Sunday, February 22, 2015 | By: Drotuno

Man Behind the Mask Chapter 1 & Pic

Chapter 1 – Pulling Your Strings
Master of Puppets I'm pulling your strings
Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams
Blinded by me, you can't see a thing
Just call my name, 'cause I'll hear you scream

Master, Master, where's the dreams that I've been after?
Master, Master, you promised only lies
Laughter, Laughter, all I hear or see is laughter
Laughter, Laughter, laughing at my cries

“Master of Puppets” – Metallica
EDWARD
“Thank you, Seattle! Good night!” I cheered into the mic, reaching down to slap the hands of screaming fans on my way toward the side of the stage.
“Awesome as always, baby brother,” Emmett said with a grin, handing me a towel and a bottle of water. “C’mon. We’ll get you backstage.” He led me through the throngs of people, reaching female hands, and busy crewmen as I wiped sweat from my face and chugged the whole bottle of water. “Damn tight after a few months off, yeah?” he asked, holding my dressing-room door open.
“Yeah,” I rasped, pushing by him for more water.
When there was a knock on the door, Emmett went to tend to it as I fell down onto the sofa. Fuck…live shows were the best part of my life. My heart raced, my adrenaline was still pumping, and I felt like I owned the damn world. It had been months since we’d played a live show, and it would be another few months before we picked back up touring. It was off the stage that shit got…messy.
“Hey, babe,” Emmett sang, letting his wife into the room.
She kissed him and then turned to me. “You have an interview,” she stated without much pause, slipping into the role of Radiant Eclipse’s manager with ease.
“Now?”
“Aro set it up before talking to me about it. She’s just outside.”
Wincing, I shook my head. “Aw, hell… Who is it?”
“Jessica Stanley from Music Mania Magazine.”
“You’ve got to be kidding!”
“Afraid not, brother-in-law,” she sighed wearily. “I tried to reschedule, but it just won’t work.”
“Fuck.” I raked a hand through my hair. “Can’t Jasper do it?”
“I’m sorry, Edward, but I need you to do this. They want Masen. They want the front man.”
I met her gaze when she used my real name, not the stage name. Only those who truly knew me called me Edward, and I never used it in public.
“Apparently, Aro gave her exclusivity to the first interview since you’ve been home. Hell, yes, she’s gonna want details of the last few months. However, I want you to push the album you guys are about to finish recording, not to mention the tour coming up.” Rose sighed again but smirked at me. “She’s a fan, so use that shit. I saw her out there – front row and center. I’d be surprised if her panties are still intact.”
Snorting into a chuckle, I fell back against the sofa, but I checked to make sure that I had everything I needed for this godforsaken interview.
Rubbing my face, I groaned but then mumbled to her to give me a second. “You stickin’ around for this?” I asked when she walked back toward the door.
“Nah, as much as I’d love to see her face when you do this shit, I have to make a few calls, but if you’re good, I’ll send your girls in to save you,” she teased, which made me laugh. She glanced at her watch. “What do you think? Thirty minutes?”
I nodded to her. “Fair enough.” Before she left the room, I called her back. “Hey Rose! Can’t we squash the personal part?”
She wrinkled her nose, shaking her head. “Just…do what you do, Masen. Scramble her brains enough, and she’ll forget all about rehab and the accident.”
Frowning, I nodded, finally getting up from the sofa. I shuffled into the bathroom to piss and clean up a little. Rose owed me big-time for this shit, but then I remembered this wasn’t her doing.
“Fucker,” I grumbled at the thought of Aro, our record producer.
He’d sent Jessica on purpose just to fuck with me, just to prove he held all the control over me and the band, not to mention how much trouble he’d had to handle with everything that had happened. He’d made us huge, given us our first and second record, and we’d gone platinum on each, which made everyone involved very happy…and very rich. We’d been young and dumb, signing that first contract. We had one more record to make for him and one more tour to promote, and then I wanted away from Volturi Records…and I wasn’t even sure I gave a shit if the rest of Radiant Eclipse came with me—although I knew if I left, Jasper would be right by my side.
