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About the author:
Shannyn has published five books in her series, By the Lake, (The McAdams Sisters) including, Lakeshore Secrets, Lakeshore Legend, Lakeshore Love, Lakeshore Candy and Lakeshore Lyrics. She is currently working on a new series for 2016.
What inspired you to write your book?
My latest book is Lakeshore Lyrics. This is the fifth book in The McAdams series, but is actually about their brother, Avery McAdams. You meet Avery in book four, Lakeshore Candy and during one of Abby`s emotional scenes, Avery’s actions made his own story. Right then and there, I knew I had to tell his lovestory with Cece Boyd.
Here is a short sample from the book:
“YOU ARE SOOO dead.” The threat came out in a long, slow, sympathetic tone. It ended with a devious chuckle that shot, unusually straight through Avery McAdams, scratching every last nerve that was already on edge.
It wasn’t his twin sister’s fault that Avery had to inhale an extra deep breath to fill his lungs with strength before even attempting to speak to her…for simply pointing out the obvious. No, he’d woken up in a helluva bad mood this morning. And nothing, including the workout he’d hammered in the fitness room down the hall, the steaming hot shower afterwards, or the hearty breakfast Riley Boyd, Abby’s boyfriend had whipped up helped to relieve the tension tightening his entire body.
Even now, as he was somewhat comfortably sitting on the white leather sofa, basking in the hot sun beating through the windows behind him and embracing his favorite object in the world, his guitar. But even that wasn’t flaking away at his nerves like he’d thought it would.
Avery looked up from his fingers, paused on the strings of his guitar. This was his go-to frustration release tool. This was his go-to tool for all of his moods. Happy…strum an upbeat tune. Sad…dig into his soul for heart-rendering lyrics. Excited…let the neighbors know it. Today…it wasn’t working. That only irritated him mood more.
These sudden feelings of annoyance, frustration, irritation, and anger…all of which were new to Avery…were bunched together in a tight ball bouncing around in his gut fighting the reason behind these emotions…Cece Boyd.
He was surprised that his breakfast even stayed down this morning. With that thought, Avery reached for the cinnamon bun he’d set on the coffee table earlier and took a bite, so he had a reason not to reply to his sister.
Technically, he hadn’t awakened in this foul mood. He had awaken with the pleasant, entrancing smell, feel, touch, and sight of Cece Boyd, only to find it was a dream…a damn good dream…but still a dream. The truth was, it would only ever be a dream and well…that just kind of kicked in his sour mood.
Now, he was battling these strong feelings for her, that he’d somehow managed to ignore up until today, at the same time trying to determine a plan for coping this week while he was traveling in very very, close quarters with Cece. Tour-bus-close quarters.
So, Avery didn’t need his sister telling him what to do, which he knew was exactly the bumpy road that comment was headed down. He always knew the direction of his twin’s thoughts.
“Aren’t you supposed to be at a meeting like…” Abby glanced at her phone screen, for dramatics. Avery would bet if he stood up and grabbed the phone from her right now, the screen wouldn’t be lit. “…fifteen minutes ago?”
Why are you even asking me? The cinnamon bun, he was overly chewing, didn’t keep him from answering the question in his own head.
Abby knew the answer. They’d discussed the week’s events over supper the night before with Riley, so Abby was up-to-date on the activities of his band, Inch Away, for the next week. Today’s meeting, yes, fifteen minutes ago, was on that agenda…and yes, he was supposed to attend.
We will be seeing plenty of each other starting tomorrow for the next week while travelling and sleeping on the same coach bus. It will be easier for both of us if I don’t attend today.
That wasn’t true. Sure, it was saving him the torture or seeing her, watching her, longing to kiss her luscious, full lips again and run his fingers through her long, dark locks, but as for her…it didn’t matter…she didn’t care. After their entertaining evening spent in Riley’s games room, she’d walked away without a second thought about him. He, on the other hand, hadn’t stopped thinking about her. How irritating.
The thought of Riley knocked quietly, but persistently, inside Avery’s head, bringing a sting of guilt for not attending the meeting. Riley had, after all, signed Inch Away to his label back in July, making it crystal clear he was not recording their album simply because he was in a relationship with Avery’s sister. That also meant no special treatment.
Inch Away’s unique sound of rock with a touch of folk was what had attracted Riley to the band. But they had to work their way to the top. Missing today’s important meeting was no doubt skipping on the work part of their verbal agreement.
