Reckless In Love
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When they stepped out of the tour bus a short while later, Ashley was stunned to realize they were already on the Las Vegas Strip. “I guess I knew it would be lit up even at five in the morning, but it’s still kind of a shock. And surprisingly pretty, too.” She sounded like a goony tourist, but she couldn’t help it. She’d never been particularly into flash or neon, but Las Vegas made it work somehow.
“See that couple?” Drew pointed to a man in a dark suit and a woman in a glittering dress. “They’ve likely been playing the high-stakes tables all night. And those guys over there?” He pointed to half a dozen college guys looking more than a little worse for wear. “I’m guessing it’s someone’s twenty-first birthday.”
She pointed at a gray-haired woman. “What about her?”
She laughed, realizing she’d laughed more with Drew already than she had with any of the guys she’d ever dated. “Strangely, something tells me you’re probably right.” Her first sixty seconds in Vegas were already full of so much color and life and wildness, and she was shocked to realize she loved it. Her mother had frequently needed to “get away” to Las Vegas. Now Ashley thought she might understand why...even as she wished she hadn’t always turned down her mother’s offers of a spa and show weekend here.
“The station is ready for you to head up now,” Max said.
“Is your band already upstairs?” Ashley asked as the three of them headed into a skyscraper situated between over-the-top casinos. She’d interned in enough office buildings to feel totally comfortable in this environment—the gray carpet, the elevators that smelled like they’d just been wiped down with cleanser, the early morning staff clutching their cups of coffee for dear life.
“I usually do a stripped-down version of my songs for radio,” Drew replied. “A couple of the guys from the band are already waiting inside for us, and everyone else gets to sleep in.”
Drew’s bass player and drummer were waiting in the hall just outside the studio. “Sammy, Jonas, this is Ashley Emmit. Remember I told you guys she’s going to be joining us to do some research on the music business?”
Just like Max, they had plenty of tattoos and a few piercings. And they both also said it was nice to meet one of Drew’s friends. The way they said friends seemed a little strange, almost as though they thought she and Drew were actually more than friends. But that was so preposterous, she quickly shook off the thought.
Before she’d come here yesterday, her father had warned her approximately a million times not to let herself be swept up by a rock ’n’ roll man, à la Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” But she’d known he didn’t have anything to be worried about. There was no way she could be the kind of girl any of these rocker types were interested in.
Just then, however, Drew put his hand on hers to draw her arm out of range of the sharp edge of a bongo drum, and her brain flashed back to what she’d seen in his eyes when he’d been holding her naked and wet in his arms. A heat and a desire that she still couldn’t quite believe had been real...even if he seemed to be looking at her in the same way right that instant.
Two disk jockeys ushered them all in, and she grabbed a seat in the very back to stay out of everyone’s way. The next half hour was a whirlwind of rapid-fire questions that Drew answered with charm and wit, both from the DJs and from the women who called in, desperate to speak with him for thirty seconds.
Finally, he opened up his guitar case, pulled out an acoustic guitar, and asked, “You guys want to hear a couple of songs?”
Ashley had been taking notes like crazy the whole time. She’d listened to plenty of musicians’ interviews on the radio, but she’d never realized just how much work they were putting into it. From a casual listener’s perspective, it might be the first time you’d ever hear them tell their story about how they got started, or what they were planning for their show that night in town. But for them, she suddenly realized, it was the same thing on repeat every day. How many times had Drew given these answers? And yet, he didn’t sound the least bit tired or bored.
She could tell by the power of his songs that Drew hadn’t gotten into the music business for fame like many other musicians likely had. Instead, fame and endless rounds of promotion were probably just things he had to deal with in order to pursue his chosen career.
Already, she felt that she had a hundred times more insight into just how much record labels needed to support their musicians. First, they could—
Drew’s voice rang out through the microphone hanging from the ceiling, and her well-ordered thoughts fled. Every time he started playing and singing, she stopped being the rational person she’d always been, and her emotions, her passions, bubbled up and up and up, until it was taking literally everything she had just to keep from alternately cheering and sobbing, depending on the song.
By the time he finished his final song, she felt wrung out. Utterly depleted by the emotional roller coaster he’d just taken her on with his music, and this was only their first visit of many on the schedule Max had handed her.
And maybe if she hadn’t been looking so carefully, she wouldn’t have noticed that although Drew continued to give one hundred percent of himself, he looked a little worn out, too. Although, she thought with a frown, worn out wasn’t really the right word for it. No, the expression on his face was the same one he’d had when he thought there had been some problems with his show the night before. Everything she’d heard him play had been flawless. But obviously, he wasn’t entirely happy with it.