Tomorrow

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Get Your Shine On

Jackson

I admit it, I imagined our first night together to turn out a bit differently than it really did. I was thoroughly pleased at Ara’s initial reaction to our suite, that bright look in her eyes, her sparkling smile breaking across her face as she took in her surroundings.

She looked perfect standing there all bright and beautiful, shining in only the way she knew how.

But what I didn’t expect was the sudden shyness to her demeanor, or the way her eyes shifted, avoiding my own. She made an excuse and hid away in her room for the next two hours while I paced and worried back in mine. We only exchanged half a dozen words before her face flushed a deep rose, and then she was gone. Was I pushing her too far, too fast?

The thought tortured me as the minutes ticked by, and by the end of the first hour you could already see the dent in the fibers of the carpet my boots created.

Finally, I grabbed the only thing that could soothe me. My fingers wrapped around the smooth wood, and I pushed open my bedroom door making my way over the common living room. I settled down on one the soft leather sofas, propping my guitar on my lap, and began to strum a few notes.

It was random, a few strokes of Broken, but mostly I played the chords to my next single, slowing it down, keeping it steady, merging them together, creating a whole new melody, they floated through the air, like whispers, circling across the room before fading away.

I’m pretty sure it was the music that made Ara step into the foyer. One second it was empty, the next; the most beautiful vision was standing before me, her head tilted to one side, just listening.

She looked lost in it, lost in the deep chords, in the notes that I could almost see swirling around her head. It was all the encouragement and inspiration I needed to keep playing, keep trying to draw her to me.

And it worked.

She stood there for a few moments more before she quietly made her way across the room and sat down gently on the other end of the sofa, careful as not to disturb me.

I wouldn’t look her way at first, I was afraid if I did, it would make her stop, make her turn away. So I kept my eyes glued to my fingers, not really focusing on them, nor listening to my music. I was completely tuned into her, her presence, her breathing. Every one of my senses was on high alert, trying to gauge her mood, wondering if she liked what she heard.

When I was finally convinced that she was there to stay, I restrained the quickness of my fingers, drew out the notes a little longer before slowing them down until they couldn’t be heard any further.

“That was beautiful,” she breathed, her eyes shining with admiration. She sat sideways, her bare feet tucked underneath her.

“Thank you.” I let my eyes rest on hers, trying not to get lost in them, in her.

“Are you working on something new?” Her eyes moved quickly over mine, then down to my hands.

“A little bit, just fine tuning a few things.” I shifted slightly in my seat, wanting to lean into her in the worst way, “I guess I’m just searching for inspiration right now. I never know when it’s gonna hit me, it just does.”

She nodded then, as if she understood, resting her elbow on the back of the sofa, she seemed to take a quick breath, and looked right into my eyes, “Inspiration. It must be these great big life-changing events that inspire you huh? Like getting married? Having babies?” Her voice trailed off a bit, and maybe the mention of marriage should have made me uncomfortable, but for some reason, it didn’t right then.

I should have told her that the song she just heard was written because of her, because of the way I saw her, that she was the greatest inspiration a man could ask for.

“A lot of singers write about those major life events,” I gave her a half grin, sliding my guitar a little lower onto my lap, “Sometimes I write about them too, but I like to write about different things, things that shine, things that are real, things nobody ever thinks about, sometimes the little things are all the inspiration I need.”

I could tell her smile was real, and she moved in her seat, just a tiny bit closer to me. “Does Vegas inspire you?” She asked, her long fingers sprayed out on the leather cushion, sliding over it absentmindedly, “Do you find things that inspire you here, Jackson?”

I found you, I wanted to answer, You inspire me here, baby. “Vegas probably has a whole lot of elements that can create inspiration, but right now, I can only think of one.” I told her, as truthfully as I could.

She didn’t answer me then. Just watched me silently before reaching up and pushing some of her hair off of her face. Just the sight of her doing that nearly made me groan.

“And when you think of it, what happens? Does it just come to you?” Curiosity was written all over her face, “The lyrics? The music?”

I wanted to chuckle, and confess, so badly. “Words are words, they don’t mean anything unless you can feel them. The best songs, no matter what they might be about, all make you feel something.” I wanted to stretch my hand along the back of the sofa to meet hers, just to touch her, to feel her.

