Title: Lovesongs and Rainbows
Authors: Brynna & Miss Molly
Warnings: Adult Situations, Occult, Violence
Approximately 57,000 words
A/N: If you see any formatting issues please let me know through either a review or a pm. When I upload the individual chapters from MS Word they look fine until saved. I do wish that the site owners would get that particular bug fixed. Thanks!
Originally written in 1994, updated the setting and technology to 2007, along with a few other minor revisions throughout.
I've never been to the UK, although I think Molly may have. Yes, we were guessing throughout the entire storyline!
Molly plotted, I wrote, it was all good.
A/N2: Made a few minor changes at the suggestion of sin-sanity, given that she's more versed in the British Mother Tongue than I am. :-)
Dedicated with love to:
Rich, Bobby, Elizabeth and Sam;
Justin and the lads.
M and L
Prologue: Late–1970's, somewhere in Midwestern America
She stood at one end of the living room, watching as her older sisters danced to rock 'n' roll music that poured out of the family stereo. In the kitchen her mother was hard at work making dinner, apron tied around a house dress, body reflecting the aching tiredness of chasing after four rambunctious girls all day long. Her father was off at work, bringing in the blue-collar earnings that kept the American family in the lifestyle to which they had become accustomed.
Gwen gave a toss of her head, her golden brown waist-length braids flying behind her as she went to join her sisters in the dance. The girls had borrowed their aunt's old records and Buddy Holly was on the turntable, much to the little girl's delight. The bell bottomed slacks flipped with each movement of her legs. Her sisters encouraged her to join in, pausing on occasion to show her a new movement they had learned at the high school dance a few days earlier.The song ended and Delores, the eldest, switched on her transistor radio. The newest Journey single was supposed to be released that day during the Larry Lujack show, which was starting within moments. As soon as the popular Chicago disc jockey came on, the girls all crowded around the radio, eyes lighting up with excitement. He began his high-anxiety rambling and they all giggled nervously.
"This is WLS, Radio 89, coming to you from the Sears Tower in Chicago." To Gwen, Chicago meant a completely new world, one that though only three hours away, she'd never seen. "Who wants to fight the traffic?" her father would grumble, and that would be the end of any discussion of seeing Chicago.
However, the girls did have the radio station, which they listened to without fail.
"We have a new song that's looking to climb up the charts. The band that gave us 'Why Now?' two years ago has a whole new sound for us to enjoy. I give you Mystic Balance and their latest, 'Endless Nights.'"
A haunting melody wafted from the speakers and her sisters groaned, longing to dance instead of listen to the eerily plaintive tune. Delores went to change the channel to the local station for a few moments, only to find a small hand tight on her forearm. She looked down to see Gwen staring at the radio, her gray-eyed gaze transfixed.
"Please, leave it, Dee. Please?" The nine year-old's voice was soft and pleading. "It's so beautiful. His voice . . . please?"
Dee threw her hands up in annoyance and walked away, figuring that once again her eccentric younger sister had gone off to the Twilight Zone. Meanwhile, Gwen continued to gaze at the radio, her body swaying slowly to the melancholy love song, the plaintive, sad tones of the British vocalist sinking slowly into her. Never had she heard a voice like that, she decided as she closed her eyes and let it wash over and through her. Please let it come on again soon, she thought as he sang, "And I will always love you . . ."
The next day she did not remember the dream she had of a blond young man tenderly holding her upon his lap so she could gaze into the depths of his cobalt eyes, nor did she recall the gentle hug and cherishing kiss he gave her and the whisper, "I have finally found you, Brianna. You will remember me if it takes a lifetime of dreams."
Southern England-Present Day
The woman stood at the entrance of the recording studio, apprehension written on her features. Am I ready for this? she wondered, chewing one fingernail as she continued to stare at the heading that read "Southhold Sound Recording Studio." It wasn't as though she hadn't done this sort of thing before, she admitted to herself with a sheepish grin. However, it was the first time she had ever done this sort of thing out of her home country.
The British could be so stuffy too, she thought with a roll of her eyes. Always punctual, extremely perfectionist in nature and with a sense of humor that she would never understand, she decided as she continued to stare at the door. Behind her was the quaint village of Southhold, complete with cobblestone walkways and moss-covered buildings. All was lit by the summer sun if she'd cared to turn around and look. But no, she thought ruefully. She was too entranced by a sign on a door.
