An all-new friends-to-lovers romance—part of The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers series—is out this week from author Claudia Burgoa, and I have a sneak peek for you.
It’s the end of the last song—the second encore.
The audience sings the lyrics along with me.
I still remember when my fingers finally let you go.
When I lost the right to hold you,
The right to claim you,
The right to call you mine.
You’re close, and so far,
I lost the right to call you mine.
If only I could kiss you once,
One last time before I become the ghost of your past.
I direct the microphone toward the audience. Everyone knows this song, loves this song, and empathizes with my pain.
The pain of losing my first love, the love of my life.
This was the first song I wrote from the heart. It’s inspired by one of the most painful experiences of my life. Everyone connects with it on such a deep level. It makes me wonder if humanity feasts on the despair of others, or we are all hurting. Maybe we’re joined by loss, agony, and melodies.
I’m drenched in sweat, my throat is tired, and I’m ready to disappear. Thank fuck, the tour is over.
This is a big chunk of my life. Live concerts, fans yelling at the top of their lungs, and sharing the stage with my best friends—my brothers. I love everything, but to an extent.
It’s loud, hot, and crowded.
I’m a huge contradiction. Before a concert, I’m pumped up and ready to give everything I have to my fans. During the show, I play and sing my heart out. Once it’s over, I can’t stand the masses.
I need to go.
Making a final bow to the applauding crowd demanding another encore, I jog off the stage with my guitar. Manelik continues drumming hard while I cross the hallway. One of the bodyguards and the rest of the band follow me. When the drums stop, the people begin to stomp their feet harder and faster.
They chant, “Encore, encore.”
They need another song, another hour with us—more of Too Far from Grace. I hope Mane runs fast or the driver will leave him. Near the service door at the back of the arena, I spot Byron Langdon, our manager, who waits with towels and water for all of us.
“Where is Manelik?” Byron asks with annoyance.
“Behind us?” I ask, pulling the doors open and breathing the cool, fresh night air.
“Get into the car,” Byron orders and then speaks to one of the security guys. “I swear if he’s not here soon, I’m leaving him without a detail—or a ride home.”
The clapping and stomping noise continues up until I make my way inside the limo. My mouth stretches from ear to ear when I see the best thing in the world waiting for me.
“Hey, G,” I greet the most beautiful woman in the world—and my best friend.
Her grayish eyes look at me with amusement.
“Hi, stranger,” she responds, moving toward the corner of the bench and fixing her long braid.
Today, her hair is different shades of pink with streaks of blue. Her beautiful face illuminates the entire night. She’s wearing a tank top that lets me see her tattoos. They are black and white riffs, lyrics, and symbols. Looking at my arm, I smile; we actually draw each other’s tattoos.
“Why do you always lose your shirt?” She rolls her eyes, handing me a clean T-shirt and another towel. The one Byron gave me is soaking wet.
Some artists need drugs, alcohol, or women after a concert. I just need her. Her presence, her voice, and her hugs.
“He’s an attention whore,” Sanford, the bassist, answers as he makes his way into the car.
“What’s your excuse, San?” Grace exchanges a knowing look with me.
We love the guy, but he’s full of shit.
“We’re like a boy band,” he responds. “Instead of wearing matching dorky outfits, we just don’t wear shit.”
“You’re your own boy band, asshole,” Fish, the keyboardist, complains and looks at G. “The fucking place is too hot to wear clothes. We keep our pants on just because our PR would kill us.”
“What are you talking about, assholes?” Mane asks as he enters the car along with Byron.
The clunk of the car door seals away the outside noise. We all take our seats. Mine is right beside Grace. After I put on the shirt, I finally hug her.
“You okay?” she asks, hugging me back.
“And it’s over,” Sanford states as the driver sweeps us away.
It’s time to go home.
“Did you catch the show?” I ask Grace, not letting her go. I need to absorb all her magic.
She’s like an enchanted unicorn or a magical fairy who possesses the power to ground me.
In the past few months, we’ve barely seen each other. She’s one of the most famous cellists in the world. This spring, she toured with The New York Philharmonic. Last week, she played a solo concert at Carnegie Hall to wrap her season.
She yawns and nods. “Uncle Jacob let me be backstage,” she mentions our agent. “I was hanging out with him and Byron.”
“At what time did you arrive?”
“Just as you guys took the stage. I told you I’d make it on time,” she says, resting her head on my shoulder. “I love the new song.”
My fans liking my songs is an accomplishment I don’t take for granted. Her loving them is what I live for. I don’t say a word and just watch as the car drives north toward home. For the next week, I don’t plan to do anything but be at home with my friends, G, and our cat. The rest of the world can crumble, and I won’t give a shit.