“You’re going to have a fan club,” Adam tells me with his arm draped heavily around Rowan. He’s grinning like he’s about to award me some kind of secret honor, and I grin right back.
“Good. I’ve always wanted a fan club.”
“Not this kind of fan club,” Shawn warns, like I have no idea what it’s like to have fans, like I’ve never had guys in the pit shout my name. First, he thinks I’ve never had a boyfriend, and now, he thinks I’ve never had someone try to hook up with me after a show? I scoff at him.
“What, the kind that jerks off to my picture at night? I think I can handle it.”
Mike bursts out laughing and maneuvers his way to my side. He wraps his arm around my shoulder and diffuses me with a warm smile. “You ready to bring the house down?”
“Always.” I beam up at him, and he turns back toward the rest of the guys.
“Sounds to me like she’s ready.”
“This girl was born ready,” Leti praises, and I wink at him before prepping for the show. I strap my guitar around my neck. I insert my in-ear monitors. I shift from leg to leg as I stand between Adam and Shawn at the darkened side of the stage.
“I’m going to play up the fan club thing,” Adam says with a devilish smile. “Don’t hate me for it later.”
I think I hear Shawn sigh to my left, but when I look over at him, he’s busy adjusting the strap of his guitar.
The lights of the house cut to black, and it takes my eyes a moment to adjust, but then the guys are walking onstage and so am I. The crowd goes fucking crazy. The screams are loud enough to make the soles of my boots shiver and the blood in my veins hum. In the dark, a roadie helps me get plugged in, and I take a deep breath. I adjust my in-ear monitors. I wait for my mark.
Shawn’s Telecaster starts the band’s most popular song, and I try to not go completely fangirl about sharing the stage with him, with Adam Everest, with Joel Gibbon, with Mike Madden. My face breaks into a huge smile, and then Joel’s bass joins in, then my Fender, then Mike’s drums. Adam’s voice carries into my ear, but I know the crowd is hearing it blare from the massive speakers at the sides of the stage. Their arms are in the air, bouncing up and down, up and down, in a turbulent sea of bodies. I know that feeling—that feeling of having your pupils get big, your skin blaze hot, your blood turn electric. But onstage, that feeling is multiplied by a hundred, a thousand. I’m high on the crowd, the music, the dream.
By the time the first song ends, the entire crowd is screaming its collective head off. It’s been over two months since The Last Ones to Know performed here, and it’s obvious their fans missed them.
Still, Adam baits them.
“MAYHEM!” he shouts, tugging his mic from its stand and walking to the very edge of the stage. “God, I’ve missed you!”
The girls in the pit start screaming that they’ve missed him too, that they love him, and Adam turns to Shawn and smiles. He tugs his shaggy brown hair away from his face and glances across the stage at me with sparkling gray-green eyes before turning back to the crowd.
“We’ve got some new songs for you tonight! But first, do you see this smoking-hot chick we’ve brought with us?”
A deep voice in the pit shouts, “HELL YEAH!”
Adam chuckles into his mic. “That’s our new guitarist, Kit. We went to school with her, and she’s talented as hell.” He walks the length of the stage, engaging the entire crowd. “How many guys here want to join Kit’s fan club tonight?”
The deafening cheers that spring from the pit this time are different from when Adam’s silhouette first walked onstage—now, male voices dominate the noise. Most of the guys are probably here with girlfriends, but none of them seem to care as they answer Adam’s call.
I’ve played for crowds before, but none this size, and never with a lead singer like Adam. He knows just what to say to get the fans worked up, and I follow his lead by blowing a kiss down at the pit. The girls in the front row cheer me on, screaming at me like I’m some kind of hero.
Adam grins at my showmanship, fueling me with his approval. “Sounds like you have a few takers. Ready to give them a show?”
I play a riff on my guitar that leaves the crowd screaming, and even Adam doesn’t interrupt the applause. With the walls threatening to come down, I glance at the other guys to find them beaming at me—Joel behind me, Mike in the back, and Shawn at the other side of the stage, illuminated in blue light. Then, before I know it, Adam introduces the next song, and the next.
I lose myself in the music—in the heat of the lights, in the sound of Adam’s voice, in the beat of Mike’s drums. I focus on my instrument, letting my fingers do what they were trained to do and giving in to the high. My mind is present on the stage and above the stage and in the crowd, and beads of sweat are pooling at the base of my neck and trickling down my spine. By the time the first “last song” ends, my skin is blazing hot and my brain is completely fried. When I walk out of view of the crowd, it doesn’t even feel like walking. It feels like floating, like flying. It feels like dreaming.
“You were fucking AWESOME,” Adam praises backstage before our encore. The fans are already shouting for one more song, one more song, one more song, and I want to give them a thousand more. I want to play until my fingers fall off, and then I want to glue them back on and keep playing.
“You guys!” I shout, bracing my hands on Mike’s shoulders because I desperately need to latch on to something. “That was AMAZING!”