Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. She is the author of Pretty Amy, The Next Forever, Dear Cassie and Sneaking Candy. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats.
Epilogue from Mia & The Bad Boy
Ryder headed down the line of dressing room doors at the Philips Arena in Atlanta: Miles Carlisle, Will Frey, Ryder Brooks, Nathan Strong, Trevin Jacobs, Paige and Abby Curtis, and finally, Mia Reyes.
It had been almost two weeks, and he didn’t think he would ever lose his feeling of excitement when he saw her dressing room door. You would think now that they didn’t have to share a room anymore, it would upset him, but it was just the opposite. He was insanely proud of her for earning her own dressing room—for earning a spot on the tour.
Ryder played guitar while she sang, and so far it was a total hit.
LJ still owed him big time for what he’d done, but adding Mia as an additional opening act was a start. Besides, it was in LJ’s best interest. The response to the video Ryder posted had been overwhelming, and not only because of the flashcards. People loved it; they loved her. Just like Ryder had known the moment he heard her sing, Mia was a star. She shone as brightly as the gold one now affixed on her door, if not brighter.
“Get lost,” she replied.
It brought him back to the day they met. That was the first thing he’d said to her and instead of replying with words, she’d answered with that smile, those eyes, and eventually that kiss.
He knocked again.
She pulled the door open with a sigh. “I’m not signing autographs right now.” Her smile was sheepish.
“You’ve been on tour for less than two weeks and already you’re a diva.” He laughed.
“I learned from the best.” Mia winked. “Besides, I know your knock, and also, you’re right on time.”
Ryder headed into her dressing room. “I guess we’re both settling into our new roles well.”
Mia still had makeup on from the show that night, but she was in a robe. He really liked the robe. It was white and fluffy and the string around her waist hung so precariously, like a pendulum hypnotizing him the way she did.
“Yes, as the attentive boyfriend, you are excelling,” Mia said, kissing him on the cheek.
She headed to the table at the center of the room and sat down. He joined her and opened his laptop.
“I never would have thought I’d be spending my time after a show working on a college essay.”
At least he wasn’t hiding it from the guys anymore. They knew everything. He’d sat them down and told them, with Miles’s and Trevin’s help, about all the lies, including the one about his mother. He promised that at least through the world tour, he would do his best not to lie anymore.
He’d even responded to his mom’s letter. He still hadn’t sent her any money, but they were supposed to meet up to talk the next time he was back in New York City. He hoped to have Mia by his side for that, too.
“There’s a lot that’s happened recently that I never would have thought possible,” she replied with that heart-soaring smile.
“No Mia,” Ryder insisted wrapping his hand around hers, “we were inevitable.”
Mia gazed at him provocatively. “It is so hot when you use your vocabulary words.”
“I plan on using each and every one,” he said lifting up her hand to his lips and sliding a kiss against each knuckle, “without exception.”
She sighed. “This is going to be a long night.”
Warmth rushed to all the right places at the prospect, “promise?”
She laughed and took out a piece of scratch paper and her pencil case. “What color?”
“Pink, of course,” he said, pulling her pen from his back pocket.
“I knew you took it!” She slammed her hands on the table in mock anger.
“I think the bubble gum smell brings me good luck; I had to keep it.”
Her lips curved up. “I definitely wouldn’t mention that on the bus with the guys.”
“Well, at least when you’re riding with us,” he said, raising his eyebrows, “I’ll be too busy to talk.”
Mia leaned toward him, her voice husky. “I guess it’s a good thing you passed the GED then.”
Ryder hadn’t just passed. He’d passed by a lot.
He had his degree and was able to do anything with his life that he wanted once the world tour was over. Maybe Berklee—they were still working on his application—but maybe something else; the possibilities were intoxicating. He had Mia to thank for that and for countless other things he couldn’t even give words to.
“Not just good,” he paused, “monumental,” he leaned over to kiss her.
Her lips were as soft as that bubble gum smell. Just as pure and as true and as sweet, and they were all his.
Mia pulled back, licked her lips. “You can sweet talk me with those vocabulary words all you want, but just because you’re not paying me for my time anymore,” she said, getting close to his ear, “doesn’t mean we can spend it making out.”
Mia was earning her own money from the tour, now. She was signed on through the summer, but Ryder was pretty sure once she got a taste of rock star life, she’d be on the road with him to stay. He hoped her parents would be okay with that. Maybe let her get her own tutor to finish high school, now that she’d proved her hobby could actually be a career.
Ryder had sat next to Mia and held her hand when she called her parents and told them she was going to see where music might take her. That she was applying to Berklee with Ryder.
Ryder hadn’t heard her mother’s portion of the conversation, but it was clear that no matter what her mother said, Mia was finally doing what she wanted to do.
Just thinking about her being the Mia he always knew she could be made him want to kiss her again. He leaned in, craving those bubblegum lips.
“Hey,” she scolded lightly, pushing him and pointing at his laptop, “you owe me a completed paragraph first, mister.”
He squeezed her hand and started typing. He knew he really owed her a lot more than that.
This good girl’s about to meet her match…Ryder Brooks is living the dream—he’s famous, loved by millions of girls, and miserable. All he really wants is to write his own music, not Seconds to Juliet’s sugary sweet pop. In order to do that, though, the “bad boy” of the band will have to play by the rules. And that includes behaving with his new—and super cute—über-good-girl tutor.Mia Reyes is in fangirl heaven. Tutoring her favorite member of her favorite band? It’s a dream come true…until it turns into a complete nightmare. Ryder is nothing like she thought. He’s crude, arrogant, and pretty much a total jerk. And the worst part? She’s roped into pretending to be his girlfriend so that no one finds out he’s being tutored. Fake kisses, plenty of PDA, and even sharing his hotel room…But sometimes even the baddest of bad boys needs a little redemption.
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