Love Unrehearsed Page 2

“Jeez, baby.” Ryan sighed. “Come here.

Try to relax.” He coaxed me back down to his chest and tugged the sheet and blankets over us again.

His skin was warm and the hand rubbing my back was so comforting that I felt my er-ratic breathing starting to calm.

“It’s okay. I’ve got you.” He kissed the top of my head, resting his lips there as he hugged me.

There, in his arms, I felt completely safe.

But out there in the public eye, things were out of his control. I had learned early on in this relationship that the terror factor grew exponentially when you’re a celebrity. And dating a famous celebrity was no different—actually it was worse when delusional fans became obsessively jealous, insanely possessive, and wanted you out of the way.

Even normal, sane people lost their minds when it came to celebrities. Combine that with a world full of crazy people and the threats became very real.

I was thankful that Ryan was insistent about sending Mike into LAX yesterday to escort us safely out of the airport, or else the paparazzi would have eaten me alive. Ryan’s public proposal painted a new, fat target on my back. It was one thing to be the local “fling” he had while on location; it was completely another once rumors started circulating that he actually put a ring on my finger.

How the hell they recognized me among all the other people hurrying through the airport was mind-boggling. Trying to get through the gauntlet of paparazzi in LAX was akin to sidestepping land mines. While I was very grateful for Mike’s protection, I still think the photographers only noticed me because they recognized Ryan’s bodyguard first.

Heck, every public picture taken of Ryan lately had Mike in it somewhere—holding back fans, watching the invisible perimeter around Ryan with the expertise of a trained hunter. Between his gorgeous body and killer smile, Mike Murphy was becoming as famous as Ryan Christensen.

“You want to tell me what the hell scared you awake like that?”

Aw shit. I shrugged, not willing to ruin my first morning finally back in his arms by getting into some stupid nonsense. “It was just . . . I don’t even remember it anymore. I’ll be all right.”

Ryan huffed softly as I waited for him to call me out on my little lie. “Did you dream about her again?”

I tensed, not exactly sure which “her” he was referring to.

When I didn’t respond, he tightened his arms. “She’s in jail, Taryn. She can’t hurt us anymore.”

Well, at least he had the psycho-bitch part right. Shame he picked the wrong one. Angelica, our incarcerated stalker, wasn’t the one who had haunted my thoughts but I wasn’t about to set him straight.

“I know. It was just a stupid dream.”

“Why don’t you tell me about it? You’ll feel better if you get it out.”

Part of me wanted to share, but what the heck would I tell him?

I dreamt about your über-famous, crazy-bitch ex-girlfriend trying to kill me? Oh, and if that isn’t bad enough, sometimes when I dream about my dead father, he’s bloody and choking the life out of some teenager with pitch-black hair?

Some things are better left unsaid.

Ryan let out a lengthy yawn and stretched his legs, poking me in the rear end with the one part of his anatomy that was already wide awake. His two-day-old beard felt wonderful, scratching my back when he rubbed up on me. With a kiss on my shoulder, he said, “All right. I won’t ask anymore. You talk about it only if you want to. What time is it?” I glanced at the clock on the bedside table.

“It’s almost seven.”

Cool air brushed my naked body as he rolled out from underneath the warm covers.

I tried to banish the last remnants of my nightmare from my memory, but certain parts were playing over and over again like a bad video stuck on repeat. It wasn’t the first time I dreamed about the boy with black hair and bloody red teeth. He had made repeat appearances in my dreams for as long as I could remember, always rehashing the same scene where my father is trying to kill him.

The part where Lauren Delaney factored in was a new and very unwelcome addition to the nightmare.


How pleased she must have been with herself when she nearly succeeded in breaking up my relationship with Ryan. Thankfully, she failed. My disgust for her intensi-fied. I couldn’t let her get to me like this, not even in my dreams.

I shook my head as if it would help clear away the horrible visions. I had to own up to the fact that it was only my tormented thoughts haunting me; it’s not like Lauren ever physically assaulted me in real life. No, her assault was much stealthier, leaving a trail of false evidence to lead me to believe she and Ryan had rekindled their previous relationship. My heart still ached thinking that just five short days ago I truly believed Ryan’s parents had shown up to move him out of my apartment.

I glanced at my new diamond engagement ring—Ryan’s promise of a future and total commitment to me. His intention of “Forever” was etched inside the band.

I vowed to myself that I’d do everything within my power to prove her and everyone else wrong. Ryan Christensen was the best thing that had ever happened to me. His love was like an invisible blanket that I had the privilege of wearing every day. But if our relationship was going to survive the test of time, I had to start handling things differently.

My eyes followed Ryan in the dim light as he shuffled across the carpeting. His muscular arm flexed, accentuating his bicep, when he used his hand to comb his tawny, disheveled hair back. My eyes drifted from his yawning mouth, down the contours of his hard, naked body, to his other part that was still semi-erect.

All of the pictures ever taken of this man and all the posters with his likeness on them could never do the real thing justice. All six feet, two inches of his cut, buff, and tight movie star body was one hell of a mental and visual distraction.

I never knew I could love a man so much and have it returned to me in spades. Even when things were at their worst, he didn’t give up on me. That alone said it all. A small smile formed on my lips as I thought about eating him for breakfast.

“What?” he asked with a sleepy smirk. Ry-an crawled back into bed, snuggling around me.

I secretly hoped that after my rude awakening he’d be able to fall back asleep, considering that it was well after midnight when his family and our friends finally left our suite last night. Ryan had arranged for Marie and Gary and Pete and Tammy to come to ll.A. with me, another secret surprise that I didn’t know about. I gave Marie a long lecture on the plane about how much I hate secrets, no matter how much he wanted me to be surprised. Over these last few weeks, she and Ryan had become thicker than thieves.

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