Now, this is totally unedited, but seeing as I’ve received so many emails asking about Nick’s future, I thought I’d share a snippet from Whispers in the Night, his very own story coming April net year. I have to say, Whispers in the Night is the most romantic, passionate love story I’ve ever written and I hope those of you who met Nick at Bandicoot Cove will think so to.
I feel it in my heart
Like a rhythm
Like a curse.
I gotta run to you, babe
I gotta run.
Nick Blackthorne read the two words written in ornate gold-embossed script again. For the umpteenth time in fact, since receiving the invitation currently in his hand.
The list of viable “Plus Ones” he could ask to McKenzie Wood and Aidan Roger’s wedding was long and colourful, the stuff of a celebrity mag’s fantasy—he was Nick Blackthorne after all, the world’s biggest rock star, a man with a reputation for dating and bedding only the most famous and beautiful women on the planet. A gossip-rag journo would be likely to have a wet dream over any possible Nick Blackthorne “Plus One”. The thing was, of the bevy of beauties and starlets and award-winning personalities Nick knew would be more than happy to accompany him to Mack and Aidan’s wedding, he didn’t want to ask any of them.
The gruff, deep voice sinking directly into his ears through his headphones made him blink. He lifted his stare from the wedding invitation in his hand to find his record producer looking at him through the studio’s glass petition. “Sorry, Walt,” he spoke into the mic hanging from the ceiling. “Guess I was wool-gathering.”
Walter Winchester, uber record producer and soulless mercenary from Hell gave him a steady look. “Still trying to decide who you’re going to take to that wedding? You could take my daughter?”
Nick rolled his eyes, shoving the invitation into his jean’s hip pocket. “Your daughter’s my agent, Walt, and married.”
Walter curled his lip. “Yeah, to a gardener.”
Nick laughed. “To a world-famous gardener with a client-list you’d kill for. I think it’s time you accept the fact your daughter’s not a chip off the old block and unlike you, actually has a heart.”
Walter snorted. “Unlike us both, Blackthorne, although I have to admit you’ve been a bit soppy since that weekend you spent on that island, thank fucking God. Otherwise I’d be thinking you’d never record another fucking album again.” He narrowed his eyes. “What exactly went on at that resort? Whatever it was, there’s been sweet fuck-all mention of it in the press.”
Nick’s heart thumped hard against his breastbone, hard enough he had to wonder if the sound technician sitting beside Walter registered it. As always, the memory of his time at Bandicoot Cove Island Resort made his pulse quicken and his heart fill with warmth. If it wasn’t for that weekend, and his time spent with Mack and Aidan there he never would have found the music in his soul again.
If it weren’t for Mack and Aidan, who knew what state he’d be in now?
He started at Walter’s sharp voice, his focus returning to the control room on the other side of the glass petition. The record producer studied him, charcoal-grey eyes narrow, his stare drilling. Nick’s bodyguard now stood beside Walter, a worried expression on his face. Over the years in his service, Aslin Rhodes had evolved from a detached “yes man” with muscle to a loyal and honest friend. At times Nick teased him with the title Uncle As, a term the two-year older ex-special forces commando pretended to scoff at. Today he looked very much the concerned family member—if a somewhat larger and far-more-menacing one—his black eyebrows drawing together over eyes both sharp and inescapable. He leant forward and activated the comm. between the control room and recording space where Nick now stood. “What’s up, Nick? Need me to get you anything?”
His voice rumbled, an almost flat timbre Nick thought sounded like distant thunder. Or artillery detonating, quite fitting for an SAS officer, really.
Nick shook his head, offering both Aslin and Walter a wide smile. “Nah, I’m okay. Just trying to remember the words to the next track.”
Walter punched the comm. “Well, hurry the fuck up and remember them. For fuck sake, Nicky, its only a reworked version of Night Whispers. Surely you can remember the words to the first fucking Platinum record you ever wrote?”
