Hot Country Series, Book 3
When a hot little strawberry blonde from the audience interrupts country music superstar Ryder Landry’s concert and accuses him of stealing a song, he thinks she’s just another fan, using an innovative method to get his attention. Backstage, she doesn’t want anything to do with Ryder’s seduction—not right away, anyway.
Brooke Davidson barely has the willpower to put a stop to Ryder’s foreplay, but she’s there on business. Illegal business, because he’s taking credit for a song she’d written. When they determine it had been stolen by a third party, they set out to find the man, ending up together in intimate, sexy, tantalizing situations.
Ryder normally keeps his public and private lives separate, especially now, with all the secret family matters he’s working through. His rule has always been to never spend more than one weekend with a woman, but Brooke has him wondering if his rule needs to be changed. She’s quirky, uninhibited, and intensely sensual, but a new revelation about the stolen song has him doubting her and his feelings for her. Will he be able to get past his uncertainties, or will Brooke’s jealousy and distrust keep them from exploring the irresistible connection between them?
Ryder Landry strummed the final notes on his electric guitar as the sold-out crowd of eleven thousand in Hershey, Pennsylvania clapped and shouted.
He touched the brim of his black cowboy hat. “Thank you!” As the lights behind him dimmed and his band left the stage, a roadie took his axe and handed him an acoustic guitar.
“I’m gonna get a little personal here, Pennsylvania.” He slid the strap over his head and tested the tuning. Perfect.
The crowd roared as a stage tech set a tall stool behind him.
He settled on the stool, one booted foot on the bottom rung, one on the floor. He’d worn a black T-shirt, and the stage lighting had turned it into an oven. He’d sweat through it, though, for his fans. Strumming a C chord, he took a breath. This was always the toughest part of his show, but it was something he needed to do. For her. He glanced up at the ceiling and mouthed, “For you, Momma.”
The crowd went silent. “This is for a special lady who’s not with us anymore. It’s called Lasting Goodbye.”
Thousands of female voices came back with “aws” and “ohs.”
“I wrote this with a friend who didn’t want any of the credit for it and—”
“Yeah, right! I’m that friend!” A female voice carried all the way to the stage from the floor seating on the right.
A few calls of “shut up” and some shushing sounds came from that direction.
“All the proceeds from this song go to breast cancer research.”
The crowd clapped.
He strummed the notes and began to sing, the music flowing seamlessly, his voice holding steady even as emotion flooded his chest. He missed her. She’d been gone ten months, and the hole left in his life wasn’t shrinking any.
A ruckus sounded from the right side of the audience. Voices and yelling.
He just kept playing. Shit like that happened at every show. When he looked toward that area he saw a big, white sign, highlighted with flashlights, but he couldn’t read the words.
During the last chorus, the person with the sign came running toward the stage, the sign high over her head.
Ryder ended the song short.
“You stole that song from me!” Her voice rang clear. Where she held the sign, she also gripped flashlights that highlighted the neatly printed words. Ryder Landry stole this song.
The audience booed her.
Two security guards grabbed her, confiscated her sign, and snuffed her flashlights.
The crowd went wild.
Ryder leaned forward and his personal security guy stepped closer to him.
“Take her to my dressing room, Schmiddy. Keep an eye on her, though.”
“Yes, sir.” The guard cleared the people in front of him, jumped the bike rack holding the crowd back, and pushed his way toward the woman.
Some concertgoers turned on their phone lights and shined them on her—or were they recording her?—as the three security people ushered her through the arena.
He didn’t want to taint the song with any bad publicity. He’d have his online people search and remove any videos, if they showed up.
She was just a little thing. He stood six-one and Schmiddy was about his height, so she probably topped five feet by just an inch or two. Her long, strawberry-blonde hair flowed straight and thick.
He’d always had a thing for gingers.
“Well, I guess I should be flattered.” Ryder strummed another chord and waited for the noise level in the arena to drop. “I’ve never had anyone go to those extremes to get my attention before.” He grinned and the crowd hooted.
“Next time, ginger…” He looked toward his right. “Just throw your panties up on stage.”
The ladies in the audience screamed. And damned if two pairs of hot little underwear didn’t land at his feet. Lord above, he loved his job.