I reached for the back of my T-shirt, wrenching the sweaty thing off before opening the door to reveal screaming girls. Playing up the sexy, bad boy, clichéd rock star was a part of the job, and a lot of it I hated because it was so fake, but in all reality, my fans were fantastic, and being accessible kept them coming back for more – more music, shows, merchandise – and their excitement was contagious as they rambled about the show. Grinning, I let them touch and kiss me, let them take pictures, and signed a handful of autographs on anything from concert programs to a girl’s tits – that last one begged for the T-shirt in my hands, and I let her have it. Emmett pushed them along, shooting a wink my way, before allowing two people to step closer.
Jessica Stanley was younger than some of the journalists I’d talked to, and she was a decent writer, but she had a tendency to focus on the personal part of her subjects, not the professional side. She also had a reputation for sleeping with just about everyone she interviewed. She loved her rock stars…literally. It irritated the shit out of me.
Her photographer, on the other hand, was an asshole. Laurent liked to freelance for the paparazzi when he wasn’t selling his photos to magazines and newspapers. He made more money for the rags and gossip websites. In fact, he’d followed my ass all the way to rehab. How he’d found me, I had no fucking clue, but Rose assured me she’d find out.
With one last deep breath, I turned away from the door, aiming for the basket I knew Rose always left here and giving a lazy smile Jessica’s way.
“Masen, it’s good to see you again,” she purred, reaching out a hand as I picked up a bottle from the basket, unscrewing the cap.
The amber-colored liquid sloshed inside as I practically drained it before taking her hand. I kissed the back of it, giving her another smile.
“Mouthwatering as ever, Miss Stanley,” I crooned against her fingers. “Ditch camera boy, and maybe we can…”
Her giggle was exactly what I wanted, and she shot a look to Laurent, who scowled my way, but I ignored him, smirking when Jessica trailed a perfectly manicured nail over my bare chest. I took another long drink from the bottle as I stayed right in front of her. I wanted to chuckle when her eyes darkened as she stared unabashedly at my bare torso down to where my jeans were unbuttoned, as if she was memorizing every tattoo, every muscle.
I knew the dreadlock fucker was already snapping pictures, but I focused on Jessica, picking up her backstage pass that was hanging around her neck.
“Did you like the show, Miss Stanley?” I asked, twirling the pass in my fingers, only to let it drop back to her stomach.
“Jessica, you silly thing! How many times do I have to tell you, Masen? Call me Jessica,” she said with a smile. “And yes, of course. It was hot as always.”
My crooked smile made her blush, which I found hilarious, considering the things I’d heard about her. She wasn’t exactly a blushing virgin.
“It was the perfect comeback for you,” she purred, but I caught the look in her eye.
I huffed a laugh through my nose but led her to the sofa. “Jessica, you work for a music magazine. Let’s stick to music, shall we?” I sat next to her, and she leaned in. “New album, new tour…don’t you want the scoop?”
“Actually, she wants to know all about court-ordered rehab, Masen,” Laurent piped up, snapping a few more pictures.
“Drinking and driving. We’ve all done it. I just got busted,” I hedged but kept a smile on my face as I turned to Jessica, tilting her head back so that we were face to face. “What more is there to know?”
“W-Well,” she sputtered, looking up at me from beneath her lashes as her fingers trailed over the ink on my bicep. “There are rumors going around that you weren’t the driver.”
I rolled my eyes to hide my surprise but sighed dramatically. “Rumors,” I scoffed, waving a hand toward Laurent. “Now you’re treading dangerously into paps territory. I heard you were better than that fucking garbage.”
That seemed to get her attention, so she changed direction, thankfully, sticking to music, the new album we were currently recording, and how big the promotional tour would be.
Like clockwork, there was a knock on the door exactly thirty minutes after Jessica had stepped into my dressing room.
“I’m afraid our time is up, Miss Stanley,” I said sadly, patting her leg before getting up to answer the door. I braced myself for what was to come. Two very tall, very pretty blondes burst into the room and latched on to either side of me. I choked back a laugh, but the smile was genuine as I pulled them close. “Ladies,” I greeted them as hands and lips met my skin. Hell, I didn’t even care if Laurent snagged a few photos before they walked toward the door. “Hey, Jessica… Next time, leave the camera boy behind. We could have some fun.” I palmed the plump ass in my right hand, chuckling when she blushed again and opened the door.
