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A single mom, brother's bandmate romance

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A close proximity, small town, single-parent romance about a woman running from her past and the man who will do anything to protect her…

 

Leif Godwin ignited a fire inside me the first night I met him.

There is something about the dark stranger I can’t forget, even though I thought I’d never see him again.

He’s gorgeous and intriguing and everything I know better than to crave.

But when I move to my famous brother’s Savannah mansion with my two children, I know I’m in trouble when I find Leif living in the guest house.

 

My one goal in my life is seeking revenge. Mia West was never supposed to be part of that equation.

But she’s everything I never knew to want.

A beautiful temptation I can’t resist.

Soon, she has my walls crumbling at her feet.

 

I know touching her is a sin, but there’s no stopping this connection.

I want to give her everything, my heart and my life. But when our pasts collide, I’m afraid loving her will destroy us all…

Kiss The Stars First Chapter

Mia

“Are you okay?” Lyrik asked just loud enough for me to hear over the din of live music that echoed through the air. A clatter of voices and laughter mingled with it, glasses clinking as the sounds of the extravagant party carried around us.

My older brother had hauled me into a deserted hallway where we were hidden from view of the rest of the guests who overflowed his mansion, the man holding tight to my elbow as he searched my face.

I got the sense he was worried it was the only way he could keep me from floating away.

“Lyrik, I’m fine.” As fine as I could be with my heart a jackhammer in my chest.

Nerves rattled.

Breaths jagged and shallow and exposing everything I wanted to keep hidden from my brother.

You know, the straight up lie I was spouting.

But sometimes telling them were the only way to get by.

Lyrik caught it. Did I expect anything else? He’d always read me better than anyone.

Dark eyes flared as he glowered down at me. “Bullshit.”

“I don’t know what you want me to say. That I freaked out? That I overreacted? Or that I really was scared?”

All of the above.

I didn’t know how to fix it short of locking myself in a room forever and never coming out.

Lyrik would probably think that was a fantastic idea.

“Honestly, if it was my choice, I wouldn’t let you out of my sight.”

A mix between affection and disbelief rumbled in my chest.

I knew him, too. Knew him inside and out and back again. And that meant I knew he was hurting almost as badly as me.

Worried.

Aching for a way to take it away, to make it better, and realizing it didn’t matter how much fame had come his way or how many zeroes he had sitting in his bank accounts, he had no power over this.

What was done was already done.

Buried six feet underground.

“That is ridiculous and impossible and you’re being overbearing again,” I tried to reason, to calm him down. I was riddled with enough anxiety for the two of us.

“I’ll show you ridiculous,” he warned, glancing around like the monster would suddenly make himself known in the middle of one of the biggest galas of the year. “Told you the lengths I’d go, Mia. Wasn’t joking.”

“And you know I would never ask that of you. This isn’t your responsibility. You’ve already done enough.”

Lyrik scowled.

I swore, the man appeared nothing less than a demon in the shadows of the private hall, towering over me while I tried to remain standing and not break down from the accidental brush of a stranger’s hand.

Lately, crowds and I hadn’t been friends.

Problem was, being alone was worse.

“Who was it? Just point him out, and he’s out on his ass. No questions. Not gonna tolerate that kind of bullshit going down under my roof. Asshole should know better.”

“That’s not necessary, Lyrik.” My head shook as I gathered myself. “He . . . caught me off guard, that’s all. He didn’t even mean to touch me. I’m sorry that I made you worry.”

There’d just been something in the stranger’s seedy eyes that had sent my mind spiraling back to what had happened at my gallery three weeks ago. Something that had sent me running out of the room, close to suffering a full-blown panic attack.

A reel of dark, cruel images hitting me.

Frame after frame.

In that second, the only thing my mind could process was the memory of the evil glaring out from under that mask.

Lyrik stared down at me with stark brotherly concern.

All black hair and even darker eyes.

“Don’t you dare apologize, Mia. There isn’t one goddamn thing for you to be sorry for. None of this is your fault.” His brow drew tight in emphasis, like he’d somehow taken on some of the blame.

A self-conscious breath huffed from between my lips. “Are you joking, Lyrik? I’ve become nothing but a burden to you and Tamar. You’re constantly on edge, and I know you haven’t been sleeping.”

His expression darkened. “Yeah, well that bastard is still out there. Loose. Not gonna rest until he’s behind bars. Or dead.”

Grief grasped me by the throat.

This sticky, heavy sensation that made it close to impossible to breathe.

“And you know the detective has concluded it was random. A botched robbery. I’m not in any danger,” I choked out around the clot of devastation.

Wishing there was some way to accept that conclusion. To find peace that wouldn’t seem to come. I didn’t know if it ever would.

“Not a chance I’m willing to take,” he grunted, gritting his jaw.

My big brother was tall and thin. Wiry, even. Oh, but he left no illusion that he was one to be toyed with.

