Play My Heartstrings

Play My Heartstrings is the first book in the Monkey Business series.

What happens when a grounded business woman falls in love with a restless country music singer?

 

Read an excerpt below.

 


Read the Excerpt

 

Please Note: This is an unedited version 

CHAPTER ONE

 

The line to get inside the Rodeo Bar wrapped around the one-story brick building like a snake embracing its prey. Stella O’Conner handed her best friend one of the two VIP passes. “I don’t need to stay long. Maybe an hour.”

          “Oh, hell no.” Marlene pulled Stella away from the crowd of denim and cowboy hats at the bar entrance. A blue neon cowboy flashed overhead. “You’re finally out on a Saturday night—at one of the hottest bars in San Diego—and you want to leave in an hour?” She crossed her arms. “Not happening.”

           Stella held up a hand. “Wait a minute. I didn’t ask you to meet me here for a drink to pick up guys. I made it very clear. This is strictly business.”

          “It’s time you take a break from business. At least for one night. Why not get back into the dating scene?”

          “Did you forget I found my fiancé in bed with two bimbos? Five days after my parents’ funeral.”

           Marlene squeezed Stella’s hand. “That was ten months ago. This is tonight. And tonight we’re restarting your barrel of monkeys.”

          Stella threw back her head and laughed. “Let’s save that conversation for next week when Paloma comes to town.” She and her two best friends had devised the quirky dating method back in college. They’d altered the Barrel of Monkeys’ game to collect names of the men to date—a metaphorical little black book. The ultimate goal was marriage by the time they’d hit thirty. At twenty-seven, Stella didn’t have a boyfriend, which suited her just fine. Growing her successful business was her top priority, and that hadn’t been easy this past year.

          A tall hottie with a dimpled grin walked past Stella and tipped his black cowboy hat. She returned the smile. It had been a long time since she’d been out and received any attention from a man, and damn, it felt good.

          Marlene scowled. “Come on. I want to hear you say that you’re open to finding someone you might date.”

          “I’d be more likely to find a pork sandwich in a Jewish deli,” Stella said. “Not that I don’t admire all the testosterone walking past—but, I have a new set of rules: no dating, no boyfriends, no soul-sucking men.” She shoved the VIP pass into Marlene’s hand. “Now, let’s go inside so I can get my job done.”

          The small lobby smelled like sour beer, and the soles of Stella’s designer heels stuck like double-sided tape on the old patch of red carpet. She’d make sure to let the owner know the carpet had to go. Past the entrance, a gathering crowd cheered a young man clinging to a mechanical bull. Customers crowded around the giant horseshoe-shaped bar, and a song about saving a horse and riding a cowboy blared through the sound system.

           Stella pushed Marlene forward. “There’s live music and a dance floor in the back. I need to check out that area.” She squeezed between plaid shirts and tank tops to the back of the bar. A  maze of high tables and barstools surrounded the crowded dance floor.

          “Quick,” Marlene said. “There’s a table near the front.”

           Scoring a spot near the stage in this crowded bar was a small victory. Stella dragged an empty stool to their wobbly table.

          A waitress in Daisy-Duke denim shorts placed a straw basket of unshelled peanuts on the table and leaned in to speak over the music. “What can I get you ladies to drink?”

           No need to ask for a wine list. Stella had noticed the boxed wine selection at the bar—red and white. “A Corona with a lime, please.”

           “Make that two,” Marlene said.

          The music faded. A man on stage announced future contests and performances while Stella evaluated the sprawling bar. The owner, David McDonald, was interested in hiring her company, Media Concepts, to handle the marketing and advertising for his new bar. Even though this account was a strong referral from her uncle, nothing in the cut-throat advertising business was guaranteed.

          A flurry of screams shifted her attention to the stage.

          A singer slipped through the backdrop curtain, and the fervor came to a crescendo. Stella clutched her chest. The singer wasn’t just handsome; he was gorgeous—probably six-feet tall, with sandy-blond, sun-streaked hair and blue eyes that literally sparkled. Soft stubble covered his square jawline.

          Stella licked her lips and reminded herself to start breathing. A wide-eyed Marlene left no doubt that the performer on stage was no ordinary man.

          He adjusted his guitar strap. Muscles strained against his black T-shirt. From his fine-fitting jeans down to his rugged black boots, the man exuded a raw sexuality Stella had only seen in Hollywood movies.

