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Authors: Lisa Mondello

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BOOK: Gypsy Hearts
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"That's what the man said," she replied, forcing a
smile.

Will eyed her. "What did you say to him backstage to
make him jumpy? The kid's been fine. This is what
we've been working up to and now he's alljumpy."

Josie rolled her eyes. "Brock said he needed a moment.
He's not going to skip out on you ... or his fans."

"He'd better not. There's a lot riding on tonight."

Don't we all know it? She sighed and folded her
hands across her chest. Panic attacks could be controlled if a person worked through them. She only
hoped Brock had reached the point where he could do
that on his own.

The lights started to dim, signaling the show was about to begin. A lone spotlight bent to the left corner
of the stage and within seconds Brock appeared alone.
He walked over to the center of the stage and reached
for his acoustic guitar.

A grin split Josie's face. He'd changed out of that
awful royal blue shirt and into a black T-shirt and black
jeans. Perched on his head was the black suede cowboy
hat she'd bought for him in Memphis. He walked up to
the microphone, wrapped the guitar strap around his
neck, and began to fiddle with the strings.

This was the Brock she'd met over a month ago at
the studio. This was the man she knew and feared she'd
fallen hopelessly in love with. To look at him, no one
would know he'd been quaking in his boots back in the
dressing room. He was alive with energy, strong and
commanding.

"Hello, Nashville!" he yelled into the microphone
and the crowd went wild.

"Sorry I kept you waiting. It's good of y'all to come
out to see me play. I thought we'd take it a little slow at
first, start with a song I wrote in the studio a few weeks
back about a woman who's dear to me." Pointing into
the darkness as if he could really see her, he said
softly, "This one is for you, Josie."

Her heart melted and tears sprang to her eyes as she
recognized the song she'd heard that night in the studio
when they'd been alone. At the time, she'd known by
the way he sang that it was about someone special. She
had no idea he'd written it for her.

The small panel light illuminated the soundboard,
but Josie had to fight through the moisture in her eyes
to see the levels and controls.

Lifting her face to the stage again, she was in awe of
Brock. It was clear he had broken free of whatever had
gripped him so strongly in the dressing room. Fear had
a way of being debilitating. To see him now was amazing. He was so alive with energy. And foolishly, Josie
was as star-struck with Brock as all the girls who were
screaming his name out in the audience. When the song
wound down, Brock stood with a lone white spotlight
illuminating him, his head bent to the floor. The crowd
was on its feet, going wild.

Brock invited the band on stage with him and they
broke into a rowdy, fun number they all loved. It was
clear Brock was in his element when he performed. Even
if he couldn't see past the first row with the blaring lights
blinding him, he was a part of the crowd, lifting his face
to the blackness beyond the lights and smiling his appreciation and love for what they were giving him as he
played.

He'd written the song for her. The envy she'd felt in
the studio was replaced by emotions she didn't want to
name. She'd fallen for words before. She knew they
could be written and even sung, but still not be heartfelt. How could she believe that this time, the words the
man professed to be only for her, were in reality just
that?

 

he crowd was still going wild, cheering and chanting Brock's name as he stood backstage and gulped
down some bottled water. Still breathing heavily after
his last number, Brock poured some cold water from
the bottle into his hand and splashed it on his face,
wiping away the sweat with a towel someone had
handed him.

Miles cracked open a beer, laughing. "Incredible.
You were truly magnificent out there tonight. Even I
feel like getting up and screaming for you."

Brock chuckled, almost choking on a gulp of water.
"Don't you dare try to kiss me or I'll resort to desperate measures."

"Fair enough," he said. "How long are we going to
let them scream before we go out for the encore?"

"I say we give it a good long minute," Roy said.
"Then they'll go wild when we go back on stage."

Out of the corner of his eye, Brock saw Will standing at the end of the hall with a man he didn't recognize.
Will was animated, his eyes wild with excitement and
his hands gesturing rapidly, making his point. Dressed
like everyone else backstage, the man could have
blended in with anyone who was in the back corridor,
but Brock knew Will would only be spending the time
to talk with him now if he were something important.
Brock guessed the man was Rick Beckley, the A&R
executive Will brought in tonight to see the performance. And by the gestures he was making and the
smile on his face, Will was happy about the meeting.

It still amazed Brock how quickly the anxiety that
had crippled him earlier had vanished once he'd broken
free of the chains binding him. He was suddenly looking forward to talking to the man, finding out what he
had to say about Brock's performance. But that could
wait. There'd be time enough for talk later. First, he
wanted to see Josie, to hold her and thank her for being
there. No one could have done what she'd done for him.

He dropped the bottled water on the table. "Let's
give the crowd what they came here for, boys," Brock
said, heading toward the stage door again. There'd be
time to talk to executives later. Right now, Brock
couldn't wait to get back on stage so he could get personal with the crowd.

A flurry of people swarmed the hallway that led to
the dressing room. Josie weaved in and out of the
crowd, hoping to see Brock before he was whisked
away for private talks with Will and the studio people
who'd come to the concert.