Nick blinked. Every muscle in his body coiled. Grew tight. “Night Whispers?” The song’s title felt like dust on his tongue. He frowned at Walter. “Who said anything about a re-release of Night Whispers? I thought the next song was Clouds of Pain? I didn’t agree to recording Night—”
“Surprise. I thought it’d be a nice touch,” Walter spoke over him, his teeth flashing behind his lips, his eyes hard as ice and twice as cold. “It’s been fifteen years since your first album, Nicky. Since your first international success.”
Nick’s gut clenched. He swallowed, staring at his record producer. Walter Winchester stared back, his expression set. The man didn’t top Australia’s Most Infamous List for nothing—Walter knew Night Whispers would make a truck-load of dollars with a re-release, especially after Nick’s two years of self-imposed recording and performing silence. The predatory, hungry gleam in Walter’s eyes almost made Nick laugh. Almost.
If it wasn’t for the song Walter wanted him to sing now.
“Nick?” Aslin’s soft British accent danced over his ears. “Want me to clear the room?”
Nick’s blood pounded in his throat. Words caressed his senses; lyrics teased him…
And I want to beg but I can’t find the words.
And I want to cry but I can’t find the tears.
“Shut the fuck up, Rhodes,” Walter snapped, his voice a snarl in Nick’s headphones. “Nicky doesn’t want anything except to sing the fucking song. Right, Nicky?”
Nick closed his eyes, an image of a woman laying on his bed, her hair a golden-red fan around her head as tears like diamonds rested on her cheeks, filling his mind.
And all that’s left is the shadow of your heart and the ghost of your smile…
“The song that started it all.” Walter chuckled, the sound cold. Triumphant.
And the whispers in the night.
“Thought you’d like to commemorate you new album with a re-release of your first Number global One.”
And the whispers in the night.
Nick drew a deep breath.
Night Whispers was the song he’d written for Lauren. The song that gave him his first simultaneous US, UK and Australian chart topper. The song that said what he’d been too stupid to say when he needed to say it: I choose you.
His first international Number One.
The words from the wedding invitation came back to him. Plus One.
He couldn’t ignore the significance of that number. His first Number One record was written about a woman who had been his “number one” everything—friend, love, sexual partner—and now, here he was, being invited to bring a “Plus One” to Mack and Aidan’s wedding and the only “One” he could think about was the one he’d sung about all those years ago, the woman who’d whispered in the night how much she’d loved him, the one he’d stupidly let go…
He opened his eyes and looked at Walter standing on the other side of the glass. The producer’s brilliantly-capped white teeth glinted at him like a shark about to devour its next meal, steel-grey eyes just as threatening. “I’ve gotta go.”
Walter’s mouth fell open. “What do you mean, you’ve—”
Nick didn’t hear the rest. He pulled off his headphones, Walter’s incredulous shout nothing but a tinny squeak on the air as he tossed them onto the nearby padded stool. He gave Aslin a quick grin, more than happy when the massive man gave him a grin back before nabbing Walter’s right arm in a tight grip and bending him at right angles over the control panel.
Go, his bodyguard mouthed at him. I’ll keep Winchester off your back.
Nick nodded, a laugh bubbling in his chest at the sight of Walter Winchester—record producer and soulless mercenary—desperately trying to free himself from the six-foot-four ex-SAS officer’s effortless grip. He gave the grinning technician beside the futilely thrashing Walter a wave and then crossed the room, pulling the wedding invitation from his jean’s pocket as he did so.
He knew whom he wanted to take to Mack and Aidan’s nuptials, now he needed to find her.
Pulling the soundproof door open, he crossed the threshold, the sound of Walter screeching at Aslin to “let me go, you dumb-fuck Pom” making him chuckle some more. After ten years of being Nick’s record producer, of interacting with Aslin every time Nick entered a studio, Nick assumed Walter knew better than to resort to insulting the bodyguard’s nationality, but apparently not. A solid thud followed the word “Pom”, a loud “oww” following that.
“Call me a dumb-fuck again,” Nick heard Aslin suggest from the control room, his British accent suddenly a whole lot more pronounced. And even though he was laughing, a whole lot more menacing. “Go on, I dare you.”
Nick laughed again, the sound utterly joyous. He shook his head, one part of his brain wondering how long it would be before his bodyguard let Walter go, another part wondering just how long it would take to find…