Book Title: The Stage (A Phoenix Rising Novel)
Author: Shelby Rebecca
Genre: New Adult Rock Star Romance
Release Date: July 2, 2014
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
Mia the saint.
Kolton the sinner.
Kolton Royce is a tatted, bad boy rock star at the top of his game.
Mia Phoenix is an overly responsible nineteen-year-old striving for stardom since losing her parents in a house fire.
When Mia ends up on Kolton’s team for the debut of the new nationwide singing competition, The Stage, she’s not sure if it’s her or her voice that he’s hellbent to control.
After he takes special interest in her welfare, they’ve been warned, any contact between them outside of filming is strictly forbidden.
He has other ideas.
She’s a phoenix rising from the ashes, the only one who understands the pain that lies beneath the persona. Though he’s not sure if he’s too bad for her, he can’t stay away.
All sinners have a past. All saints have a future. But, does being born in fire make the fissures weak in all the wrong places, or stronger than they’ve ever known?
The Stage is written for an adult audience 18+. This excerpt contains adult language. Copyright, Shelby Rebecca, 2014. All rights reserved.
In this excerpt of THE STAGE, Kolton Royce has made his team on the nationwide singing competition, The Stage, wait all day and into the evening to film a group scene together. Mia Phoenix has just found out that Kolton has hired a nanny to take care of her little nine-year-old sister, Riley (who she’s raising alone after the house fire that took the lives of both parents) so she can still compete on the show. After filming the scene, he offers to take her to the hotel where she’s been staying while they’ve been filming. He picks up her sleeping sister and gets in the back of his car. This is what happens next.
Call me Kole
“Something funny, Mia?” he asks, his face half shadowed as the car begins to move us forward.
“Riley hates boys,” I say. “She’d be so pissed if she knew she was all nestled up to you like that.”
“Well, it can be our secret,” he says, and a chill runs up my spine. I want out of this car, now.
“Are we going to the hotel?” I ask to appease the odd feeling in the pit of my stomach.
“We need to talk about that,” he says. His chin sticks out and he rubs the stubble on his cheek.
“What are you doing?” I feel brave all of the sudden, but my voice gives away how aware I am of my own lack of control over this situation.
“I want you to call me Kole.” His voice is deep. He sounds troubled. Nothing like the entertainer I’m used to watching on TV.
“Why do you want me to call you Kole?” Adrenaline. Heart pounding. Take a breath.
“Say it again,” he says, shutting his eyes. His voice sounds carnal and filled with need. It scares me.
“I’m not going to call you that. I just need you to take us to our hotel?” I need his help, but I can tell he’s not being honest with me.
“Mia,” he says. And oh, the way my name comes out of his mouth. “I saw you the other day outside the studio, then your voice up there. You’ve really stood out to me, overall. I want to, no—I need to help you.”
“I’ve read your file,” he says, interrupting me. “I’ve watched the media footage about your parents and the fire,” I have to cover my mouth with my hand.
“We have a lot in common.” His voice sounds like tears when they’re stuck in the throat. “I feel very protective of you,” he admits, and clears his throat.
My hands are shaking. Is he crazy or something? Like one of those celebrities who owns a puma and wants only red M&Ms in his dressing room? Plus, we’ve been driving for too long. Where is he taking us?
“Are we on the freeway?” I ask. It’s hard to see out of these black windows. They’re eerily dark like shadows and secrets. I feel agitated—my eyes too wide to blink.
“Yes,” he says, his eyebrows furrowed.
“Why?” I ask, noting the slight tremors of my hands.
“I’d rather just show you.”
“Listen, just because I’m on your team doesn’t mean—,” I start.
“It’s all or nothing for me,” he interrupts. He’s rubbing his thumb into the palm of his hand and talking to the shadow window.
“You’re really controlling.”
“Don’t say that,” he scolds, as his jaw tenses up.
“Like that’s going to help,” I say.
“Snapping at me.” I fold my arms and lean back into the seat.
“I don’t want you to be afraid of me. When I want something, I get it. Does that make sense?”
“And what you want is?”
