Sheet Music - A Rock 'n' Roll Love Story (2 page)

Buzz and Ivory squeezed onto the crowded stage and began setting up their equipment.  Annie made her way back to the dressing room to finish putting on her makeup.

“Hey, Ronny, looks like a good crowd tonight,” Annie commented, as she passed the manager of the club in the hallway.  Ronny reached out his arm and stopped her.

“Just so you know, rumor has it, some big talent scout or something will be in attendance tonight,” Ronny whispered.

“What makes you say that?”

“I got a phone call yesterday from some guy claiming to be a manager.  He was asking if your band was still headlining tonight.  You planning on leaving me for the big lights, Annie?”

“Not a chance, Ronny.”

“That’s what they all say, right before they stab me in the back!”

“Hey, did that guy have a name?” Annie asked.

“No name but the company was Bostonian something.  I never heard of them.”

“Yeah, it’s probably nothing,” Annie replied.

She knew without a doubt it was something.  It was in the air.  The crowd was hot, and their music had to be even hotter.  Her insides felt like boiling lava.  Excitement and nerves made every cell of her skin feel alive. 

They took the stage promptly at ten-o’clock and belted out their first set with an aggression that surprised the crowd.  No ballads, just raw riffs and sophisticated rhythms.   It was after eleven when they took their first break and, as usual, Annie stayed on stage.  It had become her ritual of recent months.  While the guys went for a drink, she pulled out her acoustic guitar and sang solo.  Her voice, a guitar, and a lone spot light was all she needed.  It was her only time to shine without Gary.

In a dark corner of the club, Annie heard a muffled commotion.  A fight she thought, and shrugged it out of her mind.  Clutching her guitar pick she proceeded to strum out the intro to “Crazy On You,” by the female rock group, Heart.  They were a group she could truly identify with.  Heart had what she wanted.  Center stage.  And she hoped someday it would be hers.

Annie always began with a raw, brash song first, to get the audience with her.  It usually did not take too much coaxing and tonight it was easy.  They were right there with her two bars into the first song.  The second song was usually a ballad.  Tonight she chose another Heart single, “Dog and Butterfly”.  For this song she sat with one leg on the side of a wooden stool; center stage, acoustic guitar casually laid across her lap.

The commotion from the corner was ebbing closer.  She squinted her eyes to pierce through the bright spotlight.  Off to the side of the bar was a large hulk of a guy, the cartoon image of a bodyguard.  He was clearing a path behind him for a shorter, dark haired man.  Annie’s heart began to beat faster.  The words to the song suddenly eluded her.  The two men stopped just past the bar and stood in the darkness of the emergency door exit.  They were still too far away from her to recognize them.  She wondered if she should do a third song, as she usually did, or leave the stage to find out who the talent scout was.

She felt driven.  If this was her one chance, she was going for it in a big bold way.  She kicked the stool back and grabbed her electric guitar and belted out one last gutsy song from Heart, called “Magic Man”, that utilized her full vocal range.  She had the crowd on their feet and wanting one more when Gary and guys came back on stage.

“Hey, did you hear who’s in the audience tonight?” Buzz screeched into Annie’s ear as he entered stage left.

“No.  I saw them come in, but it was too dark to recognize them.  Why, who the hell is it?” she asked.

“Michael-freaking-Wade and his bodyguard!”

“No way!  Does Gary know?”

“Oh yeah!”

“I mean, does he know about the contest?” Annie asked.

“Not yet.  After the gig we’ll have to tell him,” Buzz replied, and sat with a thud behind his drum set.

Gary counted off the intro to their second set.  The stage lights came back up and illuminated them for the second half of their act.

Annie thought she would throw up.  The lights hit her in the face like a freight train.  The noise from the people sounded like tin cans crashing in her head.  Playing for the ‘locals’ was one thing but performing in front of her lifelong idol was completely different.  All she could think about was the fact that Michael Wade was standing just a few feet away and listening to their music.  She wondered what he must be thinking.  She could no longer hear herself playing and she was sure her voice was off-key.  Her knees struggled to keep her upright and standing.

