Triple Beat-nook
Author:Mari Carr

Dani didn’t respond. She didn’t know how. She had felt guilty ever since she’d stormed out of the recording studio a few days earlier. The return trip to New Orleans had been looming before her and she still hadn’t figured out how to tell Aiden and Bryson she was leaving.

With her nerves on edge, she’d hit a breaking point as they’d discussed a song list for their first few concert dates. She’d flipped her lid over something really stupid and left the studio. She had wanted to call them immediately to apologize, but she’d decided to use the argument as her out, a reason to give them the silent treatment—something she’d never done—for the few days it took her to travel to New Orleans, clean up her mess and get back to Nashville. She had hoped they’d be none the wiser about her escape.

“I’m sorry about that,” she said softly.

Both men grinned and she realized the apology wasn’t necessary. Knowing her friends, they’d forgiven her before she’d finished executing her storm-out.

Bryson reached for her hand, squeezing it. “What is it, Dani? Is it the contract? I know you’re not comfortable with the limelight, but lately it felt like that had been getting better. I thought this was what we all wanted. What we’ve been working so hard for.”

MC Records had offered them a sweet deal and there had been no question they’d hit the big time. All the hours, writing and rehearsing, performing in clubs and at county fairs had paid off.

The label had huge plans for them, including a three-album deal, a performance on the CMT awards show, and a forty-seven-city tour headlining for Bryan Lucas, the hottest name in country music. It was a dream come true and, according to their agent, James, an unheard-of offer.

Unfortunately all she could think about when they’d been planning their concert playlist was the names of cities for the tour—their kick-off performance was taking place in New Orleans.

Twelve years of repressed fears combined with the stress of returning home had bubbled out and she’d exploded. Irrationally. Insanely. And then she’d raced out of the studio and avoided their calls.

“It’s not the deal. Or the playlist. I just have some personal things I need to sort through. Things I need to do. Alone.” She had to force herself to add the last word. Now that Aiden and Bryson were here, she was damn happy to see them.

It was ridiculous, considering she didn’t want them to know about her past. But the fact remained she was stronger when they were with her.

Bryson snorted. “Yeah. Alone’s not an option.”

Before she could take exception to the way he dismissed her request out of hand, Aiden stepped closer. “You might want to call Benji and let him know you got here safely.”

“Benji knows I’m here too?”

Aiden shrugged. “We stopped by there after Marco’s call to see if he knew what you were up to. We figured if you’d confided in anyone, it would be him.”


When she’d first arrived in Nashville, she’d found a job bussing the tables and washing the dishes at Benji’s bar. From there, she’d graduated to waitressing and then to a performer. For well over a decade, she’d worked for Benji in some manner.

“I’ll call him,” she muttered, not looking forward to that conversation. Like Aiden and Bryson, her beloved boss was also in the dark about her past. Her two worlds were suddenly colliding and Dani was terrified about the fallout.

“You should have told us what you were doing, Dani,” Aiden said.

Dani lifted one shoulder casually, though she didn’t feel as relaxed as she was pretending. “You’re not my keepers.”

Bryson’s brows furrowed and she could see the anger in his eyes. She didn’t blame him. She’d be pissed as hell if either of them said the same thing to her. They were more than just bandmates. They were her best friends and her family.

“I’m sorry,” she added quickly. “You caught me off guard here. I’ve been driving all night and I’m really tired.” Then, she offered them an olive branch. After all, they’d come all this way to be with her because they loved her and they were worried about her. “I’m here to reunite with my foster family.”

It wasn’t the entire truth, but it was part of it. And given the fact they weren’t planning to leave, it was inevitable that they’d meet the Lewises. She’d reunited with Jett and met his fiancée, Carissa, this morning at a late breakfast as soon as she arrived in town. It had been truly wonderful to see him again.

Tomorrow she was going to Mama Lewis’ house to reconnect with everyone else. Deep down, she wanted Aiden and Bryson to meet them.

“You were a foster kid?” Aiden asked.

Dani fought hard to stem the tears threatening as she considered the part she couldn’t tell them. She’d spent her entire adult life recreating herself. She had been a victim, but Aiden and Bryson had never seen her as such. They saw her as independent, self-sufficient, confident. She didn’t want that to change.