I have a book releasing tomorrow, and you can read the first chapter of Perfect Rockstar right now. The paperback is already live on Amazon, but if you prefer eBooks, you can grab a pre-order to have it arrive on your Kindle the second it’s available.
Here’s what you can expect:
Rockstar romance (as you might have gathered)
Small town feels
Very swoony hero who falls first
All the heat
A loveable great Dane named Kitty
Visits from all your favorite characters in the previous books
First chapter of Perfect Rockstar
Coming down from the high of performing always has me ready to crash. If I ever get off the stage with any gas left in the tank, then I didn’t work hard enough.
The last place in the world I want to be is at an after party in… God, where the hell am I again? New York City, that’s right. But here I am, mingling with supposed VIPs when all I’m craving is my own bed.
Alone, I should add, and ideally back home in Montana.
Years ago, when my band first skyrocketed to the top of the charts, I got a thrill from women chasing me. All I had to do was snap my fingers, and I’d have a dozen ready and willing bedmates who begged to do whatever I wanted.
I’d never had a hard time with ladies in the past, but this was a whole new level of available.
“Bryce.” Calvin, my co-vocalist, has exasperation dripping from his voice, and I sense this isn’t the first time he’s tried to get my attention.
“What’s up, man?”
God, I’m so exhausted that I can’t believe I’m still standing.
“I was just saying how wicked the energy from that crowd was,” Calvin enthuses. “I’ll never get tired of this life we live, buddy.”
He’s buzzing and fully in his element. Calvin has dreamed about otherworldly success since we were in grade school and started our first band together, putting on concerts at recess.
While I thought it was what I wanted too, lately doubt has me stumbling. After this world tour ends, I’m taking a break. I need some time on the ranch with people who will bring me down to earth regardless of Creekside’s superstardom.
My brothers fit that bill and will happily pop any ego I may have unwittingly developed.
I force myself to grin. “I know, man, even after all these years, it’s still wild that it’s happening to us.”
He throws an arm around me. “You’re fucking exhausted.”
I vigorously rub my face and let out a long breath. “I’m fucking exhausted. But I’ll go get some fresh air, and then I promise to liven up.”
“I’ll have another drink waiting. Hey, what do you think of that blond over there? She’s been eyeing you hard, brother.”
I glance over dispassionately, and the blond he’s referencing is certainly smoking hot and looks like she could suck the soul out of a guy.
“She’s all yours, man.”
I slap Calvin’s back and make a beeline for the balcony off the side of the VIP area. My bodyguard immediately blocks the door to prevent anyone from following me outside.
“Want me to remove them, Bryce?”
Shavkat is a 6’10” Russian behemoth made of solid muscle, scars he won’t explain, and crazy eyes. You’d be certifiable to fuck with him, and he’s saved my life on three separate occasions.
There’s a couple making out on the couch in one corner and a lone woman standing in the opposite corner with a glass of wine in her hand as she looks out over the city. Not much of a threat.
“It’s cool. But don’t let anyone else come out.”
Pushing the door open is like escaping a prison, and inhaling the cool night air is invigorating. I make my way to the railing, leaning against it while staring blankly into the city, seeing nothing.
We have another show in the city tomorrow, and then we’re back on a plane and heading to… God, it’s all such a blur. Toronto, Canada. And then back to New Jersey.
At least I’ll be able to get home for a visit soon. It’s been way too long.
I spent Christmas with one of my best friends, Bobby Henderson, and his family because I was doing exclusive performances in the area. With shows staggered throughout the Christmas holiday, it was impossible to get home.
But I didn’t want to be alone either.
I couldn’t stand being alone.
My dejected sigh is loud enough to startle the solo woman, and she turns to glance at me with her eyebrows raised.
“Are you okay?”
After being in my stage persona all night, I’m craving peace and solitude in the worst way. I run my fingers through my hair in exasperation, hoping she isn’t a fucking groupie.
“Yes,” I snap.
“Are you… security?” she asks hesitantly.
