"Are you ready, Anna?" Bane asked. When she nodded, he said, "Just remember, don't say anything. Just smile and let me do the talking, okay?"
"I remember, Bane. I'll do my best, I promise."
He kissed her softly and smiled. "I know you will." He took a deep breath and opened the van's door. Instantly, screams filled the air, and after his bodyguards got out, he stepped out, his hand firmly clasped in Anna's, and gave the crowd a wave and a smile.
"I love you, Venom!" came from several women's mouths, and Anna's hand tightened on his. He squeezed back, waved once more, and entered the arena.
"See, baby? Not too bad."
"No, Bane, not too bad." Anna said with a shy smile, and Bane kissed her.
"None of them hold a candle to you, my bella. Always remember that." She nodded, her eyes misting over, and he kissed her again. "Now, let me show you where you'll be for the show." He led her backstage where Sharon and Tony were already setting up. "You can stay back here with these two, or you can watch from the wings. Your choice, baby."
"I'd like to watch you, Bane," Anna whispered, her cheeks going red.
"Hey, don't be embarrassed," he said softly. "I'd want to watch me, too." That brought a laugh from his girl, and he grinned. "Just remember that it's a show. None of it is real. It's just acting."
"I'll try, Bane. Are you going to sing your new song tonight?"
"Yes, and I wish you were in the audience so that I could sing to you again, but the show is sold out. Just know that I'll be thinking of you as I sing it, baby. Every time I sing that song, I'll be thinking of you." He covered her lips with his, and tasted her tears. He pulled back and wiped her face. "No, bella, please don't cry. What's wrong?"
"Nothing. You're just so sweet, Bane Scott. Not at all what I was expecting."
Grinning, he pulled her to his chest. "No? What were you expecting?"
She held him tightly. "An arrogant jackass who only thought of women as toys to play with and then discard. A chauvinistic bastard who didn't care for anyone but himself." When Bane stiffened, she looked up at him. "What?"
He let her go and walked away.
"Bane? What's the matter? Did I say something?"
"Nothing that wasn't true before I met you," he said bitterly, his fists clenched. "That was me, Anna. For seven fucking years, that was me." He glanced back at her. "But then I saw you, and, God forgive me, I wanted that from you, too." He turned around and was devastated to see her tears falling again. "But when you asked for coffee and conversation, I wanted something else. I wanted that, Anna. I'd never just talked with a woman over a cup of coffee before, and the fact that you asked for it made it so much more appealing."
She wiped her face with her hands and moved close to him. She put her hands on his arms and rubbed them up and down softly. "I'm glad you did, Bane, and I'm glad you came to my house, and I'm glad you made love to me, and I'm glad I'm here now."
"Really? You're not just saying that?"
"No. I will always tell you the truth. Always. Even when it might not be what you want to hear."
He gathered her into his arms. "Oh, Anna. Please don't ever leave me."
She kissed his chest through his shirt. "I said it before, Bane. I'm not going anywhere."
He frowned and held her tightly. "You may change your mind after the show." He let out a small sob. "Please, baby, please don't change your mind."
She said nothing but only held him until Tony came and said they needed to do a sound check. Bane nodded and led Anna to the stage. He sat her down on one of the amplifiers and gave her a sad smile as they tested all the microphones and amps. Then they ran through the light show that would accompany their music, and then everyone went backstage. Cass sat on the floor as always; Tony, Sharon, David, and Trenton started up a rousing game of War; and Bane sat on a couch with Anna resting against him. He found himself dozing, and then he fell asleep.
The darkness surrounded her along with the sounds of screams and shrieks. "Annabelle!" he shouted as she faded into the black, her eyes wide and scared. Her mouth moved, but he couldn't hear what she was trying to say. "No! Annabelle! Please don't leave me! No!"
Someone shook him awake. "Bane! Wake up! You're having a nightmare!" His eyes shot open, and his Anna was staring at him, her hands on his arms and her eyes as wide and scared as in his dream.
