A fan determined to teach his once-favorite star
a lesson she won’t soon
P.J. Morgan is an up-and-coming Country singer whose
life is just about perfect-- until her manager-mom embezzles
from her, her biggest fan becomes her worst nightmare,
and the watchdog her record label hires to keep her in line
turns out to be Jared Hamilton, the man she idolized
once upon a time.
Connected! You met PJ and Jared
in Hot & Bothered as
two scared teens living on the streets of Denver.
Now they're all grown up with a book
of their own.
2007 Mira • ISBN: 0373772130
that girl on the cover of Coming
P.J. Morgan. She and Jared Hamilton were a couple
of teenagers living on the streets of Denver
in my book Hot & Bothered.
When I began their storyline, Jared was the brother
heroine and central to the plot of her book.
P.J., on the other hand, was only intended to
be a walk-on character.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the drawing board.
That little girl captured my heart and my imagination like
no character before her has ever done. Usually it takes a
great deal of writing before I fully understand who my characters
are, but I knew P.J. in a way I can’t explain.
I could see her as clearly as if she stood before me—and
I am not a visual woman. She was something no child should
ever be—a throwaway kid scorned by her own mother,
but with a core of sweetness that nothing could alter.
I wanted to write her and Jared’s story as adults,
but it scared the crap out of me too. Because what if I couldn’t
do them justice? What if the kids I saw so clearly
in that book suddenly buried themselves in the muck and the
mire that can sometimes be my writing process in this one?
I’m sooo pleased to tell you that didn’t happen.
This was an absolute magical process for me. I’ve always
been a slow writer, but this book just flowed.
If only every one went so well. But I already know by the
way my work in progress is making my ears bleed that’s not
So I’ll simply say, “Thank you,” to
whatever gods touched me on this one.
Available in Audio!Coming
Undone is now available as an audio book. (posted
Undone sells audio rights to Recorded Books. (posted
Undone is a finalist in Romance Writers
of America's annual RITA competition in the Contemporary
Single Title category. The RITAs are the highest award
given in romance fiction.
Watch the silly trash talk video that Susan
and some of the other RITA finalists for the Contemporary
Single Title category put together below. (posted
3.26.08, updated 6.17.08)
BESTSELLER!Coming Undone spends another week on the Borders/Waldenbooks list, where it debuted at #4. It premiered on the USAToday list at #59 and the New York Times Bestseller list at #23. (posted
gets featured in the September 2007 Issue of Romantic
Times BOOKreviews Magazine. Click on the article (at
right) to read the article (pop-up window will
appear) to find out more about Susan's new book, Coming
is featured on the cover of Orange Blossom (August 2007 Issue) and isinterviewed about Coming Undone! Click on the thumbs (below
right) to see the cover and the interview. (A
pop-up window will appear) (posted
doesn't disappoint with this snappy and sexy
collision between two headstrong individuals.
Fans of Hot & Bothered finally
find out what happened to several memorable characters. Upbeat
and fun, with a touch of danger and passion,
this a a great summer read."
Romantic Times BOOKreviews awarding Coming
Undone a HOT 4 1/2 STAR review (posted
Jared Hamilton directed the cabbie through
dark Denver streets to the old Craftsman-style
bungalow that housed Semper Fi Investigations. The taxi pulled
into the agency’s small
parking lot and he climbed from the cab, then watched as
the departing vehicle’s rear lights grew smaller, blinked
red and finally disappeared around a corner two blocks
away. Flipping up his collar against the late spring
chill, he turned and climbed the covered front porch to let
himself into the dark reception area.
Down the hallway a single light glowed
through the frosted glass transom over John Miglionni's
door. Bypassing his own office, he stuck his head into
his brother-in-law's. “Hey.
What are you still doing here at this hour?”
John clicked a command on his keyboard
and pushed back to look up at him. “I was actually
waiting around hoping to see you.”
“Why? What’s up?” Dropping his overnighter
to the floor, he flopped down on the chair facing John’s
desk. “Must be something work related. You wouldn’t
be here at eleven forty-five on a Thursday night if anything
had happened to Tori and or the kids.”
The other man gave him a faux paternal look. “Haven’t
I always said you’re brighter than the average Joe?”
“Yeah, yeah. So I ask again: What’s
John flashed his famous I’m-so-good-someone-really-oughtta-bottle-me
smile. “A very lucrative, high profile assignment came
knocking at my door yesterday.”