Now, only two months after signing, Inch Away was heading to AHJ, one the largest, most popular music festivals. That was incredible on its own, but in such a short time and to have Inch Away on the music lineup…well that was just on the edge of damn near impossible! If it hadn’t happened to Avery’s band he would have truly believed it was impossible.
The anticipation of walking onto a stage that he had stared at as a struggling musician in previous years sent a rush of adrenaline pulsing through his body. His band was going to be performing for a crowd of ecstatic fans, whom he had once been…he couldn’t wait.
Not to mention this was going to be an incredible promotion for the band. They weren’t getting paid for performing at the AHJ, since all the money went to charity, but the publicity of their music would pay for itself over and over again.
It was Avery’s dream come true. It was every artists dream come true…and yet here he was…not at that meeting.
Behind his decision to stay home were reasons he didn’t want to get into with himself so he certainly didn’t want to get into them with Abby. Besides her being a flapper of the mouth since childhood, she’d been dating Riley, her soul mate, for the last two months and she’d now taken on dishing out supreme dating advice Avery’s way whenever the topic came up…or even when it didn’t. Supplying her with his feelings and thoughts would only end in a nagging he didn’t want to endure.
Abby continued on when he didn’t reply. “You better move your ass,” she told him, snatching the rest of the cinnamon bun out of his hand and taking a bite with her glossy painted lips. She made a face like the cinnamon bun was heaven you could eat…which it had been until she took it away from him.
Despite easting more junk food than anyone else he knew, Abby was stick-thin. Riley fed her sweet tooth with fresh baking every morning. Avery could get used of waking up to the recipes Riley used from Mrs. Calvert’s bakery back in Willow Valley, Avery and Abby’s hometown. Riley had worked at the bakery for two years dealing with his past before moving forward and returning to Oakston with Abby by his side.
“Cece is going to drag you to the butcher shop and come back with Avery drumsticks all wrapped in fancy brown paper.” Abby’s black studded boots were stepping away from him as she was shrugging her black leather jacket over top of a black t-shirt and black skinnies. Her trademark: black. It was quite the contrast from her annoyingly cheerful self this morning…most mornings.
Why was she so annoyingly cheerful this morning? And why did just the two syllables of Cece’s name speed up the beat of his heart?
First question…because Abby’s love life is falling into place more and more by the day and yours is non-existent. Second question…he had no idea, he’d never felt like this about a woman before.
Avery wasn’t jealous of his sister’s relationship with Riley. Hell no. A little annoyed at the stickler of love she’d become, but not jealous. He couldn’t be happier that she found her one true love and knowing Riley would never let harm come to his twin sister doubled Avery’s happiness.
Avery had thought he’d found that special someone months earlier. The one woman he planned to spend the rest of his life with, to share stories, talk for hours, and love. Only to have a rude awakening and what felt like a kick in the head that scrambled everything he’d thought he found.
Avery’s whole life, he’d been so focused on his band, and then his father’s rehab to break his drinking addiction, that Avery hadn’t gone searching for love or even been open to the possibility of it. Sure he’d dated, but he’d never fallen in love…and then to have it pulled right out from under him like a huge ass area rug…well it damn well hurt falling flat on his unexpected ass.
He was done with love. Finished. Period. The end.
Then what were the feelings stirring you awake this morning? And why are they so much stronger than the ones you felt when you were convinced you were in love?
Avery sipped his coffee instead of answering his own questions and watched Abby’s big, russet eyes waiting for his reply. He wasn’t giving in.
Abby was the wild-child of the McAdams siblings with a flair for dramatics and always on the go. Lately Riley was going just as much, and as hard, as Abby, back and forth between Willow Valley and Oakston. Riley’s label was situated in the old part of Oakston, unique just like the talent he invested in. Abby and Riley were wired to the limit. But happy.
With his career taking off, Avery couldn’t remember a time in his life when he was happier or more satisfied…until he saw her…then he felt a spark in him that confused the hell out of his no love rule.
Abby zipped up her coat, planted her hands on her small hips and grinned at him. “I am tempted to stay home and witness her bursting through this door to drag you to the label.” Abby was meeting their other three sisters, Kate, Peyton and Sydney, along with a real estate agent to inquire about a small unique building to open their second Old Town Soap Co. shop in Oakston. Abby was thrilled to manage it when she officially moved to Oakston.
