Promise Me (Rivers Edge Book 3.5)(3)By: Lacey Black
Backstage passes secured around our necks, Avery, Erin, Josselyn and I step behind the heavily guarded curtain and in the bright lights of the backstage area. Girls are everywhere. I bet there are five girls for every guy back here. The line is long as we find our way to the end of it for the extensive wait. I don’t see anyone out yet to greet the fans, only a very large, very muscular ex-lineman looking guy with his arms crossed over his chest and a scowl on his face inviting anyone to try to get past him. He’s guarding the door like his life depends on it, and honestly, it probably does.
At seven o’clock on the dot, the door opens and members of the band Bent start to file out and stand in front of the signage promoting the band’s latest tour and major sponsors. I hold my breath and wait for him to walk out. I told the girls that I wasn’t excited to meet him and that I was only here to meet the drummer, but that was a boldfaced lie. My heart speeds up and my palms begin to sweat as I wait for him to walk out. And when he finally does, the noise of the room fades away. The dozens of screaming women evaporate around me. Jase Bentley walks out from the back room with his head down and a serious scowl on his face as if he’s lost deep in his innermost thoughts. My eyes are fixed on his ripped up jeans that hang just right on his slender hips. His black t-shirt has the sleeves ripped off so that his tattoos are in full view. The shirt is tight enough to hug his muscular chest and show off the definition hidden underneath. He looks amazing. So much better in person than any of the photos in those magazines or his appearances on all the entertainment programs on television.
As if remembering where he’s at, he gives his head a small, quick shake and lifts his eyes to scan the room. His green eyes are striking as they scan the crowded room filled to capacity with screaming, adoring fans. He plasters on his trademark bad boy smile which causes the screams in the room to reach eardrum shattering decibels. I watch as he struts up to the center of the room where the rest of his band waits for him. His eyes scan the crowd one more time and that’s when the world stops spinning. Green eyes the color of dewed morning grass slam into me like a speeding Mack truck. The room starts to spin as he holds my gaze. The room, the people, the cameras all fade away until it’s just me and those deep green eyes. I know in that moment that I’m in trouble.
Deep, deep trouble.
Another city, another night of performing in front of thousands of screaming fans. It used to be my high, my drug. Now, it’s just another night of fake smiles and forced appearances. When did this business become all about business and less about music? The music was supposed to be the business.
I stare at my reflection one last time in the bathroom mirror while the band’s manager, Phillip Mitchell, continues to run his mouth just outside the door. I tuned him out about five minutes ago, but he apparently hasn’t noticed yet that I’m not engaging in the conversation about tonight’s tour stop. St. Charles, Missouri. Another city. Another stage. Another show.
Venues like this used to be my favorite stops on the tour. The smaller arena crowds gave a more intimate show. The fans were closer to the stage. But in the past three years, the venues got bigger and bigger. Bigger lights. Bigger displays. Fill the seats. Make the money. Money is great, but it’s not the reason I do what I do.
“You about ready?” Phillip asks through the wooden door.
I give myself one last look-over and reach for the knob. “Yep,” I reply as I step through the door.
“What’s wrong with you lately? You’ve been distant and standoffish this entire leg of the tour,” Phillip asks with the scowl I see firmly in place more often than not lately. I’ve known him for the six years that I’ve been signed under Cardello Records. Besides my bandmates, Phillip is the closest person I have to a friend anymore.
“Nothing,” I mumble as I step out of the bathroom, closing the door securely behind me.
“Bullshit,” he replies. “Something’s up. Tell me.”
I sigh a deep exhale. Maybe telling him I’m burnt out will help alleviate the pressure that’s been constantly pushing against my chest for the past six months. “I’m just getting tired, Phil. I’m tired of cameras following me everywhere I go. I’m tired of the constant go-go-go.”