Bane groaned as he woke with yet another hangover in yet another hotel room in yet another city. He couldn't even remember where they were, the pain of Anna's leaving was so intense. He had returned to his pattern of behavior he'd had before Anna as far as the drinking was concerned, and he barely remembered anything that had happened over the last two months. He knew the band had continued their tour after performing for the people of Atlanta a second time to make up for not completing the first concert. Anyone with a ticket was allowed back in for free, and the songs had been almost the same as the first time, but Bane could not bring himself to sing Anna's song. He had sung at every concert since then as if on autopilot, his mind bringing forth the words and the music, but he wasn't really present at any of them. What he hadn't done was be with any other woman since Anna had left, and his band was getting worried about him.
They hadn't agreed on a new manager yet, and the two weeks they had taken off from the tour hadn't helped in that regard. No one had wanted to hire someone new; it had seemed an insult to Tony's memory, but Bane knew they needed to decide quickly. There were only three months left for this tour, and then he was going home. His mother had called him when she saw the news broadcast, and they had cried together for a long time. She told him that Tony's family in Slaughters was falling apart with his friend's parents each blaming each other for his death. Bane's father refused to speak to him, and that was fine with Bane.
"Bane? You okay?"
He looked up at the door and saw Dennis staring at him with concern.
"Do I fucking look okay?" Bane spat out, and then he sighed and hung his head. "I'm sorry, Dennis, but I miss Anna so fucking much!" he whispered.
His bodyguard took a step into the room. "Then go to her, Bane. You've got two days before your next show. Fly the fuck back to Texas and talk to her before you drink yourself to death!"
Bane shook his head. "She won't answer my calls! What makes you think she'll agree to talk to me in person?"
Dennis came into the room and sat on the edge of the bed. "Because you're not going to give her the chance to say no. Make her talk to you!"
"How am I supposed to do that? Kidnap her? That'll look great in the tabloids! Venom kidnaps former girlfriend - says he just wanted to talk to her! Great fucking advice!"
"I said nothing about kidnapping her! Just go to her house and don't leave until she talks to you. Might be a bit of stalker-like behavior, but you're going to kill yourself if you don't do something! I have not spent the last four years protecting you just to watch you throw your life away like that!" Dennis stood up and started pacing the length of the room. Bane watched him silently for a moment, and then he got out of bed, pulled on sweats and a T-shirt, and left the suite.
When he got to the hotel's gym, he programmed the treadmill and ran hard. He'd set the machine to the steepest incline and almost the fastest speed, and by the time he'd run five miles at that level, his muscles burned, and he felt like he was going to pass out. He slowed the speed, lowered the incline, and jogged for ten minutes. Then he shut it off and slid to the floor, his head between his knees. He thought about what Dennis had said, and when his head came up, there was a fierce determination on his face. He stood up, stormed back to his suite, and jumped in the shower. Then he dressed in the black and white striped shirt and black jeans Anna had first seen him in. Grabbing his phone, he punched in Tobias' number.
"How soon can you be ready to fly?" he barked when his pilot answered.
"About an hour and a half. Why?" Tobias answered calmly.
"I'll be ready. You'd better be, too. We're going to Forestburg, Texas." Bane snapped, and then he hung up.
"Bane? You're going?" Dennis was back in his doorway.
"I'm going. I'll sit on her front stoop until she talks to me." Bane looked at his bodyguard. "I can't do this without her anymore, Dennis."
"I know. I'll take you to the airport."
Bane just nodded, grabbed his wallet, and shoved past Dennis who followed close behind him. They made their way to the parking garage, and Bane climbed into the passenger seat of their rental van while Dennis got in behind the wheel.
"If anyone asks where I am, don't tell them. Just say I needed some time to myself," Bane said as they drove out onto the busy streets of wherever they were.
"You got it, Bane. No one will know where you are. I promise."
Nothing more was said until they reached the airport. The band's Gulfstream was on the tarmac, and Dennis drove up to it. "Good luck, Bane. I mean it."
"Thanks, Dennis. I have a feeling I'm going to need it." Bane shook hands with Dennis and climbed out of the van. He walked up the steps to the plane and only glanced at Tobias when his pilot stuck his head out of the cockpit. He sat down in one of the seats and buckled his seatbelt.
