Authors: Susan Scott Shelley
Copyright © 2016
Susan Scott Shelley
book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are
products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely
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as blank as he could get it, Luke Thompson lounged poolside. The sparkling
water and gorgeous day soothed his soul. Not that he deserved soothing. A
cloudless sky of brilliant blue met tall green palm trees and the high white
stone privacy fence surrounding his band mate Zander's house and yard. Sighing,
he rolled onto his back.
Tired. But he could no
longer blame that on the tour.
Lonely. But... There
wasn't much he could do about that.
To his left, Zander
manned the grill. To his right, his other band mates Landry and Brendan
wrestled with Zander's dogs on the lawn. Luke closed his eyes and breathed in
deep, soaking up the mundane peace. A private oasis. And after months and
months of touring and all the drama that had ensued, the quiet seclusion was
exactly what he needed.
Laughter drifted along
the breeze. He turned his head in time to see Zander step away from the grill
to kiss the woman he'd proposed to a month earlier. Jayne was perfect for his
best friend, but the way she talked and moved was a constant reminder of the
one woman Luke couldn't have—Audrey.
He'd been so fucked up
over losing Audrey that he'd nearly ruined Zander and Jayne's relationship.
Hell, he'd nearly ruined the band, too. He'd acted like a prick during most of
the final leg of the tour, and had jeopardized his relationships with his fans,
his label, and most importantly, his band mates. The guys, closer to him than
his own family, had been with him for over ten years. Forgiveness had been
granted, but he didn't think he could ever make amends for all the drama he'd
He'd sure as hell try,
Stretching, he stood.
When Jayne caught his gaze, he offered her a smile. Thankfully, she smiled
He collected his
half-empty beer and wandered closer. "Need a hand with anything?"
done." She set a bowl of salad on a table already laden with enough food
to feed their entire road crew.
He turned as Brendan shouted a whoop. Two seconds later, the drummer push
Landry into the pool. The bassist should have seen it coming. No way could
Brendan resist. Neither could the dogs, who splashed in right after Landry. Not
to be outdone, Brendan canonballed into the mix.
Letting out a hollow
laugh, Luke sank onto a chair. He should be happy. The tour was over and the
summer stretched out before him with promises of long days and nights of
freedom. He had a few visits scheduled to audition fans who'd won a contest for
a chance to sing with the band, and then the party in Vegas where they'd
perform together, but that was it. For the first time in years, he had a
vacation. He really
But inside, all he felt
was empty. Deflated. Down. Like a cluster of gray clouds constantly hovered
over his head, accompanied by an ache in his soul that wouldn't ease. Broken
Zander nudged his
shoulder. "Steak, fish, or veggie burger?"
He didn't feel like
eating but if he didn't choke down something, Jayne would fuss over him. She
always went out of her way to take care of the band. "Whatever. Just not
"Those are mine,
anyway." Landry strolled over, dripping wet, and plucked one of the tan
circular patties off of the plate by the grill.
Luke forked a piece of
steak. Normally, he'd have a smart retort ready to go, but drumming up the
energy seemed too much work. Instead, he glanced at Zander. "I thought
Irisa was coming."
"Dom is leaving for
a road trip today. You know my sister. She's probably spending every second
that she can with him before he has to go."
The barking of a dog drew
his attention to the house. Irisa, the band's manager and Zander's sister,
strolled in tugging a large Great Dane beside her. "Sorry I'm late. I got
held up by a phone call."
Jayne hugged her, then
laughed as the dog darted straight into the pool. "We figured you got held
up by your fiancé."
She smiled a
face-splitting grin that shone with the giddy happiness of new-found love.
"Well, maybe a bit."
"No worries. The
food just came off the grill." Zander gestured at the table. "Help
Once they were all seated
and eating, Irisa set her fork aside and cleared her throat. "Time to talk
business. We have a situation. Vance Dubrow contacted me today."
Everyone groaned in
unison, but Luke felt the groan all the way to the pit of his stomach. A direct
phone call from the recording label's president was never a good thing.
Zander shook his head and
gestured with his beer. "We just got done with the tour. The label knows
we're taking a long, overdue, and much needed break. We're doing the fan
contest this month, then the fan party in Vegas, and then we're on hiatus. I
don't want to hear the words new album, recording, studio sessions, or special
"How about the words
The words took a second
to sink in and then Luke's stomach sank like a lead weight. "What?"
serious?" Landry formed a fist by his plate. He shot one look at Luke
before returning his attention to Irisa.
frowned, his face for once devoid of any smile. "Why?"
Zander reached for
Jayne's hand. "What did Vance say?"
"He said that due to
all of the drama on the last tour, and album sales not meeting expectations,
they've opted to exercise the greatest hits clause in our contract to fulfill
the final album obligation. They feel they'll make more money there than
spending money on a brand new album from The Fury. They're releasing it in a
Silence reigned. They'd
been with the label from the band's inception. Ten years was a long time.
"So, we're free of
them? The Fury is no longer part of Excite Records?" Zander carefully
looked at his plate, expression unreadable.
Shit. Luke glanced at his
band mates. Guilt settled over him like a heavy blanket. Granted, they'd all
played a part in things spiraling out of control, but the majority of the blame
rested squarely on his shoulders. He'd do whatever they wanted to fix it.
"Guys, I'm sorry. We all know I fucked up the most this last tour. I don't
want to bring anyone down with me. Maybe the label will reconsider if I'm
Zander's head shook
swiftly. "No way, man. We're not losing you."
