SHE MEANS BUSINESS
Twenty-three year old Katana James can shred on the guitar. Not that anyone would know, as she’s spent most of her time working on a popular news and gossip website for Heavy Metal fans since her own band broke up. But her dreams are in reach when she gets an audition to play with her favorite band, Bleeding Vengeance. Kat won’t let her gender, her anxiety disorder, or even the pranks of a malicious stalker stand in her way. The only thing to threaten her focus? A growing fascination with the group’s brilliant, mysterious bass player.
HE OFFERS PLEASURE
Klement Burke has always been the heart, soul and brain of Bleeding Vengeance. He’s the kind of rock star who stays in the shadows, a perfectionist more interested in satisfying his brain than other parts of his body. Until he auditions Katana James. At first it seemed a perfect idea, as he’s been aware of her talent for some time. But meeting her in the flesh ignites thoughts far from professional. Despite the conflict of work, the odds against her falling for a geek like him, and a secret he’s been hiding, his heart, body and soul now belong to Kat.
had to be near six and a half feet tall, way taller than he appeared in their
album pictures or on stage. Long, sandy blond hair caressed his shoulders,
curling slightly at the ends. His blue-green eyes danced with mischief and
intelligence. Some strange, intense feeling tightened Kat’s stomach and chest,
making it hard to breathe.
stared for what felt like an eternity, her heart pounding before she recovered
herself and nodded. “Yes, I’m Katana.”
gave her an unreadable smile and gestured for her to follow him to where the
rest of the band waited, including Cliff Tracey, the lead singer and her
biggest crush. Kat didn’t know what would be worse: Klement rejecting her, or
humiliating herself in front of Cliff. Sucking in a deep breath, she squeezed
the handle of her guitar case in a death grip and followed.
bassist’s long strides led to small break room where three men lounged, men
she’d only seen from a distance on stage at concerts and up close on posters on
her wall. Roderick Powell eyed her up and down with a friendly smile.
love. So you’re the one who’s going to help us make this album?”
British accent made her want to melt into a puddle. She nodded and shook his
hand, hoping she didn’t look too star-struck. “I’m Katana James.”
Powell.” He continued to scrutinize her. “You look too little to be behind
those blistering samples we heard.”
her, Klement laughed. “Yeah, she is pretty short.”
feet.” Kat managed a nervous smile before her gaze strayed to the front man of
the band. Cliff Tracey stood only five feet away. Her breath halted as she took
in the sight of his rich chestnut curls, chocolate eyes and sculpted jaw. The
man was too beautiful for words.
gaze swept her from head to toe as he shook her hand, making heat rise to her
cheeks. “So you’re ‘Metal-Kat’ from Metalness.com. You’re even better-looking than
your partner. But you look too cute for this work.”
line from the Rudolph Christmas special rang in her head. He thinks I’m cute!
choked back a giggle. She could do that later when she called Kinley and told
her how it went.
right.” Roderick leaned forward. “I love that site. You give us good promo, and
your memorial post for Lefty did him justice.”
she murmured. “Kinley wrote most of it, since…uh, she was there with you guys
when it happened. I just filled in the background.” Kat looked down at her
feet, feeling depressed and awkward at bringing up that tragic day when Lefty
had been found dead from a cocaine overdose in his hotel room during the band’s
tour with Viciӧus. Kin had called
her both right after it happened and then at the memorial service, knowing Kat
wished she was there herself to honor the memory of her idol.
fact that she was here to replace their fallen comrade and her idol struck Kat
again full-force. She didn’t want to usurp Lefty. She wanted to honor his
legacy. She prayed they would see that.
stepped closer to her. “The part you wrote was the most beautiful.”
shivered at his proximity and husky voice. “Thank you.”
made an impatient sound behind her. “Let’s get rolling.”
snapped to attention, ashamed of her giddy distraction. She was here to work,
not flirt with a potential colleague.
grinned. “Open up that case, sweetie. Let’s see what you got.”
smiled back, hoping she wasn’t blushing, and opened her case to reveal her
vintage Gibson Flying V.
nodded in approval. “Good choice.”
played a Gibson V.”
soft voice washed over Kat, tremulous with sorrow. The grief in his eyes gave
her an unreasonable urge to hug him.
know,” she whispered. “He was my hero.”
exchanged a long look, and Kat was struck by the sincere respect in the
bassist’s eyes. In all her twenty-three years, no one had ever taken her so
seriously before. Even Kinley often rolled her eyes at her, accusing her of
being too girly. Kat wanted more than anything to be worthy of this respect.
was led into the recording room.
where do I plug in?”
handed her a giant set of headphones and gestured to the center of the room,
where speaker cabinets were arranged along with a set of whammy pedals. “Right
hooked up her guitar, and Klement showed her where to plug the headphones so
she could hear the music and instructions from the console station behind the
glass. “We’ll be back there keeping an eye on things, but try to pretend you’re
and Cliff were already in there. They waved at her from the window. Klement
nodded and strode off, leaving her alone in the chamber feeling like a zoo
exhibit. Kat swallowed, mouth dry.
bassist’s voice echoed in her headphones, alarmingly intimate in her ears and
somehow familiar. “We’re going to start with ‘Sorrow’s Harvest.’ Are you
nodded with a confidence she didn’t feel.
just like you’re at home practicing….”
voice faded out. Something about the echo made Kat think of her IT guy again. But
he couldn’t be—
thought broke as music began to play through her headphones.
song sounded almost the same as it had on the MP3 sent her to practice with,
only the scratch guitar section was gone and Cliff’s voice sounded more pure.
Closing her eyes, Kat struck the first chord just in time. The faces of her
audience faded from her awareness as fierce concentration overtook her being,
focus on touching each string at the right time, adding the correct pressure,
making her instrument sing. Like an auditory engineer, she focused on one note
and then the next until the song finished and triumph straightened her spine.
She hadn’t messed up. In fact, she’d sounded pretty good.
echoed in the headphones, jolting her back to reality.
well done, love!” Roderick said.
stared at her through the window with increased interest. “Where’d you learn to
play like that?”
Kat shrugged. “I just keep trying until I get it right.”
shook his head. “It’s not where she learned it, it’s why.” He looked at her
long and intently. “Why do you play?”
gave him a direct stare through the glass. “I love music.”
He smiled with such
understanding and satisfaction that her body warmed. “That’s right. Now let’s
see how well you learned the new songs.”
She lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho with her son, her cat, and a 1980 Datsun 210.