CHAPTER 12

The din of excited voices filled the small room backstage. Reid smiled for pictures and signed autographs. It was a familiar scene, normal; it was the same as always. For Reid, however, everything was different. He was different. The sheet of paper in his front pocket covered in messy notes was proof of that. Proof of the spark Chloe had ignited. His fingers itched to pull it out and look at it, add to it, see that it was real. He’d only had minutes to grab the paper from his dressing room and scribble down his notes before he was due for the meet-and-greet with fans. Reid fidgeted with the Sharpie he held as he waited for the next fan in line. Uncomfortable with the girl’s desperate attempts to make eye contact, he kept his gaze down, focusing instead on the lines of his jeans. “You were great tonight! Even better than the last time you were here!” Reid jumped in surprise and turned his attention to the girl in front of him. “Thanks. Do you have something for me to sign?” The girl giggled and leaned forward, her eyes glassy and her smile too wide. “I do, but I was hoping you could do it later. In private.” Reid chuckled in an attempt to hide his discomfort. “I’m afraid that won’t be possible tonight, sweetheart.” “Are you sure? We had an amazing time at an after party last time you were here. I even got my cousin to score some killer snow just for you.” Reid stiffened and his stomach dropped. The room was suddenly unbearably hot. Using his shirtsleeve, he wiped the perspiration from his forehead before scanning the room for the closest exit. No one had moved, but he felt like everyone was closer, their sweat-covered bodies reeking of alcohol. He felt caged. Cornered. Trying to regain his composure, he took a moment to study her face, to remember her name. It was pointless. To him, she was a stranger. It was clear, however, that she remembered him quite well, or at least the guy he used to be. With a small shake of his head, he forced a smile. “Thanks for the offer, but I’m afraid I’ll have to pass.” A look of disappointment crossed her face. “You must not remember much about last time, then. I can’t decide if I should be offended or feel sorry for you. That was a night I’ll never forget.” Reid looked away and shrugged. There were a lot of things he didn’t remember about the last tour, and for the most part, he was grateful. “Time’s up,” a bouncer announced, moving to Reid’s side. “You need to move along, miss.”The girl scowled at the bouncer before turning her attention to Reid once more. “If you change your mind . . .” She trailed off, dropping a folded piece of paper on the stool next to him before reluctantly walking away. “Thanks,” Reid exhaled. “No problem. Blondie over there thought you might need a hand. I’ll stay close until you’re finished unless you tell me otherwise.” Reid turned to where the bouncer pointed, his shoulders relaxing when he locked eyes with Chloe. “Thanks,” he mouthed. She smirked and lifted her hand to her mouth before blowing her nails and brushing them against her shoulder. Reid huffed out a laugh and rolled his eyes, but it was exactly the distraction he needed. All he had to do was make it through the next hour, then he could escape to his room and the music flowing through his mind. Time dragged. Reid became more and more anxious with each passing second. The girl from earlier seemed to be everywhere he looked. When Tom finally stepped beside him and announced it was time to go, Reid’s entire body sagged with relief. “I didn’t think tonight would ever end,” Reid said, standing from the stool and stretching his arms overhead. “You okay, man? You seemed okay earlier, but when I looked over here a little bit ago, you looked like you’d seen a ghost.” Reid pushed his hands into his hair and gripped it tightly. “I’m just tired.” A small smile crossed his face and his hands fell to his sides as he thought about his breakthrough. “Something really amazing happened earlier. When we were playing the last song—” His words ended abruptly when loud laughter caught his attention. Across the room, Greer, Drew, and a few other guys stood against the wall, smiling and laughing with a petite blonde. Reid didn’t need to see her face to know it was the same girl who approached him earlier. Greer smiled at the girl and pushed off the wall before throwing his arm over her shoulders and walking toward the door. Transfixed, Reid couldn’t look away. His mouth became dry and his body rigid. He knew exactly what his bandmates were about to do, and for a fleeting moment, he felt nothing but white-hot