Read Rhythm of My Heart: Speed, Book 3 Online
Authors: Jess Dee
To the ladies of International Heat, for being my 88 inches of therapy wrapped around me.
To Dawn, for all her awesome suggestions and help.
To Kitty Kelly and Fedora, for their never-ending support and insight.
And as always, to Jennifer, for holding my hand through this one, waiting patiently until I finally found the story and then improving it.
I have a song to sing with you,
Believe these words we know are true.
Feel it in the rhythm of your heart,
See the time your love will start.
She’s out there now, quietly waiting,
Red hair, green eyes…fascinating.
Appearances fool, you have been warned,
Follow your instinct, don’t be torn.
-Edna Pace’s lullaby for Zachary
Zachary Pace rolled his shoulders, linked his fingers together, turned his palms outward and stretched his arms, flexing each muscle. With his eyes closed, he let the rhythm of the synthesizer flow through him, feeling the music all the way down to his toes.
He inhaled the summer Melbourne air as the cheers of the crowd seeped into his soul, then stepped onstage with his little brother, Seth.
The audience roared, shaking the wooden platform upon which they stood. Shrill screams pierced the late-afternoon sky and a pair of panties landed at his feet—alongside a ribbon-bound bunch of scarlet roses, a scatter of foil-covered chocolate hearts and a massive, printed marriage proposal.
Zachary grinned, pumped his fist in the air and became one with his alter ego, Jonah Speed.
This was where he belonged, where he thrived: on stage, before thousands of screaming fans. Every clap reverberated through his body. He ran across the platform to take a seat on his throne behind his drums.
Never had a term been more expressive, for when Jonah sat behind those drums, he became king. King of the Stage, King of Rock, King of Music.
He grabbed his sticks and struck his snare drum.
His little brother twanged a note on his electric guitar, turned and grinned at Jonah, and in perfect synch, the two began to play “Thunder ’n Rain”, their current worldwide number-one hit.
If the crowd had exploded when he and Seth—better known to the public as Jordan Speed—walked on stage, it went insane now. The boom of Jonah’s bass drum shook the stadium but was almost drowned out by shouts of excitement.
The cries reached fever pitch as Nathan, Jonah’s older brother—or Jamie Speed—made his entrance. Jamie’s golden voice rang out pure and true, the magnificent timbre resonating across the arena.
Arms and hands rocked the air, the applause and yells became thunderous…and then…dropped—as they always did when the full impact of Jamie’s voice made itself known. As manic as the audience was, Jamie’s dulcet tones lulled them into mass ecstasy. A writhing mass of ecstasy, their facial expressions filled with awed bliss.
Jonah inhaled as he beat his drums and cymbals, setting the tempo of the song while blending in seamlessly with his fellow band members. The throb of his beloved instruments once again became the heartbeat of the music, the pulse of
The song ended and he began another, but not before Jamie seduced the crowd with words of welcome, encouraging them to belt out lyrics. The Melbourne audience needed no persuasion. With natural exuberance, they whooped, cheered, sang and danced with gusto.
Jonah let their infectious mania carry him from one song to the next, feeding the crowd’s desires, whipping them into a frenzy and rocking them into the evening. As the sun lowered in the sky, he lost himself to the magical atmosphere, to the yells and the screams and the music. To the invigorating Melbourne air. Sweat slid down his back, his muscles stretched and flexed, and adrenaline pumped through his blood, taking him on a trip more potent than any chemical-induced high.
His exhilaration only increased as a love-struck Jamie performed his solo, playing his piano and staring offstage at the woman who’d captured his heart so completely. The audience couldn’t see her, but Jonah could, and she looked as besotted with Jamie as he did with her.
Jonah set his sticks down and leaned back against his throne, breathing heavily, grateful for the short break. He glugged down a bottle of water. Like every other person in the stadium, he watched his brother, rapt. While Jamie’s hands flew over the keys of his baby grand, Nathan had eyes only for the blond-haired beauty. He seemed oblivious to the crowd.
Despite the heat throbbing through Jonah’s veins, Zachary’s heart twanged. That was what he wanted. A woman to enchant him, someone who’d capture his heart fully and not let go.
The woman his grandmother had assured him was his fate?
As Jamie’s ballad ended and the band picked up the pace, Jonah once again lost himself to the beat. For the next forty minutes he was one with the fans and the music, seamlessly transitioning from one song to the next. Both the audience and his heart pumped in time to the rhythm of his drums.
And when the concert wrapped up and they played their final encore, Jonah twirled his sticks and beat his cymbal for the last time that night. He walked across the stage to stand beside his brothers, bowing and waving. Sweat had his hair plastered to his face, and his T-shirt was drenched. Jamie and Jordan were just as wet.
The crowd didn’t care. It cheered louder and louder.
With a broad grin, Jonah bent over and picked up the marriage proposal and two red roses from the stage floor. The original bunch had long since been crushed beneath Jordan and Jamie’s feet, but hundreds more flowers had landed on stage during the concert.
He left the wrapped chocolate hearts and panties. Chocolates because they held no appeal and the panties because that particular kind of offering wasn’t always in pristine condition. While under the right circumstances, a worn pair of panties could be incredibly sexy, those thrown on stage by a stranger were…not.
