Play For Me The Balefire Series Book 1 by Tam Derudder Jackson Genre: Contemporary Romance
All I wanted was a chance. Now I need a second one.
When I made my deal with the devil, I thought I was on my way to my rock ’n’ roll dream. Too bad I didn’t read the fine print. Having it all meant giving up the only girl I knew I’d ever love. Five years later, I’m drumming in the hottest rock band in the country, but I live like a monk.
Fate hands me an opportunity to reconnect with my perfect girl, giving me one glorious night with Clio Barnes. Our chemistry is off the charts. Too bad fate plays by her own rules. When Clio hears my bandmate’s idea of a joke, she believes I’ve used her, dissolved our love into a one-night stand, and she blows out of my life. When our tour ends, I’m determined to find her again, no matter how well she hides from me.
All my life, I’ve been invisible. For a brief moment five years ago, Jack Whitehorse saw me. And he made me feel like the center of his universe. But that was an illusion. Music was Jack’s only love. A chance encounter after a Balefire concert allows us to reconnect, but once again, I’m playing second fiddle to his rock ’n’ roll muse.
When the pregnancy test comes back positive, I decide to keep our baby secret. I can’t force Jack to play for me—I wouldn’t want to. Then he shows up unexpectedly one day, knocking on my door and demanding to be let in. He leaves me no choice but to tell him about the baby. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one with a secret. But the one he’s been keeping might end us for good.
Clio stood to the side of the dance floor, sipping a flute of champagne and looking so stunning she nearly broke my heart—again.
I wanted to study her, take all of her in for a few minutes before I broke the spell and actually talked to her. What do you say to the only person who ever really mattered after you dumped her with no explanation whatsoever? After the way she dropped on her ass when I caught her attention at the concert, I had to wonder how she was going to react to talking to me.
Then again, maybe she went down because of the booze she’d been drinking. I barely took my eyes off her from the moment I spotted her in the front row at the show, so I saw how she finished her flask then finished off her friend’s. Now she had a half-full glass of champagne in her hand, and I couldn’t tell if she was swaying to the music or trying to remain upright.
Jesus, tipsy or not, her beauty stunned me. That dress she had on wore me out. All that delicate lace hinted at her pretty curves and showed off her legs, which her sexy sandals emphasized. I couldn’t guess the length of her hair since she was wearing it up, but I was glad she apparently hadn’t cut it. The style exposed the neck I’d loved touching and kissing, making her shiver and snuggle closer to me for more. As the memories washed over me, I smiled before I heard Dakota talking from somewhere behind me.
“Oh, yeah, I’d like to tap that,” he said, and I wondered which girl would be the starter for his evening. Then he boiled my blood. “That redhead in the blue lace dress is one seriously sexy woman.”
“I think she’s spoken for, dude. You’re going to have to look somewhere else,” Tron said as he materialized next to me.
“Just ’cause there’s a goalie doesn’t mean you can’t score,” Dakota said with a laugh.
I flexed my fists as I considered clocking him when Tron put a restraining hand on my arm. Clenching my jaw, I didn’t turn my head to look at him, but I uncoiled slightly. Of the three other guys in the band, I was closest to Tron. He was steady and levelheaded, and he didn’t mind at all that I didn’t drink much and never spent private time with the army of groupies who followed Balefire like it was their job.
“She belongs to the monk, Dakota. That’s one goalie you don’t want to mess with.”
“The monk has a girl? How did I not know this?” Dakota turned a wide-eyed stare on me.
“With any luck, I’ll have that girl, so back off,” I growled.
“You haven’t made a move yet? That makes her fair game.” Dakota took a step in Clio’s direction.
“I invited her to this party, so no, she’s not fair game. If you don’t want me to mess up your pretty face, back the fuck off,” I gritted out, staring him down.
Dakota raised his hands in surrender. “Whoa, man. No need to get your shorts in a knot over a woman. The room is full of ’em.” His eyes wandered the room and all the ladies on offer. “Why, there’s another sweet little number walking over to talk to Red. The brunette off-limits too?”
“Knock yourself out. I’ll even introduce you,” I said. Maybe with the buffer of other people, I could survive this initial reconnection with Clio.
Then again, maybe it was a much bigger deal to me than it would be to her. For all I knew, Harrison Barnes had fed her a truckload of shit about me, and now she couldn’t give a flying fuck if I talked to her or not.