Avery would put money down that Cece wasn’t going to come bursting through the door. She was avoiding him, ignoring him, and keeping them as distant as possible…there was no way she would search him out.
He also wasn’t terrified of Cece as Abby was insinuating. If only Avery saw Cece Boyd as the hard, cold, serious artist manager she portrayed. If only he feared her icy cold stare like every other band member that jumped at her every word because she was the boss. Cece was making them famous and she was the amazing one that got them into the AHJ festival. Avery should be kissing her feet and arriving fifteen minutes early to the meeting, not trying to skip it.
Kissing her feet…why was that image so arousing?
There is was again…lacking the fear allowed her soft, smooth feet, which joined to killer long, smooth legs to pop into his head and kick start his hunger for her. His fingertips were tingling at the memory of his hands running up those legs, pushing her dress all the way up to her waist before he tore the piece of material off and exposed her gorgeous, sexy…damn, he wished the cinnamon bun was distracting his fingers.
Avery just couldn’t be so lucky to visualize her like everyone else. They’d crossed a line and now every time Avery saw Cece, her long chocolate shimmering locks, dark eyes, and killer hot body under the reserved pencil-line dresses she wore in every color of the rainbow, excited the area below his pants. His view reminded him, when she wasn’t in work-mode, of how her eyes flared with emotion, lust, desire, and enjoyment and he was back in that room making sweet love to her.
Cece wasn’t even here and Avery was back in that room. His eyes stared past Abby, back to the door under the glass staircase causing a shudder through his body. The places their naked bodies had landed in the games room would send the maid running. He could feel his body reacting to the memory of the pool table, theater seats, bowling alley…yes Riley had a single bowling alley and the game Avery and Cece played would be disqualified, but damn it had been the best round of bowling in his entire life.
This was exactly why he was missing the meeting. How was he supposed to concentrate on what Cece was saying when his mind kept remembering them back in the games room?
That was the first reason he’d steered clear of Torsten Label this morning. The second was that his ex-girlfriend, Ems Gordon, vocals and banjo of Inch Away had hooked up with his best friend Drew, piano and keyboard, months back when they were still an indie band touring and playing little venues…while Avery and Ems were dating! Ems was the reason he had sworn off love.
Yeah, so he was still a little pissed about that too. Today sucked and he didn’t need to sit in some damn meeting with twiddle-tramp, twiddle-backstabber and twinkle-little-star.
He felt a headache coming on.
“However, I’m off.” Abby was at his side as quick as a rabbit, giving him a hug and kiss on the cheek before turning on her heel back toward the front door. “Quit hiding and go be happy,” she said over her shoulder. “Screw Ems and Drew. Just because they’re jerks doesn’t mean you should suffer. Go celebrate.” She opened the door and glanced back in for one final look. “Hey, I will tell the sisters to stick around and we can take them out for dinner tonight.”
The sisters was Avery and Abby’s long running nickname for their sisters, whom were all older then the twins and had been parental care givers during most of their childhood.
“Okay. That sounds great. Text me a place and time.” Avery hadn’t seen his sisters much in the last year, so any time spent with them he appreciated.
“Are you going to the label?” she pried for the last time.
“No.” He really should.
“Okay. Text ya later!” With that she was gone like a puff of smoke and he was left alone in the living room with his thoughts. His all-over-the-place thoughts.
Hiding. He wasn’t hiding. Why does it feel like I’m hiding?
Avery ripped his shirt off, abandoning the guitar that usually soothed him and headed to the pool in the backyard. It was a gorgeous September morning and these wonderful warm days were beginning to be further apart as fall rolled in, so he might as well take advantage of it.
At least his sister’s man was loaded, providing Avery with everything he needed to distract himself within the four glass walls of Riley’s luxury home.
CECE BOYD WAS running late. Very late. An hour to be exact and she was never late. That pierced disappointment into her already aggravated mood.
She pushed open the glass doors of her brother’s business, Torsten Label. The central air that generally cooled her down before her long day began, bounced off her turquoise pencil-line dress, allowing the same thoughts she’d been having all morning to follow her inside, heavy and muggy, like the unusual September morning.
It had all started with her wardrobe.
Why was everything she owned professional looking? Pencil-line dresses, pencil-line skirts, blazer suits, completely covering blouses, everything appropriate and nothing…fun…nothing…?
No, don’t even think it.
The four letter word had been the reason she tore through her wardrobe in a panic this morning.
Sexy…that word was no longer allowed to be associated with Cece’s clothing.
