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Lovely Oblivion Jade by A.D. Craig

 

Overview: When drummer Jade's long-time stalker escalates his attacks, her record label calls in Vittroli Security Specialists -- a private security team of former Navy SEALs. The team is tasked with keeping Jade and her band safe and their tour on schedule.
Sparks fly when Jade meets Ryker Vittroli, founder and director of the security team. Will Ryker break his team's "no fraternizing with clients" rule to pursue his feelings for Jade? Can he protect this rockstar and his heart at the same time?

 

Lovely Oblivion Jade by A.D. Craig Book Chapter One

 

“Watch out!” One of the roadies shouted and shoved Jade, causing her to fall. She landed hard several feet away, bouncing her hip off the wooden stage.

A masculine cry of pain and a metallic crash rang through the venue when a piece from the stage lighting rig hit the roadie first then struck the theater’s stage — right where Jade just stood.

Jade’s heart pounded wildly, and her breathing sped up as adrenaline pumped through her body.

The roadie who shoved her, a young man with brown hair, groaned from where he lay on the floor.

Jade pushed herself up and staggered over to him, where she fell to her knees beside him.

“Are you okay?”

“I think my shoulder’s dislocated,” he gritted between clenched teeth.

“Okay. Stay still. I’ll call for help.”

She pulled her phone out of her pocket and dialed 911, her voice breathy as she rattled off the venue information and asked them to hurry.

When she hung up, she shoved her phone in her pocket and tucked a hand beneath his head, offering a small cushion against the hard stage.

He grimaced and clutched his shoulder.

“Shhhh, shhhh. Don’t move. Help will be here soon,” she said. “Thank you for saving me.”

The young roadie’s eyes met hers, and he nodded.

One of her band’s security guards, Max, ran onto the stage first. He used his earpiece radio to call for backup. He knelt by them, pulled off his SECURITY overshirt, and tucked it under the roadie’s head. Jade removed her hand and sat back out of the way.

“What hurts?” he asked.

“Shoulder,” the roadie grunted.

Max carefully ran his fingers over the man’s shoulder and felt on it, making him hiss. She heard chatter over Max’s headset but couldn’t make out the words.

Max said, “It may be dislocated, but I don’t think anything’s broken. Try not to move. The medics are in the lobby. Two minute ETA.” He turned to Jade. “You okay?”

Her hip throbbed from the impact and would probably bruise, but she didn’t think her injury was serious. Her heartbeat began returning to normal.

She nodded. “Yeah, I’m okay.”

Max looked at the broken rig on the stage. “What a crazy accident,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this, and I’ve been working band security for fifteen years.”

“I wonder what happened.”

“Not sure.” He shook his head.

Soon, the EMTs arrived and checked the roadie over. They helped him onto a stretcher and headed for the hospital.

The rest of the band and a few spectators gathered around the stage to see what happened.

Jade pulled her phone out of her pocket when the EMTs left. When she unlocked the screen, she noticed a new text message from an unknown number. “If I can’t have you, no one can. You made a mistake fucking the pretty boy fan last night. That light may have missed you this time, but you’ll get your punishment soon. ~~No longer your BiggesT fan.”

Goosebumps broke out on Jade’s skin. She looked around to see if she could locate the sender but no one looked suspicious. The lighting rig’s fall wasn’t an accident. And the culprit was nearby if he’d watched his attack fail.

* * *

Fifteen Minutes Later

“We need more security,” Lyra, Jade’s bandmate and best friend, insisted. She pulled her auburn hair into a ponytail and sank onto a dressing room couch.

After the attack earlier, the five members of Jade’s band, Lovely Oblivion, met in the venue’s dressing room.

“That’s unnecessary,” Jade said. They already had three security guards who toured with them and helped with venue safety. Two of them currently stood outside guarding the dressing room door, while the third, Max, filed a police report about the incident.

Lyra scoffed. “It is necessary. Someone just tried to kill you!”

Jade ran a hand through her rainbow-streaked hair with frustration. “I think it was just a scare-tactic.”

“Either way, someone got hurt from it. That could have been you,” Lyra said. “The attacker said you’ll get your punishment soon. We need a specialized security team to catch this guy. He went 180 from adoring-fan to attacking-stalker in no-time. Who knows what he’ll do next?”

“Lyra’s right. We need to hire bodyguards, at least until this gets sorted out,” Bex, their wiry lead singer and sometimes-fiddle-player, said. Her pixie-cut brown hair was already spiked into a Mohawk for their rock show later. “I love our guys. Max, Jake and Tyler have been with us from the start. But they’re general road security and aren’t trained for this shit. Stalkers and murder attempts are above their pay-grade. Let’s ask the record label to hire private security for us.”

