Country Love - Page 18

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Dammit.

I stood up and turned away from the stage just as they were finishing their last number. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the lead singer's face fall when he saw I wasn't watching him anymore, and suddenly I was irrationally angry. The need, the fucking unrelenting need, it felt like these people would rip me apart with their bare hands if they could, take all the pieces of me they could rip apart. I longed for peace, solitude, anything but the screaming fans who bayed for me to give, give, give.

But I didn't belong to me anymore. I was theirs, all of theirs, running a treadmill I couldn't get off again. So I stomped my way onstage and smiled and waved and gave them the time of their lives because that's what I do. That's what they all needed me to do. I did it that night.

And the next night.

And the night after that....

Chapter Twenty-Four

Monique

"Hey Mo, catch!"

By now I had been on the bus long enough to know better. I ducked out of the way just as the beer can whizzed past my eyeball and splattered against the far wall in a shower of foam.

"That one's yours, Jimmy," Carter deadpanned.

I giggled behind my hand, and took a quick shot of the exploded can.

"Is that really something you want to preserve for posterity?" Tanner smiled as he slung his arm over my shoulder. I nuzzled up into him.

"Yes, I'm a journalist," I told him, then turned and caught him with my flash. He smiled that smile of his and it occurred to me that I had never in my life been so happy. I took another quick shot, wanting to preserve the moment, just for me.

We were rolling west now, on the road for a week. The hills flashed outside the tinted windows and I felt myself lulled by the miles as I snuggled back down into Tanner's arms. As long as I managed to push the time limit from my mind, I could bask in a contentment I hadn't known in years.

As long as I ignored the fact that it could never be fully mine.

Tanner's big palm was inching inexorably down my shoulder, making its slow way to my breasts. I suppressed a giggle and squeezed my eyes shut, feigning sleep against his chest.

"Ah good, I can make my move," he whispered playfully, cupping my breast.

"You think you need to wait 'til I'm sleeping to get your hands on me?" I muttered into his shirt, inhaling deeply. A week on the road and he still smelled incredible. It was like sunshine seeped from his every pore.

"It's safest that way," he said and I could hear the smile in his voice. "You're less likely to bite me if you're sleeping."

I turned my head quickly and nipped at his chest. He growled and heaved me onto his lap, me shrieking and pummeling him to no avail.

"I'd say get a room, but we have at least seventy miles to go before that's possible," Carter complained from his bunk.

"Ignore him," Tanner murmured against my throat.

"I always do," I said flashing a grin at Carter.

He raised a middle finger at me, shaking his head. "I don't know how you get away with it, Mo. The more shit you give me, the more I want you to like me."

"That's 'cos she's magic," Tanner growled, rolling his hips under me. I could feel the whole length of him, pressing at me insistently through his jeans. I was on fire instantly, of course, but there was the small problem of our audience.

"Seventy more miles?" I groaned, pressing into him.

"Has to be only sixty-nine, by now," he sighed. His hands were at my waist, big and strong, fingers delving into my skin. If I was wearing I skirt, I could just hitch it up over my hips...but alas, I was an idiot and wore leggings instead.

"Save that for me," I whispered in his ear, nipping at his lobe.

He heaved a groan that would be heartbreaking if it weren't so funny. "Who the hell else would it be for?"

"I dunno, you and Blake seem awfully close," I teased.

He fell back against the seat. "Thanks, that just killed the mood quite well. Better than a cold shower, actually."

"Ah...a shower, I remember those," I sighed, sliding off of him and settling back into the seat across the aisle. "I still can't believe that with all the money your label is pouring into this, they can't allot you more personal time."

"Doesn't make them enough money that way," Tanner said, grim resignation setting in around his mouth. He reached into the compartment behind him and pulled out the battered acoustic he liked to noodle around with while he talked. I settled back to listen, impressed as always with the artistry in his fingers. I mean, I knew those fingers had some skills when it came to playing me, but guitar was definitely their first language. "Nah, I'm not really my own man any more. I'm a business. A corporation. All that freedom I sing about is kinda hypocritical when I think about it too much. I'm just as much a slave as any office drone, I'm just lyin' to them and to myself."