jealousy. When Greer looked over his shoulder and caught Reid’s stare, he threw his hand in the air and waved before disappearing down the darkened hall. “What was that?” Tom asked, looking from Reid to the empty doorway. Reid clenched his jaw. “Nothing. Not a fucking thing.” Not wanting to deal with more questions, Reid grabbed his stuff. “I’m taking the car service back to the hotel. I’ll see you in the morning.” Without waiting for a response, Reid disappeared down the hall and to the back door where a pair of bouncers stood waiting. “Is there a car out back?” “Yes, sir,” a bouncer responded while turning to open the door. The area was blocked off from the public, but fans still lined the barricades, their voices rising when Reid stepped into the cool night air. They begged for autographs, for pictures, but Reid could only focus on putting one foot in front of the other. He didn’t even lift his head as he darted from the venue into the back of the waiting car. The anger he felt was irrational—on some level he knew that. For the past month, Drew and Greer had kept a low profile. Instead of going out partying after the shows and then stumbling into rehearsals hungover, they’d returned to the hotel with the rest of the crew. Reid knew it was only a matter of time before they let loose. And with no show the following day, he had no reason to be angry. But he was. Angry and, if he was being honest, a little bit jealous. A lot jealous. Once inside his hotel room, he tried to calm the feeling brewing in the pit of his stomach. He paced the length of the room and gripped his hair. Beads of sweat dotted his forehead as the feelings intensified into a hollow ache in his abdomen. Reid didn’t question the cause of the pain. He knew the symptoms all too well. It was want, need; it was a craving for something that nearly destroyed his life. He grabbed the back of his shirt and yanked it off,exposing the colorful ink covering most of his body. Angry figures towered over broken hearts, each image conveying an emotion, a memory, a puzzle piece of his journey. Of all that he’d had and all that he’d lost. He swept his thumb over his forearm, his eyes drawn to the tattoo of a heart being strangled by a noose made from a horse’s mane. It reminded him that not all things stayed lost forever. He pulled his phone from his pocket, completely disregarding the sheet of paper that fell to the floor. Each ring felt like an eternity as he waited for Jess to answer. When her voice came across the line, he let the full weight of his emotions push him to the floor. “Reid.” “God, Jess,” he choked. “It’s so fucking good to hear your voice.” “Reid? What’s wrong? Did something happen? You don’t sound right.” The panic in her voice was clear, but unlike the times before, it didn’t calm the storm building inside him. He leaned against the foot of the bed and propped his elbows on his knees. His legs bounced and his skin crawled with anxiety. “I’m having a really hard time tonight, Jess. Drew and Greer went out and I know what they’re doing and I—” He couldn’t finish the sentence. He couldn’t admit that, more than anything, he wanted to feel the bitter rush of invincibility burn his nose and numb his mind. Guilt ate at him for not telling her about the last time. When he’d tasted the poison for the first time since the night everything changed. A part of him was angry that he’d flushed it down the toilet. That was the part of him he worried about the most. “Reid, are you there?” He started at the sound of Jess’s voice. “Yeah.” He cleared his throat and shifted his weight. “Yeah, I’m here.” “You shouldn’t be alone right now. Where are you?” “I’m at the hotel. In my room.” “Where’s Tom? Can you call him?” Reid dropped his eyes to the floor. “I can’t call him. He’ll know.” “So what if he does?” she snapped. “This isn’t about your pride, this is about your life. He’s your friend. You know he won’t judge you.” “I . . . I think I’m okay now. I just needed to hear your voice.” The sentiment was nice, untrue as it was. “You really don’t expect me to believe that, do you?” she asked softly, her voice chastising but caring. “I wish you were here.” “So do I, but you know that’s not possible right now. If you want, I’ll stay on the phone with you all night, but I don’t think that’s what you need.”