God help the woman I take home tonight.
Band manager James Brandon never expected to find the elusive satisfaction he’d been chasing, let alone stumble upon it in some sleezy Hollywood meat market. Yet the girl’s quiet pride spoke to him from across the bar, louder than a shout. Troubled, hungry and homeless, she’d placed her trust in him. But after losing the grip on his dark desires that one fateful night, James has spent the last four years atoning for letting her down.
This time I’ll finally crack him.
Rock band drummer Lita Regina has had enough of James’s guilt. She wants the explosive man she met that night in Hollywood. The man who held nothing back and took no prisoners—save Lita. And she’ll stop at nothing to revive him. Even if it means throwing herself into peril at every turn, just to get a reaction from her stoic manager. But when Lita takes her quest one step too far, James disappears from her life, thinking his absence will keep her safe.
Now it’s up to Lita to bring James back…and ignite an inferno of passion in the process.
Reader Advisory: ROUGH RHYTHM contains fantasies of nonconsensual sex, acted upon by consenting characters. Readers with sensitivity to portrayals of nonconsensual sex should be advised.
“Oh, goddamn you.” Lita plucked the card from his fingers and hurled it back into the hallway with a muffled scream. “Four years leads to this, huh? You’re just going to dump me in this fucking…”—she waved her hands to encompass the hotel—“…rock star purgatory and bail? If you’re doing this to teach me a lesson, I will never forgive you, James.”
“I’m not.” He cleared the cobwebs from his throat. “That’s not what this is.”
Without looking at Lita, he knew she’d be chewing her bottom lip, leaving teeth marks that would take until nighttime to fade. “I guess we really meant a lot to you if it’s this easy. No notice. Just…peace out, suckers.”
James swallowed the urge to shake her. “I think you know this is the furthest thing from easy.”
“No. I don’t know anything,” she shouted, before several silent beats passed. “Except that you’re a coward. You can’t even look me in the eye.”
He surged forward, pushing her back against the doorjamb. Going to break. Too much. I shouldn’t have come up here. He’d made the mistake of looking down into green eyes swimming with moisture, calling her bluff. “Does the thought of you hurting yourself to get my attention make me a coward? Yes? So be it, Lita.” His fingernails dug into the flesh of his palms. “If something happened to you, I wouldn’t make it to the next sunrise.”
Lita’s body deflated, head falling back. “You can’t say something like that and leave,” she said, lips hardly moving. “It’s cruel.”
“I’m a cruel man.”
“No.” Lita moved into the elegant room, booted feet dragging. A miniature hurricane in a gilded cage. He’d chosen the room himself, another sign of his madness, his need to control her surroundings. Have knowledge of everything she touched. His neck grew hot when she turned, sliding a gaze down his front.
Turning and leaving was imperative at that moment, but he couldn’t resist hearing what she would say next. Delaying the good-bye.
“Remember what you called me the first night we met?” She sat down on the edge of the bed. “Before you leave, call me that one more time.”
Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days. Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention. She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.