by Sarah Grimm
Publisher: Sarah Grimm
She was destined to show him the joy and pain of living.
Joe Campbell has it all: money, success, and fame. As lead singer of alternative rock band Blind Man’s Alibi, he holds the vague conviction that life on the road, and nights filled with meaningless sexual encounters, is enough. Until her – Emma Travers. She is a breath of fresh air. Sunshine to his darkness. The one who changes him, pushes him, and teaches him to truly live. He never imagines she is hiding a devastating secret. Or that the same emotion that could steal his heart, would ultimately break it.
Journal entry from our heroine:
I can’t sleep. My mind is whirling and bouncing around like a kid on a sugar high. My heart is racing. It’s two o’clock in the morning and I’m staring at the ceiling of my bedroom, thinking it’s going to take an act of God to get me to relax. Last night was the Blind Man’s Alibi concert, and not only did my dream of seeing Joe Campbell, live and in the flesh, come true, I got to meet him. One thing to note: he is nothing, and everything, like I imagined he would be.
I expected him to be more beautiful in person than any medium could suggest. He was.
I expected him to be confident and a tad arrogant. He was that, too.
What I never expected, and was wholly unprepared for, was how lost he seemed.
Sure he hid it well, but I have the unique advantage of not only being sick, which makes me more aware of the people around me, but of being an outsider to his world. I looked into his eyes and all that nonsense about being able to see into someone’s soul began to make sense.
We talked for hours. I can honestly say I have never felt such an intense connection to another person in such a short amount of time. I ached as I walked out of the stadium and away from him. It wasn’t an extension of my total fan girl obsession with Joe Campbell the rock star but, instead, a visceral reaction to Joe Campbell the man.
He felt something, too, for he invited me back tonight – his last night in Cleveland.
No matter how tempting the offer, how desperately I want to see him again, I don’t dare go. His lost soul calls out to me. Tempts me to show him what I’ve only just begun to learn myself: How to embrace life.
Something that can’t be taught in one night.
Yet one night is all it could ever be.
Number of days since I decided to live: 43
Number of days until Blind Man’s Alibi concert: 0
Current level of panic: 6/10
Read an excerpt:
Emma walked out of the arena and sucked air like an addict snorted cocaine. Unable to summon the energy to endure the harsh glare of the overhead lights, she kept walking down the ramp. She needed someplace quiet and dark. She needed to breathe, to find some sort of center.
Her arm still looped in his, Joe walked at her side. He stood close, close enough she could tell that while, on the outside, he appeared relaxed and at ease, his body was fraught with tension. The muscles in his arm shifted and flexed as she steered them to the darkest spot she could find. Right alongside the tour buses.
He came to a stop, his head swiveling from side to side, taking it all in. Perhaps he was looking for something, what, she had no idea. There was no longer a flurry of activity, no people running in and out of the building. The semis where gone. They were completely alone.
Emma stared at him a moment, her eyes adjusting quickly to the darkness. “What’s the matter?”
“Tell me again why we’re out here?”
“I needed some fresh air.”
“Ah, that’s right.” He let out a long breath and looked at the foremost bus. His muscles locked up tight under her touch and his feet shifted.
How was she supposed to ignore The Monster when he couldn’t stop fidgeting? “You really need to learn to enjoy life a bit.”
“You don’t think I enjoy life?”
“Not the important stuff.”
She looked away, tipped her head back, and drank in the night. The moon was full, an illuminated circle of light set against a star filled sky. “Like take a deep breath of fresh air every once in a while. Look up and appreciate the stars. They’re amazing, aren’t they? The universe is so large and we’re but a small part of it.”
At first he didn’t move, and although she couldn’t be certain, Emma felt that his eyes were on her. Finally, he blew a second breath and tipped his face to the sky. “Before we were headliners we played a lot of outdoor venues. They’re still my favorite.”
“You don’t play them anymore?”
“Not usually, no.”
“What, it’s a rule in the rock star handbook—no outdoor venues once fame is in hand?”
His laughter drew her gaze. He stood beside her, hands in his pockets, head tipped back, crooked smile in place. And damn, if someone were to ask her at that very moment which she wanted more, the man next to her or a few more months, she would’ve been hard pressed to choose. “Dance with me.”
His expression managed to be shock and amusement at the same time. “What?”
“Dance with me beneath the stars.”
“You’re not serious.”
He was looking at her now so he knew she was. She flashed him a smile. “Afraid someone may see you?”
“Yes. I can’t dance.”
“So sway with me to the music.”
“I hate to tell you this, Sunshine, but there is no music.”
“You’re honestly going to stand there and tell me you’re a songwriter, yet you can’t imagine music where there is none?”
He didn’t move.
“Think of it as an opportunity to get me in your arms. Bodies pressed together intimately, hard angles against soft—” She was pulled in so quickly, she lost the oxygen from her lungs. Men. They are so easy sometimes.
He hadn’t lied, he couldn’t dance. Emma didn’t care. She closed her eyes and laid her cheek against his chest. The tempo of a firm and steady heartbeat proved incredibly therapeutic. The pounding ache in her head eased a bit.
A few ins and outs of his breath passed before the tension in his body began to abate. “You were just fucking with me, weren’t you? About…going it alone?”
She stayed there in his arms, the rumble of his voice all she could hear as the rest of the world stopped existing. He was strong and solid. There was nowhere else she would rather be.
When she didn’t answer, he sighed. “Either way, thank you. It was the distraction I needed.”
“I’m glad I could help.”
One hand on her hip, the other sliding up and down her spine, he hugged her closer. “There’s something about you, Emma.”
She pulled back enough to look into his eyes.
“It draws me. A light, a spark, fuck, I don’t know what it is” He sighed. “Listen to me, going on like a complete prat."
“I have no idea what that is,” she admitted. Then, because she couldn’t stop herself even if she wanted to, Emma reached up and cupped the side of his face. His short beard caressed her palm as she slid her hand down, trailing the tips of her fingers from just below his ear to the corner of his mouth.
His hand fisted at her back, the muscles in his arms flexed.
Her pulse accelerated to where she could feel the beat of her heart in her chest.
His lips were soft, surprisingly so, as she traced the tip of her index finger from one corner of his mouth to the other. The seam of his lips parted and she dipped inside, just enough to trace a bead of moisture down the center of his bottom lip and over the strip of facial hair connecting to his beard. Oh, how she loved that bit of hair, and spent a few precious seconds running her nails over it before lifting up on her toes and taking a nip.
Before she could open her mouth for another bite she was pulled into his arms for a crushing kiss.
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