As we come to the close of the year and we head for 40 episodes—how did that happen? I’m really happy to report that it’s been a pleasure to share writing the boys’ backstory with you all.
Let’s see where we can take this adorable couple this week.
Enjoy the chapter and—DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Love Toni xx
The touch of Liam’s lips sent a spiral of electric delight through my body.
The crowd around us erupted.
It had nothing to do with our kiss.
Ace Revolution had stepped out on stage and the booming sound of Petunia Anders’ opening lyrics reverberated around the room.
The timing added to the electricity of the moment.
I’d thought about Liam’s lips on mine for months. Who was I kidding it had been years. Leaning against the taut muscle of his chest, surrounded by the excitement of Ace’s fans, it felt like I had come home. I’d been running from him for so long I hadn’t realised how much stress and adrenaline I’d been carrying around with me.
My body suddenly relaxed, surrendering to my attraction and the feelings that I’d been trying to avoid. I felt drunk even though I’d had less than half a glass of wine.
I giggled to myself, I was drunk on Liam.
He cocked his head to one side, “My kisses amuse you?”
I reached up and slid my hand down the dark stubble that peppered his cheek, my hand coming to rest on the warmth of the pendulum of greenstone that he wore at his throat.
The temptation to tease him crossed my mind, but I thought better of it.
“The timing,” I said above the din of the band on stage. “Ace arriving at the exact same moment you kissed me. I thought maybe the Universe might be telling us something.”
“You’ve been trying to ignore the Universe for months,” Liam said with a victorious grin as he slipped his arm around my waist and began to manoeuvre me towards a door at the back of the club. A large man in a black shirt and pants who could almost have been absorbed by the similar coloured wall appeared out of nowhere.
“She’s with me,” Liam said with authority.
Security, I realised as the man checked the tag hung around Liam’s neck that I hadn’t even noticed until now. I’d been so overwhelmed by the way my body had responded to Liam’s presence I hadn’t really had a chance to take in the fact that he was wearing a tag that would allow him access to other parts of the club.
“Where we going?” I knew this man had the ability to sweep me off my feet, but I was used to looking after myself and taking charge of my own life.
Was that one of the reasons that I’d resisted Liam for so long?
I knew he had the power to overwhelm—something I’d never experienced before—and something that unsettled me.
Liam brushed his lips against the top of my head. A feeling of intense safety washed over me. How long had it been since I’d felt truly safe? I couldn’t remember. I’d been walking the world on my own and even through my time with Steve I’d never felt safe. Yet I’d arrived here and in less than five minutes of having Liam stood by my side a sense of security had washed through me.
“I’m taking you somewhere quieter than this, before I can steal you away back to the Hills.”
The idea of being somewhere quiet with Liam did things to my insides that I still wasn’t too sure I could cope with.
The last thing I wanted to be doing was taking Alannah upstairs for a drink with the band, but it was our first night with Ace and splitting as soon as they got on stage wouldn’t be a good look.
“Hey, look who’s here,” Dylan was the first to greet Alannah with a huge hug.
Shortly followed by Jesse.
I had the urge to punch them both out.
Did my possessiveness know no bounds?
Marty remained hanging over the edge of the mezzanine railing, his eyes trained on every step that Pet took across the stage.
Ace were putting on a fantastic show and deserved every accolade the crowd were throwing their way. I couldn’t help but think that Calvin had gotten us onto a good thing and I didn’t want to see any of us mess it up. Marty’s obsession with Pet worried me.
“I’ve missed you guys,” Alannah said, after she’d given Dylan and Jesse a hug. “Where’s Calvin?”
“He’ll be hanging backstage with Ace’s manager,” Jesse said. “You know him. All work and no down time.”
“The evil schemer,” she agreed, and then she threw her arms wide, “But look where he’s gotten you guys.”
“I know, right?” Dylan agreed.
“What’s up with Marty?” Alannah asked.
“He’s love-struck,” I replied, “Pet’s taken a shine to him.”
“I friggin' kid you not.”
“You’d have to hope that goes well,” Alannah said.
“Scotch?” I asked as I ordered one for myself from the bar.
“Not after last time,” Alannah replied and I couldn’t help but notice the playful tone of her voice. “A white wine will be fine.”
As unaccustomed as I was to having Alannah on this side of the bar, I ordered her drink and then pointed out a table and a couple of seats just down the mezzanine rail from where Marty sat.
Ace were still killing it down below.
I leaned in to Alannah and said, “As much as I’d like to get you back to the house, it wouldn’t be on to leave in the middle of Ace’s first show.”
“No worries,” she said as she slipped her hand on top of mine. “I chose to come to the show and besides, all my gear’s stashed at the hostel. I can always come over and see the house tomorrow.”
Now she’d arrived, I couldn’t see me being happy to let her out of my sight again until I had her installed in the guest house up in the Hills.
“We’ll pick that up on our way back to the house,” I said.
