Book 5 Sneak Peek #1
Jacob couldn’t rejoin the tour with the same enthusiasm as the others. For the first time in twenty-nine years, he wanted a ‘normal’ life—well, at least, a normal holiday. He’d never sign on to leave home this late in the year again. Not while he had Beth.
He was the last band member on the plane.
“Thought we might have to continue without a lead singer,” Bob teased.
“I’m not that late.”
“Of course not. Bethie wouldn’t let him be,” Aaron said. Then the prick made a whip-cracking sound with his cell phone.
Mikey grabbed it from his hand. “Let me try that.” The whip cracked again. “Where’d you get the app?”
“Very cute.” Jacob flagged down the stewardess. “Coffee?”
Something slapped his shoulder. “Stop it.” Speak of the devil.
Jacob removed one ear bud. “What?”
“Whatever’s runnin’ through your head to make you such a grumpy ass. Stop it. Personal shit is left at home, remember?”
“Tell your face. Look…everybody’s homesick. Just hold it together one more week and pretend you want to be here.” Piece said, Bob left him alone.
Sighing, Jacob downed the rest of his coffee and went into the sleeping quarters in the back to rest. Everyone counted on him to be on tonight.
“Yeah, Dad?” She turned away from the window and her thoughts. “Is it time to leave?”
“Soon. Say goodbye to your brother.”
Nodding, she stepped past him and went to Andrew. “Hey.”
He was sitting on the floor making the toy train run around the tree, Sarah on his lap. She clapped and giggled each time the train whistled. “Hey.” He picked up Sarah and got to his feet. “Say bye-bye to your Aunt Beth.”
She waved her little hand at her. “Buh!”
Kissing her cheek, Beth wrapped around him for a group hug.
“Be good, kid.”
“Twenty-seven is a kid?” Granted, with him towering over her, she sometimes felt like one.
“Does your family always bicker?” Darcy said
They looked at each other then at her. “Yep.”
She took Sarah, put her in her crib, then hugged Beth. “Call more often, ‘kay?”
Dad came back in from loading the bags. He and Andrew shook hands and did the manly-pat-the-back thing. The only person Dad got all soft around was his granddaughter and even then, you had to catch him when he wasn’t looking, but this was great progress when he and Andrew wouldn’t be in the same room together ten years ago. Darcy was pretty amazing to put up with all the Lawsons under one roof, but Beth’s brother always did have good taste.
Dad read most of the five-hour flight. Having the window seat, she watched the scenery pass by below, then tried to nap, then settled upon the usually calming classical list on her iPod just so he wouldn’t ask why she was so restless. Though, since he didn’t try, maybe he already had a good idea.
Her best friend Celeste picked them up at LAX. “Hi, Mr. Lawson. Have a good Christmas?” Unexpectedly, Celeste took a liking to him and cooked for him often. She didn’t talk about her family much, so Beth didn’t mind sharing.
“Yes. Thank you. And you?”
“I entertained myself.” Head in the trunk, he missed the impish grin accompanying her words.
Please don’t have a story about phone sex with Bob… “Oh, hi, Celeste. Thanks for picking us up today.”
She rolled her eyes. “I was getting to you, geesh.”
She let Beth’s father take the passenger seat, so Beth got the back with no leg room. Coupes sucked.
“Elizabeth, your friend was only being polite.”
“Yes, Dad…” Tired, she let them chat on the way to her father’s.
When Celeste pulled up at the house, Beth got out and stretched her legs.
L.A. was a
brisk sixty-five this afternoon, a welcome change from the snow of Virginia. Snow was pretty, but cold. “Do you want us to stay for a while, Dad?”
“Nah. I’m sure you ladies want to gossip about
Oh, he would have to bring that up. Now, Celeste wouldn’t leave her alone until she got all the details. “Thanks, Dad.”
“Drive safe, honey.” He went in the house.
Celeste turned on her the second he was out of earshot. “Spill.”
“Can we get back in the car first?”
She sighed, opened her door, and sat. Beth took her time getting comfortable in the passenger seat, adjusting the seatbelt and back position.
“Jacob surprised me on Christmas Day. It’s not a big deal.”
“He flies to
Virginia for one day
just for you and it’s not a big deal? Bullshit.”
“Well, it was a good surprise, obviously, but we were at my brother’s house, not some place romantic. There were a lot of people around.”
She stared at Beth. “There isn’t a single juicy detail?”
“Nope.” Nothing I was telling her.
“For dating one of the hottest men on the planet, you have a very boring relationship.”
“By your definition.” Have I mentioned my best friend is a monogamous nympho?
“Beth, you’re the only woman on the planet who would date Jake Lindsey and not boink his brains out at every opportunity.”
“Been there, done that, got the t-shirt—it didn’t end well.”
“Which was also your fault.”
“Both our faults. Can we not? I just came off a long flight after not a lot of sleep and I so don’t need you picking at my love life when I’m not even home, yet.”
Celeste put the car in gear. “Sorry. I’m happy you got a surprise gift. That was very sweet of him.” They made their way through the streets toward the 10 Freeway. It took about a half hour to get home, if they didn’t run into a traffic jam.
Her best friend’s interest—cough-obsession-cough—was exactly why she wanted to keep her relationship a secret from the public. Friends and family already scrutinized it enough. What would the press and every busybody do?
“Did you have to work while I was gone?” Beth asked.
“No. No emergencies. The office is always dead the last two weeks of the year.”
“Oh. Well, that’s good. Gives you more time to shop post-Christmas sales.”
“I’ve already made a list.”
Celeste didn’t believe in awkward silence, so she filled Beth in on the past three days of her life and her plans for the week and they were soon at their building in
Finally inside, Beth went upstairs to her room. The condo had two identical suites with full baths, and hers was on the right. A natural introvert, she needed her space and quiet, things sorely lacking over the past few days. Desperate for eight hours of sleep and getting maybe four, she longed for bed—Jacob’s bed. He left it with her when she was eighteen and his mother sold the house behind theirs. Once they broke up, it sat untouched until her accident several months ago. When she moved in with Celeste, she bought a new mattress for the bed, but she still saw his old teen room when she looked at the frame.
Her bedroom was the only room in the house missing gray cat fur. Celeste’s longhaired tom thought he ruled the joint and they were his servants, and he’d probably hiss at her if she said hello before showering. The cat hated all men for some reason. Well, he could keep hating as long as he left the shirt she stole from Jacob alone. It had been stuffed under her pillow since he went on tour.
To unpack, or nap? She wouldn’t be able to sleep without putting things away or in the laundry basket where they belonged, so—unpack.
Anal? Me? Naaah…
She set her suitcase on the bed and unzipped it. The pillowcase Jacob used sat folded on top of her clothes. Darcy would forgive her. At least she didn’t steal the blanket, too.
Her phone rang. Fearing it was work, she almost let it go to voice mail. “Hello?”
“Shouldn’t you be at rehearsal?” Beth said.
“I’m having lunch. Thought I’d ring my girl now we’re finally in the same time zone.” 11:45AM PST, to be exact.