          Mesmerized by the passion of his music, she hardly noticed the people bumping into her barstool on their way to the dance floor. Then the singer met her eyes and flashed a white smile. He didn’t stop singing, and his gaze didn’t falter.

          Stella parted her lips and whipped her head around to see who he might be looking at.

          Marlene leaned in and nudged Stella. “He’s looking right at you.”

          Stella turned to Marlene, pretending not to notice and praying it was too dark for him to see her blush. When was the last time a man had looked at her that way? Shifting her gaze back to the stage, she almost laughed aloud, because now he was singing to a group of squealing college girls. “He’s eyeing all the girls in the place. It’s part of his act.”

          “He gives a hell of a performance,” Marlene said, turning back toward the stage.

          Miss Daisy Duke returned and set down two longneck beer bottles with lime wedges jammed in the mouths. Stella handed her a twenty and leaned closer. “Who’s the singer?”

          “That’s Josh Matthews. He’s the newest hot thing to hit country music.” The waitress smiled. “Not bad, huh?”

          Stella looked at the newest hot thing wielding his guitar. “He’s very talented.”

           The waitress handed back the change. “He ain’t half bad to look at, either.”

          Stella left a tip and drank the beer straight from the bottle, returning her attention to Josh Matthews and his fusion of music and sex. Now she understood the appeal of rock and country stars.

         Josh met her eyes again. Her heartbeat quickened, and she parted her lips. She had attended several fund-raisers during the past year. Had he play at one? Looking closer, she trashed that theory; no woman would forget meeting Josh. Then just as quick, he switched sides on stage, finishing his song.

         Lights lowered and voices hushed. Josh stepped forward, and a spotlight shone on him. “Welcome to the Rodeo Bar,” he said with a slight southern drawl. Screeching cheers rose from the back of the dark bar.

         Josh shaded his eyes from the stage lights. “We have a nice crowd here tonight.” Positioning his acoustic guitar strap, he continued. “If you missed the introduction, I’m Josh Matthews.” Another round of applause broke out, mixed with random screams. “I’ve been asked to sing a couple of my songs before the show. This next song I wrote while on my Southland tour last year.” He dropped his chin. Strumming a melody, he sang of lost love and broken hearts.

          Mesmerized by his raspy voice and soothing honey-sweet tone, Stella understood why Josh was the newest hot thing in country music.

         Josh ended his song and leaned closer to the microphone. “Please stick around, folks. After a short break, we have more live music coming up at the Rodeo Bar.” He handed his guitar to a stagehand and strutted off the stage with a cocky swagger. Women flocked to him like rats to high ground.

         Stella tapped a finger against her lips as he greeted each of them—handshakes, hugs, pausing for photos.

          “Looks like the newest hot thing already has a legion of female fans,” Marlene said, hopping off her barstool.

         Stella turned away and tapped her fingers on the table. “What sort of woman would throw herself at a man like that?” Maybe it annoyed her more because she’d learned her lesson about men who were only interested in themselves.

          “I don’t want to wait around for the waitress to come around to order another beer—I’ll get the next round from the bar.” Marlene scooted the stool closer to Stella. “Stay here and save our spot.”

          Stella didn’t like coming across aloof, but sitting alone in a country bar on a Saturday night made her feel like a lump of meat on a pedestal. She’d just avoid eye contact with the guys walking by with hopeful smiles and take this chance to survey this business.

          The owner had already told her he’d planned renovations, which was probably why her uncle Toby was involved. The job required her company involved the marketing and advertising of the upgraded bar. 

          A popular Carrie Underwood song played, and a fresh exchange of people whacked into her seat along the way to the dance floor. She hopped off her stool and scooted out of the way. A firm hand touched her shoulder.

          “Excuse me,” a man said.

            Stella turned to move out of the way and almost bumped faces with Josh Matthews. A short breath escaped, and she grabbed the table for balance. Her feet refused to move. He was even more handsome up close, and he was close enough to hear her pounding heart. She willed strength to her legs and stepped aside for him to pass.

          Josh flashed his white smile and held out his hand. “Hi. I’m Josh Matthews.”

          Sweat glistened on his face, but oh, he smelled nice, like spicy soap. Relax. Take control. Stella took his hand. “Have we met before?” A rhetorical question, since she was even more certain they’d never met.

          “At first I wasn’t sure. That’s why I kept looking at you. Then I decided that even if I didn’t know you— I sure do want to know the prettiest girl in the bar.”

          Stella’s heart dropped to her stomach. “Did you just call me a ‘girl’?”

          Josh eyed her up and down. “I apologize. You’re all woman, baby.”

