Tempt Me Like This
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The rest of the songs Drew had played tonight had been fast-driving and often upbeat. But this one held hints of sixties folk music. A little Dylan. A harmony reminiscent of Crosby, Stills and Nash. A lyric that she could easily have imagined Joni Mitchell singing. Ashley had never heard anyone combine their own new sound with the past in such an amazing way.
Drew’s song reached deep inside of her, deeper than any other had ever gone. Ashley ached for him, even as she found herself aching for her own losses. Losses she never liked to look at too closely because they hurt so bad.
Tears were streaming down the cheeks of the girl standing next to Ashley. More than one fan, actually, was losing the battle with her emotions. And as he sang, “I wish I could see you one more time,” and the final note rang out and the stage lights abruptly went dark, Ashley reached up and was shocked to feel dampness on her own cheekbones. She sucked in a breath, and then another when that first one didn’t quite make it all the way into her lungs, as she quickly wiped away the moisture.
She tried to center herself and steady everything that had just gone so topsy-turvy. She knew from reading all those science journals that a good song could trigger a cascade of involuntary physical and emotional responses. That had to be why she’d reacted so emotionally, right? Plus, she wasn’t used to being around so many people who had so few inhibitions.
From the first moment she’d set foot inside the venue, just as she’d thought, she stuck out. Her hair was too neat. Her clothes were too plain. Her shoes were too flat. And her makeup was too—well, nonexistent. The women in Drew’s audience were openly sexual, both in the way they dressed and in how they danced. And the truth was that at the same time as she felt out of place, Ashley envied them a little bit for the way they owned their sexuality. As if it were something not only perfectly natural, but also wonderful.
But when the girl next to her sniffled and said, “Isn’t he amazing? When I listen to his songs, I feel like I can do anything,” Ashley was surprised to realize she didn’t feel like a total outsider anymore. Drew’s music had brought all of them together. And even if the moment they stepped out onto the sidewalk they reverted back to their normal roles, at least for a couple of hours they’d all shared the exact same urge to dance and sing along and even cry.
The lights suddenly blazed back on in a kaleidoscope of colors that had everyone cheering just as Drew launched into “Wild,” his biggest hit to date. And even though she never danced in public, she couldn’t keep from wiggling her hips, lifting her arms to the beat, and clapping along with everyone else.
Suddenly, Ashley could see it all so clearly—this was Drew Morrison’s gift. Not only could he write one heck of a chorus, but he was also able to tap into the purest of emotions again and again with every song he wrote. Tears to laughter. Pain to joy. And everyone in the venue was more than happy to be taken on the roller-coaster ride with him. To let him take the wheel as he whirled them up and around, inside and out.
After his encore, however, Ashley forced herself to watch, to listen, to examine the reactions of the audience members, the managers of the venue, the employees running concessions, and to note her impressions in the tablet she took out of her bag. An impressive number of people had walked in wearing T-shirts with his face on them before the show, but pretty much everyone bought one on their way out and put it on. She could only imagine how gleeful Drew’s label must be at the way his fandom was growing.
A few minutes after he left the stage, the staff was quickly working to clean up, and she was one of the only people out on the floor. Having previously arranged over email with Drew to meet backstage after the show, she fished her VIP pass out of her purse and showed it to the large man guarding the door.
“Drew is just about done with pictures and autographs,” the man said as he gave her a surprisingly nice smile, “but if you hurry, I’m sure he won’t leave you hanging.”
“Thanks, but I’m not a fan.” The man’s eyes widened, and as she realized what she’d said, she fumbled to say, “I mean, of course I’m a fan. It’s just that I’m here to go on tour with Drew.”
“Are you Ashley?”
Surprised that this man knew her name, she said, “That’s me.”