First Chapter: Crash and Burn by Amanda Adams
Author Amanda Adams stops on over to share her book "Crash and Burn".
Releases: April 6, 2017
Crash and Burn
A childhood promise has Chance Walker picking up a guitar once again. He hires sexy Erin Michaelson to bring music back into his life. She's one of the most intriguing women he's ever met.
When he sees her again, she's on stage using another name and seducing an entire audience. A single, sizzling backstage kiss will change both of their lives forever. Chance soon realizes that Erin is not just an itch, she's an obsession that he refuses to live without.
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Erin Michaelson spotted Mr. Suit-and-Tie the minute he walked into the store. Tall and fit with model good looks, his dark blue suit molded broad shoulders to perfection. He had wavy brown hair that looked so soft her fingers actually twitched on the glass countertop. His eyes were warm and sharply focused wherever he looked. The deep chocolate brown of his eyes were perfectly framed by lashes longer than hers, which just wasn’t fair.
Leaning over the counter to get a closer look, she knocked over the pencil container at the register with a loud bang. Pens, pencils and paperclips went flying over the glass with a loud clatter that drew his attention.
Shit. He was coming over.
Nerves on overheat, she scrambled to pick up the pens, but his damn presence made her fingers shake and she dropped half of them. What was up with that?
“Here. Let me help.” He was close now, so close she could smell his spicy cologne, like a mix of dark chocolate and cinnamon. His scent invaded her system and made her imagine nibbling on him. Everywhere. He looked a couple years older than she was and his ring finger was bare, not that she was looking. Nope. She had the insane urge to bury her nose against his neck to see if he smelled just as good up close.
In about five seconds flat he had the entire mess cleaned up and stood, watching her mouth with dark, brooding eyes. She would have donated a pint of blood right then and there to know what he was thinking, because he looked like he might be, possibly, could be, thinking about kissing her. Which made her think about kissing him back. Before she knew it, she licked her lips slowly, wondering if he’d even notice.
He didn’t move, and she started to feel like a caged bird behind the counter. “Um, thanks. For helping.”
“Sure.” He grinned and looked her in the eye. She wished he hadn’t because her heart pounded and it felt like a car had just parked on her chest.
When she remained as frozen as an ice sculpture, he gave her a quick nod and wandered toward the back, to the guitars where Samantha looked all too eager to help him select a guitar.
Great. Nerdy loser girl sees hot guy and freezes yet again. Why did she always freak and lose her nerve? Why couldn’t she be more like her onstage alter ego? That bitch was wild and fearless, a total animal on stage.
Her alter ego would jump the counter and follow him, but the butterflies in her stomach kept her on her side of the counter. Besides, her frayed rock band T-shirt, ragged jeans, ponytail, and bare face was very strong man repellent. And she really just needed to keep her head on straight, not get distracted by a walking daydream.
She glanced down to the song she was writing. Yep. The super-smart thing to do was to let Samantha get close to all that hotness. Samantha was beautiful, bubbly, and dressed in an adorable sweater and leggings. Where Sam never met a stranger, and could talk to anyone, Erin knew that she came across as quiet and intense on a good day. Sam was fire and Erin was ice. Today, she didn’t even want to try to compete with the ginger. Erin’s band, Fourth Strike, had practiced until two in the morning, and she’d had to be at work in the music store by eight. She’d barely had time for a shower, let alone lipstick and perfume.
Their lone customer took his time with the guitars, touching many of them with long, lean hands. He ran his fingertips over the smooth sides and rough edges gently, explored the guitars like a lover would. The visual, and the complete attention he gave to the instruments, made her squirm. His reverence for the guitars came through in the soft glide of his fingers and the serene look on his face, and she couldn’t stop her imagination from replacing the six-string under his hands with the soft dips and curves of her own naked flesh.
God, she was pathetic. If he turned her on just standing in the store, he’d be deadly to her senses if he actually began to play. Could he play? The way he wrapped his hands around the instrument made her think he could. The thought rocketed him up the sexy scale even higher.
Shaking her head to clear it, she forced herself to look away. She’d grown up poor, but she’d seen his type often enough. Rich clothes. Cut chin. Broad shoulders and a way of standing that screamed confidence.
