looks continued for quite some time. Each one made me wonder a bit more if David Ferris was just as scared of me as I was of him. This reaction was even better than a smile.

  *

  The log and stone house rose out of the trees, perched on the edge of a cliff. The place was awe-inspiring on a whole different level to the mansion back in LA. Below, the ocean went about its business of being spectacular.

  David climbed out of the car and walked up to the house, fiddling with a set of keys from his pocket. Next, he opened the front door, then stopped to punch numbers into a security system.

  “You coming?” he yelled.

  I lingered beside the car, looking up at the magnificent house. Him and me alone. Inside there. Hmm. Waves crashed on the rocks nearby. I swore I could hear the swell of an orchestral accompaniment not too far off in the distance. The place was decidedly atmospheric. And that atmosphere was pure romance.

  “What’s the problem?” David came back down the stone path toward me.

  “Nothing … I was just—”

  “Good. ” He didn’t stop. I didn’t know what was going on until I found myself hanging upside down over his shoulder in a fireman’s hold.

  “Shit. David!”

  “Relax. ”

  “You’re going to drop me!”

  “I’m not going to drop you. Stop squirming,” he said, his arm pressing against the back of my legs. “Show some trust. ”

  “What are you doing?” I battered my hands against the ass of his jeans.

  “It’s traditional to carry the bride across the threshold. ”

  “Not like this. ”

  He patted my butt cheek, the one with his name on it. “Why would we wanna start being conventional now, huh?”

  “I thought we were just being friends. ”

  “This is friendly. You should probably stop feeling my ass, though, or I’m gonna get the wrong idea about us. Especially after that kiss in the car. ”

  “I’m not feeling your ass,” I grumbled and stopped using his butt cheeks for a handhold. Like it was my fault the position left me no alternative but to hold onto his firm butt.

  “Please, you’re all over me. It’s disgusting. ”

  I laughed despite myself. “You put me over your shoulder, you idiot. Of course I’m all over you. ”

  Up the steps we went, then onto the wide wooden patio and into the house. Hardwood floors in a rich brown and moving boxes, lots and lots of moving boxes. I couldn’t see much else.

  “This could be a problem,” he said.

  “What could be?” I asked, still upside down, my hair obscuring my view.
>
  “Hang on. ” Carefully, he righted me, setting my feet on the floor. All the blood rushed from my head and I staggered. He grabbed my elbows, holding me upright.

  “Okay?” he asked.

  “Yeah. What’s the problem?”

  “I thought there’d be more furniture,” he said.

  “You’ve never been here before?”

  “I’ve been busy. ”

  Apart from boxes there were more boxes. They were everywhere. We stood in a large central room with a huge stone fireplace set in the far wall. You could roast a whole cow in the thing if you were so inclined. Stairs led to a second floor above and another level below this one. A dining room and open plan kitchen came next. The place was either floor to ceiling glass, neat lines of logs, or gray stonework. The perfect mix of old and new design techniques. It was stunning. But then all the places he lived in seemed to be.

  I wondered what he’d make of my and Lauren’s tiny, bedraggled apartment. A silly thought. As if he’d ever see it.

  “At least they got a fridge. ” He pulled one of the large stainless steel doors open. Every inch of space inside had been packed with food and beverages. “Excellent. ”

  “Who are ‘they’?”

  “Ah, the people that look after the place for me. Friends of mine. They used to look after it for the previous owner, too. I rang them, asked them to sort some stuff out for us. ” He pulled out a Corona and popped the lid. “Cheers. ”

  I smiled, bemused. “For breakfast?”

  “I’ve been awake for two days. I want a beer then I want a bed. Man, I hope they thought to get a bed. ” Beer in hand, he ambled back through the lounge and up the stairs. I followed, curious.

  He pushed open one bedroom door after another. There were four all up and each had its own bathroom because cool, rich people clearly couldn’t share. At the final door at the end of the hall he stopped and sagged with relief. “Thank fuck for that. ”

  A kingdom of a bed made up with clean, white sheets waited within. And a couple more boxes.

 
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