Magical Riffs [Rock Hard Seduction 4] (Siren Publishing Classic) [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Tonya Ramagos
eBook Category: Erotica/Romance
eBook Description: Ten years ago, Diana Thompson walked away from the only boy she ever loved. Now their paths have crossed again and the heat between them is stronger than ever. When their lives fall in line again, she can only believe it's fate. James has a different view. James Fisher was torn apart when Diana broke things off that sunny summer day. To battle the misery of a broken heart, he threw himself into his career, reaching beyond the obvious to achieve his dreams. Now he has everything he's ever worked for in the palm of his hand. But will letting Diana back into his life cause him to lose it all? [Erotic Contemporary Romance. Warning: Contains graphic sexual content and adult language.]
eBook Publisher: Siren-BookStrand, Inc./Siren Classic, Published: 2009, 2009
Fictionwise Release Date: May 2010
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9 Reader Ratings:
"4.5 CHERRIES: This is the fourth book in Ms. Ramagos's Rock Hard Seduction Series and she delivers. She continues the world of Facade, bringing in the secondary characters for an unforgettable story. You feel like you're part of the band by the end of the story. James makes a great alpha hero: brooding, intellectual and darn sexy. Diana finally gets her own story. I loved watching her use and manipulate her power to realize her destiny. If you want a sexy novella filled with cocky rock stars and the women who love them, then Magical Riffs is the novella for you." -- Tiger Lily, Whipped Cream Reviews
Diana Thompson walked the empty rooms of the little house in which she'd grown up, softly chanting the cleansing spell she'd devised. It was difficult to keep her mind free of all thought not pertaining to the task at hand knowing what she would be leaving behind, what she would soon face.
She reached the front door just as the last of the candle she held in one hand and the incense she held in the other burned out, as she spoke the words of the chant for the final time. "Blessed be," she whispered aloud and felt the single tear slide down her cheek.
Turning, she paused on the front porch and closed her eyes as a gentle breeze blew in from the beach. She'd miss this place, the beach, the house. She'd miss the friends she'd made, the life she'd built. But the time had come to move on. The path meant for her to follow was leading her away from here. She would build another life, a better one and, if the Gods were willing, she'd do it all with the man she'd loved so long ago.
I love you, Diana. We'll never be apart. This is it for us. You're it for me.
The words echoed in her memory. She heard them as clearly as she saw the rocky path through the trees at the edge of the beach where they'd been that long ago afternoon when he'd said them to her. Would he still feel that way after all these years, after what she'd done?
"There's only one way to find out," she told herself and, without another look back, walked off the porch and slid behind the wheel of her sleek black convertible.
The drive from central Florida to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania offered up plenty of time for reflection, plans, and prayers. She used it wisely and did exactly that. She believed in fate. She'd seen it at work in recent years in her own life and in that of her friends. Hadn't it been fate that brought Derek Kadin to Addison House the precise week her best friend, Alicia Addison, had been filling in for her sister, Star? And hadn't it been fate that pulled Suzanne Cassidy, another of Diana's long time acquaintances, all the way from Florida to Pennsylvania for an art show only to find the love of her life, Garrett Henry, in a neighborhood bar? And what about Reese Torrin and Melody Forbes? Diana personally watched the fate of their coupling unfold right before her very eyes.
It was another twist of fate, she decided as she stopped just outside Philly to put the top down on her car, that all the couples had been connected in some way, how they all connected to her. She chewed on that as she cruised through the busy streets of downtown Philly, the cool spring northern breeze fluttering through her hair. She and Alicia had been off and on friends for decades. They'd known Suzanne, even though they'd never exactly been close friends. Of the four women, Melody was the only one of them who hadn't come from Florida, who hadn't come from the same town. Yet, even Melody was connected to the guys involved by being the sister of Reese's close friend.
Reese. The thought of the too sexy drummer always brought a smile to Diana's face. She'd crushed on him for so long. But, alas, more than friends they were not meant to be. She'd always known that, even before she'd actually met the man. She firmly believed only one true love existed for everyone in life and she already knew who that one someone was for her. It wasn't Reese Torrin.
