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Authors: Paige Thomas

Starstruck

BOOK: Starstruck
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Starstruck

Paige
Thomas

 

The faceless woman who haunts rock
legend Jesse Maurello’s dreams is just a myth, a steamy byproduct of his vivid
imagination and too many days on the road. Yet something about the green-eyed
vision he meets on the plane to New York calls to him, in more ways than one.
He will have her beneath him—or on top of him—tonight.

Career-driven graphic artist
Samantha Raven has many talents, her psychic abilities among them. But nothing
could’ve prepared her for the
talents
of a sexy rock god who seduces her
into his bed—or the obsessed fan who threatens her life. Her sizzling night of
passion with the infamous Jerico front man is purely chance…or is it? Betrayal
and danger follow their wild ride of orgasmic exploration. Seems fate had a
plan neither Jesse nor Sam saw coming.

 

A
Romantica®
contemporary erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave

Starstruck

Paige Thomas

Dedication

 

This book is dedicated to Savannah, who is not only
the best sister I could’ve asked for but also a best friend. This story would
never have seen the light of day had it not been for her unwavering support and
encouragement. I love you, sis!

 

Prologue

Almost thirteen years ago…

 

By the time Jesse Maurello turned twenty-eight his career
was primed, fueled, with no sign of waning. If anything it was gearing up, the
momentum making him dizzy when he finally stopped long enough to breathe and
embrace the riches his rock-star status indulged him. He didn’t take his
position lightly, nor did he take advantage of those around him. He’d worked
hard to achieve international success and fame but he wasn’t done yet, planning
to outlive the longevity of The Stones…
The
Rolling
Stones
.
That was his ultimate dream, his goal. He was only just getting started—his
first decade in the business almost behind him—and hoped it would be the first
of many and not the last.

He didn’t waste his earnings, choosing to invest his fortune
in those first eight years. Who knew how long his stardom would continue? The
wonderful life he’d been given held no guarantees and it sure as hell hadn’t
come with an instruction manual. The money, the women, the spotlight—everything
he’d so easily balanced in the palm of his hand could just as easily slip right
through his fingers. He wanted to be certain his wealth would last even if his
fame didn’t.

That was up until six months ago, when he mistakenly left an
accountant’s statement on his kitchen bench and his mom Lia convinced him to
start enjoying the fruits of his labor.

“Good Lord, Jesse. Is this
really
how much you earn?”

“No, Mom, just what I’ve saved.”

“You’re
joking
! Need a backup singer? Boy, I’m
definitely in the wrong business. There’s enough here to last a lifetime…or
several. I raised my boys to be smart with money and all but, Jesse, this is
getting ridiculous. Let your hair down and spoil yourself. Heck, spoil
me
if it makes spending the money easier. Even though God knows you deserve the
reward. Just please, please slow down, son. Enjoy life. You know you can’t take
any of that haul with you to the grave.”

Following his mother’s advice, he had purchased an extremely
large New York penthouse, finally relinquishing his old rented one-bedroom
downtown. He’d splurged on a classic Corvette, the model he’d drooled over
since turning ten years old—in fact, he bought that same year’s release. But
apart from those few luxuries, he still had no real yearning to squander.

Today, on a whim, he’d decided to buy some art. If he chose
wisely, the pieces could even mature in value and increase his wealth. He
didn’t know much about art, but he knew what he liked. So far that formula had
worked well for him.

It was the first week of summer and also his first day off
in weeks. What better city in which to enjoy some free time than under the
gorgeous blue skies of Sydney—one of his favorite places in the world, second
only to his home state.

Sydney reminded him of a smaller version of New York. The
ethereality here was more than welcoming. Something about this land fed his
soul and he was determined to have his fill before flying home.

With baseball cap and dark sunglasses in hand, he exited the
hotel to greet the new day, fully prepared for the oppressive heat and humidity
radiating beneath an unforgiving Australian sun.

* * * * *

Pure seduction, she swayed her hips as she crossed the
floor to his bed and slipped beneath the cool silk sheets. Her naked body
nestled against his chest while her hands caressed the muscles of his stomach,
drawing lazy patterns over each small bump with the tips of her fingers. She
induced tremors of pleasure from his body as she spread her palm and scraped
her nails across his warm flesh. Thin white trails chased her fingertips and
disappeared beneath his skin moments later. Grazing downward, she traced the
narrow honey-blond path of hair that began just below his navel and elongated
south, deliciously teasing his senses. He was prepared to beg by the time she
finally arrived at the edge of the sheet that barely covered his roaring
erection.