“You’re so good at that.” Her words sent a shuddering jolt down my spine. “Every time I hear you sing, it’s just so…so…touching.” her voice lowered some, but she was still watching me, waiting.

I didn’t want to say thank you, I wanted to show her, so I pulled my guitar up once more, loving the smile that broke across her face, softly singing a few lyrics to Broken, finally letting myself get lost in her eyes. They were so full and round, growing wider with each word, just dancing and shining, telling me a story of promise and hope.

When I finished, I had such a crazy urge to just push that guitar off my lap and onto the floor, to reach out and pull her right onto me, to tell her what I was feeling.

“She’s so lucky.” Ara was shaking her head at me, putting one hand over her heart as she spoke.

I stopped short, “What?” I blinked, unsure what she was trying to say, still fighting the urge to kiss her, “Who?”

“Your wife,” Ara nodded once more, her eyes still boring into mine, “She can listen to you sing any time she wants, it must be, so incredible, to be your wife, I mean.”

I just sat there stunned, so taken aback by what I was hearing. A million emotions flying through me. If only she really knew, what it was like, I knew I couldn’t keep Ara in the dark any longer. “Layla doesn’t care for my music,” I said matter of factly, still trying to push back the surprise, “She’s never been fond of the country sound. She hardly listens to it.”

Now it was Ara’s turn to blink, her eyes growing wide, and I swore I saw coldness sweep along them as she gasped with disbelief, “She doesn’t like it?” The pitch in her voice went very high.

“Not really.” I shook my head, carefully keeping my feelings for Layla from bubbling to the surface.

“But…but…why not? I mean it’s so beautiful, and you’re so...I mean.” She was at loss for words, struggling to understand, yet not being able to.

“Music is a matter of preference.” I stuck to facts…not wanting to create sympathy, still keeping my secret carefully guarded. “Layla never listened to country music before she met me, and she never listened to it after, she just has different tastes, that’s all.”

“But doesn’t she know, I mean, aren’t your songs about her? The ones about love, how can she not adore them?” I could hear the frustration in her voice, and fuck I wanted to tell her then.

“Not a great many things or people are the inspiration to my songs Ara.” I placed my guitar down next to my side, letting it rest against the sofa. I wanted to tell her that Layla never inspired me, never, not even once. “My son inspires me, my parents inspire me, my love for the outdoors inspires me.” I stopped. If I continued it was all going to come out, and I just didn’t know if Ara was ready for that yet.


Ara

My mind was spinning, and my heart was torn. I just sat there in frozen disbelief listening to Jackson tell me without a trace of emotion in his voice, that his wife didn’t like his music. That she didn’t inspire him, wasn’t a part of his wonderful gift.

It made me ache in a way I never felt before, and a tiny seed of anger formed in the pit of my stomach at the same time. Did this woman not know the rare beauty of the man sitting across from me? How could she not even attempt to care about his music?

“But not your wife?” I asked him, half wondering why this conversation was making me so angry.

I walked into that penthouse more nervous than I’d ever been before. Not knowing what was going to happen in that room, seeing that look in Jackson’s eyes as he stood there in front of me explaining that we were going to be in this suite together. It sent shills of expectation and waves of guilt down my spine at the same time.

It worried me, not so much what Jackson might want from me, but the fact that I was beginning to doubt myself, doubt how much control I had left.

So I gave him this flimsy excuse about needing to change and went to my room to hide. I paced the floor, my heart filled with anxiety, trying to sort out what was running through my head. This was getting more and more difficult every time I saw him.

I half made up my mind to keep my distance this time around, not let him get to close. But a few simple sounds coming from the living room jumbled my thoughts and turned me around without me even realizing it.

It was beautiful, what I was listening to, just beautiful. Tiny, haunting notes teasing my ears with the most heart wrenching melody.

When I reached the foyer I stopped and just listened to him play. He didn’t see me; he was concentrating, looking down at his hands, his baseball cap placed backwards on his head.

He looked gorgeous, and so serious. I started to wonder if the music I was hearing was something that he was working on. I swore I could hear bits of Broken in there, but there were other things too, stuff I never heard before.

It was like a magnet, the pull, with every sound that hit me, it just made me want to be that much closer to him, so after a few seconds I found myself moving towards him, trying to find the perfect spot so I could just sit there and watch him.

