SHE MEANS BUSINESS
Twenty-three year old Katana James can shred on the guitar. Not that anyone would know, as she’s spent most of her time working on a popular news and gossip website for Heavy Metal fans since her own band broke up. But her dreams are in reach when she gets an audition to play with her favorite band, Bleeding Vengeance. Kat won’t let her gender, her anxiety disorder, or even the pranks of a malicious stalker stand in her way. The only thing to threaten her focus? A growing fascination with the group’s brilliant, mysterious bass player.
HE OFFERS PLEASURE
Klement Burke has always been the heart, soul and brain of Bleeding Vengeance. He’s the kind of rock star who stays in the shadows, a perfectionist more interested in satisfying his brain than other parts of his body. Until he auditions Katana James. At first it seemed a perfect idea, as he’s been aware of her talent for some time. But meeting her in the flesh ignites thoughts far from professional. Despite the conflict of work, the odds against her falling for a geek like him, and the secret he’s been hiding, his heart, body and soul now belong to Kat.
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About the Author:
Formerly an auto-mechanic, Brooklyn Ann thrives on writing romance featuring unconventional heroines and heroes who adore them. After writing historical paranormal romance in her critically acclaimed "Scandals with Bite" series and urban fantasy in her "Brides of Prophecy" novels, she now explores the chaotic realm of heavy metal music-- a difficult world to find love in.
She lives in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho with her son, her cat, and a 1980 Datsun 210.
She lives in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho with her son, her cat, and a 1980 Datsun 210.
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He had to be near six and a half feet tall, way taller than he appeared in their album pictures or on stage. Long, sandy blond hair caressed his shoulders, curling slightly at the ends. His blue-green eyes danced with mischief and intelligence. Some strange, intense feeling tightened Kat’s stomach and chest, making it hard to breathe.
She stared for what felt like an eternity, her heart pounding before she recovered herself and nodded. “Yes, I’m Katana.”
Klement gave her an unreadable smile and gestured for her to follow him to where the rest of the band waited, including Cliff Tracey, the lead singer and her biggest crush. Kat didn’t know what would be worse: Klement rejecting her, or humiliating herself in front of Cliff. Sucking in a deep breath, she squeezed the handle of her guitar case in a death grip and followed.
The bassist’s long strides led to small break room where three men lounged, men she’d only seen from a distance on stage at concerts and up close on posters on her wall. Roderick Powell eyed her up and down with a friendly smile.
“’Ello, love. So you’re the one who’s going to help us make this album?”
His British accent made her want to melt into a puddle. She nodded and shook his hand, hoping she didn’t look too star-struck. “I’m Katana James.”
“Roderick Powell.” He continued to scrutinize her. “You look too little to be behind those blistering samples we heard.”
Behind her, Klement laughed. “Yeah, she is pretty short.”
“Five feet.” Kat managed a nervous smile before her gaze strayed to the front man of the band. Cliff Tracey stood only five feet away. Her breath halted as she took in the sight of his rich chestnut curls, chocolate eyes and sculpted jaw. The man was too beautiful for words.
His gaze swept her from head to toe as he shook her hand, making heat rise to her cheeks. “So you’re ‘Metal-Kat’ from Metalness.com. You’re even better-looking than your partner. But you look too cute for this work.”
A line from the Rudolph Christmas special rang in her head. He thinks I’m cute!
She choked back a giggle. She could do that later when she called Kinley and told her how it went.
“That’s right.” Roderick leaned forward. “I love that site. You give us good promo, and your memorial post for Lefty did him justice.”
“Thanks,” she murmured. “Kinley wrote most of it, since…uh, she was there with you guys when it happened. I just filled in the background.” Kat looked down at her feet, feeling depressed and awkward at bringing up that tragic day when Lefty had been found dead from a cocaine overdose in his hotel room during the band’s tour with Viciӧus. Kin had called her both right after it happened and then at the memorial service, knowing Kat wished she was there herself to honor the memory of her idol.
The fact that she was here to replace their fallen comrade and her idol struck Kat again full-force. She didn’t want to usurp Lefty. She wanted to honor his legacy. She prayed they would see that.
Cliff stepped closer to her. “The part you wrote was the most beautiful.”
Kat shivered at his proximity and husky voice. “Thank you.”
Klement made an impatient sound behind her. “Let’s get rolling.”
She snapped to attention, ashamed of her giddy distraction. She was here to work, not flirt with a potential colleague.
Cliff grinned. “Open up that case, sweetie. Let’s see what you got.”
Kat smiled back, hoping she wasn’t blushing, and opened her case to reveal her vintage Gibson Flying V.
Cliff nodded in approval. “Good choice.”
“Lefty played a Gibson V.”
Klement’s soft voice washed over Kat, tremulous with sorrow. The grief in his eyes gave her an unreasonable urge to hug him.
“I know,” she whispered. “He was my hero.”
They exchanged a long look, and Kat was struck by the sincere respect in the bassist’s eyes. In all her twenty-three years, no one had ever taken her so seriously before. Even Kinley often rolled her eyes at her, accusing her of being too girly. Kat wanted more than anything to be worthy of this respect.
She was led into the recording room.
“So, where do I plug in?”
He handed her a giant set of headphones and gestured to the center of the room, where speaker cabinets were arranged along with a set of whammy pedals. “Right here.”
Kat hooked up her guitar, and Klement showed her where to plug the headphones so she could hear the music and instructions from the console station behind the glass. “We’ll be back there keeping an eye on things, but try to pretend you’re alone.”
Easy for you to say, she thought.
Roderick and Cliff were already in there. They waved at her from the window. Klement nodded and strode off, leaving her alone in the chamber feeling like a zoo exhibit. Kat swallowed, mouth dry.
The bassist’s voice echoed in her headphones, alarmingly intimate in her ears and somehow familiar. “We’re going to start with ‘Sorrow’s Harvest.’ Are you ready?”
She nodded with a confidence she didn’t feel.
“Remember, just like you’re at home practicing….”
Klement’s voice faded out. Something about the echo made Kat think of her IT guy again. But he couldn’t be—
The thought broke as music began to play through her headphones.
The song sounded almost the same as it had on the MP3 sent her to practice with, only the scratch guitar section was gone and Cliff’s voice sounded more pure. Closing her eyes, Kat struck the first chord just in time. The faces of her audience faded from her awareness as fierce concentration overtook her being, focus on touching each string at the right time, adding the correct pressure, making her instrument sing. Like an auditory engineer, she focused on one note and then the next until the song finished and triumph straightened her spine. She hadn’t messed up. In fact, she’d sounded pretty good.
Clapping echoed in the headphones, jolting her back to reality.
“Bloody well done, love!” Roderick said.
Cliff stared at her through the window with increased interest. “Where’d you learn to play like that?”
“I…uh…” Kat shrugged. “I just keep trying until I get it right.”
Klement shook his head. “It’s not where she learned it, it’s why.” He looked at her long and intently. “Why do you play?”
She gave him a direct stare through the glass. “I love music.”
He smiled with such understanding and satisfaction that her body warmed. “That’s right. Now let’s see how well you learned the new songs.”
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