Authors: A. M. Madden
Front & Center
(Book 2 of the Back-up Series)
Front & Center
Published by A.M. Madden
First Edition, e
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – Jack
Chapter 2 - Leila
Chapter 3 - Jack
Chapter 4 - Leila
Chapter 5 – Jack
Chapter 6 – Leila
Chapter 7 – Jack
Chapter 8 - Leila
Chapter 9 - Jack
Chapter 10 - Leila
Chapter 11 - Jack
Chapter 12 - Leila
Chapter 13 - Jack
Chapter 13 ½ - Jessa
Chapter 14 - Leila
Chapter 15 - Jack
Chapter 16 - Leila
Chapter 17 - Jack
Chapter 18 - Leila
Chapter 19 - Jack
Chapter 20 - Leila
Chapter 21 - Jack
Chapter 22 - Leila
Chapter 23 - Jack
Chapter 24 - Leila
Chapter 25 - Jack
Chapter 26 - Leila
Chapter 27 - Jack
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The Back-up Series Playlist ~
Bayou Stix: Arena Tour 2014 Press Release
came into my life and flipped it upside down.
completely altered who I am as a person.
She wreaked havoc in my world.
And I love her.
thought I had all I needed. I am blessed with good looks, a good family, and good friends. I have a rock band that is about to explode in popularity. I had sex whenever I wanted. I thought it was the perfect life.
am such an idiot.
My so-called perfect life
completely changed when we hired Leila Marino as our back-up singer. After meeting her, I was riding a roller coaster of emotions, most of which I’ve never felt before.
I’ll admit in the beginning all I wanted was to get into her pants. I know it sounds crass, but it is my normal reaction when meeting a beautiful woman, especially a stunning, leggy brunette. I am prewired that way. She is very attractive, with her perfect body, long wavy hair, gorgeous topaz eyes, and the most kissable lips I’ve ever seen. Who could blame me?
overwhelming sexual attraction I felt towards her in the beginning was very familiar to me. The stirring in my pants, the desire to bend her over, and carnal need to take her from behind was nothing new.
But then I
heard her sing…
And then I
got to know her…
when all hell broke loose. The feelings engulfing me were so foreign, I didn’t know what to do with them. They infiltrated my subconscious to the point where I had visions of her while with other women. I had dreams of her while alone in my bed. The thoughts in my head were belying my normal sexual responses. I stopped having sex with random women. I basically stopped
. I was in a constant bad mood from wanting her so badly. I had no idea what was happening to me. I was slowly unraveling.
only had one long-term relationship and in hindsight, it most definitely wasn’t love. But this, what I was feeling about Leila, rocked me to my core. The revelation that I, Jack Lair, could be in love, fucking consumed me. I desperately tried to deny these new feelings, but it didn’t matter. I was falling in love with my new back-up singer, and I didn’t have a prayer.
For the first time in my life, I wanted to know more about her, to share things with her, and to spend time with her. I ached to hold her in my arms for hours. I wanted to make love to her. I don’t mean to simply fuck her. I wanted an emotional connection. I wanted her in every way a man wants a woman.
What I wanted
and what I should do became a punishing battle between my heart and my head. She was off limits. This only made me want her more. When we were apart, I was miserable. My misery influenced my better judgment. I lost control the night of my surprise party. I couldn’t get enough of her. Tasting her lips, feeling her soft body pressed up against mine, and having her respond to me the way she did made it nearly impossible to pull away…which I probably wouldn’t have done if we weren’t so rudely interrupted.
action towards me fueled me on and encouraged me to push the envelope. I could see it in her eyes that she wanted me too. I loved it, exploited it, and flirted shamelessly.
We couldn’t deny our mutual attraction
. One night in her apartment, a moment of weakness pushed us over that line, the one we both tried to avoid. Once I had her, there was no going back. Admitting my feelings for her was a rebirth. I was a new man. Amazingly, she also admitted her feelings for me. Leila and I were finally together. I’d endure all the cold showers I took and all the misery I felt all over again, just to get to this point.
