Tempt Me Like This
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They pulled up outside a high-rise, and when James got out to open the door, Drew pressed a kiss to her lips and whispered, “I love you,” before slowly letting go of her hand and heading out of the car to do his very demanding job.
He’d said I love you again and again last night, but hearing the three little words in the light of a new day was at once the most beautiful thing Ashley had ever heard...and the most terrifying.
She wasn’t at all afraid about her physical safety while on tour, not when Drew and his team went out of their way to make sure no harm came to her. She wasn’t sure her heart would survive the tour. Because she loved him so much she actually felt like it was going to burst all the way out of her chest.
She’d always gone to her dad for help when she was confused about something at school. But this wasn’t a math problem. Wasn’t an English paper she needed help outlining. This was love and sex—the two things she was absolutely certain her father couldn’t handle talking about. Especially with Drew Morrison associated with both of them.
But she would burst if she didn’t talk to someone soon. Not just anyone, but someone who knew her really well. And someone who understood exactly what it was like to be in a relationship with someone so different from them.
So when Drew headed into the studio to record for a few hours before his show, Ashley told James she was going to run some errands. Though she hated to miss hearing Drew work on his new songs, there was something she needed to do—and someone she needed to see—before she lost it completely.
Ashley was taken completely by surprise by the tears that began to fall when she got out of the taxi and ran into her mother’s arms. Tears she couldn’t keep from falling. Partly because she was so confused about her relationship with Drew...and partly because it had been so long since her mother had held her like this.
“Oh honey, it’s so good to see you. I’ve missed you so much.”
“I’ve missed you, too.” Ashley tried to get a grip as she wiped her eyes with her fingertips. “I don’t know why I waited this long to come see you.”
“You needed time.”
Her mother had always been like that, she suddenly realized. So forgiving. So accepting. Ashley was the one who had been unwilling to accept or forgive. She’d been so angry with her mother for leaving her and her father that she had never really appreciated just how hard her mother had tried to stay in the marriage for fifteen years.
“Miami is such a great fit for you,” she said as her mother led her inside the bright, colorful home near the water. “It was the first thing I thought this morning when we got to the beach. How much you belong here.”
“I do love it here. But not more than I love you, Ashley. I know you’ve said in the past that you didn’t need me to come back to California, but if you’ve change your mind—”
“No!” Ashley’s mother’s eyes widened at the force of her response, and she realized she needed to be more clear. “Of course I want you close by, but Palo Alto never worked for you. I see that now. You need to live where you’re happy.” She took a good look at her mother and felt as though she was really seeing her for the first time. “You’re glowing. Not just your skin, but all of you. I’m glad you’re happy here, Mom.”
“But are you happy, honey?”
“Sometimes it’s like I’ve never been happier in my whole life. But then, other times, I’m just scared.”
Her mother squeezed her hands. “Oh honey, are you in love?”
In that moment, it was as though a dam burst. “He’s a rock star. A really famous one. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I couldn’t resist him. I’ve been in love with his music forever. So maybe that’s where it all started, but when I finally met him, our connection was—” She made a crackling sound and waggled her fingers in the air to mime static electricity. “Instant. Amazing. We ended up sharing so many things with each other, all the things we haven’t been able to tell anyone else, like how much it hurt him when his mom passed away and how difficult it was for me when you and Dad split up. We connect so deeply over music, too. And then he kissed me, and it was amazing so I told him I wanted to be with him. But he had promised Dad that he’d keep me safe.” She put the words in air quotes. “So he thought he needed to do the right thing by keeping his distance from me. Only, neither of us could do it, and we couldn’t keep from sleeping with each other. And even though I had no experience, he made it so wonderful. More wonderful than I ever thought it could be. But now he wants to tell everyone about us, especially Dad, and I just don’t think—”