Title: Staking Her Claim
Author: Linda/Brynna/Brynnamorgan
Rating: M
Category: Romance
Genre: het m/f
Warnings: Explicit Sex, Language

Another one with a male performer! :-)

Chapter One

He roared in on his long black motorcycle, bandanna tied around his bald head and dark sunglasses over his eyes. It matched his black attire, which in turn contrasted with the red cowboy boots he always wore when performing. Next to him his partner of almost a decade rode on his bike, his wife Amy next to him on hers.

He'd married over twenty years previous, his buddy for the second time just a few years back. While Terry had managed to sustain a warm loving marriage, his had take a decided downturn before ending in divorce. Now he was alone, angry and as touchy as a cornered badger.

The three of them parked at the end of a long row of bikes which sat on the edge of an equally long, well-trimmed lawn. Eddie pulled out a cigarette and lit it, pausing to survey the scene before him. Unlike Terry he never jumped into a situation these days, and he'd be damned if he started now. Instead, his eyes took in the old white, well-kept farmhouse with a sprawling front porch complete with swing. Ivy climbed up trellises; rose bushes stood along the sidewalk; and colorful marigolds decorated a pump long-taken out of service. The owner had obviously made sure that everything was well-irrigated against the Nebraska sun, he thought.

Just off the lawn and up a short drive was a barn, and in front of it was a home-built stage in front of which blankets and lawn chairs were already parked. He grinned slightly. If nothing else he could at least perform and get some of the antziness out of his system.

Performing he could handle; it was the sight of all those families, all the children running over the lawn, the laughter, the couples holding hands… that was what hurt. Seeing Trent exchanging long looks with the cute redhead on the front porch… that hurt. He took a long drag on his cigarette and made his way to the crowd of his Nashville buddies over by the grills, some wearing aprons and cheerfully serving to the country neighbors of Hallie Evans.

Eddie accepted a beer from Grant and silently clicked it to the other man's. Grant, now HE understood what it was like to be alone, he thought, getting a nod from his friend. Grant had lost his wife a couple years ago and had finally gotten on the road to recovering from the grief her suicide had left behind.

"Didn't know it was gonna be like this," he muttered, forcing himself to remove his sunglasses and shove them into his pocket. He threw his leather jacket across the fence post behind him, leaving him in a black sleeveless shirt that displayed his burly body. He was big, not muscular, overweight but still hard as nails where it counted. He was an oversized redneck who'd seen too much and lost even more, he thought glumly.

"Well, ya had to know there would be kids and such, Eddie," Grant commented. Suddenly Eddie's head swung and Grant followed it to see his buddy gazing across the lawn, his eyes slightly downcast so not to look as though he was staring. A woman? Grant thought with amusement as he sipped on his beer.

"Damn, look at that cute thang," Eddie muttered, taking in her long legs encased in bell-bottomed, hip-hugging jeans, the midriff top that clung to her curves just right, and the long, shiny tumble of curls that reached the middle of her back, topped off with a tan leather cowboy hat. She was chatting with the neighbors, leaning over to talk to the children, and from what he could tell was treated with a lot of respect, as though she was a person of some authority.

"Man could get lost with those legs wrapped around him and never find his way out," Grant said softly, repressing a grin when Eddie shot a glare at him. "What? I don't see your name on her. Besides, ain't you swore women off?"

About then the "cute thang" walked over to the porch and sat on the ledge with Trent's woman, letting those long legs swing back and forth. Mesmerized, Eddie continued to watch her and those legs, trying to keep his lids down so he wouldn't appear to be doing what he was doing, and that was forming a lust that was well on its way to blazing out of control. It had been a damned long time, and while he'd had plenty of opportunities to get laid on the road, he'd not been one for casual sex and had declined. The groupies had flocked to him like bees to honey the second his divorce had been announced; his rebuffs had surprised them but not good old supportive Terry, who had merely helped Eddie head them off at the pass.

So there he was, feeling an ache start to form in his lower regions and forcing himself to keep things down. If he could resist hundreds of groupies on the road then that cutie would be easy. At least, so he told himself.

"Hey, Montana, your turn!" Tracy's shout broke into his reverie and he didn't know whether to be relieved or to tell Kendricks to go to hell. He took in a deep breath and decided for the former, not knowing that Grant had indicated to the crowd at the grill that Eddie was gawking at a local sweetie, and that in response they'd conspired to needle him. There'd been a silent pact in the bunch to get the two single men in their circle hitched one way or another, with Trent at the head of the helm. Besides, as Tracy said, Grant needed a woman to court, and Eddie needed not only laid, but with a woman who'd match his iron will and keep him coming back for more.

Eddie did his best to smile at the people who greeted him at the grills. He did love a good barbecue, but given that Tina and he had done a lot of charities along those lines he was acutely aware of being alone more than ever. As the afternoon went on he tried not to think of the cutie, and was relieved when Justin Evans carried her food to her instead of her coming out for it.

