Authors: Lynne Connolly
Book Six in the Nightstar
For eight and a half years Riku has
wanted only one woman. Every person he has had on tour with the Murder City
Ravens has been unable to compare to the electric lovemaking he had with Cyn.
They had everything together, love, passion, fire, sex—until the day she left
him and everything between them behind. Riku wants answers as to why she left, but
he wants her more.
Cyn abandoned her future as an
opera singer—and her relationship with Riku—when she dropped out of the Creel
Institute. A day hasn’t gone by that she doesn’t crave Riku’s body against
hers. Now he’s back in her life, if only for a few weeks, and she plans to make
the most of the time they have. No location is off-limits for their whirlwind
romance. Cyn knows she can’t keep him but that doesn’t stop her from falling
for him, mind, body and soul, all over again.
contemporary erotic romance
Riku strolled along Forty-Second Street and turned left onto
Fifth, trying to get into the vibe. He’d missed New York but now here, he felt
Aimless walking didn’t suit him, was all. He’d get a coffee
and do some crowd watching, maybe make notes for a song. Ideas eluded him today
and he’d wanted to take something new to the band when they met for a planning
meeting after the upcoming gigs. So what if he’d come down here on the
off-chance he’d meet an old friend. He’d gone to the address he had and
couldn’t find her, then had second thoughts. Maybe the rest of the band pairing
up had given him the blues.
Shit, they were so busy fucking and being fucked he didn’t
know if they’d have time to write music. He kicked a loose stone across the
sidewalk. He didn’t envy them. He wasn’t the type to stick to one woman. Women
were light relief, people to talk to, have fun with.
A heavy weight struck his midriff hard. As he lost his
breath in an
of instinctive response, he heard tinkling staccato
sounds around him as if glass had shattered.
He shook his head, trying to get some sense back into it and
saw the girl. Then he lost what remained of his thought process. There Cyn was.
The woman he’d been looking for.
Cyn glared at him without surprise, as if she’d last seen
him yesterday. “Don’t stand there like a fucking idiot. Pick them up!”
He glanced down. The shattering noises were polished stones,
most of them round. Fuck, rolling all over the fucking place. Obediently he
dropped to the ground and winced as a stone hit the tender part of his knee. He
Despite the pain he grinned at the English slang. He’d been touring
England with Murder City Ravens recently and he heard accents similar to hers
every day, except she’d gained a touch of New York burr in her years here.
Nobody sounded like Cyn. Never would.
He shifted and picked up the stone, taking more care where
he put his knee this time. She thrust a small wicker basket under his chin and
he deposited the smooth object. He found five others, different colors. Keeping
the final one, he got to his feet and lifted the round object to examine it
against the light. “Nice.” The deep, intense blue appealed to him. “Zazz did
his hair that color last year. Maybe I will.”
She snorted. “Good luck with that. The stone’s lapis lazuli.
They used it to create the most expensive dye ever made. Painters drooled over
He dropped the gem in with the others. Amethyst, tiger’s-eye,
rose quartz, some he couldn’t identify. Beads, holes drilled through. “Sorry I
broke your necklace.”
Then he met her eyes. “Sorry.” He wasn’t sure what he was
apologizing for anymore. God, he’d missed her. He hadn’t realized how much
until he saw her. He grinned. “Hi.”
She glanced up, smiled back. “Uh-oh.”
She was staring at a spot above his eyes. Too late Riku
grabbed at his knit cap. It had ridden back and exposed what he wanted to keep
hidden. “Shit.” He tugged the hat over his hair, which he’d hastily bundled
underneath before he’d left his apartment.
“Are you Riku Shiraishi?” another female voice inquired.
He pasted on a fixed smile and turned, only remembering to
grab Cyn’s elbow as he did so. No way was she getting away. “Yes, I am.”
“Wow.” The girl gazed up at him, stars in her eyes. “Will
you sign something for me?”
“As long as it’s not your arm.” He’d learned not to do that
recently. People had his signature on their flesh tattooed in place.
Embroidering it on scarves and T-shirts was bad enough.
She produced a napkin from a burger chain. “This do?”
“Sure.” He grabbed a pen from the inside pocket of his
jacket and signed the napkin.
“I love your guitar solo on
. You should
totally do more rock.”
