Kellan eyed me and nodded. Before anyone in the room could ask what Nick wanted, he told us,"I have good news. Great news." Leaning forward, he clasped his fingers together. I noted the lack of a wedding ring. "Diedrick Kraus just agreed to shoot the video for 'Regretfully.'" When no one said anything, Nick smiled. "You have no idea who that is, do you?"
"Sorry, no," Kellan told him.
He waved off Kellan's apology. "Diedrick Kraus is the genius behind some of the greatest music videos of our times. He's exclusive. Hard to come by. We gave him a sample of your song, and he wants to direct it." Nick clapped his hands together. "No, he f**king insisted on it."
I blinked at the use of profanity by such a high profile person, but Nick quickly moved on. Pointing at Kellan, he said, "Diedrick's got a couple days available at the end of the month, Sienna's got a tiny break in her schedule, and we'll squeeze it in for you during the promotional tour." He lifted his hands to the sky. "I swear the stars aligned for this."
Kellan's mouth opened as he glanced at his band mates. "We're making a music video?" He looked back at Nick. "Do people even still watch those?"
A small frown turned down the executive's lips before he righted them again. "Yes, they do." His smile widening, he leaned forward so much I thought he might topple off of the couch. "And we've got an opportunity here to stir the hornet's nest."
Confusion marred Kellan's features. "I have no idea what that means."
Nick shook his head. "It means we're going to cause some serious buzz with this video. Ever since the public caught wind of you and Sienna in that photograph, there has been a firestorm of interest. Everyone is curious about Sienna's new man."
"I'm not her man," Kellan interjected.
Nick ignored him. "We're going to fuel the flames of Kellan and Sienna madness, and ride the hype to the top of the charts."
My heart sank as I looked at the eager expression on Nick's face. I wasn't sure what he meant by that, but I was sure I wasn't going to like it. His demeanor radiating caution, Kellan asked, "What do you mean?"
Excitement on his face, Nick spread his fingers. "We're going to play up the romantic portion of the song, make the video seriously hot. Naked bodies, deep kisses, moaning and groaning, whatever we can get away with." Winking at Kellan, he added, "Anyone who watches it will immediately need to take a very cold shower. The buzz around you and Sienna is going to skyrocket."
I wanted to stand up and tell this scheming moneybags that Kellan would be doing no such thing, but knowing it wasn't my place right now to say anything, I grit my jaw tight. Kellan's face went the opposite way; his mouth dropped open. "The song is about a breakup," he sputtered, mystified.
Nick nodded, steepling his fingers under his chin. "Yes, and what great breakup didn't start off with a fiery romance?"
The room was silent for a moment. Evan and Matt were staring at me, making my cheeks heat. Griffin was ear-to-ear smiles. I wasn't sure if he was happy about filming the music video in general, or about watching Kellan film a scene with Sienna that would make him need "to take a very cold shower." Probably a little of both.
Finally, Kellan told Nick, "I'm married. I can't do that."
Griffin volunteered immediately. "I can!"
Ignoring Griffin's outburst, Nick gave Kellan a hard stare. The look on his face made goose bumps break out on my arms. Definitely a man who was used to getting his way. "I'm not asking you to have an affair with the woman. That part is entirely up to you." He smirked and flicked a quick glance at me. As I glowered, his eyes returned to Kellan's. "I'm merely asking you to film a fictional video with her to a song that you've already recorded, a song that we own, by the way." He pointed at Kellan with laced fingers, and a chilly smile touched his lips.
Leaning back, he placed his hands on his thighs like he was going to stand. "Entertaining the masses is part of your job description, and sometimes that includes acting. If we'd known you were . . . unwilling . . . to do that, we wouldn't have signed you." Standing, he narrowed his eyes and took an intimidating stance above Kellan. "All I'm asking for here is for you to buck it up and do your f**king job. And in case you couldn't tell . . . I'm not really asking." His voice was ice cold; it raised the hair on the back of my neck and filled my stomach with lead. Shifting his focus from Kellan, Nick walked out of the room.
There was a thick layer of silence in the room after Nick left. You could have heard a pin drop. Not surprisingly, Griffin was the first to pop the stillness with a loud exclamation. "Dude! You get to film-fuck Sienna Sexton! High five!" He held his hand up in the air, palm exposed to Kellan in congratulations.
Still shocked at this turn of events, I had no comment to Griffin's statement. Kellan glared at the bassist, then seemed to realize that was pointless and shifted his gaze to the floor.
He was silent one moment longer, then abruptly stood. Staring at the door Nick had strode through, Kellan's face hardened. "This is bullshit."
He stormed out of the room, harshly brushing past my legs in the process. Evan stood in his wake. "Kellan?"
Kellan didn't answer him. Hands clenched into fists, he disappeared without a backwards glance at his band. We all stood and stared after him. "What's he gonna do?" Matt asked the room. No one had an answer, and a feeling of dread pricked my skin. I knew exactly what he was going to do. What he always did when things got too hard. He was going to run.
I took off after Kellan, the guys following after me. Kellan wasn't on the stairs, and for once the stunning view didn't impress me. Nothing was impressing me at the moment, because I was pretty sure I was going to have to do something I did not want to do. I was going to have to convince Kellan to make out with another woman. No, not just make out. Simulate a love scene. Somehow, that made the whole thing ten times worse.
