Shasta Kovich stood in the quiet hallway, eighteen floors up, glaring at the once elegant flocked and foiled wallpaper, growing more furious by the minute. For ten of those minutes she’d been alternately pressing the doorbell and knocking—without any answer. Now she was on the verge of blowing the top right off her pressure cooker.
She scowled at the art deco sconce on the wall and muttered, “Five more seconds and I’m out of here. This is bullshit.”
“One, two,” she counted. A door farther down the hallway opened and a man’s dark head poked out.
Then he frowned at her. “Shasta?”
Shit. Was she at the wrong door?
He scanned her from head to toe and his face twitched in unmistakable distaste. What the hell? Gorgeous did not mean he was automatically excused for something like that. She shifted on her spiked boots and glared back. It was blatantly apparent he didn’t like what he saw.
Who does he think he is, anyway?
Giving her a curt nod, he beckoned her over. “You’re late. And you’re at the wrong door. That’s my private apartment. This is the studio. I thought Sarah told you all this.”
Shasta would have stomped her way over if her feet didn’t hurt so damn bad. What a prick. Nobody lectures her. Simmering, she scowled back at him. “Must have been lost in translation.”
He stepped aside to let her in. The enclosed studio was dead ahead. Looking through the large window she saw an upright piano, music stand, and a couple of chairs. Acoustic tiles covered the walls and ceiling.
“You can hang your coat there.” He pointed to the small closet on her right then went into the studio and took a seat at the piano.
Shasta slipped out of her black leather jacket and hung it up. He swiveled on the bench when she walked in.
“Shut the door.”
“Nice to meet you, too.” Asshole. “Ever use the word please?”
This guy’s manners sucked.
Blake Adams ignored the scathing question. “Have you been practicing?
She shifted her shoulders, easily shoved off her confident footing once again. “A little.”
That earned an even deeper frown. “Let’s hope you haven’t ruined your recovery.”
Shasta’s jaw dropped. The gall! “What?”
“You heard me. You had vocal cord surgery. You were supposed to be on total voice rest until you came to see me. I don’t want you singing anywhere but here until I’m confident you know what you’re doing. And keep unnecessary chit-chat to a minimum, even whispers. If you have to gab with your friends, do it on-line or text them instead. Use your thumbs and give your voice a break.”
Shasta was roasting in her gravy now. “Listen up. I have a number one hit. I know what I’m doing.”
“Correction. You had a number one hit. It’s already dropped to fourteen, and your concert tour was cut short when you blew out your voice because—” The jerk drew out the word longer than necessary. “You…don’t…know …dick about singing.”
When all she could do was sputter, he bludgeoned on. “I listened to your CD and,” he grimaced, “it was painful, but here’s the thing—the music itself wasn’t bad. You have raw talent. Notice, I’m emphasizing raw for a reason. You might even have a future in music if you listen and apply yourself. Otherwise, you’ll just be another in the long line of one-hit-wonders.”
If she had laser beams for eyes and could burn him where he sat, he’d be charred and smoking right now. “I don’t like you very much.”
Nothing. Not even a raised eyebrow from him. “Your feelings for me are irrelevant. All I want to know is will you listen and follow my direction?”
She could feel the hostility sweating out of her pores and seriously wondered if she could buckle under for him at this point. After a lengthy stare down, she finally grumbled, “Do I have a choice?”
“Not if you want to hang onto your record contract.”