“I’m in your hands,” Alannah replied. The tone of her voice and her words weren’t lost on me. I could scarcely wait to get her out of here.
But, in the meantime, we had a show to watch and what a freaking show Pet and her band were putting on.
If we could reach half their fandom and attain their level of showmanship, I’d die a happy man. It didn’t take me long to lose myself in the fantasy of the story that they portrayed on stage.
They were the real deal and we had some ways to go to get anywhere near their level of professionalism.
Pet didn’t put a foot wrong the entire show.
By the time they’d taken their third encore and then stepped off the stage, I knew we had to cement our place alongside them, no matter what the cost.
Watching Liam watching the band on stage only reminded me how dedicated these men were to their music and their own life on stage.
If I was going to stay here in LA, I’d need to eke out some kind of life for myself, or I’d go insane. I loved a good band as much as the next girl, but as much as I loved music, I couldn’t see myself sitting in a VIP area night after night.
Then, between songs, Liam turned around and looked at me.
There may as well have been no-one or nothing around us.
Had he always had that effect on me?
I couldn’t be a groupie, not again.
I’d have to find something to keep me occupied while they were rehearsing and performing or I’d go insane.
Maybe Calvin would have some ideas.
I knew enough about the way Calvin operated to know that Liam wouldn’t have asked me here without passing it by Calvin first.
Lost in my own thoughts, I didn’t realise that the band had finished down below until I felt the firm grip of Liam’s hand on my own.
“You okay?” he asked, concern etched into his voice.
“Yeah, just a bit tired from the travel, that’s all.”
“Give me ten minutes,” he replied, “then I’ll get you out of here.”
“You need another drink? You want me to send a wine over for you?”
I shook my head. “No, I’m good. You go do what you got to do.”
He kissed me on the forehead and I watched the bulk of him disappear toward the small crowd that had assembled at the bar.
Keeping busy had always stopped me succumbing to tiredness. Sitting here, with a glass and a half of wine on board, after a day of travel and the fireworks of meeting with Liam again had left me spent.
In hindsight, it had been a dumb idea to just turn up at their first gig, but I wanted to be here and then, once I saw him on stage, I couldn’t just leave.
Now I paid the price for arriving unannounced and messing with his life and the band’s livelihood.
I needed to make better choices.
But there was something about Liam Herewini that sent all logic out of my mind whenever I saw him.
Strong hands on my shoulders and the scent of Liam woke me before the words whispered in my ear registered.
“Hey, sleepyhead. Come on, we need to get you out of here.”
“I must have dozed off,” I muttered. Insane, considering the noise and the carry on around me.
The number of people in the small space had easily doubled in the time that I’d watched Liam walk away from me and now.
“It’s my fault,” he said, “I said I’d be about ten minutes and it’s almost been an hour.”
“I shouldn’t have just turned up,” I reassured him. “I can just go back to the hostel if you need to spend more time with the band.”
“Said my goodbyes,” Liam replied, “Come on, we’re getting you out of here and picking up your stuff.”
We snuck past the gaggle of people who had invaded the VIP area. I did catch sight of Marty with his arm around Pet before we left.
“They look good together,” I said to Liam as his eyes followed where I was looking.
“Yeah,” he said. “Just as long as he keeps his head in the game.”
“Give him a break,” I squeezed Liam’s side. “He’s allowed to be a rockstar.”
“I think he’s got that down pat round about now,” Liam said with a twinge of something in his voice that I was just too tired to try to work out.
How much had I missed that?
Not at all.
The cool of the Californian night hit me as we walked out of the club, the air waking me from the near hypnotic state I’d experienced since I stepped inside hours ago.
Like any other city in the United States, traffic, people and sound clawed at me.
“This city doesn’t sleep either,” I noted.
“Nope,” Liam replied, “that’s why I love it up in the Hills. We’re surrounded by trees and I can pretend that none of this carnage exists.” He pulled me close as the nightlife clawed around us both. I felt more safe in his arms than I’d felt in months.
“Now where’s this hostel of yours?”
“Just across town.”
I watched with an increasing sense of security as Liam hailed a taxi and proceeded to bundle me into the back seat.
I gave the driver the address and then turned to the man sat beside me. “You can just drop me off at the hostel.”
“Not a chance,” Liam growled. “I’m not letting you out of my sight again until I get you back to the guest house.”
“Great, you’ve got a guest house to yourself. I thought Calvin would have you bunking in with the band.”
“He does,” Liam replied. “He wants you in the guest house.”
What the fuck? How did I feel about being bundled into a guest house while the band were living in the main house?
I mulled the idea over in my mind.
“It means we can have some privacy from the band,” Liam offered as if he were reading my thoughts.
“That’s not the way I see it,” I said trying not to sound bitter.
I reminded myself that other women would give their right arm to be living up in the Hills. Maybe I needed to reassess my attitude.
But Calvin had always been so fair. Why this and why now?
* * *
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