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“Your friend is late. Not to mention he’s on our list of possible suspects. What if this is some kind of set up?”

“I seriously doubt that he would have called Robert up and announced his presence if he wanted to try something. Besides, didn’t Nikolai check him out?” She looked to Nikolai for affirmation.

He nodded. “He’s been on tour for the last few months so it’s doubtful he’s our guy. Dane already knows all this though.” He glanced sideways at Dane.

Roy popped his head in to the break room. “They’re here.”

“Good, let’s get this over with.” Dane started for the door.

“It’s going to take at least an hour for them to set up their equipment, so get comfortable. I’m going to go say hi. You and Nikolai can stay in the sound booth if you promise not to get in the way.”

Nikolai nodded because he was used to it, but Dane glared.

“Hey, you wanted to tag along, so I don’t want to hear any complaints.”

Calista pivoted on her heel and left them to find their own way. Dane’s apprehension was apparently rubbing off on her because she found herself nervous at the thought of seeing Aidan. She wiped her clammy hands on her jeans before opening the door to the recording room.

Calista finally let her guard down once she saw Aidan. He lifted her in a bear hug and all her earlier worry disappeared. No way was he her stalker. Now she was actually ashamed at her earlier doubts.

“Is that your new boyfriend?” Aidan asked.

She followed his gaze to where Dane stood behind the glass. A queasy sensation settled in her stomach. He stared right at her, and she knew exactly what he wanted. Her.

Why couldn’t he hide it a little better? When he looked at her with those sexy eyes, she questioned her decision not to take him up on his offer. Until he’d moved in with her she’d thought her libido was dead. And that was just asking for trouble. Ever since their kiss, her brain and body had been on sensory overload.

She turned back around, though she could still feel the penetrating heat from his gaze. “Hardly. Why?”

“Just the way he’s looking at you. And me. He looks like he’s ready to pummel me.”

With willpower she didn’t know she had, she stopped herself from turning around again. “Nope, he’s just my bodyguard, nothing more.”

“Or at least nothing you’re willing to talk about,” he teased.

“This isn’t Entertainment Tonight, Aidan. Leave it alone. You don’t hear me asking you about your personal life.”

“I’m an open book. Ask me anything.”

“Not interested.” Calista smiled at Aidan.

“I know you’re dying to hear all the juicy details of my breakup with Heather.”

“Oh, I hadn’t heard. I’m sorry.”

He smiled, but she saw the hurt in his eyes when he shrugged.

“She never got used to me being gone all the time. She told me she wanted someone who would be around for more than two months out of the year. I asked her to come on tour with me, but she loves her job teaching too much. I can’t blame her. It just hurts like hell.”

Calista grabbed his hand and squeezed it. “Give it time.”


Dane looked at Roy and tried to keep the annoyance out of his voice. “When will they start?”

“Any minute now. If everything goes smoothly we could be out of here in a couple hours. If they were doing a full set we’d be here all day and probably most of this week. Since this is just one song, it shouldn’t take too long. It all depends…” Roy mumbled to himself as he adjusted the soundboard.

“Depends on what?” Dane asked.

“What?” Roy looked up startled. “Oh, it depends on Calista. Lately she’s been distracted. Her work has been suffering. I don’t think she’ll have a problem today though. She looks more relaxed than I’ve seen her in a while.”

Dane followed his gaze through the dividing glass. She never looked at him with such adoration, and it annoyed the hell out of him. She was all smiles and laughter for that tattooed punk. With him however, she put up barriers.

Except for last night. He’d give anything to hold her the way he had then. She’d been clinging to him like he was the most important thing in the world. Right up until the end of the elevator ride. Then she’d pulled away, back into her shell.

Nikolai came and sat beside him. “She looks almost radiant, don’t you think?”

He heard the challenging tone in his cousin’s voice and tried to ignore it. “What are you getting at?”

“Nothing. I’m just making an observation.”

“Yeah well, I don’t want to hear any more of your fucking observations.”

“Here.” Roy interrupted the two men and handed them both headsets. “Put these on and you can listen if you’re interested.”

