Chased by love love in b.., p.15
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       Chased by Love (Love in Bloom: The Ryders): Trish Ryder, p.15

           Melissa Foster
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  “I’m sorry that took so long, but at least he’s ready to get help.” He leaned down and kissed her. “Are you okay?”

  “I’m fine,” she assured him. “We’re here for Jude, so don’t think twice about me. The real question is, are you okay?”

  His lips curved up in a thoughtful smile. “Better than I’ve been in a very long time. Not just because Jude is getting help.” He looked at his mother, then brought his warm whiskey eyes back to Trish. “Seeing you here…”

  She pressed her hands to his chest. “I know. It’s doing something to me, too. Being with your mom, seeing the pictures of your family, hearing about your father. Even meeting Harvey, the man who has done so much for you. I think it all made me fall a little harder for you.”

  The roar of a motorcycle broke through their intimate moment.

  “Lucky might change your mind about that,” Boone said, shaking his head.

  The motorcycle sounded like it was coming toward the house. Then suddenly it silenced, the back door flew open, and a young, dark-haired guy ran through the kitchen, slamming the door behind him. “I’ve been here all night,” he yelled, and came to a screeching halt beside his mother. He kissed her cheek and handed her a paperback novel from inside his leather jacket. “Got this for you, Ma. Cute kitty.”

  She shook her head, flashing a warm smile. “Sweetheart, you’re so thoughtful.”

  He rushed past Boone and patted his shoulder. “Hey, bro.” He waggled his brows at Trish, flopped on the sofa in the living room, and kicked his booted feet up on the coffee table.

  “What’d you do now?” Boone sat on the other couch and pulled Trish down beside him.

  Three loud raps sounded on the front door. They all looked at the door. Boone mumbled a curse.

  His mother came out of the kitchen with the plate of chocolates and glared at Lucky. “One day I won’t be here to play nice for you, Lucas Rekyrts.” She opened the door to an angry-faced police officer standing on the front porch.

  Lucky snickered.

  The officer’s expression softened when he smiled at their mother. “Evening, Raine. I’m sorry to bother you so late. Just want to ask Lucky a few questions.”

  “No problem, Officer Payne. Won’t you come in?” She waved a hand and held out the chocolates, as if he were an invited guest. “Truffle?”

  “You know I can never turn down your chocolates.” He lifted a truffle to his lips and took a bite. “Mm. Perfect, thank you. Raine, you’ve known me since we were kids. Can’t you call me Patrick?”

  “Not when you’re here on official business,” she said with a sweet smile that spoke of her admiration for the handsome man in uniform.

  The officer nodded, as if he understood, and turned his attention to Boone. “I didn’t know you were in town.”

  Boone’s eyes were stone cold and aimed at his younger brother. Trish got the impression this wasn’t the first time a scene like this had unfolded in this house.

  Boone turned a softer gaze toward the policeman, though his eyes bounced between his mother and the officer. “Just in for a quick visit.”

  The officer nodded, then looked curiously at Trish. “Aren’t you…?”

  “Trish Ryder,” Boone said. “Trish, this is Officer Payne. He’s been patrolling this area since I was a teenager.”

  She stood and shook his hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”

  “Raiders of the Past. That’s what I know you from. Great movie,” Officer Payne said. “I can’t believe it. Wait until I tell the guys at the station.”

  Trish blushed. Boone cleared his throat. “She’s with me.”

  Oh, how she loved that possessive side of him.

  Officer Payne’s face turned serious again. “Yeah, I got that by the death grip you have on her hand.” He pointed to Lucky. “Son, want to step outside?”

  “Not really,” Lucky said.

  Boone pushed Lucky’s feet off the coffee table. “Show some respect.”

  Lucky sat up straighter. “You can say whatever you have to say in front of my family.”

  Officer Payne eyed Raine and ground his teeth for a minute. “I’m sorry, Raine, but Chastity is home from college for the weekend and I caught Lucky in her room.”

  “Not true,” Lucky said casually.

  “Lucky?” Raine raised her brows.

  “Officer Payne, did you see my face?”

  “No,” the officer said sharply. “I caught your backside when you were jumping out of her bedroom window.”

  Lucky nodded. “So you never saw my face.”

  “I chased you on your motorcycle,” the officer said.