Guys like him had made something of themselves. He looked like a stockbroker or a banker, someone comfortable gambling with both money and people’s lives. She didn’t want to tangle with that kind of player. A man like that could make her heart hurt and her panties wet at the same time. Totally dangerous and way out of her league. He could make her want shit she had no business wanting. A guy like that would just break her heart into a million tiny pieces.
His voice drifted over to her at the counter and she closed her eyes. Of course his voice would be smooth and deep, the kind of voice that made her whole body eager to rip her clothes off and beg him to talk dirty. Jesus, her mind was in the gutter. She tried not to listen as he discussed the various guitar models they had mounted on the wall with Samantha.
A good fifteen minutes passed and Erin did her best to ignore Samantha and the walking sex god as they worked their way through the entire guitar section. They moved closer and closer to where she stood leaning over the glass display case next to the register.
“Hey. He wants the Gibson.” Samantha walked up and laid the expensive guitar across the glass. Erin didn’t even look up.
“He’s going to need a…”
“I need a case.” His words layered over Erin’s and she looked up, catching his eye when they spoke at the exact same time.
“Oh, right.” Samantha tugged on Mr. Gorgeous’s arm and led him over to the guitar cases. She was there half a minute before scurrying back to take the guitar Erin held out. “Right. Sorry. Gotta fit the guitar to the case.”
Erin didn’t reply, just went back to her current battle with the band’s newest song lyrics. Her brother, AJ, had already helped her polish the guitar riff and she had a pretty great melody hammered out on the piano, but the lyrics? That was generally her favorite part of the process. Today she was coming up with a big fat zero.
Why can’t you see
Why can’t I be
Lost in you…
No. That was total garbage.
She erased the last two lines and started over.
Why can’t you see
Why are you so mean to me
You make me bleed…
Crap. Terrible. She hated whiney lyrics. She nearly tore a hole in the paper with her eraser this time. She’d better start scribbling on another sheet of paper, because this one had both the guitar chords and all the notes of the piano melody written on the treble clef. If she wrecked it, she’d have to start over.
They say we should live and learn
But all we do is lust and yearn? Burn? Worm?
She chuckled at her own joke and erased it all in frustration. The song had possibilities, but her brain drew a total blank on words, just like it had been for the last six weeks. Total song drought. Even AJ had begun to worry. Erin didn’t know why nothing was flowing. She just felt burned out. And tired. And not sure anyone was ever going to give a shit about anything she wrote anyway.
She’d written all of the original music the band played, but lately she felt completely uninspired. Nothing changed. They weren’t going anywhere. They booked the same gigs at the same bars night after night, week after week. Every bar had their regulars. She knew that every Tuesday night at The Red Crow bar she’d have the same twelve drunk people listening to her that were there the week before.
But maybe, just maybe, they’d finally caught a break. She’d texted AJ the good news about an hour ago. They had finally gotten a gig next week at The Funk Club. It was a hot pop dance club that frequently hosted some of the up and coming names in music. And the owner, who she’d been stalking for weeks trying to get the gig, told her that Wesley Shipton of Shipton Records had asked to see them play.
Talk about a Holy Shit moment! She’d almost dropped her phone in the toilet when she got the text.
Playing for Shipton could be the break they needed. So, she didn’t tell AJ or the others who was going to be there. They’d just freak out and do something stupid, like show up stoned. Or drunk. Or both. Most nights she got them to hold off on the party until after the work was over, but this kind of pressure would push AJ over the edge.
No, the Funk Club gig next week was going to be perfect. Assuming she could figure out lyrics for this new song. The band had practiced the music for weeks, but the lyrics? No luck yet. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Her muse had completely deserted her. With the record label here to see them play, it was a bad, bad time for her muse to take a vacation.
To top that off, her dad, after twenty years, had decided to try to be a father. The last three times she’d seen him, he had screeched at her and her younger brother to get a real job, a real life. A career.
What he really wanted was a steady paycheck and someone to take care of him. Erin, at twenty-four, had enough trouble taking care of herself.
Besides, she didn’t want a “real” job and the cubicle life. She’d gone to college for two years and hated it. She didn’t care about calculus or freaking world history. She wanted to sing and play her guitar. She wanted a record deal, and world tours, and freaking hot guys, like the one walking around in the store right now, throwing themselves at her feet begging her to kiss them. But if her muse didn’t start behaving, none of that was going to happen.
