“We could have breakfast in bed,” Gabe said near her ear. “There’s still time to turn back.”
“I’m cool,” she lied.
As the hostess directed them into a private dining room, Melanie prayed Nikki was already at the table for backup. No such luck.
Three members of the band and two other guys were seated in one of four enormous booths in the room. There were dozens of additional square tables and chairs, each with neat white table cloths, forest green napkins, and silver-trimmed place settings. Even if the entire crew joined them, they wouldn’t need this much space. A dance floor took up the far half of the room. She was pretty sure the place was used for wedding receptions. Melanie wondered if the hotel staff kept the rockers separate from the main dining room so people didn’t trample them as they tried to get autographs or because said rockers were so noisy that they were sure to disturb the other, more conservative, hotel guests. Perhaps a little of both.
“Do you want to sit with them or on our own?” Gabe asked, nodding toward the occupied booth.
“We can sit with them.” She wanted to prove to herself that the rest of his band didn’t make her a nervous wreck.
So far, not so good. Her stomach was working on a new gymnastics routine.
Gabe rested a hand against her lower back as they stopped next to the table. “Did you already order?” he asked the guys.
“Not for you,” one member of Sole Regret said.
He had a shaggy, spiked arrangement of jet black hair that went quite well with his all-black attire. Melanie knew he was the lead guitarist, but could not for the life of her remember his name. His steel-gray eyes swept over Melanie’s rumpled clothes and tangled hair before settling on her face. “Your sexy sweetheart can sit next to me.” He scooted over in the booth and patted the seat beside him. Melanie hesitated before sliding in next to him.
Gabe sat on her opposite side, and she had to shift closer to the guitarist. He wore enough chains to tow a truck. His spicy aftershave had her wanting to bury her face against his neck and inhale repeatedly.
“Aren’t you going to introduce her?” the guitarist asked.
“Melanie,” Gabe said flatly.
She glanced at Gabe and found him examining a menu. He seemed to have lost all interest in her. Why? Was she not cool enough to hang out with his rock-star buddies?
She turned her attention to the guitarist. “Hi,” she said, “you would be . . . ”
He laughed and slid a hand over his face. “Where in the hell did you find this one, Force? I didn’t think there was a woman under sixty who didn’t know my name.”
Another rock-star type reached across the table to shake her hand. “I’m Owen,” he said. “Don’t judge the rest of us by Adam’s giant ego.”
“You play bass,” Melanie said, as if she were on a quiz show and was pretty sure she was going home empty-handed.
He nodded. “That’s right.”
He had the prettiest blue eyes she’d ever seen. And the bone structure of a movie star. And the tattoos and face piercings of a side-show act.
“Most people know him as Tags,” the ego named Adam informed her.
She vaguely remembered Nikki telling her that the band’s pretty boy went by the nickname Tags. Though in all honesty, it was hard for her to look past the tough-guy accessories to the gorgeous face beneath. She was working on it. Her heart rate had almost returned to normal. She had almost convinced herself that she had nothing to fear from these guys.
“Do you prefer to be called Tags or Owen?” she asked, noticing the beat-up set of military dog tags on a slender chain around his neck. Was that how he’d picked up the nickname? She was much too intimidated to ask.
“He’ll answer to anything,” the other guitarist in the group said. He grinned at Owen and then turned his attention to Melanie. “Cuff,” he said, shaking her hand. He was wearing a thick cuff on one wrist that looked like something out of a bondage convention. “Or Kellen,” he added.
“Kelly,” Owen corrected. He grinned as if he was in possession of some guarded secret. Again, Melanie was much too intimidated to pry.
“Chicks don’t like the name Kelly,” Kelly said. “I told you to start calling me Kellen in front of the ladies or just stick with Cuff.”
“But she’s with Gabe,” Owen reminded him. “You don’t have to impress her.”
Melanie wasn’t sure how anyone could tell she was with Gabe. He’d started ignoring her the instant they’d sat down.
“I like the name Kelly for a guy,” she said.
Kelly had long, brown hair and a raw sensuality that seemed to reach across the table and grab her by the womb. She definitely remembered him playing on stage the night before. And poking fun at Adam and Shade. She wondered if his hair felt as silky as it looked. It was definitely better kept than her own unruly tangle of locks.
“See, I told you that chick was just a bitch,” Owen said. “Not everyone thinks your name is a girl name.”
“You’re the only one who still insists on calling me Kelly,” he said.
“You’ll always be Kelly to me,” Owen said with a sweet smile.
“How did you end up with Gabe anyway?” one of the other guys interrupted.
Melanie recognized him as the cute roadie who’d given Nikki her backstage pass the night before. Jack.
“I thought you and that other hot chick were both supposed to hook up with Shade last night. She said you two were in love but still liked to double-team a guy because even a double dildo is never as good as sharing one real dick.”
Melanie chuckled nervously. All the band members were gazing at her with interest now. Even Gabe had lowered his menu. “Nikki made that up. We’re not lovers, just friends.”
“You sure? The way she kissed you . . . ”
“I’m sure. She completely caught me off guard or I never would have allowed it. We’ve never double-teamed a guy. Or a dildo.”
The roadie frowned. “But you two were so hot together. I walked around with a boner half the night just thinking about it.”
Kelly reached over and slapped him in the arm. “Don’t talk like that in front of a lady.”
Melanie assessed Kelly a little more closely. She wasn’t really attracted to men with long hair—or mohawks, until recently—but he was gorgeous too. Strong features. Dark mysterious eyes. A woman could get lost in those eyes for hours.