Home > Say You're Mine (The Gallaghers Series)(9)

Say You're Mine (The Gallaghers Series)(9)
Author: Layla Hagen

I’d always known I wanted to create music, just as Isabelle had always known she wanted to be a counselor. The feisty redhead immediately hijacked my thoughts. She was so refreshingly different that I couldn’t help wanting to know more about her. At that bowling session, I could barely keep my hands off her, especially because she was so damn responsive to me. There was a draw between us, a connection I’d never encountered before, and I wanted to explore that. I’d wanted to capture that sassy mouth and explore her until she went weak in the knees.

I was used to attention from women. It came with the job description, and truth be told, it was all superficial and got old fast. But what was going on with Isabelle was different, as if she saw me—Brayden Clarke the man, not the lead singer of GreenFire. It felt real.

I spent half the night in my rehearsal room, resulting in complete exhaustion the next morning, but it didn’t matter. I had the beginning of a hell of a good song, all thanks to Isabelle.

It was a Friday, which meant I needed to call my parents. We always chatted Friday mornings, unless I’d been performing the night before. They owned wheat fields back home in Oregon, and their lives hadn’t changed since I was a kid. It revolved around the cycle of nature, and they were busiest during crop time. It was comforting to know that some things remained the same.

I poured myself a bowl of cereal and called with FaceTime, as they always wanted to see me too.

“Son, can you hear us?” Dad practically yelled. I kept them up with the latest in phone technology, but they never got the hang of it all.

“We can see you,” Mom exclaimed equally loud. They always spoke like this, as if thinking the farther away I was, the louder they had to be.

“I can see you and hear you,” I assured them.

We chatted for about ten minutes before they informed me that they had plans.

“We’re going to the pumpkin festival at The Barn,” Dad said.

That place had been the hotspot of my childhood. Everything in our small town happened at The Barn. I hadn’t been home in years. Isabelle’s question popped up in my mind unexpectedly.

“Does it feel strange, living in this bubble?”

It didn’t bother me, but sometimes you got used to bars and didn’t want to see them anymore.

Having a security detail had always been a necessary precaution, because we’d had our fair share of unpleasant situations when we rose to fame. I’d had fans break into my hotel room, and into my previous apartment. They stalked me even during a visit back home. More than once they got past my bodyguards and, in their desperation to reach me, ripped off my shirt. The saying “They want a piece of us” was brutally literal sometimes.

For years, I’d been content to have every move planned beforehand, have the coast cleared. I’d always told myself it came with the territory, and I’d accepted it.

But for the first time, I was questioning my lifestyle, and I knew it was all because of Isabelle.

 

 

Chapter Four


Brayden

 


The cottage was our headquarters. Everybody had a place of their own in the city and other parts of the country, but we all had a room—actually a section of the home—there too. We did everything from practicing to eating to relaxing there. We’d bought it after our first album hit platinum not only to reward ourselves but because press and fan attention had become insane. It was a huge house in Tarrytown, on the Hudson River. With twenty bedrooms and three separate living rooms, it had plenty of space. The surrounding yard was huge and full of lush greenery, and the view of the river was very calming. The outside was made entirely of gray stone, and the roof was white. It used to belong to one of the richest families in the US.

It was a turn-of-the-century style home, and while we’d left the outside as it was, we’d changed a lot inside. We’d given the various rooms different uses, knocking out walls and remodeling to suit our needs. We’d built a swimming pool and saunas on the underground level. On the first level were entertainment rooms: a pool table and darts room, a home cinema, a disco dance floor, and a gaming room. The band’s practice area was on the second level. We’d padded all the rooms there, so each member could practice separately in the smaller rooms or together in the large one. We also had a state-of-the-art recording studio. The official album recordings took place in the label’s studio, but we liked to play around at the cottage as well. The best way for us to judge a song was to record it and then listen to it; while performing, we were too lost in playing to see the bigger picture.

Today was a day for practicing. Since we’d already recorded the album, we were preparing for the upcoming concert tour. I also had a surprise for the guys.

“I have something new,” I announced once we’d finished rehearsing for the day.

“Come on, man. We barely finished recording and you want us to work on something new already?” Harvey asked, running a hand through his hair.

Lars wasn’t saying much, which just meant he hadn’t had enough coffee yet. He was very opinionated. Thomas stretched out a hand to me. I took out the crumpled paper from my back pocket, handing it to him.

“I like the lines,” he said slowly. “But, man, you’ve got to improve your drawing skills or finally use score paper.” He squinted at the page. “I can’t make out anything.”

Harvey snatched it out of his hand, inspecting it. He was much better at interpreting my scribblings. Placing the note on the holder in front of him, he started strumming the guitar. My mind immediately went into a creative space. I could practically hear the missing lyrics in my mind, see the chords I couldn’t figure out at home, as if they were floating right in front of my eyes and all I had to do was write them down.

Thomas held out a score paper for me, and I immediately wrote down the chords and the lyrics. Harvey played until he ran out of material, then started all over, knowing I needed to keep hearing the song to stay in this creative mood. It was how I ticked.

I had no idea how much time passed by the time I finished, but my fingers were numb from pressing too hard on the pen, my wrist a bit stiff. I rotated it, straightening up.

Lars reached out for the note. “The lyrics are good. Very good. How did you—”

A knock at the door interrupted us. Sasha opened it, poking her head in.

“Boys, Isabelle’s here,” she exclaimed.

I glanced at the group once, cocking a brow.

Lars held up his hands in defense. “We’re good with Sasha’s strategy, okay? And Isabelle’s cool.” His acceptance of her skyrocketed since I lost so spectacularly at bowling.

We went downstairs to the main living room. The space was so huge that it probably used to be a ballroom. Isabelle was waiting for us on the couch in the corner.

She averted her gaze as soon as I made eye contact. Good. That meant I wasn’t the only one feeling this insane energy between us.

“I can’t believe you call this place the cottage. It’s a mansion.”

I grinned. “Yeah, we thought it would be fun to give it a nickname. So, what’s the plan?”

“It’s simple,” she said. “I’ll talk to each of you separately about things you like and don’t, and then I’ll recommend some things you could talk about in Facebook live videos and other social media. I looked at older videos on YouTube and read the comments, made note of what people reacted to and what they wanted more of. I’ve outlined some statistics based on those comments so we can focus on what works.”

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