"Still another hour or so, Bane," Tobias said softly, "and I can only get you about three miles from Forestburg. Some little landing strip called Bird Dog. I had to call the owner to get permission to land there. You going to get a car once we're there?"
"No. I'll just run."
Tobias came out of the cockpit and sat down next to Bane. "Why are we going there?"
Bane looked at the older man, his eyes full of pain and sorrow. "Because that's where Anna is, Tobias." He tried to keep the tears from falling, but he couldn't, and he dropped his head. "I miss her so much!"
A strong arm came around his shoulders as Tobias pulled him close. "I know you do, my friend. I'm sure she misses you, too." Bane wanted to stop crying, but then Tobias said, "Let the tears come, Bane. It's okay to cry sometimes," and the tears fell faster accompanied by heart-rending sobs. "Shh, my boy. It'll be all right."
My boy. Bane thought about the fact that his father wouldn't even speak to him, and here was a man who'd known him for slightly more than a year treating him more like a son than the bastard who'd actually given Bane his genes, and he cried until he couldn't breathe. Tobias never let go; in fact, his arms tightened around the younger man until it seemed that was all that was keeping Bane together. Maybe it was.
"Ten minutes, Bane. You sure you want to do this?" Tobias looked through the cockpit door at the man he'd come to think of as a son.
"No, I'm not. If she rejects me again, Tobias, I think I might kill myself."
Tobias frowned deeply, said something to the copilot, and came back to sit by Bane again. "Never say that, boy! I know you're hurting, but that is the most selfish thing you could ever do! You won't be hurting anymore, it's true, but think of everyone you'd leave behind! Cass, Dave, Trent, Sharon, your parents, me! We'd all be devastated! Especially after what happened with Tony!" When Bane hung his head, Tobias snapped, "Look at me, Bane!" Bane's head came up slowly, and Tobias sighed when he saw the red puffiness surrounding those blue eyes. "Promise me you won't ever say that again," he said softly.
"You're right," Bane whispered. "I'm sorry. I promise I'll never say it again."
Tobias pulled him into another hug. "I'd hate to lose you, boy."
Bane hugged him back. "You won't. I promise."
"Good." Tobias let him go with a sad smile and went back to the cockpit. "Get ready to land, boy. I hope that run to Anna's house will help you prepare what you're going to say to her."
"Me too, Tobias." The landing strip was grass, and they bounced along for a while before the plane gradually stopped. Tobias opened the door for Bane, and he stood up with a heavy sigh. "I'll call you when I'm ready to leave. Just wait here for me, please."
"You got it, Bane. We'll wait."
Bane nodded and walked down the steps. Tobias had told him they were about three miles north of Forestburg, and he could see a road leading away from the landing strip to the south. He took a deep breath and started jogging in that direction. He was once again not in running clothes, but he didn't care. He simply settled into an easy pace, and within an hour, he was passing Elmer's store. He saw the door open as he jogged past it onto the road that led to Anna's house, but he ignored the old man who scowled at him. Instead, he ran up the road and quickly reached her home. Unwanted memories bombarded him as he stood in the yard by her car. Memories of kissing her, of carrying her to her bedroom, of making love to her, of singing to her. He took a deep breath and walked to her front door.
He knocked twice and called out, "Anna, please come out. It's me. Please talk to me!" When there was no response, he sat down on the steps that led to the door and waited. "I'm not leaving, my bella! I'll wait here as long as it takes!" As he sat there, he started humming her song, and then he started singing, even as his fingers danced over imaginary guitar strings. "The matching half of my soul," he sang softly. "Let me be your world." He dropped his head when he finished the song, but it came up again when he heard a car pull into the driveway.
It was a battered, old Ford pickup truck, and Elmer was driving it. The old man did not look happy as he climbed out with a shotgun in his hands. He stormed up to Bane and stood there with his hands on his gun and his lips curled with disgust.
"I warned you, Bane Scott! I warned you what would happen if you hurt Annabelle, and you have the balls to show up here again?" Elmer pointed the gun at Bane and snarled, "I don't know why you came, but you can just get the hell out of here now!"
