Monday, September 28, 2015

NOVEL: If Tomorrow Never Comes, Chapter 2

If Tomorrow Never Comes

Here is the next chapter in a book I'm blogging, If Tomorrow Never Comes! Can't wait to hear what you think! (Copyright 2015 Sophie Slade--All Rights Reserved)

Chapter 2

I spent the night at a local hotel on the other side of Atlanta, since I couldn’t see past the headlights. One thing was certain: the highways in Georgia are dark. Since I’m night blind and can’t see in the dark, stopping was a necessity.
The next morning, rays of bright, golden sunshine streamed in through the window, illuminating the room. After a quick bite of a complimentary hotel Cheese Danish and a cup of coffee, I was on my way to Nashville once again in my loaded VW Bug. A few hours later, my heart leapt in my chest as the tall buildings of Nashville came into view. Immediately, I steered my car down Music Row, unable to believe that I was really there. I had waited for this minute my whole life and now, it was really happening. I was in Music City, USA, the country music capital of the world.
Okay, I have to find an apartment, I thought to myself, looking around. I wanted to live close to Music Row in order to save some money until I found a job. Then I pulled down Broadway.
I knew I was in trouble when I came to downtown Nashville. Restaurants, lounges, and honky tonks bombarded me, heightening my senses. I had to stop when I saw a statue of an angel holding a CD in front of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. I parked the car and got out, unable to resist. I walked over to the statue and realized that it embodied everything that I wanted, a music career, and that even Heaven and its angels understood. I quickly said a prayer, hoping that my wishes would come true, just like every other singer-songwriter that has ever come to Nashville. I left my car and walked past Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop, and Rippy’s Bar and Grill, amazed at how Nashville was able to blend the old brownstone buildings with the new glass skyscrapers, creating a look and feel all its own. Shoots of pink and purple illuminated the darkening blue sky as the Nashville neon lights began to come on. Suddenly, I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything yet, so I stepped into Nashville Crossroads for dinner.
“What’ll you have, honey?” a gum smacking waitress with bleached-blonde hair, pulled up in loose bun, asked almost as soon as I sat down.
“Hum, I’ll have a Mushroom Swiss Burger, some fries, and a Coke,” I said, closing my menu. I knew it was probably more than I wanted to spend at the moment, but couldn’t resist the atmosphere.
“Coming right up,” the waitress said, smiling as she turned away.
I looked around and it was early yet, so it wasn’t as crowded, but I was sure that in another hour or so the place would be hopping. “By the way, my name’s Judy if you need anything.”
“Thanks, Judy,” I said, returning the smile.
Across the room, a brunette, who was sitting with two guys at a table, laughed loudly, capturing my attention. She looked familiar, but I brushed it off, sure that I was probably letting my imagination run away with me.
“She actually vomited in the wings before she went on, but gave the best performance of the night! Can you believe it?” the brunette said as the two men laughed.
“Sugar, you’d better hurry up and eat,” one of the men said as he pushed her plate toward her. “We have to go.”
“Since when did you get to be so bossy?” she joked, but picked up her Reuben sandwich and took a bite. “Ugh! I can’t eat another bite …”
“Girl, you haven’t even touched it!” the man insisted. “Eat! You need to keep up your strength.” The man was heavily muscled under his tightly-stretched black T-shirt. In fact, both men wore black T-shirts and jeans with cowboy boots. If I didn’t know any better, they looked like bouncers.
“Here you go, honey,” Judy said as she slid a burger in front of me—one of the best that I’d ever seen—along with a Coke.
“Thanks,” I said, glancing over to the brunette girl and her entourage. Judy started to walk away, but I stopped her. “Who is that?” I asked in a low voice, not wanting the brunette to hear me.
Judy laughed as she looked across the room. “Why, that’s Tasha Granger.”
“Who?”
“Tasha Granger,” she repeated. “You mean to tell me that you haven’t heard of Tasha Granger?” Judy’s voice was a bit loud, attracting Tasha’s attention, just as she was getting ready to bite into her sandwich. “Tasha Granger is just a Grammy winner and has three albums out now.”
“Four,” Tasha corrected from across the room, smiling.
“Is it four now?”
Tasha nodded with a shrug.
“Man, where has the time gone?” Judy asked as the two men with Tasha grinned. “Why, it seems like yesterday when you came in here for the first time, just like this young lady.” Then, she turned her attention back to me. “What’s your name, honey?”
“Alyssa,” I choked out. “Alyssa Collins.”
“I love your first name, but you might want to change your last name,” Tasha said from across the room. “Maybe to Alyssa Case? It has more of a ring to it.” She took another bite, then asked, “Are you a singer?”
I nodded, taking another bite of my burger, unable to believe what was happening. Not only had I just arrived in Nashville, but I’d already met a famous singer and her bodyguards. I was amazed at how down to earth she was. “I sing and write.”
“You have originals?” she asked, intrigued.
“Yes, I’ve been writing songs for a few years now,” I said, taking another bite of my burger, for lack of anything better to do. I was so nervous that I was actually beyond eating. “I have a whole guitar case full.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Tasha asked, laughing as she finished off her sandwich. “You still keep your songs in your guitar case?”
