Tempt Me Like This
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“I will.” But Drew needed to talk more than business with his brother. He needed the inside scoop on his family, since he couldn’t be there to see them day to day. “How’s everyone doing lately?”
“The good news is that Dad seems to be surfacing a bit more. Olivia, on the other hand, doesn’t say much, which worries me. But you know how she is—the harder you push, the more she closes down. Justin spends most of his time trying to pretend he isn’t in love with Taylor. Maddie is still playing cheerleader for Dad way too much, so I’ve been making sure she gets out with her girlfriends this summer before they all head off to college. Only Sean seems truly happy now that he and Serena have found each other. He’s always got his camera with him, which is good to see.”
Grant had always been one hell of a listener. It was one of the many reasons why he’d earned his first billion before he was thirty. Grant also wasn’t one to talk about himself. He didn’t need to build up his ego like so many guys in his circle did. But tonight, Drew wasn’t going to let his brother get away with skipping his own update.
“What about you?” Drew asked. “How are you holding up?”
“All right.” But his brother was frowning as he said it. “We’re in the thick of a couple of pretty intense acquisitions right now, so the hours are even longer than usual. I don’t mind the work, though.”
Drew understood why Grant was perfectly willing to work from sunup to sundown and most of the hours before and after, too. Working helped a lot of people block out painful memories. But it had never really been the solution for Drew. Not when the songs had stopped coming and the music playing in his head had become barely recognizable.
“I don’t think Ashley has been able to get a word in edgewise,” Grant commented as he nodded up the sidewalk to where Maddie had looped her arm through Ashley’s and was still chattering a million miles a minute.
Drew let his brother change the subject. Even when they were kids, Grant had always mulled things over for a really long time. Clearly, he needed to work through his emotions awhile longer. And the truth was that Drew would have been right there with him were it not for Ashley.
“She’s a good listener,” Drew told his brother.
“Is there anything she isn’t good at?”
“Nope. Everything about her blows my mind.”
Finally, Grant smiled.
* * *
After their meal, one that thankfully was full of more laughter than Drew had seen out of anyone in his family for months, they hopped onto his bus, which Max had pulled around to the curb, and headed to the venue. Maddie made all of them laugh some more as she played with the knobs and switches on the high-tech vehicle, before turning to Ashley and asking, “How has sleeping on a bus been?”
Ashley’s eyes were huge as she looked at Drew. He knew she hadn’t intended to do so, but in that moment she gave them completely away.
Fortunately, Sean stepped in. “I could never get much sleep on the bus when we traveled for games. But Drew has always been able to sleep like a rock, anytime, anywhere.”
“I’ve actually slept really well,” Ashley finally answered his sister. “Drew’s schedule is super busy. He’s up early for radio, has interviews or recording sessions all day, and then his shows and meet and greets don’t end until late. By the time my head hits the pillow, I’m pretty much out.”
Except, Drew thought, when I’m keeping you up by making love to you.
“You’re recording again?” Olivia asked him. “Does that mean you’re writing again, too?”
Olivia hadn’t said much all night, but she’d obviously picked up on the most important points. First, that Drew couldn’t keep his eyes off Ashley. And second, that he’d finally busted through his musical block.
“His new songs are incredible.” Thankfully, Ashley seemed to have forgotten the awkwardness from a few minutes ago as she smiled at him and said, “I can’t wait until the whole world gets to hear your new music.”
“I’m really inspired, Ash.” Because of you.
“Who has gotten to hear the new songs so far?” Maddie wanted to know as the bus pulled into the lot behind the venue, and James checked in with security to make sure everyone was in place for their arrival.
“Just the engineers I’ve been working with in the studios we’ve dropped into on the road...and Ashley.” If his family hadn’t figured things out by now, that was the final piece of the puzzle they’d need to slide into place.