“You’ve been stirred up about seeing her again since you found her friend and set up this opportunity, dude. Probably better do something about it now that you have the chance,” Tron said quietly into my ear.
I nodded and turned to Dakota. “Let’s go talk to some nice girls for a change.”
“Seriously? What fun will that be?”
The stricken look on Dakota’s face cracked me up, and I felt lighter than I had all night. “God, you’re such a fuck boy. If Clio’s friend is too nice for you, I’m sure you can find the girl who belongs with the red bra you kept from the show.”
“You saw that, did you?” A grin broke over his face.
“Bet her phone number is written in great big digits over the inside of the cups.”
“Nah, they’re all lace.”
I raised a brow and waited for the punch line.
“It’s written along the straps. Since all the VIPs in the front row got invited to this little soiree of ours, I know she’s here somewhere. But first, the angel in the naughty black leather dress.”
I burst out laughing at the melodramatic villain way he rubbed his hands together, and we were all right again.
Glancing back to where Clio and her friend stood, I sucked in a breath, squared my shoulders, and willed my feet to move. Walking beside me, Tron snorted out a laugh. “Jesus, dude, she’s a beautiful woman, not a firing squad. Relax already.”
Tam DeRudder Jackson is the author of the paranormal romance Talisman Series and the contemporary romance Balefire Series. Her favorite "room" in her house is her back patio where she dreams up stories of romance and risk. When she's not writing her latest paranormal or contemporary romance, you can usually find her driving around with the top down in her convertible or carving turns on the slopes of the local ski hill. The mom of two grown sons, Tam likes to travel, attend rock concerts, watch football and soccer, and visit old car shows with her husband. She lives in the mountains of northwest Wyoming where she spends most of her free time trying to read all the books. Her TBR piles are threatening to take over her office, and she's fine with that.
Are you a plotter or pantser is always a question writers ask each other. I’m a plantser. I don’t plot out every element of the story, nor do I know every detail down to the cell structure of my characters before I begin. But I don’t fly completely by the seat of my pants either. When I sit down to write a book, I know a little something about my characters, and I have a rough idea of where the story is going to go. One thing I have to have before I can start writing is the main characters’ names. I often use baby names books for that, but sometimes the characters tell me their names. I also use a technique I learned from reading Verbalize by Damon Suede where I determine my MCs’ main verbs and synonyms for those verbs, which helps me figure out scenes. Like in real life, I like to get to know my characters organically by putting them in situations and seeing how they respond—pretty much the way we get to know real people we meet.
Books, movies, and songs are where I find most of my ideas for my writing. But I can find inspiration nearly anywhere. For example, an entire story set at a ski resort popped into my head one day as I rode the chairlift at my favorite ski area this past winter. Though I haven’t fleshed it out enough to know if the book is going to be full-length or a novella, I do know it’s a contemporary romance about Ace and Lexi, main characters in their early 30s.
Usually, my characters come to me with their story. I start listening to them, letting their story play out in my mind for weeks or sometimes months before I sit down to write them. I have several stories I finally had to outline because I know it’s going to be a minute before I can start writing them. I keep notes in a notebook and in a notes file on my computer, so I know I’ll always have something to work on next. In a file in my desk, I keep articles I’ve cut out of or printed from newspapers and magazines that have given me an idea for a story or a book. Writer’s block isn’t a thing in my writing world.
One way I help myself be a better writer is by reading. I read piles of romance, but I also like history, memoirs, essay collections, and poetry. Additionally, I read at least a half a dozen or more craft books every year as I work to improve my skills so I can give my readers the best books I can write. Currently, I’m reading Mr. Smithfield by Louise Bay, Lunch in Paris: A lovestory with recipes by Elizabeth Bard, and Understanding Show Don’t Tell (And Really GettingIt) by Janice Hardy—a romance, a memoir, and a craft book. Reading two or three books at a time is normal for me.
Though I have playlists for my rock ’n’ roll romance series, I only listen to them away from my computer. When I write, I have to have it silent. I can do a little ambient nature noise when I’m working on my patio, but I absolutely can’t write with people talking or with music playing. You’ll never see me working on a book in a coffee shop. =) But I do like to “warm up” by playing through a rock song on my piano. Currently, I’m learning to play “Under Your Scars” by Godsmack, a song which features on the playlist for Hot For Me, book four in the Balefire Series coming in January 2022.
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