I nodded, not sure if that was a good thing or not.
“Do you have your guitar with you?” Tasha asked, her eyebrows raised.
“Tasha, we have to go,” one of her bodyguards said as he looked at his watch impatiently. “You’re going on in twenty.”
“Do you have it with you?” Tasha asked me, ignoring her bodyguard.
“It’s in my car. Why?”
“Go get it and meet me at Margaritaville,” Tasha said, taking one last sip of her soda. “Let’s see what you got.”
“Really?” I asked, sounding like a child at Christmas.
“Really,” Tasha said with a chuckle. Upon closer inspection, she wasn’t much older than I was. I was amazed that she had already accomplished so much at such a young age. “I have to go now, but meet me and we’ll talk.”
“Okay, thanks,” I replied for lack of anything better to say.
“Tash, let’s go,” said one of the guys sitting with her.
“Okay, Frank, just a minute,” she said, then turned her attention back to me. “I’ll leave your name at the door. Come backstage.”
I nodded in awe, unable to believe what was happening. “I will.”
“Great!” she said as if she had just invited a top celebrity to a dinner engagement. “I’ll see you there.”
I sat at the table, watching her wave to me over her shoulder when Judy said, “Go! You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity!”
“Was she serious?” I asked, already rising to my feet.
“Yes, but you’d better get out of here now before she changes her mind,” she joked.
“But, I …”
“Don’t think! Just go! And now would be good.”
“Okay, how much do I owe you?” I asked, fumbling in my pockets for my money.
“It’s on the house, honey,” Judy said with a smile. “Just remember me when you hit the big time.”
I laughed. “That’s a deal.”
“Now, go!” she said, already pushing me toward the door.
I laughed and hurried out, giving Judy one last wave over my shoulder as I left, unable to believe what was happening, wondering how this night would turn out.
***
I hurried down Broadway toward my car and pulled up in front of Margaritaville half an hour later. I looked down at how I was dressed before going in and I was still in my jeans and a T-shirt, so I unzipped my suitcase and grabbed my sky blue blouse and black strappy heels. The shirt looked great on me and the heels would look good with my jeans. I hurried across the street to a nearby café and changed, then looked in the mirror. My long, sun-streaked blonde hair was disheveled and my makeup had rubbed off. I quickly grabbed a vent brush from my purse and ran it through my hair, then quickly applied a bit of eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, and some lipstick. I looked in the mirror one last time and the eyeliner and mascara accented my bright green eyes. At least I looked a bit more presentable. Satisfied, I hurried across the street to Margaritaville.
As I entered the nightclub, the sound of clanking glasses and people talking loudly filled the dark room. Suddenly, a spotlight came on, illuminating the stage.
“Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for one of our own, Tasha Granger!” the announcer said over cheers and hoots as Tasha took the stage.
“Where do you think you’re going?” a bouncer asked. “There’s a ten dollar cover charge tonight.”
“She’s okay, Zane. She’s with us.” When I looked up, it was Frank, one of Tasha’s bodyguards.
“Entrée,” Zane said with a smile, motioning me in with an elaborate flourish as he nodded over my head to Frank.
“Thanks for that,” I said to Frank as we walked through the crowd.
“Did you bring your guitar?” he asked.
“It’s out in the car,” I replied. “Was she serious about me bringing it?”
“As serious as I’ve ever seen her,” he said. “Come on. I’ll walk to you outside so you can get it.”
I nodded, unable to believe what I was hearing. A few minutes later, I had my guitar and was standing with Frank again.
 He looked down and smiled. “Ready?”
I nodded. “As ready as I’m going to be.”
Frank laughed. “Come with me,” he said with a kind smile, letting me go ahead of him as he placed a guiding hand on the small of my back, leading the way.
We walked backstage to a set of stairs. Frank held a finger to his lips and took my guitar case with a gentle smile. When I looked up, I realized that we were standing in the wings on the side of the stage and Tasha was singing her heart out to the cheering crowd. Adrenaline filled my veins as I watched her fearlessly belt out song after song. After an hour, she said to the crowd, “I’m getting a little tired, folks, but I have a special treat for you …”
“Here, put on your guitar,” Frank said, already handing it to me.
The crowd went wild. “This little lady is new to Nashville, but I’m sure you’re going to love her!” The crowd went wild again. “Let’s give a warm welcome to … Alyssa Case!”
She stepped back and motioned me onto the stage with a warm smile.
Adrenaline filled my veins and something took over as I stepped out onto the stage, turning my nerves into energy.
“Knock ‘em dead,” she whispered to me with a wink then stepped into the wings as Frank handed her a glass of water.
“How about Tasha Granger! Isn’t she great?” I asked the crowd into the microphone as I adjusted my guitar strap and the crowd went wild once more. I walked over to her band behind me and said, “Follow my lead in the key of G.”
“You got it,” the lead guitarist said and told the drummer and the other guys in the group.
