Page 24

Author: Olivia Cunning

“If you’re trying to get me in the mood,” he said, “it’s working.”

“No, I’m not trying to seduce you. Are you awake now?”

“So that was your intention?”

“I’m sorry to have ulterior motives, Brian, but I’m starving.” Her stomach rumbled loudly. “Al I had for dinner yesterday was a mint on the airplane.”

“I invite you here and don’t even feed you dinner. I wonder if the roadies stocked the refrigerator with anything but beer.”

He tugged her toward the door and out into the corridor. Quiet snores came from the curtained bunks on the left side of the bus. Brian punched Trey in the arm on his way past his bunk. Trey slapped at Brian’s head, but missed, and immediately fel into snores again.

“I’ve known Trey since fifth grade. It’s required that I fuck with him on a regular basis.”

She rol ed her eyes at him, shaking her head slightly.

He couldn’t take his eyes off her. She had a wel -fucked look about her. He wondered how she’d talked him into leaving bed. Shouldn’t he get the chance to bask in the accomplishment of putting that look on her face?

He forced his attention from her face and opened the smal refrigerator. Some leftover take-out containers from God-only-knew when. Cans of beer. Bottles of beer. A half-gal on of no-longer-liquid milk. He closed the refrigerator. “This isn’t looking good.” He opened a cabinet. An empty box of cereal to go with the solid milk. Cherry suckers. A sock. He closed the cabinet and glanced at her over his shoulder. “Wanna go out to eat?”

“If I want to survive the experience, I think that’s probably the best idea.”

He hugged her and kissed her temple. “We’l borrow Jace’s bike again.”

She grinned. “I wonder if Eric is stil wearing your lucky hat.”

“He probably slept in it. Assuming Jace didn’t tel him what was in it. Let’s find you some warm clothes. As much as I enjoyed warming you up last night, I’d feel guilty if I made you ride on the back of a bike in a skirt again.”

She fol owed him back to the bedroom and he offered her a pair of Jace’s jeans and one of his own band-logo T-shirts. The jeans were loose around her waist but snug on her hips and clung to her ass in a most beguiling fashion. She slipped into her high-heeled shoes. “I look ridiculous.”

“You look gorgeous, as always.” He drew her against him and kissed her passionately. She went limp in his arms, total y submissive to his eager mouth and seeking tongue. He eyed the bed, but decided feeding her breakfast was for the best and drew away. “Let’s go before I toss you back into bed.”

“I wouldn’t protest much,” she murmured huskily.

Her stomach rumbled. Her eyes widened and she covered her bel y with one hand.

“But your stomach would.”

He took her hand and they made their way to the front of the bus. He handed her Jace’s leather jacket and put on his own before retrieving the spare set of keys from the glove compartment.

He considered a disguise. “Do you think anyone wil recognize me?”

Myrna ran her fingers through his hair, looking him over careful y. “You’re a mess, Brian. I don’t even recognize you.”

He glanced into the rearview mirror, stretching the skin on his cheek with his fingers. “Seriously? Did I sleep on my face again?”

She chuckled. “I’m kidding. You are instantly identifiable. Let’s just go through the first fast food drive-thru we encounter. We can come back here to eat and avoid your rabid fans altogether.”

“Only if I can use your naked bel y as my plate and drip my ketchup into your bel y button.”

She looked at him through half-lowered eyelids. “Let me tel you what I’d rather you drip into my bel y button.”

His thoughts shifted through various fluids he could introduce to her navel.

He covered her mouth with his hand. “Woman, don’t say things like that.” Taking her by the arm, he tugged her off the bus. She stumbled on her high-heels and he scooped her up into his arms. She laughed, hugging him around the neck as he spun around. She looked spectacular in the early morning sunshine—definitely worth missing three of hours sleep. He deposited her on the back of Jace’s motorcycle and started the engine. He handed her a helmet and put on the spare. Myrna leaned against his back, her arms circling his waist. He covered one of her hands with his and smiled. As much as this woman turned him on, he truly treasured her occasional bouts of tenderness. Her free hand slid down his bel y and clutched his belt buckle. His smile broadened. So her bouts of tenderness were extremely occasional. So what?

He drove the bike out of the parking lot and turned left in front of the expo center, sticking to the main road. When they drove past a super store, Myrna shouted, “Stop here!”

He pul ed into the parking lot. “Why here?”

“I can get everything I need here. Drop me off at the door.”

“What about breakfast?”

“You can go get breakfast while I pick up a few necessities. It shouldn’t take me long.”

He pul ed to a stop in front of the store’s main entrance. “I’l come with you.”

“It wil be faster if we split up.”

“Are you always in such a rush?” he asked.

“I want to get back to the bus and play with ketchup.”

That convinced him. Myrna held onto his arm as she climbed from the bike. She lifted her helmet’s visor and then ran her hands over her pockets. “Crap, I forgot my purse.”

Brian reached for his wal et. “Here.”

He pul ed out a chunk of cash and tried handing it to her. She shook her head. “I can’t take your money.”

