Friday, May 1, 2015 | By: Drotuno

Man Behind the Mask Chapter 18 & Pics

Chapter 18 – Turn the Page
Out there in the spotlight you're a million miles away
Every ounce of energy, you try to give away
As the sweat pours out your body like the music that you play

Later in the evening as you lie awake in bed
With the echoes from the amplifiers ringin' in your head
You smoke the days last cigarette, remembering what she said

Here I am, on the road again
There I am, up on the stage
Here I go, playing star again
There I go, turn the page
“Turn the Page” – Metallica (orig. by Bob Seger)
Good night, Manchester!” I screamed, tossing my T-shirt into the audience, and the pyro went off like bombs, only for the lights to shut down.
The scream of the New Hampshire crowd was loud, and the music was still ringing in my ears as security and staff guided us off the stage. As soon as we were behind the curtain, the house lights went up, allowing the fans to leave. My heart was still ramming against my ribs, sweat pouring down my face as Emmett grabbed my bare shoulder. He led me through the halls to the dressing rooms. The place was smaller, so we were all crammed into one fairly large room, but there were food, drinks, and places to sit. However, showers would have to wait until we got back to the hotel.
Tomorrow we’d head out early on the tour buses for Buffalo. From there, it was Manhattan, and that was what I was looking forward to the most. Not only was New York one of the best crowds and cities, but it was there I’d see my girl.
I chugged a bottle of water, tossing the empty into the bin and grabbing another. Jake and Alec were laughing over something or other. Alice was already packing up her things. Jasper was pouring water onto his head to cool the hell off. Despite the snowy weather outside, the arena had the heat on, and it was almost sweltering, never mind the lights and pyrotechnics were as hot as the surface of the sun. Mike shoved his hands into a bucket of ice water, opening and closing them slowly.
I jerked a chin at him. “Pain?”
“Nah, but they swell when we go that long.”
We watched over the kid relentlessly, which probably drove him crazy, but we’d all promised Bella we’d keep him safe, keep him out of trouble. So far we were just damned tired. It always took at least halfway through the first leg of the tour to find some sort of…normal. Downtime was great, but it made us a touch lazy, so we had to get back into it all. With travel, performing, interviews, and photo shoots, there wasn’t much time to find trouble anyway.
I started to gather my stuff together, pulling on my shirt and a hoodie, if only to get to my hotel room to shower, change, and video-call Bella. I was dying to know how her visit with my dad had gone, and fuck, I just missed my girl.
With that thought, I turned on my phone’s screen, smiling at a few texts.
I’m home from Serenity, and no, I didn’t wreck your car.
Internet is down due to snow. If my cell doesn’t work, call my home.
I love you, Edward. And only 13 more days. :)
I shook my head at the weather and the fact that Bella had kicked my ass in one of our games. I’d have to get her back later. Sending her a quick text that I loved her and that I’d be at the hotel soon, I turned off the screen of my phone and put the thing in my pocket. I was just about to hunt down either Tony or a cab back to the hotel when Rose stepped into the room with Tanya and Kate coming in right behind her.
“Ah, shit…she’s pissed,” Alec groaned, and we all stared at her. “C’mon, Rosie…what the hell this time?”
“We just lost our opening act,” she stated, grimacing a little. “Shattered Glass has to bow out the rest of the tour.”
“That’s a damn shame; they were pretty fucking good. Why?” I asked, leaning against the table.
Shattered Glass was four guys about Mike’s age, with a song that was currently climbing the charts. Rose had been lucky to add them to our new tour.
“The two brothers have to go home. Their mom is sick…heart attack, if I’m not mistaken.”
“So…we get that comedian or we live without one,” Jasper suggested, shrugging a shoulder.
“No, we’re getting Viper’s Venom.”
“Ah, shit!” I hissed, shaking my head and running a hand through my sweaty hair, but I pointed to Rose. “Aro did that shit on purpose!”
“Actually, no. It was me. It’s who I could get on short notice, Edward. I’m sorry.”
“Who? And what’s wrong?” Mike asked, glancing between Rose and me with wide eyes.
“They’re an all-girl rock band – more indie/underground than mainstream. They’re damned good…but scary. The lead singer, Senna…she’s had the hots for Masen since our first tour,” Jake explained, grinning my way and ducking when I threw my half-empty bottle at him. “I don’t wanna hear it!” he yelled but was laughing at the same time. “At least you didn’t…”
I was laughing as my head fell back. “That’s very true. You did go there, didn’t you?”
