Black Hurricane

an excerpt



Chapter One

If there's anything I thought I'd never ever do in my twenty-three years of life, it'd be sitting in a stifling press conference room waiting for the rock band, Black Hurricane, to arrive. It's not like I had much choice. My buddy, Eric, pulled out all the sympathy cards to get me to go, including a cute puppy dog pout, bribes of dinner at his and Alex's, and a whole night of free booze at Clash, the gay night club down in South Boston. I could have said no, but Eric's cute as hell even without the puppy dog pout, Alex's cooking is to die for, and I'll seriously need all the booze I can get after this conference. In the end it was the wages Eric promised me for acting as his photographer. I'm running out of oil paint and I could do with new guitar strings. Taking pictures at this specific conference is one hell of a high price to pay though. I can be such a pushover.

It's not like I'm going to get up close and personal with the lead singer, Dean McQueen, anyway. Eric and I are sitting in the back with at least ten rows of chairs between us and the platform. It seems like every news agency in Boston decided to show up for this, and no wonder, since the star himself is a purebred Bostonian. Eric's been buzzing about Black Hurricane--or more specifically Dean--and he's told me half a dozen times that they're ending their tour in this city, following up with a couple of charity concerts.

Eric pulls his platinum hair into a low ponytail, sky-blue eyes scanning the empty table on the platform. His white skin looks even paler against the deep-red sleeve of his shirt as he tucks a few strands of hair behind his ears.

"I can't believe this is happening, Jazz. I'm actually gonna see him," he says, for the umpteenth time.

I roll my eyes as I slide further down in the uncomfortable plastic chair, fiddling with the sparkly pink tag hanging around my neck that screams Glitter Guys Magazine. Eric has a matching one. He made them this morning when he found out he had to have some sort of a tag from the magazine he's representing. A magazine owned by Alex and run by Eric. The fact that they're lovers has nothing to do with Eric landing the job, or so he insists.

The buzz in the room dies down as a couple of people walk out on the platform. A red-haired woman smoothes down her grey pencil skirt before she sits at the far end. The second person, a handsome middle-aged man, buttons his matching grey jacket, the white cuffs of his shirt shining against his tanned skin. I can practically taste the anticipation in the room, but there's still no sign of Black Hurricane.

"Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod," Eric whispers, craning his neck to see the open doorway.

"Dude, chill. You're acting like a fangirl," I whisper.

"I am a fangirl," Eric squeals, fingers trembling over his mouth as the leather clad members walk in, one by one.

The middle-aged man sits on one of the two middle chairs while the band members slump into the remaining seats, leaving the second middle one free, supposedly for Dean McQueen who hasn't bothered to show up on time. The middle-aged man leans forward to the microphone and introduces himself as Jack Coleman, Black Hurricane's manager.

He clears his throat. "Dean will be with us shortly."

The room erupts with questions and I wonder how anyone is supposed to be able to hear a single thing to answer out of all the chicken squabble.

"We'll start when Dean gets here," Coleman says into the mike.

Eric leans toward me when everyone goes back to talking in hushed tones. "That's the drummer, Maxime Lefevre." He points at the African American with long brown hair, muscular body and a smile to die for. "Bass player, Lucas Hut." He nods to a plain looking white guy with an honest-to-God perm in his blond hair, or maybe his hair really is that curly. "And guitar player, Yin Shaolin," he says, gesturing to the Asian guy with the black hair spikes and vast eye makeup. "Their keyboard player just quit, they're borrowing someone for the rest of the tour."

"Are those their real names?" Who'd name their kid Yin Shaolin?

"Only their first names."

Eric suddenly grabs my thigh and digs his nails into my ripped jeans. "Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod!" he squeals as another band member walks in. He's wearing a pair of tight leather pants, a crisp white shirt only buttoned in the middle. About my height at five-ten, small hips, thin torso and long legs. His skin is white, but not so white that it's a stark contrast against the black hair that brushes his shoulders and bangs artfully styled around his narrow face. The confidence oozing from him as he walks is sexy as hell. I wouldn't mind a half an hour alone with that guy…until I get a really good look at his face and realize it's him.

