Laci Love, Three weeks later

Laci Love had arrived back to the States from her world tour less than forty-eight hours ago. Thus far, her only foray outside her new apartment was to visit an old friend. Well, not exactly a friend. Her late-boyfriend’s father. When he’d invited her to lunch to commemorate Jamie’s death, she couldn’t refuse. She’d finally caught up a bit on sleep, so today she might just be the day to peek beyond the walls of her new home.

She crawled out of bed, her silk pajamas softly rustling in the early morning quiet, and made her way to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. She wanted to check out the coffee shop in the lobby, but that would require her to get dressed and she wasn’t quite ready for that.

Once the coffee was percolating, she walked to the huge windows in the attached dining room and looked out from her sixteenth-story over the Nashville skyline. She remembered the first time she’d come to this apartment. She’d needed a safe place to get away from her then-boyfriend.

Now he was in jail, and she’d just wrapped up a world tour. Other than being tired from traveling, she felt good. Really good. The tour had given her space to heal, and the friendship of the crew had done her a world of good. She had no intention of ending up with a loser like him again.

Her mind wandered to her first, and only, true love. James. She shook her head. She hadn’t thought about James Harrington in a long time. Five years ago, she’d had to say goodbye after he died in a car crash. The years following his accident had been some of the hardest in her life. Some of her best and most real music came out of that season. Ironically, it was that music that had catapulted her career.

She yawned and stretched her arms over her head. It felt good to move. Maybe she’d go jogging this morning. It would certainly help her reacclimate.

But first, coffee.

As she was pulling a mug from the cabinet, she heard Kelly’s bedroom door open, and she automatically reached up for another mug. She took the two filled mugs to the table and placed one in front of Kelly. “Good morning.”

Kelly yawned and picked up her cup. “Morning.”

“Do you go to work today?”

“No, Gabe gave me the week off to look for an apartment.” Kelly worked for Laci’s manager, Gabriel van Neugh, which is how they’d met and become friends.

“You know you don’t have to move out, right?” Laci enjoyed having Kelly around.

“I know. But I don’t want to intrude on your life any more than I already have.”

“You and Grant still doing well?” Laci asked. Kelly and Grant had been slowly moving their friendship into a deeper relationship. Grant was the head of security for her tour, so he and Kelly had spent a lot of quality time together over the last few months.

Kelly’s cheeks turned a warm pink. “Yeah, all good there. In fact, he’s coming into town for Krisi and Brian’s engagement party tonight. Will you join us? It’s just downstairs in the wine bar.”

“I don’t want to butt in on your date.”

Although truth be told, Laci was starting to feel a little restless and was ready to get out of the apartment.

“No, it won’t be a big deal. Besides, Breena and Gabriel will be there.”

“Sounds like fun,” Laci said after a minute of thought. She had a soft spot for Brian and wanted to celebrate with him and meet his new fiancée. “I’m looking forward to getting out in the world again.”


“Brian, it’s so good to see you.” Laci gave Brian a big hug when she and Kelly entered Uncorked. Their paths had intersected the previous year when a police officer brought Laci to Grace’s penthouse to hide from her abusive boyfriend. Brian had carried her to Grace’s apartment—the one Laci had just bought—and helped keep her hidden and safe while she healed.

“Welcome back to this side of the world,” he said with a smile. “And welcome home to The Athenian. I’m happy you’re part of our family. Have you met Krisi St. Claire yet?” Brian introduced her to his fiancée.

“I absolutely love your perfume,” Laci said to her. “I visited your shop in Paris and had very little self-control.”

They chatted for several more minutes before Laci moved on to allow others to talk with the happy couple.

She made her way to the bar and smiled when the young woman behind the bar came over.

“Evenin’. What can I get you?”

“I’d love a glass of white wine.”

The woman smiled and pulled down a glass from overhead. “I don’t mean to fangirl, but I was hoping you’d come in tonight. I love your music.”

Laci smiled but didn’t want the evening to be about her. This was Brian and Krisi’s night.

“Here ya go. I’m Shelby and that’s Beau at the other end of the bar. Just grab either of us if you need anything else.”

“Thanks, Shelby.”

Grateful Shelby hadn’t taken a picture or asked for an autograph, Laci turned her barstool and scanned the small crowd,. She enjoyed the feel of being at a party and among friends. It had been a while since she’d gone anywhere and wasn’t surrounded by crew and her security team.

