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Authors: Lisa Mondello

Gypsy Hearts (10 page)

BOOK: Gypsy Hearts
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"No, they're all backstage-except for Brock." She
glanced out into the sea of people, to the place where
she'd last seen Brock. Today he could walk among the
crowd and only be noticed for being the handsome man
he was. Tomorrow, his picture might be splashed across
the pages of the newspaper.

"Where would he go?" Will's face was almost accusing and it gnawed at Josie to think he somehow blamed
her for Brock's absence now. "Come on, Josie. The
kid's been tight with you," Will continued impatiently
when she didn't answer.

It had been true to some degree. But Brock hadn't
asked her to stay behind and wait for him to get through
with his interviews. Even though she'd been tempted to
do just that, she decided the time away, not only from
the bus but from the band would be good. But instead
of frittering away the afternoon like a tourist alone,
she'd spent her down time at the local Laundromat
dizzily watching her clothes dry.

Boring, yes. But she'd spent the entire time thinking
about Brock and wishing she'd stayed on the bus, if
only to have a few minutes alone with him. She enjoyed
his company, and she loved his outlook on life as well
as his determination to succeed in his dreams.

Will always called Brock "the kid," but Josie knew there was a wisdom about Brock that made him much
older than his years. She could see it in his eyes, hear it
in the things he said. No matter how much she tried to
remain focused on her goals, there was a part of her
that sought out Brock, the man, despite her knowing
she shouldn't.

"You keep the news crew happy," she said, grabbing
her bottle of water from where it rested on the console.
"I'll see if I can find him."

Josie dodged people as she made her way to the one
place she thought Brock might escape to. But when she
swung open the door to the bus, she found he wasn't

She moved down the center aisle of the bus to see if
he was in his bunk. It was empty and his guitar was

Earlier, Brock had gone out into the crowd with his
guitar in hand. Will's reference to the two of them
being "tight" held some truth. They'd certainly gotten
much closer. However, their romantic relationship had
come to a dead halt since that first day they'd kissed.

Perhaps Brock had become fed up with trying to
move their relationship forward and had moved on to
one of the many girls who always seemed to be working her way backstage or hanging around the bus
before a performance. It wasn't like a girl would be
hard to find. They were all beautiful and willing to
hook up with a musician.

Josie closed her eyes as jealousy made its way
through her veins.

Disgusted with herself for being upset, Josie swung
around and walked past her unmade bunk. Dexter's empty kennel lay on top of the bare mattress next to the
laundry she'd recently folded and put in her pillowcase.
When she'd returned to the bus, she hadn't had time to
make her bed. Now it looked baron, especially without
her beloved cat stretched out on it.


Turning toward the kitchen, she found an empty
bowl on the counter. Dexter was sitting next to it, licking his paws as if he'd savored whatever had been left
in the bowl.

"Dexter, no." She pulled the cat from the counter and
brought him to the kennel, stroking his fur as she went.
She dropped the cat on the bunk and opened the kennel
door. Guilt ate at her as she coaxed Dex inside. She
normally let him wander when no one was on the bus,
but he'd already gotten into too many things and the
end of the tour was still at least two weeks away. Two
more weeks before they'd reach Nashville and she
could set her plans into action.

"You have to behave, Dexter," she said, looking
through the cage's door as her cat meowed, his wide
eyes pleading for freedom. "I don't want to have to
keep you kenneled all the time. I'll be back in a few
hours. I promise to give you my undivided attention

At least Dex was the one thing she loved that would
never let her down.

"Brock, I came all the way from Houston!"

"Brock, this way. My name is Louise."

"Just a little hug, Brock. Can I have my picture taken
with you?"

"We love you Brock!"

They all shouted and grabbed and pulled at Brock as
he made his way from the stage toward the tent that was
their makeshift dressing room. While he had to admit
the fans' excitement was contagious and added to the
rise he felt while on stage, he couldn't wait to get back
on the bus.

