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Authors: Paige Thomas

CountMeIn

BOOK: CountMeIn
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Count Me In

Paige
Thomas

 

Features characters from
Starstruck
.

 

Rock star Ricky Bradshaw is simply going through the
motions. Though surrounded by people—many of whom are good friends—he feels
alone, empty. Then he finds a naked fan in his bed, and figures…why not? He’ll
show the gorgeous woman exactly how he earned his sex-symbol status while
losing himself for a few hours in soft curves, hot flesh and sweaty sex.

Chelsea Wainwright has never wanted for anything. Her life
has been easy—until now. After one devastating diagnosis, she’s living on
borrowed time and making every second count. With only weeks left, Chelsea’s
crossed every item off her to-do list save for one—a single night of wild, raw,
uninhibited sex with the most famous drummer of the twenty-first century.

What’s the old expression? Saving the best for last? Oh
yeah.
That.

 

A
Romantica®
contemporary erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave

Count Me In
Paige Thomas

Dedication

 

For my editor, my mama bear, Violet Hughes, whose
guidance and friendship is priceless. And Arial Burnz, for sitting up and
taking notice. To both amazing women, I will be forever grateful.

 

Chapter One

Early 2002

 

The sudden slam of the door in the next room startled
Chelsea, even though she’d been expecting his arrival. Her pulse quickened as
the deadbolt clicked into the lock, resounding off the walls.

The bedroom door hung slightly ajar—just enough light
spilling in from the foyer to outline the furniture around the darkened room.

His suite was decked out with the thickest drapes she’d ever
seen. The band demanded light-tight windows so they could sleep peacefully
during the day—just one of the many facts she’d recently read about Jerico
though, to her dismay, not all of them were true. For starters, she’d done
everything imaginable to gain his attention bar jumping the bouncers lining the
rim of the outer stage, but disappointingly hadn’t been pulled from the front
row. Word on the forums was security would discreetly pluck a select few from
the crowd closest the stage and lead the lucky ladies through a series of
secret passageways to wait for the band after the show. Yet the burly men
dressed in black,
Security
printed in bold white letters on the backs of
their shirts, barely flexed a biceps all night, forcing her to move to Plan B.

With a slow deep breath, she rearranged the cool silken
sheet around her hips one last time and settled back amongst the soft pillows.

His footsteps quickly altered from the clomp of heavy boots
to the quiet pad of bare feet. He shuffled across the polished hardwood floor
of the living room and arrived within view at the small bar against the wall to
pour himself a drink, the ice cubes clinking loudly against the glass. From
where he stood, his left foot peeked out from the leg of his frayed jeans
through the small gap in the doorway. Nonetheless, her breath deepened and her
heart threatened to jump right out of her chest at the simple sight of his toes.
She’d painstakingly choreographed this moment for so long, she almost couldn’t
believe it was finally coming to fruition. Her mouth watered with anticipation
and want.

An electronic bleep was followed by the sports channel
blaring from the large flat screen in the main room. She shot up and faced the
door. She’d assumed he would come straight to bed after such a long night. It
was already past four in the morning and the band had played to a full stadium
for over three hours straight. She’d been informed by one of the men who worked
at the hotel—the young lad who’d eagerly pocketed the five one-hundred-dollar
bills and sneaked her inside Room 1101—that the boys often went out for drinks
after a show, but she’d been sure the rock star would’ve been ready to turn in
by now.

She was glad she wasn’t a betting woman.

The forty minutes which followed had her madly reassessing
her original plan. This was her final act, the last remaining item on her
bucket list.

She’d recently killed two birds with one stone—her fear of
flying and heights—by jumping out of a perfectly good plane, her safety
dependent solely upon the flimsy sheet of material packed and strapped to her
back. The following day, she’d given the majority of her trust fund to the
needy—people she would have ordinarily turned up her nose at. In the past,
she’d not spared an ounce of her precious time on the less fortunate, let alone
a dime. But after distributing over twenty million dollars to the homeless of
Philly, she’d been surprised to find the act of giving warmed her heart more
than designer furs ever could.

She’d seen all the wonders of the world, her parents
personally escorting her on those trips. She’d driven in an amateur NASCAR
race. She’d even gotten a tattoo—something she would never have done under any
other circumstance, but she no longer cared what high society thought of her.
She’d let go of all the presumptuous, pretentious, unimportant stuff from the
moment she’d been given her diagnosis, and Ricky Bradshaw was to be her final
hoorah.