“Ever.” Guys like him didn’t go to concerts or beg any woman for anything. Heat rushed through her at the thought of his hands and mouth all over her. Nope, with a guy like him? “I’d be the one begging.”
“Excuse me?” Mr. Wonderful was standing in front of her looking so hot she had to force herself to blink before answering him. Had she really just said that out loud? Shit. Heat rushed up her neck and she knew her face had to be turning a nice, embarrassing crimson.
“What?” Brilliant comeback, Erin. Really intelligent.
“What?” Apparently she’d successfully confused both of them, because he was staring at her like she had two heads. When his gaze darted to the sheets of music she had spread over the glass, she scurried to stack them and shove them out of sight in the cabinet behind her.
“Can I help you?”
“Yes.” He lifted a mint-condition case onto the counter. “I need to pay for these.”
“Okay.” She checked the case and entered the information into their register without lifting the lid to check the guitar already safely inside. He stopped her when she told him the total.
“But, you didn’t even look at the guitar.”
“The Gibson, Les Paul?”
“I know how much it is. Trust me.” She’d had her eye on it for three months, ever since the store’s owner had taken it out of the box. She’d have to save her money for three years to afford it.
“If you don’t mind, I’ll take a look.”
She crossed her arms over her chest. “Go ahead.” She raised a brow, but didn’t lift a finger to help him. Accidental contact was to be avoided at all costs.
He spun the case around and she tried really, really hard not to look at his hands. She was a total sucker for a nice pair of hands. And, sure enough, up close, his were gorgeous. Long, strong fingers with squared tips and a nice big palm that could cup the entire back of her head, or her breast…
Oh, no. She was not going there.
Too late. Her nipples pebbled to attention inside her bra and she hunched forward a bit to make sure she didn’t have the headlights on, giving him a show.
Jeez. How long had it been since she’d been with a man? Eight months? And why was she thinking about this now? She had the biggest performance of her life coming up. She needed to focus…
“Okay. You were correct. Here.” He held out his black credit card with that sexy hand. She took it without responding, but noticed his gaze fall to her chest.
Stupid nipples were probably on high beam. She hadn’t worn her industrial-strength bra to work today. No. She had on one of those thin lace and satin things that looked sexy but didn’t do much else. She had wanted to feel pretty this morning, so she’d put on her sexy underwear beneath the jeans and T-shirt she normally wore to work. But the thin cotton, pulled tight over satin wasn’t going to hide much.
Oh, well. Just another day at the office.
He signed the receipt and she handed back his copy and his card.
“Thank you for coming in. Have a nice afternoon.”
“I need to sign up for lessons. I’m a bit rusty.”
She looked at him with new eyes. So…he actually played guitar? “How long has it been?”
He grinned, and she stopped breathing. That level of sexy should be outlawed as totally unfair. And he had great taste in guitars? If there was a perfect man in the world, she was pretty sure she was staring at him right now.
“All right. What’s your schedule like? Are you free Monday nights?” She pulled the lesson-planning schedule book from the shelf behind the counter and opened it to the following week. There were four guitar instructors. Eddie would probably be the best choice. Close to the hunk’s age, Eddie was an excellent player. Guitar Eddie was the clichéd rich boy who, at twenty-five, had shifted from rebelling against his parents plans for him to attend Harvard Law, to just plain rebelling against the status quo. Of course, it was easy for him to be a rebel since his parents still paid his car payment and his rent.
“No, what?” She stared at his lips. They were full, and looked soft. Kissable. What had she asked him?
“I can’t do Monday.”
Right… “Okay. How about Tuesdays?” Ginny taught on Tuesdays. Ginny could handle this guy. She was married with two kids and totally in love with her husband. No problem.
She glanced down at the book, then up and their gazes locked. “Wednesdays? Thursdays?”
“No and no.”
“When, exactly are you free, then? Because Saturdays are booked, and no one teaches on Friday night.”
“I’m not free, ever. But I made a promise that I’d make the time, so I have to work it in. Do you have anything from 9:00 to 10:00 on Sunday morning?”
Was this guy for real? “Are you serious?”
“Unfortunately, yes.” A faint tinge of color climbed over his cheekbones and she watched, fascinated. Was he blushing? The thought intrigued her.
“Knock it off.”
