But they are correct with one thing... he doesn't do love.
So what does it mean when he recognizes the blue eyes staring back at him during the last song of the tour?
This story is just beginning. Get your copy of Ryder, now!
“I love you,” someone screams from the audience. I’ve lost count how many declarations of love I’ve gotten tonight. I’m two-thirds through the show, so there’s no telling.
In a stadium of seventy thousand people, I only get a vague sense of where it came from. Smirking, I look toward the direction of the voice, the blinding stage lights preventing me from seeing past the first few rows. Most performers would yell back, “I love you, too,” but not me. I use a lot of four-letter words, but love isn’t one of them.
Thousands of people yelling how much they love you, holding up signs asking you to marry them — it’s something you never get used to. Ten years into my music career, and it’s still bizarre. Wish I could say I’ve never fallen for the trappings of their love, but I have — too many times, too many nights.
A pair of panties lands on top of my shoe, causing me to chuckle. Shaking my head, I wonder how many of these young ladies in the crowd are without underwear. Those are the trappings I’m talking about.
“Ryder,” the crowd chants.
My band starts the next song, and I kick away the thong, the soft strum of my guitar drowning out all the other noise. Women, music, and the road go hand-in-hand, but the curves of my guitar are all I’ve ever really needed. Some call me a loner. Country music didn’t initially know what to make of me. I don’t fit the typical mold — no boots or cowboy hats. Jeans, t-shirts and my guitar — that’s it.
Magazines have dubbed me as brooding. Truth is, everything I need to say comes out in my songs. I write my own stuff, always have. For some reason, it’s always been easier for me to say what I want in a song. Want to know me, then listen to the lyrics, because the stage show, the star, the “Sexist Man Alive” isn’t me. It’s all bullshit.
I was late coming into music, didn’t start until I was seventeen, but now, at almost thirty, I can play most any instrument, at least a little. But the guitar is my favorite. The curve of the wood reminds me of that beautiful curve of a woman’s body between her tits and her ass. My favorite spot. My fingers stroke the strings. Playing the guitar is like playing with a woman. Depending on how well you stroke, the sounds that come out could be soft moans or loud screams. The biggest difference between a guitar and woman is I keep my guitars around forever, and a woman is always gone the next morning.
Tonight’s show is the last of the tour. Over two hundred shows across three continents, and it ends tonight. The set we are playing tonight, I’ve played so often I could do it in my sleep. It’s all scripted — from the “how you doing tonight” to the “encore” performance. Same shit, different day. I might sound like an ungrateful asshole. I’m grateful. I know I don’t deserve what I have, but I don’t do what I do for the money, the fame. I don’t even do it for the fans. I do it because I have to. I could never write another song, do another show and retire today, but it’s not about the money. It never has been. It’s about salvation. Music is the place I find some peace.
Still, I’m ready to take a break, write, get back in the studio. We’ll still be doing a smattering of shows here and there, but on a smaller scale — charity gigs, awards shows, that sort of thing.
I hit the chorus of the song, my eyes scanning the first few rows of the crowd. I recognize a pair of blue eyes staring back at me. Has she been there the whole time? She’s not singing along. Her hands aren’t waving in the air. Her body doesn’t sway to the beat.
No last name.
Only one night.
The only girl I ever wanted another night with. The one that got away. The one I let get away. We hooked up in New Orleans, nowhere close to L.A., but I do remember her saying she was from California. I know stalking is illegal, but for her I might allow it.
Smiling through my lyrics, I wink at her. The girl next to her starts screaming, but Kailey’s eyes cast downward. Not missing a beat of my song, I follow her gaze.
To the little bump in her belly.
Country music headliner, crowd pleaser, legend in the bedroom.
You know how your mother always warned you that it only takes one time. Well, I’m proof of that.
One night with country music’s hottest star, Ryder Merrick, and I got knocked up.
He promised me it wasn’t just a one night stand.
But I woke up alone, and a few weeks later found out I was carrying his child.
I’m sure Ryder won’t want anything to do with us. After all, he’s famous for not believing in love. There’s a reason he’s never written a love song.
Why should he change his tune now? But telling him I’m pregnant still feels like the right thing to do.
All it takes is maxing out my credit card to buy a front row seat to his concert.
And then wait for him to notice me… and my bump.
Prescott Lane is the USA TODAY best-selling author of ALL MY LIFE. She's written several other romance books with strong heroines and swoon-worthy heroes. She is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, and holds a degree in sociology and an MSW from Tulane University. She married her college sweetheart, and they currently live in New Orleans with their two children and two crazy dogs. Prescott started writing at the age of five, and sold her first story about a talking turtle to her father for a quarter. She later turned to writing romance novels because there aren't enough happily ever afters in real life.
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