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by Julia Ann Charpentier
Description: A night of love with a popular songwriter leaves Jade Ramone longing for a man out of reach. Eleven years later the memory of his touch haunts her dreams and stirs her fantasies. Cass Donovan is her sweet obsession, a lover who stole her virginity and romanticized her youth. She returns with sophistication and a pen name to interview him for a music magazine. An evening of romance leads to his hotel room suite. Compelled by attraction neither can ignore, they renew their friendship in the quiet, discreet hours of the sultry Memphis night. In his arms she discovers insatiable passion. Cass remembers the girl he loved and releases her with reluctance when ethics forces them to keep their relationship professional. Domineering parents and a broken marriage tarnished Jade's outlook, making her insecure. Cynical of the music business, Cass abandoned his career. Under the sobering influence of maturity can they find young love once again?
eBook Publisher: DiskUs Publishing,
eBookwise Release Date: February 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [181 KB]
Reading time: 111-156 min.
Music. Innocence. True Confessions brought into the new millennium. This is a good, light romance that brings into play heavy issues. -Buzzy's Reviews-
Jade stared at Cass Donovan. He'd changed in the years they'd been apart, growing from a shy, insecure entertainer to an accomplished songwriter. His songs had never been better. She longed to hold him again but knew she couldn't. Too much time had passed. They'd drifted apart with no formal goodbyes. She wondered if he'd remember her
She'd reached for him when opportunity presented itself late after a concert. Sixteen and infatuated. No man compared to him in tenderness or expertise. She never forgot his lovemaking, the feel of his fingertips as he stroked her. Years later when she saw him play his guitar with the same sensuous strokes she remembered. And she was aroused watching him perform
She'd interview him and pretend she never knew him. She looked nothing like the teenager who told him she was eighteen and employed by the arena where he played
He looked up with interest in his eyes. Creases appeared at the corners and beneath. He looked older, tan, and self-assured. His hair was styled different, swept back from his face. It was dark blond and streaked with highlights. She remembered entangling her fingers in the wavy locks at the back of his neck
She smiled. "I'm the journalist from Chicago. We spoke this morning.
He nodded. "Glad you could make it. I'm Cass Donovan.
He extended his hand. Her palm pressed his. "Jade Ramone.
The name was a pseudonym. He wouldn't recognize it
His brown eyes emanated warmth. She looked as far into their depths as she could without him detecting more than professional interest. He was intense. Full of life. Happy. His clothes were expensive, tailored to perfection. He wore a blue satin shirt with tight-fitting black denim jeans and a black leather jacket. Years of activity on the road kept him trim. Cass was thirty-three now
The pressure of his hand increased, then he dropped his arm to his side and stepped back. "Let's sit over here.
He led her to a small table at the back of the studio. Cass took a seat and turned toward her. "Bad time?" she asked
"I'm on a break.
A guitar propped against the wall captured her attention. It looked familiar. Eleven years. He still had the guitar after eleven years. The gold trim was unmistakable
She averted her eyes. His glance followed hers to the guitar, then back to the table. His gaze rested on her left hand. She wore no rings. "It's been awhile," she said. "I mean... it's been awhile since you were interviewed.
His shirt was open at the throat, revealing a strip of bronze skin and dark curly hair. A gold lion medallion swayed each time he moved. Another plain gold chain rested beneath. Leather rubbing against leather made an enticing sound as he shifted in his chair. She wanted to touch him, run her fingers around the collar and down the sleeve. "You're doing well.
"In a sense. The demand for my songs increased, but my personal popularity declined. It's bittersweet success.
He spoke with a flowing, melodic sound. His voice had a soothing, pleasant feel. It felt good to listen to him. That rolling lilt gave his lyrics clarity
She wondered how often people told him that lately. He was content to stay out of the spotlight. But for how long? "Are you ready to tour again?
"Possibly someday. Not now.
"And when that someday arrives?