Hitching his chest high, he growled his gratitude as her
hand encased the pink crown of his cock. He was already aching with wanton
need…desire, as he did every night when she graced his dreams. She was born for
him, him alone, and he was born for her. Of that he was certain.

Painstakingly slow, she stroked him, lubricating his
engorged shaft with her hand as she spread his pre-cum. God, he needed her more
than breath. She was so beautiful, but most importantly, she was his—his amore,
forever. Not even death would part them…for when the reaper kicked his door
down, Jesse held no doubt they would be reunited again.

She pushed down the length of his side, skimming his skin
with her pink-brown nipples. They jeweled tight, tensed at the contact and
blessed be, by some miracle her desire equaled his. She sighed on a whimper as
she breathed deeply, appearing to inhale and savor his scent. Lowering her head
to the soft thatch of hair, she snaked her nose through the tufts. Her succulent
lips parted as she flicked her velvet tongue over the sensitive belfry of his
prick and offered him her throat. She paused for a moment, and then slid her
lips all the way down his veined shaft.

Arching his back off the mattress, he welcomed the exquisite
bliss her mouth and tongue so happily provided. She seemed to know what his
body needed, what he craved and how he craved it, as if she knew him better
than he knew himself. Through every touch, she conveyed the same need ran
through her veins—a need he was certain only his body could quench. They were
one.

The pressure screaming inside his swollen nuts built
fast, too fast. He struggled to prolong the sweet relief. The torture she
inflicted was divine and sinful—pleasure and pain. Every screaming muscle
tensed, preparing for blessed release. He was seconds away from exploding.

His gaze never left her glistening lips, the seductive
dance her mouth and tongue choreographed on his cock, pulling him under her
spell to the tune of his heart pounding on his eardrums. The tendons of his
neck clenched as he strained to hold back. He didn’t want to come yet. He
wanted to swim in the sweet anguish just a little longer before allowing his
body to completely surrender. But the sight of her alone, loving him this way,
was enough to make him boil. She was his delirium. An angel, but oh so wicked.

“You are so sweet at this. So good it almost hurts,” he
panted, wrapping his hand through her hair and clenching his fist into a tight
ball. She was a siren, his siren, and his hips answered her call, pushing off
the bed to meet the gentle suction of her mouth.

“Oh God. I can’t…baby…oh fuck!”

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

Flailing a sleep-heavy arm haphazardly about, he blindly
fumbled for the small wretched button on the digital annoyance beside his head.

This hotel room would be his home for two more days, and
then it was off to yet another room, another city, another country. Promo tours
were becoming monotonous and tiring without the rush of a live show to break up
the boredom. He couldn’t wait to start this concert tour. This time they were
playing large stadiums, no longer restricted to smaller, indoor venues. The
money was great, but the adrenaline buzz coming off every performance was
better.

Pushing himself up and digging the sleep from his eyes, he
tried not to dwell on how many people had slept on the same bed before him. He
feared if he did, he’d end up on the psych couch right beside Rick during his
next appointment.

Crossing the room barefoot, he tried to retrace the dream
he’d woken from way too soon. It was so vivid, so sensual. It was in color. But
he’d been robbed of the features his eyes wanted to feast on most…his angel’s
face. Even as a horny teen, no wet dream had affected him this way. His skin
still tingled from her touch, her kiss. He wanted more.

A primitive intuitiveness forced him to ignore the urgency
to pee and turn his eyes in the direction of the three works of art—fine art in
his opinion. The tiny city exhibit wasn’t what he’d hoped for or expected, but
he’d discovered some diamonds in the rough. A lucky find.

The bedroom was too dark. At the window, he threw the heavy
drapes aside to allow sunlight to flood the room and then faced the framed oil
paintings. He’d placed them on the floor yesterday afternoon, standing them
against the wall. His thoughtful gaze studied the fluid brushstrokes. The
scenic landscapes mesmerized him. He was utterly amazed a human hand could
create such surreal beauty. They were breathtaking. His mind reeled with romantic
notions as it drank in every exotic detail, every rich color, and his humbled
appreciation for the artist—the owner of God-like fingers—soared. He wanted, no
needed
, to obtain more of their work.

His cock twitched, silently demanding his attention by uncomfortably
tenting his boxers, begging for relief of two varieties and reminding him he’d
been on the way to the bathroom. He yawned and stretched until his back
creaked. He hadn’t gotten nearly enough z’s, but once he was up he could never
get back to sleep. It was a curse he’d learned to live with.

