coming mAY 28th, 2019!
HOW TO STAY
THE BADDEST BITCH IN ROCK IS RUNNING AWAY. AGAIN.
It’s been fourteen years since rock singer Adelia Winters escaped the small town of Cherry Lake. But thanks to her father’s death (and punching the president of her record label #sorrynotsorry), she’s back and forced to face the secrets—and the best friend—she left behind.
Perfectionist Conor Ross doesn’t take chances. Not with his body, his photography career, and certainly not with relationships. One-hundred and sixty pounds ago, he’d taken a chance on love and it ended with his best friend breaking his heart on her way out of town. Never again.
Between whiskey hangovers and rock song sing-alongs, Adelia and Conor must confront their broken friendship and the passion still sizzling between them. If they can find a way to heal the wounds of the past, they might just have a second chance. But Adelia’s career is pulling her away, even as the town—and Conor—are calling her home.
He pulled out his phone. “Here, I’ve got two bars.” He pushed it toward her. “You can call Paulie’s for a tow.”
Adelia squinted at him with dry, desolate eyes. Of course, she wasn’t crying. She was made of steel wrapped in barbed wire.
“No thank you.” The words squeezed out from behind gritted teeth. She bent and grabbed her phone, shoving it in her pocket, along with her keys. Her chest rose and fell rapidly, her jaw pulling so tight he could see the muscle twitch. She slammed the car door, pushed her hands into the pockets of her sodden hoodie and headed up the sidewalk without a backward glance.
“Winters!” He called out. “Adelia!”
She marched to the end of the street, rounded the corner and disappeared.
Screw it. Her obstinate ass could walk back to town. Glaring at her car, he swiped at the rain cascading over his face. The storm was worsening. It was over six miles to town, on a street with no sidewalks. In the best of circumstances, it would take her a couple hours to walk there. In a storm like the one crashing over their heads, it would be closer to three hours and that was only if she didn’t slip in the mud, slide down the embankment and drown in Hopeful Creek.
He clenched his fist, the rough edges of his keys digging into his palm. “Dammit,” he ground out, as he threw himself into his truck. “Why couldn’t you stay gone?”.
After a long trek out of the park and onto the dimly-lit road, his headlights finally lit onto her back. She was making pretty good time with those long legs of hers. He pulled over and rolled down his window, letting the rain rush in. “Get in. I’ll drive you to the motel,” he shouted.
She shook her head and kept on going. Stubborn woman.
He pulled over and shot out of the truck. “Stop being a martyr and get inside!”
Adelia spun and stalked toward him. “Go. Home. I don’t want your help and I don’t need your goddamn pity!”
“I can’t believe you still haven’t grown out of your suffer-in-silence bullshit.” He threw his hands in the air. “You’d rather choke to death on your pride than accept help from anyone.”
“Oh, perfect Conor Ross is judging me?” She pressed a finger into his chest. “Fuck. You.”
“Oh, fuck me?” He leaned closer. “You already did that, Winters.”
She shoved him.
His knees buckled before he realized what happened, and he fell backward, sliding down the hill, landing in mud so thick, he sank into it like a soft bed.
Adelia appeared above him, breathing heavy. She dropped to her knees in the mud. “Shit. Are you okay? Did you hit your head?”
She held his head in her hands, gently squeezing his skull, as if she were checking a melon for ripeness. The sodden tendrils of his rage whipped away, caught in the same wind that lifted her wet hair and slapped it against her shoulders.
He flinched from her hands and gave an agonized groan.
“Oh, god. I’ll call an ambulance.” She reached for her phone. As soon as she turned her head, he shot forward, grabbing her around the waist, and rolled her onto her back in the mud, pinning her beneath him.
Her eyes narrowed, and he smirked, feeling victorious.
“You fucker,” she said. “I can’t believe I fell for that.”
“I can’t believe you did either.”
She pushed onto her elbows. “So, you're fine?”
“No thanks to you. But I'll survive.”
“Good.” She slapped a wad of cold mud against his face and raised a challenging eyebrow. Energy crackled through him.
“That was childish.” He grabbed her wrists and shoved her back down, rubbing his muddy face on her cheek. Her rusty laugh cracked the infuriatingly cold mask she'd been wearing, as she squirmed to buck him off.
“Give up,” he said.
Her eyes flashed hotter and brighter than the lightning slashing the sky. Wrapping her legs around him, she gave a heave and flipped him flat onto his back, settling all of her weight onto his pelvis. “I win.”
Intent on pushing her off, his fingers dug into the wet, tight denim clinging to her hips. Hips she never had as a gangly teenager.
She shifted to keep herself upright and suddenly the rise and fall of their bodies, matched to the rhythm of their heavy breaths, no longer felt combative.
He raised his hands in capitulation. “Fine. Victory is yours. Now, get off me.”
She climbed off and he hoped the rain drowned out his groan at the sudden loss of her wriggling body. He cleared his throat. “Ugh, I need a shower. Maybe three,” he said.
“I forgot about your dirt thing.”
“Not wanting my underwear full of dirt isn’t a thing.”
“It's really a shame,” she said. “I tried so hard to make you rugged and manly. Clearly, I failed.”
“Really?” He stood, trying not to gag as mud sluiced down his body. “All you ever did was punch me in the arm and yell, ‘Hit me back, you big baby, who cares if I’m a girl?’”
“See, a rugged manly man wouldn't have admitted that.”
“I own a goose down comforter,” he said. “And a salad spinner. Pretty sure rugged missed me by a mile.”