He kept right on playing, and it almost felt like he knew what he was doing to me, the way his songs called to me. My heart felt like it would burst.

But all that changed when we started talking, and when I found out that his own wife didn’t appreciate the gift that he had, it created a torrid of anger in me that I didn’t even know I possessed.

He didn’t seemed fazed by it at all, by the fact that his wife didn’t listen to his songs, but there was something in his eyes, something that made that little voice in the back of my head whisper to me that there was more to this story, more that he was carefully keeping out.

“I’m sorry.” I shook my head, still trying to understand, “I can’t imagine anyone not loving your music, especially someone so close to you.”

Jackson just shrugged, “I’m sure there are millions of people who don’t listen to me, or even care.”

“Well I’m not one of them.” I could hear the determination in my own voice. I wanted him to know. “I love it, listening to it, learning how you create it, and when I see you sing, you just shine Jackson.”

And the look he gave me, after I said that, it was all I could do to stop myself from crawling into his lap.

Our evening was cut short then, he began receiving phone calls from various people…Cheryl…Jared…and a few others. I could tell they were going to keep him busy, tried not to listen in on his end of the conversation, but he didn’t seem to mind, didn’t move from his spot, seemed to enjoy sitting next to me while he discussed business.

I learned from listening that the next day we were going to do some kind of press photo thing. That a variety of singers were going to be there too. It was a music festival or something like that, going on here in Vegas.

I could tell it was going to be big, just by the sound of Jackson’s voice, the way it rose and fell, the way his accent would get really deep. He seemed awfully excited about it.

The longer I heard him talk, the more determined I grew. Maybe his wife didn’t appreciate him, want to share any of this with him.

But I did.

I was part of his team, and I decided right at that moment I was going to do everything possible to show him how much I supported him, how much I looked forward to everything he was teaching me, how much I cared.

So I forced myself to face my fears, and fight that shyness that always seemed to follow me, and I vowed to be everything he needed.


“Come on…hurry…hurry…” Cheryl was rushing me along, trying to get me to catch up to her, her heels making these rapid little clicking noises as she hurried herself around the corner. She didn’t realize I couldn’t walk very fast, much less run, in these heels.

“Cheryl, wait…I’m trying.” My arms were sprayed out for balance, and I’m sure I looked like a loon. I struggled to keep up with her, concentrating mainly on not falling down. My focus was on my feet, but every few seconds I would glance up to make sure Cheryl was still in my line of sight.

Cheryl, of course, looked stunning as she flew down the velvet hallways of the casino; she had on this deep red dress and jet-black, glittering, six-inch heels.

“Jackson’s gonna kill me if I don’t get you there on time, he’s scheduled to hit the press area in thirty seconds, Dustin’s waiting.” she was panting, but still quickened her strides even more. “I hope they’re running behind.”

I was already worried that I was going to look like an exhausted mess once I reached Jackson, but I was just as determined as Cheryl to make it on time. It only seemed fair, since she had invested so much of her time and energy on me earlier.

Cheryl knew everyone at the Mandalay Bay spa, and they were more than happy to assist her in any way, including schooling me in the proper way to pose for photographs, having my hair and make-up done, and the ever-exclusive catwalk technique. It was tiring and thrilling all at the same time.

"Thrust your right foot out a little bit. That’s it…okay; now give it a little twist. There. If you put one hand on your hip, it’ll show off your curves more. Don’t forget to smile!”

I was concentrating so hard, and listening so intensely to each instruction that I hardly noticed Cheryl until her high pitched voice rose over the room.

“Oh my gosh, Ara. We need to get dressed! I totally lost track of the time.”

That’s when things got hectic. I was squeezed into this form fitting black dress with lace stitching along the arms. It was really gorgeous, a little too short for my taste, but compared to what I’d been seeing in Vegas, this was pretty tame.

It was the shoes that were threatening to kill me. Don’t get me wrong, these shoes rocked, a touch of black lace, a touch of silvery sparkle, even though I was wearing them throughout my instruction, my poor feet never seen a pair like this before, much less walked around in one, and I cursed myself for not being able to practice in them longer.

Still, I kept on hurrying after Cheryl.