  “Did you?” Lucky challenged. “Where is that motorcycle?”

  “Lucky—” Boone chided him.

  “Okay,” Lucky admitted. “I was there, but I was fully dressed. I was helping her with her homework.”

  “She’s third-year premed,” Officer Payne pointed out. “You’re in and out of jobs and in and out of trouble. Just last month you hacked into the State Highway’s computer system and made the roadway signs say ‘Slow the Hell Down.’”

  “That was never tied to me,” Lucky mumbled. “I may not be in college, but I know a lot about the human body.”

  Officer Payne stepped forward and Lucky rose to his feet. Boone stood between them.

  “Lucky, sit down,” Boone commanded. “Officer Payne, I’ll have a talk with him.”

  He looked around Boone at Lucky. “You’re a smart kid, but you’ve been through every single woman in this neighborhood.” He turned to Raine, whose expression was more amused than angry. “I’m sorry, Raine, but she’s my little girl.”

  Raine turned her hands palm up. “She’s also twenty-one. Maybe you should let her decide who she shares her time with.”

  Officer Payne opened his mouth to respond, and before he could say a word, Raine handed him another chocolate. “It’s okay. It’s your job to be a dad, and it’s my job to be a mom.”

  Boone gave Lucky a we’re-not-finished glare and Trish gave Boone an I’m-falling-hard-for-you-and-your-family sigh. Confusion passed over Boone’s face, and as his mother and Officer Payne headed for the front door, she drew her man into her arms and said, “He’s young. He’s having fun, not breaking the law.”

  “And that woman,” Lucky said with a smile full of trouble, “is a keeper.”

  Chapter Sixteen

  THE NEXT MORNING Boone woke up in his childhood bedroom with Sparky curled against his shoulder and Trish tucked against his side. His brother might have the moniker, but Boone had no doubt he was the luckiest guy around. He and Trish had stayed up late talking about Jude and about how much she liked Boone’s family. She told him about her brothers, Duke, Cash, Gage, Blue, and Jake, and how close they all were. The worry on her face when she told him about her brother Gage and his unrequited love for his friend Sally was obvious. And when she told him that her brother Blue was building a gazebo for Duke’s wedding, she got teary-eyed. It was easy to see how much she adored them, even when she complained about how overprotective they were.

  He transferred the kitty to Trish’s other side and slipped out of bed to shower and have a little time alone to talk some sense into Lucky before Trish and their mother woke up. Boone crept down the hall to wake him. There were morning people, and then there were night people. Lucky was the rare breed of anytime person, as was their sister, Maggie. Lucky woke up with a contagious smile and quick wit at the ready regardless of whether he’d slept for one or eight hours.

  Mags and Cage showed up while they were making breakfast. Mags looked so much like their mother they could be sisters, with long wavy hair in so many shades of blond and brown it was as if they’d been kissed by the sun, the moon, and the stars. Cage was the quiet, brooding type, with serious eyes and hair tightly shorn. The four of them laughed and tossed barbs at one another as only siblings could do, and when their mother and Trish joined them, they chimed right in. Mags and Trish hit it off instantly. Cage watched t
he scene unfold with his typical quiet demeanor. When Boone got up to throw something away, Cage followed.

  “It’s serious, huh?” Cage asked quietly.

  “Yeah, I think it is.” Boone watched Lucky flirting with Trish. He shouldn’t be jealous of his younger brother, but he couldn’t deny the gnawing in his gut with each flirtatious smile Lucky flashed. Trish took it all in stride, and by her mischievous grin, he had a feeling she was locked and loaded for teasing him later.

  Cage’s expression turned thoughtful. “You’ve got that look Dad used to get when he looked at Mom. Do you remember?”

  How could I forget? The silent message passed between them. Boone fought the rush of emotions crashing forward at the thought of Cage’s comparison. “Thanks,” he managed.

  Mags and their mother were busy pumping Trish for details about what it was like to be an actress, among other things.

  “What did you really think of Boone before you two got together?” Mags gave Boone a coy look.

  He stood beside Trish’s chair. “You don’t have to answer that.”

  She reached up and covered his hand with hers. “I thought he was an incredibly hot jerk who didn’t care about anything but himself.” She brought his hand to her lips and kissed it before he could think too long about her answer and added, “But then I realized how very wrong I was.”

