by Cherrie Lynn
Series: The Ross Siblings Series
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Entangled Amara
Publication Date: October 29, 2018
Seth and Macy Warren haven’t been married long, but they have their eyes on the future. Macy is excited to start a family, while Seth debates the pros and cons of giving up their spontaneity for the potential perils of parenthood. But Macy thinks she can convince him…
When he gets a chance to relive some of his past glory days by rejoining his former band onstage, though, he jumps at it. Still, she thinks she can turn the trip to his gig into some baby-making fun. Until she comes face-to-face with a part of Seth’s past that she’d hoped to never deal with again.
Macy knows she shouldn’t have her doubts. But she also knows that when you have everything, you have everything to lose.
Seth “Ghost” Warren wiped his oil-smudged hands on a well-used rag, frowning into the depths of his 1969 GTO’s engine. That should do it. She’d been running hot lately, but he thought he had it pegged to an airflow problem. At least that was what he hoped, since he wasn’t too keen on sinking more money into her right now. Frigging thing had been a drain on his finances ever since he’d bought her, but like any good addict, he couldn’t stop—at least not when the alternative was selling her. They’d been through too much together.
Thunder rumbled overhead, signaling an afternoon spring thunderstorm and the end of his patience. Sighing, he dropped the hood and gathered his tools, heading toward the garage just as the first fat drops of April rain began to slap the pavement. He could’ve worked on her under the roof of the garage, but he didn’t like the closed-in feel, preferring to tinker with her in the driveway. Until ten minutes ago, it had been too nice of a day to be inside—but that was Texas weather for you.
Just as he putting his tools away, the bottom really fell out—a sudden deluge of rain that he was damn glad he’d escaped. It was so loud he almost missed his ringing cell phone on the workbench, but at the last minute he noticed the lit-up display. Unfamiliar number. Ordinarily he didn’t answer those, but it was local, so he relented. Could be a client with a new number, and he never wanted to miss out on work at the tattoo shop.
“Yeap,” he drawled, his usual greeting that was lost somewhere between “yeah” and “yep.”
“Hey dude. Long time no see.”
Ghost’s spine shot ramrod straight. What. The. Hell. “I don’t see you now, motherfucker.”
“And you haven’t changed any.” Mark laughed, asshole that he was. Ever since Ghost had quit his position as lead guitarist of In the Slaughter, the band Mark fronted, there had been absolutely no reason to talk to the slimy little bastard. He’d deleted all evidence of him from his phone, and his life, and had been happier for it. Mark’s little brother had filled Ghost’s shoes in the band, which was exactly what Mark had always wanted. Everyone’s problems solved. So there.
“Well. That’s a problem.”
“What’s that noise? Is it raining?”
“What am I, the fucking weatherman? Look out your window.” He slammed a cabinet shut and glanced around. Nothing was left out that Macy might ride his ass over later. His wife was a damn neat freak, even though he’d clearly specified the garage was his domain. That didn’t seem to matter to her, though. “And is there some reason you’re on my phone right now?”
“I can’t call up an old friend?”
“You never called when we were friends, unless you wanted something.”
Oh. Yeah, that should have occurred to him right from the start. But the only thing more interesting than fucking with Mark was finding out what Mark could possibly want.
“Okay, so you caught me. But I’ve got a proposition for you. Just hear me out, all right?”
“Before you even waste your breath, you know I’m walking the straight and narrow now, right? So carefully consider just how fast I’m going to tell you to fuck off before you even ask whatever it is you’re going to ask.”
“I heard you got married. My invitation must’ve gotten lost in the mail.”
“Yeah, your invitation that I never sent must’ve gotten lost in the mail. That’s it.”
“Look, short and sweet,” Mark began, obviously getting tired of the verbal sparring he never won, “we wanted to ask if you’d like to come back for a gig with us.”
Ghost nearly laughed, wondering how many times the other guys had counseled Mark to ask as nicely as possible. Indeed, it wasn’t like him. And in the split second before Ghost’s phone had rung, if someone had asked him his thoughts about rejoining In the Slaughter for any length of time, he probably would have punched them in the face for their insolence.
