Turning around, I started laughing. "Kellan, where are you?" A sign near the bathroom light switch pointed down the hall, so I figured he was in our bedroom.
Heading down the hall, I noticed Post-its stuck to the pictures. Are you excited? Are you ready? Would you hurry up and find me? Griffin's old room that we were using as ours had a bunch of petals taped onto it. They formed a heart. In the center of the heart, a sticky note read, "I think I'm in here."
Giggling, I pushed our door open. "Kellan? What's going on?" He wasn't in there either, though. His guitar case was open on our bed, and the story notes for my next novel were strewn all over it. A bright pink note exclaimed, "Future bestseller!" I laughed harder and looked around for Kellan. When I still couldn't find him, I looked in the closet. I knew he had to be in this house somewhere. He wasn't in the closet, though. All I found was a piece of journal paper with song lyrics written upon it. The words were beautiful, and brand new. I could hear Kellan's flawless voice singing them in my head as I read them. You'll never know how incredible you are to me, how desperately I love you. I would do it all over again if I needed to. I'd go back to the beginning for you.
My eyes hazy, I again called out for him. He still didn't answer me. Wondering if his lyrics were clues, I went back to the beginning and headed to the front door. Still nothing. Just when I was sure I'd never find him, I opened the door and took a look outside. Standing on the welcome mat, resplendent in faded blue jeans and his black leather jacket, Kellan was holding a dozen long-stemmed roses in one hand and a copy of my paperback in his other. I didn't know what excited me more-finally finding him, the electric gleam in his eye, the smell of the fragrant flowers in his hand, or my name splashed all over the glossy six-by-nine cover.
Raising a brow, Kellan spoke before I could respond. "What took you so long?"
Laughing and crying, I flung my arms around him and pulled him out of the frosty air and into the house. I urged his head down to mine and thrilled in the coolness of his lips. Kicking the door shut with his foot, Kellan managed to speak a few words around my eager mouth. "I have . . . something . . . for you."
I was dying to finally hold my book. Letting go of Kellan, I extended my hands like a small child begging for a treat. Kellan immediately placed the roses in my arms. I frowned at him as he laughed; the roses were gorgeous, but he knew that wasn't what I really wanted right now. A teasing smile on his face, he pointed to the book I was aching to flip through. "You can't see it until you promise to sign one for me."
I pursed my lips, but Kellan shook his head. "Nope. I want a signed copy. I want the first signed copy."
Groaning, I nodded and shook my free hand at him. "Fine, I'll sign whatever you want, just let me see it."
Intrigued, Kellan murmured, "Really? Anything I want?" as he took back his flowers and gave me the book.
I ignored his suggestive tone as I stared at the sexy black and white photo of a woman standing between two men. The title, Irresistible, was sprawled across the top and the pseudonym I was using as my pen name was in big bold letters along the bottom. I wasn't hiding who I was anymore, but people knew my real name now, and I didn't want the story to become a success just because I was a rock-god's wife. Like Kellan, I wanted to make it on my own merits, not because of the hype that surrounded my life.
Holding the book was . . . surreal. I actually did it. I actually wrote and published a novel. Crazy.
"I'm so incredibly proud of you, Kiera."
As I looked up at Kellan, I could see that pride reflected on his face. It warmed me in places I didn't know I could be warmed.
Kellan's new tour, with Holeshot and Avoiding Redemption as his opening acts, was starting in April. I wasn't sure if it was the label's doing or Denny's, but the boys were going international this time. At the tail end of the U.S. tour, they had concerts set up in both the United Kingdom and Australia. I found it really humorous that the D-Bags were going Down Under. Life sure had a way of turning full circle.
But before Kellan could go on tour with the boys, something he was really looking forward to doing, he had to do something he was not looking forward to. But, shocking the hell out of myself, I was looking forward to it.
Zipping up my carry-on bag, I walked across my new bedroom to find Kellan. We'd moved into a new spacious home a couple weeks earlier. It was a lot nicer than any home I'd lived in before. It was almost too much for just the two of us, but Kellan insisted that when our family expanded, we'd eventually need the room. And the location couldn't be beat. Griffin had wanted us to get a place in Medina, right next door to Bill Gates if we could, but Kellan and I had opted to get out of the city instead. Traveling north, we'd found a private, secluded home on eleven acres. Our nearest neighbor was a sweet older couple who dropped by with pie when they saw our moving van driving past. Living in the countryside, our life was going to be a lot more reclusive than it had been in Seattle, but considering how crazy things became whenever we were out in public, a mellow home life with few distractions was exactly what we both wanted.
Retrieving our things from Kellan's old house had been a process. My friends had helped, and had braved their way through the throngs of near-constant visitors to get inside the home and pack it up for us. It was a little embarrassing having other people box up all of our belongings, but Kellan and I lived pretty simply, and there really hadn't been all that much stuff to begin with at the old house. And we still lived pretty simply. Our new home seemed a little empty with the scant amount of furniture we owned. I was going to have to get some help filling it up. Good thing Jenny and Denny were extremely good at shopping and decorating.
I did what I could to make our house feel like a home, though. There were personal touches throughout each room that made me feel like we were right where we belonged. As I walked through our spacious bedroom, I had to smile at the familiarity-Kellan's comfortable chair was tucked in a corner next to a floor lamp, creating a perfect space for reading. The Ramones poster I'd given him was framed and held a place of honor on the wall beside the D-Bags' Bumbershoot poster. Kellan's cowboy hat from the strip club was hanging off of a peg on the footboard of our new bed. And copies of the D-Bags' CD were resting near copies of my book. It already felt like we'd been living here for years.