Even so, the man had turned out to be one of the best male friends she'd ever had. And that led her to thinking of the men involved, of the members of the heavy metal rock band Facade. Derek Kadin who'd found his one true love in Alicia; Garrett Henry who found his in Suzanne Cassidy; Reese and Melody Forbes; James Fisher and...
Diana slowed as her destination came into view. She caught the left hand signal of a car attempting to merge into traffic from a parallel parking space exactly where she needed to be and motioned with a quick flick of her arm, switching on her blinker, too. The tired looking Caddy pulled out and she slid her lovely little gem in its place. Hmm, thinking about fate, she mused as she gathered her handbag and slid from the car. It was definitely fate that had pulled her away from her home, possessed her to go into business for herself, and brought her here to do it where she would find him again.
The bellhop greeted her as she stepped inside the apartment building. Diana paused, secretly pleased to be remembered by the older gentleman after such an extended time away. Butterflies started a mosh pit in her stomach as she rode the elevator up and stepped onto the fourth floor. The hall was simple in its elegance. Rich golden carpet sponged around her heels with each step. Mauve painted walls complemented decorative art that had been strategically hung to accent the antique tables and vases.
She stopped to study a particular painting just outside the door to apartment 402--a seascape of waves crashing against a sandy shore, gloriously full green trees at the water's edge, and birds flying high and free in a sky of brilliant blue. It was so much like the scene she'd left only hours before. The resemblance was uncanny down to the little path leading through the trees.
Diana gaped as the surprised shock moved through her. It couldn't be. Could it? Of course not, she shook her head and afforded herself a half-laugh at the silliness. It was pure coincidence. Before she moved away, she stole a glance at the lower right hand corner of the painting. Suzanne Cassidy Henry was elegantly scrawled there.
"Maybe not such a coincidence after all." She took the last few steps to the apartment door, her mind whirling with the possibilities. It wasn't a surprise to see Suzanne was the artist of the painting. She'd known it even before she looked. She'd recognized the style, the colors, and the scheme. Just as she recognized the place. No, not a coincidence. Another dollop of fate? Perhaps.
Sighing, she wiped her palms on her skirt, squared her shoulders and, ignoring the super charged pounding of her heart, knocked on the apartment door. She heard a bark, some rustling, a crash, a few giggles, and the door swung open.
The bright smile on Reese Torrin's face was huge and instantaneous. "Diana!" He all but yanked her inside, tossing his free arm around her waist while holding fast to the beer bottle in his other hand. He laid a kiss on her lips that was long, playful and ended with a loud pop. "Geez. I missed you."
"It's good to be missed." Diana pulled back laughing to look at Reese. She felt only a second of remorse that he hadn't been meant for her. Handsome despite the lopsided cut to his scraggly dark hair with a long lean build and fun eyes, he brought both boyish charm and innate drumming talent to the stage with Facade and to the lady's hearts.
"For Pete's sake, Reese, you could let the woman get in the apartment before you tackle her." Melody Forbes Torrin slapped at her husband's shoulder, pushed him back and snagged Diana's hand all in a series of moves that were flowing and almost quicker than the eye. Where her husband had the shaggy hunk meter pinned to an unequivocal nine point five, Melody was, as Reese so often called her, a picture-perfect tomboy version of Kate Beckinsale with flawless skin, and a tumble of gorgeous wavy brown locks. "Diana, it's great to see you. Come in."
"Thanks, I believe I will." Diana slid an arm around Melody's waist as they moved through the doorway. The other woman stood a couple of inches taller and Diana tipped her chin up to meet her gaze. "Any news yet?"
Melody slapped Reese's shoulder as the man pushed by them. "You told her! You weren't supposed to tell. We were supposed to tell her together!"
Reese skipped away, chuckling. "I had to, honey. It couldn't wait. She threatened to put a spell on me."
"I would never!" Diana struggled to sound horrified despite the amusement making her lips twitch.
