Reckless In Love
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Jesus. If she had any idea of the kind of things he wanted her to experience with him, and that he wanted to show her...
He’d never been caught in this kind of conflict before—at the same time that he wanted to protect Ashley, he also wanted to do precisely the things to her that he should be protecting her from.
His insides were completely twisted up over her, and yet he still couldn’t stop the runaway train of remembered visions that his brain kept sending him about how soft her naked skin had been that morning. Or how good she’d smelled. Or how much he’d wanted to pick her up and carry her back to his bed to—
Damn it! He was doing it again. Completely losing focus. Keeping Ashley safe while she was on tour with him was his number one priority. He couldn’t let himself forget that.
Still, this was her first time in Vegas. And he couldn’t let her leave without experiencing his favorite part of it. Not the bright lights, but the awe-inspiring beauty that most tourists never even knew existed, let alone saw.
“Max,” he said as they headed down in the elevator, “after we say hi to the fans, we’ve got time for a trip to the Valley of Fire before they need me at the venue, right? I’d like to show it to Ashley.”
Max nodded. “If we leave right away, we should have plenty of time to get there and back even if the traffic is nasty.”
“What’s the Valley of Fire?” Ashley asked.
“Only one of the coolest places on the planet. And no sneaking a peek at pictures of it on your phone. It’s better if the first time you see it, it’s the real thing.”
The words the real thing seemed to hang in the air between them, even with James and Max in the elevator with them.
“I won’t look online,” she said in a solemn voice, one that made it even harder not to kiss her.
A few seconds later the elevator doors opened, and the screams of his fans brought him back to reality. At least, they should have. But just as he’d been so wrapped up in Ashley that he’d forgotten to call for security at the airport, he wasn’t at the top of his meet-the-fans game today either. Because while the Las Vegas security team did their best to keep everyone orderly, when a bra went flying, Drew wasn’t able to react fast enough to grab it out of the air before it landed on top of Ashley’s head.
She stopped dead in her tracks, and through the din of screams from the girls outside, he heard her say as if to herself, “Somehow, I don’t think this is meant for me.” She took it off her head and reached out to hand it to him, her lips twitching. “A gift for you.”
He laughed out loud, even more thankful that she was with him. “Thanks.” He wanted to be alone with her on the bus again, wanted to hear her let her own laughter free. But first he needed to get his act together for the next half hour and hang out with the fans who had made the effort to come see him this morning.
He turned to the crowd. “Thanks for coming to say hi.”
The entire time he was signing autographs and taking selfies, he was aware of Ashley standing nearby making notes on her tablet. And just knowing she was there made him feel good.
* * *
Ninety minutes later, they had pulled off the freeway and were heading straight for the Valley of Fire. They were sitting in the front section of the bus beside Max so that Ashley wouldn’t miss the moment when the national park came into view. James was there with them, too, and Drew was charmed by the honest interest Ashley had in both men’s lives. He could tell she wasn’t just asking about their wives and kids as research, but because she liked hearing them talk about the people they loved. Some musicians stayed separate from their crew, preferring to keep things as impersonal as possible, but Drew had always enjoyed getting to know everyone. One of his favorite things about touring, in fact, was how much it felt like family after a week of living in each other’s pockets. If he couldn’t see his real family, then at least he didn’t have to feel totally alone.
Ashley was laughing at something James had just said when she suddenly stopped. “Oh my God, look at that!” She pointed at the bright red and orange rock formations rising from the middle of the otherwise flat and barren desert. She turned to Drew with a huge, awestruck smile. “They’re like flames rising from the ground.”
She nodded, grinning even wider as she said, “Valley of Fire. What a perfect name for this magical place.”
As they got closer to the park, more and more of the incredible rock formations came into view. Drew had been here a good half-dozen times, but it never ceased to blow him away.
Soon, they were pulling into the visitor’s center parking lot. Fortunately, Ashley was wearing Converse sneakers instead of heels or sandals, and she immediately hopped out of the bus so that she could see one of the rocks up close.
Drew turned to James and Max. He dug them both, but sometimes he wished he could drive himself around in a car like a normal person. “You guys don’t mind waiting here, do you?”
Max nodded, grinning like the true romantic he was. “Sure, no problem for me.”
But James was frowning. “Last time I let you loose in a desert, you almost didn’t come back.” That had been a rough day, one Drew had no intention of repeating. James did his staring-you-down thing for a few moments before he finally grabbed one of the black baseball caps on the dash and shoved it at Drew. “Don’t take this or your sunglasses off. And if you run into any other hikers, keep your head down.”