The weekend was a little strange; Archie pretty much avoided me all day on Saturday.
I convinced myself everything was all right after we had lunch on Sunday, and for the most part, everything was normal. He even gave me a kiss goodbye and told me he loves me.
But it’s Monday now. The first day I get to work at the venue. I can’t afford to worry about Archie right now. I have too much on my plate.
When I pull up to the venue, I’m surprised to see how large it is. After I drive around for a bit and find a spot to park, I make my way inside and I’m greeted by a flurry of activity.
There are people running around everywhere. I wander around, dodging people, until I get into a large ballroom.
There’s a huge stage set up near the front of the room, and Marlene is right, it looks like someone threw up purple all over the place. It’s not even our shade.
I make my way to the center of the room and see a group of people meeting near the stage, so I decide to try them first. “Good morning, I’m Sloan Kennedy. I’m looking for Jess Packer.”
“Hi, Sloan, that’s me.” A girl about my age smiles and extends a hand to shake. “We’re just having our morning meeting. Feel free to join in.”
After listening to the meeting, I pull Jess aside. “What are the plans for all the purple tulle?”
“I was going to swag it around the sides of the room,” she explains.
“Pretty. Can I play with it a little bit? I have an idea that might make it a little more LILAC.”
She smiles. “I appreciate you being kind to me, but Marlene told me what you say goes. So, please, have your way with it.”
I sit on the ground in the corner, surrounded by a giant pile of tulle, and get lost in scrunching and tying it until it looks like huge lilac blooms.
This last year has been hell. We lost our father unexpectedly in a car wreck, and as the new man of the family, I’ve been doing my best to pick up the pieces but, at the same time, feel my own pain.
I’ve thrown myself into my music, and so far, it’s actually paying off. We just got picked up and everything is about to change for us.
We’re playing a party for the fashion blog LILAC before we start to work on our album full time. It’s the last big contracted gig we have scheduled. Today, we’re going in for our first sound check.
We’ve never played the venue, so I’m not sure what to expect, but it seems like it’s going to be a bigger deal than any of the club shows we’re used to because there are people everywhere.
Once we find our way to the stage, we all start to check out the back line and make notes of what needs to be changed.
“What do you think about all of this?” my best friend and the drummer for the band, Sean, asks.
“Honestly? It’s weird. When we signed the contract for this party, we thought it was a huge deal, but now, with the album coming up, I don’t really know what to think.”
“Yeah, but you know the best thing about fashion stuff like this?” he says, raising an eyebrow.
“What?” I ask but am almost sure I don’t want to know.
“You’re an idiot.”
I can’t help laughing at him.
He’s such a big crazy guy, but I’ve known him for most of my life and I know, deep down, he’s not the player he pretends to be. He’s hardly dated at all in the last few years.
Not that I can talk. Rock Division, the band, is pretty much our significant other at this point, but at least we’re seeing some results.
I’m useless when it comes to sound engineering, so I rest my rump on the edge of the stage, then scan around the room looking for anything to occupy my time while I wait for the road crew to finish.
My eyes land on what looks like a giant purple cloud moving in the corner. What is going on over there? Something about it is calling me to it.
I hop off the stage and walk toward the cloud until I get close enough to see what’s going on.
The most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen is sitting in the middle of it, twisting and tying it into huge flowers.
She looks petite, her skin is like the color of honey, and even though I can’t fully see them, her big brown eyes look like I could get lost in them.
She’s got a little black dress on and she looks intense.
I can’t tear my eyes away.
I’m completely lost in my tulle as I’m twisting, tying, and fluffing out “petals.”
At this point, my butt hurts from sitting on the ground, but I have to get this done. I can’t let Marlene see this tulle in swags on the wall; it’s like an eighties prom nightmare.
“I was trying to figure out why this purple cloud was moving. Turns out, it’s because of a really pretty girl.”
“What?” I ask, and when I look up, a dashingly handsome man is smiling down at me.
He’s tall and tan, his hair is sun kissed and a little wild, and that smirk he’s giving me… Whoa.
“You’re lost in this purple stuff. From the other side of the room, it looks like it is moving on its own.”
He chuckles, and for the first time, I notice his smile. It’s like those smiles they write about in romance novels that make you weak in the knees.
