After the job search, she thoroughly researched Torsten. This time, she’d do her homework before trying to take him down at the second concert tonight. It would be her last chance and she had to make it count.
The hot coffee sliding past her lips reminded her of his tongue sneaking in, pouring his rough, demanding kisses into her mouth like nothing she felt before.
Her face grew warm from the memory, embarrassed at her own gullibility. Of course he kissed and touched her like he knew her body so well. He’d been with hundreds, probably thousands of other women. He also knew how to fake passion and chemistry to get what he wanted.
I just need to get laid. Then maybe I’ll stop thinking about Torsten with my lizard brain.
Digging up dirt on Torsten was nigh on impossible. He had no personal social media accounts, only the band pages managed by the PR team. The only articles were music related, nothing scandalous or deeply personal.
On her second cup of coffee, Helena scanned a recent article in which the interviewer did their best at digging, but kept hitting the Torsten Wall.
Mjolnir has risen to the top of the charts in relatively short time, three years! What do you think caused such rapid growth?
Well I demand a lot from myself and from my bandmates. We spend a lot of time perfecting the lyrics of each song as well as the sound. Nothing moves forward until each component fits perfectly. And then we rehearse until it’s second nature so that we know to give nothing less than a kickass live show.
You sound like a tough boss.
(laughs) You could say that!
You’re a local staple in Norway. Did you grow up there? What was young Torsten like?
Yes, I was born and raised in Oslo. It’s my home and I love it. Our local fans beat all others. As for when I was young, I’ll say that part of my life has motivated me to pursue the success I have today.
Did you parents encourage you to pursue music?
You would have to ask them. I didn’t have lessons or anything. I’m self-taught.
Fair enough. What are you doing when you’re not working?
(laughs) A man like me is never not working!
Well, my job is my lover, but she allows me to love others sometimes! (laughs)
So you partake in the rock and roll lifestyle?
I don’t fuck and tell (laughs) but I am pretty straight edge as far as drugs go. I like my drinks and my smokes but I like to keep my head clear. I have no desire to go out in a blaze of glory while I’m still young.
How long do you see yourself as a musician?
I always want to be making music. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever made love to a woman. I’ve always
. But to me, making music is the closest thing to making love. And I want to do that for as long as I’m able.
Helena sighed and shut her laptop with a frustrated slam. Torsten’s arrogance came through on a webpage just as potently as in real life. That last bit about making love just ensured he was nothing but bad news.
She stood, stretched, and rubbed her temples.
That straight edge comment didn’t make any sense. It certainly didn’t match up with what Lars told her for years. And even if Torsten didn’t do illegal drugs himself, why would he get them just for the other band members.
“If you look at what’s in front of you, I think you’ll see the truth,” he told her.
Yeah right. He was just trying to win her over with his masculine charms and sex appeal. That sentence didn’t mean anything more than the kiss he gave her.
For the hundredth time since last night, she cursed Torsten under her breath.
I need some air. Maybe a walk will clear my thoughts.
Stepping outside, she decided to check her mailbox on the corner. She sorted through junk mail and supermarket ads, shoving them under her arm for the recycling can later, and paused when she saw a thin, white envelope with just her name written in pen. No postage or return address.
She tore it open carefully and her heart stopped at what she saw.
It was a cheque for 2000 krone, which covered her rent and then some. A note attached to it read:
Everything else aside, I’m a man of my word.
Confusion wasn’t even half of what she felt. Why would he do this? Was he trying to show off his wealth and arrogance even more? Or was he actually trying to be… a decent person?
As if through a fog, Helena walked slowly back to her apartment. Once inside, she stared at the note and cheque for what seemed like ages. Then with a quick flourish, she dumped the whole pile of mail in her recycling pin. Note, cheque, and envelope included.
I don’t know what that was about, but I also keep my word. I work for what I do, and I don’t take handouts.
The more she thought about the gesture, the angrier she became. He knew where she lived, so she wasn’t the only one snooping around. He enjoying messing with her in his hotel room and wanted to keep doing it.
Too bad, Torsten. I’m not letting you get under my skin. I’m taking you down tonight.
Tonight’s show gave no better opportunity to get to the bottom of this. This time, she wouldn’t leave until she had the information she needed or Torsten kicked her out. At the worst, she’d have a story about the lead guitarist getting violent with a small, female reporter.
Helena made sure to arrive late to the show. She suspected Andre and his security team wouldn't hesitate to throw her out if they spotted her in the throng of concert attendees after what she did last night.
However, the little black dress from last night did her plenty of favors, and she decided on a similar dress for this show: also black but a tight, clingy bodycon style. At least she would be fashionably late.
Mjolnir played at least half their set by the time she arrived. She took care to keep out of the band's line of sight, hovering around the back edges of the ground floor crowd. Who knew if Torsten would also have her thrown out on sight.
As she crept closer along the edge to their backstage area, the band appeared to take an intermission of some kind. Their song just ended and band members guzzled water, tuned and changed out instruments while Stig spoke to the crowd.
"Today's a very special day in the world of rock music, in case you didn't know," he said into the microphone, still catching his breath. He paused while the crowd urged him to continue. "Today is the anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death."
With another pause, the crowd buzzed with mixed reactions. Some cheered and yelled, "Rest in peace!" Others mumbled their condolences in hushed tones. Helena stayed frozen, unsure what to expect. Kurt Cobain had been her first celebrity crush. Nirvana was one of the first favorite bands that she had in common with Lars.
"Kurt was taken too young and to honor his memory, we decided to cover a Nirvana song for you tonight," Stig continued. The crowd erupted in cheers. Helena remembered from one of Torsten's interviews that they
"If you can't create your own music, you're not truly musically talented," he said in the interview. She rolled her eyes at that, but there was no denying this cover song was a rare and special treat.
