Holy crumbs, I have goosebumps everywhere. Kade’s introductory speech punches me in the gut and fills me with so many feels that I’m struggling to swallow right now. I even caught Kevin wiping under his eye a moment ago.
Ever since I saw the “Lack of Evidence” video, I haven’t been able to get LP-45 out of my mind, so the day after our dinner at the diner, I told Kevin I was thinking of collaborating with them and asked him if he would like to come with me to the concert as our official “first date.” He jumped at the chance—orphaned children are very much a cause close to his heart as he was adopted at five and is now the chairman of the Walter Forrest Home for Boys back in South Africa. The crowd screams and chants and whistles while I check out the band, purposefully leaving Kade for last because something tells me when I do, everything else is going to fade into the background.
Keller Cannon settles himself behind his drums; he looks like he could give Dwayne Johnson a run for his money with the size of his biceps straining against his shirt. He’d be intimidating, except he has a teddy in his pocket and a crazy-assed grin spread over his face. Josh Brooks and Jeff Knight grab their guitars and wave at the crowd, but as I’m trying to get a gauge on them, a set of nails dig into my arm, and the girl jumps up and down, squealing. I stiffen initially, thinking she might have recognized me despite my hat and oversized sunglasses, but she is pointing at the stage, and I see why she’s all worked up.
I’ve been so busy watching the other bandmates that I didn’t notice Kade walking toward the front of the stage. As he strides toward the mic stand, a panther comes to mind, graceful and powerful. He scans the crowd, his lip curled in a lethal curve that just about has half the women (and a few guys) flat on their backs in a dead faint. God, he’s gorgeous. Eyes the deepest turquoise that, until this moment, I’d been convinced were photoshopped. His full lips stretch into an off-kilter smile, and his tongue darts out to tease the lip ring glinting in the early afternoon sun.
The screams hit almost painful levels, and Kade laughs, and he looks slightly embarrassed. His hands run through hair the color of a moonless night, mussing the already disheveled hair that looks like he’s been tossing against sheets all night. God help me, but I’m thinking of him on my sheets.
He reaches out and grips the mic stand, full tattooed sleeves, a kaleidoscope of colors that tell stories only he knows the endings to. I’m mesmerized as I wait for him to sing again. And then he does. A ballad about unending heartache. No number of hours watching his performances on YouTube could’ve prepared me for the sound of his voice live as he sings this song. Kade’s voice isn’t a sound, it’s a feeling. It’s a caress that licks over you and touches you in those hard-to-reach places you’ve buried and long since forgotten about. Each note, each word reaches out and pulls you closer, pulls you deeper. I’m barely breathing, my heart pounding as I watch Kade in his natural habitat.
He doesn’t perform up there; he bleeds. I know how it feels to stand in front of thousands and thousands of people singing words that you’ve ripped from your soul and bled onto paper. To give every piece of yourself until you feel like your nerves are raw and you’ve never felt more alive. I know what it’s like to tear yourself apart for your art. So I know without a doubt that is what Kade is doing right at this moment. I see it, I feel it, I live it. When the last notes of the song fade, the crowd erupts, and I realize I’m trembling, and I know I’ve made my decision.
Ryleigh Sloan is a romance author with a master’s degree in being an indecisive control freak. Her favorite pastime is driving her friends crazy by writing multiple books at once.
Following the advice of established authors to read, read, read in order to hone one’s craft, she does just that and engrosses herself in as many romance novels as she can get her hands on. Her bad habit of writing more than one book at a time carries over to her reading, and she can be found reading and listening to multiple titles at once and enjoying every moment.
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