“I’m making flowers,” I say, kind of abruptly as I wipe my hair out of my face.
“I kind of see it,” he says.
“Thanks for your input.”
“You’re a spicy one.” He chuckles, and it seems like there is no way I’m getting rid of him anytime soon.
“I’m working,” I explain.
“Well, nice to meet you ‘working,’ I’m Kade,” he says, then gives me that knee-knocking smile again.
This guy could be anyone, and I’m representing LILAC. I need to be nice.
“Sorry,” I say as I try to stand up but trip over tulle, lose my footing, and end up falling straight into his arms.
“Whoa, jumping into my arms already?” He grins and then sets me back on my feet.
I try to push down my embarrassment and extend my hand. “I’m Sloan Kennedy. I’m with LILAC, here to oversee the look of the event.”
“Well, Sloan, it’s very nice to meet you. I’m just here for the sound check but I’d love to take you for coffee when I’m done.”
I smile, but it somehow feels like a spear has pierced my heart. “Oh, I, um, well…”
“Kade, stop flirting and get up here,” someone says through a laugh over the mic, and the whole ballroom hears it.
He gives me a dashing smile and then jogs toward the stage.
What the hell just happened? I try to avert my eyes from the glorious man and focus on my flowers instead.
“What was that man? What did you find over there?” Sean smiles widely.
I grin. “My future wife. The cutest girl I’ve ever seen in my life and she’s feisty as hell.”
“Are there any other clouds hanging around in here? Maybe a pink one?” he teases.
“I’m just pulling your chain. What are you going to do about it?”
“Take her to get coffee.”
“And?” Sean insists.
“Take it from there?” I laugh.
“Yeah, okay, that always works.”
“When did you become the dating expert?”
“Oi! Both of you, let’s get to work,” Finn, the bassist, says. He laughs, but I can tell he’s being serious.
We all take our places, and I count us in. Before I know it, we’re lost deep in the music, and one of the assistants is taking the level readings from around the room.
Jess comes over to me, chirping excitedly. “Was Kade Lawson just talking to you?”
“Whoa! What did he say?”
“He wants to have coffee with me,” I admit.
“You need to go.”
“I have a serious boyfriend.”
“Kade Lawson is about to blow up; Rock Division signed with a major label last week. This party is their last gig before they start to work on their album.”
“I know that Marlene wants this party to blow up the Internet. Well, he is our ticket, and if he likes you, you should capitalize on it,” she insists.
“I guess it’s only coffee.”
She smiles widely. “That’s the spirit.”
“What do you think of this?” I ask as I hold up my lilac.
“Actually, it’s gorgeous.”
“Maybe we can make a few of these and put them in the corners of the room?” I suggest.
“Okay, yeah, I’ll get the team on this.”
“Thank you, Jess. I’m going to borrow a ladder and see if I can put this up.”
I find a ladder and bring it over to the corner. When loud music starts to boom from the stage, I try to ignore it, but when I turn around and see Kade singing, I can’t look away.
His black T-shirt is so tight that I can see the outline of every muscle. He’s so casual and laid back but he’s commanding the stage—the whole room really.
Wow, he is really sexy.
Sloan! Get it together. Think of Archie, you love Archie.
I try to shake myself back to reality, but if I’m honest, I’m totally sucked in.
I allow myself to watch the rest of their song, but then open the ladder and try to get up to the right height.
A ladder has never scared me before, but this is really high, and I’m balancing a huge flower.
After I attach a hook to the wall, I lean over to hang the flower on it. It’s all right but not quite right, so I go a step higher and try to arrange it perfectly.
I can’t quite reach it, so I stretch up on one foot, but then my shoe slips, and I can’t stop myself from falling. I let out a squeak but there is nothing I can do to stop it.
This is it, this is how I die: trying to hang up a stupid flower.
I close my eyes and brace for impact but I land in someone’s arms.
“That’s twice today, darlin’,” Kade says with a smirk.
“Oh, my God, thank you,” I gasp.
He chuckles. “You shouldn’t wear heels on a ladder.”
I smile. “Consider it noted.”
He starts walking to the door with me in his arms.
“Where are we going? Put me down!”
“For coffee, Sloan.”
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