She’d dressed comfortably in a pair of black skinny jeans, a silky turquoise top, and turquoise cowboy boots. The turquoise looked good with her long, honey-blond hair, and the sleeveless top showed off her toned arms. The tour had been good for staying in shape, but even so, she was glad to have gone for a run that morning. Her body always felt looser and her mind fresher after a good workout. Getting back into a healthy routine felt good, and now she could enjoy a glass of wine without guilt.

A smile crossed her face when she saw Grace Montgomery crossing the room toward her. She turned back to the bar and set her wine down.

“Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you’re here.” Grace wrapped her arms around her friend.

“It’s so good to see you. I didn’t know you were going to be here.”

“Plans changed, so we were able to come. I’m really happy for Brian and Krisi, but I’m even happier to see you.”

“Let me grab you a drink.” Laci took Grace’s empty glass and set it on the bar. “What can I get you?”

“Oh, just sparkling water for me.” Grace’s eyes dipped down.

“No wine tonight?”

Grace put her hand over her abdomen. “No…no wine for several months.”

Laci looked at Grace’s stomach then back to her face. “Really? A baby?”

Grace nodded. “We just found out and aren’t really telling people yet.”

Laci embraced her friend, excited to share this happy news with her. They sat and chatted for another fifteen minutes. It was fun to let Grace catch her up on everything she’d missed, but she was most excited about Grace and Carl’s baby.

“Hey there, superstar.”

She looked up to see Gabe in front of her. “Hey there, boss man.”

Grace leaned over and gave Gabe a side hug. “Good to see you. I need to find my guy. Laci, it was great to talk to you.” She grinned and headed off to find her husband.

Laci watched her for a couple of seconds, then turned her attention to Gabe. They’d known each other their whole lives. In fact, it had been Laci, Gabe, and Jamie who had set out to conquer Nashville together. He’d been just as devastated about the loss of Jamie as she’d been.

“Where’s that beautiful bride of yours?” She needed to clear her brain and stop thinking about the past.

“She’s around here somewhere. I know she wants to catch up with you too. How’s the new apartment?”

“I absolutely love it. I’m so grateful Grace sold it to me. I slept like a baby the last couple of nights. I’ve got a guy coming next week to see about adding a recording studio in the hidden apartment.”

“Oh.” Gabriel looked thoughtful. “That’s a really great idea.”

There was a whole second apartment attached to her penthouse, accessed through a secret entrance. Grace and her mother had used it as a safe place for abused women to stay, which was how Laci had met Grace. But Laci didn’t have the skills to run such a place and was out of town for long stretches. It didn’t make sense to even try to keep it going. That’s how the idea of a recording studio came to mind.

“Yeah, I like the idea of having somewhere close to record whenever I want to.”

Gabe looked at her and smiled. “Man, remember the early days? Just trying to afford a couple of hours in a studio had been rough.”

Laci laughed. “Yep. I’ve been thinking about that time a lot lately. You, me, Jamie.” She smiled sadly.

“It was a good thing Jamie had some money, because you and I certainly didn’t.” Gabe stopped. His face fell. “I’m sorry. That was thoughtless to say.”

“It’s okay, Gabe. He did save our behinds a time or two by having money. Besides, it’s been five years. It’s okay to talk about him.”

Jamie had not only come from money, he’d been heir to the Harrington fortune. Even though pursuing a career in country music was disappointing to his father, he’d still supported him. She and Jamie played in bars together, wrote songs together, and fell in love with each other.

Laci talked with Gabe for several more minutes before he excused himself and went to find his wife, Breena.

A sound behind the bar caught her attention. “’Scuse me…comin’ through.”

The second bartender, Beau, came from the back with a box of wine bottles resting on his shoulder The back of his head poked out from behind it. His blond-streaked, light brown hair was just over the collar of his green plaid flannel shirt. He maneuvered his way to the end, right in front of Laci. She watched as he set the hulking box down and made adjustments to it under the bar.

When he stood, he turned to give Laci a smile.

She felt the blood drain from her face.

How was this possible?

“Hey, you okay?” The man grabbed a rag, wet it down, and rushed around the bar to her.

She could feel herself sliding down the barstool.

The bartender caught her and held her upright He put the cool cloth on her forehead. He leaned closer, his green eyes staring intently into hers. “You okay?” he asked again.

“I went to your funeral,” Laci said just before her world went black.

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Book 2 in the Nashville Billionaires series is coming soon. Did you read about Laci in Dating Breena & Discovering Jillian? If not, go grab them now and catch up on Laci