Say You Won't Let Go (Page 2)
A shiver races from my neck to the base of my spine. No. We definitely are not kids, and there’s nothing saying we can’t see where this goes.
“Maybe you should make up your mind.” I move toward him. Our breaths mingle and heat courses through my veins.
“Maybe I have.” His deep voice smolders, causing butterflies to take flight.
“Yeah?” I taunt. “Are you gonna share what you decided?”
His hand lifts with hesitation, but then he cups my cheek. “I’m more of an ‘actions speak louder than words’ kind of man.”
And then, Cooper leans forward, driving me crazy with how slow he moves. Inch by inch, his lips close in.
My breathing grows rapid as the anticipation builds. Years I’ve wondered. Years I’ve thought about what kissing him could be like. Crushes are called that for a reason—they’ll either crush your heart or crush your self-control. I’m thinking it’s going to be the second one with my luck.
I lift my hand and touch his cheek, and then, as our lips are just about to touch, a loud bang happens. I shift away as if I just got caught naked by my parents.
“Fuck! You’d think—” My drummer enters and sees the two of us. “Sorry, darlin’, didn’t know this space was occupied.” Vince starts to back out with his hands raised.
My chest rises and falls as I try to catch my breath. “It’s fine, Vince. We were just talking,” I say quickly even though it’s nowhere close to fine.
“Sure you were.” He sniggers.
I hate him.
I glare at him, and he laughs. “I’ll be back in twenty minutes. Luke is almost done, and you know he hates hanging around at the venue after the show.”
Vince exits, closing the door behind him, and I turn back to Cooper, who looks as if he’s trying to control his laughter. “What?”
“Just…” He chuckles.
“Same shit, different girl.”
At first, I’m offended. What the hell does that mean? And then it hits me, his kiss with Grace. Well, she and I may have grown up together, and she may be one of my best friends, but we are very different, and I intend to prove it.
I push forward, grip his face in my hands, and press my lips to his.
Within an instant, Cooper’s hands are around my waist. He tugs me against him and kisses me roughly. I meld my lips to his and kiss him back with so much passion that I could explode. Our tongues touch, sliding against each other’s as I find myself on my back, Cooper over me as my hands roam his taut body.
Jesus. I don’t think there’s ever been a first kiss that has felt like this.
He pulls back, his eyes searching mine as a smile forms on his delicious lips.
“So?” I ask. “Same shit?”
Cooper’s mouth brushes against mine, and he kisses me again. “Not even in the same ballpark.”
Three loud bangs on the door cause my eyes to fly open. “Emily! Let’s go! We’re on in thirty minutes,” Vince yells in the trailer.
I fell asleep.
“Okay! I’m comin’!”
I hop out of bed and start trying to get my face on. I don’t love stage makeup, but after seeing photos of the second show without it, I vowed to never look that way again. However, I don’t have an hour to really cake it on, so I do the best I can.
Cooper and I ended up hanging out until five in the morning. We spent most of the night just talking, but other parts were spent kissing. I didn’t know what I was thinking, but I couldn’t keep my hands off him. I tried to nap during the day, but my stomach was in knots thinking about him coming back to the show tonight. I’m on the verge of excitement and complete terror.
“Emily!” Ginny calls. “I’m coming in!”
Ginny is great. She’s a force of nature and a little scary, but she’s my biggest advocate. She was in Nashville, visiting one of the actors who was filming there, and happened to hear me sing. After the show, she and I spent two hours talking, and I signed with her a few days later. She represents a few big country music names and has her hands in a lot of the entertainment industry. I like knowing I can explore other options if this doesn’t work out.
“Hey, Ginny,” I reply as I deepen my eyeliner.
“You don’t have time for a man,” she states without so much as a hello.
“Nice to see you, too.” I toss the eyeliner down and dab on concealer.
“I’m serious. There’s no time for some random guy.”
And to think I was actually starting to like her. I glance over at her and weigh my words. “I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.”