"Holy fuck!" he muttered as he stood and rubbed his eyes, trying to dispel the horror he had felt as she was swallowed by the darkness. Then her arms came around him, and he held her tightly.
"Shh," she whispered as he let out another sob. "It's all right, Bane. I'm here."
"You weren't," he gasped. "You were taken away from me. Something took you away from me."
She sat him back down on the couch and held his head to her shoulder. His hands clenched and unclenched in his lap, and Anna covered them with one of hers. "I'm here, sweetheart. I'm here."
Bane took a deep, shuddering breath and sat up. He took Anna's face in his hands and kissed her softly. "Don't leave me, baby, please," he whispered against her lips. "I need you so much, bella. I need you to keep me from becoming Venom permanently. I don't want to be him. I want to be Bane Scott, and I want to be yours."
Sitting back, she caressed his face. "You are Bane Scott. You'll be Venom for a few hours later, but you are my Bane."
He stared into her eyes. "Your Bane? Do you really mean that?"
She nodded with a smile. "My Bane, and no one else's. And I am your Anna and no one else's."
"Mine," he breathed, his eyes drifting shut. "My Anna. My bella." He smiled back. "I really like the sound of that." He was about to kiss her again when Sharon cleared her throat behind him.
"It's time, Bane. Go get changed."
His eyes twinkled, and he grinned as he said, "Yes, ma'am. Right away." He stood up and took Anna's hand. "Come with me, Miss Fortelli. You can help me dress."
"With pleasure, Mr. Scott."
He led her to the backstage dressing room where his outfit for the night was already waiting for him. She frowned slightly when she saw it, and he squeezed her hand. "It's a costume, Anna, that's all." He swept his free hand over himself. "This is me, not that."
"I know, Bane. Will you take your shirt off again?"
"Because I don't like it. All those women drooling over my man's body." She frowned deeper. "I just don't like it."
"I have to, baby. I'd faint from heat exhaustion if I didn't. It gets really hot out there under those lights." When her frown stayed, he sighed. "Besides, that's what my audience expects from Venom." He pulled his red polo over his head. "And that's all they get to do, Anna. Look. Only one woman gets to touch."
Reaching out a hand, she trailed one finger down the middle of his chest, and he groaned. "Damn straight, Bane Scott." She flattened her hand over his heart. "This is all mine." He didn't know if she meant his body or his heart, but it didn't matter. They were both hers.
"Only yours, Anna, I promise." He grabbed her hand and kissed her fingertips. "Now, are you going to help me dress, or are you going to distract me?"
"Am I distracting you?" she whispered as she returned her hand to his chest. She tweaked a nipple with her thumb, and he gasped.
"Fuck, yes, you're distracting me."
"Can I do both? Help you dress while I'm distracting you?"
"Whatever you want, baby," he answered, and she grinned before dropping to her knees in front of him. Her hands went to the button of his jeans, and she slowly undid it. Then she slid the zipper down. Bane stared down at her, his mouth slack and his eyes hooded. When she grabbed the waistband of his pants and started peeling them down his legs, he groaned, but when she cupped his balls through his briefs, he cried out softly.
"What if I want to kiss you? What if I want to suck you?"
"Holy shit, baby, yes, please!"
She finished removing his jeans and then lowered his briefs. His cock was only semi-hard, but he knew that would change quickly if she was serious about a blowjob.
"I've never done this before, Bane," she said as she grinned up at him. "You'll have to tell me if I do something wrong."
"You couldn't possibly do this wrong, Anna." His cock twitched just at the thought of her mouth around him, and she chuckled. She took him in her hand and slowly stroked him. He reached out one hand to steady himself on the vanity and dropped the other to the back of her head. "Please, Anna, don't tease me."
"No teasing," she whispered and then stuck out her tongue and licked the tip of his cock where just a bead of precum had formed.