"Yeah, right." Melody rolled her stunning green eyes. Eyes that positively dazzled, Diana noted. Eyes that danced as they looked down at Diana. "Did you threaten to turn him into a toad?"
Diana coughed to cover a laugh. "I was thinking a hamster. You know, small, furry, and cute? I thought he'd make a great pet for the new baby."
"Everyone else knew." Reese squirmed when Melody pegged him with another penetrating gaze. "Come on, Mel. You really didn't expect me not to tell her."
Melody leaned closer to Diana and lowered her voice. "Actually, I was surprised he wasn't calling you from the hallway of the adoption agency as we left the building. I just wanted to be there to tell you, too. So I'll do the updates instead. We've passed the first hurdles. It's a long process and it could take a lot longer than we'd like to make it all the way through."
"But we're hopeful," Reese interjected with a smile that lit his face from ear to ear. "And we've got nothing but time."
"For a love-struck couple who never figured to have kids, you sure appear ready for parenthood." Diana gave Melody's waist a squeeze.
"I never thought I'd be a mom, but I sure am finding myself looking forward to hearing a sweet little voice call me that." Injured in an accident that had taken her ability to bear children when she was barely older than a child herself, Diana knew Melody had come to terms with the fact that she would never have children of her own long before she met Reese.
"You'll be fantastic at it, too." Diana kissed the other woman's cheek and let her arm fall to her side.
"Thanks." Melody beamed as if Diana had given her a truly special gift. "Everyone was just getting ready to settle in front of the big screen. Game starts in less than an hour and there's some pre-game stuff going on."
A sports fan to the last, Diana mused. Could the woman be any more perfect for Reese? She followed Melody to the living room where Garrett sat with his long legs stretched between the sofa and coffee table, a bottle of beer resting on one thigh and a beautiful blond baby girl on the other. They made such a happy picture it drew a quiet, wistful sigh from her throat.
"Better watch out," Melody leaned in again to whisper. "This mommy thing can be contagious."
Diana made a quiet, "Hmm," of agreement even as she felt the infection move through her bloodstream. It wasn't new. She'd had the longing mommy disease for a long time, but seeing so many happy couples around her, so many happy parents or soon-to-be parents caused it to spread like a vicious cancer.
"Here you go, sweetheart." Suzanne Cassidy Henry sailed into the living room looking every bit the sweet, innocent, blond kindergarten teacher she'd always been complete with a sippy cup and a teething biscuit. She spotted Diana and her face let with welcome as she handed her daughter the cup and put the biscuit on the nearby table. "You made it."
"Seems I did. She isn't cutting teeth already, is she?" Diana stepped to the back of the sofa, reaching over Garrett's shoulder to fondle one of Lilly's blond ringlets. "How old is she now? Not even a year?"
"She was born cutting teeth." Garrett tipped his head back, a wide, proud smile splitting his lips.
"I have something for you." Suzanne rushed around the sofa to Diana's side, pointing to a painting braced against a nearby wall. "For your store."
"Oh." Diana covered her mouth as the soft gasp escaped. It was exactly as they'd discussed. A painting of the home she'd left behind so comfortable and cozy. It came to life on the canvas. She felt her throat tighten, her eyes growing warm as the first pang of homesickness squeezed at her heart. She'd expected to miss it, her home, and the town she'd grown up in, the life she'd made there. She'd wanted something to bring with her from that place, from those years, something more than the memories in her head. Suzanne had given her that in this painting.
"Amazing, isn't it?"
Diana shot a look over her shoulder at the new voice coming up behind her. "It's perfect," she told Alicia Addison even as she returned her attention to the painting, to the artist. "You have a real talent, Suzanne. Magic on canvas. Thank you. I'll treasure it always."
"It will look great in the store," Alicia commented, moving to stand on Diana's other side. "A bit of old with the new. Did you stop by the building first or come straight here?"
Diana shook her head. "Straight here. I suspect once I make it to the building, I won't be eager to leave so quickly." She covered her belly with a palm and let out a short laugh. "I'm nervous. I keep trying to convince myself coming here first isn't procrastination, but maybe I'm simply playing games."
