I’m happy to be able to share an exclusive excerpt from Slip Away by Alexandra Richland 🙂
I would like to thank Bookish Temptations for inviting me to take part in the festivities. Happy Three Year Blogiversary! To celebrate, here is an exclusive excerpt from my novella, Slip Away—a sexy romance with a rock star twist!
Slip Away Synopsis
Singer-songwriter Charlotte Kenner has it all: blockbuster record sales, sold-out world tours, and multiple Grammy awards. It’s everything she hoped for in life. It should be enough . . . but it’s not.
As her career soars, Charlotte discovers the steep price fame demands of its stars. She pays for it day and night, stalked by hordes of celebrity-hunting paparazzi, sleeping alone in cold hotel beds, miles away from her family and friends. Every moment micromanaged by a full-time staff, she travels the world in an insulated bubble.
Charlotte’s reprieve arrives in the form of close friend and filmmaker Matthew Selman, the director behind a career-spanning documentary on legendary Seattle grunge band, Clever Check. One piece of the documentary still needs finalizing: an interview with reclusive bassist Ethan Avery, who has been avoiding Matthew’s repeated requests to appear on camera. With time running out, Matthew tasks Charlotte with traveling to Ethan’s home state of Montana to spend a few days with him, steal past his enigmatic facade, and shoot the final footage needed to meet the film’s deadline.
Montana’s starry skies bear witness to an instant connection between Charlotte and Ethan, one that must be wrenched apart by weekend’s end. They return to their busy careers, but Ethan is never far from Charlotte’s mind. Her feelings for him are so sudden, so intense, she knows he couldn’t possibly feel the same . . . or could he? With their lives and careers propelling them forward but on seemingly separate paths, Charlotte fears she’ll never get the chance to find out.
In Montana, she got a glimpse of the life she truly desires—quiet and peaceful, far beyond the glitz and glamour of show business. But how can a star that shines so bright slip into the shadows? If Charlotte thinks the price of fame is steep, she’s about to learn that love exacts a whole different cost.
A loud crash sounded outside her window, tearing through the quiet. Charlotte screamed and leapt out of bed. On instinct, she dashed toward the door leading to Ethan’s room. When she opened it, she jumped back, her hand flying to her racing heart.
Ethan’s door was also open. He stood in the entryway, his hand raised and curled as if he was about to knock.
“Charlotte, what’s wrong? Are you okay? What happened?” He lowered his arm and frantically scanned her body as if looking for injury.
“It’s all right. I’m fine. I—” Charlotte’s train of thought derailed as her eyes anchored on Ethan’s muscular torso, which his tight white T-shirt clung to. She scrambled to regain coherency. “I heard a loud noise. Did you hear it, too?”
“All I heard was your scream. It woke me up and scared me half to death. I thought something happened to you.” Ethan’s brow furrowed. “What was the noise?”
“I—I don’t know.” Charlotte wrung her hands to combat her trembling. “It was this, like, loud crash. It came from outside.”
Ethan walked over to the window in his room and parted the drapes. His eyes narrowed as he surveyed the courtyard. “A raccoon is ransacking the metal garbage can out there.”
Charlotte took deep breaths to relax, though she couldn’t see how she would be able to sleep alone after the scare she just had. “How embarrassing. I’m sorry I worried you over nothing.”
“If it frightened you, Charlotte, it wasn’t nothing.” Ethan returned to the doorway. “Are you sure you’re okay? Do you need anything?”
“Um . . .” Now came the really awkward part. There was no way to propose what was on her mind without sounding absurd. The fact that she was suddenly reminded of the tight camisole she wore with no bra underneath didn’t help her communication skills. “I wanted to ask if . . .”
If I could sleep with you.
“I just wanted to ask what time I should be ready in the morning, so I can set the alarm on my phone.” Her cheeks burned with the lie.
“Oh.” He frowned. “I don’t know. Nine?”
“Sure. Nine o’clock.” Charlotte gripped the door, preparing to close it and wallow in her mortification alone. “Sorry to have bothered you. Good night.”
“Uh, wait a sec.” Ethan rubbed his short, light brown hair, creating a tousled style she found irresistible. “I just wanna tell you I would never do anything to make you feel uncomfortable or . . .” He sighed. “Basically, what I’m trying to say is we only just met, but I want you to know you can trust me.”
Charlotte’s reply was instantaneous. “I do.”
“I’m glad because, well . . .” He tugged at his hair again, avoiding her inquisitive stare. “I was thinking . . . maybe we should keep the adjoining doors open the rest of the night. For safety. After what happened, I won’t be able to sleep without knowing for sure that you’re all right and I could get to you easily if you needed me.”
“Or we could share a room.” The words left Charlotte’s mouth before she could censor them. Her eyes widened.
She expected Ethan to oppose the idea immediately, calling upon etiquette or indecency, or accusing her of taking his suggestion too far. Instead, he looked at her with an expression that transmitted warmth and approval and said three words that made her heart beat faster—for an entirely different reason than before.
“Yours or mine?”
Charlotte swallowed hard. “Yours is fine.”
“Okay.” There was the briefest of pauses, and then he retreated next door.
Charlotte followed him with surprisingly sure and easy steps.
Darkness shrouded his room, held to the corners by the dull light from the table lamp. It was decorated the same way as hers, including a detail she had overlooked when she’d blurted out they should share a room—one double bed, which wasn’t exactly spacious enough for two grown adults, especially when one was a robust male.
As Charlotte stood before Ethan, she trembled and held her breath, resisting the urge to execute the actions her body begged her mind to acknowledge.
With a dip of his head, their eyes were leveled. ”Are you sure you’re comfortable with this? If not, I can sleep on the floor . . .”
In spite of her exhilaration, Charlotte’s response was remarkably steady. “I’m sure.”
“Okay.” He cleared his throat softly. “Uh . . . pick whichever side of the bed you want.”
“Thank you.” Charlotte tried to follow his instruction, but his stare held her hostage.
After some self-encouragement, she claimed the left side of the mattress, resting on her back under the covers. Ethan turned off the light and joined her, settling on her right.
Charlotte folded her hands on top of the blankets. Ethan did the same. It felt like an electric current vibrated just under her skin—and they weren’t even touching. How she was expected to sleep under such circumstances was a mystery far greater than the feelings she had for him—or the feelings he had for her, for that matter.
Charlotte closed her eyes and exhaled slowly, hoping to portray calmness, as though their present situation meant nothing more to her than a practical arrangement to ensure her safety. At the same time, she didn’t want to insinuate she had a habit of jumping into bed with men mere hours after meeting them.
“Good night, Ethan.”
“Sweet dreams, Charlotte.” He delivered the words softly, like a lullaby.
Little did he know, she didn’t have to fall asleep to experience her sweetest dream. She was already living it.