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Authors: Elizabeth Nelson

Backstage Pass

Backstage Pass

A
New Adult Romance

by Elizabeth Nelson

First Kindle Original Edition 2013

A Bristlecone Book

All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2013 Elizabeth Nelson

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author and/or publisher. No part of this publication may be sold or hired, without written permission from the author.

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https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethNelsonRomance

Contents

CHAPTER 1

“Kerri, I’m going to kill you.”
I gripped the back of my best friend’s pants as we wound our way through the sweaty, drunk crowd dancing to the pulsing music.

“No you won’t, Sasha. This is going to be fun,” Kerri said over her shoulder, her voice way too chirpy for the amount of alcohol in her system.

I pressed my lips together and twisted out of the way of another pair of grabbing hands. I didn’t hate parties, or loud music, or even drinking. But after six nights, I was ready for a quiet night in.

Alone.

“You’ve got to hear this band, then we’ll go,” Kerri shouted.

No, I don’t
, I thought. I can do without ever hearing another garage band.

Kerri stopped and I ran into her back. The crowd pressed into the gap behind me and I bristled. A smelly tidal wave of alcohol and perfume crashed over me and I tried breathing through my mouth but it didn’t taste much better than it smelled. “Ten minutes, Kerri, then I’m going home.”

Kerri tugged me beside her. “Fine. Ten minutes.”

I sighed and settled in for an hour of terrible lyrics and a complete lack of musicality. No matter what I threatened Kerri, I would never leave her alone. Above us, the band members mingled around the stage, moving equipment and sound checking. An opened bottle of Jack Daniels sat in front of the drum set and cigarette smoke lent a ghostly quality to the set.

How they could possibly hear anything over the other music blaring through the party was beyond me. Kerri leaned closer and whispered, “The one in the black shirt is Jesse. He’s their lead singer and writes all their stuff.”

Super. I didn’t roll my eyes. “How do you know him?”

“He played Trey’s frat party last week.”

I’d been lucky to escape that one. My chemistry professor made me retake a quiz. Now I was wishing she had seven other quizzes. The front-man, Jesse, turned around and I narrowed my eyes.
I think he’s in my English class.
Not that it mattered—after tonight Jesse and his band would be a bad memory.

Kerri twisted away and waved frantically. I peered over her shoulder. Kerri’s boyfriend, Trey, lifted the four beer bottles in salute and weaved through the crowd. He handed us each a bottle, took a swig of one and set the remaining bottle on the stage. Jesse sauntered over and crouched down, legs splayed on either side of my head.
Nice cock shot, creep. Ugh
.

I angled my head so I could stare past his crotch. His straight dark hair fell over one eye, adding a dark edge to his Asian features. I took another step back and studied Jesse while he talked to Trey. Straight dark brows accented almond eyes that roamed the crowd. They landed on me and I met his stare. His full lips curved up in a cocky smile and he clinked his beer against mine. Foam raced toward the lip. Without comment or grimace, I lifted it to my lips and swallowed. All the girls probably simpered and flirted at that look.

Well, they weren’t me.

“Thanks for coming,” Jesse said, still looking at me. Alcohol lowered his lids seductively, but all I could see was a drunk. He was wasted. Or stoned.

“Yeah. Kerri made me.”

Kerri made a face and threw her hands up. She’d made it her mission this semester to hook me up. A plan that was doomed to fail.

Jesse took a pull off his beer. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”

I smiled to make Kerri happy, but didn’t put much effort into it.

“Thanks for the drink,” he said to Trey.

“Yeah man, catch you after.”

Someone killed the blaring pop track and heads swiveled toward the stage. Bodies pressed closer, cocooning me in a smothering warmth. The drummer tapped out a beat, then Jesse jumped into the song. They were semi-talented and I didn’t actually hate the track. It wasn’t anything I’d add to a playlist, and if they’d get rid of the bass player, it would be better. Jesse could sing and seemed to have some skill with the guitar. An impressive feat, considering how smashed he was. Sober he was probably incredibly talented.

