Say You Won't Let Go (Page 18)
This all sounds great, but the fact is, it isn’t me I’m worried about. It’s Cooper.
She cups my chin and pulls it toward her. “I get that the man I told you to stay away from hurt you. I’m sorry that you’re broken, but you sing country music, honey. Go out there and tell it in your music.”
“I can’t go on that stage,” I murmur as I look away.
Standing in the same place where he threatened me and the people I love… I’m not strong enough. I glance up to find Wade watching me suspiciously.
“You’re quitting then?” Ginny asks.
I could never. Music is who I am, but I can’t imagine going out there.
“She’ll be ready in an hour,” Wade answers.
“Excuse me?” I don’t think so, buddy. You don’t get to tell me what I’m doing.
“I said you’ll be ready for your show. You want me to stay on as your bodyguard, then you need to actually leave the damn bus. Otherwise, there’s no reason for me to be here. You have your panic button, a security team, as well as cameras installed to keep you safe. Get up, get ready, and sing your pretty little heart out.”
My jaw drops. “You work for me. I’m in charge.”
He laughs and then takes another bite.
“I like him,” Ginny notes. “I’ll see you in an hour.”
Both of them leave the room, and I flop back on the bed.
My phone dings, and I grab it quickly, hoping it’s Cooper.
Grace: What the ever-loving hell have you done?
Disappointment strikes me that it isn’t him. He must hate me.
I hate me.
Me: Please don’t…
Grace: You fell in love with your bodyguard? Really? Cooper is a good guy, Em.
Like I don’t know that. He’s a good guy that doesn’t deserve to lose his herd. He’s a good guy who doesn’t need some crazy asshole trying to kill him just to prove his undying love to me. It isn’t what I want. None of this is.
I want Cooper.
I want our love, but sacrificing your own happiness is sometimes what love is.
I’m doing the unselfish thing by letting him go.
Me: Don’t forget that you’re married to Trent and not Cooper.
It’s a low blow, but she doesn’t have the right to judge me. I’m not actually dating Wade. Hell, I can barely stand his bossiness most days.
Grace: I know how my story played out, honey. It’s yours that I’m worried about.
Me: Tell me this gets easier. Tell me that I will stop feeling like I’m the worst person in the world.
Grace: Oh, Em. I wish it did.
I bite my thumbnail, debating whether I should ask her if she’s seen him. I’m assuming she heard about the breakup from Presley.
Me: Is he okay?
Grace: Not really. He lost you to another man that he hired to protect you. I’m not really sure what you’re thinking.
Neither am I.
“Fifty minutes,” Wade yells from the other side of the door.
Ugh. “I never said I was doing it,” I reply.
“You either get your ass in the shower on your own or I’ll strip you down and put you in there myself,” he warns.
He wouldn’t dare. Would he?
Not wanting to take any chances, I get up and lock the door, not that I think that’ll actually keep him out, but hopefully it’s a deterrent.
I shoot a text off to Grace before GI Joe decides it’s time for a shower.
Me: I have to get ready for my show. Can I call you later?
Grace: Of course. Just think about what you’re doing. I hate to see you give up something we both know you’ve wanted for a long time.
“Forty-five minutes,” the pain-in-the-ass-guard’s voice reminds me.
“Who needs alarm clocks when they have Wade Rycroft?”
I hear his chuckle as I turn the shower on.
My reflection actually makes me gasp. I look like shit. There’s no other way to describe it. My hair is knotted, my eyes are completely bloodshot, and I look like I went a few rounds in a boxing ring with Tyson, based on the swelling.
How the hell am I going to look human enough to perform?
As much as I want to enjoy the shower, I don’t have time. I quickly get myself scrubbed up, and thanks to the creep, I now get dressed in here.
I know the bus was swept for videos, but I’m completely sure whoever this guy is, he works on the tour in some capacity. Probably sound crew.
“Ten minutes, Emily.” Wade’s voice isn’t condescending for the first time in his countdown.