           “Baby? Now you’re calling me, ‘baby’?” How could she take this guy seriously?

            Josh grinned. “It’s an endearment.”

           “I’m not that endearing. Trust me.” She couldn’t help but smirk. “Do these lines really work for you?”

          “Apparently not.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Do I get another chance?”

          Stella could smell a playboy in a room full of skunks. She needed to add another rule: no flirting. Every follicle on her head tingled in warning. So why was she so tempted to play along with this hunk?  “I’m Stella O’Conner.” She smiled, letting him know she wasn’t a total ice princess. “Uh—where are you from?”

          “I grew up on a farm outside the small town of Morrisburg, Georgia.”

          Whether it was his mild southern drawl, or the tattoo of an eagle on his bicep peeking out from his T-shirt sleeve, she couldn’t kill her curiosity. “What are you doing in San Diego?”

           “I’m here for the summer. Taking a break from touring.”

           The waitress showed up with mug of beer. “Here you go, Josh.”

           “Thanks, Josie. How’s the house treating you tonight?”

           “It’s a good night,” the waitress said. “We need you to play here more often.”

            Stella squirmed like a worm getting poked with a stick. The Daisy Duke waitress had a real name. And she knew Josh. Why does that bother me?  

            “Stella?” Josh said. “Can I buy you a drink?”

          “Uh—no thanks.” Stella couldn’t help but wonder how well Josh knew Josie.

           The waitress shot Stella a “lucky bitch” smirk then walked away with the empty Corona bottles.

            “So. You’re a regular performer here?”

           “Not really. I’ve played here a couple of times in the past couple of weeks.” He smiled. “I’m usually performing to larger audiences. But I like smaller venues just as much.”

           “You’re too talented to play in a bar like this.”

           “And you seem a bit too uppity to be in a bar like this.”

           “I told you I wasn’t endearing.” Stella scanned the room for Marlene. Curious eyes looked back at her and Josh. He had his pick of women, so why was he zeroing in on her? Should she wait for Marlene to get back, or just walk away?

            “Looking for someone?”

            “My friend.”

            “You and your girlfriend out for some fun?”

           Stella pushed back her shoulders. She’d had her fill of ladies’ men, and while flirting with Josh gave a boost to her ego, she had no problem resisting his charm. “No. I’m not looking for fun. I’m here on business. In fact—“She picked up her handbag and hung it on her shoulder. “My business here is done. It was nice meeting you, Josh.”

           “Wait a minute.” His tone turned serious. “Are you doing work for David?”

           Stella hesitated. David McDonald was the owner of the Rodeo Bar. “I don’t work for David. Not yet anyway. He’s asked my company to quote a job. Why?”

            A wide smile crossed Josh’s face. “What type of job?”

           Stella didn’t like leading questions. “Is David your boss?”

            Josh laughed. “No. He’s my brother.”

            Stella narrowed her eyes. She’d met David twice. He had a round face, dark hair and eyes. Josh’s features were angular, his eyes were blue. “You’re David’s brother?”

           “We’re stepbrothers, actually.” Josh held up his crossed fingers. “But we’re as close as blood-brothers.”

          “But you said you’re from Georgia. David lives in San Diego.”

           “We both grew up in Georgia. Our parents and sister are still back at the farm. My point is—I kind of know what my brother wants to do with this bar. Maybe I can answer some of your questions.”

           Stella wanted to walk away from this cocky hunk. But if flirting gave her insight into David’s vision of the bar, then to hell with the no flirting rule. Business first. “Great. Where shall we start?”

           Marlene stepped in holding a longneck Corona in each hand. Her mouth hung open, but for once she was speechless.

           “There you are,” Stella said, relieving Marlene of one of the beers. “Josh Matthews, this is my friend, Marlene Baxter.”

         Marlene glanced at Stella then back to Josh. “Hellllooo Josh.”

          “Josh knows the owner of the bar,” Stella said. “He’s giving me some inside information.”

          “Uh, huh.” Marlene coughed. “Well, I just ran into the gang from my blog group while checking out the monkeys—“

          Josh blinked. “Monkeys?”

          Stella glowered at Marlene.

          “Munchies,” Marlene said. “I was checking out the munchies. Not much of a selection here. That’s why the gang is talking about going downtown to Sangria Café for tapas. You two want to join us?”

          Stella had met the rowdy group before. “Go ahead and go out with your friends. Josh is going to show me around, and then I’m heading home.”