Faintly visible through the glass were framed lithographs of album covers, most of them from two decades past. Hard to believe the records with the beautiful surreal artwork on the covers, the ones she had spent so darned much babysitting money on, came from this simple, small, Southern England recording studio.
"Well, are you going in or are you going to continue staring a hole right through that door?" The male voice made her jump, a tiny squeak escaping her as she listened to the soft chuckle that resulted. She turned, trying to compose her features and failing miserably when she came to face the tall, broadly built Englishman who was staring at her quizzically. She took in his familiar good looks and did her best not to blink.
"Actually, I'm going in," she admitted sheepishly, receiving a grin from him in return. "It's my first day on the job and . . ."
"And you're fresh from America and you don't know where in the hell to start," he finished for her, his mischievous green eyes twinkling at her. Dimples creased his cheeks, further lending to his charm. "Maybe I can be of some assistance, love. You know, show you around a bit? Buy you tea? Take you out to dinner?"
Goodness, what a flirt! she thought, finding herself returning the smile that he was radiating so warmly. "Nothing like making this Yankee feel right at home," she teased softly as he ran his fingers through his lion's mane of shoulder-length, gray-streaked, light brown hair.
"Well, I wanted to get the first chance before anyone else saw you," he replied as he opened the door for her with a sweeping bow. "After you."
Gwen found herself giggling as she stepped through the formerly intimidating door and into an air-conditioned entrance hall. She took back everything she had ever thought about British stuffiness as she let Tall, Green-Eyed and Handsome lead her through the door into a reception area. There a beautiful, bored-looking, redheaded woman was sitting behind a glass counter, gazing vacantly at a British tabloid. Her escort walked straight up to the counter and rapped his knuckles on the glass, making the woman suddenly come to life with a beaming smile.
"Mr. Lyons, what can I do for you?"
He indicated Gwen and waved her forward. "Julia, I do believe this lovely lady wishes to report to work," he said briskly, all sign of flirtatiousness completely gone. The woman nodded hurriedly and shoved aside her paper, offering Gwen a warm smile.
"And, how many I assist you?" she asked, her hazel eyes shining pleasantly at Gwen.
Gwen squared her shoulders and leaned forward as she said, "I'm Gwendolyn Harris, the new sound engineer." She heard the faintest ripple of an indrawn breath from Tall, Green-Eyed and Handsome as she added, "I do believe I'm supposed to begin work with Mystic Balance today?"
"That you are," her escort spoke up. She turned to him as he added, "I'm Jeremy Lyons, the bass player."
And you make a habit of hitting on every female within sight, she thought as she extended her hand to him. "Gwen Harris, soundboard. Pleased to meet you, Mr. Lyons."
"Jeremy," he corrected immediately as she grinned.
"Jeremy," she said agreeably. The receptionist turned to the computer, quickly brought up her file and began readying it for the printer. Julia clicked the mouse a few times then let out a small sigh of relief as the printer began to go to work.
"I really need a new computer," she muttered softly, getting a nervous laugh from Gwen. "Ahh, there it is," she added as the laser printer began spitting out one sheet at a time. "If you'll just look this over and see if I've gotten the information correct, then we'll be all set." She handed Gwen the freshly printed documents.
Not much in there, Gwen thought. Gwendolyn Anne Harris, age thirty-seven. Work permit current. Widowed. Two children, Rhiannon, age fourteen, and Broderick, age ten. Both of who were back at the flat with the nanny, she added mentally, very likely delving into the latest video games. Odd, she wondered as she signed the documents, this sense of belonging she felt in a country that should feel so foreign. Even here, signing papers among strangers, it was a feeling she couldn't shake. She pushed the paperwork back to Julia, then turned to Jeremy. He was eying her quizzically, his brows drawn together in puzzlement.
"What? Did I do something wrong?"
He shook his head thoughtfully. "No. I just keep feeling as though we've met before. Ever go to one of our concerts?"
"Never got around to it," she said pleasantly as he led her back into the foyer, then down the hall. "I just don't do concerts when I'm not at work."
"Burned out on them, huh?"