My hands flew over the neck of my guitar in a long rift without missing a beat and the crowd went wild. “So you ready to Rock It Country?” I asked as the crowd cheered. Then, I went right into the rift as I sang into the microphone and the crowd cheered. Rock It Country was one of my fast, up-tempo songs guaranteed to make people dance. Soon, the crowd started swaying to the music. Even though it was a country two-step, there wasn’t enough room to dance, but everyone clapped and danced along anyway. “Take it!” I yelled into the mic halfway through the song to the lead guitarist. I leaned my back against his as I played along to his rift. He threw it back to me and I stepped back up to the microphone, belting out the song all the way to the end. When I hit the final chord, the crowd was on their feet. “Thank you, Nashville! And thank you Tasha Granger!”
The crowd cheered as they applauded and whistled their approval. And the more they applauded, the more energy and adrenaline ran through my veins. It’s true what all musicians say: you feed from the audience and they fed from you, making the performance that much better.
“Thanks, Tasha! That was great!” I said to her as she passed by, but stopped when she gently grabbed my arm.
“Is that the first time that you’ve played to a live audience?” she asked with wide eyes.
“Yes, other than in church …”
She laughed so hard that tears sprang to her eyes as she pulled me back onto the stage with her and walked up to the microphone. “What do you think, everyone? Would you like to hear one more?” The crowd went wild as people started stomping on the floor and clapping, shouting their approval—literally raising the roof. She motioned me forward and said, “Knock ‘em dead.” A broad smile spread across her face as she backed away into the wings, letting me take the stage once more.
“Wow! Thanks, everyone!  Nashville, you’re the best!” I said into the mi cand the crowd roared as my fingers flew over the neck of my guitar in another rift. The lead guitarist stepped forward, playing rhythm until I started singing one of my wildest songs Firebomb. Between lyrics I ran across the stage, playing to the audience on the other side and back to the microphone just in time, then leaned back in another rift as the drummer took a solo and I played next to the lead guitarist. Then, I ran back up to the mic and finished off the song, falling to my knees without missing a beat as the crowd cheered.
I bounced back up onto my feet with ease and said into the microphone, “Let’s hear it for Tasha!” The crowd went wild as she stepped back up to the mic.
“What do you think about Alyssa, everyone?” The crowd cheered, hooted and hollered their approval—and I was in Heaven. This was the best drug in the world and I was hooked. “You want her to sing a song with me?” The crowd cheered as energy and electricity filled the room, passing between the crowd and the performers.
“Are you sure?” I asked in her ear, away from the mic.
“Hell, yea!” she said, jumping up in the air and coming down hard as she strummed her guitar and the crowd cheered. Frank brought out another microphone as Tasha muffled the mic and asked me, “Do you know With the Heart of a Soldier?”
It was a new song that had just started playing on the radio and I about died when I realized that it was hers. “Hell, ya!” I said over the roar of the crowd.
“Let’s do it!” she said, then yelled “With the Heart of a Soldier” over her head to the band. They all nodded and the lead guitarist started the song with a complicated rift. She took the lead and then I joined in the chorus. It was an upbeat song and the crowd was pumped as we sang. Then, she stepped back and let me take the second verse solo. On the final chorus, she sang the lead and I harmonized with her, our voices blending together perfectly. When we finished, the crowd was on their feet, applauding, cheering, and stomping their approval. It was the best night of my life. After the song came to a close, she said into her mic, “Let’s hear it again for Alyssa Case! Remember that name because you’re going to be hearing a lot more from her soon!”
As I raised my hand to wave to the crowd, momentarily blocking out the spotlight. I about fell over when my eyes fell on Logan standing in the back of the room, leaning against the wall. He raised his glass to me as a broad smile spread across his lips and his friends cheered. I walked off the stage and stood in the wings, watching the rest of the concert.
“I’ll be right back,” I said to Frank after a while, and then walked through the crowd.
“Man, you were good!” a voice said behind me when I stepped down the hallway headed toward the bathrooms. I looked up and my heart was suddenly in my chest.
“Thanks, Logan,” I said. “It’s good to see you here. What were the odds?”
“I know, right?” he replied as he ran a hand through his dark blonde hair.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, happy to see him.
“Well, my friends dragged me out tonight. And to think that I almost didn’t come! Now, I’m glad I did.” He thought for a moment, then asked, “Are you going to be playing here?”
I shook my head. “No, believe it or not, I just met Tasha and she invited me here tonight.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” he said, taking a sip of his drink.
“Nope,” I said as a broad smile spread across my face. “Well, I have to be getting back. It was good to see you …”
“May I see you again?” he asked as his ice-blue eyes actually sparkled, reflecting the light.
“I have your number,” I said, trying to be cool as I started walking away, and then turned back and added, “I’ll call you.”
He shook his head as his lips curled into a half smile. “Sounds good.” Then, he raised his glass to me once more in salute and walked back out into the crowded room to find his friends.
I went into the bathroom and did what I had to do, then looked in the mirror as I washed my hands. My hair was a bit wild, but my green eyes danced. I had never been so happy.