He was used to fans telling him what to do. “Sure. Thanks, I’ll
bear it in mind.”
She took her paper and the pen and when he turned, signaling
his attention to walk on, she got the message and left.
He’d had to release Cyn while he signed but he heard her
voice. “She took your pen.”
“I’m used to it.” He couldn’t suppress his smile when he saw
her. There she stood with gorgeous long, blonde hair, sharp blue eyes, a beauty
with the curves to prove it. “I don’t carry the jewel-encrusted ones around
She sniggered. “Come on. I’ll make you coffee.”
He fell into step next to her. She carried the basket as if
it was gold dust but she had other strings of marble-sized stones draped over
She paused before a door and nodded to him. He acceded to
her unspoken request and opened it for her. Raising a brow, no doubt at his
lack of manners at not doing it before, she walked past him and in. He followed
Strings of polished semiprecious gems hung from hooks on the
walls, and a long table ran down the store in the middle, holding trays of
charms. While Cyn walked to the counter at the end, he lingered, drifting his
hands over the charms, their cool metallic shapes shadowing his skin. He’d buy
some of those, add them to his collection. Maybe his costume designer could use
them or he’d tack a few to his street clothes. He tried hard to dress down but
his natural instincts invariably broke through and he added something a tiny
bit different. Maybe he should give up and go full-on. The disguise didn’t work
and in January sunglasses looked stupid and pretentious, unless the sun was
actually shining, so he hadn’t bothered.
She nodded to the girl behind the counter, whose eyes
widened when she caught sight of him. Even if he wasn’t dressed up and ready to
go people sometimes stared at him that way. Apart from being a trifle tall, he
had no idea why but he wasn’t shy of taking advantage of it. Not too unusual,
except his parents often wondered how they’d managed to produce a changeling
like him. Not easy to be the child of a conventional Japanese American family
wanting to kick over the traces and do something different.
They walked past into the small office at the back. He
closed the door. The sheet of her hair rippled slightly as she registered the
gentle click, but she said nothing, only put down her basket of stones, laid
the strings on the desk and picked up the pot for the coffee machine sited in
the corner. Riku stared around, interested. A large work desk occupied most of
the cramped space, with grooves cut in the surface. Boards hung above it, and a
chest of many drawers stood to one side. All accoutrements of the jewelry
trade, he presumed.
The whole place intrigued him but she intrigued him more. As
she turned he waved to indicate the room and the store beyond. “It’d be stupid
to ask what you’ve been doing recently.” He smiled, trying for sultry and
failing badly. He caught his expression in the small mirror placed opposite the
big desk and suppressed a grimace.
was a better description.
He lost the smile, forgot the posing. Too used to it
recently. She smiled back anyway. “I should say that to you. You’ve invaded the
media now you’re back home. Didn’t you do something on TV this morning?”
“Yeah.” He wasn’t too happy about appearing on the morning
show he spent half his childhood watching. “It feels kinda strange.”
He’d missed chatting with a friend, no biggie, being honest.
These days there weren’t many people he could do that with. “My parents never
allowed me to watch it when I was a kid, you know, when it had that other
presenter. Trashy, they said. I used to watch it on my phone in my room, or
online. The forbidden is always sweeter. Now I wonder if they’ll switch me off.”
He smiled and this time he sensed the honesty of the expression. Nothing in his
face felt taut or strained. “Probably. The difference is I don’t give a shit
Cyn knew his parents’ close-mindedness, even though she’d
only met his mother once and his father not at all. He didn’t have to hide
anything from her and he felt that as a relief. “I bet they watched. What
parent wouldn’t?” She leaned against the counter, studying him. “Purple hair?
“Don’t you like the gold?” After removing his hat he turned
his head for her to admire. “If my cap hadn’t slipped nobody would’ve
She took her time examining him and he relaxed, knowing she
wasn’t sizing him up like a piece of meat but reacquainting herself with his
presence. “Nearly. But you can’t resist an extra bit of pizazz.” She nodded at
his zebra-stripe T-shirt. “Grungy you ain’t.” The machine behind her hissed and
bubbled, sounding like mechanical giggles.
He released a bark of laughter as she turned away to pour
the coffee. “Yeah, you know me.”
“Do I?” she reached for the minifridge and found some milk.
She waggled the carton.
“Yes, please. Black makes me antsy.”