Jeremy opened the door at the farthest end of the hall and waved her into the sound booth on the other side. Gwen paused for a moment to take in her surroundings. From the glass walls of the room to the large soundboard arrangements facing the studio on the other side, to low sounds of instruments being tuned, everything was pretty much what she'd expected to find in a recording studio. Bent over the soundboard were several men and almost all of them were muttering, occasionally punctuating said mutters with a few colorful British obscenities."Uh, mates," Jeremy said softly. Immediately the men in question straightened, turned, then went stone silent, except for one still swearing at the soundboard. Gwen watched as he raked his long, lean fingers through his silky tumble of collar-length blond hair and shook his head.
"Bloody thing," he muttered, moving from side-to-side on the longest darn legs Gwen had ever seen on a man. If those legs were any longer he'd look as though he was on stilts, she pondered bemusedly as she continued to leisurely take in his backside. She noted how the long legs curved into a firm, jean-clad behind and how that behind led into a trim waist, then up to where an oxford shirt was stretched across a muscular back that rippled with each movement he made. Shoulders, she sighed. Nice, broad masculine shoulders.
"Uh, Legs," Jeremy said again, this time his tone firmer.
"Yeah, Rocker, what is it?"
The man he'd called Legs straightened, then turned to face them, annoyance written over his features. His eyes fell on Gwen and she repressed a gasp, feeling a shudder penetrate clear to her soul. Such eyes, she contemplated, forcing herself to hold his gaze. Such magnificent, magnetic, dark violet-blue eyes that seemed to sink right into her. She barely took in the classically handsome features, the straight nose, squared jaw, and the dark golden eyebrows that were presently crinkled in a slight frown. No, it was those eyes, she decided as she allowed herself to smile at him.
To her amazement he smiled back, one brow raised slightly to go with his crooked grin. "Jason Highsmith," he said softly, the male-roughness of his English temper exchanged for more courtly manners as he extended his hand. Gwen accepted his hand and felt his touch sear straight through her, creating warmth at the core of her femininity. Nice view, she decided, feeling her eyes drop to his shirt collar. It gapped open to reveal a soft mat of blond chest hair with a few gray hairs mixed in. Not as young as he looked, she realized, suddenly noticing that his crown of blond hair had a healthy amount of gray mixed in with it. That gray went with a fine of web of crow's feet around his eyes. Late forties, maybe? she wondered.
There was something oddly familiar about him, something that she just couldn't place and had nothing to do with having seen him on record covers. It was as though she had known him her entire life.
"Gwendolyn Harris," she finally said, feeling his hand squeeze on hers lightly. "Most call me Gwen."
"Welsh for 'fair,'" he replied absently as she blinked at him. "You can call me Jace," he added. "Easier that way, darlin'." His eyes glided over her easily, his expression darkening, brows furrowed at first then lifting slightly as his grin widened. Damn, that look had been predatory, she thought as she nodded. Worst thing was she had felt the effects straightaway, and she hoped her cheeks weren't as red as they felt.
"We heard so much excellent feedback about your work with the World Children's Charity Foundation recording that we thought you might be just what we were looking for," Jace continued, his thumb raking absently over the back of her hand. "I can see we were right."
Darn, she wished he would let go of her hand so she could get to work, wishing at the same time that he would never let go of it. That warm, violet-blue gaze continued to delve into hers, making her insides melt.
"Thank you, Mr. Highsmith," she murmured, feeling her cheeks flush when she realized everyone was staring at them. "I've been a fan of your music for a long time so this has been one job I've looked forward to."
"Then the pleasure will be mutual, I'm sure." Her blush heightened as she nodded, then gently pulled her hand away, wishing that he would quit looking as though he knew what she looked like beneath her clothes. Uneasily she turned away and gasped aloud as she came into contact with another body. Immediately she jumped back then let out a short uneasy laugh as the young man before her regarded her. His hands twitched as they passed nervously through long, wispy strands of dark blond hair. Ice-blue eyes flashed briefly in an emotion that she couldn't quite read before he broke into a polite smile.
"Wesley Drummond, head sound engineer," he said coolly, extending his hand to hers for a brief shake. Gwen accepted it, repressing a slight shudder at the smile that didn't quite make it to his eyes.
"Sorry about that," she muttered as his smile widened.
"Quite all right, pet, quite all right."