He couldn’t shake the image of his sexy angel giving him the
best head of his life. In his dreams, he loved her. Their connection wasn’t
just
about great sex. He wanted her, needed her…craved and wanted to please her. If
not for that fucking alarm…

The dreams altered from time to time—the positions of their
bodies, the location of the seduction, their lovemaking—but the woman who made
love to him always remained the same. Her body was his home. He’d memorized every
inch of her yet her face always escaped his grasp. Every time he tried to focus
on her facial features, it was as if frosted glass fell over his eyes no matter
how much he blinked or how hard he squinted.

Maybe, because the paintings were the first thing his
dream-sated eyes registered when he woke from such a strong experience, his
mind subconsciously linked them to his dream lover. Whatever the reason, he
felt a connection to this unknown admirable genius. The force of their work
impaled his psyche.

Throwing himself under the shower, he sedated his persistent
erection with icy shards of water. Perhaps one day, he’d find a woman of flesh
and blood who matched the woman of his dreams. He would give anything to be
half as fulfilled.

Chapter One

The present, January

 

Samantha Raven entered the enormous aircraft and was greeted
with a genuine smile as she handed her ticket to the pretty hostess.

“Good evening, Ms. Raven. You’re in first class, seat 3A.
Please proceed this way.” She opened a flat hand toward the aisle on Sam’s
left.

So this is what first class looks like
.

Sam placed her carry-on and coat in the overhead compartment
above her seat. Occasionally she’d flown business class at best, but today her
boss had upgraded her tickets.

He must be getting soft in his old age.

Daniel was generally pretty strict with his staff so his
spontaneous offer came as a welcome surprise. Sam had traveled consistently
over the past week with very little sleep. England was a beautifully historic
country and she was annoyed she didn’t get the chance to stop and enjoy it. No
doubt picking up on her irritation during their telephone conference that
morning, Daniel had offered to fly her first class for the remainder of the
trip. He probably hoped this would improve her mood by the time she ventured
back home to Sydney the following week.

The cabin was much more luxurious than she’d expected, the
heavily padded leather reclining seats more comfortable and roomy. Maybe she’d
even be able to sleep during the flight and catch up on all the winks she’d
lost over the past few days.

Sam loved her job at Murphy Graphics, but she didn’t like
the fast-paced travel forced upon her ever since Daniel insisted she handle all
formal meetings outside Australia. Unfortunately he just didn’t trust anyone
else to represent him with their VIP clients. He had an intense fear of flying
and, although he’d tried many, many times, had never gotten past the airport
check-in desk. Sam was the only one at his studio privy to his fear. He wanted
to keep it that way. He was a renowned tyrant of the graphic design world, at
the top of his game. He didn’t want anything to tarnish his hard edge.

She was his right hand although he seldom admitted this to
her face. He liked to keep her on her toes. He got the best work out of her
that way. Daniel had once told her—over one too many drinks—he’d grown to love
her much like a daughter but preferred to keep his emotions from the workplace
so he wouldn’t be seen showing favoritism. By last call that night, he’d admitted
her child-like passion for creativity was contagious and—ever since she’d
stumbled into his office twelve years ago as a junior graphic art
assistant—he’d caught her bug. And when she’d kissed his cheek good night after
sharing a taxi home, he’d said she continued to remind him of why he’d gotten
into the business. It was with the help of her raw talent, dedication and
inspiration his company was currently at the top.

That had been one of the proudest moments of her life.

Despite her bad mood, Sam enjoyed the lush surroundings and
silently thanked Daniel for doing his best to cheer her up. He was well aware
of the torrid ordeal she’d just been through and hoped this trip would keep her
occupied long enough to stop sulking.

To celebrate how the sour cloud was slowly lifting, she
rummaged through her handbag and opened the small bag of mixed lollies she’d
bought on impulse inside the English airport. She popped a red jellybean into
her mouth, desperate for a sugar hit, and relaxed deeper into the leather, willing
the plane to get moving. She was determined to just chill for the duration so
she fought off the niggling urge to dive for her laptop.

An elderly man and his wife sat directly across from her.
They were so much in love—evident by the way they affectionately held one
another’s hands. Every now and then, he placed a soft kiss on her forehead. It
was sweet, but Sam let her gaze travel past the couple. Bearing witness to
their love sent a crushing weight straight onto her heart. It had been two
months since she’d called off her wedding. She’d thought Tom was her future and
had pictured growing old with him, loving him tenderly into their twilight
years—just like this couple.