A few minutes later, I walked back out to the crowd and made my way back to the wings to the right of the stage just as Tasha was finishing up. She did two encores before she left the stage and met me in the wings.
“That was amazing!” I said and was surprised when she pulled me in for a hug.
“No, you are!” she said, then pulled back. “Hang out for a bit. I want to talk to you.”
“Okay,” I said.
She gave me a quick nod, then ran back onto the stage one last time to wave to the crowd.
I was putting away my guitar when Frank came up behind me. “That was amazing,” he said, leaning against the wall, watching me as I laid my guitar back in its case.
“Thanks,” I said, then sat down on the bench. “Tasha asked me to wait for her. Is it okay if I wait here?”
He nodded. “Sure,” he said. “Would you like a drink?”
Diet Coke, please,” I said, then added, “Wait! I’ll get it.”
“No, you don’t,” he said, laughing as he raised a hand to stop me. “Musicians drink for free.”
I nodded as a broad smile spread across my face, realizing that he considered me to be one of the musicians. He disappeared and was back a few minutes later with my soda. “Thanks,” I said, taking a long drink. “How long have you known Tasha?”
He took a deep breath. “A long time. I’m her manager.”
I nodded, understanding.
About a half hour later, Tasha appeared, running a white hand towel across her neck. “There you are,” she said. “Come with me.” Then, she walked out, expecting me to follow.
We walked through the crowd to a secluded room. Tasha signed a few autographs as we walked through the crowd, and she smiled when a few asked me for my signature, too. I was actually shocked, but I took the pen and happily signed. We walked through a corridor to a room in the back of the club. Frank opened the door and flipped on the lights, revealing a large round table. Without a word, Tasha and I sat down while Frank and a bodyguard stood.
“So, do you think you could do this all the time?” she asked, suddenly serious.
“What? Perform?” I asked, not sure what she was asking or where this was leading.
Tasha smiled. “Not just perform, but sing and play your ass off like you did tonight. You had the crowd eating out of the palm of your hand. Can you perform like that all the time?”
“Sure.” A waitress suddenly slid another Diet Coke in front of me I thanked her, but quickly turned my attention back to Tasha.
Tasha looked over at Frank and then back at me. “Alyssa, I’m going on tour soon. How would you like to open for me?”
“Sure … yes … I’d love to!” I said, not sure what to say. I was sure that I was coming off as a blithering idiot, but I didn’t care. I had just arrived in Nashville, got to perform, and was now asked if I wanted to open for a big act on tour. I think blithering idiot didn’t even begin to cover it.
Tasha laughed. “Well, great! It certainly was a pleasure to meet you and I look forward to working with you.” She looked up at Frank and he nodded.
“Meet me at the RCA Victor Studio tomorrow and we’ll discuss the details,” Frank said, then asked, “Do you have a band yet?”
“No, not yet,” I replied, clearly shocked.
“Well, you’ll need one, but we can work that out later,” Frank replied. “You’re also going to need a manager. I’ll get someone for you. I can handle you while you’re on tour with Tasha, but you’ll need a manager that will look out for your best interests and I have my hands full with Tasha.”
“No problem. Do you have someone in mind?” I asked, clearly intrigued.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Frank said with a smile. “You’ll need someone fast to negotiate your recording contract. You’ll need to have a few singles out before the tour begins.”
“When does the tour begin?”
“In three months, which doesn’t give us a lot of time.” Frank slid a business card across the table at me. “Here’s my business card, but meet me at the studio tomorrow and be prepared to sing your ass off like you did tonight.” He smiled as he offered me his hand.
“I’ll be there,” I said as I shook his hand. “This is all happening so fast.” I looked over at Tasha. “Thank you for everything … for this opportunity … for everything.”
“You just sing your ass off while we’re on tour like you did tonight and there won’t be any problem,” she said pulling me in for another quick hug. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”
I nodded.
“Also, do you have a place to stay yet?” she asked, concerned.
“I’ll stay in a hotel tonight. Then, I’ll look for a place tomorrow.” Honestly, I hadn’t thought any further than playing tonight.
“Frank can help you with that tomorrow,” she opened her wallet, but Frank stopped her and quickly threw a few hundred dollars down onto the table.
“I can’t take that,” I said as my eyes popped open wide.
“Yes, you can,” Tasha said. “You sang your ass off tonight and this is your payment.”
I nodded. “Okay, but I’m paying you back …”
“No, you’re not,” she said.
“Just meet me at the studio tomorrow,” Frank said, lifting his eyebrows. “We’ll work out the details then.”
“Well, it was a pleasure to meet you. Frank will give you the address of the studio, or we can send a car to pick you up, if you like?” Tasha asked, raising her eyebrows.
“No, I can find it.” I couldn’t believe what was happening. Wasn’t I supposed to pay my dues first? Although I was sure that I would get a crash course in paying my dues on tour. “Tasha, thank you so much for this opportunity,” I gushed. “I won’t let you down.”
“I know you won’t,” she said, giving me a wink. “See you tomorrow.”
“And don’t be late,” Frank added as everyone smiled.
“What time?” I asked.
“Three o’clock in the afternoon okay?” Frank asked. “Musicians sleep in the morning since we’re up all night performing.”
