Authors: Elizabeth Nelson
Backstage Pass, On Tour
New Adult Romance
by Elizabeth Nelson
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2014 Elizabeth Nelson
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author and/or publisher. No part of this publication may be sold or hired, without written permission from the author.
Light faded in and out. I couldn’t remember anything. I smelled waffles but that didn’t make any sense. Everything was a blinding white light with a few blue and red ones mixed in. Voices pierced through the fog and I didn’t recognize any of them. I strained to figure out what had happened and where I was. I tried to sit up but a hand held me down. Panic set in and I opened my mouth but no sound came out; I couldn’t ask any of my questions. I struggled against the hand.
Easy,” the hand’s voice said.
“You’re fine. Just lie still. We’ve got your boyfriend in the ambulance and we’re going to load you into this one. Hang in there sweetie.”
My throat compressed and I could barely breathe, let alone ask questions. What did I remember—aside from the waffles? I wished my eyes worked so I could see where I was. Where was Jesse? I called for him but the hand comforted me again and shushed me.
“We’re going to need to sedate her,”
another voice said. That sent me into a deeper panic. I had to get out of here before they drugged me. I had to find Jesse.
, let me go.” I drew air in as far as I could. “Jesse!”
“Get me that syringe, she’s going to crash again.”
The voice turned to me, lowered to a comforting tone. “Honey, I need you to relax. I know it’s hard. I know you’re upset. You were in an accident. We think you have some broken bones, but we need to get you to the hospital.”
None of that
eased my panic or helped me remember what had happened.
Rushing people surrounded me and there was
too much yelling. I couldn’t make out anything and the lights and shapes made my head hurt even worse. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to listen for someone who sounded like Jesse.
Hands lifted me onto a hard bed that was insanely uncomfortable and I cried out as pain shot through my stomach and down my legs. Holy fuck that hurt. I couldn’t even
describe it as pain, it was like someone had attached a chain to my body where my legs were supposed to be and every single link was moving independently from the other.
I gasped for breath
but the pain robbed me of the option. More voices talking about sedating me. I didn’t care what the fuck they did to me anymore, I just needed the pain to stop, I needed my legs to stop moving like that. “Please,” I pleaded, but I didn’t know what I was asking for.
in my arm made me try to turn my head but that made my back feel like the chains, so I ground my teeth together and tried to see through the lights. Warmth flooded my elbow and traveled through my entire body, then across my chest and down to my legs. All the pain went away and my eyes were heavy. So heavy.
“Jesse . . .
” I slurred his name and the night sky turned a blissful black.
Every attempt to open my eyes was a sledgehammer to my brain, like I’d partied way too hard last night. I couldn’t swallow, and talking was completely out of the question. My teeth didn’t even feel like they were anchored and if I sneezed really hard they’d fly right out of my mouth—if I could open it, that is. Most of the time it felt glued shut. Sometimes it made me panic, but then a gentle hand would brush the hair away from my forehead and a warmth flooded through me that helped me not be so frantic about what I couldn’t explain. Which was pretty much my entire existence.
tried to go back to sleep but it was a restless one filled with nightmares about darkness and panic.
ed softly around what I thought was my bed but I couldn’t open my eyes to check. Light came and went behind my lids like maybe the sun was rising and setting. This happened for what must have been weeks because the light repeated the pattern of coming and retreating for what felt like an endless cycle.
Nice voices check
ed on me and I wanted to answer but I couldn’t. I didn’t recognize any of them but they sounded nice and I liked one enough that I wanted to ask her to stay. I didn’t know who she was and she told me her name every time she came but I forgot again.
Sleep finally claim
ed me after one of the soft voices told me that he was giving me something to help.
I felt like I could just sleep forever. Then, the waking was hard.
I grabbed a doctor by the sleeve as he came out of Jesse’s room. “How’s he doing?”
He shook his head and looked at Jesse’s
mom. We were holding hands. She’d been my lifeline over the last week, trading places with me while we sat by his bed, sometimes together, and sometimes tag-teaming when one of us had to grab a bite to eat or get some sleep. I hated leaving him. I wanted it to be my face that he woke to, but so did she and I wouldn’t begrudge her that. As long as he woke up.
