“Argh—I told you why not. He’s this hot, younger guy who wants to have sex with me. How long do you think that’ll last when he finds out I’m a forty-year-old re-virgin?”
“Re-virgin? Is that a thing? I haven’t heard about that. Is that what it’s called?”
Liv buried her head back in the pillow. This was pointless. She couldn’t get through to Paige, so why bother? That was last night, she’d missed her chance. Even if she saw him tonight, he’d be busy with the show—where there’d be younger, hotter women to compete with.
Oh, God. What had she done? She’d missed her one chance to have sex since before Renie was born. What if she never had sex again? She’d die a shriveled up old lady who hadn’t gotten laid in sixty years. Maybe longer.
Liv jumped when the room phone rang. Who called on hotel phones anymore? Paige answered.
“Hello, yeah, good morning. Yep, she’s right here.”
“It’s him,” she mouthed.
“It’s Ben,” she said out loud this time, her hand covering the receiver.
“Here, take it.” Paige shoved the phone in her direction.
“Good morning, yourself. I slept longer than I wanted to. Actually, I didn’t sleep much at all, and it’s your fault. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I drifted off around sunrise. I woke up and realized I missed my chance to have breakfast with you this morning.”
“You didn’t. Paige just woke me up too.”
“Liv, tell me—did you dream about me?”
“Liv? Are you there?”
“And? Tell me about your dreams.”
“Not a chance.”
“I’ll get it out of you during breakfast. Or lunch. It’s Vegas―you can get any meal you want, any time of day. How soon can you be ready?”
“I don’t know. I should check with Paige.”
Paige waved her hands, shaking her head. “Go with him. I have a meeting.”
“Never mind, Paige has a meeting. I can be ready in a half hour.”
“Okay, I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
“Wait. What? I said it would take me a half hour to get ready.”
“Yeah, but I’m gonna help.”
Silence. He hung up.
“What? What’s happening? You’re supposed to tell your best friend what’s happening. I shouldn’t have to force it out of you.”
“He’ll be here in ten minutes. He said he’d help me get ready.”
Somehow Paige managed to finish getting dressed while Liv talked to Ben. She’d even put on makeup, and pulled her hair back in a sleek ponytail.
“How did you do that? Five minutes ago you got out of the shower, and now you’re ready to go. And you look great. How?”
Paige picked up her bag and briefcase and moved in the direction of the door. “See you later,” she said as the door closed behind her.
“Wait! When? When will I see you later?” Too late. Liv would have to text her.
Oh, no! Ben was on his way. She hadn’t even brushed her teeth. Did she have time to jump in the shower? She had to try.
When she climbed out of the shower, Ben was pounding on the door. He barged in as she opened it, and put his arms around her. When his hands moved to the sash on her robe, she stopped him.
“Liv, I’m sorry. Last night I told you I wouldn’t push, but damn, I can’t keep my hands off of you.”
“I don’t want you to. But, Ben, this is too much, too fast for me.”
He backed up and leaned against the wall. “Do you want me to leave?”
Liv almost smiled. Ben’s pout reminded her of Renie’s when she was a little girl.
“No, I don’t want you to leave, at least not without taking me with you.”
Ben took a deep breath and smiled. “Do you have any idea how much I want you right now?”
She nodded and smiled too. “I do.”
“I’d love it.”
Ben walked over to the window, and looked out. “Maybe by the pool?”
“Sounds perfect. I’ll be right back.”
“You sure you don’t need any help?”
Liv went into the other room to put on her bikini and cover up, hoping she was making the right decision. Paige had been shocked that she and Ben hadn’t had sex, and here she was, turning him down again.
“Ready?” she asked, walking out to where Ben waited.
Ben closed his eyes and groaned. “You’re killing me, woman. A red bikini? Seriously? I think you should put that big, fluffy robe back on.”
When Liv turned to go change, Ben grabbed her around the waist. “I’m kidding, Liv. I love your red bikini.” He ran his hand from her cheek, down her throat, to just under the top of her bikini, and then pulled his hand away, and put his arm around her. “Come on. If it can’t be me, let’s get some breakfast in you.” He winked and opened the hotel room door.
The pools were crowded, but Ben led Liv to the same cabana he’d reserved the day before. Towels scattered the chaise lounges, but no one from his band was there. Maybe they were setting up for the show. As soon as he and Liv ordered breakfast, Ben would call and see if they needed him.
“You look worried.”
“I do? Yeah, I guess I am. I didn’t think to check in this morning.”
“Do it now.”
“I will, as soon as we—”
Liv picked the phone up off the table where he’d set it, and handed it to him.
“Worry is seeping off of you, Ben. Make the call and figure it out so you can either leave or relax.”
Ben threw his head back and laughed. “You’re something else, sweetheart. Just when I think I’ve got your number, you go in a direction I never expected.” He squeezed her and nuzzled her neck.
“Make the call.” She squirmed against him.
“You keep that up, and I won’t make the show later.”
Ben called Jimmy who was the bass guitarist, but also managed the crew. “Hey,” he said. “What’s goin’ on?”
Jimmy told him they were almost finished with sound check, and didn’t need him for at least another couple of hours.
