The third book in the Loch Lannick series will be available from the 28th February 2020. Scroll down for a sneak peek…
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Leana’s senses flicked back on one at a time. The taste of stale alcohol was unpleasant. By contrast, the soft pillow against her cheek and the scent of crisp, clean sheets were soothing. Chatter from somewhere nearby increased in volume as she emerged further out of sleep. Only when she blinked her eyes open and took in the sparse white room did she remember where she was.
She’d never stayed in a hotel suite before. It had a living room and separate bedroom. When they’d arrived the previous evening, Leana had felt like a celebrity. In reality, it was her boyfriend who was the celebrity. Alasdair was a musician. He’d spent the summer touring around Europe as the supporting act for Ghost Moon, the UK’s biggest band. Previously he’d worked an office job and played gigs in bars occasionally. Now Alasdair King was quickly becoming a household name, and Leana was waking up hungover in fancy hotel suites.
Sitting up, she tuned in to the conversation in the next room. She picked out Alasdair’s voice and the unmistakable low tones of Josh Bane, the frontman of Ghost Moon. It was surreal to think that Josh Bane was casually chatting to Alasdair in the next room and that they’d been out partying with him and the rest of the band the night before. It was the first time Leana had met the band. She hadn’t been instantly taken by them. In fact, the night had been a chore. Hanging out with a bunch of celebrities in the VIP room of a swanky nightclub wasn’t as much fun as it sounded.
The door was open a crack and the chatter was quite clear once she’d properly come round. Josh dominated the conversation. He was idly debating what had happened to Austin, the band’s bass player. Apparently he was MIA, but nobody seemed overly concerned. Surely he was still sleeping, Leana mused. It had been a long, alcohol-fuelled night and she wasn’t keen to get out of bed yet herself. Her ears strained to hear as Josh changed the subject abruptly.
“You’re definitely not coming to America?”
Alasdair’s laugh was gentle and warm. “No. How many times are you going to ask?”
“Until you change your mind,” Josh replied. The band were embarking on a ten-month tour of the United States in a few months and they were keen for Alasdair to join them.
“If you’re going to change your mind, you need to do it quick,” another voice said. Leana recognised it as Ghost Moon’s manager, Finlay Wayman. She’d also met him the previous day and found him pleasant enough. He was easier to talk to than the members of the band.
“I’m not going to change my mind,” Alasdair said.
At the pause in the conversation, Leana thought it might be a good time to join them. Standing, she glanced around the room then reached for the white towelling robe hanging on the back of the door.
“Why not bring her along?” Finlay’s voice stopped Leana in her tracks. Her outstretched hand hovered by the shiny brass handle of the bedroom door. She had the feeling he was talking about her.
“What?” Alasdair’s voice was so quiet Leana could barely hear him.
“It’s not a bad idea.” The female voice was a surprise. It was Ghost Moon’s drummer, Candy Coleman. Leana wondered who else was sitting quietly in the next room. “No way she’d go for it, though,” Candy added. There was a definite air of annoyance to her voice, but that could also just be the way she spoke. At least that was the tone she’d taken with Leana the previous day.
“What are you talking about?” Alasdair asked.
“Bring your girlfriend on tour,” Finlay said. “If she’s the reason you’re not coming I could talk to the record company. She’d be bad for publicity but we’ve kept her out of the press so far. If we keep her in the background it probably won’t be an issue.”
“So you want me to bring Leana on tour for the best part of a year and spend that time pretending she’s not my girlfriend?”
“You don’t have to pretend she’s not your girlfriend,” Finlay said. “It’d be like last night. She can be around but she’d also be invisible.”
“Did you break your rule and sneak some drugs last night?” Alasdair asked. “Because Leana definitely wasn’t invisible.”
“As far as the photographers were concerned she was,” Finlay said. “Have you looked on social media at all today?”
When they fell silent, Leana shifted her weight to peer through the crack in the door. Finlay perched on the arm of the couch beside Alasdair. The pair of them were staring at his phone.
“Leana was standing next to me,” Alasdair said, taking the phone and looking more closely.
Finlay nodded. “They cut her off.”
