She had a powerful urge to bang her head on the tabletop repeatedly.
“Do you have a break from touring soon?” she asked, hoping she didn’t sound as desperate as she felt.
“I could take some time off from work and we could spend a few days together.”
“We’ll be on tour all summer,” he said.
Her heart sank. “Oh.”
“But next time we're in Austin for a few days, I'll come visit you.”
“I was thinking I could come visit you.” She offered him a bright and hopeful smile.
Her heart was hanging somewhere around knee level now. “Oh.”
“We could go on a trip,” he suggested.
The man’s hedging triggered suspicion. “Why don't you want me to visit you?”
Avoiding her gaze by staring blankly at the dessert menu, he shrugged.
She pictured a doting wife and three kids waiting for him in Austin. “Are you hiding something from me?”
He peeled his gaze off the photo of tiramisu and grinned at her. “Yeah.” He snorted. “My apartment.”
“What's wrong with it?”
He shrugged. “Nothing, as far as I’m concerned, but it's decorated with paintings of naked chicks.”
She laughed. “I do know what the female form looks like. I happen to have one myself.”
With a devious glint in his eyes, he gave her a twice-over. “I noticed.”
As an expert at reading people who tried to hide things from her, she couldn’t overlook his hesitation in answering her questions. “Is that really the reason? You don’t have to make stuff up.”
He reached for his beverage and slurped soda from his near-empty glass, his attention focused down his straw. Still not looking at her, he said, “That's really the reason.”
“You could take the pictures down if they embarrass you.”
“They don't embarrass me. I was more worried about you.”
He worried about her? She reminded herself not to analyze his every word, looking for indications that he cared.
“It took me years to accumulate them,” he said.
“You accumulate porn?”
His eyebrows drew together, and he shook his head. “It's not porn; it's art.”
She figured his definition of art and hers were as different as bunnies were from tiger sharks.
“I promise I won't be embarrassed,” she said. “I'd like to see where you live.”
He trained his gaze on her at last. “Do you have plans to go paparazzi on me?”
“Of course not,” she said. “Why would you think that?” Oh God, she must be coming across as some desperate stalker chick.
“I don't tell people where I live because I like privacy when I'm not on tour. I need to unwind from the insanity of this business. Plus, time alone reminds me that I'm actually a no-good loser whose only redeeming quality is an ability to make sound come out of six steel strings.”
“You're an amazing talent, but there’s more to you than music,” she said, reaching for his hand and squeezing. “And you are not a loser. But you are good. You have a good heart, Adam.”
He chuckled. “Do you actually believe that?”
“I do. I’ve seen it.”
He held her gaze long enough that his attention triggered her heart rate to accelerate. Oh God, his eyes. She wanted to stare into them for eons.
“Are you trying to turn my head, Madison Fairbanks?”
“Only if it's working.”
He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles. “It's working. You always know exactly what to say.”
So how did she say what was really on her mind? She stared at him, collecting her courage.
“Are you finished eating?” he asked.
She looked down at her nearly full plate and then at the still occupied restroom. Go away, people.
“Is it time to go?” Madison dug her cellphone out of her purse and checked the time. “It's not six yet.” She glanced up at him and found him staring at her with hungry eyes. “I thought your sound check was at six thirty.”
“I don't think I'm going to make it on time.”
“AAC is only a few minutes from here,” she said, pointing in the general direction of the arena. “I'll drive you; I know the best routes to avoid traffic.”
“That's not why I'm going to be late.”
His expression was entirely blank. Unreadable. In their early counseling sessions, he’d always looked out at the world from behind that wall, but why now?
“Is something wrong?” she asked.
“Just one thing that I can think of.”
His hands slid to her wrists, his thumbs resting against her pulse points. Her body knew his touch and how well it pleased her. Just that small contact had her nerve endings thrumming with excitement and her muscles melting in surrender.