MORE THAN MUSIC (Chasing The Dream #1)

They can't resist each other, but their secret romance might tear their band apart...

Classical musician Maddie Taylor secretly dreams of a louder life, but geeky girls like her don't get to be rock stars. That is, until tattooed singer Jared Cross catches her playing guitar and invites her to join his band on The Sound, a reality TV show competition.

Once on the show, Maddie discovers there's more to Jared than his flirty smile and bad boy reputation. With each performance their attraction becomes impossible to ignore, but when the show pressures them to stay single, they're forced to keep their relationship secret.

As the competition heats up, Jared will do whatever it takes for his band to win, and Maddie must decide if following her dream is worth losing her heart.

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"Sexy, fun, and heartfelt, More Than Music will bring out the rockstar in anyone. A truly passionate love story--both in music and romance. Jared and Maddie's story is a great example of how important it is to be true to yourself and step out onto your own stage." - Julie Cross,  NYT Bestselling author of the Tempest series and Third Degree

Tonight was going to be epic, I could feel it. I edged closer to the stage, pushing past emo kids with sweeping black hair and girls in fishnets and combat boots. Julie and Carla followed, our hands linked so we wouldn’t lose each other while I searched for the perfect spot. Not right in front so we looked like obsessed groupies hanging all over the band, but close enough to get a good view of the stage and feel the music vibrating under our skin. After some maneuvering, the three of us wedged into a space in the crowd and clinked our beers together.

“Here’s to the end of finals,” Julie shouted, over the noise of a hundred conversations going on at once. “And the end of our junior year!”

“I still have a final tomorrow morning,” Carla shouted back. “What time are they going on again, Maddie?”

“Any minute now,” I said. “Don’t worry. Kyle’s band only has one album. We’ll be out of here in an hour.” I had a final early, too, and normally I’d be studying right now and then going to bed at a reasonable hour to make sure I got an optimal amount of sleep. But it wasn’t every day a friend’s band got a gig like this in a club on Hollywood Boulevard. Besides, I was a music major. This totally counted as research.

I rocked back and forth on my feet, full of that intoxicating mix of excitement, anticipation, and longing I always felt right before a concert started. The club was dark except for the spotlights highlighting the equipment on stage, poised and ready for the band to come out. People with dyed hair and tattoos and piercings pressed all around us, and I felt more out of place than ever with my black-rimmed glasses, red flannel shirt, and jeans.

Julie fit into the crowd better with her knit panda beanie, despite it being approximately the temperature of the sun in here. She’d made the hat herself and on anyone else it would look stupid, but with her long black hair and red lips, she somehow managed to pull it off. Combined with the skater dress with stars and planets that she’d also made, she was really rocking her sexy nerd look tonight. Sort of like an Asian version of Zooey Deschanel.

Carla looked gorgeous as usual, like she’d walked straight off the runway and into the club, which she probably had—she modeled on the side while pursuing her theatre major. She was half-Portuguese and half-African-American, and casting agencies went crazy for her smooth dark skin, head full of wild curls, and tall, thin frame. It was a shame Julie and I were the only ones who knew she’d rather fix old cars and play video games than do a photo shoot.

The glow of Carla’s phone lit up her face as she checked her texts yet again. Probably another string of annoying questions from her boyfriend.

“Is that Daryl?” I asked.

“He just wants to know where I am.”

“Don’t tell him,” Julie said, slapping the phone away. “He’ll show up uninvited.”

It wouldn’t be the first time he’d crashed our girls’ nights looking for Carla, convinced she was with some other guy. Probably because he knew she could do way better.

“He won’t. I told him we’re leaving right after the show.”

A cheer went through the crowd as the band walked onto the stage, and I stood on my toes to get a better look. Hector, a Latino guy with curly hair tucked under a baseball cap, sat in front of the drums. He was followed by Becca, a blue-haired pixie in a dress with safety pins all over it. She stumbled across the stage like she was drunk, but managed to pick up her bass and slip it over her neck. Next came Kyle, his black hair hanging in his eyes and the gauges in his ear flashing under the lights. He moved behind his keyboard, but my gaze left him as soon as his older brother Jared appeared.

The crowd’s cheering took on more of a screaming sound, and one girl even yelled, “Jared, I love you!” I rolled my eyes. Not that I blamed the girl. With dark hair that always stuck up like he’d just gotten out of bed, a perpetual five o’clock shadow, and blue eyes that could charm any girl into giving him his phone number, Jared was impossible to resist. I wanted to, believe me, but every time he opened his mouth and sang it was all over.

Jared gave the audience a wicked grin while he grabbed his guitar, a black Fender Stratocaster almost identical to my own except for the color. Like Kyle, he had tattoos running up and down his toned arms, and I couldn’t help but wonder if they continued under his shirt.

The entire club buzzed with excitement, every one of us poised on the edge, holding our breaths and waiting for the plunge. In this moment, right before the music started, it felt like anything could happen—and I was ready.