I found Kellan in our room. Face stormy, he was shoving shirts in his bag. My empty bag lay beside his. A part of me wanted to start packing up my stuff in silent concession. That would be an infinitely easier choice. Instead, as Evan, Matt, and Griffin trailed into the room behind me, I asked, "What are you doing?"
Kellan glanced up at me, his eyes blazing. "Pack your stuff. We're going home. I'm done."
Griffin immediately burst out, "What the fuck, Kellan?"
Evan put a hand on Kellan's shoulder, trying to calm him down; Kellan shrugged him off. Matt quietly countered with, "We signed a contract, Kellan. We can't just walk away."
Kellan glared at Matt, snapping, "Then they can f**king sue us! I'm not whoring myself out for them. I'm going back to Pete's. Are you guys coming with me or not?" Knowing that all of this was ultimately because of me, my heart thudded in my chest in a painful staccato rhythm.
Griffin gaped at him. "You are the biggest f**king p**sy-"
Kellan took two aggressive steps toward Griffin, silencing him. Evan stepped between the pair, his hands on Kellan's shoulders. Matt put a hand on Griffin's chest, keeping him back as well. There was suddenly so much tension in the air that I knew nothing constructive was going to happen while everyone was present. Kellan needed to be calmed down, not confronted. And, at the moment, I was the only one who could do it. I hated that the power was in my hands. Especially when going back to Pete's sounded like a fabulous idea.
Keeping my eyes locked on Kellan, I told the guys, "Could you give me a moment with my husband, please?"
Kellan snapped his eyes to mine, his expression still searing. Evan stepped away from Kellan, squeezing my arm before he left. Matt dragged Griffin out of the room, but not before Griffin shouted, "You talk some f**king sense into him, Kiera! This is bullshit!"
When I heard the door close, I took a step toward Kellan. With no one else in the room, Kellan's anger and frustration turned solely toward me. I was prepared for it, though; I'd been on the receiving end of vicious snarls from Kellan more than once. "You gonna call me a p**sy too? Think I ought to go ahead and f**k Sienna, just to prove a point?"
I cringed a little, but let it slide off of my back. His anger wasn't really directed at me. Walking over to him, I grabbed his hands; they were still clenched into fists. "Kellan . . . you can't give up now."
Kellan pried a hand loose and pointed at the door. "Were you in that meeting? Did you hear what they want me to do?"
Grabbing his hand again, I nodded. "Yes, and it's okay." Just saying the words made my stomach tighten, but it had to be done.
Kellan gaped at me. "It's . . . okay? How is me 'film f**king' someone okay?"
Stepping into his body, I trailed my fingers up his arms and wrapped them around the back of his neck. He was rigid at first, but he gradually relaxed as I held him. "Well, all right, maybe 'okay' isn't the best word. The thought of you being with her is actually a little horrifying." Kellan's body started to tense again and I immediately told him, "But it's a necessary evil."
Kellan shook his head, his arms wrapping around my waist. "No, it isn't necessary." His anger draining, he rested his head against mine. "I don't want to hurt you. And I don't see how any of this won't hurt you."
Pulling back from him, I said, "And I don't want you to give up on your dream because of me." He shook his head, looking away from me, and I grabbed his cheek. "You're so close, so very close. Just do this one thing to jumpstart your career, to jumpstart the guys' careers. Then, when you've completed your contract terms and you're the most sought-after band in the industry, find another label. That will prove your point much better than . . . you know."
Kellan smirked at me, and I smiled at seeing some of his humor coming back. But the seriousness in his face returned as he exhaled a long breath. He didn't say anything for several seconds. I could see that his mind was churning, debating, and I gave him a moment to process everything that had just been thrown at him. When he did finally speak, his voice was quiet. "I don't want to let the guys down, I really don't, and I see what you're saying. But when I said I was through with other girls, I meant it. You're it for me. I don't want to touch her."
Stroking his skin with my thumb, I murmured, "I know. And I love you so much for that. But this doesn't have to affect us if we don't let it. You're still my husband. I'm still your wife. Acting like you feel differently on camera doesn't change any of that. Okay?"
Kellan slowly nodded, then sighed. "I'm not even sure if I can film a love scene with someone other than you."
Running a hand through his still slicked back hair, I husked, "Sure you can. Just pretend she's me. It wouldn't be the first time."
I gave him a wry smile so he would know I was teasing. He gave me a devilish grin in response. His face sobered instantly, though. "You really want me to do this?"
I bit my lip. Did I want this? No. I didn't want his body anywhere near Sienna's. But I wanted success for him, and for him to walk away now, over . . . this . . . seemed too great a price for him to pay. I nodded. "Yes, I do." Kellan closed his eyes, nodding once. I gave him a light kiss, hating that someone else would be touching that miraculous mouth soon. "And, Kellan"-his eyes cracked opened-"if this is really going to happen, I need to be there. I need to watch it."
His eyes sprang all the way open. "No."
I nodded, kissing him again. "I have to, Kellan."
"Why?" he murmured against my lips. "Why would you want to see that, Kiera?"
Because I'm a glutton for punishment. "Because it will be so much worse in my head if I don't."
"Kiera," he pleaded. "I don't want this, but if I have to do it, then I want you as far away from it as possible." Pushing my shoulder back, he squatted to look me in the eye. "I don't want to hurt you, and if our roles were reversed, I couldn't handle watching you with another man."
I gave him a sad smile as I whispered, "You already did."
Kellan's mouth parted, and a wave of sadness swept over his features. It broke my heart. "I love you," I told him, bringing my lips to his.