“So,” he said, pulling her down on the chaise in front of him. “Looks like I’m yours for another couple of hours. What should we do?”
“That’s right. I promised to feed you.” He wiggled his eyebrows and smiled.
Paige and Liv sat near the center of the stage, in the first row of tables. They missed the first couple of opening bands, but got there in time to see the last one on the stage before CB Rice played.
She hadn’t seen Ben since they left the pool and he walked her to her room.
He’d been sweet and flirty, never missing an opportunity to tell her how much he wanted her, but he hadn’t pushed. Thinking about how much she wanted him too, brought color to her cheeks.
“Whatcha’ thinking about?” Paige smirked. “Did you have a nice afternoon while I slaved away in meetings?”
“Stop it. You don’t slave. You talk and everyone else listens. And yes, I had a very nice afternoon.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Paige—I don’t ask you to tell me about you and Mark!”
“We’ve been married forever. No one wants to hear about us. You, on the other hand, spent the day with Ben Rice. Everyone wants to hear about that.”
“Shh, lower your voice. God, I’m so embarrassed.”
“No one can hear me over the band. Why are you embarrassed? He’s…”
“Hot. Very hot. Scorchingly hot.”
“And that’s all you’re getting out of me.”
Liv looked in the direction of the bar, and saw one of the guys she’d met at dinner. She thought it might be Jimmy, but she wasn’t sure. He waved and motioned for her to co
me to the bar.
“I’ll be right back.”
As she walked up, she saw Ben standing at the bar, with his back to her. He turned as she drew closer, and smiled, that devastatingly perfect smile that made her want to slide into his arms and never leave.
His worn jeans, with holes and tears in all the right places, sat low on his hips. His Henley crept up as he reached his hand out in invitation, revealing a peek at his rock-hard abs. The True Grit plaid shirt he wore, open in the front, stretched across his broad shoulders, and his cowboy hat sat down low on his head, almost covering his eyes.
“Wow, look at you all sexy and hanging out at the bar. Aren’t you afraid your fans will mob you?” She stepped closer and breathed in the scent of him.
“Nah, I’ve been out here forty-five minutes waiting for you. Nobody recognizes me.”
“If I knew you were waiting for me, as hot as you are, I would’ve gotten here much sooner.”
“Me? Look at you. You’re fire and ice, baby.” Liv’s sleeveless red dress clung to every curve of her body. She wore a single, solitaire diamond on a long chain that hung low, resting in the hollow between her breasts. Her four-inch nude heels made her legs look impossibly long, and her wavy hair framed her face with perfectly placed blonde highlights.
Ben sat on a bar stool, put his arm around her waist, and pulled her closer to him. “I want to kiss you so bad, right here in the bar. Would that embarrass you?”
Liv rubbed her lips across his before pulling away.
“That isn’t a real kiss. Come here. Give me more of that.”
Before he could pull her closer, she stiffened her arm, keeping him at a distance. “Careful, your adoring fans may not like seeing you with me.”
“What’s goin’ on with you?” Jimmy asked after Liv walked away.
“I wish to hell I knew. God, look at her.” Ben breathed in deep. “I could eat her up. Have you ever seen a more beautiful woman?”
“I’m confused. Didn’t you just meet her? You seem kinda’ over the top.”
“Yeah, I did. I mean, I met her last summer, after the show we played at Red Rocks.”
“Oh, yeah. Now I remember. So you met her then, for five minutes, now she’s coming to our shows? Hmm.”
“Nah, it’s not like that. I ran into her another time in January, and then at the pool yesterday. ”
“She didn’t mean to run into you? Come on.”
No, she was different. She hadn’t meant to run into him, fate kept putting her in his path. Liv had been fighting the attraction between them. She didn’t recognize it for what it was. Something special, something unique.
“I’m tellin’ you, it’s not that way. I like her, so back the hell off.”
Jimmy held up his hands. “Just sayin’.”
Liv could not wait to see Ben on stage again. She loved watching him play at Red Rocks, and now, being so close, she’d be able to see those big, powerful hands on the guitar, and watch his eyes as he sang.
She fanned her face. Maybe she should go get fresh air before they started. Wait, this was Las Vegas, there wasn’t much fresh air, and what there was of it wouldn’t cool her off.
One by one the band members took the stage, everyone but Ben, and the emcee came out. “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome…C…B…R-i-i-i-c-e!” The place was packed, and the crowd roared. The band started to play and seconds later, Ben came on stage, guitar in hand, already playing.
They were so close to the stage Liv could see the sweat on his brow. His eyes closed as he stepped forward singing, “Twisted.”
Can’t blame it on the whiskey
Can’t blame it on the smoke
Half of me’s in heaven,
The other half’s in hell.
I might be goin’ crazy,
But I just can’t tell.
She’s got me twisted
All torn up.
There’s nothin’ I won’t do
For her sweet, sweet love.
Ben’s eyes met hers. Paige elbowed her. “Jeez, this is as hot as he is. He’s singing to you again.”
Liv wanted to crawl under the table. It wasn’t that she didn’t like it. But anyone looking at her would surely know what exactly what she was thinking about.
