Sheet Music - A Rock 'n' Roll Love Story (13 page)

“Thanks, I really needed to hear that,” Annie replied, not wanting to let go of his large hand.

Sammy gave her hand a squeeze and caught her eye.  His expression was suddenly serious.  “You know, if you weren’t so sweet on Mike, I’d ask you out myself!”

“Sammy, if I weren’t so sweet on Michael, I’d accept your offer,” Annie laughed uneasily, but something told her Sammy wasn’t joking.

“Have you talked with Michael yet?” she asked him.

“Nope.  I’ve been keeping a safe distance from him.  I know he didn’t mean what he said the other night, so I figured I’d let it go and forget about it.”

“I’m certain he didn’t mean it, Sammy.  He’s just got a lot on his mind right now,” Annie replied.

“Yeah, thoughts of you.  That’s what’s been cluttering up his brain!”

Annie playfully slapped Sammy.  “Stop it!”

“And who do we have here?” Brian asked, extending a hand for Gary to shake.

“I’ll wait for you inside the press room,” Sammy said, letting go of Annie’s hand and disappearing into the crowd.

“This is my band, White Rush,” Michael spoke up, glaring at Sammy as he walked away.  Then, one by one, he went through the introductions.

“And, this is Annie Logan,” Michael said, his jaw clearly weakened by the sight of her.  Annie deliberately avoided his eyes and focused on Brian.

“How very nice to finally meet you,” Brian said formally.  “Mike has told me all about you.”

Annie shook Brian’s hand, wishing hers wasn’t so damp.  “I’m sure he has,” was all she could force from her mouth and then she retreated to the safety of her band-mates.  She didn’t know whether she wanted to throw-up or pass out first.  Out of curiosity, she turned around and quickly glanced back at Brian and Michael.  As she had hoped, they were still gawking at her from a distance.  Satisfied, she turned away.

“So, that’s the object of your distraction?” Brian remarked.

Michael was still in shock and could only manage a weak nod of his head.

Brian raised his eyebrows and shook his head.  “Anyone ever point out how much you two look alike?  You know, with the blue eyes and the obvious leather fetish.”

Michael shot Brian a confused and irritated facial gesture.

“If it weren’t for the blond hair, she could be your sister,” Brian teased.  “I think they call that incest, and I believe it’s illegal in most states.”

“That’s the best you can come up with?” Michael complained.

“Okay.  How’s this.  I wonder if she tastes as sweet as she looks?” he asked with a lewd snicker.

“Better,” Michael answered.

Brian’s head spun around to face his friend.  “What the hell did you just say?” he blurted with anger.

Michael’s mouth spread into a dazzling smile and shrugged.  “I’m sorry.  Did I say that out loud?”

“Yeah, I’m afraid you did, asshole.”

“Sorry.  Forget I said it.”

“No, I don’t think that’s possible,” Brian sneered.

“Okay, then deal with it,” Michael answered.

Brian grabbed Michael by the arm and jerked him back away from the crowd.  “If I'm standing here wasting my time because you couldn't keep your hands out of her pants, there's gonna be hell to pay!” he seethed.  “And
you'll
be dealing with the damn media and management too because, as of now, I'm washing my hands of this situation.  If this contest falls apart, my name won't be attached to it – yours will.”

“It won’t come to that, Bri.”

“You better hope it doesn’t.”

Brian stormed back to the line of people waiting to see them, muttering curses as he went.  Then he took a deep breath and plastered an enormous stage smile across his face and prepared to do his job.

“And, who do we have here?” Brian asked the next band in line, as he continued greeting the finalists.

Sammy met up with Annie in the press room.  “Did you get something to eat?” he asked.

“Eat?  I’m too nervous to eat,” she answered.

“Eating might make you less nervous,” he suggested.

“That’s okay.  I’ll be fine.”

“It won’t be long now,” he said.  “Wait till you see where they’re seating us.”

A few minutes later a security guard stood in the doorway.

“Can I have your attention, please?” the room fell to silence.  “We’re going to begin seating you soon.  So, if you could collect all of your belongings and band-mates, we can proceed.  You’ll be seated together by band.  Could I have the members of, Flesh, step forward please.  Behind them I’d like to see, The Zone, and then, White Rush.”