“Ah, Zafrina,” he sighed nostalgically. “Never thought being tied up would be hot, but damn…”
Mike snorted, shaking his head and rolling his eyes my way. “So what’s the problem, besides Jake’s indiscretion?”
Grinning, I gripped his shoulder. “They’re crazy. Like wild and scary crazy. This is just advice from someone who knows… Don’t touch them. As hot as they are, they’ll try anything once, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s legal or not.”
He grimaced. “You?”
“Oh, hell no.” I laughed again, shaking my head. “I partied with them once. One time.” I held up a finger. “They were smokin’ some shit that caused blurry vision and hallucinations, dude. I managed to escape. Jake obviously…didn’t.”
Jake was still grinning. “I think I still have scars,” he muttered, turning around and yanking the waistband of his pants down just a bit, showing his upper ass cheek. “Is it still there? Teeth marks?”
“Oh, shit!” Mike hissed. “Um, no thank you.”
Seriously, I turned to him. “You still with Lauren?” I asked him softly, and he nodded. “Then if you wanna keep it that way, stay away from Viper’s Venom. They’re trouble.” I turned to Rose. “Please…please…if you even care about me a little bit, you’ll keep Senna away from me.”
Rose laughed. “Relax, brother-in-law.”
“Relax? She has a whip!”
“Oh, damn,” Mike murmured, grimacing. “Yeah, no…”
“My point exactly,” I gestured to him and turned back to Rose.
“Well, they’re meeting us in Buffalo to continue the tour with us,” she said, shrugging a shoulder. “There will be a new photo shoot and a radio spot for promotion purposes, so… I dunno, Edward…bring mace.”
“Or a suit of armor,” I grumbled, smirking when they chuckled. “Fine, whatever. Can we go now?”
Tanya laughed, shaking her head. “Bet if it was Bella holding that whip, you’d change your mind.”
Grinning her way, I shot her a wink, not saying a fucking word. She was probably right; my angel could tie me up and cover me in tar and feathers, and I wouldn’t give a shit. Actually, the thought of Bella all in control and domineering sounded…hot.
Kate snorted into a laugh. “Look what you started,” she chastised her girlfriend. “Poor Bella.” She grinned at my salacious smile but waved me forward. “C’mon, guys. Tony’s got the bus ready to head back to the hotel.”
Emmett led us through the hallways, and we paused long enough to sign a few autographs and pose for a few pictures. The fans with the backstage passes, not to mention a few local news people, were staged just before we left out the bay doors. The fans, however, knew where we’d exit, and they’d gathered outside behind the barriers and security to catch one more glimpse of us as we got into the bus.
The group was laid-back, easy. They were excited about getting to see all of us together, so we gave them the time. The female fans asked for hugs and kisses and pictures. And it seemed we’d acquired younger fans, with Mike now in the band. The questions they asked were familiar, if not a little too much, but we were used to fans knowing all about us.
Alec, when’s your wife due?
Mike, is it hard being the new guy?
Guys, when does the DVD come out?
Masen, how’s Bella? Is she going to join you on tour?
I smirked, turning to face the person who’d asked the last question. It was a girl, and if I’d had to guess, she was in her teens. She shifted nervously, her face blooming red, when my gaze landed on her. She had glasses and was slightly on the chubby side, but had bright-blue eyes and a big, nervous smile. She simply held out her program for me to sign.
I took it, asking, “What’s your name?”
Nodding, I scrawled an autograph specifically addressed to her, and before I handed the booklet back, I said, “She’s good. And yeah…soon.”
Donna grinned. “Good. We like her better than Heidi.”
Laughing softly, I shook my head. “We?”
“Oh, yeah…your fans… Most of us are glad for you. You seem…happier. I can add you to the Facebook group…”
Snorting into a soft laugh, I posed for a selfie with her. “I’m… I don’t do Facebook, Donna, but that’s sweet. Thank you.”
She was crimson when I hugged her again, finally giving a last wave to the small group. The fans crowded around the edges of the unloading area were screams and calls and chants, despite the cold weather and snow on the ground. We all waved once more before climbing up into the bus.