“I’m sorry.” He pulled the guitar off the counter and set it on the carpet at his feet.
She shook her head, flustered. “Not you. Sorry. I was talking to myself.” Yes, his face looked a bit pink, and he reached up to tug on the neck of his pale blue dress shirt and red power tie. And just her luck, her fingers itched to reach up and unwrap him like a birthday present. She bet the skin on his neck tasted as good as it looked.
“Sorry. I know it’s odd hours.” He tugged at his tie again and cleared his throat. “But, it’s all I can do. And Samantha also said Aaron is the best teacher you have here, so I’d like an appointment with him.”
“You want Erin, but only on Sunday morning from 9:00 to 10:00?” She closed the lesson book and slid her hands across its leather cover. As much as the idea of spending an hour every week with him tempted her, good sense prevailed. Sunday mornings were rough. Saturday night gigs usually ran until one or two in the morning. She might be able to get to the store by nine, but she’d look and feel like she’d been run over by a truck. “I’m sorry. That’s just not going to work. I’ll write down the numbers of a couple other shops that give lessons.”
He reached over and wrapped his hand around her wrist when she would have pulled the book off the counter. “Please. I’m willing to pay extra for the off hours.”
His touch made her skin tingle and burned through her good sense. The word “please”, spoken in that smooth, deep voice, did strange things to her stomach. She froze and closed her eyes to savor the feeling as the heat of his touch melted through her logic like a hot knife slicing butter.
She held completely still under his touch, afraid he’d pull away if she moved and she wasn’t quite ready to give up the contact yet. She opened her eyes to find him watching her. His gaze roamed her face, lingered on her lips, then returned to her eyes when she cleared her throat.
“We don’t normally teach on Sunday. No one does. Does it have to be Sunday?” The one day of the week she let herself sleep in? Really? Was the universe going to be this cruel? Even the rare weekends she dragged her sorry ass to church, she didn’t go to the early service. Noon was early enough.
“Yes. Sunday is the only day that works.”
“Well, normally, it’s fifty dollars an hour.”
“A hundred per hour, if he’ll do it on Sunday mornings.”
She should tell him that his mythical guitar teacher was really her, but a part of her didn’t want to. She wanted to see how he’d react when he walked into the store Sunday morning and found her waiting for him. And, if she were being totally, completely, one hundred percent honest with herself, and being truthful, at least with herself, was very important to her, she wanted that hour alone with him even if she was tired and not looking her best.
She twisted her wrist and he loosened his grip enough that she could slide her hand out from beneath his large, warm hand.
“Sorry.” He looked confused, and slightly embarrassed that he’d grabbed her.
“No problem. Let me check on the lesson room. Just a minute.”
Wiping her hand on her thigh in a feeble attempt to rub off his effect on her, she walked down the short hallway to the teaching studio. She could feel his gaze following her and the tiny hairs on the back of her neck rose to attention, just like her nipples. Relieved to be out of his sight, she entered the teaching studio where Samantha stood waiting with a huge, very happy grin on her face.
“Well, did he ask for you? Like I told him to? Because you two are totally meant to be. I ship it, right now. He’s hot.” Samantha put her thumbs and fingers together to form a heart shape.
Erin rolled her eyes. “This isn’t anime, Sam. This is my life. And there’s nothing to ship. He thinks Erin is a man. Someone also told him that Erin is the best guitar teacher we have. So, I guess he asked for me, if that counts.” Erin frowned as Samantha rubbed her hands together in complete glee.
“You so owe me for this one! I told him to ask for you. And he’s totally hot.”
“You said that already.”
“I know. You should ask him out. Find out if he’s good in bed.” Samantha rubbed her hands up and down the curves of her body, as if Erin needed any help getting her brain to go in that very dangerous direction.
“I’m going to teach him to play guitar. That’s it.”
“Totally not cool. That will ruin my genius plan.” Samantha walked around her to peek out the door. They were hiding in the soundproof lesson room and Samantha let the curtain close again when she turned back around. “He’s perfect, Erin. I want an invitation to the wedding.”
“You’re losing touch with reality.”
“Ooooh, girl. You are in trouble. You like him.”
“You totally want him.”
“You can sing to him in bed. I bet that would make him go totally, crazy hot.” Samantha laughed.