Now, why didn't she quite believe that? She forced herself to smile as Wesley laid his hand upon her shoulder and began leading her around the studio. Somewhere in the back of her mind she could feel eyes upon her, and she had no doubt if she turned she would see Jace giving her that pensive, predatory look again. It was the sort of look a man gives a woman he wants to devour, she realized, repressing a shiver. She steeled herself against that thought, doing her best to push it to the back of her mind.Jace was a typical rock star she decided as Wesley continued to lead her around. The kind of man who would be interesting for a roll across a mattress, but certainly nobody any woman in her right mind would want commitment from; that much was certain. When the engineer extended a stool for her behind the soundboard, she agreeably sat down, gratefully accepting a cup of tea from Jeremy. The tall bassist gave her a dimpled grin and wink before retreating into the sound booth. Meanwhile Jace had seated himself on a stool, acoustic guitar in hand and a slight frown on his face.
"Testing, one, two, three . . ." His voice trailed off as he tuned the guitar absently, his eyes flitting around the room before settling on the luscious creature who was sitting at the engineer's soundboard. Now this was a woman he could get himself lost in, Jace decided. When he had said "Welsh for fair," he'd meant it. The mane of medium golden brown hair that tumbled to the middle of her back, her soft ivory complexion sprinkled with freckles, and large gray eyes all lent to an underlying earthy sensuality. All soft, sweet, womanly curves, he noted as he recalled every delicious inch he had taken in with one long look. There was something tantalizing about holding a soft feminine body against his slender hard one. He loved the contrast of sensation it provided. If there was one thing Jace was into it was sensation . . . the sight of soft, silky bare skin, fingertips tracing satiny, womanly contours with a feather-like touch, tasting wine sipped from the valley of a woman's cleavage or the slope of a gracefully turned hip, the heated scent of a woman in arousal, the sound of moans as he moved . . .He repressed a groan and hastily positioned the guitar across his lap, making sure it covered the problem that was beginning to develop. Work first, he admonished himself. After the day was done he would invite her out to dinner, then seduction. God knew he'd become awfully good at setting that stage since his divorce, he thought ruefully. That randy public image did have some advantages though, one of which was keeping intimacy out of any relationship.
He hummed a few bars absently, then began strumming the guitar, not noticing when Gwen swung her head up to stare at him, her eyes suddenly wide, cheeks flushed. "It's a long road to where we're going," he sang, feeling his vocal cords begin to stretch. His voice warbled off-key, and he got a few smirks from the others before he quelled them with one glare. He paused, cleared his throat and tried again. Always took an hour or two of singing to get warmed up. He avoided wincing when his voice cracked. He stopped again, sighed then tried another song more within his range.
"The nights are endless without you . . ." Gwen sat rooted in her chair, her heartbeat picking up in time. How could she have ever forgotten? She leaned forward and propped her chin in her hands, letting her eyes remain on the man who was putting out such pure notes, his eyes glazed with emotion. Faint warmth scurried through her skull and she blinked, feeling the room tilt slightly. Not now, she thought faintly. This wasn't the time for the odd mental buzzing that had plagued her since she was a kid . . . ever since the first time she had heard "Endless Nights" at the age of nine. Standard or not, the hauntingly beautiful song had a way of sinking into the soul, as though the man singing it was putting out a search for a soul mate long lost to him.
The warmth overtook her and she took in one deep breath, then another, letting it settle behind her forehead where it pulsed comfortably. She didn't notice that her nipples had hardened or that she was squirming. Another soft warmth brushed across her lips, making them part as she continued to gaze at Jace, feeling his dark blue eyes penetrate hers, a slight pucker between his brows.
"All I know is that I love you . . ."
Then the song was over and the warmth abruptly left, leaving Gwen feeling suddenly empty. Quickly she looked down at the console and began busying herself, doing her best to ignore the cobalt gaze that was burning a hole into her skull. Darn, why did he keep staring at her like that? For that matter, did she want to know?
"Wesley, I need to freshen my tea," she murmured to the sound engineer. Wesley raked a hand through his blond locks and shrugged, indicating the sound booth door.
"Tearoom down the hallway, pet," he offered by way of explanation. Good, Gwen thought with relief. That would get her out of Jace's line of sight for a few moments and give her a chance to regroup. With trembling hands she fixed herself a cup of tea before walking over to the stark window that overlooked the small town. For all of the town's southern English charm, it sure didn't have a lot going on. The quaint, ivy-covered buildings made her feel as though she was transported back in time with none of the cares of modern-day living. It was the peace and quiet she had sought, and it looked as though she'd found it whether or not it had been truly what she had wanted.