Chelsea was a believer in reserving the best for last. Even
at age twenty-five, she still arranged the portions of food on her dinner
plate, saving what her taste buds loved most for the very end of the meal.

The headaches had worsened over the last few weeks though,
thankfully, today was a good day. When her overprotective father first
discovered she was sick almost twelve months ago, he’d assembled a team of
specialized surgeons and medical researchers, but none of his efforts did any
good. The countdown had already begun and, if the geniuses were correct, she
had another four weeks left to settle her affairs. She wanted Ricky to be the
last pleasurable memory she savored.

* * * * *

He’d been numb for two days. He’d gone through the motions
and played as well as ever—his sticks never missed a beat—but since his
father’s death almost all of his actions had been robotic, muscle memory,
nothing more. Jerico had been playing professionally for fifteen years and ten
of those had been in front of packed stadiums. He could play whatever set list
was thrown at him. Probably even in his sleep.

Max Bradshaw’s death had been a long time coming. Rick had
visualized his father’s demise many times since turning six years old, but now
that the moment was here, he didn’t feel the relief he’d always imagined.

Following tonight’s show, he’d spent a couple of hours
drinking with the boys—purely for appearances—to celebrate their latest
success. Jerico’s last single had remained at number one for eight consecutive
weeks, smashing their old record of six clean out of the ball park. Yet no
amount of prosperity, fame or even the huddle of groupies in short tight
dresses across the bar could erase his tarnished thoughts, the tainted memories
of his past.

His childhood was likely to blame. In many ways he was still
suffering the repercussions of that living hell. But the rotten bastard was
dead now. Shouldn’t he be happy…ecstatic even? Why was he so empty? There was
no love. No hate. There was only numb.

Jesse had tried to keep the conversation light. His years as
the band’s front man bestowed him the gift of the gab, though the others had
failed miserably at hiding the pity on their faces. For the first time since
Rick had met them, Jackson and Ronan seemed to have trouble looking him in the
eye.

And he made sure to steer clear of Drew. Their keys man was
just itching for another deep-and-meaningful and Rick really didn’t want to
hurt his friend’s feelings again by telling him to fuck off. Drew had always
been the peacekeeper of the group—politically-minded and the first to jump in
and try to fix everyone’s problems. He meant well, his heart was in the right
place, but Rick didn’t talk about personal shit with anyone, especially when it
concerned his father. Well…anyone except Jesse.

No. More of the band’s company wasn’t what he needed. The
empty hotel room would be his sanctuary for the next several hours until he was
required again for sound check.

The sporting highlights had played—for however long—on the
widescreen in front of him while he’d sunk back into the soft leather couch and
sipped his vodka straight. Even though he stared at the television, he wasn’t
really paying attention to what was on. His mind was too busy replaying his
childhood up until the time he went to live with Jesse and his family. If not
for Jesse’s mother, Rick was certain he would have been beaten to death before
reaching his eighteenth birthday, or rotting in jail somewhere for doing the
unthinkable. He’d locked the past inside his mental vault, but the memories were
pounding on the door and he could only pretend to not be home for so long. His
next therapy session couldn’t come soon enough.

He placed the empty glass on the coffee table and groaned as
he stood, switching off the TV. Stretching his arms above his head, he silently
padded to the bedroom. A few hours of nightmare-free sleep would do him good
before having to deal with his lawyer again.

* * * * *

She was still undecided about whether she should brazenly
walk out to greet him or remain in his bed, naked and waiting like she’d hoped
to be presented on the silk-covered platter, when the door swung wide open and
the room brightened. Her entire body jolted as if she’d been zapped with a
defibrillator.

His knuckles whitened on the doorknob and he growled, “What
the hell!”

Her eyes widened, her throat constricting to the width of a
drinking straw. The bare-chested man who stood before her was even more
handsome in real life. All long lean legs, piercing brown eyes and dark hair.
The thirty-year-old drummer who cautiously crept toward her had been the
bad-boy of her dreams since forever. She needed this night so badly. She’d
fantasized about this moment and wanted nothing more than to be fucked
senseless by a real man, not the uptight businessmen her father had insisted
she date in the past.

