Authors: Eden Summers
Table of Contents
To my editor. This is the third piece we’ve worked on together and not once has your faith in me wavered. You’ve taught me so much and I hope you know how much I appreciate you..
To my crit partners, street team, family, and friends —
Thank you. For everything. I’m blessed to be surrounded and supported by such great people. I couldn’t have written Mitchell and Alana’s story without you.
And to my hubby. You may not be able to sing…or dance…but you will always be my rock star
Alana Shelton staggered with the pulse of the crowd. Her hips smashed against the security barrier holding the fans back from the intimate hotel stage. The jolts of pain as her bones clashed with the metal railing kept her awake despite a long day of traveling. Her body ached like she was in her eighties instead of her late twenties and her weary muscles throbbed to her core. If it weren’t for the adrenaline coursing through her veins—a mix of fear and excitement—she would’ve collapsed against her best friend long ago.
“This is going to be awesome,” Kate squealed from beside her, bouncing on her toes even though her feet were encased in gravity-defying high heels. With a voracious smile, her friend waggled her eyebrows and turned her attention back to the curtain hiding the stage.
Kate had won tickets to Reckless Beat’s first performance of their new album—an event people would pay big dollars to attend, if the tickets were actually on sale. The band members, and no doubt their PR manager, had decided to share the major event with a small crowd of their most dedicated fans...or the biggest crazed loons, whichever way you wanted to define them. And Alana was caught in the middle; her body compacted between Kate, a man with a horrendous mullet, and a woman with a set of lungs that rivaled Mariah Carey’s whistle-like soprano.
Alana wasn’t used to being around this many people. Hell, she wasn’t used to being around men at all, and the terror she thought she would experience with the close interaction hadn’t appeared. Yet.
The thousand or so fans stared at the curtain, transfixed with matching goofy grins. She couldn’t help smiling along with them. Not that the curtain held any charm. The room simply overflowed with contagious euphoria.
The two security guards, one at either end of the stage, were the only people with stern expressions. They stood tall, their arms crossed over their thick chests while they scanned the crowd. She couldn’t blame them. With the mix of hard rock and passionate love songs, the emotions in the room would swing from one extreme to another.
Reckless Beat was famous for intense rhythms and emotional lyrics. The smooth, deeply penetrating sound of the lead singer had even captured Alana’s heart on more than one occasion, and she’d only listened to them on the radio. Her first introduction to professional live music would leave a lasting impression.
In fact, the whole week would consist of cherry popping. Her first live concert. Her first plane flight. Her first big steps into the real world by herself. Quite a feat for a twenty-seven year old. There weren’t many women around her age with the limited life experience she had. Tonight, and the next few days, would change that. She just had to pray the cloying exhaustion would dissipate.
“Welcome, Reckless fans. Are you ready to rock?” The male announcer’s voice boomed from innumerable speakers around the room.
Screams and shouts combined into a loud drone, which reverberated in her head. The sound vibrated in her chest and gave her goose bumps. She fought the urge to cover her ears and laughed. Kate grabbed her hand and squeezed tight. They jumped up and down as their bodies pushed harder against the railing, the eager fans behind them vying for a better position.
“I can’t hear you,” he taunted.
The cacophony grew, the excitement making her veins buzz to life. Maybe she would make it through the performance without falling asleep after all. Lights flashed with searing brightness, illuminating the curtain so four silhouettes shone from behind.
“Well, I won’t keep you waiting any longer,” the voice chuckled.
The curtain rose—mere feet from Alana’s hands—creeping up to reveal the members of Reckless Beat in all their tanned and muscled glory. The four of them stood close, almost within reach. The lead singer held the microphone stand in the center of the stage, with two guitarists standing to his left and one to his right. If she leaned against Mariah Carey beside her, she could see the drummer up the back, his talented fingers twirling those magic sticks in the air.
Alana had no clue what their names were. She only knew disjointed verses of a few of their top hits. But when the seductively sexy, lead guitarist kicked off with a delicate caress of the strings, her heart melted and adrenaline flooded her system. He eyed the crowd from under thick lashes. His lips tilted with a wicked grin as he held his cherry-red instrument with confidence.
The first song drowned under fan hysteria. Lyrics filtered through. A song of love, or loss, she couldn’t determine, and she didn’t mind. Her heartbeat echoed with the drums, her body thrummed with the bass guitar, and the lead singer’s voice traveled over her skin like warm honey.
As a teenager, she hadn’t been allowed to go to concerts. In fact, she couldn’t leave her mother’s property outside Monument, Colorado, without receiving a glare of disapproval. Over time, she’d learned to accept her isolated life and became content with what she had. A retreat for women recovering from abuse was her home. A quiet, and at times, very emotional place, her mother had opened when Alana was a child.
She closed her eyes, tilting her head back to let the music sink into her soul. The words cleared as one by one the fan’s decided to enjoy what they were here for.
“Kiss me one last time. Let me taste the love on your lips...”
A shove from behind made her eyes open and she clutched the rail for support. If she came any closer to the railing, she’d be riding it. Ignoring the constant nudge at her back, she glanced up at the stage and found the lead guitarist peering down in her direction. His fingers slid over the strings, moving in intricate patterns, and yet his intense gaze never wavered from where she stood.
Her heart skipped a beat while he stared at her. Then reality slammed to the forefront. He had to be focused on someone else. Either Kate, with her beautiful, blonde hair and barely concealed breasts, or one of the numerous stunners gyrating against her. She was foolish to think his attention rested on her.
Who knew, maybe he loved a good mullet and liked playing the back nine. It would be a damn shame though. All the drool-worthy sensuality claimed by his own sex wouldn’t be fair. For a fleeting moment she beamed back, wishing those gorgeous hazel eyes devoured her, not someone else.
To keep from falling into a daydream involving his skilled fingers teasing her body, she turned to the lead singer. His forehead held lines of concentration, his hands delicately molding the microphone in the stand. She could see why he made females swoon. He was pleasure personified—blonde, spiky hair which curled at the ends, rough stubble women would kill to brush against their skin, and handsome features that defied the wicked voice belting from his mouth.
She heard every heartfelt word he sung, yet her mind lingered on the image of the guitarist. The memory of his seductive mouth teased her to take another look. After a few moments of wavering restraint, her gaze drifted back to him. His head was lowered, his concentration on the beautiful instrument in his hands. His jean clad legs tapped to the beat and she had the sense he not only played the music, he lived it. Breathed it.