For the last three years her wardrobe fit her temporary position as CEO of Torsten Label, until her brother returned two months ago and resumed the role in the company he started. In turn, Cece was able to go back to what she loved doing best…managing artists.
During her managing artists career, trendy-chic outfits had lined the hangers of her walk-in closet. Her appearance helped her relate to the young bands she was managing, not scare them.
Inch Away, the newest band…the only band…she was managing, were in fact, scared of her. Every last member looked her over like she was…Cruella de Vil and not the woman who sent their single to the top of the music charts. To the top of the music charts! A new band! Hello, that called for gazes like she was the Goddess of music, not the killer of little puppies.
Tomorrow Cece was heading to the AHJ music festival with a band who feared her and she had nothing appropriate to wear…that should have been why her wardrobe sent her into distress this morning…not the real reason she was ignoring.
The word switched directions in her mind and suddenly she was envisioning Avery McAdams’ sexy body.
Oh stop already. Sexy body? Sexy body! Do you even qualify to assess his sexy body since you only saw it once? Her tingling fingertips mentally retraced each ripple and dip of his body over the hot to-go coffee cup she was holding.
She tossed her half drank paper cup if java in the garbage. She was never going to be able to look at coffee the same again.
Cece was going shopping. That was her final decision this morning after finally slipping into another pencil-line dress. A shopping trip was exactly what she needed to spruce up her closet, be prepared for the AJH and add in a spice of…
No. No. No.
“Good morning Cece,” Macy greeted, brushing her blonde bangs away from her face. She looked up from behind the black receptionist desk stretching across the length of the far red wall.
When Riley decorated the label he mashed retro with contemporary for a unique feel that spread across the red walls and black tile floors.
“They’re waiting in board room six for you.” She relayed the message stepping around the long desk, wearing a sexy skin-tight red dress.
Cece had to gather up every last piece of her inner professionalism not to scream.
Macy oozed sexy.
Don’t compare yourself to Macy or anyone else for that matter…that’s what’s responsible for warping your normally focused thoughts.
“Thanks Macy. I’m going to run by my office first and I will be right down.”
I need a moment to myself…again. What is wrong with me? You’re loading onto a bus soon with Avery where you can’t run and hide from him and his beautiful body.
Macy was looking her up and down, analyzing her with those same blue eyes that had done so when Riley had taken off three years earlier when his family died in a car crash. Cece hated that look. She’d hated it back then and she hated it even more now. Why was Macy even analyzing her in the first place?
“What?” Cece didn’t mean to snap, but that’s exactly how it came out, sharp and angry. She was having a crappy morning and now she was taking it out on Macy, who would do anything for her. Cece softened her face as Macy answered.
“You’re late,” she observed, as if Cece wasn’t already fully aware. “You alright?”
Macy saw right through the feeble excuse, with an arch of her perfectly manicured, filled-in eyebrows, a strong contrast against her light skin and blonde locks of hair. Got lost in my work, would have been way more convincing.
“I’m fine,” Cece promised, squeezing one of Macy’s hands.
Macy was a good friend, not a close friend, Cece didn’t have any of those. She’d pulled away from everyone when Riley left without telling her where he was for almost three years and that was when she’d been forced into his chair, forced into professional clothes and shut down from the people in her life, maintaining professionalism. Period.
Cece wasn’t getting into details right now with Macy about how one run-in…sexy, steamy, run-in…with Avery McAdams and how he’d smashed his way through her brick wall, then left her crushed on the other side. Now, she was having a hard time building that wall back up. Day after day she added another brick in hopes he would stay on the other side. Today was by far the worst day. She was late because of her unsexy wardrobe, her empty suitcase and Avery McAdams’ sexy body…
“Give me ten.”
I might need another hour!
Cece’s five-inch black stiletto’s echoed down the hall to her office. She confidently considered her shoes sexy. The only sexy things left in her closet. Shoes? Shoes!
Cece slammed her office door shut with a little extra ram than usual, threw her mail on the desk, not even bothering to look through it, and swung open her closet door. Standing in front of the full length mirror she found herself repeating her actions from home: staring at her professional outfit reflection, analyzing it and disappointed in the end result.
Her eyes stopped, and she scolded herself for pulling the door open to start with.
You are a professional. You look professional. You didn’t want this stupid gig and you could skin your brother alive for forcing you into it because it was his girlfriend’s brother.
