Rock 'n Roll Boots & White Collar Roots @bitterharpy
Chapter 23

To my 'over the top' reviewer (why can't we just PM each other, I respect your opinion. I was just answering the review in the AN since that was the only way I could answer you), absolutely critique me! You weren't rude, you didn't tell me to kill myself so we're good. I won't bite. In my initial AN I do say this came from an old soap opera storyline but I did go back and discuss a little in more detail. I do have weaknesses to my writing and obviously foreshadowing is one of them but I do try. I do appreciate you saying I am one of your favorite writers and I do hope this does continue (cause how cool is that to hear?) but no one expects anyone to like everything someone writes. This may not be a story you like and I understand as there will be others as I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. It's gonna be bumpy for a while. And yes CEO turned secret rocker is very out there I admit but it's been a whole lot of fun to write. And it might take a turn into crackfic territory here and there. LOL! Thank you for reading and reviewing.

Special thanks to Team Harpy and to mariescullen for the Denver details though I might have butchered them a bit. All mistakes are mine.

***B***

"Pops, what are you doing?" I screech after Masen leaves.

"I told you. I'm trying to protect your heart. Something you are playing fast and loose with, young lady."

"I am old enough to make my own decisions. Ma, can't you talk some sense into him?"

"Charlie, we came here to have a good time. We did not come here for you to interrogate the poor man."

"There is somethin' fishy goin' on here. I feel it in my gut."

"Maybe it's gas from all the food you've been inhaling, Charlie."

I leave them to argue amongst themselves and go to find Masen to apologize profusely on behalf of my father.

I find him rubbing his temple with the phone up to his ear. He sees me and says a quick 'thank you' before hanging up.

"I am so sorry. I never should have told Ma about that gig the other night. I was just angry and…"

"Shh… it's okay. He's just looking out for you. I can take it."

"So, you're not mad? You're not gonna leave me or lose your voice?"

His eyes soften and he puts his hand on my cheek. "Bella, I can't leave you. Don't you get that? You're the love of my life. I can't leave you. It would kill me to let you go. I can handle your father. I will prove to him that I can be the man you deserve."

I search his eyes for any insincerity but find none. "Wow, you're serious."

"As a heart attack. Don't freak out, but..."

"I'm not. I don't think."

"I have to go." He says.

"What? You just said…"

"I need to take care of a couple of things quickly. It shouldn't take but a couple of hours. I'll be back in plenty of time for rehearsal."

"But…"

"Do you trust me? I know I don't have a right to ask that question after the last few weeks, but do you?"

"Uh… yeah. Yes."

He leans down to kiss me. "Spend some time with your parents. I'll meet you back here for rehearsal in four hours, okay? I promise."

"Okay." I kiss him and he darts away.

What exactly just happened?

I go back to the table where my parents are sitting, looking in opposite directions. They rarely fight and I'm upset it's over me this time.

"Is he okay, Bella?"

"Yeah, Ma. He had to go run a few errands."

Pops makes a snorting sound.

"Pops, you're the first man I ever truly loved. You know that right?"

He nods.

"But Masen is the second. And I really need the men I love to get along. I need you to try."

"I am trying."

"I need you to try harder. For me, okay?"

"What if he hurts you?"

"Then I'm really gonna need my dad to help me pick up the pieces if that happens. And in order for that to happen, I don't need to have any rifts between us."

He sighs then nods.

"Okay then, let's go see the sights for a little while before I have to be back here."

And that's what we do. We Uber downtown- thanks to the assistance of Sarah, the helpful hostess- and just walk from there. We hit up Larimer Square only since we are pressed for time and even then we quickly run out of time while there. It's filled with all my favorite things; good food, indie shops and history all wrapped up into one tidy bundle. I even spend a little of my savings on a dress I find. I wasn't gonna get it but Ma offered to go in half because it looked so good on me. She said I should wear it tonight to knock Masen's socks off.

That's not all I'm hoping comes off tonight, Ma.

I check my watch and give a twenty minute warning to my parents then call Sarah to let her know I need another Uber.

"Ma, you or Pops should really invest in a smartphone so we don't have to bother folks like I had to with Sarah."

Ma looks at my relic pointedly. "At least mine has the capability to do so. I just don't."

"You should have Jake teach you." I offer helpfully.

"I'll take that under consideration, Bella Marie."

I smile then hustle Pops out of the candy store and to the curb. Sarah said it would be a white Nissan Quest. License plate number 015-FGS.

We find it and I have him let us off at the hotel so I can get ready and Ma can freshen up a bit. Pops looks uncomfortable as he enters our hotel room, eyeing Masen's clothes on the chair and his suitcase by the closet door.

"Can't you at least pretend you ain't having relations?"

"I am not having this discussion with you. Besides Ma beat you to it about fifteen years ago. The virgin ship sailed long ago, Pops."

He cringes then sits in the unoccupied chair, the one far away from the unmade and rather unkempt bed. I leave them to go take a quick shower, opting not to wash my hair as it's just too long and thick to mess with that in the time span I had.

