Brand-new New Adult Rock Star Romance
from USA Today-Bestselling Author Blair Babylon!
Xan Valentine, the rock star that Rolling Stone called “sex incarnate,” stands in the spotlight every night and sings love songs to the women in the audience. They swoon. They scream. They believe him. They don’t know him like Georgie does.
They’ve never seen him nearly beat two men to death until someone pulled him off. They’ve never seen the coldness in his dark eyes when he sat across a table, negotiating a contract that broke their hearts.
He’s never stolen into their bedroom at night, slid into their bed, and made love to them until dawn, and he’s never treated them like it never happened while the bitemarks on their backs and thighs were still sore.
They’ve never seen him play the violin like an angel.
Or a demon.
Georgie is officially in his band now, playing the keyboards, and every concert drives the music deeper into her soul. If Georgie leaves the protection of the band and Xan Valentine, the Russian mafia will kidnap and kill her. If she stays and plays in his band for just a few more weeks, Xan will pay for her college and law school.
If her heart can survive even one more night with him.
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Excerpt from Lay Your Hands On Me
Xan Valentine, the rock star—and Georgie could tell that he was Xan by the arrogant tilt of his head and the jitter of his fingers drumming on the conference room table—pushed a thick contract across the table toward her. His long hair was tied back in a ponytail, and he wore a trim, blue business suit without a tie, his collar unbuttoned at his throat. Silver and steel chains at his throat sparkled white glints in the overhead fluorescent lights, and that green crystal earring dangled from his ear lobe.
He looked straight at her while he slid the contract over the wood like he was accusing her of something, his dark eyes level and still as he stared. White bandages wrapped his knuckles, but at least the bleeding must have stopped overnight.
Jonas, the band manager for Killer Valentine, sat on Xan’s left. He sat straight in his chair, his black suit pressed and smooth.
Georgie was alone on her side of the table. The chill air in the hotel leaked down the back of her tee shirt and up her short sleeves, raising goosebumps on her skin.
She picked up the stack of paper and riffled through it. “This is a lot of contract for just two months.”
“There’s a lot to do in a rock band,” Xan said.
He didn’t sneer, and he didn’t snarl. If anything, his businesslike tone sounded resigned.
“I’m not signing this until I read the whole thing. I want an attorney’s opinion on it, too. Do you have an electronic copy?”
Jonas slid a thumb drive across the table to her. “Here’s a PDF.”
“Thanks.” She crammed the stick into the back pocket of her jeans.
Xan said, “We need you to sign it before you play with the band again, and the next performance is two days from now.”
“I’m not signing something I haven’t read or don’t understand.” The sheaf of pages weighed in her hands.
“We have a show coming up. If you haven’t signed it by tomorrow morning, we have to cancel the show. If we cancel it—”
“I know. I know. The fans will post vomiting gifs and Killer Valentine will be ruined forever.” She flipped to the front page, which was mostly defining terms, like that Georgie was The Band Member, Killer Valentine, Inc. was The Band, and Mr. Alexandre Grimaldi de Valentinois was The Employer.
So Xan was the one who was paying her, not the band.
Georgie flipped more pages.
Xan folded his hands and looked down at his fingers. He didn’t look like he was trying to hide something, just waiting. Steel and black metal rings wound around his fingers, and thick chains dangled on his wrists near the cuffs of his suit jacket and clicked against the table when he moved his arms.
Georgie read further into the contract, slowing down when she got to The Band Member’s Duties.
The concerts were there, of course, including playing the music while sober and not under the influence of controlled substances.
That must be a new clause.
Her chest hurt for a minute. Rade had been a brilliant keyboard player, and hearing him play classical music on the piano would have been amazing. She had meant to ask him to play for her.
She sucked in a steadying breath and read on.
The terms of the contract ran until July thirty-first, a little over two months, the entire European leg of the tour.
After that, Georgie was free to move to Atlanta and Emory University, where she would resume her plan to go to law school and pay off her many, many debts, both financial and moral. There was an option to renew the contract for one-year terms after that, which made Georgie snort.
No fucking way was she sticking around after July thirty-first.
The next part was weird.
Georgie looked up at Xan and Jonas. Xan was still meditating on his clasped hands, but Jonas was scrolling through something on his phone. She asked, “What do you mean by ‘public relations engagements?’”
“Anything the band needs,” Xan said. His hands were still clasped on the table. “Radio interviews in the mornings by phone, studio interviews, clubs, other appearances.”
“I can’t do public appearances,” she said. “They’re still after me.”
The Butorins, a Russian mafia bratva, had tried to kidnap Georgie several times because she owed them eight million dollars. Her father had swindled them out of that money, and they felt that Georgie should pay up. Before they had found her, she had planned to first pay off the charities that her father had stolen from, but she liked breathing, too. If she were dead, she would never pay off all the charities.