Late afternoon found him standing at the edge of the circle again, doing his best to smile at the occasional fan when they approached to gush about his music. That shy little blonde friend of Hallie's had taken Grant's attention and damned if he didn't feel awkward watching his buddy go all sweet on her. He sensed someone approaching him, and everything tightened inside again. Quickly he fetched a cigarette from his pocket and lit it up, grateful to give his hands something to do as he felt her circle him, then approach.

"So, I hear we're having us a little jam tonight." Her warm brown eyes gazed straight into his fearlessly. He let his eyes rake over her, taking in the tan, a few freckles on her nose and cheeks, the depth of her eyes, and her wide mouth that looked beyond fit for kissing. He caught the faint scent of lavender soap and repressed a groan. She was not going to get the upper hand of him. He took a long drag on his cigarette and shrugged.

"Hadn't heard that any woman besides Greta was joining us, but yeah, 'we' are having us a little jam tonight," he drawled. "Why ya asking? Wanting to show the big stars what a cute thang like you can do?"

Damn! That was a fucking dumb thing to say, he thought, feeling his heart sink when she blinked hard as though fighting off hurt. Before he could apologize those brown eyes went from warm to a flash in second and she stepped forward to get into his face.

"What, Montana?" she snarled. "A 'cute thang' like me a challenge to your manhood?" Her eyes raked over him in derision. "Afraid I'd show you up in ANY situation?"

Suddenly the longing he'd been repressing surged forward, finding him at war internally as he held her gaze. He heard Terry laugh, Grant mutter something about his friend's utter lack of style.

"Fuck it."

He reached out, placed his hands on her shoulders and tugged her to him. Months of emptiness and hours of watching her out of the corners of his eyes overwhelmed him. Before he had time to stop and think he lowered his head to hers for a long, heated kiss that caused her to sag against him. He felt her arms wind around his neck, her fingertips gently caress the nape of his neck and he started to dissolve. He groaned, grasped her behind and molded her into him, no longer caring what anyone thought except the sweet thing in his arms.

He felt his loins stir and heard her whimper when she became aware of it. Her lips parted and he took full advantage, his mouth slanting across hers as his tongue slid into her mouth. He didn't want to let go, he thought crazily, continuing to devour her, enjoying the way she sighed, her hips brushing in just the right way across his. She sure lit up fast, he thought, forcing himself to slow down, then just as slowly lift his head to gaze into her dazed eyes.

"Give me a minute, cute thang," he whispered against her lips. She flushed and nodded, giving him time to rein in the desire and get his body to calm down. Cautiously he released her, reaching up to trace her cheek with his fingertips, noting how swollen and kiss-bruised her lips were. "Thanks, darlin'," he added.


"Letting me… y'know…"

"Relax?" She dimpled through her blush and he grinned.

"You really are a cute thang, you know that?"

"I wish you wouldn't call me that."

"Sorry, cute thang." She raised a brow at him and he chuckled. "How's about you and I go have us a little talk? Bring your guitar with ya," he added, indicating her guitar case. "I wanna hear your stuff."

They moved through the murmuring crowd, Eddie pausing long enough to retrieve his jacket off of the fence where he'd left it and doing his best to ignore the knowing looks of his friends. He extended his elbow to her and she smiled, linking her arm through his as they walked over to a large shade tree away from the gathering. He spread his jacket on the ground and indicated for her to have a seat, then lowered himself next to her and stretched out with a long sigh of relief.

"By the way, what is your name?" he asked softly as she retrieved her guitar from its case.

"Jillie. Jillian McGovern, if you want the full thing."

"Eddie. Gerard Edwin Montana, if you want the full thing." He extended his hand to her and she laughed, then accepted the handshake.

"Eddie will do, I think," she replied as she positioned the guitar across her lap. "So, whatcha need to hear, big guy? A lullaby to soothe the savage breast?"

He snorted and she giggled. "That bad, huh?"

"That bad."

"Well, not a lullaby, cute thang, but by all means something soothing." Jillie nodded and began tuning her Martin, a thoughtful expression on her face. Suddenly she grinned, broke into a simple string of chords and began to sing.

"Well, all right so I'm being foolish
Well, all right let people know
About the dreams and wishes you wish
In the night when the lights are low

Well, all right, well all right
We'll live and love with all our might
Well, all right, well all right
Our lifetime love will be all right

Well, all right, so I'm going steady
It's all right when people say
That those foolish kids can't be ready
For the love that comes their way

Well, all right, well all right
We'll live and love with all our might
Well, all right, well all right
Our lifetime love will be all right."

Stunned, Eddie lay back and listened to her, enjoying the way her fingers danced over the guitar strings. Her voice wasn't half-bad, either, he admitted to himself. She did the Buddy Holly classic justice and then some. When she finished she gave him a nervous look, only to smile when he indicated for her to keep going.

"Hey, cute thang, I'm enjoying myself," he offered by way of explanation. Her smile broadened; she stretched her legs out and leaned against the tree, her thigh against his upper arm. In turn he shifted to rest his head on that same thigh, pulled a long piece of grass out of the ground and commenced chewing on it.

Some time later he blinked awake to see she'd set the guitar aside and was gazing out at the scene before her, a blissful smile on her face. Her fingers had come to rest on his collar and were idly toying with the dark blond chest hair peeping above it.