“Here we go,” Annie sighed.

Another security guard led them into the arena.  Still more ropes were set up to keep them separated from the human masses filtering into their assigned seats.  The guard stopped halfway down the front aisle and pointed out five seats with the word ‘reserved’ imprinted on them.

“Holy shit,” Ivory cheered.  “We’re front row, center!”  He reached over and slapped Buzz’s raised hand.

Their seats were less than twenty feet from the stage.  Nothing would stand between them and Thrust except for a few very burly guards.  Annie couldn’t believe it.  Never, in all the concerts she’d attended in her life, had she been this close to the stage.  If nothing else, the hassle they’d been put through was worth this!  Even Gary had an endless smile across his face.  Annie took her seat between Buzz and Sammy.

Her eyes panned the arena.  The stage was awesome, lit with fiery hot lights that hung suspended in a circular pattern from the steel rafters.  Smoke seeped in from behind the curtains, blanketing everything in an eerie glow.  Speakers and amplifiers were piled nearly to the roof.  Suddenly, the arena went black.  The only light came from a stage door to the left.  Annie bit her bottom lip.  In the darkness, she could see moving figures take their places on stage.  Behind her the roar began.  It was as Michael had described.  Coming from the back it crashed over her and hit the stage just as the lights came up and illuminated the band.  In seconds, the entire population of the arena were on their feet, cheering a heated welcome to their rock ‘n’ roll heroes.  Annie was swept away with them and jumped to her feet.  There was no introduction needed.  They were Thrust and their music spoke for them.

Michael stood proudly at stage right, a row of guitars easily accessible near by.  His hair hung to his shoulders, tangled and loose.  Dressed in his trademark black leather pants and a red dress shirt, he waved to the gathered crowd.  The shirt was untucked and unbuttoned from his neck down to his navel, exposing his smooth, bare chest.  Several necklaces dangled precariously against his breast bone.

The drummer beat a cadence that Annie could feel echo beneath her ribs.  Then Michael ran his fingers down the neck of his guitar and brought it to life with a thunderous scream.  Suddenly, Brian jumped from the drum platform and landed center stage, microphone in hand, his voice at full wail.  He wore red spandex pants that fit him like a second skin, a long tailed black tuxedo coat with top hat, and a frilly white shirt open from his neck to his belly button.

The freight train that was Thrust now steamed down the tracks heading straight for them.  They were an unstoppable force, burning through three hit songs before Brian took a break to say “hello” to the audience.

“How are you all doing tonight?” he asked, in his raspy voice.  His question was followed by a deafening roar from the audience.  Brian laughed heartily.  “Well, if you liked that shit, then you’re gonna love this!”  That led into the next string of hit songs.

Eyes wide with amazement, Annie gazed at Michael.  It was as if she were seeing him perform for the first time.  He was a completely different person on stage, raw and aggressive, with male machismo oozing from every pore in his body.  His fingers flicked agilely at the guitar strings, burning through riff after riff.  Lightening fast, his hands manipulated the instrument until it sang a song unto itself.  It was alive in his arms, and danced like a woman in heat.  It quivered against his body, begging for relief.  His facial gestures reflected a man in the throes of intense passion, teetering on the brink of climax.

Several times Michael caught Annie’s gaze and each time her breath stopped short in her throat.  His eyes were blistering and carnal, penetrating her body like a starved animal.  Every time he looked at her she felt violated, flushed, and spent.

An hour into the show, Annie and the others were still on their feet, dancing appreciatively in front of the stage.  During the intro to one of Thrust’s classic anthems, Sammy grabbed Annie by the hands and began to dance with her.  The mood throughout the arena was speeding toward a fevered crescendo.  And yet, the sold-out crowd, gyrating and sweaty, still demanded more.

Momentum rose to an even higher pitch when Brian jumped off the stage and began strutting down the line of finalist bands while he sang.  At several stops he even shared his microphone with the band members and vocally jammed with them.  When he stopped at Annie’s band he grabbed her around the waist and began a lewd, seductive dance, never missing a lyric.  They moved together as if the routine had been previously rehearsed and the audience cheered their efforts.