After another fifteen minutes of acoustical, and another hour of his regular set, plus three quick encores, he was done. Until tomorrow night, when another eleven thousand fans would be back for night two of this tour stop. He walked through the backstage crowd, his manager and assistant by his side.
A dozen people followed him, congratulating him on a great show, and when he reached his dressing room door, he held up a hand. “Give me a half hour.”
The guys grinned. “Sure thing, Ryder.” They knew what was going to happen.
He wasn’t shy about bringing a woman backstage to help him de-stress after a show. His cock jumped in his jeans as a guard opened the door for him. That hot little ginger was waiting for him, and he’d have her long hair wrapped around his fist and her lips on his cock as soon as he got rid of Schmiddy.
He stepped into the room and looked for her in the seating area. Empty.
She stood back in a corner. When she spun to face him, her long, thick hair flowed like silk bed sheets. Her tight little body, in a green sweater and jeans, presented him with damn nice-sized breasts for someone so small.
“Hey, cutie, thanks for waiting for me.” Ryder glanced at Schmiddy and nodded toward the exit. The big, bald guy got his hulking muscles moving and shut the door behind him. “Let me shower first, then we’ll party.”
“I am not here to have sex with you.” She advanced on him, stepping into the full lighting. Her hazel eyes narrowed and her hands fisted at her thighs.
Her spitfire attitude just charged his swelling cock even more. He took off his hat and sent it sailing onto a chair. “Oh, yeah? What’cha want, then?” He’d hear her out, seduce her, then figure out if she was crazy or not before he decided if he would bring her back to his hotel.
“Uh huh.” Sweat rolled into his eyes and he pulled off his T-shirt and wiped his face with it. He tossed it into a basket in the corner. “Let’s say I give you what you want. Then what?” He advanced on her, his shaft filling, his groin hot and ready for release.
Her eyes dropped to his chest. Even with his dark hair, he had very few chest hairs, but he worked out, so he flexed a bit for her.
She opened her mouth but nothing came out. After a moment, her gaze met his again. “Stop. Don’t you try to pull that cocky superstar shit on me.”
He took a few more steps before he obeyed and planted his feet just a yard in front of her. “No, ma’am. No cocky shit comin’ from me.” She was one mouthy, sexy little thing, and he had a whole night and most of the next day to spend some good quality fucking time with her.
“That song you played. I wrote it.” She pointed one delicate finger to her chest, making her round breasts jiggle.
“Uh huh. Just that one song, cutie? Not every song I played tonight?” His mouth watered for a taste of her. Peaches-and-cream skin, her cheeks flushed with color, and her almond-shaped eyes boring into his. He liked how she kept her bullshit story going.
“You call me cutie just one more time, and I’m going to…” She stomped her foot, the running shoe making no noise on the thick carpet. “Ugh!” She gritted her teeth and her whole body shook.
“Okay, what’s your name, then?” He needed to calm her down if he was going to get any enjoyment out of this encounter.
“I’m Brooke Davidson. I’m a songwriter. And I don’t know how you got your hands on it, but you’re going to confess to stealing that song from me.”
That sobered him a bit. “Like hell I am. I wrote it. I had help, but I wrote it.”
She tipped her head and lifted a brow. “This mysterious man who just wrote the song with you and didn’t want any of the credit for it.” She snorted. “Please.”
“Okay, you’re starting to get on my nerves, lady.” He pointed a finger at her. “No one tells me I’m a liar.”
She turned and stormed over to where a tie-dyed messenger bag sat open.
Good man, that Schmiddy. He’d have gone through it looking for weapons, drugs, and roofies.
She pulled out a notebook and flipped to a page marked with a sticky note. “Here.” She held it out to him.
He took it. Sure enough, the handwritten words looked close to what he’d sung tonight. “This only proves that you can’t even copy song lyrics correctly from the internet.”
“No.” She moved in next to him, pointing to the top right corner. “See the date? That’s when I wrote this song.”
He closed the notebook. “Cutie…Brooke, do you see how this doesn’t prove anything?” He put his hand on her shoulder. “Sit down with me a minute. Let’s talk this out.” Then he’d invite her to get naked with him, and they’d have a little fun together.
