This is the most uncomfortable seat in the entire world. The stiff leather chair nearly swallows me whole with its high back, and the bare skin on my legs stick to the seat. It’s also stifling in here. If I didn’t know better, I would say someone left the heat on in the middle of July. A bead of sweat trickles down my spine and I reach across the table to pour a glass of water.
I can’t believe I’m this nervous. It’s only a board meeting for crying out loud.
The glass meets my lips and I gulp down a drink.
My best friend of four years, Aubrey, reaches over and pats my wrist. “Sweetie, it’s fine. This is no biggie.”
I muster up a smile and nod. Of course it’s no big deal to her. She’s been through countless marketing meetings. This is my very first one. Sure, I’m only an intern, but proving myself will earn me a spot at Center Stage Marketing. Something I’ve wanted since my freshman year in college.
Aubrey and I both earned degrees from
and she somehow landed an assistant position to one of the top executives in
the company. They actually pay her to be here, while I’m just the annoying tag
along in training. University of Texas
Diana Swagger, one of the most respected female marketing executives and the president of the firm, strides in and takes her seat at the head of the long table, which fills most of the room. She’s put together from head to toe—not one red hair out of place on her well groomed head. Her black suite screams money and respect, and from what I’ve heard about her in the staff lounge, she’s a no nonsense type.
Aubrey clicks her pen next to me, ready to jot notes for her boss. Even though I’m only here to observe, I mimic her actions and do my best to pretend like I belong.
“Can anyone read the goals we discussed two weeks ago?” Diana asks while she unbuttons her jacket.
A middle-aged man to Diana’s right rattles off a list of topics that might as well be said in a foreign language. None of the projects Center Stage currently has going are products or companies I’m familiar with, but I keep my eyes trained on him like he’s the most interesting person in the world.
“…And we received the go ahead from Black Falcon’s people to proceed with the children’s campaign,” he says.
This automatically catches my attention. Black Falcon hits a little too close to home. Most people know them for their music, but I know them because of their front man, Noel Falcon. The star-studded rocker is a huge part of my past. There isn’t one childhood memory that he’s not in.
Diana makes a note on her yellow, legal paper. “Good. Now we need a volunteer to go down and wine and dine Noel Falcon for a few days. We need him to know we are serious about his charity.”
Everyone at the table quickly busies themselves with their paperwork in front of them. All of them avoiding Diana’s stare.
Diana peers around the table. “No one is interested in this? Harold?”
The man to Diana’s right looks up at her and adjusts his glasses. “Sorry, Diana. Rock stars aren’t well known for workings well with us boring add types. Last time I personally tried working with one, he blew me off, then became irate that his marketing wasn’t what he had envisioned. No offense, but this isn’t the type of account I’m willing to take on again. It’s a time suck.”
Diana leans back in her chair, steeples her fingers together, and presses them to her lips. “Is no one interested?” Her eyes scan her employees one more time—all of them avoiding her stare—before they land on me. “How about you? You seem to be the only other one interested in this account.”
Shit. Eye contact is a pain in the ass.
I swallow hard and my hand clutches my throat. “M—me?”
She leans forward in her seat. “I’m sure Mr. Falcon would surely give a young, pretty thing like you the time of day. All you would have to do is get him to spend some time with you and then find out exactly what his vision is for the children’s charity Black Falcon is heading up.”
My throat suddenly goes dry. How can I face Noel again? I want to scream at the top of my lungs I can’t, but I know if I want a job at Center Stage I need to be a yes woman until I get my foot planted firmly inside this door.
I can do this—talk with an old friend in a very professional level. This might be a piece of cake.
I take another huge gulp of water, trying to calm my nerves, while Diana stares expectantly at me. If I let my history with Noel slip out she might yank this opportunity away, and I can’t let that happen. Not after I’m so close to landing my dream job.
Aubrey nudges my leg under the table. She knows I’m stalling. She’s heard the stories about Noel.
I set the glass down, deciding it’s best to keep my relationship with him private, and nod my head. “I would love to take on this job for you.”
Diana smiles and leans back in her chair. “At least someone is willing to go the distance for this company. What did you say your name was again?”
Diana makes another note on the paper in front of her. “Does anyone have Black Falcon’s tour schedule? We need to get Ms. Vance to their next show and get things rolling on this.”
Harold types something into his tablet and quickly says, “Black Falcon’s next show is tomorrow night in
Texas, then it appears they have a break until
Rock on the Range in a few days later.” Columbus,
Tomorrow? I scrunch my nose. That’s a hell of a lot sooner than I expected. When I volunteered for this, I figured I would at least have a few days to mentally prepare myself. What in the hell am I going to say to Noel? Sorry for stomping on your heart four years ago? Oh and by the way I’m only here to land my dream job.
I resist the urge to bury my face in my hands. What have I just gotten myself into?
No, I have to look on the bright side.
is only about thirty minutes from my
hometown. At least it’ll be a free trip home for the weekend. It’s been a
couple months since I’ve seen my parents, and I miss them like crazy. Houston is a hard place
to get away from. New York
I can do this, right?