"Damn, cute thang, why didn't you wake me up?" he murmured. In turn she quickly pulled her hand back, much to his amusement.

"You looked peaceful," was her reply as she gazed down into his eyes. "Of course, I kept driving people off," she added with a chuckle. "Told them they could talk to you after the jam. For now you're mine."

"Staking a claim, darlin'?"

"Maybe." Her expression grew cautious. As he opened his mouth to reply a shout from the stage area made them both look up. Terry was waving them over, a mischievous grin on his face.

"I guess that's our cue," she said lightly, letting out a sigh of disappointment when Eddie hurried to his feet and extended his hand to her.

"Come on, cute thang. Let's go bring the house down."

Years later the concert would still be the hot topic of conversation for Hallie Armstrong's former area of residence, that flat strip of land between Omaha and Hastings, Nebraska. No one could ever forget all those Nashville stars rolling in on motorcycles, all there to see Justin Evans and The Cowboys From Hell, and to confirm Trent's knowledge that Justin belonged in Nashville. Despite the small audience and the makeshift stage, no one held back, and all were thrilled to be there. It was as though the entertainers were more than happy to cast aside the trappings of fame and just have fun being themselves.

In the midst of all the excitement Eddie could barely stand not watching Jillie as she performed with all of them on the stage. Her electric guitar was just as excellent and soulful as her acoustic. She damned near made love to that guitar, he thought, standing next to her, twirling his mike stand and air-guitaring with her. And that shoulder wiggle was enough to get any man hard, he thought with amusement.

Her turn found her center stage, barn spotlights showing on her. Nervously she looked back at The Cowboys From Hell and signaled them, taking a deep breath as though she was giving the performance of a lifetime. To no one's surprise she went into another Buddy Holly song, "Rave On." She danced and thrust against her guitar as she growled out the lyrics, getting raucous cheers and nods of approval. Before long she had the Nashville gang out with her, Justin on one side, Eddie on the other.

As they retold years later, it was an evening to never be forgotten.

Late evening found most of the neighbors on their way home, many having to get up the next morning to tend the land and the livestock. A circle of musicians and friends remained sitting around an impromptu fire, music and laughter coming from them. In the midst of all that Eddie finally decided he'd had enough. It was either take her, go mad with wanting, or leave the group. He opted for the last and abruptly got to his feet, walking away with a cigarette dangling from his fingertips. Jillie sat for a long moment staring after his fading silhouette, uncertainty written all over her features.

A soft nudge broke her out of her reverie and she turned to see Terry giving her a gentle smile. "Go after him, honey," he said softly. When she hesitated he added, "You're good medicine. Go after him."

Not giving herself time to rethink she stood up and began hurrying over in the direction where she'd last seen Eddie against the moonlit sky. She was rewarded by the faint scent of cigarette smoke that grew stronger with each step she made and she slowed a little as she reached the edge of the yard and carefully made her way up Justin's favorite dirt bike path. At the top she knew there was a small cluster of trees, and by the scent of smoke she would find him there.

He was leaning against a tree, staring up at the moon, back turned to her as he took a drag on his cigarette. The sound of footsteps approaching him made him straighten and draw in a deep breath. She'd followed him.


He let out a groan of frustration. "You shouldn't have followed me, Jillie."

"I-I don't understand. I thought…"

"What?" He whirled on his boot heels to face her. "What did you think? Happily ever after with one kiss? Dammit, Jillie…" At her stunned expression something loosened inside of him. "Jillie, don't you understand? I live on the road. It killed one marriage and even after that I'm not willing to stop. I-I… I don't know when I'll be back, if ever." He closed his eyes and let out a long breath. There, he'd said it. Now she could walk away and maybe some of the guilt would go with her.

Her hand on his chest made his eyes fly open to see her open, honest gaze, no baggage in her expression, just clarity of purpose. Slowly she ran her hand up to his shoulder, then his face, slowly destroying every last ounce of resolve he had. He turned to press his lips to the palm of her hand, his eyes never leaving hers.

"Cute thang, I'm gonna warn you right now." One arm snaked out to encircle her, then yank her against him, causing her to gasp out loud. "It's been a goddamned long time for me and I'm in no mood to hold back. I want to lay you beneath the moonlight, get you naked and hot for me, and I want to do everything imaginable to you, including a few things probably illegal in this state." He felt himself get hard against her and watched her lips part with astonishment. "Like I said, it's been a long time and I'm not gonna hold back."

"I… good." Once again she caressed his cheek, letting her hips shift against him in a way that was downright unbearable. His resolve finally crumbled and he felt himself tremble all over as he surrendered to her touch.

"Jillie…" Her name was a soft breath that left his lips, just poised above her mouth.

"Yes?" Her other hand began playing with his chest hair, as though she couldn't help herself.

"Love me." She blinked hard and tears escaped her as he added, "Please love me."

"I do."

His mouth lowered to hers as he discarded his jacket, breaking the kiss long enough to spread it on the ground. He then swept her up off her feet and stretched her out beneath the moonlight, coming down next to her as he allowed himself to get totally lost in the haven of her arms.