"Now, you know grunge is not exactly our genre. Thankfully, one of our members is a part-time Kurt Cobain impersonator! Can you guess who it is?"
Laughter floated up from the audience, on top of dozens of simultaneous conversations. Suddenly a chant began to sound louder and clearer with each repetition.
"Tors-ten! Tors-ten! TORS-TEN!"
The aforementioned, self-proclaimed God of Heavy Metal swaggered onstage holding an acoustic guitar. Helena gasped at the resemblance. She never noticed before, due to his shaggy blond hair usually pulled back in a short ponytail, but as he walked out, it cascaded to his shoulders in messy waves of gold. With his bright blue eyes to match, Torsten looked exactly like Kurt Cobain.
Only he had more of a beard, his body looked carved from marble, and he was very much alive.
Helena remembered the rush of sensations as he kissed and touched her last night, and her clit pulsed in response. Her body could not help but want him, even though her mind was completely against it.
Torsten raised the guitar above his head as he approached the microphone and the crowd went wild. Muscles and veins wrapped like rope around his outstretched arm, his abs stretching along his torso. How completely unfair that his body was the archetype of the masculine ideal. No woman on earth could resist.
Helena knew she should get moving to backstage but like last night, she felt rooted to the floor and couldn't remove her eyes from him.
Is he actually going to sing?
She had to see this.
"I'm actually not a part-time Kurt Cobain impersonator," he said into the microphone, looking pointedly at Stig. "But if you like this, ladies, I may be open to the job."
High-pitched squeals erupted so loudly, Helena felt her ears ring. She glared in Torsten's direction. He'd be attractive enough if he just kept damn mouth shut.
The screams died once Torsten slung the guitar strap over his naked shoulder and positioned his hand on the neck. Everyone wanted to know what he would play.
"This is my favorite Nirvana song." He paused and licked his lips before continuing. The anticipation hung so thickly in the air, it could be cut with a knife. "It's called Lake of Fire."
The cheers that burst from the audience quieted quickly as Torsten jumped right into the familiar guitar riff. Once he opened his mouth to sing, Helena felt her breath get stolen away.
"Where do bad folks go when they die, they don't go heaven where the angels fly..." His voice crackled similarly as Cobain's did, but the similarities ended there. He sang much lower and didn't radiate any of that vulnerability that Kurt did. Torsten's singing carried just as much confidence as his guitar playing.
He was just as expressive as a singer too, tapping his foot and rocking his torso back and forth.
Watching and listening to him was downright erotic.
Helena's body flushed with warmth that she knew wasn't from all the bodies pressing around her. She only felt that once before, when that same man crooning onstage kissed her last night.
At the very least, Torsten had the skill and dripping sex appeal to back up his arrogance. He earned his spot as band leader and stood there, serenading the crowd with a voice no one knew he had, because no other man could pull it off.
He finished the song and Helena slinked through the crowd as fast as she could, her legs seeming more wobbly than they were moments ago.
How could one man have such an intoxicating effect on her? His voice wafting across the room felt pleasant, comforting, and sexy to her. But fear gripped her. If he lured her in with his charms and seduction again, she would never escape.
Raw, primal energy coursed through Torsten’s body like a predatory snake in his veins. He wanted to howl at the moon, kill something, fuck something, like a bloodthirsty animal running on pure instinct. A sold-out crowd in a large city always pumped him up like this.
The energy from thousands of people gathered to watch Mjolnir crackled like an electric current in the air. It flowed through the slick bodies of he and his bandmates, powered the lights and speakers on the stage, and back out to fill the air of the packed arena via Stig's voice and their instruments.
Every individual person morphed into something larger than themselves. The audience became a single body, ebbing and flowing rhythmically with thousands of hearts beating in unison, thousands of eyes glued to him onstage. Its thousands of mouth sang along with Stig in one voice that reverberated off the walls, ceilings, and, Torsten felt, off his very skin.
This rush, this feeling of transcendence and power, was his reason for not only performing, but living. Nothing felt better than this, except possibly sex.
As they neared the end of their set, Torsten's lean, shirtless body glistened with sweat, his heart beat furiously like a drum, and his breath came out heavy and ragged. His body felt fatigued but he never felt more energized.
If Helena meant what she said, he knew she’d be here tonight, trying to find some kind of dirt to smear on him. That sweet honey taste of her lips lingered on his. If he ran into her again, he wouldn’t stop at a mere kiss.
He needed to unleash the beast within him like he needed air to breathe.
Torsten ripped out the last note on his guitar and the stage went dark. It was their last song, but the crowd would want an encore. He gathered with his bandmates in a small dressing room, just off to the side of the stage. A single light bulb on the wall barely illuminated the five sweaty, shirtless men struggling to catch their breaths. Torsten stood directly under it, the dim yellow light created a sculpted silhouette of his bare shoulders and arms. His three bandmates looked at him like a pack of wild animals waiting for a command from their alpha leader.
"What do we play for them, Torsten?" asked Stig hoarsely. The walls of the small room did little to muffle the chants of more from the crowd.
He looked over to Markus, the new drummer clearly eager to prove himself. He nailed the drumming for both shows, much to the relief of Torsten and the others. The guy showed serious promise and put on a hell of a show for the crowd.
"You feel like drumming as fast as you fucking can?" Torsten asked him.
"Fuck yeah I do!" he replied with a grin and flipped his drumsticks in the air.
"Then we're playing Battle Roar," Torsten answered. Markus clapped his hands in excitement. It was one of their fastest-tempo songs, and an early single they didn't play often anymore. The longtime fans would go apeshit over it, and Markus would have his speed-drumming skills and stamina put to the test.