The weeks that followed were fantastic
. No one knew about us, so we existed in our own little bubble. Leila felt vulnerable in her new career and worried our relationship would eclipse her talents. I understood, but I felt it would be beneficial for us to at least let the guys in on our secret. Since we would all be living together on a tour bus, we wouldn’t have to be discreet around them. Thankfully, she agreed.
Last night was the start of our tour in New York City. The response we received was awe-inspiring.
We exposed our relationship to the guys after our show. Hunter claimed he knew, Scott was shocked, and Trey couldn’t give a damn. Now that they know, we can be together as a couple, no hiding, no sneaking around, and the back bedroom is ours for the taking. I can’t wait to tour across the country while living with her. Having her with me twenty four seven, loving her daily.
I was on such a high. My band now knew Leila and I were in love. The show was outstanding. I c
ouldn’t be happier.
Then my world imploded.
My ex-girlfriend, Jessa, crashed our after party, while we were celebrating with our closest friends and family. She came to warn me about an ex-band member, Danny Sorensen. He was our bassist and is still feeling slighted that I fired him. I can deal with this psychopath who is after me. I don’t regret letting him go from the band. His threat only solidifies what a lunatic he is. But if that fucker comes near Leila, I’ll kill him with my bare hands.
only upside to hiding our relationship is Danny hasn’t a clue Leila is in my life. It’s only a matter of time until he finds out about her. When he does, I’ll be ready. Thankfully, I’ll have her by my side every day for the next several months. Protecting her is now my priority, and I’ll do anything to keep her safe.
Danny’s threat wasn’t the worst thing Jessa told me last night. It was her claim that she is pregnant with my baby that leveled me. I had one stupid night with her right before Leila came into my life, and as it was happening, I knew it was a huge mistake. I’m not convinced it’s mine. She has always slept around, and I’m sure she still does. Until she proves it, I won’t believe it. Jesus, I wanted to punch something when she dumped her news on me. I felt like life needed to bring me down a notch.
Regardless if it’s mine or not,
I still had to tell Leila. Telling her about Danny was difficult. Telling her about Jessa and the pregnancy was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. She reacted just as I worried she would. She withdrew and pushed me away. She said she needed time to think.
I aged a lifetime last night.
Minutes felt like hours as I waited for the love of my life to make a decision. I can’t keep my promise to give her space. I need to see her.
“He emerges.” Hunter calls out when he sees me.
I ignore him and
knock on Leila’s door. She opens it slowly, barely making eye contact. When she does, it’s obvious she’s been crying. I can feel my heart breaking from the pain I’m causing her. The feeling is foreign, and it’s crushing me. I can’t lose her. I would give up everything to avoid losing her.
“Can I come in?”
She moves aside and opens the door to allow me access. I immediately sit and prepare myself for the worst.
“Leila, I wish I could undo what I did. It was a huge mistake, and now the person I love the most has to pay the price. I’m so sorry.”
Without warning, she launches herself onto my lap and into my arms.
“I love you
I cling to her
as if I was drowning and she was my life vest. I’m afraid if I let go, she’ll change her mind.
I’ll support you, no matter what the results are.” When she pulls away from my embrace, I quickly search her eyes. In spite of her declaration, her pain is still clear and evident in them.
“Jack, I’m not going to lie, it hurts more than anything I’ve ever felt before, but that’s because I love you so much.”
It kills me to
know I caused her so much pain, and it’s probably nothing compared to the pain we will be facing in the future.
I don’t want you keeping anything from me. No matter what it is, I need to know. No matter how bad. I’ll need you as much as you need me during this nightmare.”
, no matter what.” I tighten my hold on her. “Leila, I don’t deserve you.”
I would move heaven and earth to make her happy. I would
do anything to keep her safe…anything.
I love her.
She pulls away from me and walks over to the door, defensively wrapping her arms around her body. My heartbeat halts in my chest, while I wait for her to speak.
Jack, last night after seeing the reaction from the crowd, I felt complete. I’m truly living my dream and that’s not even the best part. It’s that I’m doing it side by side with you. I love that I found you. You’re my bonus.”