“Why not?”

“I just can’t. You already bought me a plane ticket and…”

She got that “I feel like a whore” look on her face that plagued her on occasion.

“Pay me back later if it wil make you feel better, but honestly, Myr, it’s not a big deal. I’ve got plenty.”

She snatched the bil s out of his hand. “I’l pay you back.” She glanced at the money in her hand. “There’s over a thousand dol ars here! Why do you carry so much cash?”

He shrugged. “I guess when you survive on a hundred bucks a month for several years, you make sure it never happens again.”

She started stuffing bil s back into his hand. “I don’t need this much.”

“Take it. Buy anything you want. But hurry up about it. I’l be back with extra ketchup packets in less than half an hour.”

She shoved the cash into the pocket of Jace’s jeans and lifted the visor on Brian’s helmet. Their helmets cracked against each other as they sought each other’s mouths. She laughed, kissed her fingertips and pressed them to his lips.

“I’l hurry,” she promised.

She dashed into the store like a woman on a mission. Brian watched her until she was safely inside and then headed for the fast food restaurant down the street. He ordered a lot of food, not sure who would be awake when they returned.

“Can I get some extra ketchup?” he asked the young woman at the window, grateful that the motorcycle visor concealed his face.

“Sure. Like how much?”

“A couple of handfuls.”

She fulfil ed his request and handed several bags of food out to him. He shifted back on the bike seat to store the food in the compartment beneath it.

After returning to the super store, he parked the bike near the entrance and waited for Myrna to come outside. People eyed him warily as they passed. Brian cracked his knuckles, amused by the wide berth they took around his threatening presence. About ten minutes later, Myrna emerged, carrying two large sacks.

“Have you been waiting long?” she asked breathlessly. “I tried to hurry.”

“I just got here.” He’d have waited an eternity.

She climbed onto the bike behind him, settling her purchases between their bodies. As they headed back to the bus, he came to loathe the shopping bags keeping Myrna’s body from pressing against his. Once inside the bus, Myrna sped toward the bedroom. Brian tossed a bag of food into Trey’s bunk and a second bag into Jace’s.

“Too early for this bul shit,” Jace grumbled.

Brian thumped him on the head. “I think you mean, thank you for thinking of my bottomless stomach, Brian.”

By the time he made it to the back bedroom, Myrna was devouring a sausage and biscuit.

“I couldn’t wait any longer,” she explained, her mouth ful as she talked. “And what’s with al the ketchup?’ She pointed at the open sack sitting on the long dresser.

He grinned at her crookedly. “I can’t eat hash browns without ketchup. Before I get naked, do you want a beer?”

She pointed at her sacks of purchases. “I bought some juice.”

Brian would have liked to have a beer, but she didn’t drink and it was stil pretty early for that indulgence. “Great.”

He searched through her purchases and found several bottles of juice and a huge bottle of chocolate syrup. He held the chocolate syrup out to her, his head cocked to one side. “I don’t think that milk in the fridge is drinkable.”

She was adorable when she blushed. “I wasn’t planning on using it to make chocolate milk.”

He grinned. “Ketchup isn’t good enough for you?”

She lowered her eyes. He wondered about her sudden shyness. “I prefer chocolate.”

“I think you’l like ketchup, too.”

He handed her a bottle of juice and searched the take-out bag for a breakfast sandwich. “Why are you stil dressed?” he asked. “I thought you were going to be my plate.”

She held up one finger, stuffing the last bite of her sausage and biscuit into her mouth, and then opened her juice to take a long drink.

She fished the money he’d given her out of her pocket and handed it to him. “I owe you a hundred and twenty bucks,” she said. He tossed the money onto the dresser.

“Myr, you real y don’t have to pay me back.”

“Why not? You don’t think I can afford to?”

He’d never seen her angry before. He liked the way her eyes narrowed and her nostrils flared.

“I don’t know,” he teased. “You’re a teacher. You don’t make much money, do you?”

Her mouth fel open in disbelief. “I can’t believe you just said that.”

“Are you going to hit me?” he asked hopeful y.

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you, naughty boy.”

His eyes dropped to her waist. “Wil you use your belt?”

“I thought Jace was the one with the masochism fetish.”

He glanced up at her, surprised. “How do you know that?”

“Groupies talk.”

“Do they? And what do they say about me?”

She chuckled. “That you’re a boring, one-woman man.”

He winced.

“I only agree with that second part,” she added.

“So I’m not boring?”

“I’m not sure. I’ve always been the skeptical type and I can be hard to convince without lots of evidence.”

He raised an eyebrow at her. “I see. So I need to prove I’m exciting.”

“I think that would be for the best.”

He looked down at the sandwich in his hand. “Can I eat first?”

“Please do.” She took another long drink of her juice and set it down on the dresser. She removed her shoes and belt. Jace’s jeans slid down low on her hips. She unbuttoned the fly and let them fal to the floor. She tugged off Brian’s borrowed T-shirt. He should wear that one on stage tonight to keep her close.


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