SEVEN MINUTES 'TIL MIDNIGHT by SUNNIVA DEE IS LIVE!
I let out a strangled moan. My phone buzzes, making me drop the magazine to the floor. It’s Troy himself, the last person I want to talk with right now. It’s been months since I last saw him, and honestly, I’d forgotten about the video shoot I agreed to partake in. Almost honestly.
I reject the call. He redials immediately, while I flip back to the center of Star Report and start perusing the pictures.
I count quickly. Twenty-four explicit photos. Jesus Christ, they’re so hardcore they had to black out fistfuls of genitals.
First up is Bo Lindgren, solo guitarist and band leader, pale, androgynous, and all slender muscle in the arms of his wife, Nadia. Physically connected to the most intimate degree, they’re staring deeply into each other’s eyes, in the throes of an ecstasy that should have been private.
I turn the page and find Emil Vinter, the lead singer of the band. Golden-haired and charismatic as always, he’s doling it out doggy-style to his only match in crazy, wife Zoe. She’s screaming out her pleasure. Loudly too, from the looks of it.
Bass player Elias Mikaelsson exudes raw, animalistic passion in his section of the spread. With vampire-perfect features and hair so light it’s silver, his porcelain-white body entangles with the ebony of the Somalian goddess he chose for his part.
Another buzz from my phone. It skids off the top of my purse and clacks to the tiles. Troy again! My stomach tightens in response before I turn back to the article.
On page eight and nine, my panic bursts free. I know why he’s calling me. Troy’s staring at the same thing I am, right now. I’m sure of it; his hard angles and my soft curves swell off the pages and straight into my chest. What the hell was I thinking?
The one good thing that came of my merch-girl stint with Clown Irruption was my current job as a wardrobe assistant for the rock-opera trio, The Thalias. With them, I travel the country in languid commodity. We’re in dinner theaters and small venues where they draw sophisticated, adult crowds. The Thalias were just what I needed, a quiet, low-key gig that doesn’t stuff my heart into a blender and press “GO!” on a daily basis.
I purse my lips, letting out a puff of anxiety.
Clown Irruption shot me off to a different planet. Daring, talented, and groundbreaking, they smashed the cookie cutter for modern rock and painted heartbreak and depression in ravenous colors, glorifying the physicality of love beyond all acceptable borders in their songs.
The college crowd adored them. Women danced, cried, begged. Working for Bo, Elias, Emil, and Troy was like being at the eye of a tornado. Until I became the tornado and it was time to flee.
Impatient, I brush hair away from my face; it’s whatever. We all have a past.
I study the photos. Zoe, Nadia, and Waris, the Somalian girl, are scantily clad, while I’m fully dressed in one of my long, billowy skirts, arms bangled like my Gypsy culture prefers. Even my drawstring top is in place. The décolletage is wider than usual, with the swell of my breasts on display. Later, Troy pressed them upward and washed them in kisses so delicious my eyes couldn’t remain open.
Memories rest in the cells of your skin, and they can cause warmth to explode in your belly. They do it to me, now, a recap of how it was when I was there with him.
Once I got there, into that room, it was over. Cameras or not, he and I were bound to go all the way. It was my choice. I came onto him, appearing there as his weakness, and it was my sweet revenge for disasters past.
In the magazine I’m holding, his eyes glow leopard green against the bronze of his skin. Long, thick dreads, black at the roots, fading to auburn until the last inches of them shine blond. I remember how I buried my fingers around them, digging against his scalp until he moaned and climbed high in ecstasy with me. God.
In those pictures, he burns with single-minded, live-in-the-moment fervor. It shows how he’s there for you. For this one girl. For me. I cup my mouth, breathing shallowly into my hands. Because, yes, I know for a fact the girl he’s there for is me.
A legendary drummer. An outrageous music video... and little me blowing his ever-loving mind in it.
Next thing I knew, my anonymity was a thing of the past.
“Clown Irruption’s smash hit goes from hawt to adult!”— Star Report, April Edition.
The uncensored, all-bared footage was leaked.
And here I was, forced to stare down the same paparazzi lenses the band did.
“Meet Aishe Xodyar, the vixen who made Troy Armstrong reach Heaven on tape!”—Fan Chicks, May Edition.
I cowered behind enemy lines.
Aka joined the band on their worldwide arena tour.
It was another one of my unfortunate miscalculations.
See, Troy Armstrong was formidable.
We were polar opposites, but he still sucked me in like a magnet.
A fragile truce set in between us. Then, a mutual crush.
I had an obsessive nature, but my fixation on him was downright wholesome compared to their new merch girl’s.
“Meet Hailey Pawter, secret stalker, fangirl, and dangerously gifted lookalike.”—Tabloid Minute, June Edition.
As Hailey’s web tightened around us, love in the limelight turned from complicated to impossible.
Seven Minutes 'til Midnight is standalone novel #3 in the Rock Gods collection.
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