“Sure. I’ll be there,” I said and waved goodbye as they left the room, leaving me behind. I stood in the room alone for a minute, letting it all soak in as I looked at Frank’s business card. I couldn’t resist and jumped up and down, doing a happy dance when the door opened.
“Uh hum,” a male vice said, caching my attention.
Mortified, I froze, not sure what to say after being busted. When I looked up, it was Zane, the bouncer.
“Come on out when you’re ready,” he said discreetly, suppressing a smile.
“Oh, okay.” I quickly grabbed my guitar tucked away in its case, then slung my purse over my shoulder and walked out.
I looked around the bar and there were a few customers still there. I was bent down to check my guitar and almost ran into a wall. I looked up and Logan was looking down at me.
“You’re still here …” I said, more of a statement than a question.
“Yes, we’re still here,” he said, pointing to the same group of friends that he was with at McDonalds. “Would you like to join us?” His eyes were so hopeful that it was difficult to say no.
“Well, I really should be going …”
“Just for one drink?” he asked as his eyebrows raised.
“Alright, just one drink,” I agreed.
I followed him over to the table where his friends were sitting. “This is Kyle,” he said, pointing to the guy who had been impatiently trying to get Logan to leave at the McDonalds.
He rose to his feet. “It’s a pleasure to officially meet you,” he said, extending his hand.
I took it and he shook my hand firmly. “The pleasure’s mine.”
“And these are my friends Lathe and Mason,” he said, pointing to the two other guys. Lathe had bright blonde, short cropped hair with hazel eyes and Mason was a brunette like Kyle, but Mason’s dark brown hair brushed his shoulders whereas Kyle’s was short, just covering his ears. All were both tall, towering over me as they each rose to their feet, perfect gentlemen.
“You were wonderful tonight,” Lathe said. “Where did you learn to play like that?”
I shrugged. “I’ve been playing for years, but when I took the stage tonight, something inside of me took over.”
All four men laughed. “You mean to tell me that this is the first time that you’ve played in public?” Logan asked.
I nodded. “Except for in church.”
“Wow,” Mason said, laughing as he looked over at Logan. “Well, you have yourself a nice church girl who can rock.”
I smiled sheepishly.
“That’s enough,” Logan said, then turned his attention back to me. “Man, you were smokin’ it tonight! It’s hard to believe that was the first time that you’ve played in public.”
“Thanks,” I said as pink filled my cheeks.
“So, gentlemen, lady, anything for last call?” a waitress asked expectantly, holding a serving tray.
“Beer for me,” Kyle said, holding up an empty bottle.
Lathe and Mason agreed.
“Me, too,” Logan said, pointing to his empty bottle. Then, he turned his attention toward me. “And what for you?”
Diet Coke,” I said, knowing that I was only eighteen and underage.
Logan smiled.
“So, what brings you here to Nashville?” I asked Logan. These men knew a lot about me, but I still didn’t know much about them.
“Promise that you won’t laugh?” Logan asked as the other guys snickered.
“Why would I?” I asked, taking a sip of my soda after the waitress brought our drinks. “You already know why I’m here.”
“Well, we’re a band,” Logan replied. “Lathe is our lead guitarist, Kyle plays bass, and Mason is our drummer.”
“And what do you play?” I asked, taking another sip of my soda. It felt cool all the way down and a chill ran through me.
“I play rhythm guitar and I sing,” he said, taking a sip of his beer.
“You’re a band?” I asked, unable to believe what I was hearing.
“Yes, why are you so surprised?” Logan asked, running his hand through his dark blonde hair.
“Well, I just so happen to need a band,” I said, taking another sip of my soda.
“As your back up?” Logan asked, looking down at his beer.
“Yes, but you can have the lead, too,” I said after seeing his discomfort. “Never mind. It was just an idea. I’m sure Frank can find me one.”
“Frank? Tasha Granger’s manager, Frank Mallory?” Lathe gushed as he shook his head in disbelief. “Logan, man! What’s wrong with you? This is the big time!”
“What do you mean?” Logan asked, looking into my eyes, ignoring Lathe.
I took a deep breath. “I’m going on tour with Tasha and I need a band. She just asked me.”
“Oh my God, Logan!” Morgan said, practically jumping to his feet. “This is what we’ve been waiting for!”
Logan took a deep breath. “Do you have a place to stay yet?”
I took a deep breath, not sure how much to tell him, but something inside of me wanted to trust him. “No, not yet. I’m going to stay in a hotel tonight.”
“Well,” Logan said with a sly smile as he took my hand into his. “Do you feel like jamming tonight, or are you too tired? If you are, we can get together tomorrow.”
I laughed. “I’m so excited that I couldn’t sleep if I tried! Now’s good. What do you have in mind?”
“Well, we just got an apartment this afternoon,” he said. “You can come over and we can jam, if you like. Then, we can talk about working together.”
“Alright,” I said, hesitantly, not sure how I felt about going to an apartment with four guys that I had just met, technically.
Eyeing my reluctance, he whispered, “You’ll be safe. I promise.”
I nodded, not sure if this was such a good idea, but I didn’t have a choice. I needed a band and I also wanted to hear them play, but, above all else, I wanted to jam. “Let’s go.”
Logan nodded and he quickly called the waitress over to the table to pay the bill as his friends downed their beers. When he was finished, he turned to me. “Shall we?”
I nodded with a smile and Logan placed his hand on the small of my back as we walked outside, followed by his friends. I just hoped that this wasn’t a mistake. 