“Make a new friend?” Jasper teased.
“Aw, leave her alone,” I said, grinning and shaking my head. “Donna was awesome…wanted to friend me on Facebook and everything.”
He smiled and nodded. “Let me know how that works out.”
Laughing, I kicked back into the seat and gazed out the window as we drove through Manchester. The hotel wasn’t far, but with traffic from the show and the snow, it was a slow drive. When we pulled in to the hotel, we had to fight through more fans and media to get inside.
My ears were still ringing a bit as I tamped down my impatience with the slow elevator and its tinkling fucking music. We unloaded on the top floor, shooting waves at each other as Rose reminded us we needed to leave early in the morning to get on the road to Buffalo. Marcus was breaking down the stage and would drive overnight to beat us there.
Once in my room, I took a quick shower, then dressed in sweatpants and checked the tablet.
“Dammit,” I groaned, shaking my head at the fact it was dead. I’d completely forgotten to plug it in to charge, but as I dialed Bella’s cell, I figured it had worked out.
“Hey,” she answered immediately.
“Hi, angel,” I sighed in relief at just the sound of her voice as I propped myself up against the headboard. “Weather’s bad, huh?”
“Yeah, but my Internet is back up.”
I laughed. “Yeah, well, I’m an idiot. My tablet’s dead. I guess I unplugged it when I charged my phone this morning.”
Her giggle was sweet but short-lived. “It’s fine. I just… I needed your voice more than anything.”
I sat up straight. “What happened? What’s wrong?”
“Aw, Edward…”
“Did my dad say something to you? Bella, I swear to God…”
“No! No, he didn’t. It was me who couldn’t keep my mouth shut.”
My mouth fell open. “Oh, hell, baby… Talk to me.”
“I know I promised I’d just check on him, but…”
She told me about her visit with my dad, about the short session with Dr. Cope. She also told me she’d lost her shit on Dad once they were alone, and I couldn’t help but laugh at her protective nature.
“I love you.” I chuckled, shaking my head.
“Really? You’re not mad? Baby, I overstepped, for real!”
“Nah, if I learned anything from being in Dr. Cope’s office, it’s that it’s better to get that shit out in the open,” I explained, shrugging a shoulder I knew she couldn’t see. “So he’s almost done?”
“Yeah, I mean… He looked good, Edward – healthy and calm. He’s supposed to see a therapist twice a week once he’s out. He’s still struggling with guilt, and I told him about your apartment, but I don’t know if he’s gonna take you up on it. Your mom still hasn’t visited, but she’s called. Though, I get the impression those phone calls didn’t go so hot.”
Sighing, I sat back against the headboard again. “She’s mad at him over me.”
“She’s mad over being lied to, Edward, not to mention how her husband used their children.”
“Aw, baby…we’re grown men.”
She laughed, and it was sweetest sound. “You’ll always be her babies, no matter how old you get.”
Grinning, I said, “I guess. So what’s he gonna do?”
“I’m not sure. I told him what you’d said about the apartment and let him know I wouldn’t be there between Christmas and New Year’s, so I don’t think I’ll see him before I see you.”
Groaning in want of her, I rubbed my face. “Jesus Christ, angel, that can’t get here quick enough.”
“No shit,” she said through a laugh. “I’m missing you like crazy. My life is boring.”
“No new woeful tales from poor drunk patrons?” I teased her.
“A few, but nothing all that interesting. A few cheating spouses, one empty nester, and poor Garrett heard all about a woman’s trip to see her mother-in-law. No really sweet, really lost, gorgeous rock stars knocking me over…”
I felt my cheeks heat, but I laughed. “Good. That’s my job.”
“Indeed,” she huffed dramatically over the line. “How’d the show go?”
“Good. Really good, actually. We’re heading out early in the morning for Buffalo. Oh, I had a fan ask about you.”
She laughed. “No…”
“Oh, yeah. Donna was a big fan. Told me she had a Facebook page and everything. Offered to add me and shit.” I grinned at her laugh. “They like you way more than Heidi.”
Bella was still giggling when she said, “Oh, I bet that’s the group Tori’s a member of; she was showing me just the other day. They post some crazy shit, but the big deal was those pictures of us from Pike Place.”
My head fell back to the pillow behind me. God, I missed that shit. I missed just being with Bella. I missed the easiness of us, the simplicity of it all. Being on all the time was exhausting.