“It’s my job to know everything, Emily. I know all about Cooper Townsend and who he is. You’re on the verge of becomin’ the next Luke. You have to keep your eye on the prize, and boys like that aren’t going to keep your focus on the music.”
She’s nuts if she thinks I’m not focused. She’s even more crazy if she thinks that my making out with Cooper one time will end up being more than just that—one time. More than anything, she’s lost her ever-loving mind if she believes for one moment that she’s going to dictate how I live my life.
“I’m going to pretend that you’re drunk,” I reply and go back to my makeup.
She means well… I think. And I need to perform in a few. That’s what I need to worry about, not her crazy talk.
I feel her bristle and hear her long sigh. “I’m serious. I’ve seen this a hundred times. Small-town girl gets her big break, only to have a man pull her back home. Telling her that she belongs where she came from. You don’t. You belong out there”—She turns and points toward the arena—“on that stage and in the spotlight. I’m telling you, sweetheart, you can’t get swept up in some hometown love. He’s going to drag you down and crush your dreams.”
Anger builds inside me as she says her last words. He isn’t like that. Even if we hadn’t been friends for over twenty years, after hearing him talk last night, I know that isn’t what he would ever do. Cooper spent his life giving up things for people. He isn’t going to ask me to do that. And we aren’t even anything. We’re friends…who happen to like sucking face.
After the initial anger ebbs, it’s really almost funny. She knows nothing, and if she’s trying to get a rise out of me, she needs to think again. The sound of laughter falls from my lips. “I’m not in love with him. He’s a friend, and you have no right to tell me that I can’t talk to anyone. I know where I belong.”
“I’m protecting you.”
“No.” I shake my head. “You’re protecting your investment. I get it, Gin. I really do. However, I’m a big girl.” I glide the red lipstick across my lips and pucker. “And I’ll do what I want with whomever I want. Cooper is comin’ to the show tonight. He needs to be added to my VIP list and given backstage access.” I touch her arm and grab my guitar that sits beside her. “I appreciate it.”
I’m not some doe-eyed girl staring at the bright lights anymore. I’ve spent years doing the grind and somehow making it work. It’s never easy, but nothing worth a damn is.
Vince releases a huge sigh as I come to side stage. Everything is all set up for our small opening act. One day I’ll get the big lights with crazy props, but for now, we have a few special effects and me center stage.
“Ready?” the production manager asks.
I nod and head out with my hand raised.
This is the moment that I live for. I get in front of the microphone. “How y’all doin’, Texas? I can’t hear you!” I taunt them a little. The crowd yells, and I smile. “Better, better. Are y’all ready for a good time?” They scream. “I’m Emily Young, and I hope you came to party with us!”
I glance back at Vince, who taps us off.
I start singing our opening number, which is catchy and lighthearted. I like to change our set list every couple of shows and see which the crowd likes more. It seems this one always gets people on their feet. This is also the list that got me bumped to the better position in the lineup. Luke has two bands that open for him. Originally, I was the first, but he found another small band, and I got moved to the coveted second slot. Dreaming about singing for a living usually ends when you wake up not dreaming bigger.
We move through a few more songs, and tonight is one of the best shows I’ve had so far. Some sing along here and there, but the crowd is alive. They’re dancing in their seats or waving their hands, and there’s just something driving me to entertain more than normal.
My heart skips a little when I see Cooper front and center. Ginny actually listened. How the hell did she work that fast? I smile and wink as I keep singing, scanning the crowd and doing my best not to look at him again. However, my eyes keep finding their way back to him.
As the show wears down, it’s time for my big moment. My favorite part of the show—when I can sing “Don’t Call Me Darlin’.” It’s a deep, soulful song that talks about a woman trying to love a man who doesn’t love her back. It’s very much based on my best friend Grace. There’s something about this song that just calls to me. Knowing you can be hurt at the same time as you’re saved. It’s full of hope and pain.