But would she be able to hang onto that peace and quiet? she wondered as Jason Highsmith came to mind. All that talent and scorching sensuality rolled into one long-legged, blond-haired and blue-eyed package. No wonder the rumors of his sexual escapades flittered through the music business scuttlebutt. If he was half as randy as was rumored, he would be enough to warm the beds of countless women for an awfully long time. Just what she needed, she thought glumly. To make matters worse she was falling for that silky British charm he gave off.
The clinking of a spoon made her abruptly snap out of her reverie and she turned to see Jace leaning against the door frame, cup of tea in one hand, spoon dangling from the other as he grinned lazily at her. Slowly he dropped the spoon onto the table and pushed himself away from the door with his hip, his hand going absently to a shirt pocket. Long fingers reached into the pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, that lazy grin never leaving his lips."Enjoying your first day on the job?" Jace asked, his voice carrying a silky smoothness that she found both fascinating and irritating. He lit the cigarette and took a long, appreciative drag on it, his eyes never leaving hers for a moment.
"Of course, Mr. Highsmith." Remember, he's just another musician.
"Jason. Or Jace, if you prefer."
His grin widened, hiding the sudden flash of irritation that swept through him. Being rebuffed was not something he was accustomed to. He inhaled again, letting the smoke relax him. He watched her eyes flit over to him, then away again as though she wasn't quite sure how to react. He let his eyes rest on her mouth, and it was all he could do to keep from licking his lips. The sudden image of his mouth crushing hers, tongue exploring the inside of her mouth, made him draw in a deep, long drag on the cigarette.
"You shouldn't smoke, you know. Hard on those aging vocal chords." Sheesh, was that her voice chiding him like that?
He blinked, his wicked grin slanted at her again. "Care to repeat the first two words of that last sentence, darlin'?" he said softly as she repressed a gasp and wished her cheeks hadn't blushed so. Why, why, why did every damned job have to carry sexual overtones with it? She held her ground as Jace set his cup on the table and drew nearer to her all in one graceful move. His hand came to rest on her shoulder and she stiffened, trying to ignore the sparks of heat that emanated from his fingertips.
"I could certainly tell that you enjoyed the music," he continued softly. "In every way imaginable. No question of it by the look on your face," he added meaningfully as the blush on her cheeks deepened. "The way your cheeks grew rosy and flushed, the dreamy expression in your eyes . . . as though my music was carrying you to heights you'd only dreamed of before. What's the matter?" he added quietly, his eyes dropping to her lips again. "I won't bite . . . much."
"You won't bite at all." She drew back and lifted an eyebrow at him, watching him blink with surprise. "What is it with you rock-star types that think you can come on to every woman within range?" As his golden brows drew together like gathering thunderheads, she added, "You know, I've been in this business since I was in my teens and I have yet to run into a male lead singer who didn't try to use the equipment between his legs as much as the equipment in the studio."
"Now wait a minute . . ."
"You may write beautiful, stirring music, Jason Highsmith, but it all comes down to one thing. You're like all the rest-out to get laid." She watched him take a long drag on his cigarette, his stormy eyes burning into hers as she added, "Well, this is one time you're not going to succeed. Ever!" she added pointedly as he continued to glare at her. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a job to do."
With that, she spun on her heels and walked out, leaving Jace to stare after her as he tried to get his breathing under control. Damn! he thought, inhaling cigarette smoke gratefully as he wished his hands would stop shaking. Gwen was obviously one of those "fidelity and commitment" crusaders, he thought with disgust. What was it with that kind of woman? And why was he feeling such a strong pull to her already? For a long, dazed moment he gazed out the window, wishing his heart wouldn't race at the mere thought of her.
You're like all the rest-out to get laid. How many groupies did you sleep with this time, handsome? I gave up my career for you. I gave up everything for you. The least you could have done was given me what I wanted in return.
He drew in a long breath, then shoved the hurt as far back as it would go. He'd learned the hard way to bury the feelings that made him vulnerable, even though in the end, all that left was numbness. No way was another woman going to snare him with seduction, then proceed to cause him so much pain that he'd believe he'd never know happiness again. I am nothing because of you. No way was another woman going to drag him down the aisle and take his heart again. No way would another woman make him feel again.
"Damn!" The cigarette singed his fingertips and he swore again as he stubbed it into the ashtray, then inserted his burnt fingertip into his mouth. Wouldn't that just make work go lovely? he thought as he stalked out of the tearoom and back into the recording studio.