Pictures of her ex flashed through her mind but she
dismissed them, reminding herself to relax and enjoy the quiet time while she
had it. She would be landing in New York the next day and needed rest for the
stint of meetings and business functions ahead. After NYC she was going home,
where her own bed was calling.

Sam sighed and glanced at her wristwatch. What on earth was
taking so long? She was a veteran jetsetter and knew what was normal and what
wasn’t. Her small drawer full of old passports proved it. She counted to ten in
her head, breathing slowly through her nose, and tried not to think about
Caitlin’s comments—how she’d joked of pilots in bars on the drive to Sydney
Airport before Sam left home.

The pretty hostess who had guided her to her seat slowly
walked the aisle, pressing her hand against the overhead compartments, ensuring
they were securely closed.

When the woman reached Sam, she glanced at her name tag.
“Excuse me, Emily, are we close to takeoff yet? I really need to use the
bathroom.”

“Only a few more minutes now, I should think. Our last
passenger has arrived and should be boarding shortly. I’m terribly sorry for
the delay, but between you and me VIPs generally like to board last and often
take their time, I’m afraid.” Shrugging, she walked back to the open door of
the plane and manned her station, a perfect lipstick-painted smile firmly in
place.

Tiredness seeped into Sam’s bones and her eyelids grew
heavy. Her gaze drifted to the carpeting in the aisle. The rich colors flowed
together like a regal tapestry. They reminded her of a painting she’d done for
her best friend Charli on her birthday.

Damn it.

Thinking of Charli was just as painful as thinking of Tom so
Sam quickly tried to push her out too. Charli was no longer her best friend…she
was no friend at all.

A pair of denim-clad legs moved into view.

Nice boots.

They were well-worn and molded to the shape of the feet
within. Her eyes drifted north and her mind raced with delicious thoughts over
the movement of the most perfectly formed arse and thighs she’d ever seen on a
man.

Are those legal?

He turned and faced her as he shrugged off his brown suede
jacket. He threw his canvas bag into the overhead compartment above the seat in
front of her, stuffing his jacket in beside it.

Sam jerked her eyes up from his nether regions to his broad
chest and shoulders, dumbstruck by the view. She sighed. He wore a camel-knit
sweater, tight in all the right places. The outline of his muscular stomach
flexed against the taut fabric when he stretched his arms above his head.

Embarrassment came next. She was clearly staring. She
dropped her eyes to her lap, hoping he hadn’t noticed, praying her cheeks
weren’t flushed, and cursed under her breath when the heat rose regardless of
her silent plea.

My God!

Her entire body tingled with excitement and her eyes hadn’t
even reached his face yet.

Get a grip, girl. He’s a man, remember? So what if he’s
buff? The better they look, the cockier they are.

She braved another look just in time to see the corner of
his mouth rise. He’d slipped off his sunglasses and, going by the quiet laugh
that escaped his lips, found her reddened cheeks quite amusing. She had the
sneaking suspicion he may have also noticed where her eyes had lingered.

He caught her gaze and held it.

God, he is just…
insanely
beautiful.

His face was smooth, freshly shaven and there was strength
in his high cheekbones and perfectly symmetrical jawline. The slight dimple in
the bottom of his chin was more pronounced when he smiled, revealing
brilliant-white straight teeth. His seductively shaped lips curved a little to
the left and the imperfection made him even more attractive. His sandy-blond
shaggy hair peeked out from beneath his New York Giants baseball cap. Her
fingers twitched in her lap and she fought an odd, overwhelming compulsion to
touch, to confirm whether those locks were as soft as she imagined.

“Hope you don’t snore.” His grin turned sly. “I need sleep
before we land.” He turned and flopped into the seat in front of her and to the
right.

Sam fished a gumball from the open packet and pegged one
straight at his head. The moment it left her hand she realized what she had
done, but it was too late to take back.

She gasped when the candy bounced off his baseball cap,
glided through the air and popped down the front of the attendant’s blouse just
as she walked up the aisle.

Emily flinched and strode straight to the man in front of
Sam.

“Can I trust you to behave at least until we take off, Mr.
Maurello? I believe this is yours.” She laughed quietly, handing him the lolly
from the front of her bra.

“I’m sorry. I’ll be good, Em, promise. How’s Nate? Is he
treating you like the princess you are?”

