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CHAPTER 1 – GONE FOR YOU BY JAYNE FROST
My knee bounced up and down nervously as the cab inched along in the heavy afternoon traffic on I35. Pulling out my cell phone, I hit redial.
“Yeah?” Logan answered, sounding as frazzled as I felt.
“Have you heard anything?” Biting off a piece of my nail, I spit it on the floorboard.
From the front seat, the cab driver glared at me in the rearview mirror. I gave him an apologetic smile.
“Not in the last five minutes,” Logan said, his exasperation evident. “I told you I’d call if I heard anything. Where are you?”
Looking around, I tried to find anything that looked remotely familiar. I was from Austin, for Christ’s sake. The only time I ever ventured the two hundred miles north to Dallas was for a gig or a football game.
“Fuck, dude. I have no clue.”
“Just get here as fast as you can. Christian’s phone is still off.”
The exasperation in Logan’s voice had an edge of fear. The same fear I felt fluttering in my belly.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can.” I raked a hand through my hair. “Just call if…”
“Yeah, yeah, I will. Fuck. Lindsey just walked in. I gotta go.”
Before I could reply, the line went dead. I was a buffer between Logan and our half-witted manager, Lindsey. The insensitive bitch could work him up in a hot minute under the best of circumstances. I met the driver’s gaze in the mirror.
“Hey, man, how much farther?”
The cabbie gave me a half shrug. “About twenty minutes in this traffic.”
Taking off my sunglasses, I rubbed my tired eyes. When I got the call that Christian had been in an accident, I jumped in the first cab I could find, not bothering to wait for the car service the label had on standby. At the moment, I regretted that particular decision. The fucking cab looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in a year, and the driver looked like he hadn’t bathed in just as long. His funk permeated the entire space. Reaching over, I hit the button to crack the window. Nothing. I hit it again.
“Hey, man, can you open the window back here?” I barked over the music.
“No can do. Too many fumes out there.”
I stared at him incredulously. Unfuckingbelievable. It smelled like a dog’s ass in here, and the dude was oblivious. Dropping my head against the back of the seat, I closed my eyes.
“Before we get back to our super set, we’ve got some news,” the DJ on the local rock station began in a somber voice. “I’ve just gotten word that Christian Sears, bassist for the band Caged, has been involved in an accident this afternoon in Dallas…”
“Oh, man. That’s terrible,” his female counterpart cut in. “I hope it’s nothing serious.”
Sitting bolt upright, I leaned forward. “Turn that up!”
Startled, the driver reached for the volume button on the radio. The speakers crackled to life. “We haven’t got any official word yet on his condition. Caged is scheduled to perform this Saturday at the AT&T Stadium. We’ll keep y’all advised. Our thoughts are with you Christian.” And just like that, the DJ went back into his cheery radio persona.
“And now back to our Monday super set. Here’s the latest from Caged, ’Above Me,’ on 97.1 The Eagle.”
I hit the cracked, vinyl seat with a balled fist.
“I knew you looked familiar,” the cabbie said, his smile fading when he met my gaze in the rearview mirror. “You’re Colin, right? The guitarist from Caged?”
“Cameron,” I said wearily. “Cameron Knight.” I managed to give him a halfhearted smile.
“Man, I love your music.” Cutting across two lanes of traffic, he jerked the cab onto the shoulder, spitting up gravel. “I’ll get you there as soon as I can. Hold on.”
My chest contracted as the air left my lungs, my shoulders sagging in relief.
“Thanks, man, I appreciate it.”
As the cab barreled past the four lanes of gridlock, I curled my fingers into the edge of the seat so I wouldn’t slide around. The lump of dread in my throat was like coal—dry and bitter. I swallowed hard to dislodge it. And I prayed.
Scanning the waiting room of the emergency ward at Parkland Memorial, I spotted Logan seated in the corner, wearing dark sunglasses and a baseball cap pulled low on his head. He was doing his best to look inconspicuous. As inconspicuous as a six foot four inch rock star with long, blond hair in a three hundred dollar, custom fitted shirt could look. Lindsey was at his side, tapping on her iPhone.