"It'll be through the United States.
"What about your audience overseas?
He shook his head as the man in the control room came out, handed Cass a bottle of mineral water, offered her one, then walked away. "That's Stan. He's producing the album I'm working on."
Cass brought the drink to his lips, took a sip, and sat back. His hand curled around the neck of the bottle, wiping away condensation that trickled down. His fingers were long, slender, and deeply tanned. The calluses on the pads of his fingers were prominent. He wore one ring on the middle finger of his left hand, a diamond and onyx initial ring she recognized. It was large and expensive. He stroked the bottle with his index finger, bringing tingling waves of pleasure through her. He had that effect after all this time. His hands. She never forgot his hands
"Are you a producer?
"I'm involved. I feel more comfortable with an objective opinion, so I never take over on an album.
The keyboard player walked to the control room. On his way he gave Cass a thumbs up sign and a wink. She stared at the name engraved on the small portfolio next to her: Jade Ramone. He didn't know her. Just a couple of guys goofing around. That's all. "You do most of your recording here in the States?
"All of it.
"How does Memphis compare to other cities you've worked in over the years?
"It's stimulating. Interesting. The atmosphere is great.
"And this studio?
He looked around. "It's hard to make comparisons like that. Depends on who you're working with, I guess.
The studio had a cozy, though not inhibiting atmosphere. It was large, but the arrangement of the instruments and furniture gave it a comfortable feel. In the center of the room was a platform covered with thick red carpeting. On it were a set of drums, several microphone stands, and two electric guitars. The keyboards were isolated on one side. The chairs were upholstered in red and black vinyl. Cords, headphones, sheet music, and empty bottles were throughout the room. A piano and several instruments not in use were arranged against the wall
The smell of cigarette smoke lingered. Mingled with it was musk cologne, a scent that jarred her memory back a decade, to another city, another night. "You worked with a number of big-name musicians. The one you enjoyed the most?" He shook his head. "No favorites?
He laughed. "No favorites. No enemies.
His laughter stayed with her over the years. It was natural. It flowed. It was never forced or affected. During their night together his laughter came frequently and easily. Interspersed with whispers, seduction, and sex. The sex was good. Too good to ever forget. It flowed as easily as his laughter. But women took sex more seriously than men. She knew that
She turned toward the control room, hiding her face and feigning interest in what the engineer was doing. She focused on the glass partition. "No hurt feelings," she said
His expression softened as she turned back to him. Their eyes met and held for an endless time. He looked and searched. Whether he was consciously aware of what he searched for, she didn't know. The sound of her voice may have jogged his memory. Feelings traveled. They traveled on an invisible current. Something remained between them. His penetrating eyes looked into her soul
He reached across the table and laid his hand over hers. The edge of her portfolio was beneath his wrist. "Stay for the session?" he asked
He stood and stepped away from the table. "You can stay right where you are," he said. "Unless you'd be more comfortable in the other room." He laughed when he saw her hesitation. "You won't make a lot of noise, will you?
"Not even the rustle of a piece of paper.
"If you get bored you can read the newspaper in the other room. I know how much you hate my music. Grates on your soul. Does unspeakable things to your body.
Cass glanced at his watch. It had a large dial and a wide gold band. He shrugged, caught her eye, and winked. "Now to get these lazy bums to join me again.
