BEHIND THE LIGHTS

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Chapter 17

November 4th, 2016
Munich, Germany
Westwood road - Andy Black

“Yeah, we were checking the last changes on the album,” the man wearing a dark blue cap said.

“Good!” Angela smiled. “I don’t know what I’d do without you, Oskar.” She turned to the members of the Norwegian band, a hand on the guy’s shoulder. “He’s one of our best sound engineers.”

“Nice meeting you.” He shook their hands.

“Glad to meet you too.” Jørn smiled. “Hi.” He held his hand out to Leah.

“H—Hi.” She slightly blushed.

“Nice to meet you, guys,” he said as he shook the long-haired man’s hand whose name Søren didn’t remember.

Was it Matt? Max?

Whatever.

“My pleasure!” he exclaimed with enthusiasm.

Søren didn’t want to be around her much longer, feeling weird and confused wasn’t something he was used to and he didn’t like it, but he wasn’t an ass so, as politely as he could, he greeted them too.

“Good to see you again.”

“Yeah...” Leah replied with a firm handshake.

“You know each other?” Angela asked, a bit surprised.

“Kind of.” She shrugged. “Remember that eighties Gibson I was working on? He was the one that bought it.” She pointed at him with her thumb in a sloppy gesture, as if that was all the interaction they’d had.

“Oh, I see. Then, you already know my babies! They’re the ones competing at the Battle of the Bands.”

“That’s awesome. Congrats!” Ian said as he got closer to them. “Ian.”

“Don’t think you need to introduce yourself,” the hazel eyed beauty giggled. “Leah.”

“A pretty name for a pretty girl, huh?”

“Thanks.” She shook her head, grinning.

“Marc,” her friend said, his eyes shifting to Alex, who still hadn’t said a word.

That was it! Marc.

“Hey,” the bassist greeted them, shaking Leah’s hand first, then Marc’s.

The dude seemed tough the first time he saw him three weeks before at the bar, but he was close to squealing like one of their teenage fans.

Must be the bass player.

Søren smiled, remembering Leah had told him he was a huge fan of Alex.

The elevator doors soon opened in front of them.

“Why don’t you get going? I have something I want to talk about with Mikael,” Angela waved her hand for them to enter.

“Okay.” Jørn nodded before stepping inside the lift, the rest following behind.

“See you tomorrow at nine, Oskar?”

“Sure, boss. Guten Abend!”

The doors closed and a deadly silence settled in, Leah and Marc probably feeling a bit overwhelmed to be in front of all Dark Omen’s members, locked in such a small place with them. Søren and the guys had experienced the same when they snuck inside one of their favorite bands’ trailers on one of their first festivals. Meeting your musical inspiration was always a mind-blowing experience.

“So... you’re planning to change companies?” the sound engineer asked.

“Contemplating our options,” Alex dodged the question.

“We can’t compare to a massive record label like yours, but I’m sure we could do a great job with your compositions.”

“I bet,” Søren replied with a faint smile.

The ding of the elevator announced they had reached the ground floor.

“Well, I gotta go, guys,” Oskar said as he shook their hands again. “It’s been a pleasure to meet you. Hope to see you around soon.”

He gave Leah and Marc a hug, exchanged a few German words with them, and then strode towards the exit, leaving the musicians alone.

“Have any plans for the night?” Marc asked out of the blue.

“Not really,” Jørn said, looking at his bandmates.

“Would you like to come with us to a bar near here?” the long-haired man questioned as he pointed towards the entrance door.

Leah tensed and looked at him, all kinds of daggers flying in his direction. “They probably have better things to do than spend time in some small, trashy bar.” Her voice was emotionless as she crossed her arms over her chest but, once again, her eyes ratted her out when she glanced at Søren biting on her bottom lip.

Wait. Is she trying to avoid me?

The metalhead smirked. If she was feeling nervous, awkward, or whatever around him, he would make it worse.