***

(Copyright 2015 Sophie Slade--All Rights Reserved)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

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ROSE - Meet the Author


I've been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There's no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.
I was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated every month).
So far, I've worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer's mill.

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ROSE - Covers and Blurbs

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In Angel’s Wolf a vampire becomes fascinated with the seductive angel who rules Louisiana. But all is not what it appears to be in her court.
In Angels’ Judgment a hunter must track one of her own gone bad, while surviving the deadly tests placed in her way by the archangels themselves. Unexpected backup comes from a stranger who might just be the most lethal threat of all...
Plus FIRST TIME IN PRINT
In Angels' Pawn a vampire hunter faces off against two rival factions and the angel manipulating them both, and a vampire whose help is not entirely selfless...
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In Angels’ Dance an angel trapped in the mountain stronghold of the Refuge finds herself under siege by a warrior angel from a martial court.

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The gentle teacher of angelic young, and the keeper of her people's histories, Jessamy is respected and admired by everyone who knows her. Yet, born unable to soar into flight, she has spent thousands of years trapped in the mountain stronghold of the Refuge, her heart encased in painful loneliness...until the arrival of Galen, warrior angel from a martial court.
Rough-edged and blunt, Galen is a weapons-master at home with violence, a stranger to the sweet words it takes to woo a woman--but he is also a man determined to claim Jessamy for his own, to dance with her through the skies denied her for so very long...even if their exhilarating passion proves as dangerous as the landscape of war and unrest that lies before them.
Angels' Dance previously appeared in the anthology, Angels' Flight.

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Warrior angels, vampire hunters, and angels gone bad heat up this altogether sizzling paranormal alternate universe, from the bestselling author Nalini Singh.
Angels' Judgementis the compelling story of passion, love and danger in the Guild Hunter world. Sara and Deacon are Guild Hunters, their life's work is catching and capturing - or killing - rogue angels. It's dangerous work and sometimes life or death decisions must be made in a moment. And when a judgement has to be made, should love be allowed to get in the way . . . ?
This is a compelling, sexy addition to the Guild Hunter universe.

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In these hound-eat-hound worlds, anything goes... and everything bites.
Follow paranormal bodyguards Clovache and Batanya into Lucifer's realm, where they encounter his fearsome four-legged pets, in Charlaine Harris'sThe Britlingens Go to Hell.
Seek out a traitor in the midst of a guild of non- lethal vampire trackers, one that intends to eradicate the entire species of bloodsuckers, in Nalini Singh's Angels' Judgment.
Find out why the giant three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades has left the underworld for the real world-and whose scent he's following-in Ilona Andrews's Magic Mourns.
Embark on a perilous search for the kidnapped niece of a powerful vampire alongside her blind- and damn sexy-companion and a hellhound in Meljean Brook's Blind Spot.
These four novellas by today's hottest paranormal authors will have hellhound lovers everywhere howling.