“Hmm,” he says, contemplating. “To help you, to help take care of your sister so you have limited distractions, and you can go all the way to the finals. For now, that’s what I want.”
“I’m not a groupie who’s willing to be abducted and taken wherever you want me to go.” But then again, I guess he did exactly that. Anger boils up in me like boiling water.
He ignores me. We stare at opposing black windows, sitting in silence. Only the hum of the tires on asphalt and the in and out of Riley’s slumber-breaths between us.
I’m too agitated to ask him where we’re going. If he refused to tell me again, I’m going to go off. We take a slight right, getting off the freeway and head down a road lined with high-rise buildings. The car stops and I can’t control the tremors in my hands as I wait for him to say something. Explain himself.
“Kolton? Where are we?” I ask, my voice higher than I’d meant it to be. We’re parked in front of a brick high-rise with two huge ferns outside the front entrance.
“The Wilshire Thayer,” he says. “I didn’t have a chance to talk to you. It was a split-second decision.” He pinches between his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. “I’ve moved you to the penthouse here. It’s an exclusive building. The security is tighter than the hotel. I feel better about you staying here while I’m gone.”
“What? I—you—I’m? You moved our stuff out of the hotel?”
“Not personally, no.”
“Is this something you’ve done for your whole team? Like, we’re all staying here?”
“No, Mia, they’re not,” he says, as he leans slightly forward, his green eyes are being highlighted by the street light. They look predatory and possessive. “I only want what’s best for you.” I’m shaking my head no. I put my hand out to ward off any more talking from him. This is not fucking okay.
“Just take us back to the hotel,” I demand.
“No. That’s not going to be possible.” He leans back into the partial shadows.
“This is why you were late today?” I ask, feeling honored, but smothered all in the same moment.
“Partly, yes,” he admits, looking straight through me again. My whole body shudders. I do not want to be under anyone’s control. “Let’s get her inside,” he says, as he taps the window. The door is opened from the outside, and he motions for me to get out first.
“We need to talk about this!”
“Not now, Mia,” he admonishes me like a child. “I’ve had a very long day—and nothing you say is going to change anything at this point. Let’s go inside and discuss it.”
I stomp out of the car and then he comes out, holding Riley, and walks past the front desk. The doorman nods to him, and we are ushered into one of the elevators. His driver is with us, and I notice a gun strapped under his arm. He must also be his bodyguard. I feel dizzy, nauseated. I put my hand over my stomach to ease the rumbling, boiling rage.
The older man has inserted a key into the elevator control. I’m assuming it’s because he’s taking us to a floor that’s off limits to the rest of the building.
There’s twelve floors and then a “P”. Penthouse, I guess. What! There’s thirteen floors? What’s up with me and the number thirteen these days?
I look at Riley. She’s so tired. She’s not moved a muscle. She’s even snoring a little.
“You don’t live here, do you?” I ask, hearing the shaking in my own voice.
“Some of the time, yes.” I’m pursing my lips together and biting the inside of the bottom one. “I also have a house in the hills.” My fingers have unknowingly chipped off almost all of my dark nail polish.
“Does it have a fire escape?” I ask. If we’re going to the top floor, that really worries me.
“It has the best built-in alarm, and that includes fire. It’s completely up to code. I had the sprinklers installed myself before I moved in. And yes, there’s a fire escape—just installed,” he says. “It reaches down to the floor below you.” He looks like he’s in pain as he says it, like it makes him sad that I asked.
“Since I have no way to leave tonight, we’ll stay the night. But we’re going back to the hotel tomorrow.” I’m mad at him. Furious. Someone had to go through our belongings to pack them up. And shouldn’t he have asked me first?
He doesn’t answer me. “I’m not some slutty girl who sleeps her way up the ladder,” I say, defensively. To that, he laughs a little.
“No, I didn’t think you did.”
Shelby grew up between two mountains and a lake in Wasilla, Alaska. She used to run around in the tall grass, catch frogs, rescue dragonflies, ride horses, and ice-skate during recess. She still likes adventures and has even gone skydiving. Today she lives in Northern California with her husband, John, and their daughter, Elise, their two dogs, and a fish named Jade.