Read an exclusive excerpt from Rising Star by Terri Osburn

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A popular DJ at the hottest station in Nashville, Charley Layton is doing what she’s always wanted to do: living in the heart of country music. Charley puts her career first and relationships second, but when a charismatic stranger in a black cowboy hat invites her back to his place, she decides to give herself one night of no-strings fun.

But Dylan Monroe isn’t a no-strings kind of guy. Charley is beautiful, brainy, and brassy as hell—the kind of girl he’s always wanted. When his record label books him an interview on Charley’s show, he’s determined to find out why he woke up alone, and when he can see her again.

With Dylan now the most eligible bachelor in country music, Charley doubts their fling stands a chance, but she’s willing to try. Dylan dreams of fame, but he also craves a life offstage with Charley. Can he convince her that both of their dreams are worth chasing, and that love is still possible, even in the spotlight?

Exclusive Excerpt

“They’re coming this way,” Charley hissed, bracing herself for the pretty boy’s disdain. 

“I’ll take care of this,” Matty said with a frustrated huff. “They’ll be on their way in seconds.” 

Charley had yet to witness her friend in action. This was going to be fun. 

“Thanks for the drink,” Matty said before the ball cap guy could spout his opening line. He’d turned the hat around, revealing a field of freckles sprinkled across his nose and cheeks. “I’m not interested in another one,” she informed him. “Or anything else you have to offer.” 

“I haven’t offered anything else,” he replied with a smile. “Yet.” Charley gave him credit for taking the direct hit with grace. “What’s your name?” 

Ice-blue eyes narrowed. “Matilda,” she answered. 

“Pretty name,” Ball Cap returned. Very smooth. “I’m Casey Flanagan.” 

“I don’t care,” Matty replied, her pink lips curled in a fake smile. “My friend and I are here to celebrate her birthday. We aren’t looking for company.” 

As Matty delivered the blow-off, the sexy figure in the black hat sauntered over to Charley. 

“Hi.” 

She couldn’t believe he’d deigned to speak to her. “Hi,” she replied, knocked off balance by his nearness. God, he smelled good. 

“Happy birthday.” 

The timbre of his voice sent heat dancing up her cheeks. And ignited a few embers in lower regions as well. “Thanks.” 

“What do you do?” Ball Cap asked Matty. 

“I eat guys like you for breakfast.” 

Charley nearly choked. She’d given a man the brush-off a time or two, but she would never be as badass as Matty Jacobs. 

“Want to dance?” asked the man in the black hat. He’d clearly been cast in the role of wingman, charged with getting Charley out of the way.

Before she could answer, Matty’s admirer said, “I’m willing to take the risk.” 

The blonde smiled. “I bet you are.” 

In the two and a half months they’d been roommates, Charley had never seen Matty smile at a man. Especially not like that. If Ball Cap could achieve such a feat, he deserved his shot. 

“Sure,” Charley said to the cowboy. “I’ll dance.” 

The moment she slid her hand into his, the room shifted beneath her feet. With a firm but tender grip, he led her to the dance floor, spun her into the shifting crowd as if they’d rehearsed the move a dozen times, and set them both into motion without bumping into any of the other dancers. Lucky for Charley that she’d been two-stepping since junior high, because her partner could hold his own with the pros. 

“Is your friend’s name really Matilda?” he asked. 

Considering he had yet to ask for Charley’s name, she stiffened with irritation. 

“Yes.” 

“And is it really your birthday?” 

Eyes locked on his collar, she offered another one word answer. “Yes.” 

The song rolled into the next, but her partner showed no indication of ending their dance. 

“Twenty-two?” 

She met his gaze. “Twenty-five.” 

Full lips split into a panty-melting grin. “Good to know. I’m Dylan,” he offered, changing direction so that she no longer danced backward. “What’s your name?” 

All too aware of how easily this man could charm her into things Charley had no business doing, she ignored his question and asked one of her own. 

“How long are we going to keep this up?” 

“That depends.” He shrugged, causing his biceps to flex beneath her touch. “Did you have some other activity in mind?” 

Ignoring the implication, and the urge to examine the rest of his muscles, she said, “We both know that you only asked me to dance to give your friend a clear shot at my roommate. There’s no need to pretend you’re actually interested in me.” 

Pulling her closer, Dylan whispered into her ear. “What makes you think I’m not interested?” 

Charley shivered as his breath caressed her neck. The distraction caused her to lose her footing, but Dylan kept her upright with little effort. 

“I saw you across the bar,” she explained, determined to keep her senses. “You were obviously unhappy about your friend’s choice of targets.” 

A deep chuckle rumbled through his chest, sending sensual vibrations through hers. “I was informing my friend that he was about to get his ass handed to him. Miss Matilda is out of my boy’s league, as I’m sure you’d agree, but Casey was hell-bent on making a fool of himself.” 

Craning her neck to peer through the crowd, Charley saw Matty toss her head back in laughter. “Don’t look now, but I think he’s proving you wrong.” 

Another quick turn and Charley’s back was to the bar.

“I’ll be damned,” Dylan mumbled. 

The full smile would have been enough to turn her inside out, but the moment he tipped the hat up to reveal a twinkle in his blue eyes, Charley knew she was in trouble. Big trouble. 

“You’ve done your duty, then,” she said. “No need to keep up the charade.” 

The smoke-gray eyes dropped to hers, sweeping the breath from her lungs. They’d stopped moving. 

“You still haven’t told me your name,” he said, his attention dropping to her lips. 

“I’m Charley.” Voice cracking, she cleared her throat and tried again. “My name is Charley.” 

A slow song filled the air, lazy and seductive, and Dylan shifted into a gentle sway that lit every circuit in her system. 

“Nice to meet you, Charley.” 

Unsure how to respond, she nodded. “Nice to meet you, too, Dylan.” 

As if they’d signed a truce, her partner tucked her hand atop his heart and rested his chin against her hair. Unable to help herself, Charley surrendered, if for only one song, and relaxed into his arms.

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About the Author

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Terri Osburn started putting words on the page in 2007. Five years later, she was named a finalist in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest for unpublished manuscripts. Shortly after, she signed with an agent and moved into publication, with her debut novel, Meant to Be, released from Montlake Romance in May 2013. Terri lives on the East Coast with one high schooler, three long-suffering tabbies, and a hyper Yorkiepoo with attachment issues. To learn more about Terri, check out her website at terriosburn.com.

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