Collected Victory RUN 1, 2, 3
(The Story of Victory Payne)
by Devon Hartford
There’s only one rule in Rock & Roll: Don’t sleep with anyone in the band.
Victory Payne is the hottest lead guitar player on the night club scene of Hollywood’s infamous Sunset Strip. With nothing but her car and her guitar, she’s ready to claw her way to success. Victory never gives up.
Then she breaks rock’s cardinal rule. She falls in love with her lead singer, the gorgeous and brooding Scott Walker. That is mistake number one.
Mistake number two is a roadblock named Kellan Burns. Kellan is primed to claim the title of hottest lead guitar player in Los Angeles with his rugged good looks and his own guitar slung as low as his tight jeans. Kellan isn’t the kind of guy to let some upstart babe with a six string stand in his way.
Victory Payne, meet Kellan Burns.
Ladies, you will need a fire extinguisher for this one.
The world famous rock club The Cobra Lounge is located at the heart of the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, California. It rumbles around me as the opening band quakes the building with their hard rock sonic assault.
I put the finishing touches on my makeup in the green room mirror backstage.
The green room walls are dotted with photos of all the famous bands who have played here. My bandmates surround me in the small no-frills room, waiting impatiently to go onstage.
The throb of booming bass guitar and kick drums pounds the walls. The bass is so intense that my bottle of mascara does a buzzing dance across the makeup table in time with the beat.
Bzzz. Bzzz. Bzzz. Bzzz.
There’s a quick knock on the green room door before it swings open. The music from the stage is suddenly twice as loud.
The club’s stage manager leans inside the room. He’s an older guy with longish hair and gold pirate earrings. Vintage rocker. He barks at us over the sonic storm, “YOU GUYS ARE ON IN FIFTEEN MINUTES! GET READY TO ROCK!”
My bandmates and I nod at him. We’re all smiles. This is our first time playing at “The Cobra.” It’s a really big deal to be here. Over the last forty years, most of the biggest bands in rock have played here.
Bobby, my drummer, hollers at the stage manager, “WE’RE GONNA KNOCK THE FUCKIN’ WALLS DOWN, MAN!”
Rex, my bass player, shouts, “HELLS YEAH!”
The stage manager puts his hand to the headset mic in his ear, listens intently to whoever’s on the other end, then chatters a reply, “Copy that.” He turns back to me and says, “THE HOUSE IS PACKED WITH PEOPLE HERE TO SEE YOU GUYS! GET READY TO BLOW THEIR MINDS!” He pulls the door closed, muting the sound of the band on stage, and he’s gone.
My band, Skin Trade, has built up quite a fan base in the L.A. music scene over the last two years. We have a growing following on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. We’re positioned to break big. We have so much momentum, it’s gonna happen soon. I know it.
Rumor has it that a bunch of record producers and music execs are in the audience tonight. This is our chance to show them we can bring the house down. I’ve worked so hard to get here, I’m not even nervous thinking about it.
I’m so ready for this.
I return my focus to the old school makeup mirror in front of me. Big globe lightbulbs surround the glass. I put the final artful touches on my smokey eyes and glimmering black lipstick.
When I finish, I slide my chair back and spin in front of the mirror. A leather clad rock & roll assassin smiles back at me.
Outfit: sexy as hell.
I wear a short midriff studded biker jacket, skin tight low-ride lace-up black leather pants, black stripper heels covered in silver spikes, and a studded black leather bra.
I did my best to put together an outfit that looks like it came from that girl genius who runs Toxic Vision clothing and makes all her outfits by hand. She and I have the exact same sense of heavy metal style.
Rex grins at me, “Your male groupies are gonna break their dicks off in their jeans when they see you walk on stage tonight.”
The pouty curl of Rex’s lips and his fitness model body have gotten him laid more times than I can count. If he owns a shirt, I’ve never seen him wear one. His stage attire is shirtless with tight pants and motorcycle boots. With all his ink, the girls drool over Rex’s delicious bad boy bassist looks at every show.
