Rock star Jo Avery didn’t have a choice about coming out, but ever since her ex outed her as bi she’s been a proud advocate for LGBTQ+ issues. Most of her family wants nothing to do with her, but her brother has always supported her. When he gets married, he wants her in the wedding party, and she has to accept.
The only problem? Her new sister in law is the daughter of conservative pundit and anti-LGBT warrior Sarah Tremblay. Sarah has another daughter, too, the beautiful and charming Valeria.
Valeria has been in the closet since she was fourteen. She’s always envied Jo’s strength and freedom, if not her path to living her authentic life. She soon finds herself falling for the fierce, pretty rocker, but coming out could cost her everything. How many risks can she take for someone she’ll only know for two weeks?
Can Jo and Valeria turn attraction into love, or will their whirlwind romance blow out before it gets off the ground?
Jo had never been so grateful for the stereotypical “rock star” treatment in her life. She usually felt ridiculous with the whole limousine, front of the line, special treatment thing. It made her squirm. Sure, a rock star was supposed to be looked at and get attention, but some things just smacked of desperation.
When the guys at the record company gave her a private jet to get from the tour to her brother’s wedding and back, she could have kissed them.
Simon, her assigned bodyguard for this trip, smirked down at her. “You feeling any better now that we’re on solid ground yet?” His dark eyes didn’t rest on her, of course. He kept them on the crowd, the way he always did. No one seemed to have noticed them, but that could change at any moment.
“No.” Jo could be honest with Simon. She wouldn’t have asked him to come to a family event, all things considered, but she’d been more than happy when he volunteered. “No, not really. But it could be worse.” She took a deep breath and found her center, like that therapist she’d seen exactly three times told her. “We’re staying at a hotel. We won’t have to see family more than a handful of times, and those will be super public times when no one will want to cause a scene. So – we’ll be comfortable. Right?”
“Right.” Simon put a hand on her back, right between her shoulder blades. It wasn’t long, but it was just enough to give her the support and strength she needed. “And for the rest of the time, you’re going to rest, relax, take care of yourself, and maybe get a little bit of sun.”
Jo wrinkled her nose at him. “Ick. Sunshine.” They emerged from the terminal to look for their limo.
Jo didn’t see a limo. She did see a car, but it couldn’t have been farther from a limo if they’d tried. The person holding up a piece of cardboard with Jo’s name on it was a woman, a little bit older than Jo herself, and she wore a light purple pants suit. Her dark blonde hair had been restrained in a bun at the back of her neck, and she wore just a little bit of makeup. She leaned against a shiny red Prius.
With the exception of the Prius, she made Jo weak at the knees.
Simon stopped in his tracks. “You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.” He shook his head. “No. Hell no. This is not what I ordered.” He stormed right up to the petite blonde, keeping himself between her and Jo. “What in the ever loving hell is this supposed to be, huh?”
The driver looked Simon up and down. “I’m here to give Josiane a lift to the hotel.” God, even her voice was perfect. She grimaced. “Er, Izzy didn’t say anything about two passengers, though. And she didn’t say anything about so much, er, stuff.” She eyed Jo’s baggage cart with suspicion. “Um, were you planning to play a show while you’re here, or…”
Jo looked down at her guitar cases. She’d only brought two. “I can’t imagine anyone would go for that.” She made herself laugh, because she didn’t want the pretty woman to think she was some kind of dour and bitter jerk only five minutes after meeting her. Of course, Pretty in Purple had mentioned Isabelle, so who knew what impressions the woman had already formed. “But I’m going to be here for two weeks, and since I make my living playing the guitar I definitely can’t afford to get rusty.” Her shoulders settled and lost a little of their tension as she got into her topic. She was on firm ground here. “And the one in the flatter case, the electric, is too valuable for me to just leave behind. I trust the rest of the band, but I’d be foolish just to leave it lying around.”
“I guess that makes sense.” Two spots of color appeared in the stranger’s cheeks. “I’m just a little irritated that Izzy didn’t warn me ahead of time. It’s not that I mind having them around, I just probably wouldn’t have said yes if I’d known. It’s going to be a kind of tight squeeze. A Prius only has so much space.”
Simon folded his arms over his chest and scowled down at her. “And who exactly are you again? Because I know I made arrangements with a company I trust.”