But with a real offer on the table…
“I don’t know, man.” Macy’s SUV pulled into their driveway, headlights on, windshield wipers beating furiously against the gray curtain of rain. “Hang on a second.” She crept past the GTO and eased into the garage. Ghost didn’t necessarily want her to hear the conversation he was having right now, so he put the phone down and helped her carry her bags into the house before hurrying back out and snatching it up again. “All right. You’ve got my attention. Tell me more.”
“Drew broke his hand in an ATV accident. He’s out for a while, but we have a show in Austin in three weeks. I know it’s been a while for you. Would that be enough time to practice? It would all be familiar stuff.”
“How’s Gus been doing?” he asked, referring to the other guitarist and pretty much the only guy in the band Ghost gave much of a shit about.
“Well, you know. He’s Gus.”
Yeah, that was about what he’d expected. While he’d been in the band, he’d adopted a big-brother approach with Gus, but in the end he’d had to wash his hands of the whole thing. Too many co-dependent woman problems, too much substance abuse. You couldn’t help a guy who didn’t want to help himself.
Besides all of that…Ghost had bad fucking memories of the last Austin gig he’d been a part of. Between Mark and Raina scheming behind his back, and Raina damn near tricking him into fucking her when he was almost passed out, he’d nearly lost Macy. He’d watched the best thing that had ever happened to him walk away, in large part thanks to the guy on the phone who never listened to a fucking word Ghost ever said. Did he really want to get involved with that old crowd again?
“Is it at Crossbones?”
“Yeah. The usual.”
“You’re gonna have to let me sleep on it, man. But I gotta tell you, it’s probably gonna be a no.”
For the first time, a hint of desperation began to creep into Mark’s voice. “If there’s anything I can do, any promises I can make, anything—say the word. I’m sorry for all the shit that went down between us. It was a bad deal. I know that. And…it goes without saying that Raina will not be there.”
No, it really didn’t. Macy might have sent her running once, but his ex-girlfriend showed up wherever she damn well pleased, and if she caught wind of In the Slaughter playing in Austin with Ghost on the axe, she would be there. Oh, would she ever fucking be there. Not that she was even a blip on his radar of shit that mattered, he just preferred not to be the target of any flying beer bottles from the audience.
“Pardon me for saying that coming at me with all this shit now rings a little hollow, you know?”
“I know it must seem that way. But we need you, man. And if it’s a chance to repair some shit and have a great time, it’s all for the good, right?”
Sure. What could go wrong. He was being completely sarcastic, even in his head. “I’ll call you back in a day or so.” Jesus, did he even dare bring this up to Macy? He would have to, of course, but he fully expected that would be the final nail in the coffin of the whole idea. Macy didn’t have fond memories of that night, either.
Yeah, he thought as he hung up. Macy would shoot this down. But damn, the thrill. Even now, he felt it awakening in his veins. No matter how much time had passed, he remembered how it felt to be up there playing on a stage. In the Slaughter had only been small-time, mostly a cover band, but he’d loved it until all the bullshit drama began to erode the friendship he’d had with his former bandmates. All of it had come to a head, and he’d bailed on the band when he and Macy were getting together, but what would one gig hurt?
Just one. Maybe she would understand.
Macy Warren glanced down at the little plastic stick on the counter, then tore her gaze away and fixed it resolutely on her reflection. Two minutes, the instructions had said. So she would give it two minutes before she looked, before she really really looked. She set the timer on her phone.
Had that briefest of peeks showed her the tiniest hint of a plus sign forming, though? Could it be?
Bouncing on her toes, she snatched her gaze higher, to the ceiling of their master bathroom. Come on, come on. She hadn’t told Seth about her suspicions. She didn’t even know if she should be having suspicions yet. Two days late, hell, that was pretty much the norm for her. It had been a few months since they’d thrown caution to the wind and foregone all forms of birth control, and though they weren’t necessarily trying to conceive…they damn sure engaged in the act enough to make something happen.
And oh, how she wanted something to happen.
Hands laced together in front of her mouth, she turned from the vanity and paced a circle, the plush bathroom rug under her bare feet pushing between her toes. What would Seth say if it had happened? Holy shit. She was going to explode. She had to look.