When the door clicked closed behind them, a hand smashed to my face, shoving me down to the sofa.
“You know, you like that shit too much,” Tanya scolded with a laugh, folding her arms across her plentiful chest. “And you’re probably the reason why we prefer pussy.” She gestured to her girlfriend, Kate, who was just smirking at us with a slow shake of her head. She tolerated so much, simply because Tanya was a crazy woman.
“I understand why you prefer pussy,” I countered with a laugh, raising my eyebrows up and down and ducking the pillow Kate tossed at my head. “You used to like dick.”
“All those memories are blurry,” she scoffed, though her smile was funny when Kate laughed. “Sorry about that interview, Edward.”
“Fuck it. Eventually someone’s gonna want to know about that accident and rehab, but I wasn’t telling that woman,” I sighed, frowning a little at the “rumor” Jessica had mentioned. Only three people knew about the night of the accident, and I needed to speak to one of them. I turned my attention back to Tanya, picking up the prop whiskey bottle with a grin. “Nice job, by the way. The tea’s good. Honey?”
“Yes, dear,” Tanya replied sarcastically. “It’s good for your throat after your show, which was an amazing job, mind you.”
Nodding, I thanked her again. Tanya was Rose’s personal assistant and a damn good one. She was also Rose’s cousin. We’d all known each other for ages. In fact, Emmett had dated Tanya before he fell for Rose, which was why I liked to tease her about her love for women. She also did shit that probably fell outside her job description, like faking the whiskey for me, which made me think of Aro again.
I turned the liquor bottle, now empty of its tea, over in my hands. As good as my band was – and we were fucking tight – Aro liked to maintain a certain image. Sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. I hated the politics of it all. I hated being something I wasn’t. I just wanted to write music and sing.
I felt the sofa dip next to me, and I glanced over to see Kate. “You okay?”
I nodded but set the bottle down on the table in front of us. “Yeah, just…it’s been a wretched few months.”
Tanya literally growled, rolling her eyes and falling down on the other side of me. “I can still give that ex of yours a beatdown. Bailing on you when you probably needed her the most…bitch.”
Grinning, I shook my head. “Nah.”
“You sure?” Kate offered, smirking my way. “Between T and me, we could probably manipulate some sort of lesbian scandal!”
A laugh barked out of me. “As tempting as that may be, ladies, no. Leave it. She showed her true colors when I had to go away.” Both women huffed unhappily, and I wrapped arms around them. “Thanks for having my back, though.”
Tanya stood up, kissing my temple. “If you change your mind, just say the word, Edward. Personally, I’m glad the bitch is gone. I’m not quite sure she could be trusted.”
“You think she cheated?”
Kate snorted. “I think she did a lot of things when you weren’t looking, which was a lot of the time, sweetie – the least of which was cheating. She latched herself to your fame and bank account. Thank fuck you didn’t marry her! And I’d be willing to bet that all those times the paps found you…that it was her who called them.”
“Hmm,” I hummed in agreement. “Rose thought the same thing.” I sighed deeply, the high from performing finally starting to fade. “Speaking of… Would you tell her I need to talk?”
“Yeah, sure,” Tanya said, holding out a hand for Kate.
They were truly beautiful women – long legs, blonde hair, and fit bodies. But they were good friends, too. When Tanya had dated my brother just out of high school, we’d gotten close. It was me who figured out that the reason they were fizzling out wasn’t because of Emmett but because Tanya preferred women – specifically, Kate. She’d shown up at my door in tears, if only because she didn’t want to hurt him. Funnily enough, Emmett had been eyeing Rose for some time; he’d stayed quiet for the same reason – fear of hurting Tanya. They’d parted as friends.
“Thanks for saving my ass tonight.” I chuckled when they smiled my way.
“Anytime,” Tanya sang. “Besides, we withhold the rights to make sure the next chick that sinks her claws in you passes our inspection.”
Grinning, I waved them away. “That shit won’t happen.”
