No. No way. Not going to happen.
He looked at her and had no idea what to say. No bleedin’ clue how to get her off this topic and onto one that didn’t require revisiting a place he tried very hard never to go. She didn’t want to hear about his childhood. That he’d been raised by his grandmother, a sweet woman who on more than one occasion had gone without in order to provide for him. That he went commando, something she’d once confessed to finding sexy, not based on comfort, but because food had been of greater importance than underpants.
Dom didn’t care to see the look of pity she would surely have if he admitted he’d been a loner, not by choice, but circumstance. Kids didn’t want to be friends with the poor kid, the one whose clothes were always a bit too big, a bit too small, or a bit too ratty. It was far more fun to make that kid the butt of jokes and ridicule.
“Dom,” she said with terrifying gentleness.
Well shit, there it was. Compassion. She knew there was something behind his silence and had already softened to it. “Like I said, I don’t remember.”
The soft look vanished beneath a mask of frustration.
He let out a long, slow breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.
She shifted away from the article, then wandered over to the wall of sales certificates, more commonly referred to as gold records. Hung in chronological order from their first album, Awakening, through Ascension and ending at Immortal. Three albums, three levels of success. The sales numbers and awards themselves didn’t seem to hold her attention, which shifted to the album art and corresponding official group photo. At each photo she would stop, lean closer, then run her finger over his image.
And each time, he felt it like a physical touch.
She turned to the wall opposite and once again he found himself letting out a long breath. This wall was safer territory. Much safer.
“Those are Isabeau’s.” Her awards, platinum and double platinum discs, for each of her four albums.
“She told me she used to play, but I never made the connection.” She tapped one of the awards. “I have this one.”
He did his best to keep his voice neutral so she wouldn’t pick up on his inner turmoil. “Most everything she owned was lost in a fire. Those were at her father’s place along with her piano. She tried to lock them away in a closet when she moved here, but Noah wouldn’t have any of it.”
“Why would she want to lock these away?”
The same reason he didn’t like talking about his past. “Bad memories, I suppose.”
“Hmmm.” She kept moving, circling the room, finally stopping in front of the collection of guitars. “Which is yours?”
There were a few of his there, but the one he preferred was, “On your left.”
“This one? It’s beautiful.” She settled her hand on the headstock, trailed it over the tuning pegs and down the strings. She dipped the tips of her fingers into the cutaway not once, but twice before circling the neck and sliding back up.
Dominic shuddered, his mind conjuring images of her stroking something other than his bass.
“I thought basses only had four strings?”
He had to clear his throat to speak. “Traditionally yes, but you can get them with five, six, or more. It all depends on the range required, mode of playing, or just personal preference. That one is my favorite.”
“Because of the number of strings or the instrument itself?”
“Both. The small string spacing makes it a bit difficult to slap, but the neck is incredibly fast, and the tones I can crank out of it are bloody spectacular.”
She locked her gaze with his and gave him the ghost of a smile. Then slid her hand back down the neck, easing the tip of her finger between the strings and teasing the fretboard.
Christ. She was driving him crazy. He’d much rather experience her touch on his skin, the tips of her fingers slipping along the length of his erection.
There was only a few feet separating them and Dominic closed it. He covered her hand with his.
She rolled her eyes. “Are you one of those guys?”
“The ones who get all over protective about their possessions. Especially their cars.”
“It’s not my car you’re stroking, Rebecca.” No, it was him. Literally and figuratively.
The instrument beneath their hands is what made him who he was. Saved him from poverty, a miserable childhood, and a lonely existence. Maybe not that exact instrument, but one like it. It woke him up to the skill he could have never imagined he had—a natural ability to create music and make people happy. It took him away. Made him forget.
It was an extension of himself. A part of him that no one, no one, was allowed to touch. Yet here she was. She’d picked up his guitar much like she’d picked him up. Without hesitation.
Dom stared at her, his heart pounding hard and fast in his chest as he was struck with the realization that she’d touched more than his bass. She’d touched a place deep inside him, filling a void he’d spent years pretending didn’t exist.
I hope you enjoyed this week long sneak peek into Midnight Heat. If you like what you've seen, you can find purchase links HERE. As always, thanks for reading!