Dirty Pleasures (Page 23)

I press my thumb and forefinger into my temples, which are starting to ache. I need time to sit and consider this change in our regularly scheduled program so I can decide how to react—but it’s not like I’ve got many spare minutes to sit and ponder while on tour. I can’t help but wonder if it’s just the fact that Creighton is out of his element that’s causing things to change.

What happens after the tour? The ache in my head ratchets up to a throb. Great. Don’t have time for a headache.

Male voices come from the living area of the bus, and I hurriedly slip on a pair of yoga pants and glance in the mirror. My hair and my expression clearly communicate just been fucked—which isn’t really fair. Yes, I just had an orgasm, but things were just starting to get good when we were interrupted.

Heading back out to the living area of the bus, still bowled over by the granite countertops, leather couches, and dark cherrywood interior that is altogether fancier than any bus I’ve ever been on before, I remember why nine a.m. was nagging at me.

Because I have an appointment scheduled. With a songwriter. Except no one bothered to tell me it was Vale Garcia.

Fudge sticks.

I plaster on a congenial smile. “Look what the cat dragged in,” I drawl.

Vale’s grin is knowing, and I fight the urge to grit my teeth.

“Didn’t mean to interrupt,” he says.

Creighton looks from Vale to me. “I take it you two have worked together before?”

Vale stares at me as he answers Creighton. “Holly and I worked very closely together right after she won Country Dreams. Isn’t that right, Hols?”

He couldn’t be any more obvious than if he scrawled the words I did everything but bang your wife in fat black Sharpie on a yellow neon piece of poster board and waved it around over his head. Except to a casual observer, Vale’s smug smile probably did say I banged your wife—which isn’t true.

I respond with what I hope is ego-deflating nonchalance. “The last year has been such a whirlwind, I can barely remember what I was doing a few minutes ago.” I slide in closer to Creighton and glance up at him. “Well, that’s not entirely true. Some things I remember very vividly.”

Smiling back at Vale, I wonder if my expression looks half as smug as I think it does. “I apologize; I’m being so rude. Vale, this is my husband, Creighton Karas. Creighton, this is Vale Garcia.”

Vale reaches out, and he and Creighton shake hands, clearly taking each other’s measure.

“I guessed,” Vale says, dropping Creighton’s hand after a moment. His eyes cut back to me. “Still surprised you decided to settle down with a one-night stand. Thought you were against those?”

Creighton’s shoulders stiffen. “I’d watch what you say right about now, Mr. Garcia. You’re speaking about my wife.” His tone communicates barely leashed anger.

“I don’t mean anything by it. Just jealous, I guess. I’m big enough to admit that I wish I could’ve been the one to catch her.”

I clear my throat. “All right then. Moving on. Vale, while don’t you settle in, and I’ll grab my notes.”

The man might be an asshole who stomped out of my hotel room when I wouldn’t let him complete his slide into home base—only to find his way into another woman’s room only a few hours later—but he’s also a damn good songwriter.

Creighton’s arm tenses under my palm, and I’m pretty clear on the fact that he doesn’t want Vale anywhere near me, especially not alone.

I drag Creighton toward the bedroom with me. Well, drag is a bit of an overstatement. I’m under no illusions that he’s following my tugging grip for any reason other than he wants to.

Once I pull him into the room and shut the door, I blurt, “I didn’t sleep with him. It was a close thing, which I’m sure you picked up on, but what I told you before was true. It had been a long time for me before you. Anyway, I want you to know that there’s absolutely no reason to get weird about Vale.”

Creighton’s eyes are practically burning holes in me. “This isn’t me getting weird, Holly. This is me getting fucking jealous.” He jams a hand into his thick brown hair. “And I don’t fucking like it. I hate knowing that he’s touched you.”

I’m silent, because I honestly have no idea how to respond. But then again, I’m also aware that Vale is waiting. He’s about to wait a little longer.

I grab a fistful of Creighton’s T-shirt and yank him toward me. “Then kiss me. Mark me. Let him know that I’m absolutely and completely out of his reach because I belong to you.”

Where those words—hell, those thoughts—came from, I have no idea. I’ve rebelled against the very idea of being Creighton’s possession since the day we said “I do,” but this is something totally different. This is something I’m desperate for. I’m not willing to put a label on it yet, and it’s nothing I’ve ever wanted in my life. At least, not that I would admit to before.

Creighton studies me, and I’m not sure what he concludes, but he doesn’t hesitate to wrap his arm under my ass and haul me up against him. His mouth lands on mine with an almost crazed intensity. It’s all lips and teeth and tongue as we devour each other.

I throw one arm around his neck and scrape the nails of my other hand along the back of his neck and up into his hair. The kiss lasts only a minute—maybe two—but when he lowers me to the floor, my legs are shaking and my heart is hammering so hard, I feel like it could break a rib.