Ricky loomed over her, his broad shoulders tight with
tension, his right pectoral muscle twitching like a distressed heartbeat. If
she wasn’t so turned on by his half-naked body, she might have been more than a
little scared of the deep scowl etched in his forehead.

“Who the fuck are you, princess? And what the hell do ya
think ya doin’ in my room? This some kinda joke? One of the boys put ya up to
it?”

“N-no.” She sat up, fumbled to find the edge of the sheet
and covered her breasts.

He shot a glance over his shoulder, almost as if he expected
someone to be standing behind him, but when he turned back around the anger
melted away and he became the cocky self-assured man he was publicly renowned
for.

His lips curled with the slowest of grins as he folded his
arms and stared down at her. “So who was it? Ronan? No, wait…it was Jackson,
wasn’t it?”

“No. Nobody put me up to anything.”

He cocked an eyebrow.

“I swear.” She remained still as he studied her face, his
head comically tilted to the side like a puppy’s though his stare remained
slightly narrowed with wariness.

She closed her eyes as her body hummed with nervous energy,
his closeness reactivating her self-doubt. Was she making a fool of herself?
Should she steal the sheet, hide herself with it, cut her losses and run for
the door?

When she finally braved to raise her eyelids, she was met
with an intense gaze filled with steel determination and dancing with
excitement. She’d found her answers. There’d be no running tonight. The brash,
wicked promise twitching at the corner of his mouth stopped all thoughts of
flight in their tracks.

He dropped to his knees beside the bed and tugged the sheet
from her clenched hands, dragged it down her body until it rested just below
her navel. “Is that so?”

She nodded.

“What’s your name?”

Should she give a false identity? Her name was all too
familiar to most households due to her father’s success in the mining
industry—more so since news got out of his only daughter’s illness—but she was
only about honesty these days. She centered her nerves and spoke the truth.
“Chelsea. Chelsea Wainwright.”

A hint of surprise flashed across his face before he sighed,
raking his long fingers through his hair. His focus dropped to her breast and
he groaned, rubbing his palm across the scruff on his cheek. “Do I even want to
know how you got in here?”

After a pause, he returned his attention to her face. She
shook her head.

His chuckle was deep and husky. “You’ve got guts, princess,
I’ll give ya that.” His eyes flickered back to her breasts. “And considering
you’ve gone to all this trouble…”

He leaned closer, his hand grazing down her side, over her
hip, coaxing the sheet to fall to her thighs. He licked his lips and she wanted
them on her skin…anywhere…everywhere.

With new resolve, she straightened her shoulders, the last
of her inhibitions falling away. “Give me one night. I want nothing more.
Nothing less.”

His smirk was sinful right before his lips came down on
hers, pushed her into the many pillows lining the headboard. Dressed only in
tattered blue jeans, he hovered above her. He smelled incredible—like fresh
rain with a hint of woodsy cologne.

Her muscles relaxed as he slowly dipped his weight until he
was comfortably cradled between her thighs. She focused on his lips, soft and
plump, grazing hungrily on her mouth and barely allowing her ample breath while
his fearless hands explored.

Every inch of his hard body pressed against her, now
rhythmic and seeking friction. She broke away from his kiss with the slight tilt
of her head, needing air. His lips didn’t stop, trailing a line of sensuous
kisses as his tongue licked the column of her throat.

“Fuck, I didn’t realize how much I needed this,” he murmured
against her skin. “You taste so good.”

She gasped as he captured her left nipple between his lips
and sucked, pulled on the sensitive nerves. With an embarrassing moan, she
arched against him, dragged her long fingernails across his muscled back until
he hissed from the sting. He bit down and her hands flew to hold him in place.
She eagerly threaded her fingers through his baby-soft hair, and when they
reached the ends, she tugged, mewling against the crown of his head.

One of his hands was quick to slide between her legs. Two
fingers spread and exposed her heated flesh to the cool air of the room. His
long, middle finger slowly traced the slit of her sex, seductively gliding back
and forth, neglecting her clit, apparently intent on circling and teasing her
with every languid lap.

His lips hummed against her skin as he swept his mouth from
one breast to the other. He groaned when she slickened more beneath his
fingertips, the evidence of her arousal dripping down the crease of her thigh.
He clamped down again with his teeth, harder than before. Her right nipple peaked
against his tongue as he pinched and pulled, sending a glorious current
directly to her pussy. She squirmed beneath him.

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