The Hardest Set (Willow Son #4/Brothers of Rock #19) (6 page)

BOOK: The Hardest Set (Willow Son #4/Brothers of Rock #19)
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That

s tough for a musician,

Van said.


No,

Liam said.

I love the fans. They get it.
All these people in this room? They

re
fake. Everyone is trying to screw everyone. I don

t
go for that.


I
can drink to that, brother,

Van said.


Can
we at least get a picture?

Jeff asked.

I mean, this
is an amazing meeting, right?


I

m good,

Van said.

The two bands got together, band
members mixing together. Both Harry and Jeff took a couple pictures. The
managers then spoke, figuring out where and how to share the pictures for the
best possible exposure.

More of the marketing and social
media stuff.

Van lost interest immediately.

His interest was then stolen a
second later when he saw Natalie. Pushing through the crowd with an empty tray,
she looked tired and flustered. She was definitely way out of her comfort zone
being here.

As she turned a corner, someone
reached out and grabbed her ass. She jumped and yelped, dropping the empty
tray. Van knew the guy who had done it. Some punk that had been in a movie. He
was a teen heartthrob. Jake

Johnny

something with a J.

Van caught himself walking. His
hands balled right up into fists.

What are you doing? You going to
hit him? Punch some movie star in the face? For grabbing some chick

s ass you don

t know? That

s who you are?

For a second, that

s who Van was. Because it took
away the sting of everything else. He hadn

t
been there to defend Vanessa from other guys. He hadn

t been there to keep her heart safe and sound. In
his mind, his ring was a reminder. He was going out on the road for a little
while. To become famous. To give her the life

Van stood behind the guy. He lifted
his hand, ready to grab the guy, spin him around, and sock him in the jaw. That
would definitely get some press for Portis, right?

A hand came over Van

s hand and pulled.


What
the fuck are you planning on doing?

Brantley asked as he spun Van around.


What?

Van asked.


You

re going to pick a fight?


Did
you see
…”
Van played it
through his mind. It was insane. Dumb. Pointless.

Nothing. You

re
right. Just

nothing.


Come
on,

Brantley said.

We

ll
play some tunes soon, okay? Then we

ll
keep mingling. A few more pictures. Take someone home for the night, Van. Trust
me. There

s plenty of big
names here. They get it. They know what the life is like in front of the camera
and on a stage. This is perfect. Exactly what you need.

Exactly what I need?

Van curled his lip. Now he wanted
to hit Brantley.

He looked over his shoulder, hoping
to see Natalie again. She was nowhere in sight. For now. But Van had an idea. A
little fire had sparked inside him again. It was simple - whatever he wanted,
he

d get. Right now, that
was Natalie.

 

 

5.

 

Natalie stood outside and tried to
catch her breath. She was on her fiftieth tray of food and drink. She

d been ignored ninety percent of
the night, with the exception of her ass getting grabbed three times. Not that
it was anything to shy away from - it was freaking famous people grabbing at
her. That was pretty cool. Then again, they were all drunk and it meant
nothing.

Natalie touched her butt and
cringed.


Nat?
Are you okay?

Andrea
asked. She was outside, smoking.


You

re smoking.


High
stress only.


You
live in a world of high stress.


That

s why I smoke. Duh.


You
said you were quitting.


Are
you my mother?


Nope,

Natalie said.

I

m
just taking a minute.


That

s fine. Crazy in there, huh?


It

s something.


Did
you meet your guys?


My
guys?


Willow
Son,

Andrea said.


Oh,
them. I, uh, I don

t know.
Maybe.


Maybe?


I
listened to them a few times,

Natalie said.

I don

t have them memorized or
anything. I like the music.


Okay.
Well, you

re doing great in
there.


Besides
messing everything up.


It
happens,

Andrea said.

Shake it loose. Don

t worry about it. The party will
be over soon enough. They

ll
all split up and do their own thing. Then I have my cleanup crew come in and we

re done.

Andrea sucked on her cigarette. Her
body language wasn

t as
calm as her voice seemed to be. She wore a headset and pressed a button. Her
eyes went wide as a voice spoke to her.


I
have to go,

she whispered.

Kitchen issue.

Andrea turned.

I

ll
be right there, dammit! Don

t
yell at me. You

ll be out
on your ass by midnight.

Natalie grinned. She shook her head
and opened the door, going back inside. There was a rumble of voices. She
walked to the bathroom to freshen up. She fixed her hair for the tenth time that
night. She washed her hands and took a breath. Now she had to walk through the
party to just be there. To just check on things. To clean up anything left,
spilled, or anything that would make the party look messy.