No! Don’t look yet.
Macy glanced at her phone. It had been one minute and forty-two seconds since she started the timer. God, she was going to die.
Just look! The result will be showing by now!
Wouldn’t it? Damn, she’d never taken one of these things before.
Oh, to hell with it.
She whirled around, snatched up the stick, and looked.
Shoulders drooping, she put it back down on the counter and thought about giving it a couple more minutes, but there was no reason to prolong the agony. The control line was evident, so she had her results. Locking gazes with her reflection again, she thought her eyes looked a little sadder.
Well…there were two tests in the box, and maybe she would take the other in the morning. That was the recommendation, anyway—take it in the morning. Maybe it was too early to detect. Or maybe she would accept defeat and save the other test until next month.
Sighing, she cleaned up and stuffed the evidence deep in the trash, wondering if she should talk to Seth about it. She hadn’t actually let on to him how badly she’d wanted that test to be positive just now. The test he didn’t even know she’d taken. The sole reason she’d run to the store a half-hour ago, actually, was to pick one up, though she’d given him an excuse about needing coffee creamer.
Oh well, it would happen soon. Right? Maybe next month. Or even the one after. Her mother kept telling her to enjoy their alone time while they had it, and it was true they had only been married for six months. Still, so much excitement fluttered in Macy’s belly when she even thought about becoming pregnant. Getting to occasionally babysit her best friend Candace’s little boy wasn’t helping matters—Lyric was so sweet and adorable. Every time Candace and Brian even mentioned tentative date plans, Macy was quick to offer her services.
Not to mention that watching her bald, inked, pierced, badass husband playing with a one-year old made her want to jump his bones on the spot. Of course, she couldn’t, with the kid being present and all. That might indeed be a problem once they had their own—no spontaneous sex in the kitchen. Or the laundry room. Or, hell, the front entryway.
Well, back to reality. She left the bathroom and went in search of him, remembering now that he’d been on the phone when she’d first pulled in. Abuzz with excitement over taking her very first pregnancy test ever, she hadn’t even stopped to wonder who he was talking to and why he’d put them on hold to help her. She located him in the kitchen now, shirtless and throwing together a sandwich.
“Did you get the car fixed before it started raining?” she asked, walking over and standing on her tiptoes to kiss him, though he tried to duck her, the silly boy.
“Don’t get too close. I probably need a shower.” Like she cared. He smelled like oil and the faintest hint of the sweat that sheened his heavily inked skin, and she practically felt her ovaries growl. Oh God, yes, she wanted this man’s baby. “But yeah, I hope so. Else it’s gonna know hot when I set the fuckin’ thing on fire.”
“You are so not going to do that.” She stole a slice of turkey breast off his sandwich and popped it into her mouth. He chuckled and replaced it with another one. “I have faith in you.”
“I’m glad someone does.” He slapped bread on top of his sandwich and took a bite while she thought about the struggle she’d endured only moments ago. It wasn’t fair to leave him out of that. But if his disappointment turned out to be as acute as hers, then yeah, she wanted to spare him from it. She simply didn’t know.
“Are you okay?” he asked suddenly, and she jerked her eyes up to find his dark, assessing ones steady on her face.
“Yeah,” she said brightly. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“You want me to sell her, don’t you?”
Startled, she frowned at him and shook her head. “Babe, that’s completely up to you.”
“But I’m asking you.”
“You love that car.”
“I do. And I love you.”
“Well…” Macy struggled for words for a minute. The conversation had come up a handful of times before with no real resolution, and she found her feelings were mixed. On one hand, financially, it would be a burden off them. On the other… “That car is you.” He chuckled and regarded her thoughtfully for a moment. “I just mean that you would be devastated if you got rid of her.”
“Yeah,” he grunted. “I would be. But your dad’s friend offered a pretty decent chunk of change to take her off my hands. I’ve been thinking about it.”
She wasn’t quite sure how to put into words what she was feeling about that. Hell, maybe she was being too sentimental. But that car was such an integral part of them as a couple that she couldn’t imagine letting it go, either. They’d talked about so much, laughed about so much in the front seat…not to mention all the naughty things that had happened in the backseat. Their first time together. Their second time together. She would never, could never forget those nights.
