Sweet possession, p.21
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       Sweet Possession, p.21
 

         Part #5 of Sweet series by Maya Banks
Page 21

 

  It took several minutes to work up the courage to turn the knob. She was half-afraid it would be locked. Part of her hoped that it would be.

  The knob turned and she pushed the door open wide enough that she could slide in. Light poured from her room into his and she could see him lying on the bed, the sheet in a tangle around his hips.

  For a moment she simply stared, drawn to his chiseled features. His body was beautiful. Lean and muscled. His brow was creased as if he was thinking over an important matter in his sleep. At his side, his fingers were curled into a tight fist.

  Now that she was here, she had no idea what to do. She felt like a complete idiot, but the idea of turning around and going back to her empty room filled her with panic.

  She closed the door behind her, careful not to make a sound. She waited until her vision adjusted to the darkness of the room and then she tiptoed over to the love seat by the window.

  She rarely slept for long periods of time. She could catch a few hours on the couch and be up and out of here before Connor ever woke up. He didn’t even have to know she was ever here.

  Feeling marginally better about her panic episode, she eased onto the couch and positioned a cushion under her cheek. A blanket would be nice, but she wasn’t going to tempt fate by going back for one.

  She stared over at Connor as she settled and held back a snort. Some security guy he made. She stifled a yawn and closed her eyes. He hadn’t even realized someone had come into his room.

  Connor smiled in the darkness as he watched moonlight spill over Lyric’s face. She moved once after she closed her eyes and then went still as she slid into sleep.

  She’d bolted but now she was back, and from all appearances she had no desire for him to know it.

  Patiently he waited, watching as she slept. When he was satisfied that she was down for the count, he slipped from the bed and pulled the comforter with him.

  He draped the blanket over her and gently tucked the ends around her shoulders.

  “Good night, Lyric,” he whispered.

  Then he smiled and crawled back into bed.

  CHAPTER 19

  Lyric’s cell phone had rung nonstop since seven that morning. Connor didn’t know how the hell it hadn’t woken her up yet. Even from the next room, the peal was loud and obnoxious. But she was still curled up on his love seat, covers pulled up to her nose. She hadn’t so much as stirred since Connor had risen to shower. For the longest time he’d simply lain in bed watching the soft rise and fall of her chest.

  Knowing how little she’d slept in the past days, he was careful not to awaken her. He moved silently around his room, and once he was dressed, he slipped out of the bedroom.

  He picked up the annoying cell phone from the nightstand beside her bed—the bed where he’d made love to her just hours before—and pocketed it after seeing there were fourteen missed calls and half as many voice mails.

  He’d let her sleep as long as she would. She’d mentioned that she had a lot to do today but he figured she’d manage better with several hours of sleep in her system.

  He was halfway down the stairs when his cell phone went off. He sighed when he saw it was Phillip Armstrong.

  “Connor Malone,” he said when he put the phone to his ear. He continued toward the kitchen, where already he could smell food cooking.

  “Where the hell is Lyric?” Phillip demanded. “Is everything okay there?”

  “Yeah, fine. She’s asleep. ”

  There was a brief hesitation and Connor thought he heard Phillip sigh in relief. “Good. She needs to rest. She’s way too high-strung and she goes without sleep for too long at a time. Just make sure she makes her two o’clock at Reliant Stadium. She has to meet with the stage crew and sign off on the details for her performance. I don’t like that she’s not using her band, but she was determined to give them a break. Hell, I think she’s on some weird mission to prove something by taking on so much herself for these two weeks. But who she’s trying to prove something to—her or everyone else—I’m not sure. ”

  “There’s plenty of time for her to make her two o’clock meeting. ”

  “Be expecting a call from Paul. I gave him your number because he was having a kitten over Lyric not answering her phone. ”

  Connor bit back a curse. Just what he needed. Her asshole manager screaming in his ear. But better his than Lyric’s. It pissed him off the way her manager treated her, and Connor had only met the man once.

  On cue, the line beeped and Connor pulled the phone away to see unknown caller flash across his screen. “That’s probably him now,” he said as he put the phone back to his ear. “I’ll have Lyric where she needs to be. Don’t worry. ”

  He punched the button to switch calls. “Connor Malone. ”

  “Mr. Malone, this is Paul Woodrow. I’ll be flying into Houston at noon, and I’ll expect to be picked up at the airport so I can meet Lyric at Reliant Stadium at two. ”

  His snappish tone flew all over Connor. It briefly occurred to him that he should probably be conciliatory. Briefly. But he remembered Phillip’s advisory that Connor worked for him, not Paul. It was enough for Connor to speak his mind.

  “Want in one hand and shit in the other. See which gets fuller faster. ”

  “What? What the hell does that mean? Where is Lyric? Why isn’t she answering her phone?”

  “She’s indisposed and unable to take your call. I’m so sorry. I’ll have her return your call later. If I remember. ”

  Paul gave a very unmanly shriek of outrage that made Connor cringe. If he wasn’t enjoying himself so much, he’d hang up the phone in mid-scream.

  “I’ll have your balls,” Paul screeched. “You do the job you were hired to do, and you better get Lyric on the damn phone. I’m tired of her flighty, scatterbrained bullshit. She’d better show up on time or it’s going to be your ass in the fire. And there had better be a car to pick me up at the airport!”

  “Unless you arrange it, I highly doubt there’ll be one,” Connor said with barely controlled amusement. “Nice talking to you. Have a good day, now. ”

  Connor blew out his breath as he shoved the phone back into his pocket. This was the most half-assed “business” he’d ever witnessed. The guy in charge of Lyric’s career was a moron and he didn’t give a shit about her. Or what was best for her.