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Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she is the best- but she does not know if even she is good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, Elena knows failure is not an option—even if the task is impossible.
Because this time, it's not a wayward vamp she has to track. It's an archangel gone bad.
The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other—and pull her to the razor's edge of passion. Even if the hunt does not destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just might. For when archangels play, mortals break.

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New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to her world of angelic rulers, vampiric servants, and the woman thrust into their darkly seductive world...
Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find herself changed—an angel with wings the colors of midnight and dawn—but her fragile body needs time to heal before she can take flight. Her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel, Raphael, is used to being in control—especially when it comes to the woman he considers his own. But Elena has never done well with authority.
They've barely begun to understand each other when Raphael receives an invitation to a ball from the archangel, Lijuan. To refuse would be a sign of fatal weakness, so Raphael must ready Elena for the flight to Beijing—and to the nightmare that awaits them there. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan holds a power that lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena.

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Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux and her lover, the lethally beautiful archangel Raphael, have returned home to New York only to face an uncompromising new evil ...A vampire has attacked a girls' school - the assault one of sheer, vicious madness - and it is only the first act. Rampant bloodlust takes vampire after vampire, threatening to make the streets run with blood. Then Raphael himself begins to show signs of an uncontrolled rage, as inexplicable storms darken the city skyline and the earth itself shudders. The omens are suddenly terrifyingly clear. An ancient and malevolent immortal is rising. The violent winds whisper her name: Caliane. She has returned to reclaim her son, Raphael. Only one thing stands in her way: Elena, the consort who must be destroyed ...

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Warrior angels, vampire hunters, and angels gone bad heat up this altogether sizzling paranormal alternate universe, from the bestselling author Nalini Singh.
Angels' Wolf is a tale of flirtation and danger set in the Guild Hunter world. Noel has been promoted, but in the Guild Hunter world that's not always as positive as it sounds. And now that he's working with the beautiful, dangerous, seductive Nimra there are a whole host of new risks he has to contend with... Nimra is drawn to the mysterious Noel, sent to her by an angel, defiant and intense and oh-so-intriguing. Is their an alliance to be forged between them, or is it a matter of time before one of them becomes the others prey ...
This is a compelling, sexy addition to the Guild Hunter universe.

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Tales of alpha angels...from four alpha authors.
They soar through the night, unearthly creatures of legends and lore. Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance explore the rapture of the heavens above, and the darkness below in four all-new stories of angels and guardians, and good and evil.
Angel's Wolf by Nalini Singh — In the spellbinding universe of the Guild Hunters, a vampire becomes obsessed with the seductive angel who rules the Louisiana territory. But in her court, all is not what it appears to be.
Alphas: Origins by Ilona Andrews — A woman is kidnapped into a world divided by a superhuman civil war. As the captive of an irresistibly dangerous male, she has two choices: submit and become a pawn, or take hold of her own destiny.
Nocturne by Sharon Shinn — Accepting a position in a secluded and whispered-about mansion, a woman soon discovers the source of its mystery: the blind, tormented angel who lives there, and whose secrets could now destroy them both.
Ascension by Meljean Brook — When vampires disappear from a community he's protecting, a world-weary Guardian doesn't know what evil he's hunting, but he'd rather hunt alone than accept help from his ex-lover and fellow Guardian, Radha. But Radha refuses to leave him, because she's determined not just to help him save the community...but to save him.

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The severed head marked by a distinctive tattoo on its cheek should have been a Guild case, but dark instincts honed over hundreds of years of life compel the vampire Dmitri to take control. There is something twisted about this death, something that whispers of centuries long past...but Dmitri's need to discover the truth is nothing to the vicious strength of his response to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo.
Savaged in a brutal attack that almost killed her, Honor is nowhere near ready to come face to face with the seductive vampire who is an archangel's right hand, and who wears his cruelty as boldly as his lethal sensuality...the same vampire who has been her secret obsession since the day she was old enough to understand the inexplicable, violent emotions he aroused in her.
As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy them both, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting...and it will not stop until it brings a blood-soaked nightmare to life once more...

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With wings of midnight and an affinity for shadows, Jason courts darkness. But now, with the Archangel Neha’s consort lying murdered in the jewel-studded palace that was his prison and her rage threatening cataclysmic devastation, Jason steps into the light, knowing he must unearth the murderer before it is too late.
Earning Neha’s trust comes at a price—Jason must tie himself to her bloodline through the Princess Mahiya, a woman with secrets so dangerous, she trusts no one. Least of all an enemy spymaster.
With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare… and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood.