          A large woman in a frilled denim dress and cowboy boots nudged Stella aside and flashed her cell phone in Josh’s face. “Can I get a photo with you, Josh?”

           Stella stepped back, and two more women filled the void. 

          A throng of fans crowded around Josh. He tilted his head to Stella. “Don’t leave yet.”

          Marlene pulled Stella aside. “I just knew he was checking you out. Fill me in. What’s going on?”

          Stella watched Josh dazzle the women with his smile. “That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”

          “I think Josh should be the first new monkey in your collection,” Marlene said, admiring him with a smile.

          “Hah! Look at him. A guy like Josh Matthews is too busy with his own collection. He refers to his as ‘groupies’. Face it, men like Josh love ’em and leave ’em.”

          Marlene shook her head. “From what I could tell, he only has eyes for you.”

          “That’s part of his appeal. He has that dangerous combination of handsome and charming.”

           “And that bothers you?”

          “He’s just not my type.”

          A dumbfounded expression colored Marlene’s face. “Uh, sweetheart…that man is every woman’s type.”

           Stella needed to find a flaw. “His hair is too long, and he needs a shave.”

           “He’s hot.”

            “He’s dangerous. Besides, I’m not into bad boys.”

            “I’m sure he’d behave if you spanked him.”

             “Thanks for the suggestion.”

            “Just saying. Maybe Josh could mend your achy-breaky heart.”

            “That’s not going to happen. I’ve never had sex with a guy I just met in a bar. Besides, Josh is just another player. Just like Austin. I know the type.”

            “Give the guy a break. I’m sure he’s nothing like Austin.”

           “What I’m doing with Josh is business research, not flirting. Besides, the last thing I need is for David to think I’ve hooked up with his brother.” She shuddered.

           Marlene looked over Stella’s shoulder. “He’s coming back,” she said through gritted teeth. “I say go for it.”

           “Sorry about the interruption,” Josh said, looking between Stella and Marlene. Then he looked at Stella. “If you want, I can point out some of the changes David’s been talking about making in the lobby.” He looked around. “I think we’ll have less chance of getting interrupted if we talk out there.”

          “And there is my cue to leave.” Marlene hugged Stella. “Call me this week.” She turned to Josh. “Nice to meet you.” Then she disappeared into the crowd of cowboy hats and denim.

            Josh grasped Stella’s free hand, and she almost pulled away. But he tightened his grip and pulled her through the crowd with a confident stride. The warmth of his hand radiated up her arm, and she couldn’t help but peek at his nice ass. Eyes followed as they left the stage area and moved to the front of the building. 

           “This bar has been David’s dream for a long time,” Josh said when they reached the horseshoe bar. “I know he wants to give the place a face-lift but keep the country and western motif. Nothing trendy.”

            A straw-stuffed scarecrow pointed to diners eating hotdogs at redwood picnic tables. Stella pointed her chin toward the tables.“Were hotdogs part of his dream?”

          Josh laughed. “We never got around to talking about the food part. It was always about the music.”

           “What is it about the changes David wants to make that I should know about?”

           “Besides the obvious goal of making money, he wants to run contests and promote local talent. He has bigger plans.” He rubbed his chin. “I’ll be honest. I’ve just started getting involved in his business. I really should let him explain the details.”

           “So this business talk is all a ploy to keep flirting with me?”

           A boyish smile crossed his face, and he half-shrugged. “It worked.”

          Oh, yes. He could charm the pants off a concrete statue. Which was exactly why she needed to leave. She reached into her bag for her keys. “Now my job here really is done.”

          Josh grinned. “Mine too.” He held out his hand. “Walk you to your car?”

            “Yes. But we’re not holding hands.”

            “Are you this tough on all the guys,” Josh asked while they walked through the dimly lit parking lot.

            “I just don’t want to give you the wrong idea. I’ve got my hands full right now and don’t have any time for dating.”

            “Oh, bullshit. Why are you really pushing me away?”

          Stella stopped and put her handbag on the hood of her blue Audi. “It’s not bullshit. My business is consuming my life right now.” She reached in the bag for her keys. “Besides, you’re David’s brother. A potential client. It would be unprofessional for me to take this any further.”

          Josh stepped closer and brushed a strand of hair from Stella’s face. “I won’t tell your boss.”

          His gentle touch sent ripples of joy to her long neglected girly parts. Parts she didn’t want ignored any longer. She faced Josh. “I am the boss. Media Concepts is my business. And one of the boss’s rules is to keep business and personal life separate.”