You don’t play with a wolf and get away with it.

“That’d be nice,” Søren said as he stared at Leah with a smug smile on his lips. He loved that game.

She didn’t frown or anything, just kept that perfect inexpressive expression on her face, like the one she had most of the time the first time they met, but she was definitely hating him at the moment.

“Yeah,” Ian agreed.

“Nice!” Marc exclaimed. “Gonna call the guys.”

“When’s your album gonna be out?” Ian asked, trying to make some small conversation while they waited for Marc to finish the call.

“In a couple of weeks? We’re not sure yet.”

“Great.”

“Yeah...” She looked at the white marble floor.

“And the Battle of the Bands?” That’s huge!” the Irish continued.

“Yeah, we’re actually a bit overwhelmed with all that.” She chuckled.

It was really fun watching her when she was feeling nervous, trying to hide her emotions at all costs.

“Erik said he’s already there waiting for us, Chris’ coming as soon as they close the studio,” Marc told them, interrupting the conversation.

“Okay.”

“Should we get going then?” Jørn asked.

“Yeah.” Marc nodded.

"Guten Abend, Finn!” Leah waved her hand at the doorman.

"Guten Abend!”

As they walked to the bar, Marc and Alex engrossed in what seemed like an interesting conversation. The Norwegian bass player wasn’t a people person and used to avoid those situations, but he loved it when someone praised his work.

Søren texted Mikael to tell him he could go back to the hotel and relax a little while they had a few drinks with the members of Buried Alive.

Jørn and Ian were walking beside him, talking about some shit he didn’t care much about at that moment. Leah was right in front of them, hands inside the pocket of her coat, chestnut chocolate braid swinging from side to side as she walked.

He shook his head to get rid of the dirty thoughts that had invaded his mind and lit the cigarette he had been holding between his lips for a couple of minutes.

“Everything okay?” Ian asked.

“Yeah.” He lied, but he wasn’t going to admit out loud that her presence was affecting him—annoying, and exciting him equally.

“We’re here,” Marc announced a few minutes later as he stopped in front of the mentioned bar, opening the door and walking down the stairs.


The place was nice and the music was good. It was one of those underground spots, but it was big enough to not be suffocating.

Brick walls, wooden decorations, stools lined the long counter bar and a few booths sat opposite of it. Everything flooding to the back of the bar where there was a dark wood-clad wall, floors matching. A continuous bench wrapping that space in U shape.

There was a pool table in the middle, five dartboards, and even one of those old video games machines—with fucking Street Fighter in it.

It wasn’t very crowded since it was early, but they didn’t go unnoticed and had to sign a few autographs.

The German band seemed pretty cool, even if they were excited to be hanging out with them, they were kind of laid back, not super noisy or annoyingly clingy. It was nice.

“Wanna play darts?” the guitar player with earplugs and short hair asked.

“One band against the other?” the long-haired bass player asked as he walked towards the bar.

Why the hell can I remember what they play but not their names?

“Yeah, that’d be fun,” Ian replied.

“We’re gonna beat your ass, just saying,” the German drummer stated.

“How confident!” Jørn laughed.

“This is all we do when we have free time.” Leah shrugged. She hadn’t talked much, just looked at everyone as she took sips from her beer. All the shields up. If she had been wearing all black and watching them from a corner, she would have looked like a KGB spy or something, it was almost creepy.

“Well... Ian’s better at this than playing guitar so we’ll see,” Søren commented as he casually put an arm around her shoulders.

She tensed and looked up at him, eyes widening. He could almost see the question marks floating around her head as he smirked down at her, not missing her friends’ blatant grins as they wiggled their eyebrows when he turned around.

She had talked to them about what happened.

“We’ll see...” she said, slipping away, same uncomfortable vibe he got from her when they were at her house that first time. Exactly what he was expecting.

As her bandmate came from the bar with the darts in one hand and another beer in the other, they moved in front of one of the dartboards in the bar.