  He leaned down and kissed her. “Thank you, beautiful.”

  “You thought he was self-centered?” Cage laughed. “Boone couldn’t figure out how to put himself above anyone else if you gave him a step-by-step guide.”

  “He’d be too busy watching over everyone else to read it,” Lucky said as he rose to his feet to clear the table.

  “Whatever.” Boone shook his head.

  “Did you hear from Harvey?” his mother asked as they all got up to help Lucky.

  “Yes. Jude’s all settled in at the rehab center. You know the drill—no visitors for a week, a long stretch of rehab, and then the hard part begins.” Boone thought back to the depth of despair in Jude’s eyes and the convoluted conversation they’d had. Dealing with an addict was like dealing with an apologetic child and an angry adult all wrapped up in one confused and volatile person. Boone had wanted to give him hell for his self-destructive behavior and for causing everyone to worry when he had so much in life to be thankful for. But he loved Jude like a brother, and no matter how many times his friend relapsed, Boone would be there to help him get back on his feet. Trish’s words sailed through his mind. Addictions are powerful, and once they take hold, it’s a wonder anyone can break free from them. They were just as helpless as you were, just in a different way.

  They’d get to the giving him hell part after he was clean, when he was past the worst of it.

  “Some people might call you an enabler,” Lucky quipped.

  “Ha!” Mags and Raine exchanged a headshake.

  “Dude, you think I should have walked away and told Jude he was on his own?” Boone glared at Lucky. “If he’s too weak to fight the addiction in the first place, how would making him do it alone be better?”

  “I don’t know, but how’s he going to learn to deal with it if you’re there picking him up when he falls?” Lucky shrugged and went back to washing the dishes.

  “Isn’t that the kettle calling the coffee black, or whatever that saying is, Lucas?” their mother asked.

  “I don’t do drugs,” Lucky quipped.

  “No, but Boone and I are forever cleaning up your messes.” She winked at Boone.

  Lucky turned around, cocky grin in place, his dark eyes full of the arrogance of an invincible eighteen-year-old. “How bored would you be without me in your lives?”

  Trish laughed as she put a bottle of juice in the fridge.

  “Why are you laughing?” Lucky asked.

  “Because you’re so full of yourself.” Trish crossed her arms and met his stare.

  Boone watched with amusement. His brother had no idea who he was dealing with.

  Cage sidled up to him and said, “This ought to be good.”

  Mags leaned closer to Boone and whispered, “I love her!”

  Yeah, I think I’m heading that way, too.

  “You barged in here last night knowing you were going to wreak havoc with your mom’s evening,” Trish said to Lucky. “Why didn’t you go hide someplace else?”

  “Because this is my house.” Lucky smirked.

  “True. But it’s also your mother’s home. Don’t you think you came here because you knew she’d have your back? Because this home, and your mom, are your safety net? I’m not trying to be a bitch,” Trish said. “You’re funny, and obviously smart, and from what I’ve seen, you’re a caring person. But come on. You have to admit you came here because you knew your mom would have your back.”

  She turned to Raine. “No offense. I actually thought last night was awesome. That policeman should have taken that up with his daughter, not you guys, but I’m just trying to make a point.”

  “Have at it,” Raine said with an amused—or maybe impressed—smile.

  “Thank you,” Trish said. “Lucky, if you think Boone’s an enabler, then take another look. He’s not giving Jude the drugs. He’s giving up whatever’s on his plate to help Jude fight the addiction. Jude’s lucky to have him.” She reached for Boone’s hand. “Hopefully one day Jude will be strong enough to realize he doesn’t need to keep falling back on drugs to fill whatever emptiness he’s feeling.”

  Lucky stared at her for a long time, then glanced at Boone. “Man, why couldn’t you go out with a mousy girl?”

  They all laughed.

  “You think she’s tough on you?” Boone teased, drawing Trish in closer and feeling the warmth of his mother’s approval.

  “I’m sorry,” Trish said. “I can be a little pushy, but I have a great deal of respect for Boone. There aren’t many men like him around, and you could learn a thing or two from him.”

  “Thanks, baby. That means the world to me, because I learned from my father, and I’d like to think I’m doing him proud.” Boone leaned in for another kiss.