Startled, I turn to take a better look at her and my breath catches. She’s in a slinky red dress that clings to every curve, and her jet-black hair is silky smooth down her back. Even in stilettos, she only comes up to my shoulder.
But it’s her eyes that do me in, and I can’t help taking a step closer to her.
“I’m not security. Why do you ask?”
Could she possibly not know who I am?
Fuck, it feels like everyone knows who I am and wants a piece of me.
“I’m not supposed to be here,” she replies.
The moonlight catches the amethyst in her eyes before she looks away and waves dismissively. She’s ridiculously sexy in profile, her perfect porcelain skin and the swell of her pouty lips making me bite back a groan.
“Where are you supposed to be?”
“Downstairs with my friends.” She takes a sip of wine and then turns her back to me. “There’s some private party tonight, but the balcony was empty, so I snuck out here.”
“Me, too,” I reply, even though it appears she couldn’t care less about my response. “I’m Bryce.”
She doesn’t turn around with that increasingly aggravating gleam of recognition in her eyes. In fact, she doesn’t turn around or acknowledge me at all.
“What’s your name?” I try again.
She sighs and annoyance pours off her in waves. I haven’t had a woman this disinterested in me since, well, ever.
And I kind of like it.
“Harlow.” There’s so much reluctance in her voice that I almost laugh.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Harlow. Can I get you another drink?”
If it’s true and she doesn’t know who I am, then it will be the first time my reputation hasn’t preceded me in nearly a decade. The thought of a woman liking me for me is exhilarating.
Not that this one seems to care if I jump off the balcony or not.
“Are you sure?” I drawl, ready to lay the charm on thick. “I—”
She spins on her heels to face me head on, completely unwarranted anger marring her beautiful face. “I came out here for fresh air and silence. Whatever you’re offering, I’m not interested.”
Holding my hands up in defeat, I take a step back. “Okay, okay. I’m sorry. You’re so beautiful. I just wanted to have a conversation with you.”
She glares at me suspiciously. “You’re from the private party.”
It’s not a question.
“I just came outside for some fresh air, too. I’m here with my buddy Calvin, and we aren’t at any private party.”
I’m testing her, but don’t catch even a glimmer of acknowledgement in her expressive eyes after hearing the names Bryce and Calvin spoken together.
She lets out a long breath. “So, you’re not a rich asshole.”
It’s not cheating to shake my head because even though I might be rich, I’m not an asshole.
“I’m just me. Actually, I’m a country boy from Montana and about as far removed from the kind of guy you’re talking about as you can get.”
I try giving her my trademark grin, complete with a dimple I can pop on demand, and her face softens for the first time since we started talking.
Harlow sticks out her tiny hand, and I envelop it in mine. “It’s nice to meet you, Bryce. I’m sorry I was so cold. I’m just…”
“Tired of being hit on by rich assholes? Don’t worry. I’m broke.”
She laughs, and it completely transforms her face. Fuck, she’s gorgeous.
“How about that drink?” she purrs. “It’s on me since you’re broke.”
Before I can respond, she’s halfway to the bar. I chase after her, but am too tongue-tied to stop her before she orders me a whiskey on the rocks without asking and another glass of wine for herself.
“You strike me as a whiskey guy.” She passes me the glass, and her cool fingers graze the back of my hand, setting my nerve endings on fire.
“Thank you,” I murmur, my voice unrecognizably husky. A woman has never bought me a drink in my life.
She leads the way to a small table, and I can’t take my eyes off her perfect heart-shaped ass, my exhaustion long gone. Her curves are absolutely deadly.
“Are you guys celebrating something tonight?” I ask.
“It’s my friend’s birthday. They’re heading to another bar after this one, but I’m going home.”
“Not the partying type?” I pull out a chair for her and then sit across the table, taking one of her hands in mine.
Harlow shrugs a tiny shoulder. “I have my limits. I’m getting too old for this shit, and we’re also going out tomorrow night.”
I chuckle and it’s an unreal kind of good just being Bryce and not Bryce Church, frontman of Creekside.
“How old are you?”
She raises her eyebrows. “That’s a super rude question.”