“Way to go, Rocket!” Congratulations
just seemed to call for the military handle his brother-in-law
had earned years ago in the Marines.
“Yeah, it’s a good thing. Except Willie, who
was going to handle it, landed in Rose Medical with a busted
appendix this afternoon. And I’m eyeball deep in the
Stretching out his long legs in front
of him, Jared folded his hands over his stomach and gave
John a cocky smile. “Guess
it’s lucky for you then that I just wrapped up my case.”
“You might not think so once you discover who we’ve
been hired to find.”
Unable to imagine such a scenario, he merely raised both
eyebrows in inquiry.
“Wild Wind Records retained us
to find your old friend Pricilla Jayne.”
Jared’s heart gave a single heavy slam against the
wall of his chest. He knew it was merely the surprise of
hearing that name out of the blue— an assumption that
was validated when his heartbeat promptly settled down again. “P.J?” He
met Rocket’s gaze levelly. “Why would I have
a problem with that?”
John gave him an ironic, Don’t-try-to-kid-a-kidder
look. “Well, let me see. Maybe because you two shared
a couple of the most intense weeks of your lives?”
“Yeah. we did-- fifteen years
ago. Lotsa water under the bridge since then, big brother.” He
shoved himself a bit straighter in his seat. “So what’s
the story with country music’s hottest new diva? I
thought everything was coming up roses for her. How does
she come to be missing?”
“Nobody seems to know. But apparently
it started Monday when she fired her mother as her manager.”
“No shit?” A fierce surge of satisfaction filled
Jared. “Good for her. There’s a comeuppance that
was long overdue.” He’d detested P.J.’s
mom fifteen years ago, and he’d bet the family manse
the woman hadn’t improved appreciably over the years.
“I don’t know how good it is for Pricilla’s
career, though, at least in the short term, since her mom’s
talking trash to every country music magazine and yellow
journalism rag in the country. P.J.’s due to start
a big tour in a little over a week and Wild Wind Records
is getting very nervous that no one seems to have a clue
where she’s gotten herself off to. If you accept this
case, your mission is going to be twofold. First to locate
little Miss Pricilla Jayne. Then to accompany her on
the Thunder tour to make sure she doesn’t disappear
Jared whistled. “The entire tour? Those things can
run pretty long —months and months, some of them.” He
eyed John warily. “How much time are we talking about?” He
wasn’t sure how he felt about giving up his privacy
for several months of babysitting P.J. Morgan. Their
friendship might have been the most important relationship
of his existence the summer he was seventeen, but that was
a long time ago.
“Five weeks, give or take a stop
Okay, he supposed a little over a month
was doable. “Does
Wild Wind have any idea how much this could end up costing
“They should, I made a point of
spelling it out for them in minute detail. They seemed
a lot more concerned about how much it will cost them if
their million dollar baby takes a powder.”
“That seems pretty unlikely, don’t you think?
This sounds like P.J’s big break-- it seems to me she
has a vested interest in turning up for something that
shows every sign of boosting her career right into the stratosphere.”
“Like you said, a lot can change in fifteen years.
I’ve heard more than one report claiming she’s
butted heads with the big dogs in Nashville pretty regularly
the past couple years.”
Jared could hardly argue with that. Everything
he knew about P.J. Morgan these days he’d gleaned
from the occasional television report or newspaper article.
And those hinted that she could be difficult and demanding.
So who was he to say differently? Their relationship had
been intense but brief and was ancient history long before
this assignment had come along.
For all he knew, the sweet, feisty little
once known could very well have grown up to be a stone
cold bitch just like her mama.
Front cover headline Country Now Magazine: Where in the World is Pricilla Jayne?
“Oh, for the love of Pete!” P.J. Morgan, known
on the country music circuit by her first and middle names,
tossed aside the magazine and jumped to her feet. “Mysterious
disappearance, my butt! Where do they get this crap?” Scary
to think Country Now was one of the reputable publications.
She could only imagine what the tabloids were saying.
Crossing the room to the window, she
pulled aside the faded olive drape to look out. Not that
there was much to see in this wide-spot-in-the-road rural
town. At a time in her life when she could finally afford
to stay in posh four star hotels, it was ironic that she’d
instead picked a low-rent motel off a secondary highway
on a hot, still Texas plain.
“Well, hey.” A humorless laugh
escaped her. “You
can take the girl out of the trailer park, but there’s
just no getting that trailer trash out of the girl.”