In spite of that,” her voice is barely above a whisper when she continues, “I’m furious with you. I’m scared of how this is going to affect us. I’m angry at you for being with her.”
“Baby, come here.”
Leila hesitates for a moment, and then comes to sit next to me.
Leila”, I take hold of her chin, forcing her to return my gaze, “I can handle you being angry with me. Besides, you aren’t nearly as angry as I am with myself. What I can’t handle is constantly worrying that you might leave me.”
waits a few moments before she speaks. “I don’t think I could. That’s what I kept coming back to last night. As angry as I am, I love you too much.”
Relief floods through me.
I would love to end our discussion here by proclaiming our love and moving on. But there is another concern I need to address, and I need to do it now.
Jessa slept around. I’m sure she still does. Regardless, there’s still a possibility it will be mine.”
I know,” she nods, sadly.
How do you feel about that?”
“I don’t know.”
oks down as a single tear escapes. I tilt her head towards mine and gently wipe her tear away. “Leila, please talk to me.”
Ok…I hate that it may be yours. I hate that she would have that part of you.”
I hate that too, but I need you to keep remembering how much we love each other.”
nods as I pull her into my arms in a tight embrace. An unfamiliar silence falls between us, as we get lost in our thoughts.
Leila pulls away
to ask, “Can I ask you a question?”
“Why would she think it’s yours?” I guiltily look away
, but she insists that I respond. “Jack, didn’t you use a condom?”
“I really don’t want to tell you the details. It was a stupid mistake.”
“What if you aren’t the only person she hasn’t used a condom with?”
I didn’t even remember not using a condom until she reminded me last night. I know it’s too late to change things, but I’ll get tested as soon as possible. If it will give you piece of mind, I’ll do whatever I need to.” Holding her face between my hands, I will her to look into my eyes. “I’m so sorry.”
I need to ask you another question that’s been haunting me. I need you to be completely honest.” I nod solemnly. “Do you have feelings for her?”
No, baby. I don’t. Years ago I thought I did. I was eighteen and I had no idea how much she manipulated me until I ended it. Now that I know what love is, I know that wasn’t love.”
She takes a deep breath.
“I needed to know. Could we stop talking about what happened last night? I don’t want to think about it anymore. I just want to be with you.” She settles against me.
“Can I kiss you?”
She nods, and I lean towards her. The minute my lips touch hers, I feel time stand still. She quickly responds, but then uncharacteristically pulls away.
Just be patient with me.”
” I soothingly rub her back as she clings to me.
“I’m so exhausted, b
ut I feel bad that we’ve avoided the guys.”
so do I. I haven’t even congratulated them. I need to do that.”
They have been up for a while now, yapping in the front of the bus regarding last
night’s show and the reviews online. More than once, I heard my name being mentioned during the conversation along with Leila and Jessa’s. I’m sure they are all speculating on how Leila reacted to her visit or the real reason we slept apart last night.
“Hunter knows about Danny threatening me. I’m not sure if he told Trey and Scott yet. I didn’
t tell him about the pregnancy. I don’t want anyone knowing.”
Leila nods. “Ok.”
As she leans against my chest, her eyes droop from exhaustion.
“Do you want to take a nap?”
She shakes her head in defiance. “No, I’m fine. I’ll wake up.”
After a few m
inutes I offer, “Um…I can wake you up.”
, she pulls away “That’s not being patient.”
“What? Four mi
nutes isn’t enough time to wait?”
giggles adorably and settles back into my arms.
“God, I love that sound.”
Ten seconds later I ask again. “Seriously, how long do you need?”
Trust me, I’m sure you’ll break me soon. I can’t resist that Jack Lair voodoo,” she admits. “I had plans for you last night.”
You did? Damn it!” she laughs at my outburst. Smiling at her mood shift, I decide to tease her some more. “I have a confession to make, too.”
Another one? What did you do now?”
She folds her arm
s and raises her eyebrows, waiting for me to admit my truth.