Avery was getting special treatment and Cece didn’t like it. Unfortunately the bigger problem was that she liked Avery.
Liked Avery? Liked Avery!
There went today’s and yesterday’s bricks. She was going to have to double up tomorrow.
Comprehending that she liked Avery made her stomach turn and suddenly she was fearing that boardroom.
What was the point of the meeting anyway? Did you read your itinerary? Do you have any questions? Let’s go over the outline of the festival. What is expected, what will happen, and what you should be doing at all times. Was any of that really important enough to throw together a meeting?
Avery was going to get excited, she was going to get excited and Cece was going to be reminded of her current position as professional Cruella de Vil, who Avery slept with to up his band. Cece was the ticket to their success. Suddenly the well-known saying, take one for the team came to mind and she felt like a scratched record, used until no longer needed and then thrown away.
Why had Riley chosen Cece to manage Inch Away? Cece could have found her own band. She loved the search. But Cece hadn’t had a choice in Riley’s decision. She also couldn’t say no to her brother after attempting to destroy his relationship with Abby McAdams prior to his offer and admitted it after his offer. Cece was at Riley’s…and Abby’s…mercy after breaking them up. She had come clean after the guilt of watching her brother sulk about had eaten her up inside. Now they were happily in love and when Riley laid the offer out on the table she couldn’t very well say, No Riley I don’t want to manage Inch Away because I slept with Avery and I have no proof but he’s in love with his ex and he slept with me so I would take this exact position, because I am the best artist’s manager you have and he’s trying to win his ex-girlfriend back.
It sounded insane, but it was true.
Cece had been cornered and now she was stuck with Inch Away. That was that and there was no changing it. Worse than that, why wouldn’t Avery evaporate from her thoughts? And why was she letting that four letter word creep back into her thoughts while making a disgusted face at the mirror?
Why? Why? Why?
Cece groaned and covered her face with her hands, kicking the closet door shut at the same time.
She was so embarrassed she’d been roped into Avery’s bed…well more like the top of the pool table and bent over the theater seats and Lord, she couldn’t forget the bowling alley…she was pretty sure some of what they did on that bowling alley would be considered illegal…and oh, how she craved to do it again. She’d been roped into Avery’s arms just like she’d been roped into the exact job Riley hooked her up with. There hadn’t been any need for Avery to have scoped her out and sweet talked her into sleeping together and to top it all off he was in love with Ems!
As usual the thought swirled a pit of sadness in her stomach.
“He loves Ems,” she said out loud and she would do so until it was through her thick head. “And he used you to get further in his career…with Ems.”
Leaving the games room that night, Cece had been under the impression something had sparked between her and Avery. Cece hadn’t been looking for a relationship, or a man, but from the moment she was introduced to Avery McAdams her heart had peeked out of hiding and reminded her it still existed. Cece’s skin had still been tingling from Avery’s touch and her lips warm and soft from his caresses when she left the room. Her body had awakened after three years and excitement had seeped through her once again. But then Abby had stopped her in the hall with her bubbly, non-stop motor mouth on a search for Avery and informing Cece about how Ems had cheated on Avery with his best friend, in turn breaking Avery’s heart.
Breaking his heart? It hit Cece right then and there…she’d been used. For a moment she thought she felt her heart break and it hurt far worse than any relationship she’d been in. That was ridiculous. That was ridiculous…childish. Who felt that way after knowing someone for only a week? Nobody!
Cece shook her head, and the past, away, focusing on the now. “You are professional,” she told herself. She glanced down at her outfit. Her clothes didn’t object.
Taking a deep breath, she grabbed her iPad and headed down the cool, sleek, red painted halls to board room six.
First things first. Get to AHJ without making a fool of myself and get through this meeting without stealing glances in Avery’s direction.
Easy peasy. Tell that to the tornado that went through your closet this morning.
Three out of four of the band members were lounging on red leather chairs in the boardroom playing their single, “Evoked Heartbeat”…and who did Avery write that song about…
Ems Gordon was the first one to catch her attention, laughing and strumming her banjo in tune with the others. She looked like the billboard model of a country advertisement in her denim and floral dress and leather white cowboy boots, rocking up and down in perfect harmony to the tune. Her tattoo sleeve traveled up her arm, and peeked through the openings of the lace across her chest. It gave her a flash of modern…dare Cece think it…sexy.
