August 1, 2012
Rock n’ roll musician Shaw Tyler has a secret…he’s spent an amazing night in Kate Schaffer’s bed. Trouble is, she doesn’t remember a thing. Since then, Kate has avoided any personal interactions with him, keeping everything strictly business. He wants to remind her about what happened–and what didn’t–but first, he has to get her see him for who he really is.
Kate used to live a wild and crazy life, drinking and partying to offset her stressful hours as a corporate attorney. After a scary black-out, Kate cleaned up her act and changed careers. Since then, she’s had a more stable life…but also a more boring one. She longs for a sexy liaison like in the old days and who better to hook up with than the wily musician who flirts with her all the time?
Trouble is, Shaw knows things about her…intimate things. Once she figures out how he learned her most personal fantasies, will she let him into her heart or show him the door?
Read an Excerpt
“I don’t remember him being this hot in high school.”
Kate Schaffer curled her hair over her ear, despite the fact that she was trying to tune out to listen to the women standing a foot away from her with drool practically dripping down their chins. Ever since Shaw Tyler and his band, Cell Block Tango, had taken the stage, every comment she’d overheard had run along the same lines.
At least, every comment from a woman.
“I should have left my husband home with the kids.”
“Shaw Tyler sure has aged well in all the right places, hasn’t he?”
“I always wanted to be a groupie, but I never had the nerve. God, what have I been missing?”
Kate pressed her lips tightly together. She knew the answer, but she wasn’t going to share. She was not a member of the St. Aloysius Class of 2002 currently attending their tenth high school reunion at the Celebrations resort outside Chicago. She was assistant to party-planner Erica Holt and the woman who had arranged for Cell Block Tango and their hot lead singer to play the reunion, as she had for dozens of events since she’d taken over entertainment bookings for Events by Erica. She had no business taking too much interest in Shaw Tyler’s smooth gyrations and sinfully sexy vocal stylings.
That road led to ruin.
Unlike these twenty-somethings creaming their panties for a man they’d never have—at least not for more than a couple of hours—Kate knew precisely what it felt like to be a groupie. And while hooking up with hot musicians had definitely had its perks in her youth, she didn’t have time for such nonsense anymore.
Which, she admitted to herself as Shaw ground out a gravelly phrase about making love in the moonlight, was a damned crying shame. Unlike the salivating women gravitating closer and closer to the stage, Kate had been with guys like Shaw. Sexual. Raw. Fearless.
“I don’t know how you resist him.”
Kate jumped, as startled by her boss’s unexpected appearance as she was by the tweak of pressure between her thighs at the momentary thought of not resisting him at all.
“It’s not hard,” Kate lied, returning to her task of fanning reunion schedules on a table near the exit. She should be working, not watching Shaw Tyler swivel his hips so subtly and yet, so artfully, a twinge settled in an area of her body that had no business asking for attention this weekend. “Guys like him are a dime a dozen.”
“Really? When’s the last time you hooked up with a guy like him?” Erica challenged.
Kate pushed her glasses further up her nose. She wore the red-framed, cat-eyed spectacles because she thought they were funky, fun and amusing. They also gave her something to do with her hands when strangling someone was out of the question.
“Do you mean a guy most likely to forget my name by morning?”
Erica arched a brow. “Since you’re the girl most likely to want him to forget your name, how can that be a bad thing?”
“I’m not that girl anymore.”
“Maybe you should be,” Erica mused. “From what little you’ve told me, that girl had a lot of fun.”
Kate shoved her hands onto her hips. Maybe Margarita Mondays at the offices of Events by Erica weren’t such a brilliant idea. She invariably spilled more about her private life than was wise, especially to her boss.
Ordinarily, Erica was in full support of Kate’s decision over a year ago to clean up her act. After a scary blackout incident had changed her corporate-lawyer-during-the-day, wild-party-girl-at-night routine, Kate had quit her job at a law firm and joined Erica in organizing Chicago’s social life. Willfully and willingly, she’d exchanged legal briefs and depositions for engraved invitations and wedding receptions. And since she now partied for a living, she no longer needed to sow her wild oats in the dark of the night with guys who’d she never acknowledge in the light of day.
Guys like Shaw Tyler, for instance.
“I thought you wanted me on call this entire weekend,” Kate argued, “taking care of every detail of the reunion so you could adequately reunite with your guy most likely to ride out of town on a Harley. Where is Mr. Motorcycle-Man, anyway?”
“He’s grabbing some drinks. And his name is Scott. Though he did look hot on the back of that hog. All that leather.”
Erica practically purred. Kate flashed a glance at Shaw. The only leather he had on tonight was the strap holding his guitar across his chest, but his well-worn jeans and half-unbuttoned cotton shirt was just as bone-melting.
Kate scrunched her nose and tore her gaze away.
“I thought you called him Rip.”
“That was his nickname from high school. Scott “Rip” Ripley. Bad boy extraordinaire, entirely off-limits to goodie-two-shoes, student council president Erica Holt.”
Erica’s frown told Kate everything she needed to know about her boss’s attitude toward her reputation in high school. She’d also been tipped off earlier when Erica had arrived at the hotel on the back of a Harley, decked out like a biker chick, defying every preconceived notion her classmates might have had about how her life had progressed since graduation. Kate knew the transformation was new and entirely out of character, but Erica seemed to be enjoying the hell out of it. Even tonight, her sundress was a little more flowing and a lot more low-cut than Erica normally wore. And without a doubt, her smile was bigger, brighter and nearly infectious.
“Doesn’t look like he’s off-limits anymore,” Kate replied.
Erica leaned in close as Kate unnecessarily straightened the brochures. “Nope. Good is overrated, Kate.”