Bex was typically the “voice of reason” for the band, so if she thought private security was necessary then maybe Lyra was right.

Jade sighed. “I hope we don’t have to cancel tonight’s performance.”

She wished she knew the stalker’s identity so they could nip the drama. Whoever her stalker was had followed her for years as a fan. The attack that morning pushed their status from “fan” to “stalker.”

Jade was never shy or conservative — she loved to have fun. Her friends said she had “no filter” because she often said whatever popped into her head. Some people considered her rough or rude because of that, but her friends and her family loved her directness.

That fun carried over to her relationships, as well. Jade’s “relationships” were a long list of one-night-stands. So far, no one made her want to commit.

Jade’s reputation preceded her and everyone, including fans, knew how non-committal she could be. She assumed her stalker knew that, too. But last night’s loud one-night-stand backstage with a “talented” fan that Jade mentally cataloged as “Twisty-Tongue” seemed to push the stalker over the edge.

Had her stalker tried to kill her? Or scare her? What was his goal?

“We need to call Paige,” Lyra said, breaking Jade’s train of thought. Paige was their manager. “Does everyone agree?”

“Yes,” Bex said.

Polly, their bassist, nodded. She had styled her long blond hair in space buns — where the bottom is long and free but there are two buns on top. “Yep, sure do.”

Maggie, their quiet keyboardist, also nodded. Her long black hair streamed over her shoulders.

“Fine,” Jade said.

Lyra pulled out her phone and called Paige, who told them to stay put and that she would call back with an update.

It turned out, their record label didn’t take the threat lightly, and assigned the band a specialized private security team.

Paige instructed them to wait in the dressing room until their new security arrived — and broke the news that the label may cancel that night’s show.

* * *

Four hours later

Personal bodyguards.

Jade sighed and tapped her drum sticks on her chair restlessly. She still thought the extra security was unnecessary.

The lighting rig that clipped the roadie earlier resulted in a hospital trip and a sling but luckily no permanent damage.

The band waited in the dressing room to meet their new security and get the final word about the show. Everyone except Jade still had cell phone access and sat content in their own worlds.  Security took Jade’s phone and currently kept the band detained in the dressing room.

Jade glared at Lyra from across the room. Calling their manager had been all Lyra’s idea.

Lyra must have felt the evil-eye because she looked up from her phone and flipped Jade off in response.

“I’m reconsidering your ‘best friend’ title,” Jade said.

Lyra laughed. “You’ll thank me for this later. I promise,” she said.

“Highly doubtful.”

Lyra and Jade were friends long before they became bandmates. They’d become quick friends in elementary school and stuck together since.

They formed their punk rock band Lovely Oblivion with Polly, Bex, and Maggie, three other musicians they’d met during college. They hit it big and signed a record deal in their early 20s.

Jade loved it and wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Well, except this stalker thing. If she’d known the fan’s actions would escalate like this, she would have nipped it sooner. Now, it impacted other fans.

The third date of the new tour. A sold-out rock show. Out of everything that happened, the potential cancellation probably pissed Jade off the most. She hated disappointing the fans. Thousands of people rearranged their schedules, spent money, and made plans to see their performance, but one selfish jerk might ruin everyone’s night.

Jade growled loudly right as the door opened.

Blue eyes met hers, first with surprise, then with what she guessed might be amusement, at her outburst.

Their owner — a tall, toned hunk with dark hair — strolled into the room behind Tawny, the band’s tiny female tour manager. Four other built guys followed them. Tawny looked even smaller than normal standing beside them, even wearing her favorite high-heeled boots. These guys practically screamed “badass military” with their chiseled bodies, tattoos, and overall demeanor.

As Tawny closed the door tightly behind them, Jade glimpsed their normal security guard, Tyler, standing watch in the hallway.

“Hey, ladies,” Tawny said. She moved further into the room.

Tawny looked meek to those who didn’t know her, but she was really a force to be reckoned with — her job required backbone and grit. As their road manager, she coordinated all their stops, hotels, crews, and venues. She made everything run smoothly while the band was on the road.

Their actual manager, Paige, ran the image, tour schedule, and financial side of things; Tawny made the tour happen efficiently.

“Meet your new security team,” Tawny said.

She pointed to Mr. Blue Eyes.

His dark hair was longer on top and shorter on the sides. No wedding ring. A tattoo peeked out from the neck of his blue dress shirt. Though he wore dressy clothes currently, he had a predatory look about him that signaled he wouldn’t hesitate to fight at a moment’s notice. The gun on his hip amplified the intimidating image.

Jade’s interest piqued immediately. This guy had an interesting story to tell, and she wanted to hear it all.