“He’s staying steady,” the doctor said. Again, for like the millionth time. I was so fucking sick of steady. I needed something to happen, either good or bad, I needed us the fuck
out of this mother-fucking piece of—
Jesse’s mom patted my hand and drew it to her chest.
She could definitely tell when I was getting tense because she did that every time I wanted to rage. This wasn’t fair. I choked back the anger at the injustice and tried to listen to the doctor while he placated us with more shit about how they were “doing everything they could.” My fucking ass they were.
I glanced through the glass. If they were, he wouldn’t be lying on the hospital bed, still as d
eath just like every other day.
“This is a good sign. He’s not declining which means his body is fighting the good fight and working to repair his
injuries. The body knows best.”
Then why the fuck are there doctors?
He apologized and walked away. I slumped in my chair. “He’ll be fine, dear,” Nia said. I wanted to curl into a ball on the floor and weep. I admired this woman’s strength like no other. She was a freaking rock.
The rest of Jesse’s family had come th
e moment they’d been notified. Or so I’d been told. I’d been in and out of my own drugged haze and my injuries still hurt like a mother, but I was alive and talking and waiting. Waiting on Jesse to wake the eff up.
and I went into his room and I let her have her time first. We each had our own rituals for him, hoping one of them would entice him to wake up. She’d been here all day, just like usual, and it was about time for her to go home and get some sleep. His mom brushed the hair back from his face and smoothed the bit of skin that still wasn’t healing and was purple from the bruises.
The nurse came in and set a hand on my shoulder. “
Your time’s up. Back in bed.” She gripped my wheelchair and turned it but I reached out and grabbed Jesse’s bed with my good arm—the one that didn’t have any pins in it from where the car had landed after flipping over.
His mom came to the end of the bed and peeled my fingers off the railing. “I know this is hard, but you’re no good to him if you don’t get some rest.”
She was right but these moment with him seemed to help me heal—and that was the only reason they’d let me keep doing it after I’d snuck out the first time—and I wanted them to do the same for him. “What if he wakes up while no one’s here?”
The nurse patted my head. “We’ll come get you right away. You’re only a few doors down.”
I turned to his mom. “Put his music on for him before you go.”
She smiled. “I won’t forget.”
The nurse wheeled me down the hall and I felt like she was rolling me a million miles away. It may as well have been since I couldn’t see him, couldn’t hear the beeping of his machines, couldn’t even smell the little bit of his scent that was still recognizable through the antibacterial filled room.
As she he
lped me into my bed I couldn’t help the tears that streamed down my cheeks. After she tucked me in, she set her hands on the edge of the mattress and waited for me to look at her. “I don’t have any advice that will fix this for you or make it any easier. I know you’ve lost a lot over a short amount of time, but—” Her fingers found mine. “Stay strong. You’ll be okay.”
I nodded as the tears started afresh and I curled onto my side, nursing my bruised hip, smashed arm and empty womb. She turned down the light and closed the door.
I hated bedtime around here. During the day they let me see him every two hours for five minutes. But at night I had to go to bed and stay there until the doctor made his first rounds, which was sheer torture if I woke up early. I knew that my time with Jesse helped him and I needed him too.
I didn’t want to mourn the life of our baby alone. Kerri and Miranda had been here for the few minutes they could come visit, and
Mom had called, but she was in the middle of testing and couldn’t leave her students until the end of the week. I knew it was killing her that she couldn’t be here but once the doctors told her that I was on the mend, she thought that it wasn’t as serious as it was.
of me wondered if they were letting me stay in the ICU to be closer to Jesse. There was only one other patient in our wing, and as long as there wasn’t a giant influx of new ones, maybe they’d let me stay close. I knew my concussion worried them a lot, and apparently this hospital was part of a new “brain protection group” that was creating a new set of rules for concussions . . . or something.
I didn’t really care.
I wanted to go home.
And our baby.
cried myself to sleep again.
