Chasing the Music: For the Love of Music Book 0.5 (29 page)

, Van.” She rolled her eyes, which brought back some of the familiar girlishness of her.

“You should text your dad to tell him you made it, or he’s going to call,” Van warned. He’d been close with her father, Clark, since… Well since he’d moved in with them just before his junior year of high school, right after his parents died. After working an entire career at Planned Parenthood and truly believing that more than half the high school population ended up pregnant, Clark was completely paranoid.

Her smile turned smug. “I already did talk to Dad.”

He stood. Still. Holding open a door that no longer needed to be held open and staring.

Her eyes narrowed questioningly. “What’s with you?”

Now that Sierra was older, she looked so much like Hanson. “Your brother. You’re almost like twins. I forget sometimes.”

Sierra’s face fell a bit. “I wish he was actually

“You know Hanson, though.” Donovan was silently cursing himself for letting this all happen the way it had. Hanson left, needing to jump into yet another cause, saying that it looked good for their store to be contributing in remote places of the world. Sierra had somehow convinced her over-protective parents that Donovan would be the perfect older brother to keep her out of trouble while she finished up her college degree.

Only, as he watched her, she was exactly the kind of girl he liked getting into trouble with. He was so hosed.

“Can I see my room, or should we get my stuff, or…?” She shifted her weight from hip to hip like she’d done since she was eight, and she bit her lip, waiting for Donovan to give them some direction. As the little sister, she was used to following along with whatever Hansen and Donovan had going on. Van didn’t know if he was glad or sad that the trait of waiting had stuck around.

Oh, and the room hadn’t gotten cleared out. At all.

He’d wanted to prolong that disaster until later. “Let’s go eat.”

“I need my stuff inside first.” She shrugged and bounced back outside, her tiny jean shorts leaving little to the imagination, and her cherry red Vans leaving no doubt as to the level of energy she carried everywhere.

Donovan struggled to sound brotherly. Maybe if he acted like a brother and talked like a brother, she’d feel more like his sister and less like someone he’d want to stare at. Or touch. Or see naked. He followed her down the stairs. “Your mom said we’re supposed to pick up some cabinet or something. For all your stuff?”

“They’ll deliver it tomorrow.” She swung around, her mane of light brown hair flying behind her. “It’s really big.”

Donovan paused outside her car. “How big?”

“I have all my craft stuff.” She made a face that took him back to when they were ten. “It’s how I make money.”

Right. Internet. The blog. “That’s still going well?”

.” Her voice was full and sweet. Sierra’d had a nice voice since he could remember. “I try out all that stuff that people put on Pinterest and I try to re-create crafts I find on Etsy and I go to thrift stores and turn ugly stuff into cool stuff. That kind of thing.”

“I think I understood like five words of that..” Donovan watched her for a reaction. “But at least I might understand a little more than your brother.”

She shoved a large box into his arms. “Well, he’s not on my happy list right now, so whatever.”

“Sounds serious,” Donovan teased and lowered his voice. “Not on the happy list.” This, he knew how to do with Sierra. The teasing and back-and-forth.

“Oh, shut up. He never answers my emails. Ever.”

Donovan knew that feeling.

She stopped and sort of arched her back, giving him a perfect view of her smooth hips and butt. He quickly stared down at the box in his arms.

“Oh.” She fingered the bottom of her tiny shorts. “See how I did the lace edges on these shorts? Two bucks at Salvation Army, and they’re cute right? That’s the kind of thing I do on my blog.”

Cute wasn’t the word Donovan would use. He let out a deep breath to slow his heart and keep his body under control. The best way to get rid of tension was to tease. He batted his lashes and put on a fake smile. “

Sierra slugged him in the shoulder like she always did when he and Hanson harassed her. “Shut up. Seriously. Have you not grown up yet?”

“Nope.” He started to turn back to the apartment as Sierra grabbed another box.

“Well then,” she said from behind him. “This should be fun.”


Sierra really thought that after not seeing Donovan for nearly two years, it would be easier to be around him, but it wasn’t. Her ridiculous crush made her act like an idiot like always, and this time instead of teasing her back, he’d turned a little detached and quiet. Major suck.

Stepping back into the apartment all she could do was watch his ass in front of her.  And then her eyes would float to his red hair, and then back to his ass…

She really needed a new obsession. As she’d gotten older, she started to realize she had probably been a pain more often than not to her older brother and his best friend, and she wished she could take some of it back. Okay. A
of it back. Donovan had lived with her family when she was in middle school, putting her solidly in the position of “little sister.”

Instead of focusing on Donovan, she had to focus on moving into her first apartment. That was monumental. She set down her box and pulled out her phone, heading straight for twitter.

New Digs! I’m twenty and just barely moved out on my own! #Lame? #OrStillOK? Either way #HAPPEE

Donovan’s brows twitched in some kind of confused look as he watched her hit “Tweet” and she finally slowed her brain down enough to really look at him. A Great Outdoors t-shirt from the store, jeans, the motorcycle boots that only someone like him could pull off.

Gah! She was doing it again. Obsessing. She forced herself to turn toward the small living room. Brown blah couch and massive TV, and...that’s it. “Where’s your guitars? Music posters?”

“Oh.” He scratched his head. Folded his arms. Unfolded his arms. Leaned against the counter.

Was Donovan fidgeting?