I do my hair toss, check my nails…. 'Baby how ya doin, feeling good as hell.' I shimmy to the inaudible music in my head then laugh at my silliness. I apply my face then carefully put on my dress.

Ma tried to talk me into a white dress but after today's brunch topic, it seems a little too obvious, so I went with the black. Strapless, sweetheart neckline, a little ruffly, short. I'll have to be careful bending down tonight or everyone's gonna get a different kind of show. I let my hair down from the bun and it falls wavy and messy. I decide to leave it that way. Now, what shoes?

I walk out of the bathroom and pick up and throw my suitcase on the bed. I rummage through it and pull out two pairs of shoes- heels or my Converse chucks. Decisions, decisions.

"Heels would look better." Ma throws her opinion out. Pops doesn't look away from the sports program.

Chucks it is. I throw the heels back in the suitcase and see Ma throw her hands up in defeat from the corner of my eye.

"I'm gonna be runnin' all the over the place tonight. I need comfort, not a broken ankle."

I throw some things in my bag. "Okay, let's go. The others should be meeting us in the lobby in a few. The bar is sending over a van this time. Hopefully, Masen is already there."

Pops mumbles something under his breath but I ignore it. We join the others and walk outside to wait for our ride. Ben asks me where Masen is and I shrug. Hopefully not back in Tacoma already.

The van arrives and we are entering the bar in no time. I look around but I don't see Masen. I look at my watch and take a deep breath. The guys go straight to work setting up the equipment. I get Ma and Pops settled and I ask the bartender where Scott is. He points to a table in the far corner and I go introduce myself.

He stands up and shakes my hand. "I'm so excited you are here. Once I heard the band I knew I had to book them."

"We're very flattered you did."

"Your lead singer seems like a good guy. A little intense but nice enough. Kept asking me about cell phone usage here. We're a no electronics type place. If we catch you recording or taking pictures, you're out on your ass."

"Masen was here?"

"Yeah, he's here. There's a dressing room in the back."

"I'm gonna go find him then."

"No problem, down the hall, third door on the left, right past the men's restroom."

I thank him, check on my parents and the guys then hightail it back there. I knock and enter once I hear his 'come in'.

"Hi."

He smiles brightly at me. He's dressed and is sitting on the couch, drinking some water, and looking at the setlist.

"Did you get all your errands done?"

"Yes, I did."

"Masen, what errands could you possibly have in a place you don't live in? Was it work related?"

"No. And it's a surprise."

"A surprise? I'm not fond of surprises."

"Imagine that. And too bad. And by the way, you look incredible."

"What? This old thing…" I smile. "I have a confession to make. I have a surprise for you as well. I'll be right back."

I hurry back to the stage and I grab the present I had shipped here along with the rest of our instruments and equipment.

I peek my head around the door. "Close your eyes."

He rolls his eyes but does as I ask. I sit down next to him and place the gift on the table. "Okay, open them."

He does and looks down me then down at the table. His eyebrows raise. "For me?"

"Yes, for you. Open it."

He does and gently picks up the Black Takamine EF341SC guitar.

"Bella, this is a fifteen hundred dollar guitar. You can't afford this. Why would you…"

"Well, I thought about getting you a watch but…" I tease. "And don't worry about my finances. I didn't pay that much for it. It's gently used. And I'm working the payments off by doing some accounting services for the guy who sold it to me. You've been using Peter's old guitar and I thought you deserved your own."

He sets it down. "You don't like it? I…" He cuts me off with his lips on mine and I'm under him on the couch in a second. He plunders my mouth over and over and I can't breathe but I don't care.

"Hey, this is nice… Oh! Sorry. We'll come back." Brady shuts the door as quickly as he opened it. I push Masen off and sit up, breathing heavily as I put some space between us. "Glad you like it."

He's staring at my chest. I look down to see one of my breasts hanging out.

"Hey, eyes up here!" I say, before tucking it back in. He smiles that crooked smile of his.

"You look lighter than you did earlier."

"I am. I figured a few things out."

"Oh? Can I be let in on the secret to stress free living?"

"Yes. But after the show, okay?" He grabs my wrist to look at my watch. "Speaking of which, it's almost showtime." He stands up and tugs me along with him. "Kiss for luck?"

I immediately raise up on my tiptoes to oblige. "Well, whatever has made you so happy, I am all for."

"It's you. It's all you." He kisses me hard once more. "Let's do this."

Fifteen minutes later, they are rocking it out with me watching from my parent's table. Ma is enjoying herself but Pops looks less than impressed. Ma and I exchange eye rolls at his stubbornness. I'm grateful I didn't get that trait.

They sing the album songs of course then add the Fall Out Boy covers that were such a hit before. I'm thinking that's it but I'm wrong.

"Thank you so much, Denver, you've been a great crowd! We have one more song for you tonight. It's a little something I've been working on for a very special woman in my life. It's called Love Someone and I hope you all like it."

