Sky Mitchell is hiding out in Baltimore, seeking peace and solitude while he struggles with a career decision. Lead singer of popular rock group The Universe, he's thinking of going it alone. Wandering into an Irish pub, he's ecstatic to discover the breakout single for his solo album--but the songwriter doesn't want to sell. One musical challenge later, not only does he win the song, but also a writing partner to complete the rest of the album.
Teagan Collins has never aspired to fame and fortune. She's content taking care of family, friends and neighbors, and singing in her family's pub. Working on an album with Sky tests her patience...and her libido. The hot rocker plays her body like a fine instrument, their desire deepening with each song they write.
But someone doesn't want Sky to go solo, and is repeatedly trying to sabotage the couple's efforts. Undaunted, Sky wants Teagan to join him onstage at his farewell concert to sing her original, "Maybe Tomorrow"...
If they make it through today.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Ruby Tuesday by Mari Carr
Sky looked up to find the singer standing by his table and realized he didn't even know her name. He rose quickly and gestured for her to join him. She placed her glass of water on the table and he nervously decided to take the plunge as they sat down. Perhaps she really didn't recognize him through his disguise, though he feared an introduction would generate the rabid fan response.
"I'm Sky Mitchell," he said.
She never skipped a beat as she replied, "Teagan Collins. Nice to meet you." Her tone gave away nothing and again he was struck by the absurdity of the moment. He'd clearly spent too many years in the limelight if he didn't know how to hold a normal conversation with a new acquaintance.
"Teagan is an unusual name," he said, searching for some scrap to start the conversation since she obviously wasn't going to spend the standard twenty minutes gushing about how great he was and how much she loved his music.
What a relief.
She laughed lightly. "Yeah, well, I have Sunday to thank for that."
"My mother. She took the naming of her seven children very seriously."
Sky leaned back in the booth and grinned. "Seven children?"
"Yep." Teagan turned toward the bar. "In fact, if you take a look over there, you'll see two of my four brothers glaring at you from behind the counter."
"Ah, so they are. Should I be preparing for a 'pistols at dawn' challenge?" he joked.
Teagan shook her head, her smile growing wider. "I think you'll be okay so long as you stay on that side of the table. Tris and Ewan have learned a bit about restraint lately. My oldest sister, Keira, just recently moved in with her boyfriend."
"I think I'm beginning to understand your comment about the unusual names--Keira, Tris, Ewan."
"Actually, I have to confess all the names seem to fit. For instance, 'Teagan' means poet."
Sky nodded. "Very fitting for a songwriter."
"Your name is fairly unusual as well," she said.
"It's not my given name," he confessed.
"I didn't think it was. No doubt someone must have thought Sky was a terribly clever name for the lead singer of a band called The Universe."
"So you do know who I am."
"Of course," she said, and then she broke into peals of laughter. He was confused by her response until she added, "Actually, I had no idea until my sister, Riley, spotted you. I mean, I've heard of The Universe, but I have to admit it's not the type of music I usually listen to."
"Not a fan of popular music?" he asked, surprised. While her songs were definitely folksy, Maybe Tomorrow would be very easy to put a contemporary twist on by eliminating the acoustic guitar and adding more instruments.
"Not particularly. I prefer folk music. You know, songs where you can actually understand what the singer is saying." The moment the words left her lips, he watched her blush uncomfortably. "I'm sorry," she added quickly. "That was completely rude and I can't believe I said it."
He shrugged good-naturedly. "I'm not offended. I agree there are a lot of bands out there that rely on painfully loud music to drown out the fact that their lead singer can't sing or their words are utterly ridiculous. I hope you don't feel that way about The Universe's music."
She winced. "I was kind of hoping to avoid admitting the fact that I don't really know any of your songs. I mean, it's entirely probable that I've heard them on the radio and just didn't know it was The Universe."