Blowing out a breath, she dropped the
curtain and turned away. This wasn’t exactly what she’d planned
when she’d taken off on Monday. She’d been headed
for Los Angeles, a city she had never seen. It had seemed
exotic, was a good long way from home and she’d figured
not many of its citizens were likely to give a good goddamn
where one beginning-to-make-a-name-for-herself country
singer had gotten herself off to.
With thoughts of parking herself by a
palm tree-shaded pool to drink her fill of fruity concoctions
sporting frilly paper umbrellas, she’d driven seventeen hours straight, stopping
only to stretch her legs and fill up the tank. When she couldn’t
keep her eyes open to drive another mile, she’d pulled
into The Wind Blew Inn, a clean but ancient motor court in
the Texas Panhandle. She’d promptly fallen into bed
and when she’d awakened thirty-six hours later, she’d
stayed put instead of hitting the road once again. Something
about this nowhere little town’s one block long main
street reminded her of the never-ending series of hick towns
she’d lived in growing up.
And when things go to hell, she always said, stick with
Her stomach growled, and she realized
she was hungry. What day was it, anyway—Thursday?
No, God, it was Friday.
Her appetite had been nonexistent since
Monday. And if that wasn’t indicative of her state of mind, she didn’t
know what was. One summer a lifetime ago, she and a boy named
Jared had gone hungry together on the streets of Denver.
It was an experience that had hardwired her ever after not
to miss another meal. Yet, except for about six gallons of
coffee and the occasional candy bar grabbed when paying for
her gas, she’d barely eaten a bite.
Twisting her hair up off her neck, she reached for her baseball
cap and pulled it on, then donned a pair of oversized dark
glasses. Slipping a handful of bills into her shorts pocket,
she headed for the door.
It was hotter than usual for early June
and the swamp cooler laboring in her room’s window
dripped green-tinged condensation onto the concrete next
to the two-step stoop outside her door. Blinking against
the glare, she tugged the brim of her navy cap down and
set out across the lot.
The Prairie Dog Café was a squat orange building
next to Elmerson’s Feed and Seed, and P.J. pulled open
its screen door to the clatter of heavy crockery, the rumble
of male voices discussing crops and Lari White singing about
flies on the butter from an old Wurlitzer in the corner.
She stepped out of the sun into the smell of frying meat
and cigarette smoke. Slipping off her dark glasses, she noticed
that the only customers who didn’t have John Deere
tractor caps planted firmly on their heads had straw
Stetsons hooked over the back rails of their chairs.
Conversations faltered for a second,
then resumed their accustomed rhythms. P.J. noted she was
the only woman in the café this time of day, then shrugged the observation
aside and crossed to the counter to claim one of the few
vacant red vinyl swivel seats. If she’d allowed men
to intimidate her in her line of work, she would’ve
quit singing about the same time she’d first attempted
to go professional. The truth was, she liked the company
of men. She worked primarily with them-- her backup band
consisted of two of the species and the roadies that
set up and broke down shows and transported the equipment
from city to city were almost exclusively male.
Moving aside an ashtray, she reached across the counter
for a laminated menu stuck in the rear prongs of the stainless
steel condiment holder.
A waitress with Sandy embroidered
above the breast pocket of her pink uniform came over a
few minutes later and set a glass of water in front of
P.J. “What can
I getcha, honey?”
She ordered a ham and swiss on sourdough
and knew she should ask for it to go. But the murmur of
voices was comforting to a woman accustomed to being surrounded
by people, and she couldn’t quite bring herself to
relinquish the sound to return to her too-quiet room.
She realized it wasn’t a smart
choice, however, when Sandy said something as she clipped
her order to the wheel above the pass-through to the kitchen
and the short order cook immediately poked his head through
the opening to give P.J. the once-over. She also caught
the waitress stealing glances at her as she bustled about
the room filling coffee cups and slapping down bills torn
from a pad in her apron pocket. Then Mama’s Girl,
first recording, came on the jukebox and with an inward
groan she settled a little deeper into her chair.
Sandy brought the bill a moment later. “That’s
you, isn’t it?” she demanded with a tip of her
chin toward the Wurlitzer.
P.J. could lie with the best of them and she looked the
other woman straight in the eye. “Don’t I wish.” She
smiled wryly. “People are always mistaking
me for her. Darn shame I can’t sing a lick.”
“It’s you,” Sandy insisted. “I
saw you on Austin City Limits once and I’ll
never forget your speaking voice.
