We’re only a little over two months away from the release of Leave Me Breathless! In celebration, I thought I’d unveil another excerpt for you. By popular demand, this one includes Brian. ;) But be warned it also includes the one scene in which Evan and Kelsey from Unleashed appear, so if you’d like to save that and savor it when the book releases, you might stay away from this one. (But don’t worry, there’s plenty more Brian!)
If you just can’t wait, then by all means, enjoy!
It had been three days, and he hadn’t heard a word out of her. Ghost might as well face it; she was a girl who stuck to her guns. He admired that. He mostly stuck to his too, except when it came to her, the gun he stuck to was perpetually cocked and ready to fire.
One excellent thing about his Saturday night was that Gus actually dragged in to practice, cohesively, no less, and they’d just about blown the roof off the house. They’d even started a bunch of new material. Seemed both the axmen had a lot of aggression to work out, and the rest of the guys had stepped up and added their respective flavors too. Even Mark had been happy. Neighbors had complained. It was an incredible feeling, what he lived for. By the time he left, he was still juiced up.
With nowhere to go and nothing to do. So he swung by Dermamania, thinking what a loser he must be to go to his workplace to hang out on his night off.
Nah. It just meant he had an awesome job.
“You know, if you’re so fuckin’ bored, I’ve got plenty you can do,” Brian said as Ghost made his entrance.
“Ooh. I’m sure you do, loverboy.”
“Jesus. I guess I left myself wide open for—shit, that’s no good either.”
Laughter erupted from artists and clients alike. “You know I can’t go a single night without you, Bri-baby. Is Candace not here? You and I can slip in your office and—”
“Please!” Starla cried. “Spare us.”
“You know you love it, my little voyeur.” Starla grinned as if to say there was no use denying it. Ghost hoisted himself up on the counter at his station. “What’s going on tonight, kids?”
Brian shook his head. “Nothing here. Work, home, sleep.”
“Come on, man. It’s Saturday night.”
“Says the guy who hasn’t been here all day.”
He laughed at that. “I’m no older than you are, dude.”
“He’s just domesticated now,” Starla said.
“Poor strapped bastard. Where is the domesticator, anyway?”
“Across the street at the coffee shop.” Brian glanced up at him. “With Macy.”
Shit. The pause had been so unnecessary, as were the little grins that passed among the others. Ghost could only hope he kept his expression bland and uninterested.
“Oh yeah? And here I was hoping you were gonna tell me they were in your office in the sixty-nine.” Good. That sounded like something he would say.
“You wish.” Brian’s eye was caught by something outside the front windows. “Hell. It’s my brother.”
Ghost followed his gaze out to see Evan Ross and his wife Kelsey striding quickly through the light rain. Brian waited until Evan had pulled open the door before cupping a hand to his mouth and shouting toward the back, “Hey! Hide all the crack!”
Ghost laughed while he considered bolting. He didn’t have one reason to be concerned that a state prosecutor was walking into his place of business, but Evan had a way of making them all feel like they had something to hide. Even when he was in jeans instead of a suit, the dude wore authority. He couldn’t help it.
They laughed good-naturedly at Brian’s joke, Kelsey walking over to give her brother-in-law a hug. Evan glanced around the shop with his all-too-assessing gaze, nodding at Ghost when he caught his eye. Always good to have friends in high places. Even if you never actually cared to see those friends.
“To what do I owe the dubious honor?” Brian asked, hopping up to sit on the counter as Evan turned back to him.
“Kelsey wants to get my name tattooed on her ass,” he said, earning himself a smack on the arm and his wife’s laughter.
And he could be pretty laid back too.
“Can’t a guy visit his kid brother?” Evan asked once she’d subsided.
“Not if he insists on calling him kid brother.”
“You should realize by now he only does it to annoy you,” Kelsey said. “Where’s Candace?”
“Off somewhere smoking up. Or mainlining. Or she might be getting coffee across the street. Where’s Alex?”
“At Mom’s,” Evan said. “We’re having the rare date night…though they might get more plentiful the closer we get to moving. She’s trying to soak up all the baby-time she can.”
