Crash Into My by Tracy Wolff
Jamison Matthews has lusted after Ryder Montgomery since she was a preteen. But now that Ryder and her brother’s band, Shaken Dirty, has made it huge, she’s just one of many pining for the brooding lead singer. Too bad Ryder still sees her as a little sister. Not that it matters. Her brother would never allow it, and the last thing Jamison wants is to be another notch on a rock star’s bed post. Even if it’s Ryder’s.
Ryder doesn’t deserve happiness. After his fame destroyed his last girlfriend, he swore he’d never fall in love again. So when Jamison, the girl he’s been in danger of loving for years, joins the band on the road, he’ll do anything to deny the sparks between them—even after one hot night together. But Jamison is determined to show Ryder that he’s worthy of love—her love—and that she’s all grown up…and ready to play.
Onstage, the band launched into “Awake,” one of the power ballads that had made them famous. The crowd screamed their approval and so did she. Totally not her typical modus operandi, but she couldn’t help it. Something about listening to Ryder croon the darkly haunting lyrics had her knees trembling and her heart beating much too quickly. If she closed her eyes, she could do what all the other women in the audience were doing and pretend that he was singing straight to her.
So much better than remembering he’d written these heartfelt words for another woman. For Carrie, who had killed herself and broken his heart so many years before. Her own heart ached at the thought. For him. Always for him. At twenty-nine, Ryder had already been through more darkness and despair than any one person should have to handle.
“Awake” finally came to a close, the last note hanging in the air for long, tension-fueled seconds. Then the band fell silent and the audience did the same, as if they were all holding their breaths. Ryder lowered his guitar, shuffled, and stamped his feet once, twice. It was a familiar gesture, one years of experience had taught her was his way of shaking off excess emotion. Again her heart twisted. It devastated her that more than ten years after the fact he was still eaten up by what had happened. Still determined to bury it under a bunch of layers that not only insulated him from his pain but also hid the real Ryder so deep inside the public Ryder that she wondered sometimes if he even existed anymore. Or if the boy who had held her while she cried, who had let her whisper her pre-adolescent fears without ever making fun of her, had disappeared forever.
She searched for him in that one endless moment.
Looked for him in the obsidian eyes that arrowed to the heart of the crowd even as they barricaded his own emotions.
Combed through her own memories and expectations in an effort to see Ryder as he really was instead of how he portrayed himself.
And when his eyes—his crazy, beautiful eyes—met hers, she found him. Seconds passed, long, intense seconds where she lost the ability to hear or breathe or even think. All she could do was look into Ryder’s eyes, at the feral heat boiling up and out of them, and want.
She smiled at him, waved. He snarled back. But it wasn’t a leave-me-alone snarl. No, definitely not. It was his I-want-to-fuck-you-up-against-a-wall snarl—she knew it well, had seen it directed at a lot of women through the years—and her knees gave way when she realized that this time, finally, it was directed at her. It didn’t matter that there was no sign of recognition in his eyes, no knowledge that the woman he was looking at like that was actually her. Jamison. For one moment, he wanted her the way she’d always wanted him.
It was more than enough.
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