“You’re all I need,” he breathed, hating himself for knowing it wasn’t true. “Liar,” she retorted with a small laugh. “It’s too easy for you to get lost in your head just talking on the phone. You need someone who can see when you’re not paying attention.” Reid knew she was right. Already he’d wondered how long it would take to find the guys the moment he hung up. He extended his leg, the folded sheet of paper that had fallen from his pocket catching his eye. “I wrote music tonight,” he mumbled, mostly to himself. “You did what?” Jess gasped. “Not anything new. Well, it’s new, but not mine.” Reid groaned and leaned forward to grab the paper. “We did a cover tonight. A song that Chloe added layers to. While we were playing, I had all these ideas hit me. It was a feeling I never thought I’d experience again.” Jess pulled in a deep breath then exhaled heavily. “If you don’t want to go to Tom, why don’t you find Chloe? Maybe you two can work on the song together.” He shook his head. “I don’t know if I can now. I don’t know if my head’s in it.” “Well, there’s only one way to find out. Did Chloe go with Greer?” “No,” Reid answered, his voice biting. He wasn’t sure why, but the idea of Chloe out with Greer caused Reid’s anger to surge. Jess was silent for a moment before she sighed. “It doesn’t sound like things between them are moving in the direction you thought. I guess, in this case, that’s a good thing. If you won’t go to Tom, go find Chloe. Tell her you want to work on the song. I’ll worry about you every second if you don’t. Please, do it for me.” Reid exhaled, and when he spoke, his voice was soft, apologetic. “You’ve always known how to get me to do what you want.” “Not always,” Jess murmured. “But I’m getting better at it.” The smile in her voice was evident. “I have about an hour left of work then I’m heading to my parents’ for dinner. If you need to talk, please call me.” “Okay.” “I love you.” “You too,” he whispered.Chloe sighed as she flipped through the channels. She wasn’t in the mood to watch television, but she wasn’t tired either. When Inky had invited her out for drinks, she’d said no, but for the life of her she couldn’t remember why. Well, that wasn’t entirely true; she had a pretty good idea why her automatic response had been no.Reid. Unease gnawed at Chloe when she thought about his reaction to the girl backstage. His entire demeanor shifted, the tension radiating from him intensifying as the night wore on. When Greer and Drew left with her, Reid looked ready to snap. The guys had invited her to tag along, but after Reid’s initial reaction to the girl, Chloe thought it would be best to stay clear of that situation. The way he stormed out of the room once everyone was gone told her she’d made the right decision. Now, however, sitting alone in her room, she felt nothing but restless. With a groan, she flipped off the television and swung her legs off the bed. If nothing else, she could work on the cover song they closed the show with tonight. Her thoughts drifted to how he’d reacted when the song ended. How he’d wrapped her in his arms and swung her in the air like she was light as a feather. The memory caused a flutter in her abdomen. She could almost feel the warmth of his body when he’d wrapped himself around her and whispered into her ear. Her eyes fell shut and goose bumps covered her arms. He’d smelled so good, like cedar and leather. Musk and man. “Shit,” Chloe croaked, pressing her palms against her eyes in an attempt to push away the memory, to stop the very dangerous direction of her thoughts. She jumped when there was a soft knock at the door. Looking at the clock, her brows drew together in confusion. It was after one in the morning. On her tiptoes, Chloe moved to the door and peeked through the peephole. Her breath caught when she saw Reid on the other side. She spun around and pressed her body against the door as she looked around the room in a panic, searching for some physical clue that would give away the not so innocent thoughts that had been running through her mind. There was another soft knock on the door. “Chloe? Are you okay?” She swore under her breath and turned to open the door. “Yeah, of course. Why?” “I heard something hit the door,” he said, his words slow and cautious. Chloe rolled her eyes. Of course he heard her body hit the door. She waved her hand in the air and stepped to the side. “It was nothing. Do you want to come in?” Reid nodded and walked inside. Chloe closed the door and followed him over to the small table off to the side of the room. She flipped on another lamp and motioned for him to sit. Chloe waited for him to speak, but he remained silent, his eyes fixed on the table. When awkwardness started to settle over them, she cleared her throat. “So, what’s going on? Not that you’re not welcome to come see me whenever you want, but