When the door opened, the screams picked up again, but I wasn’t in the mood now. Sitting forward, I leaned my elbows on my knees, and my fingers sank into my hair, gripping hard. The door opened and closed again, and I glanced up to see Rose standing there.
“So…how’d it go?”
My eyes narrowed on her. “We have a problem,” I stated. “More than that fucker, Laurent, following me to Serenity Rehabilitation Center.”
“What now?” she asked, sitting on the table in front of me.
“Jessica said there was a rumor that I wasn’t the driver.”
Rose’s mouth fell open. “Now how in the fuck would she have heard that?!”
I was shaking my head the entire time. “I dunno, but someone’s leaking info or some shit.”
“There are only three people…technically two—”
“I know!”
We were quiet for a moment, though the noise from the hallway outside was still pretty loud. I glanced down to the ink on my chest. “Thicker than water” was etched into my skin, and it was the truth.
When I met Rose’s gaze once more, she said, “I just wonder what other information is leaking out there.”
“Does it matter?” I argued, getting up from the sofa and starting to pace. “I mean… I couldn’t give two shits what people know about me, but…”
“Aro does,” she countered. “Edward, we just have this one last year. I promise you; you don’t have to re-sign with Volturi, but we do have to finish out this contract, or he could ruin you.” She came to stand in front of me. “I know you hate it, and you have every right, but after this last tour, he won’t own you. And you guys will have enough pull to produce for yourselves.” She cupped my face. “I will do my very best to cushion all of this shit for you. I know the focus is on you more than the rest of the band, simply because of the accident, not to mention your fan base. But you gotta meet me halfway. Play the part for a little longer, Edward. Please?”
I sighed at the pleading of her voice but nodded.
“You can be whatever you need to be when it’s just us, but out there…I need Masen. I need his wild ways to keep you in the spotlight, if only to satisfy Aro. With this new album, Edward, you’ll have established yourselves enough that you could shave your head and wear clown shoes for all I care.” When I snorted, she smirked. “In fact, it’s a good thing that you settle down after this last tour, but until then…”
“Aro,” we said together.
“Okay…” I kissed her temple. “I’m gonna shower and head back to the hotel. I need a beer.”
“I’ll have the driver ready for you. But watch the paps at your hotel, and don’t you dare punch Laurent!” she warned, pointing a finger into my chest. “It’s one thing to play a part, but it’s another having to bail you out for assault. Aro may think there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but he doesn’t have to hear your family.”
Grinning, I nodded, stepping into the bathroom. Once I was cleaned up and dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, I pulled on my leather jacket and stepped out into the hallway that had cleared out a little. The roadies were breaking down the stage, and a few shot waves my way as I pushed my way toward the back exit.
I passed by James’s dressing room, shaking my head. Drummers got more play, or at least, James did. He gave me a shit-eating grin when three women were draped all over him as he reached to close the door.
“Pig,” I heard behind me, and I spun to see Alice standing there.
“That he is, Alice,” I agreed, leaning down to kiss her cheek. “I lost a shirt tonight. My apologies.” She not only kept us looking good onstage, but she was married to my oldest friend and my song-writing partner.
She chuckled. “I buy them in bulk, so no worries.” Before I could walk away, she grabbed my hand. “Jasper wants to brainstorm with you before the first recording session. He’s worked out a fantastic melody.”
“Yeah?” My eyebrows rose up high.
“Yeah, it’s really pretty. Something slower, but still…”
“Words?”
“No, he was hoping you’d come up with something.”
“We’ll see,” I told her. “Tell him I’ll call him in the next day or two.”
She nodded, stepping back into his dressing room. I didn’t see any more of my bandmates, but that didn’t mean much. Jacob, my bass guitarist, had a disabled father to tend to, and he was happy we were in our hometown for a lengthy amount of time. My keyboardist, Alec, was married, and his wife was expecting, so he, too, probably went home.
I was the only one without a place to call my own. I’d been living in a hotel since I’d gotten out of rehab. By the time I’d fallen into the limo, my mood was sour. It should’ve been a good night. Playing live local shows were our favorite, but with the interview, the leaks, and now the paps I could see hanging around the hotel’s front door, I was tired and irritable.