The hallways got shorter, less wavy, as we got closer, but the small scatters of people got thicker and thicker, until it was suddenly packed with no room to move.

I feared I would lose sight of Cheryl, but in an instant she turned away from the crowd and raised her hand, indicating for me to follow her past some yellow tape and a burly guard who I guessed recognized her and allowed her through.

“Whew!” She turned and grinned at me, “I think we’re safe. Go on, I’ll be right behind you with Dusty. Jackson’s over there, past the red rope. He’s waiting for you.”

She waved me on, and even though my heart started hammering, I kept right on walking past her and towards the red rope.

I saw him before he saw me.

And the sight of him took my breath away, not that I had much left. He was standing there, one hand in his pocket. He just shone. He looked so handsome, yet still rugged and earthy at the same time. His jeans were a much darker wash, still whiskered but almost black with just a hint of sheen, and he had on this incredible dark navy sport jacket, it must have been custom made just for him because it fit him like a glove, made his shoulders look amazing. You could still see his black leather cuff; he wore on his wrist, peaking out from his sleeves and the tarnished silver chain he liked to wear hanging from his belt loops. He was all cowboy, but a beautiful, gorgeous cowboy.

I was just about to call out to him, wave to him Hi, but he turned, right as I was bringing up my hand, reaching out for him.


Jackson

My heart stopped…just stopped.

I completely forgot that I was next in line to walk the red carpet, to stand in front of at least a hundred or more photographers, even Brett and Dustin were stunned.

Ara looked amazing. Strikingly, glamorously, beautiful and demurely radiant all at the same time, wearing this perfect little black dress. Her legs looked miles long and her hair bounced all along her shoulders as she moved.

"Wow.” That’s the only thing that escaped me, the only word flashing through my head. Her hand was stretched out to me, her eyes wide with delight, her smile bright. It was just one of the most captivating visions my eyes had ever seen, and I reached right back for her, those fucking cameras could wait.

“Miss Ara, wow, you look…just wow.” I didn’t even know what to say to her, but I knew I wanted to show her off, show the world this beautiful woman at my side.

She giggled at me, taking a few more steps until she was standing next to me. We didn’t have time to exchange any further conversation because we were up next. I really wanted to grab hold of her hand, entwine my fingers with hers, and let the press take a million pictures of us together.

But I knew better.

So instead, I gave her my arm, held it out to her, let her loop her arm through mine. Brett offered her his arm as well, the gentleman that he was. Dustin was only a half step behind us, his arm around Cheryl.

She smiled happily, giving both Brett and me warm glances, and let us both escort her out. The flashbulbs started going off before we even reached the end of the red carpet. I didn’t have to remind myself to smile, it came naturally, instantly, but I could tell Ara was nervous, her fingers gripped my arm tightly, and I pulled my arm closer to my body, bringing her more into me. Her body relaxed somewhat and Brett let her go graciously, but her hand never left my arm. She gave me a quick nervous glance, her eyes holding a tiny bit of fear, then just as quickly she seemed to shake it off, she turned her body slightly so that it was facing me, placed her free hand on her hip, and smiled brightly for the cameras.

I was so darn proud of her, I mean really proud. Despite her nervousness, she was handling the photographers like a pro, and they were totally eating it up. I doubt any one of them was focusing their cameras on me or on the guys, every camera I glanced at was aimed straight at her. And I didn’t blame them at all.

Before we even walked off the carpet I was already daydreaming about how cool this festival was going to be. Every year I Heart Radio holds their music festival in Vegas, I always loved going to it. Every genre of music is invited, and it is here that I get to chat with other guitar greats like Joe Walsh or John Mayer. And since I’m here I usually schedule a concert or two, mostly for the fans.

But this one was going to be exceptional, I could feel it.


Ara

The evening flew by in a flurry of activity. I hardly had time to blink; everything was spinning by so fast. All I could do was hang on to Jackson’s arm and smile. And to be honest, I didn’t mind that one bit.

He looked really happy and proud too. Everyone he ran into would congratulate him on the success of Broken, and then the video. Eventually their gaze would fall on me, their mouths would drop open, they’d point at me and look back at Jackson like ”this is her?”

Jackson would smile this very broad, boisterous smile and nod. They would all greet me graciously, shaking my hand, offering me congratulations as well.