“Because you’re so cute and squeaky clean,” Josh said, his voice full of amusement. “Women like to dream you’ll fall in love with them and run off into the sunset.” He chuckled. “As well as keeping your girlfriend quiet, the press apparently also haven’t leaked what a boring bugger you are. Who on earth would want to settle down with you?”
“Someone who’s led a sheltered life on an island and doesn’t know any better,” Candy said mockingly. Her words made Leana’s heart rate pick up. She took a step away from the door to avoid being caught eavesdropping.
“Are you seriously moving to Skye?” Josh asked.
“Yes,” Alasdair replied. “You know I am. I’ve got a job lined up and we’re looking for a place to live.”
“A job with the bloody council,” Josh said loudly. “You’re really taking that job? You’re a heartthrob and the press are all over you – but you want to go and live in the back of beyond and work for the local council?”
Leana held her breath waiting for Alasdair’s reply. When he’d come back from touring with the band a month earlier, she’d been surprised he was still keen to move to Skye with her. The office job at the council had been another surprise. Even Leana wasn’t sure it was the right thing for him. It was admin work and she was sure he’d be bored in no time.
“It’s just a job,” Alasdair said. “All that celebrity stuff isn’t for me. I don’t enjoy the fame like you guys do.”
“The thing about the fame is it comes with money, drugs and women,” Josh said.
“You know me so well,” Alasdair said dryly.
“I can’t believe you spent the whole summer with us,” Candy said, “and we didn’t manage to lead you astray at all.”
Silence fell once more. Leana peeked into the room and caught the smile on Alasdair’s lips as he scrolled through his phone. “I found Austin,” he said, passing the phone to Finlay.
“Crap!” Finlay shot up. “He really knows how to pick ’em, doesn’t he?”
Leana lost track of the conversation as they passed the phone around amidst laughter and joking. She decided it might be a good moment to make her presence known. As she pushed at the door, she blinked, hoping to give the impression she’d just that second woken up.
“Morning!” Josh said in an oddly sarcastic tone. She instinctively pulled the robe tighter over her chest. You’d never know the group in the sitting room had been partying and drinking into the early hours. They were annoyingly fresh faced and well put together. Suddenly, she regretted the robe. Why hadn’t she got dressed? She wanted to back out of the room and make herself look decent, but Alasdair held a hand out to her.
As she joined him on the couch, Finlay paced the room. “I feel like a glorified babysitter half the time.”
Josh stretched his legs in front of him. His dark hair was swept back and the stubble along his jaw gave him a rugged look. The black shirt was unbuttoned enough to give a hint of his smooth chest, while the cuffs were rolled back to show off intricate patterns of black ink.
“Just pretend to be me,” he said. “Get an address and pick him up before the paparazzi get to him.”
“What’s going on?” Leana asked as Finlay jabbed furiously at his phone.
“We lost Austin last night,” Alasdair told her. “Some woman just tweeted about her night of passion with a rock star. Along with a picture of Austin passed out naked in her bed.”
“I’ve got an address,” Finlay said, snatching his jacket from the back of the couch and heading for the door. “I’ll be back soon.”
Alasdair shook his head in amusement, then turned to Leana. “I messaged Kyle and told him we’d meet him and Justin for dinner instead of lunch.”
When she’d moved to Edinburgh earlier in the year, Kyle was the first friend Leana had made. Now he was dating Alasdair’s cousin, Justin. She’d been looking forward to the four of them catching up.
“Let’s do lunch,” she said. “Kyle doesn’t like it when plans are rearranged. I’ll have a quick shower. I can be ready in ten minutes.”
Candy inspected her purple nails. They matched her hair, which seemed to change colour from week to week. “You Scots eat your meals at really strange times.”
“No,” Josh said. “It’s just Alasdair who eats at all hours of the day and night.”
Alasdair threw a hand up, indicating the selection of fruits and pastries laid out on the table in front of them. “Only because you constantly order food and don’t eat it. I don’t like to see food go to waste. Do you want breakfast?” he asked Leana. She reached for a croissant. It wasn’t exactly hangover food. What she really needed was a fry-up.
“What’s strange about lunch in the middle of the day?” she asked.
“It’s almost three,” Alasdair said with a smirk.
