For six years Riku has wanted only one woman. Every person he has had on tour with the Murder City Ravens has been unable to compare to the electric lovemaking he had with Cyn. They had everything together, love, passion, fire, sex—until the day she left him and everything between them behind. Riku wants answers as to why she left, but he wants her more.
Cyn abandoned her future as an opera singer—and her relationship with Riku—when she dropped out of the Institute. A day hasn’t gone by that she doesn’t crave Riku’s body against hers. Now he’s back in her life, if only for a few weeks, and she plans to make the most of the time they have. Dressing rooms, the manager’s office, no location is off limits for their whirlwind romance. Cyn knows she can’t keep him, but that doesn’t stop her from falling for him, mind, body and soul, all over again.
Note: although this book is classed as erotic romance, this is not an erotic excerpt. It's been edited slightly.
Riku strolled along Forty-Second Street and turned left onto Fifth, trying to get into the vibe. He’d missed New York but now here, he felt strangely flat.
Aimless walking didn’t suit him, was all. He’d get a coffee and do some crowd watching, maybe make notes for a song. Ideas eluded him today and he’d wanted to take something new to the band when they met for a planning meeting after the upcoming gigs. So what if he’d come down here on the off-chance he’d meet an old friend. He’d gone to the address he had and couldn’t find her, then had second thoughts. Maybe the rest of the band pairing up had given him the blues.
Shit, they were so busy making love he didn’t know if they’d have time to write music. He kicked a loose stone across the sidewalk. He didn’t envy them. He wasn’t the type to stick to one woman. Women were light relief, people to talk to, have fun with.
A heavy weight struck his midriff hard. As he lost his breath in an oof of instinctive response, he heard tinkling staccato sounds around him as if glass had shattered.
He shook his head, trying to get some sense back into it and saw the girl. Then he lost what remained of his thought process. There Cyn was. The woman he’d been looking for.
Cyn glared at him without surprise, as if she’d last seen him yesterday. “Don’t stand there like an idiot. Pick them up!”
He glanced down. The shattering noises were polished stones, most of them round. Fuck, rolling all over the fucking place. Obediently he dropped to the ground and winced as a stone hit the tender part of his knee. He yelped.
Despite the pain he grinned at the English slang. He’d been touring England with Murder City Ravens recently and he heard accents similar to hers every day, except she’d gained a touch of New York burr in her years here. Nobody sounded like Cyn. Never would.
He shifted and picked up the stone, taking more care where he put his knee this time. She thrust a small wicker basket under his chin and he deposited the smooth object. He found five others, different colors. Keeping the final one, he got to his feet and lifted the round object to examine it against the light. “Nice.” The deep, intense blue appealed to him. “Zazz did his hair that color last year. Maybe I will.”
She snorted. “Good luck with that. The stone’s lapis lazuli. They used it to create the most expensive dye ever made. Painters drooled over it.”
He dropped the gem in with the others. Amethyst, tiger’s-eye, rose quartz, some he couldn’t identify. Beads, holes drilled through. “Sorry I broke your necklace.”
Then he met her eyes. “Sorry.” He wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for anymore. God, he’d missed her. He hadn’t realized how much until he saw her. He grinned. “Hi.”
She glanced up, smiled back. “Uh-oh.”
She was staring at a spot above his eyes. Too late Riku grabbed at his knit cap. It had ridden back and exposed what he wanted to keep hidden. “Damn.” He tugged the hat over his hair, which he’d hastily bundled underneath before he’d left his apartment.
“Are you Riku Shiraishi?” another female voice inquired.
He pasted on a fixed smile and turned, only remembering to grab Cyn’s elbow as he did so. No way was she getting away. “Yes, I am.”
“Wow.” The girl gazed up at him, stars in her eyes. “Will you sign something for me?”
“As long as it’s not your arm.” He’d learned not to do that recently. People had his signature on their flesh tattooed in place. Embroidering it on scarves and T-shirts was bad enough.
She produced a napkin from a burger chain. “This do?”
“Sure.” He grabbed a pen from the inside pocket of his jacket and signed the napkin.
“I love your guitar solo on Taking Black. You should totally do more rock.”
He was used to fans telling him what to do. “Sure. Thanks, I’ll bear it in mind.”
She took her paper and the pen and when he turned, signaling his attention to walk on, she got the message and left.
He’d had to release Cyn while he signed but he heard her voice. “She took your pen.”
“I’m used to it.” He couldn’t suppress his smile when he saw her. There she stood with gorgeous long, blonde hair, sharp blue eyes, a beauty with the curves to prove it. “I don’t carry the jewel-encrusted ones around with me.”
She sniggered. “Come on. I’ll make you coffee.”
He fell into step next to her. She carried the basket as if it was gold dust but she had other strings of marble-sized stones draped over her arm.
She paused before a door and nodded to him. He acceded to her unspoken request and opened it for her. Raising a brow, no doubt at his lack of manners at not doing it before, she walked past him and in. He followed her inside.