Maybe Cece’s anger at Avery was conveying this Cruella shadow toward them…or maybe it was her clothes. Emily was unknowingly digging into Cece’s self conscious and dragging unfamiliar feelings into Cece’s chest on a regular basis lately. In all her adult years…in all her life…she had never been self conscious or even cared what other people thought of her…especially not a guy. She remembered a time when she was a little more shy and conscious of her actions, but never had she felt self conscious about herself. Repeatedly asking herself what Ems had that she didn’t was ending…today.
Drew was beside Ems, leg against leg with her, his deep voice bouncing off the four walls as he craned his neck back and closed his hazel eyes, feeling the music, singing the words no doubt intended for the woman beside him, his girlfriend.
Drew was a tall, lanky guy with the same style as the rest of the band, button-ups over denim. Cece liked their style: clean cut. It looked great on stage.
Drew’s fingers were usually hitting the keyboard or piano instead resting on Ems thigh, like the present.
The third member, Sean Warren was strumming his base guitar in perfect harmony, his head bent down and his straw hat hid his black square glasses and round face fitted with full beard and curled mustache.
Cece dropped her iPad on the table and the loud thump caught their attention. They turned, their lit smiles faltering a bit at Cece’s presence.
Fear…they fear me.
They might as well come right out and say, Good morning Cruella.
Maybe if you didn’t sound so hard they wouldn’t be scared of you. Maybe if I didn’t feel like I needed to build a solid, hard wall to survive I wouldn’t sound so hard.
A round of shrugs answered her. None of them knew where he was?
“He hasn’t shown up yet,” Ems offered.
“Has anyone texted him or called him?” Cece asked. It was the day and age of technology and if a band member was missing how had none of them located him?
“I called and texted him,” Ems piped up.
Of course you did.
“No reply.” Ems shrugged.
No reply? No reply!
Cece hadn’t wanted to come to this meeting either, but she’d shown up.
That smug little shit. Special treatment came back to mind.
“Meet me back here in a half hour,” she said, turning on her heel and pulling her cell phone out.
He had better be dying.
“Did Abby come in with Riley today?” Cece asked Macy as she walked into the reception area.
“No. Riley’s in his office though,” Macy offered.
Cece didn’t need Riley. “Thanks,” Cece said while she texted Abby, Where’s your brother, with fuming fingers hitting the screen. She should really have approached the text nicer like, Hey Abby, have you seen your brother…no show @ the meeting this morning.
Cece was still walking on egg shells around Abby. She still couldn’t believe her brother had fallen in love. In love! That hadn’t been the brother she’d remembered.
Riley had never loved anyone, expect Cece of course. He had raised her after their parents died in a car crash and their wealthy, but heartless Uncle Jack took them in, but never really accepted them. Until his death, Jack had devoted his every last waking second to work. Uncle Jack might not have loved Riley and Cece, but when he died he’d left them enough money that neither of them ever had to work again.
At the time of his death, Riley had been just like Jack, a workaholic with a dash of rebellion in him. He’d taken his portion of the money and created Torsten Label, named after their father, and Riley had been proud of his creation. That was why, when Riley left, Cece devoted her every waking minute to keeping the thriving business up-to-date, successful and running smoothly, for the day Riley returned. A record label couldn’t fall behind with times changing, and bands coming and going. The CEO always had to be one step ahead. That had consumed most of Cece’s time over the last few years and made her…hard.
Then all of a sudden after years living in Willow Valley, and not telling Cece, Riley had shown up in the early hours of the morning with Abby…claiming to be in love. Cece hadn’t bought it at the time. Now, she saw her brother was in love. At the time she couldn’t think past the fear of losing him again and was convinced a break away from Abby would clear his mind and find his proprieties again. The break had only made Riley miserable missing Abby more. They belonged together. Soul mates.
What was with these McAdams and the pull they had on the Boyds? Seriously.
Cece’s phone vibrated as Abby’s text came through. Last I saw him at home.
At home meant he was at Riley’s house.
K. Thanks. Cece sent the message, and then slipped her phone away. She wasn’t starting this meeting without Avery and if she had to track him down then she very well would and not because she wanted to see him.
The warm September air pelted down on her making her anger heavier. Why couldn’t it be a cool September day and chill her down instead?
Cece drove straight to Riley’s house, used her key to get in the front door, and spotted Avery’s guitar on the couch and his shirt on the floor.
She swallowed hard as she pushed the back glass door open and found Avery swimming in the pool in the backyard. Swimming! His lean arms were slicing through the water as his long body moved gracefully with the sun glistening off his naturally tanned muscles.