Out of all the men in the band, Thrust, Michael Wade was Annie’s favorite, the one she desperately tried to emulate.  She knew everything about him and his band;  owned their entire catalog of music and had read everything ever written about them that she could get her hands on.  She witnessed their rise to fame and their fall from grace when drugs had ruled and almost ruined their lives.  Twenty years later, and now living a clean and sober lifestyle, they were still a band to be reckoned with, managing to produce chart climbing hits year after year.

Thrust was a band of five New Jersey-bred bad boys, streetwise beyond their years.  What they may have lacked in formal education they had ample supply of male swagger and determination.  As soon as they could drive, they crossed the river into New York City and played their music at any club that would have them.  Individually, their talent was good but together their chemistry was limitless and magical.  They recognized it the first time they played together.  It fueled their drive and fed their egos.  Over twenty years later, that same chemistry still remained and had made them all rich beyond their wildest expectations.

It was when Mark Ridley, the bass player for the band, decided to follow his girlfriend to Boston while she went to college, the rest of the band decided to join him.  Soon thereafter, they claimed Boston as their home away from home.  Although Mark ended the relationship with his girlfriend soon after their arrival in the city, the bands’ notoriety grew in leaps and bounds within the hallowed halls of the infamous Boston venues.  Fame had not diminished their commitment to give something back to the city that launched their star skyward and this contest was one more way for them to prove it.

With three songs left to their second set, Annie saw the two dark figures leave the club.  A lot of the patrons followed them outside, perhaps for autographs, or maybe to see if it was really Michael Wade.  Annie wondered why Michael and his bodyguard were leaving early.  Did her band really sound that bad?  Did this mean their chance at stardom was gone?

She went home that night feeling elated and apprehensive, her body twitched with nervous energy.  Working day to day with Michael would be a life changing event for her.  The biggest event of her life.  What would he be like, she wondered?  Would he be an ego driven rock star or approachable and down to earth?  She tossed and turned in bed.  Sleep did not come easy that night and wouldn’t for days to come.

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

 

A week later they were again standing anxiously in Sir Morgan’s Cove, waiting for the appointed hour when Michael Wade and a Bostonian Promotions representative would arrive for their first meeting.  Finally, a shiny black turbo Porsche came into view and pulled directly in front of the club.  Two men emerged from a second car that came to a stop behind it.  Michael Wade stepped out from behind the wheel of his Porsche and greeted the two men from the second car.

He was dressed in a pair of tight black jeans and a plain untucked white shirt, buttons undone almost to his navel, sleeves rolled back to his elbows.  Dark shades hid his eyes and his long, dark hair was a mass of chestnut waves.

“This better fly, Annie, or I'll never forgive you for it,” Gary said through clenched teeth.  It had been a week since he had learned about the contest and a week since he and Annie had talked.  He was defiant and unforgiving because they had entered this contest behind his back.  In his mind he felt he had lost some sense of control over what he considered to be
his
band.  And it didn't help the situation, knowing Annie's feelings for her life-long rock idol.  The idea of seeing them together in the same room made his blood boil.

“It’s time you put our band before your pride, Gary.  At our age, this could be our last chance,” Annie said, her voice trailing off to a soft whisper.  Michael Wade had her full attention now, as she watched him swagger toward the front door to the club.  There was no extra room in her brain for another argument with Gary.

“Good afternoon,” the rep from Bostonian Promotions began, extending his hand for everyone to shake.  “I’m sure you’re all familiar with Michael Wade.”

Michael removed his dark glasses and slid them into his shirt pocket.  Then he offered his hand to shake as he went around the room.  One by one, each band member reached for Michael’s hand and introduced themselves.  Annie was last in line.

“Hi, I’m Annie Logan,” she said, her voice cracking in mid-sentence.  She wondered if he noticed how sweaty her hand was and wished she had wiped it off before she reached for his.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name,” Michael replied, giving her hand a gentle tug.  His statement forced her to look into his eyes again.  When she did, her stomach flip-flopped.  Something clicked in her brain.