There are days

I wake up and I pinch myself

You're with me, not someone else

And I am scared, yeah, I'm still scared

That it's all a dream

'Cause you still look perfect as days go by

Even the worst ones, you make me smile

I'd stop the world if it gave us time

I clutch at my chest because I'm afraid my heart's gonna burst right out of it.

"Oh, Bella…" Ma says. I shush her because I don't want to miss any of this.

All my life

I thought it'd be hard to find

The one 'til I found you

And I find it bittersweet

'Cause you gave me something to lose

But when you love someone

You open up your heart

When you love someone

You make room

If you love someone

And you're not afraid to lose 'em

You'll probably never love someone like I do

You'll probably never love someone like I do

You'll probably never love someone like I do

He finishes the song then steps back from the mic. He searches my face and seems satisfied with what he sees. I know I'm beaming. And judging from the tissue Ma hands me, I'm also emotional. I never cry so this is somethin'.

He walks purposefully off the stage and I find myself meeting him halfway. I devour him. God, music with this man is such an aphrodisiac. He lifts me up and I wrap my legs around him, hooking my feet beneath his luscious backside.

Amid all the laughing and general debauchery, I hear Pops exclaim, "Oh, come on!"

I pull back and he kisses my cheek before I reluctantly slide down his body back to solid ground.

"Thank you. I love my surprise."

"Oh, that's just one of the surprises for this evening." He winks and jumps back on stage to join the guys.

They are talked into an encore and it's almost an hour before Masen joins me and my parents. I hand him a cold bottle of water and he knocks it back like I do tequila.

"Did you enjoy the show?" He asks my parents.

Ma jumps right in and is gushing. It takes a while for her to finish.

"You did pretty good. I've seen better but you have great potential if you'd just…"

"Commit?" Masen interjects.

"Yeah."

"I'm working on it." He looks at me. "I have arranged for a car to take you two back to the resort. I hope you don't mind but I want Bella to myself."

"Not at all. Come on, Charlie. Let's go."

I hug them goodbye then turn to Masen. "Now what?"

He extends his hand and I take it.

We step outside and he ushers me into a car that is idling near the curb.

"You know where we are going." He tells the driver.

"What are you up to?"

"You'll find out soon enough." He grins.

We are in the car for about forty-five minutes. Traffic isn't horrible but busier than I'm used to even with my frequent trips to Tacoma. But then there's nothing. Fields at first, then lots of rock formations.

The driver pulls in and parks in an empty lot with the exception of one car. Masen gets out then helps me out, leaning in to tell the driver we will be back later. The driver holds up a book and opens it.

Guess he's waiting on us to get done with whatever this is.

We walk for a while and I am very glad I wore my Chucks cause I would have killed myself in heels. It's a little chilly out and the altitude is messing with me a bit. Masen notices and promptly hands over his leather jacket. I sigh when enveloped in his warmth and his scent.

"Is there a purpose to this or…"

"I'm gonna tell you. Just a few more moments."

He leads me to a barred off viewing area and I gasp as I look out. There are stairs and a stage surrounded by all these rock formations. And stars. Millions and millions of stars as far as the eye can see.

"What is this place?"

"This is Red Rock Park and Amphitheater."

"It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," I whisper.

"Not even by half." He says, looking at me. "Come on."

He grasps my hand as we start tackling the stairs and while I'm glad we are going down, it's gonna be a bitch going back up. I keep looking all around as we descend, wanting to commit it all to memory. Finally, we get to the stage and we step up onto it.

"I went to a concert here once, almost fourteen years ago. Counting Crows and The Goo Goo Dolls. I had just graduated high school and we came to Denver to celebrate. One of my friends had a house here. I'll never forget how it felt to sit here listening to Iris and Mr. Jones and thinking how bad I would have liked to be up on that stage. Of course, our little high school band was nowhere near that good. I always loved music but music didn't pay the bills. So I went off to college, got a degree and got a big boy job." He looks at me. "I'm good at my job and I love it most days. I never questioned my path in life until I met you."

I open my mouth to … I don't know, apologize maybe but he stops me.

"Do you have any idea how much I love you?" He asks, looking down at me.

"I think so?"

"I don't. I don't think you have any idea. You're the most beautiful, amazing, incredible woman and every day I wake up in total awe and disbelief that you have come into my life. I don't know what I did to deserve you. I mean I don't deserve you but I sure do love you. More than I ever thought I was capable of."

"Masen? Where are you going with this?" My eyes search his and all I see is calm and sincerity, while I'm sure mine are wide with confusion and just a little bit of expectation mixed with dread. He slowly sinks to one knee, looks up at me and whispers three words I never thought would come out of his mouth.

"Marry me, Bella."

Playlist:

Good As Hell- Lizzo

Love Someone- Lukas Graham

Mr. Jones- Counting Crows

Iris- Goo Goo Dolls

Marry Me- Martina McBride and Pat Manahan

See you Wednesday ;)

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