Chapter One

After country music star Devin McClain finished a performance, he needed three things: a shower, a woman and a beer.

Not necessarily in that order.

He’d just handed the naked blonde a towel when someone started pounding on his hotel room door.

Devin snagged a complimentary robe and lifted an eyebrow at the curvy woman who hadn’t bothered to cover herself. “Please tell me that ain’t a jealous boyfriend lookin’ for you.”

“No,” she said in a breathy whisper.

He wandered to the door and peered through the peephole. What was his road manager, Crash Cavanaugh, doing here? Devin opened the door. “What’s goin’ on?”

Crash’s face was pasty white even beneath his beard. “Jesus, Devin.” The burly man barreled in and pulled Devin into a bone-crushing hug. “I’m so glad it wasn’t you. Sucks for JT, but damn, man . . .”

“What happened?”

“It’s . . .” His gaze flicked over to the woman peeking around the bathroom doorframe. “Hey, darlin’. You wanna shut the door so I can have a private word with my boss?”

“Sure.”

The door closed.

Now Devin was well past alarmed. “Crash, start talkin’.”

Crash stilled. Then his eyes met Devin’s. “Who knew you’d be in a hotel room tonight instead of on your tour bus?”

“You. I probably told Jase and Gage. I pretty much grabbed my duffel and . . .” What was the blonde’s name? “Gretchen and I skipped the party to head straight here.”

“Did you tell JT that he could crash on your bus tonight?”

“No. Why?”

“Looks like he decided to take a nap in your bed. Someone got onto the bus and beat the shit outta him with a baseball bat.”

Devin’s entire body seized up. “Are you f**king kiddin’ me?”

“No.”

“How is he?”

“Unconscious and in the ICU. He’d probably be dead if Check hadn’t dropped off your guitar after the show. He noticed the bus door was open—which it ain’t ever supposed to be. He went inside and saw your hat on the dresser, your boots on the floor and someone in the bed underneath the covers, blood everywhere. He thought . . .”

“It was me.”

Crash nodded. “He freaked out, called 911 and tracked me down. Big mess when the ambulance arrived because people were still hanging around after Dixon Davis’s concert ended. Only when the stretcher came out of the bus did we see that it was JT.” He ran his hand down his beard and sighed. “Scariest fifteen minutes of my life, man. Don’t know if there were any reporters around. But there were plenty of fans with cell phones. Rumors are gonna run rampant. You don’t need that.”

“I could give a damn about any of that when JT’s in the hospital.” Devin dropped onto the sofa. “Give me a minute to get my head on straight and then we’ll go to the hospital.”

“I don’t gotta tell you that this bullshit has escalated. Which means we’re making some changes effective immediately.”

“Now’s not the time—”

“It goddamn is the time,” Crash said hotly. “The threats are real, Devin. Whoever has been doin’ this the last eighteen months kicked it up a notch tonight.”

He said nothing because the guilt was choking him.

“You oughta know I called Scott Rosenthal.”

Devin’s head snapped up. “Why would you call my agent? He doesn’t need to worry about—”

“His high-profile client’s well-being and safety?” Crash interjected. “I ain’t about to argue the parameters of your agent’s job besides that it’s his right to know.” He threw his shoulders back. “Fire me if you want, but I’m done helping you hide this crap from everyone. Rosenthal is meeting us in Denver the day after tomorrow. And lemme tell you, it took some fast talking on my part to convince him not to pull you out of tomorrow night’s sold-out show in Denver.”

“Jesus. He doesn’t get to decide that.”

“According to him, yes, he does.”

Fuck.

“In the meantime, the cops want to talk to you.” He jerked his chin toward the bathroom. “Probably wanna talk to her too.”

Devin’s eyes narrowed. “Why?”

“To make sure this wasn’t some sort of publicity stunt.”

“That’s bullshit.”

“Then why did they ask me if you were violent and might’ve gone on a rampage after finding JT in your room?”

“Come on. You can’t be serious.”

“You’re in the public eye. Neither of those scenarios is out of the realm of possibility to people who don’t know you.”

“I don’t know which is worse. That they’d think I’d beat the shit out of my bus driver to get my name mentioned in the news, or that I beat the shit out of my bus driver for daring to sleep in my bed. Christ. Do I need a damn alibi?”

“Don’t snap at the messenger,” Crash cautioned. “I’m just passing on what I heard. This is standard procedure.”

“Where are the cops?”

“Waiting for you downstairs.”

“Awesome.” Devin snagged clean clothes out of his suitcase.

Crash angled his chin toward the bathroom. “You want me to handle her?”

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