“Someone schedule this girl a flight for tomorrow immediately and give her the run down on this charity so she’ll know what information we need from the band,” Diana says.
When I open my mouth to tell Diana I’ve change my mind, Aubrey says, “Ms. Swagger, I would like to volunteer to go with Lanie. She’s only an intern, and I would love to go along with her and show her the ropes on navigating clients.”
Ms. Swagger nods. “Okay then, I’ll allow that. Go ahead and book a flight for yourself and one for Ms. Vance and then report back to me on Monday after the initial meeting.”
I slump back in the chair.
This may be the worst decision of my life.
Aubrey leads me into the hallway after the meeting is over. Every nerve in my body zings with adrenaline. This is it—my big break to show Ms. Swagger I deserve a job in her company—that I’m a marketing slave. The only problem is facing Noel.
Aubrey grabs my wrist and yanks me into the supply closet. “Oh. My. God.” She shakes her head and her auburn curls bounce around her shoulders. “I don’t even know what to say. On one hand I’m thrilled you’ll have the chance to show these stuffy assholes around here some of those mad marketing skills, but on the other I’m freaked the fuck out. Noel Falcon, Lanie?”
I sigh. “I know. I know, but what was I suppose to do? Tell Diana no because I have a painful history with the lead singer of Black Falcon? There’s no way I could admit that to her. This opportunity just fell into my lap. I’d be crazy not to jump all over it.”
Aubrey grabs my hands and squeezes them. “You’re right. You can get through this. It’s only Noel Falcon. We go down there and take him to dinner. You’ll be fine because I’ll be there the entire time for moral support.”
I wrap my arms around slender frame. “Thank you for doing this with me.”
She pulls away and pushes my dark hair back before resting her hands on my shoulders. Her emerald eyes stare at me. “You’re welcome, sweetie. Now there’s only one thing left to do…” Her lips twist and she picks at my shirt.
I raise an eyebrow at the mischievous look on her face. “Oh, no. I know that look.”
Aubrey’s grin broadens. “Where’s the closest mall. I can’t wait to see Noel’s jaw hit the floor when he sees you.”
I roll my eyes and do my best to look displeased, but deep down I can’t wait to see that either.
The last chord of the song still hums in my ears. I can’t believe I’m out here in this blistering heat. The sun beats down on my back and I just know my fair skin is going to scream at me later. But I have to be here, even if it is the last place I ever wanted to be—front row of my high school boyfriend’s concert. God knows where he gets the inspiration for his music from.
The lead singer from the opening act walks back on stage in his tight, black, leather pants and ripped up shirt. The crowd behind me is predominantly women because my old boyfriend is a rock-sex icon now. They scream even louder when the rocker grabs the microphone off the stand.
Two fights broke out behind me during the last band’s set, so I’m a bit nervous to find out what’s going to happen when the main act goes on, but I’m not leaving this spot. I’ve waited out here since the gates opened at noon to get center stage. I want the best view possible to lay my eyes on the first boy I ever really kissed.
“You guys are awesome. Thank you so much.” The singer smiles, and the rampant crowd of horny women shove against one another even harder to get closer to the stage. “Are you ladies ready to drop your panties for Black Falcon?”
That gets them pumped up again. I look behind me and watch the waves of people scream and yell in excitement.
My ears ring, but I don’t want to look like a total wuss and stuff my fingers in them in the midst of all these hard-core rocker chicks. That might get my ass kicked.
The middle aged woman behind me screams out Noel’s name followed by an ‘I love you’ at least ten octaves higher than her normal voice. The woman shoves into my back, and I crunch into the iron fencing in front of me.
“Give it up for BLACK FALCON!” the rocker screams, and my insides jitter. I’m not sure why I’m nervous. It’s not like he’ll even remember me. He sees tons of women every night, and after a while, faces probably all start to look the same to him
My gaze instantly glues to the stage. The lead singer, Noel Falcon, enters from the right and looks just like I remember him—tall and lean with shaggy, dark-brown hair. He’s not the goofy boy I knew anymore. The past four years have been good to him. Really good. He wears twenty-two well. The dark, scruffy hair on his jaw line brings out the blue in his eyes, and for a second, I kick myself for the night we broke up.
Noel stops center stage, wearing a sexy grin, as he takes in the arena packed with his adoring fans. He’s close. I can practically reach out and trace the intricate tattoos on his arm if I want to. The spotlight beams down on him, and he points a finger out to the throngs of people in the upper deck. The crowd goes nuts, but I stand there simply awestruck. Not because Noel Falcon, one of the hottest rockers on the planet is five feet in front of me, but because it’s Noel Falcon, the first boy I ever loved. He used to be my best friend. The guy I thought at one time was my forever.
Noel pulls the microphone off the stand. “Wow!” He steps back and laughs as he stares around. He looks unbelievably hot in his jeans and tight, black t-shirt. “I can’t tell you how great it feels to be back in my old stomping grounds. I grew up not far from here, so tonight—”
“I LOVE YOU NOEL!” shouts the lady behind me again, practically right in my ear.