Strings of polished semiprecious gems hung from hooks on the walls, and a long table ran down the store in the middle, holding trays of charms. While Cyn walked to the counter at the end, he lingered, drifting his hands over the charms, their cool metallic shapes shadowing his skin. He’d buy some of those, add them to his collection. Maybe his costume designer could use them or he’d tack a few to his street clothes. He tried hard to dress down but his natural instincts invariably broke through and he added something a tiny bit different. Maybe he should give up and go full-on. The disguise didn’t work and in January sunglasses looked stupid and pretentious, unless the sun was actually shining, so he hadn’t bothered.
She nodded to the girl behind the counter, whose eyes widened when she caught sight of him. Even if he wasn’t dressed up and ready to go people sometimes stared at him that way. Apart from being a trifle tall, he had no idea why but he wasn’t shy of taking advantage of it. Not too unusual, except his parents often wondered how they’d managed to produce a changeling like him. Not easy to be the child of a conventional Japanese American family wanting to kick over the traces and do something different.
They walked past into the small office at the back. He closed the door. The sheet of her hair rippled slightly as she registered the gentle click, but she said nothing, only put down her basket of stones, laid the strings on the desk and picked up the pot for the coffee machine sited in the corner. Riku stared around, interested. A large work desk occupied most of the cramped space, with grooves cut in the surface. Boards hung above it, and a chest of many drawers stood to one side. All accoutrements of the jewelry trade, he presumed.
The whole place intrigued him but she intrigued him more. As she turned he waved to indicate the room and the store beyond. “It’d be stupid to ask what you’ve been doing recently.” He smiled, trying for sultry and failing badly. He caught his expression in the small mirror placed opposite the big desk and suppressed a grimace. Creepy was a better description.
He lost the smile, forgot the posing. Too used to it recently. She smiled back anyway. “I should say that to you. You’ve invaded the media now you’re back home. Didn’t you do something on TV this morning?”
“Yeah.” He wasn’t too happy about appearing on the morning show he spent half his childhood watching. “It feels kinda strange.”
He’d missed chatting with a friend, no biggie, being honest. These days there weren’t many people he could do that with. “My parents never allowed me to watch it when I was a kid, you know, when it had that other presenter. Trashy, they said. I used to watch it on my phone in my room, or online. The forbidden is always sweeter. Now I wonder if they’ll switch me off.” He smiled and this time he sensed the honesty of the expression. Nothing in his face felt taut or strained. “Probably. The difference is I don’t give a damn anymore.”
Cyn knew his parents’ close-mindedness, even though she’d only met his mother once and his father not at all. He didn’t have to hide anything from her and he felt that as a relief. “I bet they watched. What parent wouldn’t?” She leaned against the counter, studying him. “Purple hair? Really?”
“Don’t you like the gold?” After removing his hat he turned his head for her to admire. “If my cap hadn’t slipped nobody would’ve recognized me.”
She took her time examining him and he relaxed, knowing she wasn’t sizing him up like a piece of meat but reacquainting herself with his presence. “Nearly. But you can’t resist an extra bit of pizazz.” She nodded at his zebra-stripe T-shirt. “Grungy you ain’t.” The machine behind her hissed and bubbled, sounding like mechanical giggles.
He released a bark of laughter as she turned away to pour the coffee. “Yeah, you know me.”
“Do I?” she reached for the minifridge and found some milk. She waggled the carton.
“Yes, please. Black makes me antsy.”
“It always did. Nice to know you’ve noticed at last.” She poured a dollop into each mug and put the container back before she turned around, mugs in hand. Were her hands trembling? He hoped not. All he felt was delight that he’d run into her again. Not entirely by accident, he had to admit. “You decided not to go home when you left the institute.”
She didn’t look at him when she passed him the coffee. Not until she’d retreated to her side of the room. “This is home now. Got my green card and everything.”
“You’re taking citizenship?”
A smile flickered over her lips, a nervous tic more than anything else. “I like it here. My parents don’t mind, as long as I go back for an annual visit.”
“You slay me with your enthusiasm.”
That won a smile. Then a laugh. “Yeah, sorry. I just felt bad when someone collided with me and ruined my beads. I’ll get over it.” She buried her face in her mug, took a sip and then held it so the steam obscured her features.
“You’re pleased I’m here?”
“Yes.” She sounded flat but he understood her better because he was feeling it too. Delight at her presence but wariness because of the way they’d split.
“I’m pleased to see you.”
“I’m glad to see you too.” She paused, tilted her head to one side and studied his appearance. “How do you get that pattern on your hair that, well, gold?”
He laughed. “With gold. We’re wrapping up the tour, so I decided to do something special. My hairdresser suggested gold dust. Purple hair with a golden bald eagle has a certain something.”
She raised a brow. “Can’t argue with that. Will it wash out?”
“Yes. Can’t wash it until after the last performance or I’ll have to have it reapplied. The purple’s okay though.” Not to mention the expense. His extravagant clothes and personal style came from a need deep inside him that he didn’t understand himself, born of a childhood where conforming was approved of to the point of cruelty. But he was no shrink, he only knew it made him happy.
“Oh goodie.” She studied him, her face serious. “Did you come here to find me?”
Series Number: 6
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