I relaxed and sipped my beer. Then winced. I should have asked Trey for an apple martini or cosmopolitan. Beer hated me and I’d have a gut ache before long. Jesse started up a new set and my finger tapped the label.

Damn.

I really didn’t want to like this punk’s music. He smiled and stared at me during the entire song. He was probably so used to groupies throwing random clothes his way after singing a song to them.

Sorry bub, my panties don’t work like that.

I broke his gaze and scanned the crowd. Dozens of chicks were gyrating and yelling. Yep, there’s the first pair of panties. A pink thong sailed through the air and landed at the keyboardist’s feet. He grinned and blew a kiss at the redhead who’d basically tossed her vagina on stage.

I rolled my eyes and glanced at Jesse. His grin widened and he winked.

Oh no, I’m not falling for that either. I ignored him and took another drink. As he started the next song, my foot joined my tapping finger and I admitted that they were actually very talented. Not that I’d tell him that. Or Kerri. God, that girl needed absolutely no ammunition when it came to boys.

The band played three more original songs, then a couple covers. I hid my smile behind my bottle when they played my favorite Kansas song. No way even a dozen of these drunks knew who Kansas was. Jesse caught my attention and winked again. I raised an eyebrow but didn’t look away this time. His grin widened and he gyrated his hips.

I laughed.
Okay, maybe he’s funny, but that doesn’t mean I’m interested.

Kerri tugged on my arm. “Still going to kill me?”

“Shut it.”

“Admit it, you’re having a good time.”

I pressed my cheek against Kerri’s. “Like I’d tell you.”

Kerri grinned and bounced up and down. “I knew it!”

I pretend-glared.

Kerri wiggled her hips. “Trey wants us to come back to the frat house.”

I bunched my lips and wrinkled my nose. There really wasn’t anything I could use for an excuse. For the first time in a month, I was totally caught up on my homework. My next test wasn’t for another two weeks, and the office where I temped was getting remodeled. I actually had nothing going on.

And Kerri knew it.

I nodded, making Kerri squeal and jump up and down.

“It’s just a party. Not a date!”

Kerri wiggled her eyebrows.

“I’m serious Kerri. I am not dating that boy.” I pointed my beer at Jesse. And groaned.

I didn’t realize he’d just finished a song while Kerri had been teasing me. With my arm outstretched, I looked like a complete groupie. He grinned and blew me a kiss. Every girl within a ten-foot radius sighed and reached up to catch it.

“He’s totally into you.”

“He’s totally into Jack Daniels, right now. I’m just another pair of panties.”

“Thanks for coming everyone,” Trey said as he popped the microphone into the holder. “Come see us at Port O’Call, next week. Goodnight!”

Wild applause erupted and they exited stage left.

Trey slipped a hand around Kerri’s waist. “Ready, you two?”

Kerri leaned up and whispered in his ear. Trey looked at me, jumped his gaze up at the stage, then back. He raised an eyebrow. “Really?”

“No,” I said. “Not
really
. Whatever she told you is a typical Kerri-exaggeration. I’m coming to the frat house. That’s
it
.”

Trey shrugged and gave her a lopsided grin. “Sure. Whatever you say.”

“Kerri,” I drew out the word. “Stop telling him lies.”

“Sure,” she chirped. “Whatever you say.”

I shook my head and rolled my eyes, following them out of the party.

We walked down the block to the frat house with Trey and Kerri mauling each other the whole way. I was used to their public displays of affection, so it didn’t bother me. What did bug me was that I couldn’t get that damn band’s songs out of my head. I’d been humming one for the last hundred yards.

Trey’s hand slipped up Kerri’s shirt. That was a new one. “Get a room you two.”

“Almost there,” Trey said before jamming his tongue down Kerri’s throat.

I jogged ahead of them and up the frat house steps. Axel greeted me at the door. I kissed his dark cheek and slipped an arm through his. “Make me a drink?”

“Of course.” Axel kissed the tip of my nose. His hazel eyes hinted at something more, like always, but he’d been relegated to the friend zone since the moment we met. He was too kind, too wonderful for me to ruin with a relationship. He’d asked me out at least a dozen times, but finally quit last year after I’d told him that he couldn’t hang out with me anymore if he didn’t stop.

