“Opening band sucks,” Max put in.

Jacob gave him a dry look before turning to me. “Things are chaotic. Everything is going to shite. If you haven’t noticed, people have started dancing and throwing themselves around in the orchestra pit already, so they’re trying to take away the seats. The venue is at capacity. Tricky’s amp has blown, so we have to see if we can borrow one. Sage has managed to stay sober, but I don’t know how much longer that will last. Oh, and I made the bloody keyboardist cry.”

“Where is Sage?” I asked. “Can I see him?”

“First door down there,” Jacob pointed. “Has a star on it if you can believe it. You can tell him he’s got fifteen minutes before they have to go on. Max will be down in the photography pit for the first three songs. You can watch from the side stage with me, Dawn. It’ll be like old times.” He grinned.

I nodded, clutching my pass anxiously, and scooted off down the hall before someone decided to take up all of Sage’s time.

I quickly knocked, hoping he was alone. In the background, “Heartbreaker” came to a thunderous close, which made the crowd erupt into muffled cheers. God, there was nothing better than live music, even when you couldn’t see it.

“What?” Sage yelled from the other side.

“It’s Dawn.”

I heard shuffling and suddenly the door swung open halfway. He poked his head out and looked into the hallway both ways. Then he put his hand behind my shoulder and scuttled me inside, shutting the door behind me.

The dressing room was small but was obviously used for actors in the theater, with its clothes rack and huge vanity mirror framed by frosted lightbulbs. On the desk was a bottle of Jameson whiskey, half gone, as well as a setlist and an acoustic guitar.

I looked to Sage, who was standing in the middle of the room, running his hand though his thick, black curls. He’d obviously drunk the whiskey, but his eyes were sharp and crystal clear. Maybe that’s what Jacob meant by sober.

He also looked amazing. A drop-dead gorgeous rock and roll star. He was wearing his combat boots, tight black jeans, a silver necklace with a wicked-looking cross at the end, and a black leather vest with no shirt underneath, which meant you could see the beauty of his body, his bronzed skin and the tattoos on his upper arms. He wasn’t as muscular as he’d been before having lost a bit of weight, but his form was still hard and well-cut. I had to touch my mouth to make sure I wasn’t drooling.

This was the last man who’d been inside me.

“You look great,” I found myself saying. Stupidly, I might add. “How are you holding up?”

He just shook his head and went straight to the bottle. He poured a full glass, handed the glass to me, and kept the bottle to himself.

“I need you to drink with me,” he said.

“You have to go on in fifteen minutes,” I said, eyeing the whiskey in my hands. “Jacob said.”

“And I won’t go on if I don’t stop freaking the fuck out.”

I looked at him sharply. He seemed so in control when I’d seen him perform earlier. Now, though his eyes were clear, I could see the fear in them and the way he tensed his jaw. I felt myself thaw a little inside, knowing how vulnerable he actually was. The veteran rocker who had been to Hell and back was actually afraid.

I tried to smile reassuringly. “You’re going to be fine, Sage.”

He shook his head and stepped over to me, putting his strong hand on mine and making me raise the glass to my lips. His eyes bore into me like burning stars. “Please don’t make me drink alone. I need you to…just be here with me.”

I felt the air sucked out of me, the tingling feeling swirling in my chest, the feeling of his hand on mine. I wanted that hand everywhere. Despite the setback, the pain over the last day, the creepy shit on the horizon, I still fucking wanted him like I’ve never wanted anyone before.

I nodded and opened my mouth, and he tipped the glass until the liquid burned down my throat. A tiny bit spilled out of my lips and his thumb was there, slowly wiping it away. I was so tempted to take his thumb into my mouth, but he removed it and put it in his mouth instead, slowly sucking the whiskey off. His eyes never left mine. My core tightened in response.

“This is a big show,” he said in a low, gruff voice. He turned my hand over so it was palm-up to his mouth. “And I don’t know how I’m going to please everyone. But most of all, I don’t know how I’m going to please you. Because in the end,” he kissed my open palm, his lips soft, “your opinion is the only one that counts.”

I gulped, my legs starting to shake slightly. This was turning from a pre-show check-in, some observation I’d later add to the article, into something else. Something much more. I could feel it in the energy around us.

He took another step toward me so that our faces were inches apart and cupped my face with both his hands. I couldn’t look away from his gaze, from this man I’d loved; I was trapped in it, and willingly.

“You know what I think,” I said in barely a whisper, my lips grazing his as I spoke.

“You’ve said a lot of things over the last few days,” he murmured.

I smiled nervously, so afraid to admit what he already knew. “To these people, you’re a golden god, Sage. More than that, you’re my golden god. That never, ever changed.”

He leaned in and kissed me right below the ear. I closed my eyes, relishing the sparks he created, breathing in his intoxicating scent. “I think you might be the best cure for stage fright this world has ever known.” Suddenly he pulled back and went to the door, hand on the lock. “How much time did Jacob say I had?”