Cece was thankful he was distracted so he didn’t witnesses her gaping mouth captivated with his almost naked body. This was exactly the reason she’d made damn sure they’d stayed separated the last two months. This man made her blood boil and her head turn stupid in a way she’d never experienced…but at the same time washed a sadness over her because what she felt for him, he didn’t feel for her.
Avery broke through the surface.
Cece regained her composure.
Lord, he was gorgeous.
“What are you doing?” she demanded, planting her heels on the white marble and staring down at him treading in the center of the pool.
She ignored the extra-pull in her stomach at the sexy, cocky smirk crossing his face. Why did he look at her like that?
“Swimming,” he answered.
That was not what she was referring to and he knew it. “We had a meeting over an hour ago and you’re swimming?”
“It’s a beautiful day.” His voice was so damned sexy. She hated that! And he looked at her like he was only looking at her, blind sighting her with his charm.
“You can’t just miss any meeting you please just because it’s a beautiful day.”
“I already know all about your fancy little meeting.” Fancy little meeting? Was everything a joke to him? “You’re going to go over the requirements of new bands at the festival, make sure we read the itinerary…” He grinned at her. “…which I did…twice” He was cute too. Sexy, charming, cute…gorgeous…ugh! How did he know all about her fancy little meeting anyway? “Riley told me last night over supper,” Avery supplied, as though she had asked.
Special treatment. This was unacceptable.
“You know the supper you were invited to, but you bailed.”
Yes, because of you!
Cece wasn’t about to tell Avery that. She didn’t trust herself with him and his smirks, his sweet talk, and his abs. His abs. She was watering at the mouth again just thinking about those rock hard abs bobbing under the water and commanding herself to not drop her eyes for a peek.
Cece folded her arms and glared at him. “Don’t you think it’s a little pathetic you live with your sister in her boyfriend’s house?” Glass, three-story, amazing house with a pool in the backyard overlooking the city completely equipped with gym, games room, theater…bowling alley.
It was really more like a free hotel. But Cece hadn’t seen much of it lately while on mission: Avoid Avery.
Avery swam to the edge of the pool.
Cece had to force herself not to step away as he climbed out of the water dripping down his muscular chest…down his abs and making Cece’s tongue want to lick away the droplets.
Lick? What? No!
“I could move in with you.” He’d dropped his carefree tone down to a sexy bedroom tone that strummed all the right strings in her belly like his fingers on his guitar. “I hear your penthouse is spacious, but reserved and…” He grinned, leaning in a bit closer. Cece had to clench her fists to keep from struggling to find the air she’d stopped inhaling while he spoke. “…there’s only one bedroom.” There really was only one bedroom. How did he know that? “I don’t mind sharing.” She wouldn’t mind sharing either…not with this man.
Cece! He does this to all the women and he only means it with one and it’s not you.
She could feel herself getting lost with him again. It had been like this since the first day they met. Even with her thoughts focused on Riley’s return, her body demanded she pay attention to Avery.
Cece couldn’t fall into Avery’s trap. Her heart couldn’t handle another heartbreak and she feared Avery’s would be the worst of all.
“Get dressed. I will wait for you outside.” She collected all her strength, which was not holding her heavy body upwards, turned and walked away.
“Should I pack my bags…” he called after her.
It would have made her skin crawl if it was anyone else making the suggestion. But Avery…she could picture him strumming his guitar naked, on her bed.
Cece sighed, climbing behind the wheel and cranked the air conditioning to high.
Avery took her thoughts up mountains, down gulley’s and around bends without even trying, but every path led to a dead end. There was no future with him so why was she torturing herself?
She flipped down the mirror to check the damage the heat was causing to her makeup. Thankfully it was more a nervous tick checking her makeup then that alternative, checking it for Avery.
Cece worked her whole, successful career with bands and she knew what guys came with this gig: women-loving guys.
If they weren’t already so full of themselves they needed to be tied down from floating away with arrogance, by the time they were in the spotlight, and the fans loved them, they’d hitched onto that balloon ride first class.
Avery was the worst kind. He was in love with Ems and Ems was in his band. No matter who cheated on whom before that relationship failed, Cece caught both of them sizing the other one on a daily basis when they thought no one was looking. They had a connection. A connection she couldn’t compete with. A connection she didn’t want to compete with. If only she’d known that before she’d let him through her wall of security.