Rock the Heart Page 1

CHAPTER ONE

This is the most uncomfortable seat in the entire world. The stiff leather chair nearly swallows me whole with its high back, and the bare skin on my legs stick to the seat. It’s also stifling in here. If I didn’t know better, I would say someone left the heat on in the middle of July. A bead of sweat trickles down my spine and I reach across the table to pour a glass of water.

I can’t believe I’m this nervous. It’s only a board meeting for crying out loud.

The glass meets my lips and I gulp down a drink.

My best friend of four years, Aubrey, reaches over and pats my wrist. “Sweetie, it’s fine. This is no biggie.”

I muster up a smile and nod. Of course it’s no big deal to her. She’s been through countless marketing meetings. This is my very first one. Sure, I’m only an intern, but proving myself will earn me a spot at Center Stage Marketing. Something I’ve wanted since my freshman year in college.

Aubrey and I both earned degrees from the University of Texas and she somehow landed an assistant position to one of the top executives in the company. They actually pay her to be here, while I’m just the annoying tag along in training.

Diana Swagger, one of the most respected female marketing executives and the president of the firm, strides in and takes her seat at the head of the long table, which fills most of the room. She’s put together from head to toe—not one red hair out of place on her well groomed head. Her black suit screams money and respect, and from what I’ve heard about her in the staff lounge, she’s a no nonsense type.

Aubrey clicks her pen next to me, ready to jot notes for her boss. Even though I’m only here to observe, I mimic her actions and do my best to pretend like I belong.

“Can anyone read the goals we discussed two weeks ago?” Diana asks while she unbuttons her jacket.

A middle-aged man, to Diana’s right, rattles off a list of topics that might as well be said in a foreign language. None of the projects Center Stage currently has going are products or companies I’m familiar with, but I keep my eyes trained on him like he’s the most interesting person in the world.

“…And we received the go ahead from Black Falcon’s people to proceed with the children’s campaign,” he says.

This automatically catches my attention. Black Falcon hits a little too close to home. Most people know them for their music, but I know them because of their front man, Noel Falcon. The star-studded rocker is a huge part of my past. There isn’t one childhood memory that he’s not in.

Diana makes a note on her yellow, legal paper. “Good. Now we need a volunteer to go down and wine and dine Noel Falcon for a few days. We need him to know we are serious about his charity.”

Everyone at the table quickly busies themselves with their paperwork in front of them. All of them avoiding Diana’s stare.

Diana peers around the table. “No one is interested in this? Harold?”

The man to Diana’s right looks up at her and adjusts his glasses. “Sorry, Diana. Rock stars aren’t well known for working well with us boring ad types. Last time I personally tried working with one, he blew me off, then became irate that his marketing wasn’t what he had envisioned. No offense, but this isn’t the type of account I’m willing to take on again. It’s a time suck.”

Diana leans back in her chair, steeples her fingers together, and presses them to her lips. “Is no one interested?” Her eyes scan her employees one more time—all of them avoiding her stare—before they land on me. “How about you? You seem to be the only other one interested in this account.”

Shit. Eye contact is a pain in the ass.

I swallow hard and my hand clutches my throat. “M—me?”

She leans forward in her seat. “I’m sure Mr. Falcon would surely give a young, pretty thing like you the time of day. All you would have to do is get him to spend some time with you and then find out exactly what his vision is for the children’s charity Black Falcon is heading up.”

My throat suddenly goes dry. How can I face Noel again? I want to scream at the top of my lungs I can’t, but I know if I want a job at Center Stage I need to be a yes woman until I get my foot planted firmly inside this door.

I can do this—talk with an old friend on a very professional level. This might be a piece of cake.

I take another huge gulp of water, trying to calm my nerves, while Diana stares expectantly at me. If I let my history with Noel slip out she might yank this opportunity away, and I can’t let that happen. Not after I’m so close to landing my dream job.

Aubrey nudges my leg under the table. She knows I’m stalling. She’s heard the stories about Noel.

I set the glass down, deciding it’s best to keep my relationship with him private, and nod my head. “I would love to take on this job for you.”

Diana smiles and leans back in her chair. “At least someone is willing to go the distance for this company. What did you say your name was again?”

“Lanie…Lanie Vance.”

Diana makes another note on the paper in front of her. “Does anyone have Black Falcon’s tour schedule? We need to get Ms. Vance to their next show and get things rolling on this.”

Harold types something into his tablet and quickly says, “Black Falcon’s next show is tomorrow night in Houston Texas, then it appears they have a break until Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio a few days later.”

Tomorrow? I scrunch my nose. That’s a hell of a lot sooner than I expected. When I volunteered for this, I figured I would at least have a few days to mentally prepare myself. What in the hell am I going to say to Noel? Sorry for stomping on your heart four years ago? Oh and by the way I’m only here to land my dream job.

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