Home > Say You're Mine (The Gallaghers Series)(13)

Say You're Mine (The Gallaghers Series)(13)
Author: Layla Hagen

I’d bought Lars a present that morning, and I couldn’t wait to see his face when he opened it.

On the way to the cottage, I opened the Facebook app on my phone. The band had posted their first live video today. Lars was the one talking, since it was his birthday. They’d filmed in the rehearsal room, of which Lars did a small tour, explaining that they spent a couple days a week in there. I scrolled through the comments, trying to gauge the mood. I’d been right—fans were ecstatic at getting this little glimpse of the day-to-day life of their favorite band. Lars had then moved to the kitchen, showing them the corner where they usually ate breakfast and saying yogurt or cereal was his go-to every morning.

Several fans had commented that they ate the same thing and then asked what the others ate.

That was exactly what I’d hoped to achieve: giving fans something they could relate to.

I scrolled down the screen, smiling at the trivial questions in the comment section. Fans were craving mundane details, like what movie the band watched or if they ordered takeout a lot. This was good—really good. I was hoping the record company would see it that way too.

The car slowed in front of the gates, where there were two security guards. All my nerve endings snapped. We’d arrived at the cottage! The gates opened, and he drove inside on the alleyway. Last time, there were no cars in front of the cottage, but now I counted twelve pulled next to the manicured lawn.

“Thanks,” I told the driver, who merely nodded at me in the rearview mirror.

I got out of the car, walking with shaky legs toward the entrance door, which was slightly open. I nodded to the two guards posted on either side. Music and voices were filtering out of it. The cottage was honestly incredible. I hadn’t had a chance to explore the garden yet, which was huge and had an opening on the Hudson River. Enormous old trees lined the property and made it impossible to pry inside.

When I pushed the door open, I was surprised to notice only a few people in the lobby, and no one from the band.

I moved to the living room, not bothering to take off my shoes because no one else had. Besides, my sky-high heels were part of the outfit. The beige dress was understated, but my shoes were black leather peep toes with straps that crisscrossed my leg until mid-ankle. They were sexy, just like the red nail polish I’d used on my toes.

A bunch of people stood around in the living room. I immediately headed to the buffet. As I approached the table, my stomach rumbled. They had everything from guacamole to tabbouleh salad and smoked salmon. I headed straight to the dinnerware, taking a small bowl of tabbouleh on a plate.

“Someone’s happy,” a deliciously seductive voice said from behind me.

My entire body hummed as I slowly turned around. Brayden was standing a few feet away, unabashedly inspecting me. His eyes widened when he glanced down at my shoes, and he drew in a sharp breath. When he glanced back up, his pupils were a bit dilated.

Licking my lips, I held up my plate. “The food is great.”

“I made sure there was something from your list of restaurants.”

My eyes widened. “Why?”

“I wanted the foodie in our midst to be happy.” The corners of his mouth twitched. His eyes were fixated on me, as if he was making great effort not to glance back down at my shoes. I felt utterly naked.

“Where’s the birthday boy?” I asked.

“Come with me. I’ll bring you to him.”

I took my food with me. As we walked, Brayden’s arm brushed against mine a few times, and my whole body warmed. He led me to yet another room, one I hadn’t been in before. It was another living room of sorts, with shelves full of books on one wall and comfortable-looking armchairs spread around the room.

Lars was surrounded by a large group. He winked when he saw us coming.

“I’ve got a present for you.” I rummaged in my small bag with one hand, pulling out a book by my favorite mystery author.

Lars’s eyes widened. “Holy shit, you bought me a gift?”

“Err, yes. That’s what birthdays are for.”

Brayden seemed as surprised as Lars, which made me think this wasn’t the case with them.

“Besides, I want you to like me for something other than bringing Brayden bad luck,” I added on a wink.

Lars laughed, introducing me to the group. Brayden touched the small of my back as we made the rounds. I didn’t even try to remember everyone’s names. One particular blonde stood out, because she looked at me with disdain when Brayden introduced us. She certainly didn’t seem to like the way he touched my back. I, on the other hand, was enjoying it immensely.

After he introduced me to a bunch of people, he excused himself, saying he had to check on some guests.

I returned to the buffet, loading my plate yet again. The blonde with the upturned nose appeared while I was pouring myself a Coke.

“So, how do you know Brayden?” she asked without touching the food.

“I’m consulting with Sasha, their manager, on a few things.”

“I know who Sasha is,” she said dismissively. “So, you spend a lot of time with them?”

“Who’s asking?”

“I’m Brayden’s friend.”

“Didn’t look like it,” I challenged. I got a good read on her. She was trying to intimidate me, for whatever reason, and I wasn’t having it. “He barely looked at you.”

She bristled, blinking fast. No one has tried to knock her down from her high horse before? I’ll volunteer for the job.

I always gave everyone the benefit of the doubt—it was a residual effect from my profession—but I had no tolerance for mean people. This woman needed to know she wasn’t going to intimidate me.

“Do you know who I am?”

“No, and I’m also not interested.”

Her jaw dropped. I shrugged, turning my attention to the buffet. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her turn and leave.

Of course, now that she was gone, I couldn’t help but wonder exactly who she was. I didn’t much care about her job, but was she really Brayden’s friend? Or friend with benefits? I told myself it didn’t matter... only it did.

Where was he, anyway? I didn’t have a chance to actually look for him, because Lars pulled me to one side, asking me if I had a chance to look at the video.

“I did. I really liked it. And I glanced at the comments—I think it was exactly what fans were asking for. I’ll give it forty-eight hours to gather more comments, and then I’ll send my observations to Sasha.”

“Okay. It felt good doing it. Like sharing something personal, but not overexposing.”

“I’m happy you were comfortable with it.”

Lars grinned widely. “I can’t believe we were so hard on you that first day. You’re not some whacko trying to convince us to sell our soul to the press or whatever TV network offers the most for a reality TV show.”

My eyes bulged. “Why did you even expect that?”

“Experience.”

“I see. Well, glad I’m not on your shit list anymore. Hey, who is she?” I pointed to the annoying blonde.

“Lilian. She’s a concert promoter. It’s the fifth time she’s collaborating with us. Mind you, she seems more interested in Brayden than the band.”

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