He was nothing but rippling, lean, packed muscle. Exuding a vibe that promised he’d strike faster than any ill-intention someone might have.

I’d seen it plenty of times.

Lyrik West wasn’t talk. He was straight—I-will-fuck-you-up-and-I-won’t-apologize-later—action.

He’d ridded himself of his tux jacket and rolled up the sleeves. Every inch of skin it revealed was covered in the gruesome designs he’d permanently etched on his flesh. I knew he’d done it because he thought he needed the reminder of the evil that lived within.

Only I knew better.

He had angel’s wings hiding under all that brash, hard exterior.

And it wasn’t like I could hold his looks against him. If it weren’t for the handful of years separating us, we probably could have passed as fraternal twins.

“And I’m staying here with you. Just like you asked me to.” In emphasis, I touched his arm. “So you need to rest in that. Tonight is supposed to be fun. Your entire band is here. Your best friends. Your brothers. And the only thing you’re doing is worrying about me.”

“You think I care about the party?” he demanded, his face angling down close to mine. “You think I give a flying fuck about any of these pricks roaming around here like they are better than the rest of the world? Only thing I care about is my crew. My family. Tamar and Brendon and Adia. You and Penny and Greyson. Rest can burn. So, don’t give me this bullshit that you’re some kind of burden, yeah? Because I would gladly die before I let someone get to you.”

Lyrik edged back, shoved his hands in his pockets, and smirked. “But that won’t be necessary. I will raze the whole fuckin’ city before anyone gets between me and you or my family. You understand what I’m sayin’?”

A quirk of a smile edged my mouth. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re a badass. I get it,” I teased.

Only thing it did was cause his smirk to expand. “Hey. Everyone needs a badass on their side.”

“Like I said—ridiculous.” I tried to shove off the rush of emotions. My heart expanding with the love I had for him.

Lyrik had always taken the time to make sure I knew I was something important in the middle of his great big world.

I forced some levity into my tone. “And newsflash, Lyrik. I don’t need you to go around thinking you need to protect me the way you used to do. I’m not a little girl anymore.”

So maybe he’d tried to chase off every boyfriend I’d ever had.

He touched my cheek. “Yeah, well you’ll always be my baby sister. Get used to it.”

“I’m going to survive this, you know.” It came out a whisper.

Chest trembling with grief and the hope I refused to let go.

His smile was soft. “You’re the strongest person I know. Most wouldn’t be standing here right now. You’re going to be okay, Mia. I promise you that.”

“I have too much good to fight for not to be.” A fresh round of emotion crawled my throat.

I beat it down, refusing to feel it.

I felt desperate for a reprieve.

To forget.

Just for tonight.

I forced a bright smile to my face. It was a wonder that it was only half-faked. “Let’s just forget about it all right now. Okay? You have important people here to entertain.”

My attention drifted to the right, to the main room of his gorgeous Hollywood Hills home. It was crawling with guests for the fundraiser he and his wife, Tamar, hosted each year.

You couldn’t turn a corner without running face-first into an A-list celebrity.

The most loved musicians and the most sought-out actors.

Directors and managers and producers.

There were the up and coming and others that couldn’t step out on the street without being recognized.

Of course, there were some no-names like me, wide-eyed and unsure and hovering on the fringes in hopes they’d remain unnoticed, while others were clearly waiting for an opportunity to reach out and sink in their claws, salivating for a taste of the fame and fortune you could feel oozing from the bodies that overflowed the space.

“Fuck ‘em.”

So Lyrik.

I rolled my eyes. “Um . . . your wife put a lot of work into this whole thing, and you’re raising money for a good cause.”

“You’re my good cause.”

“Lyrik.” It was nothing but exasperation.

“What?” he deadpanned.

A heavy sigh pilfered free. “I love you. Adore you. I’m pretty sure you’re the most wonderful man on the planet.”

Men like him were rare.

Hell, I was beginning to think they had become obsolete.

Loneliness swelled.

With everything, it shouldn’t even be a consideration or thought.

But it didn’t matter that I knew better. There were just times . . . times when I wished I had someone to turn to the same way as they could turn to me. Someone who wrapped me up in their arms at night and whispered that everything would be okay.

“Go. Be with your wife. Your friends. Enjoy tonight. Just . . . let me try to do the same. Please.”

Not possible.

But at least I could give him an out.

And I was trying.

Trying to act normal. To put on a good show. If the rest of his guests who were parading around in all their diamonds and exaggerated smiles could do it, no cares in sight, then I could do it, too, right?

“I mean, seriously . . . this is ridiculous, Lyrik. You have Dreams Don’t Die playing on your freaking patio.” I lowered my voice like it was some kind of secret.

Believe me, it was a big freaking deal. I’d had to stifle a squeal when I’d gone into the kitchen earlier and found Sean Layne digging around in the refrigerator.

Fangirl (almost) down.

It wouldn’t have been pretty.