“Best of five legs?” Ian suggested.

“Okay,” the short-haired guy from Buried Alive replied.

“Warm up with some classic round the world?” Alex questioned.

“Sure.” Leah motioned him to step on the line mark on the floor.

They played cricket after that, Buried Alive’s members kicking their ass on the second. They were good, he had to give them that.

Talking, joking, and laughing, the time inside that bar isolated from the bustle and hustle of the city seemed to have stopped but, when Søren checked the time on his phone, they had already been there for two and a half hours.

As they changed to play pool, Erik—yeah, he had finally learned their names—went outside, he had to make a call or something, and Leah went to get her third beer.

Søren played a couple of rounds, forming a team with Chris and Marc, then with Alex and Ian, watching her blankly staring at the bottle between turns.

When they were done, he moved to the bar to get another drink. A non-alcoholic beer. If he kept drinking Monsters, he wouldn’t be able to sleep.

“What’s that poor piece of paper done to you?” he asked Leah as he sat beside her, crossing one leg bent over the other—she had destroyed the label around the bottle.

“Huh?”

“Nothing.” He chuckled before sipping from his drink. “How’s work going?”

Leah looked up at him, brows creased together in a confused expression. “Good,” she replied as her eyes moved to her hands again.

“So talkative,” he sarcastically noted.

“I have nothing to say to you.”

“Wow... Could you be any ruder?”

“I know what you’re doing.”

“And that would be...?”

“Annoying me.”

“You think you’re that important?” He arched an eyebrow as he gave her one of his nasty, condescending smirks.

She was right, he had been trying to annoy her the whole evening, earning a few glares from her, but he still felt like pushing it further. He was a sore loser and that turned him into a bit of an asshole.

“Whatever.”

“I should be the angry one here, you know? You’re the one that rejected me,” he whispered as he leaned in closer to her ear.

Leah looked at him with a hint of hurt shining in her eyes. “I didn’t... whatever.” She rolled her eyes.

“What was that?” He pressed.

“I didn’t reject you.”

“Hm... well, we made out and you stopped saying some bullshit about not wanting to be another one on my list.” He reminded her. “That pretty much is rejecting someone.”

“It’s not that simple. I already told you.”

“Hm?” He asked as he drank from his beer, truly lost.

Leah sighed and leaned back on the wall, “I don’t date nor fuck musicians.”

“And why is that? Did some swanky, hot-ass metalhead break your heart?” He taunted, a devilish grin on his face.

Clenched jaw, flaring nostrils, and a stare that could have burned him on the spot if she was a witch. He had nailed it.

“Something like that.”

“You know we’re not all dicks, right?” She gave him a questioning, mocking look. “Pricks, jerks, whatever, you got it.” He rolled his eyes but kept the smug smile on his face.

Leah sneered. “And you’re the one telling me that, huh?” She returned his arrogant, shitty smirk.

“They all know what to expect from me.” Søren excused himself with a shrug. He wasn’t one that went around fucking anything and anyone as if life was a damn orgy, but he sure wasn’t celibate.

“Right.” Leah snorted. “Anyway, you’re famous and I don’t want anyone thinking I’m using sex as a way to climb in the industry,” she confessed.

He wanted to be mad at her, to be able to ignore her, but those gorgeous hazel-green eyes that reminded him of a forest after a storm made him so weak. Even in that dimly-lit bar, her kindness, determination, and that searing strength that made her so attractive shone in them.

“But you already know that because I texted you on Saturday.”

“What?”

“Don’t pretend you don’t know shit because I know you read the message I sent you.” She crossed her arms over her chest, brows creased together.

He stared at her, trying to understand what she was talking about. Since he didn’t drink or take any other type of drugs his mind was pretty clear and he didn’t remember receiving anything from her on Saturday when they were hanging out in their club—

Wait. Astrid used my phone that night to see some pictures. And she was acting evasive when I came back from the bathroom... Shit!

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