"We weren't happy
with Excite for dicking us around these past few years anyway." Brendan
patted his shoulder. "This might be a good thing."
Irisa signaled for their
attention. "They've also pulled the plug on the fan contest."
It's only six weeks away." Luke slammed his fist on the table. "We
created the contest to mend our relationship with the fans. We can't not see
"So what do we do
now?" Landry scowled into his beer. "Form our own label?"
Zander snapped his
fingers. The light of battle came into his eyes and a slow smile spread across
his face. "Hell, yeah. That's exactly what we do. We're forming our own
"What are we going
to call it—Furious Records?" Brendan laughed and reached for a second
"Actually, I like
that name." Luke grinned as the other guys agreed. "How about this?
Instead of just winning the chance to perform with us, the fans we select will
combine to form a group which will be the first band to sign under our new
label. You all know they were hoping for a chance to sign with someone. Might
as well be us."
"They could open for us on our next tour."
Irisa held up both hands.
"Slow down. You're creating a lot of work for me to do. Let me grab
something so I can make a list. If we're keeping with the six week timetable, I
need to get started now."
Luke pulled out his phone
and opened the note app. "My fuck-ups caused most of the drama, so I'll
take the lion's share of the work. We need a venue in Vegas, clothes for the
new band when we do the unveiling, a name for them, and logos for both our
label and them."
Jayne touched his arm.
"The fan contest was my idea. I'm happy to help you. We can let the fans
choose the new band's name. That would be fun."
"Thanks. We'll also
need a press release."
Again, Irisa waved her
hand. "Jett Hale called me today. He had a cancellation on his TV show and
wanted to know if we could fill in. It would be good for publicity and a great
way make this new announcement."
Jett was one of their
biggest supporters. They'd been guests on his New York City based hard rock
show numerous times over the years. Luke nodded. "I'm in. When?"
"In about two weeks.
Friday, the twelfth."
"Works for me. I
have to be in NYC that week anyway for one of my fan auditions." The words
came out casually, but Luke felt anything but calm. The city that never sleeps
was also the home of the one woman in the world he couldn't forget.
Brendan frowned into his beer. "I'm in Arizona that week. Do you know how
long the flight is from Phoenix to New York?"
Luke glanced at Zander,
and then Landry. They all knew how much Brendan hated flying.
Before he could say
anything, Landry gave them a slight nod and then threw his wet towel at
Brendan's chest. "I'm in Texas then for mine. I'll meet you in Phoenix
after that, Bren. We'll travel together."
"Thanks, man. I'm
almost sorry I pushed you into the pool now." Brendan grinned, drumming
his hands on the table as Landry flipped him off.
The fan auditions were
individual—each member auditioning four fans, in four cities, spread out across
the country. Luke wouldn't have minded some company in New York. Something to
help distract him from Audrey.
As if Irisa read his
mind, she cleared her throat. "We need to figure out set design, clothes,
and the rest. I know we always use Audrey as our fashion designer. She called
me today, before I heard from Vance, to invite me to a fashion show she's
hosting on the thirteenth. It's the day after Jett's show, so we'll all be in
New York anyway. I'm going to attend. She said to extend the invitation to the
band too. I could see if she's available to work with us on this project."
Every head swiveled in
Luke's direction. His mouth went dry.
Just hearing her name was
enough to slash a fresh blade of regret through his stomach. His fingers
clenched the cold bottle in his hand. For the sake of the band, he'd somehow
suffer through while the only woman he'd ever dreamed of a forever with would
be achingly close and firmly out of reach. "Fine by me."
While the guys compared
the rest of their audition dates and flights, he headed into the kitchen under
the guise of grabbing more beer for everyone. Anything to work off the nervous
energy that filled him. If she agreed to work with them, how the hell would he
steel his heart?
Irisa slipped into the
room and closed the patio door at her back. "Hey."
He nodded. "Want a
said casually, but he could tell he'd been cornered alone for a reason. He just
hoped to God it wasn't another round of sisterly bullshit.
she began, taking the microbrew. Her rings glittered in the light shining
through the window.
He dragged his gaze from
the sparkles to her face. "Yeah?"
wasn't sure I should tell you this, but I think Audrey wanted me to tell you,
even though she didn't ask me to. She called off the engagement with Dante.
Hope flared a second
before his protective instincts kicked in. If that bastard had hurt her...
"Did she say why?"
that she couldn't go through with it." She sipped from the bottle, taking
his measure while she tilted it back. "Here's the thing. Then she asked
His heart picked up
speed. "Did she? What did you tell her?"
"Only that you were
is a stretch." Brows raised, she studied his
face. "You're not yourself. And neither is she. I could tell from the tone
of her voice."
resisted the urge to press for details like exactly how she'd sounded when
she'd asked, or if she'd asked anything else, or if she'd—He shook his head.
Screw it. Who cared if he looked pathetic? Irisa had already seen him at his
worst. "Did she say anything else?"
asked if I thought you'd come to her fashion show."
"That doesn't mean
she wants to see me. For all I know, she's hoping like hell that I don't show
true." Irisa took the bottle from his hand and set it next to hers on the
counter. "Listen to me. You both have that same sad, mopey thing going on.
Trust me, the way she asked was hopeful, not wary."
The ache in his gut shifted and eased. There was only one thing to do. He
pushed away from the counter. "Tell the guys I had to go. I need to pack
and get on the next flight. What was the name of the hotel we stayed in? The
one by Central Park?"