Dean fucking McQueen.

The star himself sits his royal ass in the middle, leans forward and speaks into the mike. "Sorry I'm late. Couldn't find a parking spot."

The people in the room laugh while all I can manage is a nasty sneer at the lame joke. Then they start asking questions I can't hear. Nor can I hear the answers. The only thing I hear is that deep voice every time he speaks into the microphone. It's not that I enjoy listening to him or his music. No way. Every time I hear that voice I want to pick up my guitar and smash it against the wall --not because Dean McQueen inspires me to go nuts with his deep, husky voice and rebellious lyrics. No, it's because I hate the dude. And I don't mean just hate; I loathe him. I wish he'd drop dead right this second, preferably choking on his vomit, Jimmy Hendrix style, in front of the press.

"Jazz, take pictures!" Eric pokes me hard in the side with his bony elbow.

I wince and raise the camera, clicking a shot.

"Go to the front, like they're doing." He points at the photographers running to the front and clicking madly on their cameras.

Heaving a sigh, I drag my ass off the chair to walk forward. I rake my hand through my hair before I glance back at the monstrosity on the platform. Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be in this position. Suddenly oil paint and new guitar strings don't seem all that important. I just wanna get out, but Eric needs these pictures for the magazine and I'd rather die than let one of my friends down.

My heart thuds when I see Dean looking right back at me as I approach. His brow furrows as if he's trying to place me. Typical. Of course he wouldn't remember me. Why would he? My heart hammers a fast beat as my body breaks out in sweat. The inside of my throat thickens, stopping half of the oxygen from reaching my lungs. And still, I'm having the hardest time looking away.

Am I nervous under his green-eyed gaze? Or is it just the hate? It's been years since I last saw him.

Not wanting to give the wrong impression of an adoring fan, I narrow my eyes and spew out all the venom I feel for this man into one, hateful glare, just before I raise the camera and snap my shots.

Dean's eyebrows lift. I don't know if he's recognized me. It's doubtful, since I looked so different back then. He leans behind the Asian guy, whatever his name was, to whisper to the woman who stretches toward Dean. She nods and I swallow hard when her brown eyes seek me out. She lifts a piece of paper on her clipboard and writes something down. What the hell was that? Are they going to sic security on me and kick me out? Just in case, I snap pictures like crazy: of Dean being his smart-ass self, acting indifferent to everything; of the Asian guy telling jokes and smiling with his whole face; of the perm-dude barely saying a word; of the African American with the constant smirk on his lips and an "I-just-came-from-an-orgy" look in his eyes; of the red-haired woman scribbling notes, and of the owns-the-world manager shooting his mouth off as if he's doing twenty questions in less than a minute. Single shots, group shots, and even shots of colorful Eric in the sea of blue suits, with his hand raised for a question.

It all seems to pass in a blur. I can only thank my lucky stars that it seems to end pretty quickly and before I know it I'm heading toward the hotel lobby.

"Jazz, wait!" Eric calls and grabs my arm. I look down into his exhilarated face. "Where are you going? We have the private interview to go to."

"Private interview?" I hardly recognize my own voice.

"Yeah, come on." He pulls me toward the back, pushing us through the crowd. "I think Dean might be trying to score points with the gay community, you know, after he got outed last year. He's been doing a lot of interviews with gay magazines, but I was too late to book one. Didn't know about this conference until last minute. I couldn't believe it when the assistant came up to me just now and offered a private interview. She said I should bring you to take pictures."

Eric is yanked backward by my sudden stop.

"Eric, I didn't sign up for that. Can't you just take the pictures?"

"What?" he asks, his voice rising in a pitch. "No way, I have like five minutes in there before it's someone else's turn. I didn't manage to get a single question in during the press conference. I have two hundred and sixteen questions prepared. Two hundred and sixteen!"

He clutches a stack of pink stationary to his chest.

"Come on, Jazz. Please. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I'll double your pay. Buy you more drinks. Just whatever, I'll do it."