“I’m Valeria Tremblay. I’m the made of honor. And you’d be…”
“I’m Simon Parrino. I’m Ms. Avery’s head of security for this trip. I understand that Ms. Tremblay is the bride, but she doesn’t get to override security arrangements. No one does. Does she not get that my team has had to fend off six thousand fifty two persons seeking access to Ms. Avery alone, never mind to the band in general?”
Valeria flinched, just a little bit. “Look, I’m sorry. She asked me to help out and I said yes. I had no idea there was going to be an issue, but honestly I probably should have thought of it. I’m not all that into rock music, but obviously I’ve heard of Whirlwind. I should have realized arrangements would have been made and looked into it further.”
Jo intervened. “Look. Whatever was going on in Isabelle’s head, I’m sure we’re not going to solve it here. Right? And we’re starting to cause a scene. So maybe we can take Valeria up on her generous offer and call the limo company from the hotel.” She added another bright smile, this time for Simon’s benefit.
Simon glared. They’d been working together for so long Jo didn’t need to hear him speak to understand what was going through his head. This is not what we agreed to.
She shrugged. He would know she meant, No, but what are we going to do? People were staring, and it was only a matter of time before someone recognized her. Westchester Airport wasn’t equipped for some of the mob scenes that had sprung up at some of the sites where they’d been. She just wanted to get out of here. She gestured toward the front seat, with the implication that Simon could have it with all of its extra legroom.
After a long and tense moment, Simon rolled his eyes and slid into the unlocked passenger seat. “Fine,” he growled. “But we’re going to have to have a little chat with your sister in law about re-arranging travel plans without permission, do you understand me?”
“Oh, I understand.” Jo rubbed the back of her neck and moved toward the back of the car. After a second, Valeria remembered herself and popped the hatchback. “Isn’t he going to help you put your bags away?” she whispered, loading Jo’s suitcase into the car.
“He doesn’t, usually. The limo driver does.” Jo stuffed her laptop into the vehicle, and then her acoustic guitar. Her carryon came next. The electric would ride with her. “He has to keep his hands free. Plus, he’s in a snit. Please don’t take it personally. The last time someone changed travel plans on our security team like this, they tried to kidnap our drummer.”
“Oh my God!” Valeria gasped as she shut the trunk. “Does that kind of thing really happen?” She opened up the driver’s side door for Jo, and closed it behind her once she was inside.
Something warm sparked in Jo’s chest. She tried to push it down. It didn’t make sense. There was no way, no way in Hell, that Isabelle’s sister was into women. Even if she was into women, Jo was going to be here for two weeks. She didn’t even stay in New York City for more than a short stretch at a time anymore. They weren’t going to start anything up. That just didn’t happen.
“It does happen. All the time.” Simon tightened his jaw and glanced back at Jo. “Jo wasn’t kidding. The drummer’s family had gotten caught up in something back in her country. They were criticizing the occupying forces, and so the regime decided they wanted to send some people for her. It, ah, it didn’t go so well.”
Jo looked out the window. That had been a terrifying incident, and she wouldn’t forget it soon. She figured Simon would remember it a little longer than she would. He’d been the one who’d had to fire his gun.
“So why were you okay with just yelling at me a little?” Valeria changed lanes and cut a taxi off as she spoke. Jo hugged her guitar a little tighter as the taxi honked at her.
“A real assassin wouldn’t have referred to Ms. Tremblay as Izzy.” Simon paused before answering, but he was honest with her. “Also, no assassin would drive a Prius.” Jo caught a little bit of his smirk as he stared out the windshield.
“Excuse me? It’s a perfectly sustainable, sensible choice.” Valeria frowned at him, just a little bit.
J.V. Speyer has lived in upstate New York and rural Catalonia before making the greater Boston, Massachusetts area her permanent home. She has worked in archaeology, security, accountancy, finance, and non-profit management. She currently lives just south of Boston in a house with more animals than people.
J.V. finds most of her inspiration from music. Her tastes run the gamut from traditional to industrial and back again. When not writing she can usually be found enjoying a baseball game. She’s learning to crochet so she can make blankets to fortify herself against the cold.
J.V. can be found on Twitter at @JVSpeyer, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JVSpeyer