Series: True Platinum #7

Genre: Rock Star Romance

Release Date: May 23, 2024

Chapter One


“Hey, Ben. Got anything good for me tonight?” I shouted, the sound almost lost to the strum of a guitar and the chatter of the crowd in the next room.

Alex and Tom stopped behind me, waiting not so patiently while Alex continued his whining fest over his ex-girlfriend playing hard to get.

“Couple new acts, one or two might have something.” He pursed his lips as he scanned the lineup for the showcase. 

Whenever I visited LA, I always stopped at Rhymes. Not out of some need to be the skeeze mentor type — I mean, I’d been in the music business for going on thirteen years now and let me tell you, I’d seen some shit in that time. I’d make a fucking excellent mentor. But I digress. 

No, the hours I spent at this tiny, no-frills venue located down an alley near Sunset and Vine were some of the most inspiring. 

I’d walk in with a heavy weight on my shoulders, an ache in my bones that said the time to call it quits was fast approaching. Couple of beers and a few acts later and the ideas were coursing through me faster than I could track them. My fingers now itched to pick up my guitar and join the acts on stage.

For a few fleeting hours, the joy returned.

Don’t ask me when it faded. I’d tried to trace it, to find the exact moment my brain checked out and the music became nothing more than a job. But I couldn’t find it. It all blurred into one messy, chaotic disaster.

Even with Alex’s moaning, I needed this night. 

In two weeks, we’d ship out for the longest tour of our careers. Two years, hundreds of stadiums and five continents. Somehow I had to refill the well and keep it full. 

The alternative if I failed didn’t bear thinking about. 

I refused to let my friends and bandmates down.

“That one act you liked last time just finished twenty minutes ago.” Ben grimaced apologetically. “Sorry, man. If you’d let me know you were coming in, I would have sent over the schedule like usual.”

“No need.” I waved his apology off. “I wasn’t planning to stop by. I’m sure there’ll be some great music anyway.”

“If you consider that off-key strumming great, you and I need to have a conversation,” Alex grumbled. He frowned at the doorway that led to the main bar and the stage. “Who the fuck taught this guy to play?”

Tom and I shared a look filled with exasperation and thinning patience. When Alex wasn’t trying to win Ceri back and boldly refusing to accept that maybe blackmailing her into spending three months on tour with us was the wrong move, he treated us to this… grumpy man child act.

“Let’s get some drinks, yeah?” Tom slapped his hand down on Alex’s shoulder and shoved him towards the doorway. “Hopefully, it’ll mellow you the fuck out before one of us decides we don’t need another guitarist and glasses you.” 

Alex laughed but Tom threw me a dark, raised-brow look. It screamed ‘Did I say I was joking?’ I shook my head and focused on Ben.

“There is this one chick,” he said before I followed them. “Singer-songwriter from South Carolina. The voice on her.” He shook his head, a look of pure peace in his eyes. I wanted it. “You’ll love her, I’m sure of it.”

I thanked him and followed Tom and Alex into the bar. It didn’t take me long to find them at the bar and to Alex’s delight, the guy he claimed couldn’t play guitar finished up his set to a cold audience.

I shook my head at him. “Do you remember what it was like for us getting on a stage in the beginning?”

His attention snapped to me and his brow furrowed. “Of course, I do.”

“Oh really?” I drawled, unable to stop the smirk claiming my lips. “What was it like?”

“Nerve-wracking.” He cut a sly look to Tom. “Tom threw up like three times.”

“Like fuck I did. That was you, you dickhead.”

We’d been just fourteen, cocky kids who thought they were destined to be rock gods. Turns out we weren’t half wrong, but that didn’t change a thing when you were standing at the side of the stage, watching older, more mature bands whip a crowd into a frenzy with ease and magnetic confidence. It didn’t absolve us from the time freezing moment when that first spotlight hits and suddenly we’re blind with too many expectant eyes on us to count.

I look back on those early days with a bittersweet nostalgia but I wouldn’t wish to relive it. I certainly wouldn’t add to the negative atmosphere for someone finding their footing.

“Maybe.” Alex crossed his arms, a beer bottle dangling from his fingers. “What’s your point?”

“You don’t need to be an asshole to a stranger learning the ropes.” I stared at him, searching for a sign that the message got through. “This isn’t you, Al. We know you’re frustrated but taking it out on other people isn’t going to make Ceri like you any more.”

“If anything, you’re fucking up your only chance to win her back,” Tom added, his tone severe. “You’ve got three months to prove her wrong. Once you’re divorced, you probably won’t get another opportunity.”

I snorted. “She’ll move and change her number without a second thought.”

In Ceri’s situation, I would. She and Alex had been childhood sweethearts. Then out of some misguided belief that he was protecting her, he’d dropped her before we were all meant to fly out to Los Angeles for our first headliner tour. In the back seat of a taxi no less. Rather than letting it go, he’d gone back, over and over again, having fun and leading her on for years before she cut him off. 

