Page 31

Author: Tracy Wolff

There were three pictures left, and though it was torture, she scrolled on to the next one. As it popped up on the screen, she nearly dropped the phone. Because it was Quinn, looking dark and brooding and hot as hell, kicked back on a motorcycle, with one foot up resting on the clutch lever. It wasn’t just any motorcycle, though. It was his Harley. His hot pink, silver glittered, rhinestone bedazzled Harley.

After staring at it in shock for a moment, she moved on to the next two pictures, which were also of him and the motorcycle. One of him getting ready to ride it and one of him standing next to it.

These were going in Rolling Stone? These pictures of Quinn Bradford, rock and roll sex god, were going in the premiere music magazine in the world? Him on a Barbie pink Harley?

Her mind boggled. It actually boggled.

She scrolled back to the cover, read the headline again. And suddenly it made so much more sense. Love, music, and the proper way to grovel… Were these pictures for her? Was he willing to totally tank his reputation, for her? And if so, what did it mean?

She sat there for a long time, scrolling through the pictures another time—or another dozen times, but who was counting—as she tried to figure out what he was telling her. What this meant.

And the only thing she could get out of it was that this was his way of apologizing. Of groveling, though she didn’t think it could actually be called groveling when he looked hotter than any man had a right to, ever.

And still, she wasn’t sure. Still, she didn’t know if she was reading too much into the photos simply because she wanted to. Simply because she loved him.

But she’d never know if she didn’t ask, right? If she ignored these, if she didn’t respond, she could mess up everything.

Or she could end up looking like a fool, with her barely pieced together heart shattered all over again. It was a daunting thought, a painful one, but as she stared at Quinn on the back of that bike, she knew she was going to take the risk. Because she loved him. And because she had to try, one more time.

Without giving herself time to think, she sprang out of bed. Yanked on the first clothes she could find—a pair of jeans and a black tank top—then grabbed her phone and purse and ran for the door of the small cottage she was renting. It might make more sense to call, but she needed to see him. Needed to look in his eyes so that she could be sure. So that she could know.

She threw open the door, planning on making a mad dash to her car, but she never got past the threshold. Because he was there, sitting on his bike and staring at the door—at her—like he’d willed her to come to him.

“What—” Her voice broke and she had to start again. “What are you doing here?”

His grin was lopsided and a little sad, but his eyes were intense and determined and filled with…love? “Trying to work up the nerve to knock on your door.”

“How’d you know where to find me?”


“Of course. Jamison, the double crosser.”

“She didn’t want to tell me. I begged her until she finally took pity on me.”

Her heart beat a little faster at his words. “Why did you care?”

He climbed off the motorcycle then, climbed the porch steps three at a time until he was just there, in front of her. He looked tired and worn down and a little thinner than she remembered, but as he stood there in front of her, face open and hands clenched at his side, he was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen.

“Because I love you. Because I f**ked up. Because I need you to be safe and I was terrified that being with me would only hurt you. Because—”

She reached out then, put two fingers on his mouth to stop the flow of words.

His eyes fluttered closed at the touch and for long seconds, they just stood there, so close that their bodies were brushing together and yet still so far away.

Elise waited impatiently for him to open his eyes and when he did…when he did they were filled with so much love and pain and hope and fear that it nearly ripped her heart in two. Because she knew those feelings. She understood them. They were the same ones that were currently tearing through her as well.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m so so—”

She stopped him with a kiss. And not just any kiss. It was a kiss filled with ten days—and ten years—of hurt and love and angst and pent up emotion. A kiss that had her knees knocking together and her breath coming in short, uneven gasps as his lips devoured hers, his tongue thrusting inside of her mouth to claim her as she so desperately wanted to claim him.

“It’s okay,” she said when she finally found the strength to pull back.

“It’s not,” he told her even as he continued to press kisses to her cheeks, her jaw, the spot behind her neck that drove her crazy. “I f**ked up bad and I hurt you, again. That’s the last thing I wanted to do.”

She turned her head so that her lips met his again, and this time she lingered for long minutes, letting her tongue trace along the full curve of his lower lip and the cold metal of his piercing before sucking it between her teeth and biting softly.

He groaned, his hands going to her hips, as he kissed her back.

When she pulled away, he asked, “Are you going to let me apologize properly? And tell you how much I love you?”