From above, Michael watched Brian’s show and seared through another lengthy guitar solo, taking his jealous rage out on his instrument.  Ever the professional, Michael let nothing diminish his performance.  Only Brian, if anyone, could hear the subtle change in intensity.  When the last note of the song was stuck, Brian dipped Annie over backwards, just below Michael’s feet, and perversely rubbed his face between her breasts.  The action forced Michael to turn away.  He had seen enough.

Brian lifted Annie upright and winked before leaving her.  She quickly adjusted her clothing and tried to regain control of her senses.  Her face was flushed hot and she felt positively ravaged.

Seconds later, Brian climbed the stairs to the stage, dripping sweat and panting.  While he was reattaching his microphone to its stand, Michael came up beside him.

Michael leaned in close to Brian’s ear, kept his back to the audience, and said, “Fuck you.”

Brian pushed Michael’s comment to the back of his brain, knowing he hadn’t heard the last of it.  Their brotherly rivalry had been on going through the years.  Somehow, Brian always knew just the right buttons to push to stay competitive with Michael.  It’s what kept the spark burning in their relationship.

“Okay, we’re going to take a minute to catch our breath,” Brian began. “And introduce some people to you.  They are the finalists in our Battle of the Band contest coming up in the fall which I’m sure you’ve all heard about by now.”

Brian continued his introduction and asked each band to join him up on stage.  The stage security then allowed the photographers to briefly occupy the empty space below them which set off a barrage of flashes.  Annie felt like a deer caught in the highlights of a car; and like a terrified animal, she wanted to run.  It was the best and the worst sensation, all rolled into one moment of time.  Then concert security cleared the aisle and the bands returned to their seats before Thrust resumed their aerobic rock ‘n’ roll workout.

A few songs later, Thrust finally said good night and the finalists were escorted back into the press room.  There, the press waited like ravenous vultures wanting good copy or blood - Annie wasn’t sure which.  The camera flashes were relentless and lit the room up like fireworks on the Fourth of July.  The entire scene was overwhelming for all of them.  Annie tried her best to remain invisible, which was especially difficult due to the dance she had performed with Brian.  For an eternity, they waited like cattle and still there was no sign of the Thrust members.

“Where the hell did Thrust go?” Annie asked Sammy.

“You mean, Michael, don’t you?” he said with a laugh.

Annie shot him an angry glance; which made him laugh even louder.

“Right now they’re probably back in their dressing rooms getting cleaned up before coming in here.  Some of them take showers, so it could take a while,” he answered.

Finally Annie noticed a commotion gathering by the doorway and the white flashes began again in earnest as the members of Thrust trickled into the room.  Reporters and cameramen quickly began grabbing at them.  Annie saw Michael standing across the room engaged in conversation with a beautiful blonde that furiously scribbled notes onto a pad of paper.

“You’d make a great split-leg sandwich,” a raspy voiced man whispered into Annie’s ear.  Eyes wide with horror, Annie spun around to face the perpetrator.  When she did, Brian was standing there with a lecherous smile bigger than his face.  Annie felt herself turn red with embarrassment.

“Oh, I should have known it was you,” she replied, with a nervous smile.  “I don’t know of anyone else that would use a phrase like that for the opening line to a conversation.”

“That’s what endears me with the masses,” he snickered, waving his hand in a kingly manner, his voice sounding positively wicked.

“You’re absolutely right.  We’d be disappointed if you underwent a personality transplant at this stage in your career,” Annie giggled.  “I think you’d lose some of your followers!”

“I believe I would,” he agreed, his tiny brown eyes twinkling with mischief.  Then he bent in close to her ear.  “Can we talk seriously for a minute?”

“I suppose so.”

“Mike told me what's been going on between you two.  And, to be perfectly honest, I was less than thrilled to hear about it.  This is the first time our band has tried any type of promotion like this contest and I'd hate to see the good gesture it holds go down in flames because of
his
indiscretion.  Do you understand what I am saying?”

Annie saw the seriousness in Brian’s eyes and nodded.

“So, I'd like to thank you in advance for having the good sense to walk away from him and not risk being disqualified.  Don't get me wrong, Annie.  I'd like nothing better than to give you and Mike my blessings and tell you to run off and go make babies.  But right now, I can't do that.  I'd like to think I can trust that you will do the right thing for your band
and
mine.”

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