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Nalini Singh, the New York Times bestselling “alpha author of paranormal romance” (Booklist) returns to an immortal world of violent passion and lethal power…on the brink of a deadly archangelic war.
Angels are falling from the sky in New York, struck down by a vicious, unknown force.
Vampires are dying impossibly of disease.
Guild hunter Elena Deveraux and the Archangel Raphael must discover the source of the wave of death before it engulfs their city and their people, leaving New York a ruin and Raphael’s Tower under siege by enemy archangels.
Yet even as they fight desperately to save the city, an even darker force is stirring, its chill eyes trained on New York…and on Raphael. Rivers of crimson and nightmares given flesh, the world will never again be the same…

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Author’s Note: This short story began life as a scene in an early draft of Archangel’s Shadows. It focuses on Dmitri & Honor, so there are no spoilers for the Archangel’s Shadows storyline (however, if you haven’t yet read Archangel’s Blade (Honor and Dmitri’s story), then save this to read later). I hope you enjoy!

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Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s sensual and painfully beautiful Guild Hunter world in her new novel of sacrifice, loyalty, and the choices of love that can shatter the heart.
In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot— should not—be walking the streets.
This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…
Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

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Naasir is the most feral of the powerful group of vampires and angels known as the Seven, his loyalty pledged to the Archangel Raphael. When rumors surface of a plot to murder the former Archangel of Persia, now lost in the Sleep of the Ancients, Naasir is dispatched to find him. For only he possesses the tracking skills required—those more common to predatory animals than to man.
Enlisted to accompany Naasir, Andromeda, a young angelic scholar with dangerous secrets, is fascinated by his nature—at once playful and brilliant, sensual and brutal. As they race to find the Sleeping archangel before it’s too late, Naasir will force her to question all she knows...and tempt her to walk into the magnificent, feral darkness of his world. But first they must survive an enemy vicious enough to shatter the greatest taboo of the angelic race and plunge the world into a screaming nightmare…

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A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk…
Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction.
A one-night stand with the hottest rock star on the planet, that’s all it was meant to be…
Fox promises scorching heat and dangerous pleasure, coaxing Molly to extend their one-night stand into a one-month fling. After that, he’ll be gone forever, his life never again intersecting with her own. Sex and sin and sensual indulgence, all with an expiration date. No ties, no regrets. Too late, Molly realizes it isn’t only her body that’s become addicted to Fox, but her heart…

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New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh's new contemporary romance novella is pure hard rock and scorching heat...
What happens when the Gentleman of Rock decides to play dirty?
A drummer for the hottest rock band on the planet, David has a single, powerful weakness: Thea, the band's publicist and the woman who steals his breath away with her every move.
Only problem is, Thea doesn't date clients--or musicians. Emotionally scarred by a cheating ex, she's not about to risk her heart with a man who has groupies buzzing around him like flies. Even if his sexy smile ties her up in knots.
What she doesn't know is that David is a one-woman man...and he's madly in love with her. David's determined to prove he's worth the risk, and willing to court her, step by exquisite step. Thea's about to discover just how long and hard this handsome drummer can play.

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In New York Times Bestselling author Nalini Singh’s newest contemporary romance, passion ignites between a gorgeous, sinfully sexy man who built himself up from nothing and a shy woman who has a terrible secret in her past…
Wealthy businessman Gabriel Bishop rules the boardroom with the same determination and ruthlessness that made him a rock star on the rugby field. He knows what he wants, and he’ll go after it no-holds-barred.
And what he wants is Charlotte Baird.
Charlotte knows she’s a mouse. Emotionally scarred and painfully shy, she just wants to do her job and remain as invisible as possible. But the new CEO—a brilliant, broad-shouldered T-Rex of a man who growls and storms through the office, leaving carnage in his wake—clearly has other plans. Plans that may be equal parts business and bedroom.
If Charlotte intends to survive this battle of wits and hearts, the mouse will have to learn to wrangle the T-Rex. Game on.

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Kit Devigny could have loved rock guitarist Noah St. John. Their friendship burned with the promise of intense passion and searing tenderness…until the night Noah deliberately shattered her heart.
Noah knows he destroyed something precious the night he chose to betray Kit, but he’d rather she hate him than learn his darkest secret. All he has left is his music. It’s his saving grace, but it doesn’t silence the voices that keep him up at night. Chasing oblivion through endless one-night-stands, he earns a few hours’ sleep and his bad boy reputation.
When a media error sees Noah and Kit dubbed the new “it” couple, Kit discovers her chance at the role of a lifetime hinges on riding the media wave. Wanting—needing—to give Kit this, even if he can’t give her everything, Noah agrees to play the adoring boyfriend. Only the illusion is suddenly too real, too painful, too beautiful…and it may be too late for the redemption of Noah St. John.

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