Xan shook his head. “The public eye is the safest place for you, currently. Every attempt to kidnap you has been in private or at least away from cameras or crowds. Also, later in the contract, you’ll see that it’s not your responsibility to provide security. It’s ours. You’ll have Adrien, who is the most diligent and highly trained security person we have. You’ll have others, too. You’ll be safe.”
“I need to hide. I need locked doors between me and the Russian mob.”
He shook his head again, but his careful, methodical gesture didn’t exude the wild energy of Xan anymore. “You need to remain in the limelight. Witnesses are your best security.”
Even his English accent had switched to the high-society British of Alex de Valentinois, leaving behind the guttural, working-class accent of Xan Valentine. His switches dizzied Georgie, but Jonas didn’t even look like he had noticed.
Jonas and the rest of the band either didn’t hear the difference in Alex’s accents or else they didn’t know what they signified, not that Georgie could have exactly defined what they meant, either.
But she knew that he was Alex now.
She stole another peek at Jonas, who was still peering at his phone.
Not that she could call him Alex. Everybody around here only knew him as Xan and only called him Xan.
“I can’t do appearances,” she repeated.
Alex’s dark eyebrows twitched. “The band needs all its members to do appearances.”
“I’m not really a band member.”
Alex leaned across the table and tapped the contract. “For two months, you are a full band member. You will continue to receive royalties on anything you record or write for the duration of the copyright.”
“It’s a ridiculously generous contract,” Jonas muttered. “Contract musicians and writing consultants are generally paid a flat rate under work-for-hire laws. I’ve never seen anything like this for a short-term gig.”
Georgie raised her eyebrows at Alex. “Really?”
He shrugged. “We negotiated the terms last night. This is merely the formal contract.”
“If this isn’t customary—” she started.
“We’re in a crisis. It isn’t customary to simultaneously lose two musicians out of five.”
“Six,” Jonas muttered.
“Rhiannon is a contractor under work-for-hire guidelines,” Xan told him.
“Hell, if Georgie is a band member, Rhiannon should be, too.”
“Just whom are you advocating for, Jonas?” His mild tone belied what he was actually saying.
Jonas set his mouth in a hard line and went back to texting on his phone.
Alex turned back to Georgie, his face still as impassive as marble. “The songs that we’ve already written together are copyrighted in both our names. Future music will be the same.”
Georgie went back to reading. The Non-Disclosure Agreement was outlined in excruciating detail, including but not limited to any communication in any form—electronic, print, or methods not therein described or currently in existence, and the ban was worldwide. She couldn’t even discuss him or the band by using smoke signals in Siberia or telepathic waves on Alpha Centauri. “Guess I won’t be writing my memoirs.”
“No,” Alex said. “No memoirs.”
Georgie saw the flaw in the logic. “How am I going to do interviews if I can’t discuss anything about the band?”
Jonas said, “You’ll have a list of approved topics and talking points.”
“That sounds spontaneous,” she grumbled.
Jonas looked confused. “It’s how all interviews are run. You can’t have musicians puking out anything they want to talk about. They’d just incriminate themselves for all sorts of things, like smuggling drugs over international borders up their asses.”
Georgie frowned at him.
“Okay, you wouldn’t do that,” Jonas said. “But can you imagine Grayson with a live mic and no piece of paper in front of him?”
“Grayson is in rehab,” Alex said, twisting one of the silver death’s head rings on his fingers.
“Yeah, but still,” Jonas sighed.
While Georgie had been standing in line for a latte that morning in the hotel lobby, she had seen Alex escort Grayson, their bass player, to a limo that morning, shake his hand, and stand on the sidewalk as it drove away. He had strode back into the hotel without looking back, his jaw set.
She asked, “What’s this ‘other and sundry duties?’”
“Anything band-related that I think is necessary,” Alex said, still fidgeting with his rings.
She didn’t want to make a suggestive comment, not after last night, not when she wanted to break down and sob or punch him in the face, she wasn’t sure which. “Okay.”
Alex’s eyes flicked up at her. “Band-related,” he stressed. “Keep reading.”
Georgie skimmed through the document, slowing only when she came to a section titled, “No Fraternization Among Band Members.”
The language was brutal. The consequences were severe, from fines to summary dismissal with no recourse. “This clause is pretty rough.”
“You wanted it,” Alex said, still staring at his hands.
“So what happens to you?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“If you make a pass at me, I get fired and lose my college financing. What about you?”
He looked up from his hands, and for the first time, lines of anger creased around his eyes. The anger spread through his face and body, tightening his arms and clenching his hands into fists. In a guttural British accent, Xan said, “I’ll break up the band. I’ll cancel all future concerts and pay off the venues. I’ll walk away.”
“Is that in the contract?” she asked.
“I’ll have it added.”
Jonas stared at Xan, his lip curling up. “You can’t break up the band over something like this.”
“You can’t throw away everything you’ve worked for,” Jonas insisted.
Xan didn’t look away from Georgie. His dark eyes narrowed, and he bit down on the words. “She’s right. It’s not fair for her to take all the risk. If I violate that clause, I’ll burn Killer Valentine to the ground.”