“What?” She snatched at his arm and checked his watch. “Why didn’t you wake me?” She stood, feeling as though she was late and needed to get ready.
“You looked too peaceful,” Alasdair said. “It doesn’t matter anyway. Kyle’s happy to have a night out with us instead.”
Leana sighed. She’d been looking forward to a quiet night in the fancy hotel suite with Alasdair.
“Come on.” Josh tipped his head in Candy’s direction then jumped to his feet. “Let’s leave them to their domestic bliss.”
“Talk to you later,” Alasdair said as they left without so much as a goodbye.
“How come I’m the only one who looks like I was on a wild night out last night?” Leana asked, plonking herself back down beside Alasdair.
He relaxed back into the couch. “Last night was pretty tame for those guys.”
“I should probably have got dressed,” she said, snuggling into him.
“I think the robe looks good. And the mascara under your eyes is surprisingly attractive.”
Leana jerked upright and ran her fingers across the delicate skin beneath her eyes. She groaned at the black smudges on her fingertips. “I’m so embarrassed.”
“No one cares,” he said. “Your morning-after look is very cute.”
With a fake cry, she stood up. Not only was she mortified that the UK’s biggest celebrities had seen her in such a state, but she was annoyed she’d overslept and messed up their plans for the day. “Am I in trouble with Kyle?”
“Don’t think so.”
“I bet he’s been messaging me.” She headed back to the bedroom. “I’m going to shower.”
Her phone was in the bottom of her handbag. There were several missed calls and messages from Kyle. After scrolling through them, she called him back.
“You’re staying at the Waldorf!” he screeched without bothering with a greeting. “There’s no wonder you don’t have time for me – too busy living the high life!”
She beamed into the phone. “We have a suite with a view of the castle.”
“No!” He gasped. “Scrap the night out. Let’s just hang out there.”
She paused, not sure if he was serious or not.
“Can we?” he asked eagerly. “Everything’s paid for by the record company, isn’t it? We can order loads of room service and raid the mini-bar?”
“Er … I guess so.”
“Please,” he whined. “Please, please, please.”
“Of course you can,” she said with a laugh. “It’s actually a great idea. I’m not sure I can handle another night out.”
“Were you out last night?”
“Yes. We ended up going out with the band.” She winced, thinking she’d probably be about to get a lecture for not inviting him.
“Oh,” he said. “You went too? I saw Alasdair had gone out with them. You weren’t on any of the photos. I stalk Ghost Moon online.”
Leana rolled her eyes. “Apparently the record company don’t want the public to know that Alasdair has a girlfriend.”
“Makes sense,” Kyle said.
He ignored the question. “If we come over to the hotel, will Josh Bane be there?”
“Probably not. We only just got rid of him.”
“I want to meet him. And Candy Coleman.”
“You already met them,” Leana said.
“Not properly. That night was a disaster thanks to you and your disappearing act.”
“You can blame Logan for falling off the roof,” Leana said. That felt like forever ago but was only a matter of weeks. It was the night Alasdair had got back from the tour. Leana had been on her way to meet Kyle and Alasdair for a night out with the band when she’d got the call that Logan had been rushed to hospital. He was like a brother to Leana, and she’d raced to get to him without even letting Alasdair know where she was.
“How’s he doing?” Kyle asked. He had a definite soft spot for Logan.
“And everything’s going well with him and Isla?”
“Yes.” Her sister and Logan had finally got back together after his accident.
“I’m so happy for them,” Kyle said dreamily. “I knew when I met them they should be together. There’s a chemistry between them.”
“Yeah.” Leana was happy for them too. “I’m going to jump in the shower. Are you definitely coming over to the hotel?”
“Yes. Can you let reception know to expect us? I don’t want to look like a celebrity stalker.”
Leana chuckled. “You are a celebrity stalker.”
“Mostly just online, though.”
He laughed. “Can you send one of Alasdair’s security guys down to escort us up?”
“Alasdair doesn’t have security,” Leana said.
“One of Josh Bane’s guys then. In fact, could you send a driver for us?”
“No, I bloody can’t.” She was grinning as she ended the call and tossed the phone onto the bed.