By the third song Liv and Paige were dancing, along with everyone else. The band got people on their feet. Liv turned and surveyed the crowd, who were all mesmerized by Ben. She wasn’t alone in that. He pulled people to him, made them sing along, hang on every word. He was magnetic.
They slowed things down with the next song, and the crowd settled back in their chairs, giving Liv an opportunity to watch Ben play. The muscles in his forearms flexed, the corners of his mouth turned down, his eyes closed, and his whole body moved with every sound coming out of his guitar. He threw his head back and got into it—the way she imagined he would if they had sex.
“Whatcha’ thinking about now?” Paige elbowed her and grinned. Liv grinned back. Being alone with him again. Never letting go once she did. That’s what.
She didn’t want to think about how soon they’d both get on a plane, and go back to their normal lives. Her boring, lonely, sexless life. Nope, she didn’t want to think about that.
When she looked up at Ben, he was watching her. His brow furrowed, as though he wondered where her mind was, and why it wasn’t on him.
It was silly of Liv to think his mind would be on her. He was performing for a room full of people. He was lost in his music, lost in his fans. She doubted he even remembered she was there.
They played for another hour, then came back out for three encores. During the break between CB Rice and the last band taking the stage, one of the guys from CB Rice came to their table.
“Ben asked if you’d come backstage with me. Paige, will you be okay by yourself for a few minutes? Liv won’t be too long.”
“Of course, go! I’m fine.” Liv saw Paige had already struck up a conversation with the people at the table next to them. Liv never had to worry about Paige. She’d never known a stranger, just friends she hadn’t met yet.
“Come here, baby.” Ben reached out for her. “No, wait. I’m all sweaty.”
“I don’t care,” she said as she rested her body next to his. “I like it when you get me sweaty.”
Ben pulled her closer, bent his head, and kissed her. Liv’s mouth opened beneath his, and the kiss deepened. She put her hand on his cheek, and his hand went to her bottom, pulling her close. “God, you’re so sexy.”
“No, I’m not. But you—” Liv couldn’t finish. Everything about him excited her. His fingertips drifted down to where her dress rested against the swell of her breasts, the way they had the night before.
“You have no idea, do you? What you do to me? What you were doing to me while I was on stage? All I thought about was being alone with you. Every song, every note, I’d close my eyes and see you there—writhing beneath me.”
“You were thinking about me?”
“You weren’t thinking about me? About us? Getting horizontal with me?” His arms wrapped around her waist, and he kissed the side of her neck, under her ear, down and over her shoulder. “I want to be alone with you, so bad Liv. I don’t wanna share you with anyone else right now.”
Like him, she’d like nothing better.
“We can’t, though, sweetheart. At least not for a little while. I’m gotta go talk to the guys, hang out before they go on stage. They’re setting up a roped off section for us. I can’t come out before they start their set, but I’ll be out right after that.” He pulled her in again and ravaged her mouth with his. “Then later, it’s you and me. Got it?”
“Mmm hmm.” She nodded.
The guys in the final band were pros. Their horn section alone reverberated throughout the club. She’d seen them before at an amphitheater filled with ten thousand people, and even in that setting they were bigger than life. Seeing them here, even if she hadn’t planned to see CB Rice, was something she was glad she hadn’t mi
The House of Blues closed its doors after the show, but with the number of bands that participated, the place remained crowded. Everyone wanted to talk to Ben, and Liv hadn’t seen him for an hour. Paige was talking with a couple involved with Mandalay Bay management.
She didn’t want to pout, but she was bored and tired. Exhausted, actually. She wanted to crawl into bed. The problem was, she didn’t want to crawl into it alone. She wanted Ben as much as he said he wanted her.
She put her elbow on the table, and rested her chin in her hand. Here she sat, alone. Why did she surround herself with people who were so much more interesting than she was? Ben, Paige, Scott, even her parents were more interesting than she was.
Liv grew up loving Scott Fairchild. There wasn’t a better or more handsome man alive. Her dad mentored Scott as a cadet at the Air Force Academy, and helped guide his career, and he visited her parents regularly.
When Scott was promoted to captain, he planned to be in Colorado Springs, so Liv’s father could be the one to do the honors. Her parents threw a small celebration dinner for him after his pinning on.
“He asks about you,” her mother said.
“Scott. He asked your father if he’d mind if he took you out while he was here.”
“What did Dad say?”
“Dad said it was okay with him.”
Liv was stunned. She was sure Scott hadn’t ever thought of her as anything other than her father’s little girl. She was eighteen, and Scott was eleven years older.
He took her out every night the rest of the time he was in town, and Liv was the happiest she’d ever been in her life. When he went back to his base, they’d talk every night on the phone. Scott spent the next Christmas with her family, and proposed. She said yes, and they married on Valentine’s Day. Soon after Liv realized she was pregnant.
In less than a year she went from being a girl who graduated from high school a few months before, to a wife, soon to be a mother. Less than ten months after that, she was a widow. She and Scott hadn’t been married a year when Scott was deployed to the Gulf War, where his plane was shot down.
Fall for Me (Cowboys of Crested Butte Book 1) Page 4