"Look, I know this is forward," Bjorn said, leaning in closer. "But it's a bunch of weird coincidences, right? We're both fans, you just happen to come into my bar, and I just happen to learn I have an extra ticket while you're here to tonight's show. I mean, it's gotta be fate or something, right?"
An idea struck Helena like a bolt of lightning. Bjorn was right. This had to be fate. If Torsten was really that paranoid about his public image, there was no better opportunity to give him a taste of fucking her life over.
She smiled and raised her glass in celebration. "I'd love to go with you, Bjorn."
Helena felt awful for ditching Bjorn at the concert, but time was of the essence. She had work to do and had to do it fast. Bjorn was her only way into the venue. Hopefully, the little black dress she wore and her expired press pass would take her everywhere else she needed to go.
I should have brought earplugs
, she thought miserably as she worked through the crowd. Her head already rang like a bell from the screeching opening act, some all-female local band that wailed like a bunch of banshees.
She found out from Bjorn that this concert was the first of a special two-day show. Mjolnir would be playing tomorrow night as well before leaving on their European tour. She considered scoping out the venue this first night, then doing the real work tomorrow, but decided against it. The sooner she brought Torsten down, the better.
Her heart fluttered nervously in her chest as she wove her way closer to the stage. The doubts crept in.
Maybe I'm an idiot. This is stupid and petty.
She shook her head to quiet that voice trying to talk her out of this.
He killed your husband and your marriage. He ruined your life. It's only fair that his gets ruined, too
The massive room went dark and the senses of sound and touch dominated her world. Hot, sweaty bodies pressed in around her as everyone rushed the stage. Individual voices became lost in the single, collective voice of the crowd.
Helena gripped the metal gate that corralled the rabid fans, keeping them a safe distance away from the stage. She could just make out the silhouettes of tough-looking security guards on the other side.
I'm getting too old for this shit.
The show hadn't even started yet and she already felt entirely too hot and claustrophobic. Slick bodies slid all around her like gross, giant slugs. For once, she was grateful for the pungent smell of marijuana hanging in thick clouds. It almost certainly overpowered someone's B.O.
A drum onstage started beating a simple rhythm. Her heart froze for a moment; before remembering that wasn't her man up there.
A guitar joined in, then a soft, melodic male voice crooned an enchanting melody. All at once, the stage lit up, nearly blinding her. The slow, soft entry to the song exploded into a thunderous roar. Pure energy from the stage hit her squarely in the chest, and the crowd returned that energy from behind her tenfold.
Men and women headbanged, stomped their feet, and threw up horns. Except for her, the crowd moved as one entity. She had to admit Mjolnir put on a hell of a performance.
She stood right under Stig, the vocalist, at center stage. Torsten shredded at his guitar to her right. Despite not being the voice of the band, his presence dominated the whole performance. Stig's voice seemed like an accessory to Torsten's music, rather than the other way around.
In typical rock star fashion, Torsten was shirtless. Helena never considered herself one to ogle men, but her jaw dropped and her eyes couldn’t stop from devouring him. He could have stepped off an underwear ad.
A thin sheen of sweat already coated his skin like an erotic massage oil, but not an ounce of fat clung to his frame. Every single muscle was so clearly defined, he could've been an anatomy chart: biceps, triceps, pectorals, deltoids, and so on. His chiseled abs looked like they went down forever if his jeans didn't cover them.
His intricate tattoos stretched, jumped, and coiled as the muscles under his skin moved as he played. He propped one foot on an amp as his hands danced along the guitar neck. Even through his jeans, she could make out his massive quad muscles and perfectly round
She felt physically unable to tear her eyes from him, even if she wanted to. Like his ink, his body was a work of art that would fuel the inspiration of Michaelangelo. She wondered what it was like to explore every inch of that skin, to inspect the art embedded into it, to see how it tasted.
What the fuck is wrong with me?