Bane didn't have the energy to argue, and he had just stood up to leave when the front door of Anna's house opened, and she was there, framed in the doorway.
"Elmer, put that thing away! Bane had nothing to do with why I came back! I told you that!"
The old man rested the gun on his shoulder and had the decency to look ashamed. "I know, Annabelle, but--"
"But what? You didn't believe me? Well, believe me now! I didn't come back because of him! I came back because of what happened to me!"
"I know you said that, Annabelle, but I also know that if you hadn'ta gone with him, you wouldn'ta gotten hurt."
Anna walked down one step. "Go back to town, Elmer, please," she said softly. "I'll be fine, but thank you for your concern."
Bane could feel the tension in his shoulders as she walked down another step until she was standing right behind him. He desperately wanted to turn and take her into his arms, but he forced himself to stay still. Elmer shook his head, but he walked back to his truck, climbed in, and pulled out of her driveway. Only when the truck disappeared completely did Bane dare to turn around. His fingers twitched as he kept himself from grabbing Anna and kissing her, but she just stared at him.
"He's right, you know," she said quietly. "You really should leave."
"No," he answered. "I'm not leaving until we talk. I don't care if I spend days out here on your front steps." He raised one hand, but it shook violently, and he dropped it. "Anna, my bella, we need to talk, please."
She huffed out a breath. "Aren't you going to miss a show somewhere? And don't call me your bella!"
He frowned. "No, we're not due for our next show for two more days. I'll wait longer than that if necessary. Please, Anna, just talk to me."
She said nothing as she turned to walk back up the steps. Bane was about to drop back down onto those same steps when she held the door open and raised her eyebrows at him. He slowly walked to her and took the door from her. "After you," he said quietly. She walked into the house, and he shut the door before following her to the kitchen.
"Coffee?" she asked, not looking at him.
"Yes, please," he said as he stood awkwardly in the doorway.
"Oh, for God's sake, Bane, sit down! You're making me nervous!" she snapped at him, and he moved to one of the chairs at the table. After he sat down, he started playing with the tablecloth as Anna made the coffee. Neither of them said anything, and Bane eventually raised his head to watch her.
She was dressed in tight blue jeans and a floral print blouse, and her bare feet were the sexiest things Bane had ever seen in his life. His breathing accelerated as she moved, and his palms started to sweat. He wiped them on his pants, but it did no good. When she finished with the coffee, she stood at the counter, her back to him, and clutched the edge until her knuckles turned white. When she spoke, Bane knew she was crying.
"Why did you come here, Bane? I thought by ignoring your calls and your texts you'd get the hint that I didn't want to see you!"
Bane got to his feet and walked to her. His hands shook as he placed them on her shoulders, and he swallowed thickly. "I couldn't stop myself, Anna. I miss you so fucking much!" She dropped her head and sobbed. Bane spun her around and did what he'd dreamed of doing every night for the past two months. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to himself. "No, my sweet bella, please don't cry. I'm sorry."
"Sorry for what, Bane?" she asked, her arms staying by her sides. "You didn't do anything."
"I'm sorry for what happened to you. It's all my fault." He took a deep breath and drank in her scent. "I should have seen what was happening with Tony. I'm so sorry, baby."
Slowly, her arms came around him, and his breath caught in his throat. "No, Bane, it's not your fault. You had every reason to think that it was a crazy fan who was stalking you. Tony made you believe that, didn't he?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
She looked up at him, and he felt like he was drowning in her eyes. "No guessing about it. What happened to us was Tony's fault, not yours. None of this was your fault."
Bane let her go at that, and the familiar anger rose up in him as he walked back to the table. "If it wasn't my fault, then why did you leave me?" He spun back to face Anna. "I thought you said you loved me! Not enough to stay with me, though, right?"
Tears were streaming down Anna's face. "I do love you, Bane, but I couldn't handle what was happening!"
His anger fled as rapidly as it had appeared, and he dropped into the chair. "And now? Please, Anna, please come back to me. I love you, and I am dying without you!" He laid his forehead on the table and sighed. "I started drinking again."