"You've taken a big step." Another new voice stepped into the room. A voice she'd know anywhere, male, melodic and absolutely mesmerizing.
"And it's all thanks to you." She let the smile come as she turned to meet Derek Kadin's milk chocolate gaze. The man was utterly spectacular. Dangerous and viral while smooth and charming, all at the same time. Though short for a man, his body was all muscle, his features angular and handsome, his head shaved and adding that last little touch of the rugged warrior that made so many female hearts in the music community swoon.
It sure worked on Alicia, Diana mused. And if it hadn't it was likely that all of their lives might be far different than they were now. If Derek hadn't showed up at Addison House on the exact weekend Alicia's sister went away, leaving Alicia in charge of the bed and breakfast, the entire chain of events that had occurred since might never have been.
Yes, it was definitely fate, Diana thought yet again. The will of the Gods. Each link in that chain leading them, leading her to the here and now. To the final clasp that would draw all those links together for her. A clasp that caught her eye as it walked into the room and stopped short.
She saw in his eyes when recognition took hold, watched as the play of confusion, surprise, hurt and uncertainty washed over his face. They hadn't told him about her, she realized. Or if they had, he hadn't made the connection. And why would he? Philadelphia was a long way from St. Petersburg, the years since they'd last seen one another separating the time as though it were a mere memory. Her memory had changed immensely, she saw now as she took the briefest of moments to study James Fisher.
He stood taller, broader, and more handsome then she remembered. As he should be given the boy had grown into a man. Dark hair, long and braided, cascaded past a set of wide shoulders that seemed to scream for a female's hand. Even beneath the solid black shirt she could make out sculpted muscles and hard ridges, six pack abs and a flat stomach. He wore jeans, tight and forming to a pair of narrow hips and long legs. His face, too, was long and lean with laughter lines around a mouth so utterly kissable it made her own mouth water in anticipation. His eyes were a mesmerizing shade of blue. Eyes she'd stared into so few nights beneath a starlit sky. Seeing them again, seeing him again brought the memories slamming back with such a ferocious force they nearly knocked her off her heels.
She'd known he'd be here. She thought she'd prepared herself to face him. She'd been wrong. No amount of preparation could have steadied her for the way her world dammed near tilted off its axis. Sensations swamped her, in her heart, in her belly, lower. Sharp slivers of desire and need brought a low sound from her throat she hadn't meant to make.
"I thought you could use a glass of this. Long drive and all that," Reese was saying. Only when he blocked her vision of James did she manage to look at him. "Of course, if you'd rather a bottle..."
He held out a glass of blush wine for her. Diana took it, willing her hand not to shake, forcing herself to take a small sip. A bottle? Reese might have meant it as a joke, but a bottle would have been good right about now.
"Wait! You haven't met, have you?" Reese turned slightly, affording her a view of James once more. "Duh. I forgot you were on your way back to Florida when he officially joined the band. Diana, this is James Fisher, our new bassist. James, Diana Thompson, all around best friend, witch, beauty and soon to be entrepreneur."
"Actually," Diana said with a surprising calm. She paused and took another sip of her wine, gazing at James over the rim. "We've already met."
* * * *
Her voice sounded like a siren's song and stayed with him long after he left Derek's apartment. Her beauty followed him, too, as did her power and the pain. As James let himself inside the house he rented from Reese and Melody, Melody's old house, he wished for an instant he could put his life in a re-winder, go back to morning and start the whole day again. Not that it would do him much good, he decided and headed straight for the kitchen in search of another beer. No matter how many times he repeated this day, he figured it would still reach the same outcome in the end. Him standing by the fridge with a cold bottle of brew at his lips, a mind muddled in shock and confusion, and a heart bleeding from the inside out.