Sky shook his head in disbelief. He wasn't so cocky as to believe everyone in the world knew the band's music, but it had been so long since he'd actually met someone who didn't, he wasn't sure how to react.
He watched Teagan glance at a spot behind him and he realized it was the third time she'd done so. He turned to see what she was looking at. All he saw was a staircase. "Are you waiting for someone?" he asked.
"My sister, Riley. She was excited when she realized you were here. She went upstairs to change her clothes."
He grinned. That was a response he could understand. "Is your sister as pretty as you?" he asked.
"She's much prettier. No freckles or bright red hair."
He was surprised by the sincerity of her response, as well as the lack of jealousy behind it.
"Oh Teagan, I had to tell you how much I loved that last song!"
Sky looked up to see an older woman standing by their table. He was struck by the fact that, once again, he was virtually invisible, as the woman never glanced his way.
"Thank you, Mrs. Tibbs."
"Bev wanted me to ask if you were still coming to teach the music class tomorrow."
"Of course I am," Teagan replied. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"Music class?" he asked.
Mrs. Tibbs looked at him briefly. "Teagan teaches music at my daughter Bev's preschool every Wednesday."
Sky pictured Teagan surrounded by small children. The thought lucky kids drifted through his mind as Mrs. Tibbs turned back to her. "I'm afraid my husband and I are leaving early tonight. His arthritis is bothering him again. Darn cold weather."
"Oh no. Tell him I hope he feels better soon. Good night," Teagan replied.
"Good night, dear." The older woman walked to the front door, where her husband waited to help her into her coat before they left together.
"Apparently Mrs. Tibbs doesn't listen to The Universe either. I can't begin to tell you what this evening has done for my ego," he joked.
Teagan laughed and he reveled in the genuineness of the sound. After years spent around women who giggled like schoolgirls or offered him husky laughter meant to sound sexy, he enjoyed the true humor behind Teagan's. His cock moved again and he forced himself to think of something other than what she would look like with that ridiculous skirt hitched up around her waist and him kneeling behind her.
"Believe me, Riley will more than make up for Mrs. Tibbs and me. Although I can't understand where she is. Even for her, this is an excessive amount of time spent primping. Maybe I should go check on her."
"Actually," Sky said, taking her hand quickly to keep her from rising. "I was hoping to talk to you about that last song you sang."
"Maybe Tomorrow?" she asked.
He nodded, and then decided to grab the bull by the horns. "It's a terrific song, Teagan. I'd like to record it."
"I'm in Baltimore for the next month, working on songs I hope to record on my debut solo album." He wasn't sure why he felt compelled to tell her about his plans, but the moment the words flew from his lips, he knew his decision to break away from The Universe was finally made for good. No more waffling back and forth--starting tonight, his new direction was set.
"Solo album? You're leaving The Universe?"
"I'm been toying with the idea for months, but yes," he said more assuredly, "I'm leaving the band." He'd have to break the news to Marty soon, but the fact was his contract with The Universe was about to expire and in a few short weeks, he'd be a free agent. The record company had been hounding him to extend his contract but he'd managed to hedge, claiming personal problems as the holdup. It was the only time his breakup with Holly had come in handy.
"My song isn't for sale," Teagan said, and the optimistic feeling he'd been enjoying crashed and burned.
"What do you mean it's not for sale? You said yourself you're a songwriter. Isn't it your goal to sell songs?" he asked.
"Yes...no...I mean, I've never really thought about it."
"Never thought about it?"
"I don't write music to make money, Sky. I write songs to make people happy. To share them with my family and friends."
"What kind of Rainbow Brite philosophy is that?" Her lack of drive astounded. Didn't she know how far she could go with her talent?
"'Rainbow Brite philosophy'?" He could tell from her tone he'd pissed her off, but the woman needed a wake-up call. "You pompous ass. There's no reason to insult me. Hasn't anyone ever said no to you before?"
