Burn Me Once - Page 7

He lifts his brows skyward. ‘Sure. Sounds fair. So, what do you want to know?’

Great question. What do I want to know? ‘How does everything sound?’

He laughs. ‘“Everything” could take a while. There’s twenty-eight years to cover.’

‘Let’s start with what brings you to the Big Old Apple?’

‘A gig. And recording.’

‘An album?’

He shakes his head and leans closer, so that his words whisper gently across my cheek.

‘That’s a separate question.’

‘No fair!’

I lift a hand to playfully push at his chest, except the moment my fingers connect with his warm strength no pushing occurs. I hold my hand against him, my eyes meet his, and I feel like I’m sinking hard and fast, with no hope of saving myself.

‘Alita?’

I shake my head and dredge up a smile, but it feels heavy on my face because it has to wade through all the desire that’s chewing my insides up.

‘You’re recording an album?’

‘Sorta.’

‘What does “sorta” mean?’

He shifts his body a little, bringing himself closer to me. ‘I’m tinkering. Sketching.’

‘Sketching?’

‘You know... Getting a feel for some new stuff. Working on pieces.’

‘You do that in a recording studio?’

‘Sometimes.’ He shrugs.

My hand feels the ripple of his muscles and my gut clenches correspondingly.

‘And you snuck an extra question in there. Don’t think I didn’t notice.’

‘Uh-huh. I’m very sneaky.’

‘I like sneaky.’

His head dips closer. My breath is burning through me.

‘Alena?’

When I shake my head this time it brings me closer. Our lips are barely an inch apart and my hand is still on his chest, my fingertips teasing the soft fabric of his shirt. Up close, his scent is intoxicating.

‘What’s your question?’

My brain is thick and woolly. I want to kiss him. I want to kiss him so badly that I can phantom-feel his lips on mine already.

What if he’s a terrible kisser?

My eyes drop to his lips, assessing the possibility of that.

No.

He won’t be.

I’m sure of it.

‘Don’t have one, huh?’ he teases.

A noise cracks us apart. I blink, like I’m waking from a dream. The waitress has placed our drinks on the tabletop and then a basket of onion rings. It’s surprisingly sweet that he ordered something so pedestrian. Had I expected he’d ask for caviar-dressed lobster?

‘What’s it like? Being famous?’

His expression shows surprise. He wasn’t expecting that.

‘You’re the first person to ask me that,’ he muses, drawing the foam top off his beer in a way that is so absolutely masculine my knees knock with feminine heat.

‘Really?’ I sound normal. That’s good. ‘You weren’t born famous. It must be a bit weird.’

‘Weird’s a good word for it.’ He shrugs. ‘I don’t notice so much now. But at first...’

‘You were...how old? When your first record came out?’

‘I didn’t release a record at first. I was big on YouTube before any of the labels came knocking.’

‘So you’ve been doing this a really long time?’

He reaches for an onion ring, crunches it. ‘I was sixteen when I topped the UK charts.’

I’m impressed—obviously. All the more so because he says it without a hint of arrogance. It’s just a fact, one he’s accepted as a part of the fabric of his story, so that he says it without realising what a huge deal it is.

‘Do you like it?’

‘Music?’

‘Fame,’ I correct, sipping my drink.

‘Nah. It’s shit.’

I laugh—it’s not what I was expecting him to say at all. ‘Really?’

‘Really.’ He grins. ‘You get used to it, but at first it’s like being on a different planet. I’ll never forget the first time I opened my front door to a throng of paparazzi. It was madness. I was still living at home—we had to move to a gated community with security fences and cameras. I can’t get over how fascinated people are by the minutiae of my life. Of anyone else’s life. I once had a busboy sell the cutlery I’d used for lunch on eBay.’

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