"Fuck, yes!" he cried out, and she licked around the head like it was an ice cream cone. Her hand was still moving on his shaft, which was rock hard now. Finally, she took him into her mouth and moved her hands to his ass. "Oh, God, Anna, baby!" He tightened his hand in her hair but let her set the pace. He was so fucking hard that he knew he wouldn't last long, especially when she took him in deep enough that he hit the back of her throat. When she slid back, she kept the suction, and he groaned. She kept the head in her mouth and started to move quickly up and down his shaft, her tongue swirling around him as she blew him. "Shit, baby girl," he moaned as he felt his balls draw up. "Stop now if you don't want me to cum in your mouth, 'cause it's gonna happen soon if you keep going." She just gazed up at him and didn't stop, although her hands gripped his ass tightly as she pulled him into her mouth. It only took a few more minutes before he pumped his hips forward, cried out some garbled version of her name, and emptied his load into the back of her mouth. To his utter surprise, she swallowed, and he stared down at her in disbelief as she sat back, his cock sliding out from between her lips. "Fuck me!" he breathed and then reached down and pulled her to her feet. He kissed her hard, his hands drifting down her sides to her ass. When he broke the kiss, she smiled shyly at him.
"Was it good, Bane?" She sounded very unsure of herself, and he kissed her again.
"Good doesn't even begin to describe it, baby girl. Amazing, incredible, and mind-blowing are the words I would use." She grinned at him, and he let her go. "But now I really need to get dressed and get my makeup done, or I'll be late to my own concert."
Anna sat in the left wing in such a position that she'd be able to see Bane throughout the entire concert. She smiled to herself as she thought about the fact that he had indeed almost been late. Devil's Breath was already playing by the time he got ready, and he'd only had time to give her a soft kiss before the lights dimmed and his band members entered the stage. The screams she remembered from the concert in Dallas sounded different from onstage--not as loud and not as shrill--and once the band started playing, she could barely hear them at all over the music. Bane had shown her the earpieces he wore, so she knew he didn't hear them either. It made her feel a little better.
After four songs, of which Anna knew the lyrics to none, Bane once again pulled a stool to the edge of the stage, but he added something to the end of his monologue about why he wrote the song.
"I dedicate this song to my Anna, my bella. Baby, this one's for you."
As he sang, Anna closed her eyes and drank in his voice. The time he had sung it to her in the audience, she was only conscious of his eyes on hers, but now she really listened to the lyrics. When he mentioned her green eyes, she smiled, but then came a line that had her eyes popping open to stare at him. His head was up, and he was looking at the audience, but she knew he was singing to her and only her.
"Because I love you, my beautiful girl, I want to give you the world. Let me be your world."
When he finished the song, tears were rolling down Anna's cheeks, and she hurried backstage before Bane could see her. Sharon was by her chair, wide-eyed and slack-jawed.
"What the hell, Anna? He's never, ever done that before."
"Done what?" Anna sniffled.
"Dedicated a song to anyone. What the fuck is going on between you two?"
Anna just shrugged and wiped her face. She took a deep breath and asked, "Do you think he means it, Sharon?"
"What? Do I think he loves you? Fuck if I know, but I can tell you this. He's changed in the past couple of days, Anna. And I'm talking drastic changes. He smiles more, he seems deliriously happy, and he hasn't touched a drop of alcohol since meeting you." Sharon smiled. "There was a time I wished he'd do all that for me, but I'm glad he found you. Really, really glad. He's back to how he was in high school, and I want to thank you for that."
"I haven't done anything," Anna protested.
"Yes, you have. I don't know what, but you've done something." Sharon tilted her head and studied Anna closely. "Do you love him, Anna?"
"I don't know. I've never been in love before. Can someone fall in love this fast? Or is it just lust?"
"Well, I've never slept with the man, but I don't think it's lust. Fuck, Anna, he fell asleep on the couch with you. That's never happened, either. He's comfortable with you, and it's good to see."
