Escaping too You ~book 3

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Chapter forty-six

The after-party for a premiere never disappoints. Music for dancing, an unlimited supply of food for you to snack on, and of course, an unlimited supply of alcohol. You know, why not throw temptation in the face of those still on the road to recovery. But it’s not like most in this industry care. I’m sure some exec is hoping for a drunken show. Which they might get if Martha continues slinging back shots like they’re Skittles.

But walking down the red carpet with Ryann, I’ve never been so possessive in my entire life over someone. I held her close with each step we took, and my arm remained wrapped around her when we had to stop for photos. Even posing in a group photo with all our friends. It felt welcoming but weird to actually enjoy a red-carpet walk. But it felt like I had finally arrived, and I was actually ready to showcase my life to the world. To rub it in their judgmental faces that I’m no longer the screwup they dubbed me to be, and I’m where I’m supposed to be.

“So, I got an interesting call the other day.” Andrew suddenly says, drawing my attention from the crowd on the dance floor. I’m not really sure where Ryann and Xayla disappeared to, but they’ve been gone for a while, and I’m starting to get a little concerned.

Xayla has been out of rehab for about two months now. Maybe a little longer. But this is really her first event post-rehab and being clean. I’m not going to lie. I’m a little nervous because Xayla has never attended an event sober before. I’m not sure what, if any trouble, she’ll manage to get into tonight.

Looking out over the large crowd and vast gym-like room decorated to fit the movie’s theme. Hidden love. I’m not sure how you decorate for a theme like that. But apparently, it includes pink, white, and sheer glitter fabric coming from the ceiling with white and red roses all over the damn place. The place seriously looks like a glam-out prom. But then again, I feel like most of these do.

“Hmm, and who would that I be?” I’m trying to sound interested and like I’m paying attention to the conversation, but I’m not.

Feeling a push against my shoulder, Andrew is looking at me, slightly amused. He knows I’m searching for Ryann. Sasha and Val ran off to get something to drink that wasn’t alcohol, just leaving the two of us to stand alone. “Lori. And Ryann is fine. You know she’d call if there was an issue.”

Pulling Ryann’s phone from my pocket, I wave it in front of him, “Ya, but I have her phone. And what did Lori want?”

Andrew frowns, “Well, she’ll come running, or someone will if there is an issue. And she said she’d speak. And she’s at least heard back from one of her friends who will too.”

“Oh, that’s great.”

“What’s great?” Val asks as she eagerly jumps beside me. Her heels making a loud clash into the hard floor as she brings the straw of her red fizzy drink to her lips. Eyeing her, it literally looks like she’s made a deal with a vampire and is drinking some kind of elixir. “It’s a Shirley Temple. Wanna sip?” She asks, pushing the drink towards me.

Shaking my head, “No, I’m good.”

“Here you go, dear. Water.” Sasha hands Andrew the glass of water before taking a spot next to him. Her face slightly flushed from their dancing early.

Andrew wraps an arm around Sasha, planting a kiss to the side of her head, “Thanks. And Lori called to confirm she’s speaking.”

“Ohh!” Val cheers. “That’s awesome! Was she able to get her friends to agree too? I’d think they’d be great to have at the benefit.”

“At least one,” Andrew confirms as I look out over the crowd again.

“Chill, Thomas,” Val says around her straw. “She’s with Xayla. I saw them standing behind the stage.”

I arch a brow, “Why were they standing behind the stage?”

Val shrugs a shoulder, “No clue. Figured Xayla was requesting a song or something.”

Looking back towards the stage to see if I can see the two, I’m not surprised to see the group’s lead standing on the stage, reaching for his mic. What I am surprised to see is Ryann nervously twisting her necklace as she takes the microphone from him. It’s then that I catch Xayla making her way back towards us with a wide smile across her face.

Nudging Val in the direction of the stage, “Then why is Ryann on the stage?”

Val nearly spits the contents of her drink out, “Wha…..Xayla!” Val yells over the chatter of the crowd. “What did you do?”

“Nothing,” Xayla attempts playing dumb but fails miserably as I point to the stage.

“Then why is Ryann on the stage?”

Watching Xayla looking over her shoulder, “Oh, that. I was just helping Craig out.”

“And who in the flying fuck is Craig?” I’m really trying to keep my anger in check because I can tell by the fidgeting of Ryann’s hands, she’s out of her element and looks like she might hurl. This is the most she’s openly performed, and if she’s truly going to sing, I can’t stop her performance from going worldwide. Because with her voice, someone in this industry will take notice and film her, and I won’t be able to stop them.

“He’s the singer of the band. The studio and producers wanted to hear the main song from the movie by Little Mix.”

“Ooooook. And why is Ryann up there?”

“Because Craig is a dude,” she says this like it’s an obvious solution as to why Ryann’s up there. But there are plenty of other talented artists here. Ryann does not need to be up there. “And Ryann can sing. Problem solved.”

Val lets out a chock of a cough as she sets her drink down on the small, tall, round table behind us. “Problem not solved. She’s gonna kill you. Ryann does not want to perform in public. Xayla, go get her off the stage. Take Ines over there. She sings for a living. She can sing whatever song.”

Xayla shakes her head, “Nope. It has to be Ryann.”

“Xayla,” Sasha’s tone is soft. Attempting to keep the calm before someone erupts. And by someone, I mean me. “Maybe you should go get her from the stage.”