We love youBrock.

He could see it in their eyes. They'd had fun. From
on stage he could see them dancing in the crowd, clapping wildly and stomping their feet to the music.
They'd remember his name. But they'd never know
him. That was never more evident to him than after the
string of reporters asking him the same trite questions
that could apply to just about any country singer in the

He slipped into the tent and blinked as his eyes
adjusted to the change of light. There was a long buffet
table with food sitting in trays of ice to keep it from
spoiling in the heat. The rest of the band was already
there, popping the tops off cans of soda or sipping from
bottles of water.

Josie unscrewed a bottle of Evian and took a long
drink, wiping her sweat-drenched forehead with the
back of her hand. Pink tinged her cheeks and the tip of
her nose from being out in the brutal sun for too long.

Brock made his way toward Josie, but stopped when
Will stepped in front of him.

"They were eating you up, kid," Will said, slapping
Brock on the back. "Get a drink, refresh yourself, and
catch your breath. Then come on outside for a meet and greet with the fans and reporters. Did you hear them
chanting your name? It was great."

Will handed him an open beer and Brock took a long
drink from the can.

"I need a minute to take a breather," he said, releasing his breath.

"Sure, sure. You take whatever you need. But only a
second though. We're on a roll. I don't want those
reporters leaving before we get a chance to get some
pictures with the fans. I'll get the crowd together, set
the stage, and let them know you're going to come out
to see them."

Brock groaned inwardly. More reporters. Josie
looked at him, tilting a questioning eyebrow. She was
holding her sweating bottle of water to her lips and not
drinking. She pulled the bottle away from her mouth
and set it on a nearby table.

Josie chuckled and shook her head. "Do you suppose
he came out of the womb that way?"

He liked the way she teased and eased his mind.

Her smile faded as she studied him. "You don't like
the reporters very much. That much is obvious."

His discomfort wasn't lost to her. It never was.

"What I don't like is feeling like a puppet."

She shrugged and brushed her hand on his shoulder.
"Unfortunately, it comes with the territory. They've got
the power to spread the word about your music. Like it
or not, you need them."

Brock understood that, even if he didn't like having
to play the game. "The crowd is great. I love meeting the
fans and seeing how excited they are about my music."

Josie picked up her bottled water from the table,
opened it, and took a sip. She looked up at him again,
seeing into his soul in a way no other woman had ever

"You did great out there."


"Then what's the gloomy face all about?"

Steeling a glance at the tent door for Will, he
shrugged. In a minute, Will would be back, waving at
him to go back out into that chaos.

"Nothing ever gets past you, does it? I guess I'm just
a little tired," he lied.

She stared at him for a lingering moment.
"Overwhelmed? You're entitled. The energy on that
stage was incredible. It's like that every night. No wonder you sleep like a baby on the bus."

"Thanks for being here," he said, reaching out and
brushing a strand of hair away from her face.

"My pleasure." Standing on her toes, she kissed his
lips softly. He was just about to drag her into his arms
for the kind of embrace he'd been dreaming about all
week when Will appeared at the door of the tent and
motioned to Brock to come out to meet the fans.

He groaned. "I guess I'm on again."

"I swear he times it that way." The disappointment in
her eyes mirrored how Brock felt. "Well, cowboy, go
give 'em what they want," she said, brushing her hand
across his back.

"Not before I do this," he said. Bending his head, he
pressed his mouth to hers, drinking in what he was
thirsty for-the sweet tenderness of Josie. And when he pulled away, she was smiling up at him, making his
heart sing.

He'd smile for the crowd and give them what they
wanted. But what Brock wanted more than anything
right at that moment was to just stay under that tent and
watch Josie's smiling face. Instead, he handed her his
beer and headed for the tent door.

The warm, familiar lump at Josie's feet was a comforting reminded she wasn't alone in the world. She
heard the steady breathing and occasional quiet sigh
and knew Dexter was sound asleep. Unfortunately,
even after the long day she'd spent in the sun, sleep
eluded her.

