An all-new story in Kylie Scott’s fabulous Stage Dive series is out this week, and I have a little sneak peek for you.
I pull the platter of sushi out of the fridge and nod to the sofa. Glasses, napkins, plates, and a bottle of sake sit waiting on the coffee table. “We might as well be comfortable.”
“You’ve gone to some effort,” he says as he walks over to the sofa.
“Consider this your welcome dinner.” I follow and pour him a glass of sake.
“Okay. Thanks,” he takes it and starts to look a bit intense, which makes me more nervous.
“But don’t let it go to your head,” I blurt out. “Pop-Tarts are still on the menu for breakfast.”
Look at me go. Another whole sentence. This is where my practiced lines run out, however, and I have to start winging it. Yikes.
“I’ll look forward to it,” he takes a sip and then gives me a slow smile.
Holy shit. His smile and the way it lights his gaze makes me giddy. Like my heart is filled with heat and my rib cage has grown wings or something. I need to calm down and do some deep breathing. This is not love at first sight. It is like at first coffee. But it’s been a while since I felt anything similar. Hence my brain going into meltdown and my hormones running wild. Despite all of these distractions, I manage to carry the platter to the living room without tripping in the high heels. I would high-five myself if he wasn’t watching. We sit on the sofa and pick up the chopsticks. This is it. Our first ever meal together. Fingers crossed it isn’t our last.
“It was good of you to organize this,” he says. “Sushi is a favorite of mine.”
“Lena said you liked it.”
His brows draw down slightly. “She did, huh?”
“Yeah.” Not sure if mentioning her name is a good idea or not. But it’s done now. We focus on eating for a minute. My hands are only shaking a little from nerves. Perhaps I can pull this off after all. The girls suggested asking him lots of questions about himself. That I can do. “How did your first day in the studio go?”
“Good. I’ve worked with the guys a couple of times over the years. It’s nice to finally get to be the producer steering the process. What with them being one of my favorite bands and all,” he says. “Are you a music fan?”
“I played flute in my middle school band.”
“Flute is cool.”
“Lizzo has done a lot for positive flute representation in the media lately.”
He laughs. “She sure has.”
“But I like listening to music too.”
“What are some of your favorites?”
And that’s when it happens. My mouth is open and waiting. My chopsticks are tensed. And the salmon sashimi topped with pickled ginger, wasabi, and a dash of soy sauce somehow slips and goes into freefall. Though it doesn’t just fall, it slides down the front of my white silk shirt. Or Anne’s designer white silk shirt, as the case may be. This cool put-together version of me didn’t even last five minutes in the real world.
I could almost cry. Seriously.
Dean passes me a wad of napkins. Not that there’s anything to be done. Leather pants might be wipe clean, but the rest is going to take some work.
“What can I do to help?” he asks.
“The shirt isn’t even mine. It probably cost a fortune,” I moan and collect the remains of the sashimi from the polished wooden floor. “Can you look up how to get soy sauce stains out of silk, please?”
He pulls his cell out of his back jeans pocket and gets busy. “Here we go. It says to soak it in lukewarm water and a little washing liquid.”
I nod and start in on the buttons on my way to the laundry. A bucket is filled with water and the washing liquid added. Hopefully getting it treated quickly helps. My mind is one hundred percent on the silk shirt. It doesn’t even occur to me that I am now walking around half naked until I walk back out into the living area. Dean freezes like a deer in headlights at the sight of my beige lace bra. The nicest underwear I own. It is sort of sheer and definitely pricey. He looks at me, and I look at him, and neither of us do anything for the longest moment.
What breaks the thrall is the woman banging on the glass door leading onto the deck. Wow is she glaring at us. There is actual fire in her eyes. Her face is also horribly familiar. Like home page of online magazines familiar. Long, dark hair and a shapely body.
I cross my arms over my chest to cover the essentials. Not that she couldn’t see even less on a beach.
“Frankie?” asks Dean, his mouth hanging open just a little. “What are you doing here?”
“Freezing my ass off.” The woman outside huffs and puffs, her breath steaming the cold air. “Can you let me in, please?”
Behind her stands Ziggy, one of the security guards. Both of his hands are taken up with the woman’s designer luggage. Guess Lena was wrong about Dean’s ex-girlfriend’s name starting with G. Though F is close. Frankie Manning is a real live actual supermodel. And I had the nerve to try to romance her ex. Mind you, if they are exes, it would be nice to know exactly why she is here.