Before Xayla can even answer, I’m ready to make my way, but I’m stopped in my tracks as the lead singer of the band, Craig, starts to speak. “I hope everyone is having a blast.” The crowd around us cheer as Craig softly laughs into the mic. “That’s what I want to hear. Now we have a request for a song. Lucky for you guys, you won’t have to hear me sing the high notes. This lovely lady had volunteered to help out.”

If I were him, I’d use the term volunteered lightly.

“Now, if everyone would find a partner and make their way to the dance floor.”

Feeling my arm pulled back, I see Xayla urging me to not make a fool of myself. And in a sense, she’s right. If Ryann didn’t want to be up there, she could easily walk off the stage. I’m not sure if this is her trying to conquer her fear of performing in public, or maybe she’s afraid to say no.

“Thomas, if she didn’t want to be up there. She could have said no.”

Eyeing Xayla, “What did she tell you when you told her?” Xayla just stares at me, giving me her answer. Ryann did tell her no, but if she did, then why is she up on the stage. How in the hell did Xayla talk her into it. “If she runs after this performance, it will be your ass.”

Xayla looks unfazed by my threat as I watch Craig place a microphone stand in front of Ryann. Ryann places the microphone in the stand and positions herself in front of it to adjust the stand to her height. I watch Ryann close her eyes, and I can practically hear her counting to ten. But once the music starts, Ryann’s eyes pop open, and I watch her slowly sway to the melody as the lights in the room dim, and a spotlight is flashed onto her and Craig. But it’s Ryann who is already stealing the show.

“Come on, lover boy. Dance with me.” Xayla muses as she pulls on my arm towards the dance floor. “Come on, Thomas.”

Sighing, I follow Xayla out onto the dance floor and assume the basic High School slow dance ritual. But instead of me leading the dance, it’s Xayla. Feeling slightly awkward, “So, you’re leading this dance?”

“I’m the tallest right now.”

“Ya, what happened to the rule of no heels that would make you taller than me?”

I watch the corners of her red lips twitch into a smile, “You’re not my date.”

When you hold me in the street

And you kiss me on the dancefloor.

Ryann’s voice erupts through the open space with a soft, longing, delicate voice. The words and Ryann’s notes make you feel the hidden, forbidden love and heartbreak that comes with hiding your love from the world. I know she can relate to this song in more than one way. Because we were this song. This song could easily sum up the beginning of our relationship.

“Maybe you should go and dance with Val, then.”

Again, Xayla smiles. A devious smile that tells me she’s been up to a lot. “She has a dance partner.”

Arching a brow, I manage to follow Xayla’s line of sight and see Jonathan. How in the flying fuck did she manage to get him into the venue. Turning back around, “And what is he doing here?”

I catch a frown as she looks over my shoulder again, “So, he can talk with Val.”

Arching a brow, “About what?”

“I overheard him talking with Travis when I picked the girls up. He’s leaving California for a job overseas. He leaves Monday.”

But we know this, we got a love that is hopeless.

Or maybe this song fits Val and Jonathan’s relationship now. Because if what Xayla is saying is true, Val is going to be devasted.

“I told him he needed to make his move.”

Jonathan leads a stunned and slightly blushing Val onto the dance floor and begins to Waltz her around the room with ease. Making the rest of us look like amateurs. And Val, well, she looks like she’s in heaven.

“Right before he leaves?”

“Well, she needs to know how he feels. And Val needs to tell him. Maybe he will stay.”

Maybe. Maybe Jonathan is able to put Val over his career, or perhaps he will break her heart because I don’t think Jonathan is anywhere near ready to give his job up. I know his background; he is more like Travis than either one of them wants to admit. Jonathan lives for his career.

At the sound of a piercing, passionate belt, I can’t help but pull away from Xayla and watch Ryann sing out her heart and soul. It’s hypnotizing as I push my way through the dancing couples and towards the stage. And with the last words sung from Ryann’s lips, she spots me, a smile gracing her face just as the crowd erupts into a loud applause.

She gives Craig a hug as words are exchanged before his voice comes over the loud system giving Ryann the credit she deserves for stealing the show. Walking to the stairs of the stage, I hold my hand out for Ryann to take and help her down. My mom would be proud of this gentleman-like move.

And without warning, I pull her into me. My lips instantly on hers and finally smearing her lipstick. “That was fucking amazing.” Pulling her out onto the dance floor, it’s my turn to show off.

Teal silk dances in the air with our movements with each step we take as we glide across the dance floor. Ryann’s smile and laugh are infectious as I twirl her like the Queen she is.

“You’re full of surprises. So now you can dance?” Ryann softly giggles as she follows my lead with ease. “Let me guess, you learned it for a movie role.”

For someone who claims to hate my movies, she sure seems to know where a lot of my talent has stemmed from. “So, you’ve seen it?”

She mocks confusion, “Why, Mr. Copeland, I have no clue what you’re talking about. You know…..I’m not really a fan.”

“Good, I don’t fall in love with fans.”

Ryann throws her head back on a soft giggle before delicately lifting her head back up, her eyes reconnecting with mine. Stopping in the middle of the dancefloor, I slowly bring my lips to hers, our tongues grazing for a split second before I pull away. Ryann’s cheeks are flushed, and even with all eyes on us, she’s unfazed and not shying away. Because standing in front of me is a woman filled with so much fucking confidence nothing can strike her down.

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