“That car is us,” she said at last. Broken, beaten parts that had been lovingly restored. Shiny, powerful, made new again.
Sometimes, Seth’s usual sardonic expression melted especially for her. She always loved those moments, when she could plainly see the adoration he had for her burning away everything else. “Baby, we’re us. I don’t need a car to remind me of that.”
“I know,” she said softly, butterflies fluttering up from her belly at the way he looked at her. “I don’t either. I’m being silly, I guess. It’s just sad to think about.”
“Then we don’t have to think about it right now.”
She smiled and turned to go to the Keurig, putting an extra sway in her hips as she went, feeling his stare on her as she prepared her afternoon caffeine jolt. If she knew him—and she did—she wouldn’t get around to drinking it.
It was a little game they played, where she liked to go on about her business as if he wasn’t getting hard in his jeans just looking at her. They each liked to see how long the other could hold out before they ended up fucking on the spot. But he wasn’t in the mood to play it, especially when she so casually began asking him about, of all things, dinner plans. “We could do Italian, we haven’t done that in a while. Or we could grill some burgers. Ooh! How about—” She turned and looked up at him with those bright hazel eyes alight, and it was his undoing. The breath rushed out of her as he caught her face in his hands and kissed her.
This, this was his favorite part of domesticity: her gorgeous body within reach at all times. The reassurance of her slender arms around him, the solidity, because sometimes he couldn’t believe she was real and she wanted him.
But God, how she did. She grasped the back of his head, kissing him back as fiercely as he kissed her, each of them trying to assert their dominance, her tongue dancing into his mouth.
Letting the tips of his fingers slide around the backs of her thighs, he teased just under the hem of her shorts, eliciting a shivery groan from her. Her mouth fell open in bliss, and he took the opportunity to nibble her bottom lip, suck it gently, show her just what he would happily do to her nipples and her clit once he got her clothes off. She clung desperately, her nails biting his flesh.
On second thought, maybe he would leave her clothes on. God, he loved fucking her with her clothes on. He loved when she made it hard for him…in more ways than one.
“I love you,” she murmured against his lips.
“Love you, too.” Ever since the first time she’d dragged those words from his mouth, from his heart, he couldn’t stop telling her.
“But you’re trying to change the subject with sex.”
“Yeah?” he growled, taking another taste of her. “How am I doing?”
“Hmm. Food debate, or sex…however shall I choose?”
“I’ll choose for you.” Each word was punctuated with a heavenly mouthful of her. Her hair slid like silk around his fingers as he stroked up her back. She still trembled for him after all this time, and he still burned for her. He always would. This woman held all the power in the world to destroy him, and like an idiot he’d willingly given it to her—but even if someday she used it, he’d have no regrets.
Her legs wrapped easily around his waist as he lifted her. They were old pros with each other’s bodies by now, yet nothing was old. Every breath, every quiver, every touch…it all felt brand new and all the more devastating for their shared prowess. Equally as hot and fierce or loving and tender whether they were in their bed or the shower or he had her bent over the kitchen island.
Macy’s hands busily collected the feel of him, restlessly roaming over his bare shoulders, back, and arms, as if she couldn’t get enough. Even through their clothes, the heat of her pressed against his erection, rubbing deliciously, inciting him to madness. The only question was how he wanted to make her his today.
He had an idea.
“What are you doing?” she asked as he headed back toward the utility room…and the door leading to the garage.
She did soon enough. Shrieking as he carried her out through the open garage door and the pouring rain hit their steaming skin like needlepoints, she clung harder, burying her face in his neck as he laughed. They had neighbors on all sides, but oh well, if they were nosy enough to watch them through their windows then they deserved whatever show they got. That had always been his philosophy, anyway.
“Are you kidding me?” she cried as he carried her to the GTO parked in the driveway. He had to release one of her delectable ass cheeks to open the passenger door, but managed to hang on to her. “It’s chilly out here!”
“I’ll warm you up.”
“It’s broad daylight!”
“It’s pouring rain. Get in.”
God, he loved it when the words that came from her lips were unsure, but the fire in her eyes said only Do it, do it. Oh God, do it now.