“Cameron—” she started when I walked up.
Cutting her off, I looked at Logan. “Anything?”
“They’re taking him back for a CAT scan or an MRI,” he said quietly, looking around cautiously at the people that had begun to stare in our direction. “Something like that. They’re checking for internal injuries. I haven’t seen him yet. The doc says it doesn’t look serious.”
“Thank God.” Pulling a plastic chair from against the wall, I sank onto it with a thud. “Where’s Sean?” Looking around for the only member of our band that wasn’t present, I noticed a couple of camera phones pointed in our direction.
“Cafeteria,” Logan groused. “He left as soon as he heard Christian was in the clear. Fucker is a bottomless pit.”
Chuckling, I took a couple deep breaths, the tension dissipating from my shoulders. “So now we just wait, huh?” Stretching my legs out in front of me, I crossed them at the ankle, dropping my gaze to the floor. I didn’t want this little powwow to end up on TMZ or some crap tabloid show. Caged wasn’t newsworthy enough to garner the attention of the mainstream press, but our celebrity made us ripe for tabloid fodder. Or at the very least, a clip on someone’s blog. Annoying as shit, but it came with the territory.
“You guys should get out of here,” Lindsey said, in her best authoritative voice.
She shrank in her seat when Logan and I swiveled our heads and scowled at her.
The woman was not only a bad manager, she was fucking clueless. I wouldn’t leave here without a court order, and even then, I’d rather go to jail.
Shaking his head, Logan looked from me to Lindsey.
“You know what, Lindsey? Why don’t you get the fuck out of here?” he snapped, leveling her with a look of disdain. “And do…whatever it is that you do.”
Bristling, she looked down at her phone when it began to ring. “I should take Standing stiffly, she walked toward the automatic door.
“She needs to get out of my fucking sight before I strangle her.” Logan watched her retreating back, his jaw clenched. “Her phone has been going off every five minutes since she walked in. Do you know she actually had the nerve to ask if I could do a phone interview while we waited?”
He continued to stare at Lindsey through the dirty windows. She was puffing on a cigarette, her arms flapping as she spoke. I was with Logan. I couldn’t stand the bitch. Hiring a company from L.A. to manage us was the biggest mistake we ever made.
“Excuse me.” The petite nurse stepped in front of us, a pink flush staining her cheeks. She was cute. Flaming red hair and green eyes as wide as saucers. She swept her gaze over my long hair, her eyebrow cocking when she reached the tattoos winding down my arms, then gave Logan the same treatment. It was clear that she recognized us.
Normally, either Logan or I would be putting on the charm, vying shamelessly for her attention. Probably both of us.
“Um…Christian…Mr. Sears has been admitted for observation. He’s going to be fine. He’s asking for you,” she stammered, flushing a deeper shade of crimson. “Both of you. He’s asking for both of you.”
We were on our feet, headed for the door before she finished.
“No, wait—you can’t go through there.” She closed the distance, regaining her composure. “You have to take the elevator. He’s in room 402.”
“Thanks, darlin’.” I stopped in front of her, and she inhaled sharply. Brushing past me, Logan powered toward the bank of elevators. “Our friend Sean went to the cafeteria. He’s about six foot one and—”
“I know what Sean looks like,” she said shyly. “I’ll tell the duty nurse to send him up as soon as he comes back.”
“Thanks again…” Looking at the lanyard hanging in front of her perfect tits, I swept my eyes to hers. “Sophia.”
“You’re welcome…Cameron.” Her smile turned from shy to seductive.
I glanced at her left hand. No wedding ring.
“CAMERON!” Logan bellowed behind me. “Come on!”
Winking, I turned and sauntered toward him, stepping into the elevator.
“You’re a fucking dog,” he muttered, hitting the button for the fourth floor.
“Woof,” I growled, the elevator doors whooshing closed on Sophia and her pretty green eyes still watching me from across the room.