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JACOB’S LADDER: ELI by Katie Ashley
One wouldn’t expect a sexy-as-sin rocker like Eli Renard to spend time with a woman just as a friend, but that’s exactly what Emersyn Wallace is to him. Just a friend. Even though she’s matured into a beauty, Eli still doesn’t remotely see his childhood pal as a sex-object. When tragedy brings her back into his world, Eli moves mountains to help Emersyn get back onto her feet by finding her a job as a backup singer for Jacob’s Ladder. At first, Eli is thrilled that Emerysn is along on tour, and he sets out to do his best to help her forget her sorrow through a range of crazy friend dates. But after spending so much time with her in such close quarters, Eli finds his feelings beginning to shift. He no longer sees Emersyn as the once awkward young girl he played some of his first songs with. Soon it’s not only his body that reacts to her, but it’s also his heart. He’s about to learn what a dangerous game it is to dry a widow’s tears.
After losing her husband and singing partner in a tragic accident, Emersyn Wallace spent the last eight months drowning in a sea of grief. With the bills piling up and her family and friends concerned about her emotional welfare, she reluctantly agrees to join the Jacob’s Ladder’s tour. While recapturing her lost love of singing and performing, she finds both comfort and healing in Eli’s gregarious personality and outrageous sense of humor. But as the anniversary of her husband’s death approaches, she finds herself in turmoil over her new amorous feelings for Eli.
Can Eli and Emersyn find the perfect melody to transition from friends to lovers, or will their relationship end out of tune?
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Tonight, as I trudged back to the bus after our show, I wanted nothing more than a scalding hot shower and to fall into bed. After our Meet and Greet, I’d stayed back to have a beer with some of the roadies while Gabe and Emersyn headed for the bus. After Harry unlocked the door, I pounded up the stairs. I swept my shirt over my head as I started down the hallway. The curtain to Emersyn’s roost was closed, so I figured she had gone on to sleep.
“All right, bro, you’ve been in there long enough. Give someone else a shot at the shower.” I grabbed the handle and jerked open the bathroom door. A high-pitched feminine squeal pierced my eardrums, and my hands flew up to cover them. As a whole lot of naked female flesh entered my vision, I should have covered my eyes instead.
Oh fuuuuuck. It hadn’t been Gabe in the shower. Instead of seeing my brother’s junk, I had just managed to see more than I ever should have of my best friend. Like tits and ass kind of more. While most women didn’t care if their girlfriends saw them naked, it was a completely different ball game when it came to male and female friends. Yes, I might’ve accidentally grabbed Emersyn’s boob once, but that was nothing like seeing her practically naked.
“Eli!” Emersyn shrieked as she fumbled to cover herself with a towel.
Averting my eyes, I ducked my head, but then on second thought, I spun around so she could get decent. “I’m so, so sorry. I thought you were Gabe.” As I got a delicious flashback of perky tits in my mind, I mumbled, “So not Gabe.” Oh Jesus, had I actually just thought of Emersyn’s tits as perky and the flashback as delicious? What kind of pervert was I? There was no way I should’ve been having those thoughts about my best friend. When I grabbed her boob in my sleep, I had felt so disgusting I wanted to cut my hand off. Well, you know, except for the fact I kind of needed it to play guitar. Next thing I would be doing is filing the images of Emersyn away in my spank bank to relive at a later time. Oh, fuck no!
“Did you ever hear of knocking?” she squeaked. I wasn’t sure I had ever heard her voice so shrill. Who knew the way to get her to reach a new vocal range was to scare the shit out of her by seeing her naked? Although I was pretty sure she would object to going on stage in the buff
I threw a tentative glance over my shoulder, and relief filled me when I saw Sonny was now sufficiently wrapped in a towel. Turning around to face her, I asked, “Yeah, okay, so I didn’t knock, but didn’t you hear me when I said I was coming in?”
Emersyn wildly shook her head. “It was all muffled because I had the towel over my ears to dry my hair.”
“I’m really sorry, Sonny, but ever since Abby got with Jake, it’s been just us guys on the bus. When you’ve seen one dick, you’ve seen them all.”
“Tell that to all the men enamored with sending dick pics.”