He’d seen the memories in her eyes earlier. Yeah, their inception had been here. This was where it all began: in his cramped backseat, struggling for the space to move together, so desperate for each other the discomfort hadn’t mattered because the pleasure eclipsed it. And while they hadn’t rocked the shocks back here since Valentine’s Day a couple of years back, he bet nothing had changed.
Her breath hissed in as her bare legs touched the chilly upholstery. He closed the door behind him. Macy’s gaze devoured the movement of his hands as he wrenched his jeans open, her chest heaving. Then those hot hazel eyes flickered up to his, and he was lost. There was only time for him to yank the soft panels of fabric between her legs aside with one fist and give her slit a teasing, readying stroke with the head of his cock, knowing he could hurt her by shoving past her initial resistance before she was ready.
But fuck, she was ready as always, wet and slick. She took him halfway with her head thrown back, her damp hair clutched in his other fist, her thighs shaking hard around his hips, before he pulled back and sank home with a groan.
Home. It wasn’t just an expression. It was where he belonged, it was the place he’d spent his entire fucking life trying to find. He had it now. With her, he had it at last.
“Seth,” she whimpered helplessly against his neck. Her use of his real name only fired him up more. At first, she’d only called him by his given name; now she rarely did. In public, around their friends, he was Ghost—it was only here, when it was the two of them in their little cocoon against the world, that she called him Seth, and he lived for hearing the syllable roll in sultry seduction off her tongue.
“So beautiful,” he told her, watching a flush climb high in her cheeks. Drops of rain still clung to her skin and hair. Eyes dusky, locked on his and heavy-lidded with ecstasy, lips swollen and parted with the sharp breaths he pushed from her with every thrust. She enveloped him with heat and sweetness and trust and all kinds of shit he’d never thought to have. When it all became too much and he began to drop his head, her strong hands caught him and held him up. Made him stare into her eyes. Made him see the promise of forever there. He couldn’t deny that it scared the hell out of him, but he stared all the same.
Knowing her cues, he could draw this out, make her cry out and beg and even curse him with the merest variation of movement. Oh, it was sweet, playing her body like his own instrument. Filing away any new discoveries for later use, pulling out old ones she might not have thought of in a while. A delectable game where they both won…though she usually reached the finish line long before he let himself.
Her first orgasm rocked her before he’d worked up a sweat. He talked her through, dropping kisses along her jaw and biting at that exquisitely quivering bottom lip while her contractions coaxed him deeper and pulled at his sanity. So wet, fuck, so tight. She clutched at him anywhere she could find a grip, and the heels of her running shoes dug into his ass.
“I hate you,” she giggled once she could find her voice.
“Oh yeah?” Still hard, still nowhere near his breaking point, he gave her a teasing drag of his cock. She was soaked. “Let’s see if I can make you hate me again.”
Challenge flared deep in her eyes. Usually, once she came that hard, she was done. “You couldn’t.”
“Daring me will only make me try harder.” He tugged at the zipper of her hoodie, skimming his fingers underneath to tease at her bare breasts. Macy’s eyes closed dreamily. Spreading the jacket aside, he bared one nipple to his sight, dipped his head to flick his tongue across the tight peak. Deep inside, her pussy clutched at him anew. “Oh, I think I could.”
Rain pattered against the windows, which were already fogged up. Macy’s hand rested atop his shaved head, stroking as he shifted his attentions to her other nipple. He licked and sucked and nibbled until she was ready again, growing restless beneath him, arching into his mouth, rocking her hips to take him deeper even though he denied her any real movement yet.
“Okay,” she finally said on a soft chuckle, “I give in. You totally could.”
“Does that mean you don’t want me to?”
“You’re going to be the death of me, you know that?”
“Nah. You’re young and healthy, baby. You haven’t killed me yet, so I think we’re both gonna hang in for a while.”
Laughing, she hugged him close. Putting his cheek to hers, he moved inside her, gentle, leisurely movements. Outside, the rain slowed, its furor spent while Ghost’s gradually built. Still, he held back, even while his pulse thundered in his ears and he was so hard it hurt, instincts screaming to fuck her hard until he exploded. He lifted his head and gazed at her, finding her in the same sensuous distress.