          His calloused thumb stroked her parted lips, and he leaned closer. “Rules are made to be broken.”

         Common sense told her to resist, but her body softened like a purring kitten. She closed her eyes, begging God for Josh to kiss her. And then he did. His lips gently pressed on hers, and his tongue parted her mouth. She wrapped both arms around him, surrendering to her desire to taste him.

          The robust bloom of star jasmine along a neighboring fence sweetened the May air. Josh moved his kisses across her cheek, his warm breath caressing her sensitive skin. She nuzzled closer, letting the bristled overgrowth on his jawline scrape across her face. “Is this how you kiss all of your brother’s business associates?” she whispered.

          A laugh rumbled in his throat. “No, Stella. This is how I kiss you.”

          Josh kissed her again, and her knees weakened, forcing her to lean on the car for support. Pinned between Josh and the car, she fell into another fantasy—Josh’s mouth finding more intimate parts of her body. His fresh-scented skin sparked visions of him bare chested, chopping wood by a cabin in the Rockies amid a light dusting of snow on yellow Aspen trees. She placed her hand against the plane of his chest, hard and muscled. Oh, yes. Her hand ventured down his lean frame and around his lower back, stopping at belt loop on his jeans.

          Josh groaned and crushed his hard frame against her trembling body, arousing a sleeping beast: her libido.

          Stella turned her face from the headlights of a passing car. A laughing couple walked in their direction. A distant electronic key beeped, voices of nightclub-goers mixed.

           Josh stroked the length of her arm with his fingertips. “Want to move this over to my place?”

          Oh, yes. She wanted. “I don’t go home with strangers I’ve just met in a bar.”

          Josh planted a kiss on her forehead. “But I’m not a stranger. We both know David. And if you want to talk more about the bar—“

          “Oh, come on.” Stella shoved him off her. “Who are you fooling? We both know the reason you want me to go to your house, and it’s not to talk about the Rodeo Bar.”

          Josh opened his arms. “Is there a problem with that?”

          Stella smoothed her white dress and picked her bag and keys off the car. “Don’t even get me started on answering that question.”

          Josh closed the space between them. “Do you have a pen and paper in that bag?”

          “Why?”

          “Indulge me.”

          She handed him a pen and scrap of paper and Josh used his hand as a surface for writing. “This is my address,” he said, handing back the paper and pen. “It’s a Saturday night on Memorial Day weekend. Why spend the night alone?”

          Stella read. His Solana Beach address was only minutes past her exit to her house in Carmel Valley. She’d always been attracted to a suit and tie, not jeans and tattoos, so why did she feel tempted?

          The problem was his kiss had sparked a desire to be impetuous and wild. One more kiss would push her over the edge. Her do-right voice told her to play it safe and go home. She’d accomplished what she’d set out to do tonight, and more. “Goodnight, Josh.”

           Five minutes later, Stella followed Josh’s Ford truck north along the 5 freeway. Her exit was coming up, and she needed to move to the right lane, but like a hummingbird to nectar, she wanted more of what was in that truck. Would she risk her business reputation, just for romp with a hot country music singer who would forget all about her in the morning?

 

 

                                                     CHAPTER TWO

 

Josh tossed the skimpy red dress over the mound of downy comforter on his bed. “Wake up and get dressed, babe. I’ve got things to do today.”

           The heap of rumpled covers moved, but not fast enough for his liking. He’d invited Candace over last night, after he’d realized Stella wasn’t coming. He’d figured some female company would erase his nagging curiosity and attraction. It was only a temporary fix. Now he just wanted to rip the sheets off the bed and wash away his shallowness.

           Josh poked at the covers. “Come on. Time to get up.”

           A mass of dark blond curls emerged. Candace blinked her huge brown eyes several times. “You want me to leave right now? It’s Sunday morning. I thought we might have breakfast and—“

           “Can’t.” Josh picked her thong underwear and bra off the floor and tossed them on top of her dress. “I’ve got plans.”

            “Okay.” Candace sat up and pulled the sheet to her chest. “So you want to get together again later this week?”

           “Depends on my schedule.” Josh picked out a freshly washed and folded T-shirt from the dresser drawer and pulled it over his head.    

           Candace slid out of bed and carried her clothes to the bathroom, her round, naked ass swaying like a pendulum.

