Coming Undone [Secure]
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by Susan Andersen
Description: It's supposed to be the biggest summer of Priscilla Jayne Morgan's life. She's on the brink of country music superstardom, yet she had to fire her crooked-manager Mama, and the tabloids are having a field day. Now her record label's hired a watchdog to escort her on her massive summer tour. And not just anyone, either--they sicced Jared Hamilton on her, the guy she once idolized more than anyone in the world. Well, she doesn't care how hot he is. It's been too many years and too much water under the bridge, and she'll be damned if he gets to tell her what to do now. Jared remembers exactly how headstrong P.J. can be and he knows she's going to be a handful. Problem is, he'd love to have his hands full of her. But he's cool. He's professional. And he's always in control. He'd better be. Because for five long weeks he's stuck in close quarters with the wildest girl in show business.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/HQN,
eBookwise Release Date: September 2007
19 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [486 KB]
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Front cover headline, Country Now magazine:
Where in the World is Priscilla Jayne?
"OH, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE!" P. J. Morgan, known on the country music circuit by her first and middle names, tossed aside the magazine and jumped to her feet. "Mysterious disappearance, my butt! Where do they get this crap?" Scary to think Country Now was one of the reputable publications. She could only imagine what the tabloids were saying.
Crossing the room to the window, she pulled aside the faded olive drape to look out. Not that there was much to see in this wide-spot-in-the-road rural town. At a time in her life when she could finally afford to stay in posh four-star hotels, it was ironic that she'd instead picked a low-rent motel off a secondary highway on a hot, still Texas plain.
"Well, hey." A humorless laugh escaped her. "You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but there's just no getting that trailer trash out of the girl."
Blowing out a breath, she dropped the curtain and turned away. This wasn't exactly what she'd planned when she'd taken off on Monday. She'd been headed for Los Angeles, a city she had never seen. It had seemed exotic, was a good long way from home and she'd figured not many of its citizens were likely to give a good goddamn where one beginning-to-make-a-name-for-herself country singer had gotten herself off to.
With thoughts of parking herself by a palmtree–shaded pool to drink her fill of fruity concoctions sporting frilly paper umbrellas, she'd driven seventeen hours straight, stopping only to stretch her legs and fill up the tank. When she couldn't keep her eyes open to drive another mile, she'd pulled into the Wind Blew Inn, a clean but ancient motor court in the Texas panhandle. She'd promptly fallen into bed and when she'd awakened thirty-six hours later, she'd stayed put instead of hitting the road once again. Something about this nowhere little town's one-block-long main street reminded her of the never-ending series of hick towns she'd lived in growing up.
And when things go to hell, she always said, stick with the familiar.
Her stomach growled, and she realized she was hungry. What day was it, anyway—Thursday? No, God, it was Friday.
Her appetite had been nonexistent since Monday. And if that wasn't indicative of her state of mind, she didn't know what was. One summer a lifetime ago, she and a boy named Jared had gone hungry together on the streets of Denver. It was an experience that had hardwired her ever after not to miss another meal. Yet, except for about six gallons of coffee and the occasional candy bar grabbed when paying for her gas, she'd barely eaten a bite.
Twisting her hair up off her neck, she reached for her baseball cap and pulled it on, then donned a pair of oversized dark glasses. Slipping a handful of bills into her shorts pocket, she headed for the door.
It was hotter than usual for early June and the swamp cooler laboring in her room's window dripped green-tinged condensation onto the concrete next to the two-step stoop outside her door. Blinking against the glare, she tugged the brim of her navy cap down and set out across the lot.
The Prairie Dog Café was a squat orange building next to Elmerson's Feed and Seed, and P.J. pulled open its screen door to the clatter of heavy crockery, the rumble of male voices discussing crops and Lari White singing about flies on the butter from an old Wurlitzer in the corner. She stepped out of the sun into the smell of frying meat and cigarette smoke. Slipping off her dark glasses, she noticed that the only customers who didn't have John Deere tractor caps planted firmly on their heads had straw Stetsons hooked over the back rails of their chairs.
Conversations faltered for a second, then resumed their accustomed rhythms. P.J. noted she was the only woman in the café this time of day, then shrugged the observation aside and crossed to the counter to claim one of the few vacant red-vinyl swivel seats. If she'd allowed men to intimidate her in her line of work, she would've quit singing about the same time she'd first attempted to go professional. The truth was, she liked the company of men. She worked primarily with them—her backup band consisted of two of the species, and the roadies that set up and broke down shows and transported the equipment from city to city were almost exclusively male.
Moving aside an ashtray, she reached across the counter for a laminated menu stuck in the rear prongs of the stainless steel condiment holder.
A waitress with Sandy embroidered above the breast pocket of her pink uniform came over a few minutes later and set a glass of water in front of P.J. "What can I getcha, honey?"
She ordered a ham and swiss on sourdough and knew she should ask for it to go. But the murmur of voices was comforting to a woman accustomed to being surrounded by people and she couldn't quite bring herself to relinquish the sound to return to her too-quiet room.
She realized it wasn't a smart choice, however, when Sandy said something as she clipped her order to the wheel above the pass-through to the kitchen and the short-order cook immediately poked his head through the opening to give P.J. the once-over. She also caught the waitress stealing glances at her as she bustled about the room filling coffee cups and slapping down bills torn from a pad in her apron pocket. Then "Mama's Girl," P.J.'s very first recording, came on the jukebox and with an inward groan she settled a little deeper into her chair. Sandy brought the bill a moment later. "That's you, isn't it?" she demanded with a tip of her chin toward the Wurlitzer.
Copyright © 2007 by Susan Andersen.