“And so you come by to…get your name tatted on Kelsey’s ass? Ev on one cheek and an on the other, right?”
Kelsey was turning redder than her cherry-red sweater, covering her mouth in her laughter. Evan shook his head. “You are all kinds of wrong.”
“Hey,” Starla piped up, “I just had an idea. You should name your next baby boy Kevin. It would be like a combination of both your names.”
Brian’s upper lip curled. “That’s lame. God, you’re lame, Star.”
“We actually thought of that before we settled on Alex,” Kelsey said, putting her hands on her hips in mock offense.
“That’s because you’re both sappy dorks.”
“Ha. You talk smack, but we’ve all learned how sappy you can be too. It’s only a matter of time before you have Candace’s name on your ass,” Evan said.
“Can I say for the record that I always throw out very strong hints to my clients that they should not tattoo a significant other’s name onto their bodies? It’s their skin; they can do what they want. But I don’t care how long they’ve been together or how solid it looks. It never fails they’ll be back here a few weeks later, sobbing to me that they want it covered up. Sometimes I swear you need to be a licensed counselor to go into this business.”
“Aw, come on, Bri,” Kelsey said. “You wouldn’t get a tattoo of Candace’s name? Even a little one? I know you would.”
He grinned. “Oh, I’ve already got it, but it’s somewhere you can’t see.”
“Too much information, Brian,” Evan said as the room erupted in sounds of disgust.
Brian put a hand over his chest. “On my heart.”
This time the gagging sounds were even louder.
“That is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard!” Kelsey cried over it all.
“Are you slackin’ off or what, dude?” Brian asked Evan. “Here I am, having to give your wife her romantic thrills and all.”
“Don’t let him snow you,” Evan said, drawing Kelsey close to his side. But even he had a grin on his face.
“I always knew Brian was a closet romantic,” she said. “I called it a long time ago, didn’t I? It just took the right woman to bring him out.”
Evan dropped a kiss on the tip of her nose, smiling down into her eyes. “Isn’t that all it ever takes?”
“All right, get a room. And no more talk of me being romantic in here.” Brian plucked at the front of his T-shirt. “I have an image to uphold.”
Ghost had sat watching the rampant mushiness in speechless dismay. Macy’s words in the car the other night came back to haunt him, when she’d said that sometimes things work out. He wished he could believe that for himself. Looking at the two relationships represented here, Brian’s and Evan’s, he could almost have hope. Of course, both of them were still in their infancy stages in the grand scheme of things. But he was beginning to realize he would be more surprised if Brian and Candace didn’t work out than if they did. In all the years he’d known him, Ghost had never seen his friend this way. And if Evan and Kelsey ever busted up…well, it would shake up the entire town.
He’d never felt deserving of it himself. He considered himself a confident-enough guy, but what in the ever-loving fuck could possibly be so appealing about him that another person would want to spend the rest of her life with him? He didn’t get it. Like Gus, he was fucked up, only in different ways. And look what Gus’s girl kept putting him through.
Candace and Macy took that moment to sweep in the front door, both laughing about something, but Macy’s vibrant smile faltered a bit when she saw him. Not in disappointment, though. Her eyes brightened. He didn’t know why or how, but he got the impression her heart had leaped into her throat. His had. Or maybe he was just fucking delusional where she was concerned. Nonetheless, he returned what smile she managed for him.
Kelsey and Candace rushed into a hug, both trilling with delight at seeing each other. Macy greeted Kelsey and Evan warmly, but Ghost didn’t miss her gaze sliding over to him every few seconds. Because he couldn’t stop looking at her.
Her cheeks, all flushed with the bite of cold. He remembered them flushed from arousal. Her bright hazel eyes—maybe he’d put the light there; it hadn’t been there the first night he’d seen her before their interlude in his car.
She was one of those girls who remarkably had a different hairstyle every time he saw her. Sometimes curly, sometimes long and sleek, sometimes in a variety of stylishly sloppy updos. Tonight it was simple—one dark sweep tucked behind both ears under her off-white knit cap. Her ears were slightly pink too, and what he wouldn’t give to take her home and warm her up…
Goddamn, she was out of his league.