He looked at her as his own tears started trickling from his eyes. "How can you ask that? I love you, and you left me! After you told me you weren't going anywhere, Anna! You left me! For two fucking months I've been drinking myself into a practical coma every night! I can't sleep without passing out first! I can't sleep without you beside me!"
Anna came to him slowly, knelt on the floor, and put her hands on his knees. "Bane, I'm so sorry. I know I said I wouldn't leave you, but I was so scared. I didn't know what to do, so I left. I came back to what was safe and known." She squeezed his legs and brought her face close to his. "I know how miserable you've been, Bane, because I have, too. I do love you, and I've missed you terribly, but I didn't think you'd take me back after what I did to you."
Bane sat up straight, and Anna removed her hands from him. "How could you think that?" he snarled. "What have I ever done or said to make you think that? Every moment I spent with you should have told you how much I love you and how much I would miss you!" He stood up and walked toward the doorway. "I guess I didn't do a good enough job of making that clear! I guess telling you I loved you wasn't enough!" He stopped when Anna grabbed his wrist, and he stared down at her hand for a moment before turning back around. "Let me go, Annabelle, please."
"No, Bane. You said we needed to talk, and that is what I'm trying to do. I'm being honest about my feelings, but I know you're holding something back from me."
"Holding something back? You're damn right I am!" Bane took her arms in his hands and backed her up until she was against the refrigerator. "I'm trying my hardest not to carry you into your bedroom and fuck your brains out! I'm trying to control myself and not kiss you! I'm trying, Anna, but I can't!" He dipped his head and claimed her mouth with his in a bruising kiss. He forced his tongue between her lips and gasped when she kissed him back just as forcefully. He lifted her, and her legs went around his waist as their tongues and teeth clashed. Her hands fisted in his hair, and his dropped to her ass. He broke the kiss with a groan, but she pulled him back into another one. When her hands moved to the buttons on his shirt, he drew back. "Anna, what are you doing?"
"Shut up and kiss me again, Bane," she whispered, and he gladly obliged. When she got the last button undone, she slid his shirt off his shoulders onto the floor. He leaned her against the refrigerator and started undoing her blouse. When he got it off, her naked breasts pressed against his chest, and he growled. Her hands next moved to his jeans, and his went to hers. They scrambled to get the rest of their clothing off, and when they did, Anna said, "Please, Bane, fuck me right here!"
Breathing heavily, Bane lifted her slightly and slid her down on his cock. "Fuck me, baby girl! I missed you so much! I missed this so much!" He started thrusting upward while holding her still, and she groaned loudly before kissing him again, her tongue sliding against his.
"Yes, Bane! Oh, God, yes!" she cried out as he sped up his thrusts, but then he froze, buried deep within her. "What's wrong?"
"I don't have a condom on, and if I continue, I could get you pregnant."
"I don't care, Bane. Please don't stop!"
Bane just moaned and started his thrusts again. "Holy shit, Anna!" he grunted as he dropped his head to her breast. He took her nipple in between his teeth and sucked hard.
"Fuck, yes!" she screamed as her climax hit hard. He rode out her spasms and then pulled out of her before setting her on the floor and turning her around. He pressed gently on her back until she was bent over.
"I'm not finished with you yet, my bella," he groaned. He slid into her again and started pounding her hard. She had one more orgasm before he felt his own approaching. "Oh, God, Anna!" he cried out as he filled her with his cum. When he stopped shaking, he slid to the floor and sat with her on his lap. He could feel their mingled fluids dripping from her onto his thighs, and it was the most erotic thing he'd ever known. He reached around her and thumbed her clit gently. "Give me one more, my love," he whispered in her ear, and it didn't take long before she shuddered and cried out his name. He raised his thumb to his lips and sucked it clean. Then he turned her around.
Her arms came around his neck, and she kissed him. "I love you, Bane Raimond Scott," she said with a smile.
"I love you too, my bella," he answered. "Please tell me this means we're back together. That you'll come back on tour with me." She nodded, and he grinned. He pulled her to his chest. "Thank you, Anna," he whispered as he kissed her hair.
"Never again, my love," she said softly. "I will never leave you again. I promise."
Bane frowned as he thought about all the celebrity relationships that didn't work out, and he wondered if she would be able to keep that promise.