She watched him walk away and enter the control room. He chatted with Stan, his silent words behind the glass subdued and congenial. His face was always expressive. He had a special way of reaching out with his eyes and his smile
He didn't disguise his emotions. He was straightforward and honest. Honest to a fault. He made himself vulnerable. His reticence during their brief conversation was professional reserve, a defense mechanism
She knew of one journalist who hurt him. Misquoted him and made him look like a fool. Later, when she interviewed him in depth, she'd ease into intimacy. He opened up to lovers. He kept his mouth shut around nosy people with a monetary incentive to pry into his personal life. His life was his own
She still had the short letter she received three months after they slept together
Though I must let you go, I want you to know I'll remember the night we shared. Remember me. Hold me close as the years pass. I promise to remain in touch
Two years passed before she heard from him again. She tried to call but was thwarted by an overprotective, preoccupied agent. She doubted Cass received her message. She missed him and made the call with a glimmer of hope it would be returned. The private number Cass gave her was a disconnected number a month later. Erratic lifestyle. On the go. Constantly on the move. No time. Driven by ambition
He settled down. A major entertainment magazine gave her the opportunity to know the man who remained an enigma for so many years
As Cass stepped out of the control room with several musicians she laid her hand over her brass nameplate. She'd forget the name Jade Ramone for the hours she watched him record
* * * *
The woman gave off vibes he wouldn't analyze. He noticed she was different as she walked into the studio. Her expressions were intense. She was concerned about not offending him. He was used to blunt remarks and guts. She held back. She watched. She was too polite to be a journalist. Weren't they supposed to be ruthless
Her attention felt good, but it wouldn't be easy to record with her in the room. This was what she came to see. Let her watch. She hid nothing. She was an admirer doing her best to keep him from detecting her attraction. Without touching her he could give her thrills she never experienced. Maybe his arousal would improve the intensity of the takes. The enjoyment would make it worthwhile. Something about her got to him. He reached for the microphone and sat down. "Ready.
The first song had a heavy backbeat that broke the silence. He watched her face and smiled. She averted her eyes. What the hell. Give her something to think about. Journalist. Sure
He felt her gaze as he sang. It was palpable, like she touched him from a distance. He focused on the microphone or closed his eyes, waiting until the time was right
As the song neared a close he brought his hand to his thigh. He opened his eyes and looked at her. He brought his hand to his hip in a slow, sensuous move. Her gaze traveled to his hand and followed it
He turned his head, stepped away from the chair, and cradled the microphone in both hands for the next song. Her eyes remained on his hands. He smiled and refrained from looking at her as he stroked the mike with his fingertips. The lyrics were sexual, the beat slow. Slow and easy. He waited until he reached the word "ecstasy," then made eye contact again. She returned his gaze, watching him, looking for reassurance
Her lips were parted. He knew she was stimulated by his music and enjoyed the movement of his hands. He glided his palm down the microphone stand. Her gaze followed. The song reached a crescendo. He closed his eyes, bit down on his lip, and then opened them to the longing on her face. He gave her a knowing smile, and the song ended. He sat and flipped through the music. "Take five.
She was embarrassed as she brought the water to her lips. Maybe he went too far. Or was too obvious. Or something. He wanted to put his arms around her
"Great job on the last one, Cass," Stan said
He nodded. "Thanks.
Jade Ramone. Her name was unusual. Her clothes and manner were unusual. She was more polite than the average journalist. She draped her body in fabrics he never saw on any conservative woman in her profession. Loose-fitting pink silk flowed to her ankles. A tight-fitting bodice revealed cleavage. White shoes, white feather earrings. Gaudy. But she was sexy. She was slender, average height. Carried herself well and appeared self-assured. She ran her hand through her hair, pushing her bangs off her face. Blond, long, free and loose. Worry about the interview later
"This one will take awhile," he said as he adjusted the angle of the mike
In more than one way, Jade
He inhaled, closed his eyes, and let the music flow through him. This was a love ballad. Suggestive. He wet his lips, looked at her and sang. She focused on his mouth. Poetry was sweet, but not as sweet as this. Smooth and flowing. He kept his lips moist and parted, the delivery gentle. He looked at her for several lines midway through the song. Lines saturated with bliss. He ran his tongue along his lower lip as they descended into a break in the lyrics. Ease into it. Then let it flow
Her eyes were moist and intent. They followed the path of his tongue. He continued to sing. He looked at her and smiled, then brought it to a close. She shifted in her seat and lowered her gaze to her lap. She was turned on
"Want to do that one again, Stan?