  “Boone,” his mother said softly. The depth of emotions in her eyes, coupled with her sweet smile and reassuring nod, brought another wave of emotions.

  He cleared his throat to speak past the emotions clogging it. “I think Jude’s figuring it out. This time when he had the urge to go from snorting cocaine to freebasing, he called me instead of taking the hit. That’s progress.”

  As he gazed into Trish’s eyes, words floated through his mind. Lyrics. Adrenaline rushed through him as the words began stringing themselves together in his mind. Jude wasn’t the only one making progress, and he knew he owed his to the woman in his arms.

  He grabbed a napkin and pen and let the lyrics flow.

  “What’s that?” Trish asked.

  “Song,” he said cryptically, scribbling as fast as he could to keep up with his thoughts. “A song, baby. A real song.”

  A little while later, Mags and Trish exchanged phone numbers, and they gathered Sparky’s things, said their goodbyes, and got on the road. Boone felt like he’d been home for a week. He’d missed seeing his family and was glad they’d gotten to meet Trish. Before leaving, Mags told him he was a fool if he messed things up. His mother told him not to worry about Lucky; she was sure he’d get his act together, and, she’d said, it was time for Boone to worry about himself. He wasn’t very good at that. He reached across the console and squeezed Trish’s hand. She was good at worrying about others and herself. It wasn’t just Lucky who could learn a thing or two from someone else.

  “Thanks for letting me come with you,” Trish said with a sweet smile.

  “Beautiful girl, I’m powerless to say no to you and mean it.”

  “I’m definitely going to use that to my advantage in the bedroom.”

  “I can’t wait.”

  “I’m sorry for being so pushy with Lucky. I really do like him. He reminds me of my brother Jake. He’s cocky
like that, and I could totally see him jumping out of a girl’s window when he was younger.”

  “What about you?” Boone asked. “What were you like as a teenager?”

  “I have five older brothers. What do you think I was like?”

  He tugged her across the console for a quick kiss.

  “The girl who waded through groupies to give me hell? I’d bet my best guitar you were sneaky as hell, and I wish I’d known you back then. You could have made my days a lot brighter.”

  “That’s not what you’re thinking.” She ran her fingers up the nape of his neck. “You’re thinking I would have made your nights a lot steamier. Your mom told me you never snuck girls into your bedroom, but I bet if we’d have known each other back then, you would have tried.”

  “And would you have let me?”

  “Probably not. I like you too much, and my brothers would have killed you.” She smirked and added, “I would have found someplace they’d never think to look.”


  BOONE AND TRISH’S private time ended three days later when the crew showed up bright and early and began prepping the property for filming. Production assistants, equipment specialists, set designers, makeup artists, and various other crew and extras traipsed through the property, sending poor Sparky scurrying up to Boone’s bedroom to hide out in his guitar case. The natural light they’d enjoyed was replaced with overbearing movie lighting that heated up the small farmhouse like a greenhouse. The porch where they’d spent their evenings getting to know each other, where arguments turned to heartfelt confessions and first kisses turned to exquisite nights of passion, paving the way for Trish and Boone to open their hearts to each other, was suddenly overtaken by too many people, making it feel small and inadequate, when it had felt so heavenly before. Voices carried from one end of the yard to the other, from the front porch to the kitchen, vibrating off the walls like invisible interlopers.

  Trish walked into the kitchen where the crew was rearranging the things she and Boone had on the counter. Last night Boone had picked a handful of flowers from the edge of the woods and arranged them in a glass. The glass now sat empty beside the sink, causing Trish a pang of sadness. They moved the table where she and Boone had made love so it was flush with the wall. It felt constricted—a feeling she knew Boone hated. She bit back the urge to tell them to back off. She felt as though their privacy had been invaded, despite the fact this wasn’t hers and Boone’s house. It felt as if it were. Their imprints were all over and around it: in the yard, where they’d first fallen into each other’s arms; on the porch, where they’d argued and rehearsed and fallen a little more for each other with every passing minute; in the small space at the foot of the stairs, where they’d had the heated discussion before leaving for New York; on the couch in the living room, where they’d tumbled during the storm; upstairs, where they’d learned the dips and curves of each other’s bodies. The only room free from their hands was Boone’s bedroom, where they’d set up camp for Sparky.

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