          Josh left the room to give Candace a moment of privacy. He’d met her at a gig in LA about two years ago. Back then she was a student at UCLA and liked hanging out with the band. Conveniently for Josh, she’d moved back to her hometown of San Diego and still liked to party. Candace had all the right requirements. She was pretty easy-going, without drama or demands. Josh had managed to stay single for the past five years for a good reason. Now he was on the cusp of his big break, and he didn’t need a demanding woman in his way.

            Candace came out of the bedroom, her handbag under her arm and a scowl on her face. She tugged the hem of her tight dress. “Guess I’ll see you around.”

           Josh led her to the front door. “See you later.” He’d been clear with her from the start, and they’d both agreed this was friendly sex with no expectations. Apologies weren’t necessary.

           He looked around at his collection of guitars resting in stands that took up most of the space in the sparsely furnished living room. Deciding between the Stratocaster and an acoustic, he chose the Gibson. All he needed was his guitar collection, and he was comfortable just about anywhere. Pacing barefoot on the polished wood floors, he played a few chords, recalling the melody from his dreams last night. Dreams of Stella.

          He’d noticed her walk into the bar. Striking, she exuded a natural beauty, with wide green eyes and gently curved lips. Long wavy brown hair he’d fantasized twisting around his hand. Those breasts were God-given, not like all the silicone he’d seen bouncing around California. Her slim waist dropped low to curvy hips, rounding out the white dress that hugged her heart-shaped ass. Her long legs proportionately carried that luscious body, and he wondered if she knew how hot she looked.

         “Dude, don’t you ever answer your doorbell?” David’s voice came from behind.

          Josh stopped playing and turned to his stepbrother. “Hey, dirt bag. I didn’t even hear you.” He didn’t see Judy and the twins. “Where’s the ball and chain?” Josh actually adored his sister-in-law, but loved teasing David.

        “She’s taking the girls to watch a ballet this afternoon. I have a long-overdue day off, so I thought I’d stop by and visit. Is that okay?”

          Josh set the guitar back on its stand. “How about some coffee?”

          “After a weekend with the in-laws, what I need is a strong drink, but I’ll take the coffee.”

         Josh snickered, because he knew that as much as David complained, he enjoyed the dynamics of his domestic routine.

         David sat on a stool at the counter separating the small kitchen from the living area. “Tell me how the crowd was at the bar last night.”

         “A packed house, man.” Josh spooned ground coffee into the filter. He wished he could tell David he’d met Stella last night. The Rodeo Bar was important to his stepbrother, and Josh wanted to help. David was part of the reason he’d chosen San Diego for his summer sabbatical. But ever since he arrived two weeks ago, David’s been bugging him to get involved with starting up the Rodeo Bar. Josh never had much interest in the details his brother’s business dealings. After meeting Stella last night, David’s business had more appeal.

          “And how do you think Matt handled the pressure of being on his own?” David asked.

         From what Josh had seen, the bar manager had maintained full control of the business. “What pressure? You know Matt. He’s always cool.” He handed David a cup of coffee.

         David took his coffee into the living area and set it on the coffee table. “Well, you don’t waste any time.” He picked up a pair of tasseled earrings. “Meet someone interesting?”

         “Candace left them here the other night.”

          “Ah—” David set the earrings down. “The same Candace that was here when Judy and I stopped by last week?”

          “That’s the one.”

          “Nice to have a girlfriend in town, eh?”

          “Not a girlfriend. Just a friend.” And easy to get rid of, Josh wanted to add.

           “I thought you were trying to stay focused on your work—clearing your head. Or are you getting restless?”

           Sometimes Josh wished David would tone down the big brother act—not that David’s protective tone wasn’t appreciated. Josh had won the jackpot of stepbrothers when his mother had remarried. Josh’s own dad had died when he was eight, and David had taken him under his wing and become the big brother he’d needed.  Josh wished he could reciprocate.

           Josh wanted to forget the dark days after his ex, Kathy left. Thanks to David, he’d come out on the other side much stronger. David always had his back. Josh held up his hand. “I’m doing great, man. If I wanted action, I’d have rented a place in LA. I’m perfectly content working on my new music and just playing a gig every now then for the next couple of months. Don’t worry. I’m staying busy enough.”

           This house in Solana Beach was a perfect place for Josh to work. It was close enough to Los Angeles to hook up with other artists, but far enough from the decadent temptations in LA. The entertainment business had introduced him to the darker side of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. While instant gratification was alluring, he’d learned the hard way that nothing satisfied more than success.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this excerpt. I’m in the process of updating this book and finishing the other books in the series. I plan to publish this series in 2019 when all three books are complete.

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