I unlock the door and stare at him. “Why are you suddenly being nice?”
“Because you’re listening.”
“You’re a complicated man.”
He smiles. “Not really. I’m pretty simple. Tell me the truth, love your family, and do the right thing.”
I sit at the table adjacent to him and the desire to tell him everything bubbles up. I’ve lied to everyone, and I no longer believe putting Cooper through this pain is the right thing.
My lips part, the words on the tip of my tongue, but they stay there. I don’t tell him anything out of fear.
“And what about love?”
Wade shrugs. “Love is an illusion.”
“Love is beautiful,” I counter.
“Until you lose it.”
There’s nothing to say back to that. He’s right. There’s nothing beautiful about what I’m feeling right now. However, he isn’t seeing the whole picture. “Even if I knew how this would go, I’d do it again and again. Because that beautiful part is worth all the ugly I’m feeling right now.”
I grab my guitar and head to the stairs. Wade doesn’t say anything as he follows, and I hope that one day some girl will show him that the reward is only there if you take a risk.
Getting on stage was the hardest thing I ever did, but I’m here now.
Music transports me, gives me a sense of relief, and with all the feelings swirling around, I need a release. It’s a gift that I feel my fans give me by allowing me the chance to give them a piece of me. Each song comes from deep in my soul.
“Would y’all mind if I sing something a little different tonight?”
Cheers erupt, and I strum my guitar and head to the edge of the stage. I sit with my legs over the side, and it’s as if I’m with the crowd.
One of the stage crew brings a microphone to me. “Have you ever lost someone you loved?” I play a few chords. “I’ve had a rough few days, and I’d like to sing this song as if we’re all sittin’ in my living room. Tonight, you’re my best friend and we’re going to work out our pain. Is that all right?”
The crowd quiets, and there’s only one song that fits this moment. I start the intro to my favorite Garth Brooks song. The lyrics to “The Dance” pour out of me. With my eyes closed, I imagine Cooper standing in front of me. I tell him how perfect my world was when I had him, and that even though things didn’t work, I wouldn’t change anything.
My voice is filled with my regret, my turmoil, and my anger toward the man who is doing this to me. I sing each note as if it could be my last and feel the tears that stream down my face.
I can almost see his green eyes as I give him this piece of my soul. Each verse speaks the truth regarding what’s inside my heart.
When I finish, I open my eyes and the arena goes nuts. I see people wiping their faces, screaming with their hands in the air, and the clapping is deafening.
“Thank you for listenin’.” I smile through the tears. “I love y’all so much!”
My throat is tight as I get to my feet. I walk back to center stage and pull myself together.
“All right, now I want everyone on their feet!” I shift gears and perform like it’s my life’s mission.
Song after song, I push past any performance I’ve ever given. The sounds coming from the audience let me know I did my job.
“Wow,” Luke says as I head off the stage. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”
“Thanks!” I bounce a little, feeding off the adrenaline.
“That was amazing!” Vince pulls me in his arms. “Damn, girl!”
Praises are passed around, and I blush a little. “Okay, y’all, it wasn’t that great.”
“Not that great?” Luke scoffs. “I don’t want to follow that.”
He’s ridiculous. “I know you’re just sayin’ that because you know I’m feeling shitty.”
Luke and Vince share a look and shake their heads. “No. We really aren’t. That was impressive, and I have a feeling you won’t be feeling shitty for very long if you keep that up.”
I continue talking with the boys, but when they head out to stage, Wade escorts me back to the bus.
“Do you have my phone?” I ask.
He hands it to me, and my mood plummets when I note there’s still no texts or calls.
“Have you talked to Cooper?” I ask, attempting to be indifferent.
“No. I figured after your breakup I’d hear something, but it’s been two days and nothing.”
The sound of my heartbeat pounds in my ears. “Nothin’?”
Cooper isn’t a sit-back kind of guy, so I’m sort of shocked he didn’t call Wade and lose his shit.