She didn’t want to give him a second chance and I didn’t half blame her. He wouldn’t know where she was if not for the fact they somehow got married during one of those on again moments and were too drunk to remember or just plain didn’t believe it was real.

Alex glared at me, but for the first time in weeks, he looked like he was listening. His expression lost some of its fire and he nodded.

Rehearsals had started already, but there was only so much the band could do when our lead singer kept hopping across the pond. 

All of that changed tomorrow. We were meeting our opening acts and Lily landed later tonight. Things were finally starting to heat up and as much as I dreaded spending two years on the road, anything would be better than this perpetual waiting.

Part of me also hoped it would give Alex something else to focus on, other than driving Ceri mad.

The lights dimmed before any of us could say more. 

“Please welcome to the stage the incredible Olivia Monroe,” the announcer said, his voice amplified by the sound system. 

The crowd clapped and screamed, a surprising contrast to the last act who they thankfully hadn’t booed off. People jostled for the best view of the small stage and the single stool and mic stand sat in the middle. String lights wove through Rhymes logo in the background, casting a warm glow in the darkness. 

A slender figure stepped onto the stage, an acoustic guitar in hand and her profile hidden in shadows. The crowd erupted into eager applause but I was silent, struck motionless with this innate feeling that something special was about to happen.

The spotlight turned on as she settled herself on the stool with a coy yet nervous smile. Everything about her captivated me instantly — from her chestnut hair as she tucked a loose strand behind her ear, to her ripped jeans, bohemian style top and beat up Converse.

“Good evening Los Angeles! I’m Olivia, and we’re going to have some fun in the next twenty minutes,” she said, her voice lyrical. “I hope you enjoy the show.”

I was transfixed and she hadn’t played a note yet. The guys chattered amongst themselves, about what I couldn’t say. I only had eyes and ears for her. 

Her fingers strummed the guitar, setting an upbeat tone, building with percussive taps on the guitar’s body. She leaned towards the mic, her foot tapping gently on the stool rung to the music, and then she started to sing.

The whole room stilled, all focus zeroed in on her as that voice flowed out like honey. Sweet yet complex, with an almost ethereal quality that left me enthralled.

“Hey! Where are you going?” Tom grabbed my arm, pulling me back. I tore my gaze from her – from Olivia – and blinked at him like I was coming out of a dream. I couldn’t remember taking a step. “Are we getting a table or what?”

“Sure.” I shrugged off his grip and turned back to the most captivating woman I’d ever seen. “I’ll find you.”

Their protests were swallowed as her voice rose and I kept moving forward, pushing through the mesmerised crowd until I found myself front and centre. I was helpless, pulled by some invisible force to be as near as possible to this siren on stage.

Her voice was incredible, but that wasn’t all that drew me. The way she seemed to glow under the soft stage lights, eyes closed as her fingers caressed the smooth neck of her guitar, stole my breath. 

She had it. That joy I’d lost.

Utter happiness radiated from her and it made me grin, but also ache at the loss. I remembered it so clearly, the way it used to feel, the way I could close my eyes and be swept away into my own world despite knowing there were hundreds, thousands, millions of eyes on me and one badly timed twitch could ruin the song.

Her eyes fluttered open and green officially became my favourite colour. Our gazes locked for a moment and I felt a spark of connection so real it left me reeling. At that moment, I’d have done anything for her, gone anywhere with her. 

How was it possible to feel so drawn to a virtual stranger? But in my gut, I knew – she wasn’t meant to be a stranger.

Her full lips curved into a smile made for much more than performing. It was made for lazy Sunday mornings tangled in sheets, for stolen kisses in the back of a tour bus, for heated whispers in the dark of night.

I couldn’t remember wanting those things, but now, listening to her, watching her, they consumed my thoughts.

She held my gaze for I don’t know how long, seeming to sing directly to my soul. When she shot me a sly look, almost like we were sharing some secret, I couldn’t help but reciprocate. Then she glanced away, taking a piece of me with her. 

Alex and Tom sidled up on either side, jostling me from my daze. I barely stopped myself from scowling at them. Were they the reason she broke eye contact?

Couldn’t these fuckers see I was having a moment?

“She’s incredible, mate!” Tom said, smiling as he tapped me on the back in celebration like I’d hired her or something.

“Of course she is, we only pick the best.” Alex took a swig of his beer. 

We only pick… Wait! What? 

Unfortunately for me, he still had eyes on me when the realisation struck and my eyes widened. A shit eating grin spread across his face. “You didn’t know she was our opening act, did you?”

I might have tuned out when all those decisions got made. What? I was a musician, not a businessman. Plus Lily had found her and if Lily said she was perfect for us, then she was perfect.

And had you been paying attention, you would have found her sooner. 


I stayed silent, still struggling to wrap my head around the strength of my reaction. Her voice had awoken something in me. It had energised me yet shepherded me to a peace I hadn’t experienced in a long time.

Maybe I should have been worried when I couldn’t give the tour preparation attention even when it came to picking support acts, but I had more pressing things to focus on. 

Like figuring out how to get Olivia alone long enough to agree to go on a date with me.