Pulling back the small curtain that covered the window in her bunk, Josie noticed a big, bright, yellow
moon hanging high above the earth, dropping moonbeams down from the sky. The cloudless day made it
impossible not to notice the beauty of the night.

The bus was still parked at the beach where they did
the show. A few of the band members had wanted to get
motel rooms and sleep in decent beds, but Will said
they'd save that for when they reached Nashville.

Now that the crowd was gone, there wasn't a sound
outside but the rumble of the surf. It should have helped
lull her to sleep, but instead, she tossed in her bed,
upsetting Dexter every time she moved.

As small as her bed was, she'd gotten used to sleeping on the bus as it rolled along the highway. Maybe
that's why she was having such a hard time sleeping tonight. She'd totally disrupted her normal schedule, not that there'd been much of one since she'd left home.
While each town brought something new on this adventure, there was still a repetition of mundane tasks and a
schedule that was impossible to set your watch by.
There was often a rush to set up, break down, and stay
on schedule only to be holed up later in the bus with
nothing to do for hours on end.

Before she'd left home, she'd remembered how tiring it could be on the road and how boredom could
overwhelm you if you didn't plan to have something to
take your mind off the idleness. Preparing for that,
Josie had remembered to toss a few books she'd been
meaning to read into her bag along with some knitting
she'd started far too many years ago and never seemed
to finish. She hadn't yet pulled out the yarn, but the
books had been a good addition to her duffle.

It was easier to fill the days than to get through the
nights, she found. In the quiet of the night, she often
found herself thinking back to past mistakes and
regrets. Leaving home so young hadn't seemed like a
bad idea at the time, but she'd paid the price of her
impulsiveness over the years. She couldn't change the
past or take back the pain she'd caused her family any
more than Grant Davies could ease the hurt she'd felt
after his betrayal.

But that was in her past. This road trip was meant to
right the wrongs she could change. No regrets. Brock
Gentry had pulled her out of a spiraling path to
nowhere and helped her get back on track. For that
she'd always be grateful.

She yawned, and even though she couldn't sleep,
fatigue pulled at her. At night she could admit to herself the things she refused to acknowledge during the day,
during the moments when Brock's warm blue eyes
would smile at her from the other side of the bus or
when he was on stage and seemed to look out into the
crowd and sing only to her. There were moments when
she felt as though they were the only two people on
earth. Just her and Brock.

It was a nice fantasy that she'd allowed herself every
so often. There was so much more to what she felt for
Brock thanjust gratitude. It was those feelings that she
feared the most, the ones that made her forget the plans
she'd mapped out on paper that day when she'd wrestled with whether or not to go on this road trip. The last
thing she wanted was to repeat a history that had ended
with her heart being ripped to shreds.

She flung the curtain closed, shutting out the bright
moon. She rolled over to her side, punching her pillow
twice for good measure. Dexter gave her only a mild
protest for disturbing his peace again and quickly settled. She envied her small friend. If only she could do
the same.

"Josie? Are you awake?"

Josie's heart leaped to her throat with the sound of
Brock's whispered voice.

Pulling back the privacy curtain, she looked up at
him in the darkness. "What are you doing up?"

"Same as you. Can't sleep."

Her heart lifted a notch, glad for the company. "I
would have thought you'd be dead tired after today."

Brock crouched down to where she was and leaned
forward. Though she'd pulled the curtain closed in
order to keep the moonlight from shining in, she now regretted it. There was minimal light in the aisle and
she could barely make out the contours of Brock's face.
But she imagined him smiling down at her, his dimple
marking his cheek, teasing her.

From the back of the bus, the sounds of deep breathing and the occasional snort and snore broke the

"Let's get out of here," he said, a mischievous tone
in his voice.

BOOK: Gypsy Hearts
6.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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