Title: The Leader of the Band
Author: Genie Gabriel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2
On stage, band leader Zach Zacata controls the emotions of thousands of fans, but he can't control his middle-aged body. When he has a heart attack, best friend and sometime lover Lauren Westover provides a place where Zach can heal. And Zach realizes he has one more chance to win Lauren's love--if a killer doesn't get to them first.
Staring at the woman in the mirror, Lauren slowly pushed the gray wig off her head. Her naturally blonde hair lay matted forlornly against one side of her head. As she turned her head, a white bandage became obvious, framed by a semi-circle of close-cropped stubble around her ear where waves of golden hair used to flow.
I could have lost my life instead of my hair, she reassured herself. Still, a spiral of panic threaded through Lauren’s belly.
Sometimes Lauren disparaged her beauty, especially when lechers with insulting hands expected free access to her body. However, she also knew her physical appearance garnered many opportunities a plain woman never enjoyed.
Now, hidden out in a retirement center and disguised as an old woman, no one had spared a second glance at her. Hadn't she wanted to be respected for something that didn't depend on good looks?
A commotion at the door startled Lauren away from her own musings. Zach slipped inside and slammed the door shut behind him. Then he leaned against it, gulping deep breaths of air. His silver-streaked wig hung precariously over one ear; his satin smoking jacket was missing the belt that knotted it jauntily around his middle when she left him less than fifteen minutes ago.
He slid the lock into place and limped toward Lauren. “Whoever said women lose their libido in old age never visited this place.”
He flung the wig on the bed for the cat to play with and sat beside Lauren on the vanity bench. “How are you doing?”
Lauren shrugged. “Have the police found any sign of Matt [my son]?”
Zach’s fingers tiptoed across the bare skin at the back of Lauren’s neck. “Nothing yet. Johnny is spending most of his off-duty time shaking up the homeless hangouts. But they’re a tight-lipped bunch. Don’t talk to cops much.”
Zach’s lips touched the cool skin of Lauren’s nape. “He'll be alright.”
Her shiver this time wasn’t from fear for Matt but the trail of Zach's kisses across the base of her neck. Funny how being in a place with older people had eased Zach’s mind about aging. These men and women hadn’t given up on life when their youth faded. They still indulged their passions and their dreams. They spoke their minds and pursued what they wanted without regard to what others thought.
They were free in so many ways from the restraints and criticisms of the world. Free from their own unrealistic expectations, yet at peace with taking risks and trying new experiences.
Why had Zach feared growing old? "Will you make love with me?”
Lauren turned and stared at Zach. Disbelief, humor, interest, and eagerness flickered in her eyes before she placed her hand in Zach’s.