“For your information
, Miss Marino, I was going to tell you I’ve been sporting a major hard-on since hearing you sing
last night. I’ve never been so turned on in my entire life. Actually, I just lied. I was that turned on when I first saw you in that leather top at our photo shoot, but having you sing
IN that leather top? Fuck, that was so hot.”
“That is not what I expected you to say.”
“It’s true. Of course my hard-on died a horrible death, but now it’s back.” I smile, wiggling my eyebrows at her.
Pushing her hair behind her ear, I meet her gaze. “Babe, all kidding aside, I was so proud of you last night.”
You were unbelievable.”
“So were you.
The guys were as well.”
I nod towards the door and
admit, “I guess it’s time to go out there.”
Yep,” she responds, but not too convincingly.
Are you sure you don’t want to stay here?”
“Nope. I want to be with you
God, I love you.” I take her hand and pull her up with me. “Ready?”
I am fucking ready.”
Wow…you rarely cursed when I met you.”
I learned from the best.”
I have much better things to teach you besides cursing.” I bend to kiss her passionately. She digs her fingers into my hair, pushes up against me, and literally tries to consume me alive. I smile against her lips. “Changing your mind? I’m still good to go.”
You’re insatiable.” She pushes me away as I chuckle. “Do I look like hell?” she asks as she runs her fingers under her eyes.
“No baby, you look beautiful.”
I turn to say one last thing to her before we emerge as a couple. “Leila, I know it’s going to be hard, but can you promise me one more thing?” She nods solemnly. “Please talk to me if something is bothering you. Promise me you won’t pull away.”
I take her hand, pull in a huge breath, and lead her out to join Hunter, Scott, and Trey at the front of the bus.
Well, it’s about time. We’ve been dying to show you something.”
I head right for the coffee maker in desperat
e need of my first of many cups, while Leila pulls a yogurt from the fridge and a spoon from the drawer. She moves to sit in the booth across from Scott.
“What’s going on?”
Hunter asks again as I’m preparing my coffee.
“Bullshit.” He touts annoyingly.
the hell is wrong with you? Aren’t you curious what the reviews say?”
Of course I am. We got about three hours of sleep, and I desperately need coffee.”
Hunter looks over at Leila
not buying what I just said. “Are you two fighting already? Honeymoon over?”
, Hunt.” I finally lose my cool.
“You should be fucking stoked man
. The reviews are awesome.” Scott speaks up.
Taking a deep breath
, I walk over to sit next to Leila. “First of all, the honeymoon is just starting. Second of all, I
stoked. Let me see.”
turns the laptop to show me what he was reading. I quickly scan the online article and nod. “Awesome.”
Hunter watches me and shakes his head.
Looking over at Leila he asks, “Honestly, what’s bugging him?”
“He’s upset about the news r
egarding this Danny character,” she responds, without missing a beat.
unter looks contrite as he remembers what I shared with him last night. “Oh, that.”
Putting my arm around Leila, I pull her closer.
My girl is so smart. She effectively shut him up with one sentence. Why didn’t I think of that?
has been lost in his own world and only now realizes he is sharing a bus with us. “What about Danny?”
“Danny ran into Jessa. He is pissed he got fired and feels I robbed him of his career
. He ran his mouth off about getting even.”
“Is that why she showed up last night?” Scott asks.
“Yep.” I avoid eye contact. I don’t want to tip them off to what’s really upsetting me. Hunter can usually see right through me.
that’s not good.” The quick look of panic on Leila’s face causes Scott to retract. “Um, actually, he’s just a nut with a big mouth.”
I watch Leila carefully and
take her hand in mine. “We do need to take him seriously, but I won’t let him ruin our high. You guys were awesome last night. We couldn’t have had a better start to our tour.”
, man.” Scott beams at the open laptop. Leila moves it closer so we both can read the
New York Post
page that Scott has opened.
“If any of you were lucky enough to see Devil
’s Lair last night in New York City, you no doubt walked away exhilarated and maybe even a touch turned on. They opened with an exciting, rock the house, sexy as hell show to kick off the rest of their tour. Last night, they set the benchmark pretty high.