“Tony, keep going. Drop me off a block or two over. I’ll sneak in the back or some shit,” I told the driver.
“Masen, Miss Rose told me to make sure you got back okay…”
“And you are, Tony. You’ve done your job. You don’t know where I went after you dropped me off,” I told him, opening my own door when he’d stopped the limo a block away.
“Yes, sir,” was the last thing he said before I slammed the car door, essentially cutting him off.
I needed to walk. I needed to clear my head. Shoving my hands into my jacket pockets against the chilly weather, I turned to walk down the sidewalk in the opposite direction of my hotel. I walked another block before taking a right, only to run into what I’d been trying to escape.
“Masen!”
“Masen, how did it feel to perform after rehab?”
“Heidi Summers said you’re no longer together. She’s been seen around town with her co-star, Peter Grisham. What do you say about that?”
“How’s it feel to be clean and sober, Masen? Can you still perform?”
The whole sidewalk was covered with paps and cameras and now curious fans. I pushed my way through them, ignoring the questions and dodging microphones. I hated to give the cold shoulder to my fans, but I didn’t want to give the vultures a chance to corner me. Gritting my teeth, I turned the next corner, breaking into a run in order to lose them all. Across the street was a bar – Charlie’s Pub.
Yanking open the door, I ducked in quickly, practically bowling someone over. “Fuck, I’m sorry,” I panted, my hand immediately reaching out to help them up.
A sweet laugh met my ears, and I realized it was a woman I’d knocked to the floor.
“It’s okay,” she said, dusting herself off, but we both turned when there were voices on the other side of the door. “C’mere,” she instructed, pulling me behind the bar. “Get down.”
I chuckled, doing as she said, and I was glad I did because the door slammed open almost as I hit the deck.
“Did you see a guy come through here?” one of them asked.
I glanced up from my spot on the floor to rake up shapely legs, a nice ass in tight jeans, and a beautiful head full of brunette hair. Her face scrunched up a little as she shook her head. She picked up a rag from the bar, slinging it over her shoulder, and jerked a thumb behind her. I noted a touch of ink that appeared when her shirt rode up a little.
“Tall guy, leather jacket?”
“Yeah…”
“Yeah, he ran through here but out the back door.”
They thanked her, and I heard the door close. My head fell back to the wood behind me, and I sighed with relief.
“Thanks,” I told her, looking up to see a very amused smile and dark-brown eyes gazing at me.
“Get up, Masen,” she said with a laugh, tapping the top of the bar as I stood up. “You look like you could use a beer.”
“You know…” I started, but she pointed toward the flatscreen mounted in the corner.
“You’ve been on TV all damn night. Sit,” she told me, picking up a glass mug and pouring a draft. “Rough day?”
Snorting, I rolled my eyes as I took a stool in front of her. “Yeah, I guess,” I mumbled, thanking her for the beer when she set it down in front of me.
She nodded but smiled sweetly. Jesus, she really was kind of hot. And my curiosity piqued when more ink on her back was revealed when she started stocking up the shelves of glasses. I broke away from staring at the poor girl to take a look around the place.
It was an old bar, one I’d never even noticed before. It was deep woods, a long bar, and a handful of tables and chairs. My eyes caught the far side of the room, where a deep-red curtain seemed to be covering a stage. All along the walls there were musical instruments, old black-and-white photos, and a “For Rent” sign on the door, but there wasn’t a soul in the joint.
“I was just about to close up,” she said out of the blue.
“I can go,” I told her, but she shook her head with a smile.
“Take as long as you like,” she offered. “I’ve got nowhere else to be, and if you leave now, your fan club will hunt you down.”
Smiling in thanks, I sipped the beer. “Since you know my name…”
She laughed, holding out her hand. “Bella. Bella Swan. Now…let me get you another beer, and you can tell me why you look like someone kicked your puppy…”


3 comments:

Eward said...

I love your stories

Helen Bentley said...

Love love loved it, More please ;) x

Irish Charm said...

I was excited when I saw you have a new story. Loved the first chapter. Mystery, intrigue and rock and roll. What more could a person want.

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