Bobby, our drummer, eyes me up and down and winks at me. He has the most gorgeous mane of long hair I’ve ever seen, male or female. With his stage makeup on, he’s the perfect blend of handsome and beautiful. He’s a total rock and roll lion. He blurts, “I’d fuck you.”
My voice drips with sarcasm as I say, “Thanks, Bobby. But, do I have to take a number and wait for you to finish screwing your pride of four girlfriends first?”
Bobby really does have four girlfriends. Amazingly, none of them know about each other. I don’t know how he does it. My guess would be his groupie girlfriends all suffer from starry eyed denial. The ladies always seem to have a thing for the wild drummer types.
“For you,” Bobby grins, “I’ll make an exception. You can come to the front of the line.”
I ignore his innuendo and chuckle, “Wow, that makes me feel special.”
Rex snickers, “Want me to leave you guys alone for two minutes?”
“Two minutes!” Bobby laughs. “I need two hours, bro. You know how horny I am before a show.”
“I know, dude,” Rex frowns. “You’re always trying to fuck my leg like a dog,” he chuckles.
Bobby makes a hound dog sound, “Aaah-ROOO!!!!”
They bump fists and laugh.
Men. I roll my eyes. I’d be surprised if Bobby could even get it up for me, considering how often he has sex.
“Just give me a blowjob, Victory,” Bobby begs while drooling over my skin tight outfit.
I smirk, “Ask Rex for one. I still need to warm up my hands.”
Bobby grabs his crotch lustily, “You can warm your hands up on my shit.”
I shake my head, “I need to play my scales on my guitar, dumbass.”
“My shit’s as big as a guitar neck,” Bobby says confidently. “Got the big headstock and everything.”
“You wish,” Rex chuckles.
I pat Bobby on the shoulder affectionately, “I’m sure you’ll find yet another ignorant slut to hook up with tonight.”
Bobby grins, “The ignorant ones are the best kind.”
Boys will be boys.
I’m used to the constant sexual tension of being the only girl in the band. And this is rock and roll, so it’s all about the sexual tension. It helps that Rex and Bobby are like my brothers. They would never cross that line. Besides, I already have a boyfriend, and I’m a one man kind of woman.
From outside the green room, the opening band goes quiet and the crowd cheers. A minute later, the club P.A. starts playing canned music to keep the energy up. The tune is Back In Black by AC/DC. It’s mandatory tuneage at every hard rock show between bands, but the song still makes me smile. Angus Young makes his guitar growl like no one else.
The energy and history of The Cobra buzzes around me. I can’t wait to become a part of it. I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. It’ll only be a few minutes while the stage hands shift the band gear around.
Then we take to the stage.
I step past Bobby and grab my guitar case from where it leans against the wall. I unlatch it, pull out my cream colored 1987 Fender Stratocaster, sling it over my shoulder, and plug into my amp. My Strat is the same axe the late Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock, and the same one played by the great Yngwie Malmsteen. Those guys are my top two guitar heroes.
As my fingers fly up the strings, a spray of melodic notes flows out of my small Line6 practice amp like rainbow raindrops. Not a light drizzle, but a downpour. I’ve been playing guitar for so long, I don’t really need to warm up anymore. But I do, because more than anything, I love playing electric guitar.
It’s my addiction.
My name is Victory Payne, and I’m a rocker chickaholic.
Rex watches me play and nods approvingly at my improvised soloing. His face eases into a hot sultry smile. “Shred that shit up, Victory.” He slings his bass over his muscled shoulder and lazily fingers the strings. He isn’t plugged into an amp, but I can hear the click and rattle of his bass strings join time with mine.
I do a series of quick trills on my strings with my left hand, then start tapping the fretboard with my right, just like Eddie Van Halen, the godfather of two hand tapping.
My high-pitched notes dribble out of the Line6 speakers like liquid candy.
“Play it!” Bobby grunts as he machine guns a staccato rhythm on the countertop in front of him with his drumsticks. He taps his boots on the green room floor like his feet are on the kick drums, keeping perfect time with my impromptu solo. A thick mane of hair swirls around him as he bangs his head energetically. Pantene totally needs to give him a contract. Even in the dim light of the green room, his hair shines like spun silk.
