When destiny fails…Singer-songwriter Lucy Moore thought her life was perfect. At just twenty-one, she’s already met her soul mate and together they’ve landed a recording contract. But when her father dies and the love of her life betrays her in more ways than one, she returns home to pick up the pieces. On the shores of Mendocino, California, Lucy has some decisions to make. Should she start a solo career? Or should she leave it all behind for some semblance of normalcy in the quiet town she grew up in? And what about Seth, the tortured artist who always seems to be there when she needs him?
Seth Keenan has demons of his own. Eighteen months ago, he was involved in a horrific accident that he never talks about. His career as an accomplished oil-paint artist has been abandoned, replaced by the buzz of his tattoo gun. And women—well, he never sticks around for longer than a few hours of pleasure… until he meets Lucy. After one evening of listening to her seductive voice, he’s pulled under. But what about the vow he made to never get close to anyone again?
In a world where everyone has one true soul mate, can these two find love in the arms of each other?
The four-inch heels on my thigh-high boots wobble with each step through the gravel parking lot. Dammit. I’m going to sprain an ankle before we even get inside. Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. Then I wouldn’t have to go through with Jax’s birthday present. I’m probably the only twenty-one-year-old in the state of California who would rather sacrifice a limb than spend the evening drinking with the beloved local band.
Jax runs ahead and stops in the club’s doorway. “Hurry up, Lucy. It’s freezing out here.”
I make a face and wrap my wool coat tighter, blocking out the sea-scented wind blowing off the ocean. “I’m coming. Keep your skirt on.”
She tugs at her micromini and laughs. “For the next few hours at least.”
I manage to make my way to the door without falling on my ass. “Don’t be slutty just because it’s your twenty-first birthday.”
She tucks her arm through mine and presses close to me. “Since when did I ever need an excuse to be slutty?”
“Right. I forgot. Jax the man-eater. They’ll never know what hit them.” My tone is dry with sarcasm. Jax is hardly a virgin, but she’s only been with one guy—her high school boyfriend. And she hadn’t given it up until after graduation. They broke up nine months ago after Brad met his soul mate. That’s the way it works. One minute you’re happy, in love, and then bam. Your boyfriend meets his mate and everything changes.
“Exactly.” Jax tugs me into the club. “Tonight’s the night. Mission Boy Toy commences.”
I give her an indulgent smile and slip off my jacket. The coat-check girl scans the length of my body and makes a tsking noise as if I’m wearing Julia Robert’s hooker outfit from Pretty Woman. Give me a break. My dress isn’t that bad.
“Damn, girl.” Jax whistles appreciatively, her silky blond hair slipping over her shoulder. “Tonight’s supposed to be about me finding a man, not having them fall to their knees after taking one look at you.”
She’s teasing, and I know she doesn’t care what I wear, just as long as I’m here. She’s been begging me to go out with her for over three months now. I finally caved, but only because tonight is her birthday celebration. I couldn’t let this milestone go by without me. Besides, I made a promise, and I intend to keep it.
“You’re lookin’ pretty hot yourself,” I tell Jax. She’s wearing a black miniskirt paired with a whore-red halter top that’s open in the back and red fuck-me pumps. Her exercise of choice is swimming, so her traps and delts are cut, but not too bulky. She looks sexy as hell, and with her outgoing personality, I’m betting she’ll have more than half a dozen guys begging to take her home by the end of the night. Not that she’ll go. She talks a good game, but when it comes down to it, she always keeps them at arm’s length.
I smooth my hand over the silver-sequined minidress and point myself toward the bar. I won’t last another two minutes without some liquid courage. “I need a shot of Patrón.”
“Now you’re talking!” Jax bounces up to the bar, her boobs practically spilling out of her low-cut top, and leans over, waving at the bartender. At least someone’s excited.
I should be excited. I should be euphoric. Six months ago, I would’ve been so amped up I wouldn’t have been able to sit still. But tonight all I feel is dread. I force myself to glance up at the empty stage. My second home. The only other place I ever feel truly myself. Tonight the lonely microphone taunts me. Cadan won’t be beside me. I’ll be singing with a band I’ve only practiced with once and everything will be different. Including my voice.
“Bottoms up,” Jax says and hands me the shot glass.
We each go through the ritual of licking salt off the fleshy part of our palms and then down the amber liquid.
I grimace and bite into a lime, washing away the sting of alcohol. “One more.”
She lifts an eyebrow in question. “You sure?”
“If you want me up on that stage in ten minutes, then I’m going to need another.”
“Okaaaay. Give me a minute.” Jax waves at a tall, vaguely familiar blonde across the room and says, “I’ll be right back.” She disappears into the growing crowd while I wait for the tequila to start working its magic.
The coat-check girl eyes me again as she walks by, and she huffs something close to disapproval. Someone has a serious case of bitchitis. I snap my head to the side. “What’s your—”
Oh, holy hell.
The words fly out of my head, and I gape at the tall, dark-haired specimen lounging two stools down. He leans against the bar, a beer bottle dangling from two fingertips as his eyes travel to the hem of my dress. At home, the fact that it only fell about five inches past my butt hadn’t bothered me. Now I feel naked.
Heat rushes to my cheeks, but I don’t look away. I can’t. His brilliant green eyes are undressing me right here in the bar. And God help me if I’m not doing the same to him.
USA Today bestselling author, Deanna Chase, is a native Californian, transplanted to the slower paced lifestyle of southeastern Louisiana. When she isn't writing, she is often goofing off with her husband in New Orleans, playing with her two shih tzu dogs, making glass beads, or out hocking her wares at various bead shows across the country. For more information and updates on newest releases visit her website at www.deannachase.com
Connect with Deanna: