Reckless In Love
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There were so many things she wanted to talk about with Drew. Not just about what had happened in the morning meeting, but also about why he hadn’t been writing new songs, apart from “One More Time.” In the interviews she’d read over the years, it had always sounded like songwriting was a totally natural part of his life, unlike some other artists who really struggled over creating new music. But was that not true for him anymore? And if so, had it started even before his mom got sick?
Just minutes ago, she’d sworn to be all about business from here on out. And yet, she knew better, didn’t she? Because after everything they’d said to each other in the desert, and then in the bus later that night, Ashley felt she knew Drew better than any of those people at the label today. They liked him, of course, and admired him. Not to mention the way several of the women—and men—had been drooling over him. But he hadn’t bared his soul to any of them...and they hadn’t bared theirs right back.
Her heart was racing like crazy by the time she and Max made it to the side of the stage. She needed to see Drew again, needed just five seconds with him. The crowd was chanting Drew’s name when she suddenly heard her own. She turned to see Ansel walking toward her and tried not to betray her disappointment.
“How were the interviews?” she asked him.
“Great. Drew had them all eating out of his hand.”
Something about the way the A&R guy spoke about Drew grated. As if he thought Drew had simply been reading from a brilliant script they’d written together.
But then, a moment later, she felt fingers brush lightly over hers. This time, she didn’t need to look to her side to know who it was. No one else’s touch affected her like this.
Ansel was saying something to him about killing it tonight, but Drew was looking only at her while he stroked his thumb across her palm in a way that made her shiver despite the warmth of the crowded area where they were standing.
It was the smallest, quickest caress in the world, one that no one else could have spotted in the darkness behind the thick curtain that separated the backstage area from the bright stage lights. And just as she couldn’t help but want to read meaning into the note he’d left her while she was sleeping, now she couldn’t stop herself from doing the exact same thing as the skin on her palm continued to tingle even after he walked on stage to begin his set.
* * *
Most nights Drew talked to the audience between songs. Tonight, he had only the words from his songs. Fortunately, his band was adept at following his nonverbal cues by now and kept up with his pace no problem.
He wasn’t planning to play “One More Time,” honestly just didn’t feel like he could bear the weight of it tonight. Especially not after the way the label execs had pretty much given him a polite golf clap after he’d played it in the office today.
But it turned out that telling himself he wouldn’t play the song wasn’t much different from telling himself not to keep looking over at Ashley in the wings throughout the show. She didn’t smile when he looked, didn’t give him a thumbs-up either. She simply watched him play with those big, beautiful eyes.
And she cared.
She’d shown him again and again just how much emotion, how much passion she was capable of. Which was exactly why he’d had to shut her down halfway through the morning during his meetings at the label. Because just as his new song affected him too deeply, so did she. And when a guy was barely holding himself together...
Before he realized it, his fingers were playing the first chords of “One More Time” and his band was stepping back. The crowd went crazy...but every word he sang, every note was for Ashley.
He left the stage after that song, just walked off with his guitar, and stopped in front of her. There were tears running down her cheeks, and he reached out to brush them away the way he’d so badly wanted to during the meeting that morning. “I’ve got to head back to the meet-and-greet room. But do you want to get out of here after that? Head down to the beach, just you and me?”
When she nodded, he almost felt like he could breathe again.
He knew Ansel and the rest of the Chief Records employees who had come to the show tonight would be expecting him to party with them, but he couldn’t do it. Not tonight. “Max, can you tell the label reps to go ahead without me and that I’ll swing by if there’s a chance I can make it later? And whatever you do, don’t mention anything to them about a beach.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Max said with a smile. “In fact, I’ll let them know you’ve got a busy schedule tomorrow and are probably going to need your rest after the nonstop day you had in their offices.”
Drew wanted to take Ashley’s hand as they headed down the hall to the meet-and-greet rooms, wanted so much more than just that slight brush of his fingertips against hers before he’d walked on stage. But he knew that one touch wouldn’t be enough, just as the earlier one hadn’t been. If he held her hand, he’d want to hold all of her.