“Yes, thank you, Jesse. Eight months in and we’re still on
our honeymoon. He’s just wonderful.” A moment later, the laughter left her
eyes. “Ah, I was really sorry to hear of your latest news. Just broke my
heart.” She offered him a consoling smile.

“Don’t sweat it, Emily. I’m doin’ just fine, really.”

A few minutes passed before Sam registered who the man in
front of her was. She should have recognized his face sooner. Jesse
Maurello—lead singer of the rock band Jerico and Charli’s favorite rock star of
all time. Her friend had posters of him and his band plastered all over her
bedroom walls when they were teens, and Charli was still obsessed with the man
even though she was thirty-one. If only she could see Sam now. Sam would love
nothing better than to rub this into Charlotte Dwyer’s face.

She brought her attention back to Jesse, lazing in his seat.
He’d taken ownership of the lolly she’d thrown at him and thankfully hadn’t
made a scene. In fact, he went about his business as if nothing had happened,
not even glancing her way after Emily left the cabin through the thick blue
curtain.

Sam sat silently, pondering her childish spontaneity.

What the hell. I’ve already embarrassed myself.

She leaned forward until she was close to his ear. “Thanks
for not ratting me out,” she whispered. “Sorry about the flying missile. It
slipped from my fingers.”

He turned his head and looked at her through the gap between
the seats, taking off his baseball cap. “Sure it did,” he grumbled.

Her eyes widened and she fumbled for words to return, but he
put her out of her misery when the corner of his mouth turned up in a wicked
smile. “Let’s just say you owe me one…and I’m confiscating the candy. You can’t
be trusted.” He rose over the back of his seat and swiped the bag right out of
her hand. “This flight might actually be fun.” He popped a musk stick into his
mouth and sat, facing the front of the plane.

Sam stared at her now-empty hand in disbelief.

Did he really just do that?

The chuckle inside her belly started low and soft, and the
more she tried to hold it in the worse it became. She let out a puff of air,
followed by a roll of giggles, and when she tried to take a breath she snorted
and sputtered a riotous guffaw.

Passengers nearby glared at her, apparently not amused with
her less-than-first-class behavior. She held her stomach and managed to get her
laughter under control, letting out a slow, satisfied sigh. She hadn’t laughed
in quite a while and it was as if a magic button had been pushed, releasing all
the tension she’d bottled up.

Jesse chuckled quietly but continued to face forward,
allowing her to deal with her embarrassment in peace.

“Attention, ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain
speaking,” a rich, melodious voice spoke through the intercom. “I’m sorry to
report severe snowstorms have descended near Heathrow Airport and all scheduled
flights have been grounded until further notice.”

The voice droned on, but she stopped listening. Her mood had
fired back up to level “pissed”.

Great!

Just when she thought she’d be able to get some shut-eye. At
least her first-class tickets came with admission to the private lounge inside
the airport.

Sam grabbed her coat and the bag containing her laptop from
above and quickly exited the plane.

* * * * *

Jesse scanned her from head to toe as he stepped into the
aisle behind her and they shuffled toward the open door of the plane. He soaked
in her curves, her wavy blonde hair and the way her tight butt swayed ever so
gently beneath her fitted dress pants.

Damn, the woman has a sexy walk. No arrogance about her
at all
.

Her reaction earlier had amused him and he was curious to
find out if there was anything behind those bright emerald-green eyes. In his
extensive experience with women, he’d discovered the pool was pretty shallow.
He rarely found brains behind beauty. And she was a natural beauty. He found
that enticing in itself, a far cry from the kind of women he usually bedded.
Starlets and groupies had been his main diet for over eighteen years. Quite
frankly, he was sick to death of those women. Shallow, materialistic…airheads
even. Stunningly beautiful, yes, but airheads all the same. He was looking
forward to re-boarding the plane and continuing his banter with this jewel-eyed
vision.

He quickly put on his jacket and curled the collar up around
his neck, replacing his cap and sunglasses as he left the plane and headed
toward the private gate reserved for VIPs. Being a well-recognized rock star
had its perks—like never having to wait in line…anywhere.

* * * * *

Sam hadn’t bothered to put on her jacket for the short walk,
but now regretted her haste. She shivered, holding the edges of her black
woolen sweater closed tightly together at her chest. Good thing she’d taken her
hair out of the French chignon she usually donned when in business mode. It
provided a small amount of warmth to her neck and back as she quickened her
step.

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