Tempt Me Like This
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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.
“Have any of you seen the way his fans react when he plays ‘One More Time’ live?”
Everyone in the room turned to her in surprise—as though they’d forgotten she was there. Or maybe they were still rolling their eyes at the way she’d sobbed while Drew played. Normally, she would have felt a little embarrassed to be the center of attention, especially when no one had actually asked her to speak up, but she couldn’t stand to see them all pile on Drew like this. Even if they were couching the pile-up in compliments about how great he was.
“Drew’s hits, they’re all amazing, and you’re right that people love to dance and sing to them. But they also love being touched by something that goes so deep. There’s no one who doesn’t understand how painful it is to lose someone you love. And, honestly, it’s after they’re wiping away their tears that his fans all really come together. It’s after ‘One More Time’ that they vow to be his fans for life.”
Everyone was looking at her as though she’d sprouted a second head—all but Drew, whose expression she couldn’t read—and she knew she needed to try a different tack. Either that or just stop talking, but she figured it was too late now to backtrack. Besides, she didn’t want to backtrack. She wanted to stand up for Drew’s right to be whatever kind of artist he wanted to be!
“During the past two days, since Drew played ‘One More Time’ for the first time, it is the song everyone is talking about. Literally thousands of people have been posting about it. Clips of the song. Selfies of themselves crying as they listen to it. They’re telling their own stories of loss and heartbreak. And they’re whipping everyone who hasn’t heard the song into a frenzy of anticipation, telling them that seeing Drew play it live will be one of the best experiences of their lives.”
“Really?” Finally, Robert looked interested.
“Yes, really.” At that point, she’d already stepped so far over the boundary that she didn’t hesitate to offer, “I’d be happy to pull together a report on it for you if you’d like.”
“Ashley, is it?” When she nodded, he said, “A report would be excellent. In fact, it makes me wonder why my own social media team isn’t already doing something similar.” He shot a none-too-pleased look at the men in the room.
“We’ve been busy working on other campaigns,” one man said, before quickly adding, “but we will certainly look into this phenomenon Drew’s girlfriend has reported seeing.”
Her eyebrows went up at girlfriend, but she knew right now wasn’t the time to correct anyone’s assumptions. Not when what mattered most was that Drew should love the music he was making and not feel pressured to paint with primary colors.
“Ashley is right about my fans loving the song. And she’s right about a hell of a lot more than that.” Drew’s voice was low. Firm. As if he dared anyone else from the label to so much as doubt another word out of her mouth. He looked at Robert and Ansel. “I’ll look over the contract and let you know my thoughts.” Drew stood, then reached out to help Ashley up. “Ready for a bunch more meetings?”