Something is going on with Kylie.
For the first time in god knows how long, she’s avoiding me. She has been since she got back from Las Vegas a week ago and she immediately asked for a few days off. Like a dumbass, I agreed and told her to take as long as she needs. And the only thing I’ve heard from her since is the seven-worded response to the text I sent asking her to bring my award when she comes back to work: Hell no. You can have the next. ;)
That was a couple of days ago, and I’m worried about her. So worried that I’m on the verge of calling McCrae—who I haven’t seen much of either—and asking him what fucked up thing he’s done to her this time. Or just go by her shoebox apartment. As soon as I’m done with today’s music video shoot.
I’ve made it a point to stay out of their relationship, but if he’s fucked up again, I’m done.
There’s a tentative knock on the door, and an assistant pokes her head into my dressing room. “Mr. Wolfe?” she says, and when I realize she’s not going to respond until I tell her to, I nod for her to continue. “Mr. McBride is ready to begin shooting.”
I check the time on my phone, 1:55 p.m. I’ve worked with Karl McBride on several of the band’s music videos, and as usual, he’s right on time.
Staring down at the dressing room’s carpeted floor, the assistant works her bottom lip between her teeth. “Should I tell Mr. McBride that you need more time?” Shaking my head, I stand up. She’s wide-eyed as she lifts her gaze to follow me. “I mean, it absolutely wouldn’t be a problem. Mr. McBride wants to make you—” But her voice trails off as I pull the door all the way open and step past her.
“Happy, I know,” I say. McBride’s assistant continues to look at me like she’s about to sprint off in the other damn direction. Am I that fucking intimidating? “I need to get this over with.”
“Yes, of course.”
I follow at a slow pace behind her as she speed-walks in the direction of the set. Once we’re there, McBride breaks away from a group of crewmembers to come speak to me. Grinning, he claps me on the back.
“Never thought the day would come when you’d want to do something short notice but we’re all in. It’ll be the best YTS video to date,” he promises.
“Solo,” I remind him. “This is for my own album.”
He smacks his palm up against his tan forehead. “Damn, sorry. I think of you and I always automatically think the band.”
“Still with the band,” I say. “Just trying my own shit right now. Which is why we’re”—I gesture at the set, which is a simple backdrop with nothing but a high stool in front of it—“here today.”
McBride releases a noise of relief. “Then we’re ready to begin.” He glances at his watch. “Melanie?”
The assistant who came to get me a few minutes ago scurries over, keeping her eyes downcast. For a brief moment, this woman gives me a vivid reminder of my first meeting with Sienna a couple of years ago. Red had jumped at just about every word I said, had flat-out avoided me at all costs, and I’d never been more drawn to anyone in my life.
I’m not drawn to Melanie—not even close—but she sure as fuck makes me want Sienna more.
“Yes, Mr. McBride?” Melanie’s got a pen and a little notepad out, but McBride’s instructions are simple.
“Tell Christina if she’s not out of her dressing room in the next five minutes—” he starts, but I quickly stop him. That name, Christina, sounds familiar. And not the good kind of familiar but the kind that puts a foul taste in my mouth.
“That psycho who worked with me on the “All Over You” video?” I demand, and he nods. “Why the fuck would she be here?”
“Your love interest, Lucas.”
The last fucking thing I need in a music video to apologize to the woman I’m in love with is another woman crawling all over me, especially Christina. I jerk my head from side to side. “Fire her.”
McBride is suddenly just as flustered as his assistant. “I can’t just get another actress out here right away, Lucas. Not even for you. We can reshoot in a day or two maybe or even in—”
I shake my head again. “No, no actress at all. When I told you I wanted this video to be simple, I meant that. This is just me. No bullshit. And no actresses dancing around me or up on me. Just me and the song.
He backs away from me, his face a mask of confusion. At last he nods. “Melanie, sweetheart, can you get in touch with Christina’s agent?” When she immediately tells him she will, he adds, “And get me Deana.”
Another name that very familiar. I take a step toward McBride, pointing to set at the same time. “No need to discuss concepts, Karl. Everything I need to do this video is right there. You want something extra? I’ll hold up notecards or something, but that’s it.”
Karl’s shoulders slump, and the look on his face says it all—he thinks this is going to be a clusterfuck of a video—but finally he says, “Can we take thirty to get everything under control?”
“I’ll be in my dressing room.”
Even though she’s busy trying to reach Christina’s people on her iPhone, Melanie is right on my heels (obviously on McBride’s orders) as I head back to my dressing room, asking me if I need anything. When we reach the room, I stand in the doorway and bar her from trying to come inside.
“If I need a water, trust me, I know how to find it,” I say as I let myself in and shut the door behind me before she can say anything else. I’m almost to the couch on the other side of the room when the door swings open. Turning abruptly, I’m ready to tell Melanie to fuck off until they’re ready for me, but instead I face my sister. A lot of the tension I’ve been feeling seems to disappear.
“Shit, here I was thinking your ass had fallen off the face of the earth.”
But my relief to see her must show on my face because she grins. “I got your message this morning about the “Ten Days” music video, and I had to be here.” She breezes past me and throws herself down on the couch. There’s a bowl of apples on the coffee table, which she wrinkles her nose up at even as she grabs one. “Sorry it took me so long. Security gave me a hard time.”
“You were on the list.” I sit down a few feet away from her, watching her expression carefully for any signs that might point to bullshit between her and Wyatt. When she shows none of those, I add, “They should’ve let you right in.”
“It’s the hair.” She sighs, running her hand through her multi-colored hair. “It was a different color on my ID. I need to color it back, but I’m afraid it’ll all fall out if I do.”
“Kylie,” I say, but she keeps going.
“I brought you your award.” She reaches into her oversized bag and plunks a statuette that’s shaped like a giant guitar pick on the coffee table beside the bowl of fruit. “I was going to keep it, but figured you’d keep hounding me if I didn’t give it back.”
If I wasn’t so worried about her—or still focused on nothing but the video shoot—I would have missed the ring. But I see it—fuck, it’s impossible not to see it. And I feel all my muscles tighten up. “I’d be dumb as fuck if I asked if that was a purity ring or whatever the hell they call them, huh?”
Placing the partially eaten apple onto her lap, she brings her hand to her chest, covering her ring finger with her other hand. “If purity means married then I guess you’re not so dumb after all.”
“He proposed to you?” I demand, but she shakes her head. I’m about to ask her if someone else proposed, but she clears her throat.
“We, ah, sealed the deal in Vegas. I’ve been meaning to tell you, but I know you’ve been busy with all the band stuff.”
Too busy to give a shit about something like this? “Kylie,” I groan, but she holds up her hands defensively and leans in close.
“And before you even ask, no, I’m not pregnant.”
Because our conversation is just getting started, it suddenly has to come to a close because there are a few timid knocks at the dressing room door. Melanie peeks inside and Kylie and I both glance over at her.
“Mr. Wolfe, we’re ready for you again.”