I assume since it’s the middle of the night, this is not a social call.” Reid’s eyes widened. “Shit, Chloe. I’m sorry. I knew it was late. I should have called. I didn’t wake you, did I?” “No. You didn’t wake me. I was actually contemplating knocking off a bank to escape my boredom.” Reid grinned and relaxed back in his chair. “That’s not very Jedi of you.” Chloe shrugged. “Eh, we can’t be good all the time. What fun is that?” Reid pursed his lips. “It’s no fun at all.” Chloe noticed his change in demeanor immediately. It was like before with the girl backstage. She had a feeling they were thinking about two very different kinds of fun. The reason for Reid’s late-night visit started to become clear. “What’s going on up there?” she asked, tapping her finger against her temple. Reid exhaled, his expression a mixture of shame and disgust. “I don’t think either of us is ready for that conversation.” “Okay. How about we start with something simple? What did you come to talk to me about?” With a frustrated groan, Reid gripped his hair and propped his elbows on the table. “I don’t know if I should talk about it now. I was so excited earlier and then,I feel like if I talk about it now, it’ll be tainted somehow.Chloe reached across the table and wrapped her hand around his wrist. When he met her gaze, the conflict and uncertainty that clouded his hazel eyes caused Chloe’s chest to tighten. “Hey,” she whispered. “I won’t let it. Whatever it is, I won’t let it be tainted. I promise.” Reid dropped his hands to the table. When Chloe moved to pull away, Reid grabbed her hand and squeezed. “Is it weird that I actually believe you could?” Chloe grinned. “Nope. It’s all part of Jedi Training 101. The Master must earn the trust of her Padawan.” Reid laughed. “If your Star Wars obsession wasn’t so cute, I’d be concerned.” “Whatever,” Chloe giggled. “Now, tell me about what had you so excited earlier.” With a deep breath, Reid released Chloe’s hand and reached for the paper in his pocket. “Tonight, while we were playing the CCR cover, I had a breakthrough.” Chloe sat up straighter and leaned forward. “Yeah? What happened?” Reid unfolded the sheet of paper and pressed his hands against the creases before sliding it toward Chloe. “This.” Wide-eyed, Chloe scanned the page. She knew exactly what it was, and now she understood why he’d thanked her at the end of the show. He’d finally broken down a wall. “Reid, this is amazing. I love what you’ve added. Do you have more?” Reid mimicked her position. It was evident that her excitement was catching by the spark of energy that brightened Reid’s eyes. “Not on paper. I was hoping maybe we could work on this together. Unless you’re tired. But even if you are tired, I really don’t want to be alone, so we could do something else. Watch television or—” Chloe jumped from her seat and grabbed her notebook before dropping it on the table and falling back into her chair. “Shut up and grab a pen. We have work to do.” When Reid didn’t move, she looked up to find him gaping at her. Without saying a word, she extended her arm and dropped a pen in front of him. Reid cocked his brow and grabbed the pen. “Well, that escalated quickly.” “Did you just quote Anchorman?” “I did. Please don’t judge me.” Chloe laughed and flipped open her notebook. “I can’t make any promises.” For the next couple of hours, Chloe and Reid worked side by side. It wasn’t until the lines began to blur that Chloe dropped her pen and rubbed her dry eyes. As her vision came back into focus, she was amazed at the number of pages littering the tabletop, each one covered in lines of music for different instruments.”“Holy shit,” Chloe said with a small laugh. “I couldn’t have said it better myself.” “Wanna call it a night?” Chloe asked, groaning as she stood to stretch her stiff muscles. “Sure.” Reid gathered the pages into a pile, but he made no move to stand. His shoulders drooped and the energy seemed to leak from his body. Chloe eased back into her chair and waited for Reid to speak. When he did, his voice was unsteady, but resolved. “You said that if I ever needed to talk, you’d listen. Is that offer still on the table?” Chloe’s heart started to beat a little faster, the sudden rush burning away the fatigue she’d felt just seconds earlier. “Of course. Why don’t we move to the couch? My back is killing me.” Reid agreed and stood from the chair. Chloe walked over to the minifridge and grabbed a beer. “Do you want one?” “Hell yes,” he exhaled. Once settled on the sofa, Reid took a long pull from his beer and turned to Chloe. “I’m a recovering