“Well, he wants you. Did you see the way he was looking at you?”
“Like something the cat dragged in? I look terrible.”
Samantha came back from the door and wrapped her arms around Erin’s waist, resting her chin on the much shorter Erin’s shoulder. “You’re beautiful and sexy and talented.”
“Thanks, Sam. But that kind of guy goes for rich girls with designer clothes, acrylic nails, four-inch heels and five-hundred-dollar handbags. Not a bare-faced singer who wears blue-jeans, with B-cups in a torn T-shirt.”
“Give yourself some credit. I hate it when you talk shit about yourself. Why do women do that? You’re the most amazing friend I have.”
“I’m the only friend you have. Facebook lies.”
“Ask him out.”
Erin sighed and hugged her friend, who had a rock the size of Texas on her left hand and plans for a June wedding next year. An eighteen-month engagement was not exactly what Erin would have wanted, but Sam was happy, which was all that mattered. “Not everyone has a sexy fiancé and happily ever after, Sam. You’re lucky.”
Samantha chuckled but squeezed tighter. “It wasn’t luck. That’s what I’m telling you. You can’t meet the man of your dreams if you refuse to date. Ask. Him. Out.”
“No way. He probably only dates Victoria’s Secret models.”
“Whatever. I give up. You are stubborn.”
“Are going to teach him to play or not?”
“Yes. I am.” Erin grinned.
Erin walked back out front to the counter and smiled. An extra hundred a week was going to buy her that new laptop in no time at all. Her old machine let her layer tracks, but the software was three years old. Ancient. So, when she thought about it that way, how bad could it be? All she had to do was give him a lesson, and not get personally involved. Easy. Right?
Hell, she’d teach a poodle to play with his teeth for a hundred dollars an hour.
“Okay. I’ll get you in the schedule book. What’s your name?”
Seriously? Erin shook her head and opened the old-fashioned pencil-and-paper book to Sunday so she could pencil him in. Chance Walker. Super hot. Super sexy. Nicely dressed. Movie star name. Was this guy perfect, or what? “Okay, Chance, what’s your number in case I need to reach you?”
He told her his cell, then shocked her.
“What’s your number? In case I can’t make it.”
Erin rattled off her number and he programmed it into his phone.
“No problem.” She shrugged her shoulders. No problem at all.
Chance picked up his guitar case and she had to admit, it looked good on him. She expected him to walk out the door, but he stared.
“You are Erin, aren’t you?”
Her smile burst onto her face before she could even think about stopping it. So, he’d figured it out.
“Yes. I am.”
He set his guitar case down on the floor. “You were going to let me leave, and not tell me?”
She grinned at him. “Well, you would have figured it out on Sunday.”
He smiled. “True. But I’d like to get started. Are you free now?”
“Yes. The store isn’t exactly filled with customers.”
Correct. He’d been their only live body in the last hour. “I’ll have to see if Sam can cover.”
Samantha chose that moment to burst out from behind the door. “I’ll cover. I got it.” She held the door open and waved her arm in front of her to indicate that he should go in.
Chance looked from Samantha’s eager grin to Erin. “Well?”
Erin didn’t have anything better to do. And she could use the extra hundred. “Okay. Why not?”
“Excellent.” Chance carried his guitar past a grinning Samantha, who let the door close behind him and mouthed a silent You owe me.
Erin rolled her eyes, but inside she was shaking like a leaf. Bluffing her way through five minutes with a glass counter between them was one thing. An hour alone, teaching him to play?
Samantha was right. She liked him. A lot.
© Amanda Adams
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Amanda Adams fell in love with books at a very early age. Her earliest memories are of sitting on her mother’s lap reading Cinderella and Snow White and Rose Red over, and over, and over again until she had them memorized –- she was too young to know the alphabet. Amanda started writing stories in big, sloppy handwriting in a wide-rule notebook when she was bored, during class (of course) in the fifth grade. Her favorite stories always include excitement, adventure and a handsome hero guaranteed to sweep her off her feet. Amanda lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband (her high-school sweetheart who proved the reality of “love at first sight”) and three teenagers whom she reminds, repeatedly… "If it’s not in my phone, it’s not happening,” because her mind is oh-so-often far away living a fairy tale. (That’s code for – if an alarm doesn’t go off, she forgets to pick up her kids from school…)