“It always did. Nice to know you’ve noticed at last.” She
poured a dollop into each mug and put the container back before she turned
around, mugs in hand. Were her hands trembling? Shit, he hoped not. All he felt
was delight that he’d run into her again. Not entirely by accident, he had to
admit. “You decided not to go home when you left the institute.”
She didn’t look at him when she passed him the coffee. Not
until she’d retreated to her side of the room. “This is home now. Got my green
card and everything.”
“You’re taking citizenship?”
A smile flickered over her lips, a nervous tic more than
anything else. “I like it here. My parents don’t mind, as long as I go back for
an annual visit.”
“You slay me with your enthusiasm.”
That won a smile. Then a laugh. “Yeah, sorry. I just felt
shitty when someone collided with me and ruined my beads. I’ll get over it.”
She buried her face in her mug, took a sip and then held it so the steam
obscured her features.
“You’re pleased I’m here?”
“Yes.” She sounded flat but he understood her better because
he was feeling it too. Delight at her presence but wariness because of the way
“I’m pleased to see you.”
“I’m glad to see you too.” She paused, tilted her head to
one side and studied his appearance. “How do you get that pattern on your hair
He laughed. “With gold. We’re wrapping up the tour, so I
decided to do something special. My hairdresser suggested gold dust. Purple
hair with a golden bald eagle has a certain something.”
She raised a brow. “Can’t argue with that. Will it wash out?”
“Yes. Can’t wash it until after the last performance or I’ll
have to have it reapplied. The purple’s okay though.” Not to mention the
expense. His extravagant clothes and personal style came from a need deep
inside him that he didn’t understand himself, born of a childhood where
conforming was approved of to the point of cruelty. But he was no shrink, he
only knew it made him happy.
“Oh goodie.” She studied him, her face serious. “Did you
come here to find me?”
He shrugged, suddenly bashful, an emotion so alien to him he
nearly didn’t recognize it. “And to check out the stores.”
She grinned. “The ones at the top of Fifth are more your
style these days, aren’t they?”
He shook his head. “The vintage stores. I get a lot of what
I wear there. And I have someone who sews for me and helps me create the looks.”
He grinned when he recalled the frankly masculine Ray. Not what people tended
to expect in a dresser. “A theatrical costumer.”
“Naturally. Don’t we all have one?” She tossed her head in a
mock-dramatic gesture. Her hair flew around her head, some of the sleek mass
clinging to her shoulders and arms. He remembered its silky texture. Did it
feel as good as it used to?
“Sure we do.” He paused, remembering he could trust her,
because what she didn’t know about him wasn’t worth knowing. “I do, anyhow. It
gives me something to be onstage. The others, they have their personas but I
never felt certain about mine.”
“A hulking, handsome Japanese American who attended two of
the best music conservatories in the world?” She put her empty mug on the
surface behind her. “No, no personality. Not one bit.”
He joined in her laughter. That was a problem he’d faced for
most of his life. No self-confidence and appearing as he did, as if he could
take on anything and anyone, tended to make people think exactly the wrong
things about him. Sometimes it worked to his advantage.
They were standing on opposite sides of the room but it wasn’t
a large room. It only took one step to bring him to her. He handed her his
They touched. A visible spark arced between them.
“Ouch!” Not surprisingly she dropped the mug. It hit the
small desk and then the floor and although it didn’t shatter, the impact
knocked a large chip from it.
“Sorry.” He bent to retrieve the remnants and she reached at
the same time. “What was that?”
“An electric connection between us?” They broke into
laughter. “More likely a result of laying cheap carpet in here. All the money
went on the store outside. I get static electricity sparks all the time.”
He glanced at the table with its grooves and dips carved
into the surface. “Does the designer work in here?”
“I’m the designer.”
He knew that but he shied away from letting her know how
closely he’d followed her career. He didn’t want to give her ideas of getting
back together or anything like that. Cyn had used jewelry design as a hobby
when they were together. She’d come a long way since then. “Just you?”
“No. My manager does some and we hold classes sometimes.”
Instead of straightening they sat down on the floor, still
close. She dropped the chip in the mug and dumped it on the counter that held
the coffeemaker. The action lifted her breasts. “I’ve never forgotten those,”
he said. To him they constituted the gold standard, the breasts by which all
other breasts were judged and usually found wanting.