He brought one of the roses to his mouth, kissed it and smiled at the audience. His name echoed through the night air, screamed by a chorus of hysterical feminine voices.
“We love you, Jonah!”
He loved them too. Every one of them.
And God, at times like this, he loved being Jonah Speed.
He dropped an arm around his little brother’s shoulders, and the two of them walked offstage, each accepting a towel to wipe down their sweat-dampened faces and heads.
Nathan already stood in the wings with Sophie all wrapped up in his arms.
Zachary handed the marriage proposal over to Luke Struthers,
’s band manager and his best buddy.
Luke accepted it with a smile and a shake of his head. “Another one?”
Zachary grinned back. “I’m the man. What can I say?”
Luke raised an eyebrow. “Yes?”
He laughed out loud. “To a marriage proposal from someone I’ve never met?”
“Maybe it’ll put an end to the self-imposed restrictions?”
Zachary winced. Yeah. Not ready to go there yet. Not ready to end those restrictions. He might not have been laid in six long months, but for now that suited him fine.
Except maybe for the adrenaline pumping through his body, making him horny as hell.
But he had a valid reason for his restrictions. One—or four—this-is-your-baby scandals had been enough to send Zachary’s gonads into hiding for a very long time.
Of course the accusations had proven to be complete bullshit. Still, they’d been a nasty wake-up call. Forced him to evaluate his life and his behavior. Forced him to see that the meaningless encounters and faceless fucks he’d grown so accustomed to were not what he wanted. And they were not making him happy.
Zachary wanted the real deal—the red-haired beauty he’d fantasized about since childhood.
Or if not her, at least a woman he cared about.
He was happy for Nathan, but that didn’t stop Zachary from eyeing him enviously. “I may be under restriction, but my big brother sure isn’t.”
“I might need a crowbar to pry those two apart,” Luke commented dryly, but his tone was indulgent.
Zachary let his gaze sweep over the people standing around. The entire backstage crew had paused to watch Jamie and Sophie, who were so enchanted with each other, they didn’t notice. Every one of them beamed, as though they found Nathan’s delight as infectious as Zachary and Luke did.
His gaze snagged on a particularly adorable smile. One made by cherry-red lips stretched wide across a lovely face.
Lust hit him square in the chest.
His adrenaline rush hit an all-time high.
Okay, so maybe his gaze hadn’t been snagged by the smile. Maybe he’d subconsciously sought it out, just like he’d found himself doing since arriving in Sydney a week ago and meeting the Aussie crew.
Zachary didn’t know her name—yet. He’d made a conscious effort not to think about her, because thinking about her did those self-imposed restrictions no good whatsoever. What he did know was that each time he saw her he couldn’t look away. The sight of the tiny brunette packed a punch louder than the boom of a drum and more potent than the energy of the twenty thousand fans packed into the Rod Laver Arena.
If Zachary could have sat back down on his throne and hauled her with him, he would have. In a heartbeat. Would have stripped every last stitch of clothing from her lithe body, pulled her onto his lap and let her take them for the ride of their lives.
But that would hardly fit in with the revamped, sexually restrained Jonah Speed, now would it?
Something must have alerted her to his focused attention, because her gaze shifted, leaving Nathan and Sophie and landing firmly on him. Her lovely features reflected surprise, and after a couple of seconds, Zachary swore he saw a flicker of interest as well.
Satisfaction pooled deep in his stomach.
It had been a long while since he’d felt this level of attraction to anyone. A long time since he’d wanted a woman to consciously want him like he wanted her.
He’d grown altogether too used to the availability of a soft body whenever he desired one—or two. Groupies willing to offer whatever Zachary wanted. Sex with them had long since ceased to provide the satisfaction or the high it once had. Sex with them had long since stopped. Period. While he searched for something more meaningful, all they craved was a fix of the superstar, not the real man.
Zachary acted on impulse. “I’ll be right back.”
Luke answered, but Zachary didn’t register his words. He was too intent on his target.
Her cheeks pinked as he approached, and her chest rose and fell rapidly, but she watched every step, and her eyes filled with questions as he neared. Her scent filtered through his nose like a morning breeze, fresh and floral and arousing as hell.
She raised an eyebrow, highlighting blue eyes that resembled a spring sky—cloudless, with the promise of the heat to come.
Her gaze held him rapt. Zachary couldn’t look away, didn’t want to look anywhere but at her.
The intensity of his stare must have made her uncomfortable, because after a moment she flinched uneasily. “Can I help you?”
Oh, yeah. She could help him…so long as she got them both naked in the next three seconds.
Restraint, Pace. Remember?
“Uh, are you okay?” she asked curiously.
Too busy devouring her stunning features with his gaze, Zachary didn’t answer.
She flinched again. “You’re looking at me as though…” The words stumbled and died. “Oh, shit.” Her mouth formed a perfect “O” and her eyes widened dramatically. “I have something on my face, don’t I?” She brushed at her cheeks. “Crumbs? Lipstick? Mascara on my chin?”
Bemused, Zachary shook his head. Her face was perfect. So was her Australian accent.
She frowned, then quickly clamped her mouth shut before opening it again, only this time her lips covered her teeth. “Somesing in my teef? A pieth of food?”