“Fifteen minutes,” I told him breathlessly. “Maybe ten now.”

He grinned, showing off those dimples. “That’s enough time to make you come twice.”

My eyes widened while a beautiful terror wound itself around my body. My underwear was probably soaked in seconds flat. Before I had time to get really nervous, he locked the door and was at me, my face grasped between his strong hands, his lips on mine. He kissed me like a feverish man, lost and delirious and wanting, always wanting. I tried to catch up, my hands flying to his chest, feeling the coldness of the leather against the warmth of his skin. I clawed at him, clumsy and eager, while he fucked my mouth with his tongue, ran lips down my neck, pulled my body up against his until I could feel for myself just how hard he was, how badly he wanted me.

I felt like I was reliving a memory I’d abandoned, but this was real; it was happening. Our hands on each other felt like second nature, my body fitting against his like a puzzle piece that clicked into place. This was so easy, so fucking easy, and yet it thrilled me like nothing else, a hit of adrenaline worth a million live shows.

“Dawn,” he groaned into my mouth. “I want to fuck you so bad. I won’t be able to play my guitar until I play you.”

I gripped his head, my fingers lost in his curls, and was overtaken by the passion burning through me. “Then play me. Make me scream your name, and then make that crowd scream your name.”

“You’ve got it,” he said. Then he picked me up, his hands under my ass, fumbled forward, and brushed the setlist and guitar off to the side until I was sitting on the desk, my head smashing briefly against the mirror, the lights shaking. I quickly pulled my tank top over my head and tossed it over it his shoulder. He covered my nipples with his mouth, smoothing them over with his wide tongue while he reached down and bunched my skirt up around my hips.

I moaned loudly. I hadn’t had this feeling, this exquisite, nerve-dazzling feeling in such a long time. I felt like I was being awakened from one hell of a slumber.

He reached around to his back pocket, and I heard the tear of a condom wrapper. While he fiddled with that, I grabbed his belt buckle and brought him right up to me, my legs wrapping around his slender waist, the heels of my boots digging into the dents on his lower back. I unzipped his pants, freeing his cock from them. It was still so fucking beautiful, dangerously beautiful, and once it again it was mine. I bit my lip, relishing the weight and length of it in my hands.

He slipped the condom on it with precision then stroked his long fingers against my clit until they slowly entered me, one by one. His skilled fingers that could coax the most amazing sounds from his guitar and make me feel like I was another one of his virile instruments.

“You’re ready for me again,” he said, his eyes staring hard into mine, his breath shaking with lust.

“I never stopped being ready,” I said.

His eyes flashed with fire, his mouth dropped open, and it was on mine again as he grabbed my ponytail with one fist while he guided himself into me with his other hand. I gasped at the intrusion, the stab of pain that only lasted a few seconds before my body relaxed and molded to him, another missing piece of the puzzle.

He pushed into me slowly, each thrust measured and controlled. But as his grip on my hair tightened, pulling my head back against the mirror and exposing my throat to his tongue, mouth, teeth, he pushed into me harder, fuller, all the way to the hilt. His pace became faster, his breath harder, his groans louder, his thumb sliding quicker on my clit until I was coming and couldn’t do anything about it.

I cried out, unable to keep myself from yelling his name, an explosion of warmth that rocked me on sharp waves of pleasure. I felt fizzy and giddy, luxuriating in the feeling, but he was far from done.

He bit down on my neck and groaned. “That was once; you’re coming again.”

He pumped harder and faster into me, rattling the mirror and the lights, the desk thumping against the walls. I heard someone knock at the door and try the door handle, but it felt like that was happening in another world. In this world, it was only me and Sage, the muse and the master, the man who created bliss for me in so many fucking ways. His talent knew no bounds. I felt like I owed him the world, if not just the little one we were currently in.

“I’m almost there,” he grunted, his breath heavy, sweat gathering on his brow. His glazed green eyes stared at me in a whirl of passion. “I want you to look at me as we come. I want you to make me forget. You’re better than any drug.”

I made sure I kept eye contact with him, no matter how intimate it was, and dug my fingers into his waist, driving him forward into me. His body never lost the rhythm that was so deeply engrained in him—always on beat, always in time. His fingers expertly rubbed me until I was swollen and about to burst, and I could see he was, too.

He came hard and furious, eyes rolling back in his head and groaning loudly in such a baritone, animalistic way that I’m sure I could have come again from just that alone. We both clung to each other, riding out the crescendo together, making sure we were feeling it all as one. One beat. One note. One song.

I slowly came back into the real world, my face buried in his chest, breathing in the smell of his leather vest, my legs untangling themselves from around his waist.

“Wow,” I breathed, unable to think of anything more fitting to say.

“Yeah,” he said, his voice raw and rough. “I think we both needed that.”

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