Rick Beckley would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to have noticed Brock or the crowd's reaction
to him and his music. Brock had been larger than life
tonight, moving from one end of the stage to the other,
holding the crowd in the palm of his hand the entire
performance. It was like nothing Josie had ever seen
before. Those that knew Brock fell at his feet, and those
that didn't had fallen in love with him tonight and
would never forget him.

She'd fallen in love with him long before this
though, Josie thought as she made her way through the
crowd. The name on everyone's lips right at this
moment was Brock Gentry. The laughter and the smiles
were all because of him. A good time was had by his
new fans.

Flashbulbs popped at the far end of the corridor.
Josie couldn't see over all the heads, but her heart
picked up a beat. Brock was what they all wanted and
she was sure that was where he was now. A smile tipped
her lips as she moved, only to freeze when Will caught
her hand.

"Josie," he said, pulling her in the opposite direction.

"Great show, huh?" she said, trying to break free.

"Fantastic. Say, we're going to be held up for a few
minutes with Rick and his friends at the record company. I was wondering if you could take care of a friend
of mine."

Josie stopped dead in her tracks, a frown pulling at
her face. "I beg your pardon?" she said sharply.

Will just laughed. "I'm not asking you to date the
guy. His name is Ron Albani. He works out of the best
studio in Nashville. All the main Nashville players use
his studio and the guy has a lot of contacts. I don't want him running away until I have a chance to talk to him a
little more. But I can't schmooze both groups at the
same time and I don't want to lose the contact, if you
know what I mean."

Josie paused. Will reminded her too much of Brian,
her boss at DB Sound. There was always some hidden
agenda in any request.

His smile wavered. "He mentioned you when he
heard Brock's CD and was quite impressed. He's a
good person to get to know if you want to move in this
industry. I thought you might like the opportunity to
meet him."

Josie glanced at the far end of the corridor where
Brock was talking with reporters. This was Brock's
night. As much as she wanted to share it with him, she
didn't want to take him from the spotlight or keep him
from making the most of tonight's performance. They'd
agreed to meet back at her hotel room later tonight, so
there'd be time for them then to celebrate together.

She'd heard of Ron Albani and had to admit she was
a little flattered he'd mentioned her name. If, in fact,
Will was telling her the truth. Since her purpose for
coming on this tour was exactly this, she'd be a fool not
to jump at the chance to talk with Ron, if only to get the
names of some people in Nashville she could contact
on her own. She wanted to meet people who could help
her move in a better direction in her career. Ron Albani
had the power to do that.

"Why don't you introduce me?" she conceded, pasting on a smile.

There would be time later to share her excitement
with Brock. The band would probably party all night and sleep late into the next day. They'd make time, she
and Brock.

As she walked with Will in the opposite direction,
fear began to brew in the pit of her stomach. Tonight
had changed everything for Brock. She only hoped that
didn't spell the end for them.

The noise from the street below carried up to Josie's
hotel window. She sat in the chair, looking out at the
Nashville skyline. Dexter lazily lounged in her lap,
where he'd been since she'd returned to her room.

Josie glanced down at her faithful companion and
smiled. She was relieved she hadn't been forced to put
Dexter in a kennel until she found a permanent home
for him. Of course, she didn't have to stay in a hotel at
all. She could have chosen to stay on the bus with
Dexter rather than put him up with strangers. But tonight, like many other nights she'd stood at the crossroads, she needed her friend.

And she needed Brock. He'd become her friend, not
just a man she'd fallen in love with. Josie realized she'd
let herself fall into that trap again. But unlike the way
things had been with Grant, her relationship with Brock
was open and honest and it didn't scare her the way it
had with Grant.

Closing her eyes, she sighed, watching the pedestrians
below race across the street to avoid the oncoming traffic. A couple walking hand in hand was decked out in evening clothes for a night on the town. She wondered where
they were going and if their lives were easy and carefree.
She longed for that kind of stability, but inside, she knew
her heart followed a path that led her here to Nashville.

Reaching over, she picked up the pictures that had
recently been delivered to her room. She sifted through
them for the tenth time, smiling as the memories her
night on the beach with Brock flooded her mind. Most
of the photos hadn't turned out very well because
they'd been taken with a flash. But even the blurred and
sometimes washed out images made her smile. The
time she'd shared with Brock on the beach in
Galveston was like a dream from which she didn't want
to wake. Tonight had been a lot like that right on the
beach.

Tomorrow, they'd both wake up to a new reality. That
was the nature of this business. Backstage handshakes
had a way of changing your life overnight.

Josie hadn't expected her meeting with Ron Albani
to go as smoothly as it had. In truth, she hadn't expected
anything at all beyond the introduction. But his enthusiasm for her work-not only with Brock, but with
Grant Davies-had her believing the years at DB
Sound hadn't undone the strong start she'd made for
herself when she'd first come to Nashville all those
years ago. That was comforting in a town where you
were only as good as your last piece of work and people forgot you as soon as the new act arrived to take
your place.

There was promise. She hadn't been offered a job.
No, Ron had made that perfectly clear that Pete
Harrington liked to be responsible for the hiring of new
engineers at the studio. But Ron's word would go a
long way toward impressing the owner of the studio.
Ron had urged Josie not to wait, to go see Pete as soon
as possible and talk to him about coming on board.

BOOK: Gypsy Hearts
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