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“Actually, I talked Steve into an extra half hour here.” She nodded toward the highway, still making sure not to look him in the face. “I’m supposed to be cooking for you guys. And since all I found in the fridge last night was beer and orange juice, I’m thinking that might be a problem if I don’t get to a store soon.”

To be honest, he wasn’t sure how he felt about her cooking for them as a job. It smacked of inequality, something he definitely didn’t want her to feel around him and the other guys. He didn’t know what he wanted to be to Jamison, but he knew he sure as hell didn’t want to be her employer.

“I’m not here for a free ride.” She looked at him then, those damn purple eyes of hers so much darker and more shadowed than they had been even yesterday. He hated it, almost as much as he hated the knowledge that he was responsible for at least some of those shadows. Not to mention the pain she was trying so hard to hide.

Impatience burned in him. “No one would care if you were, Jamison. You earned your spot with the band years ago.” He still remembered how she’d spent hours, days, posting flyers on every lamppost in town, not to mention bullying everyone she knew into attending their early gigs.

Her eyes called him a liar even as she said, “Yeah, but being the band mascot doesn’t exactly take a lot of time.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

“Don’t worry about it, Ryder.”

He was worried about it and started to tell her so, but she turned and started toward the baskets before he could get the words out. Band mascot? That really wasn’t how she saw herself, was it?

Anger boiled up inside of him at the thought, but Ryder bit it back. Swallowed it down. After all, it wasn’t Jamison’s fault he’d been acting like an ass for the past twenty-four hours. No, that was squarely on him. He was the one who’d messed with their friendship, who had sent her so many mixed messages it was no wonder she was so confused. And he was the one who was going to have to fix it.

He and Jamison were going to be living together—in very close quarters—for the next seven weeks. If he had any hopes of making it through with his sanity—and his cock—intact, he needed to get the hell over this crazy attraction he had for her. Needed to get their relationship back on an even keel so things could go back to normal.

Anything else didn’t bear thinking about. Jamison was one of his closest friends, had been for years. She was one of the few people he let see who he really was, one of the even fewer who he trusted not to screw him over. There was no way he was going to jeopardize that just because he suddenly couldn’t look at her without wanting to make her come.

Since just the thought of bringing Jamison to orgasm made him rock hard, Ryder shoved that shit down deep. Locked it up with all the other crap he wouldn’t let himself think about Then climbed the bus steps two at a time.

If Jamison wanted to go grocery shopping, he’d take her grocery shopping—and Steve would just have to wait until she was happy, schedule or no schedule. It’d be a good chance for him to smooth things over between them, get everything back to normal. Back to the easy friendship they’d had for so long.

Because no matter how much he wanted her, the last thing Jamison needed was to get stuck with him and all his fucked-up baggage. He wouldn’t ask that shit of anyone, let alone a woman as sweet and innocent and deep down beautiful as she was.

Jamison was surprised—and not pleasantly—when Ryder grabbed a basket from the front of the store and pushed it through the automatic doors like he did it every day. Like it hadn’t been months—maybe more than a year—since he’d last set foot inside a supermarket. The other guys were still snoring in the bunks, exhausted from the show and their late night, and she’d half-expected Ryder to crawl back into bed himself. What she hadn’t expected was for him to walk through a public place so nonchalantly, with not even a baseball cap or sunglasses in place to keep him from being recognized. Admittedly it was barely dawn and they were in one of the smallest towns in California, but still. Rock stars had shown up in stranger places than this.

He didn’t seem aware of her disquiet, though, as he asked, “Where do you want to start?”

“The produce department.” Her voice came out a lot huskier than normal, and she cleared her throat a couple times to try to get rid of the tear-induced lump in the middle of it. The last thing she wanted him to know was how uncomfortable it made her to have him tagging along with her. Or how much it still hurt that he didn’t want her on tour with the band. That he didn’t want her. “You guys need to eat something besides pizza every once in a while.”

“Hey, if you do it right, pizza has all four of the major food groups.”

“Yeah, but how often do you actually do it right?” As soon as the words left her mouth, she longed to take them back. All she’d meant was that Ryder and the others were much more likely to smother their pizzas in pepperoni and sausage than they were to put vegetables on them.

But that wasn’t how it had sounded, even to her. And judging from the wicked smile Ryder was currently wearing, the king of the double entendre had definitely caught the secondary meaning she so hadn’t intended.

Before he could reply, she slapped a hand over his mouth. “Don’t say it,” she warned.

He just shook his head, as he protested his innocence with raised hands and wide eyes until she began to doubt her instincts. But just as she went to move her hand away from his mouth, he ran his tongue straight down the center of her palm in a long, decadent lick that had any thought of his innocence—or anything else, for that matter—spinning right out of her mind.

Not that she had any intention of letting him know how he affected her. “Nice,” she told him, making a deliberate show of wiping her hand on her jeans in disgust. But when he just stood there, grinning at her, she risked a quick glance down at the front of her hoodie, wanting to make sure the fabric was thick enough to hide her suddenly peaked nipples.

It was, but deciding she couldn’t be too careful, she put a few extra feet of space between them. Then, tossing him a careless smile she was far from feeling, she picked up a large bag of potatoes and slung it into the basket. She also grabbed some garlic, onions, ginger, and a variety of herbs she liked to cook with, depositing them in the cart Ryder rolled alongside her.