I came awake fast and tried to figure out why. My heart tripped in my chest and I blinked to clear my vision. The room was dark, save the light shining beneath the door. I inventoried my room; bathroom door, cabinet, six bouquets of flowers, Jesse—
I jerked upright and grimaced as my body retaliated with a wave of pain.
“Hey, baby.” He wheeled himself closer.
This was a dream.
It had to be. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, then opened them again. He was next to the bed and reached for my hand. I linked our fingers, fascinated by the real feel of him. “I wish you were really here.”
He smiled his lopsided grin. “What makes you think I’m not?”
“I’ve been in your room a bunch and you’ve never come into mine.”
He stroked my arm. “
“I’m sorry about our baby.”
His eyes teared up and he laid his other hand on my flat stomach. “No.”
I nodded and a tear fell to my chest. This was too hard to do awake, let alone in a dream, so I lay back and hoped to change the vision, but his hand followed my body and he caressed the entire length of my stomach
, then laid his head on it. “I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through that alone.”
My eyes closed and I slid my fingers through his hair.
“What are you doing here?”
“I woke up and wandered the halls looking for you. Someone freaked out and tried to send me back to my room but I
made a break for it and they decided maybe just letting me see you would be easier.”
I laughed. “They should be used to that by now. I did it to them, too.”
My breath moved his head up and down and I wanted him to really be here. “I wish that were true.”
He turned his face into my
barren stomach. “I’m really here.”
My nurse knocked on the door and pushed it open. “Okay lovebirds,
you’re going to cost me my job.”
I sat up gingerly. “Is he really—
She lifted her finger to her lips and then winked. “No.
He’s in his room resting like a recently comatose person should be.”
I lurched forward and grabbed him, devastated that I’d figured it out too late and now he had to go back to his own room.
He hugged me back and we kissed and kissed until the nurse cleared her throat and eased his chair away from my bed.
“You’ll get to see him in the morning, first thing. I promise.”
I kissed him again and held him to me. “You’re okay. You’re really okay.” I could barely believe it.
He cupped my face in his hands. “I am now.”
never been more committed to getting better than I was after Jesse came to me in my room. Once Jesse woke up, his recovery was nearly instantaneous. We were practically inseparable from when he woke up until they released him. The doctors were just as baffled by that as they were at his extensive coma. Unfortunately, that also meant I got left behind in the ICU, and then the hospital when they released him. He had to check in with his doctors on a regular basis so they could make sure his brain was healing fully, but I was the only one left in the hospital each night.
d been to see me as often as he could but the time he spent in the hospital drastically impacted the band’s schedule and they still had so much to do. The doctors wanted him jumping back into his life and didn’t see any issues with him taking on the schedule as long as he didn’t have any memory issues or headaches. And of course, no more car accidents.
didn’t know exactly happened when we wrecked.
As for my recovery, I
had a harrowing physical therapy schedule and if I could pass one final test I’d be released to go home. Well, with one concession. They were only willing to let me leave if I agreed that I wouldn’t stay at my own house by myself until I was fully healed.
Until then, I
was shacking up with my mom and dad.
Mom and I’d
had a stilted relationship ever since I’d told her about keeping the baby—which was now a moot point. I knew she was trying to be supportive but she was still really struggling with Jesse, especially now that we were closer than ever and were determined to make this work. She could barely even stay around when we were together in the hospital, choosing to take time to wrap up stuff at home until I could get back there. I knew she loved me but sometimes I got really jealous of Jesse’s family and the way they all interacted and would do anything for each other. I’d tried so hard to have that with Mom, even bringing my friends home when Dad had a heart attack to be there for her. But things had returned to how they’d been growing up—tense and not quite always there for each other. Now, Jesse’s parents had made me a part of the family like we never even had a hiccup.
If there was a way to go do my recovery at his mom’s hous
e, I’d be over there in an instant. But I also wanted to figure out how to mend the situation with my mom. I didn’t want us to have a strained relationship; I knew we could do better.
therapist, Drake, came in and I had no time for anything but the pain. He was relentless and worked me extra hard so he knew that I’d be okay when he released me. I called him names. Lots of names, but he just laughed. “That’s all you got?”
d and pushed the weights away from me. “I promise I’ll spend every day at home cursing you and your unborn children.”