“I’ll just guess then,” I suggest playfully.
“Careful,” she warns. “This isn’t a carnival, and the prize might not be what you’re hoping for.”
“I didn’t suggest guessing your weight,” I point out with a smirk, earning myself another withering look. “Twenty-four?”
“I’m turning twenty-eight this year. But thank you.”
“So, maybe I’ll get that prize after all.” She rolls her eyes, but can’t hide her smile. “When is your birthday?”
“December tenth. And how old are you, Bryce? Fifty-seven?”
We burst out laughing at the same time, and I squeeze her hand. “Close. I’m twenty-nine. Do you have a boyfriend?”
She shakes her head and reinforces it with a firm, “No.” She doesn’t elaborate or ask my marital status. I can’t help but think she doesn’t give a shit, which has me grinning at the challenge of making her care.
“I’m also single, since you’re clearly so interested.” I haven’t dated anyone seriously since my college sweetheart, and that relationship ended in a disaster.
“I’m not looking for anything,” she says softly, and her eyes are painfully lonely.
I nod slowly. “Sometimes that’s when you find it.”
“I’m serious. We’ll have this drink together, and then I’ll be on my way home.”
Unreasonable disappointment washes over me, and I absolutely have to convince this woman to spend more time with me. “Where are you and your friends heading tomorrow?”
She rolls her eyes and takes another drink, as though she needs to gather strength from it. “Some country concert.”
“That’s wicked.” My heart pounds like a drumbeat in my chest, and my throat is bone dry. All I can think about is not showing any sense of panic.
Does she know?
Is she toying with me?
“Who are you going to see?” I ask in my best attempt at casual.
She screws up her face while trying to remember. “Uh, it’s some stupid name. Riverdale or something, maybe?”
I swipe a hand across my face to hide a grin. “You’re thinking of the Archie comics.”
Harlow is the picture of confusion. “Maybe you’re right. I don’t know. Either way, they’re definitely not my style, but who am I to argue with the birthday boy?”
“Boy?” A surprising and unfamiliar course of jealousy burns through my chest like acid.
“My closest friend. His name is Ryan.”
I silently wonder if Ryan is gay because, if not, there is no way he doesn’t fantasize about Harlow naked every fucking day.
“Anyway, he loves them, so I agreed to go, even though that music gives me a headache. Have you heard of them?” Harlow’s expression is earnest, and while I should tell her the truth right this second, I don’t.
“If you mean Creekside, then yeah, of course. I’m into country music, and they’re pretty good.”
“I wouldn’t be able to pick those guys out of a line-up,” she replies.
An uncomfortable pang of regret washes through me because being dishonest is most definitely not my thing.
“So, I guess I’ll be spending my night listening to grown men whine about their trucks, dogs, and the women who broke their hearts.”
I chuckle because she’s at least partially right. But what is life all about if it’s not big trucks, loyal dogs, and sexy women? “That’s more old school country, though I guess you have a point. What do you listen to then, Miss Music Snob?”
“Mostly classical and jazz, but I do like some classic rock as well.”
I groan. “You’d get along great with my youngest brother, Quinn.”
She smiles impishly, her pretty painted fingers wrapping around the wineglass. “Is he here? If he’s as sexy as you are with better taste in music, then I am so up for meeting him.”
I swallow over the sharp object suddenly lodged in my throat. “You think I’m sexy?” Unfamiliar vulnerability and uncertainty echoes in my voice, and I almost want to punch myself for being such a pussy.
But if I’m not Bryce Church from Creekside, then who the hell am I anymore? My hand shakes when I bring the half-full glass of amber liquid to my lips, waiting for the familiar burn.
“I do,” she assures me, gently stroking my forearm with her free hand. “You’re delicious, actually.”
I chuckle again. “Well, thank you. Funny, I wasn’t getting those vibes.”
She interlaces her fingers with mine, and the simple gesture turns me on more than it should. “How about now?”
“Getting better. Tell me about you, Harlow.”
“I’m a yoga instructor, I was born and bred in New York City, and I have a Great Dane who is attached to my hip. I love my city, but I also enjoy escaping into nature at every opportunity.”
