“Gotta grab my stuff. What room are you in?”
“Fifteen oh five. Don’t be too long. I’m dead on my feet, and once I’m out, I won’t hear you knock.”
Devin nodded to the security guard. He inhaled a deep breath before he unlocked the door to his room and stepped inside.
Liberty stood by the window. Pinkish orange rays of the sunrise teased the edges of the skyline beyond the glass, but her face remained in shadow even as she turned toward him.
He hadn’t unpacked much, so it was easy jamming everything into his suitcase.
As he zipped it up, she said, “Where are you going?”
Not an accusatory tone. More sad. That caused him a pang of sadness too. Only a few hours ago they’d been a normal couple, out on a date, spending a romantic evening on the beach in the moonlight. “It’s best if I bunk in Crash’s room. I need some sleep so I ain’t a damn zombie onstage tonight.” He held up his hand. “Before you start in on your security concerns, I won’t leave the room on my own, won’t order room service, won’t do anything but sleep.”
“And you can’t sleep here?”
By the look on her face, he knew she was thinking of his comment that he slept better when she was next to him. “No, Liberty. I can’t.”
“Do I get an explanation? Or clarification whether it’s me as your bodyguard that you’re upset with, or me as your lover?”
“You turned away from me on both fronts. I tried to reason with you about how damn ridiculous you were bein’, blaming yourself for something that happened when we weren’t even there. But instead of seein’ it as a good sign that we were gone, you fixated on how it was some kind of cosmic punishment for you bein’ on a date with me. When we got to the room and I needed you to be my lover and not my bodyguard, you shut me out. Then, at your first opportunity, you snuck out.” His eyes searched her face, but the room was so dark he couldn’t see her eyes. Maybe that wasn’t a bad thing because then she couldn’t see the fury in his either. “When I tracked you down, did you apologize for worrying me? No. You barked orders and accused me of accusing you of f**king around—which never even crossed my mind. You’re so . . . blind to the fact that I’m not the one who has the problem separating our professional relationship from our personal one. You are. So, yeah, I’m pissed off. I need a break from all of this. I’ll see you after the show tonight.” He slipped out the door.
Crash didn’t ask any questions after he let Devin into his room.
Devin stripped to his boxer briefs and crawled into bed, putting a pillow over his head to block the coming of daybreak.
The show at the Pavilion went better than Devin had hoped. The Wright Brothers had primed the audience, so when Devin and his band took the stage, the energy from the crowd blew him away.
It sucked he had to deal with mundane business shit after such an outstanding show; it tarnished the glow. His security escorted him to the main room, filled with his crew.
“Now that the star is here, I can share the updates.” Crash gave a shrill whistle to get everyone’s attention. “Listen up, people, ’cause I’m only doin’ this once. Devin’s bus is in the repair shop. We have a show in Jacksonville tomorrow night. As soon as teardown is done, the crew will hit the road with the stage equipment since it’s a twelve-hour drive. After Jacksonville, we have a ten-day break.”
“Thank God,” Leon said.
“I think we all feel that way. The promotion company has chartered a plane to take the band from Houston to Jacksonville. Since most of you are goin’ home to Nashville, you’ve been booked on a one-way flight from Jacksonville the day after the gig. Rick will drive the band’s bus to Portland. Devin’s bus will be repaired here, and as soon as it’s done, Reg will drive it to Portland. Then you’ll all fly commercial from wherever you are to Portland. So get with our Big Sky Promotions rep as soon as possible on where you’ll be in ten days, as I know some of us have vacation plans. Any questions?”
Odette raised her hand. “Did the cops find any suspects in the shooting?”
“I haven’t heard anything. We’ve managed to keep this incident from the media, including fans’ social networks, by passing it off as a break-in attempt at the event center. So let’s drop it like it didn’t happen, people.”
“Where are we staying tonight?” Gage asked.
“Same hotel as last night. We’ve booked the entire presidential floor. Same rules apply tonight. No room service. No one upstairs who’s not in the band. You wanna eat or drink, go to the hotel restaurant or bar. We have a car service scheduled to pick us up at ten a.m. Anything legal you need off the bus, get it now. The cars will be here in half an hour to take everyone to the hotel.”
Devin had tried to ignore Liberty, but his gaze kept shifting to her. She stayed on the opposite side of the room. She looked like the Liberty he’d met three months before—not worried about keeping up pretenses in public. She’d slicked her hair back in a ponytail and hadn’t applied makeup, which made the dark circles beneath her eyes more prominent. Even in her severely cut business suit, he had to wonder how he’d ever thought her unattractive. The woman’s presence pulled him in like a damn tractor beam.
“All right. That’s it,” Crash said. “See you all at the hotel.”
Liberty leaned in, whispering to Crash, and then she was the first one out the door.