“Super. Give me three more or I’m not letting you out of here.”
I stuttered as the joke about babies slipped out but I didn’t have time here to mourn either. There was only ever room for pain here. By the time we were done, there wasn’t a piece of me that didn’t hurt and I was soaked from the sweat. He leaned against the machine and crossed his arms. “You promise you can do all this at home.”
glared up at Drake. He was one giant muscle and could barely cross his arms because they were so massive. They stuck out when they tried to rest against that giant chest. I knew I could take him. “Maybe without the name calling.”
He shook his head. “Nope. That won’t work. If you’re not calling me names, I know you’re not working hard enough.”
I tried to catch my breath. “Fine. I promise to curse you constantly.”
“That a girl.”
He ruffled my hair. “Get dressed and all pretty and I’ll go talk to the attending and get you thrown out of here.”
My face lit up and I
stared at him to see if he was kidding. “Are you teasing me?” Even though today was supposed to be the day, I’d worked extra hard not to get excited about the possibility because that seemed like a really easy way to get my hopes dashed. Far better to expect that I’d be in here for another couple of weeks.
He pushed away and straightened, hand held up in a “scout’s honor”
I waited for him to go before I jumped up and danced around
as best I could. I couldn’t believe I was finally out of here. I hurried back to my room and called everyone. Kerri had been on standby for days and was more than ready to haul my ass to Mom’s.
We’d barely had time together since Jesse and I got back together and then this bullshit stuff. I was looking forward to catching up on her life instead of bulldozing over the top of all her news. I knew things were getting pretty serious with Axel and
I really wanted to just sit and listen for a couple of uninterrupted hours. The time up to Mom’s would be perfect. She texted me back immediately that she was on the way. I couldn’t keep the grin off my face.
Freedom! Sweet, freedom.
I dialed Jesse, eager to talk to him. I still needed to shower so I could be ready when Drake got back. I didn’t want to stay in here for one more second after Drake came in with my release papers. The phone rang but ended up going to voicemail. Damn.
“Hey babe. I’m breaking out. Wanted to s
ee you before Kerri took me to Mom’s. Call me.”
I hung up and jumped in the shower, barely even getting wet and lathering up before jumping out and yanking on clothes. No way was I going to be the hold up. By the time Drake came in, I was packed and pacing the length of my tiny room. If it had felt like a cell before today, I
was about to lose my mind now that I knew my release was imminent.
He jerked to a stop. “Oh, wow, uh, you’re ready a little sooner than I’d expected.”
I stood. “Don’t be a dick, Drake. Give me my release papers.”
He shifted and looked at his feet, then back up at me. “Um, well, not everyone heals at the same rate.”
I sagged. Not again. I didn’t want to be here. I needed out of here. I was never going to be able to put this shit behind me if I didn’t get out of here.
He came closer and sat down heavily on the bed, then pulled a stack of papers out of the back of his waistband and handed them over. “I’m just kidding.”
“Argh!” I pushed him down on the bed and started punching his giant bubble abs. “You’re such a jerk!”
out from under me and jogged to the other side of the room, laughing. “Just wanted to make sure you were intense enough to go. Give me your bags and I’ll walk you down.”
w my backpack at him and he caught it deftly, swinging it up over his shoulder and grabbing my wheeled suitcase. “Jesse coming to meet you?”
I’d spent enough time with Drake over the last few weeks that he’d learned a lot about my life—and had used most of it against me as motivation.
When he’d found out about Jesse he’d nearly crapped his lycra shorts and made me promise to introduce them. It had been a nice way to get out of PT thirty minutes early that day, so I’d eagerly agreed.
And now I was going home!
Kerri met us downstairs and got me loaded in her car. It wasn’t until Drake had closed my door and waved us off that I realized that Kerri hadn’t even bothered to comment on his great legs or short-shorts.
Holy shit! She really was into Axel.
I twisted in my seat. “Spill it.”
She grinned, squeale
d and hugged me when she stopped at a stoplight. “He asked me to move in!”