Her eyes are so solemn that I know it isn’t an act. She really has no idea that I’m part of a multi-platinum selling country band that has been playing sold out shows across the globe for years. And I can’t let her find out, at least not yet.
“I live on a cattle ranch in Montana.” It’s true, except for the fact I haven’t been home for months.
“Wait, what?” Harlow interrupts. “You’re an actual cowboy?” I nod because that much is true. Ranching is in my DNA. “Bryce, you should have started with that line if you were trying to get laid tonight. Chicks dig cowboys, and I’m no exception.”
I haven’t had a belly laugh in a long time and, damn, it feels good. “I’m not trying to get laid. I just want to get to know you.”
“Country boys are known for their charm, so maybe you’re not full of shit,” Harlow muses. “So, what brings you to the city?”
“I’m here to hang out with my friend for the weekend.” This is also true, except we’ll be hanging out on a stage. No big deal. “When I’m not working on the ranch, I play and watch every sport known to man, I’m into hunting and fishing, and I love music.”
Pre-fame Bryce sounds like a really cool dude. For the most part, now all I do is live out of a suitcase and wake up in unknown beds, sometimes with unknown women. But having company hasn’t happened in over a year because I can’t stomach it anymore.
“Do you play any instruments?” Harlow asks.
I’m such a prick for not being fully honest. She is giving me ample opportunity to tell her the full truth. But it’s too intoxicating to have a conversation as myself for once, and I’m not ready to give up this moment.
“I dabble,” I reply, not meeting her eyes. “I’m decent on a guitar and I can sing okay, too. Let’s go find a bonfire and I’ll serenade you.”
Harlow giggles and my world shifts. “I would love that. But I’m afraid we’ll be hard-pressed to find one around here. It must be so amazing to live in Montana.”
“It’s literally my favorite place on earth. Hey.” I need to get her out of here before someone recognizes me and ruins everything. “Are you up for taking a drive? Direct me to the closest slice of country, and we’ll lie on the hood of my SUV under the stars. Fuck, I wish my truck was here.”
She smiles. “You know, that sounds pretty amazing, even without the truck.”
“So, you’ll come with me?”
She pauses and bites her bottom lip, making my cock half-hard, before nodding. “Yes.”
I whoop my glee and yank my phone out of my pocket to text Calvin. “I’ll just let my buddy know I’m leaving.”
Bryce: Man, I just met this amazing girl who has no idea what I do, and it’s fucking incredible. You have to distract everyone, and get them away from the door so they don’t blow my cover when I leave with her. And get Shavkat on board because I need the SUV. Please.
Calvin: On it, brother. Give me five and you’ll be golden.
Harlow must be texting her friends about our plans when the DJ makes an announcement that jerks her head up from the screen in her hands.
“Creekside is in the house! They’ll be performing a song in the green room downstairs. Make your way there now, party people!”
“Oh, my God,” Harlow gasps. “Those water guys are here? They must be the ones having the private party. Ryan will freak out. We should find him and go watch the show.”
“Let’s escape the rush and head to our slice of tranquility,” I beg, hoping Calvin’s plan doesn’t backfire. “We’ll never be able to find our friends now, and you’re going to the concert tomorrow, anyway.”
She turns to watch the enormous group of moving people through the floor to ceiling windows. Everyone is trying to make their way downstairs, where Calvin is about to save my ass and perform solo.
“You’re probably right,” Harlow admits. “Okay, let’s get out of here.”
Exhaling my relief, I wrap an arm around Harlow’s tiny waist and position her in front of me. On our way back into the dark club, I take a black baseball cap from Shavkat after Harlow walks past him, pulling it low over my eyes. He also slips the keys to the rented Suburban into my hand, and I discretely slide them into my pocket.
I lead Harlow the opposite way of where everyone else is going. We escape unseen out the back door and into an alley, and I guide her toward the waiting SUV.
All I can do is pray no one spots us and asks for an autograph.
You don’t want to miss the rest of Bryce and Harlow’s story – keep reading now.
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