I felt like a movie star or something. I think most of them thought I was an actress or model, and it didn’t take long before I started to feel this seed of confidence grow inside me. I wasn’t afraid to smile or shake hands with anyone, no one seemed to look down on me. I guess they wouldn’t dare with Jackson around.

I stuck by his side, taking his arm whenever he offered it to me, trying my darnest to make him proud.

“How are you doing Miss Ara?” He finally had a free moment and I could feel his warm breath on my ear. I tilted my head up to him and smiled.

“This is incredible Jackson.” I let my fingers tighten around his arm, “I could get used to this.”

Jackson chuckled, his eyes dancing with delight, “So could I.” was all he got out before yet another eager person begged for his attention.

Still, as the hours wore on Jackson never let me go. His arm stayed securely in place, escorting me from crowd to crowd. I think we posed for a million pictures, and mingled with several hundred people.

A little before midnight Cheryl pulled me to the side, ushered me off to the ladies room.

“Enjoying Vegas so far?” She grinned at me, reaching into her sequined clutch and pulling out a small compact.

“I’m loving it.” I giggled, letting her touch up my makeup, “But my poor feet are on fire, how do you stand it?”

“It’s a matter of tolerance, the more you walk in them, the longer you can stand it. I’ve been doing this for years. It also helps to use drugs.”

“Drugs?” My voice fell, “You’re kidding right?”

Cheryl just burst out laughing at the worry that I’m sure was all over my face. “Not those kind of drugs silly. The good kind. I always carry Advil with me. Helps me stand the pain a little longer. Here, take two.”

“Whew, thank you. I was worried there for a bit.” I half laughed. Cheryl just rolled her eyes at me, still laughing.

“There. I promise they will help. So how’s Jackson? He looks completely happy tonight. I haven’t seem him this excited about I Heart Radio in years. He’s usually bored here.” Cheryl pulled out a small lipstick and turned toward the large mirrors.

“Jackson is great, he’s such a gentleman. He’s introducing me to all kinds of people. I met Eric Church and Luke Bryan, and some other guys too, so cool.” I think I was rambling. I was talking so fast, my voice completely full of excitement.

Cheryl giggled again, “Yeah I saw when you were talking to Luke. Luke is a hottie. Jackson couldn’t stop glaring at him. But damn did you see the ass on that man.”

I just laughed, completely agreeing with her.

“Alright, let’s get back out there.” Cheryl began heading for the door, waving me along, “Before Jackson busts a gut at me for keeping you so long. I better remind him not to stay up too late. We start filming tomorrow and he’s scheduled for two performances for I Heart Radio, not to mention his own concert.”

“Filming is tomorrow?” I quickly followed Cheryl out. “Do you know what this video is going to be about? Jackson is keeping it this huge secret, he won’t tell me anything except that it’s going to be funny.”

Cheryl stopped in her tracks and spun around to face me. “Funny? You sure he didn’t just mean fun? He didn’t tell you the song?” She tilted her head to the side slightly.

“No, not a thing, he’s keeps teasing me that I am going to have to dress silly for this one or something like that.” I shrugged, giving Cheryl a half smile.

“Oh honey, that man is something else.” Cheryl threw her hands in the air, “I don’t know what he has up his sleeve, but Ara, this song, it’s going to be his second released single off his new album, there’s nothing funny about it. He wrote right after he met you, and it’s called Shine.”


Jackson

Jared was loving this one, it was easy, simple. We were in one small room, one camera man, a handful of crew members waiting in the back in case he needed them, but I didn’t think he would.

There weren’t even any props, the only thing the crew set up a few hours before were all the twinkling lights. There were hundreds and hundreds of them, all hanging from ceiling and running down the white walls. The only other thing we would need was the glitter, lots and lots of glitter.

The song was Shine. I wrote just hours after meeting Ara for the first time, back in my bus still basking in the memories of her smile, her eyes, the way she just lit up.

Shine wasn’t a ballad. Nothing slow about it. In fact, it had a bit of an up tempo rhythm, almost a touch of pop in there. It was light and sexy with just enough hints that it played on the words, telling her exactly what I wished I could do with her if I ever had the chance.