Noel flicks his line of sight down and makes eye contact with me. Surprise registers on his face, and he pauses for a brief second, even though it feels like an eternity to me. “So tonight—” he says, still staring at me. “—is a very special night. It gives me a chance to revisit my past. See people I haven’t seen since high school. The good and the bad.” Noel’s gaze leaves me, and he glances back out toward the crowd. “Are you guys ready to rock?”
Noel’s band starts off with a fast song, and every person in the arena thrashes around. Pumping their fists and jumping around like crazy Mexican Jumping Beans.
“Oh My God, Lanie. He totally recognizes you!” Aubrey squeals in my ear while grabbing my arm.
“No he doesn’t.” I attempt to blow her words off. She has no clue how intense mine and Noel’s relationship was back then. She’s only heard stories.
“Hello? Are you kidding me? He even just said high school when he looked at you. We have to put these passes to use and get back stage,” Aubrey shouts as she bounces in time with the beat—her long, auburn hair trailing down her back. Tonight for her is all about fun and the possibility of meeting one of the hottest bands around, but for me…I’m not really sure what I expect from tonight. Noel’s always been the ‘what if’ for me. The one who got away.
Noel straps his guitar around his neck and then haphazardly slings it over his shoulder. He grabs the mic with both hands and brings it to his full lips. It reminds me of the way he used to kiss. He always put his entire soul into everything he did, which included the way he loved me.
“Look at me. I see you now. The way we used to be…” Noel sings in perfect rhythm.
The smoothness of his voice fills my ears, and it takes me back. I close my eyes and listen to his words and remember all the times we sat out on the old boat dock overlooking the lake that separated our two childhood homes. That was our spot. The place we met in secret so many nights. The first place he sang to me. The first place we made love.
It was also the place where our love ended—where I told him to give up on his foolish dreams to become a rock star and do something sensible, like me, and go to college. I knew I broke his heart when I said I could never be with a dreamer because dreams don’t pay the bills.
Look at what I knew.
He totally made it, while I’m still struggling to land my perfect job in this tough economy with my ‘sensible’ degree. Life without him these last four years has been lonely.
A tear rolls down my cheek. How silly was I to listen to people, that Noel was a loser going nowhere just because he loved music. We could’ve been happy. We could’ve beaten the odds. But, I guess that’s something I’ll never know. Just another old chapter in my life I need to walk away from because it’s too late.
I open my eyes to take one last look at Noel. His eyes close as he belts out the chorus. Sweat beads illuminate his face under the spot light. He’s truly beautiful. But he’s a stranger now. Someone I used to know. It’s time to quit torturing myself and move on. I’ll just have to kiss the job at Center Stage goodbye.
“Aubrey, I need to get out of here. I can’t do this,” I shout to my friend.
Her pink lips twist. “Why? Because of him?” She points to Noel.
My eyes flit up to Noel’s face, and at that very second, he looks down at me while he strums his guitar. His eyes hold mine for a second before I glance back at Aubrey and nod. “I have to get out of here. This is like torture.”
Aubrey’s whole body slumps like a deflated balloon. “You know we can’t do that.” She sighs. “You have to suck it up and talk to him. You won’t get a job and I’ll lose mine. Diana doesn’t mess around.” She takes my hand and pulls me through the crowd. I glance back and watch a pile of girls shove their way into our spot.
The out-door arena is so loud I can hardly hear my own thoughts. We make it to the back of the crowd just as the song ends. People are screaming Noel’s name while they’re waiting for the next song to begin. When it’s oddly silent, I think about taking one last look before I walk out on him again—one last look to remember him by.
“This next song goes out to the girl who shredded my heart without hesitation back in high school. It’s called Ball Busting Bitch, and Lanie, this one’s for you.”
My entire body freezes and I feel my mouth go dry. What a dick. The blood in my veins boil and my fingers shake as I resist the urge to storm the stage and punch him square in the face.
On second thought that sounds like a fantastic idea.
I lunge forward and Aubrey snags my arm. “What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m going to kick his ass,” I snarl.
Aubrey rolls her emerald eyes. “As much as I would love to see you do that, it’s impossible and you know it. The guy probably has ten hunky body guards to protect him from the likes of you. Besides we have to be civil to that cretin, remember?”
My shoulders slump in defeat. Oh, right. I have a job riding on getting Noel to like me. The last thing I want to do right now is talk to him, let alone be nice to him, but what choice do I have?
“You’re right. Let’s just get through tonight, get the info we need, then get our asses back to
where we belong.” New
Aubrey wraps her slender arm around my shoulders and gives me a little squeeze. “There’s the Lanie I love. Come on. Let’s weasel our way backstage and get to work.”
My fingers rub over my aching forehead. This is a bad idea, but I reluctantly tell her okay. She grabs me up in a tight hug—her vanilla perfume super strong in my nose—and then leads me toward the restricted area sign with our backstage passes tight in hand.
Read First Two Chapters of ROCK MY BED (Black Falcon, #2)
Read First Two Chapters of ROCK THE BEAT (Black Falcon, #3)
Read First Two Chapters of ROCK MY BODY (Black Falcon, #4)
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