With that thought, I said, “Bella, you need to know… We’re getting a new opening band. It’s a group we’ve toured with before…Viper’s Venom.”
“That girl group? They’re good…” Her voice trailed off. “Why are you telling me this? Is there… Did you…”
“Whoa, slow down, angel,” I soothed her. “There’s nothing bad about it; just one of them…sorta…kinda…has a crush. Or she did. Maybe it’s over.”
Bella barked a laugh. “But you’re telling me in case I see something?”
“Yeah, they’ll be meeting us at the next show, so new pictures and shit. I just didn’t… Senna can be very…aggressive. Jake still has scars from one of them!”
Bella cracked the fuck up, and I grinned.
“Wow, it’s like that?”
“Whips, angel!” I hissed in a whisper.
“D’aww, poor baby. You don’t like being tied down and spanked, Masen?”
You can do whatever. Senna scares me.”
“Well, Tori’s dabbled in that lifestyle. I’ll see if she’s got a riding crop or something.”
I laughed, though I had to adjust my fucking traitorous dick. “Figures. Is there anything she hasn’t ‘dabbled’ in?”
“Um, no. Probably not.”
Smirking at that, I sighed deeply as my body relaxed with every word spoken between us. Nothing beat these conversations. Ever. They were better than a cold beer or a hot shower. They were the best fucking thing to help me decompress after a show. The only thing that would make them better were if they were face to face. I never thought it could be this sweet, this fucking easy. As hard as it was being away from her, I was a grateful bastard for at least having this.
“I swear, when I see you, I’m not letting go the entire time you’re with me.” My voice came out raspier than I expected, but I couldn’t help it.
“I’m kinda okay with that,” she replied. I heard someone in the background, along with other noises. “Baby, I gotta go help Tori. A big group just came in from the hotel.”
I glanced at the clock, realizing she was three hours behind me, so she’d still be working. “You in your office?”
“Kiss that fan-fucking-tastic desk for me.” I grinned at her groan.
“So not funny, Edward.”
“No…it was far from funny but really damn hot.”
She laughed. “Yeah… I miss you. Love you. Start a new game, ’cause I’ve got a long night ahead of me.”
“I will. Love you, too.”
“Ed,” I heard from somewhere in the fogginess of my sleep. “Edward!”
I snapped up with a gasp, looking over at my brother. For a split second, I wasn’t sure where the hell I was, but I rubbed my face and rolled over. We’d arrived in Manhattan in the wee fucking hours of the morning.
“What?” I mumbled, squinting in order to see him. He looked puffed up and pissed, but he looked worried as all hell, too. “Aw, fuck… What?!”
“We have a problem.” He grimaced, shaking his head. “Actually, we have a bunch of problems, and I need you up to go over them.”
“Shit, okay…” I groaned, getting out of bed and stumbling to the bathroom. I took a piss and washed my face, coming back in to get a really good look at him. “Jesus, have you slept?”
“Yeah, a few hours.” He got up when there was a knock on the door. “I ordered food, ’cause I’m starving, and you’ll want coffee.”
Snorting, I waved him on, raking my fingers through my hair. Suddenly, a chill ran up my spine. If Emmett, not Rose, was here, then some serious shit was going down. I sat down on the sofa of my suite, waiting as he tipped the guy bringing food. Emmett rolled the cart over and took a seat in the chair next to me.
“Okay,” I said, grabbing the coffee first thing and a piece of toast. My brother had ordered the whole damn menu, it seemed. “Spit it out, bear.”
He sighed, picking up a fork and digging into a pile of scrambled eggs the size of my head. I stirred cream and sugar into my mug while he chewed.
“There’s no easy way to do this…” He groaned, shaking his head. “Mom’s asking Dad for a separation.”
“Ah, hell.” I rubbed my face. “Well, we kinda thought…” I started but stopped when he was shaking his head.
“That’s not even the bad news. Dad…he kinda fell off the wagon.”
My heart plummeted at that information. “Shit, was he even out a week?”
“Yeah, it seemed she hit him with the papers like the week he was out. But…” He held up his fork, pointing my way. “I have to give Dad props, for real. He checked himself back into Serenity. They called Rosie last night; she got the message this morning.”
My eyebrows shot up at that. “Wha… Well, where was he staying? Bella hasn’t said he’d shown up or anything.”