It also allowed me to showcase my guitar skills and there was a fifteen second bridge in there where my guitar was all you heard.

“Alright Son, go ahead and step on up there.” Jared pointed to the round white pedestal placed in the center of the room.

I placed one boot on the pedestal and hopped on up, positioning my guitar strap more comfortably on my shoulder, and adjusting my hat. One of the crew hit the switch that turned on all the lights at once, it was almost blinding. I played a couple of chords, getting into the rhythm, we were all waiting for Ara to make an entrance, and finally the adjacent door opened and she walked in.

That smile, and those eyes, she completely outshone the lights in every way. She turned slowly all around, taking in her surroundings. She spotted me on the pedestal after a few seconds and practically skipped over to me.

Jared was please, I could tell, he didn’t say anything to us, to me. He stood almost hidden in the far corner, he made eye contact with me quickly, waving his hand, indicating that he wanted me to keep playing, didn’t want Ara to know he was already filming this.

I nodded slightly, never missing a beat. Ara was standing right below me, her head level to my knees. The silver glitter that was scattered all over the floor stuck to her bare feet, sending tiny sparkles up all around her ankles like a small cloud.

My heart was already thudding rapidly as I played, she wasn’t even dressed up this time, just wearing a pair of cut off dark blue jeans and white tank top, her silver belt hanging low on her hips, but still, she looked like a million bucks, and fuck did she shine.

I kept on playing, letting my heart take over the music, pouring everything I felt into that provoking beat, singing the words of that song in the most suggestive manner my southern accent would allow me to.

Her smile got brighter and brighter as she listened, and little by little I could see her body beginning to move, begin to sway with the beat, her head shifting back and forth making her hair bob across her shoulders and brush against her cheeks.

“Dance…” I mouthed to her, urging her along, wanting her to give in. I pulled on the strings of the guitar a little harder, sending four intimate harmonies up out into the air, swirling all around her.

And it worked, she felt it, got lost in it, brought her hands up high, her hips rocking back. I nearly lost it when she tilted her chin up and closed her eyes, her mouth opening slightly. Her body was moving, it was just me and her, the white lights all around us, the glitter at our feet spaying little bursts of light. Every now and then Jared would have the crew toss out more glitter around us, making it stick to Ara’s skin and my clothes.

I don’t know how long I played, how long we stayed that way but I never got tired of it. Never got tired of telling her how I felt, of watching her dance right at my feet, of seeing her shine.


Ara

“No shoes?” I glanced around me warily, “There’s not a pitchfork in here, is there?”

I was dressed plain. Just plain old blue cutoff jeans and the most basic white tank top you could think of. The only detail to the entire outfit was the silver buckle attached to this silver chain belt. It just hung on a slant on my hips, no one bothered to put it through the belt loops. So when Cheryl told me I wasn’t going to wear shoes I began to worry.

“You don’t need them. And no, there’s no pitchfork.” She giggled.

“I don’t see how Jackson is going to like this.” I threw my hands in the air, still unconvinced.

“Just trust me.” Cheryl began pushing me out of the tiny dressing room, “I hear music. Go on out there.”

With a reluctant scowl I let her shove me out the door and into the whitest, brightest room I’d ever seen. There was tiny white Christmas lights strung everywhere, the ceiling, the walls, even falling over the doorway like a curtain. I forgot my disappointment with my wardrobe, mystified at all the twinkling beauty around me.

I glanced all around, wondering what kind of winter wonderland I’d just walked into. When my brain finally stopped buzzing my senses allowed me to focus on the sexiest beat swirling around the room, it immediately captured my attention and my eyes began searching out where it was coming from.

When I found it, I was star struck all over again. Jackson was standing on this round white pedestal dressed all in grey right up to the tip of his hat, holding his guitar, his head tilted down, playing and moving to those sensual sounds he was producing. He dripped of sex appeal and it was all I could do to just keep breathing at the moment.

I took a few random steps towards him, a tickling sand like feeling brushing over my toes making me glance down quickly. It was glitter. Sparkling silver glitter scattered all over the floor being kicked up by my strides and dancing all around me. It was so pretty, reminding me of all those birthday parties I had as a small girl. I looked back up at Jackson in delight, when the words to his song began filtering past my ears.