He ducked his head and strummed, nodding as his fingers danced along the frets. I could tell he didn't want to talk anymore, but his words left a hollow place in my chest. Tanner Brock was born to be a rock star, could he really hate it this much?

Without thinking, I reached for my camera. As Tanner turned his face down, the angle of the sun through the windows caught the glint of stubble on his jaw. I snapped a few pictures, then stood up, used to the rocking motion of the bus. I squatted down and shot him from below, heroically slung across his seat, his cowboy boots on display. He looked every inch the iconic freedom-loving cowboy.

"Any time shit gets deep, you hide behind that thing, you know that?"

I froze and looked up at him. He was peering at me out of the corners of his eyes while his hands still made beautiful soft music. There was no use lying. "Yeah, I do," I said, looking down at my camera.

I expected him to chide me. Instead he nodded. "I hide behind this thing too," he nodded, strumming hard before setting it aside. "Makes a physical barrier between you and the world. But I don't want that with you. C'mere."

Blinking rapidly to dissipate the tears that threatened to fall, I went to him, setting my camera aside. He kissed me, long and deep, not holding back anything. I kissed him back, too terrified of my feelings to do anything else.

I was falling. Hard.

Chapter Twenty-Five

Monique

Another show on the books. Things were settling into a groove now. A punishing, exhausting groove.

"Who needs a beer?" Carter called the second he was on the bus.

The rest of us raised our hands, me included. He handed them out one at a time as we entered the bus, like an usher taking tickets before a show.

"Gotta tighten the middle of the set," Fitch grumbled as he leaned back in a seat. The bus rumbled to life and I rubbed my sandpapery eyes. I couldn't believe they had to get on the road again so soon.

"I don't want to talk about the set," Tanner sighed. "Please. I just need to sleep." He crawled into his bunk and I hung back for a moment before deciding to head back to a seat to review the shots I had gotten that night.

Tanner's arm shot out from the bunk, his hand gripping my thigh. "Where do you think you're going?" he asked in a voice muffled by his pillow.

"You said you wanted to sleep..." I hedged.

"You think I'm doing any sleepin' without you in my arms? I haven't seen you all day, c'mere..." he smiled sleepily and patted the bed next to him,

I slid into the bunk and he curled up against me with a contented sigh. Then Tanner pushed his head under my arm, nuzzling into my chest. "I'm just going to stay here forever," he murmured against my breasts.

I laughed and stroked his hair. Two weeks left with this man. I kissed the top of his head and he tilted his face up to mine, pressing his lips gently yet firmly against my mouth.

"You wanna...close that curtain for me?" he growled, his fingers delving underneath my jeans.

Every cell in my body was aware of him. And even though the rest of the band was only a few feet away, that didn't seem to matter. What mattered was the feel of his lips on mine, the rough scratch of day old stubble

against my cheek, the scorching heat of his hand tracing fiery lines down my body. I turned my head and moaned into the pillow, hoping no one could hear me over the noise of the bus.

"Missed you," he murmured against my ear. He rolled on top of me, the mattress creaking underneath us. Embarrassment flamed inside of me, but desire burned hotter.

"Need you," I whispered back, arching into him. The way his eyes flamed brightly when I said that was worth everything...the lack of privacy, the hectic schedule, I didn't care about any of it when he looked at me that way.

He cupped his hand gently at the back of my neck, pulling me flush against him. I wrapped my legs around him and we moved together, the gentle rocking of the bus urging us onward.

It could have been a dream. We moved sleepily, languidly, silently coming together in response to a need that couldn't be denied. I closed my eyes as he entered me, the silent slide of his skin against mine sending me into shuddering ecstasy almost immediately. The hot, tingling desire I had suffered with all the long day away from him found relief over and over again as we dissolved into each other.


Tags: Mia Caldwell Erotic
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