“A colleague from the hospital had a garage apartment he was letting him use. I know you’d offered him your place, but maybe it was too soon to be by Charlie’s?”
“Maybe,” I allowed, shrugging a shoulder. “He also knew Bella wouldn’t be there this week.”
My heart pounded at that thought, and I glanced over at the clock. It was late morning for me, but it would be early for her. She’d be at the airport soon, due to the long-ass flight from Seattle to New York. I got up and grabbed my phone, smiling at the pictures of her luggage, her sweet face behind the wheel of her car, and then a shot of the airport doors. Her texts were just as adorable.
I’m on my way!
You’d better not get me anything for Christmas, Edward. All I want is you.
I laughed at that one because it was too damn late. I’d already gotten her a gift, but I hadn’t spent a dime on it, and Jasper and the boys had been helping me for weeks, not to mention Tanya was a huge help.
The texts changed, going from excitement to disappointment.
Dammit, all checked in and now delayed!
I glanced up at Emmett. “Her flight’s delayed?”
“Yeah, that was another thing I was gonna tell you,” he mumbled around a bite of eggs. “Depending on how late she’s running, you may not get to pick her up. You’ll have to be at Madison Square Garden for sound check and shit.”
“Shit!” I snapped, quickly looking up her flight information. Fuck, if she wasn’t still delayed. In fact, the plane she was taking from Seattle was coming in from San Diego at any moment, if it hadn’t landed already, but it was damned late. “Goddammit, I promised her I’d pick her up! If this shit keeps up, she’ll miss the show and everything!”
“Relax, we’ll figure something out. Rose is keeping an eye on her flight. If push comes to shove, we’ll send Tanya and Kate with Tony in the SUV to go get her at LaGuardia. They’ll bring her straight to the Garden.”
I felt like throwing something, but I sat back down and shoved another piece of toast into my mouth.
“Relax, dude. All this…isn’t even the worst news,” he mumbled, pulling out his phone and handing it to me.
“Fuck me to tears, Em! What else is there?” I asked him, but he merely pointed to the screen of his phone. It was a gossip site, and the headline was what caught my eye first.
Wild Front Man of Radiant Eclipse, Masen, Seen Partying in New York
My mouth fell open at the misconstrued bullshit I was seeing. It was me surrounded by the girls from Viper’s Venom. Both Senna and Zafrina were with me, but so were Tanya and Kate and the rest of my bandmates. That party had been a promotional appearance for the tour put on in Buffalo by a local radio station, but that shit wasn’t mentioned. It only showed the kiss that Senna had placed on my cheek. I shook my head at the frozen moment of time. It didn’t show me pushing her gently away and asking her not to do that. It didn’t show me telling her I was taken or her laugh and apology. Despite Senna’s aggressiveness, she’d been rather cool about it all. She’d also moved on to Mike, but she’d scared him to death, so she’d given up.
No, it didn’t show any of that because that wouldn’t fit with Masen. I skimmed the article, shaking my head at how “sources” had said we’d left together, that we’d arrived at the same hotel together. Well, of course we did. Radiant Eclipse and Viper’s Venom were staying at the same motherfucking hotel and had taken the same damn limo to that party. But again…this shit wasn’t mentioned.
“Who did this?” I asked, my temper flaring.
“We’re not sure.”
“This was specifically written to make it look like…” I gasped, throwing him his phone and grabbing mine. I frantically scrolled for Bella, dialing her.
“Hey,” she answered, and I grimaced at the sound of her voice. She’d seen it.
“Angel, you need to know…that wasn’t…”
“I’m sure, Edward,” she sighed, “but I can’t talk. They’re trying to get us on the plane.”
“You’re still coming?” I asked, simply because I knew what it looked like.
“Edward Cullen!” she snapped, and I shrunk under that tone. “Of course I’m still coming! If you think some bullshit article and manipulated picture is gonna stop me…”
I laughed out of sheer nervous energy. “Nothing happened, angel. I promise.”
“I know.” She sighed deeply. “Edward, someone sent me that article from a number I don’t know, so it seems they wanted me to think there was more to it.”
“What’s the number, Bella?” I asked, my hackles rising, because someone was now fucking with my girl. They could post all the bullshit they wanted about me, but Bella was a completely different story. Heads were going to roll.