addict, and I’m not doing so hot.” Chloe swallowed her gasp. “What happened?” Reid’s face twisted with disdain. “I happened. I did this to myself.” “Reid,” Chloe said gently. “You’re human. We all make mistakes. Some we learn from immediately and others we repeat a million times before we get it right. It’s the determination to eventually get it right that matters.” “How do you do that?” Reid asked, his expression a mixture of awe and disbelief. “Do what?” “Make everything sound so simple. You make it seem like, no matter what, things will eventually get better.” “Because they will. You just have to believe it’s true.” Reid dropped his eyes and exhaled. Silence settled around them, but it wasn’t like before. It was comforting, calm. He picked at the label of his beer bottle, his brows drawn together as though he was searching for the right words. “How much do you know about what happened?” Chloe didn’t have to ask what he was referring to; the pain on his face was a clear indication of the direction the conversation had taken. “I know what the media said. That a seventeen-year-old girl died from a drug overdose at your home and you were responsible. That you were charged with numerous felonies but used your money to evade prosecution.” Reid looked at her through glassy eyes, his expression incredulous. “And knowing all that, you chose to come on tour with me anyway. Why?”“Because one of my oldest friends was villainized by the very same media. They made her out to be a home-wrecking stripper who seduced a taken man. They didn’t care about the truth; they wanted the nastiest angle they could find, because that’s what sells.” “You’re talking about Josie and Anders, aren’t you?” Chloe nodded. “Yeah. So many horrible things were said about her that just weren’t true. I know it happens all the time, but it wasn’t until it happened to someone I care about that I realized just how bad it can get. I know there is some truth to what they printed about you, but I don’t care how famous you are—if you committed murder, you wouldn’t be on tour right now.” Reid swallowed hard. “I was in a bad place back then. It all started when I broke things off with Jess six months after I was signed. We’d been together for over two years; we had plans. And I just walked away. Who the fuck does that?” Reid shook his head. “I broke her heart. “It only took a couple of weeks to realize I was a fucking idiot, but by then, it was too late. She was done. She wouldn’t speak to me. She wouldn’t forgive me. She wanted nothing to do with me. I didn’t give a fuck about anything after that. I was a motherfucking rock star,” he said with a humorless chuckle. “I moved to LA and dove in headfirst. Cliché parties, groupies, drugs—you name it. I used my sad, pathetic life to make millions. Then, everything stopped. I tried to write, but nothing worked, nothing felt right. So I did more drugs, I partied a little harder, I barreled full speed down a dead-end road. “The night that girl died, I was feeling sorrier for myself than usual. I decided I should have a few people over, to cheer me up. I called Greer and Drew and told them to come over and bring some friends. It didn’t take long for word to spread, and by three in the morning, there were more than a hundred people at my house. Someone had strung black lights and strobe lights all over the living room and deck area. The music was so fucking loud it rattled my bones. Every drug you could imagine was there: weed, coke, ecstasy, whatever you wanted. I did it all.” Chloe looked up when Reid fell silent. The color had drained from his face and beads of sweat trickled down his skin. He looked as though he was going to be sick. Chloe clutched her empty bottle, her mouth bone-dry. She felt like she should say something, but when she opened her mouth, no words came out. She was about to stand and grab another beer when the sound of his voice caused her to freeze. “The next day, I’m not sure when exactly, I woke up to a puddle of vomit. It must have been late afternoon, because I remember the sun reflecting off a glass frame on my mantel. It was the only time of day that happened. Everything hurt. And the smell . . . Fuck, it makes me sick just thinking about it. People were everywhere. I couldn’t believe how many of them were still up partying. I wasn’t sure if they were there the night before or if they’d just arrived. I didn’t care. I needed to sleep. I stepped over people passed out on the floor, stumbled to my bed, and fell face first on the mattress. “When I woke again, it was dark. I flipped on the bedside lamp; it