She opened to twitter again, real quick.

What does it mean when guy’s fidget? #Help

She was about to hit “Tweet” when she realized that she already had fifty responses to moving in, and she had a lot of work to do that day. Maybe no tweeting for guy advice…right now…


“I think they’re in Hanson’s room, and with him gone, it’s sort of turned into storage…” He cringed. “I promise I’ll help you get some of the stuff out of there, okay?”

She dismissed him with a wave, already well acquainted with her brother’s sloppiness. “Totally fine.”

But wait. Why weren’t his guitars in the living room? He was always playing. Having them in a bedroom felt so...inconvenient. Donovan shoved his hands in his pockets and Sierra’s hands followed the movement right toward his crotch. How his jeans seemed to be slightly displaced from his…

“You look so…” edible, manly, sexy, older, mature, lickable… She forced her eyes back up to his face. “Good.”

“Thanks.” He cocked his head to the side, his perfect, red hair curving around his ears and over his forehead. “What?”

“You have like, rock star hair.” She grasped her phone harder before touching his hair like an idiot.

Van chuckled, the freckles on his face crinkling, but even then… Even with the tiny wrinkles, he still looked her age instead of twenty-four. “Yeah. I need a cut.”

She lurched toward him. “No!” And immediately stepped back, knowing she probably sounded crazy.

Van’s brows rose. “Oh-kay…”

“How’s music going?” she asked desperate to change the subject. And curious about the missing guitars. She’d posted one of his songs on her blog a couple months ago, and it had gone totally viral. It felt beyond incredible that something
done had helped him.
It was short-lived, but

Donovan shrugged. “Not really time, Sierra. I mean… I’m out of college and running a business, and… And I just don’t have time to do everything.”

Millions of nights she’d spent listening to him play in her backyard. More than she could count. Donovan not playing all the time felt...inconceivable. “I don’t get it.”

He walked past her back toward the car, and she followed. “Life happens, See.”

“And what about the store my brother dumped you with?” Sierra hated that Hanson had talked Donovan into running the outdoor store with him after college. It’s not what Donovan should be doing. He should be on a stage somewhere singing to the masses—even though she knew it would put him even further out of her reach. On top of that, she always sort of knew the store was her brother’s dream and not Donovan’s. Sort of ironic considering Hanson wasn’t around to run the store. “I mean music is your big dream, not running some store, right?”

Donovan chuckled, looking a little more like himself, but his all-too-perfect shoulders were still a little more tense than normal… At least more tense than he used to be. “He didn’t
me with it. Both your brother and I like all the outdoor stuff here, and it pays the bills. Oregon. You know. Not a bad way to make a living. A really good way if you’re willing to put in the hours.”

She jerked open the car door again, pulling out a large duffel bag, and another box. For an Escort, she’d gotten a ton crammed in. “But you still have the same crap furniture you did when you started college. I know you dreamed bigger than that.”

She hadn’t been out to visit her brother in over two years because once he’d graduated, and even before then, he was rarely home--taking every opportunity to travel that he could.
Sierra was a homebody, and one of very few people she felt who actually got along with their parents.

Donovan tossed the duffel over his shoulder. “You’re right, but that’s because I don’t really care, not because I can’t afford it. I’m saving. A lot. And when I get to a point that I’m ready to move in with someone or get married or have kids, I’ll have that cushion, you know?”

“Fair enough. I’ve lived with my parents since I graduated just to save, so I get that.” Wait. “Do guys actually think about stuff like getting ready for

“Depends drastically on the guy.”

Donovan headed back up the stairs, Sierra once again following. Donovan’s ass once again at eye level.

“And your blog keeps you busy.”

“Very.” Sierra nodded. “Maybe you can be my man-taster.”

Donovan coughed before pausing at the apartment door and facing her with a wide-eyed look. “Your

“When I try recipes and stuff. You can be man who tastes things. That’s cool, right? All my food is tax-deductible. Awesome, huh?” She’d learned fast how to manage her money.

“Oh. I get it. I thought…” He shook his head with a laugh and stepped back into the small place. “I don’t know what I thought.”

Sierra dropped the box, pretty ready to be done hauling after the three-hour drive. “That I was going to ask you to taste another man?”

He rubbed his face before pushing the hair off his forehead. “I don’t know. It just sounded funny.”

“You’re so…” She couldn’t put her finger on it exactly. “More reserved or something than I remember.”

Donovan shrugged. “Guess I did grow up.”

Her chest caved a little because she knew that once again, she was the pesky little sister. Whatever. She’d spent too much of her life letting people make her feel bad. That part of her life was over—at least, as she tried to ignore the hollowness in her chest, she wanted it to be.

“Well, I guess I should finish moving in so I can eat and crash.” And maybe sometime in the next day or so she’d start to act normal around him.

“Pizza menus are on the counter. Why don’t you order, and I’ll empty out your car. I’m buying since I was supposed to clean up your brother’s shit…” He winced. “…
, and I didn’t. So yeah. Anything is fine.”

She nodded once and once again watched him walk away, desperation and frustration clinging to her chest harder than ever. So close, but still just as out of reach as he had been when she was three hours away.
Or…almost as out of reach.

Her eyes took in the small apartment. Plain walls. Worn couch. New TV. Decrepit little table. Yes… She definitely had her work cut out for her.




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