She shook her head, trying to clear her mind from her daze. But a bead of sweat creep down the hollow of her throat to between her breasts and she imagined it was a tongue trailing down her scorching skin. His tongue.
I really need to get laid. Maybe I'll make it up to Bjorn later.
She regretted the thought as soon as she pictured it.
No way. I'm not a whore for concert tickets
Unsurprisingly, a group of women gathered directly under Torsten, screaming in high-pitched wails and stretching their hands out in hopes of catching a bead of sweat, a puff of air, or anything at all. He acknowledged their attention with the occasional wink, smile, and sexy stare, which the girls ate up like candy and sent them into a frenzy. One tried jumping over the security gate but was quickly dragged off by a guard. Torsten blew her a kiss as she was carried away, and the look on her face was one of pure bliss.
A familiar pang of jealousy gnawed at Helena's core. She often felt it when watching any of kind of tender moment Aside from Bjorn’s awkward attempts that afternoon, she couldn't remember the last time anyone flirted with her. After this bitter divorce, she'd settle for a mere glance from a hot, arrogant asshole too.
But her body wanted more, and she hated admitting it. Just from seeing Torsten move and play, the energy and charisma coming off him in waves, her body awoke with a carnal hunger she never felt before. Watching him play was bearing witness to beauty and art, strength and passion, all coming together before her eyes. He wasn’t performing music, but a spell, some kind of sorcery that flushed her core with heat and fired off every nerve ending in her body.
With one final, heavy shred on the guitar strings, Torsten ended the song and the crowd erupted in cheers. Helena found herself cheering too. The crowd’s energy was infectious and she couldn’t pretend the song didn’t have an effect on her. She wanted more.
Torsten scanned the crowd with his sharp, ice-cold eyes. His lips pressed together tightly as he breathed heavily, his chest and abdomen falling and rising like his body was made for sex. Helena found herself hypnotized by the rhythmic movement of his muscles with his breaths.
His eyes continued to sweep over the crowd as the vocalist spoke something about the new album and thank you for the support; she wasn't really listening. With a slight turn of his head, Torsten's gaze searched her section of the crowd and locked his eyes onto hers. They didn't move.
With the spell broken, Helena dropped her gaze and withdrew backward. Thankfully, the people next to her thought Torsten looked straight at them and jumped in front her to yell and wave.
Mjolnir kicked off into the next song as she sidled her way to the far left side of the stage, trying to control her swelling panic.
Fuck, fuck fuck! I hope he didn't recognize me but if he did, he'll be busy for the next few hours anyway. I still have a job to do.
She wanted nothing more than to be swept up in the rapture of Torsten’s music, but squeezed her way out of the main floor and found her way to the empty lobby. Everyone was inside enjoying the show except for the bored-looking bartenders and merch salesmen.
After using the restroom to keep them from watching her, she strolled as naturally as she could down the narrow hallway to the backstage area. A massive security guard stood squarely in front of the backstage door, as she expected.
Helena took a deep breath and put a bit more sway in her hips. She had one chance to do this right and couldn't blow it.
"Hey, how's your night going?" she asked with a smile as she approached.
"Alright. Can I help you, miss?"
"I'm a journalist for Underground Sound, a new music magazine," she said just as she rehearsed, flashing her press pass and praying he wouldn't inspect it. "I'm working on a piece about those who work behind the scenes in music. Sound techs, roadies, security." She gestured in his direction. "Do you work for Mjolnir or the venue?"
He hesitated before answering and she could practically see the wheels turning in his head. "The venue contracts my company."
"Do you feel like the work you do is underappreciated?"
"Well yeah. I mean, sometimes. I could be at home with my family now, you know?"
Yes, got him.
She pulled a small audio recorder from where she stashed it in her left bra cup, making sure he had a clear view down her dress. With a winning smile, she pressed the record button.
"Do you mind if I interview you?"
The guard, whose name was Andre, seemed delighted that someone would rather talk to him than watch the show, especially a woman in a low-cut dress. He told her stories of having to throw out both rowdy fans and musicians alike, and showed her secret backstage areas where the guards liked to watch the concerts.