Damn. Didn’t it just figure that would
give her away? She hated her speaking voice. It was raspy
and made her sound as if she were a three-pack-a-day
smoker. She’d always figured God had given her a
good, strong singing voice to make amends for saddling
her with such a ridiculous conversational one.
Still she insisted, “Oh, this isn’t the way
I usually sound. It’s the tag end of a nasty case of
laryngitis.” But recognizing a blown cover when she
saw one, she left a hefty tip and headed for the door.
It looked like she might see California after all.
“Pretty cold-blooded to fire your own Mama, you ask
me,” the waitress called after her.
Ouch. Ouchouchouch! Given the mess with
her mother earlier this week, Sandy’s parting shot
was a direct hit.
“Nobody asked you,” she muttered under her breath
when she was out of ear shot. Damned if she intended to make
excuses to someone who didn’t know the first thing
about her relationship with her mother. She stomped back
to the Wind Blew Inn.
She had just zipped her suitcase closed and was looking
for her flip-flops when there was an authoritative knock
on the door.
She stilled, her head raised to stare at the peephole-free
door. Dear Lord. Reporters already?
Then she willed herself to relax. Don’t be ridiculous,
it’s probably just the manager. Even if Sandy
had called someone, which was iffy, the only reporter who
could have gotten here this fast would be from a local
weekly, and she could be three states away by the time
that edition hit the streets. She crossed to the window
and lifted a corner of the curtain, trying to see who was
on the other side of the door.
A tall man stood on her tiny stoop, but the angle was wrong
to see more than the fact that he had wide shoulders in a
navy blue t-shirt, neatly trimmed brown hair and was wearing
a faded pair of jeans. His right forearm, she saw as he raised
his fist to knock on the door once again, sported a long,
narrow tattoo that undulated subtly with the movement. It
was mostly green and almost looked like a Praying Mantis.
She lunged for the door, pulling it open.
The man jerked back his fist, but she barely even noticed
how close it had come to her forehead. Her gaze went first
to the tattoo, which was exactly what she’d expected to see, then
to the man’s face. “Jared?” she whispered. “Jared
“Ohmigawd!” she said again.
A frisson of pure pleasure buzzed along her spine and,
laughter erupting, she leapt out at him, her arms snaking
around his neck in a strangle-hold, her legs
wrapping around his waist. “Oh. My. God!” Leaning
back, she gazed into his face. And grinned. “You sure
grew up good.”
That was an understatement. He’d been good-looking
at seventeen but now his features were honed in a way that
made it nearly impossible to look away. Hard jaw, aristocratic
nose, stern mouth with a full lower lip. His hair was still
the sun-streaked brown she remembered but he wore it shorter
these days. And he’d grown into his long, skinny bones.
He was still tall and lean, but his shoulders were wide,
his body muscular.
His fingers, which had clasped her butt
with a light touch when she’d jumped him, tightened infinitesimally. A
slight smile pulled up one corner of his mouth. “You
grew up pretty well, yourself.”
Well. Not good-- well.
Some of her pleasure dimmed. It was due to Jared that she’d worked as hard
as she had in her language arts and English classes in junior
high and high school, and her grammar was much better than
it had been at thirteen. Not good enough, though, evidently. “Grew
up good, grew up well.” She shrugged. “Not everyone
has the advantage of your prep school upbringing, rich
boy. Some of us are simply never gonna speak like some stick-up-the-butt
“It wasn’t a put-down, Peej.” His hands
slid from her rear to her hips. “It was merely an observation.
You look great.”
“Oh. Well. Thank you.” Unwrapping her legs from
around his waist and loosening her choke-hold on his neck,
she allowed him to set her back on her feet just inside the
door. Curling her bare toes into the worn motel carpet, she
tipped her head back to look up at him. “Want to come
“Absolutely.” He stepped
over the threshold.
Her native caution belatedly kicked in
as she backed deeper into the room. “What on earth are you doing here? This
isn’t exactly your type of accommodations.”
“I wouldn’t have thought
it was yours either these days.”
