By Dolores Maroney
....Out of sight, out of mind. That’s what Melody Ravenswood was counting on when she invented a new life for herself as Mel Harper in the small farming community of Willowbrook, Texas. She could be herself, whoever that was. Having long since lost her identity to being the only child and sole beneficiary of a legendary rock and roller, she was finally going to live the normal life she craved – a job, a house, friends and no paparazzi.
....Hank Travis is the last thing Mel needs in her new life. The local boy turned rock and roll star’s sexy, won’t take no for an answer pursuit makes her long for a life she has only dreamed of. Before Mel can have the future she wants with Hank, she must confront her past and find the Melody she lost along the way.
Genre: Contemporary erotic romance
Available: ebook & print
2014 HOLT Medallion Award of Merit - Virginia Romance Writers
Finalist - 2014 Booksellers Best Award - Greater Detroit Romance Writers
2013 Reader's Choice Award Finalist - RomCon
Winner - 2012 Melody of Love Contest - Music City Romance Writers
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Hank leaned back in his desk chair. A stack of invoices awaited his attention but images of Mel Harper eclipsed everything. She had stepped into his line of sight and somehow lodged herself into his consciousness, refusing to go away.
He could still see her rose-petal lips telling him she was new in town. Even though he had been on tour for most of the last six months, the information had not been news. He had lived in Willowbrook his entire life. If Mel Harper had been here for long, he would have remembered her. Just like he would never forget the first moment he saw her.
He had been so absorbed in the song he was listening to and trying to concentrate on his dad’s tax returns, he hadn’t noticed her at first. Something had caught his eye, and he’d glanced up. There she’d stood in the doorway, clutching a greasy bag in a white knuckled grip while she balanced two paper hot-cups in her other hand. Large, sky-blue eyes framed by long lashes had taken his measure, and he’d gladly returned the favor.
At that point, if she had turned out to be a stalker he wouldn’t have cared. Talk about visions coming to life. She was the subject of every wet dream he’d ever had—small, perky, and sexy as hell with those curves of hers. Dressed in her stylish business attire, a lurid fantasy involving a secretary, a desk, and a fair amount of sexual harassment had instantly popped into his head.
He’d managed to shake the fantasy out of his head, but he couldn’t shake her image. The fact she was a reporter didn’t seem to matter much to his body even though a small portion of his brain still urged caution where the species was concerned. What would it hurt to indulge his libido a little bit? It wasn’t like he was going to see her again anytime soon. Willowbrook was small, but he didn’t spend much time in town when he was at home, and few people came to the farm. Avoiding her would be easy enough.
He closed his eyes and let the image take shape in his mind.
She couldn’t have been more than five-foot-two, petite, but not fragile. Her dark hair fell in soft waves over her shoulders, and her skin reminded him of warm milk, creamy and smooth.
At first, he’d thought she had to be a fan—perhaps a crazy one. Being the drummer for the rock band BlackWing, he’d had his share of pushy fans. It wouldn’t have been the first time one had tracked him down, but he’d never had one walk right in without invitation and bring breakfast, too. Crazy fan or not, she’d been about the sexiest thing he had ever seen. His hormones had snapped to attention faster than he could get his feet under him. When she’d turned and he’d seen her ass and the way the rose-colored fabric molded itself to her curves as she walked…. Well, there’d been no stopping the fantasies at that point.
Then she’d introduced herself, and his desire had hit a brick wall. Worse than a fan. Worse even than a stalker.
The wet dream was a reporter.
The revelation should have killed his interest, and it had for a few minutes. He shouldn’t be thinking about her, not in any way, shape, or form. But here he sat trying to concentrate on work, and there she was, front and center in his thoughts. Sexy. She sure as hell didn’t shop locally. Those were big city clothes—understated, sophisticated, classy. And either she didn’t know who he was or she was a very good actress as well as a reporter.
He acknowledged the improbability, but with reporters, you never knew. Some would go to any length to get a story. He needed to steer clear of her, avoid further contact, keep temptation at arm’s length. He had plenty to do. Enough to keep him busy and far away from town for the next few months. He didn’t have to see her. He didn’t have to talk to her.
He wrestled his runaway libido under control and turned his attention to the blinking light on his message machine. He listened to two messages from his publicist, one from his agent, and one from his father indicating he would bring a friend along for dinner. The last and most important message was from Sir Jonathan Youngblood in London.
