Reckless In Love
Page 24

 Bella Andre

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Drew gave him a one-armed hug. Drawing back, he put his hand in the small of Ashley’s back so that she’d move forward into the group, and her entire body immediately heated up, head to toe. “Robert, Ansel, this is Ashley Emmit. She’s a friend of mine who’s joined the tour to get an insider’s view of the music business before she heads off to Stanford Business School.”
“The Biz School,” Robert said. “Very impressive.”
It was on the tip of her tongue to say that she hadn’t actually been accepted yet, but before she had a chance to respond, Robert turned back to Drew and said, “Come on into my office and we’ll chat.”
Inside the large room, there were another half-dozen men who all said hello to Drew, who then introduced her to them the way he had everyone else at the label. She’d put on her one dress, a simple white sundress, for today’s meeting, and she could see how much she stuck out amongst the sea of dark suits. In fact, as far as she’d seen, apart from a few administrative staff, all of the employees at the label were male.
Which was funny, considering that well over fifty percent of the people listening to Drew’s music were female. Shouldn’t at least one person with an X chromosome be weighing in along with all the men?
“Your numbers are through the roof, Drew.” The label’s president got comfortable in his big leather chair as she and Drew sat on a big leather couch. “We’ve already talked with Peter to let him know how pleased we are.”
Drew’s manager, Peter Hemsworth, was president and founder of a high-profile music management company. He managed a dozen top artists and was based out of London, which was why he wasn’t here with them today. Drew hadn’t said much about Peter to her, just that he liked the guy and appreciated being left alone for the most part rather than micromanaged. Still, she wondered if Peter should at least be on the phone with them during this meeting. After all, Drew wasn’t exactly a small-time client.
“We also let him know we’re looking forward to finally hearing those new songs you’ve been promising us. And for you to get back to us with your thoughts on the contract that we sent over a while back for the second album.”
“I got Peter’s email this morning,” Drew said. His words still sounded pretty relaxed, but Ashley had spent enough time with him to notice the way his expression tightened down a bit at the corners of his eyes and mouth.
“The market is primed for a new Drew Morrison album. Social media is going crazy for you. The girls can’t get enough. You’ve done us proud, Drew. Real proud.”
Was it weird, she wondered, to hear himself talked about like that? As Drew Morrison. But she already knew the answer—it had to be weird.
“Thanks,” was all Drew said in response.
“So,” Ansel said into the continued silence, “have you brought any songs in for us on a flash drive? Or maybe you’ll feel more comfortable playing one of the guitars in my office?”
Instead of answering either Robert or Ansel, Drew looked at Ashley. She wished she knew what he needed from her, because she could see that he was struggling with something. She wanted to reach for his hand, but it seemed so terribly inappropriate inside the office. She gave him a small smile instead. One she hoped he could read as: Whatever you do, I’m totally behind you.
After another few seconds, he turned back to the men in suits. “I have one new song I could play for you.”
“Great!” Robert clapped his hands as if he were a king on his music business throne about to hear from the jester brought in to entertain him. Ansel’s guitar was soon in Drew’s hands, and then he began the first few notes of “One More Time.”
Ashley had cried buckets both nights he’d played it on stage, and it wouldn’t matter that she was surrounded by the music industry executives that she’d always hoped to work with—she knew she wouldn’t be able to keep from crying today either. At first Drew kept his gaze trained on the sound hole in his guitar as he played, but when she sniffled just a little too loudly, he looked up…and played the rest of the song looking straight at her. It felt like a concert for one. And it was the most breathtakingly beautiful thing that had ever happened to her.
She honestly forgot all about the other people in the room while he played, but once he got to the end of the song, that final line that absolutely destroyed her every single time—I wish I could see you one more time—she was shocked to realize that no one else in the room was crying. Okay, so a couple of the executives’ eyes were glassy, but none of them had become a blubbering mess.
Ansel leaned forward. “That song—it’s great, Drew. Real moving. But all those hits on your first album—those are what your fans are going to be expecting you to hit them with again. More fun, sexy songs.” He held up his hands. “Don’t get us wrong, we don’t want to stifle your creativity.”
She waited for Drew to say something, to defend his musical path, wherever it took him. Instead, he sat silently, a muscle jumping in his jaw. Suddenly, she realized that this was why he hadn’t been excited about coming here today. He wasn’t writing new songs at the pace Chief Records was expecting. And the one new song he had written, the label guys clearly didn’t like.
But she did. She loved it. And so did his fans. She’d seen it for herself.
The problem was, any response Drew made at this point would only end up sounding defensive—and they’d clearly set up the power structure so that he would be on the wrong foot unless he did anything but kowtow to their demands. Oh sure, Ansel had smiled as he said it, but it was clear that they were still demanding a certain kind of song from Drew.