Love Struck (Miss Match #2)

By: Laurelin McGee

Chapter One

“A-D-Z-E?” Lance looked at the word on the Scrabble board, his brows furrowed. “What the hell is ‘adze’? You’re making words up again, aren’t you?”

Lacy wrapped her arms tighter around the pillow she was holding—his pillow—and scowled in mock indignation. “Making words up again? I never make up words. That’s you.”

“I do not. Ever.” But his grin would have been an admission even if they both didn’t already know full well that he often just placed letters on the board, hoping they spelled something legitimate. “And if ‘adze’ is for real, then tell me what it means.”

“It’s … uh…” She was excellent at words, but not always at remembering definitions.

“If you don’t know, it’s not a word. I call foul.” He shifted, stretching one leg out and jostling the mattress as he did.

“Careful.” Lacy put her hands out to steady the board. It was the one problem with playing in bed—any movement threatened the integrity of the game.

“You be careful, missy. Cheating at Scrabble … who would have thought? From Lacy Dawson of all people.”

“Are you officially challenging me?”

Lance dove across the board, sending wooden tiles flying.

Lacy squealed as he pinned her to the mattress. So much for Scrabble. Oh well, she was more interested in this new game anyway.

“Admit it. You made it up,” he said as he stretched his body over her.

“It’s a tool!” she said, suddenly remembering the meaning of the word. “An adze is a kind of tool.… I think.”

“A tool? I’ll show you a tool.” Lance pressed his hips into hers, and she could feel his tool all right.

She pretended to pout. “This tool of yours better be worth it. I mean, I was winning, you know.”

He let go of one of her arms so he could pull the pillow out from between them and toss it out of the way. “I’m sure you were. But guess what. I’ve already won.”

Lacy wiggled, positioning herself better beneath her fiancé. “Oh, really. Just what have you won?”

“You. I’ve won you.” He lowered his lips to hers, taking her to a place where words were no longer needed, where her solo turned to a duet. Eventually he trailed kisses up her jaw and to her ear. “Lacy?”

She closed her eyes, too enthralled in the passion of the moment to answer.

“Lacy?” he said again.

“Mm hmm?” she murmured.

“Lacy?”

What the hell? She’d already answered him.

“Lacy?” It was louder this time, and the tone sounded less like Lance and more like …

Her eyes popped open and she was no longer underneath the man she loved, no longer on her bed with a Scrabble game in disarray around her.

Instead, she was in the recording studio, headphones on her ears, guitar in her lap, her hands shifting automatically through the chords of the song she was playing.

It was Darrin, calling her name from the recording booth. Not Lance. Of course, it couldn’t be Lance. Lance was gone. He died months ago, and she still came back to him in fantasy every time she got lost in song.

“Lacy Dawson.”

She muted her strings and swallowed past the lump in her throat. “Darrin Ortiz. I was in the zone. What do you want?” She glared at her boss through the glass wall.

He glared back.

Dick.

They made it through almost three more seconds before he cracked up. He could never stay angry at her. She joined in the laughter, not really feeling it but knowing it was what she would have done … before.

“Get out here and talk to me and you’ll find out. This recording job was supposed to be finished an hour ago.”

“Sometimes jobs go long.” She played a riff that suddenly popped in her head. Yeah, that’s how Lance would have liked it.

Darrin rolled his eyes. “You and I both know you had this on your second take.”

At least, Lacy assumed he was rolling his eyes. She didn’t bother to look up and see, but she knew him well enough to know his mannerisms, and eye-rolling was one of his favorites.

She stuck her lip out stubbornly—one of her favorite mannerisms. “I’m fine-tuning. It’s an important part of my process.”

“Your process involves spending the last hour of every workday ‘fine-tuning’ so you can get out of doing any paperwork.”

She raised her head to see him staring her down. This time she didn’t have a witty comeback. He was completely right about her fine-tuning, just not right about her reasons. She really didn’t mind paperwork, but it wasn’t in lead sheets and recording logs where she found Lance. She found him in the strum of her hands, in the harmonic vibrations of her instrument. So with the melancholy she always felt when she returned from the music in her head—the only place Lance still lived—to the real world, she set her guitar down and exited the booth.

She followed Darrin toward the office, taking a quick moment to stick her tongue out at Kat. The other girl was polishing the cymbals on a drum set and didn’t notice. Lacy never knew exactly where she stood on Kat. She’d been a well-meaning friend through the last painful months. Well meaning and reliable. Sometimes, though, Kat’s perfectly styled rocker look made Lacy want to push her into a mud puddle. Or an angry mosh pit. Or both.

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