The three of us continue improvising a series of rocking riffs in perfect time.
A gleeful smile creeps onto my face as we play. I have the best bandmates in the world. We’ve played together on and off for the better part of five years. The last two, we’ve been dedicated 24/7 to our band, Skin Trade. Of all the musicians I’ve ever played with, the connection Rex and Bobby share with me is the closest thing I’ve ever found to a telepathic link. We anticipate each other’s every move, and countless fans have told us we’re the tightest live band they’ve ever heard.
I don’t know what I’d do without them. I can’t imagine being in any other band.
Our impromptu jam ends on a crescendo and we’re all smiling from ear to ear at our shared creation.
“Did someone tape that shit?” Bobby asks.
“I’ll remember it,” I say, meaning it.
Rex glances around at the photos on the green room walls and marvels, “Can you believe The Doors played here?”
“And Guns N Roses,” Bobby adds.
“Don’t forget Led Zeppelin,” I say.
“And Avenged Sevenfold,” Rex grins.
“And Metallica and Wild Child,” Bobby says.
“I think King Diamond even played here,” Rex says. “Now we’re playing here. A year from now we’re gonna be headlining arenas across the country.”
“You know it,” I smile proudly at both of them.
We’ve worked our asses off getting this far. This is our night to shine in the spotlight. I can only imagine what’s going to happen when we hit the stage. It’s gonna be insane.
The door to the green room opens and Scott Walker struts in. He is the lead singer and leader of our band.
He’s also my boyfriend.
Scott is the walking incarnation of rock & roll. Tall, lean, angelically handsome yet devilish and dangerous. Silver pants hug his slender legs and hang low on his hips, revealing the V of his flat stomach beneath the hem of his tight black T-shirt, which is emblazoned with bold white letters that say “FUCK.”. Tattered black combat boots complete the outfit. His short blond hair is spiked, and mirrored sunglasses cover his eyes.
Scott is everything all fathers with daughters worry about. Scott was born with the natural ability to seduce all females. I know from experience. He doesn’t even try, and women gravitate to him. When he opens his mouth and sings, all female legs within earshot part willingly.
On most nights, mine still do.
But, after being Scott’s girlfriend for two years, I know there’s more to him than first impressions. With all that beauty and talent comes a mountain of heartbreaking work. Scott can be higher maintenance than a walking toddler with sticky fingers. But he’s worth it. At least, that’s what I’ve always told myself.
“Damn, Vic,” Scott says, “you look fine as hell tonight, babe.”
I hate it when he calls me Vic. It sounds like a guy’s name. Telling him it bothers me never works. Scott does what Scott wants. I’ve learned to pick my battles with him.
Scott squeezes my ass possessively, staking his territory. I’m nobody’s property, but I can pretend to be if it keeps the peace this close to show time. Yet another battle I’ve let Scott win. He can be very insecure.
Scott turns to Rex and Bobby and says, “I bet you guys want a piece of this, don’t you?”
He’s referring to me like I’m a half pound of ground beef. He’s not always like this. I swear.
“She looks great,” Bobby says politely, staring at the floor.
“Totally,” Rex says blandly, pretending to tune his bass.
Scott has a temper and he likes to bait people to see if they’ll challenge him. Rex and Bobby know not to ruffle Scott’s feathers. When he’s around, they never say anything about my looks, good or bad.
We’ve all learned to handle Scott. Considering Scott writes all the music and lyrics, and sings our songs, we don’t have much choice.
Scott does what Scott wants.
Scott slaps my ass and digs his fingers in hard. “You putting on weight, Vic?” He arches an eyebrow at me.
That eyebrow makes other women melt.
At the moment, I’m over it.
I frown at him, “No.” I say it more defensively than I want to. There’s no way I’m gaining weight. I count calories like I count time in my head. It’s so automatic, I don’t even think about it anymore. Image is as much a part of making it in music as the music is, but it’s a necessary evil. I moved to Hollywood to make it big, not get a big ass.