“I don’t know; it’s in my phone, though. And I have to go, baby. We’ll talk about it when I get there.”
“Bella, wait!” I yelled into the phone.
“Edward…” A laugh laced her sweet voice. “I can’t get there if you don’t let me off this phone!”
“I know,” I said through a chuckle, “but baby, your delay may mess with things, so if I can’t pick you up, Tanya and Kate will be there, okay? They’ll bring you straight to me.”
“I figured,” she said. “Love you.”
“Love you, t…” I trailed off because she was already gone. I looked to Emmett. “Someone’s fucking with Bella. And I wanna know who!”
Emmett’s demeanor completely shifted. He went into bodyguard and big brother mode in the blink of an eye…or the bite of eggs, depending on how I looked at it. His brow furrowed as I told him how someone had sent her the article.
“I’ll go with Tony to pick her up,” he stated firmly, glancing at the clock. “If she takes off now, she’ll be late to the show, but we’ll be back in time for me to get you guys off the stage and out of MSG.” He pushed the cart closer to me. “Eat, baby bro. You guys are due for an interview on a talk show, not to mention I think Rosie’s working on getting you guys on Saturday Night Live.”
“Jesus,” I snorted, pouring syrup on my pancakes and shaking my head.
“Fuck, you’re in New York for a few days, so you might as well suck it up. You’ll need all this shit not only to satisfy Aro, but it doesn’t look half bad on your resume…if you know what I’m sayin’.”
I nodded, shoving a bite of pancakes into my mouth. My nerves were shot. I needed my girl. I was worried about my parents. I wanted to know who the fuck wanted Bella to think I’d cheated. And we were busy as all hell today. I wasn’t sure what more I could take.
The dressing room and outer hallways were completely different before a show than after. After a show, we’d bullshit and laugh, winding down from being pumped up. Before a show, we were all quiet.
Jasper would sit in a corner chair, picking softly on his acoustic, simply to warm up. Mike zoned out, twirling his drumsticks between his fingers. Alec would sometimes call his wife, but most of the time he’d sit silently with his eyes closed. Jacob always called his dad, no matter where we were or what time zone we were in; he’d speak softly to Leah, but his call was to his father.
I tended to pace, usually in the hallway, my head filling with the order of the songs we’d play. I’d remind myself what town or state I was in. I’d push all the shit in my life out of my head and pull Masen to the forefront. I needed to stop worrying about my parents for the next couple of hours, forget about the media and the article that had been molded to look like something that it wasn’t, and I had to stop panicking over the fact that I couldn’t pick up my girl from the airport.
Emmett was already gone. He and Tony had left out of the Garden almost as soon as they’d dropped us back off and got us inside. Tanya and Kate had gone with them, simply because they were so damned pissed off about the article, they were going to tell Bella all about it. They had pictures and proof, and they’d just about attacked Senna when we’d come in for the sound check. In Senna’s defense, it wasn’t her fault; she was merely wrapped up in shit centered around me. Though, I was pretty sure Rose was head-hunting as I paced in the hall.
Viper’s Venom was on the stage now, and I could hear their set just about to wind down. I took a deep breath, letting it out. I had to force it all out of my head. Music, just music. I shook my arms and rolled my head to crack my neck. When I stepped out on that stage, I wanted to give everything I had to the crowd. I wanted the new stuff to sound amazing, the old stuff to be like they remembered, and the whole damn thing needed to be a good experience.
I turned around to walk back down the hallway, only to come to a halt when Rose and Mike were standing there.
“What?” I asked, looking between them.
“She’s landed, sweetie,” Rose said with a laugh. “Now…you can relax, okay?”
Mike grinned. “Yeah, and don’t you dare worry about that article. I left my sister a long-ass voice mail telling her what actually went down, and she’ll get it when she turns the phone on. B loves you, man, so…let’s go do what we do.”
“Thanks.” I sagged, leaning back against the wall. I rolled my head toward Rose when she walked to me. “I don’t care what anyone thinks but her, you know that, right?” I asked her.
“I know,” she said with a smile, cupping my face. “But I do. I care. That article was pure manipulation.”