He mentally calculated the time difference between Texas and London. The RavensBlood cover album held top priority, so he made the overseas call. He left yet another voice mail for Sir Jonathan. Frustrated with his lack of success, he traded his office for a soundproof rehearsal room.
Hours later, he noticed the yellow light on the control panel next to the door blinking, signaling he had company. He glanced at his watch. Damn. Hopefully, his dad already had the steaks on. His stomach sent up its own audible signal. He’d done it again, lost himself in the music, and forgotten about everything else. Oh well. It wasn’t the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last either.
He shut off the equipment, stretched stiff muscles, and urged Betty Boop to her feet. As he stepped from the barn, the smell of mesquite and grilling beef greeted him. He locked the pedestrian door and stretched again.
Endless Texas sky, azure blue in the late afternoon light, was a welcome sight. No matter how hectic his life got he always had this to come back to. The farm, and the acres of planted fields, grounded him. He loved the rambling old farmhouse he’d inherited from his maternal grandparents. The house was solidly rooted in family history, and the farm predictable in its seasonal routines. Solid and predictable were good things as far as he was concerned. But above all else, Willowbrook was where he lived his life. It was home.
He paused, inhaling the warm, humid air. The smell of turned earth and cut grass was as familiar and comforting as his worn jeans. He surveyed the expanse of young cotton plants growing in the fertile black soil, and peace settled over him. The weight of the world could be on his shoulders and a stroll through these fields would make it all go away. His grandfather had taught him the value of a good long walk to organize his thoughts and calm his soul.
After his mother died, he’d worn a new path through the fields, watering the plants with his tears as he went. Some might think farm life was isolating, but he knew better. In the fields, he felt part of something big, bigger than he could fathom.
The land comforted, but he longed for another kind of comfort—the kind that came from sharing his life with another. He would never leave the farm, but he hoped to one day find someone who loved it as much as he did, maybe have some kids he could pass the farm down to, but until that happened, he’d continue on his present path. He had the best of two worlds, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with that.
His stomach growled again, urging him to follow his nose to the source of the heavenly smell. He headed toward the patio and grill beneath the ancient oak tree, hoping his dad and whomever he’d brought with him had saved him a Lone Star.
Henry waved a greasy spatula at him in greeting. “It’s about time you got out here. We’ve been waiting for you. The steaks are almost done.”
Thanks to the girth of the old oak, supposedly planted by his great-grandfather over one hundred years ago, he couldn’t see the ‘we’ his dad spoke of. He rounded the tree and stopped cold in his tracks. He caught a glimpse of leg and his blood pressure skyrocketed. The guest wasn’t one of his dad’s domino playing buddies. That leg belonged to a female. A young, shapely female. One who painted her toenails candy-apple red.
No. He wouldn’t do this to me. Not my own father. Hank licked his dry lips and closed the distance. What had she told his father in order to finagle an invitation to dinner? It must have been good to get him to go along with it. Dad knows how I feel about reporters.
He stalked past his father. Mel Harper occupied his favorite lawn chair. She stood as he approached. Holding a sweating glass of white wine in one hand, she tucked the fingers of her free hand in the pocket of her shorts. Lord help him if he thought she’d looked good in her fancy business clothes. That was nothing compared to how shorts and a tank top showed off her curves. He’d never get her out of his mind. Not after tonight. A bead of perspiration clung to her hairline and his fingers itched to sweep it away for her. Better yet, if he put his lips there…
“It’s good to see you again, Hank,” she said with an innocent smile that didn’t fool him one bit.
What remained of his good mood vanished faster than biscuits at a church supper. “What are you doing here?”
.... Dolores has been married to the same wonderful guy for thirty-six years. They have two grown daughters, a son-in-law, two granddogs and a grandcat. She makes her home in the wilds of New Jersey (yes, there are wilds in NJ). A Texan with roots that go all the way back to the Republic of Texas, Dolores says you can take the girl out of Texas, but...well, you know the rest.
....She's been a stay-at-home mom for most of her married life - a job she says is under-rated on the difficulty scale. Now that her girls are grown, she's still available to them anytime, day or night, but she fills her days with writing romance novels and reading.
....Dolores is also an award winning author of erotic romance under the pseudonym, Roz Lee.