His eyes were the same gray-green she
remembered but no longer did the fear and worry she’d once seen reflected
in them exist. Instead a watchfulness lingered in their mossy
depths, a cool reserve that she had a difficult time reconciling
with the boy she’d known. And she was beginning to
get a bad feeling in her stomach. “What brings you
to the Wind Blew Inn, Jared? How did you find me?” She
inhaled sharply as sudden suspicion hit her like a bomb out
of the blue. “Oh, jeez, tell me you’re not a
“For Christ sake, Peej.” His dark eyebrows slammed
together over his nose. “That would be the last occupation
She’d forgotten for a moment about his own persecution
by the press back in the day when he’d been the number
one suspect in his father’s murder. “Of course
it is. I’m sorry, J,” she said, the old nickname
slipping out easily beneath the press of old memories of
a time when he’d been the one person in the world who
made her feel safe. “I forgot all about your dad.” But
her desire to make peace only went so far and she narrowed
her eyes at him. “So why are you here?”
Straightening to his full height, he
met her suspicious gaze head-on. “Wild Wind Records hired me to see that
you get to all your shows while you’re on tour.”
“They did what?” She couldn’t
possibly have heard that correctly.
He merely looked at her, however, and
her stomach went hollow. She hadn’t felt this stunned since the time one of
her mother’s boyfriends had backhanded her for sassing
him. “My label hired a watchdog?”
“If you care to look at it that
Anger started low and slow but escalated
faster than smoldering embers sprayed with kerosene. She
straightened to her full if less than impressive height. “No one gets to accuse
me of being irresponsible. I’ve been taking care of
business as long as I can remember!”
He shrugged. “I’m merely
telling you what I was hired to do.”
“Well, bully for you.” She strode back to the
flimsy door, yanked it open and gave her one-time true friend
a pointed stare. “It’s been a long time, Jared,
and it was good to see you again. Don’t let the door
hit you in the butt on your way out.” She hated that
her breathing had grown so ragged she was nearly panting,
and inhaling and exhaling a deep breath, she got herself
back under control.
“I’ve been getting myself to gigs since I was
eighteen years old,” she continued quietly. “I’m
damned if I plan to blow my career now by failing to show
up for the biggest concerts of my life.” It was probably
unfair to hold Jared responsible for the mess she was in,
but learning her label felt compelled to hire someone to
ensure she showed up for her own tour was a huge slap in
the face. Not to mention he was handy and she was disappointed
that he’d turned out to be nothing like the boy who’d
filled so many of her daydreams over the years.
He didn’t move. “Sorry, P.J,” he said,
but he didn’t sound the least bit conciliatory to her. “But
we signed a contract.”
“Who’s we, Bosco? I didn’t
sign any contract.”
“No, but Wild Wind Records and
Semper Fi Investigations did.”
“Semper Fi?” Small world. Just Tuesday she’d
had occasion to mention that very name—and not in conjunction
with the U.S. Marine’s motto. “The agency of
that P.I who found us in Denver?”
“Yeah. You remember him? He’s
my brother-in-law now.”
“Of course I remember him.” John Miglionni had
been nice to her, had been, in fact, one of the first adults
who’d ever treated her as if she had as much worth
as anyone else on God’s green earth. But the smile
that tickled the corners of her lips at the memory of the
tall, dark man she remembered slid into a scowl as she stared
up into the face of another long and lanky man. “You’re
a private investigator, too?”
He nodded. “Yeah. We do that and
“Huh. I thought for sure you’d
be the CEO of some hoop-de-do-dah corporation by now.”
“Guess not. Well, how nice for
you. Now go away.”
“Not gonna happen, Peej.”
She had to tip her head way back to stare up at him and
frustration sizzled along her nerve endings. He was big and
steely and she had zero chance of physically ejecting him
from her room.
But if there was one thing she knew,
it was how to bluff. So she looked him in the eye and said
Then I guess I’ll just have to call the police and
let them remove you.”
He shrugged and sat in the room’s only chair. Sliding
down on his tailbone, he stretched his long legs out what
appeared to be halfway across the room and crossed his arms
over his chest. “Go ahead.”
Crap. Like she could afford to add another indignity to
the scandal that was already dogging her footsteps. But she
crossed to the telephone and picked up the receiver. When
Jared simply slouched deeper into his seat and watched her
with cool eyes, she punched out a number she had only this
The phone on the other end of the line
picked up. “Benjamin
McGrath Management Company,” said a professionally
dulcet female voice.
“This is Pricilla Jayne Morgan.”
“One moment please-- I’ll connect you with Mr.
McGrath,” the woman said without further ado and the
line went silent as P.J. was placed on hold.
Almost as quickly, her call went through
to her new manager. “P.J.” Ben
McGrath said in his brisk New England accented voice. ”What
can I do for you?”