But he still gave me this wounded puppy look every time he saw me.

I bumped my hip against his. “Dating anyone?”

He twisted his head and looked down at me. “No one worth having.”

I scowled. “I’ll work on finding you someone.”

“No need. I’ve already found her, just waiting for her to get her head out.”

I yanked on his arm. “Better stop.”

“You said I couldn’t hit on you, not that I couldn’t bring it up.”

“You can’t bring it up.”

“Too late.”

Axel turned and pressed his back into the swinging door that led to the kitchen. His arms wound around my waist. “Oops.”

I laughed and smacked his arm. “You’re impossible.”

“And relentless.” He wound his fingers through mine and tugged me toward the mini-bar set up on the counter. “What’ll it be?”

“Cosmo?”

“Hmmm.” He pretended to examine the bottles, shaking his head and setting each one down. “What’s in that again?”

“Vodka, triple sec, lime, and cranberry juice.”

“Ah yes, girly, wimpy, hardly alcoholic.”

“On purpose!” I teased. “Like I’d ever get wasted around here. That’s a good way to get date raped.”

Axel’s face fell. “I’d never let that happen.”

I tipped my head to the side and touched his forearm. “I know. But still.”

“But still. Probably a good personal rule.”

I wagged my finger. “Boys can get date raped too, you know.”

“I wish!”

I laughed and planted my hands on my hips. “You’re—”

“Relentless. Yes, we went over this.” He leaned forward and kissed my nose right as I tipped my chin to correct him. Our lips met. His were warm and firm. A strong hand instantly encircled my waist and pulled me closer.

“Sorry,” a voice said from the doorway.

I spun. Jesse stood in the doorway. I glanced at Axel and walked out of the kitchen.

“Sash—” Music drowned out the rest of Axel’s sentence.

I pressed my fingertips to my lips. They tingled and I had a queasy feeling that if Jesse hadn’t interrupted, I wouldn’t have pushed Axel away. God, I must be ovulating. First, a rockstar-wannabe was infiltrating my thoughts and now my best friend was getting me bothered.

Swinging around the railing, I ran upstairs and knocked on Trey’s door. “Kerri, I’m headed out.”

Muffled voices and moaning stopped. “Wait,” Kerri said through the door. Then Trey mumbled something.

“Are you okay?” Kerri pulled the door open a crack. She held a sheet to her chest. Naked shoulders and a wild halo of hair made my guts twist. They hadn’t wasted any time getting busy.

“Yeah, I just got tired.”

“What happened?”

I shook my head. This would take longer than Kerri could give me right now. “I’m fine. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

Kerri narrowed her eyes. “Are you lying?”

“No!” I pulled my fake grin wider. “Seriously. I’m fine.”

Kerri blew me a kiss. “Text me when you get home.”

“Trey,” I yelled over Kerri’s head. “Don’t let her walk home alone.”

“Never.”

I waved my fingers and turned. The door clicked and Kerri squealed. This time I rolled my eyes. Trey was a good guy, but certainly not permanent material. I managed to dodge Axel and slipped through the bodies and out the front door.

“Hey,” a voice called behind me.

At the bottom step, I turned. Jesse stood at the edge of the patio, hands jammed in his jean pockets. “Can I give you a ride?”

“No, thanks. Not a fan of getting in cars with drunks.” Bodies shifted and morphed behind Jesse like a kaleidoscope backdrop. So far, I didn’t see Axel.

“I’m not drunk.”

I raised an eyebrow.
I do not have time for this.
“Right.”

“No seriously. I drank before the show—,” he hesitated. “A lot. But playing in front of a crowd is such a rush I burn it all.” He held up a flat hand. “See? Stone-cold sober.”

“Still not getting in a car with you. Thanks.”

“Can I walk you?”

I shook my head. As I turned, Axel’s head popped over the crush of people. Damn. He would totally follow me and want to talk about what happened. I didn’t need things getting any weirder tonight. I glanced at Jesse and tried to size him up. Creep or overconfident guitarist?

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