For the next hour they watched and listened as Calista and Aidan sang. Her voice had a quality to it he couldn’t define. It was almost hollow and mournful, which was probably why all of her songs were laced with passion and energy. When she stopped, he was surprised by the disappointment that filled him.

Calista pulled off the headphones and gave Roy the thumbs up before she turned to Aidan. He watched as her face split into a wide grin and her green eyes flared to life. Her head bobbed up and down animatedly, but since Roy had turned off the speaker, Dane couldn’t hear anything else.

“That’s it?”

“For today it is. Tomorrow they’ll come back and redo the track if it’s necessary. Then a few days after that they’ll listen to the final mix and decide if they want anything adjusted.”

“I thought it would take longer.” Dane handed his headphones back to Roy.

“Normally it does. Luckily my girl was on her game today. It’s very rare for first time recordings to go this smoothly, especially for a couple that hasn’t worked together before.”

Calista opened the door and stuck her head in the sound booth. She was breathless and glowing. “Bored yet?”

Roy spoke before the he had a chance to respond. “You sounded great. A real improvement. Hell, better than just an improvement. You were amazing, girl.”

“Really? I’ve needed a day like this.”

Her emerald eyes sparkled and Dane’s throat constricted. He wanted her to look at him like that. Just once. And not when she’d been drinking.

“Is there anything else you need to do here before we go?” Nikolai stood up and grabbed her purse.

“No, but the guys want to know if we want to grab a bite to eat. I figured it would be okay…”

“No, absolutely not.” Dane interrupted before she could finish. He hated talking to her so abruptly when she appeared so happy but he needed her safe.



Her face fell, but at least she nodded. “Fine.”

The ride back was short and deathly quiet. He’d rather her blow up than not say anything at all. Nikolai must have read his mind because he was the first to speak to her.

“Is everything all right?” Nikolai prodded gently.

“Of course it is.”

“We’re not doing this to keep you prisoner,” Dane said. When she didn’t respond he continued. “It’s for your own good.”

“Am I complaining?”

“No, you just seem—”

Calista cut him off. “Don’t tell me what I’m acting like. I’m sick of this. If I don’t want to talk, I don’t have to. I don’t need you two babysitting me. You’re my bodyguards, not my therapists, and certainly not my friends. Neither of you get it. Today was amazing. All I wanted was to celebrate. I’m not asking for a lot here.”

Through the rearview mirror he watched her turn and stare out the window.

The knife in Dane’s gut twisted deeper. It seemed that all he managed to do was push her further away. If the ride back to her condo was quiet, the ride on the elevator was even worse. She wouldn’t look at either one of them.

“We need to do something to provoke this guy,” Nikolai said in hushed tones once they were inside the condo.

Calista had retreated to her room and hadn’t come out since their return from the studio. Dane doubted she was trying to listen in on them, but knew his cousin didn’t want to chance her overhearing their conversation by accident.

“You think I don’t know that?”

“We could get a couple pictures published, like the one of you two cozying up to each other at the club. That would really piss the guy off.” Nikolai offered.

“I don’t want to do that to her. She tries to play it off, but it’s obvious she values her privacy.”

“Since when do you care so much? She’s not going to have to worry about privacy if we don’t catch this guy. Quit thinking with your dick and start doing your job.”

Without responding he grabbed his phone out of his pants and punched in his third speed dial. “We’re going out. Take as many pictures as possible.”

Dane knocked on her door.

“What?” Calista called out, her icy voice letting him know she was still pissed.

He opened the door and stepped halfway inside. Loathing himself he asked, “Still feel like hitting the town?”

Her eyes lit up, but she held back, as if she thought he was joking. “Seriously?”

He was scum. Absolute scum. Her face glowed and he wanted to kick himself. “You were right, you need more exposure. What do you feel like doing?”

“Honestly, I want to go shopping and maybe have lunch with Lexi. Or at least coffee. Unless…” her voice trailed off and a frown creased her face. “Do you think it’s safe to be seen with Lexi or any of my other friends?”

“It should be okay. Just in case, I’ve got guys watching your three friends at all times.”

She blinked twice. “Why didn’t you tell me?”