Changing subjects, I say, “We should head to the stage.” I step toward the door. “We’re on in five minutes.” I glance at Rex and Bobby, “Come on, guys.”
They stroll toward the green room door.
“I’ll catch up with you guys,” Scott says, “I need five minutes alone.”
Bobby chuckles, “Like the Pantera song? You gonna kick someone’s ass?”
“Naw,” Scott says, “just need to get my head together.”
With Rex and Bobby standing behind me in the door frame, I shoot Scott a glare they don’t catch. I know what ‘getting his head together’ usually means. I told him to quit snorting blow months ago. He promised me a hundred times he’d quit. He’s probably nervous about tonight’s show. I get it. But cocaine is never your friend in the long run. It’s wrecked more of mine than I care to count. Scott thinks he’s different from everyone else. He thinks he’s special. In some ways, he is. Too bad the blow doesn’t see it that way. But I’m not going to call Scott out in front of the band and give him a “Say No To Drugs” lecture five minutes before stage time at the biggest show of our careers.
“You sure?” I ask Scott, tilting my head and widening my eyes accusingly at him. It’s my last ditch plea for him to stay straight for the night.
Scott lowers his mirrored shades so I can see his ice blue eyes. They’re as mirrored as his sunglasses. Inscrutable. “Promise,” he says softly. “Just need to focus for a few minutes.”
I can’t tell if he’s lying. Then again, I never could.
The stage manager pops his head through the open doorway. “Four minutes and counting, people. Get to the stage.”
“After you,” Rex says to me.
“Ladies first,” Bobby grins at me.
“Don’t sweat it, Vic,” Scott says, “I’ll see you on stage.”
Rex and Bobby herd me out of the room.
“Don’t be late,” I warn Scott as I walk out the door.
“This is rock and roll,” Scott chuckles. “Shit never goes as planned.”
Our main character Victory Payne's journey to achieving her goal, playing her guitar and belonging to a successful band, is depicted here in all its rawness, intimacy, and gut-wrenching reality. It is an eye-opener to the journey a musician must endure and persist in with a dedication that absorbs all their energy and will-power as they are tested time and time again.
Left homeless, without a band, and dumped by her boyfriend/band leader, Victory is left to survive based on her wits, friends, and the kindness of strangers. It is her unmovable determination to survive that compels her. Everyone she meets cannot but realize her single purpose to survive makes her unique. Her focus remains on her goal, even though she is human and in need of love and compassion. Kellan Burns comes into her life just as she hits rock bottom. What starts as fan based attraction, develops into a friendship and collaboration that will touch your hearts.
Pursuing a dream is never easy. It is the struggle that makes it worthwhile. These are words we hear all the time. Our author Devon Hartford uses his gift for lyrical prose to help immerse us in this struggle, as silent spectators witnessing this story.
The topic "from rags to riches" rocker stories are a dime a dozen. Few stories make an impact where your soul is involved in the plot line and you feel emotionally invested. I think I have found one of those few and do not hesitate to recommend this series to those of you who are looking for a love story that goes beyond hot romantic scenes.
"My whole life I searched for you, my need like a disease. I can't live without your love; you bring me to my knees" - My Whole Life lyrics sung by Kellan Burns
A lot of people ask me, "Why is a guy writing romance novels for women?" The answer is simple. Everyone falls in love. Even men. Imagine that. ;-)
But it goes deeper than that. I write romance to explore and understand my own emotions.
No matter what most guys say on the subject, emotions are a part of the human experience for women AND men. Guys who deny their emotions, especially the difficult ones like sadness, grief, loss, and hurt, are missing out on a big part of life. Everyone has emotional scars. It's impossible to make it from cradle to grave without getting banged up along the way. For all that pain, we can also heal ourselves.
My stories feature characters who are on a quest to heal their pain, and in the process, find love. We all know that a loving relationship can be a conduit for both partners to heal together. When that happens, it's truly a beautiful thing.
It's my hope that my readers can gain some perspective regarding their own emotional wounds, and perhaps heal in some small way by going through the emotional journey I went through while writing my stories.
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