Tempt Me Like This
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Of course she was thrilled that Drew had so many ardent fans, but at the same time, she could see how easily things could spin even more out of control than they already were, considering it was already difficult for him to walk down the street without being mobbed.
But she wasn’t sure he was listening anymore, not with the way he was pressing his cheek to hers while he ran his hands down her arms. When he reached her hands, he pulled them around his waist.
“I don’t like you being out here in this, Ash. I can’t stand the thought of anything happening to you. If you had been in the middle of that crowd...”
“Don’t you think I feel exactly the same way?” That was when she saw the cuts on his arms from where his fans’ nails had cut into his skin. Her stomach hurt as she gently brushed her fingertips over the marks. “Don’t you think I’m scared for you when everyone is being so crazy?”
“I can handle it,” he told her, just as he’d said after his fans had ambushed them at the airport that first night.
She knew that he really was strong enough and resilient enough to handle anything that came his way. She only wished she could say the same about herself. But the truth was that she didn’t know if she actually could handle it. Not just her fears that something might happen to him one day because of his fame and popularity around the world...but all of it.
Everything that came with being his.
Ashley hadn’t realized she was going to come on this tour and fall in love. But she’d ended up falling for Drew so fast that her head, and her heart, were both still spinning from the whirlwind of it all. And ever since he’d told her that he loved her—and that he wanted her father and the rest of the world to know how he felt about her—she’d been outright panicking.
He’d momentarily soothed her with words and caresses that aroused her past the point where she could think at all, but she’d still woken up with that seed of panic in her stomach growing bigger by the second.
It was just all so much. So fast. A half-dozen worries spiraled around and around inside her head at once.
I don’t know how to stop worrying about everything. That we’re too different. That what we have now could never last outside of this fairy tale. That all I’m doing is repeating my parents’ mistakes and that one day you’ll resent me the way my mother resented my father, for clipping your wings with all my spreadsheets and business plans.
Drew had been so open and honest with her, and Ashley had tried to be just as honest with him...at least until last night, when she hadn’t confessed her love for him. She hated the feeling that she’d not only lied to his family about them, but that she was also now lying to Drew by not telling him exactly how she felt about him.
Somehow, she needed to get up the nerve to tell him everything—all her fears, all her worries. Right here, right now, in the slushie shack on the beach. But Drew’s phone dinged before she could stop spinning and panicking long enough to speak.
“It’s got to be James.” Drew pulled out his phone and looked at the message. “He needs us to come to the front of the building right away. He’s got a car waiting to get us out of here safely.” He took her hand, and thirty seconds later, they were in the backseat of a black town car with James.
“Sorry about that, boss,” James said, looking none too pleased with the situation. “I should have been more on top of things before it all went to hell. The area wasn’t nearly secure enough from the start.”
“We all should have been better prepared, and we’ll make sure we are next time,” Drew said. “Everyone okay out there?”
“Everyone’s fine, thank God.”
“We need to move the rest of the interview inside,” Drew said.
“Already on it,” James confirmed.
Drew was still holding her hand, but James didn’t make a big deal out of it, didn’t stare at them or raise his eyebrows. She knew it had to be because their relationship wasn’t a surprise to him in any way. Drew had said his family had guessed last night, as well. Which meant that she was the only one fooling herself about keeping things “private.” Pretty soon, the entire world was bound to know.
Was she ready for that?
“After your interviews,” James said, “you’ve got lunch with the mayor in support of the Music for Miami foundation, and then your recording session will take you through to your show tonight.”
“Sounds good. Thanks, James.” Drew turned to her. “You look like you got a little too much sun. Your skin is flushed.”