Bad Boy Rockers #4
Ryder Stone hasn’t been living; he’s merely existed.
For the past six years, his honor prevented him from pursing anyone else, until Dahlia Roberts steps foot into his bar.
Dahlia vowed never to repeat her mother’s mistakes.
She prefers to be alone, and always keeps men at a distance. However, Ryder manages to sneak under her skin and into her heart.
But one thing they both know is that nothing in life is ever straightforward. So when Ryder’s past comes crashing down around him, he has life altering choices to make.
Will he stay in the past and risk losing the woman he loves or will he grasp onto the future and mend Dahlia’s broken heart?
Model – Arron Solie
Fotographer – FuriousFotog
Cover Designer – Wicked by Design
Prologue ~ Ryder
At the carnival…
Watching Dahlia—or Dal, as Reece and Mara call her—walk toward me, my heart practically leaps out of my chest. She’s breathtaking . . . her long, sexy legs going on for miles in her little shorts and cowgirl boots. Her snug tee shirt in the purple silk caresses her large breasts and makes my mouth water. Coming to a stop in front of me, she passes me a Pepsi and as our fingers touch, a bolt of desire hits me square in the balls.
“Thanks,” I reply, hoping to make eye contact with her.
She meets my gaze and seems to be waiting for some kind of signal from me, which I give with a smile. Letting her know we’re good, even though it was me being a dick before that caused her to get bent out of shape.
I really need to talk to her, but I’m not sure what the hell to say—to explain why we can’t be involved. For the first time in my life, I’ve met someone I want a lot more from, but I’m too damn honorable to do anything about it.
I’ve met other women in the past who have tempted me, hey, I’m a red-blooded guy after all, but I always pushed that temptation away—no matter how much those women begged for my attention. Any urges I have, I take care of with my hand and I have done so for a hell of a long time.
Dahlia is different though. I want her with a passion I’ve never known, and her presence torments me like nothing ever has before. I sure as hell don’t want to think about how I’ll react if there’s ever another guy sniffing around her. That won’t go down too well.
Donovan nudges me, breaking into my thoughts. “We’re heading back to the hotel. We’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
I vaguely hear him as my attention is still on Dahlia. The way her mahogany hair falls down her back and over her shoulders to the tips of her breasts. She has freckles over her nose and cheekbones making her look like the girl next door. She takes my breath away every time I look at her. When we first met, my opinion of her wasn’t all that good, but that soon changed when Reece put me straight.
All we are ever going to have is friendship, and that’s only if I don’t screw it up. Grimacing, I realize that’s not going to happen—I screw everything up.
Six years ago, I was still in the Marines and should have known better. I made a huge mistake and now I have to live with it, when all I want to do is build something with the woman standing in front of me.
“You really are beautiful,” I blurt out.
Her eyes widen in surprise before sadness crosses her features. “Don’t Ryder. Just don’t, okay? It was a mistake before, so let’s just forget it. I don’t have many friends and I don’t want to lose you.”
“I don’t have anything to say other than I’ll try.” My eyes search hers, searching for something more than friendship but I can’t see it. Finally, I finish, “I’m sorry, but my life is a mess.”
She slides her hand into mine.
“So is mine. C’mon. Teach me to shoot.”
My hand trembles as I take hold of Ryder’s and I cling to his in an effort to keep him close to me. I can’t help worry that he’ll refuse me, but to my relief he doesn’t.
The kiss we shared not too long ago was hot and exciting. I didn’t want it to end, but he quickly pulled away and apologized for kissing me. It hurts a lot when I’ve dreamed of him kissing me since we first met.
There’s something about Ryder that calls to me. He seems lonely, which first attracted me to him. Not that there’s anything wrong with the rest of him. His muscular chest and six-pack abs are drool worthy. Combine that with his tight buns and strong legs and his body makes me wonder why he isn’t swarmed with women daily. He might be cute as well, but we won’t mention that.
Sometimes he looks at me as though I’m the only one he sees. The way Reece looks at Callie. But Ryder never does anything about it. He’s hinted more than once that he has a screwed up past, but he won’t say anything else.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was curious. Who wouldn’t be? I just wish he’d tell me so I knew why he wouldn’t take our obvious attraction to the next level. I mean, how bad could his past be? Everyone has something screwed up in their past and I’m no different.
As we approach the shooting range, his thumb begins caressing mine, and I don’t think he realizes he’s doing it. I’m not about to complain because the pleasure of his touch causes my heart to beat faster. I have no wish to let go of him, but as the guy looking after the stalls approaches us, I’m not going to have a choice if I want to win one of the large bears. My shooting skills aren’t that bad, thanks to Reece, but I might have to do some acting, and hopefully, I’ll get Ryder’s arms around me as he shows me the proper stance to shoot those ducks.
“How many?” the guy asks.
“Just my girl,” Ryder replies, and my heart does a leap of joy.
Just my girl! Is this how he thinks of me?
Ryder pays the guy before turning his attention back to me. “Do you know what you’re doing here?”
A little white lie is okay, right? “Not really. Will you show me?”
I hold his gaze while he decides whether I’m being serious or not before he finally gives in with a sigh.
“C’mon. Take hold of this.” He passes me the air rifle. “Now relax.” He steps in behind me and runs his arms from my shoulders to my hands. He keeps one hand around mine on the weapon and his other hand resting on my hip.
Everyone else disappears as my senses take over and his heat envelopes me. I lean into it, a soft sigh on my lips as I fight the urge to roll against him. “Dahlia,” he whispers against my ear. Goose bumps break out on my skin as his breath caresses me like silk.
I turn my head to face him, and not realizing just how close he is to me, my lips brush against his. My eyes immediately shoot up to his, as Ryder’s hand contracts on my hip . . .