Andrea told her that the best kind
of party to throw is the one where nobody knows there was a party at all.
Meaning people ate, drank, had fun, and didn

t
need to think or ask for anything they wanted.

So Natalie stayed on top of things,
rushing around, making sure everyone was happy. There were a few times when she
got really starstruck around some movie stars. Of course they were never
talking to her, but it was interesting to see someone famous. Then again, stuck
in the back of her mind was the hot guy who had spilled her drink tray. He had
just been lingering around, and was kind of fun to talk to for a few seconds.
Then he was gone and Natalie hadn

t
seen him for the rest of the night. It was kind of interesting to think maybe
he knew famous people. Like maybe Natalie could meet up with him after the
party and get a chance to meet someone for real. Even though Andrea was kind of
against that, what did it matter if it was after the party?

As Natalie kept moving through the
party, she casually tried to keep her eyes looking all around.


Hey!

a voice boomed through a
speaker.

Natalie turned and saw a man on a
small stage. He was dressed very fancy and everyone cheered. She was pretty
sure it was a guy named Portis. Some kind of big music guy. Not a musician but on
the business side of it all.


Thank
you all for coming out here tonight,

he said.


We
love you, Portis!

someone
shouted.


Of
course you do,

he said
with a big grin.

He was wearing sunglasses, inside.
He was decked out in shiny gold jewelry. A far cry from the life that Natalie
lived. But Natalie couldn

t
be jealous over it. That

s
not how she wanted to conduct herself.


Listen,

Portis said.

I don

t want to waste time up here talking. Not that I
don

t mind hearing my own
smooth and sexy voice. But I

d
rather save it for the boardroom and make some deals. Tonight is about everyone
here. Enjoying life. Enjoying the party. And one thing I

ve learned over the last year is how important
music really is. Sure, on paper and financial statements, there

s a value to it. But in your heart,
there

s no value to it. It

s truly priceless when done the
right way. And if there

s
one band that can do it the right way
…”
Portis turned and started to clap.

It

s Willow Son!

The entire place started to cheer.

Natalie smiled. She moved to her
toes, trying to find where Portis was looking.


Do
you want the band to come up here and do something?

Portis asked.

The people kept cheering.


I
think they want you guys,

Portis said.

Natalie then saw someone walk up on
stage. He was sort of dressed nice but still looked grungy and sexy. He waved
and went to the mic.


Colby,

Portis said.

Where

s the rest of the band?


Walking
around,

Colby said.

Drinking.

Everyone started to laugh.


Get
them up here,

Portis said.

I think you

re being summoned.


Hey!

Colby yelled.

Jett? Ryker? Brantley? Van?

Soon the small stage started to
fill up. One guy after another, making up the entire band. But Natalie only
counted four band members and then Portis. Someone grabbed the mic but before
they could speak, another person rushed up on stage.

That

s
when Natalie

s jaw hit the
floor. If she had been holding a drink tray she would have dropped it.

Turns out she had met someone
famous

and someone famous
had been talking to her

because the fifth member of Willow Son was the hot guy who bumped into her
before.

 

**

 

They all sat on stools holding
acoustic guitars. They were playing in perfect unison. They didn

t need to play in front of forty
thousand people to make the sound what it was. Van had more to drink than he
should have, but he never let it affect his ability to play guitar or bass. The
day that happened he

d
check himself into rehab because that meant he really had a big problem.

Instead, he was in total rockstar
mode. Sitting there, playing guitar, offering some backing vocals to Colby

s strong voice. The people at
the party all gathered close to the stage, dancing, singing, taking pictures of
the impromptu concert. Portis was off to the side, taking his own pictures,
probably thinking of some strategic way to turn this into money. The damn guy
was smart and ruthless enough to do it.

Which was fine. As long as Portis
gave the band a blank check to record and tour.

They finished the first couple
songs and everyone applauded.


Thanks,

Colby said.

We, uh, really have no plan up
here. It

s a little
different for us. So

is
there anything you want to hear?

Van leaned forward and asked,

What

s your favorite song?

He looked out and then out of
nowhere he found her. He found the waitress, Natalie. Right there at the back
of the room, just standing there looking shocked.

She really didn

t know who I
was

People were shouting out some
requests, but Van had his eyes to Natalie.

I

m talking to you, Natalie.

Van watched Natalie

s mouth drop open. Everyone started
to look around, trying to find out who the heck Natalie was.

BOOK: The Hardest Set (Willow Son #4/Brothers of Rock #19)
13.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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