The spotlights were brighter than I remembered. They hit my eyes straight on, blinding me. I squinted, trying to see the other band members on stage. I could barely make out their dark figures.
I heard plenty, though. The roar of the crowd, the cheers of the audience, the screams of our fans.
And then I heard the one-two-three beat of Seth hitting the drums.
The show was on.
The sweat already rolling down my back could have been from the hot lights, but it could just as easily have been from cold sweats.
I hadn’t been lying when I told Cerise I was nervous. Being back on stage again for the first time in years, and with an entirely new band, was enough to make my palms sweaty.
But I never would have admitted it out loud. Not until I’d seen the slight tremor of her hands, the panicky gleam in her eyes, the way she scratched at her nail polish.
Even if Cerise didn’t usually feel nervous before shows, this time was different. We could all feel it. There was a sort of feverish, overwrought energy in the air.
Cerise’s pep talk had helped the band get their focus back. She was a great leader. She always knew what to say, and the guys hung on her every word.
I knew she sometimes thought they worried too much about her. A woman like Cerise would never stand for being coddled. But the guys didn’t worry about because they thought she wasn’t capable. They worried because she was.
Cerise took on everything herself. She handled the business side, coordinating with the label and the event venues. She handled the music side, writing and composing the songs. She watched over her band members, making sure the guys were kept in line, like herding cats.
A normal person would have run themselves ragged, trying to take on the world like that. But not Cerise. She handled everything with practiced ease.
I didn’t think she realized how much the guys looked up to her. How much I looked up to her.
I heard my cue and joined my guitar with Seth’s drums. The moment my fingers pressed down onto the neck, all thoughts of nerves disappeared. I was back in my element, playing music, performing in front of an audience. This was where I belonged.
This was also where Cerise belonged. She was born for the stage. I was looking forward to watching her sing just as much as her fans.
But something was off. As I glanced at Cerise, head bowed, gripping her microphone tight, I noticed that slight tremor in her hands I’d seen before.
I sauntered across the stage, playing to the crowd, wailing on my instrument.
When I got close enough to meet Cerise’s eyes, I mouthed five words.
You’re a fucking rock star.
She looked surprised, before a smile made its way onto her lips. She nodded at me once, and then faced the crowd, a fierce expression on her face.
When she sang the first words of the song, it was as if she had never doubted herself for a moment. She sang with absolute confidence, with unrelenting passion.
I went back to my place on stage, but I kept my eyes on Cerise the entire time.
Fuck, but she was amazing. She took command of that stage, enrapturing the audience with her presence.
I knew how difficult it was, to capture the full attention of an entire music hall. I’d been the front man, once. I’d been the one to strut and smirk and tease the audience. And I’d been damn good at it, too.
But I was nothing compared to Cerise. That fire inside her radiated outward, scorching the air, burning into the heart and soul of her fans with every screaming, sobbing breath they took.
Cerise Moreau was a goddamn rock star.
Those seductive eyes, that sultry voice, those tempting lips…
I found myself zeroing in on her lips for a second too long and almost missed one of my cues, but I smoothly recovered.
I had to get my head together.
But it wasn’t just me.
As Cerise performed, she sauntered back and forth across the stage, eyes finding mine. She came up close, singing right next to me as if the words were for me and me alone. She trailed her hand along my arm, like a lover’s caress, crooning soft words at me.
I felt the burning heat of her fingertips. I smelled the sweet scent of her hair. I practically tasted sweat rolling down her cheeks and trickling between the valleys of her chest.
My cock twitched in my jeans. Fuck, but that leather corset was doing things to me.
I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was gorgeous, stunning. I thanked every god in existence that I’d walked into her audition that day. Getting to rock out on stage with this woman was a goddamn privilege.
Then the last notes of the last song thrummed through my chest and we locked eyes. I felt a powerful blow throughout my entire body at the hunger I saw. The burning need in her eyes called to something inside me, something primal.
I needed to get that woman underneath me and screaming out her pleasure, right the fuck now.
Everything else fell away. The music, the audience, the band. The only things that existed in that moment were the two of us. We were the only people that mattered.
In that moment, I could see so much in her eyes. I could see the hesitance, the insecurity. I could see the fears and the doubts.
But that wasn’t all.
I could see the confidence. The self-assurance. The absolute conviction.
It wasn’t that she was fearless.
It was that she had fears and didn’t let them stop her.
I hadn’t been exaggerating when I told Cerise I thought she burned like the sun. She was extraordinary. She was a wonder.
As we stared at each other during those last final notes, I could see everything in those eyes.
I could see everything that made Cerise, Cerise.
She was a fucking miracle.
And I knew she wanted me as much as I wanted her. There was no denying that. She’d turned me down, over and over, again and again, and yet somehow we always found ourselves falling back into each other’s orbits.
There was going to be no escaping me this time. I had seen the fire in her eyes, the need, and the hunger. The moments we had shared up there on that stage couldn’t be denied.
And if she turned me away again, like she had all those times in the past, well, then, I could be patient. I could wait.
I would wait forever for a woman like Cerise.
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