“Good is safe,” Kate countered.
“Safe is boring.”
“You wouldn’t think that if you’d been through what I have.”
“Maybe,” Erica conceded. “Maybe not. But if there’s one thing I learned this afternoon, Kate, it’s that the pain from the past doesn’t matter nearly as much as living the here and now.” Erica tossed a purposeful glance in Shaw’s direction. “You might want to reconsider your hands-off approach to sexy Mr. Tyler. There are fifty women, single and married, who are using all their self-control to keep from tossing their panties at him right now, but by the way he’s looking over here, the only woman’s underwear he wants is yours.”
Erica flitted away before Kate responded, which was just as well since Kate had nothing to say.
She was watching him. Shaw was glad he’d played this song a hundred times because the minute he became aware that Kate Schaffer’s intense emerald stare was centered on him, his brain disengaged from the music. Uptight, perennially professional, sinfully sensual Kate, who normally only spared him a grudging glance when absolutely necessary, couldn’t look away.
Kate had seen him play before, dozens of times. Since Erica opened her event-planning business after college, he and his band had provided the music for countless parties, bar mitzvahs and weddings. The gigs weren’t always glamorous, but they paid the bills and gave him a chance to try out new songs between the covers.
Kate, however, had never been impressed. When she spared him more than a few seconds of her attention, he caught glimpses of distrust in her expression, as if she wasn’t comfortable with the fact that she couldn’t ignore him.
As if some part of her wanted to remember the night they’d spent together.
But tonight…tonight, she looked…interested.
A strident strum blared through his earpiece. Someone in the band was playing off-key…no, not someone. Him. He tore his eyes away from Kate and tried to focus on the chords. Once he had the rhythm again, he looked out into the audience, sang a few more bars of the chorus and tried to focus on someone else.
As usual, she looked gorgeous. Unfortunately, she was dancing with a guy who didn’t deserve the privilege of having his hands on her.
Rip wasn’t a bad guy, exactly, but he wasn’t up to Erica’s usual standard. Which could be exactly what she needed.
Just like he could be for Kate, if she’d just give him another chance—which she seemed to be doing, judging by the continued eye contact.
Thankfully, the song ended. He pulled at the collar of shirt, afraid he was soaked to the skin. The sultry summer heat, cooled only by fans placed strategically around the rooftop club, was starting to get to him. Or maybe it was just Kate.
Of course it was just Kate. The woman had gotten under his skin as deeply and permanently as the ink tattooed across his upper arm. Unfortunately, she had no idea of the power she wielded over him. They’d “met” over a year ago when, from the stage, he’d witnessed some creep drop something into her drink while she was out partying after work. As the minutes passed, her inhibitions dropped. She let down her hair, unbuttoned her blouse and started draping herself over the prick who’d been so desperate for a date he’d opted to get one through pharmaceutical means.
Shaw had never met Kate before that night—he’d never even seen her before. But the minute the bastard had started to lead her out of the club, he’d cut the band’s set short and chased them down. Two left hooks and an upper cut later, she’d melted into his arms.
As far as he could tell, she didn’t remember anything about that night. But no matter what he did, he couldn’t forget a single minute.
He turned to his drummer and signaled a change-up in the set, pulling himself out of the lead singer spot. His bassist threw him a confused look, but after the opening riff, he moved to the mike and started singing. Cell Block Tango might not be the big time, but they were a well-oiled musical machine.
Once Shaw got past the first couple of bars without flubbing the beat, he faded into the background, taking up a position beside his keyboard player. His fingers picked over the strings of his guitar, but without having to contribute more than a couple of background “oohs” and “ahhs” during the refrain, he concentrated entirely on Kate.
Kate. Katie-gate. His scandal in the making.
She wasn’t watching him anymore. This was what he was used to, watching her from the stage, wondering when or if she’d ever remember the night they spent together…contemplating the circumstances under which he would tell her about what happened—and what didn’t.
He remembered the first time he’d shown up at Erica’s offices to sign a contract and had come face to face with his dream woman. He’d known after ten minutes that she either had no memory of their night together or she was a first-rate liar. Countless times, he’d dropped hints, but she’d never slipped, never given any indication that she’d seen him before, much less had kissed him or dragged him into her bedroom.
Though admittedly, he hadn’t fought that hard. Not until things got serious.
In the end, he had little to be ashamed of, but she probably wouldn’t feel the same. So he’d held off in revealing the circumstances of their real first meeting and instead, had spent the months since their inauspicious first meeting into a much better second one. But she wasn’t cooperating.
A lingering stare wasn’t much of an indicator for anyone else, but for Kate, it was practically an open invitation for hope.
He missed a string of background vocals, earning him a scowl from his drummer. He turned his back to the audience, trying to keep his mind on the music while he wondered if Kate had the guts to check out his ass.
The song ended. The audience applauded. He took a bow, then returned to the main microphone to introduce his band and finally, present Erica so that she could run through what he expected would be a very comprehensive list of activities specifically planned for the entertainment and enjoyment of the Class of 2002.
His band headed toward the bar. They had one more set to play, but Shaw knelt down to secure his guitar to its stand when a soft hand curled around his bicep.
He looked up. He expected to see one of the girls who’d ignored him in high school, but who’d shamelessly undressed him with her eyes during the set.
Instead, he saw Kate.
She was touching him. Hand to arm. Skin to cotton.
He’d prefer flesh to flesh, but he’d take what he could get.
He tore, “Hey, Katie-gate. Enjoying the show?” out of his constricted throat.
Want to read another “Girl Most Likely To” novella? Check out Hard to Resist by Janelle Denison!