Tawny continued, “This is Ryker Vittroli. He’s your new head of security. Whatever he says goes. No fighting him, ladies.”

The words were out of Jade’s mouth before she could stop them, “Oh Tawny, I plan to fight with him — All. Night. Long.”

Ryker’s eyes flicked to Jade. He said, “I’m going to have my hands full with you, aren’t I?”

“I sure hope so,” Jade said with a grin. “You can fill your hands with me anytime.”

Ryker held her gaze but cleared his throat. There was definitely amusement in his eyes, and she thought she almost sensed a smile under the stoic surface.

Tawny scowled. “Jade, behave. There will be no harassment on my tour,” she warned. “Ladies, I expect you to give Mr. Vittroli your full cooperation. His team is here for your safety, not your pleasure. Consider them off-limits unless it’s safety-related.”

Tawny settled on a nearby chair, an irritated look on her face, and she gestured for Ryker to start.

Ryker’s voice rumbled, “Good afternoon. I’m the director of Vittroli Security Specialists — VSS for short. We are a private team of former Navy SEALs who specialize in security for high-profile clients. Your record label hired us to protect you all until Jade’s stalker situation resolves. We stay until we catch the stalker.”

He rapped his knuckles against the table.  “I understand you’re used to a relaxed security regime, so I need you to pay attention.”

“Don’t dodge us. We can’t protect you if you disappear on us. We will take you wherever you want to go so you can do whatever you want to do — as long as it’s safe.  We’re on your side. We want to keep your lives as normal as possible. But we have to keep in mind that stalkers are persistent, crazy, and could go after any of you to hurt Jade. So there will be some necessary changes to your routine. Especially yours, Jade.”

Though the time was probably inappropriate, Jade loved the sound of Ryker’s deep voice rumbling her name.

He continued, “Any special requests or issues run past me. Go nowhere alone. You are more vulnerable by yourself. Backstage bathroom? Hotel suite? We check first. Every time. Walking from the bus or limo to the hotel or the venue? Never alone. Understood?”

Mumbled assent came from around the room.

Ryker pointed to each of the men in line beside him. First to the tall man next to him, whose long brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail. “This is Drake.” Then to the man next to Drake with a shaved head. “Benny.” The third man had a buzz cut and a sharp jaw. “Roark.” The fourth man had buzz cut blond hair and an eagle tattoo on his forearm. “Diesel.” He gestured to all of them. “This is the VSS team. Don’t trust anyone you don’t see here.”

He continued, “We’ll be training your normal security to prevent these kinds of incidents moving forward and will also work with each venue’s teams to ensure your safety. You will get to know all of us very well until we resolve this.”

Jade asked, “What about tonight’s show? It’s sold out. We’re already here. Can we still play?”

Tawny answered. “No, absolutely not. We have to reschedule this show. There’s no time to safety-check everything at this venue before you go on. We’ve already sent out the press release. Tonight’s show is canceled.”

Exactly what Jade had feared. All those disappointed fans... Anger shot through her.

“Dammit!” Jade jumped to her feet and hurled her drum sticks across the room, narrowly missing Tawny. “First our roadie, and now our fans. Who does this stalker think he is? He can be pissed at me, but he can’t fuck with the band. It’s got to be someone on tour. Who else would know what hotels we’re staying at and what my room numbers are? Who else could have watched all that go down earlier with the lighting rig? And who else could’ve heard me fucking Twisty-Tongue last night in the dressing room? Definitely someone on tour.”

“Twisty-Tongue?” Ryker asked with a raised eyebrow.

Jade’s angry gaze turned on him.

“Really? That’s all you took from what I said? Un-fucking-believable, Mr. Head of Security.”

Shockingly, Ryker rolled his eyes at her.

She crossed her arms over her chest. She’d thrown her sticks too soon. If she had waited a minute, she could have hurled them at him and it would have been so much more satisfying.

He said, “No, that’s not all I took from your tantrum but that was the one tidbit I didn’t already know.” His eyes challenged hers.

He continued, “We are well aware the stalker is likely someone on tour. We’ve already started background checks on everyone. We checked out the phone number from the text message, but it was a prepaid burner phone with no identifying information. Until we find out more from the background checks, it’s wait-and-see. Which is why we need to keep you all safe in the meantime.”

His gaze flicked around the room, and he addressed everyone.

“For now, the plan is get back on the bus for the next leg of the tour. We’ll arrive at the next venue early and set up for the day. The most important thing is keeping everyone safe while my team finds the attacker.”

Jade wasn’t sure whether to be pissed off or impressed. Ryker had serious-attitude hidden under that professional demeanor. Now, if only she didn’t look forward to challenging him so much.
 


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