took all of my energy to keep from throwing up. I was so disoriented. When I noticed there was a girl beside me, I thought I was hallucinating. She was too still, too pale. That’s when I noticed the blood on her chin and chest. God, Chloe, I’ll never forget her face. Her eyes were wide open. They were so green. So empty. I knew she was dead. I didn’t have to check her pulse, her eyes told me all I needed to know. It was nine p.m. when I called the police. The report listed her time of death sometime around six p.m.” Chloe’s hands covered her mouth as she processed his words. “She died beside you,” she murmured, her eyes glistening with unshed tears. Reid nodded but kept his eyes downcast. “I found out later that she was the little sister of a guy who worked at the recording studio. Her name was Francine, but her friends called her Fran. She was visiting from out of town, and he wanted to show off his Hollywood connections. She was only seventeen.A fucking senior in high school. Her brother got fucked up and wasn’t paying attention to her. So when someone offered her a line, she did it. The reports said someone remembered her mentioning needing to lie down, but nothing after that. From what I can guess, she got messed up and needed a break. She somehow ended up in my room. I was so fucked up that a seventeen-year-old girl died right beside me and I didn’t hear a thing. I never even moved.” Chloe reached for Reid’s shoulder, but he shrugged away from her touch. “If I hadn’t been so messed up, I could have saved her.” “You don’t know that. You could have been sober as a judge and not stopped what happened. I know you feel responsible, and I understand why, but you have no way of knowing that being sober would have changed the outcome. You can’t beat yourself up over what might have been.” “It’s difficult to be logical when I see her face in my sleep. When I think about a child dying in the bed beside me.” Chloe slid across the sofa and pulled her feet under her, rising to her knees. Ignoring Reid’s protest, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and rested her forehead against his temple. “I can’t imagine what that must have been like. I can’t imagine what that still must be like. But, Reid, you didn’t kill that girl. You’re not responsible for the mistakes of others. Be angry with yourself for letting drugs into your life. Be angry that you didn’t make better choices. Be angry that a young girl lost her life. Use that anger as a reminder of that lifestyle. But you cannot spend the rest of your life with that girl’s death on your shoulders. It’s not your burden to bear.” Reid’s shoulders shook as the evidence of his sadness dripped onto Chloe’s arm. Tears pricked her eyes when he turned and wrapped his arms around her waist. She wished there was more that she could do, anything to help him. Reid pulled in several deep breaths then released Chloe. Reluctantly, she let him go and scooted away to give him some space. “I know I didn’t kill her,” Reid said eventually. “When everything went down, Tom sent me straight to rehab. I didn’t argue. I knew I needed help. Not many people know that.” “I did,” Chloe said, tugging hard on her lip ring the moment the words left her lips. She hadn’t wanted to bring up meeting Walker. Reid’s eyes narrowed and his expression hardened. Chloe worried Reid would think she was playing some kind of game. That she knew far more about the situation than she was admitting, and everything he’d shared with her tonight was old news. “How?” “Remember tequila night? When I went out with Josie and Anders?”“Yeah . . .” “During our club-hopping, we ran into a friend of Anders’s. When Anders introduced us, he told his friend that I was going on tour with you. His friend mentioned that he knew you. From rehab.” “Walker?” Chloe grimaced. “Yeah. I swear he didn’t say anything else, only that he remembered you from rehab and that you two shared a mutual fondness for cocaine.” “I believe you. Walker stayed just as high in rehab as he does out. I don’t think he even knew why I’d gone there in the first place.” He scrubbed his hands down his face and let out a heavy breath. “When I left rehab, I went back to Memphis. I needed to get my head straight, get my life back in order. That’s when I saw Jess again. After more than three years, it was like coming face-to-face with the memory of a better version of me. Who I used to be. We started spending a lot of time together and eventually decided to give it another shot. Since then, aside from being completely unable to create any kind of music, I’ve held