“I have a situation here. There’s a man named
Jared Hamilton who refuses to leave my room. He says he’s
“Semper Fi Investigations.”
Her stomach sank but she prayed that
when she glanced at Jared her face didn’t show the
sudden distress jittering her nerves. He was watching her
with a slight frown pulling his eyebrows together.
“Do you mind?” she said coldly. “I’d
like a moment of privacy.”
He climbed to his feet and walked out the door, closing
it quietly behind him.
P.J. turned back to the phone. “You know?
What the hell is going on, Ben?”
“You haven’t seen any of
the tabloids lately, I take it.”
“No, only Country Now magazine.
That was bad enough, so I was afraid to see what twist
the rags might have given the story.”
“Smart girl. Wild Wind is nervous about all the publicity
your mother is generating. She’s got them convinced
you have a history of running away when the going gets
rough. She went public with your time in Denver when you
were a kid.”
“What? Why would she do
that? I didn’t
run away back then—she threw me out!” But indignation
couldn’t hold a candle to the sickness churning in
her stomach. Oh, God, everyone knew. Her own mother had seen
to it that everyone knew she’d lived on the streets
at one time.
“I know. But Wild Wind is afraid you’re going
to renege on your obligations and—“
“I’ve never reneged on a
contract in my life!”
“You’re preaching to the choir, Pricilla. But
you keep tying my hands by refusing to let me go on record
with all the garbage your mother’s pulled. So when
Wild Wind insisted on hiring a babysitter to assure you get
to your concerts, all I could do was suggest who they hire.
Let me go public with what really happened with your mom
“No. I told you before—I’m not going to
talk about that.” It was bad enough the world knew
she’d been homeless for awhile. The last thing she
could bear in addition was for everyone to discover that
her mother had never loved her.
Ben’s sigh filtered down the line. “If you ever
come to your senses I’ll put the proper spin on all
the shit that’s been flying around. Until then I thought
if you had to have an escort, you might at least like
someone who was once good to you.”
“Right this minute, Ben, I regret telling you about
him at all.” She’d only done so because he’d
insisted on hearing everything that might be used against
her. Revealing that time in her life had led to mention of
the boy who’d kept a scared-to-death thirteen year
old girl from losing all hope. That in turn had given her
such a warm fuzzy rush that she’d then confided how
John Miglionni and Jared’s sister Tori had rescued
“The truth is, I didn’t expect your old friend
to be assigned to the case. A business like mine doesn’t
generate the need to locate private eyes or security
specialists as a rule. But when this came up I remembered
you mentioning the Semper Fi Agency, and I thought it might
at least be a place to start.”
Well, I guess that’ll teach
me to be so damn chatty, she
“I actually had the owner in mind to handle this--
figuring someone you once admired might make the situation
more bearable. I didn’t know Hamilton worked there
until Miglionni called to let me know how the agency planned
to handle the assignment,” Ben said. “And I’m
sorry for the necessity, Pricilla, but Wild Wind insists.
This is your big break—“
“I thought that was when I won
“That was your first break—this tour
is the one that’s going to put you on the map. So I’m
afraid you’re just going to have to suck it up and
do what your label wants.”
She managed to hang onto her temper long enough to get off
the phone, but she was seething by the time she hung up.
She’d worked one job or another since she was fifteen
years old. She had been the family breadwinner more often
than not, and Wild Wind dared suggest she couldn’t
be trusted to show up for a series of contracted concerts?
Staring out the window, she scowled at Jared, who lounged
against the wall on the shady side of the court, his hands
in his pockets and one foot propped against the faded cinderblock.
He had an eye on her room and catching her peering out the
window, he straightened and headed across the lot.
Her spine snapped as straight and steely
as a length of rebar. Enough was enough. Mama was sufficient
trouble all on her own—P.J. didn’t need the
embarrassment of a watchdog on top of it.
She’d had it with handlers and people telling her
what to do. She wasn’t stupid—singing was the
only thing she could call her own and she had every intention
of showing up for her shows.
But the tour didn’t start for another week, and she
needed some alone time to lick her wounds and get centered
and focused before it began. She sure as hell didn’t
need her one-time best friend to herd her toward her
first gig like a Blue Heeler with one calf. And while it
appeared she had no choice but to put up with him once the
tour began, she saw no reason to tolerate his escort until
So let him catch up with her in Portland.
Because the first opportunity she got, she was shaking
Jared Hamilton from her heels like the dust of all those
dinky towns she’d