“It looks to me like you already did.” She looked down at the hot pink Harley he must have ridden all the way from Texas and decided apologies were highly overrated. As was hanging on to hurts from the past when the man she loved was standing here, humbling himself before her. How could she dwell on a dismal past when he was offering her a hot pink Harley future? “Besides, you have the rest of your life to apologize. Right now, I just want to ride off into the sunset with the man I love.”

He laughed then, a full-bodied sound that rolled through her, filling all the sad and scared and empty spots that had been left behind when he’d walked away from her. She basked in the warmth, basked in his love, and knew it was enough. More than enough.

“You know, sweetheart, I’ve performed a lot of crazy ass stunts since I’ve met you. But even I can’t make the sun set ten hours early. Though I am happy to keep riding until I find you that sunset.”

And then he was picking her up, carrying her down the steps and depositing her on the back of his Harley. As he climbed on in front of her, she couldn’t help admiring how the glitter sparkled in the sunshine. Then again, everything seemed to be sparkling right now.

Love could do that.


Eleven months later

Her man was so hot. So f**king hot. Sometimes Elise had to shake herself in an effort to remember that he was hers. That this was her life now.

After years of loneliness, of sorrow, she had him—and all of this—and it was better than she could ever have imagined.

On stage, Ryder was belting out the lyrics to a new Shaken Dirty song, one that had debuted last week at number two on the charts. One that Quinn and she had written on their honeymoon six months before.

Beside her, Jamison and Poppy were rocking out to the music, hands clapping, feet stomping, bodies shaking as the song brought down the house. She knew Cat and Vi were doing the same thing backstage and usually, she’d be right there with them, lost in the music as it poured through the sold-out stadium all around them.

But tonight she was too caught up in watching her man—her man—as he tore up the keyboards. He was in the back near Wyatt, behind Ryder, Jared, and Drew, but that didn’t matter. As the concert raged around her, as the fans screamed and the music wailed, Quinn was all she could see.

His eyes were dark with concentration (and looked incredibly sexy lined with guyliner—not that she ever planned on telling him that), while his silky hair flopped sexily over his cheek and forehead. His mouth was curved into a hot, seductive smile and his hands, dear God, his hands. She’d thought there was nothing sexier, nothing more seductive, than listening to Quinn play a gorgeous piano concerto. But that was before she’d seen him play with Shaken Dirty. Before she’d seen him own the stage with his powerful talent and just as powerful music.

Because there was hot and then there was HOT.

Quinn Bradford had been born for rock and roll, born to play with Ryder and Wyatt and Jared and the new bassist, Drew. His long musician’s fingers flashed over the keyboard as he threw his whole body into the song that they had written while stretched out naked in their hotel room, a platter of tropical fruit and even more tropical cocktails resting on the bed between them. It was the first song they’d written together—just the two of them—but it wasn’t the last. They’d written half a dozen more together and then she’d written a bunch more on her own for other musicians—it turned out all those years of piano playing had given her a real knack for melody.

And the best part was she could write songs anywhere, even on the road with Quinn. Especially on the road with him, since all the sex and laughter and pranks—yes, he was still pranking her and she was still giving as good as she got—inspired her like nothing else could have.

It had been a crazy year, filled with ups and downs (more ups than downs, thank God) for the band as they dealt with hiring a new bassist and blending their sounds together. They’d also had Wyatt’s issues and Jared’s fall from grace to deal with, not to mention Drew’s demons and Micah’s continued hatred. She had dropped the charges against him, refused to testify, in exchange for him leaving the band without a lawsuit or a fuss. It had nearly killed Quinn to let her do it, but she’d known it was what was right for him and for the band. Besides, she was fine—more than fine—and so were the people she loved.

That was all that mattered.

The new album was triple platinum and they were already half done with writing the next one—thanks to the songs she and Quinn couldn’t seem to stop writing. The critics were thrilled and so was she. She finally had the life she’d always wanted. The fact that it was in the rock world instead of the world of classical piano, only made it sweeter.

Or maybe it was Quinn who did that.

As the song drew to a close, he looked up. Despite the lights, despite the crowd, his eyes unerringly found hers—just like they did every night at this time. As their gazes locked, as he looked at her like she was the only thing that mattered even in the middle of all this, Elise knew that she’d found everything she’d been looking for.

She’d found a home, a place where she belonged. A place where she could be loved. And it all began, and ended, with Quinn f**king Bradford.

She’d never felt so blessed.