it together. But this tour, the reminders of who I became, it’s starting to take a toll on me.” “How so?” Reid rubbed his palms over the tops of his thighs and dropped his chin to his chest. “I haven’t told anyone what I’m about to tell you. I know that I can trust you, but for my own peace of mind, I have to ask you not to repeat this. I need you to promise.” “I promise,” Chloe said without hesitation. “The night of the first show . . . I was in my room and I emptied my pockets. There were several scraps of paper that girls had put their number on and shoved in my pocket after the show. Which is . . . whatever. But apparently one of them added a little something extra. There was a small baggie of coke, too. I tried to flush it, I swear to fucking God I did, Chloe.” “Oh, no.” “I didn’t snort it,” Reid added quickly. “I wanted to. Christ, I wanted to, but I didn’t. I opened it, I dipped the tip of my finger in the bag, and I rubbed it across my gums. I thought I was going to throw up. I flushed it down the toilet right after, but I was so ashamed of myself. Disappointed.” Reid turned to Chloe and grabbed her hand. “I know I didn’t kill that girl, but every time a craving hits me and I start to rationalize that one line wouldn’t be that big of a deal, I feel like a failure.” “You’re not a failure, but you need to be stronger than your addiction. Look how far you’ve come. You’re on tour—” Chloe waved her free hand toward the pile of pages on the table. “—you’re writing music, and instead of going out with Drew and Greer to do God knows what, you came here.” “I knew her. The girl they left with. Well, I don’t know her. I don’t remember ever seeing her before in my life, but she knew me. Apparently, we partied the last time we played here. She invited me for a repeat. Told me she had her cousin score some killer snow, just for me.” Chloe grimaced. “That explains your reaction to the guys leaving with her.” “Yeah. The truth is, I can’t be mad at them. They’re the same guys they’ve always been. But when I saw them leave, knowing what they were going to do . . . Jesus, Chloe, I wanted to beat the shit out of something.” “I’m so happy I didn’t go now.” Reid’s posture stiffened. Chloe gasped when Reid tightened his grip on the hand he still held. “They invited you to go?” Chloe tried to pull away. “Ease up there, Padawan.” When Reid didn’t loosen his grip, Chloe snapped her fingers in his face. “Reid, unless you want to find another violinist, you need to let go of my hand.” Reid’s eyes widened as he released Chloe’s hand like he’d been burned. “Shit. I’m sorry. Are you okay?” Chloe rolled her eyes. “I’m fine, but I figured if I wanted you to release me from your death grip, I’d have to turn the girl dramatics to high.” “I didn’t hurt you, did I?” “Of course not,” Chloe laughed. “I’ll admit it wasn’t pleasant, but if you were really hurting me, I would have skipped calling you Padawan and gone straight to dickhead.” “Shit,” he exhaled. “I’ll have to remember that I’m in the clear as long as you’re using Star Wars references.” “That’s an excellent guide.” Reid opened and closed his mouth before his eyes widened. “You did that on purpose.” Chloe shrugged and looked away. “Did what?” “Distracted me with your girlie dramatics to keep me from getting pissed about Greer and Drew inviting you out.” “Okay, first, I didn’t keep you from getting pissed. You were already well into that emotion. And second, their invitation was completely acceptable. They’re my bandmates. They were going to party and extended an invitation for me to come along. I’ve toured with a lot of bands, Reid. I know what goes on after the show ends.” Reid sighed. “This whole calling me on my bullshit thing . . . Will this be a common occurrence?” Chloe grinned. “You better believe it.” Reid relaxed against the back of the sofa, his eyes beginning to droop. Chloe looked at the clock, unsurprised to see that it was almost five a.m. Pushing off the sofa, she moved to the small closet and pulled a blanket from the top shelf. “Why don’t you get some—” The words died in her throat when she turned to find Reid’s eyes closed. With a sigh, she walked to the couch and draped the blanket across him. There was no way he would sleep comfortably, but she couldn’t bring herself to wake him. Crawling into bed, her body melted into the soft mattress. A million thoughts bounced around inside her head. There was no way she could sort through the events that had taken place tonight, but as sleep closed around her, one thing was clear: her relationship with Reid had irrevocably changed.