After throwing my head back with a laugh, my eyes met hers. “Good point.”
Nibbling on her lip, Emersyn said, “I guess this was bound to happen with us being in such close quarters.”
“True. But from now on, I’ll make sure to knock. I’ll make sure Gabe gets the memo as well. In fact, we might even instate a shower schedule where you’re ensured to have the whole bus to yourself.”
Emersyn rolled her eyes. “I’m not that much of a special snowflake that I can’t take showering on a bus with you two.”
“Yeah, well, I would argue your horrified scream at the sight of me could have broken glass.”
She laughed. “It wasn’t that bad.”
“I’m seriously surprised the mirror didn’t shatter.”
“Whatever,” she replied.
When my gaze zeroed in on the area directly above her cleavage, Emersyn shoved me. “Jeez, didn’t you get a good enough look a few minutes ago?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You’re staring at my boobs.”
I laughed. “Trust me, I’m not staring at your tits.”
“You could have fooled me,” she huffed, pulling the towel tighter against her.
“You still have the scar.”
With my index finger, I motioned to the slightly discolored area below her collarbone. “The scar you got that time we were climbing trees.”
Emersyn’s eyes widened. “You remember that?”
“You scared the hell out of me. No lie. I can still hear the thump sound when you fell to the ground.”
Pinching her eyes shut, Emersyn began reliving the memory. “You were reaching your hand out to me when my foot slipped on the limb. A branch jabbed me in the chest as I fell. When I landed, it knocked the breath out of me.” Her eyes popped open as a small smile curved on her lips. “I’ll never forget the look on your face—you were pale as a sheet. The worst part was I couldn’t tell you I was all right.”
I grinned. “I’m not going to lie I probably pissed my pants a little that day.”
“Because you were worried our parents would kill you if you’d maimed me?” she teasingly asked.
“That was part of it.” I shook my head. “More than anything, I was worried I’d killed my best friend. I couldn’t imagine my life without you in it.”
“You really thought that?”
“I sure did.”
I froze when fresh tears pooled in her eyes. I couldn’t believe as hard as I was trying not to upset her, I had somehow managed to set her off. The next thing I knew she was throwing her arms around my neck and pressing herself against me. “Oh Eli, everyone should have a best friend as wonderful as you,” she murmured, her breath fanning against my ear.
After I brought my arms up to embrace her, something from the darkest recesses of my brain switched on. For the first time in my life, I noticed the soft curves of Emersyn’s body. The perfect way she fit against me. The way her breasts pillowed against my chest. The flow of her hair down her back. The sweet smell of her perfume. The silkiness of her skin.
It was everything a man would notice about a prospective lover.
It was everything I shouldn’t have noticed about Emersyn.
Clearing my throat, I quickly pulled away. “Anyway, I’m sorry about that day, and I’m sorry about bursting in on you.”
Emersyn gave me sweet smile. A chaste one she would give to her older brother or friend. “You’re forgiven.”
I jerked my thumb at my roost. “I’ll give you some privacy and let you finish getting ready.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“No, no. I don’t mind.”
Before she could protest anymore, I turned on my heels and hurried down the hallway. After jerking aside the cover on my roost, I dove onto the mattress. As I lay back, I pinched my eyes shut. While it was probably crazy as hell, I began repeating in my mind, there is no way in hell I’m hot for Emersyn, there is no way in hell I’m hot for Emersyn, there is no way in hell I’m hot for Emersyn.
Nope. Nada. Not happening.
About the Author
Katie Ashley is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author of both Indie and Traditionally published books. She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her daughter, Olivia, and her spoiled mutt, Duke. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Shakespeare, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Scooby-Doo.
With a BA in English, a BS in Secondary English Education, and a Masters in Adolescent English Education, she spent eleven years teaching both middle and high school English, as well as a few adjunct college English classes. As of January 2013, she hung up her red pen and expo markers to become a full-time writer. Each and every day she counts her blessings to be able to do her dream job.
Although her roots are firmly planted in the red Georgia clay, she loves traveling the country and world to meet readers and hang out with fellow authors. When she’s not writing or chasing down her toddler, you might find her watching reruns of The Golden Girls, reading historical biographies, along with romance novels, or spending way too much time on Facebook.
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