His voice was rich and deep, singing right to me, telling me through his song what he was thinking. The longer I listened to it, the more it grew on me. It was the same melody he’d been playing back at our suite, but this was faster and so much more suggestive.

I could feel my body start to respond, my head and shoulders swaying to the rhythm, moving to the beat, forgetting that there were other people in the room. I just slid right up to him and watched him play, hanging onto every word.

Jackson was right, a song didn’t mean anything unless you could feel it. And hell did I feel this one. It coursed through me like a raging stream…steamy…hot…urgent.

For the first time in my life I forgot everything I stood for, forgot who I was. All I could feel was that electrifying chemistry that was being created by the two of us, it exploded in me with frenzy. I wanted this man, any way I could have him, any way he would let me. I wanted him.


Jackson

Somewhere in the middle of the whole thing the look in Ara’s eyes changed, grew wider, darker. Those pink lips didn’t look so innocent anymore; they were calling to me, urging me on. Her hands were sliding up and down near her hips and thighs as she danced making me glad my guitar was covering up the obvious evidence to my feelings.

I wanted to pull her up there with me, shove my guitar behind me and let my hands roam over her body, down her waist, up her spine, across her bottom. It just fueled my hard on even more. I didn’t even bother to look at my hands, keeping my eyes locked to that gorgeous face, seeing all the little specks of glitter fall around us like misty rain.

The atmosphere between us was so charged, flowing, that I was sorely disappointed when Jared suddenly stepped up clapping enthusiastically, his face ginning wider than I’d ever seen it.

“That was great Son!” he moved up next to Ara offering her a great big smile as well, “Sweet Pea, you definitely did your job here. I could not be more happy with it.”

Ara seemed a bit lost at his words, trying to smile at him, blinking with confusion, “What? You mean…uh…was that it?”

Jared just grinned at her some more nodding. “Didn’t have the chance to tell you, but you’re a natural, no complaints here.”

Her head swung around to face me, her chin tilting upward, “That’s going to be the video?” Her voice was high, and her cheeks began turning a bright shade of pink.

I hopped down from the pedestal, pushing my guitar behind me, “It was perfect Miss Ara…you were perfect.” I reached out and touched her arm trying to assure her that this was everything we were going to need.

“But…I didn’t do anything…nobody told me what to do…” she glanced back at Jared, her face filled with worry.

Jared just chuckled, shaking his head. He gave her an affectionate glace and then turned to me, “Sweet Pea is worried Son. Go take this beautiful girl out on the town and show her a good time, I need to start working on the editing but I reckon I don’t need to do much with this one.”

I would’ve hugged him then, but I knew he didn’t like that stuff, so I just tipped my hat at him, “Yes Sir.”

Ara was just staring at me, a bit of disbelief still lingering in her eyes, “Let’s go Miss Ara, I don’t know about you but I’ve worked up a mighty appetite.”

She just blinked at me, glitter still sticking to cheeks and nestled in her hair. “Should I change first?” She shook her head a little bit, sending sparkles all around her.

“No need to, you look perfect just the way you are.” I grinned, and this time when I reached for her hand, it was natural. There was no second guessing, no pausing, her fingers closed through mine tightly and I led her back to her dressing room so she could find her shoes.


There were endless possibilities of where to take her here in sin city. There was full luxury restaurants or casual cafe’s. I didn’t want to her to feel under dressed or under watchful eyes. I wanted her to relax, find that chemistry between us again.

So we went off the strip, not to far, just out of the main street and the crowds. Slid into one of my favorite diners. It had a family friendly setting with red checkered tablecloths and bright yellow booths. This place had the best milkshakes ever and I entertained the idea of sharing one with Ara.

“Oh look at this, so cute.” Ara returned to her bright happy self when we entered, turning to look at me with excited eyes.

I never let go of her hand, not when we left the set, in our car ride over, or here at the diner. I kept a firm grip, so glad I was in Vegas where the paparazzi could care less about stars like me and I could do what I pleased here.

Ara never pulled her hand away, she fell into step easily with me, letting me guide her, holding onto me tightly.

Maybe we hadn’t talked about it yet, but I was sure it would happen soon. We weren’t fighting that attraction so much here, it was unspoken, but it was there, and I knew it would only get stronger as the days passed.

I almost couldn’t wait.

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