"No one with common sense. I'm offering you a chance to hear one of your songs on the radio, maybe see it hit the Billboard list. This could launch your career."
"I have a career," she said.
"Singing in your family's bar in front of a handful of old men. Teaching music to a bunch of kids one day a week. That's your idea of a career?" he asked, uncertain why he was reacting so harshly. For some inane reason, it suddenly felt as if the success of his solo career was inexplicably linked to Teagan's song. Besides, the woman was extremely talented and clearly oblivious to the fact.
"I suppose you think I should be an overly ambitious musician. One who hops on the fast track to fame and fortune with no regard for the quality of my songs, no concern for what junk I produce so long as it makes me rich and famous. Is that right? You know, there are some people out there who actually make music just for the sheer pleasure of it."
Sky took a deep breath, aware that his anger was merely fueling hers. This wasn't the way to negotiate a deal. He knew better than this.
"I'm sorry, Teagan. My reaction was out of line. I've been running on empty for over a year now and I had no right to take it out on you. I love your song. Seriously love it. You said yourself you write songs to make people happy. I'm offering you a much bigger platform to do just that."
She fell silent for a few moments and he could see his words had struck a chord. "Would you change it?" she asked.
He knew this was going to be a sticking point for her, but he refused to lie. He had a definite idea of the sound he wanted and it didn't include an acoustic guitar. "I would add more instruments, change the pacing a bit."
"Electric guitar instead of acoustic?"
"I play the electric guitar."
"You can't play an acoustic one?" she asked.
He sighed and prepared for round two of the battle they seemed destined to wage over her song. "Of course I can, but that's not part of my signature sound. I'm known for my abilities on an electric guitar."
"I don't know how you could make my song mesh with so much noise."
"I hardly consider the music produced from an electric guitar 'noise'," he said, mustering as much patience as he could to keep his tone even.
"Darn it. I did it again. I'm sorry, Sky. I don't think your music is noise. I've never even heard your music. I just don't think you understand the concepts, the subtleties of folk music well enough to do Maybe Tomorrow justice. I would die if my song suddenly sounded like every other song on the radio. Filled with overdone guitar solos, digitally enhanced singing and that blasted repetitive drumbeat. People can't even dance properly to most of the music produced these days. They just bob in place."
"How old are you?" he asked, cursing the words the moment they flew from his lips.
"What's that got to do with anything?" Her eyes narrowed angrily but he couldn't resist finishing his thought. She'd insulted him and his music one time too many--all without even hearing him sing.
"Your ideas about music and dance seem more fitting for a woman in her eighties. Hell, my grandma is more hip about music than you."
"It doesn't have anything to do with being hip. It has to do with personal preferences. If you were educated in more types of music, you'd realize there are some really fine songs out there that don't require more to move you than a single instrument and a beautiful voice."
"You think I'm not educated in music?"
"I didn't say that."
"Yes," he insisted, "you did--and you meant it. For your information, gypsy, I've studied music extensively. In fact, I'll bet I have a better grasp of the subject than you."
She sat up straighter and for a moment, he was finally graced with the shadowy shape of her breasts through her damn loose blouse. Fucking thing was at least two sizes too big in his opinion and he felt his cock stir once again at the sight. Despite her antiquated opinions on music, Teagan had triggered some serious arousal in him. Maybe Marty was right. He did need to get laid.
"Don't do that," she said, leaning closer.
"Undress me with your eyes."
He grinned. "How about I do it with my hands?"
"Are you finished?" she asked dryly.
"I haven't even started but believe me, when I do, you'll know."
"Can we get back to the conversation at hand?"
"For now. Teagan Collins, I want your song."
"And as I said, Sky Mitchell or whatever your real name is, it's not for sale."
He laughed at her no-nonsense manner. He was enjoying himself, and her casual dismissal of his come-on dispelled his anger and brought out a playfulness he usually only showed to close friends and family.
"Well," he said, "it would appear there's only one way to solve our disagreement."