“So, any special requests?” she asked as she added corn on the cob for Jared, fresh green beans for Wyatt, and a couple bunches of asparagus for Quinn before reaching for a few plump eggplants for Jared—eggplant parmesan was one of his favorite dishes—and a bunch of salad stuff for herself.

Vegetables done, she cruised over to the fruit section, where she loaded the cart with all kinds of different berries for Ryder, along with apples, oranges, and pears.

“Peaches,” he said after a minute. He reached for one of the plastic produce bags and began filling it with the sweet, plump fruit. “I’ve been craving peaches for the last day and a half.”

She had no idea why the thought of peaches left her breathless all of a sudden, but it did. Maybe it was watching the way Ryder handled the fruit, his long, calloused fingers gently squeezing each one as he searched for bruises and imperfections. Or maybe it was the way he looked at them, like they were something else entirely.

Whatever it was, it was hot. Dragging her eyes away from his way-too-talented hands, Jamison unzipped her hoodie and tied it around her waist. Was it just her or was it getting warm in here?

“Anything else?” she asked after clearing her throat for what felt like the millionth time.

“Quinn will want Twinkies.”

She gagged. “That’s so not going to happen.”

He shrugged. “I’m just saying. The man likes his snack cakes.”

“Well, he’ll have to learn to like my snack cakes instead.”

Ryder arched a brow and she blushed all over again. Seriously? Who knew food shopping could be so fraught with sexual connotation?

“That’s not going to happen,” he finally said after a minute.”

She nodded jerkily, refusing to go there with him. “We should probably hurry up. Portland’s still a long way off and Steve only gave me half an hour to shop.”

Ryder shrugged. “He’ll wait.”

She wondered what that felt like—that bone deep assurance that you were important enough to wait for. Not that Ryder was rude about it. He wasn’t, usually, and neither were Jared or the others. But still, they’d changed through the years—not a lot at any given time, but little bit by little bit. Their confidence, always something to be reckoned with, was huge now, as was their sense of entitlement. She wouldn’t call it ego, exactly, but the guys had all grown into their fame through the last couple of years. Had come to take it—and their place in the world—for granted in a way they hadn’t before. In a way it still surprised, and unsettled, her to see.

Then again, it took a special kind of person—and a special kind of talent—to stand up in front of thousands of screaming fans every night and deliver the experience of a lifetime. Over and over and over again. There was nothing wrong with the members of Shaken Dirty being proud that they could do that. And that people wanted them to. Just because it still felt strange to her didn’t mean it wasn’t as natural as breathing to them.

“Hey, what are you thinking about?” Ryder paused the shopping cart by the bakery section, studied her carefully.

She almost blew him off. But then thought, what the hell? He’d asked, after all. “How much everything has changed in the last few years.”

“Has it?”

Was he messing with her? “Don’t you think so?”

“I don’t know.” He shrugged. Picked up a couple loaves of French bread and placed them in the basket. “It feels like we’ve been on tour forever. Now we just play bigger venues with more fans.”

“You’re the headliners now instead of just the opening band.”

“I get to sing. Get to play my music in front of people. Beyond that, the logistics don’t really matter.”

Oh, but they did. She gestured to the cart. “There used to be a time you couldn’t walk into a grocery store and afford whatever you wanted.”

“True.” He added an extra large pack of cinnamon rolls and a peach pie. “But I don’t think fresh fruit and vegetables are really that big of a splurge, are they?”

“What is it with you and peaches today?” She put the peach pie back, then headed for the juice and candy aisle. “If you want a pie, I’ll make one for you.”

He grinned. “I didn’t want to assume.”

“I’m the cook. It’s pretty much my job to make you whatever you want to eat.”

He scowled. “I wish you’d stop calling yourself that.”

“What?” she asked, mystified.

“You’re not the cook!”

He stepped closer, reached for her. And pulled her body into the shelter of his. “You’re Jamison! Just…Jamison.”

At first she forced herself to stay rigid, to stop her muscles from their natural inclination to curve themselves against him. But when he rested his chin on the top of her head and squeezed her tight, Jamison couldn’t keep up the distance. Despite her very best intentions, she found herself going soft against him.

“There you are,” he murmured, stroking an errant curl behind her ear. “I missed you.”

“I’ve been right here.”

“No. I was an ass and I chased you away. I promise, I won’t do that again.”

“You didn’t want me here. That’s your choice. I understand.” She started to pull back.

His arms tightened around her. “No, you don’t.” He reached over to the Jelly Belly display, snagged a bag of the root beer jellybeans that had gotten her her nickname so many years ago. Handed them to her with a grin that made her go all soft inside at the realization that he remembered that day. She’d been fourteen, and completely jealous that Ryder had planned a band trip out to the lake with a bunch of older girls and flat out refused to take her along.

To get him back, she’d filled the van with the only Jelly Belly flavor he truly hated—root beer. It had cost her close to fifty dollars but had been totally worth it to see his face as the brown beans poured out in all directions. Jared told her it had taken them months to get the smell out of the van—which had only made her victory sweeter.

“I always want you around, Jelly Bean.”

“Then why—” She cut herself off before she could ask the question that had haunted her since she’d stormed out of his hotel room the morning before.

“Because I didn’t want anything to change. You’re one of my best friends. I don’t want to lose that and I was afraid if you came on tour with us I’d fuck everything up like I always do.”