Take Me Home Tonight

By: Erika Kelly


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


My hero, my best friend, the love of my life . . . . Superman, I think we’re rockin’ the empty nest.

Joshua Path, phenomenal singer-songwriter . . . with a heart full of gratitude, I thank you for being my consultant on all things music-related in this series. Your help has been invaluable throughout, but on this book? I couldn’t have written it without you.

I have lucked out with my publishing team. Thank you, Leis Pederson, for seeing every tree in the forest. Rita Frangie and the art department, you guys knocked my covers out of the park. Yvette Grant, Joan Matthews, and Ryanne Probst, thank you for such great support!

Of all the agents in all the land, I got the best. Thank you for being so awesome, Kevan.

Sharon, you are the best friend and critique partner a girl could ask for.

You are always hugely helpful, Olivia, but on this one . . . you saved the day.

There is no community as supportive and generous as romance readers and writers. The Dreamweavers, my chaptermates at CTRWA, COFW, CoLoNY, and WRW, and all the wonderful people I’ve met along the way—thank you for your friendship, advice, and support. (Like, for example, Laura Kaye, who came up with the title for this book!) And the blogs? Don’t get me started. Obsessed with Romance, About That Story, Reading in Pajamas, Herding Cats and Burning Soup, Guilty Pleasures, Cocktails and Books—just to name a few—your passion for stories and support of authors is inspiring. And a special shout-out to Kristy DeBoer and Kathy Page—you ladies rock!



CHAPTER ONE


“I love you, Slater fucking Vaughn!” The zealous fan tossed her panties onstage, and the band launched into its next song.

Oh, I love this one. Closing her eyes, Mimi Romano let herself float away on Slater’s sexy, emotional voice and wildly romantic lyrics.

Her phone vibrated in her hand, jerking her back to reality. She whipped it up so fast it leapt into the air, and she scrambled to catch it—it was like trying to wrestle a live fish. Thankfully, she caught it before it hit the ground.

Calm down, you freak! She had to laugh at herself. She’d auditioned, what? Eight hours ago? No way would she get a response so quickly.

Mimi swiped the screen. Even though she knew it was too soon to hear back, her spirits still plummeted when she saw a text from her mom.

Anything?

She’d go out of her mind if people kept bringing it up. I love you but please don’t keep asking! It’ll make me crazy.

Her mom responded right away. Sorry! Excited for you.

Promise to let you know.

She knew her mom didn’t like being on the other side of the world while Mimi pursued this amazing opportunity. But, of course, Mimi hadn’t even applied when her mom had decided to spend three months in Australia with her boyfriend—who just happened to be the band’s A&R guy.

After dropping her cell phone into her clutch, Mimi looked up to find her friend Violet standing beside her with a hopeful expression. She shook her head. “I’m sure I won’t hear for a few days.” Gah. The wait would kill her. An interview, a debate, pitching a proposal, anything business-related, she could crush. But a cooking competition?

What were you even thinking? Why had she gone after something so outside her wheelhouse?

“What was that?” Violet asked.

“What?”

“That face you just made. Like you just realized you forgot to put on pants.”

“Oh, that?” She laughed. “You mean that moment of blind panic?”

Her friend smiled warmly. “Yeah, Meems. That.”

“Well, I mean . . . fuck a duck.” She let out a huff of breath. “I really want to get on this show. I know it’s ridiculous. Obviously, I should be looking for a real job instead.”

“You’ve been looking for a job. Eleven months, Meems. That’s a long time. And you’ve hit more than your share of dead ends. I think you’re amazing for trying something different.”

Hope reared its head, but she stomped it back down with the toe of her sling-back sandal. “Half of me’s shaking my pom-poms, totally believing what you say, and the other half is like, ‘Girl, are you nuts? You don’t stand a chance.’ I mean, come on, I auditioned for a cooking competition with an MBA.”

“You’re way more than an MBA. You’re the chef for an up-and-coming rock band, and you’re Dino Romano’s daughter. You grew up in the restaurant business. And if that still doesn’t get them, your amazing personality will.”

Her friend was absolutely right. So right that hope wriggled back up—and stuck its tongue out at her. A rush of emotion had her enveloping Violet in her arms. “Thank you.” She’d needed to hear that.

“Oh, honey, you’re shaking.”

“I have to get this, V. I have to.” Because scoring a spot on a nationally televised cooking show? That would fast-track her way onto her dad’s payroll. God knows nothing else had.

Okay, really, she had to stop thinking about it. It was out of her hands at this point. She turned around to watch the band.

She’d met Blue Fire while living on Violet’s wildflower farm at the tip of Long Island. When one job after another hadn’t panned out, she’d wound up helping her mom and Violet develop their wildflower-based products. They sold tea, soap, candles, and potpourri to high-end gourmet and specialty shops in New York.

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