Toni wants to be an insider.
Logan just wants inside her.
She’s finally ready to rock...
Toni Nichols set aside her dreams to raise her little sister, but now she's reaching for the stars as the creator of a revolutionary interactive biography about Exodus End. She’s on tour with the rock band to immerse herself in their world, but how will she ever gain the trust of four veteran superstars who've been burned by the media before? Nobody said this was going to be easy. Then again, good things can come in hard packages.
He's always ready to roll…
Adrenaline junkie Logan Schmidt lives for the rush of playing his bass guitar before thousands of screaming fans. When he's not performing onstage or in the bedroom, he's looking for his next thrill in extreme sports. So why does a sweet, innocent journalist get his heart pumping and capture his full attention? Is Toni the real deal or just digging up dirt on his band? Logan’s eager to rock Toni’s world and roll her in the sack, but when she starts to get too close to his heart, she takes her insider look to a place he may never be willing to go.
Walking with Logan was much different from her experiences of trying to make her way through the backstage area on her own, where she was stopped so frequently, she’d started showing her press pass to anyone with eyes.
Logan pushed open a set of swinging doors, and Toni was assaulted by sound. She winced. Logan squeezed her hand and led her around the side of the stage to a set of steps. He didn’t even hesitate climbing them to stand in the wings and as he still had Toni’s now sweaty hand trapped firmly in his, she had no choice but to follow him. The band was finishing up their first song. Their lead singer jumped from a riser to the stage on the final note, punctuating the sound with the thrust of his arm and the microphone in his fist.
Logan cheered with the rest of the crowd, but Toni was too busy staring at him to give the band onstage its due. Logan had come alive. Switched on in a way she hadn’t seen before. She’d watched plenty of footage of him onstage and witnessed secondhand what an outstanding performer he was, but being here with him in the flesh gave her an entirely new insight that no video could convey. So how could she show this side of him in the book? Could she capture the life in him, the vibrancy? She wasn’t sure it was possible. The energy coming off him was almost tangible. His love for music, that was what she was seeing. No, what she was feeling. But how did she show the world how remarkable it was? How remarkable he was?
Matt Chesterfield was onstage chatting with the crowd in a heavy British accent. Toni tore her gaze from Logan to look at the vocalist.
“We’re amped to have the opportunity to play for the amazing metal fans in the Billings area. How many of you came to the show just to see us tonight?”
There was a mild spattering of applause, mostly from a small sector in the pit near the front of the stage. The lead guitarist leaned toward his microphone and said, “Well, that’s a bit disappointing. I don’t think we’ve rocked their faces off enough yet.”
Logan chuckled. “God, I remember being an opening act for a bigger band. You feel so fucking privileged to be allowed on the stage, to share the excitement of a famous band’s fans, but you feel like such a douche bag for pretending anyone gives a shit that you’re there.”
Toni couldn’t imagine Exodus End ever being in a position of smallness. It seemed to her that they’d always been marked for great things.
“Who’s here to see Twisted Element?” the singer asked about the other opening band, which would play a set after theirs was over.
A bit more applause and cheers sputtered from the crowd.
“Steve got Twisted Element to join the tour. He’s really good friends with their drummer,” Logan told Toni.
Zach Mercer. She already knew about his friendship with Steve. “Is it common for members of different bands to be good friends?”
He gave her an odd look. “Well, yeah. We’re all in this together, aren’t we?”
“Aren’t they your competition?”
He shook his head. “Our brothers. If we’re going to keep rock alive, we have to work together, not against each other.”
She smiled. That was a nice way of thinking about the music business. She wondered if the record label executives shared that point of view.
“Okay, I think I see some Sinners fans in the audience,” Chesterfield said, shielding his eyes with one hand against his forehead as he scanned the crowd.
“Maybe a few,” the lead guitarist’s words were mostly drowned out by the screaming, stomping, whistling, and clapping going on in the stadium.
A chant of “Sinners, Sinners, Sinners” began to rise up through the ranks.
“Who else is playing tonight?” the vocalist asked. “I forget.”