Just then, they heard Bane announce the break, and seconds later, Anna was in his arms, and he was kissing her senseless, just like he had said he wanted to do.
"Oh, my bella," he whispered softly into her ear, leaving black lipstick streaks across her cheek and neck as he laid soft kisses on them. He pulled back and grinned. "I've been wanting to do that since the beginning of the show." Then he noticed her red, puffy eyes and frowned. "Have you been crying?" She nodded, her traitorous eyes filling with tears again. "No, Anna, no. Please don't cry." He cupped her face and kissed her softly. "Why are you crying?"
She just shook her head, wiped her face again, and said, "We'll talk about it later, Bane."
His eyes widened, and he sucked in a harsh breath. "You're leaving, aren't you?" He fisted his hands in his hair and stormed away from her. "Fuck! I knew this would happen! I knew I couldn't have something lasting! Why the fuck did I even try?" He stalked to Sharon's chair and sat down.
"Bane--" Sharon started as she fixed his smudged makeup.
"Don't say a fucking word, Sharon! I don't want to hear it!" He saw her glance at Anna, who was stomping off somewhere further backstage.
"You're an ass, Bane, you know that?" Sharon mumbled, but when he glared at her, she shut up and finished his makeup. Bane got up from the chair and stormed back onstage, rudely shoving Cass and Trenton out of the way.
The rest of the concert went as well as could be expected considering Bane was seething inside. He took a perverse pleasure in stripping his torso bare, knowing that Anna didn't want him to. Fuck what she wants! he thought to himself as his shirt went flying into the audience. The teenaged girl who caught it promptly fainted, and it was only the valiant efforts of her friends that kept the shirt in her possession.
After their last song, Bane thanked the audience and left the stage. He went straight to his dressing room, slammed the door open, and stopped before stepping one foot over the threshhold. Anna was inside, sitting on the vanity's stool with her arms on the counter and her head on her arms. She was asleep, but Bane could tell she'd cried herself asleep. Tracks made by her tears ran down her cheeks, and her breath hitched even in her sleep. The sound pierced his heart, but he hardened it and started to wash his makeup off. He was pulling on his jeans when she spoke from behind him.
"Do you want me to leave, Bane? I will if you want me to. I'll go back home if you don't want me."
He clenched his teeth and turned to face her. "What gave you that idea, Anna? No, I don't want you to go! I want you to stay with me! How many times have I told you that?" His eyes burned, and he leaned against the door, his head tilted back in an effort to keep his own tears from falling. "But I understand if you want to go home. I really do." He gasped when he felt her arms go around his waist, and a single tear fell when she rested her head against his chest.
"I wasn't crying because I wanted to leave, Bane," she whispered, and he sobbed once as he held her to himself. "I was crying because of your song." She looked up at him, and the pain in her eyes caused his tears to fall faster. "I wanted you to mean what you sang. I wanted it to be more than just a song you wrote. I wanted to believe it."
He sank to the floor, taking her with him. "What part, Annabelle?"
"The part where you said you loved me. The part where you said you wanted to be my world."
Bane's mouth opened, but nothing came out. He closed it again and frowned.
"Do you mean it, Bane? Do you love me? Because I think I love you."
"You don't even know me, Anna. How can you love someone you don't know?"
"I know enough."
"No, you don't," he said, standing up and taking her hand. "There's a lot about me you don't know." When she frowned, he said, "I'm sorry, Anna, but I hear those three words so fucking often that they have no meaning to me. 'I love you, Venom!' I'm so sick of hearing those words!"
She smiled, but it was shaky. "Then I'll have to think of something else to say, Bane." She reached up and caressed his face. "Just know that I am not going anywhere."
He returned her smile as he kissed her. "That's all I wanted to hear, bella. Now, I have to go sign some autographs. Care to come with me?"
"It would be my pleasure," she answered, and he led her from the dressing room.