Walking into the bathroom, I glanced over at the jetted tub large enough to sleep in, the ginormous two-person shower, and the expansive granite countertops. I could live just in this bathroom and be happy. Dressed in a white long-sleeved shirt, the sleeves pushed up to his elbows, Kellan was leaning on the counter, staring at himself in the mirror. He was taking long deep breaths in and out. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear he was nervous.
"We need to go. You okay?"
Kellan glanced my way, flashing me a perfectly carefree smile. "Yep. I'm ready."
Hands on my hips, I clarified my question. "I asked if you were okay."
His smile turning seductive, Kellan turned and wrapped his arms around my waist. "I just made love to a beautiful, successful author. I'm fantastic."
A bright grin exploded onto my face. Then my mind shifted back to Kellan's big news. "And your band is up for Best New Artist tomorrow, so we better hop on that plane and get your butt to the Grammys."
The nominations had been announced at the end of November, a week after our wedding, but Kellan was still in denial about the whole thing. He just couldn't wrap his head around how fast everything was happening. I couldn't either sometimes, but I wasn't as surprised as he was. Kellan was the entire package-looks, talent, charisma. He had that "it" factor that caught people's attention. The Grammys were only the beginning.
Kellan sighed, his smile relaxing. "Do I really have to go to this thing?"
Laughing at his reluctance to accept praise, even from his peers, I nodded. "You're scheduled to perform, so yeah, you kind of have to be there."
Kellan closed his eyes. "Why on earth did I agree to do that?"
I gave him a soft kiss as I squeezed him tight. "Because you can't resist a stage, and the world is a better place because of that fact."
Kellan opened one eye in a dry expression of disbelief. Laughing, I kissed him again. "Off you go to rule the world, rock star."
Releasing me, Kellan started heading for our bedroom. Over his shoulder he told me, "Well, it's not like we're actually going to win anyway. Our album hasn't been out long enough."
I kept my mouth shut, but I knew that fact didn't matter in this case. I had no doubt in my mind that Kellan was going to win.
When we were in the limo being driven to Staples Center for the ceremony, I reconsidered my excitement about being there. Aside from the industrial matting at my hospital-room wedding, I'd never walked a red carpet before in my life, and the thought of stepping out in front of all of those photographers made my stomach feel like a tiny person was in there frothing up some egg whites for a lemon meringue pie. I was possibly going to be sick. Looking at Kellan beside me, he surprisingly looked the exact same way. I was sure he wasn't nervous about his entrance, though-it was more his impending win that was bothering him. Kellan didn't mind the spotlight, but he wasn't the best at accepting kudos. He'd even refused to write a speech, saying there wasn't a chance he was winning so why bother.
To calm my nerves I pulled out my phone and sent a quick message. Kellan glanced down at my screen. Looking like he also wanted a distraction, he asked, "What are you doing?"
Smirking, I told him, "Tweeting your fans." Holding up the phone, I read him my message. "About to head into the Grammys. Wish me luck."
Kellan rolled his eyes at me. One of the first things Denny had done as Kellan's agent was to have him join some social media sites. He'd told Kellan that the best way to put rumors to rest was to directly interact with his fans. I agreed and wondered why we hadn't done it sooner. But the look of confusion, reluctance and irritation on Kellan's face had explained it all. "You want me to whatbook? And Tweet? Like a bird? Are you serious?" he'd said to Denny in exasperation.
Kellan had stayed as far from technology as he possibly could, for as long as he possibly could. He just wasn't into it. He didn't even own a computer. He either borrowed my laptop or Griffin's. He preferred to use mine. He said that Griffin's keyboard tended to be on the sticky side. I did not want to think about why. But Kellan was being forced into the modern age, practically kicking and screaming. His expression of resigned disgust when he'd agreed was so adorable that I'd taken a photo of it. Maybe someday I'd post it on his wall.
After my Tweet on Kellan's behalf, the well-wishes started pouring in. Kellan eventually laughed and got sucked into it. We stared at my phone for so long watching the comments coming in that we didn't even notice when we arrived at Staples Center. Kellan and the guys had already been there earlier, when they'd rehearsed, but that had been nothing compared to this. People were everywhere. Cameras were everywhere. Celebrities were everywhere. It was one of those surreal once-in-a-lifetime moments.
Staring out the window, Kellan murmured, "Fuck me," as the car pulled around to the drop zone. The rest of the people in the car started freaking out as we came to a stop. Not wanting to ride separately, our limo was pretty packed-Griffin, Anna, Evan, Jenny, Matt, and Rachel were with us. Everyone looked amazing too. Anna and Jenny had outdone themselves on our hair and makeup, and all of the boys had been approached by big name designers to supply our wardrobe. My dress was a stunning black one-shoulder piece that probably cost more money than I made in a year waitressing. I was being very careful not to stain, snag, or rip it.
The boys were dressed a bit more casually but still looked incredible. Evan was in gray slacks with a matching gray jacket and a black button-up shirt underneath. Matt was sporting fashionably frayed jeans with a dark blue blazer over a white shirt. Griffin . . . was rocking really tight leather pants. Everyone had tried to talk him out of it, but he refused to wear anything else. Anna had at least gotten him to change his mind about wearing a T-shirt that read Muff Master. Not because of what it said, mind you, but because she felt a T-shirt wasn't appropriate for an awards show. Kellan was decked out in black slacks, a white button-up, and a black jacket. His shirt was open for three or four buttons, and his jacket only had one button that met halfway down his chest. He was both fashionable and sexy as hell. It was hard to take my eyes off of him.