"Go heavier on it.
"Don't ease up at the end the way you did.
"Give it more life.
Jade looked at him, admitting with her eyes what she couldn't tell him. She was aroused by the sound of his voice. Flattering. Why had the editor of On the Beat assigned an admiring woman to interview him? Objectivity was confirmed before making an assignment
He gave Stan a thumbs up sign. "Let's do it.
He could avoid eye contact or take it a step further. For the next three takes he didn't look at her. They took another short break, and he walked over to the table. She touched the edge of the portfolio and looked toward the control room. Stan wasn't that interesting. "The last song needs work," he commented as he sat down
"Needs polish and time.
"You're a perfectionist.
He shrugged. "Have to be.
She looked at him with hesitation. "Technically speaking the song might not be perfect. But to someone who doesn't compose... it's close.
He smiled. "Perfection isn't easy to come by. Takes a lot out of a person.
"Appears to be effortless.
On impulse he took her hand. She was warm and responsive. "I don't think you're out to damage my ego.
She squeezed his hand. "No damage.
Touching her gave him the urge to touch her more. He felt like putting his arms around her. If it weren't for the damned article..
Jade glanced at their clasped hands. He stroked her with his thumb as she watched. She grasped him tighter. The uncertainty in her eyes turned to desire. Then she looked up and smiled, her gaze direct and intense. Silent, they stared at each other. He leaned toward her, drawn by a power too compelling to ignore
She wore a heavy, exotic scent he couldn't name. Dramatic eye make-up. Pale skin. He wanted to kiss her, but he couldn't. Not here. Not like this. Not in front of all these people. "I love your perfume. It's fabulous.
She lowered her eyes and focused on their hands. "Thanks.
He caressed the backs of her fingers as they sat there, not knowing what to say, not wanting to stop. She looked from him to the microphone to the control room. Then she gazed into his eyes, searching. He leaned closer, until his shoulder brushed hers. She pressed against him. Warmth radiated through his body. Silently encouraging, reaching
He sighed and brought her hand to his lap, resting it against his thigh. He was hard and didn't want to let her go. Tingling pleasure spread from his leg into his stomach. He guided her palm in a light caress against his thigh
Incredible, Jade... incredible
After a few seconds he stopped, afraid of overwhelming her. Or offending her. He looked at her with hesitation. Their hands were hidden, so it was their secret. She appeared excited and unsure. "I'm sorry," he said
He removed his hand, but hers remained on his leg. She stroked him with her fingertips, then sat back and brought her hand to her drink, keeping her gaze averted as she sipped
Cass stood and walked to the microphone. He looked at Jade. There was something about her. What was it? He felt like she was communicating on another level. He remembered her. But she was a stranger. Her name was distinctive. He wouldn't have forgotten her name, even if he'd forgotten her face. He knew she was fantastic in bed, but he never slept with her. "Play it harder," he said as pleasure washed through him
They performed the same ballad. Emotion. This time he'd give it more than emotion. He moved his hips in time to the music. Slow, subtle, sensual. Lyrical love and the undulation of his hips. Back and forth. Controlled, gentle, and deep. He watched her face as he sang, stroking the words with the movement of his body. She was fascinated. Her gaze rested at a point above his navel. He laid one hand against the microphone, the other against his stomach. He closed his eyes. He felt the music in his body. Jade would feel it. They played it harder, and he sang it harder
When he opened his eyes, she wiped away a tear. Her expression was without emotion. Let it flow. He cried when he wrote the song. He wanted to talk to her, reassure her and tell her it was okay to cry
Stan gave his approval and a smile. "We got it, Cass.
Jade lowered her head, so he couldn't see her face. He watched her and wondered what she'd write. Did all musicians make her cry
"Give me a minute," he said as he walked over to her
She looked up as he approached. "Beautiful.
* * * *