She'd looked amazing, incredible, beautiful, out-fucking-standing. Not that she'd ever looked less, he conceded and tipped back the bottle, draining half the contents in one gulp. A blanket of fiery red hair against skin of alabaster and eyes such an odd shade of green with tiny blue flakes that sparkled. Flakes, he knew, that deepened, darkening when she became aroused. The body he remembered, the one he'd dreamt of all these years, had changed from the girl to that of a woman. She had curves now. Perfect, well-toned curves and sweetly built muscles as delicate looking as they were strong. Her breasts, God, he remembered those breasts. Yet he found those on the woman's body to be far more wicked temptation then they'd ever been on the girl.
She'd worn purple, he reflected as he moved to the cabinet, pulled out a bag of potato chips. She'd always loved purple. It was the color of divination, of health and spirit. It looked great on her as it always had. Sexier, he mused and opened the chips to crunch on a few. Yeah, the purple that clung to those amazing breasts, fit snuggly to her smooth flat stomach and stopped barely an inch below the waistband of the black and purple skirt had been sexy as hell. As was the broom skirt and the black strappy pumps she'd worn on her feet. Power. Her beauty was simply another form of the power she possessed. She knew how to use it too. Always had.
James never discounted power of any sort. He'd felt it way too often, experienced its reality too many times not to believe. He didn't have any himself, at least not in the metaphysical sense, but he knew those who did and he believed. Diana was one of those who did. Power radiated from her even stronger than her beauty. She'd been his first brush with true power, given him his first real taste of it, and showed him the joys and later even the pain.
That, too, had been another first for him. Oh, she hadn't hurt him in any physical sense. She never turned him into a toad like a witch in a storybook. She never lashed out at him, never caused him to see things that weren't there or feel imaginary things crawl over his skin like something out of The Craft. She never formed tangible balls of energy and threw them at him, or put a curse on him that put him in the hospital from thousands of spider bites like in The Covenant. No. All that stuff was for Hollywood witches. Not for the true, for the reality of a witch like Diana.
But she could see, she could know. You're meant for me, James. The only man meant for me. She'd told him that, all those years ago in their special place at the edge of the beach in the wood. She'd told him that just before he took her virginity, just before he gave her his heart. A heart she'd ruthlessly broken, he reflected now, with more words mere weeks later.
James tipped back his beer, drained the last drop, and tossed it at the trashcan a good three feet away. It hit the back of the rim, bounced off and tumbled into the can, shattering with a resounding sound of glass on breaking glass. Just like his heart that day in early fall. Leaving the bag of chips open on the counter, he stomped out of the kitchen. Just like his heart today.
Dammit, seeing her again had been a knife in the gut. She'd known he'd be there. She'd expected to see him.
"Could've given me some fucking warning," he mumbled irritably. Instead, he'd been struck dumb, shocked and speechless. He shouldn't have left the way he had, so abruptly, making up such a lame excuse. Had anyone really bought his claim of not feeling well? They might have, he figured since he'd had a cold for the better part of two weeks now. The change in climate from his home in southern Texas to Philadelphia seemed to be taking a toll on his immune system. Because of such, they might have bought it had it not been for Diana's admission of knowing him, the cold shoulder he'd given her, and his brisk departure thereafter.
She'd been so cool, so calm, and the look in her eyes...apology, grief, desire. By the Gods, he'd noticed that intense level of desire simmering in the flickering depths of her amazing eyes! He'd known if he'd gotten any closer to her, given her any encouragement at all he would've seen those blue sparkles go dark with that desire as they used to.
"Why?" The word came out on an exasperated burst as he flung himself on the sofa and snatched up the television remote. She'd pushed him away, ended what they'd started without so much as a backward glance. It took him months, hell, years, to recover from losing her. Why would she look at him that way again now? More to the point, why had his path aligned with hers again and what did he do about it?
He'd finally gotten everything he wanted. He was well on his way to having more than he ever dreamed. Would he risk it all now for her? Could he prevent himself from risking it even if he wanted to?
"You're a pathetic soul, James Fisher," he told himself as he found the tail end of the sports game, tossed the remote aside, and settled in for the final ten minutes. "She steals your heart, gives it back in pieces and one look has you wanting to go back for round two. Pathetic. Truly, truly pathetic."