"This here is where the musicians keep their personal things," he informed her, sweeping his arm toward a row of lockers.
Bingo. Saves me the trouble of asking.
"None of them are locked?" She didn't bother keeping the surprise out of her voice.
Will this really be that easy?
keep security pretty tight around here," Andre said with a smirk and a wink. "Nobody gets back here unless they're with the band or one of us."
Now or never.
She glanced at him bashfully. "I really hate to ask, but my sister is a huge fan and she'd be jealous of me for life. Do you care if I just take a peek, and maybe some pictures?"
Andre hesitated again before answering, this time for several long seconds and her heart began to sink.
"Tell you what," he said, rubbing his jaw. "Since we're friends, I'm going to take a piss and come right back. If anything happens between now and then, I didn't see it."
Her eyes widened. This was better than she could ever ask for. "Andre, you're my best friend and absolutely nothing will happen." She stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek.
With a chuckle, Andre strutted down the hallway to the restroom. The moment he turned the corner, she tore open the first locker.
She didn't know exactly what she looking for, essentially anything incriminating like hard drugs, but the lockers contained nothing but jackets and extra clothes. Some stank of weed or cigarettes. The third locker just straight up
and she shut it immediately, trying not to gag.
Forget washing their clothes, someone needed to set theirs on fire.
The fourth locker she opened actually smelled pleasant. It was a clean smell, but slightly musky and masculine. A worn leather jacket hung inside and she leaned in closer. The rich leather smelled slightly oily, as if it were new, mixed with a light woodsy smell of cologne still on the collar. Someone took great care of this jacket.
You've reached a new level of complete weirdo: snooping in someone's locker and smelling their jacket.
With a frustrated sigh, Helena began to shut the locker door when something in the jacket pocket caught her eye. She pulled it out to see it was a wallet, a typical men's bifold. Her breath nearly caught in her throat when she opened it to see Torsten's picture staring back at her.
He looked younger in the ID photo with a clean shaven face and shorter hair, but no less sexy. Rather than a metalhead, he looked like he belonged in a boy band. She imagined strong, tattooed arms wrapping around her waist, that woodsy smell surrounding her as she breathed it in. The roughness of his beard against her neck, the heat of his mouth on her skin...
Oh, my god you've got to get a grip.
Absentmindedly, she ran a fingertip across young Torsten's face. In doing so, the ID slot flipped up and a small, white envelope was tucked behind it. The envelope read
Rasmussen Hotel Room 216.
Sure enough, opening it up revealed two card keys inside.
Heavy footsteps and a cheerful whistle echoing down the long hallway jolted her into action.
Helena slid one card key into the cup of her bra, shoved the wallet back into Torsten's jacket pocket, and slammed the locker shut. As Andre's footsteps grew closer, she speed walked in the opposite direction toward the exit. If she was really going to do this, she had to do it while Torsten was still occupied.
As she shoved the heavy door open and stepped into the chilly night air, she thought,
I'm sorry Andre. I hope we can still be friends.
A soft groan of pleasure escaped Torsten's lips just after the smoke did. The first nicotine buzz from a deep cigarette drag was like post-orgasmic bliss right after a show. His pulse still hammered in his veins and the adrenaline surged through him, heightening his senses. The thrill of the stage was almost as good as sex. Almost.
He was pleased with the turnout of tonight's show. Kicking off the tour in their hometown and giving their local fans two chances to see them did just as he hoped. Back-to-back sold out shows would have the venue begging them to return. Maybe they could play here twice a year if they could negotiate a lower rate. If they did that, he could pay the band members and their employees even more.
He sipped a beer thoughtfully as he listened to the mewling pleas of female fans outside the door of the backstage lounge, bargaining and begging with the security guards. Maybe he would spend tonight with one or two. Preparing for this tour kept him so busy he hadn't gotten laid in nearly a month. He could afford to relieve some stress.