“What?” she asked.  When their eyes locked, she felt the blood drain from her head to her toes.  His eyes were a unique smoky, blue-gray color and shimmered like reflection pools.  His skin was flawless.  His lips were full and brooding and his jaw line was strong and convincing.  She had never seen him up close and the impact of his masculine features took her breath away.

“I didn’t hear your name,” he said again, still holding onto her hand.

Annie stared back at him, mesmerized by his presence.  As hard as she tried, she could not turn away from his penetrating eyes.  He was holding her hostage by the mere power of his gaze and it scared her to death.

“My name is Annie Logan,” she managed, and followed her statement with a weak smile then nervously began chewing on her bottom lip.

“Okay, enough of the formalities.  Lets get down to business,” the Bostonian rep said, pulling out a chair to sit.

Finally, Michael released Annie from the prison of his eyes.  She sighed with relief, and yet the fullness she had felt while holding onto his hand was gone too.  She retreated to a safe chair beside Buzz.  Michael sat opposite Annie and next to the Bostonian representative.  Several times throughout the meeting, Michael caught Annie’s gaze and attempted to hold her stare.  Each time, Annie felt her face blush and she’d quickly look away like a naughty school girl after being caught in the act of some lascivious deed.

If someone had asked her to recall any of the details of that first meeting she would have failed.  She could not get beyond the fact that she was sitting at the same table as Michael Wade and that he had held her hand.  Or his eyes, and the way they seemed to soften each time they drifted to her and the way his hair hung so sexily, framing his amazing face. 

An hour later, her hand was still sweaty when Michael shook it to say good-bye.  She would never forget the emptiness she felt when his black Porsche pulled away from the curb.

“What the hell was that all about?” Gary shouted, giving Annie a shove on the shoulder.

“What was what all about?” Annie replied without emotion, as she watched the red tail lights of Michael's Porsche disappear into the distance.

“Jesus, Annie, you didn’t have one word to say in that meeting and it was you that got us into this fucking situation!  It would have been nice to have heard some input from you instead of watching you throw ‘fuck-me-glances’ back and forth to Wade.”

“Excuse me? I did no such thing!  Maybe I was a bit star struck, but I was not throwing ‘fuck-me-glances’, as you so eloquently put it, at anyone!”

“Lighten up man, I think we were all a bit star struck.  You’d be lying if you said you didn’t feel anything sitting at the same table with Michael Wade.  I thought I’d stop breathing when he shook my hand,” Buzz chuckled.

“Yeah, and did you see the ring he had on his left hand?  Was that cool or what?” Ivory added.

“I think you’ve all lost your minds,” Gary sputtered with defeat and walked off toward his car.

“Need a ride home?” Buzz asked Annie.

“Yeah, if you don’t mind.”

“Come on, Ivory.  I’ll drop you off too.” Buzz stated as he headed toward his van.

Buzz chatted endlessly on the way home while Annie barely made a sound.  He felt exhilarated and could not understand why Annie did not seem to share the same excitement.

“Did I miss something back there?” Buzz asked.

“Huh, what do you mean?” Annie replied.

“I wouldn’t say it as crudely as Gary did, but it was obvious that something was going on between you and Michael Wade.”

“You’re both crazy.  He shook my hand like everyone else’s.  That’s it.”

“This is me you’re talking to, not Gary.  What’s going on with you?”

Annie glanced toward Buzz and shook her head.  “I’m fine.  Just a bit awed by meeting him I guess.”

“That’s it?  Are you sure?” Buzz questioned.

Annie smiled and felt her face flush.  “He is pretty amazing, isn’t he?”

Buzz shook his head.  “Damn it, Annie.  Whatever you think you’re feeling right now you better ignore it.  Let us not lose our focus here.  Okay?”

Annie looked out the window, ignoring Buzz's concern.  What
was
she feeling, she wondered?  How could she define it?  Meeting Michael Wade was better than she had ever imagined.  He was breathtaking.  Larger than life.  And yet, there seemed to be a quiet introspective side to him that intrigued her.  She wondered if he was thinking about her and then quickly laughed at the thought.  With all the women he met in a single day, meeting her had to be a pretty insignificant event in his life.  She was certain of that.  She doubted if he would even remember her name.

 

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