Title: Young at Midnight
Author: Jennifer Ann Shore
Genre: Adult Romance, Rockstar Romance
Travis Young is the rockstar with a reputation, too many tattoos to count, and an unexplained three-year hiatus.
I never thought I’d see him again after high school. But when my career as a hard-hitting reporter is derailed when my work gets caught up in a legal mess, my editor sends me to cover Travis’s upcoming album release while the whole thing blows over.
The lifestyle of private jets, city hopping, and exclusive parties is alluring, but it’s not something I get easily caught up in.
I’m here for the story—definitely not for the musician with an attitude, gut-wrenching lyrics, and killer blue eyes.
I shift my focus over to Travis, the entire reason I’m here instead of doing my actual job.
He messes up a neat pile of logo shirts before moving on to examine a rack of leather jackets, hovering for a minute on one with patches on the back.
“You like that one the best?” I ask him, trying to break the ice.
“If I say yes, are you going to include that in the write-up?” Travis says flippantly.
He manages to say the words without a shred of emotion, good or bad, which is just as impressive as it is frustrating.
“Maybe.” I try to channel his nonchalance, but it comes off sharply.
“Then ‘maybe’ is my answer, too,” he retorts with the ghost of a smirk on his face.
He abruptly turns and crosses to the other side of the store.
“You said the dressing room’s in the back?” Travis asks, interrupting the conversation between Devin, Leigh, and the employee.
“Y-yes,” she says. “Can I help you with something?”
He grins at her before he heads that way, which grates at my nerves because it’s daggers for me and smiles for complete strangers, apparently.
But then again, I’ve been around enough classist, rich people who brush off us normal workers, so I actually kind of appreciate his friendliness toward her.
I just don’t get his angle or whatever game he’s playing, and that’s truly what’s frustrating about this situation.
He specifically asked for me to do this story only to string me along?
I don’t put up with this type of cat-and-mouse game in relationships, so I’m certainly not going to stand for it in my career—the thing that I’ve worked harder for than anything else in my life.
At that thought, my dwindling thread of patience snaps.
“Fuck this,” I mutter as I stomp down the hallway to the back of the store.
I pull back the heavy velvet curtain of the fitting room just as Travis slips off his shirt.
He seems unfazed by my sudden appearance, and I can’t decide if it’s because he doesn’t give a shit about modesty or because he expected me to follow him.
I force my gaze to stay on his face rather than wandering down his body or studying his tattoos. “Why am I here, Travis?”
He grabs a printed silk shirt and slides it on. “You tell me.”
“Cut the bullshit,” I demand. “I have a job to do. You asked for me specifically, and now you’re brushing me off? It doesn’t make sense.”
He eyes himself in the mirror. “Not my problem.”
I step over, blocking his view. “Is this a part of your brand? Acting all nonchalant to reporters so they say you’re some sort of untouchable being? Because that’s not going to work on me.”
Wordlessly, he unbuckles his belt. “Again, not my problem.”
I grit my teeth in irritation. “Do you even remember me, Travis?”
“Barely.” He offers me a challenging look as he kicks off his jeans. “Just a general recollection of you being a pain in the ass know-it-all.”
“Well, you were the stoner who barely attended enough classes to graduate,” I snap.
This is so unbelievably unprofessional on both of our accounts, but I don’t intend on backing down.
“And yet we both turned out just fine,” he says evenly. “Well, mostly.”
I balk at those words, unsure of what he’s implying. “Mostly?”
Travis quirks an eyebrow as if the answer is obvious.
“Are you implying that money and fame is the end goal for everyone?” I scoff. “That people don’t have other desires or better things to do than get high and go scream on a stage while people grope one another?”
I stop before I get ahead of myself and take a breath, lowering the volume of my voice.
“I’m a journalist, Travis. Not some sort of lost puppy following you around New York.”
He runs his hands through his overgrown hair. “Good to know.”
My betraying eyes drop down to the fabric of his boxer briefs and the exposed skin of his abdomen.
I inhale before I drag my eyes upward again. “We barely knew each other in school. This isn’t even close to the realm of my expertise, in my beat, or even what I’m interested in. So if you’re only going to answer one question today, let it be this one. Why did you want me to do this interview?”
Travis steps into a pair of bright red pants and pulls them up.
I can see even in my peripherals that they look absolutely divine, hugging his ass, so I dig my fingertips into my palms to ground myself.
“The label has been pressuring me for interviews for years,” he says sharply. “I only agreed to do press again if they let me do what I wanted for the album.”
“So that makes me, what, some sort of compromise?”
He turns to face me full-on, his blue eyes slicing into me. “Leigh has been babbling on about Exos for as long as I’ve known her, and she thought it was funny that two people from some piece-of-shit town in Pennsylvania went on to live such drastically different lives. I specifically requested you because I never thought you’d agree to it, and we’d both be spared from this absurdity.”
“Well, I guess you were wrong,” I retort, my voice losing some of its power.
He lets his gaze drop to the ground, and before any other words are exchanged, I turn on my heel and get the hell out of the confined space.
“Now what?” Travis calls after me. “You done?”
“No,” I snap. “I’m not quitting. I’m getting to work.”
He looks mildly taken aback, but there’s a note of approval in the way the tension leaves his body.
I’m not entirely surprised at the gawking from the store employees as I head toward the exit, but I do make a point to stop and turn to Leigh.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” I promise.
She nods, amusement clear on her features. “I’m looking forward to it.”
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Jennifer Ann Shore is the award-winning and bestselling author of several fiction books, including "Metallic Red," "The Stillness Before the Start," and "The Extended Summer of Anna and Jeremy."
In her decade of working in journalism, marketing, and book publishing, she has gained recognition for her work from companies such as Hearst and SIIA.
Be sure to visit her website (https://www.jenniferannshore.com) and follow her on Twitter (@JenniferAShore), Instagram (@shorely), or your preferred social media channel to stay in touch.
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