  The kitchen was alive with activity. Kane and his men were seated at the table eating a buffet of eggs, bacon, biscuits and bagels. The chef and his two assistants were busy opening and shutting oven doors as the chef barked orders to the woman manning the stove.

  “Mr. Malone, what arrangements would you like for Ms. Jones’s breakfast?” the chef asked when he caught sight of Connor.

  Connor shrugged. “She’s still sleeping. ”

  The chef frowned. “Will she be taking breakfast in bed or should I keep her food on the warmer for when she comes down?”

  How the hell would he know? He’d never been around such a hyper operation. He was reminded of a bunch of chickens running around with their heads cut off. If this was the way Lyric lived, rushing from one poorly planned event to the next, it was little wonder she looked like she was on the verge of breaking. Hell, he’d already be a permanent resident of the funny farm.

  “Fix her a tray. I’ll bring it up to her. ”

  The chef nodded and then turned to bark another series of orders. Seriously, did this guy not realize he was just cooking for one woman? You’d think he was making meals for the president and his entire Cabinet.

  A few minutes later, Connor was presented a tray that looked like something off of one of those home and garden television shows Faith was forever watching. It was hard to tell what was actual food and what was simply presentation.

  He snagged a cupcake and stuck it under one of the silver covers on the tray and headed for the stairs. Lyric had plenty of time to make her appointment and he was determined not to rush her. When did
the woman ever get a moment to just be? If he were hounded as mercilessly as she was, he’d be in a permanent bad mood. More and more he was beginning to understand what made her tick, and he’d already come to the conclusion that everything around her sucked balls.

  He nudged his door open with his foot to see her still asleep on the couch. Quietly he set the tray down on the coffee table and pulled it over to the sofa.

  “Lyric,” he said in a low voice. “Wake up. I brought you breakfast. ”

  She stirred and her eyelids fluttered open. Sleepy blue eyes clouded with faint confusion stared back at him. Then she glanced down and around at her surroundings. Consternation creased her brow and her lips pinched together in a bow.

  “What time is it?”

  He checked his watch. “Almost ten. ”

  She sat straight up, her eyes wide. “Oh shit. Shit!” She started to toss aside the covers and bolt from the couch but he put a gentle hand on her shoulder and pushed her back down.

  “You’ve got plenty of time. Eat first. ”

  She glanced at the tray, then back up at him. “I have so much stuff to do today. My manager is flying in. I should probably be there to meet him. Then we have to go over to the stadium and meet with their sound crew. ”

  Connor shook his head. “No way you’re going into a crowded airport. He’s a big boy. He can get a car and take himself over to the stadium. You don’t have to be there until two, which means we won’t need to leave until one fifteen. Which gives you three hours to relax, eat and get your bearings. ”

  She looked momentarily struck dumb, as if it honestly hadn’t occurred to her that she didn’t have to be running around freaking out every single minute. Then she smiled. Her eyes twinkled and lit up and it struck him how truly beautiful she was.

  Behind the façade. Behind all the posing, the bitchy exterior, the hard-ass act. She was a beautiful, sensitive woman and he was in some deep shit.

  “You know what? You’re right. I pay people to handle details. Let them do their job. My job is to show up at two, right?”

  He took off the remaining covers and she sighed in appreciation at the pancakes, bacon, eggs and grits. There was also fruit, toast and milk and juice.

  “I’m never going to eat all this,” she said, though she eyed it like she’d love to try. “Have you eaten?”

  He shook his head.

  She sat up and pulled her feet from the end of the couch. Then she patted the space beside her. “Come eat, then. There’s enough to feed the entire security team. ”

  He sat next to her but was careful to keep a little distance between them. Despite her seeming ease, he could sense her uncertainty. She kept glancing over at him. Just little nervous peeks as if expecting him to bring up the fact she’d slept the entire night in his room after she’d bolted out of bed.

  He was content to pretend it hadn’t happened. For now.

  The problem was, she looked so damn cute and snuggly that what he really wanted to do was pull her down to the couch and make love to her all over again.

  But he wouldn’t stop there. It really made him uncomfortable that beyond making love to her, he had a primitive, chest-thumping, mouthsnarling urge to tie her to his bed and not let her out of his sight for the next year or so.

  Yeah, he’d keep that little tidbit to himself. Nothing like making her stalker the more desirable option here.

  He was losing his mind—had already lost his mind.

  Lyric was wrong for him on every conceivable level, but she just did it for him. Now he couldn’t even give Nathan shit about how head over ass he’d fallen for his wife. The man was done from the moment he’d laid eyes on Julie.

  In less than two weeks, Lyric Jones would move on, go back on tour, be the fantasy of every boy and man, and Connor would go back to his job and spend his nights reliving the time he’d held her in his arms as she came apart.

  Yep, his fascination with her didn’t make a whole lot of goddamn sense in that light.

  “This is really good,” Lyric said around a mouthful. “You should eat. ”

  Connor stared down at the plate she’d fixed for him and realized he’d yet to take a bite. He wasn’t hungry for food. He was hungry for the petite blue-haired vixen sitting next to him.

  To cover the awkwardness between them, he picked up his fork and plate and began eating, though he’d be hard-pressed to tell what exactly he ate. For the first time in his life, the thought of food didn’t appeal. And if that wasn’t a huge sign that he was fucked, he didn’t know what was.

  After a while, Lyric laid her fork down and leaned back into the couch. She hugged the blanket to her chest and sighed as her head plopped against the cushion.

  “Full?” he asked as he set aside his own plate.

  “Mmmm. Yummy. ”

  “I hope not too full,” he said.

  She turned, her stare questioning.

  He grinned. “I have a surprise. I think you’ll like it. ”

  He reached for the saucer and lifted the cover off to reveal the perfectly iced cupcake.

 
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