And let’s be clear, I was so not into musicians. I’d sworn off that kind of heartbreak a long time ago.

I’d witnessed enough through Lyrik and his friends.

They were too passionate.

Too volatile.

Too much trouble.

I did not have the time nor the heart for that kind of stress in my life.

But still . . . Sean Layne.

Lyrik hiked a casual shrug. “We own them.”

Right.

Of course, they did.

My big brother was the lead guitarist of Sunder, one of the most popular bands in the world, a band that now owned their own record label, spearheaded by their original lead singer, Sebastian Stone.

Lyrik? He was a rockstar, and I wasn’t talking the someday I’ll be famous kind..

He was a guy who stopped traffic when he walked down the street. Someone who couldn’t walk into a store without being accosted for his picture and his signature and half the time his freaking shirt.

But he was so much more than that.

He was a man who’d made horrible mistakes and paid for them dearly. A man I’d watched struggle with addiction and suffer with the regrets of it.

A man who’d stumbled time and time again.

He was also a man who’d clawed his way out of the self-destruction to become something great. A man who’d found the girl of his dreams and made the family he’d believed he’d never have.

But the thing about him becoming great was that he’d always been great to me.

It didn’t matter the sins he’d amassed or the wrongs he’d committed.

He’d always been my hero, and the last thing I wanted was to drag him down tonight.

“So go show them they were a worthy acquisition.” My brows lifted with the prod.

He hesitated. “You sure you’re fine? Saw your face, Mia. Didn’t like it. Will call this whole damn thing off if it makes you more comfortable. Just say the word, night’s over.”

“No. That’s the last thing I want.”

I looked back out to the great room. It was open to the lofts that circled above from the second floor. A massive wall of windows at the far end that overlooked Los Angeles had been drawn open, letting the warm California air invade the space.

Just beyond the doors and next to the negative-edge pool that overlooked Los Angeles, Dreams Don’t Die played on a makeshift stage. The sultry indie song they played vibrated the house and rumbled along the polished wooden floors.

Strains of music flooded the rooms, the walls throbbing with depth and sensuality.

The crush of bodies and the volume of voices and laughter trying to rise above it gave the atmosphere a vibe of barely-controlled chaos.

As if we were climbing toward the peak of something magnificent.

Or maybe something horrible.

But Lyrik didn’t need to be concerned with that.

 “Go be with your wife. She is looking awful sexy tonight.”

There.

Temptation.

One I knew he couldn’t resist.

No dog could resist a bone. And Tamar West had this bad boy collared.

Lyrik cut an eager glance to the side where she was in a small circle. She was cracking up where she chatted with her best friends, Shea Stone and Willow Evans, both wives of Sunder members.

My sister-in-law, who I adored and loved like she was my own blood, was wearing this black clingy dress that hugged every inch of her abundant curves, the dress super long and hitting the floor with slits riding up the front of the skirt and diving down her cleavage.

Ink covered most of her skin, too.

She wore five-inch heels and a gleam in her blue eyes.

My brother was head-over-heels for her. Steel turned to putty that she held in the palms of her hands.

I’d never thought he’d love again until the day he’d shown up at our parents’ humble house with her in tow.

It was clear he’d been long gone before he’d even known it himself.

But sometimes love took us hostage before we even realized we’d been captured.

Lyrik looked back at me, mouth quirking at the side. “My wife is always sexy. She’s just a little . . . extra tonight.”

“Extra is always good.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be giving her plenty extra,” he drew out.

With the back of my hand, I smacked him on the chest. Apparently, I’d given him the green light to take it too far. With Lyrik, all roads were always wide open. “Eww. I can do without the innuendo, thank you very much. It’s bad enough I have to watch you slobbering all over her every day.”

He rumbled a chuckle, way too pleased with himself. “Hey, just tellin’ it like it is.”

Laughing under my breath, I gestured in the direction of the raving crowd. Softness infiltrated my words. “Would you get out of here and stop worrying about me? I will be just fine.”

He hesitated. “You’re sure?”

“One-hundred-percent.”

Okay, like . . . two percent.

“Besides, you have more security here than Fort Knox.”

Still facing me, he took a couple steps backward. “That’s because what I’m guarding is more important.”

He swiveled on his heel and started for the mass of people crushed in his house. Right before he got to the end of the hall, he turned back to face me.

Something severe had etched itself into his expression. “Every single person here is my guest, Mia.”

My head shook slightly, unsure, not understanding the flip that had just been made.

His expression darkened. “But that doesn’t mean they’re good. That they can be trusted. You get what I’m telling you?”

There was no mirth in the warning.

No tease.

Just the truth of what he said.

I swallowed around the lump that had made itself home at the base of my throat for the last three weeks, gave him a tight nod. “I know that.”

Like I hadn’t stumbled on my fair share of scumbags.

He dipped a nod. “Good. Then be careful.”

“I will. I promise.”

I wondered if I’d already known it was a lie when I said it.

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