The audience erupted into chaos as they very loudly informed the world that Exodus End was playing.
The vocalist pointed to his ear. “What was that? Did you say Exodus End is playing here tonight?”
Toni had to cover her ears due to the volume of the crowd. When the roar died down a bit, she lowered her hands and fixated on the vocalist, hanging on his every word.
“Get the fuck out. Exodus End is going to be on this stage in less than two hours?” He jabbed a pointed finger toward the stage beneath his boots. “Are you fucking kidding me?”
Logan chuckled. “He’s really getting them pumped up,” he yelled over the noise of the cheering crowd. “I hope we live up to their expectations.”
Toni glanced at him, beaming an exuberant smile in his direction. Of course they would live up to the fans’ expectations; they’d exceed them. She didn’t doubt it for a second. She wondered if they were ever swamped with self-doubt the way she was. Not likely.
Riott Actt finally began their second song and Toni tried to keep track of all that was occurring onstage. The flurry of activity was overwhelming. She didn’t know whether to watch the pacing vocalist, the wailing guitarists, or the rhythmic stylings of the drummer and the bassist. She glanced at Logan for direction and tried mimicking his devil-horn-shaking, head-banging, body-thrashing celebration of the music, but ended up feeling like an awkward fool.
“I have got to get in on that circle pit,” Logan said unexpectedly. He pecked her on the cheek and then vaulted himself over the stairs to the floor before hurdling the railing and several members of the audience and disappearing into the crowd. It took Toni at least half the song to comprehend what he’d done. She finally found the mental capacity to close her mouth. She stretched up on tiptoe and craned her neck, trying to see down into the audience and the writhing chaos occurring in a round area that at first appeared empty, but was actually the center of activity. Bodies bounced off each other around the periphery—shoving, stumbling, thudding, dancing, or maybe they were fighting. Hell, she couldn’t tell. It looked just plain violent from her vantage. She caught sight of a blue T-shirt, a tangle of golden wavy hair, and hard-muscled arms covered with sleeves of familiar gray-shaded tattoos. When Logan slammed chest first into a member of the audience, she cringed and hid her eyes behind both hands. What was he thinking? What if he got hurt and found himself unable to perform? How could he want to be involved in something that had to be painful?
Even though she personally didn’t want anything to do with the circle pit, Toni realized she should be getting pictures of Logan’s interaction with the crowd for the book. She sidled along the edge of the stage, hoping to stay out of sight as she cautiously made her way to the front left corner of the high platform. She looked through her camera, trying to capture Logan as one of the crowd, but it was all a hopeless blur. She couldn’t tell who was who. She noticed a riser at the very front of the stage but off to the far side and bathed in darkness. Riott Actt wasn’t using that part of the stage at all. Maybe she could see better from there. She’d be a bit higher up, but farther from the mosh pit. But that was what a zoom lens was for. To get the best shot, she needed a high vantage point, not a close one.
Once she was standing on the platform, she zoomed in on the mass of writhing bodies below. Scanning the crowd, she eventually focused on the center of the mosh pit and took dozens of shots in rapid succession. She hoped she captured something usable. Watching through the viewfinder, she cringed each time someone got shoved a bit too hard, hit a few too many times. She didn’t see the appeal of this ritual in the slightest. But then she didn’t have mass quantities of testosterone pulsing through her veins.
“Hey,” she heard someone yell from down below. “You can’t be up there.”
She wasn’t sure if the security guard was talking to her or not. Before she could figure that out, something hard and solid hit her in the stomach—an arm, she realized as the air wooshed out of her lungs—and then she was falling. Her arms pinwheeled before her, her hands trying to catch hold of something—anything—but all her desperately clawing fingers found was empty air.
Combining her love for romantic fiction and rock 'n roll, USA Today Best-Selling Author Olivia Cunning writes erotic romance centered around rock musicians.
Raised on hard rock music from the cradle, she attended her first Styx concert at age six and fell instantly in love with live music. She's been known to travel over a thousand miles just to see a favorite band in concert. As a teen, she discovered her second love, romantic fiction -- first, voraciously reading steamy romance novels and then penning her own.