“It’s no different than any other gossip rag, Rosie. The problem I have is…who’d send it to Bella? Who’d hide behind an anonymous phone number just to make sure she saw it? I don’t think it was the people who wrote the article – I’m used to that crap – but someone was watching for something like that and made sure that my girl saw it!” I tapped my chest. “They can try to hurt me, but they won’t get away with doing it to her!”
“I don’t know. I’ll be checking Bella’s phone, though.” She grabbed my face, squishing it a little. “I want you to shove all this out of your head, brother-in-law. All of it. This is Madison Square Garden, and I need Masen at his absolute best. This is New York City, and you’ve got a shot at SNL…I’m still working on it. But I swear to you, as soon as she’s here inside this arena, I’ll place her side-stage just for you. Okay?”
I nodded, taking a deep breath and letting it out. Rose smiled a little, nodding once.
Just before she walked away from me, she stopped. “Oh, yeah, and your dad? He didn’t drink. He came really fucking close, but he didn’t. He thought he’d better be safe than sorry and check back into Serenity.”
My mouth fell open. “Seriously?”
“Yup.” She nodded again, smiling with a touch of pride. “He apparently received the papers from your mom, walked to the closest bar, ordered a drink, and then froze. He called Dr. Cope.”
“Wow.” My eyebrows raised up, and my mouth gaped up at her.
“No kidding, wow.” She laughed. “I’ll be talking to your mom next. I’m kinda interested in just what she was thinking sending that the week he got out. Now…your girl is in town safe with Emmett. Your dad…he’s getting there. Just…let it all go, Edward.”
I nodded, shoving my earbuds into my ears and cranking the volume. I felt the bass, the lyrics, the scream of guitar throughout my entire system. I felt everything ebb away until there was nothing but me and the notes. Song after song played, until Marcus appeared with my guitar in hand. Rose took my iPod as the sound of the crowd caused chills to crawl over my skin. They were ready, and so were we.
I turned to face the boys. Jacob put his hand out in the middle, and we all slapped ours on top.
“Let’s do it!” we chanted, following Marcus through the halls to the back of the stage.
The lights dropped down, the crowd roared, and Jake bounced on his toes. The whole place went black and the strobe lights burst on, hiding us as we took the stage. It was that moment. Those first few seconds that made all the bullshit worth it. The first notes from Jasper, the first beats from Mike, and the screams from every last member of the audience.
I was the last one on the stage, which only caused an even bigger uproar. Walking to the mic, I yelled, “New York City! Are you ready?!”
Grinning at Jasper at the reaction, I nodded, jumping up once, and as my feet met the stage, the pyrotechnics exploded, kicking us off. The crowd was electric, the songs were perfectly aligned with Marcus’s lighting, and I lost myself to it all.
It was about the fourth song in that my heart simply knew. I could feel her eyes on me, despite the enormous crowd clawing and screaming at me as I ran from one end of the stage to the other. I took advantage of Jasper’s guitar solo to sneak a peek at the side stage. I’d have laughed at my brother’s shit-eating grin, at Tanya and Kate with their arms around the one person I’d been dying to see, but I couldn’t. There wasn’t laughter. Only pure relief at the sight of her.
I stalked to the side of the stage, not caring that I was dripping sweat, that my part was coming up. I just wanted to see her, touch her, make sure that the angel currently smiling my way was real.
My brother and the girls backed away, leaving Bella standing alone, and I reached out to pull her to me.
“Fuck, you’re here,” I growled against her lips, and she pulled at my face until my forehead met hers.
“And I’ll be right here when you’re done,” she promised with the sweetest laugh. “I’ve got you for a week, Masen,” she teased, kissing me once and lighting my whole soul on fire. “I plan on being very…selfish.”
I laughed, simply because our little inside joke never got old. “Good. Don’t fucking move that sweet ass from this spot, angel.”
She giggled, pulling me closer. “Oh, yeah, and you want to know how I know that article was bullshit, despite your witnesses?” she asked, pointing to her brother and then to Emmett, Kate, and Tanya, who looked busted. When I shrugged, she said, “Because when I kiss your cheek, you blush, Edward.”
Smirking, I nodded but pointed at her as I raised an eyebrow her way. “Not one fucking inch, Bella. I mean it!”
I ran back out onto the stage to finish the show that now had the best audience on the fucking planet. I gave them everything, because when I left that stage at the end, I had catching up to do with my girl.


Irish Charm said...

I missed you. And you have spoiled us.

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