“Are you okay?” he asked, meaning it in so much more than a physical sense. He only wanted to know she felt safe, loved, happy.
“I am,” she whispered, and he believed she’d understood the depth of the question. He hoped. There was nothing left to do but give her everything. Kissing her deeply, Ghost shuddered through his own release, pulling her with him.
In the quiet moments after, while the only sound was their breathing and the last drops of rain on the roof, she said, “Seth?”
“I want a baby.”
He’d already known, of course—she’d wanted to go off birth control, after all. But hearing it put so plainly, hearing the ache in her voice, undid something in him. He lifted his head and smoothed the hair back from her forehead. Her eyes were uncertain as they searched his, as if she’d been unsure of what he might say. A grin broke across his face. “Yeah?”
Macy nodded, her breath hitching. “I do. How do you feel about it?”
He only knew he wanted to make her happy—and she’d told him from the start that kids would be a part of that deal. Macy wanted to be a mom, she always had, and she deserved to be.
“I see the look in your eyes when Brian and Candace are around with Lyric,” he said. “You light up.”
“They’re so happy.”
True. But they’d gone through hell, too. Ghost and Macy had babysat for them while Brian was in the hospital recovering from an assault last year. Macy had loved every minute of the baby time; even jumping up for feedings and diaper changes at two in the morning hadn’t fazed her. And Ghost had to admit, holding and feeding little Lyric had stirred a few fatherly feels in him, too. Poor little man almost had to grow up without a dad when Brian got attacked, and Ghost knew how that felt from having lost his own parents before he could form adequate memories of them.
It wasn’t something he wanted to see any kid go through. Ever. He remembered looking down into that baby’s innocent eyes and vowing to fill that role for him as best he could if that was the hand they got dealt. Thank God it hadn’t been. Brian had recovered, good as new.
At the core of it all, though, was one almost paralyzing fear, the same one that had gripped him when his ex, Raina, had come to him with news that she was pregnant. She’d lost their baby, but memories of the funk he’d walked around in for weeks were still vivid. “What if I’m a shitty dad?”
“Please. You’ll be an amazing dad. Besides, you’ll have me. We’ll be a team.”
That was so undeniably true. Parenting a kid with Macy would be at the opposite end of the spectrum from parenting with someone like Raina. An idea filled with hope versus one filled with dread.
Still beneath him, Macy licked her lips and glanced up at him uncertainly. “I kind of thought I might already be pregnant, but I took a test and it was negative.” She rushed that last bit out, as if she was afraid he might have an immediate breakdown at the news. It was only the disappointment in her eyes that broke something in him.
“Aw, babe,” he said gently, touching her cheek. “You should’ve told me.”
“I know. I was so excited and nervous, I thought I would see if there was anything to freak out over before I freaked you out.” She chuckled sadly.
“That’s what’s been bothering you, then?”
“Yeah, a little.”
No, it was a lot. He knew her better than that. “Well, maybe…” With a sheepish smirk, he glanced down to where their bodies were still joined and raised his eyebrows meaningfully. Maybe they’d just accomplished the deed a few minutes ago.
Macy grinned but shook her head. “Nah, I doubt it. It’s not the right time for me.”
Gently pulling from her body, he opened his mouth to reply that she should tell him when it was, and they would go at it like rabbits. But his phone buzzed in the back pocket of the jeans hanging loose around his ass. With a growl of frustration, he was prepared to let it go to voicemail, but with a kiss Macy told him, “It’s okay, go ahead.”
About Cherrie Lynn:
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author CHERRIE LYNN has been a CPS caseworker and a juvenile probation officer, but now that she has come to her senses, she writes contemporary and paranormal romance on the steamy side. It’s *much* more fun. She’s also an unabashed rock music enthusiast, and loves letting her passion for romance and metal collide on the page.
When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, listening to music or playing with her favorite gadget of the moment. She’s also fond of hitting the road with her husband to catch their favorite bands live.
Cherrie lives in East Texas with said husband and their two kids, all of whom are the source of much merriment, mischief and mayhem.
Tour Wide Giveaway!
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