She shook her head and stepped out of his reach. “You’re not taking me seriously.”
Dropping the notebook on the couch, he crossed his arms over his chest. “Put yourself in my position.” He hoped she was non-crazy enough to follow his logic. “I write a song with a guy who’d heard about my mother’s death and wanted to help me do something important in her memory.”
“For free? And without taking any credit for it?” She planted her fists on her hips.
When she said it like that, it did sound a little off. “Not that it’s any of your business, but no. For a set price, he waived his rights to all royalties so one hundred percent of the proceeds could go to charity.”
“Okay, let’s just say that there really was a guy who helped you write the song. Because for some reason, I almost believe you when you say you didn’t steal it.”
He pulled a face. “How generous of you.”
If looks could kill, her glare would have sent him six feet under. “How the hell would he have had access to my notebook?”
Ryder let out a hoot and flung his arms wide. “How the fuck would I know?”
“I keep it locked in a file cabinet in my apartment.” Her eyes shifted. “What’s his name?”
He shook his head. “Can’t reveal that.” He stepped closer to her. “But let’s go back to my hotel room.” He lowered his voice, giving her his best Louisiana drawl. “And we can talk about this over a nice steak and lobster dinner.” He breathed deep. Damned if she didn’t smell a bit like ginger. Ginger and peaches. His mouth watered again.
“Just give me his initials. Or one name. Just his first name.” She leaned in to him, her brows lifting and her eyes going all puppy-dog innocent. “Please?”
He couldn’t resist any more. Grabbing her arms, he pulled her in and pressed his lips to hers.
She gasped and flattened her hands on his chest, pushing away.
He took the opportunity and licked the inside of her lip. Sweet and spicy, her taste against his tongue shot a dozen rounds of lust into his groin.
Her arms went slack, and she moved closer, then her tongue flicked at his as he explored her mouth.
He groaned, grabbed her ass, and pulled her up off her feet, her jeans zipper against the bulge behind his.
Brooke’s hands slid up to his shoulders and grabbed hold as she pushed her tongue into his mouth, tangling it with his, taking her own taste of him.
The desire invading his body made clear thinking near impossible. He had to have her. The wall wasn’t far away. He’d back her against it, strip those tight blue jeans off her, pull out his cock and shove into her. Fuck, she’d be wet and so goddamn tight. He’d pound into her, she’d buck right back, taking everything he’d give her. He’d come in her too fast, but she’d be right there with him.
She froze, pulled back, and looked at him with such horror in her eyes, he thought he’d turned into a zombie.
“Put me down.” She looked away, seeming more embarrassed than angry.
“God, I don’t want to. Not ever.” He could hold her just like this for the rest of his life.
Her gaze shot back to his, skittering between his eyes, as her breath panted from her full lips.
Was she just as surprised by his admission? Damn, when did he ever think long-term? For him, three days was too long.
“I didn’t come here looking for this.” She didn’t struggle to get away, though.
His hands tightened on her sweet ass. “I know.” While sex hadn’t been on her agenda for the evening, judging by her reaction, it had moved to the top of her list. “But this ain’t no normal attraction, cutie. This is white-hot and about to turn us both into flamethrowers.”
“I know. But I need to know who did this to me, first. Who stole my song? Please?”
“I’m holding a little mercenary in my arms, huh?” He set her down and took a step back. He had a choice here. Kick her tight little ass out and take an ice cold shower, or pay her ransom and have the hottest twenty-four hours of sex he’d ever experienced.
“Finch.” Fuck him for a weak, pathetic, oversexed, cum-filled bastard.
“What?” She looked up at him.
“The guy’s name. Finch.” It was technically true. That was the guy’s middle name. Ryder had seen it when they’d signed the contract, and the strange name had stuck with him.
“Finch?” She shook her head. “I can’t think of any…” Her eyes opened wide, and all the color drained from her face. “Oh, God. McCrae Finch Hutchinson?”
His mouth dropped open and he snapped it shut. Holy shit, she knew the guy?
She lifted her fists and looked at the ceiling. “That son of a bitch!”